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MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
I recently discovered The Murderbot Diaries novellas. They are hilarious. Imagine if Douglas Adams' Marvin the Paranoid Android were designed to be a ruthless killing machine but prefers to chill and watch TV reruns instead. Each novella will take you a couple hours or so to read. Highly recommended, particularly the first two books. There is also a full-length novel that came out this year, I haven't gotten to that yet.

That sounds awesome.
 

Onhell

Infinite Dreamer
I think the trilogy is very good, but I tend to prefer the first book - I also like the Swedish mini-series/films (bear in mind, most big productions in the Nordic are made as both a mini-series and a theatrical release at the same time - always watch the mini-series over the "films" if you have the chance).

Haven't yet read the continuation by David Lagercrantz, but I have the first one on the shelf - got it hardback for less than £1 in damaged shelf-worn condition.
I have mixed feelings about people continuing brands posthumously. On one hand, the Jason Bourne books have been incredibly successful, but on the other there's the Michael Crichton novels. Even Pirate Latitudes, which was supposedly found completed, feels.... off. Haven't bothered by the other three posthumously released works. After Prey, State of Fear and Next sucked ass and he was still alive so.... no thanks.
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen's Jomsviking.
In Bulgarian, maybe one day it will be available in English as well.
 

Meliegree

After reconsideration - I actually care
I always read more than one books, this time its biography of burger King owner, Philip K. Dick 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' and Frank Schatzing 'the swarm' - both books are great SF, the swarm suprised me the most. I was expecting Pulp Horror based on description but its actually quite deep SF book.
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen's Jomsviking.
In Bulgarian, maybe one day it will be available in English as well.
Finished, plus Jomsviking. Vinland. Translation of third book hopefully to be published this year.
Brian Aldiss, Cryptozoic! currently, mixed feelings.
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
Stanisław Lem, Observation on the Spot
Recommended, especially if there's ever an English translation (most of the puns should be translatable).
German (Lokaltermin) and Spanish (Regreso a Entia) translations exist, according to Wiki.
 

JudasMyGuide

A Moravian soul
Apart from studying for the final exams...

...currently finishing the main Malazan series (The Crippled God) and - being the fool I am - just started The Wheel of Time. However the latter is probably going to be much more to my liking that the former, I'd say.
 

Cornfed Hick

Ancient Mariner
currently finishing the main Malazan series
just started The Wheel of Time
Glutton for punishment! I haven't yet tackled either one. I have heard Malazan is a little too opaque, and I have heard that WoT has a 3-4 book "slog" in the middle that everyone dislikes, so that is unappealing. I have little desire to start a long series. That said, I realized I'm already 8 novels into what would effectively be a 9-book (or more) series: the First Law World (a trilogy, three "standalone" sequels, then another trilogy, all in chronological order), which, by the way, is fantastic. Joe Abercrombie is my favorite working author right now.
 

JudasMyGuide

A Moravian soul
Glutton for punishment!

Yeah, it's a Catholic thing...

I have heard Malazan is a little too opaque

It is - I actually wrote something of a review when I was still finishing ... book nine, I guess? My sentiments haven't changed all that much - I already had an idea then how it's going to end:

That's a tough question. [Answer to Maturin's "Is it insanely, life-changing, good? Because I need something like that to read."]

I'd say that obviously for many people it is. That is, let me put it this way:

- the series is insanely complex. You get these three main arcs on different continents in different times and you see how they build up to a climax... that's not including all those "parallel" books by Esslemont ("Novels from Malazan Empire") that actually concern with finishing some of the tangential storylines on yet another continents.

- however, it's rather unique, not only among fantasy but literature in general, because it's deliberately done in an obfuscating way - despite having read all that pages I still don't know what the main conflict is or how the main history goes or how precisely the fucking magic works. Very often you'll meet someone under a pseudonym (or given no name at all) and you only later find out who that was - sometimes in that same book, 500 pages later, sometimes it's 4 books later. The series was written specifically with re-read in mind, that is, it was supposed to feel entirely differend the second time around. However that also means that very often Erikson (and Esslemont as well) are being vague just for vagueness' sake. When it works, it's a great meta- detective story with you as the detective, both of the "fair" and the "unfair" kind (some stuff you are able to put together and make a correct guess, some not), when it doesn't it feels like they've been simply pulling your leg.
Still, most of the books have a "regional/particular climax" of sorts, when at least the storylines within that particular book converge and culminate and sometimes it's totally worth it, even if you're not sure how it matters in the grand scheme of things. I'd say that those certain parts of (especially) books 2, 3 and 6 are among the best in the fantasy genre (and possibly literature in general) you could possibly find.

- that's connected with... hey, I know that just this week (I think) Erikson went on this long rant on Facebook how everyone respects him as a plotter, as a world-builder, as a narrative powerhouse, but everyone keeps saying for 20 years he's bad at characterization and that he isn't and being a small whiny kid about how if you don't like his characterization the problem is with you and not him, because how it would be otherwise possible that when he kills a character, everyone weeps and so on...
Bullshit. He is bad at characterization. Or at least, he's very inconsistent at it. He can spend two pages describing a person you've never seen before and you get totally in their head and in their life... only to kill them moments later, yet with many long-term characters he's not able to describe them much and you know nothing about them.
He's definitely not that kind of king of characterization, making you able to feel like you've known someone with just two sentences (like you might be used to with King, Martin, Austen, Rowling, whoever). I've been trying to play as Quick Ben in D'n'D and I found out that what I know about him sums up as: - overpowered, - dark-skinned, - knows more than he lets on, - (one specific spoilerific thing I'm not gonna say)... but I don't know whether he's choleric or melancholic, whether he prefers beer or wine, whether he ever had sex... you get my drift.
You get people like Laseen, Tavore and Faradan Sort, all three are strong women with high ranking in the military and you couldn't possibly tell them apart. All are cold, distant, keep things for themselves (even when that doesn't work out really well) and one is probably a lesbian. That's it.
In the eight book the climax is supposed to be the sacrificial death of one of the important characters... everyone was completely shattered by that, I personally felt absolutely nothing, because he gave me no reason to care about that particular character + it's easy to make your death sacrificial to get emotions from people, especially if your character lacks characterization, but has these outer perks that would make him a favourite in a popular poll, probably...
(On the other hand, considering the insane scope and the meta-detective aspect it's possibly necessary to do it in this way, but it certainly takes from my reading pleasure and almost automatically disqualifies him as my "favourite" writer, let alone the best)

- again, connected with the previous point - yes, he is an excellent writer and he can really use words well. He has a certain poetic charm that shines even through the glaringly bad translation we got in Czech (this is one series I refused to read in English, because it's confusing as heck even when you read it in your native tongue) and he's rather good at philosophizing - he can express himself very well and his observations are sometimes quite pointed and while the comparisons to Dostoevsky are insane, I get where they come from...
...but then again, all his characters do that and all do it in the same way. Almost all are these burnt out, philosophizing humanists that have these similarly cynical worldviews and it doesn't make much difference if the particular person is 7 or 7000 years old. Kinda annoying. At least with Fyodor those similarly histrionic, philosophizing characters represented different ideas, not the same one in shades of gray.

- which is connected with... well, this is a personal peeve, but he's trying really hard to make observations and concepts about human nature and especially religion. And though he's not himself an atheist (seems to me more like a "theological anti-nihilist", at least from his personal comments on the Malazan Re-read) he sometimes seems to not understand religion at all. Some of his stuff is just... really wrong and looking like someone who tries to fight what he doesn't understand (still better than Dawkins, who's an idiot, but that's a given). Let alone the fact my personal suspicion is that he modelled his main villain (who is possibly not going to turn out to be the villain after all, but still) at least in parts after his crooked view of the Judeo/Christian God.
But it's also in the other things as well, to put it shortly: He's not as clever as he thinks he is, but he is still well worth reading, I'd say. Even I take him as a... noble enemy, of sorts. Some of the stuff is genuinely clever and original, I believe his utimate goal is a "good" - although, alas, a humanist good at best - and he can sometimes put it in a very delicate way.
Don't fall in love with him, take it with a grain of salt and you're in for a great ride, I'd say. He's really trying to be a writer-philosopher and you don't get many of these in modern literature (at least not good ones, not counting Coelho and the like) let alone fantasy. At least not in this amount and succeeding at least half as well as he does.

- however, yes, while most people give up throughout, so they can't even say they understood what it was really about ... the people who are going to finish this gargantuan task are usually those who became real fans. And I mean reeeeeeal fans - I've made the mistake of being a member of certain groups on Facebook (and his personal page as well) and it almost put me off the books altogether, because the adoration and "obsessive devotion" is really annoying.
I'm probably one of the few people who got this far and intend to finish it without becoming like these uncritical fans and it is getting a bit tiresome.

- after the halfway point at the latest it sometimes gets really bloated - most of the books could have been easily shortened without losing anything, but I guess that's everyone problem nowadays ... God knows King has it as well.


So yes, many people (see the penultimate point) are going to tell you it's the best fantasy/book/whatever they ever read and I even kinda get it - I certainly understand how someone after either finishing it or getting as far as I did is going to never look at fantasy the same way again...
In that regard it's pretty unique and worth reading, not sure about the mass/quality ratio, but it's not that bad.

But it still has some obvious and glaring flaws and it's definitely not for everyone - its very nature makes it so.

Unfortunately, you can't pick it and decide, because you are not starting to get any kind of feel until the second/third book or so and even by then I'd say it's more about your original decision to read it or not to continue.

On the other hand, despite me being a huuuuuge long-time fan of King, I never read Dark Tower (though I have all the books, really). So I'm not able to compare it at all.

Also, I have (actually very) similar issues with Herbert's Dune, which is even more universally beloved. And also has some glaring, unbearable tendencies and mistakes that have actually put me off him for good. Yup, I'd say that Erikson is definitely the better writer - if you wanted to read one of these, read Malaz. Many will disagree.

Just stressing that because my opinions are in the minority out there, it would seem, so you might love it and think it's the best thing ever. A lot of people do.

TL;DR (and after actually finishing the series) - I think it's a very worthy effort and it just might be your thing (it sure is to many people), but I personally get irritated by both the obvious flaws it has and the way the fandom completely overlooks them and makes it the best thing ever written and if you criticize, well then you must have misunderstood it!

Unfortunately, reading it is a bit of a chore (also because of the structure of each book) and I'd say I might be one of the few people to finish it and not get madly in love with it. There's a lot of unfinished stuff (and from what I understood, even reading the last three Esslemont's book won't help with that), some characters just disappear, a lot of dead ends and the attempts at philosophizing get grating after a while (and S. E. is actually one of the better authors in that particular regard).

Oh, and ass-pulls. Lashings and lashings of ass-pulls (wait, that came out wrong).

But I admit that some parts indeed are among the best stuff ever written.

I have heard that WoT has a 3-4 book "slog" in the middle that everyone dislikes, so that is unappealing

Actually, there's three main reasons I picked up WoT and two are kinda-connected with Malazan.

1.) I wanted something possibly more "classic" and naive (or at least closer to Tolkien, thanks to whom I actually read fantasy), something more 90's, which especially the Darrell K. Sweet covers

1612161779262.png

express nicely. Also, from what I understood, the approach of the authors is completely different and now, having finished two thirds of The Eye of the World - I wholeheartedly agree. It's definitely much more for me. The POV are much more stable, you get the feeling the world is not just huge, but also deep (for all of Erikson's scope, it still felt a bit too much like a construct) - Jordan's approach reminds me more of Stephen King, for all his strong and weak points. I already know this will be a very different ride. I feel like home there.


2.) the fandom is very different also! The very fact you mention about "the slog" is the first thing you come across - because the fans keep making fun of the series in certain aspects, including its repetitiveness ("tugging braids", "crossing arms under her breasts" etc.), yet they still love and endorse it. I like this approach more, unlike the "we're so smart because we read the perfection" of Erikson's fans (I had to actually leave all Facebook groups and Malazan reddits in order to not give up on the series and its fans completely). I realize this might be a very weird reason, but


3.) there's also the fact I discovered Daniel Greene and some other booktubers (and started following Sanderson's podcast) and the combination of these videos is what made it for me:

Pros:

Cons:

The even-handed, untrivial view:

The Chick:

and the Sanderson:

+ thanks to that first video I saw that picture of Moiraine:

1612162461813.png

and I didn't know who it was, but I just had to find out. Because, like Daniel said, "I like blue"?

Especially the last one, the Sanderson one. I wanted to be a part of that narrative. I wanted a bit of that. Plus, I want to open Sanderson already and beginning with this seems logical. What influenced him and where he actually got famous.

But I trusted Daniel, because we share a lot of opinions towards a lot of stuff, though we still differ - I had to see what his favourite series is like.

And yeah, the pacing is slow and I guess it might be an acquired taste - but which fantasy series isn't? I've read and heard that people actually complain about friggin' Tolkien of all people...


That said, I realized I'm already 8 novels into what would effectively be a 9-book (or more) series: the First Law World (a trilogy, three "standalone" sequels, then another trilogy, all in chronological order), which, by the way, is fantastic. Joe Abercrombie is my favorite working author right now.

Joe is totally on my "to do" list, along with Scott Lynch, BTW. After I finish WoT, I guess I'll do a Tolkien re-read (haven't done one in a long time), then I'll do Sanderson and then (unless Rothfuss gets off his ass and finishes Kingkiller) I intend to tackle Mr. Abercrombie.

My bachelor's thesis and my ADHD might fuck things up, though.
 

GhostofCain

Ancient Mariner
9781408853986.jpg
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
1614121624462.png
I'm pretty sure I had never read the Sleeping Beauty version where
the Prince's mother is an ogre who demands eating her two grandchildren and daughter-in-law
1614121993803.png
 

jazz from hell

Ancient Mariner
Grimm’s Tales are grim. The shortest one, called The Stubborn Child:

“Once upon a time there was a stubborn child who never did what his mother told him to do. The dear Lord, therefore, did not look kindly upon him, and let him become sick. No doctor could cure him and in a short time he lay on his deathbed. After he was lowered into his grave and covered over with earth, one of his little arms suddenly emerged and reached up into the air. They pushed it back down and covered the earth with fresh earth, but that did not help. The little arm kept popping out. So the child’s mother had to go to the grave herself and smack the little arm with a switch. After she had done that, the arm withdrew, and then, for the first time, the child had peace beneath the earth.”
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
Grimm’s Tales are grim. The shortest one, called The Stubborn Child:

“Once upon a time there was a stubborn child who never did what his mother told him to do. The dear Lord, therefore, did not look kindly upon him, and let him become sick. No doctor could cure him and in a short time he lay on his deathbed. After he was lowered into his grave and covered over with earth, one of his little arms suddenly emerged and reached up into the air. They pushed it back down and covered the earth with fresh earth, but that did not help. The little arm kept popping out. So the child’s mother had to go to the grave herself and smack the little arm with a switch. After she had done that, the arm withdrew, and then, for the first time, the child had peace beneath the earth.”
Yup, it's included in the book above as well. But that version of Sleeping Beauty is Perault's; Grimm's, ironically, lacks the grim part.
 

JudasMyGuide

A Moravian soul
I'll put it here as well (from the 1kk replies thread)

[Some talk about how some nice people believe the crazy Scientology]

Funnily enough, I am actually just now reading a book that (sorta) talks about this.

(and don't worry, its author is a liberal, atheistic professional evolutional psychologist, so it's not like I'm trying to push "my ideology" or something :D )

It talks about how even intelligent people tend to fall into conspiracy theories, why people can't really be convinced by arguments to change their minds, how people who strive to be moral disagree completely on almost everything, confirmation bias, how intuition is almost always first and reasoning only second (even in people who think they're very rational) and why we're in the rut we currently are. Politically. Socially. You know, everything.

It's Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion and I can't recommend it enough. It's not "my" book - I disagree with the author on some things (he is a bit of a reductionist and a bit of a determinist and his attempt at this empirically proven knowledge regarding human beings is... a bit misguided in my book), but I'd say it is an absolutely important and essential read, if only to get confronted with it and be able to agree/disagree with it.

(okay, I'm about halfway through, so maybe I'm recommending it hastily, but still - if you meant your question seriously, I'd give it a try)

Besides that, still reading Wheel of Time and Martin C. Putna's Czech Catholic Literature 1918-1945 (it's the second part out of three, after 1848-1918, and a thorough run-through of everything from the Czech Catholic millieu, a result of 12 years of study - each volume came out in a different decade)
 

jazz from hell

Ancient Mariner
Okay, I’ll reply here. Thanks for the recommendation.
I’ve read a bit about Dianetics. It seems to falsely claim to be scientific in many parts, but its main points are self help techniques taken from eastern philosophies. No crazy stuff. One review stated that the book contained some interesting thoughts that could potentially be really helpful, if there was no church around it... The book also suggests the “auditing” thing though, which seems to be heavy-handed, and obviously can be very dangerous to someone’s psyche. As a side note, it seems to me that “auditing” is the reason for the existence of the church, and if the claims are true, that Scientology uses the data they get from people like that against them, if they want to leave the church, that’s just sick.
 

Perun

Dominus et deus
Staff member
As a side note, it seems to me that “auditing” is the reason for the existence of the church, and if the claims are true, that Scientology uses the data they get from people like that against them, if they want to leave the church, that’s just sick

Auditing is the tool for recruiting members for the organisation, the organisation exists for its own sake. Dianetics is its intellectual bait. I don't want to say it's an ideology, because it seems that at least in the beginning, Hubbard really did try to introduce a new psychological method and really did believe he was revolutionising the field.

They need members to make money. The reason why it's a church is so it won't have to pay taxes in the US. That's why they need to keep members quiet about what's happening, because they believe any statement about their practice could be used against their claim that they are a religion.

Tax evasion is part of the very fabric of Scientology. It's why Hubbard founded SeaOrg, so he could be active in international waters and not have to pay taxes anywhere.
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
Re-read Z. Yuryev's Быстрые сны [Rapid dreams? REM dreams? No English translation as far as I know] last night for the umpteenth time, in Bulgarian because the Russian version is on my PC and I wanted a real book before going to sleep; shiny happy pages (despite
the two murders)
, some shrewd observations, and some cool catchphrases, especially if you've lived in the Eastern bloc.
Turns out author passed away last year, short of his 95th birthday. Thank you Mr. Yuryev, you'll be remembered.
 
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