What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:07 pm

I finally finished Robotech: The Masters Saga, Like the previous Robotech novelizations this was a compilation of three books; Southern Cross, Metal Fire, and The Final Nightmare. It’s author, “Jack McKinney” is also a compilation being two separate authors.
As with the other Robotech novels this is based off the Americanized anime of the same name. One with a complicated history of its own. Robotech was actually three separate anime that were stitched together for American audiences. The results were often clunky with stilted dialog and generally bad dubbing, but did make for an epic story of multiple generations of characters enduring multiple alien invasions. The Masters Saga, the second of the three stories, was admittedly the weakest of them. It was the most heavily altered from its source materiel, Super Dimensional Cavalry: Southern Cross, and it often showed in the final product. So I was curious how “McKinney” would handle this in his novelization, particularly as he was very true to the story in the previous saga.
Understandably he does take a little more liberty here than he had with the Macross Saga. The original cartoon was often confused on whether the Masters were androids, clones, or humans (remember the bad dubbing?). Here the author(s) use that confusion to show the contempt and willful ignorance the leaders of Earth have for the new invaders. As for Protoculture, which was never given a really good explanation in the series, McKinney casts it like a combination of the Force and Spice- which mostly works in the context of the story. At least up until the very end. And he does a fairly good job of explaining some of the plot anomalies that come from troubled history of the storyline.
Still much of the flaws that made the Masters Saga the weakest of the trilogy come through. As villains the Masters are not as interesting as the Zentraedi and especially the Invid. The characters are also not as engaging with far too many of them acting like juvenile delinquents rather than soldiers thrown into a pitched battle. And unfortunately “McKinney” adds some plot oddities of his own, especially at the end when there’s a serious WTF moment of the author’s making.
The interesting thing about the Masters Saga though is how cynical it is about war. Neither side is really eager for a conflict yet are propelled into it by leaders who are willing to use the war to further their agendas and hinder their political enemies. The message seems to be that war is bad, but corrupt and incompetent leadership can make it much, much worse. And the war has a Pyrrhic ending that weakens both sides and sets up for the Invid invasion.
However I’m not sure whether I’ll continue with the Robotech novel series. While McKinney can capture some of the nostalgia of the anime, and he (they) do a fairly good job of fixing some of the flaws, the authors are showing a tendency to take the story in some odd, rather metaphysical, directions.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:28 pm

Maybe trying to make sense of the adaptation is burning out their brain cells. :lol: The word "Protoculture" is ringing a bell in my brain. Something from the 80s called "Protoculture Addicts" or something. A magazine, maybe. Or something. Very vague. :lol:

That Gahan Wilson book I mentioned turns out to have a bunch of his short fiction in the third volume, plus a nice interview with Gary Groth. It's a great find. :book:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Sun Mar 27, 2016 10:29 pm

RJDiogenes wrote:Maybe trying to make sense of the adaptation is burning out their brain cells. :lol: The word "Protoculture" is ringing a bell in my brain. Something from the 80s called "Protoculture Addicts" or something. A magazine, maybe. Or something. Very vague. :lol:

I think it was a Robotech fan magazines.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Mon Mar 28, 2016 9:44 pm

Makes sense. I could have seen it at conventions or comic book stores or something.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:02 pm

I've started a book called Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, and it's pretty cool. It's about a curious little bookstore in San Francisco, and I love the "curious little store" sub-genre. Now the main character has met a woman who works for Google and this is adding a component that's almost Gibsonesque-- except that instead of being dark and gritty, it's bright and Googly. It's a quick read. I'm about a third of the way through. A very intriguing mystery is developing. :book:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Sat Jun 18, 2016 3:17 pm

^Sounds good.

I should get back into reading again.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Thu Jun 23, 2016 9:51 pm

I wish I had more time to read. There's so much stuff sitting around here that I want to read.

I finished Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and it was really nice. It was a quick and easy read, but I wouldn't exactly call it fluffy. It started out as an "odd little store" novel and then morphed into kind of a cross between William Gibson and Star Trek. It had all the Gibson cyberspace stuff, but instead of taking place in a worn-out world, it took place in a world brimming with creation. There was also a touch of epic High Fantasy thrown in, too. It was pretty enjoyable.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Tue Aug 09, 2016 10:12 pm

Having not read anything in an embarrassingly long time, I ordered Seeker by Jack McDivitt a little while ago.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:19 pm

Cool. I still have McDevitt's Thunderbird in my pile. I decided to start on The Medusa Chronicles, Baxter's sequel to Clarke's "Meeting With Medusa." I'm in the mood for something that is at least somewhat Clarkean.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Mon Aug 15, 2016 9:57 pm

Seeker showed up today and I started reading it.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue Aug 16, 2016 9:26 pm

^^ Cool. I hope you like it.

I'm a few chapters into Medusa Chronicles. Nothing spectacular so far, but it's good. What's interesting is that it slowly became apparent that this is set in an alternate universe where Bobby Kennedy was president and the Earth was threatened by a giant asteroid in the 60s, forcing changes to the Apollo Program. I'm not sure of the point of that, since the original story was published in the early 70s.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:03 pm

^Might play out later in the novel, though I have a book where the alt-history didn't really add anything to the plot.

As for Seeker, so far it's really, really good. :book:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Aug 17, 2016 10:04 pm

Yeah, I love McDevitt. I've really got to get to Thunderbird.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:09 pm

I finished Seeker and, wow, this was a good book. I think it is Book 3 of the Alex Benedict series, but I’m happy I hadn’t read it before some of the others. It might have made then slightly disappointing. It’s a remarkably fast read mostly due to the fact it’s rather hard to put down. I loved the way the plot unfolded with various clues, setbacks, the occasional assassination attempt, and a historical mystery clouded with fiction and modern myth. In this novel we get a better look at the society of the Mutes (touched on in other books but not fully explored) and how they live. The mystery turns a bit sad when they find the Seeker but the ending that comes after that is wonderfully uplifting. This is the best book of this series I’ve read so far. It has a few editorial hiccups like a wrong word choice and a redundant sentence (makes me feel better about some of my sloppy writing) but nothing to mar the overall book.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:57 pm

^^ I'm having a little trouble remembering exactly which one Seeker was (one thing he's not great with is titles).

But I just did a little poking around and discovered he's on the second draft of a new Priscilla Hutchins novel. :bounce:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:53 pm

RJDiogenes wrote:^^ I'm having a little trouble remembering exactly which one Seeker was (one thing he's not great with is titles).

It's the one where he comes across a cup from a ship that disappeared 9000 years prior while setting up a colony (which is also missing).
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:18 pm

Right, the lost colony. I'll have to pull it out and refresh my memory.

I'm more than a quarter of the way through Medusa Chronicles and it looks like he's going back to Jupiter. I was starting to wonder. So far it's all been about a Machine Intelligence rebellion in the Kuiper Belt.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:49 pm

Well, I finished Medusa Chronicles. It was okay, but not great. At first I was disappointed because it wasn't very Clarkean-- then the final third turned out to be basically a re-write of the Odyssey series. There was one plot or thread involving the Simps that was very unsatisfying in its lack of closure. The most awkward thing was that in the entire eight hundred or so years that the story spanned, Falcon remained in his rather primitive cyborg form, balloon tires and all. Given all the advances in medicine and technology during that time, it's unthinkable that he wouldn't have a more advanced cyborg body or replacement biological parts. There was no in-story explanation and it really strained the suspension of disbelief.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:07 pm

^I remember some simps appearing early on in Rendezvous with Rama. Does it take place in the same setting?
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Sat Sep 03, 2016 5:37 pm

No, different universe, but Clarke has used the concept of Simps in various stories. This book also had various homages to some of Clarke's other work, like talking about Discovery-class ships and referring to a character named Bowman.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Wed Sep 14, 2016 3:03 pm

Started Exit Sherlock Holmes by Robert Lee Hall yesterday. Came across it while cleaning.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:27 pm

Interesting. I just bought a Sherlock Holmes novel recently, one of those that tells the story of the Giant Rat of Sumatra.

I'm a bit more than a third of the way through Hyperlight.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:55 pm

So I finished Exit Sherlock Holmes. The book had actually been hanging around the house for some years and I came across it during a shed-organizing campaign so I decided to finally read it. It was published in 1977 and written by a Robert Lee Hall, an author I’m not familiar with. I had been spoiled by other family members about the events in the book so the ending wasn’t the jaw-dropping surprise it was meant to be.
As with Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works the story is told in the form of a narrative by Dr. Watson. Now aged and in a hospital in 1930 Watson begins to set down the final adventure he had with Sherlock Holmes. He then flashes back to his last meeting with the venerable detective before Holmes retires to the countryside. Then years later Moriarty, long thought dead, reappears and Watson is convinced that he must find Holmes to warn him.
The majority of the book is taken up with Watson’s attempt to locate Holmes. At first this starts a bit slow with the plot going about in circles. Things improve when Watson teams up with one of Holmes’s former Baker Street Irregulars, now an adult and an actor. Amusing the man, named Wiggins, dons a deerstalker hat during the hunt. Here the book is quite good as the pair find clue after clue about Holmes’s past, but with each clue the story of the detective becomes increasing disturbing and incomprehensible. To Watson’s alarm and disappointment much of what he thought he knew of Holmes was fabrication. This brings added motivation to the hunt as he now wants to find the true story about the man he thought of as a friend.
The ending of the book, the part that was spoiled for me, takes a strange sci-fi twist and is almost anti-climatic. There’s also an epilogue I thought wasn’t particularly needed and it cast a rather downbeat note to the plot. Overall thought it wasn’t a bad book.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:01 pm

Wow, that certainly sounds like a different take on Holmes. I'm intrigued by the Sci-Fi twist. :unsure:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Sep 23, 2016 6:23 pm

And since the last book whetted my appetite for Holmes literature I started reading The Return of Sherlock Holmes last night, starting with the story "The Adventure of the Empty House", which lays out how Holmes survived his encounter with Moriarty and Reichenbach Falls.
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