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Serieses of books - Qualified Perceptions
Serieses of books
Infinity Beach (by Jack McDevitt)
This gets off to a little bit of a slow start - until about page 80 or so, I kept reading a bit and then putting it down and doing something else. But then it picks up, and I stopped being able to put it down until I was done. It's got an interesting long-ago mystery, and spooky bits, and reasonable characterization. Some of the things that the protagonists do, they seem to get away with a little easily, but then, it's a society in which most people are rich introverts, so there's not much crime and thus probably less security. The mystery-following is well done and varied, with lots of document recovery; it thus ends up reading a little bit like a Call of Cthulhu-type mystery but in a science fiction genre. Four and a half stars, and I want to run a game with fancy documents again.

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, Talking to Dragons) by Patricia Wrede
More children's books in the "revisionist fairy tale" genre (like The Unhandsome Prince, but generally good fun. They're kind of repetitive when all read at once, and do have the children's-book tendency for most of the random NPCs encountered to be helpful, but there's a lot of humor and surprises like a remarkably touching encounter with the dwarf formerly known as Rumplestiltskin. The villains get a little boringly gloaty and foolish, and never seem to remember that the good guys can beat them if they have half a chance. Three and a half twinkly stars for the first book, falling to two and a half by the fourth.

The Robot trilogy (Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and Robots of Dawn)
This is like those music recommendation sites that, after I check a lot of boxes for what I like and don't, proudly tell me that I should like the Beatles. Well, for heaven's sakes, I already know if I like the Beatles or not, it's not like I've totally failed to notice their existence so far. I'm pretty sure nobody needs my advice on whether or not to read Isaac Asimov's second most famous body of work (except maybe harrock, who is oddly behind on his fiction due to all that non-fiction he reads). I just wanted to read them again, and have my own copies this time.

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twe From: twe Date: July 18th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC) (Link)


I haven't read any of the Robot books aside from I, Robot. (Asimov and Tolkien both I tried to read one hot summer when I was too young to enjoy them, and I have yet to rectify that on all counts, though I'm getting closer.)
From: desireearmfeldt Date: July 18th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, me too--I think I read a Robot short story, but I think that's about it.

Never underestimate your friends' cultural illiteracy. :)

(Of course, I think Asimov is one of those Classic SF Authors I have a hard time reading because his treatment of women rubs me the wrong way--not because the particular authors are particularly bad, so much as they channel their time period really well. I have no idea why this bothers me so much with books written in the 1950s, and not at all with books written in the 1800s. I guess it does bug me in particular with SF books, because they're all about the marvelous advanced future in which women still *obviously* wear lipstick blahblahblah. But I suspect something like, oh, the Hardy Boys would bug me too, :) ))
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 18th, 2006 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think Asimov is one of those Classic SF Authors I have a hard time reading because his treatment of women rubs me the wrong way

But this is my point. I'm not saying obviously all my friends have read Asimov already, I'm just saying you don't need me to *tell* you, "Hey, there's this author named Isaac Asimov that you've never heard of, he writes about the Three Laws of Robotics and this thing called psychohistory."

Some people don't like the Beatles, and some do. I just think I don't know anyone (except maybe harrock) can't identify at least maybe one Beatles song.
From: desireearmfeldt Date: July 18th, 2006 03:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but see, I happen to have accidentally read an Asimov story once; I think I've read a Heinlein novel as well. But there are lots of famous authors whose names I know that I don't actually have much sense of what their stuff is like--Kurt Vonnegut and Harlan Elison, to pull two out of the SF Authors box.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 18th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
But I don't think Vonnegut and Ellison, good as they are, are in the same class of recognition/familiarity as Asimov. (I would similarly claim that I don't know many people who can't name at least one Shakespeare play, but I expect there are many who can't name one by Marlowe).
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 18th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
The private investigator? He wrote plays?
twe From: twe Date: July 18th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I didn't need to be told the name Asimov, but being told the names of the Robot novels was helpful. (Actually, I might like to borrow those in early August - perhaps right before I go to CA?)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 18th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sure. :)
From: seborn Date: July 18th, 2006 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read an awful lot of Asimov as a kid, and didn't really notice this. Then again, I read a lot of science fiction written before I was born as a kid, and remember mad cross-casting going on in my head just because most of the interesting people were boys. Perhaps that means that I did notice rather strongly. But it caused me to not pick up so much on what the original girls in the story as written were doing. I do remember reading Caves of Steel and thinking much less about Jessie Baley's cosmetics than wondering if actual men really didn't talk in public bathrooms or if this was a weird overcrowded future thing like eating vat-grown fungus.

I never read any Doc Smith until I was older, but if I had I'd probably be re-reading it now and thinking "wow, I totally don't remember any of this girls can't be Lensmen stuff."
ricedog From: ricedog Date: July 18th, 2006 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
wondering if actual men really didn't talk in public bathrooms

It was a New York thing.
rifmeister From: rifmeister Date: July 18th, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I finally read one of the robots books last year. It wasn't that compelling. Somehow, I wanted the "tricks" to be better. The world ended up seeming arbitrary --- the robots would sometimes act in weird ways, but I never felt at the end of the story, "Yeah, I could've figured that out." It was like mystery stories where the answer to the mystery was "The world doesn't quite work how you'd expect."

Also, I think I should like to read Infinity Beach.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 18th, 2006 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I was thinking it might be a rif book for the same reasons that the Kovacs books are rif books, except it's not really at all like them, so I decided not to try and put that in my review. :)

I'll bring it by work.
jdbakermn From: jdbakermn Date: July 18th, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are you interested in other McDevitt books? I have a bunch. I could mail them out to you (along with the pile of books I borrowed)...
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 18th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have Ancient Shores and Polaris in my to-be-read pile, but I'd happily add more. :)
ricedog From: ricedog Date: July 18th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
You might want to read A Talent for War before Polaris.

I also liked the Engines of God and Omega a lot. (They are the endpoints of an extended trilogy, but I don't remember the middle two books well enough to have an opinion).

firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 18th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm. The cover of Engines of God looks familiar, but I can't remember a darned thing about it.

So I should find out if A Talent for War is one of the books jdbakermn is going to send me, or if I should get the paperback swap people to send me one. :)
From: brilit Date: July 18th, 2006 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Engines of God

Let me know if you figure out that you've read Engines of God. I have a comment I want to make to you about it, but it's pretty much a spoiler.
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