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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2023
« Last post by The P on January 11, 2023, 04:26:07 pm »
30 last year for me.  That also seems low from the halcyon days of no kids or other responsibilities, but I'm on the rise.  Does that mean I'm taking less responsibilities?  Maybe the kids are less demanding.

For sure (maybe) reading this coming year:
Reread of TGO and TUC
Last two of the new Osten Ard books
Books 3-5 of Ruocchio's Sun Eater series
KJ Parker short story collection out in spring some time
Muir's Locked Tomb series

But so far
Isolation by various authors (1)

Short story "horror" collection broadly around the theme of isolation.  This was actually pretty good all around.  The last horror anthology I read last year (Howls from the Dark Ages) was... amateurish and often not that good. All the stories here are good.  There is a lot of variation in how each author tackled the theme, whether physical isolation or social, emotional, spiritual (?), etc.  The best story came from Laird Barron (I read some collection of his a while back that was lovecraftian), who had a completely wild far future "true crime" kind of story.  The worst, easily, came from Ken Liu.  Surprising, because he's one of the few authors I'd heard of.  His was kind of a "what if the pandemic was the first of many" kind of thing.  It wasn't very creative or interesting.  It felt like he just wanted to make some commentary about the social and political climate of the past few years, while kind of making it a sci-fi story in the dullest way possible.
That one aside, I fully enjoyed the other stories in this collection.  Worth checking out even if only to read the Laird Barron submission.
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Literature / Yearly Reading Targets 2023
« Last post by Wilshire on January 02, 2023, 01:32:23 am »
2023... Go read a book or something.  ;)

16 last year, seems low and I'm not really sure what to do about it. Motivation to read has not been high but hopefully I'll find something that catches my eye.

Holdouts from last year:
Startide Rising by David Brin
Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey
Dune by Herbert

Someone mentioned  Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on December 21, 2022, 01:25:36 pm »
The White-Luck Warrior by R. Scott Bakker (29)
Brothers of the Wind by Tad Williams (30)

WLW is great of course.  It makes a good case for being the best of TAE.

Brothers was great.  Another shorter background story of Osten Ard.  Takes place 1k years before MS&T and involves Ineluki (big bad from that story) and his brother hunting a dragon.  It was not the story I expected it to be.  It deals more with surviving trauma and the limits of duty than dragonslaying.  But it was a very good read.  It was fun to get some ancient fleshing out of Osten Ard and what it was like before mankind had really established itself in the area.  I have two books left in the Last King "trilogy."  I might wait a little bit to start the third since the fourth isn't coming until Nov '23.  I'm very much looking forward to it.
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General Q&A / Re: Second Apocalypse and Philosophy
« Last post by Wilshire on December 18, 2022, 06:01:22 pm »
People do still read things here, if less frequently than a few years ago. Unfortunately I'm not much of a philosophy buff so I can't really direct the conversation further. I do appreciate the words, nice to read you.
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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by Wilshire on December 11, 2022, 11:04:51 pm »
That's a fair assessment. The barbarians definitely had magic but it was tangential to the story and didn't really affect anything. A Brightness Long Ago was the same (though better written). Certainly Tigana was the only one of the three that had magic which was central to the plot.
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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on December 06, 2022, 06:09:44 pm »
I keep forgetting about the Goblin Emperor sequels (I think they are only loose sequels).  I'll have to read them before I forget again.

After Tigana, there just doesn't seem to be enough fantasy in GGK's books for me.  Under Heaven might as well have been historical fiction, from what I remember.  I think the "barbarians" had some spirit magic thing going on, but even that was "maybe they have magics."  I read it when it came out 12 years ago, and haven't really desired to read GGK since, despite him being a good writer.
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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by Wilshire on December 06, 2022, 01:57:04 pm »
I missed a few

September:
1) Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Great book. I enjoy Muir's prose and story telling. Its often silly,  and in places overwrought, but that's really just part of the charm. A definite must read if you're following along in Locked Tomb.

2) Among Others by Jo Walton
This was just OK. It follows the pattern of all the Huge+Nebula winners, which is that it is quite political and generally well written but being on that shortlist is hardly enough reason for one to pick up a book. Its well written surely, but just not that entertaining. Turns out the life and times of a 14 year old welsh girl in the 70s just isn't that interesting to me. At least there are fairies, magic, and a witch, though all three are very limited.

x) Malice by John Gwynne DNF
No thanks. I got through about half but its too much a generic fantasy story without anything interesting to make it worth finishing.

Oct (15)
1) The Torch that Ignites the Stars by Andrew Rowe
Mentioned in an earlier post

2) Against All Gods by Miles Cameron
Not Cameron's best work. I like his writing, Red Knight remains a favorite, but Against All Gods just didn't work. Too many protagonists with too much plot armor to make it a compelling read.

3) The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Fantasy of Manners, which I probably wouldn't have picked up if I knew that going in, and I'm glad I read it. Addison wrote a great book here, with prose dripping in courtly etiquette which helps set the scene. I will probably look for something else from her in the future.

Nov (16)
1) Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
Not as good as A Brightness Long Ago, but a marked improvement in writing from Tigana, though I  prefer Tigana over this (probably due to the setting and themes).
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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on November 30, 2022, 03:36:56 pm »
Hmm..  I haven't updated in a bit.

The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker (24)
The Judging Eye by R. Scott Bakker (25)
Pulling the Wings Off Angels by K. J. Parker (26)
Empire of Grass by Tad Williams (27)
Howls from the Dark Ages ed. by P. L. McMillan (28)

Bakker doesn't need to be talked about.  The reread on discord is trucking along.  The new KJP novella was, no surprise, great.  It kind of thematically revolves around guilt and judgement, and is quite fun, humorous, and dark.

Book two in the Williams trilogy is very good.  Things are ramping up and coming together for the finale (which is in typical Williams style, so big it's split into two books).  There is a shorter prequel novel I'll read first which is thousands of years in the past starring Ineluki and his brother.  It's probably not necessary for the series, but I enjoyed the other unnecessary prequel "novella" he wrote.

Howls was fine.  It's a short story horror collection vaguely set in the dark ages.  None of the writers stood out, and the only one I'd even heard of before only wrote the introduction (Buehlman).  There were a couple good stories, but most weren't memorable.  I've got another horror anthology, Isolation, which should be better.  There are a number of authors I recognize in the list.
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General Q&A / Re: Second Apocalypse and Philosophy
« Last post by SmilerLoki on November 25, 2022, 06:24:05 pm »
Some here do still read!
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General Q&A / Second Apocalypse and Philosophy
« Last post by HeartofKoringhus on November 24, 2022, 05:14:55 am »
Hi everyone! I know this sight might be dead and the No-God series some far-off, fragmentary thing, but I thought it might be nice to reread the PON and AE series and try to find direct textual evidence for what might be philosophical 'inspirations'/basis for the world and thought of the books. There are of course more general comments that can be made, as many have discussed in this very website. However, as someone pursuing philosophy as a profession, I am interested in Bakker's use of fantasy as a vehicle for speculation.

This is something I've just started to delve into in more detail, as prior readings of the series involved little more than recognition of connections, as opposed to deliberate investigation and rumination. I was reading Nietzsche's second essay in On The Genealogy of Morals when I stumbled across a few couple and longer passages that seem to explain some of the reasoning behind the Nonmen's view of themselves in relation to humans, as well as their slow fall into insanity. This is a bit of writing, but I do think it is illuminating, so I'll include more for the sake of those without a copy (Ecce Homo/Genealogy Kaufman edition) First:

"If we place ourselves at the end of this tremendous process, where the tree at last brings forth fruit, where society and the morality of custom at last reveal what they have been the means to: then we discover that the ripest fruit is the autonomous individual, like only to himself, liberated again from morality of custom, autonomous and supramoral (For 'autonomous' and 'moral' are mutually exclusive), in short, the man who has his own independent, protracted will and *the right to make promises*--and in him a proud consciousness, quivering in every muscle, of what has at length been achieved and become flesh in him, a consciousness of his own power and freedom, a sensation of mankind come to completion. This emancipated individual, with the actual *right* to make promises, this master of a freewill--this sovereign man--how should he not be aware of his superiority over all those who lack the right to make promises and stand as their own guarantors, of how much trust, of how much fear, how much reverence he arouses--he 'deserves' all three, and how this mastery of himself necessarily gives him mastery of circumstances, over nature, and over all more short-willed and unreliable creatures?"

"The 'free' man, the possessor of a protracted and unbreakable will, also possesses his measure of value: looking out upon others from himself, he honors or he despises; and just as he is bound to honor his peers, the strong and reliable (those with the right to make promises)—that is, all those who promise like sovereigns, reluctantly, rarely, slowly, who are chary of trusting, whose trust is a mark of distinction, who give their word as something that can be relied on because they know themselves strong enough to maintain it in the face of accidents, even “in the face of fate”—-he is bound to reserve a kick for the feeble windbags who promise without the right to do so, and a rod for the liar who breaks his word even at the moment he utters it. The proud awareness of the extraordinary privilege of responsibility, the consciousness of this rare freedom, this power over oneself and over fate, has in his case penetrated to the profoundest depths and become instinct, the dominating instinct. What will he call this dominating instinct, supposing he feels the need to give it a name? The answer is beyond doubt: this sovereign man calls it his conscience"

"“How can one create a memory for the human animal? How can one impress something upon this partly obtuse, partly flighty mind, attuned only to the passing moment, in such a way that it will stay there?”

Pg. 61: "One can well believe that the answers and methods for solving this primeval problem were not precisely gentle; perhaps indeed there was nothing more fearful and uncanny in the whole prehistory of man than his mnemotechnics. “If something is to stay in the memory it must be burned in: only that which never ceases to hurt stays in the memory”—this is a main clause of the oldest (unhappily also the most enduring) psychology on earth. One might even say that wherever on earth solemnity, seriousness, mystery, and gloomy coloring still distinguish the life of man and a people, something of the terror that formerly attended all promises, pledges, and vows on earth is still effective: the past, the longest, deepest and sternest past, breathes upon us and rises up in us whenever we become “serious.” Man could never do without blood, torture, and sacrifices when he felt the need to create a memory for himself; the most dreadful sacrifices and pledges (sacrifices of the first-born among them), the most repulsive mutilations (castration, for example), the crudest rites of all the religious cults (and all religions are at the deepest level systems of cruelties)—all this has its origin in the instinct that realized that pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics."

There are further section that discuss asceticism which I found interesting in justifying the similarity observed by Achamian between (1) the Nonmen philosophy and religion explicated by Nil'giccas in his speeches to the scalping company (also obviously as a judge Holden analog) and (2) Dûnyain philosophy/system of beliefs.

The above sections seem, for me, to be extremely beneficial in understanding the Nonmen as a nonhuman race with distinct psychological characteristics distinct from humans, which expresses itself in substantial alienness being ascribed to how they behave (in comparison particularly to humans). That is because the Nonmen are biologically a race of Nietzsche's 'free men', at least in affect if not totally in having qualities like genuine free will. Are humans not painted as precisely these "short-willed and unreliable creatures", in comparison to the strong and proud race of the Nonmen? Their culture is one composed entirely, either out of biological necessity or enculturation, individuals who can make promises, be absolutely assure and affirming of their freedom and power and the decision's following. This points to explaining why the Nonmen are so proud, viewing their actions, in comparison to humans, as 'always a choice' (this is I think was mentioned by Moenghus's torturer or somebody in Ishterebinth). The constant comments made by the Nonmen in seeing humans as being like flames quickly snuffing out, as being innocent in a way despite their obvious flaws (like troubled children we continue to love). However this pride in light of the 'fear and reverence' inspired by the superiority of the Nonmen also expresses itself in their 'dominating' instinct in a 'noble', warrior virtue talked about by Nietzsche, which prides those who act precisely as one who can 'make promises' on the basis of their autonomous power as an agent, as a free person. The problem, however, is that for humanity, this ideal is not expressed in biological necessity or totalizing enculturation, but as an extremely unlikely and contingent possibility. 'Weaknesses' for the Nonmen would simply be daily examples of faults in human agency, contradictions in judgments, unauthenticity in action, and our more general moral, as opposed to supramoral (the will to power is amoral) conceptions. I thought this was an interesting way of viewing the Nonmen, as a race of 'noble' individuals, but also as embodiments of Nietzschean conception of what constitutes genuine 'humanity', which diverges in its ammoral character. The Nonmen appear alien in presentation could be then a product of their inherent amorality, as simply lacking the conception of good or evil so definitive of Nietzsche's genealogy.

Regarding the Nonmen's madness, it primarily stems from Nietzsche's conception of forgetfulness and memory. Forgetfulness is a beneficial process for Nietzsche, which allows one to exist in the present, to distinguish time and to allow for a continual/sustainable processing of sense experience. Memory is unique then for Nietzsche, being "an active desire to not rid oneself, a desire for the continuance of something desired once, a real memory of the will." When reading this passage my mind went surprisingly to the Nonmen, as I was just starting my reread. Is the Dolour not the negation of this 'memory of the will'? After the Womb plague and the wars with the Inchoroi and the fall to Men, the Nonmen are almost in a permanent racial trauma, a heart wrenching tragic fall from grace, where the millennia have robbed them of any capacity to experience 'an active desire to not rid oneself' of any particular moment. This then produces the problem of memory and the Nonmen's sanity. In being incapable of actively forming new memories (the extent to which this is true is arguable), the Nonmen are attempting to hold on to past memories as a means of structuring new experiences. This produces a continuous and exponential reduction in how real the experience of the Nonmen, to mean real experience as present and actual experience (in the narrative for example) as opposed to memories. Page 61 clearly seems to provide, if we take these previous arguments to be true, that the Nonmen engage in violence and degradation precisely as discussed in the narrative under largely Nietzschean notions. As a side note this reference to "where solemnity, seriousness, mystery, and gloomy coloring still distinguish the life of man and a people" can apply at least on the surface to the aesthetic character of the Nonmen.

Okay that was a huge nerd out I'm sorry lol. Most likely no one will even read this but it was nice even so to express this in writing

[EDIT (Madness): I fixed your one open italics tag.]
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