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Title: Strong Democracy
Autor: Benjamin R. Barber

The most important book ever written. Yeah fuck the bible I'm serious!

Aug 20, 2019 13:42:58 PM

DalaiLama wrote:
Neal Asher
The Gabble and Other Stories

For those that haven't read Neal Asher, this book is a good lead in towards his 'Polity' scifi literary universe. The collection of stories has an element of mystery to them that should leave the reader wanting more.
Asher's worlds and aliens are well crafted, and he does a superb job on speculating how really advanced AI will interact with humans and aliens.

Christ, I LOVE that art. Hell, that whole design is top. Noted and queued. Interesting to see how it stacks up against my last read of that ilk: the Hyperion books.


I'm...getting through The Swarm but good lord it's trash at times. One reviewer got it right when they said it'd be great if Hollywood picked this up and made a nice 2-3 hours spectacle movie from it. That'd nix so much of unnecessary thought access we have to less-savoury characters who are meant to be sympathetic. There's a really, really good book here. You just have to pretend it was written by a really, really good writer.

Aug 20, 2019 15:06:17 PM

Finished The Swarm. Well that ending sucked all the balls. I should have known when I saw the e-book was at 90% down and virtually nothing had been resolved that it'd be a seriously disappointing denouement. The reviews all warned me. But damn. Cartoon-level villains (I'm no fan of the US but Jesus did this guy make them look dumb), an enigmatic 'other' being of infinitely superior nature to humanity that the author had no idea how to resolve, and extremely bad pacing and balance of contents. Really, really bad recommendation, FCK42. :(


Next up: The Gabble.

Sep 03, 2019 00:50:25 AM

I'm sorry to have disappointed you then. It's been quite a while since I've read it, so nostalgia likely clouded my judgment on that one.

Let me think of something else...

The Long Earth
By Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

It's more or less a "What if we had access to an infinite amount of alternative versions of earth, each and every one of them more or less diffetent from the original", mixed with the fun whacky humour Terry Pratchett is known for. People can, with the help of a small device more or less quickly "switch" from one world to another, though iron and anything made out of it cannot be carried from one world to another. There are some other restrictions aswell, but I can't remember all of them at the moment. I personally found it quite interesting, but I guess that doesn't actually mean anything here.

In case anyone actually likes this one, there're two sequels, but I've only read one of those yet.

Edit: Due to how my previous recommendation was received, I'd suggest everyone to be careful with what I'm posting here. It seems like I tend to either ignore or easily forget about glaring flaws in books I read. I apologise for any inconveniences I've caused and maybe will cause by recommending books that I enjoyed a lot more than I should have.

Sep 03, 2019 19:24:22 PM

Ah, that one's already on my short list, for fairly obvious reasons, but fuck it, let's jump it up there. The premise had me a bit wary because I had a feeling that Piers Anthony sort of filled the 'alternate worlds by a fantasy author' niche. But yes, I always see that one on the shelves in the store and pause.

re Swarm: Okay, it's a few days in the past now and I can let it go. I'm really sorry I came across that harshly -- your anime recs are always rock-solid, but it was impetuous of me to expect your tastes there would be so easily translated into literary/reading tastes. I'm almost certain stuff IS lost in translation. Still, it definitely face-planted in the final stretch and that's a hard blow when you've invested all that time getting there, getting to know the characters and being built up for a satisfying conclusion. And it was all very interesting. A little preachy but I imagine that'd be almost instinct after researching just what sort of damage we're doing to the ocean. Oh, and I liked Jack And Alicia.


The Gabble so far is *really* good. I'm normally not very receptive to sci-fi short stories that are on the surface just sci-fi but there's a certain 'this could be anywhere and anywhen' feel to the first story that I quite like. That's not to say it doesn't fully utilise the unique tools of sci-fi, but it thankfully isn't jam-packed with them either.

Sep 04, 2019 03:27:36 AM

Blindness, by Jose Saramago

Sep 05, 2019 14:22:54 PM

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


Jared Diamond.

I could also name collapse by the same author. Two powerful books about the true reasons of many very important things that ruin or strengthen societies, nations and whole continents.

Sep 05, 2019 16:29:47 PM

ghamadvar wrote:
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies


Jared Diamond.

I could also name collapse by the same author. Two powerful books about the true reasons of many very important things that ruin or strengthen societies, nations and whole continents.

The latter is likely a bit more valid than the former. While the former points to some notable dynamics, quite a few of his assumptions have been widely panned. Enough so that he's probably gotten a bit more criticism than he deserves. A Good book along those lines, but more from a political perspective, is "World Order" by Kissinger. Another you might like is "The Decline and Fall of Civilizations" by Bolton.

I recently attempted to read "The Spine of the Dragon" by Kevin J. Anderson. I had forgotten that I just don't get along well with his writing... It's so rubber-stamp formulaic that I had to stop reading it. That adds another one to a handful of books over my many years of reading that I will absolutely never pick up again. Considering the thousands I've read, that's quite an achievement.

"Fall" - Neal Stephenson - I like most of Stephenson's stuff except for the mental dumpsterfire that the critically acclaimed "Snow Crash" was. I don't read first-person present-tense because it is a wrong narrative style and should be abolished. Why do modern authors keep churning out first-person present-tense? Because some of the people that vote for "Awards" seem to think it's artsy and cerebral. It's usually written garbage with some perfume thrown on top and intentionally constructed to make no sense, but seem like it does.

Anyway, "Fall" is OK, so far, but it's slow and ponderous and it's definitely "politically loaded commentary." It's going to make some people pretty angry... I had to stop because the book was dripping with it. I'll pick it up later when I'm better prepared.

"The Galactic Center Saga" series - Benford ("In the Ocean of the Night" starts it off - All that being said, if anyone wants a wonderful Science-Fiction series, the "Galactic Center" series by Benford is outstanding. It starts with "In the Ocean of the Night" and you'll probably have to find it in a used bookstore, sadly, if you want a hard-copy.

"The House of Suns" - Alastair Reyolds - Another recommendation I just finished, again, is "The House of Suns" by Alastair Reynolds. (Great writer, outstanding book.) I find myself re-reading it often.

So, I'm re-reading some dependable Neil Asher and waiting on something interesting to pop up on the shelf. I wish one of the Killer B's would come out with something that wasn't inspired by "time travel tropes." (Can't stand those. Want to write a story, but don't have any ideas? TIME TRAVEL! Star Trek was a wonderful series, but it violated innocent science-fiction minds with its time-travel and alt-history episodes.)

Sep 14, 2019 07:11:47 AM

DalaiLama wrote:

Almost finished this one. As noted earlier, really well written and done in a style that isn't overbearingly sci-fi. More than a shade of adventure/hunting/noir sub-genres, augmented (all puns intended) by a richly drawn world full of exotic drugs, weapons and transhuman ponderance. Which, unfortunately, brings to my main quibble. It's not a spoiler as such, so I'll just leave it exposed.

We're in something like the 30th century -- 27th century items are considered antique, so I put us somewhere around there. We don't need to sleep. We can have doctor AIs implanted inside us that can do anything from nix an incoming cold to completely override our motor systems in emergencies. We've salvaged alien tech to create devices that transform us into hybrids able to survive all manner of extreme planetary conditions...and yet somehow we still think 'malt whisky' is the epitome of a luxurious beverage.

This happens multiple times and it's jarring as fuck. I get the need to tie these otherwise alien-humans to what the reader can understand, but for god's sake, Asher, pick something less fucking white and colonial than whisky. Mention of 'ancient' wrist-watches, for example. That's good. Or coffee tables. Sure. But there's no way I can imagine a human civilisation that advanced, that aware of alien life and the vastness of galaxies, still clinging to an ancient drink that so firmly comes from a sub-section of earth culture. The stories as is run the risk of seeming oblivious to the fact that there'd be more than just white men and women in space by then (not something balanced out by all the animal hybrids I'm afraid) and at one point the author uses the word 'negro' which I'm pretty fucking sure will be out of our lexicon by the time we have discovered alien life and colonised the stars. At least I hope so.

So that aside, yeah. Clever stories, believably conceived distant future, packaged in a fairly bog standard male far-future fantasy mode of 4x prowess (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate). Literarily, not a fucking lick on Hyperion unfortunately. Highlights are the short stories 'Garp and Geronamid' and 'Snow in the Desert'.

Sep 18, 2019 06:52:26 AM

Re: Jared Diamond

One thing I will say though is in his later books, including Hot, Flat, and Crowded, he starts to sound like he's trying hard (and succeeding!) to sell himself on his own shtick. In this case, it's hyperfocusing on one arena (clean energy) and touting its benefits to the planet almost in isolation.

Yes it's an important part but not the only one.

Sep 18, 2019 19:52:51 PM
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