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3 hours ago, AxB said:

As the show went along, it became rather obvious that the only fantasy series B & W had read were LotR and ASoIaF. Reminded me of that Marilyn Manson quote about his old guitarist playing hackneyed generic rock riffs over and over: "He had never really listened to Metal as a teenager, and hence constantly mistook his cliches for originality"'

Spot on. Hopefully before I pass from this vale of tears I'll get to see a live-action version of Elric of Melnibone. J.T. and I will both be doing cartwheels if such a project ever actually happens. I'd also be cool with seeing a film adaptation of David Gemmell's Legend. 

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Finished Mao: the unknown story. Its an interesting, but brutal read. Mao may have been the greatest monster to ever live, and the book hammers the point home. 

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5 hours ago, Kuetsar said:

Finished Mao: the unknown story. Its an interesting, but brutal read. Mao may have been the greatest monster to ever live, and the book hammers the point home. 

The fact that he somehow eclipsed Stalin, Hitler, & Pol Pot is very disturbing. When you make Timur-i-Leng look like a high-spirited frat boy, you've laid the groundwork as being a pretty horrible person. I'd say that Ho Chi Minh was just as vile, but it's a question of sheer numbers and I don't think anyone comes close to Mao in terms of butchery of their own people. Pol Pot gave it a run, but again it's a matter of numbers.

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Now reading My Sister The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite. It's Nigerian, about a hospital nurse whose sister keeps killing her boyfriends in self defence. By stabbing them in the back. It does look at how the instinct to protect your loved ones can lead to some pretty extreme moral compromises (the narrator helps clean up the murder scenes and dispose of the bodies). But it's peculiarly 2019, because it does involve Instagram and Facebook (sociopath has to be told to act like she's mourning her missing boyfriend, not post about her fabulous cake), but at the same time they can carry a dead body wrapped in a sheet through the lobby of an apartment building and into the car park without getting caught, because the whole CCTV cameras being everywhere thing hasn't happened in Lagos yet.

Anyway, it's a really good book. Highly recommended. Haven't finished it yet.

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Just read Harmless by James Grainger and it's a really solid piece of horror. Very much a story about the perils of toxic masculinity told in a way that has some real tension along the path. The ending is suitably big in both an emotional stakes and a physical stakes way. Big recommendation. 

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On 8/4/2019 at 7:36 PM, OSJ said:

The fact that he somehow eclipsed Stalin, Hitler, & Pol Pot is very disturbing. When you make Timur-i-Leng look like a high-spirited frat boy, you've laid the groundwork as being a pretty horrible person. I'd say that Ho Chi Minh was just as vile, but it's a question of sheer numbers and I don't think anyone comes close to Mao in terms of butchery of their own people. Pol Pot gave it a run, but again it's a matter of numbers.

Plus the book makes it crystal clear that Mao knew EXACTLY what he was doing, not from some indifference or bad subordinates. It also revealed(to me at least) that Chiang could have wiped the communists out during the long march, but Stalin had his son, and blackmailed him into letting the communists survive.

 

Speaking of Timur, OSJ, can you recommend something close to a definitive history of him? Been looking for one since I read the Genghis book last year.

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Posted (edited)

Just finished Make My Day: Movie Culture In the Age of Reagan by J. Hoberman. This is the third in a trilogy of books preceded by The Dream Life and An Army of Phantoms talking about film history and the title is pretty self explanatory, he starts with film in the mid-late Sixties and follows its American development through to 1990 while at the same time charting the life and career of Mr. Reagan, who it is pretty clear he despises (as do I). Lots of jaundiced opinions about both film and politics in this one (he does NOT like Ghostbusters or Indiana Jones, for example) and being reminded of the shit that Reagan pulled while in office will make you want to throw the book on multiple occasions. Interesting read though, and a complete dissection of '80s blockbusters and Reagan's simultaneously manipulative and pie-in-the-sky psychology. Hoberman's included original passages written for the Village Voice at the time are absolutely scathing.

Here's a link if you wanna snag this one: https://thenewpress.com/books/make-my-day I got mine used from Abe Books. The New Press is a non-profit so they could use the dough if you wanna throw 'em a donation, too.

Edited by Curt McGirt

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On 8/14/2019 at 10:25 AM, Kuetsar said:

Speaking of Timur, OSJ, can you recommend something close to a definitive history of him? Been looking for one since I read the Genghis book last year.

Ah, you would think that a man who lived for over eighty years and ruled much of the world have at  a book or two written about him in the Zoe Oldenberg/HaroldLamb style, which is to say about 25% history 75% fantasy but still fun reads. 

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About half way through The Naked and The Dead and it is a bit of a slog. Mailer’s attempts at regional/ethnic dialect are really embarrassing. I appreciate him showing that the “greatest generation” was just as shitty as all the other generations, though, and some of General Cummings’ lectures on fascism in the 20th century are pretty on point.

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Finally got a copy of Wanderers by Chuck Wendig from my library. I'm about 100 pages in and while it's good, I'm not 100% hooked in yet. There's something about one of the characters that's annoying me, but I feel there's an explanation coming soon.

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Now reading Someone Like Me by M R Carey (who wrote The Girl With All The Gifts). Thriller about traumatised people in Pittsburgh, but there's these alternate realities bleeding through and people haunted by the ghosts of their dead other selves. Seems like there's at least one big twist coming up.

Loved the double meaning in the title though.

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Knocked out Final Girls by Riley Sager. It was solid. Good thriller qualities, an interesting premise, and did a great job pacing reveals to keep you guessing until the end. Probably 50 to 100 pages of...not padding exactly, but repetitious settings/scenarios. Like a TV budget film that only has five sets and has to work around that. Still a solid time and worth the read on the whole.

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Posted (edited)

Didn't really have any summer books, but in the last couple weeks it has become the (Late) Summer of Le Carre. Never read any of his books, but I've always loved the Gary Oldman version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (the Alec Guinness Smiley movies are on my wishlist). I picked up The Spy Who Came in from the Cold out of a discount bin on a whim. Fucking loved it. I love how bitter and nihilistic Alec Leamas is. I love how there's no car chases or running down dark alleys with guns drawn. I love how much of the interrogation scenes are questions about banking procedures and what types of office supplies were used. I love how unBond it is.

Since finishing that one, I've decided to read the Smiley novels in order (though I did skip ahead and am just finishing A Legacy of Spies, since its pretty much a sequel to The Spy...). Finished Call for the Dead a couple days ago and am about to start A Murder of Quality. In various trips to bookstores, I have The Looking Glass War and the Karla Trilogy on tap.

Le Carre is someone I always past by and on one hand I'm mad I didn't read his stuff sooner, on the other I'm enjoying the total overdose I'm going through.

How are the non-Smiley books? I picked up a used copy of The Tailor of Panama, which I'll fit in somewhere after finishing Smiley.

Edited by elizium

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Before I started on Vader Time, I read The Boy on the Bridge by M R Carey, which is the follow up to (I can't say sequel, because it mostly takes place before the events of) The Girl With All the Gifts. It's about a scientific/ military mission that is searching for a cure to the whole Cordyceps Zombie plague. It's told from a bunch of different viewpoints of the people on there, and he does a great job of showing the world and it's survivors from different people's perspectives. But I would have liked a wider focus. It's made clear that events are transpiring in the wider world, but all of our perspectives are in this one armoured car. Maybe he's thinking of triple dipping into the same timeframe, but I think it's probably exhausted. Not a bad book, a good book, but not the book I wanted it to be. I preferred TGWAtG.

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Thanks to my man Dave at Barsoom Books, I've been knee deep in John C. Wright stuff for the last week or so. The dude can flat out write, I started with his short piece in the Jack Vance tribute antho and moved directly to his sequels (of a sort) to Wm. Hope Hodgson's Night Land. Simply excellent stuff. I was a bit concerned about starting one of his series as it sounded suspiciously like the X-Men, but it's far more original. The other thing that gave me pause was his publisher, who has a track record of publishing some of the true dregs of the Earth like white -power nut job Vox Day, but apparently Wright keeps his distance from such folk. Visiting his website he seems to be an incredibly religious man, but keeps that stuff out of his fiction which is quite commendable. Everything points to him being a good dude as well as a fine writer, gets my rec!

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Whoops, forgot to update here in a while. Sorry.

Wanderers was pretty good. A little shaky in spots, a couple of things that could've been left out, but good.

Read Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. If you love alchemy, weirdness, twins, found family, you want this book. It is AMAZING. Best new book I've read in a while. 

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I read Megan Phelps-Roper's new book, Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church

It's a compelling read (she's the third ex-member I know of to have written a book now, after Lauren Drain and Libby Phelps. Drain's I read years ago and really liked, I haven't read Libby's) where you can see her discover empathy and then likely feel some for her as she loses her family.

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@OSJ Have you read any Jules Faye?

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On 10/21/2019 at 4:33 PM, Matt D said:

@OSJ Have you read any Jules Faye?

Wow! Talk about rolling out the obscure... Not only have I read Jules Faye, I KNOW Jules Faye! Well not like we hung out or anything, but I did meet her back in the 1980s. Well on her way to being a force as a fiction writer she lost interest in that and turned to the technical aspects of bookmaking including letterpress and hand-binding. I understand she still teaches and conducts workshops on such throughout the Northwest.

 

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I'm trying to read The Dark Tower. It's going as well as every other attempt to read a King book as an adult. 

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I tried to read it once, but gave up pretty quickly. That was years ago though, and since I'm not a horror guy, that's the only time I've tried to read King.

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Okay, you heard it here first... If you want the most incredible near-future SF series imaginable hie thee hence to the Subterranean Press website or your favorite bookseller (like the Ziesings) and order yourself a set of the Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel. No, you've likely never heard of him, but man oh man, this guy is the fucking goods. Check him out, you won't be sorry.

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3 minutes ago, Kuetsar said:

I tried to read it once, but gave up pretty quickly. That was years ago though, and since I'm not a horror guy, that's the only time I've tried to read King.

As with pretty much anything by King that's longer than a novella, I liked the IDEA of The Dark Tower a hell of a lot more than the actual work itself.  King has this extremely annoying habit of setting up something really interesting and then dropping it completely for the most pedestrian routes imaginable.

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I hit my wall at the beginning of The Waste Lands when I was 12 or so. 

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