Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 192575 times)

Twisting H

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #210 on: April 20, 2016, 06:13:06 PM »
Not as far as I know and I looked!

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #211 on: April 23, 2016, 12:05:14 AM »
Breaking News: for the next few days (04/22/16-04/24/16) Amazon is having a Kindle sale for 50% off every Marvel comic and graphic novel they sell. I'm glad I had some spare Amazon credit. There's a lot of graphic novels that are down to $5.50 - $8.99. Picked up Volumes 1, 3, & 4 of Nightcrawler (aka the only ones they have on Amazon atm) and some X-Men trades.
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Adam_Autist

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #212 on: April 23, 2016, 08:16:53 AM »
Finished listening to Southern Reach book 1 the other day. It was something.

PirateLawyer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #213 on: April 25, 2016, 10:30:15 PM »
I'm reading the Expanse series. I'd call it a guilty pleasure. It does have horror elements mixed in with its space opera.

Alethea

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #214 on: April 25, 2016, 11:06:05 PM »
Rereading Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife series right now
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Adam_Autist

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #215 on: April 26, 2016, 05:25:12 AM »
Finished reading Hurricane Fever yesterday. Great afro carribean espionage book.

@Pirate given that almost everyone I know loves the Expanse you don't have to think of it as a guilty pleasire.

Lordsloth

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #216 on: April 26, 2016, 01:57:52 PM »
Finished a couple Ravenloft novels(no half-vampire-werepanthers yet) to get into the latest D&D Adventurers League season, and now I'm working on DG: Extraordinary Renditions, finally. Really liking it.
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PirateLawyer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #217 on: April 26, 2016, 02:12:50 PM »
Finished reading Hurricane Fever yesterday. Great afro carribean espionage book.

@Pirate given that almost everyone I know loves the Expanse you don't have to think of it as a guilty pleasire.

My point was that it's really not all that good. But it does make me want to turn the pages even though I get frustrated by the flaws in the storytelling. There's a lot of good stuff in there that is either undeveloped or lost in the shuffle.

Adam_Autist

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #218 on: April 26, 2016, 02:34:01 PM »
I guess. I didn't really notice at the time. I was reminded how good Eclipse Phase is.

Sad to say I don't really have as much time to read as I used to.

CADmonkey

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #219 on: May 03, 2016, 07:55:28 PM »
I recently finished Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook Translated from the Sanskrit, a selection of 75 myths written down over the course of 3,000 years.  This is an academic sampling of Hindu mythology, not a single epic or myth-cycle, with plentiful notations and commentary from the editor.  Many of the myths in this book are later iterations of earlier myths, and while it can be a bit of a slog (reading multiple versions of what's essentially the same story which has accreted additional characters and events over the course of hundreds or thousands of years of retelling) it's an interesting lesson in the life-cycle of myths themselves.*  It can feel a little hallucinogenic in places, as Indra appears as a supporting character in a Puranic Śiva myth which is a retelling of a Vedic Indra myth, and of course, since Śiva is an avatar/permutation of Indra, Indra is a supporting character in a myth in which he is also the protagonist!

The editor, Wendy Doniger, also doesn't pull punches in pointing out the sexism, bigotry and logical fallacies in these myths.**  In one long-winded passage describing a goddess, her breasts are described three times.  In the one of the myths about the conflict between the gods and the demons, Vishnu creates Buddhism and Jainism as false religions to trick the demons into abandoning the true path of Dharma.  In another gods vs demons myth, it is explained that the gods are good because good (as an abstract concept which possess consciousness and intent) sensed their goodness and went over to them entirely, abandoning the demons to evil, which sensed the evil in the demons and similarly abandoned the gods (the gods are good because they're good, the demons are evil because they're evil), and at the end of this myth, the gods (who never lie because they're good) defeat the demons by deceiving them!


*And I was reminded of the mythical qualities of modern geek "franchises", with the constant retelling of the same stories, the multiple characters that are basically permutations of the same basic character, and the changes (sometimes subtle, sometimes gross) that these characters have undergone over the years.

** Failings that are not unique to Hindu myths, but they're the subject at hand.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 08:01:11 PM by CADmonkey »
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trinite

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #220 on: May 03, 2016, 08:32:19 PM »
In another gods vs demons myth, it is explained that the gods are good because good (as an abstract concept which possess consciousness and intent) sensed their goodness and went over to them entirely, abandoning the demons to evil, which sensed the evil in the demons and similarly abandoned the gods (the gods are good because they're good, the demons are evil because they're evil), and at the end of this myth, the gods (who never lie because they're good) defeat the demons by deceiving them!

Interesting! That reminds me of the standard D&D cosmology, which also has an odd combination of a polytheistic pantheon with abstract realist cosmological concepts of Good and Evil (and Law and Chaos, expressed mostly through the alignment system). Are the good gods good because they are aligned with Goodness? Are the evil gods evil because they're full of Evilness? There's some weird tensions in that idea.
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balhaza

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #221 on: May 03, 2016, 09:06:16 PM »
I just finished a short story chapbook called The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingard.

It is interesting to a certain extant though I felt it focused more of a dysfunctional romantic relationship with a slight Mythos infusion. The Mythos occurrence or 'cultist' in the story is tempting and ripe for further development though.

I should have read the description a little better and not have my hopes dashed by a 50 pages chapbook.


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Twisting H

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #222 on: May 03, 2016, 09:12:45 PM »
I recently finished Hindu Myths: A Sourcebook Translated from the Sanskrit, a selection of 75 myths written down over the course of 3,000 years.  This is an academic sampling of Hindu mythology, not a single epic or myth-cycle, with plentiful notations and commentary from the editor.  Many of the myths in this book are later iterations of earlier myths, and while it can be a bit of a slog (reading multiple versions of what's essentially the same story which has accreted additional characters and events over the course of hundreds or thousands of years of retelling) it's an interesting lesson in the life-cycle of myths themselves.*  It can feel a little hallucinogenic in places, as Indra appears as a supporting character in a Puranic Śiva myth which is a retelling of a Vedic Indra myth, and of course, since Śiva is an avatar/permutation of Indra, Indra is a supporting character in a myth in which he is also the protagonist!

The editor, Wendy Doniger, also doesn't pull punches in pointing out the sexism, bigotry and logical fallacies in these myths.**  In one long-winded passage describing a goddess, her breasts are described three times.  In the one of the myths about the conflict between the gods and the demons, Vishnu creates Buddhism and Jainism as false religions to trick the demons into abandoning the true path of Dharma.  In another gods vs demons myth, it is explained that the gods are good because good (as an abstract concept which possess consciousness and intent) sensed their goodness and went over to them entirely, abandoning the demons to evil, which sensed the evil in the demons and similarly abandoned the gods (the gods are good because they're good, the demons are evil because they're evil), and at the end of this myth, the gods (who never lie because they're good) defeat the demons by deceiving them!


*And I was reminded of the mythical qualities of modern geek "franchises", with the constant retelling of the same stories, the multiple characters that are basically permutations of the same basic character, and the changes (sometimes subtle, sometimes gross) that these characters have undergone over the years.

** Failings that are not unique to Hindu myths, but they're the subject at hand.

Very interesting, thanks. I was looking for something like this recently.

Twisting H

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #223 on: May 04, 2016, 05:18:53 AM »
Finished reading Biogenesis by Tatsuaki Ishiguro (MD).  Relatively unknown in the West, Biogenesis contains four short stories, three of which approach cosmic horror from an interesting, uniquely scientific perspective. 

The prose of these stories are in the precise analytical language of a scientist and physician. I am not going to lie, these can be challenging to read, in particular the first story “It is with the deepest sincerity that I offer prayers …”.  Although references to specific biological assays and results are made in this story, the meaning of these scientific clues to the narrative will not be lost to a reader who has never been exposed to these concepts before.

However, I must state that a reader with an undergraduate's understanding of molecular biology and evolution will have a greater appreciation of the nuances of the fictionalized data and their ramifications that Dr. Ishiguro presents. 

At the end of reading his work I firmly placed this book on my shelf next to Ligotti, Lovecraft and Barron.

Translators: Brian Watson and James Balzer
Publication Year: 2015 (America); 1994, 2000, and 2006 (Japan)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ZNG4MA0/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?ie=UTF8&btkr=1

Here is what some Japanese authors say about Ishiguro's work.

Quote
“A metaphor of perdition, on the level of all of humanity, is concretized as a small, imaginary animal via the mediating factor of incurable diseases that bring death to two doctors of medicine. In our nation, such excellent conceptions used to belong to Kobo Abe.” – Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Laureate in Literature

“The work’s novel form and style will be remembered as a turning point in Japanese literature. Moreover, the exploration of the enigma of the ‘winged mouse’s extinction’ can also be easily enjoyed as the finest of mysteries.” – Koji Suzuki, author of Ring and Dark Water

“Why does such dry writing in the format of a report touch me so? Why is it so beautiful? No matter how many times I read it, the tears keep flowing. This is no ‘fusion of science and literature.’ It is the overwhelmingly reality of animate ‘life’ itself.” – Hideaki Sena, author of Parasite Eve

Seriously guys. The makers of Parasite Eve and The Ring look up to this dude.




From Amazon

Quote
Told in the manner of scientific reports, this collection of science fiction stories explores the allegorical overtones about the precariousness of species.

In Biogenesis*, two professors research the rare winged mouse and how the genetic makeup of the creatures pointed to their eventual extinction. The discover that upon mating, both the male and female of the species died. The professors try to clone the winged mice without success, so they breed the remaining pair in captivity, noting the procedure, which includes a vibration of the creatures' wings, what appeared to be kissing, and the shedding of tears--composed of the same substance as their blood--until their eventual death.

*This is a description of the first, and most challenging story “It is with the deepest sincerity that I offer prayers …”

Four stories are included in Biogenesis: “It is with the deepest sincerity that I offer prayers …”, Snow Woman, Midwinter Weed, and The Hope Shore Sea Squirt.  The first three I would describe as hard science fiction, bridged with Japanese folklore, that together evokes the sensation of cosmic horror. 

All of the stories in Biogenesis deal with unique species that are approaching extinction.  Though the stories are presented in report and documentation form, there is a certain delicate fragility evoked about the species discussed, and to a greater extent life itself in these stories.  Dr. Ishiguro is a master of storytelling in a field I have never seen anyone else even attempt.

The cosmic horror comes into play when there is speculation on the evolutionary purpose of a species and the unknown forces of nature science has barely brushed against; or in Ishiguro's sprinkled references to folklore that quietly suggest a link between these rare species and their impossible origin in some hidden world of the divine or spirit.

Dr. Ishiguro does not use description of the alien or supernatural like Lovecraft. Instead, his tools are gentle suggestion and a total absence of answers. In some ways this literary negative space clawed at my mind and was more effective at capturing my imagination than outright describing a gibbering horror.

Some excerpts

“It is with the deepest sincerity that I offer prayers …”


Quote
…but it was on September 11, 1989 that the winged mouse disappeared from the face of our planet.

“A forge along National Highway 12 that runs from Sapporo, and situated just before Asahikawa (see Figure 1), Kamuikotan derives from an Ainu word meaning “gathering place of the gods.”…

“The mouse was clinging to a rock in the marshy area directly below the shrine’s precincts, as still as a corpse”

...

“By then, winged mice were already on the verge of becoming the stuff of legend.  Even so, more than one of Mr. Tamura’s friends had told him that they had seen a winged mouse faintly glowing like a flame on the riverbank at night.  One of those friends had even witnessed a winged mouse shedding tears.  In the region, sightings of a glowing or weeping winged mouse were considered to be bad omens that, ironically, portended good luck for the particular individual who witnessed the occurrence.

...

“...when Dr. Akedera received these, he immediately noticed that every photo had children in it.  There had been a basis for Dr. Akedera’s conjecture; the reader is invited to revisit the passage on Mr. Tamura, whose memories of winged mice belonged to his early years and were of his childhood friends sharing witness accounts with him.  When the elementary school teacher found Ponta, she was leading children on a field trip, and when the reverent found Ai, the winged mouse was spotted by children playing on the shrine’s premises. “

...

“The next day, an attempt was made to isolate genetic material, but the men realized that they could not confirm the results due to phoresis.  This was believed to be caused by the breakdown of the genetic material by DNAse, but there was uncertainty as to why the enzyme had activated in conditions where it normally would not (the MAD method may have been tricky for some reason).

Professor Yoji Ogawa of the Asahikawa College of Science was quickly called in for a consultation, but “Why an enzyme strong enough to break down an organism’s own genetic material should be necessary is beyond me” (Prof. Ogawa). “


....


“ Retreat, however, was not part of Dr. Akedera’s vocabulary as is clear from the following passages in his journal.

“If an individual organism’s struggles have the preservation of the species as their purpose, then upon species extinction, that individual’s death loses meaning.  If this is natural selection, then what is the energy called evolution trying to smother and what is it deeming fit to let live? Might not the principle of natural selection close the circles by selecting against all living things in the end? […] Will the truth guide us to preordained harmony or chaos?  Two winged mice await extinction in their separate cages.  I need to figure out what, at this moment, I am able to do about that.” “




“There is some basis for believing that what motivated Dr. Akedra’s research was a fear of death.

“What are these feelings of superiority and inferiority that the living choose to harbor regarding the dead? Words like ‘extinction'; and ‘death’ betray the self-centered logic of the living.  It would seem that simple death is all that there is for the dead, and even if genetic material is left behind, even if cells are left behind, it does not equal leaving behind living descendants that resemble the self.  Individual memories disappear, and seeking the self’s latent existence in descendants is almost materialistic.  Probably all that remains to humans who have no religion is such materialism.” “



Snow Woman

A love story. Bittersweet and strange. A tale of sacrifice, obsession and devotion.


Quote
There is a condition known as hypothermia.  The term comes from the Greek for “low body temperature” and usually signifies a pathological state where a loss of body temperature can end in freezing to death.  It also, however, refers to a rare instance where the patient’s metabolism stabilizes as lower body temperature.  “idiopathic hypothermia” has been reported only sporadically worldwide, and an accurate portrait of the condition does not exist at the moment.  Although the prevailing view is that the decreased metabolism leads to a longer lifespan, there is a high incidence of death from accompanying illnesses, and unlike with “idiopathic hyperthermia, “ which has been shown to have no bearing on lifespans, as of yet no statistical data on the average convalescent is available.

...

This refers to one Koho Yukhi … , an army doctor who had been assigned to the Ashibetsu-Shinjo Clinic in Hokkaido in the mid 1920s.  He was the first person in the world to report, in an article published in the German medical journal ARZT, the symptoms of a woman whose standard body temperature was 82.4F.  Normally, at that temperature, the heartbeat becomes irregular then ceases altogether, and respiration stops completely as well; the report flaunted the conventional medical wisdom of the era.

...


There had been a legend for many, many years in Shinjo of a snow woman leading a child by the hand, who would appear during early January or on the night of a full moon in winters.  She would ask a passerby to either hug or piggyback her child, and anyone who did grew heavier and heavier and ended up buried in snow. 

Please, I beg of you. Please hold this child for a spell, her beauty otherworldly, a pure-white snow woman softly pled, clinging to me.  I rolled around in the blizzard.  Accede to her request, though, I did not to the end.



Midwinter Weed

This story weaves a narrative of Japanese citizens and their intense feelings of loyalty towards their country during World War 2 with the discovery of an unusual radioactive plant.  The loyalty of Japanese people towards their country during WW2 is not a perspective I have seen an author broach often, and this story is the more interesting for it.



Quote
The event sponsors, who had taken notice of an article of mine published in the August 15 edition of the Japan Newspaper of Science, entitled “Plant-life Acquires Radiation,” had made a rush decision to include the plant after planning for the event was already underway.


“”This specimen very well be the last of its kind in existence and is very precious. Handle it with the utmost care…”


“”The boy was found in Kamuikotan Gorge,” recounted the director of Nakarai’s orphanage, “and on the brink of starvation.  Initially he couldn’t speak a word.  He was so emaciated that you could see his bones protruding beneath his skin.  We honestly thought he was beyond saving at that point.”"

“Elsewhere I had yet to find even two plants growing side by side, but at the graveyard there were instances of a dozen or more midwinter weeds springing up in close proximity.  Several had even sprouted white flowers.  The flowers were transparent as glass bells, and when they rustled in the wind I almost expected them to make a sound."


… It was a bleak and unsettling supposition. But in his letters, Nakarai indicated that the most likely explanation for the midwinter weed’s greedy meandering root might in fact be two seek out the superior nourishment offered to it by a decaying corpse.  In order to test his hypothesis, Nakarai dug out of the roots of several plants.  Beneath one such plant he found the remains of a body, already moldering away to bone.  The body was entangled in the root’s thin embrace.

There are shades of Lovecraft's The Tree in Midwinter Weed.

Biogenesis is challenging, but try it. Start with Snow Woman or Midwinter Weed.


More on Tatsuaki Ishiguro

Born in Hokkaido in 1961, Tatsuaki Ishiguro has served as a lecturer at Tokyo University and as an assistant professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and currently practices at a clinic in Tokyo.  As the author of a unique brand of science fiction, he has been nominated for the Akutagawa Award, the Yukio Mishima Award, and the Seiun (Nebula) Award. Biogenesis is his first work to appear in English.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 05:21:55 AM by Twisting H »

PirateLawyer

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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #224 on: May 05, 2016, 12:05:32 AM »
Been meaning to read Ishiguro. Thanks for the reminder.

I am now reading my freshly delivered Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition books. Seems nice enough, but I'm just more excited for Delta Green in the coming months . . .