Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Hawki

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The Hate U Give (3/5)

I'm going to start by saying that the film is better. The reason it's better is that it cuts out a lot of the 'fat' of the book. Like, the story overall is the same, but it focuses on the good bits. A major issue with the book is that a lot of the time, it more or less takes a break from the main plotline (the fallout of the police officer shooting Khalil) and the overall plot just stops. Like, a lot of this is used for character development, but again, I think the film does a better job. Since I'm reading a Saga of Seven Suns book at the same time, I'm kind of reminded of the differences between genre (see Saga) and literary (see THUG) fiction. Whether you think it's a valid distinction or not, it's a distinction that I'm at least reminded of.

Still, THUG does good things. If you wanted to say "it's a book about racism" (in the United States)," then you'd be correct, but that's pretty simplistic. The book demonstrates how stuff like racism, poverty, drug use, and all that fun stuff is self-perpetuating. While I stand by my assertion that the film benefits from trimming the 'fat' of the book, the book is more wide ranging in the topics it wants to tackle. So while it is a drear to read at times, it does convey its themes well.
 

Dalisclock

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Nightside the Long Sun(1993)-Gene Wolfe

I read the Book of the New Sun(and it's sequel, the Book of the New Urth) a couple months back by Mr. Wolf and it was an unexpectedly good read for me. Now, I've decided to try the Sequel series "The Book of the Long Sun" which like the before series, is a Tetralogy. I've finished the first one, the oddly named "Nightside the long sun"(yes, there is no "of" in there).

It'd written much the same way as the New Sun books and is implied to be set in the same universe, but how is so far not clear. The plot follows Patera Silk, a 23 year old religious leader called an Augur, who is "enlightened" during a ball game with his students, which is likened to briefly getting a Godlike view of reality, which so far hasn't much of anything to do with the rest of the story, which is his church/parish was sold to a unscrupulous businessman named Blood and Silk makes it his mission to get control of it back before everyone is evicted. This involves breaking into Bloods Estate with the intention of threatening/persuading him and Blood, catching him in the act, is so impressed with his sheer recklessness/tenacity, offers him an offer to buy it back for a very large sum of money, within a month or everyone is out on the street.

The plot isn't particularly special but it's enough. What makes Wolfs books interesting is both the world building and how it's just casually dropped into the narrative without much in the way of exposition. Notably, the fact one of the women(called Sibyls) who works with Silk is essentially a 300 year old android and this is considered not worthy of comment. Floating cars are mentioned as something the rich own but most can't afford and it's heavily implied the entire setting (Called the Whorl) is a generation spaceship(and the fact characters mention being able to look into the sky and see other parts of the whorl imply it's a ringworld, a sphere or a cylinder of some sort). People refer to the "Time of the Short Sun" (as opposed to their current "Time of the Long sun") like it was a very long time ago but not exactly what the short vs long sun actually mean and it's outright mentioned a lot of their tech can't be recreated or repaired anymore, because the knowledge is gone. So like the Book of the New Sun, it's implied to take place very far in the future and the whorl is likely to be massive considering there are entire towns and cities inside, along with countryside seperating them(thus why I think it might be a ringworld or a cylinder).

What's really interesting to me is how Silk's(and apparently most peoples) religion is this weird mix of Catholicism and Polytheism(Gene Wolfe was Catholic, so it's a safe bet this is intentional). The Structure seems to be very Catholic, with Silk being something akin to a priest(and even performing an exorcism at one point, as well as performing confession and setting penance), and his doman being a Parish(maybe?). However, the religion itself follows 13 gods, each of whom have their own day of the week that pull their names from numerous cultures, such as: Sphinx, Scylla, Tartaros, etc and one called the Outsider and Patera makes animal sacrifices to them on their particular days as a form of worship.

To add to this, there's repeated hints the gods are something more technological in nature. At one point someone who has died is mentioned to have gone to "Mainframe" and there's the occasional mention of "Windows" that the gods can appear at/in(but this apparently hasn't happened in a long time). Near the end of the book, it's revealed the "Windows" are essentially two-way TVs/Monitors, and some of them still work. What's more, this isn't a matter of "Advanced Tech being Magic", at least I don't think, because at one point someone is discussing the parishes Window with Silk, saying "I went behind it and there were cords connecting into the back" and his reply was "Oh, those are the sacred cables", which Silk later repairs and allows one of the Gods to talk to him directly.

So they're not unaware of tech or that the gods are associated with the tech, flat out discussing they can't recreate it anymore because they don't have the knowledge to do so, it just comes across as kinda nuts and interesting. And like the earlier series, all this stuff that's weird to us is very matter of fact to them so it just gets casually dropped in conversation and leaving the reader to go "Wait? What was that?".

Started the next book, Lake of the Long Sun. Hopefully it will flesh some of this stuff out more but if it's anything like the previous series I doubt everything will be explained by the end.
 
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