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Reading thread

Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by rjbman, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Well-Known Member

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    65. Glow

    This is a delightfully implausible novel that is reminiscent of cypberpunk and great crime fiction. The protagonist, Raf, is a drug-taking, sleep-cycle disrupted, generally marginalised and woefully under-prepared teenager who finds himself at the centre of a bizarre plot involving drugs, mining companies, drugs, actors, drugs, Burmese separatists, sex, drugs and a lot surveillance after the disappearance of his friend and boss, Theo. The plot thickens when a girl Raf meets, and hooks up with after a rave draws him further into an incredibly covert and extreme international situation which, is so ridiculous (in the best possible way) I can't even summarise it effectively, suffice to say an struggling and evil corporation is trying to claw back power and Raf and his friends are in the middle of it.

    Raf, an essentially decent human being, does his best to understand and act rationally and morally and, by the end of the novel, has appeared to make the best of a bad situation. He doesn't emerge a shining hero, nor does the novel end on a massive high - I found this an excellent resolution that grounded the narrative quite well. The high octane plot is also grounded by Raf's character - he's not smooth, witty, cool or capable, which definitely takes the novel down from the impossible stratosphere to the potentially relatable.

    The writing is absolutely fun. It is lyrical, incredibly snappy, blisteringly fast, and romantic in a harsh and gritty way. I really, really enjoyed the writing - like a slightly less bombastic and more pharmecutical Snow Crash. I'll get to it tonight. The minor characters are just a joy: Isaac (Raf's best friend) is so wonderfully typical of a paranoid teenager drug user, and the others (not wanting to spoil the plot) are just so genuine the novel really sung to me. While the plot can often be a bit over-the-top, and a little forced, the writing was really something.

    An extract:

    "She’s half white and half something else, maybe half Thai; and she has one of those faces where the entire bone structure seems to ramify from the cheekbones in such a way that the result looks like a 3D computer graphic from the eighties because it’s composed of such an economical number of sharp, flat planes, except that the angles are confused here by strands of long black hair escaping from where she’s pinned the rest of it up at the back of her head; and she has a small mouth folded towards a natural semi-pout that must be a good shape for when she’s pretending to disapprove of something while trying not to laugh; and she’s wearing a black hoodie unzipped over a slouchy grey vest. There are about sixty people dancing in the corridor of space between Raf and this girl, like a rush-hour Tube carriage that’s learned to vibrate to a determinate rhythm, and he considers pushing through them all to talk to her – ‘Will you immediately become my wife?’ – but then Isaac knocks him on the arm with aplastic water bottle to hurry him up."
     
    3 people like this.
  2. futuresailors

    futuresailors Well-Known Member

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    Yay for more cyberpunk!

    About a quarter of the way through The Peripheral and I can't decide if it's going to coalesce into something great, or was only published because it's Gibson. Lot's of fragmented dialogue and cultural and tech references that don't amount to much. Best passage so far is about cronuts...
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. Abraxis

    Abraxis Well-Known Member

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    On the subject of cyberpunk... I heartily recommend Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl. Best cyberpunk book I've read in years. Reads like a more fleshed out Neuromancer i.e. more filled in and less sketched-out noir.

    Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.
    What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? In The Windup Girl, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi returns to the world of "The Calorie Man" (Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award-winner, Hugo Award nominee, 2006) and "Yellow Card Man" (Hugo Award nominee, 2007) in order to address these poignant questions.


    Also RIP Iain M. Banks :(
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. futuresailors

    futuresailors Well-Known Member

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    The Windup Girl was really enjoyable, and I can see the Neuromancer comparison, though I don't think I'd categorize it as cyberpunk (that you do is interesting considering the nature of most of the prominent "tech" in the story). That synopsis is really misleading-- the majority of the story is dystopian Bangkok slum life, while everything after the second sentence are plot elements. Still, +1 hearty recommendation.
     
    2 people like this.
  5. Abraxis

    Abraxis Well-Known Member

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    Yeah it's just the vibe and the setting feels very similar. it's not really cyperpunk, it was characterized as some other punk... maybe biopunk. its too bad that most of his talents have been going to young adult... but his next adult-audienced novel is out next year!
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  6. rjbman

    rjbman Well-Known Member

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    Definitely agree with The Windup Girl reccs, though I'd also stray from "cyberpunk" though I definitely can see how you'd get the vibe.

    Ordered The Wise Man's Fear (already read it but now I've got a copy myself), The Slow Regard of Silent Things, and The Martian. Also ordered The Supermodern Wardrobe but that's more a coffee-table-casually-flipping-through book than a reading book.
     
  7. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Well-Known Member

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    We had a discussion about cyberpunk in the other hread on books, I'll post my thoughts here:




    So, Windup Girl is a great book, but I feel can't be cyberpunk because it is almost devoid of technology, though it uses similar constructions (large corps controlling the world in fiendish ways) the changing backdrop is caused by Climate Change - not tech.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Rais

    Rais Well-Known Member

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    Picked up Windup Girl, thanks for the rec's. Will start on it tonight.
     
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  9. Distorbiant

    Distorbiant Well-Known Member

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    Check out Pump Six if you liked Windup Girl.

    It's the author's short stories.
     
    2 people like this.
  10. nicelynice

    nicelynice Well-Known Member

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    ~biopunk~

    good book btw, if a bit guilty of exoticizing (is that a word) Asian culture and very clumsy in its portrayal of women.


    I'm on book 3 of China Mieville's Bas-Lag trilogy (Iron Council) and I'm reading really slowly because I don't want it to end. I love this world and I'm sad there's no more books :( He has a short story collection coming out in the middle of next year, hope there's at least one set in Bas-Lag!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
  11. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Well-Known Member

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    I might be remembering poorly, but isn't the only female character a clumsy and uncanny robot?
     
  12. nicelynice

    nicelynice Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, and that's kind of the problem. The only female character worth mentioning is an "oriental" robot that is enslaved, raped, and debased. It's part of the story, still, but some of the more extreme scenes are quite gratuitous in nature. I don't think the character necessarily reflects the author's view on women, but I think that type of characterization is lazy and exploitative, especially without strong counter-examples to balance it out. I enjoyed the book, quite a bit actually, the world-building was fantastic, but I'm a ~white dude~ - I'd have a harder time recommending it to readers more sensitive to such issues.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  13. futuresailors

    futuresailors Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't he balance her out
    by making her super-powered?
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2014
  14. LonerMatt

    LonerMatt Well-Known Member

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    I think that what you're saying is correct - although, and please correct me if I'm mis-remembering, but doesn't she eventually end up quite important and vengeful (therefore not really simplistically victimised, enslaved, debased?). Isn't the female cop a counter example? It's been 2-4 years since I've read this book, though, so I'm asking!

    I thought that the contrast between the robot (Japanese) and her treatment (Thai) as well as the Malay character (all of which I thought were relatively well done) moved beyond a typified oriental Asia and towards something a bit mroe nuanced and fragmented.
     
  15. Bryer Leather

    Bryer Leather Active Member

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    I just finished The Millionaire Next Door, and although its older, it definitely still resonates as true today, and gave great insight as how and why exactly some 'normal' people are able to reach decamillionaire status.

    Next in line, I am reading Adventures in Business, only because I have heard it be recommended so many times, anyone out there who's read it and liked it?

    Thanks!
     
  16. Bryer Leather

    Bryer Leather Active Member

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    Lest not forget Anna Karenina.. a great literary work, but the slowest longest and least exciting book ever..
     
  17. eluther

    eluther Well-Known Member

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    Come on, it's not that bad. Have you ever the dictionary?
     
  18. Bryer Leather

    Bryer Leather Active Member

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    HAHA! Good one eluther! Although I really liked the Brothers Karamazov another long long book by a russian guy. :)
     
  19. momentoftruth

    momentoftruth Well-Known Member

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    as another russian guy once said "what is this I can't even"
     
  20. t3hg0suazn

    t3hg0suazn Well-Known Member

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    I'm finding reading Proust on the subway to be difficult. The whole stream of consciousness thing just breezes by me without comprehension if I'm not paying enough attention. I'll pretend this is the intended effect and roll with it...
     
    1 person likes this.

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