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HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion

Sandra Craft

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HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« on: January 17, 2021, 09:25:38 PM »
(Before we get down to the business of choosing our next book, I could use some more suggestions for both fiction and nonfiction books.  Thanks)

Mrs. Caliban, by Rachel Ingalls.  In the quiet suburbs, while Dorothy is doing chores and waiting for her husband to come home from work, not in the least anticipating romance, she hears a strange radio announcement about a monster who has just escaped from the Institute for Oceanographic Research.  (111 pages)

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.  A boldly imagined future in which no hope remains, but in which a father and his young son are sustained by love.  (241 pages)

The Reporter, by Scott Sigler.  The Reporter follows Yolanda Davenport, a reporter for Galaxy Sports Magazine, as she searches for the truth about Ju Tweedy's involvement with the murder of Grace McDermott - the incident that drove Ju to join the Ionath Krakens. The Reporter takes place between week three and week six of the 2684 Galactic Football League season, the season that encompasses The All-Pro.  (138 pages)

Wyrd Sisters, by Terry Pratchett.  “Kingdoms wobble, crowns topple and knives flash on the magical Discworld as the statutory three witches meddle in royal politics. The wyrd sisters battle against frightful odds to put the rightful king on the throne. At least, that's what they think...”  (265 pages)

The Year of Wonders: a novel of the plague, by Geraldine Brooks.  An historical novel based on the true story of Eyam, the "Plague Village". In 1666, a tainted bolt of cloth from London carried bubonic infection to this isolated settlement of shepherds and lead miners. A visionary young preacher convinced the villagers to seal themselves off in a deadly quarantine to prevent the spread of disease. The story is told through the eyes of eighteen-year-old Anna Frith, the vicar's maid, as she confronts the loss of her family, and the disintegration of her community.  (304 pages)
Sandy

  

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Davin

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2021, 03:08:33 PM »
Here are a few books in my list of books to read that come from ones that looked interesting to recommendations. The descriptions and page counts are from looking up the books on the Good Reads site.

Fiction

Agency, by William Gibson. In William Gibson's first novel since 2014's New York Times bestselling The Peripheral, a gifted "app-whisperer" is hired by a mysterious San Francisco start-up and finds herself in contact with a unique and surprisingly combat-savvy AI. (413 pages)

Pulse, by Julian Barnes. After the best-selling Arthur & George and Nothing to Be Frightened Of, Julian Barnes returns with fourteen stories about longing and loss, friendship and love, whose mysterious natures he examines with his trademark wit and observant eye. (228 pages)


The Undead, by Roxanne Longstreet. Most people avoid the cold, sterile peace of the hospital morgue, but Adam Radburn finds peace in the undemanding responsibilities of caring for the dead. It's the perfect job for someone with an affinity for the night...or a vampire. But Adam's present friend Michael Bowman will discover the truth, and Adam's past will rise up to haunt them both, in the form of an enemy a... (318 pages)


Non-Fiction

Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, by J. Michael Straczynski. For four decades, J. Michael Straczynski has been one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, one of the few to forge multiple careers in movies, television and comics. Yet there's one story he's never told before: his own. (460 pages)


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari. 100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, tim...(512 pages)
« Last Edit: January 25, 2021, 03:27:06 PM by Davin »
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Sandra Craft

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2021, 11:36:33 PM »
Good choices, all of them, but I am trying to keep the selections under 300 pages to be less daunting.  318 pages is OK, but I wouldn't want to go much more than that.  You got anything shorter?
Sandy

  

"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany

Davin

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2021, 04:57:46 PM »
Trade out Gibson for Gibson

Virtual Light, by William Gibson. Berry Rydell, an ex-cop, signs on with IntenSecure Armed Response in Los Angeles. He finds himself on a collision course that results in a desperate romance, and a journey into the ecstasy and dread that mirror each other at the heart of the postmodern experience. (304 pages)

Non-Fiction replacements

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past, by David Reich. Massive technological innovations now allow scientists to extract and analyze ancient DNA as never before, and it has become clear--in part from David Reich's own contributions to the field--that genomics is as important a means of understanding the human past as archeology, linguistics, and the written word. Now, in The New Science of the Human Past, Reich describes just[...] (335 pages)

Black Hole Survival Guide, by Janna Levin. From the acclaimed author of Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space--an authoritative and accessible guide to the most alluring and challenging phenomena of contemporary science. Through her writing, astrophysicist Janna Levin has focused on making the science she studies not just comprehensible but also, and perhaps more important, intriguing to the nonscientist[...] (160 pages)

Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

Sandra Craft

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2021, 07:40:15 AM »
Great choices, thank you.
Sandy

  

"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany

Davin

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2021, 05:42:16 PM »
I have another non-fiction:

Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, by Alain Badiou. Alain Badiou aims to explode the assumptions behind the ethical turn in political and academic agendas which serve to reinforce the ideology of the status quo. He demonstrates particularly how an ethics conceived in terms of negative human rights and tolerance of difference cannot underpin a coherent concept of evil. (166 pages)
Always question all authorities because the authority you don't question is the most dangerous... except me, never question me.

Sandra Craft

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2021, 01:45:36 AM »
I have another non-fiction:

Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, by Alain Badiou. Alain Badiou aims to explode the assumptions behind the ethical turn in political and academic agendas which serve to reinforce the ideology of the status quo. He demonstrates particularly how an ethics conceived in terms of negative human rights and tolerance of difference cannot underpin a coherent concept of evil. (166 pages)

Sounds interesting!
Sandy

  

"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany

Sandra Craft

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2021, 08:24:42 PM »
My FB review:

This is the sixth of the Discworld novels, and thank goodness they don't need to be read in order because I'm way beyond back-tracking and reading them as a series.

This one is particularly delightful to me as it's a mash-up of various Shakespeare plays, with Macbeth and Hamlet in the forefront. The wyrd sisters involved here are the already well-known witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, and the still fairly new Magrat, who I'd swear I'd read about earlier but can't remember where. She was the novice of the recently deceased Goodie Whemper, which makes me wonder if Magrat will take on the designation "Goodie" when she's old enough? All the witches of the Discworld seem to have a particular designation -- there are mentions of other witches respectfully called "Grammer", varieties of "Mother", and even a "Sister". I wonder why no witches are called some version of "Auntie", which seems to me an obvious thing to call a witch?

But that's not important, just the sort of thing I think about. Anyway, the king of Lancre, the country our witches live in or around, has been knocked off by his ambitious cousin the Duke (egged on by his equally ambitious wife) and is now stuck slumping around the castle as a ghost. In the meantime, the duke has both seized the throne and begun to go insane while trying endless, unsuccessful ways to wash imaginary blood off his hand.

At the time of the violent change of power, a loyal servant of the late king spirited away the infant heir and just barely managed to turn him over to Granny before being killed by the Duke's pursuing men. The Duke's men were not up to dealing with witches, however, and this bought Granny enough time to get the kid anonymously adopted by a couple who run a wandering band of players.

The three witches, who've taken a solemn witches vow not to interfere in the affairs of government, begin interfering non-stop, starting with making 15 years pass very, very quickly indeed. Eventually the rightful heir (or at least one of the sort of rightful heirs, I'm still not sure what happened there) is put on the throne, the evil people are vanquished and Magrat finds love.

This is a delightful romp of a story, with the humor of the writing being the biggest pleasure:

Hwel shrugged. Destiny was funny stuff, he knew. You couldn't trust it. Often you couldn't even see it. Just when you knew you had it cornered, it turned out to be something else -- coincidence, maybe, or providence. You barred the door against it, and it was standing behind you. Then just when you thought you had it nailed down it walked away with the hammer.

Or this, which I’m going to have to edit a good bit as it covers several pages:

“There’s a cart coming, Granny."

Granny Weatherwax shrugged.  "What you youngsters don’t realize – ' she began.

Witches never bothered with elementary road safety.  Such traffic as there was on the roads of Lancre either went around them or, if this was not possible, waited until they moved out of the way.  Granny Weatherwax had grown up knowing this for a fact; the only reason she didn’t die knowing that it wasn’t was that Magrat, with rather better reflexes, dragged her into the ditch.

It was an interesting ditch.  There were jiggling corkscrew things in it which were direct descendants of things which had been in the primordial soup of creation.  Anyone who thought that ditchwater was dull could have spent an instructive half-hour in that ditch with a powerful microscope.  It also had nettles in it, and now it had Granny Weatherwax.


[there follows a great deal of ranting and raving about the rights of witches and the insolence of certain cart drivers, then . . . ]

“Laughed at!  Laughed at!  On my own roads!  In my own country!" screamed Granny.  "That just about does it!  I’m not taking ten more years of this! I’m not taking another day of it!"

The trees around her began to sway and the dust from the road sprang up into writhing shapes that tried to swirl out of her way.  Granny Weatherwax extended one long arm and at the end of it unfolded one long finger and from the tip of its curving nail there was a brief flare of octarine fire.

Half a mile down the track all four wheels fell off the cart at once.

[a deal more ranting and raving, until . . . ]

“Hold her a minute, Magrat," said Nanny Ogg and rolled up her sleeve. 

"It can be like this with the highly trained ones," she said, and brought her palm around in a slap that lifted both witches off their feet.  On such a flat, final note the universe might have ended.


[fortunately this ends in a calmer Granny and not a massive witch fight.]

Much recommended.  In fact, I think if I were just going to start reading the Discworld books I would start with this one.
Sandy

  

"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2021, 10:49:07 PM »
My FB review:

This is the sixth of the Discworld novels, and thank goodness they don't need to be read in order because I'm way beyond back-tracking and reading them as a series.

This one is particularly delightful to me as it's a mash-up of various Shakespeare plays, with Macbeth and Hamlet in the forefront. The wyrd sisters involved here are the already well-known witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, and the still fairly new Magrat, who I'd swear I'd read about earlier but can't remember where. She was the novice of the recently deceased Goodie Whemper, which makes me wonder if Magrat will take on the designation "Goodie" when she's old enough? All the witches of the Discworld seem to have a particular designation -- there are mentions of other witches respectfully called "Grammer", varieties of "Mother", and even a "Sister". I wonder why no witches are called some version of "Auntie", which seems to me an obvious thing to call a witch?

But that's not important, just the sort of thing I think about. Anyway, the king of Lancre, the country our witches live in or around, has been knocked off by his ambitious cousin the Duke (egged on by his equally ambitious wife) and is now stuck slumping around the castle as a ghost. In the meantime, the duke has both seized the throne and begun to go insane while trying endless, unsuccessful ways to wash imaginary blood off his hand.

At the time of the violent change of power, a loyal servant of the late king spirited away the infant heir and just barely managed to turn him over to Granny before being killed by the Duke's pursuing men. The Duke's men were not up to dealing with witches, however, and this bought Granny enough time to get the kid anonymously adopted by a couple who run a wandering band of players.

The three witches, who've taken a solemn witches vow not to interfere in the affairs of government, begin interfering non-stop, starting with making 15 years pass very, very quickly indeed. Eventually the rightful heir (or at least one of the sort of rightful heirs, I'm still not sure what happened there) is put on the throne, the evil people are vanquished and Magrat finds love.

This is a delightful romp of a story, with the humor of the writing being the biggest pleasure:

Hwel shrugged. Destiny was funny stuff, he knew. You couldn't trust it. Often you couldn't even see it. Just when you knew you had it cornered, it turned out to be something else -- coincidence, maybe, or providence. You barred the door against it, and it was standing behind you. Then just when you thought you had it nailed down it walked away with the hammer.

Or this, which I’m going to have to edit a good bit as it covers several pages:

“There’s a cart coming, Granny."

Granny Weatherwax shrugged.  "What you youngsters don’t realize – ' she began.

Witches never bothered with elementary road safety.  Such traffic as there was on the roads of Lancre either went around them or, if this was not possible, waited until they moved out of the way.  Granny Weatherwax had grown up knowing this for a fact; the only reason she didn’t die knowing that it wasn’t was that Magrat, with rather better reflexes, dragged her into the ditch.

It was an interesting ditch.  There were jiggling corkscrew things in it which were direct descendants of things which had been in the primordial soup of creation.  Anyone who thought that ditchwater was dull could have spent an instructive half-hour in that ditch with a powerful microscope.  It also had nettles in it, and now it had Granny Weatherwax.


[there follows a great deal of ranting and raving about the rights of witches and the insolence of certain cart drivers, then . . . ]

“Laughed at!  Laughed at!  On my own roads!  In my own country!" screamed Granny.  "That just about does it!  I’m not taking ten more years of this! I’m not taking another day of it!"

The trees around her began to sway and the dust from the road sprang up into writhing shapes that tried to swirl out of her way.  Granny Weatherwax extended one long arm and at the end of it unfolded one long finger and from the tip of its curving nail there was a brief flare of octarine fire.

Half a mile down the track all four wheels fell off the cart at once.

[a deal more ranting and raving, until . . . ]

“Hold her a minute, Magrat," said Nanny Ogg and rolled up her sleeve. 

"It can be like this with the highly trained ones," she said, and brought her palm around in a slap that lifted both witches off their feet.  On such a flat, final note the universe might have ended.


[fortunately this ends in a calmer Granny and not a massive witch fight.]

Much recommended.  In fact, I think if I were just going to start reading the Discworld books I would start with this one.

Excellent review. Makes me want to read the book. :grin:
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Sandra Craft

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Re: HAF Book Club: February poll and discussion
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2021, 11:00:41 PM »

Excellent review. Makes me want to read the book. :grin:

Thanks, I think you'd really enjoy it -- the style of humor seems very like you.  I know the part about the ditch made me want to buy a microscope.
Sandy

  

"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany