General Books thread
30 July 2013 at 19:19 #14624
@Shazzbot – hehe. I’d rather they stayed away and value the hyper-vigilance of this place (I always assume the battle axe was the preferred method).
Mind you, the last few days have at least caused the rest of the world to realise that trolling is A Thing.30 July 2013 at 19:23 #14625Anonymous @
@pedant – I’d prefer the battle axe myself, but as Jim has shown, sometimes the softly softly catchee-monkey approach can work. Who knows? We might convert one of these newbies into a fully-fledged bonkers theorist ™ .
But if not, I’m swinging my axe and let the heads fly where they will. 😀30 July 2013 at 19:54 #14632Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
@Shazzbot – I’d point out that the preferred method of execution in Doctor Who is the firing squad. Or the death ray. Hanging is talked about, but never normally seen. 😈
Getting back on topic, I’m currently happily reading my way through David Weber’s ‘Safehold’ series. It’s a weird-but-fun combination of science-fiction and Age of Sail style naval battles. Though if you do happen to have an allergy to discussions about the correct type of rigging for sailing through a hurricane, it might be best avoided. 🙂30 July 2013 at 20:42 #14633Anonymous @
@shazzbot — I like to think of myself as the ‘good cop’ part of the moderator squad…. 😉30 July 2013 at 21:07 #14635Anonymous @
So, @jimthefish, of the three of us, we’ve got the ‘good’, the ‘bad’, and the ‘don’t even think about it, I’ve had a wretched day and you are this close to unleashing my inner Armed American Menopausal Maniac’.
‘Now, newbie, would you like to try again?’ 👿
😆30 July 2013 at 21:26 #14636
‘don’t even think about it, I’ve had a wretched day and you are this close to unleashing my inner Armed American Menopausal Maniac’
POTD30 July 2013 at 21:32 #14637Anonymous @
@pedant – this?30 July 2013 at 21:46 #14638
On the subject of books, may I take a moment to recommend to you the Space Captain Smith series by my chum Toby Frost?
The titular first book is a little uneven, but very amusing and subsequent books are a hoot in which just about anything you have ever come across is sent up. The new book, A Game of Battleships is out in August and there is a launch party and signing at Forbidden Planet in London on 8 August.
And, while recommending, you will surely enjoy these, by other chums:
And for your non-genre needs, Julie Mayhew is the most naturally gifted writer I have ever met and her debut novel Red Ink a thing of wonder, despite being mis-categorised as YA. Yes, it’s about 15 year old girl. Do not let that put you off.30 July 2013 at 21:49 #146392 August 2013 at 11:19 #14821
I’ve just read James Robertson’s first two novels, having picked up ‘The testament of Gideon Mack’ a while ago on a second hand book store.
His first two novels are historical, the first one 50% the second one entirely, and they are exactly the kind of historical novels I like- as a rule I prefer books written in the 18th and 19th century over novels that simply use an historical setting for very recognisably 20th or 21th century characters.
But what I think Roberson does is present characters with a point of view that initially seem alien to us, and use it to emphasis how there are no new problems. For example (this is only the mildest of spoilers) presenting a Scottish slaver and Jamaican plantation owner sympathetically is a very risky strategy- but he does it without for a second stepping away from how horrific the slave trade was- and without inserting modern times into the novel, brings out a parallel with modern exploitation of overseas labour.
But for all that he’s incredibly readable.2 August 2013 at 11:28 #14822CraigNixon @craignixon
Currently re-reading a trio of James Lovegrove books called the “Age Of….” Ra/Zeus/Odin
Each set where the respective pantheons have become real and peoples interactions with them. Age of Zeus for example is where the Greek gods have come back, put their foot down and stopped all war at the expense of mankinds freedom and respective atrocitites.
Pretty good books 🙂2 August 2013 at 11:39 #14825Anonymous @
@miapatrick — interesting you should bring up the idea of risky protagonists. I’ve just finished reading Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr, where the protagonist Bernie Gunther has just returned from working on the Nazi death squads on the Eastern Front and is admittedly responsible for the deaths of hundreds. We should hate him. He should be the villain and yet you’re still on his side throughout the book…2 August 2013 at 11:50 #14826
@jimthefish– well one thing that annoys me nowadays is when people talk as though for a character to be ‘sympathetic’, it has to be good- as though we’re all perfect, kind, pleasant individuals and can’t possibly understand the point of view of anyone who does anything unpleasant.
I wouldn’t say in the Robertson book- ‘Joseph Knight’ we’re entirely on the slavers side- but neither are we instructed to despise him. And he is allowed to make some pertinent points ‘do you drink rum, drink coffee, eat sugar, etc?’
I think there is a point to be made that participating in atrocities is not always the result of psychopathic tendencies. In the case of Nazi death camps and slavery, there are elements of peoples ability to convince themselves that certain people aren’t really people, that even if what they are doing is regrettable, it’s necessary. The more we focus on certain events being nothing but a particular expression of evil, the more risk, I think, of sleepwalking into such situations again, or not acknowledging when such things do happen again.12 August 2013 at 09:47 #15921Anonymous @
The new book, A Game of Battleships is out in August and there is a launch party and signing at Forbidden Planet in London on 8 August.
Did you go last Thursday night to that? If not, did Toby Frost tell you how it went?
P.S. I never said, good work on those two websites 😉12 August 2013 at 11:30 #15935
@Shazzbot – I did indeed and it went very well, thanks.
The sites were fun, mostly because of the chance to take the piss out of Toby (who understands the concept of accept and build).13 August 2013 at 19:17 #16041rosetyler @rosetyler
Once I discovered John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars I was completely in love. I have read it over 4 times20 August 2013 at 18:25 #16433Craig @craigEmperor
Ah, Elmore Leonard has died. I love his sparse writing style and his crackling dialogue. He made it all seem effortless. A true legend.
Buzzfeed has created a nice little tribute woven around his 10 Rules for Writing, which are well worth a read.20 August 2013 at 23:21 #16447Anonymous @
Oh, @craig – I saw that same sad news today, and was gutted. My Elmore Leonard collection starts with ‘Unknown Man 89′ and ’52 Pickup’, and continues through Bandits, Rum Punch, Killshot, Maximum Bob, Split Images, and Pagan Babies.
I often re-read them in concert with Carl Hiaasen’s Tourist Season and Stormy Weather. Whilst the latter has a decidedly Florida setting, and the former Detroit, there is a similar trenchantly morbid black comedy vein running through their works. I’m sorry to learn that there will be no more Elmore Leonard books to treasure.21 August 2013 at 05:23 #16451TardisBlue @tardisblue
Even The Onion (“America’s Finest News Source”) is mourning the death of Elmore Leonard. The article pays “tribute” to his writing style …
TardisBlue25 August 2013 at 21:01 #16684Anonymous @
Just to say that I’m finally — finally — getting into Iain M Banks’s SF stuff. It’s only taken me ten years and countless attempts but now I ‘get it’.
Skaffen-Amtiskaw has now become one of my favourite literary characters. I demand that he makes a cameo in Who at some point….30 August 2013 at 12:22 #16787Anonymous @
Possibly not the kind of writer we normally talk about on these blogs but Seamus Heaney passed away today. A brilliant poet and a fine essayist too. One of the real world-class poetic heavyweights. A sad loss.30 August 2013 at 23:56 #16808TardisBlue @tardisblue
That’s sad news, indeed. I’ve read a volume or two of his poems, and felt their depth (hoping that makes sense to you). We’ve lost a lot of important writers this year. The leaf of lives no longer lived, of words not ever written, …
TardisBlue3 September 2013 at 09:38 #16925wolfweed @wolfweed
Neil Gaiman discusses the importance of libraries (& wears a Cyberman badge)…
7 October 2013 at 07:35 #17938Anonymous @
@jimthefish – I know you like Jenny Colgan. Did you happen to catch her article in yesterday’s Guardian?
Readers are made in childhood (or debilitating illness, or prison, but for the sake of argument let’s stick with childhood).
🙂16 October 2013 at 12:54 #18585Anonymous @
The Guardian published an edited version of Neil Gaiman’s lecture for the Reading Agency (delivered on Monday Oct 14 at the Barbican in London): “Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming“. It’s as interesting and absorbing a read as you would expect from Neil, but this bit stood out for me (in a Doctor Who context):
I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?
It’s simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.16 October 2013 at 14:49 #18589Anonymous @
@Shazzbot — thanks for the heads-up. It’s a great article and I think dead right. SF has almost definitely had an uphill struggle against snobbery and I wonder if it’s because it might have been seen as part of CP Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’ argument? But it’s certainly true that an appreciation of SF leads to a kickstarting in imagination in other spheres. Look at how many NASA scientists cite Star Trek as an inspiration for their careers.
Also interesting that it’s only now really that SF is becoming a more ‘mainstream’ thing — although still slightly depressing that so many authors feel the need to hide it under the trojan horse of ‘speculative fiction’ when they attempt it. But not all though. Just reread Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone. Ostensibly SF but really, really well written and full of incredible ideas about hard science but also what it means to be human.
Gaiman is also spot on about libraries too. Have always loved them ever since I was a kid. So much so that I’m seriously considering re-training as a librarian (has pleasant daydream of being like Giles in Buffy….)12 November 2013 at 09:55 #2056112 November 2013 at 18:49 #20578Galactus @galactus
Ta for that @scaryb. Managed to miss that gallery. I took delivery just yesterday of my Dave McKean variant cover of Sandman Overture #1 signed by Dave McKean himself. To say I’m pleased at getting my hands on this entirely fails to do justice to the smug grin plastered on my features. I’m more pleased than the Doctor after being told that his fez is looking particularly cool today.28 November 2013 at 07:55 #21826billyboy1989 @billyboy1989
my favourite book is game of thrones all of them and i love the harry potters to i like anything on dragons and medieval.28 November 2013 at 10:45 #21835Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip
@billyboy1989 – most of my favourite books include Capital Letters. Just sayin’. 😉
(Check out the other posts and you’ll get an idea of this site’s ‘house style’)
Yes, I’m very fond of Harry Potter. I’m waiting for the Game of Thrones series to finish before I start reading it; I don’t want to end up in a Wheel of Time situation,where the author dies before finishing his twenty volume saga.28 November 2013 at 10:54 #21838DickieGarvey @dickiegarvey
I unfortunatly started reading them to see what all the fuss was about and am now caught in the waiting for the next book issue, I’m gonna have to read the lot again before venturing on to the next one.
The rivers of london sewries is very good by Ben Arronarovitch althouth still in progress11 December 2013 at 23:51 #22681
Has anyone else read much/any Lester Bangs? I was reminded by the death of Lou Reed. ‘Psychotic reactions and carburettor drugs’, I just dug it out. Wonderful writer, I enjoy his list of unfinished/published work better than many books.
The part that always sticks in my head is where he objects to a racist word from a friend, and she justifies herself by outlining the kind of sexism she receives on the subway, and his main comment is that sometimes he thinks the only thing simple is pain. (I.E. he checked his privilege without a hint of sandal wearing.) I quite like some of Hunter. S. Thompson’s writing, but I always feel a little resentful/alienated by this writer who is so much of his time, and age, and date, and country. I think Lester Bangs could be of either sex, any time or place, and been pretty much the same writer. And I think I would have liked him.30 December 2013 at 09:39 #23652
I should drop in here more often 😉
@miapatrick I used to love Lester Bangs when he had guest columns in NME, thanks for the reminder.
This is a couple of days old now, but it’s a lovely tribute in the Graun about some of the major writers who left us in 2013
Thank you and RIP to Chinua Achebe, Iain Banks, Seamus Heaney, Elmore Leonard and Doris Lessing – I could say a lot more, but they all say it so much better.4 February 2014 at 19:28 #25010Craig @craigEmperor
One of my favourite books ever, and one of my favourite authors, oh… and Neil Gaiman 😉5 February 2014 at 00:28 #25024Arbutus @arbutus
@craig He does read beautifully. I love his long-suffering version of Sam-I-Am’s beleaguered friend, holding his temper for so long, until finally exploding just before the end. When I used to read this story aloud to my son, the protagonist was not nearly as patient. Brilliant!20 February 2014 at 14:48 #25541Anonymous @20 February 2014 at 15:06 #25543Anonymous @
P.S. for those who don’t know, Ben Aaronovitch wrote the Doctor Who serials Remembrance of the Daleks and Battlefield. He also did some Big Finish work.
His Peter Grant novels (four so far) follow the story of a London constable who finds himself becoming the only apprentice wizard in Britain.
A friend loaned me the first book, Rivers of London (published in the US as Midnight Riot), because he knew I like Doctor Who and thought a London-based fantasy story might float my boat. My friend didn’t know about Ben Aaronovitch’s Doctor Who connections. Having read all four books in the series, I’m pleased to say that the author managed to shoehorn in at least one if not more references to DW in all of his books.20 February 2014 at 15:54 #25546FaeGrl @faegrl
@ScoutTheAiredale – No, I’m afraid I’m not cool as all of that… my username is because I like “fairies” and the old spelling of that word, “faeries” And the “grl”… because I’m a girl. LOL! It’s not very original at all, but it’s the username I choose when I can’t think of anything clever and REALLY want to sign up for a site immediately. I have a few accounts elsewhere with the same screen-handle. In my younger days, I use to be able to put more thought into it… now, I’m impatient and use whatever that doesn’t return back with “That username is already in use”. 😉
Hmm… I wish I had a book to add here. The last book series I completed was “Harry Potter”… ugh. That was ages ago! I guess I’m too busy writing books to stop and read them. Sigh…9 March 2014 at 19:51 #26303Anonymous @
We all own – and cherish – the books … but here’s the original radio broadcast (for those who can get BBC radio online).
So far, just the first episode has aired but they’re doing the entire series.
And, if that wasn’t enough, they’ve also got the original video game, to be played the way it was in 1984. Some of us might be (*cough*) old enough to remember playing it for real.
(Clue: don’t go for the dressing gown too soon)9 March 2014 at 20:23 #26304Anonymous @
OMG! I remember playing that on my ZX Spectrum, which boasted a massive 48k memory and 8 colours (16 if you counted ‘bright’ mode) 🙂
I didn’t get very far when I first played it, and this time was no different. Tried to brush my teeth and was kissed gently on the forehead by the floor so I went back to bed instead. Game Over!
Will try again later.10 March 2014 at 01:09 #26307Anonymous @
@scaryb I wanted to thank you for linking in that wonderful article commemorating authors. Ah, Lessing, to name one. I’d no idea she died in her mid-90s. What a mind: what great independence of thought. Wit, character, brittle strength. @miapatrick you have a wonderful way with words. Lester Bangs and Lou Reed. Great memories.10 March 2014 at 12:10 #26316
@purofilion- thank you! that was a really nice mention to come across when I was checking my emails. Just been reading Psychotic Reactions and carburettor dung again for the first time in years, really enjoying it.11 March 2014 at 13:03 #26337
She was a mighty woman! All the writers in that article were remarkable. Sad to have lost them all in one year.
(And apologies for the overuse of abbreviations – hanging around texting teenagers too much I suspect). RL = Real Life
@Scouttheairedale (did you see my Douglas Adams post on newspage btw?) @fatmaninabox
Ah, ZX Spectrums. You could spend hours waiting for a programme to load, tweeting away to itself… only for it to crash in the last minute! Happy days!11 March 2014 at 16:58 #26346Anonymous @
Interesting piece that plays it a little on the safe side for my liking. But interesting nonetheless. I guess it’ll have to go here since we don’t actually have a Comics topic….18 March 2014 at 14:29 #26496lifaceeek @lifaceeek
Interesting place JimTheFish, I also found very interesting, but it depends on who you know what it needs ..11 April 2014 at 01:59 #26801PhaseShift @phaseshiftTime Lord
As I was coming back tonight I read that Sue Townsend had died of a stroke (I think). She wrote “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole” and its sequels among many others. But it’s the first couple of Adrian Mole’s that really annoyed me.
Because they were so bloody accurate, the bugger.
I think it’s a rare person who can point out to you how absurd you are while reassuring you that this is completely normal. I was actually 13 when I first discovered her books (Adrian was a couple of years older than me) and she was a fiend. Adrian was a caricature, to be sure, but I think Sue got into the head and the insecurities of every honest teenager with those books. They were hilarious. And informative. They prepared me for a difficult period of life.
Thanks Sue – She diagnosed an adolescent mindset with such accuracy I didn’t have the nerve to follow her reasoning into later. I was a student, and was willing to make my own mistakes by then. I therefore have not followed her work since “Growing Pains of …..”. Perhaps in adult fear?
Also loved the TV adaption – Who wouldn’t with a theme by Ian Dury?
Anyway – that’s my small contribution made. Many thanks Sue. You did a lot.11 April 2014 at 13:23 #26810Anonymous @
@phaseshift — very sad news indeed. Her knack for getting inside the head of the teenage boy was disturbingly spot on…19 October 2014 at 19:24 #33848Anonymous @
Have you guys ever read the Scholastic Book series, Infinity Ring? It’s basically about a Dystopian present, where the is this Evil Organization (sry I don’t remember the name, it’s been a while) and two kids are rounded up by this other good organization called The Hystorians and then this third kid join them in these adventures through time where they have to fix Breaks in history before time runs out. Sorry, it’s my first time. Explaining a book to people online.30 October 2014 at 15:14 #34312Anonymous @
Does anyone enjoy the universe of Halo. I noticed that there was no thread on video games but there are Halo novels. I’m a huge fan and wondered if anyone else took an interest.30 October 2014 at 15:52 #34316BadWulf @badwulf
I’ve never played Halo or its sequels. I was given to understand that it was kind of like Larry Niven’s Ringworld crossed with Unreal Tournament – is that a fair assessment?
I’ve tended to be disappointed with novels based on video games – the main example I can think of are Drew Karpshyn’s Star Wars: The Old Republic and Darth Bane novels, which were shlocky despite being written by the same person who wrote the stories for the awesome video games on which the novels were based.
Are the Halo novels worth reading as a standalone without playing the games?
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