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What are you reading? — Page 45

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I read Dune only once, but I absolutely loved it. It had a tremendous impact on my taste in sci-fi, and has become the gold standard by which I evaluate every other sci-fi story.

The sequels, meanwhile, didn’t impress me so much. Dune Messiah was good, but it didn’t floor me like it’s predecessor, and Children of Dune was only fair. God Emperor wasn’t bad — it was better than Children — but the cynicism was so ripe, it turned me off from finishing it.

Divergent Universes
Dreams of a Randy Git-Fiend

Make Off Topic great again.

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I like the sequels, but I get your point about the cynicism. I feel like Herbert saw the reaction to the first book and was like, “Oh great, they missed the whole point. Better write a follow up to hammer it home in the most depressing way possible,” and then kept going.

a trolling bantha

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Various (Editor: Morgan, Robert) - The Pale Illuminations

To be fair, Robert’s overview on his website captures these tales concisely.
Four longish stories that land within the “folk horror” category.
Bell’s “Labyrinth” tracks a graduate student, researching a paper on pagan sites dating from pre-Roman times, specifically the worship of Proserpina. As she pushes deeper into back country, she begins to wonder if a lingering trace survives.
Valentine’s “A Chess Game At Michaelmas” catches an unexpected match with the king.
Although set around a wooded French area, Oliver’s “The Old Man Of The Woods” seems the least folk tinged, and is more a cursed tale.
“Cropmarks” by John concerns an abandoned church, now used for Wiccan purposes. While I read, absorbed throughout, I had scant sympathy, let alone empathy for any of the characters. Their behavior borders on antics.
As with most Sarob Press titles, this quickly went OP. Copies can still be found at more or less reasonable prices from the reputable dealers.
Excellent book, this.

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Bukowski, Charles - The Captain Is Out To Lunch And The Sailors Have Taken Over The Ship

Publisher John Martin persuaded Bukowski, very late in his career, to keep a journal.
This came out posthumously.
Lot of comments about the racetrack, his neighborhood, ailments.
Some repetition, and there would be long lapses between entries (can’t tell if that was Bukowski or the editor).
One gets the feeling the writer knew his time was winding down, and he seemed to find less enjoyment in everything. Not that he was ever the beacon of merriment. As always, his observations are merciless, and skewer the facades we hide behind.
A quick read - no Chinaski - may prove better for hard fans.
Fabulous drawings by sympathetic soul, Robert Crumb.

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Insole, Colin - The Rhododendron Boy

Childhood remembered.
For many of our adult years, our early days seem buried, if not forgotten.
In old age, those ghosts often return unbidden.
For the blissful, the shroud of nostalgia deceives with lollipops and laughter.
Others recall with startling clarity, ugly behavior, suffocation, and the brittle veneer of happiness.
In this, our narrator is in his 60s, perhaps older, revisiting events – an event – when his course took the errant path.
This is a terrible story of building unease, as misremembered characters saunter and stumble in a young girl’s rambling sing song.
Almost from the onset, there are shadows. Off in the corners, out of focus, their shape ungrasped.
And yet, like all horrors, more may be exposed by the end. Because you want to look.
They will crawl down your throat and disgorge their secrets.
Even on a first read, this is powerful and disturbing.
The book itself is a gorgeous piece of art. Deceptive, however, a siren who beckons into a bleak world.
The fragrance of Helen Vaughan lingers in this.

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Brewer, Gil - A Taste For Sin

Jim works at a liquor store. To make ends meet, he boosts cases now and then, hoping his boss doesn’t notice.
Enter customer Felice. Nothing but firm curves under a black shirt, hitched high. White blouse, mostly unbuttoned, beckons with more moist delights.
Felice and Jim begin to yield to the electric charge between them, even though Jim knows she’s poison.
She’s 17, she’s reckless, she has a temper, she has a husband.
Yeah, that husband thing. Still, he works at the bank, he works nights, he has keys.
Jim is another of Brewer’s male losers. Guys transfixed stupid by hot snatch.
Oh, Jim comes up with a plan! Details and timetables so nothing - nothing - can go wrong.
The book hurtles at a frenetic pace, matching the Jim and Felice‘s activities every time they rip each others clothes off, which is often.
For tales of low rent lust and insane capers, Brewer is my go-to favorite.

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Ghahwagi, Karim - The Liminal Void

Three souls wear witness to, and record, high crimes and atrocities.
While some crimes may be against the state, and others are vendettas or rivalries, the majority seem to have been inflicted by the authority. The Regime.
The tone is Kafka and Orwell, the domain utterly totalitarian.
How is the narrator even permitted to engage in the archiving of knowledge dangerous to the state?
Therein hangs the novella, as the trio journey from one secure location to one remote.
While broken into a handful of chapters, I still found this a churn to navigate.
The prose was … no, the syntax, the word arrangement and sentence sequence was what I found murky to read and interpret.
On reflection, I decided this must be by design, as other works I have read by Ghahwagi were easier.
If deliberate, I wondered how thin is the border between stylistic flourish and mannerisms.
Sammy Hagar fans, take note: I did not count, but the word “crimson” must be used forty times or more.
Should someone suggest leitmotif, I will shrug and agree.
I was not so much disappointed as puzzled by my reactions to this.
Other Ghahwagi works I have enjoyed greatly.

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Cave, Hugh - The Mountains Of Madness

Old school horror by the last pulp master.
Cave was 93 when this came out, his final novel, and it felt like a throwback to the past.
Dan leases a coffee plantation in Haiti and stumbles into voodoo.
A female protagonist arrives, researching an ancestor and she gets the voodoo, as well.
Much was predictable, and the writing style reflected another era.
“What was Dan doing here?” or “Again and again, how did he get from New York to St Joseph?”
Cave does a nice job of pointing clues in different directions, and keeping the reader involved.
Short at 150 pages, but about right for a pulp novel back in the 40s.
Nice finish to a long, long career.

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Dilke, Lady - The Outcast Spirit And Others

Long ago, a lady leaned over lofty balcony and beheld a company of knights.
Their upraised lances resembled a forest of ivory, and at the center was the most beautiful prince.
Behold the world of Lady Dilke, stories set in a romanticized Medieval era.
Nothing is fair in the kingdoms, however. Curses, dire prophesy and ill fortune are the lot of all.
Lady Dilke did not favor happily ever afters.
I particularly enjoyed the two longer tales, “The Hangman’s Daughter” and “The Triumph Of The Cross.”
In the former, a young noble matures with no estate, wealth or honor. Unknowingly, he forms a relationship with the hangman’s daughter, and all the ill luck that entails.
In the latter, a sorceress unthreads a royal couple, leading a kingdom to war.
Should you be in the mood for the morose fables, then these are for you.

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Keene, Day - League Of The Grateful Dead

Collection of hard-boiled short stories written for 1940s era pulps.
Sharp paced plots, smart mouthed guys, dealing in hot lead and a quick uppercut.
Most were private eye cases, back when the job was glamorous and paid real dough.
A lot of fun, including some great titles such as “Dead: As In Mackerel.”
Beach read when you don’t want to plow through 700 pages of teenagers realizing they are turning into their parents and will live another 60 years, or enduring another memoir of some fossil griping about how painful their childhood was. Oops, was that the grown up teenager?
League Of The Grateful Dead was cheap entertainment, not enlightenment.

Day Keene had been popular in the 30s, as well, but under his own, very Germanic name.
Once WWII commenced, he shifted to a pseudonym and never went back to his original.
In an interview, Jerry Garcia once said the band had gotten their name from a forgotten magazine story.

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Various (Editors: Murphy, Damian and Ghetu, Dan) - Wound Of Wounds: An Ovation To Emil Cioran

A collection of riches here, whether you are a follower of Mr. Cioran or an indifferent skeptic.
Snapshots include Thompson’s account of an encounter between Cioran and God (the Almighty wearing the skin of J S Bach) which brews cheerful cynicism with laugh out loud humor.
Mr. Isis exhibits the zoo of the extinguished and the malcontents, observed by an audience of the listless and the bored.
Rhys Hughes offers a suicide. An elaborate device of giddying complexity, and not without a fistful of chance. Rube Goldberg, shooting craps with the Reaper, would chuckle at this.
Wood’s “Dead Engrained Skin” left me reeling. Perplexed, baffled, I felt as if I were trapped in a stalled elevator with an overwrought madman philosopher. Gems of insight wash past in a cascade of words. To mangle the author, a tale best read, then “eschewed,” with the bitterest coffee.
The undead philosopher, one Mr. Cioran, debates meaning and existence in “The Funeral Cry.” He also acts as ferryman between the bigoted small town and the cruel metropolitan underbelly.
“The Infinite Error” catches a grand evacuation, poised before the selfsame ‘infinite error.’ Everything - nothing. Exuberant release, infernal blockage.
Charles Schneider mocks the writer. Frustration, indecision, doubt. He omits the joy during those rare times when words array in splendor. Then again, oh, how fleeting such joy is.

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Oliver, Reggie - Sea Of Blood

Packed sampler containing many of Mr. Oliver’s best works, recommended primarily to North Americans* curious about him.
This is weird fiction at its best. Tales unpleasant and unexpected balanced with many that are steeped in black humor. Quite a few more circle around the theatrical sphere. Yarns of touring actors, rotten houses, hangers on.
Readers of M.R. James will be on familiar ground and will enjoy.

  • This generous, 400 page collection is readily available stateside, and more affordable that the lovely Tartarus editions. For those outside of the states, U S Postal rates are appalling.

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Started a “book club” with a couple fellows and my dad. Re-reading the original “Dragonlance” trilogy that me and my chums read in high school in the 90s (first time for my dad). Still a damn fine book.

TAFKA TheBoost

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The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Far too long-winded, written in a difficult-to-parse old dialect, with only the barest attempt at a plot. Marion’s part consists of a single reference in passing across all four hundred pages.

On the plus side, it apparently does a good job of including and stringing together the disparate legends of the character.

Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? - oojason
Episode 9 Rewrite THE SHATTERED SWORD (Complete!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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Prokudin-Gorskii, S.M. - Photographs For The Tsar

An excellent reference I consult whenever reading about pre-Revolutionary Russia.
Prokudin-Gorskii traveled Russia in a specially fitted Pullman coach, photographing the populace and wonders of the land.
Nicholas II approved this and was genuinely interested, though funding for the project ran out in 1917.
Prokudin-Gorskii was a pioneer in color photography (very expensive), and the book is full of images from 1906-1917.
That world, and the people in it, the villages, the buildings, the very landscape, vanished into the Great War, the Revolution, the Civil War, the Red Terror.
Luckily, his photos are easily found online.

Bonus!
Yes, you could Google around for images, but I have added a couple below:

Pinkhus Karlinskii, 1909

Greek tea gatherers, Kurdistan

Schoolboys with Rabbi, Sammarkand

Peasant women in the Ukraine

More? Larger? Go here – https://mashable.com/2014/09/30/russian-revolution-in-color/

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Lloyd, Rebecca - Mercy

The first clutch of stories are not what I would define as uncanny or strange, but rather, to paraphrase Mr. Bukowski, tales of ordinary madness. In this book, however, not so ordinary.
“Mercy” is narrated by an obsessive soul, nurturing a shrine of love, who explains his routine with detailed rationale.
The broken couple gradually circle around each other, drawn by habit and need, in “Salsa.” A friend, Janet, acts as onlooker, though she seems in the corner, leashed with her own restraints.
The builder of kites works quietly, while his eyes evaluate youthful trespassers in “The Meat Freezer.”
70 odd pages in, and new neighbors work to restore a neglected house, and repair their relationship. “What Comes” is the first tale of real unease or disturbance. on several levels, that seeps like a stain that cannot be washed clean.
In “The Bath” young John tries to help the reclusive couple. The pair are long married, though close mouthed, to the annoyance of the inquisitive. Eventually, John makes it past the front door and gazes on secrets, eccentricities, and a wet afternoon mystery.
“Gone To The Deep” is lengthy, and a satisfying release from the half glimpses that have come before.
A mounting tale of a sea spray triangle. The haunted island fisherman, torn between his passionate mainland lass and the bewitching song of the waves.
All make worthwhile reading, yet this collection never caught fire for me.

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Currently reading Duel of the Fates. It’s so much better than TRoS in some ways and yet so much worse in others. It’s kinda frustrating. And both of them needlessly add to the story of Rey’s parents, taking away from what was established in TLJ (obviously TRoS’s meddling is much worse, but still). It’s honestly kinda hilarious how, had this film been made, every film in the trilogy would’ve given Rey a different love interest. I really don’t get why they went for Rey x Poe. It comes outta nowhere (aside from that one scene Trevorrow requested be put in TLJ, and the romance was just as weird there), and is so much less interesting than Reylo, which was established. I’m also one of the twelve people on the planet who wanted Palpatine back, so there’s that. But I can’t help but wished they’d kept things like the inclusion of Coruscant and Mortis. It’s clear the people writing DotF had a love and understanding of SW as a whole whereas Abrams and Terrio just saw it as five movies.

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Anakin Starkiller said:

Currently reading Duel of the Fates. It’s so much better than TRoS in some ways and yet so much worse in others. It’s kinda frustrating. And both of them needlessly add to the story of Rey’s parents, taking away from what was established in TLJ (obviously TRoS’s meddling is much worse, but still). It’s honestly kinda hilarious how, had this film been made, every film in the trilogy would’ve given Rey a different love interest. I really don’t get why they went for Rey x Poe. It comes outta nowhere (aside from that one scene Trevorrow requested be put in TLJ, and the romance was just as weird there), and is so much less interesting than Reylo, which was established. I’m also one of the twelve people on the planet who wanted Palpatine back, so there’s that. But I can’t help but wished they’d kept things like the inclusion of Coruscant and Mortis. It’s clear the people writing DotF had a love and understanding of SW as a whole whereas Abrams and Terrio just saw it as five movies.

I’m 2nd of 12 who thought Palps could have been good. And the weird thing is that his inclusion actually worked to make previous trilogies better from a lore perspective, which is almost unheard of with the ST. Too bad that he was crap in this one though.

And yeah, Coruscant should have been in Episode IX no matter what, there’s really no excuse. I’m definitely taking more elements from DOTF than from TROS for my rewrite, which goes to show how many more details it got right.

Neither TROS or DOTF really give Rey a decent character arc in keeping with the previous two films though, which is really what sinks both attempts.

Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change? - oojason
Episode 9 Rewrite THE SHATTERED SWORD (Complete!)
The Force Awakens Restructured (V3 Released!) and The Starlight Project (WORKPRINT RELEASED!)

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I am reading this:

I specialize in records, CDs, and pretty much anything thats got do with star wars soundtracks. If you have any old records you willing to give up DM me!

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Various (Editor: Beech, Mark) - A Miscellany Of Death And Folly

Tales of the Reaper, or those reaped, and meditations on the other side of Life.
“The Bone-Cage Blues” catches the newest arrival in Skull Town, who literally tumbles out of the sky. Nor does she belong, though rectifying that, well, there’s the rub.
Scenes of death, grotesque and hidden, are glimpsed in rare stereoscopes. Watt’s “Székely’s Last Plate” is a warning to would-be observers. Just how much do you want to see?
A trio of essays act as indexes, glossaries, or entries. One lists omens and superstitions (eg: black birds, cracked mirrors) and other things to avoid, to keep the sharp scythe at bay. Another offers brief snapshots of one of Death’s nemeses, and the activities she performs to protect her neighbors from their final breath. A third essay delves into tawdry commerce. Not so much the high cost of dying, but rather the expense of mourning.
The day was cloudless, warm. The ambitious, though shallow, man had taken a shortcut, and then, fatigued, stretched out for a midday nap. Perhaps one should not take a shortcut through a cemetery. Perhaps one ought not sleep on a grave. For there may be consequences. In Enciso’s, “A Monument,” there are indeed consequences.

Throughout, the old poem by Frye, which, sadly, I have heard far too many times, echoed.
“… Do not stand at my grave and cry;
“I am not there, I did not die.”

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I’m reading a play by some guy on Discord. It’s really good and I’ve told him I’d like to make a movie out of it. He says it needs rewrites first.

RUKUSBUILD3 said:

I am reading this:

Ah, S.E. Hinton. High School English teachers’ favorite.

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It always amuses me knowing that Hinton was a teenage girl when she wrote the Outsiders. It’s 100% just her fanfiction about boys.

Loyal, caring, bromance in a group of angsty greaser prettyboys. Bad boys with hearts of gold. It’s great.