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Reading thread - Page 13

post #181 of 799
Snow Crash is one of those books that I've had recommended to me over and over again and I just haven't gotten to them. Trying not to overwhelm myself with scifi/fantasy now that I've started into both The Dark Tower (Currently finished up Wizard & Glass) and Game of Thrones (only read the first book thus far). Onto a book called Flauberts Parrot on recommendation from a friend. Never read Madame Bovary and have no background of Flaubert himself, though it's mostly unneeded and the book is really insightful and succinct at 190 pages. might move back into Game of Thrones after I'm done now that I've helped my girlfriend cultivate a love/hate relationship with the tv series.
post #182 of 799

Finished East of Eden a few days ago. It was so good that I'm unmotivated to start a new book. Maybe more Steinbeck.

 

If any of you Neal Stephenson fans have not yet read Anathem, it's f'n great.

post #183 of 799
Thread Starter 

Anathem was my first, seconding the recommendation. I just got some Amazon money so I'll probably grab The Diamond Age off that. 

post #184 of 799

Any recs for J.G. Ballard?  Interested in the dystopian / sci-fi stuff rather than 'Empire of the Sun', though may read that too at a later date.  Was thinking of reading 'The Drowned World', maybe some of the short story collections.

 

Just finished Ian McEwan's 'Sweet Tooth'.  Thought it was quite a fun twist on the spy genre, I liked the short stories within the story, and the gloomy '70s Britain setting.  Found the protagonist a bit dull at times.

 

Otherwise I've had Delillo's 'White Noise' on the go. I feel like its consistently amazing and very funny, but a bit depressing too, which is probably why I started and then finished Sweet Tooth in the meantime.

post #185 of 799
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lorcan7 View Post

Any recs for J.G. Ballard?  Interested in the dystopian / sci-fi stuff rather than 'Empire of the Sun', though may read that too at a later date.  Was thinking of reading 'The Drowned World', maybe some of the short story collections.

All of it.

Or:
Crash (if you aren't a squeamish type of person
Concrete Island
The Drowned World
The Burning World
High Rise


Also, you should definitely get The Atrocity Exhibition. Not a novel per se, but probably one of his best.
post #186 of 799
Yeah, Crash is amazing, even if it isn't sci-fi. If you're into short fiction at all, you could pick up Complete Stories, striking in its range, and it includes The Atrocity Exhibition.

Speaking of, I found Atrocity good, even fascinating in parts, but in my opinion, overall it was a little dampened by its almost complete beholden-ness to the progenitors of that sort of thing; a little hiccup from the late 60s, almost like a bad haircut: fashionable at the time, but not duplicated before or since. Not that it's bad. It's just kind of like Ballard doing a cover song. I will likely be stoned for this but check the introduction -- Kingsley Amis agrees!
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post #187 of 799
Snow Crash was rad as fuck. I didn't want it to end frown.gif
post #188 of 799

Interested in this JG Ballard stuff mentioned above. Will check out sooner rather than later.

 

Just finished my 50th book for the year. Dayum.

post #189 of 799

Here's something I wrote in the other reading thread (mainly older guys FWIW):

 

51. Ready Player One

 

Ernst Cline's novel was one I found incredibly enjoyable, and read very quickly due to this. Set in an ugly future, where successive poor choices have led Earth to, essentially, be the globally warmed, slowly decaying future many envisage will happen, humanity's main preoccupation is playing OASIS - the first real virtual reality immersion 'game'. Rather than paint this in a negative light, Cline positions the reader through the character of Wade (or Parzival as he's known online) - a veritable loser without 'real life' friends, family or worth, but with a strong sense of community, belonging and freedom enabled from the virtual world.

 

The narrative follows Wade as he discovers the inner secrets of the game - it's creator left a set of puzzles that, when solved, enable the winner to receive the creator's will (with nearly infinite benefit). While, at times, somewhat idealistic, I really enjoyed how the book captured the essence of what makes online communication such an intense and joyous experience - the odd mixture of anonymity with complete honesty, accessible paradoxes, and the nature of trust that's, arguably, a larger part of online communication than face to face.

 

I'm not sure if I'd recommend this to an older audience (of which I think most of you guys are) - it speaks quite directly to the WoW generation, and quite directly to a subset of that (my) generation - the group of people who really came into their own identity and belonging through developing online persona and social skills. That being said, I'm sure those who've experienced this will get something out of the story - even if it's a tad corny at times.

post #190 of 799
I'm reading Anathem right now. 30% through and it's everything i didn't like about Snow Crash. Pedantry on pedantry ugh.
post #191 of 799

Readin 1Q84 and digging the hell out of it.

post #192 of 799
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post
 

Readin 1Q84 and digging the hell out of it.

 

It has some startling and beautiful things in it, but I thought it was a bit of a mess compared to other novels he's written of this length, particularly The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. I actually prefer his shorter, snappier ones: After Dark, in particular. But my favourite book of his is still Undergound, his non-fiction on the weird apocalyptic Aum Shinrikyo cult's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo public transport system in the 90s.

post #193 of 799

Currently reading Altai by 'Wu Ming', a very entertaining political historical novel, by the same anarchist collective who were responsible for Q (writing as 'Luther Blissett'). If you haven't read Q, you should, it's one of the best things ever. In a similar vein, I also just read Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemetery, which is both insanely clever and rather less self-indulgent than some of his work.

 

I'm also ploughing through over 80 award-winning and multiply nominated SF novels written since 9/11, including many already mentioned in this thread, for some research I am doing. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it... ;)

 

Of those that haven't been mentioned already, I would particularly recommend: Brian Aldiss's HARM (he's probaby Britain's most underrated writer); Ken Maclead's The Execution Channel and Intrusion; Charles Stross's Halting State and Rule 34; Lavie Tidhar's slippery Osama; and Matt Ruff's The Mirage - all of which are on a post 9/11 theme - and, of those which are not specifically: Gwyneth Jones' Life, M. John Harrison's Light / Nova Swing / Empty Space, Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt and Galileo's Dream, and almost anything by Ian McDonald, especially River of Gods, Brasyl and The Dervish House.

 

FWIW, I found The Windup Girl interesting but a little bit racist. Did anyone else notice this? It moves so fast it's hard to notice its flaws, but I don't think it's quite as amazing as some here. Mind you, I'm not a big fan of Snow Crash either - way too smug and too many in-jokes for me. I guess as someone who grew up with the original cyberpunk, I find this second gen / parody stuff a bit weaker than early works by Gibson, Sterling, Shiner, Cadigan and the others. I much prefer The Diamond Age and almost everything Stephenson's written later, despite his apparent inability (or unwillingness) to write female characters that aren't male fantasies - at least up until Anathem, which was excellent.

post #194 of 799
I didn't find it racist, but I suppose there are tropes that could be interpreted as simplifying Thai culture, or something.

I wouldn't really call TWG cyberpunk though.... Even Snow Crash doesn't quite fit it, but then I always found authors like Sterling and Gibson so disparate I wondered how they were meant to fit together (Schismatrix and Neuromancer, for example, are such different works). I often feel that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has some mad cyberpunk vibes.

(would like to discuss what cyber punk is at length)
post #195 of 799
Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerMatt View Post

I didn't find it racist, but I suppose there are tropes that could be interpreted as simplifying Thai culture, or something.

I wouldn't really call TWG cyberpunk though.... Even Snow Crash doesn't quite fit it, but then I always found authors like Sterling and Gibson so disparate I wondered how they were meant to fit together (Schismatrix and Neuromancer, for example, are such different works). I often feel that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has some mad cyberpunk vibes.

(would like to discuss what cyber punk is at length)

 

My view? Cyberpunk was only a joke label originally, but it came to characterize a kind of street-savvy, corporated-sominated tech-saturated near future SF, populated by people making a living in the cracks: you can see this in all Gibson's work, and most obviously in Sterling's Islands in the Net. I would say Schismatrix was pre-cyberpunk, although it had some of the elements in place, particularly the attitude to technology. PKD can most certainly a cyberpunk influence / precursor (although his concerns are mainly metaphysical), along with Alfred Bester and particularly John Brunner (The Shockwave Rider, Stand on Zanzibar...). Snow Crash totally has all the ingredients in place mainly because it's an affectionate parody of cyberpunk. Stephenson was writing as someone who actually understood software and computing (unlike, say, Gibson who famously wrote Neuromancer on an old typewriter while listening the Velvet Underground) and was exaggerating all the cyberpunk tropes. I'm not sure that everyone got (or gets) that it was a parody - you see ridiculous comments from some fans to the effect of 'Snow Crash is so much better than Neuromancer', which doesn't really make any sense. And in many ways, we are firmly living in a cyberpunk world now...

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