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Thread: What are you reading?

  1. #4321
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    I wonder if Robert Heinlein received any credit for that show.

    Orphans of the Sky (c 1941 and 1943)
    Doubtful. Heinlein didn’t originate the concept of the generation ship and a number of authors have used the idea. To be sure, Heinlein was one of the early ones to write a story about it. But even Star Trek had a generation ark ship where the passengers no longer remembered and was also going to be destroyed if its course wasn’t corrected (from the episode “For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” with the paper mache asteroid ship). The details made the Starlost ship interesting, not just that it was a generation ship. For one thing, it was gigantic. I don’t remember the exact details, but each dome was supposed to be tens of kilometers across and there were many of them, tied to an also large central support structure. So the ship was hundreds of km/miles long. From the story background, this had been an all out effort of the entire human race over generations when it was discovered the solar system would be destroyed. It was meant to retain as much earth life and human culture as possible with different domes for different cultures and purposes, and modularity kept the rest alive if some failed. That could have made for a great setting for a weekly show if handled better.

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

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  2. #4322
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Doubtful. Heinlein didn’t originate the concept of the generation ship and a number of authors have used the idea. To be sure, Heinlein was one of the early ones to write a story about it. But even Star Trek had a generation ark ship where the passengers no longer remembered and was also going to be destroyed if its course wasn’t corrected (from the episode “For The World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” with the paper mache asteroid ship). The details made the Starlost ship interesting, not just that it was a generation ship. For one thing, it was gigantic. I don’t remember the exact details, but each dome was supposed to be tens of kilometers across and there were many of them, tied to an also large central support structure. So the ship was hundreds of km/miles long. From the story background, this had been an all out effort of the entire human race over generations when it was discovered the solar system would be destroyed. It was meant to retain as much earth life and human culture as possible with different domes for different cultures and purposes, and modularity kept the rest alive if some failed. That could have made for a great setting for a weekly show if handled better.
    That really does sound like an interesting concept - but destroyed in the execution!

  3. #4323
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    Having that Trek episode and The Paradise Syndrome together would have been quite the mash-up.

  4. #4324
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    I finished a reread of The Dangerous Animals Club, by Stephen Tobolowksy (one of the greatest storytellers of our time, and not a bad actor). Just before I did, I got a birthday present--The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History, by Kassia St. Clair, and The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science, by Michael Strevens. Started the first one. So far, I have learned that what is believed to be the oldest twine discovered was created by Neandertals some 90,000 years ago and that the kids who discovered the Lascaux Caves did so with a dog named Robot.
    _____________________________________________
    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!"

  5. #4325
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    Last week, with some trepidation, I purchased and downloaded the latest two books in a naval historical fiction series I've been reading for a few years. The trepidation was because the previous two were awful and very awful, respectively.
    I got two chapters into the next to latest and it was, as I feared, awful. So yesterday I started re-reading a short series I've already read two or three times, because I enjoyed it. It's far too 2020 to be reading stuff I don't like.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  6. #4326
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    Do webcomics count?
    I tried the webcomic "Endtown" a few years ago but drifted off. Then I tried again lately and got absolutely obsessed with it (my Asperger's works that way).
    It is a very dark and grim Furry strip.
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

  7. #4327
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    It came up in a conversation online, so I am re-reading Eva Ibbotson’s Dial-a-Ghost, one of my childhood favorites. Still very enjoyable.
    The greatest journey of all time, for all to see
    Every mission makes our dreams reality
    And our destiny begins with you and me
    Through all space and time, the achievement of mankind
    As we sail the sea of discovery, on heroes’ wings we fly!

  8. #4328
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    Under the Red Sea Sun, by Edward Elsberg.
    Came about in an interesting (to me anyhow) way:
    I was browsing YouTube and watched a video about a Dido-Class cruiser of the RN during WWII.
    That led me to looking up the class on Wikipedia and going to their article about the lead ship. She was torpedoed or something and got repaired at Masawa, Eritrea. "Oh", I thought, "I read a book about that in Junior High". It must have made an impression on me because I remember it well. I suspect that HMS Dido is the ship that had to have a replacement hull plate hammered into shape by large men with large hammers while being heated with torches, there being no suitable forming equipment at the yard. So I got the book from Kindle and am re-reading it, around 60 years after the first time.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  9. #4329
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    I'm apparently getting two gifts from my Secret Santa this year; the first of them is The Medieval Cookbook, by Maggie Black. It was an excellent choice.

    Meanwhile, I'm starting to read some of the more recent Stephen King, who I love but whose work I've kind of fallen off of in recent years. Revival is still an interesting book, though.
    _____________________________________________
    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!"

  10. #4330
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Last week, with some trepidation, I purchased and downloaded the latest two books in a naval historical fiction series I've been reading for a few years. The trepidation was because the previous two were awful and very awful, respectively.
    I got two chapters into the next to latest and it was, as I feared, awful. So yesterday I started re-reading a short series I've already read two or three times, because I enjoyed it. It's far too 2020 to be reading stuff I don't like.
    Perhaps you've mentioned it but what naval historical fiction books have you read and recommend?

  11. #4331
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    Glorious, the latest novel in Benford and Niven's Bowl of Heaven series. Dear me, this is getting quite sad, and Tor should have really done a better job of editing this one (as with the previous two). There's some good potential here, with another Big Smart Object to explore, but the same problem with glaring continuity errors, and characters either knowing stuff they have no way of knowing, or apparently forgetting stuff they already knew. There's a passage that is almost a word-for-word repeat of something that happened to another character in a previous novel. And the characters get through the book by making idiotic decisions designed to move them into the next plot situation.
    I was encouraged to give this one a go only because the latest Pournelle/Niven/Barnes cooperation in the Heorot series turned out pretty well, but it would appear Barnes was the one keeping track of the details in that one. (To judge from the writing style, I'd say Benford was responsible for about 80% of Glorious, particularly the later sections.)

    Grant Hutchison

  12. #4332
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    Quote Originally Posted by geonuc View Post
    Perhaps you've mentioned it but what naval historical fiction books have you read and recommend?
    You have to start with Horatio Hornblower, of course. Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series can be frustrating, but enjoyable. Julian Stockwyn's Kydd series is actually the one I was complaining about, but if you stop at about volume 16 it's fine. I've also enjoyed Dewey Lambdin's Alan Lewrie series, although again the earlier ones are better than the latest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Under the Red Sea Sun, by Edward Elsberg.
    Came about in an interesting (to me anyhow) way:
    I was browsing YouTube and watched a video about a Dido-Class cruiser of the RN during WWII.
    That led me to looking up the class on Wikipedia and going to their article about the lead ship. She was torpedoed or something and got repaired at Masawa, Eritrea. "Oh", I thought, "I read a book about that in Junior High". It must have made an impression on me because I remember it well. I suspect that HMS Dido is the ship that had to have a replacement hull plate hammered into shape by large men with large hammers while being heated with torches, there being no suitable forming equipment at the yard. So I got the book from Kindle and am re-reading it, around 60 years after the first time.
    I'm convinced that the book I'm reading now is NOT what I read as a kid. Oh, it's definitely the same author and subject matter, but this is much longer than I'd have had the patience for. I may have read a condensed or "young reader's" version.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  13. #4333
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    I've also enjoyed Dudley Pope's Ramage and Yorke series, and the earlier Bolitho books by "Alexander Kent" (Douglas Reeman).

    Grant Hutchison

  14. #4334
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    I need to try the Pope ones. I have read the Bolitho series but haven't been inclined to read it again for some reason.
    Oh, I do remember one reason: "Kent" got a couple of things wrong about the Royal Navy of the era, among which that promotion after reaching the rank of Post Captain was entirely by seniority. Repeatedly stating that Bolitho was the youngest Vice-Admiral in the Navy didn't ring true. He also didn't understand that the flag color of the squadron to which an admiral was assigned varied as he worked his way up. First Rear Admiral of the Blue, then of the White, then of the Red; then Vice Admiral of the Blue, and so on. I also seem to recall him having a Vice Admiral fly his flag from the mizzen.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  15. #4335
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    What I liked about Bolitho was the way in which the cast of supporting characters shifted from book to book, reflecting the reality of what happens as someone progresses through the ranks and takes up new posts on new ships. And then we'd see old characters returning, having followed their own career trajectories in the meantime. Ramage, in contrast, is stuck as a frigate captain on the same ship with the same crew for much of the series.

    Grant Hutchison

  16. #4336
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    I re-read Joe Haldeman's The Forever War this week. I last read this back in 1986. I wasn't aware of the multiple editions of this book that have been made. So parts were familiar, parts were brand-new, and there are parts that I remember from my first reading that were missing.

    Very odd reading experience.

  17. #4337
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamesabrown View Post
    I re-read Joe Haldeman's The Forever War this week. I last read this back in 1986. I wasn't aware of the multiple editions of this book that have been made. So parts were familiar, parts were brand-new, and there are parts that I remember from my first reading that were missing.

    Very odd reading experience.
    I haven't read that for about 20 years. and hadn't known about the changes. A reread of it is in order - and with the changes it will probably see like a whole new novel!

  18. #4338
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    I have been on a bit of a 'History' trajectory the last few weeks. I have just finished Dan Snow's "Crusaders: An Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands". It clearly illustrates the centuries of wasted lives and destruction of cities and places of worship - of all faiths. Both sides are called out for their cruelty, treachery and propensity for internecine war. But the 'crusader' side seems to have come out on top for sheer stupidity and bad behavior exemplified in the sack of Christian Constantinople by forces lead by the Doge of Venice. I was reasonably familiar with a lot of the happenings but the fact that the Teutonic Knights ravaging of the Baltic countries and western Russia was also a 'certified' crusade

    And for a bit less 'truthful history' I am now about half way through Hilary Mantel's third and final book about the career of Thomas Cromwell "The Mirror and the Light". Cromwell, as imagined by Mantel, is far more contemplative in this book as the English version of the Ancien Régime he has scandalised on his rise begins to engineer his fall. Mantel has made Cromwell an appealing enough character that you, or I at least, begin to dread his fall and subsequent execution. It must be said that the book at some 883 pages long in the edition I am reading has not left a possible word unwritten.

  19. #4339
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    Having seen Vera on TV a few times, I decided to read one of Anne Cleeves's novels that inspired the series, The Crow Trap. I am nearly 1/3 of the way in. We have not met Vera (although I suspect she's the mystery woman who turned up at a funeral) and am having considerable difficulty keeping the characters straight. Then again, I have the latter problem on the TV shows as well. Have any of you read these?
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  20. #4340
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Having seen Vera on TV a few times, I decided to read one of Anne Cleeves's novels that inspired the series, The Crow Trap. I am nearly 1/3 of the way in. We have not met Vera (although I suspect she's the mystery woman who turned up at a funeral) and am having considerable difficulty keeping the characters straight. Then again, I have the latter problem on the TV shows as well. Have any of you read these?
    I haven't read any of the 'Vera' books but last month I read my first one of her works - a 'Shetland' one with Jimmy Perez. I certainly did find that her book was populated with a lot more characters than I am used to finding in a normal mystery/crime novel. Every now and again I had to think for a little bit to remember who was who. It is certainly easier in the TV show because of the visual clues.

  21. #4341
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    Vera turned up shortly after I started reading again. And I really got into the book. I almost stayed up past bedtime to finish it, which I'll do this morning while pedaling.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  22. #4342
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Vera turned up shortly after I started reading again. And I really got into the book. I almost stayed up past bedtime to finish it, which I'll do this morning while pedaling.
    And having finished (I correctly guessed the culprit), I immediately downloaded the next in the series. And started it, but it became bedtime. So during my exercise this morning I read on. I've been kind of avoiding for the rest of the day but am going to go read again now.
    I'm not sure what it is, but Ms Cleeves has got me hooked!

    Stuff that bugs me: These are about the most expensive books I've ever gotten from Kindle.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  23. #4343
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    I finished the second book Vera book and immediately downloaded the third. I can see I'm going to be reading a lot of Cleeves! This third one is the first I can associate with a TV episode -- I recognize the murder scene. But I don't remember how the TV program turned out so that's fine.
    Coincidentally, I was looking at the channel guide last night and the show was to be on, so I watched it. It was a newer one than I'd seen before, after the actor playing Ashworth had left. The overall tone of it seemed less dark than than the earlier ones. And the lighting was less dark as well, which made me happy.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  24. #4344
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    Still reading, and watching, when it's on, Vera. I'm realizing it's rather formulaic: There's ALWAYS a second murder. There's always an unsuspected relationship between characters. The roots of the crime always go back quite a few years. And we always know what Vera's thinking; except when she's figured it out and we don't, so as to preserve the suspense.
    But I'm still enjoying it. I finished the sixth book this morning and immediately downloaded the next, which I shall now go and read.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  25. #4345
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    Bill Bryson's The Body: A Guide For Occupants, which I probably wouldn't have bought if I'd seen how the week was going to go but which I'm glad I did.
    _____________________________________________
    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!"

  26. #4346
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    I just finished reading “The Andromeda Strain”. I’d seen the movie many years ago, and always wanted to read the book. Note: To the best of my recollection, they track very closely.

    I generally enjoyed it, once I got into a circa 1970 technological mindset. I was, however, disappointed with the ending. Things wrapped up too fast and too cleanly, except for the little twist at the very end.
    Perhaps this was in keeping with Crichton’s presenting it as a summary of a real event. Keep the reader wondering if it really happened?
    I may have many faults, but being wrong ain't one of them. - Jimmy Hoffa

  27. #4347
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    I just finished reading “The Andromeda Strain”. I’d seen the movie many years ago, and always wanted to read the book. Note: To the best of my recollection, they track very closely. I generally enjoyed it, once I got into a circa 1970 technological mindset. I was, however, disappointed with the ending. Things wrapped up too fast and too cleanly, except for the little twist at the very end. Perhaps this was in keeping with Crichton’s presenting it as a summary of a real event. Keep the reader wondering if it really happened?
    I love that book, but I also think it has parallels with Lovecraft's "The Colour Out of Space" that fascinate me.
    Do good work. —Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom

  28. #4348
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    Crichton always said the novel was inspired, oddly enough, by Len Deighton's spy thriller, "The IPCRESS File". Deighton (and then Crichton) used what James Blish called "intensively recomplicated" narrative--layers and layers of entirely spurious detail that leave the reader feeling as if they're engaged with real life, rather than a novel.
    The major change made in the film was to change the gender of one of Crichton's all-male characters.

    Grant Hutchison

  29. #4349
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    The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair, who wrote that book about fabric I read and really enjoyed a while ago. This one is seventy short essays about assorted colours.
    _____________________________________________
    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!"

  30. #4350
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    The Secret Lives of Color, by Kassia St. Clair, who wrote that book about fabric I read and really enjoyed a while ago. This one is seventy short essays about assorted colours.
    Ha. That has just worked its way to the top of my to-read pile.

    Grant Hutchison

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