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pseudorandom name
May 6, 2007
INSOLENT


Grimey Drawer

Safety Biscuits posted:

He was also Sun Yat-sen's godson, and iirc his dinner party trick was downing glasses of hydrochloric acid (he had digestive trouble).


This is a fun little book, I remember enjoying it; should be a good quarantine read. Her columns were also interesting.

Yeah, its a Jane Austen novel where the landed gentry are all constantly worrying about their inheritance. Except the landed gentry are dragons and the inheritance is the privilege of devouring their parent's corpse, which is the only way a dragon can grow in size.

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StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


My primary problem with Tooth and Claw, as remembered from when I read it in high school, was that it had too much Victorian social drama bullshit and not enough dragons being awesome and doing dragon-y things. I should try reading it again, now that I'm older and wiser.

pradmer
Mar 31, 2009


Elysium Fire (The Prefect Dreyfus Emergency #2) by Alistair Reynolds - $2.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073P43TMS/

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


M John Harrison's Centauri Device: can someone who is more versed in the sci-fi scene of the era explain to me what is meant by these lines in these reviews of the novel?


https://www.sfsite.com/04a/cd125.htm

quote:

It is quite possible this is a book that had to be written; as a slap in the face to the genre, as an act of protest. In this, The Centauri Device arguably raised the bar for future SF but it raised our expectations with it.

https://sciencefictionruminations.c...-harrison-1974/

quote:

While M. John Harrison himself might proclaim that “I find it deeply ironic—but absolutely predictable—that my best books are out of print while the crappiest thing I ever wrote—The Centauri Device––tootles along under the rubric ‘masterwork,'” I found the novel a heady subversion of a lot of the tropes that we associate with space opera. It is even more ironic that The Centauri Device, “that reads like hate mail directed at space opera clichés” (Ken Macleod quoting Patrick Hudson) despite its satirical purposes was influential in revitalizing and inspiring new authors of the subgenre. The anti-space opera pastiche that eventually became passé?


The book itself - I'm 114 pages in - is a wild, dark tour of a future I don't want with lurid prose. It stands on its own feet, but I want to know what the wider context was, and I'm not sure how to go about finding that out.

quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



Kefahuchi_son!!! posted:

Talking about cool writers being extremely shady people.This is very informative and explains a lot, i was dimly aware of his professional career, but such proclivities are often left out of summarized biographies (shame!!).
As far as i know there are just the short stories and the novella( Nostrillia, i think?), is there other source where i can read more about that bonkers story of the cycle?

There are multiple out of print Cordwainer Smith collections, not all of them contain the same stories which is annoying if you want a definitive collection to fully experience the madness of his stories. Found that "origin" story in the paperback Instrumentality of Mankind Cordwainer Smith collection. Try ebay or abebooks for it. "Golden the Ship was...." remains my favorite Cordwainer Smith story.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


The instrumentality is such a kicking name for a space Empire

ToxicFrog
Apr 26, 2008




StrixNebulosa posted:

My primary problem with Tooth and Claw, as remembered from when I read it in high school, was that it had too much Victorian social drama bullshit and not enough dragons being awesome and doing dragon-y things. I should try reading it again, now that I'm older and wiser.

I read it relatively recently and that was also my beef with it; it felt like Walton really wanted to write a Trollope homage but then applied an incredibly thin veneer of dragons to it because ???. I legitimately forgot at several points that I was ostensibly reading about dragons.

Compare to e.g. Rachel Aaron or Bard Bloom; their books are less technically clever but you never forget that these characters are giant scaly magic-making GBS threads assholes, even when they're wearing a form that doesn't have the scales.

genericnick
Dec 26, 2012



I had to look up which of his books the Centauri device actually was and the wiki synopsis starts with:

""The Centauri Device - Wikipedia" posted:

Harrison has said that the book breaks what were then the central tenets of space opera, namely that the protagonist plays an active role in driving the plot forward, that the universe is comprehensible to humans and that the universe is anthropocentric.[1] These preconceptions were still common in the more literary space operas of the time, such as Samuel R. Delany's Nova (which Harrison described as "highly readable but finally unsatisfying") and, in terms of tone, Harrison's novel more closely hews to the unconventional genre-bending of Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination and The Paradox Men by Charles L. Harness, with the bleak cosmic outlook being influenced by Barrington J. Bayley's The Star Virus.[2]

Edit: I might not actually have read it. Nothing here rings a bell, except it sounds like stuff he would write.

genericnick fucked around with this message at 13:34 on May 20, 2020

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





quantumfoam posted:

There are multiple out of print Cordwainer Smith collections, not all of them contain the same stories which is annoying if you want a definitive collection to fully experience the madness of his stories. Found that "origin" story in the paperback Instrumentality of Mankind Cordwainer Smith collection. Try ebay or abebooks for it. "Golden the Ship was...." remains my favorite Cordwainer Smith story.

Scanners Live in Vain was a great story.
The Dead Lady of Clown Town is a retelling of Joan of Arc and a big part of the Rise of the Underpeople arc.
The Lady Who Sailed The Soul is a classic 'things go wrong between the stars' voyage epic.
The Day the People Fell is about the PRC's colonization of Venus, and interesting in light of his professional career.
Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons is a heist story gone badly wrong. https://web.archive.org/web/2004102...ith/smith1.html

And of course, The Game of Rat and Dragon, the big one about the cats. Not that a lot of them aren't, all of C'Mell's arc is in that vein. It's online, http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29614

Gutenberg also has his non-fiction

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


Honestly the more I read the Centauri Device the more I want to set fire to it. Such a gross, nasty universe. Great prose though.

It kind of reminds me of Perdido Street Station (a book I never finished) in that it's willing to be gross - in the literal sense of the word. The religious cult is all about putting windows in their flesh so you can see their digestive process at work. They do this to the main character nonconsensually. It's willing to describe the varicose veins in the general's legs. It's willing to be upfront and visceral in its descriptions of how decrepit humans are. And then it does the same to politics and religion and it's just crude and brutal.

It makes this interview question response by Harrison make so much more sense:

https://www.sfsite.com/12b/mjh142.htm

quote:

So, are you doing anything to get Climbers and The Course of the Heart back into print? It's been a while, and I think there's a new audience for the books waiting, especially now that readers have matured somewhat.

I work night and day on it, Gabe. My agent works night and day on it. If Light does well, we may be able do something. I find it deeply ironic -- but absolutely predictable -- that my best books are out of print while the crappiest thing I ever wrote -- The Centauri Device -- tootles along under the rubric "masterwork".

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



I think the only complete collection of Cordwainer Smith's stories is the NESFA Press edition from 1993 (?).

StrixNebulosa posted:

M John Harrison's Centauri Device: can someone who is more versed in the sci-fi scene of the era explain to me what is meant by these lines in these reviews of the novel?

The book itself - I'm 114 pages in - is a wild, dark tour of a future I don't want with lurid prose. It stands on its own feet, but I want to know what the wider context was, and I'm not sure how to go about finding that out.

It's a grotesque and callous parody of/attack on likeable, humanistic, optimistic space opera, which was itself influential on later sf. (Check out the list of ship names at the end of the second blogpost, for instance.) Is this what you're asking?

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


Safety Biscuits posted:

I think the only complete collection of Cordwainer Smith's stories is the NESFA Press edition from 1993 (?).


It's a grotesque and callous parody of/attack on likeable, humanistic, optimistic space opera, which was itself influential on later sf. (Check out the list of ship names at the end of the second blogpost, for instance.) Is this what you're asking?

I think so. Thank you. There's one problem: I'm not cultured enough to recognize any of the significance of the ship names.

quote:

And for the curious, the complete list of spaceship names: Driftwood of Decadence. New English Art Club. Liverpool Medici. Gold Scab. Whistler. Seventeenth Susan. Solomon. Nasser. Strange Great Sins. Maupin. Trilby. Green Carnation. Les Fleurs du Mal. Madame Bovary. Imagination Portraits. Syringa. White Jonquil. Forsaken Garden. Let Us Go Hence. Melancholia that Transcends All Wit. My Ella Speed. Fastidious. La Vie de Bohème. Atalanta in Calydon.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



As a group, they look a bit like the ironic, whimsical, and/or allusive names of ships in the Culture series; that's all.

E: If you want an example of the stuff Harrison was reacting to, read something like Babel-17 by Delany and then compare its strangeness, charm, and beauty to the disgusting world of The Centauri Device, and its emphasis on the characters' development to Harrison's ideological emptiness.

Safety Biscuits fucked around with this message at 16:31 on May 20, 2020

TheAardvark
Mar 3, 2019



Safety Biscuits posted:

As a group, they look a bit like the ironic, whimsical, and/or allusive names of ships in the Culture series; that's all.

Huh, I thought those kind of ship names originated from Banks. Was it a trope even before '74/The Centauri Device?

quantumfoam
Dec 25, 2003



TheAardvark posted:

Huh, I thought those kind of ship names originated from Banks. Was it a trope even before '74/The Centauri Device?

Yes. Ships and boats in real life get all sorts of asinine vaguely clever names, so why not spaceships too?
Iain Banks focused on exclusively on clever names for his Culture Ships & Brains, Harrison used the kind of dipshit ship names you'd see on actual fishing and cargo boats in harbours.

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


Safety Biscuits posted:

As a group, they look a bit like the ironic, whimsical, and/or allusive names of ships in the Culture series; that's all.

E: If you want an example of the stuff Harrison was reacting to, read something like Babel-17 by Delany and then compare its strangeness, charm, and beauty to the disgusting world of The Centauri Device, and its emphasis on the characters' development to Harrison's ideological emptiness.

Ironically the one book I kept comparing Centauri to while reading it was Babel-17, because they share almost the same space. Short 200~ page book with vivid sci-fi settings and a focus on the characters with excellent prose. Bizarre.

Well, with Centauri done I'm returning my focus to Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott and I'm fascinated at how this one plays everything straight. The prose isn't as vivid as either Delany or Harrison but it's enjoyable and I'm enjoying space opera from the perspective of someone with so-far even less influence or significance than Captain Truck. (so far?)

TheAardvark
Mar 3, 2019



I never made the connection between fishing boat names and dumb spaceship names

I think it's just because the Culture is the only series I've read that used them for spaceships, and I've read a hell of a lot of space opera.

biracial bear for uncut
Jun 9, 2009

ask me about being the most obnoxious person of all time

TheAardvark posted:

I never made the connection between fishing boat names and dumb spaceship names

I think it's just because the Culture is the only series I've read that used them for spaceships, and I've read a hell of a lot of space opera.

Scalzi's Interdepency series has some funny (for "sensible chuckle" values of funny) spaceship name references.

Prism Mirror Lens
Oct 9, 2012

~*"The most intelligent and meaning-rich film he could think of was Shaun of the Dead, I don't think either brain is going to absorb anything you post."*~






I always suspected the ship names really descend from something most writers do, which is keep interesting phrases around in a notebook and look for opportunities to use them. Harrison’s are mostly (all?) other book titles though judging by that snippet.

Just realised Harrison wrote Nova Swing, which really read like he’d seen Dhalgren, Babel-17 and Roadside Picnic and decided to write a really boring version to point out how crap it would all be in real life. There’s even a character very similar to one in Babel-17, the kind of genetically altered lion fighter dude, except in this book he dies and gets flushed down a drain early on, which may be a direct gently caress you to Babel-17, I don’t know

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



StrixNebulosa posted:

I think so. Thank you. There's one problem: I'm not cultured enough to recognize any of the significance of the ship names.

Several of them seem to be references to the decadent literature movement in the late 19th century -- Les Fleurs du Mal is Baudelaire, Strange Great Sins and Atalanta in Calydon are from Swinburne, Trilby is from George du Maurier's novel, and Oscar Wilde frequently wore a green carnation as his personal symbol.

anilEhilated
Feb 17, 2014

But I say fuck the rain.



Grimey Drawer

Harrison is fantastic in general. If you're at all interested in him writing (sort of...) fantasy, check out the Viriconium omnibus; it's one of the few fantasy books I keep coming back to.

uber_stoat
Jan 21, 2001





Pillbug

Cordwainer Smith wrote about a planet where an immortality drug is harvested from the bodies of giant mutated sheep. naturally such a place would be a fine target for invasion, so it is protected by an army of insane psychic minks which destroy any would be invaders with a telepathic death ray.

weird dude.

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


Prism Mirror Lens posted:

I always suspected the ship names really descend from something most writers do, which is keep interesting phrases around in a notebook and look for opportunities to use them. Harrison’s are mostly (all?) other book titles though judging by that snippet.

Just realised Harrison wrote Nova Swing, which really read like he’d seen Dhalgren, Babel-17 and Roadside Picnic and decided to write a really boring version to point out how crap it would all be in real life. There’s even a character very similar to one in Babel-17, the kind of genetically altered lion fighter dude, except in this book he dies and gets flushed down a drain early on, which may be a direct gently caress you to Babel-17, I don’t know

Man, putting it all this way makes it seem like Harrison didn't have a grudge against sci-fi, he had a grudge against Delany. Chill, dude.

anilEhilated posted:

Harrison is fantastic in general. If you're at all interested in him writing (sort of...) fantasy, check out the Viriconium omnibus; it's one of the few fantasy books I keep coming back to.

I enjoyed Centauri enough to purchase Light, the first of his Kefahuchi Tract sequence. When I'm next in a fantasy mood I'll pick up Viriconium - if I remember rightly, it helped inspire the Caves of Qud roguelike, which is an amazing goon-made game.

DACK FAYDEN
Feb 25, 2013

Bear Witness

StrixNebulosa posted:

I enjoyed Centauri enough to purchase Light, the first of his Kefahuchi Tract sequence. When I'm next in a fantasy mood I'll pick up Viriconium - if I remember rightly, it helped inspire the Caves of Qud roguelike, which is an amazing goon-made game.
Huh, that connection makes perrfect sense even if I hadn't figured it out before. You definitely should, cause it's good.

pradmer
Mar 31, 2009


Seven Blades in Black (Grave of Empires #1) by Sam Sykes - $2.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079RCCRM6/

The Seventh Sword Series (Reluctant Swordsman, Coming Wisdom, Destiny of the Sword, Death of Nnanji) by Dave Duncan - $3.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0732L5MND/

a foolish pianist
May 6, 2007

(bi)cyclic mutation



pradmer posted:

The Seventh Sword Series (Reluctant Swordsman, Coming Wisdom, Destiny of the Sword, Death of Nnanji) by Dave Duncan - $3.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0732L5MND/

Yikes:

quote:

In this complete collection of the high fantasy Seventh Sword series by Aurora Award–winning author Dave Duncan, Wallie Smith must face a new destiny and save an unfamiliar world from evil forces.

The Reluctant Swordsman: Wallie goes to the hospital and wakes up in the body of a barbarian swordsman, accompanied by a voluptuous slave girl and an eccentric priest babbling about the Goddess. When he learns the Goddess needs a swordsman, he reluctantly agrees to set off on her quest.

tildes
Nov 15, 2018


uber_stoat posted:

Cordwainer Smith wrote about a planet where an immortality drug is harvested from the bodies of giant mutated sheep. naturally such a place would be a fine target for invasion, so it is protected by an army of insane psychic minks which destroy any would be invaders with a telepathic death ray.

weird dude.

I genuinely can’t tell if minks is a typo here or not given the context

uber_stoat
Jan 21, 2001





Pillbug

tildes posted:

I genuinely can’t tell if minks is a typo here or not given the context

haha

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothe..._Littul_Kittons

Smith predicted SEO decades before it happened.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





uber_stoat posted:

Cordwainer Smith wrote about a planet where an immortality drug is harvested from the bodies of giant mutated sheep. naturally such a place would be a fine target for invasion, so it is protected by an army of insane psychic minks which destroy any would be invaders with a telepathic death ray.

weird dude.

Yeah, it's a weird idea. On the other hand, "super secret psychic deathtrap" is a pretty good idea for one element in a heavily layered defense. In the story, mundane secret agents could have stopped the whole thing while following up on the murder, but they decided to gently caress over his whole planet for generations to come. I'll bet they leak that part of the story. One child killed, a planet bankrupt for generations. That kind of rep is hard to come by and would deter far more thieves than "it's really a psychic death ray".

And yes, it's actual mink. The animal.



These guys.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





General Battuta posted:

Baru 2 is on sale on the evil website for who knows how long, just $2.99

e: also on every other ebook distributor I am told!

So I went to get it on this sale and it turns out in some comatose moment I already purchased this book I assume when I got the first one for free from Tor. Oh well, maybe I got it on sale, maybe not. I don't feel bothered.

Safety Biscuits
Oct 21, 2010



StrixNebulosa posted:

Ironically the one book I kept comparing Centauri to while reading it was Babel-17, because they share almost the same space. Short 200~ page book with vivid sci-fi settings and a focus on the characters with excellent prose. Bizarre.

I only picked Babel-17 because I've just read it. (Incidentally, the ship in that is Harrisonishly called Rimbaud.)

Prism Mirror Lens posted:

Just realised Harrison wrote Nova Swing, which really read like he’d seen Dhalgren, Babel-17 and Roadside Picnic and decided to write a really boring version to point out how crap it would all be in real life. There’s even a character very similar to one in Babel-17, the kind of genetically altered lion fighter dude, except in this book he dies and gets flushed down a drain early on, which may be a direct gently caress you to Babel-17, I don’t know

The kite fight at the beginning of China Mountain Zhang has always struck me as a bit of a tribute to the wrestling scene in Babel-17.

tildes posted:

I genuinely can’t tell if minks is a typo here or not given the context

Do you think an army of insane psychic sinks would make more sense?

tildes
Nov 15, 2018


Safety Biscuits posted:


Do you think an army of insane psychic sinks would make more sense?

I was thinking monks, but now that I’ve seen where he went with minks honestly maybe sinks could have worked too


uber_stoat posted:

haha

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothe..._Littul_Kittons

Smith predicted SEO decades before it happened.

This is wild, I might pick this up

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


I finally got around to Nevernight and almost immediately noped out of it. I absolutely loved The Monster of Elendhaven, I gently caress with Joe Abercrombie sometimes, but I bounced off Nevernight hard and it's making me start to question what Dark Fantasy's whole deal is. It felt smug, pretentious and overwritten, but it's also massively popular and I'm starting to wonder whether I'm not just out of touch with the zeitgeist.

Did anybody have a different experience with it?

C.M. Kruger
Oct 28, 2013


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

I finally got around to Nevernight and almost immediately noped out of it. I absolutely loved The Monster of Elendhaven, I gently caress with Joe Abercrombie sometimes, but I bounced off Nevernight hard and it's making me start to question what Dark Fantasy's whole deal is. It felt smug, pretentious and overwritten, but it's also massively popular and I'm starting to wonder whether I'm not just out of touch with the zeitgeist.

Did anybody have a different experience with it?

I haven't read it but I did read the author's other YA series, the steampunk fantasy Japan one, and found it to be hilariously overwrought and edgelordy, so I think that's just what he writes, and what teenagers think is cool.

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


The mail brings more gifts to me:



Aristoi - Easily the most fascinating of Walter Jon Williams' works, with split-page narratives and a utopian future.
Evolution's Shore / Chaga - Ian McDonald vs alien infection from space touching down in Tanzania
Santa Olivia - mutant werewolf boxer lesbian vs living in the dead border zone between the US and Mexico (and its sequel, which I hear is kind of fanfiction-y in that it's more of the same in a happy kind of way, not a true sequel)
9Tail Fox - man gets murdered, wakes up in the body of someone else, has to investigate his own murder
Black Oxen - I do not understand what this one is about
Daylight - man goes caving, finds the body of a vampire (maybe), weirdness ensues

pradmer
Mar 31, 2009


The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin #1) by Daniel Abraham - $2.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0047Y16LC/

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein - $2.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000TO0TDK/

The Warded Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V Brett - $1.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001NLL6QW/
Might actually be bad.

Rabidbunnylover
Feb 26, 2006
d567c8526b5b0e

pradmer posted:

The Warded Man (Demon Cycle #1) by Peter V Brett - $1.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001NLL6QW/
Might actually be bad.

It's been a few years, but my memory of Warded Man is it has some interesting world-building that's never fleshed out as much as it should be, a serviceable but not great story, and the sequel is absolutely awful.

Olesh
Aug 4, 2008

Why did the circus close?

A long, chilling list of animal rights violations.

College Slice

Rabidbunnylover posted:

It's been a few years, but my memory of Warded Man is it has some interesting world-building that's never fleshed out as much as it should be, a serviceable but not great story, and the sequel is absolutely awful.

The world building is kind of interesting and there are some narrative jumps early on to justify how the author wants the world to be, but mostly I was disappointed with the direction the series took / the series ending. At two bucks I've read worse, but it's hard to recommend the series.

Aggro
Apr 24, 2003

STRONG as an OX and TWICE as SMART


pradmer posted:

Seven Blades in Black (Grave of Empires #1) by Sam Sykes - $2.99
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079RCCRM6/

I liked this book a lot -- kind of has a Red Dead Redemption feel to it. I'm also a total sucker for a good revenge story.

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Stupid_Sexy_Flander
Mar 14, 2007

Is a man not entitled to the haw of his maw?


Grimey Drawer

Dude's got a hell of a twitter feed as well. Probably the only person I know of who shitpost a movie into being made.

New Caverns and Creatures book is out! Gallons of Sea Men by Robert Bevan, available on KU or for purchase!

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