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Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by Wilshire on April 13, 2022, 04:51:01 pm »
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (5)
A fun quick read. Weir went back to where he's comfortable - which is writing about a lonely, or at least solitary, male scientist solving problems. While this sounds like a boring plot, as with Martian, Weir does a great job making it fun. While its definitely on the more Fiction side of Science Fiction, the writing and plot are entertaining and focused enough to make it entertaining throughout. Worth the read if you want a light scifi novel.

The Builders by Daniel Polansky (11)
It sounds to me like the author either didn't like, or didn't feel comfortable, writing human characters, but that's just a guess. I dislike fantasy being set in half built worlds with lazy worldbuilding stapled onto real world places/histories. Making up lore is one of the prime factors that set Fantasy apart, so doing a bad job at it ruins the book, at least imo.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on April 11, 2022, 01:46:24 pm »
The Builders by Daniel Polansky (11)

This is marketed as Redwall for adults, I guess.  Other than a cast of anthropomorphized woodland creatures, there isn't much similar.  It is plenty violent, fast paced, enjoyable.  It starts off feeling like a typical heist plot, with a bunch of old "crew" being gathered.  And maybe it's not much more than that; rather than pulling one more job, they are gathering to right an old wrong.

I do wonder, why animals?  It's not a fantastical setting.  They talk about Mexico and France.  You get the impression they are in the region of the States, but the setting is referred to as the Garden or the Kingdom.  They talk about the "aughts" as being in the past, and there are railroads and guns, so I'm guessing mid-1800s.  But the plot does not reflect any real-world event.  So why not have it all made up since we're going with talking animals?  Why do we have Mexico and France, but no historical basis for the plot?  I dunno.  This is what bugged me about it.

I liked it, it's certainly worth the couple hours it took to read.  There were exciting twists and the writing was good.  I certainly wouldn't have read it if it was marketed as "heist story set in mid-19th century America," so I guess the animal angle worked.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on April 08, 2022, 12:43:39 pm »
The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft (10)

I very much enjoyed this one.  The story lines in this are much more compelling and make some progress.  The last book spent a lot of time languishing and preparing for all the activity of this one.  My one complaint is the structure.  The story is told in three parts, following a different character for each one.  They all start and end at basically the same chronological points.  I don't know what is gained by separating them out instead of alternating the pov chapters.  As it is, things start, build to a climax, then reset with a different character, build, reset, build.  Pacing aside, each story was interesting, cool steampunk stuff goes on, there are some nice swings of emotion and revelations.  I'm excited for the conclusion.

Miles Cameron is one I'll read at some point, no idea when.  The logistics shouldn't bother me, especially if there are wizards.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by Wilshire on April 07, 2022, 01:02:50 pm »
The Fall of Dragons by Miles Cameron (4)

Finished! Feel like it took forever, but despite that I think the series is very good. The plot doesn't devolve too much in the direction I was afraid of (a contest between gods), which kept most of the stories feeling very relevant. There are a few nice emotional high moments throughout, and especially near the end, but it is very predictable. A large part of the final book, and the series, revolves around movements of troops. This creates pacing issues, but I now think its a feature of the story. Things move a lot more slowly when you are attempting to moving 50k troops vs. 500. The entire story really feels like a  vehicle for explaining how troop movement and placement works, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it also holds this story back from being great. Ultimately too much time in later books is spent describing logistics, which makes it feel like a grind. But getting through that, most of the characters are entertaining and the plot is satisfying to resolve.

I'd recommend it, especially to anyone who thinks "I wish someone would write a book about mundane XYZ". Not because there isn't any great evil to vanquish (there is), or because there is an absence of magic (a tremendous amount of the later books revolve around magic), but because none of that stuff supersedes the hours it takes 10k troops to wheel about into a battle formation from a marching line, or a lack of arrows collapsing an army.  If logistics don't sound very interesting, its hard to recommend this too highly as a series, though the first one or two books is probably worth reading. I'm glad I read it, and might seek out some more Cameron in a few years to see how his writing develops.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on March 22, 2022, 02:22:37 pm »
The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie (9)

Great book, great series.  This is definitely worth reading.  I think it is better as a whole than the First Law trilogy, but the first one maybe had the more memorable characters.  Not to say the characters in this were bad, it's just hard to compete with Logen and Glokta.

The only issue I had with this was the pacing.  I flew through the first three quarters of this book.  It's non-stop interesting things happening until the last quarter, then everything slowed down.  I would have been happy if it ended there, but I am still happy.  There was one more conflict of sorts to settle after the main action, but it wasn't really acknowledged and did not serve to drive the narrative at all.  Then suddenly, "oh yeah, this series-spanning issue should probably be addressed before we close things out."  This is a very minor quibble.

One concern I had going in to the series as a whole was how Abercrombie would address the revolution and political turmoil.  I worried things could get heavy-handed or soap-boxy.  Abercrombie did a good job in how he presented both the need/inevitability of revolution and the horror/atrocity of political upheaval.

Abercrombie remains one of my top fantasy authors.  I hear he's done with the First Law world, but I'll read whatever he comes up with next.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by Wilshire on March 11, 2022, 02:30:53 pm »
The Plague of Swords by Miles Cameron (3)
Pretty good. More of what I'd call standard Cameron at this point. The point feels a bit belabored, but the characters are worth reading about and the increase in scope continues to be logical. The tightest book of the series was definitely the first one, but I'm enjoying it enough to really want to finish it out. I dont expect any shocking plot twists or revelations - the destination become clear since around the end of book 2 - but the investment in time is definitely worth it for me.

The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie (10)
This could easily top The First Law trilogy.  It probably will; Abercrombie has improved over the years.
Well its definitely on my list this year, maybe even up next after I finish Traitor Son.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on March 10, 2022, 05:05:37 pm »
The Trouble with Peace by Joe Abercrombie (10) (8 ) (it's eight you fool)

Very good.  Improves upon the first one even.  I have a small suspicion this was the initial start of the story, but in planning (because that's what good authors do), Abercrombie realized he should back it up a bit to establish the characters.  The result it the first book was maybe a little weaker, but this one is tops.  As always the character development is great, I only wish there was a little more time spent on the three second tier PoV characters (Broad, Vick, and Clover for those who've read it). 

This could easily top The First Law trilogy.  It probably will; Abercrombie has improved over the years.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on March 09, 2022, 01:22:50 pm »
Being and Being Bought by Kajsa Ekman (9) (7) (seven comes after six)

Non-fiction, by way of sciborg.  It was a pretty interesting read, arguing against prostitution and surrogacy with the main argument being that both institutions justify themselves by treating the woman (Self) and her body as separate entities.  But also hits on many other issues with both.  It's not too long, and I would have liked to see the main idea developed more.  A decent amount of it was spent dismantling arguments of proponents of each and underscoring the reality of many women involved in either prostitution or surrogacy.  Sometimes the argument seemed a bit scatter-shot, highlighting class disparity, capitalism, sexism.  Overall, it was worth reading.  Thanks, sci.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by Wilshire on March 01, 2022, 10:19:05 pm »
I am considering grabbing The Trouble With Peace since its on sale. A Little Hatred did grab me as much as I remember Blade Itself, but that was literally hundreds of books ago. Abercrombie is still very good and, of course, if you're looking for good characters/development then look no further.
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2022
« Last post by The P on February 25, 2022, 04:24:53 pm »
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie (6)

Great book.  While he's maybe not in the upper echelon of authors for me, Abercrombie is pretty close.  I like that he doesn't lean on the characters and story from his earlier trilogy.  Some familiar faces are around, or their kids are, but nothing feels rehashed or retread.  It would be pretty easy for him to fall into familiar character tropes, (i.e. Logen or Glokta v.2) even if they are different characters, but he manages to make the new cast wholly unique.  Abercrombie's strength has been his character development, and it remains so.  He takes particular care to make sure his main characters are changed by the events they go through and always in ways that seem real or reasonable.

I can't think of much bad to say about it.  Part of it deals with the plight of the worker in a time akin to the industrial revolution, and that maybe got a little tedious where I thought I was reading a fantasy version of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, but really it wasn't that bad and was put to good use in the end.
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