Baker's Miscellaney

Record our reading attempts, successes, and failures for 2014.

Moderators: Baker, ElaineB

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 19 Oct 2014, 06:55

Shield of Thunder by David Gemmell

Sequel to the previous one. Apparently there was going to be a third, but he died while writing it. His wife was toying with finishing it. I don't think I'll bother. This was typical Gemmell, with a mixture of ordinary blokes doing stuff as well as nobles, no black and white ethics, and no goodies or baddies. I like that, but it does become predictable. Also, one thing that bothered me was his treatment of Andromache and Kalliope. In back story, they were lovers when they were priestesses together on the island of Thera. Andromache was taken from there to marry Hektor. On the way, she fell in love with Helikaon/Aeneas. So, she was bisexual. Kalloipe, we learn in this book, was raped by her father as a child and was a man-hater. Couldn't just let them be lesbians: their sexuality has to revolve around men. :no:
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
User avatar
Baker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8622
Joined: 19 Mar 2010, 11:10
Location: New Zealand

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 19 Oct 2014, 22:02

Never read that author and doesn't seem I'll be making the effort.
A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. “The Woman-Identified Woman” Radicalesbians (1970)
User avatar
wildlx
Heartbeat of the forum
Heartbeat of the forum
 
Posts: 5714
Joined: 25 Mar 2010, 06:57
Location: Lisbon, PT

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 20 Oct 2014, 06:38

NO, he's not one I'd reccommend to you. It's a particular style of writing and fantasy that is very much bloke-centred and not deep. He puts everything out there so you don't have to think about anything. Which is exactly what I wanted in something brainless to read the last week.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
User avatar
Baker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8622
Joined: 19 Mar 2010, 11:10
Location: New Zealand

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 22 Oct 2014, 06:54

The Book of Dreams: Saxon I by Tim Severin

Awful. I only managed 70 or 80 pages.

Yes, another of my library easy read benders. This one turned out to be an "easy to toss aside".

This bloke has sold a shit-tonne of books. I am wondering if it is awesome marketing or thre are a lot of readers out there who like Marty Stu characters doing improbable things. The main character is a minor Saxon princeling who gets sent to Charlemagne's court. He is not portrayed as particularly competent, yet he miraculously does things like shoot the biggest, most incredible stag the king is hunting PLUS while he's at it he kills another one that is almost as impressive. He is the victim of a poisoning attempt--for no obvious reason--which conveniently puts him in bed for a while where Charlemagne's daughter can come and boink him. When he starts out on a career as a dream interpreter, thanks to a book someone gave him and his slave Osric translates for him, I gave up.

The writing is pretty dreadful, too. It's a first person perspective but I had virtually no handle on the character at all. He had bugger all interior life and all the unlikely things he did passed over him without leaving much of a mark. The prose was serviceable but I was never unaware that I was reading: I experienced no fictional dream. Bleh.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
User avatar
Baker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8622
Joined: 19 Mar 2010, 11:10
Location: New Zealand

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 29 Oct 2014, 06:36

The Family Trade by Charles Stross
Book 1 of the Merchant Princes


This is the first book in an alternate history/science fiction series. The protagonist, Miriam Bernstein, finds herself the long-lost heiress to a massive fortune that is part of a Clan of recently ennobled merchants in an alternative world with a feudal society with stark inequality (though you don't really get to meet the poor). The rich Clan make their money through drug carrying by their members who are able to world-walk. That is, they can move between our world and theirs, and they have a courier system set up to shift high-value, low mass and low volume goods, around between worlds. The access of some Clan members to our world means some are educated here, and they freely import very small amounts of high tech stuff, like guns. This makes for some odd juxtapositions of castles with no running water peopled by individuals packing machine pistols. It reads better than it sounds, though I wasn't totally enthralled.

The aspect that primarily kept me reading was Stross's portrayal of Miriam. She did not come across as a real woman. Rather, she came across as what a man imagines a woman to be like. I don't know how to describe it better than that, and as I read I was continually analysing what it was about his presentation of her that gave me that impression. Was I being fair? Would I have picked this had I not known the author was a man? What it boiled down to was a lot of little things. Miriam is never really aware of her femaleness, not even when she's moving around a world with much stricter gender roles than ours. She walks unafraid through unknown, dark areas. We follow her for a few weeks, yet she doesn't seem to have a period. Mind you, since she also never gives even a passing thought to the possibility of pregnancy--when she has sex with a bloke without any reference to condoms or barriers of any sort--I wondered if she had a contraceptive hormone implant. No idea. Even when physically threatened and intimidated by men, she never has a concern about sexual violence. It never crosses her mind. When she is dressed in awkward clothing, she worries about her spine and kidneys, but how or if her boobs are put out there on prominent display also never crosses her mind. In a world where appearance is critically important, she never gives hers a thought outside of how much jewellery she's loaded with. Her body, not so much. It's almost like she's a character who has lived her whole life free of the ways woman are continually policed, judged, and constrained by sex differences: i.e. a man.

I read this because I've heard mention to Stross as a good author a few times recently, so I thought I'd give it a go. It's okay, but this is more about plotting than character and writing. Not sure I'll bother with books 2,3,4,5, & 6.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
User avatar
Baker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8622
Joined: 19 Mar 2010, 11:10
Location: New Zealand

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 29 Oct 2014, 08:22

Wow. Book 6. I see that you continue to be on a fantasy phase :).
I find it interesting what you write about the female character, because of some arguments I've been following lately in the net.
A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. “The Woman-Identified Woman” Radicalesbians (1970)
User avatar
wildlx
Heartbeat of the forum
Heartbeat of the forum
 
Posts: 5714
Joined: 25 Mar 2010, 06:57
Location: Lisbon, PT

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 30 Oct 2014, 06:18

Yeah, I seem to be craving a narrow reading diet at the moment.

About the portrayal of a woman, have you seen this video? I can't help wondering if Charles Stross would be surprised by what happens when a woman walks through the streets of New York, because nothing remotely like it happened to his woman character--nor did she give the possibility of such treatment a thought.


BTW what arguments?
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
User avatar
Baker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8622
Joined: 19 Mar 2010, 11:10
Location: New Zealand

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby FranW » 30 Oct 2014, 18:23

There has been discussion that most/all of the men making comments to the filmed women are black/latino, and the filmmaker has said that the white guys' comments weren't audible so were edited out. Hmmm.

Meanwhile, this will come as a shock to precisely no one:
The subject of a viral video showing the pervasiveness of street harassment is now receiving rape threats in the comments section of the video, the organization behind the video tweeted.

http://www.amny.com/news/shoshana-b-rob ... -1.9555978
No on H8
User avatar
FranW
Heartbeat of the forum
Heartbeat of the forum
 
Posts: 7084
Joined: 20 Mar 2010, 10:00

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby wildlx » 31 Oct 2014, 07:22

Yup. No surprises in both cases.
A lesbian is the rage of all women condensed to the point of explosion. “The Woman-Identified Woman” Radicalesbians (1970)
User avatar
wildlx
Heartbeat of the forum
Heartbeat of the forum
 
Posts: 5714
Joined: 25 Mar 2010, 06:57
Location: Lisbon, PT

Re: Baker's Miscellaney

Postby Baker » 11 Nov 2014, 07:21

I Can't Dance Alone by Maggie Brown

Rating: Trainwreck plus a couple of innocent bystanders

Being the odd soul I am, I do read the front matter on books (including prefaces!), which may not be a good idea with some books. This one, for example. The "About the Author" section--which authors write themselves--included this:
...her love of books led her to sit down and write this, her first fictional full length novel.

This did not augur well for what was to come. Neither did the Dedication:
To my readers. May this book give you a few exciting hours to escape into another life. Enjoy!

Oh Christ...

So, point of view character is Sarah Phillips, who is a doctor and right off the bat does a passive-aggressive number on the old woman in the plane seat next to her. Delightful. I just know I'm going to love this character. Wildlx has struck gold yet again.

Sarah, who is going to the Outback(tm) to escape a failed romance with a bloke, is travelling in a Louis Vuitton skirt. I kid you not. This must be the Down Under Armani.

As soon as she gets off the plane we meet The Love of Her Life, though she doesn't know it yet, who is here to give her a ride. They have a totally and utterly convincing minor road accident involving a kangaroo which results in Sarah lying on top of Harry (Harriet Roberts). Sarah nearly has an orgasm. Oh, wow, this is going to be an awesome read.

I was wholly surprised, though, by how improbable the events and characters continued to get. I am clearly not nearly cynical enough for lesfic.

Sarah is not just any doctor. She is a surgeon. She is not just any surgeon, she is a brilliant, talented, gifted surgeon. She can do amputations in collapsed mine-shafts in record time that are incredibly good. And yet sprains her own ankle so that Harry has to lead the rescue party to find her. (Oh, dingoes, you let me down badly.)

Sarah is also a cordon bleu cook. No, I'm not kidding. She is also an amazingly good dancer--the likes of whom the Outback(tm) yokels have not seen--except for Harry, her partner, who is also amazingly gifted at dancing. And who, incidentally, is also an incredible cook.

Harry is the vet. And everyone likes her. She is gorgeous and capable and awesome. But she isn't just any vet. Before her veterinary training, she was a gifted, precocious violinist who played at the Syndey Opera House. Not just playing--what am I sayign?--she played a solo. Sarah's mother knows Harry, because Sarah's mother is not just a mother. Oh, no, she is a famous concert pianist.

Sarah is not just the Best Surgeon Eva, she is also talented enough to draw on her rusty med school psychology training to not only diffuse an armed hostage taking situation but also solves the gun-wielder's problems by talking to him.

Do I need to mention they have the most brilliant, gifted, talented sex eva?

But we're not done yet. Oh, no. Harry's sister comes to visit. Sarah operates on the niece who conveniently has an appendicitis at the right moment for Sarah to do her doctor thing. So, the sister is set up as this super-bitch who sticks it to everyone. But she has not met Sarah! Sarah, of course, out-bitches the super-bitch. Natch. But the sister isn't just some sister. Oh, no, she is this high-flying corporate lawyer who is mega-rich. Did we mention that Harry is the daughter of a billionaire? Of course she is.

OMFG. I'm convinced that if the book had been just one chapter longer, the pair of them would've found a cure for cancer, solved world poverty, and knocked global warming on the head. And still found time for lots of sex.

This is even without getting into how immature, idiotic, and irrational much of their interaction is, including the Big Misunderstandings(tm). Oh, yes, and also pretty shitty on Sarah's part with respect to sneaking into Harry's office and reading...that about her. Oh my god, that! That, which must have been so devastating. That which she has kept hidden for years. Yes, that. And that, incidentally, is all the author tells us about what Sarah learned about Harry's past. I kid you not.

Yes, Wild, this one is a special kind of awful. I still feel let down by the dingoes.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities ~ Voltaire
User avatar
Baker
Site Admin
 
Posts: 8622
Joined: 19 Mar 2010, 11:10
Location: New Zealand

PreviousNext

Return to Reading 2014

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron