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Based on the fact that this topic has over 1.5 million views, everyone's answer should be "What have you been reading recently?"

The topic is dead! Long live the topic!   —Alorael, who will throw in The Ringmaster's Daughter, a relatively normal and therefore still quite unusual novel by Jostein Gaarder. Unlike Sophie's Wor

It was in one of the introductions for a book. Part of the problem was he had a few children and was trying to save for their future educations.   The figure I've seen is that a basic paper back

I read Angels and Demons not long ago too. If you look past the ridiculous parts, I just liked the way the plot fit together. Though It would have (just like the Da Vinci Code) been much more enjoyable had it been set in a fictional setting, because then most of the ridiculousness would have been irrelevant.

 

Though the book was a perfectly amusing, though far from good, read, I REGRET paying 7 euros to sit through the two hours of rubbish that is the film! It cut out the only fun bits in the plot, and Max Kohler wasn't even mentioned. And all the names were changed. And the villain was made Irish, a fact which deeply insulted my patriotism.

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Yes we could - the directors habits of always changing the books are terrible.

 

But whatever.

 

Can anyone recommend me some good fantasy/SF? I'm finishing all the Orson Scott Card books, and finally finding some fantasy which isn't just the type of book you have with breakfast for the fun of it, which is actually a very good book, has made me want more.

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I'd recommend the short stories by Jack Vance — the collection entitled Green Magic is amazing. Just get the premise of the title story: black and white magic are standard stuff, but purple magic was discovered only a couple of decades ago. The discoverer's nephew is going through his uncle's original notebooks and finds cryptic references to an unpublished discovery greater still: green magic. Which the nephew then sets out to discover for himself, with remarkable consequences. "Green Magic" is so profound, I'd put it on any theology syllabus (not that it has anything to do with God, but just for expanding your imagination of what might lie beyond humanity). Most of the other stories in the volume are just as good.

 

And since it's fresh in my mind from another thread, A Fire Upon the Deep is a classic, and still perhaps the head-and-shoulders best of the new space opera. And for older style space opera with remarkably serious characters and themes, it's hard to beat the Vorkosigan series.

 

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If you're looking for more Jack Vance, his Dying Earth series, which is really two collections of linked short stories and two novels that aren't quite as good, is a classic and the founder of the dying Earth subgenre.

 

—Alorael, who is currently deciding whether to wait for the Lyonesse omnibus coming in 2010 or whether he should just buy the books separately now. His used bookstore visits haven't found him any better options.

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I'm just finishing The Golem's Eye, book two of the Bartimaeus trilogy. It's my second time reading the series. I'm looking forward to reading Ptolemy's Gate; I remember it as my favorite in the series.

 

I also heard that The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma is out now. The second I finish Ptolemy's Gate I'm going to go get it.

 

For some reason I get the feeling that the next book in every series I like is coming out right now. Seriously. Because, as I mentioned, there's the new Mysterious Benedict Society, there's a sequel to the Hunger Games, a new Septimus Heap book, and to top it all: the Faceless Ones, the next installment in the Skulduggery Pleasant series. And they all cost $18, give or take.

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Just finished Mike Brotherton's Star Dragon. One of those space operas that gets a little overwhelming in how many words it makes up in the first twenty pages to describe the new technology, but thankfully it settles into a nice groove quickly. Not the best stuff, but solid. And a nifty ending that combines extensive body-modification, radiation poisoning, and exobiological awesomeness.

 

(His other book, Spider Star, was rather a lot more fun, even if the ending was too simple.)

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Originally Posted By: Sun and Shadow and Rain
If you're looking for more Jack Vance, his Dying Earth series, which is really two collections of linked short stories and two novels that aren't quite as good, is a classic and the founder of the dying Earth subgenre.

Are you saying that the novels are not as good as the short story collections? I actually feel the opposite - The Dying Earth was (for the most part) a slow, dull read for me, and I couldn't even get into Rhialto the Marvelous. What do you see in them?

Anyway, I've been reading Gene Wolfe's Strange Travelers. 'Useful Phrases' (and one phrase in particular) had a strangely strong impact on me, so I can't imagine the remaining few stories will be nearly as compelling.
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Originally Posted By: Duck in a Throwing Hat
I'm just finishing The Golem's Eye, book two of the Bartimaeus trilogy. It's my second time reading the series. I'm looking forward to reading Ptolemy's Gate; I remember it as my favorite in the series.


I have those books, and I greatly enjoyed them a while back. I will most definitely reread them when I get a chance.
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If I can, I fourth it. One of the best series I've read in years, though I most definitely found the end disappointing, not quite going with the tone of the story. Not that I'm saying it's a bad ending, far from that, just not at all what I expected.

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Yea, I was quite surprised when I found out most of the historical figures really existed.

 

However, a question comes to find for all those who've read the series: in the first book, a computer is mentioned in Underwood's office. Are there any other mentions of technology, possibly giving an idea of about what date the story is set? (I know, it's a fictional parallel world, but still)

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I would say it was mordern day but certain parts of techonolgy has been removed due to the lack of a reason for needing them. They do mention planes as well. As for the american revolution, alternate timelines means that the dates can be a bit funny. Makes for an interesting read if you ask me.

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I liked the ending. It was not at all what I expected but at least you get an idea of how the charcters will live their lives after the events they have been through. You also get an idea of the possible future of the world. I think the shortness of how quickly it was over was a bit of a dissapointment but the quality of the end was good.

 

I hope I didn't give anything away in saying that. frown

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Some of them don't live their lives after the events.

 

I was about ten pages from the end and I still couldn't guess what the ending would be. I don't think I've ever been so surprised about a book wink I reread the last chapter immediately just to be sure.

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I was returning from a Holiday when I was reading the final chapter. Stuck in a van withought anything else to do I re-read the final chapter about 6 times. Its just that good! You're right, the ending is impossible to guess, even when you are at the end.

 

Argh! Now I want to go back and read that series again. I really need to find a new book. smile

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I mentioned a bit ago that I picked up Plato's Republic. I would just like to say that when people say Socrates uses sarcasm and humor, it's absolutely true. I find myself chuckling at Socrates comments all the time. Does anyone know if the dialogues are based off of Socrates' experience, a real conversation, or if Plato made them up?

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Just picked up The Gathering Storm from the library. Two things that I should note:

 

1) It feels great to be the first person to check out a book and get that new-book smell.

 

2) It shouldn't be boring, because Sanderson has a lot of plot holes to clear up.

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I just finished Anathem, the recent massive tome by Neal Stephenson. Well, kind of finished; I started skimming near the end.

 

The book starts off being The Glass Bead Game meets A Canticle for Leibowitz. There's this para-monastic society of generally non-religious academics, who have held together for several thousand years through many cycles of social development and collapse in the outside world. There's a rather high count of made-up words, but this is more tolerable than I expected, because most of them mean what they kind of sound as though they mean.

 

Unfortunately for me, the final phase of the plot turns on quantum mechanics. Or rather, on one of the garbled popular versions of quantum mechanics that science fiction writers like — a contradictory mixture of the Many Worlds and Copenhagen interpretations, wrapped up in some Platonic metaphysics that never really gets analyzed far enough. It was too hard for me to take seriously, so I started flipping ahead just to see how it all turned out.

 

Stephenson manages to address some real and deep questions, and doing that in a popular science fiction novel is quite an achievement. Actually making any progress on them would be far above and beyond the call of duty for a sci fi writer. But what Stephenson has done instead is rather as though Hesse had made the plot of The Glass Bead Game turn on some explicit Glass Bead Game mechanics (which Hesse wisely never provided), and these turned out to be a bad copy of Go. Actual Go experts would be pretty turned off. And in a similar way, for the small set of readers like me who have been grappling with quantum ontology professionally for years, it is clear that Anathem itself is not worthy of serious discussion by any of its own characters. That's an unusual way for a book to fail, and it's probably unfair to really count it as a failure; but it's still a disappointment.

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Just finished L'Élégance du Herisson by Muriel Barbery and Tuf Voyaging by George R.R. Martin (Does he really have two middle names or did he just copy Tolkien?)

The latter was a quite amusing collection of short stories, all describing the adventures of Haviland Tuf, perfectly normal stellar merchant with a rigid sense of righteousness and logic and an adoration for cats. That it, until after a lucky encounter with some mercenaries, he becomes the sole owner of the Ark, a thirty meter relic of ancient technology long forgotten, which contains an enormous cell bank of many species of animal and plant and virus, and assorted cloning facilities, thus giving Tuf the most powerful ship currently in the known universe. He travels from planet to planet, solving ecological troubles, and sometimes creating them. Though my summary is not excellent, I recommend the book.

 

The first is highly recommended to anyone who can read French. About two highly intelligent people, one a 13 year old girl, the other 50 year old concierge woman for her apartment block, who both hide their intelligence from the outer world. Fed up with her seemingly pointless life, the girl decides to commit suicide in exactly a year's time.

A brilliant criticism of the high class life, of human society and a great insight into a tortured, pessimistic, yet highly intelligent mind of a genius 13 year old. Though it sometimes turns quite unrealistic.

 

 

EDIT: Found out it's been translated into English, The Elegance of the Hedgehog , though I can't judge the quality of the translation without reading it.

 

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Finally finished reading the Malloreon pentalogy (in honor of David Edding's death a couple of months ago). Very good, but decided not to dive into "Polgara the Sorceress" and "Belgarath the Sorcerer" quite yet.

 

Have decided to re-read the Dune book (which I read more than 10 years ago) and finally read the other 3 books written by Frank Herbert (disregarding "Chapterhouse Dune" for now, as I read that opened up more plot points that he was not able to complete before he died).

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Eddings is great fun wink Though The Belgariad was his best work, closely followed by the Malloreon. Afterwards, they get slightly less fun, though.

 

I think you should go on and read Polgara and Belgarath. Great fun, but a little less than Garion's adventures.

 

Though I think I may be slightly biased; I literally grew up on Eddings (first read PAwn of Prophecy when I was 4 or 5! and reread both series regularly). I was disappointed Eddings' death wasn't more widely known - i only found out in early August. TIME didn't even have an obituary for him, a fact which actually has put me off that magazine.

 

Just feel like toasting Eddings right now actually, and hope his unfinished work will shortly be published by Reed College.

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So after the brief discussion of the Dying Earth books a little while back, I realized that it had been many years since I read them. So long, in fact, that I think I was too young to really absorb a lot of the story. I remembered some key moments (like Turjan bursting in on Xandive in the early going), but on the whole I think I was just too young to really enjoy it. So I'm re-reading them, since I have the big collection (The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga, and Rhialto the Marvellous).

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GRRM does indeed have two middle names: George Raymond Richard Martin.

 

Chapterhouse Dune is the last book written by Frank Herbert, not the rather abominable continuations produced by his son.

 

—Alorael, who has now reread The Illearth War. He didn't read the preceding book and he has no intention of rereading the sequels until Stephen R. Donaldson (is R as a middle initial necessary for all writers?) finishes the third Covenant series. He's never read an arbitrary middle book before and he doesn't think he really can recommend it.

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Originally Posted By: Alo R. Ael
now reread The Illearth War. He didn't read the preceding book and he has no intention of rereading the sequels until Stephen R. Donaldson ... finishes the third Covenant series.The first Covenant trilogy wasn't bad.


The first Covenant trilogy was okay. A little wonky in places, a little hokey in others. But if nothing else it pulled off a manifestly evil Dark Lord, as opposed to the largely ex officio evil of Tolkien's Sauron, and in my opinion this made up for the books' other moral absurdities.

But the second trilogy wasn't just silly, it was also bad. I've had no inclination to check out the third installment. Should I?
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Originally Posted By: Alorael
Chapterhouse Dune is the last book written by Frank Herbert, not the rather abominable continuations produced by his son.

Exactly, I read on wikipedia that Chapterhouse Dune produced some plot points which had to be resolved with two more books, written by his son and Kevin J. Anderson.

For that reason, I am not including in the Dune books I am going to be reading.
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Dune was the only good book in the series. Obligatory Star Wars analougy:

 

Dune was A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back

 

The next two were Return of the Jedi

 

The next remaining ones written by Frank were episodes I, II, and III

 

The rest (written by Brian Herbert) were internet stories written by obsessive fanboys.

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