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Thread: What Book Are You Reading?

  1. #1006
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    Got my paws on a copy of "Russian Roulette; The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump" by Michael Isikoff and David Corn as well as a copy of Khuns The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (my old copy having got lost in moves since I left University) so I suppose that is maternity reading.

  2. #1007
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Gave up on Orson Scott Card's Xenocide. He really laid it on too thick with the religious stuff. Spent weeks trying to get through what seemed like dozens of pages on Catholics and aliens, would read a single line and put the bookmark back in. The Catholics+aliens chapters would alternate with Chinese colony world with Taoist Buddhist Confucian spies, and it was simply too much. He himself is a Mormon, and his beliefs influence his sci-fi. Religious sci-fi fans would probably find themselves big fans of his works.

    If someone were to created an abridged version, in the manner of the Jefferson Bible, maybe I'd take it up once more again.

    Switched it up and now reading Poul Anderson's Starship.

    Will donate Xenocide to one of those little boxes some people keep next to their mailbox, where one can leave and take books for free.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 10 May 18, at 16:36.
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  3. #1008
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    Co-worker gave me Sowell's Black Rednecks, White Liberals. I am leaving this job next week, so I'm trying to finish it up as quickly as possible. Should be done tonight.

    You can pretty much call it blaming black culture for the status of blacks in the US today, specifically because American black culture is heavily influenced by Southern culture, which is in turn just English Borderer Culture back when the Scottish-English border was a lawless wasteland. I'd say it's a little light on its research: some sections sound more like an internet post, where a single datapoint is over-extrapolated and alternative explanations are not researched, and key explanations are missed (like, HOW did black culture become like Southern culture, and does this vary, because "Southern Culture" was not homogeneous in the Antebellum South...also, why has Southern culture changed and black culture has not?)

    There's some interesting stuff in there about the experience of Germans throughout the world, too.

    I consider it a decent read. I'd put it in the recommended column, but I'd be careful about who you hand this book to, lest you end up with a young conservative too confident in his world-view or a young liberal who simply hates you for recommending a hate-book.

    After this, I am finishing up War and Peace. I took Monday and Tuesday off for furnace/AC installation, and since I can't play my damn Xbox, I'll be reading instead.
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  4. #1009
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    Just finished Poul Anderson's Starship.

    Rather than being a novel, it was 5 mini-novels/short stories set in the same universe, at different places in different times.

    My favorite story in the book was Virgin Planet. The setting is a planet where a spaceship with an all-female crew crashed hundreds of years before the plot begins.

    The population of the all-female planet is comprised of clones of the original crew, have a caste/occupation system where clones all do the same thing regardless of the city-state they live in, and give birth to children who are clones of themselves via parthenogenesis.

    Then a man piloting a small spaceship on a journey of discovery happens upon the planet... and a war breaks out between the various city-states in an effort to capture him...

    All the other short stories in the book were also really good.

    Currently reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 14 Jun 18, at 17:23.
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  5. #1010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Currently reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
    An interesting read. A collection of Bradbury short stories set on Mars, which are then loosely tied together with interstitials. The stories cover the years from 2000 through 2026.

    The stories themselves were written in the 1940s and 50s, and early 21st century human society closely resembles the society of the time the stories were written in, except with rockets. Mars is a habitable world in the story, with thin air, lots of desert, canals, hot days, and cold nights. There is a native Martian race that features early on, a smallish people with a million-year old civilization that has long since peaked. The Martians are telepaths and are able to read minds, take on any appearance, and create illusions of anything that appear very much real.

    The Martians kill off the first explorers to land on the planet, but are themselves killed off by the chicken pox virus, except for perhaps a few dozen, and a land rush from Earth takes place, whereupon the people that settle Mars attempt to re-create a society much like 1940s/50s America, which itself has descended into totalitarianism and severe repression with many ideas having been banned, information only being disseminated upon approval from censors, with even works of fiction being banned as an "escape from reality".

    Currently reading Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke.
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  6. #1011
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Currently reading Imperial Earth by Arthur C. Clarke.
    The main character, Duncan Makenzie, is the "grandson" of the founder of the Titan colony, but in reality is a clone of his "father" who is in turn a clone of the "grandfather". As the elder Makenzie had damage to his DNA from a "stray photon", he can't father children without severe genetic defects, so the Makenzies have turned to cloning to continue their family lone.

    Together the Makenzies run the affairs of Titan, the economy (founded by the eldest Makenzie) of which is based on the export of hydrogen to the rest of the Solar System for use in interplanetary space travel. The reason being, it's the largest source of hydrogen on a low-gravity body, which makes it inexpensive to export compared to the unextractable hydrogen of the gas giants, and the costs associated with lifting hydrogen into space from Earth with its higher gravity.

    He goes to Earth during the quincentennial of American independence (2276), to both familiarize himself with Earth society and customs to be able to deal with them as the future administrator of the Titan colony, and have a clone of himself made to continue the family line. Unexpectedly, he finds himself in a mystery of sorts...

    This book isn't packed with a lot of action, but I found it a worthwhile read.

    Currently on the last 50 pages of Robert Heinlein's Friday.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 18 Jul 18, at 12:21.
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  7. #1012
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    Its summer so I am doing some light reading. I'm reading Homer Hickam's The Keeper's Son. Its a novel of a small Coast Guard patrol boat at the outbreak of World War 2 on a small NC Outer Banks Island. The crew is made up of local islanders with the vessels captain, a USCG ensign who is son of the lighthouse keeper. I know the area well as I have been vacationing there regularly. An interesting study in unpreparedness. Also the friction early in the war within the Coast Guard about whether their mission was combat or life saving. A very real friction giving the service was only 26 years old and had been formed by combining the US Revenue Cutter Service and US Life Boat Service, the Lighthouse Service was added in 1939. This friction first surfaced during the 1920s as the Revenue Cutter mission was paramount due Rum Wars during Prohibition.

    Also tells the story from the perspective of U Boat crews who are attacking during the start of The Happy Times.
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  8. #1013
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    just finished reading SM Stirling's latest novel:

    https://www.amazon.com/Black-Chamber.../dp/B076GP8XJX

    alternate history. Taft dies in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt wins a 3rd term instead of splitting the Republican Party.

    TR proceeds to clean house of the Republican Party Old Guard that in our timeline blocked him, and turns the Republican Party into the Progressive Republican Party (progressive having a different meaning and positions then). he then wins the Presidency by a massive landslide (would have happened if you look at the Republican + Bull Moose vote in 1912-- some 65-70% of the vote!).

    this essentially becomes a quiet political revolution with enormous ramifications. TR rams through domestic political reforms centralizing power (which he had advocated for earlier), takes the women's suffrage amendment and passes a FULL equal rights amendment (ironically proposed by his political enemies trying to embarass him). when the Mexican Revolution happens, he intervenes and turns Mexico into a protectorate, and uses that experience to massively expand the US Army and Navy. he begins a massive R&D effort...which Germany copies.

    WW1 kicks off in 1914 with Germany having considerably better weapons, and by late 1916 Germany has smashed Russia and is on the verge of doing the same on the Western Front. TR is not shy about getting ready to intervene with a far better prepared US military, and Germany activates a secret plan involving the newly discovered VX gas to forestall US intervention...

    ====

    per standard Stirling, exhaustively researched and an enormously fun read. it's a bit scary to see how close all the Great Powers were to technologies that would have made WW1 far, far worse.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  9. #1014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Currently on the last 50 pages of Robert Heinlein's Friday.
    Just finished this one up. Friday, the protagonist of the novel, is an "artificial person", a genetically engineered woman created from the genomes of several people, with enhanced strength, eyesight, reflexes, vision, intelligence, and other attributes. She works as a combat courier for a man known to her only as "Boss", and whatever she is ordered to deliver always gets to the intended recipient, no matter what she has to do to get it there, with whatever means necessary. While off-duty after having left her home in New Zealand, there's a string of assassinations of political leaders around the world on what becomes to be called "Red Thursday".

    She's uninvolved, but with martial law being declared across the world, she finds herself a target of suspicion and her arrest is sought, at a time when borders between countries have been closed, along with international communications having been cut. She flees the California Confederacy, then finds herself on a journey through the Texas Republic, Chicago Imperium, British Canada, and the Vegas Free State, to re-establish contact with "Boss", then the adventure eventually goes off-world....

    Highly recommended read.

    Next up: Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov.

    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    just finished reading SM Stirling's latest novel:

    https://www.amazon.com/Black-Chamber.../dp/B076GP8XJX

    alternate history. Taft dies in 1912, Teddy Roosevelt wins a 3rd term instead of splitting the Republican Party.
    I've been meaning to get into some more alternate history novels. My second favorite genre after science fiction. I've read quite a few articles about SM Stirling's novels, and I'd also like to read some Harry Turtledove when I get the chance.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 20 Jul 18, at 04:09.
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  10. #1015
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    I've been meaning to get into some more alternate history novels. My second favorite genre after science fiction. I've read quite a few articles about SM Stirling's novels, and I'd also like to read some Harry Turtledove when I get the chance.
    SM Stirling has really good world-building, while Turtledove likes many viewpoint characters.

    I'd read Harry Turtledove's older works, or standalone books. his more recent stuff has a distinct air of trying to pump out too many books at once. the "How Few Remain" alternative world after CSA victory is a lot of fun.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

  11. #1016
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    Read Guns of the South...it was okay.

    I guess being kind of an historian makes it hard for my willing suspension of disbelief. Gave everything since is a pass.

    I love space opera but hard for me to get into revisionist history.
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  12. #1017
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I started in the middle of the original Foundation trilogy. May have been a mistake, perhaps not, but I found the book for free anyways.

    A couple hundred years or so prior to the events that take place in the novel, a scientist named Hari Seldon developed the discipline of "psycho-history", in which sociological, economic, etc. trends can be accurately mathematically predicted. He foresaw the collapse of the Galactic Empire, whose capital is Trantor, a world-city of 40 billion people. After the fall of Empire, he predicted there would be 30,000 years of barbarism and anarchy, but Seldon came to the conclusion that this could be shortened to 1000 years with the creation of the Foundation, which would serve as a repository of knowledge and a base for humanity's best scientists.

    The Foundation has gone through several crises in the few centuries since the decline and collapse of the Galactic Empire, but has always emerged more powerful than before, perfectly in keeping with Seldon's principles of "psycho-history". Every time, the Foundation has defeated all enemies that have attacked it, until they found themselves confronted with a new enemy, a ruler of a nascent empire with some kind of mutation that gives him his power, a man known only as "The Mule".

    Having first taken over an asteroid base, he then started to take over entire planets, then entire sectors of space, until he moved on the Foundation itself...

    Next up: Time Enough for Love, by Robert Heinlein. Part of a series of book featuring Lazarus Long.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 01 Aug 18, at 17:23.
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  13. #1018
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    Lazarus Long Saga is excellent.
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  14. #1019
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I started in the middle of the original Foundation trilogy. May have been a mistake, perhaps not, but I found the book for free anyways.

    A couple hundred years or so prior to the events that take place in the novel, a scientist named Hari Seldon developed the discipline of "psycho-history", in which sociological, economic, etc. trends can be accurately mathematically predicted. He foresaw the collapse of the Galactic Empire, whose capital is Trantor, a world-city of 40 billion people. After the fall of Empire, he predicted there would be 30,000 years of barbarism and anarchy, but Seldon came to the conclusion that this could be shortened to 1000 years with the creation of the Foundation, which would serve as a repository of knowledge and a base for humanity's best scientists.

    The Foundation has gone through several crises in the few centuries since the decline and collapse of the Galactic Empire, but has always emerged more powerful than before, perfectly in keeping with Seldon's principles of "psycho-history. Every time, the Foundation has defeated all enemies that have attacked it, until they found themselves confronted with a new enemy, a mutant ruler of a nascent empire, known only as "The Mule".

    Having first taken over an asteroid base, he then started to take over entire planets, then entire sectors of space, until he moved on the Foundation itself...

    Next up: Time Enough for Love, by Robert Heinlein. Part of a series of book featuring Lazarus Long.
    Remember reading them in one go when I was about 9. My Brother left home and he had been into sci-fi so as the youngest I was able to read all my elder siblings books. Best sci-fi I read was the Childe Cycle (that was not finished) about the Dorsai. "Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than the sage among his books. For to you kingdoms and their armies are things mighty and enduring, but to him they are but toys of the moment, to be overturned with the flick of a finger."

    I am currently trying to read George Vernadsky's "Kievan Russia" (first published 1971) which honestly needs someone to write a better account of those times today but still at present remains the best researched chronicle of Kyvian Rus.
    Last edited by snapper; 01 Aug 18, at 16:30.

  15. #1020
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Next up: Time Enough for Love, by Robert Heinlein. Part of a series of book featuring Lazarus Long.
    I decided to set this book aside for the time being after about 100 pages due to its length, and instead read a Heinlein short story collection, The Green Hills of Earth. The stories in the collection were originally published between 1941 and 1949.

    Stories in the book include:
    • "Delilah and the Space Rigger" (1949; originally published in Blue Book)
    • "Space Jockey" (1947; originally published in The Saturday Evening Post)
    • "The Long Watch" (1949; originally published in The American Legion Magazine)
    • "Gentlemen, Be Seated!" (1948; originally published in Argosy Magazine)
    • "The Black Pits of Luna" (1948; originally published in The Saturday Evening Post)
    • "It's Great to Be Back!" (1947; originally published in The Saturday Evening Post)
    • "—We Also Walk Dogs" (1941; originally published in Astounding Science Fiction)
    • "Ordeal in Space" (1948; originally published in Town & Country)
    • "The Green Hills of Earth" (1947; originally published in The Saturday Evening Post)
    • "Logic of Empire" (1941; originally published in Astounding Science Fiction)

    Back in the 40s, before we knew more about the planets in the Solar System, science fiction writers imagined that the other planets and even moons of the outer planets had life and even civilizations of their own. Venus, for example, is portrayed in the book as being a world of jungles and swamps: hot, humid, with the threat of deadly diseases, and an intelligent yet technologically primitive amphibian race that lives in the swamps of the planet.

    Labor is badly needed for plantations where humans have colonized near the north and south poles of the planet, and due to economic conditions on Earth, those who are bad off willingly sign themselves into slavery/indentured servitude. Misery and brutal working conditions on Venus being a better alternative to starving to death on Earth. Even some who are well off find themselves Shanghaied to the planet, being impressed after having signed a contract while out drinking, and having spent their bonus the previous night, they have no way out of the contract. Basically like the practice of the King's Shilling.

    This is from the last story in the collection, the Logic of Empire.

    All of the other short stories were good too. I always find it fascinating to see how science fiction writers imagined the future of space travel and what they imagined the other planets could possibly be like, before we actually found out with the advent of an actual space travel program and exploration of the other planets in the Solar System.

    Next up, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. While I've seen the 2005 film starring Martin Freeman, this is my first time having read the book.
    Last edited by Ironduke; Today at 17:13.
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