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Books books and more books...

Altoz

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Nov 23, 2019
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335
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Palmerston North, New Zealand
So I've been contributing to my burgeoning SF collection, with vintage titles like Fritz Leiber's The Big Time, Hal Clement's Mission of Gravity, Brian Aldiss' Cryptozoic and many, many others. One particularly unexpected but welcome item was a copy of Jean Cocteau's fifties film scripts, particularly the one for Orphee (Orpheus). In a retelling of the ancient Greek myth, the poet Orpheus has a deteriorating marriage to his wife Eurydice when he meets a beautiful, black clad regal woman who always seems to appear at death scenes- because the Princess is Death herself. There's a lot of special effects like walking through mirrors, and through ruins which represent the Afterlife. For the mortal Orpheus and Eurydice, things turn ot okay in the end. Not so for the Princess and the angel Heurtebise, who enabled the resurrection and reconciliation of the mortal couple. The Princess seems a lot like Neil Gaiman's Death in the Sandman universe, when it comes to her fundamental altruism and humanity.
 

TriBel

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Manchester
I don't get on well with Sci-Fi and I have no idea why. I've got Cocteau's La Belle et la Bete and Orphee sounds interesting. I'll buy a copy when I'm next in town (there are some nice extras on the BFI edition). D'you think Gaiman was influenced by Cocteau...given Orpheus is Dream's son? Sigh...I have Sandman (Absolute Ed) Vol 1-5 plus Absolute Overtures staring at me from a shelf and I feel guilty because they're all still wrapped. At the same time, I'm tempted to buy Absolute Death to complete the collection... The number of unread books/unwatched films I have is scary.
 

Hunga Munga

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The newer generation of sci-fi is next level business . After I read Neal Stephenson , Alaister Reynolds , Iain M Banks and a few others , I pretty much gave up my pretension that I could ever be a good sci-fi writer . Not only do their imaginations surpass my wildest fantasies but they can write much better too :D .

I've been reading 'Road Past Mandalay' by John Masters , an account of 'the Chindits' WW2 fighting behind enemy lines against the Japanese . They were a multicultural band of ferocious soldiers that don't get a lot of recognition in popular culture .
 

TriBel

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Jun 25, 2017
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Manchester
The last "Sci-Fi" I read was Alasdair Gray's A History Maker (I've written "Sci-Fi because Gray's descriptions are usually a lie). I think Ian Banks (without the M) is indebted to Gray - nice article here: How Iain Banks’s Bridge crosses into Alasdair Gray’s Lanark
In fact, Gray's credited with influencing nearly every modern Scottish writer 'cos he kinda kickstarted the Scottish Literary Renaissance. I've read Lanark about 10 times - in mitigation, I was writing about it. Lanark might be Sci-Fi. In truth I think it's described as every book that's ever been written. Gray painted a mural in a chip shop in Glasgow in exchange for free chip suppers (I thought I'd just throw that in. He also has paintings in the National Gallery but chip shop in funnier).

I've just finished Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 1. I've had the damned book for about 4 years and I've been reading it for 6 months. What makes it worse is - I've listened to the podcasts! I read about 3 pages a night. Luckily, it's a) surreal and b) has no plot so I don't have to remember what I read before. I've got another 7 Night Vale books to read. Why I don't know because the transcripts are on line! Maybe that counts as Sci-Fi?

I've just started Whitely's Hit Factories: A Journey Through the Industrial Cities of British Pop. I thought it would give me something to think about when I'm wandering aimlessly through the city. The damned cities will probably be Post-Post Industrial wastelands by the time I finish it. Sometimes I hate being me!
 

AnthonyCordova

modulating between criticism and reconstruction
Joined
Feb 18, 2014
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Denver, Colorado
Sineya
Does anyone here have any experience with Stephenson's book Anathem? I've been told it is deeply philosophical. Is that true? In what ways philosophical? It's hard to say judging from Goodreads reviews.
 

TriBel

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Jun 25, 2017
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Manchester
Does anyone here have any experience with Stephenson's book Anathem? I've been told it is deeply philosophical. Is that true? In what ways philosophical?
According to Wiki "Major themes include the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and the philosophical debate between Platonic realism and nominalism". Have you seen the Wiki entry? Too deep for me I'm afraid...I can usually cope with quantum and multiverse (I've actually read and completely forgotten Godel) but not when it involves actual numbers!
 

AnthonyCordova

modulating between criticism and reconstruction
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Feb 18, 2014
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2,236
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Denver, Colorado
Sineya
@TriBel I guess my question was more about the implementation of the philosophy rather than just the themes themselves. I should have been more specific.
 

TriBel

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Jun 25, 2017
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Manchester
@TriBel I guess my question was more about the implementation of the philosophy rather than just the themes themselves. I should have been more specific.
Don't read the Wiki entry. I tend to forget most people don't like spoilers and it's full of them. It seems to be overtly philosophical...I didn't understand the plot summary! 😏
 

Altoz

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Joined
Nov 23, 2019
Messages
335
Age
59
Location
Palmerston North, New Zealand
I'm a fairly major Stephen Baxter fan, possibly because I'm also an alternate history buff and he does that in industrial strength proportions. I've got almost all Iain Banks books except for Transitions. Alistair Reynolds I also like, as well as Neal Asher, although the latter does get seriously gory. Haven't read much horror since the zombie subgenre boom started to subside- I was seriously interested in Max Brooks' World War Z universe for a while and his take on Bigfoot, Devolution, was probably the last horror book I read. Excellent stuff, though. Getting back to TriBel's question about Orphee. I suspect Neil Gaiman must have seen the film at some point, given the strong resemblance of Princess Death to Death of the Endless (although Death is a sweetie compared to some of the other members of that family ie Desire). I wrote a drabble once in which Xander and Anya got the chance to say goodbye to each other, due to the kind intervention of a certain anthropomorphic personification). It was born out of my profound dissatisfaction with the end of Season 7. Although Death of the Endless tends toward an informal wardrobe and the Princess in Orphee is just that- every bit as regal as the title requires. My latest purchases - Baxters' short story collection Traces and the book Moonseed, and Greg Bears' Forge of God, another apocalypse. Barry Unsworth's Morality Tale is about one of the aforementioned medieval genre of plays and interwoven with a murder mystery. Robert Harris' Pompeii has an explosive ending and I think most of you can guess why, given the title and the fact that it's set near Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. I'm also waiting for Stanislaw Lem's Fiasco, although it's taking rather a long time to turn up at the local specialty bookshop.
 

Altoz

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Nov 23, 2019
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Palmerston North, New Zealand
I've got Bertoldt Brecht's Fear and Misery of the Third Reich on order and also intend to get Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. Also intend to order Swedish writer Karin Boyes (1900-41) Kallocain, which is about a totalitarian world state where a drug that can provide total involuntary psychological self-incrimination exists. Again, it's on order so I'll have to wait a month and a half for it. Shame that the Gollancz SF Masterworks and Penguin SF Classics imprints haven't come out with anything worth buying in new edition this year. I just buy earlier editions of stuff from SF Masterworks that looks interesting for my groaning bookshelves.
 

famicommander

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Dec 26, 2016
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31
It doesn't get any better than Dune.

The original six Frank Herbert Dune novels are the seminal achievement in all of science fiction, in any medium.
 

Altoz

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Er. I've only read the first three. However, yes, Dune is definitely one of my all time favourites. Wow, my last contribution in this thread was a month ago! Okay, since then, both Fear and Misery of the Third Reich and Kallocain have arrived and I brought that copy of Fear and Trembling a fortnight or so ago. Next on my long term reading list is a neglected dystopian, recently republished classic by British author Kay Dick entitled They, which is about a pack of ravening philistines persecuting artists in a future dystopian Britain. Sadly, it won't be published here in New Zealand for another two months. Grrrrr!!! :mad:
 

Plasma

Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes! ❤️
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Highly unpopular opinion, but I think Dune hits a high note very early on and falls off quickly.

The worldbuilding of the book is definitely interesting, and I love the idea of a science fiction world without computers, but I think it starts to crumble after the absolutely incredible dinner scene. The implications and political machinations on display in that scene were way more interesting to me than the Fremen and Arakis’s Civil War.
 

Altoz

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Well, it's another two months and I've got my copy of They. Also picked up a couple of books about the controversial US neocon philosopher Leo Strauss from a local used book shop, John Ford's The Dragon Waiting (about a pagan AU which is set around the time of the War of the Roses), another pols book on neoliberal politics, and finally a second Philip K. Dick non-SF novel, Mary and the Giant.
 

famicommander

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Highly unpopular opinion, but I think Dune hits a high note very early on and falls off quickly.

The worldbuilding of the book is definitely interesting, and I love the idea of a science fiction world without computers, but I think it starts to crumble after the absolutely incredible dinner scene. The implications and political machinations on display in that scene were way more interesting to me than the Fremen and Arakis’s Civil War.
The point of the second half of Dune isn't the Fremen or control of Arrakis, though. The point is Paul's journey and descent into villainy. The story of Dune is the story of Paul Atreides recognizing the immorality of the role that has been manufactured for him (by Bene Gesserit manipulations, imperial politics, family dynamics, economic warfare, etc) and then accepting it anyway because he lacks the moral fortitude and practical experience to accept the consequences of rejecting it. It's both an inversion and an indictment of archetypal heroes in general and white saviors in specific. Instead of our hero having abilities simply because he is fated to, our protagonist has abilities because a shadowy organization manipulated power dynamics via religion, politics, eugenics, and economics for thousands of years to bring about his existence. Instead of our hero being uncommonly virtuous like a Luke Skywalker or a Buffy Summers, he's corrupted and becomes even worse than the (definitely super evil) villains he set out to destroy.

I do agree with you that the banquet scene is brilliant, though. I heard they filmed it for the movie but it didn't make the final cut. I hope we get to see it some day.
 
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Plasma

Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes! ❤️
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Do you really read all those books in a single week, @Altoz ? I thought I was an avid reader and here I’m lucky to finish one a week 😭
 
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