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

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

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

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: