What have you been reading?

LouGoncey

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Reading Tim Lebbon’s THE SILENCE. I saw the movie on Netflix, thought it was pretty good, so I decided to read the book. Very different from the movie. (Takes place in the UK, the digging takes place in Moldova instead of Pennsylvania, etc.) Also a lot more tuned up in the graphic violence department. Looks like I will be finishing it...
 

Nobby-W

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Quite a bit lately, still winding my way through various items of classic space opera.

Just read H. Beam Piper's Space Viking for the first time. Of all the Traveller Fanout I've read, this has aged the best[1]. One can also see its influence on quite a bit of other sci-fi, even Cherryh's Alliance-Union universe. This book seems to be where the use of 'Pinnace' to describe auxiliary craft got its origin in sci-fi[2], which made its way into Traveller and various other settings such as the Honorverse. 3.5/5. This is quite good despite its age, although it's still quite the sausage-fest and women still seem to be relegated to someone a character might marry.

I got a collection of the first three of C. J. Cherryh's Chanur Saga novels and read through that. These books make the aliens seem human and the humans seem alien. The series got a Hugo nomination and moved along at a much faster pace than Downbelow Station (although the 19hr long audio book format may have played a part in that). It's a passable attempt to capture alien psychology although by the nature of the medium they had to be at least somewhat accessible to humans. This one gets a 4/5. They're pretty good, and if you wanted to transplant the Hani, Mahendo'sat or Kif into a role playing 'verse you could probably hand the players a copy of the books and use it as a guide to playing a character of the species.

Then the other two of Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon books - The Lion Game and The Universe Aganst Her. These are amiable fluff and faiirly short, but are interesting for their treatment of a setting in which powerful psi abilities are a thing - really the principal mcguffin of the whole series. Quite fast paced becuase of their brevity, The Lion Game is really the only full-length novel featuring Telzey Amberdon. The Universe Against Her is really two stories strung together. 3/5 Props to the author for featuring a strong female protagonist in a series mostly written during the 1960s. These two didn't date too badly either.

Lois Mcmaster Bujolds Vorkosigan Saga is one I've read a few stories from. This time I read The Vor Game, which picked up a Hugo according to the cover. This one was a fun action-adventure with a touch of humour here and there and a convoluted plot-and-counter-plot plotline. 4/5 fast paced and interesting. Best line of the book: Gregor's 'My parents died violently in a political intrigue before I was six years old. Do you think I'm an Amateur?'
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[1] I read couple of Dumarest Saga books at one point (Derai and Toyman) but wasn't particularly whelmed with them. Maybe the later ones are better. Dominic Flandry reads like James Bond in space (and was written about the same time) and the social mores have aged about as well as James Bond. Anderson's Van Rijn stories were rather better IMHO. At some point I'll read the Demon Prince series.
[2] Of course the nature varies of the craft somewhat across Space Viking, Honor Harrington and Traveller. Pinnace (originally from a Portugese word Pinos describing boats and coastal ships made from Pine) was used to describe quite different types of age-of-sail era craft, of quite different natures and tonnages. One, of course, would never lower oneself to making jokes about pinnace size ...
 
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Dumarest

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Ghost Trails to California (1974), acquired for 50¢ at a YMCA book sale fundraiser. Nothing supernatural as the title may imply, but rather a book about the historic routes to California back in the 1840s, with lots of maps and photographs and "With Selected Excerpts from Emigrant Journals."
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Anybody whose been at the Pub a while knows the American West has a special place in my heart. (I'm the kid who only wanted to visit Frontierland and Adventureland when we visited Disneyland.)
 

tenbones

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Currently reading "Vision of the Anointed" by Thomas Sowell.
 

Dumarest

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The 1932 Tom Mix movie was based on the book, but the 1939 James Stewart movie has nothing at all to do with the novel.
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Tom B

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Currently reading Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan, one of the current masters of hard SF. A black hole passes through our solar system. Not that close to Earth...but it doesn't have to be that close to have an impact on Earth's orbit. Not a big impact, but it doesn't take much for extreme consequences. Very interesting so far.
 

Dumarest

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Just started this one. Not sure what it'll end up being about, but it starts out with a wagon train and a dirty son-of-a-gun leaving his rival to die at the hands of Arapaho marauders, the rival's son getting away and learning from a buckskin-garbed frontiersman to live on the frontier, the trying to settle down until getting needled into aa gunfight with that no-good son-of-a-gun, wandering the northwest...not sure what it's building up to yet, but it's entertaining.
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spittingimage

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Just finished Exodus from the Long Sun, last of Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun series. It got a little confusing at the end. Not as good a read as the first three books.

Followed up with True Grit because I found it in second place in a list of the best westerns. The first was the second book in the Lonesome Dove series but I wasn't ready for another series already. I don't have much history with westerns to make a comparison, but it was a very fun read.
 

tenbones

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I agree the first three books from Wolfe were sublime.
 

Dumarest

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Starting The Key-Lock Man today. This is the cover of my copy:
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I really, really hate how all the recent Bantam paperbacks crop the art from the old paperbacks and stick a huge frame around what's left. The original art looks so much better:
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Séadna

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Currently reading Perihelion Summer by Greg Egan, one of the current masters of hard SF. A black hole passes through our solar system. Not that close to Earth...but it doesn't have to be that close to have an impact on Earth's orbit. Not a big impact, but it doesn't take much for extreme consequences. Very interesting so far.
Egan is a great writer, going for extreme concepts you never see explored elsewhere. If you go to his webpage some of his books even involve a little bit of original research.

In Clockwork Rocket he has a whole alternate universe where time behaves like space geometrically, works out the consequences of that and sets a story in it. Cool guy.
 

Voros

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Listening to this history of the Algerian War on Audible. It is excellent, very well written and detailed but not the dry infodump that a lot of best-selling, popular histories by overrated British authors tend to be these days.

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Dumarest

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Moving on from the canyons of northern Arizona to the Gulf Coast of Texas, today I started reading Matagorda, which looks to be a tale of a family feud, friendship, and betrayal.
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AsenRG

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Ended the Warrior Within. Started this.


For those that can't read Bulgarian, that's "Macbeth" by Jo Nesbo.
 

Dumarest

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Taking a break from Westerns as I happened to get a hold of this Ace Double paperback with a 1962 novel and a set of 1950s stories by Robert Silverberg. Gotta love those covers.
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Séadna

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Finished a round of the history of China and Japan. For China I really enjoyed The Cambridge Illustrated History of China by Patricia Buckley Ebrey and The Open Empire: A History of China Through 1600 by Valerie Hansen.

The first is a nice detailed overview of the entire history and is especially good as a resource for sorting out the details of Chinese history
prior to the rise of the First Emperor as many books can be scarce on details for that period. The second covers the same period but concentrates on slightly different topics such as short bits on the lives of artists and poets, so it's a good companion.
Hensen has updated her book to cover up to 1800 in a newer edition I don't have.

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For Japan my favourite was Japan: Its History and Culture by W. Scott Morton and J. Kenneth Olenik. I felt it gives a concise account that nevertheless leaves you with a good overview of each period. In particular it has a good account of how the Japanese settled Japan and what we know of the rise of the Yamato clan who have served as the emperors from before 500AD to today. Also how their rise shaped the Shinto religion.

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Dumarest

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Taking a break from Westerns as I happened to get a hold of this Ace Double paperback with a 1962 novel and a set of 1950s stories by Robert Silverberg. Gotta love those covers.
The story "Slaves of the Star Giants" in Next Stop the Stars has a great set-up I may rip off if I get to run a Gamma World campaign. I've put off The Seed of Earth for now in favor of Moon Base by E.C. Tubb, creator of Earl Dumarest, possibly my favorite science fiction hero. This is a non-Dumarest novel.
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Dumarest

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Moon Base was a good entertainment, written in a wholly different style from the Dumarest series. The denouement seemed a little abrupt but the build-up was intriguing and gives me ideas for a low-tech sci fi setting with a retro feel. Now I'm going to read The Ship from Outside, a non-Grimes sci fi novel by A. Bertram Chandler. It's another Ace Double with a flip-side of short stories. Or maybe I'll read the stories first.
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Dumarest

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While you're at it, dummy up Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe, tagline "Adventure Roleplaying in the Chivalrous Age of Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart." I don't have the tools. It'll be a Pendragon-derived systen with Passions and Traits.
Speaking of Ivanhoe, check out this beautiful 1950 Heritage Press slipcase hardcover edition with numerous evocative illustrations by Edward Wilson. Got it maybe 20 years ago for ca. $5 at a used book store, before eBay and Amazon Marketplace drove up prices and drove all the good Adams Avenue and 5th Avenue bookshops out of business.
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Séadna

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Now I'm going to read The Ship from Outside, a non-Grimes sci fi novel by A. Bertram Chandler. It's another Ace Double with a flip-side of short stories. Or maybe I'll read the stories first.
What's with the faces in the ship's exhaust? Interested in the plot now. Looks cool.
 

Baulderstone

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Checking out the horror and science fantasy of Henry Kuttner, his work with his wife C.L. Moore is some of the best American sf of the 40s.

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I've long made a point of picking up any anthology or magazine issue with their work in it. It's handy to know all the pseudonyms that they worked under too. They were so prolific that they used a lot of names so magazines could get away with using multiple stories from them in the same issue.

  • Edward J. Bellin
  • Paul Edmonds
  • Noel Gardner
  • Will Garth
  • James Hall
  • Keith Hammond
  • Hudson Hastings
  • Peter Horn
  • Kelvin Kent (used for work with Arthur K. Barnes)
  • Robert O. Kenyon
  • C. H. Liddell
  • Hugh Maepenn
  • Scott Morgan
  • Lawrence O'Donnell
  • Lewis Padgett
  • Woodrow Wilson Smith
  • Charles Stoddard
 

Dumarest

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I've long made a point of picking up any anthology or magazine issue with their work in it. It's handy to know all the pseudonyms that they worked under too. They were so prolific that they used a lot of names so magazines could get away with using multiple stories from them in the same issue.

  • Edward J. Bellin
  • Paul Edmonds
  • Noel Gardner
  • Will Garth
  • James Hall
  • Keith Hammond
  • Hudson Hastings
  • Peter Horn
  • Kelvin Kent (used for work with Arthur K. Barnes)
  • Robert O. Kenyon
  • C. H. Liddell
  • Hugh Maepenn
  • Scott Morgan
  • Lawrence O'Donnell
  • Lewis Padgett
  • Woodrow Wilson Smith
  • Charles Stoddard
E.C. Tubb is known to have written an entire issue of Authentic Science Fiction by himself under various names. (He had 58 (!) pseudonyms.)
What's with the faces in the ship's exhaust? Interested in the plot now. Looks cool.
Haven't read the flipside yet. I finished the novelette last night so I'll likely start the short stories today. If the artwork has anything to do with the stories, I'll let you know.
 

Dumarest

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Not actually something I'm reading but something I'm hoping to read when it's published as it looks interesting:
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"Part epic reading guide and part biography of a music legend, Bowie’sBookshelf is a collection of mini-essays exploring David Bowie’s list of 100 favorite books in the context of the artist’s life and work.

Imagine a beloved friend sharing their favorite books with you—the ones that shaped them, made them who they are, and inspired them to achieve their dreams. Now imagine that friend is David Bowie.

Three years before he died, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning artist David Bowie shared a list of the hundred books that changed his life—a wide-ranging and eclectic selection that spans beloved classics like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and George Orwell’s 1984, to more esoteric gems like Fran Lebowitz’s Metropolitan Life and Hubert Selby Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, and even cult comic strips like Beano and Raw.

Bowie’s Bookshelf celebrates each of Bowie’s favorite books with a dedicated mini-essay, exploring each work within the context of Bowie’s life and its role in shaping one of the most versatile, avant-garde, and cutting-edge musicians of the twentieth century. A fresh approach to celebrating the enduring legacy of David Bowie, Bowie’s Bookshelf is a resounding tribute to the power art has to change our lives for the better."
 

spittingimage

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Checking out the horror and science fantasy of Henry Kuttner, his work with his wife C.L. Moore is some of the best American sf of the 40s.

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I have a copy of Iod on my shelf somewhere. It's a good read if you like pulpy tales.

C. L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry stories are a lifelong favourite. She has a remarkable descriptive talent. The weakest story in the collection is the one she co-wrote with Kuttner.
 

Supervisor194

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I remember buying a copy of Into The Alternate Universe in a used book store just because of the title and cover art. In fact, that picture of the books you snagged reminds me of typical haul I'd make when visiting a used book store when I was in college.
 
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