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  #51  
Old 01-17-2020, 11:16 AM
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Finished Cadwell Turnbull's debut science fiction novel The Lesson. Interesting but diffuse novel about our First Encounter with an alien race that has occasional disproportionate overreaction to perceived offenses. That part is pretty clearly an sf take on colonialism as perceived by the colonized. I'll be meeting the author tonight.
Cool--this is my next up!
  #52  
Old 01-17-2020, 02:33 PM
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That's a plot point in the military sf novel Old Man's War by John Scalzi, which I really liked.
Scalzi is one of those authors I keep thinking I should try sometime...got any suggestions as to where I should start?
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Old 01-17-2020, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Elendil's Heir View Post
That's a plot point in the military sf novel Old Man's War by John Scalzi, which I really liked.
Scalzi is one of those authors I keep thinking I should try sometime...got any suggestions as to where I should start?
  #54  
Old 01-17-2020, 04:38 PM
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Scalzi is one of those authors I keep thinking I should try sometime...got any suggestions as to where I should start?
Scalzi is a delight to read, but he's not a great author. He's funny and snarky and too clever by half. First time you read one of his books, you think the protagonist is funny and snarky and too clever by half. Twelfth book you read by him, you realize that he can't write characters who are any different from him, and all his characters sound the same.

But I read most everything he writes anyway, because I enjoy the funny snarky too-clever-by-half characters he writes.

So start wherever you'd like. Old Man's War is a great place to start.
  #55  
Old 01-17-2020, 04:56 PM
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All righty then! I can cope with that.
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Old 01-17-2020, 05:58 PM
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All righty then! I can cope with that.
I second Left Hand of Dorkness's comments on all points. Old Man's War is a good place to start. You might also start with the Collapsing Empire, as the third book in that trilogy is due out in a few months.

I read The Seventh Bride, which was fun, and only $2.99 on Kindle, I also started Barbara Kingsolver's Unsheltered, which is not fun but has sucked me in. I'm still working on How Long 'Til Black Future Month, and suspect I will be for a while.
  #57  
Old 01-18-2020, 05:48 PM
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Finished Good Words to You, by John Ciardi, which was okay.

Now I'm reading Fed Up, by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant. It's a cozy mystery.
  #58  
Old 01-19-2020, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Finished Cadwell Turnbull's debut science fiction novel The Lesson. Interesting but diffuse novel about our First Encounter with an alien race that has occasional disproportionate overreaction to perceived offenses. That part is pretty clearly an sf take on colonialism as perceived by the colonized. I'll be meeting the author tonight.
I just finished this, and really liked it. The quiet, thoughtful, bleak mood reminds me a lot of Le Guin, and the reflections on colonialism are more complicated than I'm used to seeing. Good stuff!
  #59  
Old 01-19-2020, 11:28 PM
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Scalzi is a delight to read, but he's not a great author. He's funny and snarky and too clever by half. First time you read one of his books, you think the protagonist is funny and snarky and too clever by half. Twelfth book you read by him, you realize that he can't write characters who are any different from him, and all his characters sound the same.

But I read most everything he writes anyway, because I enjoy the funny snarky too-clever-by-half characters he writes.

So start wherever you'd like. Old Man's War is a great place to start.
I disagree that all the characters sound like him, but the protagonist usually does. And yes, definitely start with Old Man's War. If you like it, go on to others in the series. Also very good: his series that begin with The Collapsing Empire (a distant-future interstellar allegory on global climate change) and Lock In (a near-future pandemic leaves a significant chunk of humanity "locked in" and unable to respond to outside stimuli, leading to major social changes and advances in robotics).

I also enjoyed his freestanding novels Redshirts (an affectionate, on-target parody of Star Trek) and Fuzzy Nation (about colonialism and First Contact).

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01-19-2020 at 11:29 PM.
  #60  
Old 01-19-2020, 11:39 PM
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I disagree that all the characters sound like him, but the protagonist usually does.
Fair enough. In any case, I'd say that his characterization is a major weakness, except that I don't think he's particularly trying to write complex, fully-realized characters in the first place. Four-color is good enough for what he's doing, and it's usually fun enough that I'll pick up whatever he writes.
  #61  
Old 01-20-2020, 09:04 AM
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Finished Fed Up, by Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant. Meh.

Now I'm reading Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, by Maya Angelou. It's the third in her series of memoirs.
  #62  
Old 01-21-2020, 07:25 PM
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Finished Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, by Maya Angelou, which was excellent.

Now I'm reading Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.
  #63  
Old 01-21-2020, 11:17 PM
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...Now I'm reading Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.
I read that last year and thought it was good but not great. Didn't quite live up to all the praise heaped on it, I'd say.
  #64  
Old 01-22-2020, 10:09 AM
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I finished Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee, last night. It's a middle-grade science fiction/fantasy in the Rick Riordan Presents series (which, hijack, is a pretty cool idea: the author of the Percy Jackson books wants to see middle-grade fantasies based on different world mythologies but doesn't want to be a big old cultural appropriator, so he's "presenting" these books written by authors of color that highlight different mythologies).

The novel stars a Korean fox spirit living on a planet awaiting terraforming by the Dragon Council. It pulls liberally from space opera traditions and Korean mythology, in a pretty cool way. Also, gender nonconformity is completely normalized: badges in the Galactic Space Force (or whatever it's called) include symbols to show what pronouns to use for the wearer, and one major character uses "they," and nothing is made of that fact for the entire novel except that the pronoun is used. The main character is a shapeshifter who switches gender, and other than her surprise at how much it hurts to be kicked in the crotch as a boy, nothing is made of that.

There's a lot to like here. Yoon Ha Lee is a great author, and his Ninefox Gambit science fiction is really good. This wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, though. In the acknowledgements, he credits Riordan's helpful advice. Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of Riordan's writing, and this book shows his influence more than I'd like.

That said, there's not a whole bunch of space opera written for kids, espeically if you exclude the branded properties like Star Wars. And the premise is really cool. "Not as good as I wanted" was still pretty good, and I expect the target audience won't be nearly as critical as me.
  #65  
Old 01-23-2020, 08:23 AM
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Yesterday I finished Anyone, by Charles Soule. I think it would make a good action movie. It wasn't a perfect book, but I really enjoyed it. I'm going to pick up whatever this author does in future.


Today I started a book of short stories, Exhalation, by Ted Chiang. After reading the first couple of stories, I think it's likely I will seek out more by this author as well.
  #66  
Old 01-23-2020, 09:47 AM
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...Today I started a book of short stories, Exhalation, by Ted Chiang. After reading the first couple of stories, I think it's likely I will seek out more by this author as well.
Chiang's other collection Story of Your Life and Others is very good; the first-named tale inspired the alien-first-contact movie Arrival.
  #67  
Old 01-23-2020, 12:56 PM
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As a read-aloud for my students, I just finished Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. My dad has asked me to read this book ever since I started teaching, but I avoided it as pleasure reading since I 100% don't want to read about teaching during my downtime. But it worked out great as a read-aloud. It's about a kid with severe ADHD who gets into all kinds of trouble, and how he negotiates a less-than-ideal home nevironment, hostility from the parents of other kids, the fears of moving to a special ed class, and more.

Straight up, the author's sense of humor isn't mine. It's pretty broad, pretty gross-out humor, pretty brash. His Newbery winner Dead End in Norvelt is on my worst Newbery list.

But my students were enthralled, groaning and gasping and EWWW!ing and giggling throughout the book. And it's a pretty good way to portray a kid with serious behavior issues as a point-of-view character.

So, recommended with reservations, maybe?
  #68  
Old 01-23-2020, 07:08 PM
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Finished reading Around The World in 80 Days by Mark Beaumont. He is a British cyclist who in 2008 broke the Guinness World Record for a circumnavigation ride (18000 Miles) around the globe in 194 days beating the previous record by 82 days. His record was subsequently beaten a few times over until in 2017 he decided to have another crack at it. But this time, as the title is a homage to the famous Jules Verne novel, he set that as his challenge. The world record at that point was 123 days so he was setting the stall to smash it just under six weeks early.

He gained popularity for video documenting his journey in 2008 with a BBC documentary but in 2017 there wasn't much commercial TV interest so he tells the story of the business behind the journey, the team behind it, logistics, triumphs and tribulations. It's a good self-reflection of all the things around the journey good and bad, rather than a biography of himself. Enjoyable read.
  #69  
Old 01-24-2020, 09:18 AM
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Finished Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. I thought it was excellent, despite the fact that I couldn't stop thinking that I'd rather read the story within a story in this novel. Maybe the author will write that someday.

Now I'm reading The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table, by Rick Bragg.
  #70  
Old 01-26-2020, 07:57 PM
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Glad you liked Station Eleven more than me, DD!

I've recently begun both The Reverse of the Medal by Patrick O'Brian, my next in his wonderful series of Napoleonic naval adventures, and For One More Day by Mitch Albom, a kinda-sappy short novel picked by my book club. I like the first quite a bit more than the second.
  #71  
Old 01-27-2020, 01:09 PM
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I read So you Want to Get Rich as a Writer? --Let Ian Randall Strock Burst your Bubble... and Then Tell You Why There's Still a Chance


I think he threw that phrase in with his name to help sales by putting a positive note in there, because there really isn't a part where he tells you why there's still a chance. Unless it's his acknowledgment that Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer did it, but the odds are long. The last paragraph in the book starts out:

Quote:
So, what can you expect from your chosen career/ frustration, pain, struggle, far too few moments of joy and elation.

Far too true. I've long maintained that writing isn't so much a career or a hobby as it is a mental disease. Strock, by the way, is one of the publishers who turned down The Traveler. In fact, he rejected the opening at a pitch party. Ya gotta keep pursuing your dreams, even in the face of opposition by the qualified. That's how I got a doctorate.


I also read Margaret Creighton's The Electrifying Fall of Rainbow City, about the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo, NY. I wanted to read it because it's similar in many ways to my book on Wonderland (which started only five years later), and because she also gives a bio of someone that I give a bio on, and I wanted to see how she handled it. A good book, and a good read.
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  #72  
Old 01-27-2020, 01:20 PM
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Just finished Guilty by reason of Insanity by David Limbaugh, its quite good.
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  #73  
Old 01-28-2020, 09:03 AM
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Finished The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table, by Rick Bragg. It was wonderful--best book I've read so far this year.

Now I'm reading Swampfire, by Patricia Cecil Haas.
  #74  
Old 01-29-2020, 09:07 AM
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Finished Swampfire by Patricia Cecil Haas. Meh.

Now I'm reading The Zookeepers' War: An Incredible True Story from the Cold War, by J. W. Mohnhaupt, translated by Shelley Frisch.

Last edited by Dendarii Dame; 01-29-2020 at 09:07 AM.
  #75  
Old 01-30-2020, 02:11 PM
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New thread: Will the Groundhog attend Super Bowl?
  #76  
Old 01-31-2020, 09:29 AM
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Finished The Zookeepers' War: An Incredible True Story from the Cold War, by J. W. Mohnhaupt, translated by Shelley Frisch. I thought this was excellent. It had some great anecdotes about German zoos during the twentieth century. One East German zookeeper smuggled himself across the border in a crate with a moose, for example. And then there was the time people thought it was a good idea to put an elephant on a monorail...

SPOILER:
It wasn't, but somehow, everybody survived, including the elephant.


Now I'm reading This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us, by Edgar Cantero. It's a funny noir about a pair of private detectives who share the same body.
  #77  
Old 01-31-2020, 10:49 AM
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I'm still reading Exhalation by Ted Chiang, a book of short science fiction stories. Actually some are rather long stories but they aren't boring. I've already got another of his collections coming from the library.
  #78  
Old 01-31-2020, 09:21 PM
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I finished Patrick O'Brian's The Reverse of the Medal, which was good but which passed over far too quickly for my liking two major plot developments:
SPOILER:
Dr. Maturin's purchase of the obsolete but still useful frigate Surprise from the Royal Navy, and Capt. Aubrey's trial for insider trading, both rather offhandedly mentioned.


I've now begun The Moving Target, the first in the hard-boiled Lew Archer private eye series by Ross Macdonald (1949). I like it so far - Archer is hired by a rich woman to find her alcoholic husband, who may be off for a weekend of heavy drinking, or may be cheating on her, or maybe is the victim of foul play.
  #79  
Old 01-31-2020, 10:58 PM
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In the book I'm reading, Genghis Khan's soldiers defeat an army many times their size, and the only survivor is a general who flees. The general is captured, but before he's executed, he declares the tragedy of an eagle like him being killed by ants.

This so incenses Genghis that he allows the general to compete in single combat against Genghis's best friend, the best archer of the Mongols. The general points out he's defenseless, so Genghis orders a soldier to give the general a bow and arrows.

"Just the bow, please," the general responds. He snatches the Mongol archer's arrows out of the air and fires them back. The archer shoots the general's arrows to deflect them, twisting the arrowheads together; the general shoots straight through a returning arrow.

Finally, as the Mongol archer twists to avoid a shot, the general fires a second arrow straight into his back. But he's removed the arrowhead! "I could've killed you, you know." Instead of taking the granted mercy, he begs mercy for a child captured by the Mongols; and the fight is back on.

Arrows fly from the Mongols bow like a chain, and one of them catches the general in the chest--but the Mongol also removed the arrowhead!

The general accepts defeat graciously. Genghis Khan invites the general to join his army. The general begins to sing a poem of praise for the Mongols.

***************

The book is A Hero Born, and I don't quite know what to think of it, but it's pretty enjoyable. Apparently it's huge in China. I'd never heard of it before.
Months ago, I thought about posting a review of this novel, and of the difficulties involved in producing a natural-sounding English translation. First of all, the reason you had not heard of it is that, according to the info in your link, that is only 1/4 of the actual novel, which is better known by the title "Legend of the Eagle-Shooting Hero" (or similar). People know it because it's pretty much a genre-defining example of the cinematic epic wu-xia masterpiece.

I wonder, is the rest of the translation available, and, if so, did you finish the story? How did the translator handle all the different idioms/turns of phrase; references to Song or Tang poetry; honorific/humble language people use to refer to themselves (e.g., "this old man", "this worthless disciple", ...) and others instead of pronouns; puns and wordplay; and other potential minefields?

As for the story, let's say, do not expect realism here. It is a martial-arts fantasy in a historical jianghu setting. Good stuff.
  #80  
Old 02-09-2020, 12:38 AM
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February thread: https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=889294
  #81  
Old 02-09-2020, 12:05 PM
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It was posted halfway up this page....
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