What book are you reading now/have finished?


I just impulse bought Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War. As a former Boston Latin student, I feel exceptionally compelled to read up on our greatest alumnus.


I’ve been reading Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. Given the timing of it both in-universe and when it was published makes it a bit odd in terms of EU books. There’s also a lot of weird moments based on it being published when Empire was still a daydream, such as Vader being described as Tarkin’s minion, and all the retrospectively twincestuous moments with Luke and Leia.


So using the drive to listen to the audio book then a bit of work when I got back to find the bit I’m now at in the dead tree. I’ve concluded switching mediums mid read is no way to read Player of Games. That said it’s a super good book. I think I’ll be reading all the culture novels in short order.


I am FINALLY getting around to The Great Ordeal. Having that recap in the beginning was really useful since it has indeed been many years since I read the first five books. I do want to go back and re-read them at some point, but not really a priority for me with all the other books I have queued up.


I’ve been reading The Soul of a New Machine. Definitely a great book on classic late 1970’s/early 1980’s computer engineering, back when building a new computer meant building it from the ground up, from designing the CPU from scratch all the way to the operating system (though this book focuses mostly on the hardware side).

While it’s nice that we’ve kind of standardized on Intel CPUs and such, I kind of do miss the older days of more variety in systems, processors, OSes, etc.


I just finished Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. If you’re looking for the humour of Snow Crash, this won’t be for you. But if you’re a fan of the “solving problems in space with science” genre, it’s a great read, although it gets a bit bogged down with tech descriptions in the third part.


Born to Run was absolutely fantastic for the first two acts, but three was so dreadfully dull and vacant of content I would’ve put it down had anyone else written it.

Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America by Evan Carton was amazing. Great insight into the divides within the abolitionist movement and the strategies of different branches. The divide between white and black abolitionists was something I had never read in such depth about.

Now switching between The Wars of Reconstruction by Douglas R Egerton and Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R Cross. Due to the grim nature of what I read, I lately have needed an emotionally light book to relax with, and Reconstruction is even heavier than the John Brown bio was.


Having finished The Long Utopia and not yet in possession of The Long Cosmos, I attempted to read Perdido Street Station for a third time. Again, it failed to engage my interest. Which Miéville work should I try instead?


The City and The City is the best book of his I’ve read. I have issues with the way the story is told, but it’s an interesting exploration of some weird ideas.


I’ve only read Un Lun Dun by Miéville. Which is young adult story set in London and alternate fanciful acid trip London. There are a couple of interesting twists he does with the story and one when he purposefully short cuts one part that may or may not put off some readers. Overall I found most of the book enjoyable but I have no desire to go back and read it again. Not sure I would bother with reading a sequel if he did one or not.


The Hendrix book was dull at best. The story of his childhood and adolescence is captivating, but the author prefers to write about who Jimi banged and what drugs Jimi did instead of any significant commentary on the music that makes him important. Especially disappointing is the lack of discussion of the other two members of the Experience, save for when they provide key details on what and (more often) who Jimi was doing.

All that being said, there is an amazingly bizarre section about a woman who made molds of the genitalia of cultural icons in the 60s, which were later put on display in an art gallery (the book does not provide a name or location for said gallery), prompting one art critic to refer to the plaster recreation of Hendrix’s member as “the penis de Milo” and that story made the book worth it for me.


I think this is the person who made the casts: http://www.cynthiaplastercaster.com/


Yes, yes it is. I didn’t assume she would be findable now.



I’ve been slowly working my way through the Second Uncanny X-Men omnibus, written by Chris Claremont, from the early 1980s. Overall, most of these stories don’t hold up and don’t stand the test of time. It has been interesting seeing the slow evolution of Wolverine, from basically just being a boring “berserker” to a more layered character. In the introduction, even Claremont or Dave Cockrum, the writers who introduced the “new” X-Men team, said that Wolverine was boring and served no real purpose on the team. It’s interesting seeing how Wolverine slowly develops, especially in light of the fact that now, he’s probably one of Marvel’s most popular characters, or at least he was through the 1990s to relatively recently.

Like most comics from the 1980s, most of the stories in this omnibus are filled with ridiculous narration and exposition. I forget when it happened, but I’m grateful that modern comics don’t feel the need to explain EVERYTHING to the reader at the beginning of every issue. If I have to read one more time how Wolverine’s skeleton and retractable claws are “nigh invulnerable,” I might lose it. Some of the villains, like Arcade, are just silly and goofy.

So far, the lone exception in terms of quality, has been the Dark Phoenix Saga, which still holds up remarkable well, even close to 40 years later. Even so, it’s somewhat refreshing to see how relatively short the Dark Phoenix Saga was, compared to what it would have been if it had been written today. Today, the Dark Phoenix Saga would have been a “mega event” crossing over into untold different series, spread out over at least a year, with who knows how many delays. Similarly, the Days of Future Past storyline, on which the X-Men movie was based on, was literally two issues long. That’s it.

Overall, I don’t know if I could recommend this book except to a die-hard X-men fan. I’m really only enjoying it because of the nostalgia factor. I was too young to read these comics when they originally were published, but at some point in the late 1980s, before the rise of the trade paperback collection, Marvel republished most of these comics under the “Classic X-Men” title, which is how I was exposed to most of them. It’s certainly interesting going back and reading these stories as an adult, realizing that Chris Claremont, or whomever, clearly had a bondage fetish, looking at Storm’s costume, or how “revolutionary” Kitty Pryde’s introduction to the X-Men was as a Jewish teenager who didn’t look like a swimsuit model.

I’m still on the fence about whether I’ll buy the third volume of this omnibus series or spend my time and money on other things.


33 1/3 is generally pretty good. I read the Exile on Main Street one and the Electric Ladyland one and they were both really good and insightful, but the Born in the USA one is awful. The author doesn’t get into the music, just talking about the lyrics and how much better they are than the earlier ones in Bruce’s discography, mentioning the album’s unpopularity with critics and fans lyrically without providing an explanation as to why they’re wrong, just stating that they are. The author also seems to not understand Bruce. I haven’t read much on his career post-The River, but even I understand that his interpretation of Bruce’s creative process from 1981-1984 relies on speculations that Bruce himself has directly contradicted. When it does discuss Bruce’s contradictions to the author’s claims, the author just says Bruce must be wrong about his own cognition.

This book is making me embarrassed to be a fan of my favorite artist.


I’m looking to expand my horizons into fiction. For the longest time I had avoided it as reading was a difficult and painful experience for me, so I only wanted to read what I was already dedicated to. Now that I have been reading audiobooks for some time, reading and comprehension have gotten much easier. I would still be content to read dry, document driven historical texts forever, but, for the artistic endeavors that I hope to make my profession, I need to expose myself to new muses and new writing styles.

So, Forum, where do you think I should start?


The Player of Games. Ian M Banks


Fiction? Anything the White House has said in the last fortnight.

but seriously, The Martian, Andy Weir


Try out some Terry Pratchett books. I recommend his City Watch series. Start with Guards! Guards!
I pretty sure all his books are in audio format too.