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bartist
Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:11 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6439
Looking forward to them - read half of Obelisk Gate before I obtained a copy of the first novel, which now has to wait as I will be gone this week and eyeball deep in work and family biz. Not that that necessarily prevents me from goofing off with a good book.

RIP Jerry Pournelle. I really liked his collabs with Niven, like Lucifer's Hammer, Footfall, etc.

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Syd
Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:38 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12535 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Pournelle used to write a science column for Galaxy and later for Destinies, both of which were edited by James Baen. Pournelle was the writer who introduced me to the name Stephen Hawking and his theories on mini-black holes and black hole evaporation. I liked a lot of his collaborations with Niven. My favorites were "The Mote in God's Eye," "Inferno," and "Oath of Fealty."

I didn't realize that Pournelle won the very first John W. Campbell Award* for Best New SF Writer.


*Which I call the John W. Campbell not-a-Hugo Award since it's awarded at the Hugo ceremony but technically isn't one. Don't ask me why.

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carrobin
Posted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 4:38 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7690 Location: NYC
As I strolled up Broadway today I stopped as usual to peruse the offerings of the local sidewalk bookseller, noticing a huge hardcover titled "Monty Python's Flying Circus." I looked through it and sure enough, it had the script (with photos and footnotes) of every episode. The fellow said it was a $50 book but he was selling it for $20. I was hesitant--it's nearly 900 pages, big enough to be furniture itself, and I already have way more books than I'll ever get around to reading. But when he brought it down to $15, I couldn't resist.

"We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly coated with glucose."
"That's as may be, it's still a frog."
"What else?"
"Well, don't you even take the bones out?"
"If we took the bones out it wouldn't be crunchy, would it?"

I'll keep it under my pillow.
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bartist
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:12 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6439
I want to own that book. One of the few 900 page books I can say that about.

"Infinite Jest," for example, is 900-plus pages I don't want to own. Or "The Stand."

Amazon has it for 25-35$. Shipping weight is 6.6 pounds.

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carrobin
Posted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 11:43 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7690 Location: NYC
I think health insurance should cover the purchase. Laughter is the best medicine, as they say.

"It is my belief that these sheep are labouring under the misapprehension that they're birds. Observe their behaviour. Now witness their attempts to fly from tree to tree. Notice they do not so much fly as plummet."
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mitty
Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Aug 2004 Posts: 1354 Location: Way Down Yonder.......
Am presently reading The Pigeon Tunnel by John LeCarre. Recently finished his newest, Legacy, the sequel/tidying up of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Had to reread that as well, just to be sure of my characters. Smile Really well done, as per usual.

I'm also almost halfway through Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Being a teenager at the time, I didn't pay that much attention to politics. Really fascinating.
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bartist
Posted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 12:04 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6439
Finally got back to the Norsk crime novelist Jo Nesbo...The Snowman pulls you in with an unsettling gravitational force, I suspect some readers will want to eject but find themselves unable. Haven't seen the film, which got pretty dismal reviews. Wikipedia has this to say about Nesbo...

Quote:
NesbÝ is primarily known for his crime novels about Inspector Harry Hole, but also the main vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre. In 2007 NesbÝ also released his first children's book, Doktor Proktors Prompepulver (English translation: Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder). The 2011 film Headhunters is based on NesbÝ's novel, Hodejegerne (The Headhunters).


Have to wonder if the Proktor book....well, are people more or less apt to ask that pesky question so often posed to authors....you know the one I mean.

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carrobin
Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:15 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7690 Location: NYC
Right now I'm reading "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes on my Nook, and yesterday I came across an interesting observation. Musing on the idea that virtually everyone has been "damaged" somehow during their childhood, and the ways that damage affects the way they conduct their life, he says, "Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost. And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of." Needless to say, I immediately thought of our current POTUS.

I'm loving the book, by the way--already planning to read more of his work.
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bartist
Posted: Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:42 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6439
I've had TSoaE around for a while. Now I will read it. I just needed a reminder. Twill be my first Barnes. Will report back.

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Syd
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 9:59 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12535 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
You know, after my disappointment that The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage was a prequel to The Golden Compass (Lyra is a baby and needs frequent changes of nappy), it's really very pleasant, has a lot of echoes of Huckleberry Finn*, and eventually has moments of pure magic. I'm hoping the sequels move us a couple of decades into the future.

The major flaw, in my opinion, is the connection with "His Dark Materials." It works better if you view it as an independent story. It's beautifully written, rather slowly paced, and I wished our hero and heroine could find a universe where they could develop their own lives.

*Instead of going down the Mississippi, you're going down a flooded Thames, encountering creatures from legend, with two amazingly heroic kids who are rather unexpectedly coming to love each other.

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carrobin
Posted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:08 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7690 Location: NYC
I loved "The Golden Compass" but wasn't as impressed by the sequel, and the third book was rather irritating (though memorable in its way). So I didn't have much interest in "The Book of Dust," but I might give it a chance upon that description.
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gromit
Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 2:57 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 31 Aug 2004 Posts: 8595 Location: Shanghai
Really not a fan of Sinclair Lewis' writing style. His sentences go on and on, with peppy little asides, and go on some more and don't really need to but on they go. Lewis is poor with dialogue, and terrible with female characters. He also has a habit of listing three things at the end of a sentence and one of them seems rather oddball. At first I was thinking that some of his references are just dated, but now I believe it's a quirk he favors. He also likes to toss in an obscure word every 30 pages or so. But it's the long meandering sentences which irked me the most.

I read Kingsblood Royal and found myself editing and (imo) improving roughly half the sentences. I came to the conclusion that Lewis is trapped in between the British novel writing style dating back towards the 19th C and the modern American style emerging in the 1920's and 30's. It's interesting to see a writer with one foot in the old and one in the new -- to see when American writing was emerging as distinctively American -- but mostly he favors the older writing style, but with some elements of more modern American writing mixed in.

I'm halfway through It Can't Happen Here and it has the same clunky writing style. Indeed the main character and wife resemble the central couple in KR. I became convinced early on in ICHH that Lewis was modelling his novel on Dickens' Tale of Two Cities. And then midway through he makes a heavy handed reference that the women plotting against the new fascist US Gov't are the same as the woman knitting next to the guillotine in old revolutionary France. That Lewis is a follower of Dickens makes some sense out of his penchant for very peculiar names, and his long-rambling sentences. [Edit: since Lewis is nothing if not obvious, later he explicitly mentions A Tale of two Cities]

I'll give Lewis credit for interesting overall ideas which are topical. In KR, Kingsblood researches his ancestry hoping to find actual royal blood, but discovers a Negro grandfather instead. When he lets this get out, he loses his job, social position, and his house and life are threatened by a mob of whites. It looks at the absurdity of the "one-drop" rule -- which is pretty much what the US racial system is still based upon.

It Can't Happen Here details a demagogue being elected president of the USofA and then installing a fascist system. It focuses on a small Vermont town and one newspaper editor who tries to resist. But is a bit dense/slow-going as it also details the political program and administration by the fascists.

Interestingly, Lewis has the states broken up and the US divided into 8 regional divisions. This would effectively dismantle the old powers-that-be, but would be a herculean task to make new gov't entities. Also, it would tip off the populace that the Constitution and the US are being dismantled. That future elections are unlikely, etc. The military is sidelined rather too easily. Lewis borrows from the Nazi stormtroopers (SA & SS) and uses such paramilitary groups as the mechanism to take over.


Last edited by gromit on Sat Jul 28, 2018 12:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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carrobin
Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:49 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7690 Location: NYC
Back in college, I had a brief Sinclair Lewis urge--first "Arrowsmith," which I tired of quickly but then went back after a couple of months and got caught up in it, and then went on to "Main Street" and "Babbitt." Neither one was as interesting as "Arrowsmith." But I recently picked up a paperback of "It Can't Happen Here," and may eventually get around to it. "Kingsblood Royal" sounds interesting--but somehow I don't think I ever saw a copy of it in South Carolina....

And speaking of things that can't or shouldn't happen here, I had a routine checkup today and spent nearly the whole time discussing Trump with the doctor. I mentioned that we New Yorkers knew Trump too well to vote for him, though his real estate buddies might, and the doctor said some of them hate him so much that they voted for Hillary. He has a patient in the real estate industry who told him about doing a complicated and expensive job for Trump on a tight deadline, delaying various other jobs to finish it on time, and then Trump held back several million dollars of the agreed-upon price because the work hadn't taken as long as he'd thought it would, so the contract price must have been too high. The guy sued him--Trump usually counts on his victims being unwilling to do that--and won, and Trump even had to pay his legal fees. But the guy told the doctor that he'd never work with Trump again, even if he agreed to pay in advance.

If only the rest of the country knew him the way we do. (Though I never thought he'd be this bad.)
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Syd
Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:09 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12535 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
I'm currently reading Nnedi Okorafor's "Who Fears Death," which is absolutely astounding and one of the best novels of the last ten years, to the point where I was wondering why it didn't sweep all the major awards. Unfortunately, it was competing for awards with Connie Willis's two volume novel "Blackout/All Clear" which, amazingly, was actually better, Another competitor was N. K. Jemisin's "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms," which is also brilliant, though I think the Willis and Okorafor are even better.

The next year Jo Walton won the Hugo and Nebula for a novel that was basically a short story and a book report. The year after that, John Scalzi won the Hugo for a Star Trek parody (which I liked, but honestly, a Hugo?)

Do I have a point? Sort of. If "Who Fears Death" had come out a year or two later (or "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms" for that matter) and lost the Hugo, it would have been a travesty. Unfortunately, they were competing in the wrong year against another masterpiece.

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carrobin
Posted: Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:50 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7690 Location: NYC
Darn, I have "Blackout/All Clear," but haven't gotten around to pulling it out of the stack of the unreads; I became a fan of Connie Willis after reading "The Doomsday Book." I'll try to make it a priority now. But "Who Fears Death" sounds intriguing--maybe I can buy it for my Nook. But I already have more than 1,000 books lurking there, waiting for me to remember why I thought they were worth $1.99 each on the daily bargain email....
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