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Bookclub

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Comments

  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
    Unrelated, but, do you guys have any opinion on what is the good entry point to fantasy of this whole overthought muh-majeek-systumz trend that's usually considered to have been founded by Brandon Sanderson? 'Cause I figure that if I don't make an effort to get to know it first-hand, I'm gonna quickly lose any right to complain.

    So far, I've read two thirds of the Powder Mage Trilogy, which was written by one of his proteges, and - frankly, it's good adventure writing, but not much more to me. I'd take it for a train ride, but hardly call it a classic. Worldbuilding is average, characters are rather generic and their motivations relatively bland, and even magic seems to be based on a single good concept liberally mixed with the desire to provide characters with a bunch of cool powers.

    I'm probably sounding harsh, but in truth I actually enjoyed this series, the good parts are just not relevant to the topic I wanted to bring up.

    Like, I am of that opinion that applying hard sci-fi mentality to fantasy means doing it wrong. Go too far that road and it becomes some sort of speculative sci-fi, like Flatland. I feel like nerds are ruining fantasy by applying their autistic ways, honed by years of D&D and MMORPGs, to something that is best approached differently.

    Now, now, guys, put down those pitchforks, that is merely my impression. My personal taste in fantasy seems to be at odds with a major trend within the genre. I think I can see the appeal of it, but, it just conflicts so much with my notion of what fantasy is. (Perhaps I'm as autistic as the nerds, but focus on different issues.)

    And now I feel like I defeated my own argument, perhaps for the better. Anyways, I am curious about sampling thys style of fantasy for myself and seeing on the basis of its best how much will it influence my concerns.

    Having said that, there's one more issue I want to raise.

    Like, in recent years there seems to have arisen a counter-trend to this one, which appears to be spearheaded by "ethnic" writers. I don't really follow global fantasy literature too closely, but there's been a bunch of not really WASPy names growing to prominence, and some of them openly challenged Sanderson's precepts. And, well, I'll put it this way: since they're not white, or not male, or not straight etc. etc., they have the edge in the debate. They can present their style as not just an aesthetic choice, but also one stemming from some sort of minority viewpoint. This seems to be in the air even though they don't bludgeon anyone with it. (I know of no cases of Sanderson's style accused of being too western or something, fortunately.) So, this seems to be the direction fantasy fiction will follow for a while.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    do you guys have any opinion on what is the good entry point to fantasy of this whole overthought muh-majeek-systumz

    I only read YA, mom books and occassionally sci-fi, so I'm of no help here.
    but hardly call it a classic

    Oh yeah this reminds me, at one point I thought Little Fires Everywhere could be the next American Classic, but in this same thought I also realized it felt like I was reading something that had been processed through an algorithm to create the Great American Novel. Having read more, I'm erring very close to the latter.
    I feel like nerds are ruining fantasy by applying their autistic ways, honed by years of D&D and MMORPGs

    Well, probably. I mean people who read high fantasy complain heavily when magic systems are basic so the audience gets what it wants deserves.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    I finished Little Fires Everywhere. It occurs to me that the book is written very heavily in sequence, as if primed to be adapted into a script (or maybe it was one and all that changed was the prose). I heavily admire the author's ability to write in this way, but I think it limited the story's depth at times.

    At a lot of points, I was merely told what to feel, rather than allowed to think for myself. At one point, exactly one I think, there was an actual question in the prose, and it was oddly jarring.

    This book operates in like, reality, but hyper-reality, so feelings trump logic and such. However, there were points where this failed to work. The whole ending is very quick, and everybody's emotions kind of are wrapped up very conveniently except for Izzy's. Pearl is practically nonchalant as her whole life changes forever, with Mrs. Richardson seemingly more concerned about the facts of Pearl's conception than she is.

    In fact, the last part, throughout the ending, feels very gluggly. The book so far was cynical and insane, featuring inept people whose actions speak volumes and tip the balance of life the wrong way. However, in the ending, everything seems to be in a dream state.

    Mia, who is a surrogate-child-stealing tragic figure stuck in a permanent kidnapping, is presented as an Oprah like Mary Poppins who can see into people's souls, a feature not actually even present in her art at any point before this. Even so, her Goop-era Gywneth Paltrow abilities achieve nothing.

    Then we come to Izzy, who quickly graduates from being a bit angry and slight instances of assault to a long, drawn out premeditated arson. By the end of the book, when Izzy has run away from home, her mother has forgiven her, and believes this is what Freedom looks like. I'd have assumed she'd be more afraid of what her fear created in her daughter, rather than looking at her destroyed home with what is essentially awe.

    Also, it's hilarious that the subplot; that Bebe's baby is taken in by the McCollough family after she abandons it at a fire station, but now she wants it back, is so irrelevant that it barely factors into talking about the book.

    Anyways, the big notes.



    Quite the wacky plot, this book.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    I watched Little Fires Everywhere, the show. I'm pretty sure the only reason this exists is so if you didn't believe the book was Art, you definitely would when you compared it to the (frankly terrible) show.

    Also, I feel like that super angry MS Paint meme guy just thinking about the casting of the teenagers.

    Unlike other reviewers, who apparently cannot stand the existence of Kerry-Washington-as-Mia. I mean, I don't think this Mia is the one from the book at all, so I think that's colored my perception of her. I don't see her as a bad actress, I see her as a phony photocopy of a faulty fax of the character from the book.
  • edited 2020-05-22 15:43:51
    "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
  • edited 2020-05-26 11:29:24
    There is love everywhere, I already know
    I am currently reading One of Us is Next, the sequel to YA megahit of a few years ago, One of Us is Lying.

    I've just finished up the first half, or "Part One". I really dislike books that think distinctions like this matter when they're within the same binding and there's no real distinction between the parts aside from plot progression. It's dumb.

    It did at least remind me not to scarf it all down in one sitting.

    This book isn't really a "sequel", because it's set in the same universe but is about a whole other set of characters. Since the day I saw that this book would be coming out, I had a feeling that it was because the author was trying to recapture her glory days of times past.

    Her last novel, Two Can Keep a Secret, quite literally stole it's whole design aesthetic (and naming convention) from her first. As far as I can tell, it was nowhere near as successful, and even I didn't care enough to read it.

    By releasing a sequel, she and her publisher can force everybody who read the first book to be mildly interested, and then convert a lot of that into sales.

    Anyways, this book's premise is much less stable than the first's, and the latest twist genuinely involves amnesia, which is just sad.

    I think, after this, I'll probably institute a policy where I only read books from before 2015 so I can skip the inevitable part where straight white men are quite explicitly blamed for all of society's ills. In this book, it was to a seventeen year old's face, whilst he'd done nothing wrong at all. Frankly, it was (very light) racism right to his face, but whatever. It's YA, after all.

    Funnily enough, the retort came from a non-white character who had no personality and existed entirely just to get this dig in and then immediately disappear.

    I don't think YA authors actually care about all of this hullabaloo as much as they claim, and (clearly) neither do readers. I certainly don't want it in YA books at all, so that counts as caring in a way.

    Otherwise, there's no way they would be getting away with complaining about gender stereotypes when the character complaining is is constantly reminding us that the only straight white male protagonist is worth caring for because he "might be hot someday". Especially in a book where "worthy male" seems to be code for "should have really really big muscles".

    I'm not complaining about the concept, I mean, I certainly don't think I'd want to read much about the protagonists being in love with guys who aren't hot*. The book, however, is.

    *Wow there are a lot of potholes I could've stepped into with this sentence, this one is the one I'm most comfortable with.

    And another thing; there's actually a lot of venom directed at jocks and other sportsball types in this book. I know nerdy kids are the sorts who tend to read, but this book is about how the protagonists are mistreated and get a lot of flack when their secrets are exposed, and so people should be more understanding. So it's weird that they aren't.

    Or, maybe, this book is genuinely about how constant human hypocrisy will never end and therefore showing us by how it too is extremely hypocritical!

    Prolly not.

    I think, for a book that kept me quite enthralled, I should have been more positive. Anyways, it's YA, so of course I quite like it even with the plodding plot and absolutely nonsensical inclusion of the main characters from the first book, who all stand out like sore thumbs whenever they show up.

    To reiterate; it's a pretty fun book.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    O-kay, I've finished One of Us is Next.

    When I was younger, I was always amazed when people could figure out the various twists in a book. In this book, I figured out the whole plot about 300/375 pages in. Of course, I didn't figure out the final twist, which was irrelevant, extremely out of left field and stupid.

    But, having figured it out, I realized exactly why the rest of the book had basically been characters going "I could find something out now but I'm going to wait till the chapter is over instead". Plus why there was amnesia. It needed to be padded out.

    I think the book was engaging to an extent, but it's not worth much.
  • A book club is a club shaped like a dictionary
  • edited 2020-05-29 10:26:12
    "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
    A newspaper club is a Millwall brick.

    In other news, due to corona-related (but not exactly caused) circumstances I have barely read a paper book since, like, months. I was beginning to get concerned, but then I realized I spent that time (among other things) reading books on my computer. I read Lest Darkness Fall, which is rather naive by modern standards, but charming and influential ime travel story, and Imagined Communities, which is a book on the beginnings and development of nationalism. The latter is particularly an interesting read. Read the former if you have a mind for the classics of the genre, and in particular if you also have The Man Who Came Early by P. Anderson at hand. Anderson's like a Socratic gadfly of old-timey SF, poking holes in bloated egos of hard SF writers of his time.
  • Creature - Florida Dragon Turtle Human
    *walk in on previous page* hoooooooly shbeep i missed something

    Anyway, I have a stack of paper books next to me every day but I keep on not getting around to reading any of them because I keep on having stuff to do on my computer that's more urgent and/or easily accessible as opposed to "I have to commit to this larger task".

    And I just end up kicking myself.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    Another big reason I want to focus on reading older books is that at some point everybody agreed that it was 100% cool to just have everybody swear in their books. Even in YA of all things; One of Us is Next contains at least 10 instances of the F word. I don't think it adds much, and it might actually detract from the richness of storytelling.

    Even the sorts of names you can call somebody using explicit language don't convey what other similar words could.

    So, thanks Superbad. You blazed the way, which ended up being paved over for use by middling YA authors.
  • There is love everywhere, I already know
    In 1786, Goethe set out on a journey to Italy to fulfil a personal and artistic quest and to find relief from his responsibilities and the agonies of unrequited love [...] this is also a moving account of the psychological crisis from which Goethe emerged newly inspired to write the great works of his mature years

    When you write sad emo break-up diaries but you're Johann Wolfgang von Goethe so 300 years later some copywriter has to make you look good.
  • "you duck spawn, refined creature, you try to be cynical, yokel, but all that comes out of it is that you're a dunce!!!!! you duck plug!"
    So, I've finished reading Albion's Seed by D. H. Fisher and this is what I learned:

    4ab9iv.jpg
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