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Emmisary of Immanence
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It's quite a short book. I had no idea there was a movie, but they'd have had to add a fair amount of extra stuff, I expect, to fill it out to feature length.

 

It's YA fiction. I liked it myself, though I'm way past Y, but I was reading it with the mindset that I was probably going to read it to my kids.

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Right Now I'm reading "The Golden Ratio: The Story of Phi. The World's Most Astonishing Number." by Mario Livio. Before that I read "The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything" by K. C. Cole, "Beyond UFOs: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Its Astonishing Implications For Our Future." by Jeffrey Bennett, and "Extraterrestrial Civilizations" by Isaac Asimov. [both of the alien books are actually thinly veiled cosmology, with an emphasis on the potential forms intelligent life could take :p]

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Perdido Street Station again. Recently enjoyed the poetry of Skeptic Traveler.

 

—Alorael, who still thinks China Miéville is a better writer and a worse storyteller than his reputation suggests. And still a fantastic world-builder, which is exactly what his reputation suggests.

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I guess I'd agree, at least somewhat. I think he's a bad storyteller, judging at least from PSS: too many arbitrary elements, that didn't even seem compelling in themselves.

 

I fault Stephen King for the same constant traffic of dei ex machinae, to the point where the machinae seem like subway cars; but King at least has a knack for making each entirely new story he starts a gripping new story, even when he's starting it in Chapter 7 of Volume 5. With Miéville there were too many awkward, ugly things being introduced out of nowhere, things that for me needed justification, and weren't getting it.

 

But I'll grant that his prose is fine, and his world distinctive. Somehow I've come to put a higher premium on story, though, so I really just don't like Miéville.

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Originally Posted By: inni
Brave new world
not what I was expecting

What exactly were you expecting? tongue

I have been reading bits from my textbooks, just to be prepared for when class starts tomorrow. That reminds me, the "What Have You Been Learning Recently" thread seems to have been erased.
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Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Originally Posted By: inni
Brave new world
not what I was expecting

What exactly were you expecting? tongue


Well, honestly, if you go into BNW expecting 1984, you will be disappointed. Huxley's book isn't dystopian, it's really utopian. Everybody has everything they need or want and they are all happy. Of course, the dystopian bit comes from the fact that it's a shallow and meaningless existence, which is quite scary when you think about some of the tings going on today.

1984 is still the better book, though, if only because you can't miss the message that Orwell's trying to send, whereas BNW is much, much subtler.
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Originally Posted By: Dantius
if only because you can't miss the massage that Orwell's trying to send

Orwell is trying to give me a massage from the grave? tongue

Also, Brave New World could be viewed as utopian if you're a man, but women in the book are treated as sex objects. They're clothes are easily removed and they're encouraged to be promiscuous.
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Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Also, Brave New World could be viewed as utopian if you're a man, but women in the book are treated as sex objects. They're clothes are easily removed and they're encouraged to be promiscuous.


Well, it was written as a time when women were viewed as objects, so perhaps Huxley just thought that that trend would continue towards them becoming sex objects, as opposed to it devolve towards women having more independence.
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It was written in the early thirties, and the women's rights movement had been growing by then. Women received the right to vote at 21 in the UK just a few years earlier. I agree that the social norm was still very sexist, but I would have thought that Huxley, as one of the great thinkers of his time, would have had a more liberal view in regards to women's rights.

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I don't know Aldous Huxley, but in general authors should not be assumed to endorse the values of the fictional cultures they invent.

 

And, for what it's worth, the title is from The Tempest, spoken by the magician's sheltered daughter, upon meeting a bunch of comparatively normal human beings: "Oh brave new world, that has such people in it!" The line that follows it is from her father: " 'Tis new to thee." You never know how much thought an author has really put into their title, but this at least suggests an ironical perspective.

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Originally Posted By: The Abyss
Subtlety is bad now? I prefer not to be hit in the face repeatedly with a book's Anvilicious Aesop

 

Not when it's so subtle people miss the point. Sometimes when you bury your moral deep in layers of subtext, people walk away with a totally different conclusion then the one you intended.

 

Also, I hate you fro linking to TVtropes. Grrr.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
1984 is still the better book, though, if only because you can't miss the message that Orwell's trying to send, whereas BNW is much, much subtler.


hahaha yes dantius subtlety makes a book bad

i can see why you're an engineer

Originally Posted By: Excalibur
Also, Brave New World could be viewed as utopian if you're a man, but women in the book are treated as sex objects. They're clothes are easily removed and they're encouraged to be promiscuous.


not exactly seein' the problem here
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Originally Posted By: Upright and Thrifty
Not always.

—Alorael, who will accept sufficiently good writing and world-building in lieu of sufficient novel.


If I wanted world building instead of a story, I'd read a DnD sourcebook instead of a novel. And "good writing" is a term so subjective as to be meaningless, cf. the discussion about One Hundred Years of Solitude earlier in this thread. So yeah, writing is first and foremost about the story.
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World building is an incredibly important part of story writing...

 

But its a complex topic; in the end, everything is about immersion... a well written story should immerse you in the events, and the world of its creation... So fleshing out your world properly is tantamount... on the same token if the same care isn't taken with the character's personalities, motivations, and actions... the world that they live in tends to dissolve into a meaningless background of noise.

 

Focus too much on one, and the other dissolves [unless your story is occurring in a very familiar setting to the reader, in which case its not that your world hasn't been flesh out, but that it already is, inside the communal unconscious of the readers.]

 

I think the key is relevancy... its not good to heap tons of meaningless "Grand Historia" on your reader unnecessarily if its got nothing to do with the events that the plot focuses on... on the converse... an intricately woven plot often depends on the history of the world it occurs within.

 

In my writing, I tend to have a philosophy of "The Protracted Revelation" the reader experiences the history of the world through the subject's consciousness... helps to keep it from becoming extraneous.

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Originally Posted By: Dantius
And "good writing" is a term so subjective as to be meaningless
There is a big difference between something that is subjective (i.e., you have to take perspective into account when looking at what it means) and something that is meaningless (i.e., it doesn't mean anything regardless of perspective).
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I'm not sure good writing is even so subjective. There are ranges of opinion, but among a pretty large population, they're not that broad. The standard deviation will be considerably narrower than the full possible range of means.

 

Good writing is complex; there are a lot of very different ways for writing to be good. There are a number of basic rules that tend to improve writing if followed, but it is probably possible to break any of them and still write excellently, if you really know what you're doing. The stock example of this is Ernest Hemingway, who wrote run-on sentences, and overused a small set of adjectives, and when he did it, it was nice.

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A few comments make it sound as if Mieville's books have no plot at all. Really not true. However the plot is much shallower than the surrounding context (to the point of being almost incidental). In a way its a bit like Exile1, or Morrowind, you can explore a lot of the world before the plot makes itself apparent...

 

Edit: back on topic, what I am reading now is a book called In Our Time, (Melvyn Bragg), based on the radio series of the same name.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Originally Posted By: Handyman
I recently read "Father-Daughter Incest" by Judith Lewis Herman. It puts the nuclear family in an interesting perspective.


What would that interesting perspective be, exactly? Sounds interesting.

I've been reading Sovereignty and Its Discontents, by William Rasch. It's quite intensive philosophical discourse on the nature of the political realm.
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I recently read The Red Wolf Conspiracy, by Robert Redick. I was attracted by the premise of a monstrously enormous sailing ship, but it was disappointing.

 

There are way too many things going on in this book. The vertigo built up steadily throughout the book, what with the pixies and the mermaids and the kidnapping bug-people and the disguised undead sorceror and the wicked stepmother and the spymaster assassin and the insane captain and the ninja-trained heiress and the sailor boy with a magical curse, but when the talking animals started becoming important, too, I pretty much disengaged and only finished the book on momentum. A rollicking book might carry all that off, but this one is dead sober.

 

The author seems to have forgotten that he was writing about a giant ship, and instead thought he was loading one, because though the book is packed with far too many items, the giant ship itself is a badly underwritten role, with virtually no relevance. Too bad.

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The basic idea is that father-daughter incest is a relatively extreme manifestation of male power in the family. The dominance of the father is often hidden by the father, and society collaborates with this. The worst damage to the daughter is incurred by a shattered bond with the mother, and the father forces the family to compete for his affection. When more aware mothers or daughters try to escape, they are blocked by a society and economy that will not give them material/legal aid. Still, most incestuous fathers are reacting to their own abuse, and therefore legally-mandated group therapy has the potential to repair much of their behavior.

 

Anyway, I don't know how well I will be able to appreciate Rasch.

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