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

Hawki

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Dune: Red Plague (3/5)

A short story set between Mentats of Dune and Navigators of Dune. A lot of what I said above can be applied here - good themes, average characters, poor writing. The Butlerians aren't just anti-technology, they're anti-vaxxers. :(
 

Agema

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One point: Zoroastrianism is still around, but it's not nearly as big or influential as the other ones are, with about 100K followers compared to Millions for the other 3.
I believe that as a minority religion prone to persecution, Zoroastrians took some of the threat away by adopting a principle of not evangelising, so Zoroastrianism has continued pretty much entirely through blood descent for over 1000 years. Unfortunately, however, religions tend to have people both come and go. If no-one is coming (and particularly if its adherents are pressured to leave), that means that a religion is facing a steady trickle of people leaving with no replacement, and thus will dwindle.

However, Zoroastrianism originally had the ethos of being a universal faith, and I think many Zoroastrians believe that in this era of religious mostly tolerance, the community needs to return to that ethos and abandon its practices of not accepting conversions.
 

Hawki

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However, Zoroastrianism originally had the ethos of being a universal faith, and I think many Zoroastrians believe that in this era of religious mostly tolerance, the community needs to return to that ethos and abandon its practices of not accepting conversions.
Religious tolerance? Zoroastrianism is focused in India and Iran these days. The former has religious tolerance at least in theory, but hardly the latter.
 

Agema

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Religious tolerance? Zoroastrianism is focused in India and Iran these days. The former has religious tolerance at least in theory, but hardly the latter.
Whilst I don't rate India's religious tolerance highly, I think it's only Muslims that they are actively working against. In the time it would take to suppress Islam down to levels that they might be prepared to live with, other religions could have plenty of time to flourish.
 

Hawki

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Whilst I don't rate India's religious tolerance highly, I think it's only Muslims that they are actively working against. In the time it would take to suppress Islam down to levels that they might be prepared to live with, other religions could have plenty of time to flourish.
Um, I think Hindu nationalism in India is a much bigger problem than Islamism.

Cross into Pakistan, and that becomes reversed.
 

Hawki

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (3/5)

This is a prequel novel to the Hunger Games trilogy, taking place 64 years before the first novel. It's the 10th Annual Hunger Games, and Penam is still recovering from the Dark Days, with the novel focusing on a teenage Snow.

I'll say out and front that this is my least favourite HG book, but that's not to say the book is bad or anything. It certainly does some things very well. So on that note:

THE GOOD

What I like about Ballad is its tone and atmosphere - really captures the sense that this is after a war, that life isn't particuarly good for anyone (including those in the Capitol), and it's a case of moral ambiuity, but seen through Snow's eyes. E.g. we hear how it was the districts that started the war, but I'm not sure how unbaised a source Snow is. It has some terrific characters as well, and delves into the origins of the games. There's a sense that Penam is at a crossroads at this point in time, that hypothetically, the Capitol could have ended the Hunger Games here and now, and things would have worked out better down the line. Instead, we see how in the midst of these 'proto-games,' the seeds are being set for how they function by the timeframe of the original trilogy. At this point, no-one really likes them, not even the Capitol's population, but there's efforts being made to shift them into entertainment. Also, the reveal of who actually came up with the games, how, and why, and who implemented it is a plot twist that's not exactly spine-tingling, but it's a revelation that hits hard.

Also, credit in that while this isn't a philosophical treatise or anything, a lot of time is dedicated to discussions about the nature of control and war and whatnot. While weaker than its counterparts, the novel's more mature overall, and frankly, I prefer Snow to Katniss, by virtue of having more of a personality.

THE BAD

The book spends an inordinate amount of time on the titular Hunger Games itself, and I'm really not interested in that. I've read two Hunger Games events already, I don't need a third, especially one that's toned down. That it's toned down and miserable for everyone is the point, but it doesn't help the reading in of itself. As mentioned above, I like how this functions from a worldbuilding and thematic standpoint, I just didn't enjoy it from a plot standpoint. Also, Lucy Gray, and her 'thing' with Snow. I didn't buy it for a second, and I could swear that there'd be a reveal that she was faking it, but no, she's genuinely in love with him, and only falls out of love when he lets slip about his murder count at the very end. A revelation that comes off as forced. Also, that she's from District 12 does have similarities with Katniss, and that the games have to be wiped from video due to certain circumstances feels like a forced revelation to account for the fact that originally, Haymitch was the only known District 12 victor before Katniss.

There's also an inordinate amount of time spent on describing food. Lots of food. I'm not sure why. It's stressed that rationing sucks, and how when the Capitol was besieged people turned to cannibalism, but why all this damn food?

So, yeah. Mixed bag, but still had positives.
 

Hawki

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Power Rangers: Lost Chronicles - Volume 1 (2/5)

I really didn't like this. Maybe if I read more of the comics I would have, but as its own...nup.

Basically, this is a collection of MMPR short stories that vary wildly in tone and quality. On one end of the spectrum, we have stuff like a putty falling in love with Kimberly, or Bulk and Skull becoming rangers through spare change (it makes sense), or Scorpina and Goldar havinga day off and going to the fair. On the other, you have Goldar being forced to kill his brother to appease Lord Zedd, or Finster's 10000 year descent into madness as he tries to resurrect his wife. Then you get absolutely insufferable moralizing, while on the other, references to the Tower of Babel and the in-universe equivalent.

It's all over the place, and okay, fine, different writers will approach a subject matter in different ways. That said, overall, just couldn't get into it.
 

Hawki

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Do Humankind's Best Days Lie Ahead? (4/5)

This is a transcript of the Munk Debate of the same name. I knew of this debate by reputation, but reading the transcript, it's positively surreal.

On the pro side, you have Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley, both of whom use facts and figures on their side, to demonstrate that every aspect of human wellbeing has been on a steady rise since at least the mid 20th century. On the con, you have two debaters whose names I forget, whose counter-argument is...well, actually, they don't. Just airy fairy stuff that confused the pro side, and me. You could so easily make a counter-argument to the proposition, but little actual time is spent on that. More complaints on everything from the lack of a female debater, to the pro side's apparent lack of interest in Anna Karina.

So, yeah. I'm not sure if humanity's got a bright future, but if I was judging this debate by which side made the argument, easily the pro side.
 

TheMysteriousGX

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The Life of a Yuri Couple In Love is a set of short stories about what the title says.

Some fun, wholesome slice of life stories about a lesbian couple through the years, as drawn by the person who draws the best hugs in the business

 

Hawki

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Steelheart (3/5)

Oh Sanderson, why can't I quit you? I keep coming back, and sans Mistborn, you keep disappointing me. :(

Anyway, Steelheart is the first installment of The Reckoners series. This is a world where ten years ago, a giant red hole in the sky opened up above Earth, so-named "Calamity" (for the sake of these forums, think of it as being like a mini Eye of Terror visually). That gave a number of people superpowers, who became known as "Epics." Basically, superheroes. However, two kinks. First, 99% of these Epics ended up becoming evil, either because Calamity bequated powers on arleady-existing psychopaths, or this is a case of absolute power corrupting absolutely. Second, many of these Epics have specific weaknessnesses, not all of which correspond to any scientific law. For instance, there's an Epic which could only be killed by a person 34 years of age, or, an Epic that could only be killed when five people exactly tried to kill him at one time. It's a mix of Sanderson's usual hard magic system, while also having a system that in terms of plot and worldbuilding, violates consistency (in a good way).

So, Epics run the world, or have ground it to dust. Hence the US is known as the Fractured States, devolved into various enclaves and chiefdoms. Our main antagonist is Steelheart, who's basically Superman with metal-based powers, who after transforming Chicago into a hellscape (eternal night, a metal city, polcie enforcement, including mech suits) called Newcago, is the subject of hatred of David, whose father is the only one who managed to wound Steelheart, somehow, by firing a gun at another Epic. Otherwise, he's invincible. So, David teams up with the Reckoners, an anti-Epic vigilante group.

As a setup, this is all pretty decent. Unfortunately, the characters are bland, as is the writing. David's just plain boring, and none of the Reckoners are really interesting either. They have quirks, yes, but quirks aren't the same as character development. Also he gets a FRI, because...reasons. It also doesn't help that every single Epic in this world is almost completely evil, or if not, still aren't heroes (bar one twist reveal). That's a conceit of the plot, and I'll roll with it, but the result is that Steelheart himself, albeit barely seen, isn't an interesting antagonist. He's evil, and he does evil things because he's evil. The reveal of his weakness is well done, but plot twists by themselves don't save a story.

So, yeah. Decent setting, average characters.
 
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Bob_McMillan

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Steelheart (3/5)
Man, I completely forgot about this. I remember seeing it in a bookstore, then going home to... secure my own copy. I think I then read a few more in the series, then forgot absolutely everything about it. Which is kinda the theme with me and Sanderson's books. I get really into it, binge all the available installments, then fall off for a few years till I learn he's completed the series.

Alright nevermind, I decided to just read the wikipedia entries. Doesn't sound like I'm missing much.
 
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Hawki

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Star Wars: The High Republic - Test of Courage (3/5)

This is a High Republic JF novel by Justina Ireland. Best I can say that it's at least better than Spark of the Resistance. However, that doesn't mean it's "good."

Still, to be fair, this is, of course, aimed at junior readers. Basically, a ship gets attacked by pirates, the only survivours are a bunch of kids (two Jedi, two senators' children, one droid), pirates land, survive, etc. Not really much to say. Least the illustrations are cute.
 

Olive00

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I’ve read a book called "Little Women" by Louise May Alcott. The novel is about four sisters, their life, friendship, growing up. In short, for me it’s a one-time book. Of course, today the book will seem very boring for modern young girls. There is not even a storyline here. Description of their boring measured life, their worries, children's desires. Although it would be useful for them to read, because children's selfishness is still relevant today. This book is also suitable for a more adult female audience, there is something to think about child-rearing. The story is not modern at all, and the book is not very exciting, but I do not regret having read it. A recommendation only for lovers of women's classics.
 

Drathnoxis

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I’ve read a book called "Little Women" by Louise May Alcott. The novel is about four sisters, their life, friendship, growing up. In short, for me it’s a one-time book. Of course, today the book will seem very boring for modern young girls. There is not even a storyline here. Description of their boring measured life, their worries, children's desires. Although it would be useful for them to read, because children's selfishness is still relevant today. This book is also suitable for a more adult female audience, there is something to think about child-rearing. The story is not modern at all, and the book is not very exciting, but I do not regret having read it. A recommendation only for lovers of women's classics.
I love reading classic literature, maybe I'll get to this one day. Right now I'm reading The Three Musketeers.
 

Drathnoxis

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Just finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Nothing like some good, respectable, well bred incest.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Mentats of Dune (4/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South (part 1) (4/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South (part 2) (3/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South (part 3) (4/5)

Masters of the Universe: Revelation (3/5)
 

Drathnoxis

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Dropping The Time Traveller's Wife after 50 pages. It's definitely not the book I was thinking it was. I hate the main characters, and the time travel mechanics suck. He time travels against his will and always appears naked so he needs to spend half his time trying to find clothes, riveting. My impression of it is that it is pretentious, poorly written, wank material for women.

I really need to learn to stay away from "best-selling" authors. I'm starting to think it's a synonym for inexplicably popular trash.
 

Agema

You have no authority here, Jackie Weaver
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Just finished Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. Nothing like some good, respectable, well bred incest.
Marrying one's first cousin was far from unusual back in those days: anywhere up to 5%, although about 2-3% more likely. It was probably even higher in the medieval era.
 
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