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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: May 27, 2020, 06:59:59 pm »
The Masters by Ricardo Pinto

This is a reworking and tightening of the trilogy Stone Dance of the Chameleon, which I hadn't heard about until recently.  The setting is pretty unique, kind of a Mayan stone-age vibe.  The society is pretty brutal, with the ruling elite treating all the other races/people as no better than animals.  I am very interested to learn more about the world, specifically what makes the elite the way they are.  Hopefully it goes in a more supernatural/mysterious vein.  Going forward, I expect there to be a strong theme/plot of the "lesser" races rising up against the oppressive ruling class.  I hope there is more to it than that.  There are certainly hints of some supernatural oddities, though it remains light on the magic and mysticism so far.  More to come; the first three are out, and the remaining four are scheduled to come out over the course of the rest of the year.

General Misc. / Re: What are you watching?
« on: May 19, 2020, 01:50:17 pm »
Within the first 10 seconds or so of "Parasyte: The Maxim" on Netflix, there is a nice representation of a skin spy.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: May 12, 2020, 01:57:44 pm »
I finished The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco a couple weeks ago.  It is a decent book.  The setting and world are pretty unique.  The chapters are framed by some guy seeking out the bone witch, with the bulk of the story consisting of her telling him about her past.  I was pretty interested by the "present" story, as it seemed the bone witch was gearing up to do some crazy cool stuff.  But that part of the story was only a few paragraphs every chapter.  Her training was a lot of dresses and jewelry and dancing and a little witchery; very "geisha-ey."  The writing was fine, and the world was unique, but I just wanted to get through to the interesting things happening in the "present."

The last couple weeks, I've been reading the sequel The Heart Forger.  It's more of the same.  More interesting things are happening in the "present."  The related "past" bulk of the story is more interesting, too, but I reached a point (about halfway) where I realized I didn't care much at all about most of the story.  I doubt I'll finish it.

The Unholy Consult / Re: [TUC Spoilers] Ajokli, Gods, and Chorae
« on: May 05, 2020, 03:04:59 am »
I haven't really thought much about the how.... The chorae are creations of Aporos, right?  That word brings to mind "aporetic."  The dictionary tells several things, but in rhetoric, it means "expressing doubt."  Perhaps that's some kind of metaphorical-made-physical device Bakker is using in that doubts are meaningless in the presence of the manifestation of a god.

But then, I think the skin spies are creatures of Techne, not Aporos, so that wouldn't hold....

And also "aporos," straight from greek is "without means" or "destitute," so I am again probably sliding down a rabbit hole of meaning.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: April 14, 2020, 01:57:06 pm »
The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

This was a good one.  Ann Leckie dips into fantasy and continues to play with unusual narrative framing, in this case the story told in second person to one of the characters.  It was immersive and worked out well.  She also plays around with gender, but again manages to do it without being preachy or agenda-driven (I mention this mostly because I recently read Kameron Hurley's The Mirror Empire).  With Leckie's books, it is just part of the character/world/story, whereas Hurley seems to constantly be shouting, "Look how woke I am!"

In any case, I certainly recommend this and any other Leckie (with less emphasis on Provenance).  I hope she writes more fantasy in the future.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: April 07, 2020, 12:27:55 am »
Men At Arms by Terry Pratchett

I liked it much better than Guards! Guards!  The clown funeral actually gave me an audible chuckle.  Pratchett seems too be too coy at times with the movements of minor characters.  Having a section where a character is doing something important but not introducing the reader to that character until much later kind of jars me out of the flow.  It would probably work well if i was reading the book over the course of a couple days instead of a couple weeks, but so it is.

Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson

Ugh.  What a tedious book.  I actually attempted to read it long ago (19 years actually, made it to chapter 3 according to the bookmark).  I persevered this time.  Am I getting old because i found the most interesting part to be the beginning before Covenant goes to The Land?  Once there, it's just a tiresome succession of boring events mainly showcasing what a jerk the main character is.  I don't mind unlikable characters, and I suppose this was revolutionary 40 years ago, but I really had to force myself through this.  I did not care at all what happened.  Maybe I just don't get what Donaldson is trying to convey through it all.  There was one interchange between Covenant and the Giant I really liked, the rest was forgettable.  Maybe I'll add the quote to the Quotes thread.

Update: Ah, I knew it was familiar from somewhere when I read it.  It was actually already posted here:

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: March 06, 2020, 04:21:52 pm »
My Beautiful Life by K. J. Parker

This one was middling as far as other Parker novellas go, but still very good.  The intro claims it is basically the story of an actual historical 11th century figure.  I did some deep diving in to wikipedia and found the guy (Michael IV the Paphlagonian, ftw).  Parker merged some co-regents and eliminated some family members for cohesion, added some narrative embellishments, but this is the closest I'll get to reading actual history.

(Quick aside to Echopraxia, I probably enjoyed reading the notes at the end more than the actual story)

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: March 05, 2020, 02:44:31 pm »
Echopraxia by Peter Watts

I was kind of let down by this one.  Maybe I didn't understand a lot of it (likely), but its plot seemed a lot less focused than in Blindsight.  I do enjoy all the different takes on cognition and the various paths of post-humanity.  The inclusion of faith and God (or the idea of God) in hard sci-fi was pretty well done, too.

General Misc. / Re: Strings
« on: February 26, 2020, 04:42:05 pm »
TH's question is pretty straight forward.  Who is pulling my strings?  As far as I know, I'm not brainwashed.  Any influences I've had put on me, I think I've had the opportunity to accept or overcome; be it advertising, social pressures, indoctrination.
Certainly it's possible for a person's strings to be pulled by various forces, but I think most of the time it's just "you" doing the pulling.

General Misc. / Re: Strings
« on: February 26, 2020, 04:04:39 pm »
Yeah, how "you" is defined is key.  Someone can condition you to have a pavlovian conditioned response, but then I'd say that "you" is changed to the person with that response.

I guess we need to define "pulling" as well.  If that connotes a conscious decision, then any subconscious action or response can't be "pulled" by "you."  I didn't really think of pulling as a conscious decision before writing that last bit.

General Misc. / Re: Strings
« on: February 26, 2020, 03:43:55 pm »
I am pretty firmly in the "you" camp on this.  You are the sum of all the external and internal influences over the course of your life.  If you see a clown and hightail the other way, it's because you are the person who watched "It" when they were five.
I guess it could be argued then that "It" or the person who let you watch it or Steven King is pulling your strings.  But you are also the person whose mind had a greater susceptibility to being scared by Tim Curry in a clown suit.  And you are the person who didn't confront, rationalize and overcome your fear.
Maybe you can't help it, that's just how your brain was wired through genetics, evolution, creation, whatever, but it is still "you" whether making a conscious choice or not.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: February 18, 2020, 02:47:57 pm »
Prosper's Demon by K. J. Parker

Parker continues to be a master of the short form.  His longer work can occasionally get tedious, but I don't mind a couple pages for a crash course in bronze-casting in a tight story.  Wry humour, quotable lines, the inevitable twist.  Classic Parker.

Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2020
« on: February 17, 2020, 04:21:25 pm »
I enjoyed Hobb.  I read the Farseer trilogy in the mid 90s.  In 2018, I decided I read too many male authors, so spent the dedicated the whole year to female authors.  A decent portion of the was Hobb's entire Realm of the Elderlings.  The way she ties together the disparate stories over decades of plot is impressive.

Poppy War is on my list, I think it's one I need to wait until the trilogy or whatever is closer to done.  Oh crap, just looked it up, and book three is due in May (according to Amazon)?  Guess I'll short-list it.

Just finished Blindsight.  It was pretty good, but seemed to be lacking something...  It was suitably creepy.  The vampire thing was a little jarring at first, but was well-done (including the video presentation).  I don't know if I just expected the blindsight condition to figure more in the story or what.  It was still enjoyable, and I'll pick up Echopraxia at some point.

Next up, I realized K. J. Parker snuck a couple novellas through my radar in the past few months.

Plus he's mentioned to me since "revealing" The No-God title that he didn't want readers going through the preceding novels expecting Kellhus' to become the No-God (given that the third series title breaks the convention of series titles).
As the saying goes, two is just a coincidence!

I thought it was "two out of three ain't bad"

Back to eucalyptus, I know it grows all over the place.  I mention its nativity to Australia and surrounding islands merely to point out why it stuck out to me in the first place.  Certainly, and likely, there is no significance.

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