Yearly Reading Targets 2020

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Wilshire

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« Reply #60 on: November 03, 2020, 05:56:07 pm »
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie (33)

Abercrombie is a great character writer, I've got to give him that. A Little Hatred takes place maybe 20ish years after the events of First Law, which means that its largely a new cast of main characters. Its fun to see the old faces lurking in the background, bringing a nice nostalgia factor with it, while still allowing plenty of space for the young and reckless to take center stage. That said, I don't think its altogether his best work. Some scenes are fantastic, but there is not the same overall sense of awe that I had with The Blade Itself. Something is missing, though I can't honestly put my finger on it.

I'll be looking forward to reading the rest, but I'm not feeling an immediate need to start The Trouble With Peace.
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The P

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« Reply #61 on: November 03, 2020, 09:02:50 pm »
I'll be reading this closer to the release of book 3.  I assume the series will improve by each book.  I appreciate Abercrombie's method of plotting the whole trilogy from the start.  It gives me hope even after a subpar start.

Wilshire

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« Reply #62 on: November 04, 2020, 02:11:42 pm »
Yeah I think I'll wait for the 3rd release and read them together. Its not bad, and I still recommend fans of Abercrombie read it, but its a good thing this is the opening to the second trilogy rather than his debut novel.
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« Reply #63 on: November 09, 2020, 03:42:31 pm »
Hyperion by Dan Simmons (34)

Hmmm. You know what, it wasn't as good as I remembered. The first time I read it was something like 5 years ago, and what was a few hundred books ago, frankly fairly early on in my reading career (when judged by read count). So the reread was somewhat disappointing, not quite the incredible book I remembered. That said, its still a great book. The various pilgrims' stories are fun to listen to, though Simmons struggles with making interactions centered around romances any kind of believable.

The setting, the worldbuilding, remains the primary interest. Each individual story is largely interesting by itself, but it doesn't weave quite the cohesive narrative as I original remembered. Brawne Lamia's story is the weakest of the bunch, but it does work nicely to reveal aspects of the universe to the reader.

Altogether, its still one of my top scifi picks, but it might no longer remain at the top. We'll see how it goes with The Fall, and perhaps the rest of the Cantos.
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The P

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« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2020, 02:15:34 am »
I enjoyed Hyperion a lot.  I agree the strength is in the setting.  I like slow building of tension as we learn more about what brought them all on the pilgrimage together and the growing threat of the shrike.
The fall of hyperion is very good, probably my favorite of the cantos.

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« Reply #65 on: November 17, 2020, 02:38:20 pm »
The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

I think I liked this more than the first one.  It opens up the world more from the very localized setting in book one.  There are some interesting ideas and world-building going on that I think the first book needed in order to be more engaging.
This book really solidified what was a nagging complaint I had with book one, and it continues here; there is little emphasis put on relationships between characters, but those relationships end up being huge motivators for their subsequent choices.  Maybe I am not picking up on the author's subtleties, but it reads like these interpersonal motivators are very ad hoc to move the plot along.  In a similar way, the settings and ambience of scenes seem underdeveloped.  I guess the other side could end up with a bloated story (not that this book is short), but there needs to be more.
Despite it all, I will read the next and the one after it whenever it comes out.  It is one of the better new fantasies I've read.

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« Reply #66 on: November 20, 2020, 02:56:11 pm »
Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man: Collected Stories edited by Nick Braccia and Michael Monello

My friend has a horror themed podcast and got to interview the editors of this.  He was very excited about it, so I listened to the Video Palace podcast (it's like a 10 episode radio play), then read the book.  I don't normally dig on anthologies, but this was pretty good.  My only real complaint about it is the inconsistency as it concerns the framing.  The through line of the anthology is these are stories and accounts gathered by some professor concerning the titular figure.  But some of the stories are written in third-person omniscient, which kind of took me out of any immersion.  There are some good stories in here and some mediocre ones, but nothing either amazing or awful.

The related podcast is pretty well done, and worth listening to if you are bored.  The book doesn't require you to have listened to the podcast.  There are a couple references and just one story directly related to it.  I think they put a couple of the stories up for free as audio files there as well; I haven't checked.

Wilshire

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« Reply #67 on: November 30, 2020, 06:01:13 pm »
The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (35)

The Fall is definitely an important part of the Hyperion saga, and it really does make Hyperion a better book. That said, it still wasn't as good as nostalgia memories say it ought to have been. I'm not exactly sure what I missed this time around, but its still a great pair of books. The Ousters remain some of my favorite "aliens" - despite them not technically being aliens at all.

I really must say though, after all the philosophizing, calling The Void Which Binds a consciousness that grows as consciousness in animals grows, but then reducing back to simply being "love" is something of a letdown.

I dont think I'll make it to my goal of 40, but hopefully I can get to one or two more this year.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2020, 06:09:28 pm by Wilshire »
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« Reply #68 on: December 04, 2020, 01:27:34 pm »
How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It by K. J. Parker

Who knew last year's Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City was the first in a trilogy?  It certainly didn't seem like it needed to be followed, not that everything was nicely wrapped up.  This book takes place years later with a nearly entirely new cast of characters.  It is fun getting a completely different perspective on the events of the first book.  Parker is, as always, funny and entertaining to read.  How to Rule, like Sixteen Ways, is on the shorter side and doesn't have the lengthy sections describing mundane processes that sneaks in to many of Parker's works.  I love it of course, and heartily recommend.  These books might be the most approachable Parker, aside from his short fiction.

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« Reply #69 on: December 30, 2020, 01:29:23 pm »
Rejoice: A Knife To The Heart by Steven Erikson (36)

Finished this one last week, and it'll be the last one of 2020. Definitely an interesting book, though more of a Thought Experiment writ long form, rather than a book in its own right. Also, despite it being much shorter than what he normally does, it is Classic Erikson. By which I mean, its told as a series of short stories set around the disconnected lives of many different characters, which he uses to weave a loosely connected story. Anyone who has read even part of Malazan will understand what I mean here.

The ideas presented in this First Contact novel are fun, and definitely worth some contemplating, but as he goes through all the various arguments for/against the positions presented in the books there really isn't THAT much let to think about. It is an interesting take on your standard scifi, and it doesn't quite work - for me. Not that he did it poorly, but Erikson seems to have a very strong writing style that I get tired of very quickly. If you're interested in a book with minimal plot, that reads like Erikson-does-Asimov, this is probably the book for you. Or if you want a first contact story that isn't about the humans somehow beating a stage 3 civilization, its probably a good bet too.
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« Reply #70 on: December 31, 2020, 06:02:53 pm »
The Jackal of Nar by John Marco (29)

This was decent.  It's kind of strange it is touted as military fantasy.  The plot deviates enough from standard fantasy to be interesting.  I think the world building was lacking, almost feeling like the world was just built around the story instead of the story fitting in to the world.  It might not be a bad way to go about writing a fantasy novel, but I think it is better the other way around.  There is good potential for the story going forward, I will continue the series.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (30)

Hey, look!  I hit my goal of 30 books right on the nose.  Schwab is a pretty good writer.  I still think my favorite of hers is Vicious.  This one was enjoyable, but really falls well toward Romance rather than SFF.  But it does so without getting too sappy or boring or steamy.  It is a nice representation of the "deal with a devil" trope; there are some fresh twists thrown in, but nothing mind-blowing.  I sometimes jokingly call myself a literary misogynist, but Schwab is one of the female authors I enjoy every time.  It's worth reading any of her books.  I'd place Addie LaRue below Vicious, but above the Shades of Magic trilogy.