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What are you reading?

  1. #813442014-08-06 07:00:03BlackRabbit139 said:

    I just finished reading "The Diviners" By Libba Bray, an excellent book for those who like a good murder mystery, a little bit of history intertwined, and the supernatural. It's based in the 1920's New York, and the writer has done an excellent job in maintaining that mood and atmosphere; A difficult book to put down, it's fascinating, elaborate and at times scary!

  2. #814142014-08-07 19:38:59 *HumanInterfaceDisorder said:

    AltTitle: Eon
    Author: Greg Bear
    ISBN: 0-8125-2047-5
    Amazon Link

    These days I've found myself reading a lot of Greg Bear's work. A solid author, he knows his way around the English language and makes more technical concepts (relatively) accessible. That said, if reading about superspace geometry (no, I didn't make that up) and having to derive the meanings of alien colloquialisms through context sound nightmarish to you, Bear's work probably isn't going to bring some epiphany. To understand what makes his work special, it's best to know the difference between what's known as 'hard sci-fi' and regular old science fiction.

    Why the Difference Matters

    Science fiction, as a general category, has a lot of definitions. But for our purposes here, just imagine most mainstream works divided much as they would be at the local Barnes & Noble. So, that would include things like The Hulk, Spiderman, The X-Men, and the sort. These works all tend to have one thing in common: Their writers start out with the thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if-...?" This means these stories share another trait: They have about as much credible science in them as Harry Potter.

    Writers of hard science fiction, on the other hand, do their homework. Due to the nature of their audience, they do their best to understand the nature of the technologies they're writing about. This allows them to make reasonable extrapolations as to what the future could look like without pulling hitherto-unmentioned, unfeasible technologies out of their characters' proverbial asses whenever the author writes him- or herself into a corner.

    While there might be little appreciable difference to people who just aren't into technical fields, there's a world of difference to fans of hard sci-fi. A lot of us work in technical fields, and this kind of fiction shapes the attitudes and technologies to come in real life. For example, the PADD units in Star Trek (basically the equivalent of modern e-ink readers) were posited almost 15 years before anything of the sort entered the market.

    Asteroid Ark Ships

    alt text

    A much larger concept depicted in Eon is the idea of constructing a colony ship out of a nearby asteroid, parked in one of the Earth's Lagrange points. In this case, the asteroid 3 Juno.

    The idea of an asteroid being hollowed out by autonomous workers and prepped for space-flight has been kicked around for some time. In fact, NASA is currently working on capturing an asteroid and bringing it into Lunar orbit. Kind of a stepping stone on the way to such a ship.

    alt text Another example of an asteroid-based generational ship would be the Sidonia, from Knights of Sidonia.

    The BIG Questions and Transhumanism

    Something I love about Bear's writing is that he frequently pushes the limits of what we're capable of perceiving. On the broadest scale of the universe, we must remember that humanity is in its infancy. For all our advancements and technology, we still don't really understand much at all of how things around us function on a very fundamental level. Until just this last year, we had no way to prove our understanding of how and why things have mass (that is to say, 'why shit has weight' for those of you who slept through physics). And to do it, we have to build this huge fucking thing.

    alt text Seriously, we built that to find out why things have mass. Imagine what it'll take to crack faster than light travel!

    Something hard sci-fi (with Bear's work being no exception) tends to examine is transhumanism, also referred to as 'human augmentation'. The basic idea is that humans are now evolving in a technological manner, integrating more technologies onto and into our own bodies. Think everything from cellphones to pacemakers to synthetic hearts to 'wet' computing implants. As our understanding of these technologies grows, we'll see their performance improve, and - according to proponents of transhumanism - eventually see people voluntarily replacing or adding limbs, organs, or implants. For example, Gwynn herself one day hopes to see her left eye replaced with an occular implant once the technology has matured sufficiently, as she has been blind in that eye from birth.

    alt text Gwynn wants an occular implant a lot like this theoretical model from Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

    The interesting thing about transhumanism is the plethora of ethical and philosophical questions it raises. If you duplicate your consciousness (say, 'back-up' your digitized cyber-brain, a la Ghost in the Shell) and your original dies, should the others in your life treat the remaining copy as though it were you? If your spouse made love to said copy, would that be cheating? How many modifications can you make to a body/mind before you can no longer call it human?

    As out there as some of the above may sound, it's important we - as a society - ask ourselves these questions, so when the posited technology (or something akin to it) rolls around, we'll have some inkling of how to respond. As we've seen in third-world nations time and again, there are points in a culture's development where it's just not ready for certain technologies.

    Tell Us About the Fucking Book Already!

    Eon, the first book of its trilogy, was written in 1985 and takes place in 2005. In Eon's version of '05, a 290 kilometer asteroid is detected in an erratic, near-Earth orbit just after an anomalous burst of radiation from just outside the Solar system. The U.S.S.R. and the United States (remember, this was written before the fall of the Soviet Union) are the two major players on the world stage, and were on the brink of nuclear war even before the arrival of 'The Stone'... And now the two powers are vying for control of research aboard it. The Americans have the upperhand at the book's start, but things quickly get complicated. And I mean complicated.

    The story that unfolds from there is told from the perspectives of about a half-dozen characters, though it mostly focuses on the stories of Patricia Vasquez, Greg Lanier, and Pavel Mirsky. Vasquez is a young 20-something math prodigy from Santa Barbera, CA who was recruited to help analyze anomalies in the laws of physics onboard The Stone. Lanier's a jaded ex-pilot who later moved into high-level airforce administration. He was placed in charge of the Stone by the USAF and ISSCOM, managing investigation into the Stone's origin. Pavel Mirsky is a Soviet soldier, recruited from elite ranks and trained for zero-G combat (think pressure suits and vacuum-ready firearms), who becomes ensnared in an existential crisis.

    I can't say much more without giving it all away, but let me leave you with this: Eon is a book you'll have to be able to dedicate your attention to when you read, so don't read it when you're tired. It's a book that requires, and is definitely worthy of, your attention.

    alt text For instance, this ship - called the Tuberider - is a V/STOL (Vertical/Straight Take-Off/Landing) vehicle with a special turbine engine designed to bolt around 'the flaw' - a kind of singularity generated by folded geodesics in space-time. One posited theory regarding singularities in modern physics involves their queer properties with the translation of force vectors into odd directions. Applying pressure to this singularity causes acceleration perpendicular to the axis of its longest 'side'.


    A Little Recommendation

    If anyone wants to check out a hard sci-fi anime/manga besides Knights of Sidonia, I'd recommend watching/reading Planetes.

  3. #819602014-08-31 19:30:10DarkChaplain said:

    https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1408733528l/23008761.jpg

    The Return of Nagash

    This is the first novel in the new The End Times series for Warhammer Fantasy, which, even as of the first Campaign book, is shaking the setting to its core. Long-established characters die or find new allies, new characters rise, and the world is in ruins.

    The End Times are coming. As the forces of Chaos threaten to drown the world in madness, Mannfred von Carstein and Arkhan the Black put aside their difference and plot to resurrect the one being with the power to stand against the servants of the Ruinous Powers and restore order to the world - the Great Necromancer himself. As they set about gathering artefacts to use in their dark ritual, armies converge on Sylvania, intent on stopping them. But Arkhan and Mannfred are determined to complete their task. No matter the cost, Nagash must rise again.

    This first book depicts the return of Nagash, the Arch-Necromancer who has basically turned the Undead into mainstream, and whose studies have led to the creation of Vampirism. Nagash has been defeated before, including by Sigmar Heldenhammer, founder of the Empire of man, in the Old World. He's the big bad evil sorceror that is out to drown out the living via the use of necromancy.

    He's a major threat to the whole world - and yet might be part of what saves it. Chaos is overwhelming the defenders all over the world, with the Vortex on Ulthuan weakening, daemons spilling out of dark portals, the Lizardmen readying for Exodus, and Archaon, Everchosen of Chaos, Lord of the End Times, rallying his forces to bring about the End of the World and Gods.

    Who better to face the Lord of the End Times than the Lord of Death himself?

    The Return of Nagash sets the stage for Nagash's return. It focuses on the resurrection process, and Mannfred von Carstein's uneasy alliance with Arkhan the Black.

    What I read of the novel so far has been AMAZING in scope, and I am utterly dumbstruck by all the new End Times lore that has been coming out this weekend. My god, the Warhammer Fantasy setting will never be the same again.

    #Loregasms

  4. #821482014-09-07 02:26:32 *Maryam said:

    Ok so technically I'm not reading it anyMORE. Moreso 4-5 months ago but it's all the same.

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41Fu2Ed5uqL.jpg

    The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is granted, a very popular book. But for those who haven't read or heard of it yet, I am here to fix that.

    It is, in it's simplest form, a war book. But the novel's very purpose, it seems, is to convince you that it is so much more. And it is. It makes points of saying that true war stories are not simply about war, but about love, and happiness, and friendship, and greif, and heartbreak, and longing.

    Initially, I was a bit turned off because uh i dont wanna read bout no dudes shootin each other up n no plot. As eloquently as I put that, it still turned out to be one of the most incredible, life-changing books I've ever read.

    It tells of different stories from mostly the author's point of view during his time in Vietnam but he adds a mixture of fiction in there which plays a key role in the entire theme of the novel. It's thrilling and heartbreaking, and exquisitely written. The writing style is conversational which is sort of refreshing. It feels like a real story being told to you.

    It's touching in a million ways and if being on Amazon's Top 100 Books to Read Before You Die list isn't enough to convince you, I hope I did.

    EDIT: Guard did a review already. Life sux. Just read it.

  5. #830672014-09-30 09:35:43 *Kirn said:

    At times my internet searches net me some interesting results. I am a big fan of Christopher Walken, and, looking at his imdb page, I noticed a recent movie I heard nothing about. I tried to find a torrent of it, failed, but found out that the movie is based on a book, so I decided to at least give that a read. So...

    https://bookreviewsbybobbie.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/gods-behaving-badly.jpg

    And yes, it is that kind of a book. If you red or know about Neil Gaiman's book 'American Gods' (was that one even mentioned here? If not, it really should be), then you will be familiar with the setting - gods live on Earth, here, among us. The difference here is that, as it turns out, only Greek gods are the real gods out there, and they live, quite physically, all together in a horrible house in London, which they bough centuries ago because the prices were low.

    As they lost worship of humans, they fell into weakness and decadence. Now Artemis makes money by walking other people dogs, Apollo tries to get on TV, Aphrodite works for a phone sex service and Eros turned to Christianity! But at the same time they are still performing their godly functions. Apollo makes the sun come up and down, Hades watches over the world of the dead, Ares orchestrates world conflicts and Hermes is still a busy godly messenger.

    And here is exactly what grabbed me in this. Gods are shown as decadent, lost, broken creatures - being mauled by relying on human belief and losing it. They are petty, angry, confused and are a very dysfunctional family. And at the same time, they are still gods in full sense of the word, and while what they do now may seem petty when you use modern world as an example, after a while, you realize that that is exactly what they did thousands of years ago when they were worshipped - they fought, loved, cheated, hated and pulled countless pranks and revenges on each other. So even now, as their powers dwindle, they still do it in the same way following the same sort of rules.

    And when a couple of mortals gets involved, you suddenly get a feeling that, if that would have happened in ancient Greese, that would have been a proper ancient epos. Which is really what it is, just adjusted for modern times, which is a common enough theme in literature, but always welcomed by me if it is done good. And it is.

    Oh, and yes, the book is strictly 18+ read. Lots of swearing and quite a bit of adultery, you know.

  6. #830802014-09-30 16:26:31 *DarkChaplain said:

    So this here happened:

    http://i.imgur.com/Khh8Czb.png

    #150 was The Talon of Horus by Aaron Dembski-Bowden

    https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1411142980l/23251711.jpg

    Excellent book, yes.

    Now I'm reading this one:

    https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1371759245l/18106542.jpg

    The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells

    His blind fury is infamous, his strength without rival, but the legend of the man known as the Butcher of Khardov was forged in a crucible of pain . . .

    The legacy of the massacre near Boarsgate at the hand of the warcaster Orsus Zoktavir has followed him his whole life—but it is another memory that fuels both his rage and his will to live. Before he was one of Khador’s most potent weapons he was simply a young man striving to make a life for himself, and for his beloved, free of the violence that came so easily to him. Her gentle presence helps him quell his simmering temper, but fate changes everything, sweeping him up in events that would lead to grief and madness.

  7. #831182014-10-01 22:13:17DarkChaplain said:

    Finished The Butcher of Khardov. That was quite a novella. Engaging character arc, a nicely flowing, non-linear plot structure, and more than a simple moral dilemma. Enjoyed it greatly!

  8. #833292014-10-06 22:28:34 *Shaoln_Master said:

    Here's an opening prologue to the favorable mystery novel, "And Then There Were None" by Agatha Christie.

    Ten little soldier boys went out to dine; One chocked his little self then there were Nine.

    Nine little soldier boys sat up very late; One overslept himself and then there were Eight.

    Eight little soldier boys travelling in Devon; One said he'd stay there and then there were Seven.

    Seven little soldier boys chopping up sticks; One chopped himself in halves and then there were Six.

    Six little soldier boys playing with a hive; A bumble bee stung one and then there were Five.

    Five little soldier boys going in for law; One got into Chancery and then there were Four.

    Four little soldier boys going out to sea; A red herring swallowed one and then there were Three.

    Three little soldier boys walking in the Zoo; A big bear hugged one and then there were Two.

    Two little soldier boys sitting in the sun; One got frizzled up and then there was One.

    One little soldier boy left all along; He went and hanged himself

    And then there were None. -Frank Green, 1869

    https://p.gr-assets.com/540x540/fit/hostedimages/1380437017/883613.jpg

  9. #843032014-11-05 18:07:36Meridia said:

    http://www.themarysue.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/TMSGAbc_variant.jpg

    This is a nice little comic series I've been reading recently. Nice art, and a great atmosphere.

    And best of all, no undead!

  10. #927222015-10-17 19:23:57ImmaculateSable said:


    "Every City has its secrets. But none as terrible as this. He is Deucalion, a tattooed man of mysterious origin, a sleight-of-reality artist who has traveled the centuries with a secret worse than death. He arrives in New Orleans as a serial killer stalks the streets, a killer who carefully selects his victims for the humanity that is missing in himself. Deucalion's path will lead him to cool, tough police detective Carson O'Connor and her devoted partner, Michael Maddison, who are tracking the slayer but will soon discover signs of something far more terrifying: an entire race of killers who are much more-and less-than human and, deadliest of all, their deranged, near-immortal maker: Victor Helios-Once known as "Frankenstein"."



    "Charlie Asher is a pretty normal guy with a normal life, married to a bright and pretty woman who actually loves him for his normalcy. They're even about to have their first child. Yes, Charlie's doing okay-until people start dropping dead around him, and everywhere he goes a dark presence whispers to him from under the streets. Charlie Asher, it seems, has been requested for a new position: as "Death". It's a dirty job. But hey! Somebody's gotta do it."
  11. #942482015-11-18 15:57:27Kirn said:

    http://crimespreemag.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/01_Odd_Thomas1.jpg

    Kinda funny to write about a book by the same author that was mentioned in previous post.

    This book I picked up after watching a movie by the same name, and you can just go and watch the trailer of that. The book is about a guy who can see ghosts and different otherworldly things. And is compelled to act on his knowledge. In particular, he needs to try and prevent a horrible tragedy that's about to happen.

    The book is narrated from the point of view of main hero himself. And you know... I have to say, that it's interesting in its concept, and at times quite gripping and morbid. Generally, it's nice supernatural work. However, I somehow feel that writer suffers from the need to be overly-descriptive. And I don't mean that there are some overly described gruesome scenes there. Well, there are, but they are described alright. I mean that author takes a lot of time - and, by proxy, the hero takes a lot of time - to describe things, events, maybe even feelings that are not really needed, and feel like they are there just to make more pages. It's not too bad, and the book is enjoyable, but because of this, at times it's hard to keep track of what is going on in the scene.

    Still, I will be reading next books of the series.

  12. #942572015-11-19 02:35:58Candytenshi said:

    http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350364499l/15811545.jpg

    In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

    Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

    Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

    Taken from Goodreads

    Been reading Japanese novels recently (translated, of course). I'm not even doing this for the weeb, they really just have this calming effect on me. And I love how they are written, not so literal and with lots of metaphors. That's how I write so maybe that's one of the factors.

  13. #949612015-12-03 16:20:22Rinneko said:

    http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320542590l/23968.jpg

    The Female Brain, and...

    https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320542847l/6061718.jpg

    The Male Brain

    They were both very informative. It gave truth to the common excuse that it was 'just because of hormones'.

    They were both also written in an easy-to-read style. It's a problem I usually have with non-fiction books: that they are too laden with jargon to read for leisure. However, Brizendine added a fun glossary at the beginning of the book. The novels were written mostly in layman terms, and involved many examples.

    I would recommend these two novels. They give much insight into the reasons behind one's actions.

  14. #958772015-12-19 09:54:50 *S9 said:

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d8/86/e0/d886e06288e5fa3b5cbeeb8fa62bf92c.jpg

    "She thinks more highly of snow and ice than she does of love. She lives in a world of numbers, science and memories--a dark, exotic stranger in a strange land. And now Smilla Jaspersen is convinced she has uncovered a shattering crime.

    It happened in the Copenhagen snow. A six-year-old boy, a Greenlander like Smilla, fell to his death from the top of his apartment building. While the boy's body is still warm, the police pronounce his death an accident. But Smilla knows her young neighbor didn't fall from the roof on his own. Soon she is following a path of clues as clear to her as footsteps in the snow. For her dead neighbor, and for herself, she must embark on a harrowing journey of lies, revelation and violence that will take her back to the world of ice and snow from which she comes, where an explosive secret waits beneath the ice."

    I can say with confidence that this book is hella moody. I can’t imagine reading it just in case of boredom or some cheerful state of mind. For example, I was able to finish it because there was enough snow outside for not leaving my place for like week. That’s how it worked for me.

    The narrative style is marvelous though it’s hard to get used to it. By saying this, I mean that it’s not unusual to reread some paragraphs for a few times in process, cause you should be concerned about every word in every sentence on every line or you would miss everything.

    Fact: this book saved me when I needed it most. I hope you'll get something too.

    Aaaaaaand just like nearly every book I love it has rating R for language and violence.