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kuhla
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On 7/28/2020 at 9:29 AM, Malaphax said:

I've been slow to finish Salvation, it definitely feels like the first book in a series and unfortunately also feels incredibly unfocused.  You have two different timelines and sets of characters, but one of those timelines is basically a bunch of characters telling one another stories of their past exploits, so now you have this anthology on top of the two timelines.  While the characters' individual exploits are semi-connected and mostly entertaining it makes the entire book feel like a well written but meandering mess. 

That's my thoughts from another Peter F. Hamilton book: Salvation - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34068552-salvation

If you're feeling like the story just keeps ping-ponging between different point of view characters and side stories without really moving forward... yea that's what I felt.  I wonder if that's just his personal style. 

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On 7/1/2021 at 9:32 PM, kuhla said:

Now reading  The Dreaming Void (Void #1) by Peter F. Hamilton

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/866136.The_Dreaming_Void

I'm not that far in but I have to say I am feeling a little bit lost. The writing style is fine and plot does not even seem that complicated but there is bouncing between two points in time. I imagine some things will get explained in time but I'm not really enjoying the feeling of floundering with terms that do not mean anything to me (yet).

Finished this. It ended up being 4 different stories that it follows through the book. I was kind of enjoying 2 of the stories but the overall book still didn't really have much of an ending. I feel like the final "moment" of the book ended up being kind of a "that's it?" For the 2 stories I kind of want to move on to book 2 but I'm going to go read something else first and debate pivoting back later.

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NPR put out a list of Sci-fi and fantasy recommendations from the last decade.  So a significant recency bias which is good, and still long enough that several of these series are actually complete or at least multiple books in. 

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/18/1027159166/best-books-science-fiction-fantasy-past-decade

Skimming this for stuff I've read:

  • Imperial Radch Trilogy - It's decent, has a good mix of space opera elements with more "human" aspects.  They specifically play with gender by never mentioning any character's gender. 
  • Shades of Magic Trilogy - I enjoyed it, it's a simpler story that almost leans towards Y.A. (the author also writes Y.A.) but all the characters are adults.  Their magic system is also similar to avatar. 
  • The Locked Tomb series - It's on my list.  Seems like a weird mix of fantasy and scifi, Very positive reviews. 
  • Machineries of Empire series - This is the very odd space opera where math and formations create magic.  There's also weird stuff about calendars.  It's interesting but a bit on the mediocre side. 
  • The Masquerade series - Hey look I'm literally reading that right now (towards the end of book 2).
    I'd safely recommend this as a fantasy series with zero magic, there's some spattering of economics (nothing too far past econ101) but it's mostly focused on espionage and spycraft.  Strong recommendation. 
  • Murderbot series - Yea these are neat little bite sized stories, that I've enjoyed.  There's a few full novels out at this point and I've enjoyed them.  Imagine an exceptionally sarcastic asshole robot (there's actually more than one) that sometimes has issues with emotions. 
  • The Interdependency series - I normally enjoy Scalzi's work and this is one of his better series.  It's a unique take on space operas and impending collapse.  The characters are great, but the overarching story is middling.  Oddly the "main" character is so dull that one of the side POV characters sort of takes over. 
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11 hours ago, Malaphax said:

NPR put out a list of Sci-fi and fantasy recommendations from the last decade.  So a significant recency bias which is good, and still long enough that several of these series are actually complete or at least multiple books in. 

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/18/1027159166/best-books-science-fiction-fantasy-past-decade

Skimming this for stuff I've read:

  • Imperial Radch Trilogy - It's decent, has a good mix of space opera elements with more "human" aspects.  They specifically play with gender by never mentioning any character's gender. 
  • Shades of Magic Trilogy - I enjoyed it, it's a simpler story that almost leans towards Y.A. (the author also writes Y.A.) but all the characters are adults.  Their magic system is also similar to avatar. 
  • The Locked Tomb series - It's on my list.  Seems like a weird mix of fantasy and scifi, Very positive reviews. 
  • Machineries of Empire series - This is the very odd space opera where math and formations create magic.  There's also weird stuff about calendars.  It's interesting but a bit on the mediocre side. 
  • The Masquerade series - Hey look I'm literally reading that right now (towards the end of book 2).
    I'd safely recommend this as a fantasy series with zero magic, there's some spattering of economics (nothing too far past econ101) but it's mostly focused on espionage and spycraft.  Strong recommendation. 
  • Murderbot series - Yea these are neat little bite sized stories, that I've enjoyed.  There's a few full novels out at this point and I've enjoyed them.  Imagine an exceptionally sarcastic asshole robot (there's actually more than one) that sometimes has issues with emotions. 
  • The Interdependency series - I normally enjoy Scalzi's work and this is one of his better series.  It's a unique take on space operas and impending collapse.  The characters are great, but the overarching story is middling.  Oddly the "main" character is so dull that one of the side POV characters sort of takes over. 

I will definitely have to take a closer look at that list at some point.

Currently reading The Scar (New Crobuzon #2) by China Miéville.

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/68497.The_Scar

I did read the first book in this trilogy recently (Perdido Street Station) but these books don't really build on each other. New characters. New story. Same universe. Same city. So far it's ok. It does not quite have the same intensity as the first book but I don't think I am at the half way point just yet so it has some room to maneuver.

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On 5/15/2021 at 7:39 PM, Malaphax said:

I finished the first book, it was definitely well written and I'll continue the series to see where this goes.  Some of the major focus on economics and monetary policy was surprising but it does shift to a more traditional sword and sandals style fantasy partway through.  I'm also curious about some of the world building elements they're making use of, the main character is clearly working for an 'evil' empire and I'm wondering how they're going to handle that. 

Finished book 2 and I'm moving on to book 3 (The Tyrant Baru Cormorant)

There was one small section that discussed economics, specifically it gave a sort of abbreviated tulip-mania element to the story but it wasn't entirely central to the plot.  The rest of the book was far more focused on spycraft and a very slow introduction of occult elements.  I'm still very interested where they're planning on going, but this book did feel more middling than the first one.  They've leaned very heavily on the morally gray aspects of major characters - I enjoy this, but I can understand how some people wouldn't. 

I've noticed a trend of various trilogy series.  The first book is almost always more self contained, with a teaser for a sequel.  The second seems to suffer under the weight of propping up the middle and almost acts more as a prequel for the third novel - and then the third novel tends to end well (or at least bombastically).  I heavily suspect that authors write the first novel - then write the second and third concurrently, which leads to this feeling like the second novel is almost more of 1/2 of a larger novel than an actual standalone book. 

I also stocked up on a large number of other sci-fi and fantasy books (partly based on the NPR list) so I have a decent sized backlog built up moving forward. 

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On 8/18/2021 at 10:42 PM, kuhla said:

Currently reading The Scar (New Crobuzon #2) by China Miéville.

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/68497.The_Scar

I did read the first book in this trilogy recently (Perdido Street Station) but these books don't really build on each other. New characters. New story. Same universe. Same city. So far it's ok. It does not quite have the same intensity as the first book but I don't think I am at the half way point just yet so it has some room to maneuver.

Finished this. It did pick up a bit later in the book but I actually think it never was supposed to have the same "intensity" as the first book. Different story. Different character. Not the same. I similarly enjoyed this book compared to the first one. China Miéville sure does know how to build a crazy little fantasy world (I actually would hazard to call it steampunk). I'm not feeling adventurous in my book reading right now so I'm just going to move on to the last book in the series, #3.

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On 9/11/2021 at 4:12 PM, kuhla said:

Finished this. It did pick up a bit later in the book but I actually think it never was supposed to have the same "intensity" as the first book. Different story. Different character. Not the same. I similarly enjoyed this book compared to the first one. China Miéville sure does know how to build a crazy little fantasy world (I actually would hazard to call it steampunk). I'm not feeling adventurous in my book reading right now so I'm just going to move on to the last book in the series, #3.

I don't know what happened, it is the same author, but book #3 (Iron Council) just feels very different and it's not just the new character and his story but the whole way the book is constructed. I was just plain bored by the time I got 1/4 of the way in and finally decided to just call it done around the 1/2 way point.

Moved on to Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46756.Oryx_and_Crake

No idea what to expect so far. Worried that it showed up on recommended lists just because of the "star power" of the author.

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On 10/26/2021 at 10:05 PM, kuhla said:

Moved on to Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46756.Oryx_and_Crake

No idea what to expect so far. Worried that it showed up on recommended lists just because of the "star power" of the author.

I feel obligated to give a warning on this. There is a point-of-view section from one of the main characters of when she was very young child and forced into sex trafficking. It is long and very uncomfortable especially because of how mundane it is presented. If this is revisited again in the book I'm just going to drop it.

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On 10/26/2021 at 10:05 PM, kuhla said:

Moved on to Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46756.Oryx_and_Crake

No idea what to expect so far. Worried that it showed up on recommended lists just because of the "star power" of the author.

On 11/8/2021 at 9:14 PM, kuhla said:

I feel obligated to give a warning on this. There is a point-of-view section from one of the main characters of when she was very young child and forced into sex trafficking. It is long and very uncomfortable especially because of how mundane it is presented. If this is revisited again in the book I'm just going to drop it.

Finished this.

It was easy to read, story and characters felt a little different than the norm but it didn't really do anything to really grab me. There is 2 more books in this series but I am just not really interested in finding out what happens next. Maybe I will revisit this in the future but there was enough closure at the end of this book that I can just step away now.

Not sure what I will/can start next.

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On 9/9/2021 at 11:00 AM, Malaphax said:

Finished book 2 and I'm moving on to book 3 (The Tyrant Baru Cormorant)

I'm a bit disappointed with this novel.  Partly because I thought it was the finale of a trilogy, there's another book coming, supposedly the final novel.  Also because this really felt like a middle book, there's a big build up of events and the ending of this just doesn't get the payoff it deserves.  I'm still interested in the series but I think this was by far the weakest of the three novels. 

Moving on to Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.  The author wrote The Martian, which I never read but the movie is supposed to be a solid adaptation.  I'm expecting some hard sci-fi, the first few chapters literally has the main character doing science experiments (simple ones). 

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On 3/8/2022 at 4:42 PM, Malaphax said:

Moving on to Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.  The author wrote The Martian, which I never read but the movie is supposed to be a solid adaptation.  I'm expecting some hard sci-fi, the first few chapters literally has the main character doing science experiments (simple ones). 

This was a nice straightforward read.  I would point out that the book is heavily reliant on flashbacks (they're like 40% of the book) which might bother some people, but the plot moves well.  This is very near future sci-fi with plenty of crunch to it, but it never seemed overwhelming when they explain details about technology or science.  The downside is that the main character and some of the plot elements are very similar to the martian - super smart science dude manages to macgyver his way through various problems.  I'd like to see if Andy Weir can step a bit further out of his comfort zone, but I'm sure his publisher is happy if he sticks to a proven formula. 
I fully expect they'll try to turn this into a movie or mini-series at some point. 

Moving on to Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Miur.  The main thrust seems to be a mix of sci-fi and necromancy - I'm getting weird Chronicles of Riddick vibes out of that so I'll see if this is decent. 

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On 3/20/2022 at 8:48 AM, Malaphax said:

Moving on to Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Miur.  The main thrust seems to be a mix of sci-fi and necromancy - I'm getting weird Chronicles of Riddick vibes out of that so I'll see if this is decent. 

I'm going to give this a solid meh.  They set this up as an interstellar empire but 80% of the book is set on a single planet, in a single structure.  This felt like more of a prequel then a first novel. 
I did start on the second book in the series just to see if they would expand the setting, and so far they're doing much more sci-fi/space opera with the second book.  If it doesn't grab me I might just drop it and move on. 

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