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Messages - Wilshire

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1
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: May 12, 2021, 02:38:13 am »
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (18)

I struggle to explain why I like this book so much. The dialogue is quirky at best, but is satisfying despite itself. The setting/worldbuilding is honestly a pretty confused mess with a bit of scifi, fantasy, detective/noir/whodunit, horror, yet it somehow manages to mesh together in a way that makes me want more. The plot of Gideon itself is mostly straightforward, but the opening kind of places you somewhere strange and the ending transports you away from the story entire into something new - yet it manages to feel cohesive.

Its weird, but its great, and I had great fun reading it a second time. Muir achieves something fantastic in her first published book, which in itself is impressive, yet her 2nd book manages to outclass and raise up this first one.

... Great things. I expect great things from Tamsyn Muir, and will await her future novels with no small amount of anticipation.

2
The Inchoroi only had 1 dragon - Wutteat The Destroyer of Worlds. They found him in space somewhere, probably Cybertron or whatever.

Jokes aside, 1 dragon as template to create the Wracu. The Wracu are to Wutteat as Sranc are to Nonmen, as Skin Spies are to Humans.

They are just another weapon. We know the Inchoroi can't make souls on purpose, so I think its safe to assume that the Wracu do not have souls.

3
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: May 05, 2021, 02:40:58 pm »
Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip (17)

Finally, a good book. McKillip is a masterful writer. Her prose is whimsical and beautiful, full of magic. Its a simple story, but told beautifully. Highly recommended if you just want some magical magic.

4
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: May 04, 2021, 07:24:48 pm »
Forgot to mention these two, which I read before starting Cradle.

All Systems Red (Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells (15)
This one kept showing up as highly recommended, both for writing and for the audiobook performance. I'd have to say it was just another underwhelming adventure - I have not had great luck with scifi this year. Is it bad? Hmm, no. But its not great either. Scifi Pinocchio story about an android, security robot, who wants to become a real boy. Goes on an adventure, discovers himself in the process, etc. etc. Audiobook performance was passable but nothing to write home about. Honestly I couldn't tell you why this gets so much praise. Its a generic setting with a generic premise, a reused plot, and mediocre writing.

The Awakened Kingdom by N K Jemisin (16)
Jemisin is an interesting writing. She can do impressive thing with prose/voice that surpasses many authors. This book was written from the POV of a newly born god growing up into a god in her own right. Its a novella set in a larger series, which I haven't read. On its own, its executed well but ultimately not something I'd recommend. There's enough talent, and an interesting enough world, to maybe suggest checking one of her The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms books, but I'd pass this particular one as an entrypoint to the greater series.

DNF: Beyond Redemption by Michael Fletcher. Got about 60% through it.
I'm having a bad run here. Another mediocre book. Overly grimdark setting that disappears into its own naval. The setting is a world where clinical insanity leads to magical powers, where the stronger the magician the crazier they are. Eventually their own delusions kill them. The characters are plain paper copies of tropes. The worn-out Veteran gone criminal, the heroic 20-something who sleeps with all bar wenches, the dramatic goth assassin/thief. This merry band of protagonists goes on some misadventures, the classic "one last score" for the Veteran trope, that goes predictably awry.

The bad guys are a group of generically evil scientists and egomaniacs abusing the "perception is reality" delusion to create a god.

The vast majority of the book is spent naval gazing. Page after page discussing meaning in a meaningful world, rehashing characters inner thoughts with their inner selves (sometimes physically manifested, but its still just inner selves), usually circling around their own insanity and how to save themselves.

I found the book tiring and depressing, with too much repetition for me to want to finish it.

5
The Unholy Consult / Re: What's up with the "Second" Inverse Fire
« on: May 01, 2021, 01:42:38 pm »
Senescent isn't really a synonym to simpleton, but closer to old/aging.

I do wonder who those were though. I'd assume they were the 10 grandmasters of the 10 largest schools at the time. We don't really know much about the scholastic wars though.

6
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 28, 2021, 03:02:03 pm »
Cradle series by Will Wight
Ghostwater (11)
Underlord (12)
Uncrowned (13)
Wintersteel (14)

Made it through book 8, and I think I'll probably stop here until the series is finished. It continues to be cheap entertainment. The dialogue is consistently funny, the fights are fun to watch, and the power progression is fun. You're not going to stretch your literary horizons with this series, but as the first 8 books are free on audible, its absolutely worth it.

7
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 23, 2021, 02:01:21 pm »
I started the Cradle series by Will Wight
Unsouled (7)
Soulsmith (8 )
Blackflame (9)
Skysworn (10)

Each book is a pretty quick read and they all follow a similar pattern. Its a power fantasy (Wuxia?) series that follows a pretty predictable path - in a world where everyone uses magic, a kid of born unable to use magic. Something happens, the hero journy starts, learns he actually can use magic and he's special, gets the call to adventure, finds a master. Each book starts with some calamity he needs to train really hard to overcome, the book ends in a fight and a setup for the next book.

Its entertaining. Mostly just training montages, funny dialogue, and fancy fight scenes. The worldbuilding is done largely with infodumps, but its intriguing enough to want to see how it ends.

Wight seems to write 1 to 2 books a year, with the series currently having 9 books and a 10th coming out later this year. Not sure how long its supposed to go, but with the way Wight has set it up it can go on for a very long time. I'll probably read what's available - the series is currently available for free on audible (at least with my subscription) so its mostly something entertaining and easy to read to occupy my mind while I take care of the baby.

8
For posterity:
Q: So it's worth mentioning, in all of this that modern neurscience presumes that the gods do not exist, in your Second Apocalypse saga, the gods are real and sometimes do speak.  Can you provide an overview of how the gods function in a fictional universe where you put so much thought into the inner works of consciousness and philosophy?

A: Yeah, I mean, this is kind of embarrassingly simple ultimately.  The gods are the "Drive," the "heuristic module," the "sub-personal processes" that are constantly underwriting, sometimes undermining, to sometimes making possible, the workspace of conscious, which is the world, which is physical reality in my book.  The whole series is itself analogy, or allegory, for this ancient anthropomorization of the universe and the cosmos only as projected given a modern understanding of the way in which cognition works.  System two, which is reality, system one, which is all the sub-personal processes that are constantly impinging upon System two, with deliberative reality (our conscious experience) and we can crib a term from Lawrence, System Zero, which lies outside of that Inside/Outside.

9
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 11, 2021, 01:17:48 pm »
The Poppy War, The Dragon Republic, and The Burning God by RF Kuang (4, 5, 6)

Well I finished the series, rereading the first two before reading Burning God. Its a pretty good series, but not a great as I wanted it to be. The first book is fun but a somewhat disjointed mashup between magic-school and war-fantasy. The second book is largely forgettable unfortunately. The third book is much better than book 2, fleshing out the storylines that you care about and giving you more of that sweet drug-fueled-shaman-massacre  that you want. It does drag on a bit, but there was no way to wrap everything up given the way things ended in book 2, and Kuang at least had the talent to pull it off.

The last part of Burning God is where it all comes together. The war ends in the way you would expect, but then there's still about 20% of the book left. What remains is a rare discussion about what happens after a war. Ruling a fractured, failing empire ravaged by years of total civil war. And then after all that, an ending that would do even Bakker himself proud. I have a deep appreciation for authors who stick to the story they are telling, ending it the hard way, and Kuang does just that.

I was pretty on the fence about the whole series but the ending solidified it as a very good series. Its got its flaws, but if you want a Chinese inspired, brutal war fantasy, with crazy magic, this is definitely something you're going to want to read.

10
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: April 01, 2021, 01:18:19 pm »
You're making a very strong argument for me to read Stone Dance of the Chameleon. Sounds very interesting.

11
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: March 18, 2021, 12:59:11 pm »
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini 3

Meh. This book is achingly bland. Nothing is done poorly, but there's also nothing great about it. The plot, worldbuilding, characters, prose ... it all ranges from mildly interesting to a bit overly generic. At no point do you really connect with any of the characters, the setting is typical future scifi space opera, the baddies are dumb generic bad guy alienes, the lore is generic "mysterious advanced lost civ left behind super advanced stuff that other races are now fighting over". There are some acceptable specifics that made me want to finish it, but frankly for a nearly 1000 page book its nowhere near enough.

The best part of the whole book is an insane AI that actually showcases some potential for great writing from Paolini, which he uses to explore different writing styles/prose/allusions/etc. and he does so with great effect. But Gregoravich is a minor side character without enough screen time. Actually, this is kind of the problem with the entire book - the most interesting things are either side items that don't get explored much (Insane AI, Entropists, Missing-Generic-Advanced-Civ), or are integral to the story but still sidelined as supporting cast.

What you are left with is a wholly generic main story with interesting fringe elements.

I can't really recommend anyone read this book. Its not bad, but for such a large book there is just no reason to keep turning pages. Its just a predictable and uninteresting quest for a magical technological mcguffin.

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir (1)
Brilliant.... I can't wait for more from Muir.
I was wondering about this book--thanks Wilshire!

Buddy, its amazing. You should absolutely try it out.

12
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: February 15, 2021, 08:19:11 pm »
Yeah Legend is a fantastic read. I read it within the last few years and was very impressed. Like you said, for a small book it packs a punch. I particularly liked the various aspects of grieving/death that it discusses throughout - what a book!

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (2)
It was OK. An interesting magic system wrapped around a less imaginitive cast society with some quasi interesting worldbuilding, wrapped around generic fantasy. I was given the sequel as a gift, but since the books are relatively short I thought I'd just read both. The writing was good, its just that the story is just terribly generic. I still plan on reading the sequel, but I dont expect it to be redeemable enough to upgrade this  series from "pretty good but miss-able" to "must read".

13
General Misc. / Re: Crash Space or just politics?
« on: February 15, 2021, 01:45:18 pm »
Still just politics. I think crash space / the Semantic Apocalypse is still a ways off. Definitely though we get to peek into the black mirror and see what kind of stupidity can be fueled with social-media mob mentality coupled with desperation and a misplaced sense of duty.

The time/distance from phone to brain is still too great. Once we start wiring our devices into our nervous systems and sensory organs, Crash Space will come hurtling towards us. Its the difference between now where you can surround yourself online with only things you agree with, and in the future when you can actually just change setting on your HUD to only see the parts of physical reality you're interested in.

14
Literature / Re: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
« on: February 10, 2021, 03:27:35 pm »
Its called "Fantasy of Manners" and/or "Slice of Life", which are 'sub-genres' or classifications of fantasy wherein little happens - the focus being on the characters/relationships rather than anything actually happening.

I loved JS/MN despite missing much of it in a car ride while it was playing (it put me to sleep). The parts I was awake for were great though, but therein lies the rub lol. In my estimation the JSMN would have been improved by removing half of it. If was was reading a physical copy, I probably would have been skipped 10's of pages at once looking for plot.

I haven't read Piranesi, but it seems that's just Clarke's writing style. As such, I'll probably skip it.

15
General Q&A / Re: (TAE Spoilers) Ordeal before or after
« on: February 09, 2021, 02:04:54 am »
There's a lot of "history repeats itself" or very nearly so, I think its probably central to either the storytelling narrative or part of the mystery still locked within the pages. The parallels of the two ordeals are myriad, and since TDTCB we were given the thought that there may be some kind of looping mechanism - or some other strangeness - given that it seems "that which happens before determines what happens after" is partially false.

As for Nonman-Sranc children being related to the Dunyain, I'm pretty skeptical as well. But similarly, as H said, a Nonman-Human child being intertwined with Anansurimbor line seems extremely likely, and the Anasurimbor family obviously plays an important role in the Dunyain lineage.

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