Monday, 27 July 2015

One Last (July) Book Club post!

One more discussion post for the month of July!

Ok, fellow book nerds! One more post to discuss The Martian. (You can see Mark up there is getting a little worn out, too.)

The consensus seems to be that the novel was pretty technologically accurate, with minor limits, and that that generally was the selling point - the 'I'm going to have to science my way out of this' aspect was one that people liked a lot. The NASA scenes seemed to have been necessary, but kinda distracting, and people seemed to find the decision (taken by the rest of the crew) to rescue Mark kinda-anticlimactic. Agree? Disagree? Discuss!

But, all in all, I think people liked it, and had a good time. Hopefully people enjoyed Book Club thus far! Be thinking also of a book you might like to August -later this week I thought we can try and hold a vote to see what people are into. (I don't think anyone else will want to try William T. Vollman's 1300+ page novel about the Nez Perce War, but, I can hope. =P)
[SFW] [SE Book Club] [+4 Good]
[by lrdcthulu@9:36pmGMT]


mechavolt said @ 12:57am GMT on 28th Jul [Score:2 Good]
Can we read Ancillary Justice next? I just got it and well...I'm a selfish bastard and it would be easier for me if that was our next book club book.
midden said @ 5:20am GMT on 28th Jul
I read that a year or so ago and really enjoyed it. After a few chapters, I totally stopped thinking about the whole gender issue. I'll be reading Ancillary Sword as soon as I work my way to the top of my public library waiting list.
lrdcthulu said @ 2:42pm GMT on 29th Jul
Me too!
ooo[......7 said @ 12:27am GMT on 10th Aug [Score:2 laz0r]
lilmookieesquire said @ 9:59pm GMT on 27th Jul [Score:1 Interesting]
I've been reading Ready Player One and am quite liking it.

I liked the Martian but actually once he got back in contact with NASA, I thought it was highly anti climatic. However that did open up a whole new dimension that I appreciated.

I thought the protein bar thing was hilarious, but for the life of me I don't see why NASA would have gone with protein bars and I don't see them making that kind of mistake.

Also I thought the crew going back kind of ruined the book in a way because (1) he's not going to kill the whole crew (2) it's kind of selfish of the astronauts to risk the entire ship to save one dude- like that's kind of not their call. But I can't see NASA letting that dude die once he had media coverage. NASA should have sent the ship back. It's obvious PR. If the ship explodes they can say they were underfunded etc. You don't let a famous guy die by starving to death on Mars.

What I would have liked to have seen is a total shit heel willing to let him die for NASA funding and then the leadership at NASA going "that's not what we do". That would have been cool.

But I digress- the reason I liked the book wasn't the drama but the science and logic. I thought a lot of it clicked in the right way even if there is no way in hell they'd send up unprocessed potatoes (but if you don't let that go, really, there's no story to write)

Also- do you guys think it would have been a more interesting book if he died? Like at the end? Due to equipment malfunction or something? It might be more real but probably not as satisfying.

Personally I'd have preferred if he had never contacted NASA (maybe the rovers weren't working anymore) and when Aries 4 arrived they'd be like "holy shit he's alive!!!" And that's how the book ends.
HoZay said @ 12:02am GMT on 28th Jul [Score:2]
IRL they wouldn't go back for him. It's dangerous work, there are casualties. Also, the Chinese wouldn't have been that easy.
I thought the long-ass drive over uncharted terrain went a lot better than it should have. I expected a lot more trouble with random surface features, especially towing a trailer.
But it was a good explanation of why you have launch windows, have to hit progress marks and you can't just launch a rocket any old time. And rushing the work tends to = surprise screw-ups.
midden said[1] @ 5:26am GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Underrated]
Yes, that's the one thing that bugged me. There are too many other lives at stake, not to mention all the scientific data everyone has risked their lives to collect. You do not go back for one person. This is not the marines, this is space exploration. The obligation is to humanity and scientific progress, and everyone who straps themselves to the tip of a giant, controlled explosive device has to be ready to give up their lives for the greater good.

edit: I still really enjoyed the book.
lrdcthulu said[1] @ 10:19pm GMT on 27th Jul [Score:1 Good]
Yeah, and maybe the whole thing is them watching his vlog to find out how long he survived and how he died, etc.
b said @ 12:41am GMT on 28th Jul [Score:-1 Unworthy Self Link]
filtered comment under your threshold
lilmookieesquire said @ 3:30am GMT on 28th Jul
I don't suppose you'd like to suggest something you'd like to read then you miserable fucknut *heart*
b said @ 5:02pm GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Good]
Ok, well, first of all, my miserable fucknut status not withstanding, Ready Player One is not objectively "good". The main character is a huge Mary Sue, Ernest Cline writes like he's referencing the internet of 10 years ago and having a huge slice of the population of 2044 be obsessed with the 80s would be about as realistic as all of todays teens and millenials being obsessed with the 50s. Not only do people not work like that, it's just a thinly veiled way for the author to reference a bunch of crap he really likes. It's constant call outs simply to get a reaction from the readers. Not only that, but it's clearly YA lit, even if it's not blatant about it. Look, I'll admit it's kind of a fun romp, but it's shallow as fuck.

For suggestions, I'd like something a little meatier. I could read Starship Troopers again, as its' one I haven't read in a couple decades. I'd be happy to go in on the Expanse trilogy by James SA Corey. (though I've read the first)

I've also read both Ancillary Justice and Sword, but I could participate in discussions.

A Darker Shade of Magic - VE Schwab
City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett
The Peripheral - William Gibson (I think his only novel I have yet to read)
Echopraxia - Peter Watts (or anything in Watts' universe)
Annihilation - Jeff Vandermeer (part of a trilogy as well)

Just a few choices on my radar.
lilmookieesquire said @ 6:17pm GMT on 28th Jul
Ya, ready player one is basically a fluffy Harry Potter styled platform for 1980s nostalgia replacing technology for magic and I'm okay with that. Nice to see some recommendations. Please accept this delightful +1 good mod with my compliments.
lilmookieesquire said @ 7:42pm GMT on 28th Jul
That said, in a lot of science fi character development is secondary to world creation and illustrating concepts. It's not like starship troopers, or the Martian had excellent characters. They were there to illustrate the world largely through their eyes.

I'd assume that you aren't the target audience for 80s nostalgia. I grew up playing joust and adventure and grew up with a lot of this stuff and I like the concept of breathing new life into old technology using new technology.

That said the character reminds me exactly of Harry Potter, but set in a future dystopia and the cyber witld is his hogworts. But unlike Harry Potter I enjoy the sci fi aspect as something we can reach towards as opposed to the impossibility of magic.

And I think it's poetic that it's 1980s nostalgia because that is when a lt of these concepts came to fruition. Neuromancer. Bladerunner. Star Wars. Etc.

Like I'm not sure how you come out bagging the characters in this book but are talking about wanting to read starship troopers (which I like, but the characters are even worse and literally basically only serve to illustrate different career paths in that society.)
b said @ 7:51pm GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Underrated]
Well, I am, in fact, the target audience for 80s nostalgia. I just turned 40 this year, so ages five to fifteen were hugely influential for me. I had nothing against the 80s stuff in RP1, per se, I just thought it was basically there for the author to say "look at all these cool 80s things I like!" and to give a warm glow to people who were reading the book and reminiscing. Felt more like a cheap ploy than something that was necessary to tell a good story.

Also, I'm not saying that the characters in Starship Troopers are good. Yes, I've read it, but it was a looooong time ago and I remember little about it. You are probably right and the characters are cardboard cut outs, but I'd guess that they need to be little more than that in Starship.
lilmookieesquire said @ 8:07pm GMT on 28th Jul
Well to be fair starship troopers was more impressive in that it looked much farther ahead. This book is just kind of taking present day technologies and issues a couple steps forward and the events in this book do revolve around the character- and it doesn't have the luxury or switching between characters that starship troopers did. But I'd argue ready player one is no worse than Harry Potter even if the audience age group is a little older and can't hide behind the "children's book" moniker.
lilmookieesquire said[1] @ 8:15pm GMT on 28th Jul
And I think I would have preferred it if the main character in ready player one wasn't such a huge fanboy of 80s culture (I find it hard to believe 80s culture would ever have that kind of universal sway it didn't even have in the 80s) Like if he was thoroughly modern and hated the 80s but wanted to solve things to help make the real world better. That would have made him a rebel/counter-culture-cool and would have provided a nice contrast- but would have require a lot more dystopian world creation.
lilmookieesquire said @ 7:34am GMT on 3rd Aug [Score:-1]
filtered comment under your threshold
lilmookieesquire said[2] @ 3:38am GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Informative]
Btw, recently, I asked my friends for some suggested reading, this is what they came up with:

It's not all sci-fi, but I thought book recommendations are always nice, and it should hopefully get some discussion rolling.

The comfort of things -Daniel Miller,
The Lifecycle of Software Objects - Ted Chiang (the basis of the movie "Her")
We Can Remember It for You Wholesale - Philip K. Dick,
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Red Dragon - Thomas Harris

Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story
Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley Dumpster with a badly burned...

Murakami's Underground

all of Bill Bryson's stuff.

Monster Hunters International book series. Island 731 followed by Project Nemesis.
(I thought this book was dogshit - lilmookie)

Years of Rice and Salt, by Kim Stanley Robinson.
Also his Mars trilogy is good, all about terraforming.

Charlie Charleston The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko, the sequel is The Broken Universe.
Replay by Ken Grimmwood.

Incognito by David Eagleman

(For good trash) Harry Bosch series by Michael Connolly.

The culture series

Steven Pinker 'The Better Angels of our Nature'
Michael Shermer 'The Moral Arc'

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart


The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett

You by Caroline Kepnes

The Nights Dawn trilogy.

Al Dente Canada, The Sportswriter, and Independence Day, all by Richard Ford.
Money by Martin Amis.

A People's History of the United States

Anything by John Dalmas.4
midden said @ 5:46am GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Good]
I'm working my way through the Culture books right now. I've read most of them previously over the years, but never with the intention of absorbing them as a whole. I'm reading Player of Games at the moment. I finished Use of Weapons a few weeks ago. I like how he addresses the issue of "the meaning of life" in a post-scarcity society, as well as what it means to be human when you have given up high level control to machines that are incomprehensibly smarter than you are. And you even have the option of becoming such a being yourself, if you really want to.

It's been years, but I think Matter had the most profound impact on me. I won't give away any spoilers, but the end left me dumbstruck for at least an hour or two. It still makes my brain and heart spin. I was in a funk for several days when Banks died.
b said @ 6:38pm GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Good]
If I may comment on a few of these...?

PKD will always get a vote from me. Even though I've read almost everything he's written, I've never had a chance to discuss his work with anyone.

I'd also be down for Chandler, as 30s/40/s noir is something I really enjoy. And if we wanted to go that route, Fredric Brown is an unheralded master of the genre.

I read Red Dragon years ago. Don't remember much about it, but did enjoy it. I would read it again.

Murakami's Underground is not really worth a read. I mean, it's Murakami, yes, but it's not actually him writing. It's mostly just interviews and factual recounting. I found it so disappointing that I never even finished it.

Can't stand Billy Bryson. I'm out on anything by him.

Almost all the Culture novels are good, but as a long time Banks fan, the last two or three, maybe four, are not very good at all. I'd be happy to re-read anything pre-2010.

Hesitant about Years of Rice and Salt, but I'd give it a go.

Bridge of Birds is excellent, but I don't know if there's much to discuss there. It's just such a lovely fairy tale and mystery.

Heard nothing but good things about the Goldfinch. Don't know that it's in my wheelhouse, but again, I could give it a shot.

The rest I have no knowledge of or strong feelings on.
lilmookieesquire said @ 7:44pm GMT on 28th Jul
Thank you for chiming in on these! I strained my calf and was looking into some reading and my friends suggested these but they've been highly hit and miss.
pleaides said @ 3:37am GMT on 28th Jul
On balance I thought it was great fun, a good choice to open the book club with.
pleaides said @ 10:09am GMT on 28th Jul
How about some Heinlein? I'm just revisiting Starship Troopers. It's a great read, and considering we've just done a new book perhaps something more foundational might be good? It still reads pretty well considering it was published in '59. Just a thought.
steele said @ 12:51pm GMT on 28th Jul

My potatoes!!!
lilmookieesquire said @ 7:45pm GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Funsightful]
Everything was fine until the Starch Aliens attacked.
steele said @ 7:55pm GMT on 28th Jul [Score:1 Funsightful]
Or the vacuum nation.
rhesusmonkey said @ 6:26am GMT on 29th Jul
Anyone else read House of Leaves?
lilmookieesquire said @ 7:24am GMT on 30th Jul
After watching the trailer for The Martian, I had pictures the HAB being much much smaller actually.

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