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Messages - Wilshire

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1
Literature / Re: YOU MUST TELL ME ... What else are you reading?
« on: June 10, 2021, 04:51:54 pm »
Gardens of the Moon ( Malazan )

Took me 3 years to read it, just couldn't get into it. Getting it on Audible allowed me to finish it. I'm glad I did, the second half of the book gets much better. I enjoyed it, some very cool characters, some nice twists and turns in the end that I liked.

I'm glad you liked it!

Yeah... So that's pretty much the Malazan/Erickson pattern. Every book is about 500 pages of buildup and 500 pages of crazy action. If they were normal length books closer to 200-500 pages total this wouldn't seem so strange, but since most of the books are 1000 pages it makes for a really long intro.

Also Erikson likes to introduce new characters ever few pages, and this continues throughout the series, which magnifies this effect.

Not sure I'll read the 2nd book unless someone can tell me if it takes up where the last one ends or if it's a time jump into the future and essentially a different story.

Book 2, Deadhouse Gates, could very nearly be a different series entirely. Its obviously not in the sense that Erikson is still writing it, its still within the Malazan universe, and IIRC its still on the same timeline. That said, its a whole new book. New characters, different military campaign entirely, and in fact the writing is much improved  as well. Deadhouse Gates is an incredible book.

Not that I wouldn't still read it, just too much on my reading list to commit to more at this time.

Even though I loved DG, every book is a major time commitment. Its not a series that is worth "pushing through to the end". If you dont have the time, or dont enjoy it enough to spend the time on it, there is absolutely no reason to continue. The payoff at the end of book 10 is in no way "worth it", considering you have to read nearly 10,000 pages to get there. Yes, nearly every book is great in its own right, and yes there is a lot of lore and story that you may want to see through... But at what cost? There are just way to many words to read if you aren't enjoying it.

I recommend you read it only as long as you are enjoying it. If you find yourself bored, its probably time to just put it down and move on - even if that's in the middle of a book.

It took me nearly 2 years to read Malazan, since it takes so long to read each on individually, plus I read at least 1 or 2 books (by other authors) in between each book of Malazan.

Anyways, I like R and Abercrombie more, but I would still give it an A, well written and it got fun to read. I'll steal a few ideas for my D&D campaign ( loved the Jaghut Tyrant - I want to be him and using him in my campaign kinda would make me, hee hee! - not sure if I spelled the correctly as I was listening to the book ).

In case you haven't started it yet, I'd have to say I'm mildly disappointed with Abercrombie's most recent series. I had high hopes after First Law, so its a shame. Still worth a go though, probably.

Also, if you stop reading it at some point, it is worth reading through the Malazan wiki. There's a lot of good idea fodder in there, especially for the Jaghut if you liked them in GOTM.

As for your spoilers... Its mostly explained later. Either read and find out, or search for it on the wiki.

2
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: June 08, 2021, 11:06:25 pm »
A Brightness Long Ago by Guy Gavriel Kay (20)

Now there's a great book. GGK did something amazing with A Brightness Long Ago. The first book I read by him was Tigana, and while quite good,  it doesn't hold a candle to A Brightness Long ago. The pacing is wonderful, actions and consequences piled up without feeling rushed. The way he tells the story through a series of flashbacks and mixed POVs is crisp, unique, and refreshingly. The whole book feels like a brilliantly connected series of short stories, just long enough to make you feel something profound but not so long as to get mired in the telling. You skip lightly across the surface of the world, catching glimpses of the depths beneath.

The way the story is told, maybe even more so than the story being told, is what turns this book into something magnificent.

And who doesn't love a quote about books inside a book:
Quote
So many stories can be told, in and around and braided through the one we are being given. Don’t we all know that stories can be sparks leaping from the bonfire of an offered tale to become their own fire, if they land on the right ground, if kindling is there and a light breeze but not a hard wind?

Someone is deciding what to tell us. What to add, what not to share at all or when (and how) to reveal a thing. We know this, even as we picture in our minds another young man, a tailor’s son from Seressa, remembering a spring ride, how we used to like to sing…

We want to sink into the tale, leave our own lives behind, find lives to encounter even to enter for a time. We can resist being reminded of an artificer, the craft. We want to be immersed, lost, not remember what it is we are doing, having done to us, as we turn pages, look at a painting, hear a song, watch a dance.

Still, that is what is being done to us. It is.

Loved it.

3
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: June 06, 2021, 07:56:22 pm »
Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb (19)

A conflicted review. I like Hobb's writing a lot, generally speaking, which includes this book. But Ship of Magic seemed to have pacing issues. It just takes too long to get to the end of the book, to the point where the entire thing feels like a prequel. This is in opposition to Assassins Apprentice, where the book feels like something great in-and-of itself while still allowing for a much greater story to unfold. So that's my major complaint. Ship of Magic feels like a book filled with sidequests and finally at the end you get to where you wanted to be all along.


4
Literature / Re: Yearly Reading Targets 2021
« on: May 26, 2021, 07:54:18 pm »
Binti got ALOT of attention when it came out (last year?). I'm glad to heard its good from someone here

5
Yes. The very deadly Consult trap that, seemingly, could have gone undetected by Kellhus and detonated wiping out the Ordeal and most importantly...Kellhus....

...thus making System Resumption an impossibility.

For a goal that relies entirely on the insertion of a living, breathing person with Anasurimbor blood, the Consult seems to play awfully fast and loose with things. Detonating an atomic bomb, using the Heron Spear’s sister spear to nearly kill Serwa, then Skuthula to nearly kill Kyutas and to actually kill Serwa. Then a skin-spy kills Kellhus. And the arrival of Kelmomus seemed wasn’t on anyone s playbook.

It bugs me. And there’s nobody that loves this story more that me, but...it bugs me.

Those are all... very good points lol. Especially because we know the Dunyain are the Consult at this point. I think we're supposed to assume they how to get the No-God running again.

Maybe they figured if they did end up killing all of them, they could either go back and grab Theli, or maybe force one of themselves into the thing. After 2000 years, all the Dunyain are a least a little Anasurimbor.

So maybe as an excuse we can say that Kellhus alive is more of a threat than Kellhus dead.
Or, that they came to the same conclusion that Kellhus did, and figured that whoever needed to live to make it into the No-God and seal the world would eventually just make it into the golden room. Since it "already happened"...

That said, those are pretty unsatisfying excuses.

6
What points us to 1? We don't have a whole lot of tests for seeing if something has a soul. Doing sorcery (having a mark, being salted by a chorae) or solving a paradox. That's pretty much it.

Wracu are never described as having a mark or being salted by chorae, so we can infer that they dont do sorcery. That only leaves us with solving a paradox.

OTOH, The No-God controls them so they are similar to all the other weapon races. IIRC that control is because said races don't have souls.

Sranc have language and culture, its mentioned a few times throughout the series but is then dismissed as heresay. I think its pretty safe to assume cultural bias, first by Nonmen and then by Humans, make it a safe bet that Sranc actually do have these things. And they don't have souls.

Skin-spies are complex enough to pass as humans under the closest scrutiny, except by Dunyain and by the halfsies that are trained to see them. They don't have souls.

Wracu don't even have a culture - too few. They speak, but their thoughts run in pretty close circles. Their base obsessions seem similar to the vocalizations you'd get from a calm sranc (if we could understand them).

So to me there's no evidence that even suggests they have souls (with the exception of one cagey response from Bakker shrouded in hypotheticals). On the contrary, everything in the books says that they don't.

Which is why I struggle to see the contrary argument.


7
What the progenators can do, and what the inchoroi can do are very different. The Inhcoroi at the height of their power on Earwa made Sranc and Wracu. Specifically Wracu to fight the Quya. If they could make ensouled beings that could compete directly with the Gnosic Quya - they would have. They didn't, because they couldn't.

That its possible, ie the one-off skinspy, is not really in question.

That said, I'll much more readily accept any in-universe text/explanation that leads to the exact same conclusion as what Bakker implies. I just don't think Bakker's quotes online are particularly viable.

8
Its hard to square much of what Bakker says out of text vs. what's actually in the books. I'm of the opinion that Q/A answers that contradict the text like this are purposefully misleading, therefore don't mean what they appear to mean. I also often feel like the world that Bakker created isn't what he intended to create - and doesn't work the way he expects (as he spent too much time/energy trying to keep things obfuscated and created something else entirely).

If not, then the metaphysics and mystery within Earwa cannot be unwound or derived from the text we have about Earwa.

Look at Bakker's quote again with new bold text:
Another interpretation turns on the way morality is intrinsic to the ontology of the World. If you look at Chorae as 'logic bombs' designed to obliterate violations of code, then you can chart antipathies to Chorae according to different kinds of violations. Thus the difference between Schoolmen and Cishaurim. Wracu are not simply Inchoroi abominations, they are Inchoroi abominations possessing souls. Like the Cishaurim, they do not so much violate the 'letter' as the 'spirit' of natural law. Chorae are 'ontological stressors' in the latter instance. 
In summary: Another interpretation... If... Then... Thus...

He doesn't say that what follows after the bold is actually true, nor that it is his interpretation or whether or not he agrees with it. He is simply saying that some people might interpret the text in this way - without confirming at all that this is how it actually work. Therefore there is no new information in his response, just a simple slight of hand. He only tells us that some people speculate this way, not that this is correct.

So to me Bakker either doesn't know (worldbuilding bottom), or refuses to say for reasons that are his own (RAFO, etc.), but since he has an audience here he does a little cantrip as much for his own enjoyment as for those watching.

The Inchoroi being able to create beings with souls really breaks the majority of the worldbuilding that we have. If they could do that, then they'd have legions of sranc sorcerers, skin-spy schoolman armies, and Wracu that spit wards and powerful Gnostic warcants. There'd be no Second Apocalypse since the first time around they would have been successful.

9
I think probably "portion of god" and/or Third Sight seems something closer to Intellect than Soul. Why else would Moenghus shine so brightly. Also, this explains why Skin Spies wouldn't necessarily jump out in the Third Sight.

The Cish don't see souls, but something else entirely.

10
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.

11
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.

12
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.

13
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.

14
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.

15
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.

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