I've been reading ....

Reading is both a professional-development activity and a pleasure. What have you been reading lately? Tell us about it....


  • edited February 2016
    I've been plucking at some Lovecraft stories and at a few online scholarly articles about his work, all in prep for a thing I'm working on.

    I recently burned for through almost all of Bendis's run on Guardians of the Galaxy (including the Black Vortex crossover, which saw a bunch of other cooks add their seasoning to the soup). 

    Last night I read the first issue of Cry Havoc, by Si Spurrier and Ryan Kelly from Image. It was aces.

    I need to read more books without pictures.
  • edited February 2016
    After reading The Martian, I figured it was time to get around to reading The Martian Named Smith... or as Heinlein later titled it: Stranger in a Strange Land. At the risk of branding myself a philistine... I didn't really enjoy it.

    SPOILERS ahoy!

    Part of the problem comes from the age of the book. There are bad projections and missed predictions that get in the way a little (holographic TV and flying cars, but no cell phones), but the pre-feminist society of the book is especially distracting, especially in a book that's trying to challenge taboos about sexuality and relationships.

    I enjoyed the early chapters, of Michael Smith learning to interact as a human, and the political machinations that (a little too conveniently) made him infinitely wealthy. But when it waded deep into religion, I lost a lot of my interest. The Fosterite church probably seemed scandalous at the time for its embrace of gambling and sex, but to me it just came across as much ado about nothing. And frankly, a critique of cults wrapped up in a story in which people really can perform miracles just by "grokking in fullness"... didn't really work for me.

    Michael is almost impossible to relate to as a character, because he's so alien. But the other characters aren't much to latch onto either, especially as they get more involved with Michael's new religion. It says something that the most relate-able character in the last half of the book is Jubal Harshaw, the über-genius polymath who manipulates the president of the world into being Michael's accountant, dictates best-selling books while eating breakfast, and occasionally practices medicine when he can be bothered to.

    It was worth reading – even the publisher's cut is a long book, but I finished it – but not as "classic" as I was hoping for.
  • Lord help me I'm stuck on the Anita Blake series right now. Late to the game but I'm really getting into it. After I'm done I will be settling into "Something Wicked this Way Comes" which I *need* to read...for research purposes.

  • Heinlein was a complex dude. Now pegged as very right wing, his politics evolved all through his career, from left to right and then on to places unknown. His later fiction, where he seems to decide that incest is permissible, is sometimes referred to as his 'seniles' but I don't think that's the right word for it.  

    Heinlein used to hang around with L Ron Hubbard and John Parsons, doing magic and rocket science and wife-swapping way before any of that was cool.

    Stranger I think was a very important book in its day, but it has not aged well.

    Jubal Harshaw is a Mary Sue stand-in for Heinlein himself, I believe.
  • Started working through a book on the history of the shipping container of all things. Mark Shainblum recommended it. The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson.

    Well, I'm supposedly a contributor to a weblog on urban infrastructure, so it seemed like a good choice.
  • For fiction, there's been The Martian, of course, as well as assorted Star Trek novels.
  • Jubal Harshaw is a Mary Sue stand-in for Heinlein himself, I believe.
    Yeah, I can believe that, since the only one of his professions that he seems to practice is "novelist". And I understand that he appears in a couple of RAH's other books too, which suggests the author had some special attachment to him.
  • Started working through a book on the history of the shipping container of all things.
    That sounds so dreadfully boring that it sounds interesting. I can certainly see how physically interchangeable boxes that can be transported worldwide by ship and rail could be significant to global trade.
  • I've heard of the shipping container book and it's on my list, too. 
  • You remember that ship that Han and Chewie sailed into The Force Awakens on? Same sort of design thinking in play there.
  • Adding to the list: The Art of Language Invention, by David J. Peterson. Who gave TV the spoken Dothraki, and the Marvel Cinema'Verse Shiväisith for Christopher Eccleston to utter.
  • edited February 2016
    Heinlein's views on sex seemed dated by the early 70s. I remember a college discussion back in 73/4 where the women in our sf group derided his sexism based on how poorly he wrote Podkayne of Mars (gollywobbles). I pointed out that he had quietly been putting women in "traditionally" male roles for years (engineer, space pilot) with out much fanfare, as though it were the most natural thing; and yes Podkayne was terrible, but he had never been a 13 year old girl and the fact that he had a tin ear for it didn't make him a bad guy. I only meant that he had written a bad character. Much the same with sex in general. For his time and the genre, Heinlein's joy in sexuality was something of a revelation, and a bit anticipatory of the much touted "sexual revolution" that followed. He felt a bit prescient at the time. Much the same with race. Farnham's Freehold is a cringe inducing major embarrassment; castrated white males and white women as brood-mares for black masters. Whoof! But Heinlein also slipped non white characters into major roles again with little fanfare. The led in The Cat Who Walked Through Walls is quietly revealed to be black only near the end of the book. And Juan Rico of Starship Troopers is Filipino, which you only really know when he casually mentions that his family speaks Tagalog at home. Jason is correct that Heinlein was complex, and by no means always right.

  • edited February 2016
    The very-short story "And Weep, Like Alexander" by Neil Gaiman (from his Trigger Warning collection) deserves a special award for Best Snarky Facebook Post of 2015.  It's about a guy who retroactively "uninvents" things that (it turns out) humanity really would've been better off without (e.g. jetpacks, flying cars). The ending is priceless.
  • Do audiobooks count as reading? In the last year...

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (never read them before, enjoyed the beginning)
    The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (wonderful)
    Year Zero: A novel (didn't care as much for it)
    The Martain (great)
    Ready Player One (great)
    The Secret History of Star Wars (good in some parts, tedious in others)

    In paper form...
    Worked my way through some YA novels with my son, and the YA graphic novels Primates and Awkward. Also read March, book 1. 

    My non-fiction reading lately has mostly been baseball related. Need to expand that more. 

    Haven't been reading as many monthly comics lately...just some Star Wars books which I have enjoyed. 
  • I've been reading (and watching) a lot about cyber security and cyber terrorism. Fascinating stuff. Gonna use this for a story, for sure. 
  • One book I'm hoping to re-read soon. Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.
  • Man. I've never been able to get all the way through "Guns, Germs and Steel" or "Collapse". I find the topics really interesting, though. I need a cliffs notes!
  • I wish that Chapters/Indigo hadn't discontinued the Coles Notes line of titles after they bought the Coles chain of book stores.
  • And Coles as a brand of bookstore has been effectively euthanised in Canada by IndigoSpirit. :-(
  • Meanwhile, I finally got to borrow a copy of Origins of Totalitarianism from the local library and I want to give that book a proper read-through.
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