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What are you Reading Now?

Discussion in 'Novels & Stories' started by Mythopoet, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Going to make a new attempt to take on the "Austro-Prussian War" by Geoffrey Wawro. Not overly long but very heavy so I hope that I will be able to finish it this time.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Straight up war narratives can be brutal to read. It's very difficult to do well. One of the very best was Sir Steven Runciman, who did not labor under the handicap of being a historian. ;-) The Crusades, The Sicilian Vespers, The Fall of Constantinople, all highly readable.
     
  3. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    True that. And this is pretty technical with many terms of and concepts that are not entirely clear to me as a layman in military matters. But right now I have found that I've stalled in my writing of "The Death of Dreams" which I discussed somewhat in the link below. I feel that I should perhaps seek out a few memoirs and war narratives from the second half of the 19th century so that I can immmerse myself in this setting and get inspired and the writing moving again.

    https://mythicscribes.com/community/threads/writing-an-intro-for-the-first-time-help-required.20384/

    I'm still writing though, but mostly early ancient Greek stuff. Like Mycenaean and Dark Ages inspired stories. Mary Renault has her flaws...but her writing is nothing if not inspiring and breathing life into the ancient world. :)
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Oh, do immerse yourself. Writing historical fiction, even with a fantasy twist, is only going to improve the more familiar you are with the era. This is going to me reading a bunch of stuff that is boring, confusing, or merely pedestrian, but that's pretty much the price of entry. Once you get a thorough grounding--a term that eludes precise definition--acquiring additional information comes much more easily.
     
    Gurkhal likes this.
  5. Anyone here read the Welcome to Night Vale novels? I just finished the second one. I liked it a lot better than the first. Also, Carlos, who barely appeared in the last book, is a much more major character and is to my mind pretty explicitly coded as autistic in this one, which makes me happy inside.

    Cecil and Carlos are married!!!?! I haven't gotten to that point in the podcast!!/
     
    Svrtnsse likes this.
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I didn't even know there were books. I'll have to get on to that. :D
     
  7. The first book seemed off-puttingly different from the podcast- the tone was the same, and it was still just as funny and creepy and thought provoking, but Cecil and Carlos were barely in it and it focused on other characters. Carlos is a major character in the second book which I liked.

    Is there going to be a third book, I wonder??
     
  8. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    Couldn't really get into Wawro so far. I feel that I need some fiction before I tackle the Austo-Prussian War, and I found a nice memoir from the Franco-Prussian War as well, so I ordered some easy reading fantasy with a Warhammer setting; "Yarrick Omnibus" (40k but anyway...), "Masters of Stone and Steel" and "War of Vengeance". Yeah, Dwarfs are my favorite among the traditional fantasy races.

    So this should add something to my library of fantasy literature, or so I hope.
     
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    My general strategy for tackling a new topic is to go wide. If I'm after the Austro-Prussian War, I'll first aim for a history of the 19thc. If I'm ok at that level, then maybe just a history of 19thc Germany, and another for the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Then, given my interests, I'd head for some social history, but that's optional. A biography, maybe of one of the main participants, could be another entree to the more detailed level. I would use the straight military book(s) more as reference, or for reading the account of a specific battle. Cherry pick.

    Fiction is easier to read, true enough, but one never knows what one is getting. Which bits are accurate, which have been twisted, and which invented? Never trust those historical fantasy writers. :)
     
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Anyone who hasn't read P.C. Hodgell's book God Stalk, and sequels, I can heartily recommend them. I read the first one years ago, then picked it up against after running into Ms. Hodgell at WorldCon. Good stuff.
     
  11. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    You're right about the price of entry. Still I wonder if I didn't try to bit off more than I could chew? It will require a great deal of research to write in the 19th century and when I am already well versed and possess a small library on other eras and cultures, it might be more prudent to start writing there instead.
     
  12. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    My topics of interest tend to have a very high price of entry. It's so difficult to find reliable, quality information that isn't sold by a university press and therefore at least $50 for the ebook. I can't even look at the print prices without hyperventilating. :rolleyes: It's probably because I'm mostly interested in the antique and ancient world and the farther back you get the fewer people seem to be interested and so books of accessible "popular history" (as opposed to books written for students or professionals who have no choice but to pay) become less profitable and rarer. Sigh.
     
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  13. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I feel your anguish over this. I used to be really into ancient Mesopotamia but that interest was to lonly and prices to high for me to keep at it. So I "had" to change to the ancient Greeks. And when I look at Mycenaean Greece...then those books have some outrageous prices.
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The scholarly book industry has been a scandal since the 1990s or so. Many historians now actually have to pay the publisher and have to scramble for grant money to do so. The problem stems from the collapse of the secondary book publishing industry. Being in the hands of only a few giants, academic books are now utterly disregarded except for money-making textbooks. The publishers are to blame, too, for the rapid decline of the use of footnotes. Despite some open-source efforts, scholarly publishing is still locked in an obscure cell of the giant prison that is Traditional Publishing. Scientific publishing is even worse.

    As for what I'm reading now, I just finished The Pitch That Killed, the story of the 1920 Cleveland Indians and their shortstop Ray Chapman, the only man to die from a major league pitch. It was a unique event and an extraordinary baseball season, recounted in one of the best baseball books around.
     
  15. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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  16. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I finished my reread of Phantastes. Like the first time I felt the story got bogged down when he discovered the "fairy palace". He can't see or interact with anyone there. So he spends the time describing cold, marble halls and (literally) summarizing a book he read in the fairy library which just happens to be about a London man. I would advise anyone who gets to this part and wants to put the book down to grit your teeth and bear it until he leaves the palace. The most interesting episodes in the story, in my opinion, happen after that part.

    I also finished my reread of Ursula K. Le Guin's short story collection. And just... wow. The first time I read it was so long ago and I was much less experienced in SFF (and you know everything) back then. I think most of it must have gone over my head, or shall we say I was only capable of reading most of it at the surface level. This time... wow... this time some of the stories really blew me away. And just when I was least expecting it. Other than these stories, I've only read her Earthsea books. But I'm convinced now that I really need to read her more SF stuff too. I'm not, I admit, a big SF fan. Some of it works for me and some of it doesn't. But the SF stories here really, really worked for me so time to broaden my horizons!

    But I don't have any money for new books atm. Sigh. Also, it's October which means I need something spooky/weird to read. So I picked up some free ebooks of stories by Algernon Blackwood, plus I am rereading William Hope Hodgson's Carnacki, the Ghost Finder and also rereading Good Omens before the series comes out next year.
     
  17. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    But the more I think about it the less eager I become. I already know the ancient world fairly ok and with a specialized interest in the ancient Greeks. Thus I think that I shall forget about this whole 19th century deal and probably get rid of my books on the subject to make room for more books on other matters.
     
  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    What was it about the 19thc, and that particular war, that originally intrigued you? I ask to see if maybe you could find something similar (or create it, because: fantasy) back in ancient Greece.
     
  19. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    What draw me in was relatability for and to characters as well as a war that's not very well known in general pop culture.

    In terms of relating to the characters I will admit that I'm not very interested in technology and so writing in the current age would be no good, but many of the worries, tensions and mentalities that lies closer to myself and thus found myself closer to the characters in a 19th century setting than in ancient Greece.

    For example being afraid of losing one's job and thus not be able to keep the appartment is something that I can understand. Feel the call of honor to engage in a blood feud is something that is exotic and interesting, but a mentality that lies far away from me and thus those characters are not as close to me. I can understand class tensions but taking a prophecy into account from an oracle is far away from me in how to understand the world.

    I am, or was, pretty interested in German history. In, what's known to me, pop culture the Germans makes no particular news before they show up as villains in the periods of of 1914-1918 and then in 1933-1945. But what else? What road did Germany and the Germans take to come into their situation in 1914 and 1933, and just as importantly, why did they take those roads? What was before 1914? And what happened in Germany after 1945? I mean Germany didn't stop to exist. its still around but has changed a great deal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018
  20. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Good response.

    My first reaction is that you're talking about writing historical fiction, not historical fantasy. The topic is excellent. And there are a number of books on exactly the questions you raise.

    We definitely need more 19thc-era fantasy stories that are *not* set in England. *grumble* I am heartily and thoroughly done with Victorian England, especially after reading E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class.

    I guess you'll have to follow your gut on this one. Maybe look for daily life books for the Greeks? Or, indeed, more social history books for 19thc Germany. One that has always stuck with me is Anton Mayr's The Persistence of the Old Regime, but I'd also nominate Eric Hobsbawm (The Dual Revolution and later books) or one of my favorites, though it starts rather earlier and is about France specifically, Eugen Weber's Peasants Into Frenchmen.

    Dang but my bibliography doth show my age!
     
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