The Cellar  

Go Back   The Cellar > Main > Entertainment

Entertainment Music, film, TV, games, theatre, the arts, leisure

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-22-2003, 06:06 PM   #1
hot_pastrami
I am meaty
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Near Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 1,109
Good reading

I'm looking for a few good books. I'm partway through Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, and it's interesting so far. But once I've finshed, I'm not sure what book(s) I should consume. Any recommendations? I hit the non-fiction pretty hard recently, so I'm looking for some good fiction at the moment.

Here's a few books I've enjoyed semi-recently that others might like:

David Brin's The Glory Season -- Interesting science fiction.

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and the follow-up What Do You Care What Other People Think? -- Biographies on Richard Feynman, the coolest scientist ever.

Eric Garcia's Anonymous Rex -- An unusual but entertaining detective novel.

Oh, and there's always these.
__________________
Hot Pastrami!
hot_pastrami is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2003, 06:38 PM   #2
EdZachary
Abhorrent Aberrant
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 27
Body of Secrets by James Bamford is maybe something you'd be interested in, after you get your fill of fiction that is. Its a comprehensive history of the NSA..you know No Such Agency. Great book for any non-fiction devotee.
EdZachary is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2003, 09:59 PM   #3
Torrere
a real smartass
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Posts: 1,118
I've almost broken my vow not to be excited by anything that's coming out soon with Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver. Have you read Zodiac: The Eco Thriller by him? (It might be my favorite of his books although it was written earlier).

I haven't read What do you care about what other people think?, although I have read Surely you're joking! and loved it.

One of my favorite science fiction authors now is Peter Watts, who has published Starfish and Maelstrom, both of which are great, extremely potent, gritty and dark. There are a lot of cool ideas expressed in these books, and in the back pages he lists references and context for many of them.

Oh, and I'm a fan of Larry Niven to, so I recommend you to read any of his books that you haven't read already. =]

Edit: That shouldn't be underlined!
Edit (2): Oh. Links are underlined.
Edit (3): There are also some excerpts at rifters.com, which is where the Starfish link goes to

Last edited by Torrere; 09-23-2003 at 12:07 AM.
Torrere is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2003, 10:38 PM   #4
SteveDallas
just open the dictionary to a random page, and pick a word.
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Philly Burbs, PA
Posts: 7,607
You might try some of Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series. I'm a fan, for what it's worth.

Oh hey, that reminds me, if you like science fiction or fantasy, go to Baen Books at www.baen.com and check out the Webscriptions section. Every single new release they've put out for the past 2 or 3 years is there for purchase in e-book form, and if you don't pay, you still get to read at least the first chapter and in some cases as much as 5 or 6 chapters. They have some good authors (or at least, some ones that I like, including Bujold, David Weber, and John Ringo), and it's a great way to browse through some stuff and see if you like it enough to pay for it.
SteveDallas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2003, 12:07 AM   #5
Elspode
Person who doesn't update the user title
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Raytown, Missouri
Posts: 12,514
Re: Good reading

Quote:
Originally posted by hot_pastrami


Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and the follow-up What Do You Care What Other People Think? -- Biographies on Richard Feynman, the coolest scientist ever.
I read both several years ago, and they are spectacularly fine reads. True life stories about a simply brilliant, eclectic, eccentric, down to earth guy who lived in very interesting times, always viewing those times with a very, very insightful eye.

There is also a PBS documentary out there somewhere about Feynman that is well worth a viewing. So revered is this guy, that a friend of mine even wrote a song about him some years back, which I engineered for her (and played dhoumbek!) and which she subsequently used to be chosen to participate in a songwriters' showcase here in KC.

Feynman was a very interesting man.
__________________
Peas and Logic,
Patrick

"He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it." Douglas Adams
Elspode is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2003, 12:52 AM   #6
SteveDallas
just open the dictionary to a random page, and pick a word.
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Philly Burbs, PA
Posts: 7,607
Well I know pastrami asked for fiction, but if y'all are interested in Feynman, there are a couple of biographies. I read the one by James Gleick that came out some years ago & enjoyed it--it gives a different perspective than the memoirs. And there is a newer one (maybe 2 or 3 yrs ago) that I haven't read that got some good reviews.
SteveDallas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2003, 10:31 PM   #7
Chewbaccus
Freethinker/booter
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Here and there
Posts: 523
Cryptonomicon is a great read, well done.

These are the cream of my library:

Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. Fiction in journal format, the premise is Daniel Underwood, an early '90s Microsoft bug-checker, can't sleep and starts a journal to try and find out what's wrong. It's a blend of metaphysics and a chronicle of early-1990's geek culture. A must-have for anyone who frequents these boards.

Lamb: The Gospel According To Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. Levi bar Alphaeus, or Levi who is called Biff, was the close friend of Joshua bar Joseph ish Nazareth, the one who was to be known the world over as Jesus Christ. On the 2000th anniversary of his birth, he's raised up to write a gospel telling the story of the "Lost 18" - what happened during the missing eighteen years of Jesus' life as we know it from the existing Gospels and his ministry from the viewpoint of someone who was "actually there". [One part I loved: "I thought Matthew was bad, skipping right from Joshua's birth to his baptism, but Mark doesn't even bother with the birth. It's as it Joshua springs forth full grown from the head of Zeus. (Okay, bad metaphor, but you know what I mean.) Mark begins with the baptism, at thirty! Where did these guys get their stories? 'I once met a guy in a bar who knew a guy who's sister's best friend was at the baptism of Joshua bar Joseph of Nazareth, and here's the story as best as he could remember it.'"]

Hilarious, smart, witty, impressively researched, just extraordinarily well-written.

Jennifer Government by Max Barry. The pure reverse image of 1984, where the Government can only investigate crime if they can get budget, taxes are outlawed, everything (even the Police and the NRA) is on the stock market, the world is a free-marketer's wet dream. The story starts with Hack Nike (people take their last names from the companies they work for), a Merchandising Officer suckered into a guerrilla marketing contract that leads to him being hounded by Jennifer Government, "the consumer watchdog from Hell". Characters are beautifully written, plot is fantastic, premise is believably outrageous, an all-around great read.

Before The Devil Knows You're Dead by Michael Ledwidge. James Coglin, a carpenter turned NYPD officer is working towards getting his detective's shield when he's charged with being a racist cop after defending himself against a coke-dealing kid. One door after another closes to Coglin until he feels he has nowhere to turn. Enter Aidan O'Connell, Coglin's long-lost uncle who was once a "fund-raiser" (read: bank robber) for the IRA. Thinking he has nothing left to lose, Coglin hooks up with O'Connell and his crew on a fundraiser. A study in "the choices we make", Coglin wrestles with doing the right thing and the right thing for him until his choices become all-too-clear in a run from forces city, state, and federal. I'm a very, very Celtic New Yorker so I loved this novel just from reading the title and the summary on the back. Once I opened past the title page, I couldn't let it down until the end. I even read part of it while I was in the chair donating blood during a drive at my HS to kill some time.

Anything written by Harry Turtledove. Turtledove is known as the Crown King of Alternate History - a genre that is defined by the words "What if?" In addition to myriad short stories, Turtledove has two long-running novel series based on separate events. His more fantasy one (and what got me hooked) was centered on the idea that an alien race came to Earth on a mission of conquest during the height of World War II, just after Pearl Harbor. The Axis and the Allies forced to work together, the clash of 1940s tech against 21st century tech, each side trying to gain a psychological advantage over the other, it's a situation that no matter how insane it may seem in the beginning, you can't help but believe it when you finish the book. Such is Turtledove's gift.

The second one, the more realistic one, is based on what if the South won the Civil War? Shortly before Antietam, Lee sent dispatch riders out with his Special Order 181, the detailed battle plan to all his army commanders, wrapped around three cigars. One messenger dropped this bundle which was then picked up by a Union infantryman and passed up the chain of command. End result was the Union knew where the Confderates were set up, engaged them in the Battle of Antietam and came out with a technical (fewer dead) victory. Lincoln used the strength of this victory to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, making the war about slavery and keeping England and France from coming in on the Confederates' side in the war. From there, it was just a matter of when the war would end, and not if.

But what if some Confederate foot soldier just said "Hey pal, you dropped something."?

In this timeline, that's what happened, Antietam never took place, the Confederate invasion of the Union continued, England and France intervened, and two countries were the result, with a legacy of bitter animosity between the two in the decades to follow. The novel series starts with "How Few Remain", then proceeds through the Great War trilogy and the American Empire trilogy which just ended this past July. More, however, is a-coming.

This guy's one of my favorite authors. If you like history, fantasy, or a good "Huh, what a world that would be", this is a perfect read for you.
__________________
Like the wise man said: Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Last edited by Chewbaccus; 09-23-2003 at 10:44 PM.
Chewbaccus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-24-2003, 12:04 AM   #8
wolf
lobber of scimitars
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Phila Burbs
Posts: 20,694
Snow in August - Pete Hamill

The author is better known for his autobiographical journey into and out of drunkenness, which, IIRC was called A Drinking Life. I read that, but wasn't impressed. I hear the stories of enough unrepentant (or temporarily repentant) alcoholics to find much enjoyment in that.

Snow in August is one of those books that can be described as "extremely magickal". Hamill's skill with the written word and vivid descriptions of time and place transports you to the world of the Brooklyn Dodgers when Jackie Robinson is breaking the color barrier. An 11 year old Catholic boy becomes the Shabbes Goy for an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi. Well, I really shouldn't tell you much more than that. It's a great read, one that I recommend highly. I lent this book to my boss a couple years ago and his wife won't let him return it to me.
__________________
wolf eht htiw og

"Conspiracies are the norm, not the exception." --G. Edward Griffin The Creature from Jekyll Island

High Priestess of the Church of the Whale Penis
wolf is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-25-2003, 05:52 PM   #9
warch
lurkin old school
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,792
This is not, probably, what you're after ('cause its all relationships and characters), but I quite enjoyed the book "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett.
warch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2003, 11:31 AM   #10
hot_pastrami
I am meaty
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Near Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 1,109
Quote:
Originally posted by warch
This is not, probably, what you're after ('cause its all relationships and characters), but I quite enjoyed the book "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett.
Hey, relationships and characters are what make a book, man. The setting in the book is just a mood- and conflict-generator. Well, to a degree.

Thanks for all the awesome suggestions guys! Keep 'em coming.
__________________
Hot Pastrami!
hot_pastrami is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2003, 11:59 AM   #11
warch
lurkin old school
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,792
Well, more to the point, its about love and beauty.
warch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2003, 02:59 PM   #12
hot_pastrami
I am meaty
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Near Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 1,109
Quote:
Originally posted by warch
Well, more to the point, its about love and beauty.
So you assume I won't like a book about relationships and characters which deals with love and beauty. Somebody's got a low opinion of me, apparently. Or is it one of those books with Fabio on the cover? Ohhhhh... THAT kind of love and beauty. Gotcha.

Heheh.
__________________
Hot Pastrami!
hot_pastrami is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-26-2003, 04:30 PM   #13
warch
lurkin old school
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 2,792
Nah, I just figured, after daring to recommend it, that few are as sappy as me. (Experience talking.)
warch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-02-2003, 03:31 PM   #14
Torrere
a real smartass
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Posts: 1,118
Quote:
But what if some Confederate foot soldier just said "Hey pal, you dropped something."?
Yesterday, I read How Few Remain. Damn, that book sucked!

He didn't really explain in the book why it was a significant change. Actually, there was hardly anything about the Civil War at all. He never explained to us how he developed his conclusions about what would have happened: I might have been more interesting in the book had I researched all of the characters beforehand and what they had done in the real world.

The conclusion, of course, was obvious 1/3 of the way through the book. The book dragged on and on. By the last two hundred pages I started skimming through chapters to see if there would be anything interesting; to see if anything in the segment would advance the plot. By the last fifty pages, I read approximately a sentence per page, except for two scenes. I'm confident I missed little. I started to wonder if the segment in Utah had anything to do with the rest of the story. It didn't in this book, but I imagine that it will in the sequels. I'm not going to read them, so I could have done without the entire Utah thread. (The Utah story could have been interesting if it was it's own book)

Later, I realized that there wasn't really a proper plot. Instead, it was about what various famous personnages would do if the Civil War hadn't been won by the South.

A few years ago, I'd read several of Turtledove's books and really enjoyed them. I'd just read Turtledove's book, Noninterfere, a few days ago. Though that it was a fabulous book, but it was hard to believe that it was by the same author. In Noninterference, I was fascinated by some of the characters. He skipped what I would have thought to be crucial parts of the book, and he did it by foreshadowing what would happen (a debate between two people which would become a debate between the entire group), then showing us what the implications were, so that we could guess what had happened.

By contrast, in How Few Remain, he left nothing uninteresting out. He would have a minor event, and then show us what evvveeerrryyyy character is doing, with a brief paragraph to tell us what was happening. Whole sections, if not whole chapters were unnecessary. Stories from the stances of several characters seemed repetitive and and repetitive and repetititititititive. Whole characters and their entire threads seemed to exist solely to provide one or two scenes that were interesting.

I would frequently ask myself: "Why am I reading this? How does this advance the story? What is the author trying to tell me?". Sometimes I found a paragraph near the end which told me some news, then the next section would go ahead and do the same thing. So, in the end, I have no idea. I don't know why those sections were part of the book.

It could have been done in 200 or 300 pages. Instead, it felt like a six hundred page introduction. Which, I suppose, it was.

Last edited by Torrere; 10-02-2003 at 03:49 PM.
Torrere is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-03-2003, 04:19 PM   #15
Chewbaccus
Freethinker/booter
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Here and there
Posts: 523
Quote:
Originally posted by Torrere
He didn't really explain in the book why it was a significant change.
Torrere, it's not a freakin' essay. He doesn't have to sit down and explain how things happen. The books are not bridges between this world and another, chronicling every event and how they are different from what really happened, but a window onto the actions of the other world that we get to look through and make the comparisons on our own. When you're reading along and see Lincoln still breathing, Custer still breathing, Stonewall Jackson still breathing, an entire separate country just a stone's throw south of D.C, you get to thinking "Hey, this place is pretty damn different."

Further, it accustoms the reader to what the world is like in this timeline and provide background to the series forthcoming - why the Socialists are the primary second party in the Union challenging the Democrats every election, why the Mormons flare up, why slavery is- de jure - abolished, the bitterness between the two nations United and Confederate, why the United States' friendship in Europe lies with Germany and not England and France, why they reached out to form an alliance in the first place, the list goes on so long as you pay attention to the goings-on. You can't skip whole damn chapters and expect to get something out of this book, Torr.

As for what Turtledove is trying to tell you: in layman's terms, it's a "story". No message, no philosophy, no moral. Just entertainment. That's what he's trying to tell you. If you really have trouble with such things as supporting details, and characters and such, perhaps you should wait for the movie.
__________________
Like the wise man said: Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
Chewbaccus is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:33 PM.

Help fill the mug... click to donate
A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.
- Barry Goldwater

Powered by: vBulletin Version 3.8.1
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.