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What are you reading?

Kaplan

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Poul Anderson: The Broken Sword, 1954.

'I hear hoofbeats,' she whispered. 'I hear hoofs galloping out on the edge of the world. It is Time, riding forth, and snow falls from his horse's mane and lightning crashes from its hoofs, and when Time has ridden by like a wind in the night there are only withered leaves left, blowing in the gale of his passage. He rides nearer, I hear worlds crashing to ruin in his path.'

Released in the same year as Lord of the Rings. Anderson is inspired by the same sagas and mythologies as Tolkien, but he stays closer to the origins and his creation is much darker than Middle-earth. Grounded in history, it begins in my neck of the woods with vikings sailing from Denmark to England in the time of King Alfred and the Danelaw. Soon the borders to the - usually unseen - lands of faerie are crossed and human fates are interweaved with those of elves, dwarves, trolls, the Norse gods and giants. Grim, tragic and truly epic (especially for a mere 230 pages), this was beautifully written and highly recommended.

A note on this edition: In 1971 Anderson released a slightly reworked edition, toning down some of the violence. Mine is from the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks imprint which has the original 1954 text. If you get this one, skip the foreword for later as it goes heavy on spoilers (I always do this, just in case).
 
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Geoffrey Firmin

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IMG_0919.jpeg


The post war life of the Angel of Death the escape from the ruins of Germany to Peron’s Argentina where he lived a life of prestige and comfort. Then exile in hiding with years spent warped by paranoia, fear and delusion till his eventual drowning.

A fascinating study of evil, incompetence and unrepentant delusions of power. A vile and total untermensch.

It was a fascinating read…recommended if you enjoy a good horror story.
 
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imatlas

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I just came across this gem in "Frozen Tombs of Siberia" by Sergei Rudenko, a survey of investigations into 6th century BC Scythian burials in central Asia.

I think this was the Soviet archeology version of a mic drop.

20240418_152205.jpg
 

edinatlanta

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a survey of investigations into 6th century BC Scythian burials in central Asia.
You know i was coming here to ask for a recommendation for this very thing...
 

edinatlanta

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Kaplan

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Susanna Clarke: Piranesi, 2020.

"And you. Who are you? Who is it I am writing for? Are you a traveler who has cheated Tides and crossed Broken Floors and Derelict Stairs to reach these Halls? Or are You perhaps someone who inhabits my own Halls long after I am dead?"

Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021 this one is hard to pigeonhole, genre wise. Called fantasy or magical realism by most, it nonetheless had the hallmarks of the best science fiction, like that from JG Ballard, Christopher Priest, Brian Aldiss and Philip K Dick - these being the novum, the paradigm shift, the conceptual breakthrough. 245 pages made for a breezy, single-day read.

Piranesi_%28Susanna_Clarke%29.png
 

Kaplan

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Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon, 1930.

"I distrust a man that says when. If he's got to be careful not to drink too much it's because he's not to be trusted when he does."

A return to the pulps. Hammett, formerly of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was the 'dean of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction', his stories published as serials in Black Mask magazine, sitting next to the other pulps containing sword & sorcery by Howard, cosmic horror by Lovecraft, and science fiction by Asimov - though only crime would be truly accepted into the mainstream and acquire a veneer of respectability. A great read with suitably seedy characters, this got four movie adaptations, the 3rd from 1941 being the most notable, with Bogart as Sam Spade (this was the only novel featuring Spade).

Edition note: I got this in an Everyman's Library omnibus which also includes The Thin Man and Red Harvest in a manageable 644 pages. A beautiful hardcover, scarlet cloth bound under the dust jacket. I suspect I'll be getting more classics from this imprint.
 

Kaplan

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Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep, 1939.

"I went to bed full of whisky and frustration and dreamed about a man in a bloody Chinese coat who chased a naked girl with long jade earrings while I ran after them and tried to take a photograph with an empty camera."

Taking inspiration from Hammett, Chandler also wrote hard boiled shorts for Black Mask and in '39 he combined two of these into hist first novel, The Big Sleep. Coincidentally I just ordered vintage copies of William Gibson's Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive with glorious 80s covers, one of them proudly stating 'The Raymond Chandler of SF' - and that totally makes sense to me, now having read both authors: the prose from both is as good as it gets, making for some very enjoyable reading. This one got two movie adaptations, most notably in 1946 with Bogart as Philip Marlowe (this was the first story to feature Marlowe, more would follow).

Read in this version from Penguin General UK:
cover.1534897438.jpg
 

smittycl

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Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep, 1939.

"I went to bed full of whisky and frustration and dreamed about a man in a bloody Chinese coat who chased a naked girl with long jade earrings while I ran after them and tried to take a photograph with an empty camera."

Taking inspiration from Hammett, Chandler also wrote hard boiled shorts for Black Mask and in '39 he combined two of these into hist first novel, The Big Sleep. Coincidentally I just ordered vintage copies of William Gibson's Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive with glorious 80s covers, one of them proudly stating 'The Raymond Chandler of SF' - and that totally makes sense to me, now having read both authors: the prose from both is as good as it gets, making for some very enjoyable reading. This one got two movie adaptations, most notably in 1946 with Bogart as Philip Marlowe (this was the first story to feature Marlowe, more would follow).

Read in this version from Penguin General UK:
cover.1534897438.jpg
Chandler and Hammet are sublime. Timeless writing.

Ever read Alan Furst or Phillip Kerr? I read Furst in black and white like a Noir movie from 1942.
 

smittycl

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smittycl

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I haven't, but I'll take a look at them. I just ordered a book by James M. Cain, and I expect to read another crime novel tomorrow.
Alan Furst writes WWII espionage novels. Very atmospheric. Kerr writes a series about a German detective in postwar Berlin. The first three were excellent but I stopped after that.
 

Kaplan

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Atmospheric WWII espionage novels sounds nice (sometime in the late 70s, early 80s I read all the Alistair MacLean my library had to offer).
 

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