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

Trunkage

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Join the club. :(

Actually, to be fair, it makes sense. There's a hell of a lot of novels in the world, so the chances of us being able to read and comment on the same thing are much lower when compared to other forms of media.
I tend to read a lot of these comments... but a lot I just dont read so I cant comment back.

This is partially due to the fact I still haven't finished Malazan series. Partially due to having kids and not having time. Partially due to me playing games more than reading
 

Trunkage

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Is this

Well what could be done to fix that, if you really want to be discussing the books you read is to start a book club of sorts and agree to read the same books and discuss them.

TBH I haven't been posting in this thread because I've been reading political theory more than anything else and I seriously doubt anyone here wants to hear about "How Pacifism helps the State" and shit like that.
I second the idea of talking about political theory books, if you have the inclination
 

Hawki

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Doctor Who: Twelve Angels Weeping (4/5)

TAW is one of the best, if not THE best, Doctor Who novels I've ever read. The only reason it isn't 5/5 is that because it's technically a collection of short stories, some of them are better than others, so the ones that are average drag down the absolutely excellent ones to the rating. But yeah, it's good. Considering that it's twelve stories written by one person over 6 months, each of which is drastically different in tone, it's kind of astounding that it's as good as it is.

So, yeah. There's twelve stories, each of which is themed around a DW villain species, with the exception of a Time Lord detective story and one focused on The Master. The Doctor features in some stories, but is never the focus of them (except maybe one, which plays out like a regular episode). Some of the stories are easily stand-alone, and could be read without any knowledge of the setting. Like I said, the tone varies a lot, and we get everything from humour, to noir, to a heist story, to space warfare, to supernatural horror, to psychological horror, to space opera, to murder-mysteries, to, well, everything. And most of it's done quite well.

So, yeah. Definitely a worthwhile read.
 

Hawki

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Doctor Who: It Came From Outer Space (3/5)

This is a collection of DW comic stories, all of which focus on the Eleventh Doctor, and usually have Rory and Amy tagging along. Truth is, after reading Legend of Ashildir and Twelve Angels Weeping, it's very much a step down. Stories are mostly silly, and while DW is inherently silly in its premise, that doesn't mean it needs to be silly in its execution. Still, that's the case. The tone is set when the very first story has the trio teaming up with Kevin the Cybernetic T-Rex, coming to a space station where there's the Cult of the Space Squid, which turns out to not be a squid space deity, but space squids do in fact exist.

TBH, the comic's best story is where the plot is thinnest, namely where the Doctor ends up on a world where gravity is haywire, and while being pursued by its inhabitants, has to reorientate himself. It's easily the most creative, and because it's a visual medium, the comic's able to take full advantage of the insane geometry that's involved.

So, decent reads, but nothing special.
 

Hawki

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And read some more stuff:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Crossfire (2/5)

Africans of the Mali, Ghana, and Songhai Empires (3/5)

Injustice: Volume 1 (4/5)
 

Hawki

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The Carbon Club (3/5)

Don't have much to say about this. If you didn't know that Australia's been a laggard on climate change, and much of that is due to the LNP, then I don't know what rock you've been living under, but I'd be interested in purchasing it. If you wanted to know the details of how and why, this book might be of some interest.

Basically, didn't tell me much of what I didn't already know. Honestly, can't be angry at this point, more like resigned. It's a decent read, but not exactly earth-shattering compared to what I already knew.

Your World, Better (3/5)

Awhile ago I reviewed Enlightenment Now. This arguably has a similar premise, in as much that it belongs to the same type of books as Factfulness. That the world is getting better, and we know it's getting better because no matter what amount of data you look at, the trends demonstrate that.

Far as I'm concerned, that's absolutely true, because the data's been shown, though whether this is a trend that can continue is another matter (see the environment). And it's not that the book shies away from that. However, this is Good News-lite, and didn't tell me much about global trends in human wellbeing that I didn't already know. But it serves its purpose.
 

Breakdown

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The Sundered Worlds, by Michael Moorcock.

It was pretty disappointing. The narrative was messy and disjointed, with new ideas, settings, protagonists thrown in every now and again just to keep things going, but nothing getting explored in any real depth.
 

Casual Shinji

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I finished Invincible: Ultimate Collection Volume 3 and I'm loving it -- This comic is just so much fun.
 
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gorfias

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Batman Arkham: Ra's Al Ghul: a collection of Batman and Ra's Al Ghul stories. I'd read some before. I don't think the definitive Al Ghul story has been told yet but we can hope for one soon. Terrific character. 6/10 as I'm jaded and want better writing these days. Some terrific Neal Adams and Jim Aparo artwork.

1619814837483.png
 

Hawki

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Batman Arkham: Ra's Al Ghul: a collection of Batman and Ra's Al Ghul stories. I'd read some before. I don't think the definitive Al Ghul story has been told yet but we can hope for one soon. Terrific character. 6/10 as I'm jaded and want better writing these days. Some terrific Neal Adams and Jim Aparo artwork.

View attachment 3699
...come on Bats, is looking at Ra's ding dong that horrifying?
 
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Drathnoxis

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Reread The Hobbit. It's an enjoyable read, but I still maintain the ending is just not very good. For the whole book, the problem of how to dispose of the dragon is hanging over them, but in the end Smaug is almost effortlessly dispatched with a single arrow by a guy we've only just been introduced to a couple pages back who just so happens to be descended from a race of kings who could conveniently talk to birds. It's pretty much a deus ex machina and the resolution is fairly well divorced from the actions of any of the main characters.
 

Hawki

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Reread The Hobbit. It's an enjoyable read, but I still maintain the ending is just not very good. For the whole book, the problem of how to dispose of the dragon is hanging over them, but in the end Smaug is almost effortlessly dispatched with a single arrow by a guy we've only just been introduced to a couple pages back who just so happens to be descended from a race of kings who could conveniently talk to birds. It's pretty much a deus ex machina and the resolution is fairly well divorced from the actions of any of the main characters.
I get the point, but I don't hold it against the work.

The Hobbit could have simply been the premise of "kill the dragon, get the gold," but it does go further than that. Smaug dies, and everyone wants a piece of the gold, which not only leads to Thorin falling to greed, but widespread suffering as a result. The Hobbit's very skeptical of the idea of heroism in battle. In that context, Smaug himself is fairly incidental.
 

Drathnoxis

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I get the point, but I don't hold it against the work.

The Hobbit could have simply been the premise of "kill the dragon, get the gold," but it does go further than that. Smaug dies, and everyone wants a piece of the gold, which not only leads to Thorin falling to greed, but widespread suffering as a result. The Hobbit's very skeptical of the idea of heroism in battle. In that context, Smaug himself is fairly incidental.
Yes, part where everybody gets all greedy is pretty good, but I just can't believe that a massive powerful dragon was killed by a single arrow. They shouldn't be able to fight about the gold because there's no way that Smaug should be dead. In fact a lot of the conflict resolution in The Hobbit comes in the form of ... and then something unexpected comes along and saves them.

-They are going to be eaten by trolls... and then Gandalf shows up and saves them.
-They are going to be burned by goblins... and then some Eagles fly by and save them.
-Smaug is going to kill everybody... and then a king who can talk to birds shows up and saves them.
-They are going to have a war over the gold... and then goblins show up and unite them against a common enemy.
-Goblins are going to win the battle... and then the Eagles show up again and save them.
-Goblins are still going to win the battle... and then Beorn shows up out of nowhere and saves them.

There is almost always something or someone that conveniently shows up in the nick of time to save our protagonists from certain doom. That's probably why Mirkwood was my favorite part of the book, our protagonists actually save themselves through their own ingenuity and actions, rather than something new coming along and saving the day.
 
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Hawki

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The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a Great Nation Lost Its Way (3/5)

This is by the same author of 'When America Stopped Being Great,' which is another work I've reviewed (I think?) in this thread. TL, DR, that's easily the stronger of the two works, in part because what happens in America is far more important than what happens in Australia, in part because Bryant's thesis runs through that work, where his thesis here runs through some of it, then he turns his mind to other matters. Furthermore, although it was published relatively recently, RFA already feels dated, in that the issues it looks at have largely evaporated, whereas new issues that the book touches on have become bigger. Anyway, I'm going to sum up some of his main ideas:

The titular rise and fall refers to (at least as far as "the fall,") refers to the period of politics that came after John Howard lost his prime ministership to Kevin Rudd. What happened then was basically politics spiralling into mendacity. Canberra became known as "the coup capital of the world" as both the ALP and LNP kept switching leaders, both while in government and outside it. In Labour, we had Rudd, then Gillard, then Rudd again. For the LNP, we had Abbott, then Turnbull, then Morrison. And all the while, a lack of any real policy from either party, but rather a "race to the bottom." He attributes this to two key factors. First, because Aus has had uninterrupted economic growth for over two decades at this point, it's an example of "good times create weak men." Little reason to change anything, so why bother with bold visions when you can snipe at your opponents? Second, because so many MPs are "career politicians," they're out of touch with the regular people. He also looks at the pros and cons of the above-mentioned PMs.

I certainly can't disagree with a lot of this, as I watched the years in question with dismay, as politics devolved into a farce. Whether he's correct in the causes for this is something I can't answer. That said, I mentioned that this came off as outdated, because at least with Morrison, a new political feeling seems to have settled over Canberra. It's less the LNP and ALP being brats, and more that the LNP is governing, the ALP is facing an ideological split, and the states are dealing with Covid. As for his assessment of the PMs in question, I'm of course biased, but I broadly agree with his assessment of Abbott (good opposition leader, useless as prime minister), Turnbull (I've always respected Turnbull, but then, part of the reasons I do is why so many people on the right dislike him), and Morrison (competent, but uninspiring). In contrast, disagree with his assessment of Rudd (weasely, backstabber), and Gillard (not really up to being PM), but again, bias. Me, being on the left, so of course I'm going to be more favourabe to Rudd and Gillard, and respect Turnbull).

Another thing that arguably makes the work outdated is its take on the Australia-China relationship. There's no specific "take" per se, but it's outdated in the sense that since the book was written, Australia-China relations have plummeted.

There's certainly other theses that the author brings up, but the problem with them is that they're mainly incidental to the core theses as to what caused the downfall of Australian politics, and I won't waste your time with them here. Overall, the book's okay, but as far as its core thesis goes, it isn't really new information.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-Aliens vs. Predator vs. Terminator (2/5)

-Captain Marvel: Falling Star (2/5)

-Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy (2/5)

...yeah, I didn't have a good run. :(
 

Agema

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Reread The Hobbit. It's an enjoyable read, but I still maintain the ending is just not very good. For the whole book, the problem of how to dispose of the dragon is hanging over them, but in the end... It's pretty much a deus ex machina
It's most definitely not. Deus ex machina is a way to resolve an unsolvable problem through the sudden appearance of some overwhelming power. However, this is not what happened. Smaug's vulnerability is discovered by Bilbo, and the minute that happens the reader knows this is how Smaug can be defeated and almost certainly will, so it is not an unsolvable problem by the characters that needs divine resolution. It just needs someone, anyone, to stick something in that gap in his armour.

Yes, part where everybody gets all greedy is pretty good, but I just can't believe that a massive powerful dragon was killed by a single arrow.
Smaug was big, but not that big - certainly nothing like as big as in the film. We have no particularly good idea how large Smaug is, but we know he won't fit through a 5 foot wide tunnel. So, if we take him as 6 foot diameter (a reasonable minimum), it's easy to imagine a 2 foot long arrow is capable of reaching something vital: a human's heart is only ~3cm deep from the front of the chest.

The fatal arrow was also said by Bard to be an ancient arrow forged by dwarven master smiths which never failed him, so we can effectively consider it to be a magic arrow.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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The Book of Sand, by Jorge Luis Borges

I've never read the definitive collection of short stories by Borges. I've never read a bad story either, but looking back even the great ones are hard to tell them apart. Book of Sand was his final one and serves to round up all of the classic Borges tropes: fateful meetings, doppelgangers, labyrinths, Norse mythology, mock ancient texts and encyclopedic entries, and the fearful fascination with infinity as well as ironic attempts at cataloguing it.