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

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

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  1. moonspawn

    moonspawn Full Member

    Ah, I liked it well enough. Enough to read more of C.J. Cherryh's work in the future, although not any time real soon. I thought the ending was rather predictable. It was pretty anti-climatic throughout. It was slow and ponderous, so it might bore a reader looking for a faster, more action-packed read. The characters brood a lot on the motivations of the other species which is interesting because they have to filter their understanding of the "the other," through their own cultures perspective, often times wrong in their assumptions and its also kind of funny when they assign culturally exclusive terms to a leader or class of a different culture, as the terms usually don't translate directly. Like Ursula K. Le Guin, C.J. Cherryh is very good at juxtaposing different cultures.
    Boreas likes this.
  2. ecgordon

    ecgordon Well-Known Member

    Since Cherryh was this year's pick for Grand Master I had been planning a read (or re-read) of several of her novels, but I've been caught up in Hugo nominees and NetGalley titles. I have quite a few by her, but the only ones I know for sure I've read are Downbelow Station and Cyteen, which are her two Hugo winners. I may have started Faded Sun years ago, but don't have any memory of it. Even if several of you have a book club reading, I probably won't join in. It's too much like a school assignment. I always balked at books I had to read for school, even though I might have enjoyed them if I picked them on my own.
  3. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm in but not till I have finished reading my 5 books. Maybe when I get back to CH we can time it...?
  4. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.
  5. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Don't be such a Grouch(o), man!
  6. R-Hat

    R-Hat Well-Known Member

    I took up the advice from Boreas and started reading the Childe Cycle (Dorsai saga) by Gordon R. Dickson. So far I'm glad I did, it has the nice meta-psychological overtones that I like from David Zindell's Requiem for Homo Sapiens cycle. Also there is a lot of military action, so at these times I'm imagining I'm re-reading The Use of Weapons from Ian M. Banks. The military action so far seems to be mostly about smarts and recon. It's definitely not in the all-out style of other novels like Warhammer books or Prador Moon or most military sci-fi out there. I think the series started in the early 60's, but it reads like fresh stuff.
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  7. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I’m just over a third on Use of Weapons, not as fas as I would like as there are far too many distractions over here.
    So far I’m happily puzzled and mesmerised. I’m trying to make out the big picture by putting together all the bits Banks is feeding me cleverly and very capriciously. Zakalwe is a mystery but one can glimpse enough personal tragedy to guess his mission in life is a personal debt he must fulfil. “Nothing last forever” has been reoccurring and I guess is setting cue for future events. No doubt these will be utterly surprising and unpredictable.
    As far as Skaffen the drone is concerned, well I’m fallen for him/it!? I want one! The cynicism and wicked sense of humour are hilarious, in particular to read a drone telling you “fuck yourself” is hysterical.
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  8. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Did you already get to the scene when Zakalwe is convalescing and is paid a visit by S-A bearing gifts?
  9. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Do you mean the hat episode?Priceless!!
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  10. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    I'm rereading Neal Asher's Line of Polity because it was an early Polity read and I didn't pay enough attention. For example, I had missed the part in the beginning where
    as they are searching for the disappeared Skellor after taking the separatists' compound, Cormac thinks back to when Jain tech was first discovered before his birth and analysis of it had "impelled huge advances in Polity technology."
    Boreas likes this.
  11. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Finished Player of Games, started Use of Weapons.
  12. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I'm guessing you enjoyed it since you've moved immediately onto another Culture novel?
  13. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Wasn't overly enamoured with it if I'm being honest. Didn't care too much about Gurgeh, thought that he really should've figured out what his predicament was considering he was the best game player in town! And I get the cultural dichotomy that served as the backdrop for the whole story (much like in Consider Phlebas but to a greater extent) but it didn't hold enough sway for me to be truly gripped by the story.

    I'm blowing hot and cold with Use of Weapons. The first of the reverse chapters was probably my favourite Culture moment so far. Then I got a little bit bored with the normal chapters, although the drone in this one is completely awesome. Now I'm treating the reverse chapters as standalone short stories, and I kinda like it.
  14. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Last evening I finished Use of Weapons and I have been “noodling” since.
    I have liked the book, I think, but for different reasons I tend to enjoy books. Now, @Boreas & @Sparrow, I can understand the complexity in describing the Culture books to someone who hasn’t read them without giving them away.
    The dual chronological structure has been highly enjoyable and rewarding at times. However, other chapters have left me pondering and puzzled as the time setting, location or narrator voice kept switching. I read them and hoped they eventually fall into place.
    During the read, I felt I couldn’t quite connect with the characters. I wasn't sure whether I liked Zakalbe or not. I couldn’t side with him. Banks kept me as a spectator in the distance the whole time, stopping me from jumping in and emotionally engaging with Z . As I haven’t read any other Culture books, I guess this is Banks’ style, structuring his writing in such a way, one has to spread thinly in order to grasp the whole picture. Emotive characters are just one more element in the narrative and not the sole point. I don’t mean at all with this that the story wasn’t emotive, just the relation I had with it.
    There are some chapters that left me in awe. When Z is having the love affair with the poet accepting that as “nothing last forever” this love is doomed by fate or by acting upon by fate. How Banks manages to convey all that in a few pages is extraordinary.
    I also loved Banks’ black sense of humour. Skaffen is a joy. The fight between Z and Mollen with his synthesised vocal box is genius. Equally clever are the teasers & symbolism Banks drops in the story for you to pick up and play with them if you wish; i.e the images of Z’s hair, the snow, chair and the Staberinde ship. This last one, in particular, kept me busy as Staben means alliteration in German, I was looking into all kind of phonetic combinations to make it work. I didn’t…

    Now, second week, book two Dune…I'm on track!
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  15. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Now that everyone is done, Use was my least favorite because of the main character, can't call him a protagonist really since he was such a bad guy. What he did turned me off.
  16. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    In what way?
    I don't actually like most of the 'human' characters in the Culture books. Prefer the Minds and some of the drones. But I do love the sadistic Affront.
  17. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I'm curious. How are you liking Use of Weapons?
  18. afa

    afa Full Member

    I have finally finished The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein. Took a while, even in audiobook format, since this seemed like a book that required a bit more attention from my side, enough so that I really couldn't listen to it during work. Unlike the last few audiobooks I went through, where they were easy enough to follow that I could.

    Long-winded thoughts coming up!

    Pretty decent book, but I didn't really love it. Rather than an action packed Sci-Fi thriller, this books is more of a political discussion on the virtues of libertarian (if not borderline anarchist) philosophy. It's a well thought-out book, with Heinlein giving almost a step-by-step process of how a revolution should work (at least in his mind) and the issues that would need to be addressed. I thought the first half of the book was very engaging, from the innocuous start all the way to the Loonies (what the residents of the Moon, or Luna, call themselves) planning to fight their way out from under Terra's (Earth) dominance.

    Once the revolution actually begins, though, the book's pace slows considerably and the plot gets mired in politics. I understand this is not an accident; any such revolution would undoubtedly result in political holes that need to be navigated. The Loonies path was eased quite a bit by the convenient presence of Mike (short for Mycroft Holmes), an artificially intelligent and sentient supercomputer, who can basically tell the guys all kinds of facts, figures and probabilities for virtually every conceivable action. This allows the Loonies to know, in advance, what the likely result of their actions would be, and course correct as and when required. Unfortunately, it also kind of sucks the tension out of the story.

    A revolution would, above all else, be extremely risky. Sure, you have all these high ideals of what is wrong with current society and how you would fix them, but... what if it doesn't work? What if you just end up starting a war you cannot win, and people lost their lives only to end up with the status quo? Some of this tension is lost due to the prescience of Mike; sure, he doesn't know everything, and probabilities aren't certainties. But there was never really any point in the book where I found myself wondering if the Loonies would succeed. The end result seem pre-ordained.

    And speaking of the end - I didn't like the forced bit of ambiguity right at the end. Didn't seem natural or fitting. It's like Heinlein just thought that having some unresolved question mark at the end would be kind of cool, just to leave things a little mysterious, but it didn't work for me.

    On the plus side - the audiobook narration was fantastic. Lloyd James does an excellent job. Distinct voices, accents, inflections... all great. I also liked that he didn't do a lot of 'bookisms.' Like if a character chuckled while responding to another, James would just put the chuckle in his voice rather than say, "he chuckled." I have no idea if this was part of the written book, though I don't know how it could be; without mentioning "he chuckled" how would the reader know that the guy chuckled? Either way, James didn't say it and I thought it was great. A great example of voice acting rather than narration.

    The book, on the whole, is decent enough but it does have some issues that stuck out to me. It's basically Hypothesis on Revolution 101 framed around a narrative. Not a terrible book, by any means, but not one that will necessarily stay in my mind a long while, or make me want to jump on to the Heinlein train. I'd give it about a 3/5.
    Boreas likes this.
  19. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've now got a copy of Heinlein's collection The Past Through Tomorrow based on @ecgordon's recommendation, and I hope to start in the next couple of weeks. It's supposed to be a complete collection of his future history stories, so I'm looking forward to them. Right now, I decided to pick up Sakurazaka's All You Need Is KILL for a quick re-read.

    @Elvira, how are you finding Dune so far?

    @afa, happy birthday!
  20. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Ha! I just asked you the exact same question over on BFB :)

    I'm halfway in and struggling with the ordering of chapters. Certain parts have been stunning, and I'm losing interest in the forward facing chapters. The backward facing chapters are much more interesting, but it's still not a format I'm too fond of truth be told!
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