Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #360 on: April 26, 2020, 02:19:48 AM »
excession

another fantastic book in the culture series. the story centers around the culture's reaction to a so-called "outside context problem":

Quote
The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbors were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests.

excession pretty much consists of three concurrent threads: some cloak-and-dagger shit between the hyper-intelligent AI minds that run the culture, some idiot space boomer who loves space nazis, and lore. lots and lots of lore.

i found this to be a much more confusing read than phlebas or player or games. the cloak-and-dagger shit between the minds was sort of hard to follow. but banks is kind enough to provide a summary at the end in the form of blunt-force character exposition.

hella good. 9/10.

the spy who came in from the cold

tbh there's really not a lot i can say about this one without giving away spoilers. if you like slow-burn spyshit that is mostly just a long series of conversations, then you'll really like this. i loved it.

also hella good. 10/10 tbh.
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Offline Dionysios

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #361 on: June 13, 2020, 10:24:48 PM »
‘The Atom Spy Hoax’
By William A. Reuben
(1955)

Written by a personal friend of the Rosenbergs who organised their international support network, this book does not quite deny that the Soviets had any spies whatsoever, but it comes closer to it than any book I know. It’s as die hard anti-McCarthyism as it gets.

Unfortunately even most of the American left surrenders to these two McCarthy style American writers John Earl Haynes and his colleague Klehr who both write about so-called Venona secrets as proof of Soviet spying viewing any evidence that the Soviet Embassy or USSR had communication whatsoever with any Americans likely constitutes spying or some kind of illegal activity. If I find a writer falls into that line of thinking, then I donate their book to the garbage can.

I actually discovered that Haynes and Klehr describe William Reuben as the equivalent of a holocaust denier. Of course, William Reuben represents the opppsite of that. The the fact that they hate him so much because he doesn’t surrender to their falsehood means that such slander was the best best they could do. There is an old saying that to be insulted by a heretic is a great honour.

I was very pleased to happen across this gem of a book which takes the received wisdom about alleged Soviet evil during the McCarthy era and successfully flushes it down the toilet.

A mid-1980’s interview of the author:

Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #362 on: December 14, 2020, 12:04:57 AM »
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Online Iceman

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #363 on: December 14, 2020, 02:06:29 AM »
john le carre died. damn. rip in peaces.

https://apnews.com/article/international-news-john-le-carre-coronavirus-pandemic-fiction-ec0c3a65f37f4f37dc5be42a243307e9

Damn. He got me in to reading for fun... 13 year old me was all about Le Carré, Follet, Higgins

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Offline Crudblud

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #364 on: December 14, 2020, 10:01:20 AM »
Recent reads (with ratings out of five stars):
Stephen E. Ambrose/Douglas G. Brinkley - Rise to Globalism: U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1938 ****
David Black - The Plague Years: A Chronicle of AIDS, the Epidemic of Our Times ****
John Banville - Birchwood **
Francis Wheen - Karl Marx *****

Currently reading:
Norman Stone - Europe Transformed 1878-1919

Also I recently bought myself Jens Malte Fischer's biography of Gustav Mahler as an early birthday present. I was going to read the Stone anyway, but it seems like now is a good opportunity to give myself a better sense of Europe in Mahler's time before moving on to the Fischer.

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Offline Toddler Thork

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #365 on: December 30, 2020, 04:52:31 PM »


Synopsys:

It's difficult to love a woman whose vagina is a gateway to the world of the dead...

Steve is madly in love with his eccentric girlfriend, Stacy. Unfortunately, their sex life has been suffering as of late, because Steve is worried about the odd noises that have been coming from Stacy's pubic region. She says that her vagina is haunted. She doesn't think it's that big of a deal. Steve, on the other hand, completely disagrees.

When a living corpse climbs out of her during an awkward night of sex, Stacy learns that her vagina is actually a doorway to another world. She persuades Steve to climb inside of her to explore this strange new place. But once inside, Steve finds it difficult to return... especially once he meets an oddly attractive woman named Fig, who lives within the lonely haunted world between Stacy's legs.



Torn ... should I read it, should I find something better to do with my time?  ???

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Haunted-Vagina-Carlton-Mellick-III-ebook/dp/B005F645MS
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Offline Roundy

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #366 on: December 30, 2020, 07:00:09 PM »


Synopsys:

It's difficult to love a woman whose vagina is a gateway to the world of the dead...

Steve is madly in love with his eccentric girlfriend, Stacy. Unfortunately, their sex life has been suffering as of late, because Steve is worried about the odd noises that have been coming from Stacy's pubic region. She says that her vagina is haunted. She doesn't think it's that big of a deal. Steve, on the other hand, completely disagrees.

When a living corpse climbs out of her during an awkward night of sex, Stacy learns that her vagina is actually a doorway to another world. She persuades Steve to climb inside of her to explore this strange new place. But once inside, Steve finds it difficult to return... especially once he meets an oddly attractive woman named Fig, who lives within the lonely haunted world between Stacy's legs.



Torn ... should I read it, should I find something better to do with my time?  ???

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Haunted-Vagina-Carlton-Mellick-III-ebook/dp/B005F645MS

I say read it. It's an award-winning author, that must count for something. Let us know how it is.
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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #367 on: January 03, 2021, 12:07:25 PM »
Two Time Hugo Award Finalist Chuck Tingle would probably be more up your alley, Thork. Or down your alley, as the case may be.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2021, 12:09:36 PM by Pete Svarrior »
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Offline Crudblud

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #368 on: January 16, 2021, 12:11:38 PM »
I am about a third of the way through Jens Malte Fischer's biography of Gustav Mahler. It is most excellent.

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #369 on: February 01, 2021, 04:42:39 AM »
We -  Yevgeny Zamyatin

Many spoilers ahead.

First published in 1924, We is a story of a niceguy stemlord who lives in a dystopian society purely based on fAcTs aNd LoGiC (~500 years or so into the future). Our protagonist, D-503 (OneState is too rational for regular names), would also be a nerdvirigin incel if it weren't for the fact big brother assigns people to bang each other on a schedule. Everything has a schedule. D-503 spends most of his time fellating his rational mind by thinking about numbers and equations. He is also the builder of a rocket ship that is going to carry their great society to pacify any potential savages that may exist beyond earth. He has been tasked with keeping a journal so if they encounter any aliens, said aliens will quickly come to understand why OneState is the best state (and will force them to comply with lasers & shit if needed). D bumps into a girl other than his banging partner and accidentally discovers feelings. He does a bunch of dumb shit to impress a woman who probably won't ever really love him. Something to note is that OneState typically executes anyone doing dumb shit.

This text was the inspiration for Brave New World and 1984, and it is easy to see how those works were derived from We. Although this is a bit of a pseudo poem. The prose gets lengthy and flowery once D discovers he may have a soul after he gets shitfaced drunk one night (alcohol and tobacco also punishable by death). Like a dipshit moron in love, D keeps all of his transgressions documented in his journal for literally anyone to read. The prose mostly laments the knuckle-dragging history of mankind. A lot of complaining about Christianity but also implying it was hella right.

Anyway, there is a secret rebellion being plotted against OneState. Unlike 1984, this is actually a real rebellion, not just a honeypot. D gets caught up in the mix and it looks like they are going to topple OneState, but then big brother pulls the rug out. Also unlike 1984, We skips all lengthy brainwashing to make our hero love big brother. OneState has a procedure where they cut out the part of the brain responsible for imagination, which is apparently the root of the problem with the defectors. D gets this brainjob in the last couple pages and is back to usual logical self, compartmentalizing all those dumb feelings he recently had (which occupied ~200 pages of this 225 page novel). The rest of the rebel scum that scammed him into helping them are tortured and executed by OneState while D watches on happily. The end.

Mixing math/science with poetry was a bad experiment and people shouldn't do it.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2021, 04:52:39 PM by junker »

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Offline honk

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #370 on: February 01, 2021, 05:19:38 AM »
Okay, but did you like it?
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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #371 on: February 01, 2021, 05:38:09 AM »
Okay, but did you like it?

I am still processing my feelings on that; I probably posted about it too soon as I only finished the book a few hours ago. Right now, I like it like I like the FF7 remake. Super into it initially, then just a grind to get to the important bits and ending.

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Offline honk

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #372 on: September 07, 2021, 04:29:54 AM »
The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes
The Curious Quests of Brigadier Ffellowes

Two collections of fantasy short stories by Sterling E. Lanier. They center on the exploits of retired brigadier Donald Ffellowes, told by him to the patrons of a club he belongs to, always to mixed reactions of awe and skepticism. The basic format of an adventurer telling fantastical tall tales was pioneered by the Jorkens stories of Lord Dunsany (one of the most innovative and influential fantasy writers of all time, despite his relative obscurity - one day I'll discuss his works in greater detail), but where Joseph Jorkens is a comical figure and his tales are almost always goofy and lighthearted, Ffellowes's stories are grim and eerie in tone. That being said, I wouldn't go so far as to call them horror, as they're simply too action-packed, lively, and generally just fun.

The common theme that unites most of these stories is the idea of essentially recontextualizing ancient mythologies and folklore. In each story, Ffellowes encounters elements of or believers in a particular belief system, but sees it stripped of myth and presented in a more modern fantastical context. And typically, that means he discovers a monster or a cult at the bottom of it all. It's a great idea, and it's very enjoyable to see how Lanier interprets each religion. But then when the story focusing on Irish folklore comes around...this was such a groaner for me. The subject of Samhain, the Celtic harvest festival comes up, and the story makes it clear that the characters pronounce it as sam-hayne. It's actually a plot point. Ffellowes hears the name and thinks it's someone named "Sam Hayne," not realizing until the last second what it refers to. That's not how it's fucking pronounced. I've always heard it pronounced as sow-win, and I guess other regions have slightly different ways to pronounce it, like sah-win, but in no Celtic country has it ever been pronounced as sam-hayne. These stories were written back in the sixties, and I know they didn't have the Internet back then, but they had encyclopedias. Imagine just assuming that a foreign word is pronounced the same way an English word of the same spelling would be and not bothering to do any research to confirm it.

But that facepalm aside, these stories are delightful romps.
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Offline nthurd

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #373 on: September 13, 2021, 08:28:54 AM »
Neal Stephenson, "Interface" (1994).

8/10

Had to check multiple times during reading that it was not written this year.

Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #374 on: September 17, 2021, 02:43:38 AM »
i forgot to post when i finished the honourable schoolboy, part 2 of le carré's smiley v. karly trilogy. i enjoyed this one much more than tinker tailor. i especially liked the westerby plot and the ensuing deep dive into the life of a field operator. plus all the southeast asia shit.

my only beef with the book in general was that it was at least twice as long as it should have been. i dunno who edited it, but they did a shit job in that regard imo.

also tiu is a spider bastard.

john le carre died. damn. rip in peaces.

https://apnews.com/article/international-news-john-le-carre-coronavirus-pandemic-fiction-ec0c3a65f37f4f37dc5be42a243307e9

Damn. He got me in to reading for fun... 13 year old me was all about Le Carré, Follet, Higgins

if you have any recommendations on good spyshit, holler at ya boy
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Online Iceman

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Re: FES Book Club
« Reply #375 on: September 17, 2021, 03:23:46 AM »
Havent read any spyshit since Ludlum after watching Matt Damon as Jason Bourne.

Been reading almost exclusively nordic noirs. Rankin and Nesbo being the best, but James Thompson is good, and I like Arnaldur Indridason, but that's probably just because I liked the fact that I'd been to so many of the spots in Iceland he mentions.