Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Safari Bob, Jul 27, 2017.
@Safari Bob, did you get around to finishing The Engines of God? If yes, then what are your thoughts?
I did finish and enjoy it. I found the idea that the Universe may not like "cities" or "civilization" to be fascinating and compelling. A favorite little tidbit for me is how quickly some of the characters were to attribute something they didn't explicitly understand to "God" as to offer some meager explanation. Of course I have yet to read the others in the series.
I did have some trouble "getting into" the text at first. I actually started it a couple of times, put it down, and read some other book. But I did warm up to the book after a few chapters.
Just finished re-reading M. John Harrison's Kefahuchi tract trilogy (Light, Nova Swing, and Empty Space) after reading my favorite short story of all time, MJH's "The Luck in the Head" for about the billionth time. Harrison's style is unusual but incredibly arresting -- I found myself again and again thinking to myself, "Did he really just write that?!" The story lines are wickedly sharp and his characters are unforgettable. Now I look back at China Mieville's work and see MJH's influence, particularly in The Last Days of New Paris. About to start on MJH's The Course of the Heart, one that I missed the first time around.
Only read Light. Actually found it a little difficult to get into at first, but on my second try I finished it and thought it was quite spectacular in many respects. I don't know why I've never ended up picking up the rest. I've been told the second and third novels are much easier to get into. The Course of the Heart is excellent! I picked up an omnibus, Anima, containing this one and another very good albeit depressing novel called Signs of Life. I don't know how to classify SoL - touches of science fictional elements, but mostly a realist novel centred around relationships and a waste disposal business. Perhaps something akin to slipstream? Maybe magic realism? As genre-bending as TCotH and quite unclassifiable.
But I have to say that my favourite Harrison book of the ones I've read is probably his semi-autobiographical novel on mountain climbing, Climbers. This was a surprise hit for me, completely unexpected. Stories with obsessive qualities with respect to a particular endeavour where one seeks that shattering potency of experience are one of my favourite types. It's an easy read, but it should be read slowly.
Agree with you about Light, Boreas. It's so trippy and MJH unspools his arcs so obliquely, it takes some getting used to (not to mention the orthogonal yet brilliant prose). Nova Swing is a blast and Empty Space almost as good. I read an essay by MJH on the writing of Climbers and its a very personal book to him. Now you've got me (re)intrigued!
Right, I was fine with the psychopathic character in ca. 1990's London, and was even getting quite invested in that particular plot thread, then it suddenly switches to this extremely trippy, far future perspective and I couldn't get a grip on it. And I've always thought that these types of trippy breaks are something that I can handle easily and enjoy. Second time around was a lot easier, but it still took me a bit to bridge the dissonance between the two threads and to feel comfortable.
I finished Seveneves and loved it! The last section actually ended up being my favourite. Or maybe it's a tie between the whole last section and the Big Ride parts of the previous section. At first the descriptions of all the awesome structures was a little intimidating. I read some parts a couple of times to make sure I understood how sh** worked and once I got a basic understanding I moved on. I was also a little bummed out that Neal didn't show the action of what happened during the intervening years, but the explanations were still really, really, really interesting. What's weird is that I definitely got a Lord of the Rings vibe from the story. It was like a setting up of the Fellowship and then onward with the journey. The sections on genetics/epigenetics/evolutionary divergence were freaking mind blowing! Is there supposed to be a sequel to this book? I really want to know more about the Diggers and Pingers!
I'm also reading Legend. It was taking me a while to get into it 'cause I kept thinking that the book was about this old warrior Druss, but the first 50 or more pages is all about some wishy-washy berserker character. Then suddenly it gets to Druss and my attention perks up. He's just decided to go off to Dros Delnoch for the battle even though he doesn't have to. The dude is like 60 years old and he already feels like more of a badass character than just about anybody I've ever read. I'm liking it now.
The Player of Games and Excession are my two favourite Culture books! They're both so different. My next two favourites are Look to Windward and Matter. Look to Windward is I think the most thoughtful of the Culture books. Hope you like Excession. Those Minds are total rascals and their convos are so damn funny.
I'm about a third of the way through Excession and it is very funny especially the parts about the Affront. I am listening to the audio book and the guy reading it is one of the best I've heard.
What did you think of the ending? No feeling of slight disorientation? And that's a great observation regarding the connection between Lord of the Rings and Seveneves! I never noticed that at all, but now it seems so bloody obvious!
Ever since I read Excession, the Affront have been my absolute favourite aliens! Banks makes their sadism seem almost lovable. And Fivetide Humidyear, what a character! I love the way he's introduced as he greets Genar Hofen with that sharp-beaked, ultra-pressurised smack of a kiss that would have have sheared the human to pieces if not for the form-fitting, less than 1.0 sapient 'Fuck You Too' suit. Also love those exchanges between that asshole Module and the gelsuit, like it's speaking down to a retarded, unworthy of consideration, barely sapient monkey.
This is still Peter Kenny narrating, right? I've listened to his narration on Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. He's very good.
I finished the Emerilia series so far (6 books). This genre technically counts as sci-fi, because it's usually based around some virtual reality mechanism and Emerilia could also become a space opera eventually. Some spaceship building and travel is involved.
What caught my attention was a decent work with bio plasma physics, i.e. the people leech plasma off planetary leylines, the MC etches similar leylines into his body, projects a field and builds things via nanotech. As a practitioner of meditation I always like to read such things.
Now I picked again the LitRPG genre, but a known Facebook author. Charles Dean - Bathrobe Knight. He's a decent writer and can pull off multiple narratives, not just one MC. This genre is ridden by grammar errors more than anybody, since it's a fairly new genre and most authors are still green. It's my way of repaying Charles, I'm marking what I think are typos and misspellings, seven so far. It's strange, the worst I've seen in other genres was at most an overly literally translated term from English and not a single error in the original. First third of the book had several, but after that I can't find any.
Yeah it is Peter Kenny reading it and he does all the different voices brilliantly. Audible had all the Culture series on sale a while ago and I bought all the ones I hadn't read. Hope the others are as good as this one.
@R-Hat, how many of these LitRPG books have you read now? Since you're into that sub-genre at the moment, you should think of making up a recommendation list of the best ones you've come across at some point.
Good idea. I should keep a reader's diary. And where better keep it than here on the forum?
It's about 24 books so far and I like them so much that picking the losers will be difficult.
Btw, one of the most famous series is Way of the Shaman by Mahanenko and book 6 just came out! It ended with quite a cliffhanger, so I'm considering interrupting the present series after 1st book.
One that I really enjoyed is The Dungeoneers by Jeffery Russell.
I just finished a forgettable novel: Rebel Fleet by B.V. Larson. It was enjoyable overall (and had some alien cat-people sex scenes, if yer into that) but generally meh.
Not really my thing, but just bought it in hardback, paperback, kindle and audiobook, just in case ....
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