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Old 02-03-2013, 10:13 PM   #15541
kennyc
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Or they'd feed themselves another way, which is what many if not most of them do at the moment.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:43 AM   #15542
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Now I'll be tackling another independent novel. This time by Tony Bertauski. It's called Halfskin. Genetic engineering gone awry?! I can do that. It sounds like it could be good, so we'll see how it goes.
This was a really good read. Just towards the end it fizzled a bit and became a little aimless - or something. Then I realised the author is planning to make this a trilogy. Personally, I would have kept this as a standalone and had a more conclusive finish. The story arc does resolve somewhat, but the author has obviously kept things at a bit of a simmer for the sequel.

Today I started Mr Shivers by Robert Jackson Bennett. It's one of the many paperbacks in my bookshelf that has sat there unread for quite some time. Anyone read this before?
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Old 02-04-2013, 09:50 AM   #15543
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Well, I finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein. "The most famous SF novel of all time" according to its cover.

I must say I didn't think much of it. Indeed, for about 50 pages, two-thirds of the way in, I thought it was the worst book I'd ever read.

It started OK - I thought maybe I'd been wrong to fear it - but then it was quite boring until the aforementioned 50 pages when it went massively downhill. It recovered a bit as I pushed through the last hundred pages over the weekend, but it's still not a book I particularly take anything from, or want to take anything from.

Like a lot of Heinlein, it is opinionated and self-satisfied, but unlike his shorter works, it lacks a decent story. The female "characters" are a joke, and the final sections seem to be an extended sexual fantasy of a kind that does nothing for me.

If anyone can begin to explain why this is so well-regarded, I'd like to hear it.

I should maybe say I read the original cut - the one that actually won the Hugo - and not the newer, longer edition, and on this evidence I can only be relieved.
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:15 AM   #15544
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If anyone can begin to explain why this is so well-regarded, I'd like to hear it.
Because people are different; thank god. Different from each other and even different than they themselves were when they first read a particular book. I read this one long ago and loved it. Who knows how I'd feel about it if I read it for the first time today with all the more recent SFF I've read to judge it by. But there's only one first read. It's a complicated/strange intersection of age, philosophy, time/culture, personal experience, literary history and authorial talent that makes a book resonate with a large group of people. This one resonated with quite a few people in times past. It seems to resonate with fewer and fewer newer readers as time goes by. Go figure.

Surely this isn't the first time you've been puzzled by a book's popularity/acclaim?
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:32 AM   #15545
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I'm not entirely sure how I picked some of the books on my reading list this year, but

Glimpses by Lewis Shiner is so far an extremely fun book.

Other good reads so far this year:
The Woman who Walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle
Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
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Old 02-04-2013, 07:35 PM   #15546
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Originally Posted by DrNefario View Post
Well, I finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein. "The most famous SF novel of all time" according to its cover.

I must say I didn't think much of it. Indeed, for about 50 pages, two-thirds of the way in, I thought it was the worst book I'd ever read..........SNIP...........
If anyone can begin to explain why this is so well-regarded, I'd like to hear it.
Thanks to the Internet I've been able to re-live a lot of my past... Movies that I thought were fantastic, TV shows I waited breathlessly for each week, etc. And unfortunately, most did NOT stand well the test of time. When I read 'Stranger' 30+ years ago, I thought it was amazing! I just re-read it a few months ago and had to fight my way through it. Same with "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle.." life-changing when it first came out, but when I re-read it last year, I wondered what was all the fuss about?

We change. Times change. Ya gotta go with the flow. Sgt. Bilko is no longer funny. The Fonz is no longer 'cool.' (Well, maybe just a little.)


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Old 02-04-2013, 07:42 PM   #15547
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Bite your tongue. The Fonz is always cool. Except when he's jumping the shark.

On a side note. I'm testing the theory on things not aging well with my reading challenge for this year. So far the 80s has been a wasteland.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:12 PM   #15548
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The old Burns and Allen TV show is still funny.

I'm currently reading a hardback edition of Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:47 PM   #15549
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Presently reading "Inuyasha, V38" by Rumiko Takahashi.
Had been putting this off for awhile, but I'm loving it.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:43 AM   #15550
pdurrant
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Next: Tiger by the Tail by John Ringo.
Hmm... I didn't think it could go more over the top, but it did. And while all the detailed discussion about guns I give a pass, and just assume it's accurate, the main MacGuffin of the computer boards rang false to me.

I don't know how much of the writing or plotting the second named author did, but it certainly wasn't up to the standard I expected.


Next up: Analog SF, March 2013.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:05 AM   #15551
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Well, I finished Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein. "The most famous SF novel of all time" according to its cover.

I must say I didn't think much of it. Indeed, for about 50 pages, two-thirds of the way in, I thought it was the worst book I'd ever read.

Like a lot of Heinlein, it is opinionated and self-satisfied, but unlike his shorter works, it lacks a decent story. The female "characters" are a joke, and the final sections seem to be an extended sexual fantasy of a kind that does nothing for me.

If anyone can begin to explain why this is so well-regarded, I'd like to hear it.

I should maybe say I read the original cut - the one that actually won the Hugo - and not the newer, longer edition, and on this evidence I can only be relieved.
I very much enjoy the early Heinlein novels. Double Star and The Door Into Summer are both very fine. The group of YA novels are quite enjoyable and of them, Starman Jones, The Star Beast, Time for the Stars, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Have Spacesuit--Will Travel are rightly considered by the Science Fiction Encyclopedia as "arguably his finest works". The same article makes the point that middle and late Heinlein shows a "sad decline" in his powers of dramatisation. I would agree that his female characters are unbelievable and silly altogether too often in his later work. I started The Cat Who Walks Through Walls hoping for something interesting and IMHO it was a complete flop.

As to why Stranger in a Strange Land is seen as a major science-fiction work--well it's a complete mystery to me.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 02-05-2013 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:50 AM   #15552
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I very much enjoy the early Heinlein novels. Double Star and The Door Into Summer are both vdry fine. The group of YA novels are quite enjoyable and of them, Starman Jones, The Star Beast, Time for the Stars, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Have Spacesuit--Will Travel are rightly considered by the Science Fiction Encyclopedia as "arguably his finest works". The same article makes the point that middle and late Heinlein shows a "sad decline" in his powers of dramatisation. I would agree that his female characters are unbelievable and silly altogether too often in his later work. I started The Cat Who Walks Through Walls hoping for something interesting and IMHO it was a complete flop.

As to why Stranger in a Strange Land is seen as a major science-fiction work--well it's a complete mystery to me.
I still have Double Star to read for my Hugo challenge, and I'm not nearly as worried about that one, going in. I've read his other Hugo and Retro Hugo winners. Starship Troopers and Farmer in the Sky I enjoyed. Moon is a Harsh Mistress I read many years ago and don't remember feeling particularly strongly about it either way.

Of course, it's MIAHM and Stranger in a Strange Land that were voted 11th and 12th best SF novels of the 20th Century in the recent Locus poll.

But even with Starship Troopers, my enjoyment was kind of that the balance of things I liked vs things I hated was in favour of the things I liked, not that I liked all of it. There has always been something about Heinlein that rubs me up the wrong way. A modern equivalent might be Peter F Hamilton, whose books I generally enjoy, but who manages to throw in something that annoys me with some regularity. I certainly didn't go into Stranger without some negative preconceptions, but I was hoping to be pleasantly surprised, as I have been by some of the other Hugo winners. I had taken a bit of a dislike to China Mieville until I read The City and the City.

I guess, as DiapDealer says, people are just different.

Anyway, I fancied some dragons as a palate-cleanser, so I have started The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas, which I am really enjoying so far. I won the second and third books in the series from the author, who often gives away books through his website, but I still had to buy the first one, and I only got around to it in December.
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:31 PM   #15553
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Analog SF, March 2013.
An average to good issue.

After longer as Editor than anyone else, Stanley Schmidt is leaving to do other things. Wow.

It'll be a while until we see the full effect of this, good, bad or indifferent.

Next: Analog SF, April 2013
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:21 PM   #15554
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I finished Ever After yesterday and am now in the middle of The Secret of the Old Clock, the first of the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I'll start on Third Shift - Pact by Hugh Howey when I finish and then on to another Nancy Drew mystery (revisiting your youth is fun).
I finished reading both Third Shift - Pact and the second Nancy Drew Mystery, The Hidden Staircase. Hugh Howey's new addition to the silo saga was really really first rate, as always. Now on to Jeffrey Deaver's, The Bone Collector since quite a few posters really seemed to like it a lot and the fifth Nancy Drew Mystery, The Secret of Shadow Ranch (out-of-sequence because I just read 3 and 4 [also out-of-sequence]).

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Old 02-06-2013, 06:29 AM   #15555
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Next: Analog SF, April 2013
Also an average to good issue.

Next: Darkship Renegades by Sarah A. Hoyt. The sequel to Darkship Thieves

I do like Ms Hoyt's work. I've been looking forward to reading this.
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