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Old 05-14-2011, 11:06 AM   #9376
pdurrant
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the third from my recent purchase of a bundle of Frederick Pohl books: The Way the Future Was, first published in 1978.
An insider's look at Science Fiction from the 1930s to the 1970s through the eyes of Frederick Pohl - Author, Agent and Editor. A bit of autobiography, and a bit about the early SF community and magazines. Fascinating stuff, and a good read.

I'm somewhat surprised, but very pleased to find that he's still with us (currently 91) and still active — he has his own blog, The Way the Future Blogs. Now added to my RSS feeds.

Next up: Women in Deep Time by Greg Bear. I got this back in December 2008 during a Fictionwise 40% off sale, using Micropay from a 100% rebate sale. That added up to an astonish level of discount overall. I do miss the old Fictionwise.

This seems to be three novellas by Greg Bear. I've liked some of his other stuff, so hopefully I'll like these.

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Old 05-14-2011, 03:02 PM   #9377
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One year after Malice Domestic, at the yearly after party at Mertz Manor (Barbara's house), they decided to turn their hands (and fertile crazy brains) to country song writing. That song is at the front of NTTM. It also shows up in each of the other authors published works that year. In some it plays only a cameo role - being heard on the radio or stuck in a character's head, and in some it's a major player.
That sounds like a fun in-joke. I already like McCrumb and Peters' writing; I may have to give Hess and Cannell a try.

Thanks for taking the time to let me know about this.

Finished The Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters, which for a change, sets the Egypt-related mystery at home in Britain.

I mildly liked this one, mainly due to the novelty of the locale and the presence of a hopefully recurring character from a previous book and wonder of wonders, was not pointed out as an example of low and wicked ways because Set was a redheaded god, don'tchaknow.

There was also some sort of subplot involving the Peabody-Emersons taking in Amelia's brother's kids, who were smarmy pestilential annoyances apparently designed to make their own kid look better by comparison.

This may have worked on Amelia, but really didn't do anything for me. But then I belong to the cynical school of thought which says "just because it could be demonstrably worse, does not automatically invalidate its being bad enough already".

Honestly, instead of nicknaming the kid after an ancient Egyptian Pharoah, they should have nicknamed him after an ancient Greek stage device because this is what, the third book running in which the deus ex machina saves the day? Can't his parents get out of their own scrapes under their own power any more?

Ah well, at least the whodunnit was fairly good and there were redheads, even if I think the matchmaking in this case would have ended in utter disaster since she had a crush on someone else and really shouldn't be encouraged to settle on someone rather different even if he did maybe save her life. That's really not a good basis for anything beyond a few kisses of gratitude when they've been squabbling rivals who looked down on each other previously.

This brought me to a gap in the Peabody series, as I have them now up to around #10, minus the two immediate following TDOTD, which I will be picking up from the not-so-local library later today.

I went and filled that gap with Gail Carriger's alternate-Victorian mildly steampunky paranormal investigative semi-satire Soulless, 1st in "The Paranormal Protectorate" or "Alexia Tarabotti" series, depending on whether you look at the front cover or the spine labels.

I rather enjoyed this one, not the least because I like semi-satirical AU sleuth stuff. This one had a touch of romance, but since the rest of the novels feature the same heroine, I'm guessing they move towards the action/adventure spectrum after that.

Basic premise: Alexia Tarabotti (and I have to suppress a snicker whenever I see a print novel in which someone has named a character for the medical condition indicating the "inability to read") is a "preternatural", born "soulless" an thus able to neutralize the abilities of supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves with a touch.

Said vampires and werewolves are well integrated into Victorian society, with the BUR being the alphabet agency which keeps them in line. Contrary to this mandate, werewolves are mysteriously disapppearing and new unattached vampires are mysteriously appearing, and this will not do.

Since Alexia has gotten involved by accident, naturally she must get further involved, over the objections of Lord Maccon, who'd rather not have civilians muddling things up, especially civilians who'd previously subjected him to the Unfortunate Hedgehog Incident.

While there are a few things that could be improved (you'd think that Victorian society would be marginally more inclusive of capable women after having made way for vampires and werewolves), this was overall a fun romp with some nifty spoofing of old-fashioned conventions*.

Moderate high recommend. It helps if you like Victorian social satire to begin with and are willing to put up with the inherent silliness involved in the original social conventions. But the actual whatdunnit is fairly decent (although mildly telegraphed, since this is a paranormal investigation case rather than a full-on sleuth mystery) and the world-building is mildly interesting, with some thought given as to how the integrated social structures would actually work. And it was a fairly fun read.

Now going to go through my unread previous FW purchases, to determine which ones are worthy of getting the authors' other works now that Fictionwise is having a 60% off coupon this weekend.

* Poor Lord Maccon, looked down at for being considered uncouth and barbarous due to being (gasp!) a Scot. Oh, and he also happens to be a flesh-eating werewolf, but that's much more socially acceptable.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:18 PM   #9378
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Finished The White Mountains by John Christopher. Fun, breezy read. I'll probably read the prequel on how the Tripods appeared before completing the series.
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Old 05-14-2011, 06:59 PM   #9379
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Finished The White Mountains by John Christopher. Fun, breezy read. I'll probably read the prequel on how the Tripods appeared before completing the series.
I just read the white mountains recently & have started the second book. I did not know there was a prequel though. What is it called?
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:44 PM   #9380
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That sounds like a fun in-joke. I already like McCrumb and Peters' writing; I may have to give Hess and Cannell a try.

Thanks for taking the time to let me know about this.

Finished The Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters, which for a change, sets the Egypt-related mystery at home in Britain.

I mildly liked this one, mainly due to the novelty of the locale and the presence of a hopefully recurring character from a previous book and wonder of wonders, was not pointed out as an example of low and wicked ways because Set was a redheaded god, don'tchaknow.

There was also some sort of subplot involving the Peabody-Emersons taking in Amelia's brother's kids, who were smarmy pestilential annoyances apparently designed to make their own kid look better by comparison.

This may have worked on Amelia, but really didn't do anything for me. But then I belong to the cynical school of thought which says "just because it could be demonstrably worse, does not automatically invalidate its being bad enough already".

Honestly, instead of nicknaming the kid after an ancient Egyptian Pharoah, they should have nicknamed him after an ancient Greek stage device because this is what, the third book running in which the deus ex machina saves the day? Can't his parents get out of their own scrapes under their own power any more?

Ah well, at least the whodunnit was fairly good and there were redheads, even if I think the matchmaking in this case would have ended in utter disaster since she had a crush on someone else and really shouldn't be encouraged to settle on someone rather different even if he did maybe save her life. That's really not a good basis for anything beyond a few kisses of gratitude when they've been squabbling rivals who looked down on each other previously.

This brought me to a gap in the Peabody series, as I have them now up to around #10, minus the two immediate following TDOTD, which I will be picking up from the not-so-local library later today.

I went and filled that gap with Gail Carriger's alternate-Victorian mildly steampunky paranormal investigative semi-satire Soulless, 1st in "The Paranormal Protectorate" or "Alexia Tarabotti" series, depending on whether you look at the front cover or the spine labels.

I rather enjoyed this one, not the least because I like semi-satirical AU sleuth stuff. This one had a touch of romance, but since the rest of the novels feature the same heroine, I'm guessing they move towards the action/adventure spectrum after that.

Basic premise: Alexia Tarabotti (and I have to suppress a snicker whenever I see a print novel in which someone has named a character for the medical condition indicating the "inability to read") is a "preternatural", born "soulless" an thus able to neutralize the abilities of supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves with a touch.

Said vampires and werewolves are well integrated into Victorian society, with the BUR being the alphabet agency which keeps them in line. Contrary to this mandate, werewolves are mysteriously disapppearing and new unattached vampires are mysteriously appearing, and this will not do.

Since Alexia has gotten involved by accident, naturally she must get further involved, over the objections of Lord Maccon, who'd rather not have civilians muddling things up, especially civilians who'd previously subjected him to the Unfortunate Hedgehog Incident.

While there are a few things that could be improved (you'd think that Victorian society would be marginally more inclusive of capable women after having made way for vampires and werewolves), this was overall a fun romp with some nifty spoofing of old-fashioned conventions*.

Moderate high recommend. It helps if you like Victorian social satire to begin with and are willing to put up with the inherent silliness involved in the original social conventions. But the actual whatdunnit is fairly decent (although mildly telegraphed, since this is a paranormal investigation case rather than a full-on sleuth mystery) and the world-building is mildly interesting, with some thought given as to how the integrated social structures would actually work. And it was a fairly fun read.

Now going to go through my unread previous FW purchases, to determine which ones are worthy of getting the authors' other works now that Fictionwise is having a 60% off coupon this weekend.

* Poor Lord Maccon, looked down at for being considered uncouth and barbarous due to being (gasp!) a Scot. Oh, and he also happens to be a flesh-eating werewolf, but that's much more socially acceptable.

Just because we're all different...Soulless bugged me a lot more than anything in Peters' books! I found the writing particularly shallow toward the end when Soulless dissolved into little more than a panting, mindless romance...whereas I barely noticed the perfect child syndrome in the Peters books (it is there to be sure, but it didn't bother me).

I guess in later books in the Amelia Peabody series there were other things that annoyed me, but they were more related to plot devices used to keep a particular...tension to some of the personal relationships.

Funny.

I also love the Vicky Bliss series. Light, fun reading.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:47 PM   #9381
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I just read the white mountains recently & have started the second book. I did not know there was a prequel though. What is it called?
When the Tripods Came written 20 years after the original trilogy.

http://www.amazon.com/When-Tripods-C...5416663&sr=1-1
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:59 PM   #9382
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Just finished "Murder in a Mill Town" the second in the Nell Sweeney series by Patricia Ryan. A good read and I had no idea whodunnit until it was revealed. If you like historical murder mysteries give them a try.

Next is Reginald Hill's "The Woodcutter" which I have had recommended, it's not a Dalziel and Pascoe novel.
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:41 AM   #9383
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managed to read the first book of Rick Riordan's The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid. I'm not very impressed, the Percy Jackson series was obviously much better.

Ah, and I read Esio Trot by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake love it love it!
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:36 AM   #9384
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Just because we're all different...Soulless bugged me a lot more than anything in Peters' books! I found the writing particularly shallow toward the end when Soulless dissolved into little more than a panting, mindless romance...whereas I barely noticed the perfect child syndrome in the Peters books (it is there to be sure, but it didn't bother me).
Possibly it may have something to do with one's expectations going in.

For Soulless, Gail Carriger's author photo on the back was very tongue-in-cheek (wearing white gloves and a fancy hat while sipping from an oversized teacup and saucer), and the first few pages convinced me that it was supposed to be a silly light spoof like those Pride & Prejudice & Zombies-style books.

So I wasn't expecting anything more than a comedic parody of Victorian/steampunk/paranormal tropes and any extra actual mystery plot would have been a pleasant bonus on top of that, which it turned out to be.

Whereas for the Amelia Peabody books, I'd gotten the impression that aside from some gentle fun-poking at Victorian-style prose and the social conventions that Amelia was going against, they were supposed to be seriously for serious Plucky Victorian Egyptologist adventure tales, which the first two really were.

But then they kind of turned into a self-parody of themselves another two books later, with lots of repeated stylistic tics (redheads compared to Set! confounded young lovers who slap each other to show affection! Peabody-your-overactive-imagination-is-inventing-a-Master-Criminal! Ohh-Emerson-your-manly-manhood-is-so-fade-to-black!) and of course the day-saving wunderkind, which I wouldn't have minded nearly so much if these books were tagged "A Walter Ramses Peabody Emerson Mystery!".

Now, when I read something labeled "An Amelia Peabody Mystery", I expect the said Amelia Peabody to be the main mystery-solver and getter-outer-of-sticky-situations-er, and not to have this key role offloaded to her son more than half the time. So that development was kind of a disappointment.

But the latest one I'm reading seems to be a moderate improvement on the last, so hopefully this is just a glitch in the series and they get back on track soon enough.

Quote:
I also love the Vicky Bliss series. Light, fun reading.
I agree with other assessments in the past of this thread that the Vicky Bliss books are probably the best series Elizabeth Peters has written overall. They strike a good balance between realistic and employing genre gimmicks, and have a decent sense of the absurdity of certain conventions and avoiding too much of those. Jacqueline Kirby is fun, but a bit over the top as she's kind of a larger than life character who demands a larger than life plot.

Anyway, from Victorian Britain to Roman Britain, finished Caveat Emptor, 4th in Ruth Downie's Gaius Petreius Ruso series, which was due at the library.

In this installment, Ruso and Tilla have returned from Gaul, only to have Ruso end up being temporarily assigned as an investigator into the death of a native tax collector who'd apparently absconded with mass quantities of Roman money.

Not that the Roman officials care all that much about the death of their tax collector; they just want their money back.

Complicating matters is the fact that Tilla is determined to help the ostracized wife of the tax collector who's just given birth, and that as always in these things there's a deeper game being played behind the scenes in local politics with everyone oozing helpfulness while obstructing investigation.

Another good addition to this series, and saw the return of a couple of characters I liked from earlier in the series in supporting roles.

A prior development from the last book which I was uncertain about seems to be working out okay; or at least not affected the character in question's personality and actions for the worse. Another character revelation in this book had me similarly ambivalent, but so far it seems to be handled well, and was not given the easy out that was hinted at possibly resolving things, nor was it brushed off with platitudes when finally shared with the other party involved.

Highly recommended if you like historical sleuth stuff set in ancient Roman Britain with put-upon medical doctors trying to figure things out while the people around him are not being nearly as helpful as they say they are and the author's brief historical notes on the background + minor recommended further reading (I always love it when they do that).

I like that these books don't take the easy way out when resolving personal problems and wrap up the relationship stuff with a pat bow; instead, the issues have to be gradually dealt with and sometimes left unresolved just like in real life.
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Old 05-15-2011, 04:01 AM   #9385
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Just finshed Exodus: The Ark by Paul Chafe. To be honest it had a good premise but feel it really lacked direction and depth. Did raise some interesting thoughts. Genesis was disappointing but this one was a total let down. I say 2.5 out of 5.
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:57 AM   #9386
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Just finshed Exodus: The Ark by Paul Chafe. To be honest it had a good premise but feel it really lacked direction and depth. Did raise some interesting thoughts. Genesis was disappointing but this one was a total let down. I say 2.5 out of 5.
I read it last year. I must admit that it hasn't really stayed with me, but I seem to have enjoyed it at the time. And I think it begins to come back now I've been reminded of it.

Perhaps that it isn't one complete narrative is what disappointed you? From my comments a year ago, I think it's more like a couple of novellas and short stories strung together.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:22 AM   #9387
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Jack, you might want to post your recently read notes in the Sticky Thread Hey!! Let's get some action going! What are we reading? just above here in this section.

It's a lively thread where lots of members post notes about books they are reading, have just finished or are about to start.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:35 AM   #9388
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Jack, you might want to post your recently read notes in the Sticky Thread Hey!! Let's get some action going! What are we reading? just above here in this section.

It's a lively thread where lots of members post notes about books they are reading, have just finished or are about to start.
uhm, I'm pretty confused and have to ask, what are you talking about, Cassidym?
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:38 AM   #9389
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I read it last year. I must admit that it hasn't really stayed with me, but I seem to have enjoyed it at the time. And I think it begins to come back now I've been reminded of it.

Perhaps that it isn't one complete narrative is what disappointed you? From my comments a year ago, I think it's more like a couple of novellas and short stories strung together.
Well the description of Genesis sounded good, and it was an ok read. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more like the Mars series, but still as a book it was good.

Exodus, well I can understand why he wrote the book in the way he did, and it didn't bother me. Just the whole book seemed nothing really to do with a civilisation travelling through space, and more just a civilisation. I shook my head numerous times at the fact that they started off rather technologically savvy, and after thousands of years civilisation went backwards and seemed to sit at like a medieval time - very simplistic. Take away the sun tube and realistically the story could have been based anywhere in the world and been an alternative historical fiction.
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Old 05-15-2011, 08:39 AM   #9390
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Originally Posted by maianhvk View Post
managed to read the first book of Rick Riordan's The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid. I'm not very impressed, the Percy Jackson series was obviously much better.
By 'eck - that was the name of my Grammar School .....
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