Tacticular Cancer: We'll have your balls

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redding is teh hard; How about a Books thread?

Discussion in 'Codex Public Library' started by kingcomrade, Dec 1, 2005.

  1. <3sRichardSimmonsgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    I've been using the Valerian et Laureline BDs that Prime Junta mentioned, as well as Verne in the original, to help practice my French, but a lot of the technobabble in both loses me/sends me to the dictionary. It has definitely made me realize the prevalence of esoteric technobabble in SF as a genre; just uses a lot of uncommon/archaic/made-up words.

    Of the Verne that I've read, Le Château des Carpathes was the easiest for me to read.
     
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  2. octaviusgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I, Robot (1950) by Isaac Asimov :3/5:/:4/5:

    Asimov's novelization of the delightful Will Smith movie.

    No, not really.
    I, Robot was actually an old (1939) short story by Eando Binder, and the first of the Adam Link stories (which was dramatized for TV with Leonard Nimoy as the main human character).
    Later, when Asimov collected his first robot stories his editor at Gnome Press (Martin Greenberg, IIRC) dismissed Asimov's refusal to steal the title with something like "Fuck Binder!", and "I Robot" for a long time meant Isaac Asimov. Nowadays people probably associate it mostly with Will Smith.

    There's nine stories in the collection, all originally appearing from 1940 to 1950 in Astounding magazine, edited by John W. Campbell, who incidentally came up with the Three Laws of Robotics:
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

    2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
    A tenth Robot story - Robot AL-76 Goes Astray -, which was published in Amazing Stories, was not included.

    The collection has a framing story, in which a journalist interviews robopshycologist Susan Calvin, Asmiov's main protagonist of the Robot stories. The other protagonists are field agents Powell and Donovan (who for some reason remind me of Asterix and Obelix). Susan Calvin, the cold spinster is the more interesting of them, and two of the three P&D are the weakest stories in the collection IMO. Robots getting religious in "Reason" was not very convincing, and "Catch That Rabbit" was rather meh.
    The stories are chronological, from the first primitive, mute nursemaid robot in "Robbie" in 1997 (when Susan Calvin was 15 years old) to massive super computers ("Brains") governing world economics in "The Evitable Conflict" when Calvin is an old woman.

    I recall really liking the stories when I was much younger. They are still quite good, but perhaps more of historical value these days.
    The highlight for me was when Susan Calvin, who very rarely showed emotion, short circuited a robot's positronic brain out of spite, because he was a liar.
     
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  3. Prime Juntagender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Asimov's robot stories haven't aged well. They illustrate how limited he was in his vision -- imagining intelligent robots without considering the impact they would have on society, or how such technology could be used apart from anthropomorphic machines (smart cars being a notable exception).

    "Galley slave" is a particularly cute example. It's about the robotisation of publishing. It features a positronic robot sitting in a room, using pen and ink to edit a draft of a book prior to publication.

    IMO the Foundation trilogy is the only Asimov worth reading other than out of historical interest.
     
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  4. octaviusgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    It's common to a lot of old SF. A writer imagines one particular future tech, be it robots, interstellar space travel etc, but the rest of the world is still stuck in 1950 technology and social norms (constant smoking being my pet peeve, no "strong women" being the SJW pet peeve). Heinlein was one of the better ones in this regard, and Asimov not so much, IMO.
     
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  5. Beggargender: ⚧ Learned

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    That's why I can't stand sci-fi. Book writers imaginations are stuck in the 50's. Movies can't leave love/hate/relationship cliche. Where are the worlds that are totally alien to us? What you get is basically the same romance and other shit, just in different (sci-fi) setting. Meh
     
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  6. octaviusgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Try Hal Clement's books.
    I've only read Needle so far and some of his short stories (looking forward to reading his Iceworld and Mission of Gravity), but of the old SF writers he's probably the one that is best at original descriptions of alien worlds and their inhabitants, but at the cost of rather uninsteresting human characters.
     
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  7. Yaar Podshipnikgender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Codex USB, 2014 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Mission Of Gravity is fantastic, with the caveat octavius mentioned. The science is good, aliens are interesting, if sometimes too human, and humans feel a bit like cardboard cutouts sometimes.
    Another goodie I recommend is "The Machine Stops". Written in 1918, but the author shows imagination way beyond 1950. The lead character was quite interesting as well, even though it's more about the setting in this one.
     
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  8. Grim Monkgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Broken Blade by Kelly McCullough
    ("Fallen Blades" Series)
    Decent pulp Medieval Fantasy in a setting with East Asian and Indian overtones.

    Two negative points:
    1. Beginning is straight cliche.
    "Badass with a tragic past is drowning his sorrows in drink when a unknown beautiful women offers him a large sum of money for a seemingly easy job."

    2. The author assaults you with his personal made up fantasy jargon.
    Shadow/Black Jack = Thief/Assassin.
    Embermen = Arsonist.
    Guttersider = Begger.
    Shadow Captain = Mob Boss.
    And so on...
    It comes off as try-hard and awkward.

    Setting is welcomingly non-tolkienesque.
     
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  9. bloodlovergender: ⚧ Arcane

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    I've started reading LeGuin's Earthsea books. I finished the first one and it's... not that special(?). I mean it's fun and all and Ged has potential as a character but I didn't find the book to be "wow". There are some neat idea about sorcery here and there but most characters that Ged meets along the way have no substance and are there just for the sake of being there. Oh and those looooooooong pages about him on the sea. Oh dear...

    I hope The Tombs of Atuan is better.
     
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  10. Old Onegender: ⚧ Magister

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    As I recall Earthsea is solid but not spectacular.

    Tombs of Atuan is the one I remember as the best though. It's unconventional for a fantasy novel.
     
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  11. Make America Great Again v1rusgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Since you seem to be rather knowledgeable on the topic, have you, by any chance, read a french comic named De cape et de crocs? Saw someone singing it to high praises, and been wanting to read it for quite some time (afaik its not translated, and I cant speak a word of french) especially since it seems to be full of classicist homages, with full blown Molliere style alexandrine. Was it any good, and would a translation even make sense, since, you know, French alexandrine and all that?

    Same question for Chroniques de la Lune Noire, another french comic that captured my eye some time ago, that also seems to be untranslated.
     
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  12. Prime Juntagender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Sorry, I haven't read either of those. Thanks for the tip though, I'll check them out the next time I swing by the Librairie Goulard.
     
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  13. clemensgender: ⚧ Arbiter Patron

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    Codex 2014 Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2
    Les Chroniques de la Lune Noire is rather standard fantasy fare. A nice discovery when you're twelve, but not much more. A big commercial success in the same vein as, say, Lanfeust de Troy, but a little darker.

    I've never read De Capes et de Crocs and admit that I have always regarded it as some hipstery thing... But I've never heard anything bad about it, everybody and their sisters seem to consider it a masterpiece of some sort.
     
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  14. Make America Great Again v1rusgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Tyvm! Just the sentiment I had for Les Chroniques de la Luna Noire - I was 14 when i first heard of it. Still, if it ever gets translated, you bet I'm gonna fulfill that 10 yer old wish.
     
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  15. I'm With Her Make America Great Again Ninja Destroyergender: ⚧ for prison Prestigious Gentleman Plant Patron Undisputed Queen of Faggotry Dumbfuck Douchebag! Illiterate Sychophantic Noob Village Idiot Weasel Zionist Agent Repressed Homosexual Pretty Princess Possibly Retarded White Knight Übermensch Fargo Fanboy The Real Fanboy Beg Auditor Trigger Warning Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride Edgy Typical Modder No Fun Allowed Shitposter Vatnik Virgin Queen Cuck Bethestard Manlet In My Safe Space

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    Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare

    [​IMG]

    Pol Pot was one of the people who were largely omitted during my history classes as a political figure for an obvious reasons. For a reference on one of the ASEAN country heritage I finally tried this book written by Phillip Short. It's really fascinating, how everything starts out so innocently. Building communist structures in France, the ever growing corruption of the king Norodom Sihanouk, the long preparations of the Red Khmers for a Civil War. It was interesting to read how much Vietnam helped Cambodian communists with their know how and supplies. They also were teaching them warfare, which later worked as a double edged sword. They've tried to build a bigger entity with the communism being the foundation. After that it's start to be a strange mix of surreal, horrifying episodes where charismatic Pol Pot, who was so in the shadow in the beginning due to the assassinations and he always played his card safely. Reading about the famine after implementing a truly communistic government, in a country which was exporting tons of rice to his neighbor countries sounded familiar.

    There isn't a lot of cheap sensationalism, but there are still mentioned here and there description of atrocities which sound so surreal and cruel. Communism unleashed in Cambodians everything that was tamed with the previous regime. Reading about the S-21 "interrogation" camp which was basically a slaughterhouse for enemies, real and imaginary as well. Just like in other countries Pol Pot and the nearest cabinet blamed others not being pure communists. Americans and Henry Kissinger are shown here due to the conflict in Vietnam, which had some influence on Kambodia as well. We can read how they helped with their decisions to strengthen the Khmer Rouge and weaken the Vietnam. The most notable is when USA retained Cambodia's UN seat until 1982 and 1991.

    Good, analytical writing with some additional photos for the reference.
     
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  16. Sjukobgender: ⚧ Savant

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    [​IMG]
    So I've just finished reading "The quiet Don". I strongly recommend it to anyone, especially if you can read in russian. Not only it's well written, but it also covers important values like family, honesty, compassion and honor. It's said to be inspired by "War and Peace", but I can't tell, never liked Tolstoy's work. Anyway, the series portray the first world war and the following civil war in Russia from the viewpoint of a common cossack. What I really appreciate about it is that there are no black and white sides and Sholokhov really showed downsides of both monarchists and communists, you won't find much of a support for either party however, it's surprising to me that the book made it past censors and was universaly praised at the time considering that it was written under the rule of Stalin, who gave Sholokhov personal support and helped him with publishing. More so even the protagonist himself isn't saint and although being mostly on the good side, he still behaves like a real person with drawbacks. A lot of characters die, the book is pretty violent as it should be, some scenes are very gruesome consisting of people getting their heads sliced with shashkas or being hit by explosives. The book does a great job at showing what war does to landscape, people's lives and minds.

    I think it's a very good read for westerners, because the setting of WWI from Russia viewpoint is pretty unique and doesn't get enough material (now try to think of how many fictions mention cossacks at all). The series are pretty long consisting of 4 books and each of them is pretty big by itself, but it manages to grab your attention from the start and the only bits I found boring were about nature and course of war (strategic description I mean, not the fighting itself) but they are mostly short and serve as break for reader.

    So yes, it's one of the best thing's I've ever read and I encourage everyone to do the same.
     
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  17. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Just gave up and threw Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312 against the wall.

    As anyone who has read the RGB Mars trilogy can attest KSR doesn't exactly make for a light read - scope and sheer detail of his hard SF visions are one thing, but the drawn out sections dealing with characters and nebulous solutions to perceived sociological issues can make reading his books painful and arduous journey. 2312 makes the matter worse by making neither of the cast particularly engaging - Swan is pretty much a complete nitwit (sorry artist) doing great job alienating the reader with acts of often suicidal stupidity (thankfully mostly past acts), while slightly spergy Wahram barely has any character at all (in contrast with RGB Mars, that actually had some interesting characters, even with mundane human crap diluting the plot to downright homeopathic concentrations, including actually interesting sperg in the person of Sax Russell) - that both of them are actually intersex doesn't exactly help reduce the alienation.
    That's not the reason I gave up, however - it could have well ended up a worth reading after all (purely in retrospect, as I would probably not be inclined to brave this turbulent sea of prose again) - like RGB Mars.
    The main reason is that translator - certain Małgorzata Koczańska - did slightly worse job on the novel than feeding it through google translate would and with same mechanical disregard and disinterest for actual meaning of the translated content - which is something I haven't seen before even in truly awful hackjobs.

    If you haven't read anything by KSR, read RGB Mars instead and see if you like it.
    If you do know that you do like it (...damn freak...) and want more, at least don't do Potato version.
    :despair:
     
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  18. octaviusgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    ‘His Infernal Slyness, the Arch-fluke Steerpike.’ :lol:
    (Yes, I've begun reading Gormenghast.)
     
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  19. oldbonebrowngender: ⚧ Literate

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    Are there any good sci fi books in which humanity as a whole completely loses to an outside threat? I am interested in total failure, something like The Second Renaissance from The Animatrix.
     
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  20. Hoaxmetalgender: ⚧ Arcane

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    Humanity is 99.9% wiped out in the end of (spoiler to a book trilogy)
    Show Spoiler
    Remembrance of Earth's Past

    But that's way bigger loss than being turned into batteries with a chance of rebellion later.
     
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  21. oldbonebrowngender: ⚧ Literate

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    I watch animatrix as something separate from the live action films, and in animatrix itself there isnt much hope. I can't remember any other film other than perhaps Threads that are as thoroughly apocalyptic and hopeless on a grand scale as The Second Renaissance.

    Imma add the first book of that series to my list of books to read.
     
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  22. Old Onegender: ⚧ Magister

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    Now Wait For Last Year by Philip K. Dick might work for you.
     
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  23. Make America Great Again Zed Duke of Banvillegender: ⚧ Arcane Patron

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    In that novel, a unified Earth, after making fledgling advances outside the solar system, had allied itself with a human-like alien species controlling a large number of worlds and thus found itself embroiled in a war against an alliance led by a non-humanoid alien species, a war that Earth's alliance was slowly losing. However,
    Show Spoiler
    the protagonist of the novel reaches alternate realities where he learns that the non-humanoid enemy isn't anything to be afraid of, and that Earth would have been better off allying with them in the first place.
     
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  24. nodargender: ⚧ Novice

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    Childhood's End.
     
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  25. DraQgender: ⚧ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    That depends on who you read - on one hand you have Asimov, but on the other you have Stanislav Lem.
    I've never held Asimov in all that high regard, TBH.

    Watts' Blindsight and Echopraxia - at least for some interpretation of "humanity", "loses" and "outside threat".
    Highly recommended, BTW.
     
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