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So What Have you Read Lately? And other favorite books!

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On 1/28/2018 at 7:08 AM, Gadgetman! said:


I've read a few books with similar End of the World plots, and they generally stink, all of them.

There's the overly-optimistic ones, usually with a couple of Mary-Sues and Gary Stus in the chracter list,

there's Biblicals, where the author is moronic enough to think that the Human Race can be 'restarted' with just one woman...  

There's the hedonistic ones, with gangs of leather-clad bikers roving the Earth, raping, killing and pillaging... I think that says more about the author than the human race... and these are often combined with the...

Valley of eden... somehow a secluded valley was protected from the ravages that destroyed the rest of the Earth, and people live there, peacefully, growing crops and generally being nice...   



Try Earth Abides by George R Stewart (1949)

It doesn't fall into any of the above and has aged fairly well.

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Continuing to reread old books in the hope that I can thin my shelves out a bit.

So the next on my list is "Dreamsnake" by Vonda McIntyre. A young healer on a post-apocalyptic Earth plies her trade with the help of genetically altered snakes whose venom is medicinal. She encounters a variety of problems on her travels and tries to solve these in non-confrontational ways. I found that this made her character teeter on the verge of being too good to be true, but it's a different approach.

 I believe the authoress never used the milieu set up in this book again, which is a pity as much is hinted at that I would have been interested in exploring further. Several communities are only lightly sketched and there has obviously been a visit by aliens at some time.

 Probably transferring this one to kindle.

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Just finished the new Thrawn book for Star Wars. I really enjoyed it, TImothy Zahn is a great author. Even though this is technically 'new canon', it can easily slot into Extended Universe time line without causing any disruptions (and since i prefer Extended Universe that's exactly what intend to do haha)


Edited by Sirithiliel
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I know I said I enjoy reading entertaining trash, but every once in a while I feel like reading something deeper, or at least darker.


John Christopher (most famous for the YA sci fi “Tripods” trilogy) published the bleak post-apocalyptic novel “The Death of Grass” in 1956. It starts when a mutated virus spreads from East Asia and kills all grasses worldwide. A little band of English survivors face escalating moral dilemmas as they travel across a vastly changed landscape. Thoughtful, although very solidly of its time, and Christopher is absolutely appalling at writing women characters.


Gene Wolfe’s “Peace”. Ye gods. I think this guy perfected the unreliable narrator. 


It starts off sounding like the folksy autobiography of a nice old man who grew up in a nice midwestern small town starting around the First World War, and one wonders why so renowned a science fiction author as Wolfe wrote it, but it’s interesting enough and compelling enough that one keeps going.


And then, slowly, insidiously, it creeps up on one that there is something very wrong with this story. People keep saying they will do one thing and later are revealed to have done the opposite. People disappear, never to be mentioned again. Strange, multilayered clues shuttle back and forth in time. We begin to suspect that our nice old man has murdered and worse his way through his nice small town. And eventually (though it is never said explicitly) we realize that the narrator is nothing so benign as a living human being, nor has he ever been fully honest.


I saw someone liken this novel to a puzzle box. That’s a good description. I want to read it again and make one of those wall charts with timelines and pins and strings and connections. I suspect it would be complex.





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Currently re-reading the Science of Discworld series.

Master Word-smith Sir Terry Pratchett collaborated with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, both masters of the written word in their own areas of expertise to craft a series of Layman Level Science Books using the literary device of contrasting how things work on Discworld with the current state of scientific understanding of how the same things work on "Roundworld" [our own planet/universe].

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Just finished re-reading "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Walter M Miller. Haven't read this for at least a couple of decades, so I was half expecting to be disappointed, but in fact it stands up pretty well. 


 A post-apocalyptic tale of the classic kind: The big nuclear war has happened and the remnants of humanity struggle to rebuild. There has been a back-lash against the sciences and, by a twist of fate, it is various religious orders that struggle to keep the remaining scraps of technical knowledge from being lost. 


 That is the gist, but there are complications: The story is set over several centuries, but a "wandering jew" character, keeps reappearing, is this Leibowitz? And why does he seem to be immortal? And there is a strong hint that the regained knowledge will be used to cause another cataclysm. So should the churches have struggled so hard to keep that dangerous knowledge? Plenty to think about here, as well as an enjoyable book with lively dialogue. 

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