What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:38 pm

I made some good progress with Hyperlight 4 today. I've got less than 150 pages to go.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:14 pm

I finished The Return of Sherlock Holmes. It’s actually a series of 13 short stories I assume Arthur Conan Doyle published in magazine form and a couple of the stories, “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” and “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”, would eventually find their way into movie form. Specifically the former would have elements recycled into Sherlock Homes and the Secret Weapon and the latter in The Pearl of Death. Like most short story collections these are rather hit and miss with some being quite good while others are rather forgettable. These stories take up some time after the defeat of Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Fall and are written rather like they were a memoir.
One striking thing though is how different Holmes is in these stories as opposed to most cinematic versions- especially modern renditions. Often in film and TV Holmes has been portrayed as a humorless and sometimes clinically psychotic personality. In this book he comes off as personable and sometimes even jovial.
Another interesting feature is the literary “short hand” Doyle uses, presumably to keep his word counts under control for magazine publication. Often he will use dialogue in lieu of scene descriptions like:
“We’ve been studying the murder case and perhaps John Doe enlighten us. Ah, I see he’s walking into the door now. Come have a seat. John Doe.”
At other times he uses a kind of one-sided dialogue like:
“I saw John Doe walking down the street earlier this morning. No, I didn’t see him carrying anything. Yes, he was in fact covered in mud. What was he wearing, you say? Oh, just coveralls.”
It’s been decades since I last read anything of Doyle’s other Holmes stories so it’s hard for me to compare these to his previous work.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:00 pm

Arthur C Clarke used that dialogue style a lot. I kind of like it. The dialogue interacting with the action makes it feel more immediate.

Movies and TV seldom get Holmes right, and it's even worse for Watson. Basil Rathbone was the best Holmes, but Jeremy Brett was just about as good. The modern versions, especially the ones that inexplicably take place in the 21st century, are ridiculous-- they portray him as a sociopath. The real Holmes was a bit bipolar. He could sink into deep depressions when he had nothing to keep him busy, using drugs and torturing his violin, but could indeed be almost jovial when he had something interesting to challenge him.

To me, the Holmes canon is almost like Star Trek. I don't look at them as individual stories, but just the life of Sherlock Holmes, so I basically think all the stories are good.

Right now, I'm reading an anthology of Science Fiction that I got from the SFBC. It's interesting because it contains a lot of rare vintage works from international authors and from women who wrote for the Pulps but who have been seldom anthologized. Pretty good stuff if you like ancient writing, as I do.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:56 pm

RJDiogenes wrote:Movies and TV seldom get Holmes right, and it's even worse for Watson. Basil Rathbone was the best Holmes, but Jeremy Brett was just about as good. The modern versions, especially the ones that inexplicably take place in the 21st century, are ridiculous-- they portray him as a sociopath. The real Holmes was a bit bipolar. He could sink into deep depressions when he had nothing to keep him busy, using drugs and torturing his violin, but could indeed be almost jovial when he had something interesting to challenge him.

I rather like Elementary, but frankly I don't even think of it as Sherlock Holmes. I really like, have most of, the Rathbone/Bruce movies- though I don't like the way Watson is used as comic relief. My favorite movie is one from the early 70s called The Seven-Percent Solution where Watson tricks Holmes into going to Vienna to see Sigmund Freud about his drug addiction- then they get caught up in a kidnapping mystery.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:16 pm

Ah, The Seven-Percent Solution. I think that's a Nicholas Meyer movie. I keep meaning to watch it, but haven't gotten around to it. I should check to see if Amazon Prime has it.

I'm sure Elementary is good, and I'm sure Sherlock is good, quality wise, but, as you say, they are not Sherlock Holmes. If you're going to create a new character, you should create a new character.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Oct 14, 2016 6:01 pm

I started The Lost Continent by Edgar Rice Burroughs last night.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:01 pm

Oh, nice. I've never read that.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:03 pm

Neither had I until I found it while cleaning house.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:25 pm

I finished The Lost Continent last night. This book was an oddity in more ways than one. First off I’m not sure where it came from. I found it while house cleaning (we have a LOT of books around here) and it’s one I’m never heard of before.
Secondly, according to the Forward by Ace Book’s editor, the story was first published by an obscure magazine in 1916 under the title Beyond Thirty and lost until it was recovered in 1957. Frankly that story is almost as fantastical as the novel itself and so I went in not really sure this was in fact an Edgar Rice Burroughs story.
As for the story it takes place in the future around the year 2136 (or thereabouts as some of the background and years don’t quite add up). As was common for fiction at the time, the Great War (World War I) went on nearly without end and by the time of the book’s setting the West (the now united Americas) has cut itself off from the old world. Travel east of 30° or west of 175° is strictly forbidden under penalty of death.
The plot itself takes up with the overly young commander of an “aero-submarine” Jefferson Turck who, due to a storm, finds himself beyond 30° and it abandoned by his ship off the coast of what used to be Britain. The island is now a post-apocalyptic landscape inhabited by escaped zoo animals and now resembles Africa rather than the British Isles. As usual he meets wild savages there and, of course, a beautiful princess. The bulk of the story is his adventures in wild Britain, but towards the end of the book the characters move on to continental Europe and the story takes a different turn.
In Europe Jefferson is captured by a band of Abyssinians who basically act like 19th century Americans. Instead of exploring and subjugating North America they treat Europe in the same manner, establishing forts and taking slaves. Here the book moves very quickly with Jefferson reuniting with his princess (who had been spirited away by one of the villains) and encountering a reemerging Imperial China which is warring with the Abyssinians. Most of this takes place in the last tenth of the book, making for a rather rushed conclusion.
As for the question on whether Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote this or not, I’d say probably. I’ve been suspicious of works of his supposedly “discovered” after his death ever since I read Beyond the Farthest Star. With Beyond Thirty though there are the hallmarks of a Burroughs story: the high adventure, the beautiful maiden, the treasonous compatriot, and a distinct anti-war message. For all the violence and mayhem in Burroughs’s stories there frequently was a rather anti-war outlook. In this book Jefferson starts out with a rather nostalgic and romanticized view of war but this changes as he witnesses what the Great War did to Europe and the utter destruction it wrought.
This wasn’t the best Burroughs novella (it is rather short) but it was interesting and shows that he was frequently ahead of his time.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Mon Oct 17, 2016 10:04 pm

That is quite an oddity. The Old World is the Lost World, but with zoo animals instead of dinosaurs. I just downloaded an EPUB of it from Project Gutenberg, so I'll be able to read it at some point. It doesn't seem like Burroughs wrote a lot of books that were set in the future.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:58 pm

^There were a few, The Moon Maid being the prime example I know of- and I think it was connected to The Moon Men.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue Oct 18, 2016 9:57 pm

Interesting. It seems like he's more comfortable with the past. Of course, the future in Lost Continent isn't exactly futuristic. :lol:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby huggle » Mon Oct 24, 2016 9:58 am

I took a day off the Internet yesterday and started reading Dorotyh Sayers' last crime novel: Thrones, Dominations.
Didn't quite manage to finish it - there are about 50 pages left - but I'll find the murderer tonight. This is the first time in months that I read a whole book =)
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Mon Oct 24, 2016 3:08 pm

Yesterday I serendipitiously found another Edgar Rice Burroughs novel The Moon Men and will eventually start it.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:43 pm

^^ Another of his books that are set in the future.

huggle wrote:I took a day off the Internet yesterday and started reading Dorotyh Sayers' last crime novel: Thrones, Dominations.

A reference to heavenly beings?
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Tue Oct 25, 2016 3:05 pm

RJDiogenes wrote:^^ Another of his books that are set in the future.

Yeah, 1969! :veryhappy: (the book was written in 1925).
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:22 pm

I love that. :D The future always seems to disappoint, at least in the short term.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:57 pm

Having overdosed on Horror for Halloween, I am now switching to Science Fiction. I've got an anthology called Away From The Here And Now by Clare Winger Harris, a Sci-Fi writer of the Pulp Era. The first few stories were published in the 20s, and so are very charming in their archaic use of language and scientific naivete. In the first story, set in 2026-- a hundred years in the future-- contact has been established with civilizations on Mars, Venus, and a couple of moons of Jupiter. Suddenly, Mars is propelled out of the Solar System and it's decided, based on conjecture alone, that this is the result of an experiment by aliens in a larger cosmos to whom we are just atoms-- and we presumably do the same thing to mini-aliens whenever we perform subatomic research. Inevitably, the Earth is next thrown out of the Solar System and most people die. The main characters are able to take shelter in a well-stocked observatory heated by atomic power. After a three-year journey through the cosmos, Earth is captured by another star and thaws out, allowing the survivors to rebuild civilization. They discover that Mars has ended up in this same new Solar System, although now it's closer to the sun. This is the punchline, because the narrator mistakenly said that Mars is closer to the sun than Earth at the beginning of the story. The other characters chide him about being able to remake the cosmos in his own image. All's well that ends well! :lol:
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:48 pm

^Errors aside it does sound interesting. Rather like australis's Stormworld concept.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:40 pm

It also reminded me a bit of Space: 1999 and the first season of Lost In Space.

The notion of atoms being miniature solar systems was popular for a while, although that belief never really existed outside of fiction, and she touches on it again in a later story.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Nov 04, 2016 3:10 pm

So, I finished The Moon Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The book is actually two separate novellas, the first being the titled The Moon Men and the second being The Red Hawk.
I had thought for a long time that The Moon Men came before The Moon Maid, but it turns out that it is, in fact, a sequel to that novel. And like the previous book, this one takes up in the “future”- 1969- with the meeting of two men, one of whom has the ability to see into his other lives, rather like reincarnation. The story then moves to the 22nd century and the events that led up to the people of the moon, the Kalkars, conquering Earth and setting up a despotic government. In some ways this book is quite similar to The Lost Continent with the world being wracked by a Great War in the later 20th century and the rather post-apocalyptic setting. Only here there is the added complication of an alien invasion. However I think that The Moon Men is the weakest of the Burroughs novels/novellas I’ve read. Little happens plotwise in the story other than detailing the harsh lives of the people living under Kalkar rule and the main character, Julian 9th , is rather unengaging and surprisingly brutish. And like The Lost Continent much of the action takes place in a hurried fashion towards the end of the story though without the happy ending, an unusual trait for a Burroughs story.
The book then moves on to The Red Hawk. Taking place in the year 2430 with Julian 20th, also known as Red Hawk, the story continues the struggle against the Kalkars. This story moved along at a better pace than the first half and it dispensed with the narrative seen in the previous story and The Moon Maid and is told strictly from Red Hawk’s view. It’s obvious that Burroughs wrote this tale while he lived in Tarzana, California as he uses many local areas as settings in the story, from a lake I suspect is Big Bear, to the Cajon Pass, to Pasadena. The Red Hawk is even more of a post-apocalyptic tale than the previous story though with the characters living in a quasi-Native-American lifestyle. There is one usual point in the story where Red Hawk meets a tribe of pygmy Japanese living in, what I think is, Malibu. And like both The Lost Continent and The Moon Men the narrative as a rushed conclusion. This is most likely because they started out as magazine publications.
For the most part though these stories were not Burroughs forte as he frequently turns grim in his plots with characters that aren’t as filled out as his regular novels. The format of a magazine submission might have hampered him as well.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Fri Nov 04, 2016 9:22 pm

That sounds disappointing. I wonder how old he was when he wrote them. If he was living in Tarzana, it must have been later in life. Maybe he had just lost his mojo.

I'm still reading the Clare Winger Harris anthology. I love the 1920s Space Opera. They have the technology to fly from planet to planet (in days) with their "Geodesic Space Coasters," but the problem of visual interplanetary communication eludes them. But then you get these little inklings of 1920s culture when she casually mentions that, a thousand years from now, there are no more "races" because of intermarriage.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Nov 04, 2016 10:31 pm

^I think the same concept is at play in the Alex Benedict novels.

RJDiogenes wrote:That sounds disappointing. I wonder how old he was when he wrote them. If he was living in Tarzana, it must have been later in life. Maybe he had just lost his mojo.

These were from the 1920s and other stories from this period seem normal. I just googled Tarzana and found that Burroughs moved there in 1919.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby RJDiogenes » Sat Nov 05, 2016 6:37 pm

Yeah, that would only be about halfway through his career.
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Re: What Are You Reading: The Sequel!

Postby Lupine » Fri Nov 11, 2016 4:07 pm

Last night I started Star Trek; The Next Generation: Indistinguishable from Magic by David A. McIntee.
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