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The Book Thread
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Fri, 18 Oct 2013 04:53:35
Foolz said:

Aldous Huxley - Island.

This is one of the greatest satirical works ever written. Perfectly condensing the most ignorant fetishisation of foreign religions and cultures and vapid philosophical fantasy into an accurate representation of the repression inherent in any social system while also contrasting amusing hypocrisies barely paragraphs away from the dogma decrying them.

Well, I'm going to pretend it's satire anyway.

Aldous Huxley - The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell.

Let's just pretend this doesn't exist when you consider the above statements...and also Island, in fact. Let's pretend Island doesn't exist. This is Island. Okay? With that out of the way, this is genuinely great. Religion and neurology without stigma and judgement: what an impossible thought today. His "wit" is comprised of the same dull name dropping that infested Island, and his tastes and preferences get in the way of his reasoning in their garish implementation. In the name of edginess relevant information is pruned to the appendixes; the rest of which are comprised of more obnoxious narcissism. But even with Aldous Huxley remaining so ever present in his out of body experiences, it's still unbelievably #rare.

P.S. In the Penguin editions of both books, typos and printing errors abound. Including an amusing "it's" in place of "its". It's nice to read something from when an error was an error, and not ignorance, though.

Have only read Brave New World.  These are both going on the kindle

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Fri, 18 Oct 2013 04:58:28

Oh yeah, this thread. Books I have finished recently:

Inside the Circus by Mike Allen (US Politics)

The Rght Fights Back by Mike Allen (US Politics)

Exploding the Phone by Phil Lapsley (about Phone Phreaking)

It's Even Worse Than it Looks by Norman Ornstein (US Politics)

A Commodore 64 Walkabout by Robinson Mason (Retro Computing)

Gamers at Work (Retro Gaming)

The End of the Line by Glenn Thrush (US Politics)

Obama's Last Stand by Glenn Thrush (US Politics)

Priming the Pump by David Welsh (Retro Computing - TRS-80)


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Fri, 18 Oct 2013 05:00:28
Foolz said:

Aldous Huxley - Island.

This is one of the greatest satirical works ever written. Perfectly condensing the most ignorant fetishisation of foreign religions and cultures and vapid philosophical fantasy into an accurate representation of the repression inherent in any social system while also contrasting amusing hypocrisies barely paragraphs away from the dogma decrying them.

Well, I'm going to pretend it's satire anyway.

Aldous Huxley - The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell.

Let's just pretend this doesn't exist when you consider the above statements...and also Island, in fact. Let's pretend Island doesn't exist. This is Island. Okay? With that out of the way, this is genuinely great. Religion and neurology without stigma and judgement: what an impossible thought today. His "wit" is comprised of the same dull name dropping that infested Island, and his tastes and preferences get in the way of his reasoning in their garish implementation. In the name of edginess relevant information is pruned to the appendixes; the rest of which are comprised of more obnoxious narcissism. But even with Aldous Huxley remaining so ever present in his out of body experiences, it's still unbelievably #rare.

P.S. In the Penguin editions of both books, typos and printing errors abound. Including an amusing "it's" in place of "its". It's nice to read something from when an error was an error, and not ignorance, though.

Its nice to note that kind of thing happen'd.

I have those in hardcopy, never read them. But will now.


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Fri, 18 Oct 2013 05:01:02
bugsonglass said:

Have only read Brave New World.  These are both going on the kindle

Despite my comments on Island it's still definitely worth reading. The England flashbacks with his wife and mistress are especially good; Huxley is clearly a really good writer when he knows what he's dealing with, but when he's talking about something that he's a little ignorant in then he loses all style and skill. The same is true of the other book (when I was desperately trying to imagine it was satire, I justified this limpness in style as deliberate juxtaposition).

How is Brave New World? I'd definitely be interested in reading it if it was at all British in its "suchness" as Huxley would say.

aspro said:

Its nice to note that kind of thing happen'd.

I have those in hardcopy, never read them. But will now.



What happening happened?

Edited: Fri, 18 Oct 2013 05:03:13

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Sat, 26 Oct 2013 10:33:40

Well, up yours to the both of you then. Nyaa

A few days ago I finished The Birth of the Clinic, as translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith. It doesn't seem likely a particularly good translation: the writing style rarely changes between the "prose" and the quotes; the quotes coming from multiple eras of the French language. Only when the prose is the most direct does the style become particularly strong, and Foucault's voice come through. But maybe he's just not a particularly great writer? In any case, although there is a great deal of repetition (for a reason; but with the blandness of the translation or writing, the point is moot), the content is fascinating (some rare titbits of information and a few amusing quotes) and the conclusions great.

There's one advantage to ebooks (not that I'm actually going to read any of them), though: they don't fall apart. The version of The Birth of the Clinic that I exhumed from the dusty shelf was split into two volumes thanks to bad binding.

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Sun, 27 Oct 2013 00:14:12
Foolz said:




What  happened?

That typo's etc... happened back then too.


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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:10:55

Finished Year Zero by Rob Reid (founder of Rhapsody, husband of morgan Webb).

It's his first non-fiction work. Pretty good jokey sci-fi/ social commentary. "The plot revolves around alien cultures coming into contact with Earth music. The resulting fines and penalties from copyright infringement have bankrupted the whole universe. Humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused."

Also finished The Making of Karateka by Jordan Mechner.  It was better than his later work Teh Making of Prince of Persia, because it was written when he was younger/ most honest about himself.

Next book will be Atari Inc.: Business is Fun.

Edited: Fri, 01 Nov 2013 23:53:45


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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:16:12

His first non-fiction work is about alien cultures coming into contact with Earth music? Which completely fucks them up? Mars Attacks was true?!

It's about time we had some more children's writing posted. No one has mentioned The Hunger Games for awhile. Nyaa

Maggie Gumption by Margaret Stuart Barry:

Even within children's writing people still suck at short and flash fiction. Not so here with lots of nudity, war and bullying without any euphamisms. Great stuff.

The Mischievous Martens by Astrid Lindgren:

Case in point. This doesn't really get going until the very short stories increase in length, becoming chapters of a short novella (so far as children's writing length is concerned).

Lotta Leaves Home by Astrid Lindgren:

And this has no such problems due to being the one self-contained story. By the author of Pippi Longstockings, the protagonist is naturally a psychopath (the same protagonist from The Mischievous Martens, even though that story was awkwardly told from the perspective of her older sister; perhaps something that was lost in translation?) and her parents' obliviousness is only reconciled at the last moment. A children's story moral in reverse, with the parents learning that their folly is ill-advised, rather than the child. A motif that is present in all of her writing that I've read.

Mouse House and The Mousewife by Rumer Godden:

Solid, symetrical paragraphs, but awkward, stilted dialogue that doesn't convey character and emotion as effectively as the prose, and isn't so visually pleasing either. If nurturing children wasn't so desirable, then one could probably say that both stories have a very strong feminist undertone to them...

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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:29:00

I am in the middle of Under the Dome, fantastic read. I find King is at his best with these sort of human dramas, what would we do in extrordinary circumstances. It's hard to put down.

i have noticed that king doesn't make great protagonists, Barbie is clearly the "hero" but it takes a long while to really care about him and even then the reason you like him is cause he is normal when compared to the villains. King is a master at creating characters you hate, people you cannot wait to see die in a horrible way. This book is full of them, hell they outnumber the good guys. So I find myself reading more and more not cause I want to see how it all turns out for the town but because I want to see those aholes die. If that was King's intention then he succeeded.

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Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:31:19

A lot of US political books there aspro. Learn anything interesting?

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Fri, 01 Nov 2013 23:48:06
Dvader said:

A lot of US political books there aspro. Learn anything interesting?

Mostly gossip.  But since I love following US politics I can't get enough of it.  None of it is partisan, all straight-up reporting on the ins-and-outs of campaigns or legislative manuevers usually by reporters who were there or sourced directly from people who were in the room.


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Fri, 01 Nov 2013 23:51:22

This new book I am reading Atari, Inc is the definitive book to read about Atari, much like Uncloaking the Xbox for Microsoft or Game Over for Nintendo.

Extremely well researched, with primary document support.  The history we have all heard of Atari to date has been told by Nolan Bushnell (and most of it is utter bullshit).  This is the story from the other participants, and it is entertaining and informative reading.


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Sat, 02 Nov 2013 00:07:20
aspro said:

Mostly gossip.  But since I love following US politics I can't get enough of it.  None of it is partisan, all straight-up reporting on the ins-and-outs of campaigns or legislative manuevers usually by reporters who were there or sourced directly from people who were in the room.

Is it all as bad as it seems. I am very disgusted with our government, they are like a bunch of children bickering.

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Sat, 02 Nov 2013 00:25:54

Yes, and much much worse.  It's children fighting who have all the money and power. Government is a rich man's play-thing.


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Sat, 16 Nov 2013 21:49:55

Finsihed Atari, Inc.

It's over 800 pages long, 200 pages of photo's. It is amazingly well researched and is the definitive sotry of Atari from beginning to end.

In reading it you'll find out that much of what you think you know abou the Atari story is wrong or exaggerated (everything from the Steve Jobs stories all the way through the ET landfill).

Countless primary documents, like contracts, photos from the time, depositions and court testimony.

It's riveting for the first few hundred pages, then they go into the computer side of things a bit long for my liking, but it was an important part of their company.

Also, about half way through the book starts to be filled with spelling and grammar issues.  They didn;t even fucking spellcheck what appears to be the last third of the book.  While distracting, the content is still interesting enough that you can look past it.  Also, Kindle users, note that the formating is not always perfect.  Apparently someone used a "Find and Replace" too many times so for no reason the word "life" is capitalized throughout the book and Nolan Bushnell's first name appears as "No-lan" which put me into the voices of the aliens from Galaxy Quest more than a few times.

All in all, a must read for gaming history buffs in general.

Edited: Sat, 16 Nov 2013 21:51:47


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Sun, 17 Nov 2013 01:50:03

The editing or lack thereof sounds more interesting than the book itself. Nyaa

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Sun, 17 Nov 2013 12:29:00

The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham:

I rarely read genre fiction (except if it's for children) so it's always a bit of a novelty when I do. The concept of it being the journalistic memoir of a radio script writer allows Wyndham to mostly avoid that pesky thing known as prose, which makes it all the more engaging to read. Though the reviewer that described the pacing as "that of a slightly superior snail" was 100% correct. But that's what makes it so enjoyable; it's ridiculously detailed exposition that goes on for hundreds upon hundreds of pages with a few snippets of prose and plenty of dialogue to break it up. And the best passage is that of prose, but it doesn't really lead anywhere—the pace petering out in a poorly placed expositional tract; the following prose that continued directly on from the previous is limp and lifeless by comparison. But with so much exposition, I couldn't help but wonder what they were doing for fresh water at the end. The questions that genre fiction raise! Oh, and the imitation of an iceberg caption was genuinely superb.

And global warming: it's caused by krakens. In fact, the media following of the krakens is completely analogous to the media following of climate change. See what I did there?

But most importantly: the cover is incredible. That's the only reason I read it; and the reason I've wanted to for years. The sea tanks managed to live up to it somehow.

http://www.sci-fi-o-rama.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/The_Kraken_Wakes.png

The Great Gatsby by Jazz Hands Fitzgerald:

Stephen Fry described it as containing perfect usage of the English language. So who am I to disagree? Though, I did think that sometimes the flowery opulence tipped over the edge into purple prose, especially with some absolutely awful uses of metaphors and similes; though a lot of the similes and metaphors were great too. There's no shame in failing out of ambition, but that is what editors are for, right? Indeed, the art of great writing is made to seem like  something of a gargantuan task in The Great Gatsby, even though great writers make such a gargantuan task seem like the easiest thing in the world. The dialogue is flawless, though, and the contrast between the parties with and without Daisy was so well realised it only made the lack of such consistent quality elsewhere all the more tragic. But, it's still pretty damn good. Oh, and Stephen Fry does it a bit of disservice by describing it simply as a tragic: it seemed densely soaked in good old American irony to me. So much so that one might make an argument for a deliberate air being present in the purple prose, but given that that air is present away from it, perhaps it wouldn't be a very good argument.

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Sat, 23 Nov 2013 22:11:28

^I'll look that one up.

Started reading Metro 2033.  It's pretty good so far, it helps that I am playing the game to aid in visualizing the world.  So far it's a lot of flashbacks and re-telling of stories in the story. Nice device.


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Fri, 29 Nov 2013 03:02:20

The Family From One End Street: and some of thier adventures - Eve Garnett.

As a general rule authors who want their book illustrated should suck it up and illustrate it themselves. It almost always results in a great consistency of aesthetic, and so long as they are both adequate writers and artists, then the characters actually look somewhat like they do in the prose. And Eve Garnett is much more than adequate at both.

Anyway, this is an obvious classic. The writing is consistently great, as are the characters and stories and the illustrations. The class analysis is hilariously English (despite the titular family being low class, the one time they interact with the upper class, the upper class come off as altruistic angels) but wonderfully complex.

And baby shows....Jesus Christ. What the fuck is wrong with England? (Yes I know these were popular here in the '50s. But every time an Englishman complains about girls beauty pageants in America, point out England's ridiculous obsession with baby shows. Seriously, what in the actual fuck? LOL). In any case, black hand gang 4 lyfe yo.

Wake in Fright - Kenneth Cook.

I've never understood why Australia can be one of the best in the world when it comes to children's literature, but be so absurdly amateurish when it comes to adult writing. Wake in Fright begins exactly as one would expect one of the finest examples of Australian literature to: like a poorly composed first draft. The style is uneven and horribly dull.

Oh God! the similes...the attempts at poetic description. The random ch---wait, these changes in style are deliberate and complex. The prose written to reflect the tone or actions of the scene. Poorly executed, but incredibly ambitious. Especially for an Australian book. And even better? There is no skipping ahead in time. Except in drunken stupor.

But poorly executed ambition? Meh. Luckily the storytelling more than makes up for anything lacking in the writing. The now-revered outback Australian mateship is shown for what it is: one of the most naked and disturbing forms of social control one can encounter; if only it truly was confined to the outback. Odd how we no longer greet it with such disdain.

Which might be too strong a word. It's funny to compare the class dynamics on show between One End Street and Wake in Fright. People say Australia has no class system, which is blatantly untrue, but it certainly doesn't have one quite so powerful where a book sympathetic to the lower classes can depict them more patronisingly than Wake in Fright---a book which is highly critical of the lower classes. Or at least, one horrible yet fetishised aspect of them. A classic---and by Australian standards, probably a masterpiece too. But that's not saying much, really, is it? Still a great book, though.

Edited: Fri, 29 Nov 2013 03:05:07

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Sat, 14 Dec 2013 02:14:19

New book to recommend.  "The President's Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity" It's about the unofficial club that former American presidents have and the relationships they have with current presidents and each other. Lots of very interesting stories in this.

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