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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Discussing Published Hooks & Books » What I'm Reading Now Thread (Page 19)

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Author Topic: What I'm Reading Now Thread
LDWriter2
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I'm reading three books at the moment. Even though two are on hold.

One of those is by our much beloved, hard working good doctor. He let me read his first Rabbi (unoffical) Crane novel but the PDF file I made from his download is a pain. I'm holding off until I can redo it better.

Second novel is the one I came here to talk about.

"Mountain Echoes" by C. E. Murphy. As I have stated before and no doubt will state again she is one of two writers I really want to be like. The reason I am holding off on it is that it's too easy to read and on top of that I don't want to stop so I'm reading it a lot faster than I want to. Murphy knows how to turn a phrase and how to end a chapter with a cliffhanger-sometimes a complete surprise-and how to place her MC in danger.

Recommend it Big Time.


The third book which is the one I am actually reading right now is "For Heaven's Eyes Only" by Simon Green. Simon is great at drawing in a reader too. He can come up with some of the most unusual events as any writer I know of. He's good at cliffhangers too.

[ August 04, 2013, 11:13 PM: Message edited by: LDWriter2 ]

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LDWriter2
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I'm way behind on my listings here. And I'm surprised no one else is willing to say what they are reading.


Anyway;
I read already--said I was behind-Myth-Quoted by Robert Asprin and Jody Lynn Nye. Mostly, if not totally, done by Nye these days.

If you like lighthearted(an aside but I have a sudden desire to use the yiddish word for lighthearted and its Dr. Bob's fault.) fantasy Read the M.Y.T.H. series great stuff. This one is about an election--they throw will mud and worse in that dimension.


Next is A fantastic book and I'm the only one who can read it (hee hee hee)

Seriously it's "The Kabbalist: The Foundation of the Kingdom".
If you like a more intellectual Urban Fantasy this is it. And that comment is not a put down of the other UFs out there or of this one. I don't always get a reference to a certain artist but that's me, I wouldn't be surprised if most readers would know that artist.

Dr. Bob has my attention, I don't want to stop reading it. And I believe it is ready for publication, any more and he will be in danger of diminishing returns. Time to E-publish this one--which would mean a good cover. Or send it out to everywhere. To every publisher who even hints at taking UF.

If Indie than I will be the first one to review it and I will place it on my web site. Even both of those probably won't help much but they wouldn't hurt either. I know of a couple of other places to place it which might help more.


OH and Dr. Bob if you read this, sorry for putting you in as a third person.

I also reading "Taken" by Benedict Jacka. Great stuff if you like UF. A bit of a twist on the usual UF here but Jacka is a Master storyteller. Great fight scenes, the MC is more tricky than the usual head to head fighting. The Twists in the plot are worth reading too.

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Meredith
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I barely keep up to date with what I'm reading on Goodreads, let alone here.

Right now, I'm reading Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments. I'm on book two, City of Ashes. They're fast reads, but occasionally just a little like those soap opera's Mom used to watch--except with demon hunters, werewolves, and vampires.

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legolasgalactica
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Just finished the "Leviathan" zweirs by Scott Westerfield absolutely loved it. Young adult, steam punk, alternate history of WW1 with cool illustrations. Highly Recommended.

Also just finished "Escape from Zarahemla" by Chris Heimerdinger. It was pretty good.

Also just read the short story "The Command for Love" by Hatrack member Chris T. Chan http://www.silverblade.net/content/?p=2521 I really liked it.

Haven't started anything new yet.

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History
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I also enjoyed the Westerfeld's steampunk YA "Leviatahan" series, although I was disappointed in the rather trite romantic ending. What I most admired was the quality of the book's production in hardcover--just a beautiful and lavishly illustrated book.

FYI: Our fellow Hatracker and pro-published WOTF winner is "Nick" T. Tchan. A gifted and good-hearted gentleman.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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History
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
...Next is A fantastic book and I'm the only one who can read it (hee hee hee)

Seriously it's "The Kabbalist: The Foundation of the Kingdom".
If you like a more intellectual Urban Fantasy this is it. And that comment is not a put down of the other UFs out there or of this one. I don't always get a reference to a certain artist but that's me, I wouldn't be surprised if most readers would know that artist.

Dr. Bob has my attention, I don't want to stop reading it. And I believe it is ready for publication, any more and he will be in danger of diminishing returns. Time to E-publish this one--which would mean a good cover. Or send it out to everywhere. To every publisher who even hints at taking UF.

If Indie than I will be the first one to review it and I will place it on my web site. Even both of those probably won't help much but they wouldn't hurt either. I know of a couple of other places to place it which might help more.


OH and Dr. Bob if you read this, sorry for putting you in as a third person.

Thank you for the compliment, Louis. These are always welcome. [Wink]

Perhaps I should take another look at this, my first completed, novel. I set it aside after just one agent (Jim Butcher's) and one publisher (Angry Robot, a UK Penguin imprint) passed on it and then, subsequently, two prequel novelettes went through their round of rejections from the few markets willing to consider stories of their length. I greatly appreciate your thoughtful lead [http://www.hatrack.com/ubb/writers/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=13;t=000284 ] and just rewrote the shorter for a Ben Wolverton benefit anthology contest. Thank you for this suggestion.

I had a few decades of slowly accumulated research and I anticipated writing five The Kabbalist novels, attempting to raise the consequences in each. But I set this aside to gain more writing experience and, I hoped, a token of "legitimacy"--i.e. to build "cred" before my next query letter for this novel

However, my digression into the shorter form and other genres (fable, horror, sf, space opera, alternate history, and science fantasy) has proved as yet a vain effort to get something pro-published. Similarly, the to-date vain effort of winning WOTF.

Anyway, I think I'll reread the novel and consider sending it out again in 2014. After I finish my current works in progress, maybe start novel 2. Thank you again, Louis.

As for what I've been reading...
The Pastel City by M. John Harrison. A wonderfully written dying earth tale with evocative prose that this writers' writer demonstrates even when but merely in his 20's! [that is envy you detect in my 'voice'].

The Complete Man in Black by Hugo/Nebula winner John Brunner, another UK writer. A collection of fantasy/sorcery stories from the beginning of recorded history when Chaos/Magic is slowly being transitioned to Order/Reason. "As you wish, so be it."

All the Warlock stories by Larry Niven, collected in an ebook The Time of the Warlock]http://www.amazon.com/The-Time-Warlock-ebook/dp/B0082CBXNQ and the first of two shared world anthologies The Magic May Return, similarly concerning the end of the Earth's magic. The opening story Not Long Before The End can be read in its entirety by 'looking inside' the book at the above link is a classic tale I highly recommend. Niven wrote two additional short stories in this world that are in his collection Limits.

I also listened to (having previously read and also seen the movie of) Cornelia Funke's Inkheart and have started the sequel Inkspell.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

[ September 14, 2013, 02:22 PM: Message edited by: History ]

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RyanB
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I just finished A Rarefied View at Dawn by David Farland. If you've been reading his Daily Kicks you'll know that he's been letting some of his short stories go for free for limited periods. I figured these stories would be good research for WotF.

The tension and the world-building in this story are great. The dialogue could use a little work along with the prose. I suspected that even though the story has a professional cover it wasn't professionally edited. And then the story ended prematurely.

But Farland is a master storyteller, so I suspected I was wrong and he was right (that he ended the story in the correct place).

No.

There are notes after the story. Apparently Farland went to OSC's bootcamp and wrote this story there. And he didn't finish it.

So I'm shocked both by how good the story is and how bad it is. I mean he has a professional cover and is currently selling the story for $2.99, yet it's not professionally edited nor is it even finished.

OTOH, it needs just a small amount of polish. For something Farland did in a day or two it's quite good, no, incredibly good.

There's also a lot to learn WotF-wise. I'll start digging into the other shorts he's released for free. BTW, those free shorts are yet another reason to read his Kicks (as if you needed another reason).

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shimiqua
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I'm reading The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle.

This is the most beautiful, inspiring, book I've ever read. SO good in fact that I can only read it in small doses. It makes me stop and think, makes every scene poignant and beautiful, and it's brought me to tears seven times already, and I'm not an easy crier.

I think I'm taking the time with it, because this is going to be my favorite book, and I feel like I have to read it the way I usually read scriptures.

I will never ever in my life write a book that good, that perfect and beautiful and full. Amazingly good. Highest recommendation.

If you haven't read it yet, stop what you are doing and read it.*

*putting away the bossy pants.

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tesknota
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Shimiqua, I love that book. Just wait till you get to the ending.

Have you seen the movie? That was good too. =)

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Robert Nowall
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Neglected this of late...and, besides, it's been a fairly busy month, what with the repiping job and all that, so I may have forgotten a few titles---but how memorable or good could they be if I've already forgotten about them?

Anyway, here's two I do remember...

Wilson, A. Scott Berg. Berg has written some thorough and reliable biographies of Max Perkins, Sam Goldwyn, and Charles Lindbergh, so a new one is always worth a look. This is a detailed look at Woodrow Wilson, treating his life and personality and presidency with great sympathy---maybe more sympathy than Wilson deserves.

Salinger, David Shields and Shane Salerno. Not a biography of J. D. Salinger, but more of an oral history of him with a few notes. It confirms some of my suspicions---that Salinger continued writing without publishing, and that he lived a life and had friends independent of his (self-rejected) literary fame. Not that I'm inspired to reread The Catcher in the Rye, though...

One other item. I mentioned the repiping job---a nightmare, by far the worst thing I've ever had to do to this house I own---but I got a weird side benefit. I had to move a bookcase full of hardcover SF books so the plumbers could get at one set of pipes, and, as of now, they sit in my living room, a big pile of book (next to the other big pile of books). And, in moving them, I was reminded of titles and writers I hadn't though of in years...I'll be rereading some of them shortly...

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Robert Nowall
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Picked up a mess o' books on a two-day trip to Gainesville, one of some importance:

Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2.

I didn't even know it was about to come out, it was just there in the store! And Volume 1 was real hard to get, besides (I had to order it online, finally). I've already read most of it (the text and half the notes).

If you recall, a couple of years ago, Volume 1 came out---Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens's autobiography, dictated mostly in the last decade of his life, incorporating this or that text, and a substantial pile of work. Clemens / Twain stated he didn't want it published in the form he'd chosen for it until at least a century after his death, and that time has come. (There have been selected and edited (and bowdlerized) versions before.) Volume 1 was a surprise bestseller.

It's an extremely episodic and unchronological book---Twain / Clemens leapep from topic to topic in his life (and the news at the time) as it occured to him. It's a lot of fun for the sophisticated reader willing to take the time and mental effort.

Also there's supposed to be a Volume 3...

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Dirk Hairychest
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I have a tendency to read many books very slowly. So the books that I have sitting on my nightstand right now our Lord of the Rings fellowship of the Rings. I just encouraged a friend of mine to read it for the first time and he's been giving me updates on where he is and what he likes and it has encouraged me to read it again. I just bought Contact by Carl Sagan at the thrift store thought I'd give that a try. I'm still in the first chapter there. I am also re-reading A Darkness At Sethanon by Raymond Feist. Magician by Feist was the first fantasy book that I ever read when I was young man and I ate it up. I also have started I, Robot and the Foundation books by Asimov. I admit I never liked the Foundation series but the friend that I encouraged to read the Lord of the Rings had me read it as a trade off.
I guess I am on an oldies kick right now.

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LDWriter2
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I have reread Lord of the Rings a couple of times and have thought it might be time again. Especially if I will be rewriting an epic fantasy I started probably ten years ago--at least. Something brought it to my mind recently and I decided it might work. I can't get to the copy I have but I can still remember enough of the adventures to redo it.

And I haven't felt drawn to Foundation either. I love Asimov's writing but that one series just doesn't catch my attention for some reason. But Penumbra will be having an Isaac Asimov issue where they want you to write a story in his style. If I did one I would have to reread some of his stories.

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History
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Hey! They are not called "oldies", Dirk. They're called classics!

I whet my teeth on Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, Niven, Norton, Bradbury, Ellison, Zelazney, Moorcock, Tolkien, Dunsany, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, et al.

Respectfully,
Dr. (Classic) Bob

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Robert Nowall
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Foundation and company seemed somewhat, well, disappointing when I reread it a few years ago...I think Asimov got better as a writer in the 1950s...and, also, by then I'd read a good deal more of real history and could see the what-and-who it was all being based on. (I've been waiting for a reprint of The Caves of Steel to see if Asimov was better...though, come to think of it, a hardcover omnibus that contains it is at the top of the pile o' books I mentioned above...)
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LDWriter2
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I thought Foundation was among his later novels. And Caves was one of his earlier ones. I must have read them out of order.


But I am finally getting to what I am reading at the moment.

Glen Cook's "Wicked Bronze Ambition", the latest and maybe longest Garrett. PI novel.

Cook came up with a very interesting fantasy world and placed an old fashion Gumshoe in it. Very entertaining and Cook does a very good job with the mysteries, descriptions of action and plot points.

I should say though that there is one detail I don't like. Cook changed something in the personal life of Garrett suddenly and I'm not sure why. I liked it the way it was. I think it fit Garrett better.

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Robert Nowall
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The original "trilogy" books were actually stories collected from Astounding and published from about 1942 to 1949 (the opening piece in the first book being written to provide a less-abrupt opening---the rest appear in the order they were written.)

Asimov again returned to the world of the Foundation in the 1980s (at his publisher's insistence), though he made a short false start in the 1970s that he incorporated into the beginning of the first new book.

Asimov said he thought he'd stripped all the "pulpishness" out of his writing style by the mid-1940s, but I think the process took a little longer---and a good deal of non-fiction writing---to complete. Asimov's later writing is so clear and simple it misleads writers who attempt to duplicate it.

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History
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I was an Asimov acolyte in my day. The galactic scope of the original "Foundation Trilogy" awed me (it still does) as did the idea of Psychohistory predicting the course of humanity over millennia, the panic that ensued when the aberration of The Mule changed the course of humanity, and the secret Second Foundation that restored Seldon's Plan to its ultimate goal: the shortening of the chaos during the dark years between the fall of the First Galactic Empire and the rise of the Second.

I also loved his Robot stories and the concept of the Three Laws of robotics. His later award-winning contribution to the series, The Bicentennial Man, remains one of my favorites.

His dual sf robot novels, The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun were a delight, both because they were mysteries and science fiction and because of the chemistry between its protagonists the agoraphobic and irascible Earth detective Elijah Bailey (a fictionalized Asimov, in my opinion) who is distrustful of robots and his assigned gentle and wise robot partner R Daneel Olivaw (who I found so wonderful I gave a nod to him in my own WOTF Finalist story].

Asimov also wrote stories that occurred within the period of a (later his First) Galactic Empire, including his first novel Pebble In the Sky.

All of these I enjoyed. And they were not initially conceived as being part of one grand history. However, in the 1980's, perhaps pushed by his publishers or by his admiration of the grand Future Histories created by his famous contemporary Robert Heinlein and, perhaps, the then new successful upstarts like Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Asimov linked nearly all his work through a series of novels intertwining his robot, Galactic Empire, and Foundation stories. It was a grand effort, but I did not find it always successful in that at times I found it a bit forced--though easily forgiven by me in seeing many beloved characters again.

As a completest, I also picked up his The Early Asimov. Though these early tales were published, I found many of them disappointing--e.g. "The Weapon To Dreadful To Use" (yet was), his fourth published story, still haunts me for how much I disliked it. Thus, I believe I possess some objectivity regarding the Good Doctor's fiction.

I had hoped to meet him. He was a Professor of Biochemistry at my Medical School, but retired before my matriculation.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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History
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Oh. And I just started reading Robert Silverberg's Tales of Majipoor, a series of seven longer tales set in his marvelous giant low gravity multi-alien populated world of the title. If you haven't read his first Majipoor trilogy, beginning with the classic Lord Valentine's Castle, you should.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Robert Nowall
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The Saga of why Asimov stopped teaching at Boston University School of Medicine was quite an epic in itself, and is included in his memoirs, mostly at the beginning of the second volume. Basically, it's a case of the powers-that-be not liking that Asimov abandoned research for non-fiction writing during school hours (but he kept teaching and kept his SF writing home), and, on Asimov's part, that he had a substantial outside income from said writing and didn't need to kowtow to keep the job. He had an argument with them over his tenure and keeping his title (without pay or duties), but in the end they gave in and he kept it.

All that happened in the late 1950s---though Asimov did continue to give lectures at the medical school for some time, usually the first one given to the class. I guess you must've missed him. (I passed on going to a couple of speaking engagements he had in and near my hometown.)

I think Asimov linking it all together in his later works was something he did to keep it interesting to himself---by then he definitely preferred non-fiction writing---and, all in all, it's somewhat less annoying than, say, Heinlein kinda doing the same thing in his last several works.

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History
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Well, the Dean of Boston University Medical School Admissions with whom I interviewed in the early 1980's (I'm old but not ancient) indicated a better relationship between the school and Asimov than chronicled "In Joy Still Felt", and that the Good Doctor until recently had met with students since retiring from the Department. He did not return during my time at B.U.S.M. (Yes. That's the acronym. Made for great tee-shirts...much better than what would have resulted with Boston University Medical School). [Wink]

While the quality of Heinlein's lattermost novels (after Time Enough For Love) lapsed, in just my personal opinion, they were, however, continuations of an established Future History.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Robert Nowall
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Mostly the guys who gave him trouble had moved on to other jobs.

A footnote to that saga...I've mentioned it before 'round here, somewhere, but for some reason, I like telling it again...Asimov made a bold statement in his memoirs about how these guys would be remembered only for what he said about him in his memoirs---well before they were written, of course---but, thanks to my voracious non-fiction reading of late, I do know something about one of them that did not come from Asimov.

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Dr. Bob, have you ever read Generations by Strauss and Howe?

I quite enjoyed it, and perceived it to be an attempt at a kind of psycho-history along the lines of what Asimov posited for his Foundation novels.

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History
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No, Kathleen, I have not.

The idea of cyclical generations is an interesting hypothesis, however. It seems to parallel the changes noted with the rise and fall of civilizations/empires on a smaller scale. In the suggestion that such cycles can be predicted, I concur, this is comparable to the "Psychohistory" of Asimov's Foundation series.

That they propose four such generational cycles is interesting, recalling such ancient statements as: "The LORD is slow to anger, and plenteous in loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, .. visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation". Coincidence? [Wink]

Thank you for the link.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You're welcome. One of the things I found interesting, as I read it, was considering how these four generational cycles might have played out in other places than the US.

For example, I wondered if the generation involved in the Six-Day War might have been analoguous to the US's "Greatest Generation" though they came at a different time period relative to each other.

With that, it might be interesting to consider Jewish history going backwards from then, to see if the theory holds up.

[ October 15, 2013, 06:44 PM: Message edited by: Kathleen Dalton Woodbury ]

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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And, of course, the relevance to writing could be in character development in a multi-generational work of fiction.
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History
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quote:
Originally posted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury:
You're welcome. One of the things I found interesting, as I read it, was considering how these four generational cycles might have played out in other places than the US.

For example, I wondered if the generation involved in the Six-Day War might have been analoguous to the US's "Greatest Generation" though they came at a different time period relative to each other.

With that, it might be interesting to consider Jewish history going backwards from then, to see if the theory holds up.

I would need to read the book and more fully grasp the four generation cycle, but generally speaking I do not believe "Jewish history" before the re-establishment of the State of Israel would support the hypothesis. Between 150 CE and 1948 CE, the world's Jews were always a minority whose ability to act within and upon the outer world was curtailed by Christian Europe and Muslim North African and Near Eastern majorities. With a few notable exceptions, the Jews were an insular society (both by their own choice and imposed by their non-Jewish majorities) clinging to traditions and beliefs and language that sustained their identity generation to generation. Changes did occur within this community, though these were comparatively minor, but I suggest it was not until the Enlightenment and the throwing down of the ghetto walls (though the ghetto mindsets persisted for another century) with the rise of European and American secular societies did the Jews (generally speaking) join in the generational changes of the majorities among whom they dwelt. Becoming the majority in the State of Israel, Israeli Jewish generations may possibly best illustrate this, all though the constant threat of a war for their survival I imagine modified the generational cycle proposed, as did(do) the variable experiences of the merging of various Jewish societies: European, Arab/Persian, Russian, as well as the Sabra (first Israeli-born generation), etc.

Respectfully,
Dr. Bob

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InarticulateBabbler
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I'm reading The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles translated and correlated by Anne Savage, and the Saga of Burnt Njall.

Just finished The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and Thieves' Quarry by D. B. Jackson (really David B. Coe).

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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Dr. Bob, I grant all of that. But there was at least one generation involved in the 1948 establishment of Israel before the generation(s) involved in the 1967 Six-Day War.

At any one time in history, there are at least three generations participating, after all.

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Robert Nowall
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Not to intrude...but I had the impression (I don't know where from) that the 1973 Yom Kippur War was of greater importance in the swing of things than the Six-Day War. Something about "hubris" and the trouble they had winning that one.
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LDWriter2
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Interesting discussion here--too bad I don't know enough about Israel's wars to join in.


Anyway:

I have been reading a book in a semi new series. "Dead Iron" by Devon Monk. Oh boy he is some writer. First of his I have read even though he has out a few.

This series--with three now--is hmm, well I'm not sure. They call it steampunk but is it? It is but it's more than that. I want to say an extreme version of Steampunk but that's not quite right either, it's like steampunk took a sudden left turn. More like Gearpunk? That's not quiet right either. Hmmm, SteamgearStrangepunk? Yes, strange has a capitol letter.

It's set in Western times and there are what are probably elves and dwarves but they are not called that. There's danger, a curse by a god, guys that turn into wolves, Magic, a witch, adventure and hell of good writing. It's action packed with little time to catch your breath. Monk is another one to model writing after.

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kmsf
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I'm reading Island of the World by Michael D. O'Brien. It follows the life of a man from his boyhood in Croatia during WWII until present day. I have enjoyed his novels very much, especially his Children of the Last Days series.
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Nick T
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quote:
Originally posted by legolasgalactica:

Also just read the short story "The Command for Love" by Hatrack member Chris T. Chan http://www.silverblade.net/content/?p=2521 I really liked it.

Haven't started anything new yet.

Why thank you. And Dr. Bob is too kind.

Regards,

Nick T.Chan

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MattLeo
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I'm currently reading an English translation of a famous Bengali adventure story called Chander Pahar ("Mountains of the Moon"). Lots of interesting stuff about this one, but for now we've been having fun in my house trying to figure out how to say the author's name: Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay.

I'm pretty good with Indian names; having worked in IT names like "Narasimhan Balasubramanian" trip effortlessly from my tongue, but for some reason I'm finding "Bibhutibhushan" to be a real jaw cracker.

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Robert Nowall
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Read a great book these past three days: The Beatles: All These Years: Vol. 1: Tune In, Mark Lewisohn.

As you might guess, this is Volume One of a planned three-volume biography of The Beatles. Some of you may know Mark Lewisohn from his earlier work on specific aspects of The Beatles phenomenon. This is an overview of all of it. Lewisohn has a way of digging out the most obscure of important information, and documenting it. This book is just chock full of details.

The subject matter, The Beatles, is of course an old favorite of mine---I must have over a hundred other Beatles books, taking in biography, ghostwritten personal reminiscences, commentary, encyclopediac info dumps, the lot. The story fascinates me and this book adds more detail that I would've thought possible. (Also explodes several myths along the way.)

My main regret is that it goes just up to the end of 1962, with The Beatles on the verge of fame and fortune. Probably it'll be another two years before the next volume appears. It's a long-standing rule of mine to avoid multi-part things until they're complete, but I'll waive that rule in this case---I already know how it came out and whodunit, so it's a matter of filling in the blanks.

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pidream
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I recently finished reading the fifth installment of Charles Stross' 'Laundy Series', The Apocalypse Codex.
If you have not read this series, I highly recommend it. Stross blends Lovecraft and others mythos in a contemporary British clandestine setting; with a bit of tongue and cheek humor thrown in for fun. Charles writes an engaging character driven style that draws you in. Have a go- if you want a peek at the Great Old Ones behind the curtain. ****

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Robert Nowall
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I've been reading various Greek and Latin histories. Thucydides, Tacitus, Caesar, Lucan, and so on. Interesting stuff...but one thing bothers me. Hardly any of the modern-day editors and translators say a thing about how the manuscript got from those days to here. They all have introductions, talking about the writers and the events they're telling about, and sometimes notes on the translations (no, I'm not reading them in their original Greek or Latin, my language ability extends only to limited French).

I'd like to know how the texts survived from when they were written---obviously we don't have the original manuscript copies, and, after all, some two thousand years have passed by---down to this day, what happened to missing portions, and so on. But most of these current editions, largely Barnes & Noble and Penguin issues, says much about it.

(Also I went out and bought another translation of Tacitus---'cause I thought the current Penguin edition stunk as literature. Might be an accurate reflection of the Latin text, but confusing and not well-written.)

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extrinsic
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The Poetics of Aristotle I'm studying again. Astounding how much of contemporary literary criticism of the method, intent, and meaning analytical types are forerunners in the text. Surprising also that the challenges of translating the original Greek to English in the late 1800s noted in the text annotations have since become part of and understandable in English. The old adage about translating a term losing meaning in translation vanishes when a term becomes part of a native vocabulary.

Anyway, the edition I'm studying from Project Gutenberg is a PDF of the original translation as published. The edition includes the history of the translation, stepping back through editions to a surviving holograph and to its Middle Ages origins. Other editions I scrutinized earlier have only parts of the base text and their contents questionably incomplete.

Being a later era written-word documentation of the original first edition expressed through oration circa 350 BCE, what survives is patently a jumbled mess. Yet the core mostly survives for anyone who can read past the chaos and get to the points.

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MattLeo
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quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
The Poetics of Aristotle I'm studying again. Astounding how much of contemporary literary criticism of the method, intent, and meaning analytical types are forerunners in the text.

This makes me wonder how literary criticism from non-Western cultures may have developed independently of Aristotlean influences. The only non-European body of criticism I'm even remotely familiar with is ancient Japanese court poetry, which I took several courses on in college. It is also possible that we might be able recover non-Aristotlean literary ideas from certain pre-renaissance European works.

One interesting thing about Japanese poetry is that very early on the poetic anthology developed as a distinct art form in its own right, with its own principles. One of the remarkable things about Japanese thinking on the subject is the belief that it is important for an anthology to include plenty of mediocore material. A "best of" type compilation would be considered cloying, and wouldn't show the excellent works off to their best advantage. I think this notion may also be related to poetry being an essential everyday accomplishment for any cultured person in ancient Japan, and not the exclusive province of few specially gifted individuals. A reader at the time the Manyoshu or Kokin Wakashu was collected wouldn't have the expectation that every poem he encountered had to be a masterpiece.

Anyhow, these attitudes strikes me as both thought-provoking, and alien to Western literary values.

For that matter if we ever communicate with an extraterrestrial civilization, who knows what we might learn about the possibilities of stories?

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Robert Nowall
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Neglected to mention on the first that, of the books I read this month, two impressed me, one new, one a reread.

New: The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight, Winston Groom. Groom intertwines three separate life stories here with a keen novelist's eye (he's the novelist responsible for Forrest Gump)...I've heard much of the stories of Lindbergh and Doolittle, but much of Rickenbacker was wholly new to me---new, and harrowing...

Reread: I, Claudius: From the Autobiography of Tiberius Claudius, Robert Graves. You're probably aware of this one---you might have seen the miniseries---but, after a long time between reads, I got more out of it this time than before. Good book.

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LDWriter2
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Hmm, just realized I haven't put anything here for a while. I just plain forgot to even though I have been reading.

Read "Liberomancer" by Jim C. Hines. It's a book that came from a short story. I read the story and loved it so I got the book. Same character and ability but there are a few things different in the book that I don't think were mentioned in the story. Which is okay.

Also read the second Iron Druid book..can't think of the title right now.

And I am reading three books right now.

"Chimes At Midnight" by Seanan McGuire

WotF 29

and The Mammath Book of Steampunk.
A couple writers I know are in and I like steampunk so I got it but it's got some different stories in it. Aztec steampunk, a couple that might barely be steampunk. Some very good ones.

Oh as to the Writer's of the Future book, if you enter the contest and haven't read it. You get an idea of what Dave means by originality. It's broader in all directions than I was thinking. At the same time though there is at least one story that I wouldn't say was all the original with a kinda of cliche ending. So he will take kinda of cliche-ish stories if they are well done.

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Robert Nowall
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Would'a posted this back on the first, but lingering illnesses and all that laid me low.

Two books impressed me this month, for different reasons. First:

The Greatest Movies You'll Never See: Unseen Masterpieces by the World's Greatest Directors, Simon Braund. This is one of those art-of-movies books that pops up from time to time, and this one turned up at the local Barnes & Noble new-book table. Short essays on various movie projects that, for one reason or nother, didn't work out, leaving one wondering what it would've been like to see them. Some of the newer titles I'd never heard of, but some of the older ones have kicked around in my mind for years.

Some may eventually surface in some way, particularly ones that have actually completed filming. (One called The Day the Clown Cried, starring Jerry Lewis---reportedly mindnumbingly awful and tied up in litigation---will likely get release some day.) But others exist only on paper, not a film of footage shot or an actor cast.

The essays are chock-filled with information on the artists and projects, it's illustrated with assorted stills, and there are mockups of what the movie posters might have looked like in the end. A lot of fun to read.

*****

Now the other book:

Kalvan Kingmaker, John F. Carr. This is an old book, a sequel to a much earlier book called Great King's War, which is itself a sequel to a book by another writer, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper.

Until relatively recently, I didn't know this sequel existed---and only a couple of weeks ago I obtained a copy through my Nook reader. Found it interesting in the extreme---kept me up reading it---and it was fun revisiting the characters after such a long gap of time, like meeting up with old friends.

There are other sequels, and I'd be looking forward to reading them, too---but they're not available on Nook at the moment, just on Kindle. Ample evidence I chose the wrong reader, maybe. Or a sign it's time to go out and get something else that can handle other formats.

*****

I'll recommend both books highly.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:


There are other sequels, and I'd be looking forward to reading them, too---but they're not available on Nook at the moment, just on Kindle. Ample evidence I chose the wrong reader, maybe. Or a sign it's time to go out and get something else that can handle other formats.


Or else just download the free kindle app for your pc or smartphone.
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Robert Nowall
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Experience has taught me it's no fun reading off my regular non-portable computer---is there a Kindle app for a Nook?
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Experience has taught me it's no fun reading off my regular non-portable computer---is there a Kindle app for a Nook?

Not that I'm aware of.
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Robert Nowall
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Should also mention...I do not now nor have I ever had a "smartphone." My cellphone (on its last legs) is just to make calls, and then not that often, occasional and / or emergency use, as I have a landline for regular phone calls.

Like a lot of modern technological advance, it's just not my thing. Though if I motivated myself to get one I'd probably make use of it.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Should also mention...I do not now nor have I ever had a "smartphone." My cellphone (on its last legs) is just to make calls, and then not that often, occasional and / or emergency use, as I have a landline for regular phone calls.

Like a lot of modern technological advance, it's just not my thing. Though if I motivated myself to get one I'd probably make use of it.

Me, too. My cell is barely capable of texting. Which is fine. If I'm going to write, I'll email. My cell is basically for emergencies.

And I do like new tech toys. Just can't afford them right now. It would have been nice to have another way to access the internet when my computer was down a couple of weeks ago. [Frown]

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Robert Nowall
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I ran across this title, Time Tolls for Toro and Other Tales by Robert Moore Williams, in a revew on the Locus website. It interested me enough to order it from Amazon-dot-com, along with a couple other titles from the same publisher that popped up.

The publishing house, Armchair Fiction, seems to specialize in reprinting old and very old works that are in public domain (apparently), by writers who are dead (as far as I can tell). I haven't looked at their website or their whole catalog, but they list some titles at the back of the books, some of which seem extremely interesting to me. I plan to order some more, eventually. (Some are mocked up like the old Ace Doubles---not back to back with one title upside down, but in style. The Ace Doubles were among my favorite reading.)

Now, this book. The stories...well, they're enjoyable enough, SF cast in the action-adventure mode for the most part. To a certain extent, they remind me of what I was once interested in doing while writing SF, more so that either what's going on in the field right now or even what I've actually been doing.

Robert Moore Williams was a prolific writer from the thirties to the seventies. I'm pretty sure I've read a couple of these before, and other works of his. But what I chiefly remember about him is a note by Lester Del Rey in his The Early Del Rey. He made his acquaintance and passed on the info that Williams started out writing for Astounding, but gave it up because he found John W. Campbell too hard to satisfy for the money involved. There's a biographical note on the first page in that tells a little more.

Interesting stuff, still...and, so, no doubt, will the other stories and books when I read them.

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extrinsic
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I read Dave Wolverton's 1999 A Very Strange Trip a few weeks ago, a work inspired by an L. Ron Hubbard title of similar premises. I noted a strong resemblance to Golden Age science fiction convention oddities and Hubbard's work generally.

For example, artful inacurracies: Saber-tooth tiger. No tiger was ever saber-toothed, saber-toothed cat, yes. Aztec culture did not thrive in the neolithic Mississipian mound culture. Short-haired and long-haired mammoths did not coexist on the central plains at the time of the Wisconsin glacial maximum. Golden Age science fiction overlooked such trivial details for the exigent needs of the plot. More so, they conformed with the romanticized, if erroneous, beliefs of the target audience. These are a convention of Golden Age science fiction, when awe and wonder were prime tensional emotions that trumped rigid accuracy for the sake of sensationalism, a feature Campbell encouraged from his writer stable. And solid mid Western, blue collar, WASP male social moral value system beliefs.

[ May 04, 2014, 04:28 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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LDWriter2
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I had forgotten about this.

Since my last visit I read "Cold Days" by Jim Butcher and "The Grendal Affair" by Lisa Shearin---not quite as good as her first series but worth reading for sure. And a couple of others.

I am now reading "The Misfortune Cookie" by Laura Resnick a bit of a different UF series. Good writing, adventure and she gets into her MC and she teaches. This time about Chinatown in NYC.

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