Author Topic: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?  (Read 647986 times)

tyrannosaurus vex

  • a gas giant of idiots
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 6975
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2850 on: March 23, 2017, 04:40:48 pm »
I haven't read much Campbell, but I loved the Power of Myth series. Your review makes me want to add him to my reading list!

I don't think you would go wrong to put him in your list. As a bonus, beyond the interesting subject matter, the writing itself is eloquent and even poetic, without being needlessly flowery or pretentious like some spoofs of "letters home from the Civil War". It's almost depressing because it presents a higher version of the English language that has been almost completely lost, even in the formal academic writing of today.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

  • v=1/3πr2h
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 77698
  • The sky tastes like red exuberance.
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2851 on: March 23, 2017, 08:05:45 pm »
I haven't read much Campbell, but I loved the Power of Myth series. Your review makes me want to add him to my reading list!

I don't think you would go wrong to put him in your list. As a bonus, beyond the interesting subject matter, the writing itself is eloquent and even poetic, without being needlessly flowery or pretentious like some spoofs of "letters home from the Civil War". It's almost depressing because it presents a higher version of the English language that has been almost completely lost, even in the formal academic writing of today.

Hahaha, formal academic writing... don't get me started. It was never meant to be beautiful, and the recent shift toward making it READABLE is a vast improvement over the shitty vocabulary vomit of most late-20th-century science writing.

A truly beautiful writer has always been a rarity, and it's encouraging to hear that Campbell was one.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


tyrannosaurus vex

  • a gas giant of idiots
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 6975
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2852 on: March 23, 2017, 08:25:30 pm »
Next on my plate: Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, by John McWhorter. (Thanks to QGP for the recommendation). It's an audiobook because a) I only read audiobooks & idgaf, and b) in an etymology book it's helpful to actually hear the language. So far it's entertaining, even though the author likes to go on tirades against The Etymology Establishment and the grammar police. It's sort of adorable to hear someone have such strong feelings over a subject so thoroughly nerdy.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2017, 08:32:23 pm by tyrannosaurus vex »
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

  • v=1/3πr2h
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 77698
  • The sky tastes like red exuberance.
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2853 on: March 24, 2017, 04:04:31 am »
Next on my plate: Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue, by John McWhorter. (Thanks to QGP for the recommendation). It's an audiobook because a) I only read audiobooks & idgaf, and b) in an etymology book it's helpful to actually hear the language. So far it's entertaining, even though the author likes to go on tirades against The Etymology Establishment and the grammar police. It's sort of adorable to hear someone have such strong feelings over a subject so thoroughly nerdy.

That sounds like a lovely one. I read a Bill Bryson book ages ago, Mother Tongue, that really made me appreciate the vagaries of English.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


LMNO

  • Lubricated and Rabid Lungfish of Impending Sexdoom
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 62709
  • Internet Fuckweasel of Haunted Pork Dimensions.
    • View Profile
    • Earfatigue Productions: When it has to sound like you give a shit.
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2854 on: March 24, 2017, 01:40:39 pm »
I'm reading "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander, about how mass incarceration is the modern caste system of white supremacy.

Interestingly, it was given to me by my septuagenarian mother, who is trying to become Woke in the wake of this election. I mean, she was always a "liberal democrat", but she was also born a WASP in Pasadena CA during the 40s, so...

It's really fun to watch.

Cramulus

  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 22223
    • View Profile
    • Cramul.us
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2855 on: March 24, 2017, 02:33:31 pm »
The best book I read last year was Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Kim Stanley Robinson writes hard-sci-fi. In the tradition of Arthur C Clark, he wants to explore the question, "If we <went to another planet>, what would it actually be like?" His books contain no science-fantasy: there is no faster than light travel. There are no anthropomorphic aliens. The universe is what it is.

Aurora follows the journey of a generation ship on its way to Tau Ceti, a journey that will span multiple centuries. The book is told from the POV of the ship's AI. This is a clever device, as it allows the narrative to comment on a lot of stuff happening on the ship while still focusing on a few characters. In the beginning of the book, the AI doesn't really know how to tell a narrative story, so the writing is a little clumsy. At some point, its told to research literature and educate itself - and after that point, it starts using metaphors and more poetic language. The writing style shifts subtly as the book goes on - this is a tiny detail but it helps the whole thing come to life.

The book doesn't really have an antagonist - it's part of the Man Vs Nature sci-fi tradition where a lot of the book is spent troubleshooting the various unanticipated and INTERESTING problems that come up on a multiple-century space flight. Like for example, you've basically created an island ecosystem. And in the real world, that accelerates evolution. Humans aren't reproducing fast enough to experience this, but the microorganisms we coexist with - stomach bacteria, etc - reproduce on a much faster schedule. After centuries, they start to fall out of symbiosis. What the hell do you do about that?

The ship is really imaginative. On a journey this long, they need a ship which creates its own oxygen, food, etc. So they try to create, essentially, a mini-earth. The ship has a bunch of giant spinning cylinders, each one is analogous to an earth biome. So there's a desert biome, a taiga biome, an evergreen forest biome, etc... Within these biomes there are 2-3 villages where people live off the land. There is also an assumption that "wilderness" plays an important role in the ecosystem, even though we still don't really understand it, so there are parts of this world which are off limits. This means that every so often, somebody gets killed by a pack of wild wolves. On a space ship.

I don't want to spoil too much - but it was definitely the most imaginative and engrossing book I read in 2016. Highly recommended.




Here's a video of Robinson talking about the book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T1-lE5i98M (with mild spoilers, about the same level as this post)

Cain

  • Alea iacta est
  • Chekha
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 64082
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2856 on: March 24, 2017, 03:03:14 pm »
I read one of KSR's previous books - 2312.  Definitely the gold standard for hard science fiction, that guy.

Cramulus

  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 22223
    • View Profile
    • Cramul.us
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2857 on: March 24, 2017, 03:21:29 pm »
Yeah KSR is the standard bearer for hard-sci fi today.  He thinks of sci-fi writers as modern shamans - the people whose imagination really does become the reality of tomorrow.

The real-life Flag of Mars is actually a reference to his martian terraforming trilogy - red mars, blue mars, green mars.

I'm meaning to read 2312, if I ever get through all the nonfic that's on the top of the pile. It was good?

Cain

  • Alea iacta est
  • Chekha
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 64082
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2858 on: March 24, 2017, 03:25:54 pm »
It was, though I read it quite a while ago - I can't actually remember how it ends.  I do remember enjoying it though. Speaking of hard science, The Expanse on Syfy is quite fun.  The books are meant to be pretty good as well.

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

  • v=1/3πr2h
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 77698
  • The sky tastes like red exuberance.
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2859 on: March 24, 2017, 09:11:25 pm »
I'm reading "The New Jim Crow" by Michelle Alexander, about how mass incarceration is the modern caste system of white supremacy.

Interestingly, it was given to me by my septuagenarian mother, who is trying to become Woke in the wake of this election. I mean, she was always a "liberal democrat", but she was also born a WASP in Pasadena CA during the 40s, so...

It's really fun to watch.

That's pretty awesome! A hell of a book, too. Good for your mom!
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


tyrannosaurus vex

  • a gas giant of idiots
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 6975
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2860 on: April 03, 2017, 03:31:48 pm »
Cloud Atlas

Excerpt:
Quote
"Witty homily, that." My sarcasm disgusted me. "You must be a genius in Scotland."
"No, in Scotland a genius is an Englishman who gets himself accidentally imprisoned in a retirement home."

Idk, maybe you need more context. It made me laugh.
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Vanadium Gryllz

  • Outlandish
  • ***
  • Posts: 531
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2861 on: April 03, 2017, 03:36:25 pm »
I have started "The Attention Merchants" by Tim Wu.

So far it's covered the history of advertising (and by extension the ideas behind the capture and sale of attention) from organised religions (OG attention merchants) to snake oil salesmen, newspapers supported by ad revenue, propaganda posters etc. to the evolution of adverts themselves and the different techniques employed as the public and markets changed.

I don't know where the book is going yet but hopefully it's somewhere interesting. Having a bit more of an idea behind the principles behind the demands on one's attention makes me feel like i've gotten some worth from the book already.

I am also reading "How to fail at everything and win big" by Scott Adams.
It has a core theme of keep trying at shit and don't get bogged down by failure. I think this is a reasonable point but for me the whole message is diluted a bit when you consider that the one thing that 'stuck' for the author in particular was writing Dilbert comics. A lot (though not all) of the examples of his failures that he writes about are post-dilbert success and as such he has a lot less to lose than many that are perhaps reading his book for inspiration.
"I was fine until my skin came off.  I'm never going to South Attelboro again."

tyrannosaurus vex

  • a gas giant of idiots
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 6975
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2862 on: April 03, 2017, 03:57:12 pm »
I have started "The Attention Merchants" by Tim Wu.

So far it's covered the history of advertising (and by extension the ideas behind the capture and sale of attention) from organised religions (OG attention merchants) to snake oil salesmen, newspapers supported by ad revenue, propaganda posters etc. to the evolution of adverts themselves and the different techniques employed as the public and markets changed.

I don't know where the book is going yet but hopefully it's somewhere interesting. Having a bit more of an idea behind the principles behind the demands on one's attention makes me feel like i've gotten some worth from the book already.

That sounds super cool, I'll add it to my list. Thanks for mentioning it.

Quote
I am also reading "How to fail at everything and win big" by Scott Adams.
It has a core theme of keep trying at shit and don't get bogged down by failure. I think this is a reasonable point but for me the whole message is diluted a bit when you consider that the one thing that 'stuck' for the author in particular was writing Dilbert comics. A lot (though not all) of the examples of his failures that he writes about are post-dilbert success and as such he has a lot less to lose than many that are perhaps reading his book for inspiration.
Scott Adams is also an asshole of mythic proportions. just one taste
Evil and Unfeeling Arse-Flenser From The City of the Damned.

Mesozoic Mister Nigel

  • v=1/3πr2h
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 77698
  • The sky tastes like red exuberance.
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2863 on: April 03, 2017, 04:21:05 pm »
Still slowly making my way through "Promiscuity". It's a fun read but I've  barely been reading lately so it's taking ages. Much to my delight, in chapter 6 he talks about dens where "investigators must at times stand knee-deep in snakes", and since there is only one spot on Earth that fits that description, my heart was thrilled at the mention of the snake mines, being myself one of said investigators.
Im guessing it was January 2007, a meeting in Bethesda, we got a bag of bees and just started smashing them on the desk, Charles Wick said. It was very complicated.


Junkenstein

  • Technically-Oriented & Horribly Mobile Crecy of Crab Lice.
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 8031
    • View Profile
Re: Unofficial What are you Reading Thread?
« Reply #2864 on: April 03, 2017, 06:00:26 pm »
Hey v3x, not looked at Adams in years, seems to have gone from minor who (affirmations etc) into full cretin. Any good summary or reason for the slide into idiocy?
Nine naked Men just walking down the road will cause a heap of trouble for all concerned.