Books


#741
Just finished Ben H. Winters' apocalyptic police procedural "The Last Policeman" and highly recommend it. If you like crime fiction but refuse to read Sci Fi it might be time to reconsider. Anyway, it's probably more alternative history than Sci Fi but the approaching lethal asteroid determines the mindset and nature of what is essentially a whodunit. I recently read Kingsley Amis's famous survey of Sci Fi, "New Maps of Hell", from the 60s where, amongst other things, he urged Sci Fi writers to lift their literary game and explore the possibilities of a union with crime. Winters has done both. The sort of book the enthusiasts swallow whole which is a shame because his writing and characterisation is regularly nuanced and sophisticated. But he also understands the structure of a thriller and the need to maintain tension and pace. Unfortunately it's part of a trilogy, although it can be read as a stand alone, and generally I resent having to wait for "the ■■■■ to crow three times". I'll give the next one, "Countdown City", a run but only because this one was so good but I'm not sure I want to read the finale with its inevitable "impact" finale.

I don’t think I agree about uniting sci-fi and crime. The science fiction I have got most out of is the type where some supervening event or discovery places the human race under pressure, and the author uses that setup to explore aspects of human nature. John Wyndham was the best at this, and he also wrote very nicely, which is a big plus in a genre where barbarous writing is the general rule.

The problem with uniting sci-fi and crime is that the crime takes over, so that the story becomes CSI or Law and Order, but with wild cards consisting of more or less magical new techniques or substances. The Tom Cruise film Minority Report was an example of this.

At least that’s better than most current sci-fi, which is basically Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians in Outer Space. With funny names and light sabres.


#742

All I can say in response is, have you read “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union”? Kingsley would have loved it.


#743

What are you guys’s favourite non-fiction books? I just finished Outliers - it’s pretty famous so you’ve probably heard of but it’s great. It’s about success and how it’s not simply a function of hard work and talent but there’s so much more that we don’t often consider. A lot of the greatest athletes (or just the athlete “cohort” in general) are born early in the year for instance.

Also finished “Chasing the Scream” It’s about the war on drugs. I LOVE IT. Check it out.

Currently reading a book on sleep called “The Sleep Revolution”. It’s pretty average so far but not into the meaty part yet.


#744

Non Fiction ATM, Lockdown - Inside Brazil’s Most Dangerous Prison,

Harrowing, & engrossing.


#745

Just finished “A history of the Middle East” by Peter Mansfield


#746

Just finished “The Space Merchants”, the 1952 Sci Fi classic by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, essentially because Kingsley Amis praised it to the skies in “New Maps of Hell”.
It went down well, a page turning comic dystopia full of 50s post war paranoia, space travel, fear of mass media, scary underground environmental activists and meat substitutes (A slice of Chicken Little anyone – a massive slab of rapidly growing chicken protoplasm.) All set in a world where the advertising industry and corporations have usurped the power of governments.
And the guy still gets the gal, even though she’s not necessarily who he thought she was and at one stage arranged to have him sold into off world slavery.
It’s aged a bit but then so have I. Rollicking pedal to the metal, “Things aren’t what they seem”, Sci Fi nostalgia, although come to think of it, it’s probably more prescient than I give it credit.


#747

Long time since I read it but my better half, who has an eye for a bargain, tells me that “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is free for legal Kindle download on Amazon. No doubt you have to pay for the sequels but as I recall they were a bit of a let down anyway. If you haven’t read it, it is funny, and if you have, you might want it on Kindle format.
Nothing better than a free book that’s not crap.


#748

I got the latest Harry Bosch book the other day, The Wrong Side of Goodbye. Well up to Connelly’s usual standards.

Harry’s retired from the LAPD now, having sued them for making him retire, and winning, and is now splitting his time between private work and working for free as a reserve in San Fernando, which is a tiny independent city completely surrounded by greater LA.

He gets two cases at the same time - as a PI, he’s asked on the very quiet to find a possible missing heir to a billionaire whose company helped developed stealth aircraft, and also a local rapist.

Both tracked down in the usual Harry Bosch style. Couldn’t put it down once I got started.

I’ve also been reading a few Stella Rimington novels. Or Dame Stella, I should say. She was the first female boss of MI5 and her heroine is an MI5 operative. Extremely readable. Highly recommend if you like spy thrillers.


#749

Finally The Hanging Tree is close to being released (Publication date set for 03 Nov 2016)


#750

Reading arnies auto and it’s just gym, girls, and US. It’s ridiculous, self serving egotistical bollocks.
I love it.


#751
I got the latest Harry Bosch book the other day, The Wrong Side of Goodbye. Well up to Connelly's usual standards.

Harry’s retired from the LAPD now, having sued them for making him retire, and winning, and is now splitting his time between private work and working for free as a reserve in San Fernando, which is a tiny independent city completely surrounded by greater LA.

He gets two cases at the same time - as a PI, he’s asked on the very quiet to find a possible missing heir to a billionaire whose company helped developed stealth aircraft, and also a local rapist.

Both tracked down in the usual Harry Bosch style. Couldn’t put it down once I got started.

I’ve also been reading a few Stella Rimington novels. Or Dame Stella, I should say. She was the first female boss of MI5 and her heroine is an MI5 operative. Extremely readable. Highly recommend if you like spy thrillers.

I quite like Harry Bosch but I could do without all the stuff about his personal life. The actual investigation parts are good.

There’s a British writer called Mick Herron who’s quite entertaining. His best are three called Slow Horses, Dead Lions and Real Tigers. They’re about a group of spooks who have farked up badly but for one reason or another can’t be sacked, so they’re assigned to work in Slough House on the most boring work the Secret Service can find in the hope that they’ll be so bored that they resign. Needless to say, they get caught up in less boring things. They’re inventively plotted, although a considerable amount of suspension of disbelief is required at times, and there’s a very nice touch of humour to the writing. The fundamental proposition on which they’re based is that the people in charge of the Secret Service are concerned solely with their own self-advancement, and that there is absolutely no crime that they will not commit if they think it’s necessary and they can get away with it.

Mick Herron has written a number of other crime thrillers as well, of varying quality. One thing about him is that he has no qualms about killing off even the most sympathetic characters.


#752

I don’t think there’s much about Harry’s personal life in this one - a bit of interaction with his daughter but nothing that’s not relevant to the story.

I disagree anyway. A bit of personal stuff is OK otherwise the characters become too dry. There’s one snippet he tells his daughter that’s extremely informative about his time in Vietnam. Often you find writers who are obsessed with some personal aspect of the character’s life, whether it’s his sex life or the minutest details about every meal.

I’m onto the latest Baldacci novel now, about one of his many characters, John Puller, who’s been told 30 years after his mother’s death that her best friend believes his father, a highly decorated Army general now in terminal dementia, murdered her.

And I’ve got the latest Harlan Coben, a new Myron Bolitar/Win Lockwood novel, sitting about half-way.

Grabbed another 7 or 8 from Amazon for the Kindle yesterday.


#753
Finally The Hanging Tree is close to being released (Publication date set for 03 Nov 2016)

Yeah, they’ve certainly taken their sweet time on that one…


#754

For those who like an English police procedural series without any element of the upper classes, I’ve been reading a series by Damien Boyd set over on Somerset’s west coast in Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea…neither of which I was familiar with but I’ve certainly been to the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge, Bath etc which figure.

In what I suspect are some of Boyd’s real life features, his protagonist, DI Nick Stone, is a rock-climber, a solicitor and an insulin-dependent diabetic.

There are now six books, all pretty rollicking. Can’t see Shelton_10 liking them too much because his private life and his relationship with a female colleague are pretty front and centre.


#755

Can’t quite finish the new Harry Potter it’s been terrible


#756
For those who like an English police procedural series without any element of the upper classes, I've been reading a series by Damien Boyd set over on Somerset's west coast in Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea...neither of which I was familiar with but I've certainly been to the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge, Bath etc which figure.

In what I suspect are some of Boyd’s real life features, his protagonist, DI Nick Stone, is a rock-climber, a solicitor and an insulin-dependent diabetic.

There are now six books, all pretty rollicking. Can’t see Shelton_10 liking them too much because his private life and his relationship with a female colleague are pretty front and centre.

I don’t mind a bit of personal life. I just find Harry Bosch’s a bit lame. In every book he’s just broken up with some woman, and then wouldn’t you know it, one of the relevant people in his new investigation just happens to strike a spark …


#757
Can't quite finish the new Harry Potter it's been terrible

I heard Harry Potter and the wizards sleeve is the best of the lot


#758

I am a keen audiobook listener. I find I get more from a book listening to it read to me by someone else than I do by reading it myself: the structure of the book seems to emerge with greater clarity, and the strengths and weaknesses of the writing, characterisation and plot. I read books in print as well, but for me, audiobooks are more rewarding.

I have just read (listened to) War and Peace. 61 hours. The Bible was 77 hours, Great Expectations was 17, To Kill a Mockingbird was 12. So it’s long.

I’d previously read (in print) about 300 pages, and I’ve seen various filmed versions, the most striking of which was Sergey Bondarchuk’s 1966 4.5 hour Russian epic. So I had a fair idea of the basic plot before I began, which made listening easier.

I had in the back of my mind all the time as I was listening the thought that this was universally considered to be Great Literature, and two questions. The first was whether I thought myself that it was Great Literature, and the second was why.

At the end of it I still have the same two questions, but only very tentative answers.

To the first question, the tentative answer is yes, it is great literature. But what is really difficult is the answer to the second.

So why is it great literature? The first reason I have is the scope of it. It ranges over the whole of Russian history from about 1806 to about 1818, centred on the Napoleonic wars and their effects on Russian society as a whole and two families in particular. And the second reason is that in its treatment of both themes it is masterful.

There are long – very long – passages discussing the causes and the progress of the war. Tolstoy’s basic thesis is that wars are not commenced or won or lost by individuals who make decisions that have consequences, but rather by the force of all the circumstances existing at the time.

The second is that his accounts of the personal lives of the principal characters are deep and searching, and totally free of clichés of language or conception. The characters grow and learn and change in a wholly convincing way. Tolstoy was writing in the 1860s, in living memory of the times about which he was writing, and his characters have the emotions, assumptions, beliefs and values of their time.

I learned a lot from it – about history, about people, about Russia. Reading it was an effort, but the effort was repaid many times over.


#759
For those who like an English police procedural series without any element of the upper classes, I've been reading a series by Damien Boyd set over on Somerset's west coast in Bridgwater and Burnham-on-Sea...neither of which I was familiar with but I've certainly been to the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge, Bath etc which figure.

In what I suspect are some of Boyd’s real life features, his protagonist, DI Nick Stone, is a rock-climber, a solicitor and an insulin-dependent diabetic.

There are now six books, all pretty rollicking. Can’t see Shelton_10 liking them too much because his private life and his relationship with a female colleague are pretty front and centre.

I don’t mind a bit of personal life. I just find Harry Bosch’s a bit lame. In every book he’s just broken up with some woman, and then wouldn’t you know it, one of the relevant people in his new investigation just happens to strike a spark …

I'm just not conscious of this with Connelly. I don't think there's any of that in this one. Harry's just not really a pants man.

#760

wrong thread.