Books

Posted: January 30, 2011 by veeshir in Uncategorized

Not much going on, Egypt is still going on but nobody knows what the hell it is that’s going on. Ditto Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and Yemen. I’m not very optimistic about any of those situations, but I’m not optimistic about much these days. Just cuz I think it’s funny doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s endy.

I read a lot,I’ve read probably 3 books a week since I was 7, so it’s hard to keep up with new books, plus, I like to re-read good books. I re-re-re-re…read some good books, I’ve probably read “Stranger in a Strange Land” maybe 20 times. Certainly more than 10, starting when I was about 10 when a hippy teacher at my Catholic School gave it to me when I was in 4th grade. It’s funny, that was like a bible for hippies but it’s probably why I’ve been conservative my whole life. They all wanted to be Valentine Michael Smith, I wanted to be Jubal Harshaw. It’s easy to be a love-everybody and always turn the other cheek type when you’re a superman. I don’t speak Martian so I just have to muddle along.

Right now I’m re-reading “Code of the Lifemaker” by James Hogan.

Hogan is hit and miss, sorta like Orson Scott Card. Some books are fantastic, some are so-so, some are just not very good. His really good ones are this one, “The Two Faces of Tomorrow” where we’re afraid of Skynet so we build it on an orbiting colony and “Bug Park” where we’re making nan0-bots. I haven’t read that one in years, I think I lent it to someone and never got it back.

His one constant is that he’s very optimistic, he thinks we’ll always work everything out and birds will sing and the world will become a wonderful place.I’m not quite as optimistic.

This got long so it’s below the fold.

This one has two very interesting threads.

The major thread is life on Titan. He postulates an alien ore extraction scheme. They send out a ship that finds a suitable planet. It then lands, starts a factory that builds robots to get ores, then builds another factory that does the same. All the factories do the same until a critical mass is reached and then one factory builds ships to send the ores back to the alien planet. After that, the ship lifts and goes off to find another planet to start all over.

As the ship is cruising, it gets hit by a supernova and gets its circuits scrambled. It’s all messed up so it just lands on the first ‘planet’ if finds, which is Titan. He very plausibly explains how it becomes evolution and we end up with a robotic ec0-system with self-aware robots at the top of the “food-chain”.

The other thread is the West and the East. In the West, we’ve become what we see the beginnings of today. Mass-market ‘educated’ people who believe what they’re told and start believing in pyramids powering our world and other stuff like that, including a con-man “psychic”.

So we see the robots via a probe and go to meet the aliens who we figure are in charge of the robots. We meet the self-aware robots who are in basically a just-pre-Renaissance state. Heretics are killed but they’re beginning to learn the scientific method.

It’s very darn good.

I recently read a series by Ian Douglas, “The Inheritance Trilogy”.

It’s also pretty good but I wish I hadn’t read it first. His books’ heroes are all from a family that keeps joining the Space Marines (Army or Navy types might not like him, he sucks the dick of the Marine Corps throughout. I’ve always figured if I hadn’t been blinded in one eye right after my first, unsuccessful year of college I would have joined the Marines).

The reason I wish I hadn’t read it is because he describes some hero ancestors of the current Galloways in the Space Marines, so I know how a bunch of earlier books end. I ordered the first two trilogies, I should get them this week, but I already know how at least three or four books end.

I’m also reading Churchill’s History of WWII, but I keep setting that one down, I’m up to book 4 but it’s dense so I put it down and go to sci-fi for a while.

I need new authors.

Niven is annoying these days. His “burning whatever” series sucks. His “Fleet of Worlds” series is so-so.

Pournelle seems to be refusing to finish Janissaries (which pisses me off).

Ringo is writing good books, but not many.

Stirling’s “Change” series is good, but I’m waiting for the finale.

Jack Campbell’s (John Embry) “Lost Fleet” series is fantastic, he seems to be planning on a sequel series, but it’s not out yet.

Forstchen keeps starting series and not finishing them, which really pisses me off.

He’s fantastic, but it’s really annoying when the first book of a “series” is also the last.

The Lost Regiment is fantastic, if brutal. The aliens in that one think we taste good and he graphically describes how they eat us. He finished that one but then started up again with our hero’s kids but stopped after one book that doesn’t really end, it just stops.

He also wrote 1945 with Newt Gingrich, that’s set in a universe where Hitler didn’t declare war on America so we just fought Japan. We beat the Japanese but Hitler conquered Europe and kept it. England is generally free but has to play nicey with Nazi Germany. Germany attacks us but we kick their butts in America (Alvin York gets involved) so now we’re at war with Germany at the end. They specifically promise a sequel, which never came. I’m not reading any of more his books until after he finishes the series.

So what are you reading? Anything good?

Comments
  1. I hear ya on the Jubal thing. Probably my biggest reason for going to law school.

  2. I’m in my bad habit of reading more than one at the same time…A Confederacy of Dunces for the IB book club, the 10 Big Lies About America, and Founding Brothers.

  3. onlyme says:

    Elizabeth Moon, Kylara Vatta and Heris Serrano novels worth reading.

    Reread the Miles vorKosigan books recently.

    Dean Ing’s Wild Country books are waiting for a re-read.

    I agree with you on John Ringo, also read a lot of David Drake and Weber novels, and also agree on the erratic quality of the writings of Card.

    Another older series I enjoyed was the Leo Frankowski series about the accidental time traveling engineer who ended up in Poland, before the mongol invasion, the Conrad Stargard series.

    I have mostly ignored Hogan, will give him a try again after reading this article.

    Thx

  4. Magycian says:

    If you have the chance to pick them up the Black Company series is excellent. Glen Cook is the author and his other series are just about as good. Popcorn books I call them.

    Jubal and his Fair Witness stayed with me for the past 30 years or so. I “discovered” Stranger at about 16 and fell in love with Heinlein then.

    Card started strong and has waxed and waned for many a year. I still look for his stuff.

    Another to try is the father of Cyberspace William Gibson. Always an excellent read.

  5. Veeshir says:

    Thanks for the tips, I see these authors but I hate buying books just because some other author calls it a “Tour de Force” or whatever is the recommendation du jour.

    Much of what I’ve found has been because of Niven.
    I started with Niven, who I like a lot, then read the collaborations with Pournelle then started reading Pournelle by himself, then his collaborations with others then the other writers, then their collaborations with others….

    A Confed of Dunces is pretty good. I keep hearing about a movie but it never happens. That would make a good movie, unless they screw it up.

    Weber is good, I forgot about him.
    I don’t like Drake by himself, I’ve tried reading Hammer’s Slammers but I think they’re “Eh” at best. His collaborations are usually pretty good. The General Series with Stirling in particular is very good.
    I just don’t like the Miles V books. I don’t know why. I’ve read a few, but I haven’t reread them and I’m not buying any more.

    I forgot Honor Harrington too. They start out strong but get annoying by the 80th book. The battle scenes are pretty good until they get their new systems when they throw a brazillion missiles at the ships. It seems to me they’re throwing $50billion worth of missiles at a $20billion ship.

    Another thing about Ringo, his Ghost series is almost good except in the middle of the one I’ve read is about 50+ pages of some weird ass, very graphic, bondage sex scene. It turned me off.

  6. chad98036 says:

    I an Douglas used to write as William Keith. (I wrote about one of his books a few weeks ago).

    Another thing about Ringo, his Ghost series is almost good except in the middle of the one I’ve read is about 50+ pages of some weird ass, very graphic, bondage sex scene. It turned me off.

    This is part of Ringo’s lifestyle (he says so on his website). His business but I can’t quite read his books the same way again. I just keep dreading the S&M scene that may be lurking behind the next page.

    Pournelle seems to be refusing to finish Janissaries (which pisses me off).

    I correspond with Dr. Pournelle once or twice a year, he thinks I am an idiot and tells me so in no uncertain terms. He had a serious bout of brain cancer and his writing dropped off drastically, and the chemo and such really seemed to mess him up, but he recovered and started writing again. At one point he and Niven were working on a Lucifer’s Hammer follow-up called Lucifer’s Anvil. They released an Inferno follow-up called Purgatory last year and he and another writer were sketching out the final Jannissaries novel. His daughter also writes in the CoDominium universe.

    • Veeshir says:

      I haven’t read the bondage stuff in any other book.
      Well, a little in Cally’s War, but that’s more her being a spy and it sorta fits. It didn’t quite make it to the “I’m not reading this again”, but it was cloe.
      I haven’t read it again but not for any reason but that I just didn’t like the whole thing very much. I almost always re-read a book if I like it. I re-read all the books again when the next book of a series comes out.
      That really sucked for the Lost Fleet series, they’re all really good so I had read the first book probably 8 or 9 times by the time last book came out so it was getting old.

  7. Mark E says:

    “His daughter also writes in the CoDominium universe” — ???

    had never heard of her until your post.

    Looks like she has published her first in electrons only though. I’m reluctant to go that route given that Amazon(?) last year confiscated everyone’s ecopy of a book.

  8. chad98036 says:

    Don’t know what to tell you about that. It’s the wave of the future.

  9. Nicole says:

    Don’t do much sci-fi, though I did like Stranger and several other Heinlein. Liked Card’s Ender stuff. Confed of Dunces was excellent.

    I am reading A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson. It’s a history of how everything in our houses came to be – windows, bricks, forks, refrigerators, etc. Extremely interesting. Not my normal fare but really, really good. I’ll probably grab another of Bryson’s history of books after this one.

    I recently recommended Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy. Kind of a sword & sorcery type of trilogy but not the lightning bolt/fire shooting type of sorcery. Viking types and tons of fighting. Some of the best descriptions of combat in this setting that I’ve read.

    I also started Phantom of the Opera. I’ve had it around for years when I went through an “I’m gonna read all the classics” phases but I never read it. I was looking for something to read in the tub since I’m not confident enough in my coordination to take my Kindle in with me and I’ve gotten hooked in. 🙂

    Definitely going to check into the Douglas books. Thanks for the ideas!

  10. Veeshir says:

    I read Purgatory, it was “eh” at best.

    I’d like to read his daughter too, but I’m not getting a Kindle for the same reason.

    Their apology most certainly did not include a promise to never do it again.
    If they had done that to me I would never deal with them again, so I don’t want to give them the opportunity because they have the best website, I use it all the time.

    Both of your suggestions sound good Nicole. I missed your review of those books, I’ll find it.

    I’m going to have to bookmark this page, it’ll keep me occupied for a long time.

  11. Lurker says:

    Amber Series- Roger Zelazny
    Guns of the South- Harry Turtledove

  12. […] WINNER! – “Get off my lawn!” – Veeshir […]

  13. […] If you are into sci-fi or looking for some new book recommendations, check out Veeshir’s post over at Doubleplusundead. […]

  14. HayZeus says:

    I just finished Wretchard’s No Way In and before that I had finally gotten around to polishing off Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. I’ve been meaning to read Niven’s old stuff for I don’t even remember how long now but whenever I hit the local used bookstore it’s never there. If I follow through with buying an Android tablet I’ll have to see if they’re available on Kindle…

    • Veeshir says:

      Protector was my first Niven read, it’s very good.
      The Integral Trees and the Smoke Ring are also very darn good.

      And of course Ringworld. The first two are very good, the third one is pretty good. The last 15 or 20 (or 3 or 6 or whatever) are so-so.

      His short stories can be really good. His physics is pretty good and he really figures stuff out and goes with it. For instance, if you see the Moon REALLY BRIGHT one night, prepare for the solar flare or the Sun going nova that struck the other side of the planet.

      Or like the Integral Trees, it’s a biosphere without a planet.

  15. Mitchell says:

    John Varley’s Gaia series was pretty good. They were written in the 70’s / 80’s but they’re still in print. The first book in the series is “Titan” which is why this post made me think of it.

    Pretty much anything you can find by Roger Zelazny. A lot of his non-Amber related stuff isn’t in print anymore, so you’ll have to hit the used book stores.

    I just finished Confederacy of Dunces yesterday; Lord what a horrid slog that was.

  16. onlyme says:

    On Zelazny, Damnation Alley. Very good read to me, and i also very much like the Amber novels, especially the changes in the world as Random is traveling through the worlds, bending them to his needs.

    The Lightnings series of novels, the librarian, Mundy, is a very interesting character, and is the one which keeps me reading the series.

    Larry Niven, the Man-Kzin wars caught my attention, along with the early Known Space stories, and especially Gil the Arm.

    For lighter reading, I often return to Spider Robinson, and Callahan’s Saloon.

    I forgot Turtledove, have recently started reading his books and plan on getting more.

    Ringo, yes, does get into bondage in his Ghost series, but only in depth in the one mentioned, the others have little in comparison and to me have been excellent reads.

    I am currently re-reading some of the Flandry novels by Poul Anderson, they are well worth the time to re-visit. Also I have re-read some of the Retief works by Laumer and Steve White’s Sector General works.

    About a year ago, I found a compendium of Jack Vance’s Demon Princes novels, first read shortly after they were written, another blast from the past worth looking for.

  17. onlyme says:

    I almost forgot, Harlan Ellison, A Boy And his Dog. This story has stayed with me almost as vividly as Stranger in a Strange Land has.

  18. Well said. No force, in the powers of hell and earth, will get me to send my kids to the PUBLICK SKOOLS in any case with the interest in teaching obiesence and obedience and subservience to the Nanny State’s overlords. Holdren is but one of many of them (though very deadly in his own right for a number of reasons, true!).

    But yes, in this recent context of the Man-Child’s ascension to power, more than ever I encourage people to REALLY think about examining homeschooling as an alternative way to inculcate positive values. Oh-and actually some learning to boot.

  19. davisbr says:

    …well, I re-read three of Jane Austen’s novels for the 3rd or 4th time over the holidays (working on the 4th, saving P&P for last), and I’m eyeing a re-read of Holmes [again] after. Does that show that I’m stuck in a warp, or what?

    And yeah: if I like a novel for whatever reason, the chances of me re-reading it multiple times are very, very high, too. (I lost track at waay over 30 for LOTR, and that was before I got out of HS; I used to be able to quote pages of the text. And I’d bet I read the Foundation Trilogy 10 times plus in HS. 2-3 time for SIASL. Dune, several times …though of the followups, I don’t think I had a single re-read.)

    • Veeshir says:

      People used to make fun of me for rereading books.
      Why would you reread it, don’t you remember how it ends?

      I know how Casablanca ends, doesn’t mean I don’t watch it again.

  20. davisbr says:

    …oh, and I quit reading Ringo with the inclusion of all the gratuitous sexual crap too …felt a bit betrayed, actually. I wouldn’t bother with another at that point (and I bought the new releases); and so I won’t ever know where the Gust Front & Cally’s War series’ went. Meh.

    • Veeshir says:

      Did you read “Watch on the Rhine” and ‘Yellow Eyes”?
      They’re pretty good.

      • davisbr says:

        Dammit Veesh’ …you were responsible for me being up-ALL-night Wed/Thu! Breaking my “No More Ringo” rule (of the past 5-6 years).

        …and I was consequently stone-cold-stupid all day at work. (Which means: a day like most other days.)

        Anyways. So I did read “Watch on the Rhine”. Recently (see previous). It was – like the other Posleen series books – an excellent read. I forgot how much I *had* enjoyed a good Ringo read.

        …I’ll prob’ly be checking out some of his others that I never read over the weekend.

  21. Veeshir says:

    Hey Zeus, don’t forget to choose your favorite blogger and click through from his site.

  22. Veeshir says:

    I really liked that one, I liked the afterward where Tom Kratman said he lobbied for, and got, a short drop for the Greens.

    Yellow Eyes is darn good too.

    I just got Eye of the Storm, I’d been avoiding him too.

  23. Christopher Shaffer says:

    With Weber, I pretty much prefer his Safehold series and have never read any of his books in the Honor Harrington universe. Dunno why, it just irritates the crap outta me when an author puts out sequel after sequel ad naseum. Harry Potter is an exception for me to that rule.

    John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War trilogy is excellent as is his stand alone novel Agent to the Stars.

    Jack McDevitt’s Alex Benedict series is also whip-crackingly good; private eye in space kind of thing.

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