Book recommendations

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Book recommendations

Post by EncouragementMachine on Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:11 am

I spend more of my recreational time reading than anything else and this place is empty, so I'll get things started! Post your tastes, what you're reading now and hopefully someone can use it point you toward another good read.

Sci-fi was an early love of mine. Bradbury, LeGuin, Heinlein, Niven, Butler, Adams, you name it. I've read an embarrassing amount of old Star Wars EU (what're they calling it now, Legacy?) books though I don't feel particularly connected to the franchise. I am head over heels for anything Dune. Gimme FTL travel (or even just communication!) or megastructures and 7 of 10 times I'll try it. Is post-postmodern a genre? Post-dystopian? I'd be into that.

I read a good bit of nonfiction, mostly for skills like cooking/woodworking but also enjoy dipping into history and biographies. Mysteries are great. Horror/thrillers are fun.

I'm in the middle of Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. Dunno how it ends but I recommend it! Some of the political ideology is a little on the nose but if that doesn't bother you it's got a lot to offer.
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Madzimum Thrill on Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:46 am

I go in spurts every few years where I get back into reading. Probably the most amount of stuff sitting on my bookshelf is sci-fi (or unread things like Harry Potter). I read four or five of the Dune books a long time ago and they're due for a reread at some point, as are the tons of Star Trek and Star Wars EU I have (I sort of like that the old Star Wars EU is dead now, because there's now a legitimate stop-point). I probably need to reread my Arthur C. Clarke, and the last time I went on a reading spurt I read through some Asimov. The first few Foundation books hit me pretty deep, and Asimov has a special touch where every once in awhile, stuff he wrote in the 1950s or 1960s will say something ridiculously contemporary, that guy was ahead of his time.

There's a TV series called The Expanse that are based on novels of the same name by James S.A. Corey that I want to get into eventually (probably when the shows end). Very Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice in Fire in that there are multiple storylines with different casts of characters going on at the same time.
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Lucy on Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:02 am

Reading was my first love (according to Mum I was grasping picture books as soon as I could grip 'em), and I still love it. Depression makes it harder to concentrate on books so I've lapsed from having one in constant reading but I'm trying to stay with it at least cheers I'll give a lot of different books a try, but my main go-to's are horror, fantasy, and a bit of sci-fi and thrillers. I can never seem to get into crime books very well, though; the only ones that come close in my library are some Michael Crichton ones.

Currently reading a series of short stories by Stephen King (a fave author) called Bazaar of Bad Dreams. They're pretty good so far!

If you like Sci-Fi, EM, I can highly recommend the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series by Yoshiki Tanaka, they're being translated and released in English currently and are super-good. Lots of politics, space-imperialism and massive warship battles!
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Werel on Sat Jun 24, 2017 1:32 pm

I’ve been reading a lot of social-criticism fiction from the late 19th/early 20th centuries lately. Henry James, Edith Wharton, Sinclair Lewis, all the shit about the disaffected wealthy in peak America mooning around and hating their lives and each other. Really enjoyed Portrait of a Lady for the “hey, that person’s archetype is pretty much exactly the same 150 years later” feelings, and I’m re-reading Babbitt and remembering why I liked it in college. I’m a sucker for bourgeois authors writing elaborate burns about the bourgeoisie, though. Always happy to get recommendations for that kind of thing.

Haven’t read any really good sci-fi this year, but I’d like to change that. Exhausted everything by Our Lord & Savior Ursula Le Guin, trying to find other “anthropological sci-fi” - anyone know any? I’ve heard good things about Chad Oliver, but I don’t know where to start. Think I’ll check out Michael Bishop’s No Enemy but Time next. I also dig anthropological nonfiction; really enjoyed Nigel Barley’s The Innocent Anthropologist for being honest and funny and self-deprecating but also pretty respectful of everybody he was writing about.

If you’re into first-contact scenario SF, Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem was reeeally good, and it and its sequel were full of a lot of those excellent sci-fi concepts that are new and startling and stick in your brain even if you’ve read a lot of sci-fi. But the second book is bleak as fuuuuuck, I was tempted to put it down a few times cause it was making me want to go to bed and never get up again. Haven’t read the third installation yet, is it worth checking out?

Madzimum Thrill wrote:I probably need to reread my Arthur C. Clarke,
Everyone needs to read Childhood’s End like once a year at minimum

Lucy wrote:If you like Sci-Fi, EM, I can highly recommend the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series by Yoshiki Tanaka, they're being translated and released in English currently and are super-good. Lots of politics, space-imperialism and massive warship battles!
Ohman, space imperialism! I’ll put that on the list.
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by EncouragementMachine on Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:37 pm

Lucy wrote:If you like Sci-Fi, EM, I can highly recommend the Legend of the Galactic Heroes series by Yoshiki Tanaka, they're being translated and released in English currently and are super-good. Lots of politics, space-imperialism and massive warship battles!

I remember liking the anime aaaages ago, piggybacking on my Harlock craze. Space opera? Yes please! I imagine the source material is even better and gets to really dig around in the political intrigue. Thanks for the heads up, I'll keep an eye out!

Werel wrote:Exhausted everything by Our Lord & Savior Ursula Le Guin, trying to find other “anthropological sci-fi” - anyone know any? I’ve heard good things about Chad Oliver, but I don’t know where to start.

That's a tough nut to crack, I'm not sure where the parameters begin and end to that genre. I know Le Guin was into anthropology so it tended to feature but I'm not sure how many novels have made it the primary focus. Have you read the Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler? It's the first thing that comes to mind but I dunno if that fits the bill.
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Werel on Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:26 pm

EncouragementMachine wrote:
That's a tough nut to crack, I'm not sure where the parameters begin and end to that genre. I know Le Guin was into anthropology so it tended to feature but I'm not sure how many novels have made it the primary focus. Have you read the Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler? It's the first thing that comes to mind but I dunno if that fits the bill.
Any SF that focuses on social structures, cross-culture/species interactions, parameters of sentient life/cultures, that kind of thing. Like, the opposite of hard sci-fi. Soft-fi? I liked Kindred, so I'll check out that other Octavia Butler series, thanks!
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Garlic Junior on Fri Jun 30, 2017 5:50 am

I read just about anything and everything. My favourite at the moment is either short sci-fi stories like Asimov's collections or autobiographies. Wrestlers are usually good for a read, but baseball players have also been great recently. Recommended RA Dickey's and Jackie Robinson's.

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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Werel on Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:59 pm

Finished No Enemy But Time, would tepidly recommend it to people who are interested in early human evolution sci-fi (summary: dude from 1980s gets sent back to Pleistocene East Africa as part of government project, joins band of homo habilis at the point when other hominids are going extinct, events ensue). Not a greatest-of-all-time book, but an engaging, melancholy little read.

@EncouragementMachine Gonna check out the first one of the Xenogenesis Trilogy on Monday, thanks for the rec!
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by EncouragementMachine on Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:11 pm

Hope ya like it! study
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Werel on Tue Jul 04, 2017 5:47 pm

Dawn was extremely good reading, nice rec! Reminded me more than a little of Childhood's End, which is high praise. Definitely going to finish the trilogy.

Although
Spoiler:
I never sympathized with all the fear and mistrust of the Oankali, everything they did just seemed like a great idea and entirely fair trade. By the time Nikanj was all "ur pregs" at the end, I'd have just been like "BALLER, my kid is going to be so much better than a stinky old human, fuck racial purity" Laughing
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by EncouragementMachine on Tue Jul 04, 2017 7:19 pm

Werel wrote:Although
Spoiler:
I never sympathized with all the fear and mistrust of the Oankali, everything they did just seemed like a great idea and entirely fair trade. By the time Nikanj was all "ur pregs" at the end, I'd have just been like "BALLER, my kid is going to be so much better than a stinky old human, fuck racial purity" Laughing

Spoiler:
Not everybody is mad into coerced xenophilia!

I'm glad you're digging it.
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Werel on Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:39 am

EncouragementMachine wrote:
Spoiler:
Not everybody is mad into coerced xenophilia!
Spoiler:
Haha, for sure, the body horror elements were very effective. She nailed making it both repulsive and enticing, and skirting that grey area around voluntariness in a way that felt both skin-crawly and totally normal and wholesome. I almost wish she hadn't just jumped over the whole year where Lilith joins Nikanj's household and gets used to it, but leaving that period a big blank makes sussing out the nature and extent of the coercion really tough, so it was a shrewd move if one of the points of the book was to get at the blurriness of consent between captives and their jailers. (Still, I'm a terrible person who was like "nope, ya blew it humans, relatively humane captivity is better than you deserve, you owe these dudes" )
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by EncouragementMachine on Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:02 pm

Werel wrote:
EncouragementMachine wrote:
Spoiler:
Not everybody is mad into coerced xenophilia!
Spoiler:
Haha, for sure, the body horror elements were very effective. She nailed making it both repulsive and enticing, and skirting that grey area around voluntariness in a way that felt both skin-crawly and totally normal and wholesome. I almost wish she hadn't just jumped over the whole year where Lilith joins Nikanj's household and gets used to it, but leaving that period a big blank makes sussing out the nature and extent of the coercion really tough, so it was a shrewd move if one of the points of the book was to get at the blurriness of consent between captives and their jailers. (Still, I'm a terrible person who was like "nope, ya blew it humans, relatively humane captivity is better than you deserve, you owe these dudes" )

Spoiler:
I pretty much agree with your viewpoint but it still is what it is - once the oankali roll up the deal is done. There was never an option where they weren't going to be integrating, and there was no legitimate opt out situation that offered any real freedom. No matter how nice, how friendly, all hippe buddha-esque wholesome - it's still force and coercion. But the very NATURE of the species necessitates that sort of behavior, so there's some big morality questions at play. Things are very blue/orange instead of black/white, to reference the trope. What I like is just how alien the oankali get to be. They're very Other-with-a-capital-O.

I think jumping over that year was a flow decision. It'd slow the story down to bring Lilith to a slow cool and not showing you the hundreds of little moments that acclimatized her to the situation lets the reader still think of the oankali as Other. If we'd been privy to all that, we'd probably have cooled off as well and I think Butler still wanted us to be a little unsettled even if Lilith had come to terms.
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Hornet on Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:20 pm

Werel wrote:
EncouragementMachine wrote:
That's a tough nut to crack, I'm not sure where the parameters begin and end to that genre. I know Le Guin was into anthropology so it tended to feature but I'm not sure how many novels have made it the primary focus. Have you read the Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler? It's the first thing that comes to mind but I dunno if that fits the bill.
Any SF that focuses on social structures, cross-culture/species interactions, parameters of sentient life/cultures, that kind of thing. Like, the opposite of hard sci-fi. Soft-fi? I liked Kindred, so I'll check out that other Octavia Butler series, thanks!

Schismatrix
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Re: Book recommendations

Post by Werel on Sun Jul 09, 2017 9:48 am

EncouragementMachine wrote:
Spoiler:
I pretty much agree with your viewpoint but it still is what it is - once the oankali roll up the deal is done. There was never an option where they weren't going to be integrating, and there was no legitimate opt out situation that offered any real freedom. No matter how nice, how friendly, all hippe buddha-esque wholesome - it's still force and coercion. But the very NATURE of the species necessitates that sort of behavior, so there's some big morality questions at play. Things are very blue/orange instead of black/white, to reference the trope. What I like is just how alien the oankali get to be. They're very Other-with-a-capital-O.

I think jumping over that year was a flow decision. It'd slow the story down to bring Lilith to a slow cool and not showing you the hundreds of little moments that acclimatized her to the situation lets the reader still think of the oankali as Other. If we'd been privy to all that, we'd probably have cooled off as well and I think Butler still wanted us to be a little unsettled even if Lilith had come to terms.
K, finished the second book and have additional thoughts
Spoiler:
So after learning more about how the deal works and how they've done trade partners in the past, I'm kinda on board with there being no choice. It seems like way more choice as any organism gets in the course of its evolution-- there's always at least the choice to either die out/species-suicide (which there still is once the Oankali come: there won't be any more pure humans if all the prewar folks off themselves), or continue in a changed form. Humanity may have a bunch of ideas about evolving "purely" on their "own" instead of being "chattel," but honestly, humans had no choice in becoming humans, so the resisters seemed kind of entitled and myopic. When they introduced the concept of the Oankali Akjai I was like "hey why don't they just do one of those," so as soon as Akin (also: wow v subtle name decision Laughing) got on that train it seemed like the problem was pretty much solved, and I'm excited to see how that turns out.

And re: the nature of the Oankali's approach to humans: the fact that they break the original consensus to allow a human Akjai means they're actually less coercive than I initially thought - if they're willing to do something they feel deeply immoral just because the "captives" demand it (through an intermediary, true), they feel less like captors and more like actual attempted partners. I also really liked how they were portrayed as being strongly, almost embarrassingly attracted to humans as a species. That gave the power imbalance a little tweak that helped keep things complicated, and made the Oankali a lot more interesting and sympathetic to me.

Also re: Otherness, the whole first book I was like "JEEZ, we sure are lucky that our first contact species is corporeal, perceptible by our organs, uses verbal language which we can hear AND reproduce, and bipedal to boot, this is insanely convenient," but was pleased to be shut up when they showed the Akjai Oankali who were nothing like that at all. As sea slug gene-engineers, they feel pretty plausible (still, feels like the best possible first contact species, couldn't be too unsettled by them cause I just kept feeling like "JACKPOT they're being nice instead of just eating/annihilating us")

Iiiiii also really liked having the whole first chunk of the book be the POV of a sentient infant, all those little moments where he was like "fuck I'm gonna get stepped on" were delightful. Really looking forward to Mars Colony Book 3.

Hornet wrote:Schismatrix
NOTED, thanks brah
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Re: Book recommendations

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