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2020 50 Book Challenge

Marc Voorhees

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I am joining this very late so rather than writing reviews or summaries for each book, I will list them all and if anyone if curious about one, I will gladly write one! Here they are in order so far (* denotes a book I have read before)

1. When Women Ruled the World - Kara Cooney - Egyptian History
2. Olive Again - Elizabeth Strout - Novel (Fiction)
3. Akhenaten - Nicholas Reeves - Egyptian History
4. Accessory to War - Neil DeGrasse tyson - Current Events
5. The Ark - Patrick S. Tomlinson - Pulp Sci-Fi
6. *Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck - Current events (but seriously)
7. Trident's Forge - Patrick S. Tomlinson - Pulp Sci-Fi
8. Children of the divide - Patrick S. Tomlinson - Pulp Sci-Fi
9. Leviathan Wakes - James S. A. Corey - Pulp Sci-Fi (Made into a TV Show)
10. Caliban's War - James S. A. Corey - Pulp Sci-Fi (Made into a TV Show)
11. The Quartermaster - Robert O'Harrow - Civil War Military History
12. Dig - Sam Chiarelli - Autobiographical/Archaeological Journey (Dinosaur History)
13. Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff - Egyptian/Roman History about.....Cleopatra
14. Carrier - Timothy Johnson - Hard Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic
15. *Diamond Dogs: Turquoise Days - Alastair Reynolds - Pulp/Hard Sci-Fi
16: The Spartacus War - Barry Strauss - Roman History
17.-19. The Tomb of Tutankhamun Vol I-III - Howard Carter _ Egyptian History first hand (1960's edition)
20. Archaeology from Space - Sarah Parcak - Current Events/Technology/Archaeology
21. *Galactic North - Alastair Reynolds - Hard Sci-Fi Short Stories
22. *Mote in God's Eye - Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven - HARD Sci-fi but oh so good
23. *Sands of Mars - Arthur C. Clarke - God Level Sci-fi- Hopeful
24. The City and the Stars - Arthur C. Clarke - God Level Sci-fi- Hopeful
25. *Islands in the Sky - Arthur C. Clarke - God Level Sci-fi- Hopeful
26. *The First Men in the Moon - H.G. Wells - Dear god I hate this book Sci-Fi
27. Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson - Hard Sci-fi, Depressing, very different from his others

I will leave you all with this quote which struck me as being very poignant and relevant from DiG:

"We humans like decorating walls with the heads of animals we've hunted. Big game trophies from distant lands, to testify to our courage, each taxidermied animal revealing we've overcome the fear of wilderness, a sense of mastery over nature. But when I see the skull of the horned Ceratosaurus at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, or the American Museum's crested Dilophosaurus, or this terrifying Allosaurus head mounted for our reflection and admiration, I see more than trophies from a hunt through deep time. I witness the breathtaking fallacy of human superiority. Our tokens betray our ignorance. We don't commemorate our victory over the bodies of dinosaurs; but rather our triumph over the elements. We think their fossilized facial bones are a sign of victory over time itself, over death. But it is the dinosaurs that survived 200 million years and left descendants to soar over us today. Humanity celebrates nothing but our ingenuity in reconstructing their lives. By displaying their mineralized visages, we only perpetuate their empire, both dead and undead."

Cheers All!
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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47. The Plague by Albert Camus

First read this forty one years ago. It was on my too do list along with watching Ground Hog Day during the age of Covid.

A surge in rat deaths heralds the arrival of bubonic plague in a Algerian City during the French Colonial rule. It tells the story of a group of men who struggle to retain their humanity in the face of this calamity inflicted upon them.

A number of passages leapt out as they are clearly analogous with the current predicament.

So you haven’t understood yet? Rambert shrugged his shoulders almost scornfully.
Understood what?
The Plague
Ah! Rieux exclaimed.
No, you haven’t understood that it means exactly that-the same thing over and over again.

A insightful examination of the human condition which has clearly stood the test of time. Highly recomended
 
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LonerMatt

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1. The Tangled Land
2. The Test
3. Grace of Kings
4. Wall of Storms
5. Where there was Still Love
6. The Secret Commonwealth
7. Children of Ruins
8. Hunger
9. Legacy of Ash
10. When we were Vikings
11. The Yellow Notebook
12. A Couple of Things Before the End
13. Agency
14. Sword of Fire
15. How to Fix the Future
16. The Topeka School
17. Beijing Payback
18. The Lucky Country
19. A horse walks into a bar
20. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
21. The Secret Scripture
22. Stone Sky Gold Mountain
23. The Return
24. The Lost Decade
25. Shop Class as Soulcraft
26. Makers
27. Between the World and Me
28. How to do nothing
29. Amusing Ourselves to Death
30. The Bear
31. Eden
32. The Medium is the Massage
33. The Book of Koli
35. The End of Education
36. Exploded View
37. Quarterly Essay: Cry me a river
38. Water Knife

38. Water Knife


A re-read, a book that didn't grab me the first time I read it but really struck me on this second read a few years later. Really interesting treatment of water, state collapse and industry - amazingly pertinent given the state of politics, militias, manipulation and resource fighting in the US/world.
 

Fueco

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65. Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living, by Nick Offerman

Part memoir of his journey from small-town Illinois to stardom, part ode to the joy of working wood (not a euphemism), part ode to the joy of working his wood (a euphemism) with his wife in outdoor settings, and part how-to manual on how to be your own man in this world.

This is as solid of a book as I’ve ever read from an actor (there aren’t many that I’ve read).
 
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FlyingMonkey

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27. Aurora - Kim Stanley Robinson - Hard Sci-fi, Depressing, very different from his others
Well, it's the flipside of 2312 - basically, together the two books (which are set in the same reality) put forward a coherent picture of why we need to concentrate on our own solar system and out own planet in particular, and abandon dreams of interstellar flight and colonizing other solar systems. I don't think it's depressing at all, I think it's bracingly realistic.
 

Marc Voorhees

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Well, it's the flipside of 2312 - basically, together the two books (which are set in the same reality) put forward a coherent picture of why we need to concentrate on our own solar system and out own planet in particular, and abandon dreams of interstellar flight and colonizing other solar systems. I don't think it's depressing at all, I think it's bracingly realistic.
Perhaps realistic, but honestly, I read science fiction to escape reality :) I enjoy stories and ideas that are galaxy encompassing and somewhat hopeful for humanity even if it is in small ways. I really like arthur c. Clarke for this reason (some of his anyway!)

I enjoyed KSR"s red-green-blue series when I read it in college!
 

FlyingMonkey

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38. Water Knife

A re-read, a book that didn't grab me the first time I read it but really struck me on this second read a few years later. Really interesting treatment of water, state collapse and industry - amazingly pertinent given the state of politics, militias, manipulation and resource fighting in the US/world.
I liked it a lot in terms of its politics, but he's an author I find who adds in unnecessarily sadistic violence towards women (in both of the books I've read of his) - in this case, the scene with the hyena, I really found to be be too much.
 

LonerMatt

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And the treatment of the robot in Windup Girl?

Hmmm, to me a lot of his writing takes the POV of people affected quite badly by the change in society, and it's fair to say that when shit hits the fan there's usually a rise in sexual and gendered violence. Perhaps unnecessary but I find it fits with the more callous and dog-eat-dog worlds he is writing about.
 

FlyingMonkey

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And the treatment of the robot in Windup Girl?

Hmmm, to me a lot of his writing takes the POV of people affected quite badly by the change in society, and it's fair to say that when shit hits the fan there's usually a rise in sexual and gendered violence. Perhaps unnecessary but I find it fits with the more callous and dog-eat-dog worlds he is writing about.
Yes, the Windup Girl too, and yes, that's his rationale, but I think he is trying too hard to have his cake and eat it on this one.
 

samtalkstyle

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42. Hope - Len Deighton

Definitely less exciting a trilogy than the previous one at this point. Still a decent read.
Going to mix it up with a non-fiction or two now, while I wait for Charity to arrive.
 

Marc Voorhees

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My Sig. other bought me a few books from my child hood. I was (and am) a HUGE Star trek fan, and when I was a kid I would buy all of the star Trek Voyager novels. I had 17/18 and I could never find the last one I was missing sadly. Well, we went to a used bookstore and she came up with a basket of books for me, filled with 5 Star trek voyager novels, INCLUDING THE ONE I NEVER GOT TO READ! I have read almost 1500 pages in the last 40 hours (they aren't the most complex but they are adult books so I guess they count), it is amazing how sucked in I got once again! Books transport you through time and space, the past 2 days is a big reminder of that.

28. Cybersong - S.N. Lewitt - Sci-Fi: Full of cannon inaccuracies and truly bad character development. Not worth the 24 year wait :)
29. *Ragnarok - Nathan Archer - Sci-Fi : Fewer Canon innacuracies, and this was my favorite when I was a kid, I read it to the point the book disintegrated. Still as good as I remember!
30.* Incident at Arbuk - John Gregory Bentacort - A pretty interesting one involving figuring our sabotage at an alien research station
31. *Echoes - Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Nina Kiriki Hoffman - Sci-Fi This one was pretty good actually. Multiverses and a time anomaly
32. * Battle Lines - Dave Galanter and Greg Brodeur - Sci-Fi This was the last of the Voyager novels as far as I know, it was the most intense, it followed a somewhat formulaic plot, BUT it was well written with excellent suspense at parts. Really enjoyable for a quickie
 

LonerMatt

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1. The Tangled Land
2. The Test
3. Grace of Kings
4. Wall of Storms
5. Where there was Still Love
6. The Secret Commonwealth
7. Children of Ruins
8. Hunger
9. Legacy of Ash
10. When we were Vikings
11. The Yellow Notebook
12. A Couple of Things Before the End
13. Agency
14. Sword of Fire
15. How to Fix the Future
16. The Topeka School
17. Beijing Payback
18. The Lucky Country
19. A horse walks into a bar
20. The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
21. The Secret Scripture
22. Stone Sky Gold Mountain
23. The Return
24. The Lost Decade
25. Shop Class as Soulcraft
26. Makers
27. Between the World and Me
28. How to do nothing
29. Amusing Ourselves to Death
30. The Bear
31. Eden
32. The Medium is the Massage
33. The Book of Koli
35. The End of Education
36. Exploded View
37. Quarterly Essay: Cry me a river
38. Water Knife
39. Dance Dance Dance

39. Dance Dance Dance

Speaking of troubling treatment of women... I'm in a re-read cycle as the libraries aren't operational at the moment here in Melbourne. I remember really loving this book when I first read it, but on re-read although there's lots of charming moments the treatment of women as hookers, hot girls, murder victims and some of the bizarre conversations the characters have with women (about their periods, bras, etc) leaves me a bit queasy.

Not sure 1990s Murakami has aged very well in its treatment of women at all, author comes off as a bit of a creep tbh.
 

FlyingMonkey

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Not sure 1990s Murakami has aged very well in its treatment of women at all, author comes off as a bit of a creep tbh.
There's a really interesting conversation somewhere online between Murakami and Mieko Kawakami, a feminist writer, in which she takes him to task on this - one thing that's worth bearing in mind is that both of Murakami's translators chose to remove quite substantial passages from the English-language versions including eliminating some really weird 'erotic' elements entirely. In other words Murakami is both more boring and much more of a pervert than most western readers realise...

More here: https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/09/haruki-murakami-translators-david-karashima-review/616210/
 
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LonerMatt

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Thanks for this! Good reading on a slow work day.
 

Journeyman

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In other words Murakami is both more boring and much of a pervert than most western readers realise...
Have you read "Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words", by Jay Rubin?

I found it interesting - it discusses Murakami's style, the difficulty of translating, deciding what to omit and what to include, plus some anecdotes about Murakami, too.
 

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