What SF book are you currently reading? (2015-16)

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by TomTB, Apr 24, 2015.

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  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Listened? You all seem keen on audiobooks. I have never tried them before. I guess the point is, it would allow you to multitask? Don’t you loose concentration and miss the thread? Surely, it has to be more demanding than listening to music. Hasn’t it?
     
  2. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Yes - I have recently started listening to audiobooks a lot more than I ever have done previously (I've only ever dabbled before, and was never won over by the experience). It helps having a set time where you can concentrate on listening for a long period. For example, I commute to work via a 35 minute walk and an 8 minute train journey, which is perfect for me to listen to a book - I normally get through around 25 pages in this timeframe (so 50 pages a day there and back), which is about the rate that I get through kindle/paper books, so in effect I've doubled my reading rate. It has take me a long time to get used to the experience though ... if the narrator is crappy it puts me right off and I'll probably quit listening (and convert to reading).
     
  3. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    I think reasons differ on why and how people listen to audiobooks. One thing is for certain, the audiobook realm has exploded in the last ten years. Book sales are rather dismal while audiobook sales are rising year after year. In fact, audiobooks are what have probably saved modern publishing. My first experience with audiobooks was while I was changing flights in Chicago. I went into one of those magazine/book shops at the airport and there was a small section with audiobooks... I thought 'why not', and purchased The Hot Zone (nonfiction real life account of the first modern outbreak of ebola, super scary book that read like a thriller!), and also Jurassic Park which was very entertaining. I was hooked!
    I usually listen before going to bed... an audiobook is better than sleeping pills, put me to sleep in no time.

    The other reason I listen, as opposed to reading... I work in Commercial Printing, and it's eyeball intensive work. I just can't take the eyestrain anymore and audiobooks solve that problem.
     
  4. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I can see choosing an engaging narrator will make the whole difference. It might also take a bit of getting used to listening and not just hearing. My commuting time is not long but I guess I could try when I’m off for a run.
     
  5. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I see what you mean about giving a respite to your eyesight. Would you consider listening to audiobooks as reading? It definitely requires different skills.
     
  6. ecgordon

    ecgordon Well-Known Member

    Two threads to address here:

    1) Noir detective SF. I'd recommend China Mieville's The City and the City, David Brin's Kiln People, and at least the Miller sections of J.S.A.Corey's Leviathan Wakes.

    2) Audiobooks. Doesn't really work for me. My mind tends to wander while reading, either thinking about an idea just expressed, or something else entirely. Easy enough to backtrack and re-read a paragraph in print, not so easy to have to continually rewind an audio file. I did sign up for a free month at audible.com a few months back, but I cancelled before they started charging me. The two titles I got were Felicia Day's You're Never Weird On the Internet (Almost), which was okay, since it wasn't a plot I had to concentrate on. The other: even though Emma Newman read her own book Planetfall, and she has a pleasant British accent, I had a hard time with it. It was a title I was turned down for from NetGalley, but I eventually bought the Kindle version, and read along while still listening to Ms. Newman.
     
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  7. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    It's less intimate than reading, but other than that it's pretty much the same.
    One thing I have noticed, is that the memories of a story I've listened to seem to be fleeting, while a book I've read sticks with me long after the reading.
    You should give an audiobook a spin sometime.:)
     
  8. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I’m not surprised. Reading and listening are very different skills and it would definitely impact on your access memory. I remember using over 20 years ago these audiobooks in old fashion cassettes but just on specific chapters, as I was taking elocution lessons to mellow my accent. I was so focused on the sounds and the enunciation that I don’t think I ever took in the actual story. Maybe this is why I’m reluctant now, as it brings back those memories of these very expensive, boring, unsuccessful lessons.o_O
    What is the best device to download it into? A mobile phone? Doesn’t it take too much memory?
     
  9. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member


    Think of audio files the same way you would picture files... depending on the format, you can get lossless audio which will sound nice and full, and amounts to larger file sizes... or various levels of compression which result in some loss of quality, but smaller file sizes.
    Just as an example, Iain Banks' Surface Detail is comprised of three separate lossless (good quality) sound files, each about 100mbs. No problem if I'm downloading to my home computer with loads of free disk space and super fast cable internet, but probably too big for a mobile device with limited free space and sometimes unreliable connection speeds.
    As far as where to purchase audiobooks... I'm an audible.com member, which is owned by Amazon.
    I get one credit a month which costs $14.95... you can get any book you want with a 'credit'. In addition, Audible has regular sales and promotions, sometimes offering a selection of books for $4.95. Sometimes buy-one-get-one-at-half-price sales, or buy three credits for $29. Like with Amazon's book reviews, audiobook reviews are plagued by bogus reviewers, and you may buy an occasional audiobook on impulse, only to find it's complete trash. Audible will allow you to exchange a bad choice, so long as you don't do it too often.

    Of course you're probably not going to commit to becoming a member of Audible until which time you find that you enjoy listening as much as reading.:D
     
  10. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Thank you for the info! I was hoping to try it out when I’m going running or when I’m in the car for long. I’ll look into mobile devices I can use and hopefully, I will be able to concentrate on both the listening and on my stepping ...:)

    I have just found in my Kindle the 1st book of the Retrieval Artist. Completely forgot I had it downloaded. I will read it after I finish with Koban!
     
  11. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have heard of Miéville before, in particular about the New Crobuzon Series. I have looked The City and the City up and it looks very promising!
     
  12. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    In the last week I finished Neal Asher's The Engineer Reconditioned, an early short story collection, subsumed The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (fantasy and what a great book), and am now well into the latest Neal Asher short story collection called The Gabble and Other Stories.

    Boreas, I just thought of something to let you know about Asher's Spatterjay books. They are actually Polity books as Polity entities are major characters, and none of them are human. All AI's all the time, like Excession! Sometimes as erudite as the ship minds. Always humorous.
     
  13. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Finished Shift a few days ago, second book in the Wool trilogy by Hugh Howey. Very good read, really enjoyed it, more so than Wool. Now am reading Guardian, the third book in the Lost Fleet Beyond the Frontier series.
     
  14. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    No reading for me this last week. I'll be starting Reynolds' and Baxter's The Medusa Chronicles today.
    Yeah, I knew that the Spatterjay books were stories within the Polity. Wow, you weren't kidding when you said that you zip through everything an author(ess) has written once you decide you like him/her. I think you must have gone through over 12 Asher books in less than two months? If I manage 3-4 books in a month, I consider it a major accomplishment.
     
  15. R-Hat

    R-Hat Well-Known Member

    I have actually just finished an improvised audiobook. Good Text to MP3 conversion is a necessity for me, both in English and Czech. But it's one of the first times I've read fiction that way. I used the Kate voice from Natuaral reader, which is pretty good, IMO.

    It was A Lodging for Wayfaring Men by Paul Rosenberg. I've actually finished the book on the second attempt, because there was one character background introduction too many for me. It has some sci-fi elements, but it's all very possible. Mostly, it's a philosophical fiction. Today, we live in a dystopia. Most history is dystopian and today is no exception. The book is the same kind of freedom and logical morality fiction as God of Atheists by Stefan Molyneux or Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Like the former and unlike the lattest, there is a great emphasis on what makes us - our emotions, relationships, children, love, heartbreak and moral decision. This is certainly no emotionless Randroid John Galt observing his torture from a distance. And it's a less comedy than Molyneux. But the setting is in people, talented and productive, escaping their servitude, where half of their lifetime is taken away. We actually do need to view the present as a fiction, because it is, it's all culty gang mythologies and predictable economic downfalls. Books like these take care to expose the unreal and affirm the real and good. And they do point attention at some important research, such as free crypto markets (Open Bazaar went online recently and yes it does sell pot too) and the fact that childhood trauma is inheritable but can be cleaned up.
     
  16. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    You mean like in a robotic voice?
    Thanks, this looks really good. I've been searching for some SF or other speculative works with strong libertarian leanings besides those by F. Paul Wilson. (I know, I know, I need to read Heinlein.) I'll be sure to get this!
    Grrr...this guy's pompous demeanour pisses me off.
     
  17. R-Hat

    R-Hat Well-Known Member

    Yes, a robotic voice, but a very very good one, I think. Or maybe it's because I have started with rather bad robotic voices and then I got the new ones. In any case, you can try them here, although my favorite is Kate, that is only available here. I use them for nearly everything, even school study.

    You were? Great, I felt like a shameless plug. But now that you mention it, Rosenberg definitely belongs next to Wilson and Henlein. He even has in common with Henlein certain exploration of love and gender roles.

    People say that often, but then they rarely wonder why do they have this reaction. Are there any good reasons not to be pompous? Why should people be humble, when they have done years of homework? Shouldn't they act in confidence to match their research? There are a plenty of idiots out there who act pompous without the research to back it up. When one has explored every known possibility of being wrong, there comes a clear conscience of having done one's homework. With clear conscience, there is nothing wrong with being absolutely confident, there is no duty or virtue in cowering for unknown possibilities, let them actually come forward first. It's like setting a price, a high initial price means that a lot of work went into the product. Being confident doesn't mean that we can't apologize and change our mind later if we're proven wrong.
    This is a wonderful opportunity for self-knowledge, because such a strong reaction can not be all caused by some guy from the internet, it had to come from someone even more pompous and irritating, someone you had to put up with and couldn't just leave.

    In any case, Molyneux is a Libertarian fiction author, his book God of Atheist is his attempt to portray this theme of liberty without the metaphor of war and bloodshed, without politics, but as a dark comedy in normal teenage lives. So it's not science-fiction, but it matches your preference. If I were you, I'd put it on the list.
     
  18. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I have never tried audiobooks before and I was looking into it. In the link you provided, it says you can paste e-books. I'm not savvy regarding all this IT stuff. Could I transfer any ebooks I already have (kindle) into this application?Thanks.
     
  19. R-Hat

    R-Hat Well-Known Member

    Yes, you can copy & paste whole e-books and transfer them to audio (about half an hour per file) and then listen to them. That is, if you can open the e-book, mark the whole text, copy & paste it, like you would with MS Word. And if you buy the text to speech software.
    The Kindle book format is AZW or AZW2. Most of these books are locked by DRM. The only thing that can open it is Kindle desktop reader and Calibre 2, if you know how.
    All these obstacles can be worked around with persistent googling - Calibre has plugins to get around the DRM, so you can do with your books whatever you want. It is also possible to install voices in Windows and then use them in free software Balabolka, so you don't have to buy Natural Reader or anything.
    So the action depends on how much money do you have. I am the case with little money but much IT skills and mad googling.

    The best course of action for now is:
    1) Make sure you use Windows 10 and download the Balabolka software
    2) Install it and see if it offers you any voices - Microsoft Zira is a good one.
    3) Try if you can make it read and speak some text, and save it to mp3 files.
    4) If you want to listen to DRM-ed books, you have to go through this process. I did it and it greatly enhanced the quality of my life, not just for Kindle, but also the Adobe digital libraries.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
    Diziet Sma likes this.
  20. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    @R-Hat Thank you for the info! It seems a bit scary but I will definitely have a go!
     
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