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 is gonna tell you...

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 puts forth...

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 puts forth...

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 ducks in to say...

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 mumbles...

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 would have you know...

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 reckons...

Posted December 18, 2013

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

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pi swirls their brandy and claims...

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 is gonna tell you...

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 puts forth...

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 has opinions thus...

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 reckons...

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 would have you know...

Posted December 18, 2013

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

she_jedi has opinions thus...

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 ducks in to say...

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 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 ducks in to say...

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 mutters...

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 asserts...

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 reckons...

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 ducks in to say...

Posted December 19, 2013

Well Lexicon it is for me with two such endorsements

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Dino not to be confused with asserts...

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 ducks in to say...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

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 asserts...

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 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted December 19, 2013

Tap tap

NBlob puts forth...

Posted December 20, 2013

tap tap

Dino not to be confused with mumbles...

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 puts forth...

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 reckons...

Posted December 19, 2013

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

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AKM. puts forth...

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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