I have now read Dust of Dreams. Geez. Hetan.
I’ve ploughed through a few Sci Fi/Fantasy Series lately so here’s a roundup.
Ancillary Justice - Ann Leckie:
Space opera set in an empire where ships are crewed by distributed AIs who are forcibly imprinted over the existing personalities of multiple humans. One such AI has had her ship and crew destroyed except for a single body and must come to terms with her new constrained existence.
- Instead of the usual “AI gains emotions and learns to be human plot” it is more “AI had emotions all along but is inexperienced in identifying and articulating them.” There are many scenes where the protagonist is obviously having a strong emotional reaction to something but is describing it in a dispassionate way. Very well done.
- The dominant empire of the setting has no concept of gender and the default pronoun throughout the book is “she”. On the face of it, it sounds gimmiky, but it’s done with style and helped break me out unconsciously defaulting to male for characters unless told otherwise.
Three Body Problem - Liu Cixin
A young astrophysicist has watched her professor father be publicly executed in The Cultural Revolution. A political outcast, she is then unexpectedly recruited for a secret SETI-esque program to search for extra-terrestrial life. Jump to present day and promising scientists across the world are inexplicably committing suicide.
-The book was written by a Chinese author. As someone used to reading Western fiction, there are moments where the characters react to situations or hold values different to what I am accustomed to, which is refreshing.
-It explores themes of how humanity acts when faced with massive existential threats that are seemingly distant in time. There is a fairly strong allegory for climate change, but it is elegantly done.
-It uses the fact that there is no FTL in the setting for drama. I am always a fan of that.
I’m still not at the end of the series yet, so stay tuned I suppose.
Three Body Problem is one of the most-full-of-cool-shit books that I’ve read which at the same time is so badly written/translated that I found the overall experience garbage. I wish it was re-edited/retranslated to let the good stuff really shine.
Yep its pretty hard. Erikson does a really good interview on why he wrote it as he did. It’s not the torture porn it looks. Now go and read The Crippled God. They where meant to be one book but it was too long. After that then you have all the other fun bits.
A Traitor To His Class by HW Brands was unreadable. I hope it gets better once he gets past FDR’s time as Assistant Secretary to the Navy but I found the first four and a half hour so tedious I couldn’t get through it. Brands is a great researcher but he doesn’t know how to captivate if the source material doesn’t do the job for him.
Yeah, that part is really hard to get through.
Oh, I finished it too. It was a fine ending.
Its lovely. I always wonder why that series has not been picked up by the Forum its right up their ally. So when are you going to start the reread?
I decided, after years of mocking them, to at least TRY some Light Novels now that they’re coming out in English.
In Another World With My Smartphone: Remember that time you made the character that had all 100s in Skyrim and stomped around the countryside an unstoppable God? Not bad, because it also does the thing where it switches the focus to situations where his powers don’t one-shot the issue at hand. That said, the constant mentions of how acceptable polygamy are in the world they’re in is a pretty glaring sign that we’re going for the harem ending in this.
It’s a bit easier to listen to, and the remaining books in the series are just as interesting.
Dark and cynical as fuck, but interesting.
That’s a pity, as I listened to the audiobook version.
I definitely remember reading the Odyssey for high school, but at this point I’m convinced that we starting at Book 9 (Cyclops), because Books 1-8 were entirely unfamiliar.
Book Club - The Odyssey by Emily Wilson
A bit late compared to most other people on here, but finally finished up The Unholy Consult and am working through the glossary/appendices. I don’t know how I feel about the ending yet. I feel like I got exactly what I should have expected from the way those books have gone, but I guess I was hoping for a bit more hope after all that. It’s like, I’m already down a lot because of how the world is, and this book just piled on top of it, so my gut reaction is being dissatisfied.
The next few books I read definitely need to be easier/lighter reads.
Finished The Odyssey.
- Get on Athena’s good side for a makeover.
- Homer invented bum fights.
Now catching up on rpg reading and keeping pace for #watchmenclub.
Book Club - The Odyssey by Emily Wilson
I am curious Luke, when you read, what do you look for? Beautiful language, sweet ideas, or a bit of both?
I ask because I didn’t find the translation of Three Body Problem at all off-putting. It has a similar feel other translated books I’ve read like Solaris (originally Russian) or 1Q84. In Three Body Problem and these examples, it seemed probable that the translator tended to opt for the most straightforward translation possible (e.g “The cat reclined upon the sofa” gets translated to “The cat sat on the chair”). I would say that the end products were simply expressed, but not badly written.
That said, I know when I read, I derive joy from concepts and ideas rather than language. And I don’t think I’ve come across another series that explores how our humanity interacts with our ability to solve problems quite so well.
I FORGOT ABOUT THE BUMFIGHT
I also audiobooked the series and while i enjoyed it thoroughly i did feel a lot of the translated text hugely tedious and at times it killed the momentum. Having looked thru print versions, I can imagine a lot of the momentum would keep up.
I loved how each story goes down some very deep rabbit holes setting up a future point, even when it at times it seems to go nowhere. And I love sometimes it goes nowhere.
But definitely so much cool shit happens, so many huge ideas.
They are making a movie apparently but really the scope and division of plots is such, it really should be China’s huge prestige series with something like 6 seasons of 13 hour long episodes. You could make each book into 2 seasons easily, and still miss stuff.
I’d watch the fuck out of that tho.
I just started Laura Joh Rowland’s second Sano Ichiro mystery, Bundori. I really loved the first book, Shinju, and so far Bundori is shaping up to be just as good.
I don’t remember exactly. I talked about the book on my podcast if you’re interested in what I thought about this book in detail:
I’ll check that out.