B3D Book Club

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by London-boy, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. London-boy

    London-boy Shifty's daddy
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    I've wanted to create this thread for years, and for some reason I never did.

    I'm sure a lot of you big geeks read actual books - paper or not. I love my little Kindle and I consider myself a bit of a bookworm so this is the thread for book reviews, recommendations and anything related.

    To start, I finished the Rho Agenda trilogy by Richard Phillips a couple of weeks ago and I simply cannot recommend it enough. Absolutely and utterly brilliant sci-fi books that kept me awake turning page after page all night. It follows the story of three teenagers who secretly discover the titular Second ship, an extra-terrestrial vessel called this way because a few years before another ship landed on earth (The Rho ship). From here things turn into a wild race of government secrets, espionage, the three teenagers having to juggle the constantly evolving special powers the ship has given them, while going through college, getting into trouble and trying to save the world at the same time.

    If you like non-space-opera sci-fi with a great human feel and very out of this world ideas, this is a great trilogy, starting with The Second Ship. Wow wow wow.

    More to follow.
     
    #1 London-boy, Jul 7, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2015
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  2. ThePissartist

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    I guess not.

    I tend to read the news more than fiction. Probably explains why I'm so depressed.

    I read I Am Pilgrim a few weeks ago, it was alright. Kinda binge read it. I'd recommend The Road for a decent book.
     
  3. London-boy

    London-boy Shifty's daddy
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    They're just shy. It's ok to read! A lot of the time I kinda prefer it to playing games.
     
  4. iroboto

    iroboto Daft Funk
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    I read mainly high fantasy. Not sure why, also some tech books. My latest novel was "The Words of Radiance" book 2 of the storm light archive by Brandon Sanderson. It's a good book the first "The Way of Kings" was also really good. Each book is a thick tome, approximately 1000+ pages. There are 5 more books to go so I'm rather intrigued due to how fast this book is moving.
    I'm up to date on game of thrones, been waiting forever for book 6 to appear.
    The book Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham was also really good if you're into tech startups.
     
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  5. Rys

    Rys AMD RTG
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    Currently reading Masters of Doom (paper copy, there isn't a Kindle version from what I could find), after realising I'd never read it. Because of the way I made it into the industry, my fate is very much intertwined with id Software games, and then I finally met John Carmack earlier this year at GDC, which made me think about how I ended up meeting him in the first place, which led to many trips down memory lane, and thus into a read of Masters of Doom.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0749924896/?tag=b3d-21

    I read about a book per month on average I think, sometimes 3-4, sometimes none. I've been a Kindle owner since the small ones turned up and I love it, so I'm very glad to see this thread <3

    Review of Masters of Doom when I'm finished!
     
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  6. tabs

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    I can't remember the last time I sat and read a book. Audio books all the way for me. I can get stuff done while listening to them, or get off to sleep. Notable recent listens were:

    American Gods by Neil Gaiman - This is fantastically narrated. Very wonderful and strange story with hints of Douglas Adams style humor mixed with dark fantasy as you'd expect from Gaiman. The narration is so good I would recommend the audio book version even if you're a usually a reader. I've had this in my library for a few years now and revisit it regularly.

    A Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfus - Second part of a series perhaps unfairly described as an adult Harry Potter, though I lack the chops to think of another way of describing it. Rothfus is skilled at making the world come alive in your mind. The magical forces described in this series are very well thought out and interesting, and you find out about them from the point of view of someone learning them for himself. It's not just a "well this guy's a wizard so obviously he can cast fireballs and shit". Can't wait for the third one to come out.

    Currently listening to Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card. It's one of the sequels to Ender's Game. I'm enjoying it, but by now I'm so invested in the characters and story I'm not sure if the actual book is any good or not. It doesn't feel like one of the stronger ones in the series.

    @London-boy Rho Agenda sounds really interesting. I'll put that on my list.
     
    #6 tabs, Jul 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
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  7. London-boy

    London-boy Shifty's daddy
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    I've never tried an audio book! I never understood how they work. Are they acted by different actors or narrated by one single guy who reads the dialogues?

    You won't regret The Second Ship and the rest of the Rho Agenda trilogy.
     
  8. tabs

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    You can get some with different actors but I tend not to enjoy those as much personally. They feel more like radio plays which I do enjoy on occasion, but it's harder for me just to relax and enjoy it with so many different voices breaking the flow. It seems to require more 'active listening'. Some even have musical interludes in them (ugh!). The one I'm currently listening to does have multiple narrators, but the story is told from the POV of several main characters, and each narrator is tied to one of these. This works for me, even though sometimes you will have different narrators speaking dialogue for the same characters, which sounds like a bad idea, but in practice it works and isn't jarring. It's as though the world is filtered differently depending on which character's viewpoint the story is being told from.

    Usually a story is read by one person the whole way through. This is how I prefer it. The quality of the narration is very important to me. I've stopped listening to good stories just because I found the voice grating. Regular books obviously are superior here.

    Regarding the Rho Agenda trilogy, I was sold at 'stayed up all night', 'couldn't put it down' and 'sci-fi'. My attention span can be very poor with stories. I tend to require something with very strong hooks. Last time I stayed up all night to read a book it was The Da Vinci code.
     
  9. London-boy

    London-boy Shifty's daddy
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    Interesting, I'll have to try a good audio book then and see how that goes.

    The author of the Rho Agenda also released a kind-of-connected spin off prequel trilogy, called Rho Inception or something like that. Stick to the original. I'll start it eventually.
     
  10. Mariner

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    I've just finished reading the Quantum Thief trilogy by Hannu Rajaniemi.

    Very clever storyline and a fantastically complex imagined future solar system with bizarre warring factions.

    I like the way that little is explained in the books and you have to piece the universe together (to a degree) as you go along. Well worth a try.
     
  11. Babel-17

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    When was science fiction’s golden age?

    :)
    https://www.blackgate.com/2012/08/07/the-golden-age-of-science-fiction-is-twelve/
     
  12. Babel-17

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    If they ever make The Stars My Destination into a movie, I'll be extremely interested. I see that nove as an influence on the cyberpunk era that came much later*. It was also highly innovative in how it depicted synesthesia by some neat tricks with the printing process. Alfred Bester also wrote The Demolished Man, which was an amazing read. That novel, and The Lensman Series, were given homage by, and influenced the TV show of, JMS. Babylon 5's Telepathic Corps, with Walter Koenig playing "Bester" shows that clearly.
    On My Way to Paradise was on oddly moving novel that suckerpunched me as I wasn't expecting it to be so deep. I've got lots of favorites, some of which I think readers of today, new to the genre, would still find to be a great read. Imo, some novels and stories are nearly required reading so as to get a feel for the roots of today's SF.

    P.S. American Gods by Neil Gaiman: Yeah, that was a great story, and with a great narrative flow. Gaiman gives a bravura display of his talent with that, he shows a lot of range and it's just flat out good in every way.

    *http://www.loa.org/sciencefiction/appreciation/gibson.jsp

    Edit: I mistakenly ascribed the trick with depicting synesthesia to The Demolished Man, instead of The Stars My Destination. I fixed that.
     
    #12 Babel-17, Jul 8, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
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  13. Mariner

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    Is anybody going to recommend any Philip K. Dick books? I've read a few though it was a real struggle. A great 'ideas' man but an almost unreadable writing style in my view.

    Worth reading absolutely anything by Neal Stephenson, in my experience, though I understand his latest hasn't received the best reviews.
     
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  14. Zeross

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    Masters of Doom is one of my favorite books ! I read it almost ten years ago now (wow time flies !) and I was so enthusiastic about it that three of my friends bought it just because I was harassing them (they loved it too though ;)). In the following years I was frequently skimming through it once in a while and re reading my favorite parts. I've tried to find another book like it, but without success :(

    These days I've just finished Nexus from Ramez Naam, it was really interesting and I will definitely read the following books (Apex and Crux). But I mostly read non fiction books, this week I've started reading "The soul of a New Machine".

    Just like Rys or Londonboy, I mostly read on my kindle paperwhite, this is so convenient and since I read at night it doesn't disturb my girlfriend since the light produced is really low.
     
  15. Babel-17

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    I thought The 3 Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was terrifying when I read it as a kid. If you are familiar with some of the internet's convoluted theories about The Matrix/The world as VR then you easily see that in this novel. A Scanner Darkly was very moving as I've lost friends to drug abuse.
    I think that once you buy into how PKD reflects the world as he sees it in his stories you then get an easier access to anything else he's written. He becomes your eccentric friend, you don't what story he's going to tell next, but you know it will be interesting.
    And of course there's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. You'll find a lot of stuff in it that the movie didn't have room for, or would have altered the style. All as brutally effective as what's in the movie.
    P.S. I found We Can Build You to be a sentimental, even poignant, effort by PKD. He deal a lot with emotions, and those who have trouble finding theirs. The girl in that book, Pris Frauenzimmer, is something of an exemplar for other women, in other stories, that PKD casts as intimidating his characters. Worth reading for how he sketches these broken creatures, his Lincoln was amazingly moving.
     
    #15 Babel-17, Jul 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2015
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  16. moon stalker marty

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    After a recent trip to Turkey I was inspired to buy Atatürk by Andrew Mango. About half-way in and it's a thoroughly interesting read. The man effectively created Turkey as we know it today. Having said that, it is rather heavy--in both content and mass--but I'm determined to get to the end; the more I read, the better it gets.

    And, apropos to nothing / a tenuous link to Atatürk: Turkey is an amazing country and highly recommended. This beautiful video just about sums it all up:

     
  17. Billy Idol

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    Most favorite books: The first law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Logan Ninefingers and his gang must be the best characters in the world. I love those books...highly recommended if you like dirty fantasy (dirty in the sense of a bit brutal and so on).

    Also, basically all the books Charlie Huston writes. I like especially the Joe Pitt saga...highly recommended if you like fast and brutal action with not so typical vampires...

    Game of Thrones was good in the beginning (the first few books), but it somehow just got boring and lost its steam imo...

    Also highly recommended if you like complex (and I mean quite complex) fantasy books: Steven Erikson "A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen" series.

    Also, honorable mention: I am Legend. The book is completely different to the movie (why in hell did they change the story?? it is the story that is so good and the ending) but is great.

    Also, if you are into Star Wars, I really like the Darth Bane book...gives some quite interesting background into the Sith.
     
  18. I.S.T.

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    I've read one book of his, and tried to read the other. The one I finished is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, which is a fucking masterpiece. The second was A Scanner Darkly, which is not. It feels messy and disjointed, even before shit hits the fan in the plot. It needed a much better editor, that's for sure.

    Non-fiction recommendations from I.S.T.:

    The Nazi War on Cancer. It's a look at the general health culture in Germany shortly before and during the Nazi Party's reign. It doesn't cover the awful medical experiments in the concentration camps as the author had already written a book on them(I haven't read it, so I couldn't tell you anything about it).

    A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy. It's one of the most accurate biographies of the man out there. Sadly, a lot of biographies on him are based on two biased(One written by the man who prosecuted him) biographies. This one is mostly original research. It doesn't paint a pretty picture of the man. If anything, he comes across as worse in this one...

    BTW, just about anything by the author of ACSI, David M. Oshinsky is good. I've read some shorter pieces by him, and he just has this really engaging writing style. It sucks you in, no matter the topic.

    Nightmover(The full name is longer but it's too long for me to type. I'm currently rather sore). It's a detailing of how Aldrich Ames sold out various spies for the CIA to Russia, and how he was caught. Very engaging writing style.

    Polio: An American Story. Another Oshinsky book, detailing how Polio's two major vaccines were created, the culture surrounding the disease in the U.S.A., and impact the disease had as well.

    Fiction recommendations from I.S.T.:

    I haven't read much fiction that isn't comic books and graphic novels, so this one'll be shorter.

    Knightfall: An adaptation of a massive Batman storyarc into a novel. The original storyarc was messy, disjointed and obviously had many changes at the last minute to accommodate fan feedback. The novel makes all of this seem cohesive and planned from the beginning, and the writing style is engaging(For the most part. Some parts fall a bit flat, like the way the character Lady Shiva is described). My favorite bit is the ending, which is not what you'd expect from a comic book based story.

    To Kill A Mockingbird and Catch 22: Yeah, yeah, I know, I know, these are classics in American Literature and are often recommended. But, if you haven't read them, I highly, highly recommend you do.


    Fiction to avoid like the fucking plague:

    Both sequels to the books mentioned directly above. There's a reason why Harper Lee sat on the TKAM sequel for some 60 someodd years, and the sequel to Catch 22 is just awful and boring and was obviously made too late in the author's life. It's more about how he feels about life and growing old than about Yossarian himself. Yossarian feels like a self-insert in this, whereas in Catch 22 he felt like a distinct being.
     
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  19. I.S.T.

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    More about The Nazi War on Cancer. It's honestly the best non-fiction I've ever read, and also the only frightening book I've ever read(Horror novels/short stories/etc do not scare me, nor do 99% of horror films). Why did it scare me? Simple. It's easier to think of the Nazis as cartoon villains, capable only of horrific things. When you see that many were dedicated to helping their fellow man through medical science and advances... It humanizes them. It makes the monster a person rather than an unspeakable creature.

    I want to point out I was fairly young when I read the book(I was 19, I'm just shy of 28 now), so for the older members of the forum, it might not have that frightening effect on you.
     
  20. iroboto

    iroboto Daft Funk
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    This is reference material but I know a lot of you are programmers. I was about to purchase a book on AI programming when amazon tossed these recommends to me:
    Clean Code(http://www.amazon.ca/Clean-Code-Han...-ebook/dp/B001GSTOAM/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)
    vs.
    Code Complete(http://www.amazon.ca/Code-Complete-...&qid=1438136721&sr=1-1&keywords=Code+Complete)

    They are both books about improving and refactoring your code better. Has anyone here read them? I'm looking for some reviews to see how it improved your coding (even if you already thought you wrote decent code). I've been following Casey Muratori as well, just watching his Handmade hero and seeing how he codes there as well. I mean, I've been learning a lot, but I've never had strict things where I identify what needs improvement, and improve it. I think reading something like this could help? I've often considered game developers at the above average coding level, but honestly I've never worked a AAA shop so I wouldn't know. I know Casey and I assume many of you feel that writing code for the machine performance comes first, human readability second. Whereas, I think these books are all about writing code for humans first and machine performance second.

    Would love to get some perspectives.
     
    #20 iroboto, Jul 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
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