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What Are You Reading Now?

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Jeff
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Jeff Posted: Fri, Jul 5 2013 10:41 PM

I'm sitting here in the hospital waiting room with time on my hands, so I thought I'd start a new thread about reading. We have one in here about what are you watching and what are you listening to, seems we should have one to talk about books.

First, I have three formats to read electronic books on, an iPad and iPhone with both the Kindle app and the Apple books app, and a Sony reader. Out of the three to be honest I prefer the Sony reader, I find the e paper to be easy on the eyes, it's smaller and lighter than the tablet, runs much longer on a battery charge, and at night the cover has a thin sheet of edge lit plastic that flips down so you can easily read in the dark. I prefer electronic to paper these days as my aging eyes like the ability to change font size. I still do read paper books though.

Recently I've read a couple of really fun books by David Wong, he's the editor for Cracked.com. The first one I first saw the film version of, "John Dies At The End." One of the oddest and most creative and darkly funny things I've ever seen, about two guys who get exposed to this drug called Soy Sauce which enables them to see all the quirky weird stuff going on, shadow people, invaders from other dimensions, etc. The guys are two 20 something losers who save the world. The side effects to the drug are interesting, it expands your perceptions. In one scene the guy looks at a plate of Chinese food going by in a restaurant and thinks, there are 5823 grains of rice on the plate, the rice was grown in a field in Arkansas, the guy who drove the harvesters name is Scooter...side effects.

The book of the same name is great, much longer and more detailed, the movie condenses the storyline into a much simpler one, combining various plot lines and scenes but still is true to the book.

The second book is "This Book Is Full Of Spiders, Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It!" and it's the sequel to "John Dies At The End." I'm almost through with it, it's not quite as good as the first but well worth the read. The author has a great writing style, very funny albeit crude. Lots of pop culture references.

My wife is reading an old book I first encountered in the 70's, "The Adolescence Of P1." It's out of print I think but if you find it it's a great read. Technology is kind of dated, but it's still a good tale of a man who accidentally creates a sentient artificial intelligence entity. The book was written by an IBM system architect so it's technically rich, and believable. As I say though, dated but I read it first back when I was working with Big Iron and it technically is quite accurate.

So, anyone else reading anything good?

Jeff

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I do not read as much "proper" content as I should! I'll blame forums for that!

Millions of manuals, but it would seem that I have read maybe one book in the last decade.

The White Spider by Heinrich Harrer. I think I'll read it again.

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elephant
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Jeff:
The second book is "This Book Is Full Of Spiders, Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It!"

Great title Smile

I am still stuck in the early stages of "Redbreast", the Harry Hole thriller set in Norway - an offshoot of the Beovirus (I think) is a fascination with Scandinavia ... stuck in it on my iPhone simply because there seems so little time these days that I only advance a couple of pages in a week.

I see the American's have made their version of the Scandinavian television movie called "The Bridge" - except it is on the US/Mexico border, and not the bridge from Denmark to Sweden -- I missed the foreign broadcast and want to track that down rather than see a remake.

For those who perhaps followed the machinations of Australian politics a weekend there was a beautiful example of Art/Life who goes first imitation where the night Julia Gillard was deposed as Australia's first female prime minister was the night the last episode of the first season of "Borgen" was broadcast: where Denmark's first female prime minister survives yet another disaster ... but the closing shot is of her sitting alone and isolated in her office.

I could start talking about the new BBC series from the "Wallender" books -- but this is supposed to be only about books so see the "watching" thread for my rambles on movies and series !

Jeff:
My wife is reading an old book I first encountered in the 70's, "The Adolescence Of P1." It's out of print I think but if you find it it's a great read. Technology is kind of dated, but it's still a good tale of a man who accidentally creates a sentient artificial intelligence entity. The book was written by an IBM system architect so it's technically rich, and believable. As I say though, dated but I read it first back when I was working with Big Iron and it technically is quite accurate.

Not sure I know that one ... the two I know in that theme are "When H.A.R.L.I.E. was one" and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"

And one should never forget "Colossus" (aka "The Forbin Project" as a movie) which was the first I think of the "Skynet" meme

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Jeff replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 2:14 AM

The e reader and such greatly increased the number of books I read thanks to size, font size, portability, etc. Wow, I thought I was the only one who'd read When H.A.R.L.I.E. Was One, that was a great one too, as was Colossus.  I read the sequel to Collosus, in it they finally overthrew the machine, only to find out that it took its mission of the original programming, defense, seriously. It analyzed the signals from space and concluded that an alien invasion force was on the way to earth, and that humanity would be incapable of withstanding it unless ruled over by an iron handed dictatorship under its control to prepare. As it died it told them this and said basically you're on your own now. 

I am going to have to look up the original The Bridge, I think stuff dealing with the Scandanavians are interesting as well. 

 

Jeff

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Jeff:
I thought I was the only one who'd read When H.A.R.L.I.E. Was One

Smile

There is even a 2.0 version of the book - which I have not read.

I used to read a ton of science fiction back then - totally indiscriminately - a true omnivore (which was also a title of a book Big Smile)

One series I liked was "The War Against the Chtorr" - which I associate with the book era of HARLIE; but it slowly drifted downwards and disappeared although in replying to this I have discovered that the author announced 10 years ago the plan for another 3 books in the series but none have eventuated !

But also I became less enamoured of science fiction -- particularly as fantasy seemed to take over the "science" and SF became know as Speculative Fiction ...

It is interesting looking at lists like the following to see where I agree or disagree on the inclusion ... and where I have missed out over the years !

http://www.abebooks.com/books/features/50-essential-science-fiction-books.shtml

 

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Jeff replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 3:59 AM

Some great books there, and quite a few missing I think were great. See quite a few I need to read. 

I read Make Room, Make Room recently, it's the book Soylent Green was based on but other than the overcrowded world and detective investigating a murder it was nothing like the movie. While well written, ultimately I liked the theme of the movie better as it actually had more of a plot, the book is a meandering story that doesn't really resolve but is more of a vehicle to preach Malthusian gloom and doom. 

a series of historical mystery novels I've read, all 20(!) of them are the Falco novels written by Lindsey Davis, about Marcus Didius Falco, a "personal informer" or private eye in Rome during Vespasian's reign. They are both fun, he's Sam Spade in a toga, and quite historically accurate, she does her homework. I was surprised that she kept the quality up for all 20 novels. 

Jeff

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valve1 replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 6:23 AM

I read a lot more so when I am away. The kindle has been a revelation for traveling. With its back lit pages I find my eyes are not as tired after two flights and a lot of hanging around airports.

 

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Jeff replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 8:38 AM

valve1:

I read a lot more so when I am away. The kindle has been a revelation for traveling. With its back lit pages I find my eyes are not as tired after two flights and a lot of hanging around airports.

 

Like you I'm a voracious reader when on the road, and for business travel particularly. And for air travel regardless of business or pleasure travel. The fact you can carry dozens of books on one slim device that fits well in a carry on is wonderful, in the past I used to have to carry a stack of bulky books to keep from that dreaded occurrence, ending a book mid trip or mid flight and having nothing to read!

My wife used to have to travel for work even more than I did and before a trip of hers the next morning convinced me to drive all the way across town so she could buy the original first generation Sony reader, which predates the Kindle. Ses the one who turned me onto e readers. 

Jeff

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JC replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 9:20 AM

The Executioner by chris Carter, violent and graphic but a great read!!!!

 

Jonnie

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Orava replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 3:26 PM

Last one Ian M Banks (late SadSurface detai, next will be Haruki Murakami 1Q84

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Jeff replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 4:26 PM

Finished This Book Is Full Of Spiders last night. Just started The Day The Sun Rose Twice, non fiction about the Trinity atomic bomb test. So far it's well written and very interesting. I've already read the two main books about the actual use of the bombs, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki: The Forgotten Bomb. Both are fascinating if gruesome accounts. 

Jeff

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Puncher replied on Sat, Jul 6 2013 8:37 PM

Spike Milligan's war memoirs (again)!!!!!

I first read them in the very early 80's and have read them every few years ever since ..... funny, very funny!!

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Puncher replied on Mon, Jul 8 2013 8:39 PM

Forgot to mention - I pre-ordered Dan Brown's latest, "Inferno",Embarrassed as I was due to travel to Baltimore shortly after it's release. Of course it's not going to win any literary awards, but then again neither was "The Da Vinci Code" but, for all it's flaws, it was still a rip roaring adventure novel, perfect for light reading (under the influence of a G&T or two)Whistle I've read "classics" on holiday (e.g. Catcher in the Rye) and been thoroughly disappointed at the sheer nothingness that happened, the kid didn't need "understanding" - what he needed was a good hiding, specifically for wasting people's (especially my) time!!!

The Baltimore trip fell through and "Inferno" remains unread, but I'm on holiday in August and this will be my first holiday read.

No Spoilers please!!!!

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Puncher:
I've read "classics" on holiday (e.g. Catcher in the Rye) and been thoroughly disappointed at the sheer nothingness that happened, the kid didn't need "understanding" - what he needed was a good hiding, specifically for wasting people's (especially my) time!!!

Catcher In The Rye was brilliant, timeless, inspiring, etc... Sorry you did not get it.

Try some Conrad and get back to us.

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"Odd John" "Sirius" and "Star Maker" by Olaf Stapledon.

By chance I live not too far from where Stapledon lived. He is an almost forgotten university philosopher who wrote space related fiction as a way of getting his philosophy across, but he has since been reclassified (probably wrongly) as a pure science fiction writer. He was the writer who inspired Arthur C. Clarke.

His work is probably more popular (and still in print) in the US rather than in the UK!

Graham

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Jeff replied on Tue, Jul 9 2013 4:00 PM

Odd John is on my list, I'll have to read the others you mention as well. Sounds like the kind of author I like. 

I read the collected works of Cordwainer Smith, the pseudonym of Paul Linebarger, a while back. Interesting stuff, he's most famous for Scanners Live In Vain but I liked all of his work. 

Jeff

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vikinger replied on Wed, Jul 10 2013 1:41 PM

Jeff:

Odd John is on my list, I'll have to read the others you mention as well. Sounds like the kind of author I like. 

I read the collected works of Cordwainer Smith, the pseudonym of Paul Linebarger, a while back. Interesting stuff, he's most famous for Scanners Live In Vain but I liked all of his work. 

I'll have to give Cordwainer Smith a try!

Most of the locations in Odd John are readily identifiable with places Stapledon lived near or commuted to.  Stapledon lectured at Liverpool University and to working mens' organisations. He was a man with a social conscience, although he was from a very privileged background, with his father having made a fortune managing a Liverpool shipping line.

Even now, standing on Caldy Hill on a star-lit night and looking out to sea  it's easy to see how space travel and the universe crept into Stapledon's philosophical writing.

Graham

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Jeff replied on Wed, Jul 10 2013 2:32 PM

I most definitely have to read Stapledon. Philosophical scifi is right up my alley, my favorite book of all time, Gene Wolfe's The Book Of The New Sun is highly allegorical and philosophical, and Wolfe is also a master of using prose to create memorable images, both beautiful and downright unsettling. I can't recommend Wolfe highly enough, another famous work of his is The Fifth Head of Cerberus.

Scanners Live In Vain was the first work of Cordwainer Smith I read, and is his most famous work. In it space travel over long distances kills people or drives them mad, something about the emptiness and dark or something causes this. The only way to travel is in suspended animation with a crew who have had all the nerves to their sensory and autonomic functions cut, and the visual nerves attenuated. It shields them from whatever it is, these are called Scanners, because they have to scan the dials that indicate their body functions and adjust them manually. These people are held in the highest regard, heroes, treated with great deference by government and society for their sacrifice. The problem comes when someone invents a method to allow travel without needing them, something that shields against the effects of space so normal people can pilot and navigate the ships, how do the Scanners react to the loss of their prestige and power? Interesting story.

I'm really enjoying this thread! I've already found several new things to add to my reading list.

Jeff

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Jeff replied on Mon, Jul 15 2013 6:34 AM

I just started reading Odd John, so far it's fascinating and very well written. Hanks for the recommendation. 

Jeff

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All the references to Olaf Stapledon have reminded me of his wonderful novel 'Sirius' - I'm re-reading it again

30 years after the first time. Highly recommended.

Cleve
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Jeff replied on Tue, Jul 16 2013 9:37 AM

Sirius is the second of the two novels in the Stapledon E book I bought. I look forward to it, so far Odd John is fascinating. 

Jeff

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Jeff replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 2:21 AM

Jules Verne's Journey To The Center Of The Earth. I saw the original movie with James Mason and Pat Boone(!) again recently, and realized I'd never read the book even though I'd read about all the other Jules Verne and HG Wells works. Imagine my surprise when I found out its almost, but not quite, completely unlike the movie! In fact I like the movie plot better, Verne's work mainly consists of the Professor's nephew constantly whining and complaining, what a wuss!

Jeff

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elephant replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 3:32 AM

Still plodding through "Redbreast" the Harry Hole thriller by Jo Nesbo.

But this week I had a sudden spurt and raced through about 10 chapters - not that significant an achievement as the chapters are probably only a few pages long on paper but on an iPhone in a train carriage it is some what more of an achievement ... but now we are back to the WWII backstory and I am slowing down again Sad

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Jeff replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 3:47 AM

I know what you mean about reading on the iPhone. I do like the Kindle and iBook apps though because they sync automatically, so if I read on one or the other I can pick right up on the other device seamlessly. 

BTW, I reread Gene Wolfe's The Fifth Head Of Cerberus the other week, very interesting and captivating work, the whole trilogy of novellas set in that storyline are an interestingly interconnected tale, though I like the first best. 

Jeff

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vikinger replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 9:24 AM

Jeff:

Sirius is the second of the two novels in the Stapledon E book I bought. I look forward to it, so far Odd John is fascinating. 

Hi Jeff,

how did Odd John go? I haven't re-read it recently, but I recall a feeling that the conclusion was slightly unsatisfactory, as if the author was struggling to find a way out of what he'd built up in the story.

Thinking about revisiting a number of Icelandic sagas. In the same way that the early American colonies, and then Australia were used by Britain to send criminals, misfits and outlaws, Norway was doing the same with Iceland 1000 or more years ago. There's more than a grain of truth in the sagas: descriptions of ethnic Americans from the Lief Erikson  voyages to people having to sail back to Norway to get timber for house building, Iceland being more or less treeless (and still is!)

Graham

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Jeff replied on Sun, Sep 29 2013 1:59 PM

I'm about 2/3 of the way thru Odd John, I just picked it up again last night after a hiatus. I tend to read more than one book in series/parallel at times, time sharing operating system I guess. I find it interesting, the author is definitely trying to make a lot of social commentary, but at times I feel he gets a bit confused himself and isn't sure what he wants to stress or recommend the most. Maybe he is like John and really dislikes all of it. I look forward to finishing it and being able to give you an opinion, but I know what you describe seems to happen often with various authors. The books start out very well, but it gets to a point where the author seems to realize they need to wrap it up but don't exactly know how to do that in a neat, coherent manner, and flail around a bit.

The author of The Hunger Games series is the same, the first book is great, with a succinct and well wrapped up ending, the second book gets more and more incoherent towards the end, and the final book is rushed. You get the feeling the author is careening towards an ending, shoving too many poorly described plot lines and threads forward at too great a pace, and not doing justice to any of them.

The best book series I've ever read for not doing that was Gene Wolfe's Book Of The New Sun, but then he didn't submit the 1st book to the publishers until the 4th and last books draft was completed. I think not many authors have that much discipline and forethought.

Odd John brings up the issue of Nietzsche's ubermensch, or superman and how they relate to normal humans in an interesting light. I read a story once called, I think, The Gold At Starbow's End. In it, a scientist sent a group of intelligent people on a trip to a nearby star to colonize a planet that was earth like there. In point of fact he lied, there was no such planet, he set up the trip to see what these people would become, and gave them a rigorous mathematical/linguistic field of study to work on. They kept getting back increasingly odd messages, things like since Ralph and Judy died their opinions have really gotten radical, etc. Finally they all came back, having first melted down all nuclear reactors and arms on earth before they got here. The story's tag line was be very careful if you decide to create a superman, for superman may not view the world in the same way you do.

I should read more sagas, I have the Saga of the Jomsvikings.   Just rediscovered it when I was unpacking the library after the move. Need to reread it, I recall enjoying it quite a bit. Interesting about Iceland, though Greenland is even worse. When my father was in the US Air Force, a guy in his outfit was dating this woman who worked in personnel, he dumped her hard, and his next assignment came up to Grand Forks North Dakota. He lied about having a sick grandmother and got a hardship excuse to get out of it, and was bragging about how he showed her. Don't be too cocky my dad warned him. His next assignment, that he couldn't get out of, was to Thule Greenland, a year long permanent assignment not a TDY. Heh...woman are vicious.

Jeff

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Jeff replied on Sun, Oct 27 2013 2:03 AM

vikinger:

Hi Jeff,

how did Odd John go? I haven't re-read it recently, but I recall a feeling that the conclusion was slightly unsatisfactory, as if the author was struggling to find a way out of what he'd built up in the story.

Thinking about revisiting a number of Icelandic sagas. In the same way that the early American colonies, and then Australia were used by Britain to send criminals, misfits and outlaws, Norway was doing the same with Iceland 1000 or more years ago. There's more than a grain of truth in the sagas: descriptions of ethnic Americans from the Lief Erikson  voyages to people having to sail back to Norway to get timber for house building, Iceland being more or less treeless (and still is!)

Graham

Hi Graham

Havent finished yet, I'm to where they have just founded the colony and wiped out the natives. I have an observation though, it is fascinating in that Odd John and his compatriots are acting very similarly to the ***, eliminating "inferiors" and not feeling any remorse. The *** also felt they were a Master Race superior to other races. And it is interesting how easily Odd John's human friend finds a way to accept John's extermination of the islanders, with a nod to how easily others signed on to the Nazi agenda. At least I'm getting this out of it, how it will end I'll find out soon. 

It also reminds me of the story Gold At Starbows End where they made a super race. Be careful before you make a superman, superman may not view the world the same way you do. 

The ability to communicate telepathically across time is a fascinating twist. 

Jeff

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Jeff replied on Sun, Oct 27 2013 2:04 AM

Interesting, the abbreviation of National Socialist is censored? 

Jeff

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vikinger replied on Sun, Oct 27 2013 9:43 AM

Jeff:

vikinger:

Hi Jeff,

how did Odd John go? I haven't re-read it recently, but I recall a feeling that the conclusion was slightly unsatisfactory, as if the author was struggling to find a way out of what he'd built up in the story.

Thinking about revisiting a number of Icelandic sagas. In the same way that the early American colonies, and then Australia were used by Britain to send criminals, misfits and outlaws, Norway was doing the same with Iceland 1000 or more years ago. There's more than a grain of truth in the sagas: descriptions of ethnic Americans from the Lief Erikson  voyages to people having to sail back to Norway to get timber for house building, Iceland being more or less treeless (and still is!)

Graham

Hi Graham

Havent finished yet, I'm to where they have just founded the colony and wiped out the natives. I have an observation though, it is fascinating in that Odd John and his compatriots are acting very similarly to the ***, eliminating "inferiors" and not feeling any remorse. The *** also felt they were a Master Race superior to other races. And it is interesting how easily Odd John's human friend finds a way to accept John's extermination of the islanders, with a nod to how easily others signed on to the Nazi agenda. At least I'm getting this out of it, how it will end I'll find out soon. 

It also reminds me of the story Gold At Starbows End where they made a super race. Be careful before you make a superman, superman may not view the world the same way you do. 

The ability to communicate telepathically across time is a fascinating twist. 

Yes, Stapledon was certainly influenced by the 30’s depression and everything that flowed from it after. 

Graham

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Jeff replied on Sun, Oct 27 2013 3:16 PM

I hadn't realized exactly when the book was written. Pretty astute for the day in many ways, but you can see the pre-war fascination with eugenics and such in it. The residue of the Great War surely set up all the conditions for WWII in many ways, politically, socially, and internationally.

I've known people over here who were staunch Planned Parenthood supporters (I'm not saying what my views are deliberately as it's not germane one way or the other to the discussion) who are completely shocked when they find out Margaret Sanger's views on eugenics, compulsory sterilization,  and erasing the "inferiors." The US had it's post Great War "progressive" movements, pro Nazi, pro communist, pro eugenics, and fairly ugly on a number of fronts, so I can see where Odd John's themes came from.

I want to thank you for recommending Odd John, even though things are making me take longer than usual to read it (aka life) I am quite enjoying it and finding it well worth the time. Thought provoking.

Jeff

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Mark replied on Sun, Oct 27 2013 4:17 PM

unlike a man I've just read my BeoSound 1 manual. Why is there something satisfying as setting up tech and then reading the reference manual?

we tend to forget there is more to design than designing.

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elephant replied on Sun, Oct 27 2013 8:03 PM
Finally finished "Redbreast" and moved onto "Nemeses" the second of the Harry Hole "Oslo" trilogy

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Jeff replied on Fri, Nov 1 2013 3:32 PM

Finished Odd John at last...very interesting book, thanks Graham for recommending it! Ending was interesting, in that the advanced race decided to go out with a bang rather than fight due to philosophical reasons related to enlightenment and such, I would have expected them to fight tooth and nail. It's a reasonably common thought though, in The Sixth Finger on the old Outer Limits a coal miner was experimented on to speed up his evolution. He went from thinking the humans were worms and violently killing anyone who got in his way to evolving beyond violence at the end. Then again there's the 2nd original Star Trek pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before, and the crewman who got pushed upwards in evolution was anything but peaceful towards humans.

I found it interesting in Odd John that the world powers would send thugs to eliminate the colony instead of just shelling it into oblivion, perhaps for plausible deniability? Interesting too how the dumber the people were the less effect the advanced minds could have on them.

Before I start Sirius I downloaded a copy of Second Variety by PK ***. I love the movie that's based on this, Screamers. I bought that on LD back in the day based solely on the fact it starred Peter Weller, screenplay was by Dan O'Bannon of Alien fame (and Darkstar), and the fact it was based on a PK *** story. I wasn't disappointed, great movie.

BTW, I got the story via Project Gutenberg, for free, and it was downloadable in a variety of formats, from doc to pdf to epub to Kindle. Very cool, I can't recommend Project Gutenberg enough, I was able to grab it straight to the Kindle app on my iPad instantly. A library that dwarfs Alexandrias in scope instantly searchable and accessible.

Jeff

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Thanks Jeff.

Sirius is about a super dog. Stapledon's other works are listed on his Wikipedia page  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olaf_Stapledon>

The 1930 novel 'Last and First Men' is said to be the novel that most influenced Arthur C. Clarke, and it  is on my reading list. I seem to recall that I originally read Odd John as an old paperback, and then saw a leather bound limited edition version on eBay, much to my wife's annoyance. I have too many books, but I really prefer holding and reading a beautifully bound book to a Kindle or iPad, although I increasingly use both.

I am gong to keep a list of recommendations from this thread with the aim of eventually working my way through them! Elephant's Jo Nesbo novels are there too....... I too have an irrational liking for all things Scandinavian!

Graham

Cleviebaby
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vikinguk:

Thanks Jeff.

. I too have an irrational liking for all things Scandinavian!

Graham

Graham,

You are not alone.

I have just read a recently published book called 'How to be Danish'. Funnily enough, despite having a chapter on Danish design, the author doesn't mention B & O!

Cleve
vikinger
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Cleviebaby:
vikinguk:

 

Thanks Jeff.

 

. I too have an irrational liking for all things Scandinavian!

 

Graham

 

Graham,

You are not alone.

I have just read a recently published book called 'How to be Danish'. Funnily enough, despite having a chapter on Danish design, the author doesn't mention B & O!

Cleve

My eldest son recently bought me a copy of 'Scandinavian Design' by Charlotte & Peter Fiell, published by Taschen. A great hardback reference book full of good photographs, including, as you might expect, B&O. He found it when browsing in Foyles, London, but I see that Amazon currently have it at £9.09 with free delivery. 

Graham

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elephant:

Finally finished "Redbreast" and moved onto "Nemeses" the second of the Harry Hole "Oslo" trilogy My new avatar reads "anything unrelated to elephants is irrelephant" - except B&O (of course)

Well completed Nemesis ... The two stories which follow each other with hardly any separation in time were very different in style or construction.

I enjoyed the second until towards the end when plot complications did my head in !!!

Just starting the third in the Oslo trilogy ... The Devil's Star ... The first chapter has not engaged me - perhaps I am overdosing ... Sad

BeoNut since '75

vikinger
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vikinger replied on Thu, Nov 7 2013 12:25 PM

Just started reading a translation of Beowolf, an Anglo Saxon poem about Swedish / Danish warriors monsters and dragons.

I have a feeling that Beowolf is one of those books forced upon English undergraduates, in the same way that Shakespeare is forced onto schoolchildren in such a way that it puts most of them off for life!  I am going to try to take a relaxed view of things and enjoy the literature for what it is and without the need to over-analyse it!

Graham

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Jeff replied on Thu, Nov 7 2013 2:36 PM

Ah, Beowulf, earliest English language story written down from what the literary eggheads say. If you can call that English...Stick out tongue And the literary eggheads who major in this stuff at the post graduate level seem to have this need to over analyze and over intellectualize everything, writing long, verbose, and complicated philosophical treatises on what the deeper meaning is of things that in all probability have no deeper meaning. My favorite books, The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe, is a deep and complex and allegorical piece, but I've read scholarly articles on this work that just flabbergasted me. Holy carp, they go on and on and on about this and that, more to appear intelligent by slinging BS than an actual analysis that makes any kind of sense. Kind of like writing an entire book on the deep, transgendered LGBT implications and sexual politics of the verse Mary had a little lamb.

I reread it about a year or so ago. It's interesting, how easy a read it is depends on how it's translated. The last version I read was pretty directly translated, so you get lots of sing song kind of pacing and writing, lots of so and so is a hero related to this hero and did this and this and this and this and by the way we have a monster problem. I've also read, years ago as a kid, a modernized version that was translated into modern English text/syntax etc. and rewritten as more of a traditional story like a novel. Far easier to read, but I think I enjoy the old version better, it gives a glimpse into the thought processes of the people then and what they considered important. Reputation and fame, same as in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, there was so much extolling of the hero's virtues and accomplishments, it was almost like an epic length hagiography.

When unpacking the library I rediscovered my copy of the saga of the Jomsvikings. I seriously need to reread that, I remember enjoying it a lot.

I'm reading Sirius now, in parallel with a couple of other books. Interesting, the author has a serious thing about superior beings, be they human or canine. And the subservience of normal people to them. So far I'm enjoying it. I finished Second Variety, great short story, and for once the adaptation into the film Screamers is pretty spot on. They embellished the number of people and the plot a little, as the original story is a bit sparse, but true to the nature of the story.

Jeff

Beovirus victim, it's gotten to be too much to list!

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vikinger replied on Fri, Nov 15 2013 11:59 AM

Just taken a break from Beowulf and have read the Kindle edition of The Big Bamboozle by The late Phillip Marshall. It's a very convincing and powerful story about the aircraft linked events leading up to 9-11. He doesn't touch upon or speculate about how the buildings actually came down, but that's something that the Architects and Engineers for 911 truth are investigating. As an engineer I have to say that I am very interested to find out whether the original building designs really were defective as far as withstanding plane impacts are concerned, or whether there was some other or additional cause. I've always been intrigued about WTC7 which collapsed without being hit by an aircraft and which a BBC commentator said had collapsed when the building was still standing behind her for another 20 minutes!

The book has a lot of references to further details available at thebigbamboozle.com, but that website seems to have been taken down since the author's apparent suicide. Conspiracy upon conspiracy............. Maybe we are living through a 21st century version of Beowulf.

Graham

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