Cheeseburger Gothic

Summer reading

Posted December 18, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

Found myself over at West End the other day and dropped into one of my favorite secondhand bookstores, Bent Books. All of the books I get to review each year, all of the freebies the publishers send out to me, if I don't want to keep them they end up at Bent Books. West End being the sort of community is, this place runs to more interesting stock than old, dogeared copies of Alistair MacLean. Although it has plenty of the Big Mac as well.

There's a pretty reasonable collection of pre-loved SF and fantasy titles which I like to check in on every now and then, and browsing the shelves on my last visit I came across Patrick Tilley's Amtrak Wars. These things have been hanging around since I was a kid. I remember them taking up real estate in the book section at Cribbe and Foote, Ipswich's finest and only department store. I think that Tilley and Stephen Donaldson basically owned that section.

Having built up a hundred dollars credit at BB and seeing as how they had not just the first in the series but another three or four besides (somebody cleaning out their collection, I suppose) it seemed the time had come to finally dip into this story world. Can't recall who were the fans around these parts – Orin? GuruBob? – but I do remember this series coming up in discussions before. I'll have a read and maybe write up a little review a couple of weeks from now.

I picked up the second book, Bushido, as a hedge against future projects. Reading Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan history, and helping Anna with her school project about the Tokugawa Shogunate has given me a couple of ideas for some stories I might write a few years down the track. In the meantime I'll be adding books like this to my shelf for research purposes
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46 Responses to ‘Summer reading’

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

Please don't pick the Amtrak Wars for a bookclub book, am currently reading the third in Peter Brett's Deamon Wars series because I thought The Painted Man was our next book club book.

Don't want to have to start a new series.

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BigWillieStyle ducks in to say...

Posted December 18, 2013

I've got a bit of a summer reading pile on my desk as we speak;

  • The Cuckoo's Calling (decided to give it a go after seeing a bunch of arty wanker types discussing it on Aunty last week)
  • Matthew Thompson's latest (after reading about it on C-Goth a few weeks ago). Just finished his previous one about his 8 months living in Colombia
  • The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (saw the moofie on NITV last week having never seen it before...then went and borrowed the Keneally book from the lybree)
  • The Race For What's Left by Michael Klare. Just started it. About the world fast running out of resources for us to plunder, and the subsequent scramble by nations and corporations to gobble them up for their own needs, and everyone else can go fuck themselves.

Gavin has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2013

After watching that same show, I bought The Cuckoo's Calling the other day. Knocked it over in 3 nights, great read. The author has a big future.

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BigWillieStyle puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

Oh yeah, am also considering Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A balding, haggard-looking man of indeterminate age was waffling on at length about it on Aunty's booky-wooky TV show the other day. It seemed to mildly excite him.

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 18, 2013

A little ot but once we had a job applicant who's first name was Bent. He wasn't emplyed by us but I thought it would have been fun to say "We're having a meeting. Get Bent.", "No, you get Bent.", and so on and so forth.

Brother PorkChop ducks in to say...

Posted December 18, 2013

We were looking to employ and one of the applicants was a statuesque lady of Dutch extraction with the handle Agathe McTrusty. Was so close to signing off just for the name and the statuesque-ness.

Lulu reckons...

Posted December 18, 2013

Even further OT, but still on the subject of names:

This morning on the way to work I saw a truck with a sign "Sweeney Todd" on the side.

For a medical waste disposal company.

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Chaz has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2013

Really enjoyed the AW until the last book where I felt it fell apart.

Blarkon puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

Nah, Liked Earth Thunder. Iron Master was slow, but had some great battle scenes where Brickman chopped off a lot of samurai heads.

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pi puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

Am (re-)reading Neal Stephensons Anathem right now. Bloody hell it's a good read.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2845024-anathem

Blarkon would have you know...

Posted December 18, 2013

Just "re-read" that on Audible - a really great production. The world building is amazing.

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pi would have you know...

Posted December 18, 2013

Am (re-)reading Neal Stephensons Anathem right now. Bloody hell it's a good read.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2845024-anathem

Peter Bradley asserts...

Posted December 18, 2013

Agreed. Took a bit for me to get into it but then all Stephenson's book take you to a very different place.

Axle mumbles...

Posted December 19, 2013

I have the full series of AW gathering dust maybe time to move them on.. Birmo would Bent like yet another set?

I am reading Neal Stephensons Baroque trilogy a great read and leads into Cryptonomicon which is an excellent story..

also finished Stalins Hammer a little while back had to buy it online and wait.. just a taste at a time?

Sudragon ducks in to say...

Posted December 19, 2013

Cryptonomicon was a bloody good read and needs putting on the screen. It'd be a TV series or two just to get it all in. The Baroque Trilogy, however, is where Stephenson jumped a Jordan shaped shark.

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 18, 2013

Hmmn. In fiction, am currently reading Night Soldiers by Alan Furst at the moment – not much ‘splodey goodness so far but gripping in a much more subtle way, and in non-fiction David Frith's book on suicide in cricket - Silence Of The Heart.

Also queued up on the kindle:

Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above by Ian Sales (Apollo Quartet part 3)

Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey, and

Straight White Male by John Niven

And I should be re-reading CJ Cherryh’s Fortress In The Eye Of Time for another bookclub, but that’s another story …

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WarDog swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 18, 2013

Can remember reading the Amtrack Wars as a teen and being really pissed at Tilley for making me wait *years* for the final installments.

When they finally showed up it was like running into an old friend that you dimly remembered.

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Anthony ducks in to say...

Posted December 18, 2013

Been finishing off Shooting Victoria by Paul Murphy, an account of the eight assassination attemots on Queen Vicky. Interesting look a a ifferent aspect of Victorian life.

Also the latest Larry Niven/Gregory Benford collaboration Bowl of Heaven. Not bad but not great - again, another BIG object like Ringworld. Ends on a cliffhanger so be warned.

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JBtoo asserts...

Posted December 18, 2013

I'm reading Hugh Howie's Wool, s'not bad. Krissy Kneen's Steeplechase and Max Barry's Lexicon are lined up waiting.

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Therbs puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

Matt Reilly has a freebie out on Friday. A short, a prequel of The Tournament.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted December 19, 2013

I finished the Tournament a few days ago; I really realy enjoyed it. Reilly did a great job of breaking out of his normal 'splodey mode to write about intrigue and murder from the perspective of a 13 year old future queen. I'll keep an eye out for the short

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

The first two in the Apollo Quartet I really liked, haven't started the Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above yet, saving it for Christmas pool reading

Blarkon reckons...

Posted December 18, 2013

It definitely makes you do the work to figure out WTF - but Sales leaves you with enough clues.

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w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2013

I just finished Hugh Howie's 'Wool'. It was good.

I'm now on to Peter Carey's 'The Chemistry of Tears' I think it is about grief, the contruction of automatons and global warming, sort of. It is has time shifts between now and the 1800's. I mostly hate time shifts, though they are not as bad as flashbacks.

w from brisbane mutters...

Posted December 19, 2013

I have finished Peter Carey's 'The Chemistry of Tears' . It is a good book. It is mad, batty. Though I note the author was born in Bacchus Marsh.

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Dr Mark Hayes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 18, 2013

Enjoyed The Amtrak Wars series many years ago. Might dig them out again, along with re-reading Steve Stirling's first Change Trilogy, and that Birmingham fellow's trilogies too, massively loaded with McGuffin Effects though they are :)

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2013

The McGuffin effects are why they're premium prices! Those boondoggles don't come cheap y'know!

Abe Frellman is gonna tell you...

Posted December 18, 2013

Is that why they are known as coupons? Coupons are teh awesome.*

* A million bond investors can't be wrong.

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BigWillieStyle has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2013

Currently working through the sports section of every newspaper I can get my hands on at the moment, in the wake of Straya pinching back Da Ashes from the England/South Africa/New Zealand/Zimbabwe All Stars. 3-fuckin'-0. Cannot read enough about it.

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Blarkon mumbles...

Posted December 18, 2013

Tilley was the first author I met where I went to a signing (I'd met others that had been dragged to our school library or that our creative writing class visited).

Earth Thunder works as an end-point, but there *was* meant to be another six books, with "Ghost Rider" being the title of the 7th. I talked to Tilley on his forum sometime in the mid-2000's and it sounded like he'd had bad writers block. He'd tried to do a colaboration with someone to get the books out, but it hadn't worked. Given his age (he'd be mid 80's now) - I doubt we'll see anything further. But as an end point, Earth Thunder works and leaves enough room for what was to come next.

My complete unashamed recommendation is Max Barry's Lexicon - which is a book that blew me away when reading it this year. Hands down, holy shit, awesome book. Clever. well paced, well plotted and relies on the reader to connect the dots. Available on Audible as well which is how I did my second time through.

Finished Gary Gibson's Marauder last night and the most recent James S.A. Corey book, either of which fits into that nice space between Peter F Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds in terms of "epic SF".

WarDog mutters...

Posted December 18, 2013

100% second Lexicon - just right on the edge of creepy with the NLP and very very cool to boot. My 15 year old lapped it up too, but then again, she is a word nerd.

Barnesm asserts...

Posted December 19, 2013

Well Lexicon it is for me with two such endorsements

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Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 18, 2013

One week off.

#1 Damon Young's "Philosophy in the Garden".

Asked SWMBO to kindle it when it was last mentioned on CBG.(Yeah I know but I will read it anyday now OK!)

# 2 WWZ. I am pretty sure the same as above.(Could be wrong but I think she kindled it too)

# 3 Dunno

Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted December 19, 2013

#3 Treeman's Novel

Dunno what it is about but that's whole point ain't it?

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Brother PorkChop mumbles...

Posted December 18, 2013

I have the Tilley series still somewhere in a box and will have a look for my eldest to read. Aside from that I am reading Flintharts latest at y'alls recommendation. Then I don't know. I have had Tobruk for over a year and not read it so that might be the go.

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Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 18, 2013

Currently on the home stretch of Tsiolkas' new one, Barracuda, which is a damned fine piece of writing.

Not sure what to go for next - my to-read pile took up half a bedroom in the old place, but we've just moved house and it's all packed in bags in bits of the garage I can't get to.

So it's probably going to mean some time on the Kobo with iD, Madeline Ashby's sequel to her excellent hard-SF vN which I read earlier this year. That and tackling a backlog of Interzone and Black Static issues that built up on me while real life has been spending the last few months flushing away my reading time.

The Amtrak wars did make a big impression on me when I read them in high school. There was a whole gang of Tilley fans who would argue over what the next plot twist was going to be and who should or shouldn't die. I remember there was an annual/sourcebook thing that came out as well, with artwork showing the Mute markings, deck plans for the Lady of Louisiana, all that sort of stuff. Great fun.

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WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2013

My shiny new hard cover of Pratchett's "Raising Steam" showed up today. I love Moist von Lipwig, one of my favourite characters.

And I have a copy of Dan Brown's "Inferno" that plan on reading. I don't know that anyone is capable of topping Niven's "Inferno". It's still one of my most cherished books. It was the impetus for forging through the first part of the Divine Comedy. Unfortunately most of the 15C Italian references were lost on me. I still think Niven's was better.

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted December 19, 2013

Must admit, I don't really "get" Lipwig. Vimes, Ridcully, Vetinari, Weatherwax, Rincewind, Stibbons, Carrot, Nobby, CMOT Dibbler all click for me as characters. Lipwig has never come into focus.

Raising Steam is a Pratchett novel, but it's not a brilliant Pratchett novel in the way that Small Gods, Guards Guards, Sourcery and Good Omens were brilliant.

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NBlob reckons...

Posted December 19, 2013

Tap tap

NBlob asserts...

Posted December 20, 2013

tap tap

Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted December 23, 2013

There has been a wormhole around recently and I think NBlob has Quantum shifted back into his 'Box'.

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nhamilton@iinet.net.au ducks in to say...

Posted December 19, 2013

5 Days into the holidays and had some time to catch up on reading lists

The silent wife ( a hint to mine)- A.S.A Harrison-nothing on Gone Girl, or Before I go to sleep.

A Hymn Before Battle- have ordered the next couple in the series.

The Rosie Project- Greame Simsion- very funny

and now starting on The Quarry- Iain Banks

Will have to start looking for more to get through Chrstmas with the inlaws.

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Chaz reckons...

Posted December 19, 2013

Of course if anyone is looking for an Xmas read then JP's new novel 'the Spy' is now out.

Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted December 19, 2013

Anyone sing to themselves "What Does Lachlan Fox Say" in thier quieter moments?

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AKM. swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 22, 2013

Picked up an odd one at the local library. Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole. 2nd in a series(Library didn't even have the 1st in the series- go figure....)

Anyhoo, military near future thriller- but with a re-awakening of magic thrown in- with the full Military Industrial complex getting into it for money-making and geopolitical reasons. Odd, but interesting......

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Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 2, 2014

I read Amtrak Wars first 3 books so long ago that the grey matter in my brain that stored those stories has turned to mush, I seem to recall enjoying them a lot at the time...

I have been stuck in one of John Ringo's never ending series of interconnected books through most of October and November, then took a detour through Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger series (Patient Zero could be a good recommendation for the book club too) and just finished William Boyd's take on James Bond in Solo which was bloody great...

Next up will probably be The Goldfinch by Donna Tart, which is sitting next to the bed...

have also had a problem with I-tunes eating half of my e-books, including a couple I still haven't read and now can't seem to get back!

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Respond to 'Summer reading'

Quiet time reading

Posted November 13, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

Much as I love my new iPad Air, I'm trying to spend a bit less time with it, at least at the end of the day. I use the Air a lot more than I used my old first gen retina iPad, mostly because of work. Having ditched my second screen so that the new 27 inch iMac can reign over my desktop in unchallenged glory, I've gone to the Air as my second screen.

Anyway, long story short, I will get around to writing a user review sometime soon. I can't recall whether it was Therbs or Bondi Boy who was looking for an enabler to justify their own purchase, but whoever it was, just go out and buy the damn thing. You will love us with a deep, unnatural physical love. One caveat though.

While I'm using the iPad a lot more for work, in one way at least I'm trying to use it less for leisure time. I'm trying to read more longform stuff when I get into bed at the end of the day. Either long magazine articles, or books. But mostly books. I've got about forty or fifty that I've never even opened stacked up on my Kindle, and probably the same number in hard copy lying around the house. Some complimentary copies from publishers who just sent me stuff looking for a shout out, some stuff I bought, and some stuff I have to read for the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club which I'm doing at the end of the month.

With the iPad, instead of book reading, I found I was going straight to my news aggregator apps; Zite, which is my fave, and Flipboard which is an arguably a better app but which for some reason I just can't love in the same way. I think it's the way Zite seems specifically designed for those media consumers with a bit of ADHD. It seems to update more regularly and feed me the snack sized pieces of information my brain desires, like a sugary sweet treat for the intellectually obese.

Anyway, I got sick of never reading anything longer than about 300 words, so I banned the iPad from the bedroom and now I keep by the bed only the Kindle Paperwhite Professor Boylan smuggled into the country for me, and a paperback which at the moment is Chuck Wendig's The Blue Blazes.

The iPad is a great reading device. (And in fact probably has the advantage on my Kindle now, because the Paperwhite's screen seems to have deteriorated somewhat. It's plagued by a distracting shadowing effect at the bottom of the display). But it is not a "quiet" device. I think we've talked about this before. One of the problems of reading on a device that can do anything is that at any given moment you could be doing anything other than reading.

There is some commitment required to properly invest in a book, as opposed to, say, a 200 word blog post. I just found that I very rarely opened the Kindle app on the iPad because, although it's a rather elegant piece of software, the will always so many other things to distract me before I got there. What to distract me while I was there.

So, the iPad gets left in the library all my office at the end of the evening and even though I can really stay awake for more than about twenty minutes once I hit the sack, that's usually enough to get through a chapter or so - a goal made easier by the 'time-in-chapter' readout the Kindle discretely displays at the bottom of the screen.

26 Responses to ‘Quiet time reading’

beeso would have you know...

Posted November 13, 2013

It must be a mental thing, because once i start reading on the pad, the device just disapears and i might as well be reading a paper book. Unless the book is crap and then i jump out pretty quick, but i doubt paper or a kindle would be any better, i'd just put them down.

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w from brisbane asserts...

Posted November 13, 2013

Last month, Amazon did post a statement that the shadowing at the bottom of the Paperwhite screen is 'normal'.
I think they would agree it is not ideal.

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted November 13, 2013

Smuggled in? We got one delivered a few weeks ago.

As I understand it, the main issue is accidentally tapping it forward or back a page, due to the size of the device and holding it for reading it in bed.

@beeso, agree, a crap book is a crap book in any media.

beeso has opinions thus...

Posted November 13, 2013

About the time a ereader vs bood debate was raging somewhere i was attempting to read Stephen Kings book about time travel and JFK. Kept switching out to check twitter or read some basketball news. I was just starting to think that maybe the pad was too distracting for reading when i switched books to The Rook. Two straight nights, no use for the pad whatsoever other than smashing that book.

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ali mumbles...

Posted November 13, 2013

All electronica are banned from our bedroom, because: sexytime.

So I'm reduced to proper books made of paper. I can turn the pages. And underline with my fingernail. And they don't dislocate my nose when I fall asleep and drop them on myself. My frail arms are finding this latest SK quite the workout...

PS We are old (clearly)

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 13, 2013

I'm assuming you misspelled "sleepytime" because we too ban all electronica from the bedroom, but it doesn't seem to lead to the outcome you suggest.

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 13, 2013

But that's the thing, I wouldn't classify an e-reader as "electronica" in this context. They are straight substitutes for paper. Mind you, I'd sign up for any measure that increased the likelihood of sexytime.

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Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted November 13, 2013

I sought not an Enabler JB, for I eschew the works of Jobs et al (ok we do have an iPad at home that I use, but Wifey bought that). The learned Therbs may be your man. I know Wifey would love more Fruit-based gadgets though. I, on the other hand, subscribe to the PC Way.

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Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted November 13, 2013

The new retina iPad mini is perfect for reading. You should get one so that you can see how great it is for reading.

damian is gonna tell you...

Posted November 13, 2013

Damn you, lizard guy.

I say that, knowing that being spoiled by my Note 1's resolution (almost Retina level) and peerless OLED contrast, my 1st generation iPad mini is just no good for reading in the dark. The protocol is: Kindle for the back deck or generally outdoors, iPad for the living room, Note for the bedroom. Well actually Kindle or Note for the living room too, most of the time, at least for proper reading. Sigh... have they fixed that you can tell it's a backlit LCD in anything less than candle light?

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted November 13, 2013

Nicholas Carr in his book The Shallows cited a lot of reasearch suggesting that reading on a screen substantially degraded overall comprehension of a text - by something around 30%. His suggestion was that while we were reading more, we were retaining a lot less and that people who used ebook readers were far less able to remember the details of what they read after time had passed than those who consumed text in other ways.

Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 13, 2013

What does he attribute this to? I tend to agree with this to some extent but I don't know why. Interesting.

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted November 13, 2013

The book is mostly about this issue - deals with different "intellectual technologies" - from slates through books to hypertext/the web. He quotes some neuroscientists who posit that the brain has a specific "buffer size" when it comes to remembering and processing information - and that the linear structure of books generally led to an information flow that allowed the information contained therein to be processed and remembered. When you get to hypertext/web "rich content" it seems as though we exceed buffer capacity.

Interestingly, when people are quizzed they "feel" that they are absorbing more information - but the follow up tests show that they are retaining and processing less of the consumed information. That's why we're probably not hearing more about it - we aren't seeing comprehension being tested much.

It might be that if you used a device like a book (one text, consumed in a linear fashion), then you may not hit the problems. It's just that no one uses ereaders and computers like that - they flit back and forth as they read.

Some people have suggested that our brains would "adapt" to the new technologies - but the research done in the last 20 years into reading information on screens shows that even if you are exposed early to increased information flow, your brain probably won't process most of what comes out of the firehose. (there's even evidence that people who consume too much information through digital devices are less able to digest long form arguments becaues their attention wanders too quickly)(there's also research to show you can detox if you avoid digital devices for a period of time - increasing your attention span, but keeping within the information absorption limit of your brain)

Here's the link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Shallows-Internet-Doing-Brains/dp/0393339750/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384328437&sr=8-1&keywords=nicholas+carr

Brother PorkChop swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 14, 2013

Thanks for the extra info. Thinking about it, could it be also prehaps that we have a subconscious perception that the screen allows us to manually retrieve information at a later date far more easily than you can go and get the specific book out of the storage box to find that one sentence that you need? I feel that perhaps I sometimes subconsciously trash what I am reading on the web or electronically because I know that I can retrieve it later as required.

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itb is gonna tell you...

Posted November 13, 2013

So I had the exact same problem but in reverse.

Always been a bit of a voracious reader (real books mind...), however my better half bought an iPad2 and promptly started buying kindle e-books via said device.

She dived right in. I however tried a few times to get into a book on the thing and promptly declared this e-book lark a bit of a failure (for me at least) because as you say, I'd barely get a few pages in before I'd swap out to another app or somesuch... and also the screen was a bit bright and glary.

Fast forward a few years and I received a kindle for my birthday. Took me over a month to even open it, given my e-reader attitude at that point. Once I did though it was a gamechanger - suddenly I was back into text devouring mode with a vengeance.

Still love real books. Still love the stack of read, partially read and yet to read I have in my study - but I am very very fond of my kindle thanks very much - especially for late night reading and ofc travelling scenarios. iPad? Not so much.

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted November 13, 2013

Do you use AirDisplay with your iPad Air?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 13, 2013

Nope. Keep em separate.

damian would have you know...

Posted November 13, 2013

That's the first question that popped into my mind too, but I thought from the context the answer was no. Reckon turning one of the old iPads into an extra screen would work. Of course, you wouldn't do that though, you'd be passing the old ones on to your kids.

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Lulu would have you know...

Posted November 13, 2013

"One of the problems of reading on a device that can do anything is that at any given moment you could be doing anything other than reading."

That can indeed be a problem, but occasionally it could be an advantage. I'm reading a non-fic dead-tree book at the moment (Danubia, by Simon Winder) & I keep wishing I could open a browser window & search for things in Google images - when he describes a painting or a palace, etc, I'd love to see what it looks like.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 13, 2013

Or alternatively, looking for a back button to go back a page in a dead tree book, which I did recently

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Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted November 13, 2013

"though I can really stay awake for more than about twenty minutes once"

Really or rarely JB!

I can't believe you would stoop so low as to ask for money to feed your kids!

Let'em starve and put you in a nursing home with me.

I look forward to it.

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pi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 14, 2013

I've taken it a bit further. Since the election, I've banned all news. Don't watch it on TV, don't listen to it on radio, don't read newspapers, physical or online.

It's amazing how much less stressed I am. I'm just winding up a uni subject in the next few weeks, and I'll have a couple of months of glorious free reading time in which to devour my also signfiicant stack of books that must be a-read.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 14, 2013

Yeah, I wanted to know how fkn tops is the new iPad. Checked it out at The Store during my lunch hour yesterday.That place always reminds me of how shopping should be. The Airpad looks great. On the floor at the tables where it is displayed the Store staff have put in iDrool drip trays. Collecting drool by the bucket loads.

Nah, didn't buy one. Its in next year's budget. I use both pad and iPhone for reading. Had never thought of the phone for that but it was exteremely handy a while ago when Jetstar fucked up my birthday by making me miss a glorious lunch. Stuck in the airport bar I read some 'splodey stuff by J Phelan. Nothing like beer and shit getting blowed up to pass the time.

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Blake has opinions thus...

Posted November 14, 2013

i wonder if these ultra devices would benefit from an expanded version of the 'quiet' mode a lot of them allow to block phone calls for a period.

I used to enforce my desktop when gearing up for swotvac at uni.

Irc, games, solataire, minesweeper anything that could distract was gone for the duration. I was an expert procrastinator and somehow uninstalling stuff and blocking websites worked to at least keep me from distraction whilst at the pc (didnt help for the cleaning)

I've certainly noticed that my novel reading has dropped right off since buying the tablet. It reads well, feedly gets smashed but I just cant stay in the kindle app for more than a minute.

Strangly kindle use had peaked after I broke my iPhone

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Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted November 15, 2013

I just got an e-mail saying 'introducing Amazon.com.au'. Awesome - until I noticed it's only for Kindle books. D'oh.

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Respond to 'Quiet time reading'

Matt Thompson's 'Running With the Blood God.'

Posted November 4, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

The entry below hosts an extract from Matt Thompson's latest book. I met this guy many years ago at the Newcastle Young Writers' Festival, when I wasn't really very young. We didn't get off to a flying start, but I've since to come to apprecate his work as some of the finest immersive reportage being done in an Australian voice.

His latest book is about... well, the crazy fuckers who drive the human race onwards and upwards. He travelled the world to meet them, the ones who wouldn't settle for quiet desparation.

Matthew's generously offered up a couple of signed freebies which would make great gifts just in time for Christmas.

But if you want one you'll have to earn it with a story about the time you were a bt of a crazy fucker.

25 Responses to ‘Matt Thompson's 'Running With the Blood God.'’

BigWillieStyle ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2013

"..a story about the time you were a bt of a crazy fucker."

Sorry, is this a trick question?

Quokka would have you know...

Posted November 6, 2013

I vote for Spanner to win for scaring the **** out of me last night on twitter with his tales of 6.5 hours in the dentist's chair for a bout of tooth planing.

After spending 2.5 hours sitting in the dentist chair yesterday, I deserve a vodka smoothie. I will be twitching in the corner until such time as the hallucinogens wear off & the gob-i-lins stop chattering in the ceiling.

Next time I get the tooth yanked & I give Tom Waterhouse the 2G, even if they do shoot the horse I put it on it's still gotta hurt less than crowning a molar.

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted November 4, 2013

You're going to have to narrow that down a bit.

Self destructive bahaviours?

Career self immolation?

Ridiculous risk taking without reward?

Picking Grandfather of Lies as one's nemesis?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted November 4, 2013

A story as in a short narrative here, or something more formal?

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Bunyip mumbles...

Posted November 4, 2013

Does "The time I went to the pub with Therbs" count? Asking for a friend.

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 4, 2013

Offer Luke a prize for that one JB. I'd like to know what happened.

Quokka has opinions thus...

Posted November 4, 2013

LOL.

Me too. I'm guessing it didn't end with gelati.

Bunyip ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2013

I just know it didn't involve any chopped carrot. Well, if it did, there was no sign of any the next morn.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted November 4, 2013

I don't normally go for those types of books but it sounded quite interesting. However i don't have any crazy in me to enter for a copy - unless you count taking the two kids for the weekly food shop at 5pm on a friday after they had spent a day at school and then an afternoon swimming and being fed sugar by their grandparents. I still lie in bed after that one watching the fan slowly revolve before going on a drunken room smashing rampage.

I have a good story about my grandfather though. He was captured in the rear guard removal of forces from greece in WWII. Subsequently escaped and spent months on the run meeting up with and helping out the underground eventually island hopping across the Aegean and finally ending up in palestine to rejoin the troops.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted November 5, 2013

Dug out an excerpt from his journal that my grandfather wrote in the 50's before time started to get in the way of memory. It only covers his exploits from 1940 to the end of WWII, from Sydney to the middle east/mediterranean and back to PNG, but completely glosses over his PNG experience (where he won the military cross).

"Many people have tried to paint in words their feelings when first under fire. That feeling I’m afraid is one of those things that can never be accurately reproduced. It is like an artist attempting to portray the first flush of a good old Aussie sunset; the colour is captured perhaps, the shape and form true to eye, but the atmosphere of tenseness can never go on canvas. And so with the feelings of mere man, too few can put what they see on paper even when those things are known and recognised. How more difficult to portray fear, anticipation, determination, anxiety, hate and cunning all by a few sentences. One thing only stands out in my mind and that by repetition over a score or more of times. The icy creep up the back like the ‘goose pimples ‘ of winter, the feeling as though the hairs on the back of the neck were standing out like wires, the straining of the eyes (till they felt like organ stops) to try and see through bushes and behind walls. The tense taut spring feeling of waiting for the starter’s gun. Then the job begins in earnest, the tension goes like the tearing of a piece of stiff cloth and almost the feeling of normalcy returns. The task ahead becomes one of urgent, puffing haste and the goose back and wire hair become normal again-until the next major effort when things don’t seem too good to you. Funnily I could always raise a good spit. Things would have been grim to have a mouth like a dry chip as well!

Still get any soldier to try and portray his reaction the very first time and you will find he has forgotten, remembers some trifling detail, hedges the question and passes it off with a shrug or else looks at the questioner with the thought in his mind-“you’ll know when you are up against it and the sooner the better”.

Perhaps it was even thus in the times of the ancient wars. The soldier on the job has never much time to weigh up the pro’s and con’s of his emotions –he has a job to do, he’s in a jamb which he has to turn to his advantage, and fast, so he thinks little except of the job. Afterwards there are always more important things, like leave."

And there is also one story of crazy about him that has always stuck in my head:

At his funeral in 2002 one of his old mates got up and told a story about him. Apparently in PNG there was a kit inspection on the officers. They were all lined up and the whole field kit was gone over. The officer doing the inspection (must have been pretty high up as my pop was a captain) started tearing strips off the others. The major point being that each officer in the line did not have a loaded sidearm at the time of inspection. Just before he reached my pop he went on a full rampage about being in an occupied wartime situation and it was complete incompetence not to have a loaded firearm at all times. He turns to my pop red faced and yells "and i suppose your firearm is not loaded as well?"

My pop responds by pulling it out and firing it at the ground before yelling out "NO SIR". He was then sent on a mission where he earned his military cross and a promotion.

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Dick ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2013

Those guys are fuckin' nuts, and I'm pleased to say I am unable to join in the running for a copy of the book. I've done what I thought were some crazy things, but not in that league.

insomniac reckons...

Posted November 4, 2013

They had a headstart in crazy, wot with being beardy nutters

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Therbs is gonna tell you...

Posted November 4, 2013

I once got a paper cut and didn't put antispetic on it. That was some really cray cray fucked up shit.

Bunyip mutters...

Posted November 4, 2013

That would have been a waste of good whiskey. Just saying....

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Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted November 4, 2013

A while back, Mrs W and I took "local transport" from Windhoek in Namibia up to the Caprivi Strip (a contested bit of land between Namibia, Botswana and Angola). This was a two day trip in a minivan with the sliding door falling off and a guy who drank solidly the whole time, pausing only to slowly turn around and glare at us. During the military convoy along Caprivi Strip there were a couple of toilet breaks. We were warned not to go to far into the bush on the side of the road, just in case the Angolans decided that the ceasefire should end.

Once at the border with Botswana, we hiked and thumbed our way along, at one point catching a lift with the Botswanan police through Chobe National Park. Speed limit in Chobe- 50 kph. Speed of the police- 100kph. We did see a few elephants, though, so that was nice.

Finally we reached the Zambian border, but didn't have enough US dollars for the essential visa. Fortunately a lodge owner who was picking up some other tourists took pity on us, put us on his list of passengers and after helping the immigration officials to agree to this necessary amendment we were finally at Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. This was all to avoid travelling through Zimbabwe.

Fun times.

Brother PorkChop reckons...

Posted November 4, 2013

Dave, yep, we didn't have the required US dollars to leave Zimbabwe, just a bunch of Zim dollars that that retard Mugabe wouldn't accept. They let us go after I actually screamed at the collection person for over 5 minutes. My new bride just about asked for an annulment. In my defence I was hungover badly after a night on Amarula. My little crazed episode was taking a shortcut whilst driving from Capetown to Stellenbosch. Ha!! Shortcut my ass, ended up in a proper township. Found some whiteys in a Landcruiser and stayed on them until we got through.

Dave W asserts...

Posted November 5, 2013

There's a shortcut from the main road between Capetown and Stellenbosch? There's a perfectly good main road and it's, what, a two hour drive.

Some white guys offered me the opportunity to see a proper township up close at night. Given I'd had a couple of beers I thought it was a reasonable idea. So I jumped in the car, no seat-belts, because it's safer to get thrown clear of the wreck according to the SA scientist types.

We drove in, then parked up and went into a shebeen. I have another beer, chat, then realise that not only am I deep within some unknown township, in a bar, with people I barely know, but they are there to score some ice. But I chalk this one down to my own stupidity.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2013

Yes, you will need to narrow this down.

i.e. do the tales of our s18 years of trying to exist beside a boarding house count?

And does anyone want to know the answer to the Q: How many Irish Backpackers does it take to rescue a hairdresser who is locked in the bog?

A: All of them, and three tradesmen to clean up the mess they made.

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w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted November 4, 2013

The recipe said to use 2 onions, but I only used 1.

Quokka asserts...

Posted November 4, 2013

I don't think this counts, unless you dipped it in lighter fuel and lobbed it in the landlord's window to punish them for trapping Aisling in the Bog at 3am. I am pretty sure what's wanted here is tales of dashing freedom fighters liberating their womenfolk from imminent disaster.

i.e. almost missing out on their ride to partay at The Chalk.

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Lobes asserts...

Posted November 5, 2013

Against my own better judgement I once agreed to act as consultant and local fixer for a commodity trading firm that wanted to pull a shipload of scrap metal from a closed mine in a former warzone. Although the civil war that the mines operation had sparked was over and the government was nominally in charge of the area once we got there it quickly became apparent that to get anything done we had to play along with the local warlord, a fellow named Ishmael. After several days of intense negotiations with Ishmaels lieutenants (I never met him myself, which is probably just as well, because I had a stack of Moby Dick jokes prepared for any introduction) we got the go ahead to start loading the ship. Predictably the deal with Ishmael put some of his local rivals off side and on the first night of loading they snuck into our camp during a huge rainstorm to shoot the tyres out of the loading equipment we were using and set a fire that destroyed the truck carrying our only protective device (to know of which meant they had a spy in our camp).

Long story short after about another week of deteriorating productivity and worsening relations with the locals I decided to bail and get a flight out from the nearest airstrip which was a 4 hour drive away in the regional capital. I managed to arrange a lift up there with a Swedish scrapper and his local offsider, a former rebel, in their landcruiser who were similarly jack of it. The last thing we had to do was go back to Ishmaels and buy a case of warm beer for the drive. The three of us then jammed into the front cab of the cruiser and did a high speed midnight run to the airport. Most of the bridges along the way were down so it took us 19 river crossings in the middle of the night to get there. I got to the airport and bumped into a colleague who was just flying in to join us, we had a short conference and I decided to go back with him. This time we did the drive without beer as I was pretty tired by then.

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Murphy would have you know...

Posted November 5, 2013

I used a shit soaked toilet plunger to start a fight once when I was in the Army.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Quokka puts forth...

Posted November 5, 2013

Hmm. Do you still have it and would you be willing to use it on the intransigents here?

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted November 5, 2013

I have since graduated to more effective and sublime methods of subduing the masses.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Quokka mutters...

Posted November 5, 2013

You use a super soaker?

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Respond to 'Matt Thompson's 'Running With the Blood God.''

Tom Clancy writes no more

Posted October 3, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

The King of the technothrillers is dead. Clancy passed away overnight at the age of 66. No information yet about why, although the cigars and bacon at every breakfast might have contributed.

I enjoyed his early Jack Ryan novels, before they became a little preachy and political. He really did hit upon a new engine for driving thrillers that seemed to accelerate the reader through the text. I think he did it best in Red Storm Rising which was, if I recall, a non-Ryan book.

I learned a bit about long form story telling from Tom, both what to do and what to avoid, and I'll share a drink with Admiral Kohlhammer in his honor later.

23 Responses to ‘Tom Clancy writes no more’

Sarahjane mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2013

That is sad news..... I like his books mostly as well.

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BigWillieStyle is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

Yes, he had a way of putting words in an order that made for an enjoyable read. I liked a lot of the books in his "Net Force" series.

I'd like to think he was wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses and one of those enormous caps with "USS Indianapolis" written on the front when he passed.

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bstar is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

His books were part of the reason that I have a big interest in the military. The Hunt For Red October and Red Storm Rising are my favourite books...I've worn so many copies of both books out it...I made sure Mr Clancy lived in a comfortable lifestyle.

Rest in Peace Mr Clancy.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2013

yeah, the last REDSTORM RISING has fkn fallen apart. He sort of lost me with the net force series, but the advent of Jack Ryan Jr and the shoot off series was quite good. The a fkn bummer, for him and for me!

BigWillieStyle mumbles...

Posted October 3, 2013

Probably more of a bummer for him.

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John Baker asserts...

Posted October 3, 2013

My favorite Clancy novel is "The Cardinal of the Kremlin," no politics, lots of drama, better writing flow than his first books. Second favorite was actually non-Jack Ryan based, "Red Storm Rising." His books past mid-'90s got a bit more ludicrous and more ideological, but his early stuff was great fun.

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 3, 2013

I first started reading him when 'Hunt for Red October' was released as a movie. He really did invent the modern techno-thriller and opened up the market to people like Larry Bond and Patrick Robinson. As a space-opera tragic (because spaceships), I'm also very partial to submarine stories as well, so Red October really did grab me by the throat and shake me awake.

I read pretty much everything up until the one about Ryan's son and the two nephews. Not sure why I lost interest then but I did.

Still, props to Clancy for all of the good reads over the years.

I had heard a few years back that he was not well then, but didn't know the cause.

I might have to re-read Red October soon in his memory.

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Boscolamb asserts...

Posted October 3, 2013

Sad news. Every time a famous author dies, we have a run on their books by library patrons. I'm not certain what they're all thinking: like we will dispose of their works now that they're dead?

He was pretty popular, and prolific at one time. I personally read most of his earlier works, but moved on to better writing like Mr. Birminghams.

I'd also like to thank those of you (especially John) who recommended John Ringo's, Under A Graveyard Sky. Best zombie book I've read in some time (I really enjoyed the first half which detailed the fall of civilization).

Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2013

I enjoyed Graveyard Sky as well, wasn't it going to be a book club session. No matter it has set me off on a John Ringo reading jag now, the first two books in his Posleen series are free on I-tunes and lots of fun...

The Graveyard Sky is funny too because he tries to write an Aussie lead character - doesn't quite get it right all the time (I have never heard the word dunny used so wrongly) but he makes a pretty good effort...

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Wolfcat would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2013

I just re read Red Storm Rising earlier this year, despite the politics not standing up, the story telling does. An amazing techno thriller.

RIP TOM.

Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted October 5, 2013

Red Storm actually was part of another very niche genre of World War Three (NATO -USSR ) conflict books in the 80s. But he definitely took it to a new level....

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SZF is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

He lost me after "The Sum of All Fears". It was OK itself, but subsequent books where Jack Ryan becomes President was a bridge too far for me. The less said of lending his name to glorifed fan fiction like "Op Centre", the better.

Flicking through "Cardinal of the Kremlin" in recent years it always struck me how he might have portrayed the Afghan mujahadeen differently if he'd written it in 2008 instead of 1988. A bit like the film dedication in Rambo 3.

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted October 3, 2013

NYT Obit

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/books/tom-clancy-best-selling-novelist-of-military-thrillers-dies-at-66.html?smid=tw-nytimes

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yankeedog asserts...

Posted October 3, 2013

Like a lot of people have commented, I too liked his early stuff. He really lost me with 'Red Rabbit'. 'Red Storm Rising' was one of my faves, but he had a lot of help from wargame author Larry Bond (himself a fair technothriller writer at one time) with that book.

Clancy was one of a rare few authors who didn't have to go through 'the writing process' that so many authors talk about. Here's an insurance salesman from Baltimore, finds a story, does the research, writes a book, and sells it without a lot of trouble. One in a million. And a star was born.

Thank you, Mr. Clancy, for a lot of good hours of reading and re-reading!

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Moko would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2013

I'll take the time to appreciate The Division just that little bit more.

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damian would have you know...

Posted October 3, 2013

He lost me with Debt of Honor actually... I remember when 911, someone on a forum commented "If you're gonna copy a Tom Clancy novel, why pick one of the worst".

But (always with a soft-spot for submarine stories too) I loved Hunt for Red October. Read it before I saw the movie, loved both. And liked Clear and Present Danger probably more than I should given the slightly laughable IT references, though that could be because Peter Weir of course, and I never did read that book.

This is sad, anyway. Glass in his honour and all that.

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Puma mutters...

Posted October 4, 2013

Loved Without Remorse. Shame the movies made from his books are such garbage.

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Legless mumbles...

Posted October 4, 2013

I liked some of his books but his politics, his rabid love for Ronald Reagan, made it difficult to like the man.

I loved his early books - in particular, Red Storm Rising - but he lost me after Red Rabbit. And as for Op Center and Net Force - unredeemable garbage.

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Nick Brett puts forth...

Posted October 4, 2013

For a while he wrote very good thrillers, then he lost it a bit with a dive to the right wing and then he out-sourced his writing to other authors. But when he was good, he was very good.

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MickH reckons...

Posted October 5, 2013

I was shocked.

It was so sudden and unexpected.

Unlike the rest of you I liked all the Jack Ryan novels but my favourite will always be Without Remorse. That was set in the Jack Ryan Universe but Jack was a kid at the time and his father was more involved. It was the prequal to Rainbow Six actually

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted October 7, 2013

Interesting there Mick, I'm with you, I found almost EVERYTHING pretty fkn good. Its only the OP centre NET series that lost me, but that was a vast off shoot, the rest..yeah...come get some fkn awesome!. IM VERY FKN GOD LIKE OPINION!

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NBlob mumbles...

Posted October 7, 2013

Nil context warning.

Ebullism

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I am LOVIN' Genghis Khan

Posted September 20, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

I picked up the audio book of Jack Weatherford's Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World because it was on special. Five bucks. I thought it might be a nice change from all of the genre I've been reading and it was. And it wasn't. I'll explain in a moment.

Most all of what I know about the great Khan I learned from Conan. The quote about driving your enemies before you, tipping over their yurts and diggin' on the the lamentations 'off der vimmin'.

And something about John Wayne playing him in one of the worst movies of the 1960s, which I really must get around to watching one day. Perhaps in a double header with The Green Berets.

"You're what's it's all about, little Hamchuck."

I say it wasn't entirely a departure from genre because a chapter or two into Weatherford's book I could already see just how many fantasy writers had raided the Khan cupboard for their babarian research. Possibly more than have borrowed from Tolkien over the years.

George R.R. Martin's Dothraki are one example who spring to mind, but pretty much every barb-civ story I've ever read seems to be based on them to some extent. Listening to the narration has been, at times, like settling into an epic fantasy, and I have to keep reminding myself that this is non fiction. Blood feuds, wife stealing, spirit worship, doomed loves, implacable hatreds, the fall of cities, insensate violence, impenetrable tribal and feudal cultures, they're all there.

Also there, and a surprise to me, in spite of the book's subtitle, was an unexpected lesson in the foundations of modernity. Example? Genghis Khan grew up as something of outcast, the son of a woman stolen from her husband, widowed when her second husband was poisoned, and turned out by his tribe because they didn't want to care for all the extra mouths. It soured Genghis on the traditions of clan and family loyalty which were the defining and organizing principles of steppe society. When he started to knock over other tribes and grow his own power base, one of the many things he changed was to promote men on the basis of merit, rather than kinship. It had a range of effects, one of which was to bind all the people's he conquered to his rule because they learned if they served the Khan well, it mattered not whence they had come. He would promote them.

In combination with changes he made to regularise his army - eg, organizing them into decimal units of ten, then one hundred, then a thousand and so on - it made the Mongols much less a Horde than a sort of savage mobile modern state.

I'm enjoying the audiobook so much that I plan on buying myself a hard copy. It is shelf worthy. I might even get an ebook for research while I'm away at the beach the next two weeks. I'm also going to try a little experiment with my new Amazon links. Rather than just buying it as normal, I'll put an associate link below and go in thru that, thereby giving myself a small discount because I'm sort of buying it from the Burger, rather than Amazon direct.

Prof Boylan suggests below that it should be the next bookclub title. I am totally open to that suggestion.

19 Responses to ‘I am LOVIN' Genghis Khan’

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Re: Genghis Khan and the modern world.
It is noteworthy that the Chinese justify their view that Tibet is part of China by saying Genghis Khan made it so in about 1210 AD.
Of course, GK was actually constructing a Mongol empire, but let's not get pedantic.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

This sounds much better than Battlefield: Earth. Why not make this your next book for group discussion?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Actually, that's a pretty good idea.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat would have you know...

Posted September 20, 2013
Seconded.

Surtac mumbles...

Posted September 20, 2013

Thirded.

Check out Conn Iggulden's Conqueror series too, starting with Wolf of the Plains, for a very good fictional version of the tale.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013

I withdraw the suggestion. I am not comfortable with anyone here agreeing with me. It doesn't feel right.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat ducks in to say...

Posted September 20, 2013
OK, I withdraw my secondment . keep the suggestion. Can we do the book now?

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013

Its a remarkable story, the 2007 Russian made film Mongol ( titled in the US and UK release as Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan gave a good account of the rise of Temüjin. Meant to be a trilogy I would be interested in seeing the rest of the tale done by this team.

I first learned that Genghis Khan's name wasTemüjin in the underated 1994 film The Shadow.

Professor: This is the silver coffin of Temujin.

Nightwatchman: Who's Temujin?

Professor: The man who very nearly conquered the globe eight centuries ago.

Nightwatchman: How come l never heard of him?

Professor: Temujin was the birth name......of Genghis Khan.

Bet fraking Genghis Khan never wrote any Mission Statement.

Peter Bradley asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013

Didn't need to write it he just demonstrated the mission!

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Dave W asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013

Click...and...kindle version purchased. Thank you JB.

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Alton mumbles...

Posted September 20, 2013
Have you ever checked out Dan Carlin Hardcore History? He just finished a podcast series on the Mongols.

Barnesm mutters...

Posted September 20, 2013

My son The_Weapon_against_society is a big Hard Core History fan, alternates between listing to that podcast falling asleep and Mike Duncan's The History of Rome all 179 epsiodes.

Surtac is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

The Dan Carlin version is good too, as is his earlier series on the fall of the Roman republic.

And I agree with Commander Barnes re the 2007 Russian film. It's a very fine treatment ... and there's that wonderful late scene where the heavy cavalry is unleashed.

Bangar is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Well worth checking out the Hardcore History podcasts also enjoyed Conn Iggulden books.

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Aaron is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Yep lets do this one, I have been hankering for something like this for next book but could not think of anything. And it's genghis friggin khan. I am sure even lunchtimes were epic for him

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AuntyLou would have you know...

Posted September 20, 2013

Kindle version locked & loaded...ta JB. This not having to think to buy stuff is great! Just hope hubby agrees (he will - being a true history buff). What ever number agreement for bookclub from me.

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tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 20, 2013
2 weeks off? I take it new book is with publishers orwas the sonic boom I heard your deadline going by?

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damian puts forth...

Posted September 21, 2013

The Kindle Edition is $2.76, so I guess there are no excuses. Sounds good.

Also, would almost certainly have skipped the ElRon... just because.

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So, I read Ender's Game

Posted September 18, 2013 into Books by John Birmingham

And although I enjoyed it, I gotta say I'm bit surprised that anyone could be surprised to discover that Orson Scott Card is a socially conservative homophobe.

Seriously? Buggers as an implacable, destructive alien species?

And the lessons of the future? Child soldiers are awesome.

Anyways, I wouldn't want to get all down on it. I did enjoy the story even though there were plenty of times I had to work real hard at suspending my disbelief, especially in the later chapters as the premise begins to seem a lot sillier and the narrative structure falls apart.

I wouldn't set it as a bookclub title but wouldn't have too many issues to recommending it to anyone who can disconnect their feelings about the author from the text. I'm also quite keen to see how the film adaptation works, since there's more a few challenges to surmount in getting this story onto the screen.

Another thing I learned while reading Ender's Game, I should just give up on literature. I'd been trying to read Wolf Hall for about a month and a half before I gave up and downloaded Game. I recognised it as a truly fine piece of writing, a work of genius indeed, sustained across a vast canvas and... meh.

I just couldn't give a shit about it.

Hilary Mantel is a hundred times the writer that Orson Scott Card is, and yet I was able to finish and enjoy Card's book in a fraction of the time I struggled through Wolf Hall.

Life is too short to struggle with hard books.

67 Responses to ‘So, I read Ender's Game’

ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted September 18, 2013

I've read the whole series. The ones set later in the universe are a bit meh, but I did enjoy "Enders Shadow" the Bean centric alternate viewpoint of Enders Game.

I enjoyed the first one more when I was a teenager. Re-reading it as an adult, it's short comings are much more apparent.

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2013

What Shane said.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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Chaz mutters...

Posted September 18, 2013

'Life is too short to struggle with hard books.'

yes although it is to my great shame that I never finished "Ulysses", and the tome stares reproachfully at me from its place on one of my bookshelves, as I choose easier novels around it to read.

theangrywarden swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 21, 2013

I finished it, only so that I could smugly comment in threads like this. How did I do it? I made it my toilet reading - every day, I read one page while sat on the bog.

When I finally finished it, I gleefully went straight onto goodreads.com and gave that fucker a one star review.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted September 21, 2013

I loved Enders Game and have read it at least 20 times over the years, and it just gets funnier each time I read it. You can't say that about many books.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted September 18, 2013

Yeah, it wasn't wasn't until sometime after I made the connection to 'bugger's' and the Author's worldview.

But the trailer is indeed totes Awesome.

I think i gave up reading the series after getting to 'Shadow of the Hegemon' around 2000.

But there is no intrinsic reason why a witer such as Hilary Mantel couldn't craft a novel that tells a story as thrilling as Ender's Game, where as an author such as Orsen Scott Card isn't capable of craftinga story like 'Infinite Jest.'

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 18, 2013

That's true. The Mantel book vexed me. I could feel its quality rubbing against my poor, unprotected brain like rough hewn sackcloth. Reading it was a difficult, intellectual granular experience that I'm sure improved me with every difficult line.

I will never finish it.

NBlob reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

Infinite jest? I spent >2 months of bus reading time on that thing.

0.0 nuclear submarines under attack by nanobots. 0.0 space battles. 0.0 alien eating Space Marine's face. = Fail. At least I finished it. Every grinding turgid word of it. Not so much sackcloth meninges, as coarse coral sand in the jocks.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

inspite of its lack of Zombies, I enjoyed the experience of reading it. By all the stuff I pick up from listening to people who study English it seems to be well crafted.

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pi mutters...

Posted September 18, 2013

The power of enders game isn't its literary merit, it's its accessibility. People that have no interest in this genre like this book. The same can't be said about the late Mr Banks, or Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, or a host of other vastly superior writers. But there aren't too many people that have ever sat down with EG that haven't enjoyed the book, and finished it, and them never having read or finished anything in this genre before, or are likely ever to again.

It's definitely more targeted to a younger reader, but hell... it's about kids.

Bat-shit crazy red-neck man behind the words aside, that ability separates this book from so many others.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 18, 2013

Yeah, I should have mentioned that it is very obviously a YA novel, too. No swearing, no sex, and although there is violence, sometimes quite brutal and intimate, it's not a gore fest.

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Stephen would have you know...

Posted September 18, 2013

Yes, there are some books that are really good, but I find myself reading them so slowly that I can end up getting tired of them. After one of them, I usually try and indulge in a popcorn book or two - something that I'll read in day or two, that's enjoyable but lets my brain relax for a bit.

I read Ender's game so long ago I probably have nostalgia tinted memories of it, but as I remember it was good, however he did a Dune (or Matrix) and made sequels that fans often try to forget. The first Bean one was OK, (better than the other sequels), but having enjoyed the secret history of Ender's game I drifted away from the series - I wan't interested enough in the universe to go back for more.

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JBtoo swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 18, 2013

I found Wolf Hall hard to get in to for about the first third; I found it frustratingly disjointed and I agree you shouldn't have to work so hard to get your head around a book. I was glad I persisted though, as I enjoyed it by the end. I found the sequel much easier going and I'm looking forward to the final installment. I really like well-researched and soundly based historical fiction, which helps.

I like SF/fantasy too, even the YA kind, but nothing I've heard about Enders Game makes me want to read it. I'll see if the library has it, maybe I'll challenge myself.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 18, 2013

I have this theory that Cromwell is flashing back over his life in these books, just as he's about to die. That would account for the disjointed narrative.

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HAVOCK21 mumbles...

Posted September 18, 2013

So..that was kind of srsly FKN AWESOME to the power of HAVOCK. Not so about the book, ain't read it..but anytime you yopu NUKE THE FKRS FROM ORBIT!...its gunna be epic. Not a bad cast in the flick either I see!

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Veronica Foale would have you know...

Posted September 18, 2013

THANK YOU for saying you couldn't read Wolf Hall. I felt a bit fraudy actually when I tried so hard to like it, but I couldn't fall into the story. The writing is brilliant, but I couldn't lose myself in it. I read for pleasure and I just couldn't with Wolf Hall.

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zeniph asserts...

Posted September 18, 2013

I guess its just becasue I'm oztralian but it wasnt until about the 2nd book that I realised that the name 'buggers' could also be refering to bug like creatures - I thought Card was just being a potty mouth about the disgusting aliens.

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damian asserts...

Posted September 18, 2013

Oops, Kindle edition of Wolf Hall on its way to my Note as I type, just on that recommendation. I think my fingers slipped because Banks' Transition and Rajaniemi The Fractal Prince are following it.

Never saw any reason to bother with Card and I guess I still don't.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 18, 2013

Damn it. I really gotta fix those Amazon links.

NBlob reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

If you are going to chastise your Web Bunny, you could stream it & er people would payperview. If your Web Bunny is Dan, then the market would likely be smaller but you could jack the price right up.

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Laer Carroll mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

Where does anybody get the stupid idea that a well-written book is a good book? Well-written in the sense that the style is expressive and evocative and the scenes vivid? The words witty, perhaps?

That is style, and upon my love's survival and happiness, I toil at that in my books. But it is the substance that captures our hearts and minds. The people, places, and events of Wolf Hall are BORING, BORING, BORING. For most of us reading about them is an exercise in masochism. Fine for the masochist, but not for the rest of us.

But then that is the sickness that our educational system teaches us: that a GOOD BOOK is one that is difficult and painful to read and Uplifting in some way. Thousands and millions of kids have been taught that reading is a duty and not a pleasure. And so we remain nations of illiterates or nearly so.

Laer Carroll

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

Testify.

w from brisbane puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2013

I don't think I entirely agree with you Laer.
I'm an Australian, but aren't classics of the US school system books like 'The Red Badge of Courage', 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird'?
I reckon they are great reads.
I reread 'The Red Badge of Courage' about every 5 years and it still blows me away.

Though I see that the US school curriculum is to change because "Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading">
Students are to get more non-fiction. I don't know enough to comment, but very interesting article about the issues here:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/changes-to-american-school-literature-spark-war-over-words-8375195.html

I haven't read 'Wolf Hall', but I note the New York Times review said "Its 500-plus pages turn quickly, winged and falconlike". I reckon a lot of people, albeit a minority, really enjoy the book. Maybe it is a good book, but not for everyone.

Dave W has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2013

+ 1 @ Laer Carroll

My conspiracy theory on this one is that the authors of Serious Literature are actually the English Lit professors who set texts for Uni and High School courses, and are after a guaranteed income stream. Why else would they subject their students to agonisingly difficult text when the true obligation of a good teacher should surely be to get their students to enjoy the subject and learn from that enjoyment?

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

"The people, places, and events of Wolf Hall are BORING, BORING, BORING"

I donb't think they are - or they shouldn't be. And I say that as someone who gave up on Wolf Hall after the first maybe 100 or so pages. My 'serious' reading is almost entirely non-fiction, and I find history fascinating. Modern stream-of-consciousness narrations using historical characters & events? Apparently somewhat less fascinating.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted September 19, 2013

No two people read the same book, each brings their own experiences, expertise, knowledge and skill as a reader. The same reason why some will like Enders game, and some will not, some will struggle with Wolf Hall and hate it, some will struggle with Wolf Hall and love it. The discussion as to whether it is well crafted story is a distinction that is too often confused.

There are books you can find challenging and enjoyable, just as there are easy to read books that are un-engaging (and dull) . But to require students study books that aren't a little challenging is to do them a disservice, just as it would be to only provide books that are easy to read.

I have yet to see any evidence that if those students who complain that they found the prescribed novels in high school were ‘dull’ or ‘literary’ had been given less challenging books they would have turned into readers.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat mumbles...

Posted September 20, 2013
I will testify to the first part of Barnesm's comment. I found EG both enthralling and traumatic to read- on a psychological level Card pretty much captured my childhood and reading EG actually left me upset for a couple of weeks. I did somebackground reading on how Card came to write the novel and his end product from my perspective hit a target he wasn't even aiming . . so I found it a powerful book. I wish i hadn't now, with his politics and all, but thems the breaks.

w from brisbane has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013

I reckon it is autobiographical.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013
From memory i think his brother had just enlisted in the Marines and was talking about combat tactics, and Card started thinking about what combat would be like in zero g and how you would train for it. I think the idea was put aside for many years and then the other elements came in later e.g child soldiers e tc. If its autobio he doesn't admit to it!

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pi is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

There's a special place in hell for the people who put 'The Stone Angel' into the high-school curriculum of Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stone_Angel

Why the FUCK would someone a book about "a 90-year-old woman struggling to come to grips with a life of intransigence and loss." into the hands of a teenager except that they had some twisted desire to kill any desire to read in a child. I can think of 10,000 books more suited to a high-school curriculum than this one.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

probably the same people who would put Patrick White's the Aunt's Story on a high school curriculium. Though I can understand how it happens often these decision are made by a committee of well intentioned folk, but they are forced by various groups - active parents, State based curriclum designs, various current issues - more Australian writers, authors from the that state, this terms 'themes' around loss, and not to mention the cost of ensuring in a public school there are the 30 copies of the novel needed for every student. Plus there will be various folk in authority who have their own 'hot' suggestion.

I have nothing but sympathy for most of the teachers having to teach the books choosen in school and even for those who struggle to balance the competing issues.

I am sure we would all love to see "he died with a falaffal in his hand' as the prescribed reading in every school in the world but it just may not be the best book for a term which is meant to center around the expistolory novel with references to the rise of modern city in the 20th century. doesn't mean it won't be one of the novels the library holds on its "read this novel" recommendation shelf. Bet there are a lot of students who still won't pick it up.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

I struggled with a lot with set texts in school (being a scifi/fantasy nerd that gobbled them up by the forest load). We got a subsitute teacher one term who handed out Day of the Triffids. I read it in two days and she came around to collect them again saying we had to read something else - school rules. I said that wasn't fair as i was sure i was going to ace any set work on this. I got to write an extra essay for my trouble. Later on in army cadets i had already learned the valuable lesson of "don't volunteer for anything" so was considered a wise old sage.

I would have to say that nearly all my set texts have been entirely forgettable. Maybe they helped my growing brain though. . . .

ShaneAlpha mutters...

Posted September 19, 2013

Back in the day, Get owf mah lawrn you kids, Year 12 English assignment,teacher gives out list of about a dozen books of various genres, students have to choose one and do a major report on it. Only sci/fi book on the list " The Stainless Steel Rat". Class ends and yours truely is stopped at the door by the teacher and informed that the English department has had a discussion and I was banned from choosing scifi because, quote "I know too much".

Kicker was I had already selected "The Day of the Jackal" because I considered Stainless Steel Rat too easy. Still got an A+.

Darth Greybeard is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

Patrick White! I have started three books by that bloke and finished none of them. Before I knew anything about him (i.e. before the Internet and AltaVista*) he came across as deeply unpleasant - a "hater" if you will. And sure, that doesn't mean he couldn't produce Great Literature but, IMHO, he didn't. And I know zilch about Peter Carey, who may be a really nice guy who's kind to small animals and old ladies. But I really dislike his books too. Bliss? Eeurgh. Anything but.

* Yeah, laugh at AltaVista if you will but I was doing searches with Archie when the Internet was new.

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Murphy is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

Irony?

About the same time you posted this, I started watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off for an Adolescent Psychology class I am taking. I somehow managed to miss the film on my journey through the 1980s.

Thirty minutes in, I'm fairly certain I hate the fucking film. Which pains me, John. Because I know you love this film. Here is what I posted at FB, which you, by the way, got me addicted to, then left me there, to rot.

The Student Front: I'm typing this in full awareness that the instructor who assigned it will see it.

I'm watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the first time this evening. As a Child of the 1980s I somehow managed to collide with most of the Brat Pack type films whether I wanted to see them or not. Bueller was a case of successful evasion by virtue of apathy.

I'm told it is a great film, a classic. I'm about thirty minutes in and I'm pretty sure I hate it. Bueller's the kind of douchebag I'd have thrown out the window at NKC. Rooney simply seems to be a first class idiot. Why waste even one-tenth the time it takes to track Bueller down? Bueller's mom is a complete fucking moron in contrast to my own mother who would have been at the Parking Garage when they arrived with the Ferrari waiting for me.

The only admirable character, near as I can tell, is the tall hypochrondriac who serves as the forlorn voice of reason that is regularly ignored yet he is too insecure in his own knowledge base to tell Bueller what he desperately needs to hear.

Which is, I might add, "Bueller, fuck off."

I should like this film because I hated high school with a passion that exceeds Bueller's. I hated assholes like Rooney (in real life the actor turns out to be a child molester, go figure). I get that high school is pretty well pointless in every respect.

And yet, the film, on a personal level, ain't working for me.

As a student though, I suspect I'll have plenty to write about for the assigned paper, so it meets the assignment criteria.

That said, I'm taking it in small doses of thirty minutes at a time.

Ooooh, and the Grandmother died? Really? Does anyone have any idea how deadly a semester is to a grandmother who isn't the student? Why, they die by the millions, I'm sure.

End of FB post.

So, my point?

Bueller seems to work for people who saw it while they were in the trenches of the 1980s. I think Ender's Game works, much like Heinlein will for some, if you read it at the right age. I just happened to catch Ender as I started to work on sci-fi short stories in my early 30s. It resonates with me in a way that Bueller doesn't mainly because it picks up on all the petty bullshit that is life in the military while combining it with the mindnumbing annoyances which make up life on Planet High School.

In other words, I think you came to the novel too late. And it doesn't help that OSC frequently comes off like a raving lunatic.

My two cents.

An hour of Bueller left. God help me.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

"Bueller seems to work for people who saw it while they were in the trenches of the 1980s. "

Bingo. I've never seen Bueller either despite also being a teenager in the 1980s, but I know what you mean. I loved Better Off Dead (John Cusack) at the time, but when I watched it again years later, it gave me the shits.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2013

oh no. Don't say that. Maybe i should also stay away from Better Off Dead and not to relive it. I also liked Bueller and Enders Game back in the day but have moved on since then. Too much back history now.

pi asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

Ha... very funny. I watched better off dead two weeks ago for the first time in 20 years. Cusack was pretty funny, but I just thought the mother was hilarious. Y'know... aside from actually probably being the same age as him. And the younger brother who kept cutting out the coupons in full boxes of cereal... ya just don't get that sort of humour anymore.

And no-one died!

I really like Bueller, but it was because of the other players that made it so funny. The car-parking attendants "Relax... we're professionals." Charlie Sheen contemplating his fingers. The father regularly popping up all over town. The kids running the 'save ferris' campaign. The principals secretary pulling all of the pencils out of her hair. Those are what made that movie for me.

Oh... and fuck all of you. I've gotten PLENTY of work done today.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

From the folk at Cracked here is a fan theory for Ferris Bullers Day Off

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Was All in Cameron's Head

This beloved 1986 John Hughes teen comedy tells the story of three good friends playing hooky; the affable and impossibly popular Ferris Bueller, the chronically depressed Cameron and Ferris's girlfriend, the stone-cold Sloane. Together, they embark upon the most exciting non-sex-and-booze-and-pot filled day a bunch of attractive American teens could ever wish for.

The Theory:

Cameron creates Ferris in his mind. Ferris is the total opposite of Cameron: he's fun, spontaneous and has a loving family and foxy girlfriend. At the beginning of the film, the imaginary Ferris convinces a bed-ridden Cameron to "borrow" his dad's Ferrari 250 GT California and cruise all over Chicago. Given Cameron's crushing social incompetence, it's likely that Sloane is fictional too and represents a girl that he has a crush on.

This theory explains the more fantastic elements of the film. For example, the whole city of Chicago rallies around the "sick" Ferris. This represents Cameron's miserable home life and how he yearns for friends and family who give a shit. Or, perhaps Bueller is a guy Cameron knows but isn't friends with, and his fantasy is based on what he imagines life to be like for the "popular" kids at school--everything is easy and the world revolves around them.

Or maybe it's a secret metaphor for how Cameron wants to grow up to be Inspector Gadget.

"Gotta get home before my parents do!"

When Cameron accidentally trashes his father's Ferrari at the film's climax, he realizes that he needs to stick up to his father and take responsibility for his own life. At this point he "disposes" of Ferris and Sloane. Both of his fictional friends receive happy endings: Sloane is left pondering marrying Ferris, whereas Ferris safely returns home, where he can break the fourth wall for eternity.

Why does it make the film better?

It transforms Ferris Bueller into a Brat Pack version of Fight Club. Remember when Ferris keeps pestering Cameron to pick him up?

Holy shit. That kid is fucked up. He needs a friend. A friend who is everything he is not, a friend who can liberate him from all of his self-imposed limitations. Somewhere, there's probably a rejected script for a sequel where "Bueller" convinces Cameron to climb up a clock tower with a rifle.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

Oh and my favourite fan theory at the cracked article

"Chewbacca and R2-D2 Are Secret Rebel Agents"

ShaneAlpha is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

If anyone says one single bad word about Molly Ringwald, I will hunt you down. Just sayin.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013

I hate Molly Ringwald. My wife and I were recently in San Francisco and Ms. Ringwald was performing in the bar at the top of the Drake, where we were staying. My wife wanted to go. I asked her "what concentric circle of Hell will we be seated in?" I wanted to know because I have an active bladder, and some spots in Hell are closer to bathroom facilities than others.

We didn't go. And I am so glad we did not, even though, by my wife's reconning, I owe her.

Jayanthi's Atomic Cat has opinions thus...

Posted September 20, 2013
Well, it has been nice knowing you, PNB. Not gonna wish you good hunting, Shane...

w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted September 20, 2013

PNB must be in the Ally Sheedy faction.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted September 20, 2013

I will work diigently to rebuild our relationship.

ShaneAlpha asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013

I will allow this as there has been a distinct decrease in Mollyness as the years have passed. My purest love is for the classical Molly.

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Surtac mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

I only bought a copy of Ender’s Game because, as a Hugo or Nebula winner, it met one of my mandatory collection criteria. I read it and wasn’t impressed, to be honest.

And then I made the mistake of reading the foreword or afterword or whatever it was (it was an anniversary edition of some sort) and discovered then what an example of ass-hattery he clearly is.

It made me reconsider the book in a completely different light, via his specific religious perspective, and I realised how repellent I now found it with its fundamental assumption about the value of children in society.

Not going into details – I find I’m still angry about it years later. I know you shouldn’t conflate the artist with the art they produce but there’s no way he’ll ever get any royalty money from me ever again.

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

In the age of social media, few seem to be willing to admit to enjoying something if the creator does not meet some political benchmark. Increasingly there seems to be a litmus test about the creation of culture that doesn't allow for the work to be considered in isolation, but only deemed worthy of consumption. This seems to be premised in part on the suggestion that if you enjoy the cultural output of someone, you are immediately assigned the creators political opinions.

In reality, people you agree with can create excrement and people you think are horrible can create things of beauty.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

I'll have you know I can create beautiful excrement.

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2013

My excrement only takes on beauty through the addition of kinetic energy.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

(To an extent I think that this also explains how some awards are going to works written by people who may not have created the best work in a specific category, but who vigorously evangelise the politics of majority of the people that vote for the award)

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted September 19, 2013

Truth, especially in American Science Fiction these days.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

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yankeedog asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

It's no 'Battlefield: Earth', that's for sure...

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 19, 2013

Hahahahahaha.

w from brisbane mutters...

Posted September 19, 2013

I thought Battlefield: Earth was one of the more coherent and interesting SF films of recent years.

pi asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

I loved battlefield earth too. You get about three quarters through the book and think "what the hell else could happen?!?!". And it does.

But if I didn't like something because of the wackiness of the creator, I wouldn't like Ridley Scott. And I do.

w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted September 19, 2013

I've actually yet to meet a person who has seen Battlefield Earth and didn't think it was particularly good.
Yeah, there is a bit that is quite risible, but that seems nothing to do with Scientology (whatever that is?), but seems more to do with traditional feel good Hollywood plotting.

Lulu swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 19, 2013

pi:

"You get about three quarters through the book and think "what the hell else could happen?!?!"."

I like the Coen brothers' films for similar reasons - because invariably when the credits roll, I'm left thinking, "Whaah? WTF just happened?" They bring the weird like almost nobody else.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 19, 2013

You people are taking the piss, aren't you?

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted September 19, 2013

Taking the piss?
Personally. Nuh.
In fact, it was an anti-colonial story, where the representatives of the colonial masters didn't give a rats about the locals but, as the colonising officials were preoccupied by their own office political ambitions to get a better posting back at home, were unaware of the fact that the locals had the shits bigtime and were organising a bit of a coup.
It reminded me of some of the terrific stories by W. Somerset Maughan about British colonials in remote outposts. A really great writer who, I think, nobody reads anymore,

damian asserts...

Posted September 19, 2013

What's this Battlefield: Earth thing?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 19, 2013

Oh God no.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted September 20, 2013

Well looks like we have the next Book Club book

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted September 20, 2013

I resent the defamatory accusation that I would ever abscond with any form of human waste. You people are disgusting.

As for Battlefield Earth, not only was it a truly amazing novel, chockablock with intelectual and spiritual inspiration, it made a fine film. When John Travolta sneered and said "stupid humans" it was the crowning achievement of his exceptional cinematic acting career.

I could go on and on on this this topic, but I must go: there is something on the telly about monkeys.

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Jayanthi's Atomic Cat asserts...

Posted September 20, 2013
So is that Battlefield: Earth for the next bookclub then?

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Grumpy Guy has opinions thus...

Posted September 24, 2013

Writing is storytelling.

You can write like effing Shakespeare, but if the story does not interest your readers, it's a waste of time.

OSC is a weird dude, with some unsavory ideas about Gay people, and he is nobody's Shakespeare, but he can entertain. Particularly in the YA niche he writes for.

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Respond to 'So, I read Ender's Game'