What are you Reading Now?

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

  1. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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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.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff 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.
     
  3. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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  4. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Dark Lord

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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.
     
  5. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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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.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff 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.
     
  7. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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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
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff 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!
     
  9. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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    Well, I've been thinking about historical fiction but left it for various reasons in favor of writing very realistic, or at least more realistic, fantasy. And I've got ideas for both lesser works as well as Magnum Opus for me as an aspiring writer in both a Hellenic and 19th century fantasy setting, the later of which won't be relevant for many years. But dreams comes free.

    Totally agree about England being overdone.

    I'll probably read a little of both and see which one ignites my imagination more. Same with writing in both of the different eras.
     
  10. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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    I can't seem to edit my last post. But one heavy argument against ancient Greece, for which I actually favor the Middle Ages, is that in Greece there's a massive risk that the stoy will turn into a sausage feast and that is something which I very much want to avoid.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

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    WRT the Middle Ages as a setting, you'll get no argument from me. <grin>

    My settings so far have been
    Augsburg to a village near Zurich (1700s)
    Mojave Desert (this one's a bit of a stray because it's also set in 1950s)
    Brittany (1300s)
    Dacia to Constantinople (300s)
    the Camargue over to the Pyrenees (1100s)
    Salzburg into the mountains (most of the book is underground) (1900s)
    Sicily to Brunswick (for my next book) (1200s)

    So, there's plenty of room in which to play!

    But we've gone well off topic, so I'm going to stop there. We can start up a separate thread or talk on our writing threads.
     
    Gurkhal likes this.
  12. The Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman.
     
  13. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Shadow Lord

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    Also ordered some historical fiction in the form of "The Oathbreaker" by Alaric Longward. He writes in ancient and medieval Germanic territories/Germany and Norse mythological worlds. I haven't got the book yet but I find the change of setting from more well known areas like British Islands or France to be alluring, so I'm hoping it will be good.
     
  14. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Valar Lord

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    Universal Harvester by John Darnielle
    Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson
    Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight

    I don't think I'm far enough in any of the three to draw real conclusions about what I think about them.

    Visited library today. Always nice to do that.
     
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