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Last post Author Topic: What books are you reading?  (Read 201804 times)

40hz

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #100 on: June 30, 2010, 03:03:31 PM »
Oooo...Lovecaft!

One the most original of the modern sci-fi/horror sub-genre writers. He basically created the category.

Grab yourself a heaping dish of elder god sushi and settle in for some fun reading.

Birth_of_Cthulhu-015a.jpg

If the descriptions seem vague, the quotations from the Necronomicon maddeningly short, the 'known' facts incomplete and sometimes even contradictory, don't be surprised. Lovecraft deliberately wrote it that way. He firmly believed the reader's imagination could create a more frightening mood when working with hints than their rational mind could working with vivid descriptions. Besides, what description could accurately convey his idea of trans-dimensional, god-like, yet utterly evil entities, whose presence phases in and out of our own time-space continuum.

That's the beauty of Lovecraft. The danger isn't confined to specific places or a times. The minions of Cthullu and the Elder Gods are separated from us by only the thinnest of dimensional walls. Do something wrong, or be a little too confident or careless, and the bogyman really will get you in Lovecraft's universe.

Lovecraft was an avid amateur astronomer. And he also lived at the very start of the era that produced the first real breakthroughs in nuclear energy, particle physics, and relativity. Fascinated as he was by all of this (and being a 'confirmed rationalist' by his own admission) he still admitted to an occasional vague anxiety about where this scientific research might lead mankind. Some of this anxiety, and his concerns about the possible societal reaction to Einstein's new vision of the universe, finds voice in some of his stories:

Quote
The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.  -The Call of Cthullu

Interestingly, most of the people who run afoul of these entities in Lovecraft's stories did so by being a little too curious for their own good. They read a forbidden book they shouldn't have, conducted scientific research into something better left alone, played around with an artifact they knew was evil.

For example:

Quote
Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of the Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension.

But he was still content, for at one mighty venture he was to learn all. Damnation, he reflected, is but a word bandied about by those whose blindness leads them to condemn all who can see, even with a single eye.  -Dreams in the Witch House

and...

Quote
If the thing did happen, then man must be prepared to accept notions of the cosmos, and of his own place in the seething vortex of time, whose merest mention is paralysing. He must, too, be placed on guard against a specific, lurking peril which, though it will never engulf the whole race, may impose monstrous and unguessable horrors upon certain venturesome members of it.  -Through the Gates of the Silver Key

So what is this "specific lurking peril?"

In one of the few 'quotes' Lovecraft provides from the Necronomicon he 'explains' a bit about what these entities are:

Quote
Nor is it to be thought that man is either the oldest or the last of earth’s masters, or that the common bulk of life and substances walks alone.

The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them They walk, serene and primal, undimensioned and to us unseen.

Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate.

Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread.

By Their smell can men sometimes know them near, but of Their semblance can no man know, saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind; and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man’s truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them.

They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites.

Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what man knows Kadath?

The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones where Their seal is engraven, but who hath seen the deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles?

Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. Iä! Shub-Niggurath!

As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold.


Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet.

Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now.
After summer is winter, and after winter summer...

They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again.

So are these things gods? Alien intelligences? The ravings of some lunatics who make these things real only by their belief in in them and their willingness to act on what they believe are commands to serve them?

Who knows. And who cares?  ;D

Lovecraft deliberately puts his readers in the same position as the characters in his stories - confused and struggling to make sense out of something that is basically beyond the ability of the human mind to envision or understand. When Lovecraft talks about the 'unknown' he means the 'unknowable.'

Clark Ashton Smith, who was one of Lovecraft's proteges, wrote many stories using characters and concepts from the Cthullu Mythos. Some years after Lovecraft's death he even tried to arrange the entities into a pantheon of sorts by assigning the various Elder Gods to an elemental framework: Cthullu = water, Hastur = fire, Shub-Niggurath = earth, and Ithaqua = air; and set them in an almost bibical "war in the heavens" backstory.

It didn't work.

I personally prefer Lovecraft's concept of something malignant and unknowable that forever hovers just on the fringe of our senses and subconscious awareness. Something as vague and immaterial as a half remembered nightmare. Something that may abruptly manifest itself and wreck havoc before vanishing just as quickly and without a trace.

Cool stuff.

Lovecraft's favorite story was The Colour Out of Space. He felt that one best succeeded in capturing the sense of awe and fear someone might experience when confronting the completely 'unknowable' as opposed to the merely unknown.

My favorite too!

Here's Virgil Finlay's artwork for the story. (Finlay was Lovecraft's favorite illustrator.)

colour.jpgWhat books are you reading?

 8)


-----

P.S. Your objection to the plot problem in The Call of Cthullu has bugged a lot of Lovecraft fans. I always wondered about that part myself even though there was an explanation (of sorts) in the story as to what had happened. A bit unsatisfying, but what can  you do? <*sigh*>

 :Thmbsup:




« Last Edit: June 30, 2010, 06:18:23 PM by 40hz »

Deozaan

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #101 on: June 30, 2010, 08:24:59 PM »
If the descriptions seem vague, the quotations from the Necronomicon maddeningly short, the 'known' facts incomplete and sometimes even contradictory, don't be surprised. Lovecraft deliberately wrote it that way.

Yes, perhaps I was a bit unfair or unclear. I'm not disappointed in the stories. Rather, I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about the Cthulhu mythos from Lovecraft himself, so my expectation that all would be revealed was disappointed by the fact that one cannot know the unknowable.

I wanted my curiosity satiated, but the nature of the topic is that it only becomes curiouser the more you uncover.


AndyM

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #102 on: June 30, 2010, 08:41:11 PM »
Currently reading Greg Bear's "Blood Music". ...

Haven't yet read a Greg Bear book that wasn't excellent.

Darwin

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #103 on: June 30, 2010, 09:42:32 PM »
Currently reading Greg Bear's "Blood Music". ...

Haven't yet read a Greg Bear book that wasn't excellent.

Yes! I enjoyed it thoroughly. I'm no finishing off "Oath of Fealty" by Elizabeth Moon, having devoured the first three books in the Deed of Paksenarrion series earlier this month.
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

AndyM

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #104 on: June 30, 2010, 10:10:58 PM »
.... I'm no finishing off "Oath of Fealty" by Elizabeth Moon, having devoured the first three books in the Deed of Paksenarrion series earlier this month. ...
Thanks, those look good.  I will definitely check them out.

mouser

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #105 on: October 05, 2010, 12:20:36 PM »
I've been reading Eric Raymond's short collection of essays on Open Source software, "The Cathedral and the Bazaar".
Screenshot - 10_5_2010 , 12_11_30 PM_thumb.png

If you're an Open Source fan you probably have heard about or even read Eric's essay of the same name -- but a couple of the other essay's are quite interesting and tackle seriously the goal of explaining and justifying Open Source from an economic theory standpoint -- in many ways a quite conservative-leaning economic theory (which surprised me but may help explain why the article/book has been so influential).

I am still struggling to get a grip on the full ramifications of open sourcing software from the standpoint of an independent developer, and the book is raising a few issues i didn't think about, while at the same time confirming some of my concerns.  Definitely recommended.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2010, 12:28:10 PM by mouser »

rjbull

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #106 on: October 05, 2010, 03:06:53 PM »
On a thriller kick:

  • (just finished)  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.    This one puts your life on hold until you finish it!
  • (just finished)  Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indriðason.    Latest in his Reykjavik series.
  • The Dead of Winter by Rennie Airth.    Very good, set in London and southern England during WWII.  The earlier two, set just after WWI, were absolutely excellent.

ljbirns

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #107 on: October 05, 2010, 08:03:24 PM »
Quote
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.    This one puts your life on hold until you finish it!

The Girl Who Played with Fire                                do the same
Lew

kyrathaba

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #108 on: October 05, 2010, 08:11:29 PM »
I've recently read:

Armageddon Reef by David Weber
By Heresies Distressed by David Weber
The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman


Currently reading:

Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz

4wd

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #109 on: October 06, 2010, 12:36:49 AM »
I've started re-reading all the Necroscopew series, currently on The Last Aerie:

TheLastAerie.jpg

Brian Lumley has also written books relating to the Cthulhu mythology, (which I've yet to read).

Life Expectancy by Dean Koontz

Another of my limited number of favourite authors, his Frankenstein series is excellent.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2010, 12:39:11 AM by 4wd »

kyrathaba

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #110 on: October 06, 2010, 10:51:43 AM »
Read so far, this year:

   1. Frankenstein: Lost Souls, by Dean Koontz
   2. The Left Hand of God, by Paul Hoffman
   3. The Passage, by Justin Cronin
   4. Relentless, by Dean Koontz
   5. The World Inside, by Robert Silverberg
   6. Across the Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hern
   7. By Schism Rent Asunder, by David Weber
   8. Off Armageddon Reef, by David Weber
   9. Var the Stick, by Piers Anthony (1973)
  10. The Many-Colored Land (422 pp.), by Julian May
  11. The Ring of Charon, by Roger MacBride Allen
  12. Sandman Slim, by Richard Kadrey
  13. The Courts of Chaos, by Roger Zelazny
  14. The Hand of Oberon, by Roger Zelazny
  15. Signs of the Unicorn, by Roger Zelazny
  16. The Guns of Avalon, by Roger Zelazny

kyrathaba

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #111 on: October 16, 2010, 09:17:01 AM »
Quote
Another of my limited number of favourite authors, his Frankenstein series is excellent.

+1.

I've read them all (that is, those he's completed.  He still lacks two in the second Frankenstein trilogy).

Books I've read in recent years:

link

Darwin

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #112 on: October 16, 2010, 10:41:11 AM »
Well... concurrently I am reading:

The Lost Hero - Rick Riordan
Chorus Skating - Alan Dean Foste
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

I love my ebook Reader  :-*
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

kyrathaba

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #113 on: October 17, 2010, 02:39:11 PM »
Just finished "Life Expectancy" by Dean Koontz.  Have started reading "Dragon Tears" by same.

MerleOne

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #114 on: October 20, 2010, 08:29:28 AM »
Just finished "Life Expectancy" by Dean Koontz.  Have started reading "Dragon Tears" by same.
Hmm Dragon Tears is for me one of the best from DK !

I am just finishing the 3rd book from the latest Terro Brooks Shannara trilogy, The Gypsy Morph.  Next in line is "The Road" from Mc Cormack (?), still in the post-apocalyptic environment.
.merle1.

Darwin

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #115 on: October 20, 2010, 11:53:53 AM »
Heh, heh, I finished the Hunger Games trilogy this weekend ("Hunger Games", "Catching Fire", "Mockinjay") and just finished "The Lost Hero". I'm almost done "Chorus Skating" as well... I got so caught up in the Hunger Games that I read them all first...

What to read next (other than The Criminal Event, though I've already read it cover to cover a couple of times)?
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

MerleOne

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #116 on: October 20, 2010, 03:47:01 PM »
BTW, speaking of Dean Koontz, I am looking for a specific title from him, but I just know a few elements of the synopsis. I  have not been able to find the right title so far.  I have read several of his novels, searched on the Net, to no avail.  Is there any DK reader here (not readers from Denmark I mean...) ?

Here are the elements I recall : at the beginning of the story, a mother and her son (or daughter) are living in our world but are in fact of some kind of a royal family from another realm somehow connected to ours, and some people would like them to disappear so that the throne remains theirs.

It would be a "fantasy" novel from DK.

Anyone, anyone ?
.merle1.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2010, 03:48:32 PM by MerleOne »

4wd

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #117 on: October 20, 2010, 05:07:35 PM »
Here are the elements I recall : at the beginning of the story, a mother and her son (or daughter) are living in our world but are in fact of some kind of a royal family from another realm somehow connected to ours, and some people would like them to disappear so that the throne remains theirs.

It would be a "fantasy" novel from DK.

Have you checked the list at his website, maybe one of the titles will jog your memory - there are excerpts from the ones still in print.  Maybe his earlier SciFi stuff, (all out of print)?

Dean Koontz

He has/does write under a few pseudonyms - almost all the books I've read under his name, (and Leigh Nichols), have been Suspense/Thriller with a touch of SciFi, (barring childrens and non-fiction).



MerleOne

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #118 on: October 21, 2010, 03:40:23 AM »

Have you checked the list at his website, maybe one of the titles will jog your memory - there are excerpts from the ones still in print.  Maybe his earlier SciFi stuff, (all out of print)?

Dean Koontz

He has/does write under a few pseudonyms - almost all the books I've read under his name, (and Leigh Nichols), have been Suspense/Thriller with a touch of SciFi, (barring childrens and non-fiction).

Not sure I did, but I will !  Thanks.  In the mean time, if someone here recognizes the synopsis...
.merle1.

kyrathaba

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #119 on: October 21, 2010, 06:40:32 AM »
Quote
In the mean time, if someone here recognizes the synopsis...

Hmm, I've not read that one, yet. 

MerleOne

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #120 on: October 21, 2010, 07:56:14 AM »
I had a look at several titles, pre-2002 published (I know it was released in French between 1988 and 2002), but did not found any so far that would match the synopsis.  But I have not checked the full list yet...
.merle1.

mahesh2k

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #121 on: October 21, 2010, 09:01:52 AM »
Ah thanks for lovecraft suggestion.  :)

i finished these books:

1. Mistakes were made but not by me - Carol tavris

2. Rapid development - Steve mcconel

3.  Linchpin - Seth godin


mark1959

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #122 on: October 24, 2010, 03:21:55 AM »
Couple which are at opposite ends of the spectrum:

The Mighty Walzer - Howard Jacobsen; hilarious and the best 'sporting' novel ever (it's about table tennis)
Feast of The Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa; very dark indeed but compelling

kyrathaba

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #123 on: November 10, 2010, 07:45:17 PM »
Just finished "Dragon Tears" (Dean Koontz).

Now reading "Under the Dome" (Stephen King).
« Last Edit: November 11, 2010, 08:36:30 PM by kyrathaba »

Darwin

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Re: What books are you reading?
« Reply #124 on: November 10, 2010, 10:28:25 PM »
I just read "Feed" by M.T. Anderson (have a student reading it) and enjoyed it immensely. The premise is a dystopic future in which computers and an internet-type feed are hardwired into our bodies and integrated directly into our thoughts. So... people walk around with constant advertising targetting them depending on what they are looking at/passing, and carry on private text conversations with others, share memories, including smells and other tactile senses, with each other, etc.

I'm about to start reading Michael Connelly's latest, "Reversal" and have also started Harry Turtledove's "How Few Remain".
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin