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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. #4201
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    Tiamat's Wrath, the penultimate Expanse novel. They certainly telegraph their intention to keep pushing the narrative out of established, comforting patterns from the very first line of this one.
    Worth reading the short story "Strange Dogs" before you get into this novel, because otherwise one of the (several) weird turns will probably seem to come completely without context.

    Grant Hutchison

  2. #4202
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Tiamat's Wrath, the penultimate Expanse novel. They certainly telegraph their intention to keep pushing the narrative out of established, comforting patterns from the very first line of this one.
    Worth reading the short story "Strange Dogs" before you get into this novel, because otherwise one of the (several) weird turns will probably seem to come completely without context.

    Grant Hutchison
    If only you had posted this a few months ago as it certainly took me a while to get my mind around what was happening

  3. #4203
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    If only you had posted this a few months ago as it certainly took me a while to get my mind around what was happening
    Yeah. The other short stories are very much pendicles to the story arc of the novels, but "Strange Dogs" really feels like it should be in the sequence between volumes 7 and 8.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #4204
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    I happen to be reading Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. The book was written in the 1980s and was awarded the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1986. Good read-


    "Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
    Francis Bacon


    Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself
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    "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. the foundation of such a method is love."
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  5. #4205
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Jaksich View Post
    I happen to be reading Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez. The book was written in the 1980s and was awarded the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1986. Good read-
    Huge Barry Lopez fan here. His Coyote book ruled.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  6. #4206
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    What are you reading?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Re-reading Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell series. Those are really quite good!
    On a whim I looked to see if my library had those books. And they did, even electronically. It was really nice to read some Pratchett again. I just wish he had been able to write more in the Johnny series.

    Next up is Edison by Edmund Morris. I’m only in the prologue but a quick peek shows that Morris is telling the story back to front, starting with the end of Edison’s life and finishing with his time as a young telegraph clerk. We shall see.

  7. #4207
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Huge Barry Lopez fan here. His Coyote book ruled.

    I have not seen it-- I assume the title you speak of is his latest, Horizons. Or is it, Of Wolves and Men? His imagery is so vivid-


    "Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
    Francis Bacon


    Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself
    George Bernard Shaw


    "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. the foundation of such a method is love."
    Martin Luther King

  8. #4208
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Jaksich View Post
    I have not seen it-- I assume the title you speak of is his latest, Horizons. Or is it, Of Wolves and Men? His imagery is so vivid-
    'Giving Birth to Thunder' - an older book
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  9. #4209
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Huge Barry Lopez fan here. His Coyote book ruled.
    I was given his Horizon as a present recently. I found it hard work to get through--there's a particular American style of nature writing that I find a little too introspective and a little too mannered, and Lopez seems to have cultivated that style.

    Grant Hutchison

  10. #4210
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    Hello Grant,

    An essay of his appears in January 2020 Harper's magazine- He comes across as rather reserved and "introspective" -- I guess. It is a personal essay from him. It was slow going for me, as well. He has written some brilliant work -- however, I guess that would lead to a question about who is the reigning nature writer in the present moment? Given how badly 'false news tends to dominate the news wire.'

    Thanks for the inspiration, Grant.


    "Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority."
    Francis Bacon


    Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself
    George Bernard Shaw


    "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. the foundation of such a method is love."
    Martin Luther King

  11. #4211
    Reading Origins by Neil Degrasse Tyson, anyone heard of him?
    From the wilderness into the cosmos.
    You can not be afraid of the wind, Enterprise: Broken Bow.
    https://davidsuniverse.wordpress.com/

  12. #4212
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    I just finished "Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter" by Ben Goldfarb. I liked it. I would have liked a little more about beavers themselves (biology, etc.) as the book almost exclusively focused on their impacts on habitat and the history of man's relationship with them. Goldfarb did have some interesting historical bits, like how the trade in beaver pelts impacted several of the Colonies' and the early United States' conflicts. After a bit it got a little preachy and repetitive on how beavers are a big part of fixing many problems with landscape and habitat (droughts, flooding, species and habitat preservation and restoration). Not that I disagree with either those goals or his conclusions about beavers, but I think it was being pounded in my head a couple of times too many.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  13. #4213
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    Picked up a copy of A Kim Jong-Il Production at the dollar store, of all places, yesterday. I've read it before; it's fascinating. The story of the North Korean film industry, including and especially how two of its primary figures had been abducted from South Korea.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  14. #4214
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    The Best Bad Things by Katrina Carrasco. Copying a goodreads blurb:

    The Best Bad Things. It is 1887, and Alma Rosales is on the hunt for stolen opium. [Note: opium is legal at the time.] Trained in espionage by the Pinkerton Detective Agency—but dismissed for bad behavior and a penchant for going undercover as a man—Alma now works for Delphine Beaumond, the seductive mastermind of a West Coast smuggling ring.
    This was a random grab out of the library, and it turned out pretty darn good. Well written, and the character Alma is extremely unordinary.
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.

  15. #4215
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    I just finished "Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter" by Ben Goldfarb. I liked it. I would have liked a little more about beavers themselves (biology, etc.) as the book almost exclusively focused on their impacts on habitat and the history of man's relationship with them. Goldfarb did have some interesting historical bits, like how the trade in beaver pelts impacted several of the Colonies' and the early United States' conflicts. After a bit it got a little preachy and repetitive on how beavers are a big part of fixing many problems with landscape and habitat (droughts, flooding, species and habitat preservation and restoration). Not that I disagree with either those goals or his conclusions about beavers, but I think it was being pounded in my head a couple of times too many.
    There's apparently been a surge in the beaver population in a valley south of me, causing problems for the farmers, who have to get permission before breaching a dam. The area is known as "Beaver Valley".
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  16. #4216
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    Our Half Price Books outlet had a copy of Michael Palin's 1988-1998 diaries; have just read the part where Graham Chapman dies, and I'm so angry at whoever thought it was a good idea to approach Palin a few days earlier to ask him to write an obituary.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  17. #4217
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    Neil deGrasse Tyson has not got a particularly high profile in Australia. I have seen him as a"talking head" in a number of documentaries and his version of "Cosmos" was shown here. It did not attract much attention as it was bounced around a bit in the screening schedule. I did not really care all that much for it but that may well have been because of misguided nostalgic memories of watching Carl Sagan's version on its first airing.

    Anyway, I saw a book of his in the local library for the first time - "Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military". It was co-authored with Avis Lang. I have now finished the book and found it to be just OK and it left me a bit disappointed. I can normally read these sorts of books in a day or so but this has taken me several weeks of dipping in and out get though it.

    I have no doubt about the authors scientific credentials or abilities and there are a number of interesting facts and insights in it. However, I found the writing style to be a bit "pedestrian" and flat. There were also a number of occasions when the word choice seemed strange. For example, when talking about the Square Kilometre Array, which is being built in both southern Africa and in the Australian Radio-Quiet Zone (WA) in my state, the book refers to the array locations as being "wasteland". Now I might be taking this a bit personally, but while the West Australian site is in arid country it is also in a pristine environment with a unique variety of flora and fauna. It is far from a wasteland and I am sure the African site has similar characteristics. These sorts of odd choices appeared too often for my liking. The authors also completely reversed the meaning of "giving someone a wide berth"

    At the risk of causing Grant Hutchison to have conniptions, the book quoted the journalist Dava Sobel a number of times in one chapter. That by itself would be fine but it also uncritically repeated her assertions about the actions of Maskelyne and the Board of Longitude. Assertions which have been pretty comprehensively proven to have little basis in fact. (Thanks go here to Grant for guiding me to the articles by much more well credentialed people than Sobel who have outlined the problems with her claims.)

    I don't know if I have read this book in the wrong state of mind or what but based on it I am not overly impressed with his writing style.
    Last edited by ozduck; 2020-Mar-09 at 05:34 AM.

  18. #4218
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    I've always avoided Tyson's books for the same reason I avoid Brian Cox's books--I find their on-screen personas pretty much unwatchable, and have discovered that (for obvious reasons) television science popularizers generally write in the style of their screen personas. Tyson has always been big on forthright opinion and light on fact-checking, so I'm not surprised he's fallen for Sobel's "good versus evil" narrative.

    Grant Hutchison

  19. #4219
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    Man-Kzin Wars XV. No, I don't know why, either.
    I remember when this franchise was full of good writers with interesting ideas and a good grasp of the canon, but not any more. I was actually amazed that some of these folk have a published track record at all, since several (particularly Brad R. Torgersen, winner of several awards and subject of numerous rave reviews) seem to have a pretty shaky grasp of basic sentence construction and English vocabulary. I lost count of how many words Torgersen misused--which is really something a decent copy editor could have fixed for him. I guess Baen Books doesn't employ such a person.
    Sigh.

    Grant Hutchison

  20. #4220
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Man-Kzin Wars XV. No, I don't know why, either.
    I remember when this franchise was full of good writers with interesting ideas and a good grasp of the canon, but not any more. I was actually amazed that some of these folk have a published track record at all, since several (particularly Brad R. Torgersen, winner of several awards and subject of numerous rave reviews) seem to have a pretty shaky grasp of basic sentence construction and English vocabulary. I lost count of how many words Torgersen misused--which is really something a decent copy editor could have fixed for him. I guess Baen Books doesn't employ such a person.
    Sigh.

    Grant Hutchison
    Baen Books publish some good books but I have certainly noticed that their editing "leaves something to be desired". I am afraid that I am going on a bit of a "get off my lawn you kids" rant but to me it seems that good copy editors are a dying breed. Newspapers and news-sites seem barely copy edited - if at all. Most books I read have egregious spelling errors or use words in absolutely the wrong way. I assume that this has become the standard in order to reduce costs and increase profits. Bah humbug!

  21. #4221
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    Baen Books publish some good books but I have certainly noticed that their editing "leaves something to be desired". I am afraid that I am going on a bit of a "get off my lawn you kids" rant but to me it seems that good copy editors are a dying breed. Newspapers and news-sites seem barely copy edited - if at all. Most books I read have egregious spelling errors or use words in absolutely the wrong way. I assume that this has become the standard in order to reduce costs and increase profits. Bah humbug!
    Yes, it's a thing, isn't it?
    The interesting thing to me, about Torgersen in particular, is that I recall being impressed by a story he wrote in Red Tide, which was a themed volume of stories set in Larry Niven's "Flash Crowd" fictional universe. I then bought his short story collection Lights In The Deep, and was disappointed by his strange word usage and clunky sentence construction, which really detracted from the story-telling. And now here's another example. So I assume that there actually was a copy editor involved with Red Tide. (Either that, or I was so appalled by Matthew Joseph Harrington's incoherent contribution to the same volume that Torgersen benefited from the comparison.)

    Anyway, Torgersen's rave reviews (and people seem positively ecstatic about him) become interesting when you poke around into his back story. It's not a topic that can be much explored here, because of the strictures on political discussion, but Torgersen seems to have been a key figure in the "Sick Puppy" episode with the Hugo Awards, in which a minority strove to skew the voting options in favour of a particular style of science fiction story-telling; he's also the focus of a couple of "book bombing" episodes, in which people have coordinated their purchases in an effort to spike him on to the best-seller charts.

    Grant Hutchison

  22. #4222
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Yes, it's a thing, isn't it?
    The interesting thing to me, about Torgersen in particular, is that I recall being impressed by a story he wrote in Red Tide, which was a themed volume of stories set in Larry Niven's "Flash Crowd" fictional universe. I then bought his short story collection Lights In The Deep, and was disappointed by his strange word usage and clunky sentence construction, which really detracted from the story-telling. And now here's another example. So I assume that there actually was a copy editor involved with Red Tide. (Either that, or I was so appalled by Matthew Joseph Harrington's incoherent contribution to the same volume that Torgersen benefited from the comparison.)

    Anyway, Torgersen's rave reviews (and people seem positively ecstatic about him) become interesting when you poke around into his back story. It's not a topic that can be much explored here, because of the strictures on political discussion, but Torgersen seems to have been a key figure in the "Sick Puppy" episode with the Hugo Awards, in which a minority strove to skew the voting options in favour of a particular style of science fiction story-telling; he's also the focus of a couple of "book bombing" episodes, in which people have coordinated their purchases in an effort to spike him on to the best-seller charts.

    Grant Hutchison
    Ah I wondered why the name rang a bell with me but I couldn't remember reading anything by him. From the little I read the, "Sick Puppy" controversy certainly seemed to be exactly as you described.

  23. #4223
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    Ah I wondered why the name rang a bell with me but I couldn't remember reading anything by him. From the little I read the, "Sick Puppy" controversy certainly seemed to be exactly as you described.
    I've been mistyping that label a lot, in what is undoubtedly some sort of Freudian slip--it's actually "Sad Puppy". The name was a reference to the sad puppies in animal adoption commercials, with the idea that a small group of authors needed to be brought to the Hugo voters' attention in a similar way.
    There was also a group called the "Rabid Puppies", and the less said about them the better. And a tie-in with Gamergate. A real mess.

    Then there was CHORF, which was Torgersen's coining to dismiss those on the other side of the argument. Unfortunately for Torgersen, it only served to exemplify his difficulty with word usage and sentence structure, since he explained the acronym as "Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary, Fanatics" [sic throughout].

    Grant Hutchison

  24. #4224
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    A new Tom Hanks film is scheduled to debut in June called Greyhound. It's based on the C.S. Forester book The Good Shepherd and is the story of a USN destroyer captain at the start of World War 2, escorting a convoy of 37 ships to Liverpool. I found a Kindle copy for 99 cents and so read the book. Forester (the creator of Horatio Hornblower) uses a bit too much of "Left rudder, full" and "Steer course oh-one-two-seven" as they chase U-boats, but it's still a good story and (to me) an insight into the challenges and dangers of convoy duty in the early days of 1942; not much air cover and even then only when near land with few warships for protection and limited radar and sonar capability.

    Note: The captain often uses the term "Meet her" when giving steering commands and I had to go look that up. It means to use the rudder to counteract the turn.

    An order to the helm to use the rudder as needed to stop the ship’s turn. Usually followed by an order giving a course to steer.

  25. #4225
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    You might like to try Alistair MacLean's debut novel, HMS Ulysses, which is very different from the thriller genre he settled into thereafter. It's based on his own experience aboard a Royal Navy escort on Arctic convoy duty, and follows the eponymous (fictional) Ulysses as its crew deals with a ramping sequence of challenges while escorting a convoy a little reminiscent of the catastrophic PQ-17.

    Grant Hutchison

  26. #4226
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    You might like to try Alistair MacLean's debut novel, HMS Ulysses, which is very different from the thriller genre he settled into thereafter. It's based on his own experience aboard a Royal Navy escort on Arctic convoy duty, and follows the eponymous (fictional) Ulysses as its crew deals with a ramping sequence of challenges while escorting a convoy a little reminiscent of the catastrophic PQ-17.

    Grant Hutchison
    I read it a long time ago but only after I had read some of the other books. And even then I noticed that it was quite different from the rest of his work. I'll give it another read - looks like I'll have lots of time as we hunker down and twiddle our thumbs.

  27. #4227
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    A new Tom Hanks film is scheduled to debut in June called Greyhound. It's based on the C.S. Forester book The Good Shepherd and is the story of a USN destroyer captain at the start of World War 2, escorting a convoy of 37 ships to Liverpool. I found a Kindle copy for 99 cents and so read the book. Forester (the creator of Horatio Hornblower) uses a bit too much of "Left rudder, full" and "Steer course oh-one-two-seven" as they chase U-boats, but it's still a good story and (to me) an insight into the challenges and dangers of convoy duty in the early days of 1942; not much air cover and even then only when near land with few warships for protection and limited radar and sonar capability.

    Note: The captain often uses the term "Meet her" when giving steering commands and I had to go look that up. It means to use the rudder to counteract the turn.
    I've just re-read that!
    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    You might like to try Alistair MacLean's debut novel, HMS Ulysses, which is very different from the thriller genre he settled into thereafter. It's based on his own experience aboard a Royal Navy escort on Arctic convoy duty, and follows the eponymous (fictional) Ulysses as its crew deals with a ramping sequence of challenges while escorting a convoy a little reminiscent of the catastrophic PQ-17.


    Grant Hutchison
    And just learned of that one. I'll have to get it.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  28. #4228
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozduck View Post
    Baen Books publish some good books but I have certainly noticed that their editing "leaves something to be desired". I am afraid that I am going on a bit of a "get off my lawn you kids" rant but to me it seems that good copy editors are a dying breed. Newspapers and news-sites seem barely copy edited - if at all. Most books I read have egregious spelling errors or use words in absolutely the wrong way. I assume that this has become the standard in order to reduce costs and increase profits. Bah humbug!
    It's not the copy editors. It's the money people, who assume that computers do just as good a job for less money.
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  29. #4229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    It's not the copy editors. It's the money people, who assume that computers do just as good a job for less money.
    There was a pretty dramatic change at Baen books. I feel a variety of issues started a bit after Jim Baen, the founder and lead editor died. In terms of editing, I started noticing more spelling errors and various writing issues. In a fairly recent book, the author constantly used italics to emphasize text. I reached the point where I started to fantasize about whacking the author in the head with their own book while yelling, “STOP. ALL. THE. POINTLESS. ITALICIZATION!” It really was obnoxious and it should have been the editor’s duty to cut it down by 90% or so.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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  30. #4230
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I've been mistyping that label a lot, in what is undoubtedly some sort of Freudian slip--it's actually "Sad Puppy".
    Ah, I just missed the chance to correct you. I was assuming you were confusing the Sads and Rabids.

    The name was a reference to the sad puppies in animal adoption commercials, with the idea that a small group of authors needed to be brought to the Hugo voters' attention in a similar way.
    There was also a group called the "Rabid Puppies", and the less said about them the better. And a tie-in with Gamergate. A real mess.
    A very small Gamergate connection. They were looking for like-minded people that would be willing to pay $50 each to vote in the Hugos. They got the word out at sites discussing Gamergate and found a few people that gave them lip service, but ultimately there didn’t seem to be enough interest to get many people willing to spend that much. Their interest didn’t connect well with that of the Gamergaters.

    Then there was CHORF, which was Torgersen's coining to dismiss those on the other side of the argument. Unfortunately for Torgersen, it only served to exemplify his difficulty with word usage and sentence structure, since he explained the acronym as "Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary, Fanatics" [sic throughout].
    It was interesting - initially Torgersen seemed to be one of the more reasonable of the Puppies, but there were some extremely unreasonable Puppies, so that isn’t saying much. Once they dominated the nominations, they were hoping there would be a lot of like-minded Hugo voters that would support their views. Instead they found the voters were overwhelmingly against them and many spoke out against him specifically. As time went on and it was clear they had failed, he became less and less reasonable in his comments.

    I wasn’t familiar with him before the Puppy mess, but after I vowed to avoid him, as I had not been impressed. The same is true of some other authors that were involved in it.

    The only thing I think they got partly right is that, while the Sad puppies typically had some fairly extreme political and religious views (and then there were the rabids, who were even more extreme), they weren’t wrong that there were also extremists of a different type among the anti-puppies. I feel there has been an increase in extreme polarization in science fiction, and for me personally, that has made it harder to find stories I like to read that aren’t pushing a political agenda that I dislike.

    That, I think, is another issue with Baen these days, since their authors tend to be Puppy favorites.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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