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2020 50 Book Challenge

FlyingMonkey

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I was thinking content not name dropping 😂
Yeah, yeah - no, Ron is excellent and the book / lectures are probably the best introduction to the state of surveillance and privacy around, particularly online, and what we might do about it
 

Fueco

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72. Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other, by Sam Heughan, Graham McTavish, and Diana Gabaldon

Part memoir of the making of Outlander, part history of Scotland, and part rambling tales of the misadventures of a couple of Scottish actors.
 

FlyingMonkey

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89. The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal
I quite enjoyed the first two volumes of what is now becoming the 'Lady Astronaut' series. The set-up is basically that a meteorite hits earth in the 1950s, not far from Washington DC, destroying the US capital and a lot of the military command and infrastructure too, and worse, the Earth is facing utter climatic destruction in the longer term. Governments are forced to accelerate space programs to develop long-term plans to get people to the Moon and Mars. This means that they need all the best pilots they can get and while the world remains highly conservation, female pilots (who let's not forget, did much of the testing and delivery of planes during WW2) end up as astronauts alongside the men (who are not always happy about this). However, despite the death and destruction caused by the initital impact and the obvious changes to the weather, a lot of people remain unconvinced about the prospects and oppose the space program, and some have formed a violent Christian-inspired terrorist organisation, Earth First.

With Elma, the original Lady Astronaut, now en route to Mars, this novel focuses on the Nicole Wargin, another astronaut, who was a minor character in the first novels, who is also the wife of a senior politician, a possibility for next president. She was a spy in the war, but her other secrets are her her anorexia and anxiety, both of which she barely keeps under control. She's an important pilot and leader for the Moon colonization program, and this novel focuses on the threat to the colony posed by Earth First infiltrators who become increasingly dangerous in their attempts to make it fail.

The novels are written with a deliberately 1950s feeling. They are melodramatic, almost Douglas Sirk-like in their sometimes over-the-top emotional tone. Despite the protagonist claiming to not believe in god, there is a strong Christian feel, which I guess in characteristic of the USA, and particularly the USA of the time, and the heterosexual married love and sex are ethusiastic and frankly annoying. By this novel, which is twice as long as either of the previous ones, this is all becoming a bit tiresome, and it really drags at this length. At least a third, perhaps half, of the novel is really just establishing the situation, which we really don't need. It does pick up in speed and plot in the last third but I don't think this salvages a relatively flabby book. And finally, for all its research, which the author is really keen to tell you about, compared with other recent Moon-set novels, in particular Ian McDonald's Luna sequence, this book really suffers in its portrayal of the Moon as an environment and moonbase life. Sure, McDonald's is a much more advanced society, but the dangers of the Moon seem far more real, the dust more everpresent, the contrasts starker. A disappointment.
 

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
40. Norwegian Wood
41. Snow Crash
42. Being Ecological
43. The Trials of Koli
44. A Deadly Education
45. New Dark Age
46. The girl and the stars
47. Demon in white
48. Infinite Splendour
49. Legacy of Steel
50. The Practice
51. Three Body Problem

51. Three Body Problem


A bit of a famous modern SF novel that's about the discovery of a sentient alien species by Chinese scientists in the fall out of the cultural revolution.

I love the parts of the novel that look back on the cultural revolution and the experience of China's academics.

The part of the novel that look at the science of the civilisation and earth's science in this alternative reality are just so dense and dull to me, and that's a big part of the last quarter of the book and one of the reasons it took 2 weeks to finish. I just don't care about unfolding a proton.

Doing the trilogy so we'll see how we go.
 

LonerMatt

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EVERYONE SAYS THAT!

Starting it today.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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62.HINTON by Mark Blacklock

Where to begin. Well first this was a somewhat laborious read. It definitely put me to sleep at times, but I found it over all disjointed and a disappointment.

The couple of times he did dive into the metaphysical and spiritualist movement were lacking in both intensity, character weirdness and details. Nineteenth century spiritualism is a subject I find immensely entertaining and fascinating in its weirdness. I have read Arthur Conan Doyle The Wanderings of Spiritualist and a friend from ANU who did an exhibition and book on Spiritualist photography. So I was primed for something unusual but...meh. Off to Vinnes with this.

If this was a movie I would have walked out in the first twenty minutes.
 

FlyingMonkey

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90. Sooner or Later Everything Falls into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker
This is a superior collection of literary science fiction stories by a Nebula-award winning writer. They focus on relationships, and the suble and personal effects of technological change. The quality of the writing is breathtaking at its best, and some of the stories pack of powerful emotional punch while retaining subtlety. There are one or two that aren't quite so strong, but that's to be expected. I'm reading her novel next, and unfortunately it's connected to the story I probably liked least in this collection (about a singer-songwriter in a post-pandemic apocalyptic society). Pinsker is also a folk singer-songwriter, so I checked some of her music out and... well, let's just say I'm glad she took up writing fiction!
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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@FlyingMonkey ok realise White Tears is not a beach novel. What else have you read of Kunzru? I’m thinking Gods Without Men and Transmission, very early in the new year. As for classification as a writer where would you position his work in relation to genres. What I’ve read so far of White Tears I’m thinking a mutated New Weird?
 

cb200

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Kunzru been on my radar for a bit looking for a place to start too. I've been listening to his podcast and that has made me more interested. Can recommend the podcast but no books yet...
 

FlyingMonkey

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@FlyingMonkey ok realise White Tears is not a beach novel. What else have you read of Kunzru? I’m thinking Gods Without Men and Transmission, very early in the new year. As for classification as a writer where would you position his work in relation to genres. What I’ve read so far of White Tears I’m thinking a mutated New Weird?
He's somewhere between that non-genre literary speculative fiction that British writers like Kazuo Ishiguro or Ian McEwan can produce and the American equivalent of writers like Michael Chabon of Jonathan Lethem with their more genuine love of weird fiction and SF. He's not as new weird as say, Jeff Vandermeer. Whatever, it is, I like it a lot and I think with Red Pill and White Tears he's really hit his stride, although his earlier work is also great.
 

FlyingMonkey

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Kunzru been on my radar for a bit looking for a place to start too. I've been listening to his podcast and that has made me more interested. Can recommend the podcast but no books yet...
He's also got a new column in Harpers magazine, which looks great.
 

Geoffrey Firmin

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63.White Tears by Hari Kunzru

Picked this up late Friday and its now Sunday afternoon. Its been a while since i’ve devoured a book or has the book devoured me.

As a ghost story its an intense ride into a something else. Art, music money, power racial exploration and revenge collide in a vibrant compulsive narrative that twists and turns as it seeks its pound of flesh.

Remarkable in its originality and also its political consciousness but blood drenched at the same time. Highly recomended.
 

samtalkstyle

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56. Laws of Human Nature - Robert Greene

I've enjoyed a number of Greene's books over the years, but found this one to be quite a drag. Less structured and more essay style compared to earlier releases, which makes it feel more rambling than anything.

57. Under The Wig - William Clegg QC

A thoroughly enjoyable short read. Memoir of a London barrister. Other books I've read that were written by - or about - lawyers have often been dull, but this one was entertaining and written with an engaging style.
 

mhip

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I'm in the middle of book 8 in the WOT series.
I'm pretty sure that equates to 60 books...
 

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