Cheeseburger Gothic

Deadline reads

Posted February 3, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

I've been smashing out this deadline since about early December, which means I'm way behind on my TV watching and video game playing, but strangely enough I've managed to do some quality reading. I find it helps when you're pushing through your own words to occasionally dip into someone else's. Maybe it's just a break from the imagined world in which I have to spend 12 hours a day. Could be it's just nice to see that somebody else finished the job.

I've gone through five novels so far this deadline; two of them brilliant, one of them pretty good, one a bit of a dud, and one that I'm only about a third of the way through and beginning to enjoy after some initial misgivings.

The brilliant picks I owe to Orin, I think. I seem to recall him mentioning a couple of space operas by a guy called James SA Corey awhile back, but if it was somebody else I apologise. Unlike most of the space operas I read, these are quite constrained. Humanity has got off this damned rock and colonised Mars, a couple of moons around Saturn and Jupiter, and big chunks of the asteroid belt. Faster than light travel is still impossible. Damn You, Einstein. But the Epstein Drive (invented by a guy called Epstein!) has allowed ship designers to build spacecraft that can get out to the edge of the solar system in mere months, as opposed to years. It gives the politics of the solar civ a wierdly nineteenth century feel.

This is the sort of thing that would normally piss me off, but Corey (a pen name for a couple of other writers who wanted to collaborate on a big splodey space project) does a very good job, Douglas Adams style, of reminding us just how big space is. Even our little solar system. It's really big. The tech is sweet, the science seems very scientific and the story rocks along. I won't give away too many spoilers other than to say an ancient evil from the cold reaches of intergalactic space reaches out and threatens to destroy the human race who are too busy squabbling amongst themselves to present a united front.

It was a joy to read these books because quality shoot-em-ups between the stars are increasingly hard to come by. The characterisations are great in both novels with an ensemble cast of four or five players led by a couple of main actors, who I won't discuss here because it would be difficult to lay out the story arcs without giving away massive spoilers. If you like your space opera with lots of splosions and infamy and space zombies, I recommend a buy.

The Long Earth, another collaborative effort, this time between Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, is the sort of book I would normally be all over like a cheap Chinese suit, since it's about the multi-verse. In the first of the series – there are a few more to come apparently – a scientist discovers a way to step between parallel earths, an infinity of parallel worlds, each one only slightly different from the one before. Of course when you push those differences out towards infinity, the differences become infinite. I found The Long Earth to be a fascinating if occasionally frustrating travel log as narrated by "Joshua Valienté (a natural 'Stepper') and Lobsang, who claims to be a Tibetan motorcycle repairman reincarnated as an Artificial intelligence." There’s good fun to be had following them through world after world and watching the repercussions play out on Datum Earth, or Earth version 1.0 I guess you could call it.

There isn't much of a storyline, though; it's really more a book of exploration with the challenges of pushing deeper into the increasingly different worlds providing what passes for a narrative arc. There's a bit of mystery involving some of the life forms which have evolved up and down the contingency tree, and these sort of feed into what passes for a plot in the second book in this series, The Long War. I didn't enjoy War nearly as much as Earth, and wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to anyone. The whole thing seemed half baked. But if you like your alternate reality stories, there's nothing wrong with The Long Earth and I don't mind fessing up to having enjoyed it.

Finally I was in at Pulp Fiction the other day and saw that Peter Corris had a new Cliff Hardy novel out, Silent Kill I'm a sucker for Pete's work, and I've bought every Hardy book he's ever written; the only crime writer of whom I could say that. It took me a couple of chapters to get into this latest one which starts off with a large info dump about one of the principal protagonists and suffers in its early stages from a lot of characters being introduced a bit too quickly. But then somebody dies and we get back to Cliff doing what Cliff does best, driving around Sydney knocking heads together.

I picked up my copy of Silent Kill on iTunes and have been reading it on my pad and phone, rather than my Kindle. (I saved my Pulp Fiction purchase for a hardback called The Suicide Exhibition, because Nazis and Demons. Or something. I'll drop the link in below). Amazon forced the change on me when they opened the Australian-based Amazon store and tried to make me reset my account locally, where the selections are much thinner and the prices much higher. I'm happy to pay for my digital content, but I'm not willing to get shaken down for it. So, perversely, although I pay a little more per title on iBooks, and the selection is complete arse unless I use my US account, I've decided that's the price I'm willing to pay to chip away at Amazon's monopoly. The link above goes thru Amazon, where the kindle copy seems to be a reasonable seven or eight bucks. If Apple had an associates program, I'd link to them instead.

I'm getting pretty close to the end of the second Hooper book, and I suspect Cliff will see me through. I'll have a couple of days off then before charging into book 3, which I've got plotted out scene by scene and ready to go. At that point I'll need to give me a few more deadline titles in reserve.

36 Responses to ‘Deadline reads’

Spanner reckons...

Posted February 3, 2014

Bugger, I've just used up my audible credits. I was looking at that Terry Pratchett colaberation but went with a Discworld novel.

Soooo JB about book club?

(please let it be Irvine Welsh's Glue)

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Blarkon mutters...

Posted February 3, 2014

I'm not the only fan of James S.A. Corey here - so it might have been me, it might have been someone else. The other one I want to promote is Lexicon by Max Barry which is flat out FKN AWSM. Other burgers that have read it seem to agree.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

I'll add it to my deadline list.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2014

I've noted the existence of the James S.A. Corey series for a while and figured I'll be reading it sooner or later. It was a toss up whether I'd start that or the Alastair Reynolds I've been reading... might actually start this after On the Steel Breeze.

I'd still like to plug the historian Henry Reynolds' latest book, The Forgotten War in the non-fiction list for book club...

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted February 3, 2014

The third book - Abbadon's Gate has been out a while. The forth is written. The fifth is in production. There is also a green lit script for an "Expanse" series pilot.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2014

Oh. My. God!!!

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insomniac reckons...

Posted February 3, 2014

a little OT but we received some Audible credits for Christmas, and spent the first one on Crime and Punishment. It seems to me that listening to some Russian stodge makes the book much more enjoyable than having to read it, although I've never tried reading P&C. Are more readable books such as those mentioned above even better in Audible form or should I stick to stodge, and keep the others to paper or ebook?

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 3, 2014

We listened to Patrick Stewart reading A Christmas Carol over Christmas. I'd never bother reading it, but his performance was the business. Really brilliant.

As for popular fiction, it depends a lot on the narrator and the production values. I've loved the shit out of Steven Pacey's read of Joe Abercrombie's series. Just awesome. OTOH I have an audiobooks of Stephen King's Dr Sleep that I'm worried about starting in case I hate it.

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2014

I've really enjoyed the Expanse series it was my favourite thing to read last year. In a science fiction lately I have been hitting a lot of post apocolyptic, or dytopias and while the what you delightfully termed 'ancient evil' is indeed a terrifing one the future itself has a postive feel.

Io9 has been all over this series singing its praises as well

The crew of the Rocinante had a wonderful Firefly vibe to the adventures, and my favourite character was from the Marine Bobby and her interations with the UN politician Avasarala.

Great read.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2014

Yeah, the Rocinante comes to feel like home and you get nervous when they're off the ship.

damian ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2014

There's a rather wonderful canoe-yawl design by a famous Amercan yacht design of the early 20th century called the Rozinante, likewise after Don Quixotte. Not sure that's exactly the classic yacht I ever wanted to build, but it's a nice accessible size. I think if it had worked out that I build many boats in my life I'd have done one of those at some point, but things didn't work out that way.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2014

I will hold judgement on The Long Earth/long War series until all five are out, liked the way the Long War was ended and will read the next ones.

Saw The Suicide Exhibition reviewed and am interested, would like to hear what you thought of it first. Personally if its Nazis and Demons you are after might I recommend The Milkweed Triptych by Ian Tregillis; Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2014

Suicide Exhibition was described to me as the sort of book Tregillis would have written if he had any sense of fun at all.

I'll read and review in a few weeks.

damian asserts...

Posted February 3, 2014

I put off reading Long War for quite a while because of that thought it would seem contrived. And it did a bit, sort of like the best ideas went in the first book. But I have to say I enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next.

The hard sf geek in me wants answers to some difficult questions about some of it... But it's not really a hard sf story, at least as credible as most space opera so I'm inclined to give the very respected authors a break.

On that, you don't get much impression of Pratchett's voice in the prose. Not saying that is bad, just noting it.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

The Milkweed trilogy also starred all the folk we met when we read Operation Mincemeat, instead of trying to conduct espionage in this story they are dealing with nazi experiments and trying to develop Britian's wizards to employ horrors beyond space and time. With a bit of multiworld hypothyisis and time travel.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2014

That. Sounds. AWSM!

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted February 3, 2014

Pratchett's "voice" has been increasingly wavering - even in his own stuff. That's partly because he's gone from typing to dictating. The upcoming Gaiman/Pratchett colaboration will be intersting - if only to compare with Good Omens.

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Lulu mutters...

Posted February 3, 2014

When you get back to some TV watching, Generation War is worth a look (and might still be up at SBS on demand).

Blarkon ducks in to say...

Posted February 3, 2014

You mean "Generation Kill"?

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2014

Incorrect oh scaly one.

gen kill = Iraq Gulf War II

Gen war= Wehrmacht World War II

Blarkon mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2014

Are they nearly as creative when it comes to expletives?

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Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted February 3, 2014

Hey JB

Get ready for me to cancel my subscription to Fairfax.

There is some story about Woody Allen and stuff and Cate Blachshett.

OMG Cate Blancshett!

Omg!

Better than Keilly in naybors!

Yeah anyway Kate has a really nice Mercedes but after working with 'Woody' she may upgrade to a newer model.

Do you know how much it costs go go around the world getting awards?

POOR cATE NEEDED THE MONEY.

pOOR CATE.

nOTHING TO DO WITH wtc 7 AND 'WOODY'.

pOOR CATE.

No you don't, so shut up you and don't say anything negative about 'our 'Cate''.

She is priceless...

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 3, 2014

I read the first Corey when it turned up on the Hugo nomination list in 2012. Haven’t yet got to the next ones, but am now suitably reminded so will pick them up at some stage.

If you want something else in a similar vein, I’d recommend Neal Asher’s The Owner sequence, just concluded with Jupiter War. Solar system spaceflight, Mars colony, future totalitarian government dystopia with lots of cool technology (spiderguns are shiny) and lashings of explodey goodness for thems that like that sort of stuff. Page-turning entertainments for those of us who might be twiddling their thumbs waiting for monsters to arrive and show us their protocols, hmmn?

Oh yes, and Bookclub? I had half a memory you’d mentioned Peter Brett’s The Painted Man, which by coincidence I got for Christmas from the kidlets. But no pressure – just pick a title and a (post-deadline?) date.

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

Posted February 3, 2014

i DID NOT SIAY SHE IS WHORE!

i DID NOT SAY DAT.

mUST A BENN SOMEONE ELSE!

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

Posted February 3, 2014

aNYAWY pOLANSKI AND hELTER SKELTER AND SUCH.

And Such.

Sleep tight Munshckins.

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Vovchara would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2014

I could recomend "Dread empire's fall" series from Walter Jon Williams. It starts with The Praxis. Hard core sci-fi with a lot of 'splosions :)

Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2014

Happy to second this recommendation - this is a good series.

Also, WoJo/DubJay had some very good hard sf (almost cyberpunk) books early in his career which got some attention but probably not as much as they deserved: examples are Hardwired, Voice of the Whirlwind, Angel Station, Ambassador of Progress and suchlike.

And if you like a touch of farce in your space opera, I highly recommend his Drake Majistral series about a celebrity Allowed Burglar. The books are The Crown Jewels, House of Shards and Rock of Ages. Very funny in places, and reminiscent of the Francis Sandow stories by Roger Zelazny - another series where you sense the author is having way too much fun putting the words together for you to read.

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Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2014

testing

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Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2014

I massively reccomend John Courtenay Grimwood's "Arabesk" trilogy (Pashazade, Effendi, Felaheen) for those who haven't read it: Alternate history North African cyberpunk noir, really beautifully written even if the what if history does seem a bit too close to ours considering that the Kaiser's Reich, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires are still alive and well since Britain failed to win the WW1.

And I just today bought Long War damnit.

Also, this website likes me again.

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Lobes mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2014

Thanks JB et al. I love a good tips thread.

I'll almost certainly get Leviathan Wakes and going to try watching at least part I of Generation war as well. I've got the first book of the Milkweed Triptych loaded on my e-reader but havnt started it yet.

For my contribution I can recommend Ready Player One. Cant remember the author* but its a fairly believable portrayal of a dystopic near future where widespread addiction to MMORPG combined with schmancy advances in VR goggles have changed the structure of society somewhat. It has some action, comedy and a bit of romance lying on the intersection of virtual and real. Give it a look.

*The author is Ernest Cline

Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2014

Ready Player One is fun - but it's not particularly believable. It works well for a nerd with a particular level of 80's pop-culture awareness.

Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2014

Yes it lives and dies on the pop culture references. I imagine unless you are of a certain age theres a lot will fly over your head.

Its believeable in the sense how some projections of the evolution of current society seem to ring true whereas the technology not so much.

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w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2014

I just read 'Agent to the Stars' by John Scalzi. It's a free book on the internet. It was good fun.

"

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster."

'

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2014

I must read this book.

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sibeen mutters...

Posted February 4, 2014

OK, on the reccomend I downloaded Leviathan Wakes and have now read it. Yep, enjoyed it; but as science it sucks. If the Epstein drive existed, the stars our ours.

The drive could blat at 15 gravities and keep on keeping on. Fuck me, with that sort of grunt you don't require a generational ship.

Ignoring relativity effects and mass, accelerate for one year at one G and you're at light speed. The beauty is, even getting up to decent percentage light year speeds and reletivity becomes a bonus. You'll get there in fuck all time. OK, you're relatives back on the home world may be well blowing around as dust, but it's not as if you were going back for a visit anytime soon.

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All Hail King Birmo

Posted January 27, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

Steve Stirling has a rockin' little extract from his next new Change novel, The Golden Princess. Four juicey chapters, including one featuring your new overlord, His Awesomeness, King John.

Darwin
Capital city, Kingdom of Capricornia
(Formerly northern Australia)
May 10th, Change Year 46/2044 A.D.

“Huzzah! Huzzah for King Birmo!”

“Good on you, JB!”

Prince Thomas frowned at the informality: “Cheeky fucking peasants.”

The King of Capricornia snorted at his son as the carriage rumbled slowly through the crowd over pavement that had started out as tarmac and been patched with whatever came to hand over the generations since. He turned a wave to the crowd into a mime of a clout over the ear.

“You were born a peasant, or a bloody commoner at any rate, and don’t forget it, you little prick. The whole fucking realm is only as strong as the lowliest peasant. They carry us all, in the end, the poor bastards. Remember that, and respect the truth of it.”

The King was eighty-two, unbelievably ancient in this new world. There were a couple of hundred thousand people in Capricornia, counting everyone from his family to the ones living on grubs, roos and other assorted bush tucker in the outermost outback down towards Uluru. Out of all of them there probably weren’t more than a dozen older than he was, and most of those had been on remote cattle stations when the Change came and spent the first year comfortably eating the beef they couldn’t sell any more. He’d been in bloody Brisbane, ninety-nine percent of whose population hadn’t survived those twelve months.

The full extracts start here, if you want everything in context. I'm very much looking forward to this new branch of the story. I've been wondering for a long time what happens on our side of the pond, besides, you know, y'all worshipping me. Even that Maddog Lord Havoc.

35 Responses to ‘All Hail King Birmo’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2014

"I do like me a fish finger sandwich..."

Damn, that Canadian bloke does some deep research, don't he?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2014

Yes. Yes he does.

Murphy mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2014

Strange that Darwin should manifest in two apocalyptic novels. Why, it is almost as if Ava Gardner got it wrong when she was down Mel-bin way back in the 1950s.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted January 27, 2014

On the Beach was just a film, Murph. Make believe.

Murphy reckons...

Posted January 27, 2014

Ah . . . okay.

;)

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

tqft swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 27, 2014

Darwin - not quite feral.

The place has a feel about it. If civilisation collapsed I suspect many in Darwin wouldn't quite care.

Besides the First Australians who I will not and cannot speak for, the place has a trading/frontier feel about it.

Plenty of people coming and going (including me). Lots of them tourists but plenty of backpackers, itinerant workers and fly in/fly out (fifo) types.

I am reasonably sure I could leave where I am staying and do deal for about anything. Maybe not but the place has a wheel dealer feel about it. Lots of people doing lots of things.

However, the Top End is wide open anda 30 minute drive get you so far from anyone you wouldn't be sure if you were the last person on Earth.

Or get on a boat and go. 3/4 surrounded by water.

Only minor point about Stirling story is plenty of buildings now above 4 floors. Heaps of residential construction going on.

Note to SM Stirling: If you need gold in your story a vaguely reliable source has indicated Timor Leste. Serious mining banned, so plenty of alluvial gold to be had. And a short boat ride from Darwin.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Might be plenty of high buildings now, but probably not much back in 1998 when the Event changed everything.

damian mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2014

Bit like wandering in to a 70s British caricature, which probably isn't a bad thing given the aim appears to be a pretty camp, hammy style. Needs more urine-hardened leather loincloths and really big swords, of course. A few tall building are about the least burden to place on suspension of disbelief :)

Murphy would have you know...

Posted January 28, 2014

JB, when you get back to the Disappearance Series that will be something to remember since we froze most of the United States around 2003.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

S.M. Stirling swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 29, 2014

There weren't many tall buildings in Darwin in 1998; I checked. Some, but those are mostly disassembled in the ensuing 50 years because they're a safe source of raw materials for things like the city wall, and of metals and glass for recycling. Living in them isn't really practical. The few surviving older buildings from before the cyclone are still in use but it becomes, uniquely, almost entirely a city of post-Change buildings.

Darwin in King Birmo's old age is low-built, brick-timber-bamboo-rammed earth, with a few of the older buildings still sticking up above the mass. Sort of like a low-tech, low-rise version of the Troppo Architects stuff.

Including satellite settlements/suburbs fairly close to the main city, it actually has nearly as many people in CY 46 as it did in 1998, which makes it much larger relative to the (vastly reduced) total population of Australia. Capricornia is the most urbanized part of the continent, though that isn't saying much.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted January 30, 2014

It is the location that intrigues me. I can't remember if anyone suggested Darwin when JB and SMS opened the topic up for discussion here. I was pushing for Brisbane (comparing it to Portland), secretly hoping for the result we now see, but Darwin seems perfect, and the obvious choice. Steve's vibrant description reminds me of what I've read about Athens at the end of the Persian wars (markets, temples, ships, hub of maritime commerce). And it reminds me of Nantucket at its bustling height in Steve’s Island in the Sea of Time series – a very, very good thing. A very good thing.

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beeso reckons...

Posted January 27, 2014

I have no words.

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sibeen mumbles...

Posted January 27, 2014

Fucking gobsmacked.

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Brian has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Wonderful.

Stevo spent time on getting the food and drink right.

Say it again . . .bloody hard to get Steve's stuff as ebooks..

Wonder if the inbred idiot from Cairns is nicknamed Havock? Just seems a fit.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2014

I have it on impeccable authority that Havoc is the Cannibal King of Sydney.

Brian puts forth...

Posted January 27, 2014

LOL.

Then . . .would he be married to the Queen of Kings Cross?

Just thinking out loud here.

damian puts forth...

Posted January 27, 2014

Married to... he should BE the Queen of Kings Cross!

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted January 27, 2014

reminds of when Judge Dredd went to Australia to solve crime in the Radback. all the Judges were called Judge Bruce and Judge Brett. It was a nicer place to live in the sydney/melbourne conurb as well.

ShaneAlpha puts forth...

Posted January 27, 2014

Chopper for Oz!

"They'll no longer call us a bunch of criminal descendants. They'll call us a WINNING bunch of criminal decendants."

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Dino not to be confused with has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Alright Already!

I fkn Hail.

I hailed ages ago FFS.

How many times do I have to Hail?

(Back off dumbfuck I am talikin here!)

There was never a question of 'Hail' was there?

I am takin the Renmark/Victorian region and producing Proscuitto and snags now.

That's all I ask.

FKN Hail.

I said Hail!

I would have prefered a FTL Starship but that's just me.

FKN HAIL CAPTAIN.

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Maddoug swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 27, 2014

So does this mean your next limited edition beer will be called Saltie Bites?

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Guy reckons...

Posted January 27, 2014

Scratch a republican and find a monarchist!

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sibeen has opinions thus...

Posted January 27, 2014

Ok, I'm irked; not that JB has been made a literary King, like that's going to make any differenece at his age. The bragging rights are just that. He puts it on too heavily and his wife will just roll her eyes and ignore him.

It's young Thomas that I'm concerned about. Here is a teenage boy given a Princedom on a fucking platter. The bragging rights become considerable, and I'm not sure that this amount of power should be handed to a young man entering the prime of his life. I can only hope that he uses this boon for good, and not evil.

By the way, someone should inform Mr Stirling that it just don't get to 100 degrees in Darwin. At the end of the wet a 90 degree day is the norm.

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ShaneAlpha ducks in to say...

Posted January 27, 2014

"Hey baby, want to make out with a dude who's a Prince?"

Thomas is soooo set.

And with a slightly less weird family then Wills and Harry.

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Rhino mumbles...

Posted January 28, 2014

Damn it all to hell ... I gave up on this series and now I'm going to have to go back and pick up the last one.

Was there a watery tart involved with this acension?

senatormckinneytexas puts forth...

Posted January 28, 2014

Yep, we have a new market here. All of JB's fans who aren't Stirling fans now have 13 books to catch up with (at a minimum) and Stirling's fans who don't read JB likewise have some catching up to do. Genius, really.

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senatormckinneytexas puts forth...

Posted January 28, 2014

Pretty damned billiant. From many different angles.

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Therbs reckons...

Posted January 28, 2014

Mmmmmmm...Saltie Bites

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Rob reckons...

Posted January 28, 2014

will there be a emberverse/ axis of time cross over? Perhaps the son of Harry Meets King Birmo?

One thing I don't get with the emberverse is why everyone suddently turns Welsh? I would expect if I got down with my Renfaire self. I would be painting myself blue and getting totally tattooed. or maybe grow a gnarly Asterix style moustache (by Toutais!) but releasing my innner Terry Jones is not on my horizon.

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S.M. Stirling would have you know...

Posted January 29, 2014

His Majesty John the First of Capricornia is doing a story for the shared world anthology THE CHANGE which will be out next spring. I leave any teasing revelations about that to him.

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AKM. mumbles...

Posted January 29, 2014

I'll dedicate my best pointed stick to the service of King Birmo.

"Go you good King" Epic.

I'll swear allegience just for that line.

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted January 29, 2014

Well, it's been a big week for our genial host.
First, it was his shock coronation as King Birmo of Capricornia.
Now I read that Guardian Australia has said that 'B is for Birmo' in the A-Z of Australian comedy!
http://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/jan/29/australian-comedy-a-z-b-is-for-the-big-gig-and-birmo

I don't know what is going on. Are we approaching a Charles Stross Singularity? Frankly, I'm starting to feel a little scared.

Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted January 29, 2014

Yeah W,

The teenagers are here.

It's been nice knowing you but now that CBG, JB and the Burgers are 'cool' I am outta here.

It was good while it lasted, you have to admit that.

But now there will be a channel 10 appearance or a shopping channel segment and honestly I just don't have the time.

I am a working man.

Got shit to do.

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Shermpotter would have you know...

Posted January 31, 2014

Um, I got the impression that his son Thomas was NOT a youngster...

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Myles has opinions thus...

Posted February 20, 2014

Looking forward to hearing more about what's going on in Cairns under Bad King Joh...

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Respond to 'All Hail King Birmo'

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 asserts...

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 has opinions thus...

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 ducks in to say...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 is gonna tell you...

Posted December 18, 2013

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

Blarkon reckons...

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 has opinions thus...

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 puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2013

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

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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

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 would have you know...

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 mutters...

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 reckons...

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 has opinions thus...

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 mutters...

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 has opinions thus...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 would have you know...

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 would have you know...

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 reckons...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 ducks in to say...

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 would have you know...

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 mumbles...

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 has opinions thus...

Posted December 19, 2013

Well Lexicon it is for me with two such endorsements

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

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 asserts...

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 would have you know...

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 would have you know...

Posted December 19, 2013

Tap tap

NBlob ducks in to say...

Posted December 20, 2013

tap tap

Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

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 reckons...

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 mumbles...

Posted December 19, 2013

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

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AKM. would have you know...

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 mumbles...

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 puts forth...

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 ducks in to say...

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 has opinions thus...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 asserts...

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 ducks in to say...

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 has opinions thus...

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 mumbles...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 mumbles...

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 ducks in to say...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 asserts...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 has opinions thus...

Posted November 13, 2013

Do you use AirDisplay with your iPad Air?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 13, 2013

Nope. Keep em separate.

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

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 puts forth...

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 reckons...

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 would have you know...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 ducks in to say...

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 mutters...

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 has opinions thus...

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 mumbles...

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 asserts...

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 mutters...

Posted November 4, 2013

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

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Bunyip would have you know...

Posted November 4, 2013

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

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Therbs mutters...

Posted November 4, 2013

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

Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 4, 2013

LOL.

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

Bunyip is gonna tell you...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 asserts...

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 ducks in to say...

Posted November 4, 2013

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

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Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

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 ducks in to say...

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 mutters...

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 has opinions thus...

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 puts forth...

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 is gonna tell you...

Posted November 4, 2013

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

Quokka reckons...

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 mumbles...

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 mutters...

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 would have you know...

Posted November 5, 2013

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

Murphy mutters...

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 ducks in to say...

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 ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2013

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

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BigWillieStyle asserts...

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 puts forth...

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 ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2013

Probably more of a bummer for him.

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John Baker swirls their brandy and claims...

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 reckons...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 puts forth...

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 mumbles...

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 would have you know...

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 ducks in to say...

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 mutters...

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 mumbles...

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 ducks in to say...

Posted October 3, 2013

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

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damian mutters...

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 would have you know...

Posted October 4, 2013

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

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Legless ducks in to say...

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 reckons...

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 mutters...

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 asserts...

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 would have you know...

Posted October 7, 2013

Nil context warning.

Ebullism

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