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almondcrush

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^Glad you liked Scanner, fanboy. It's probably my favourite PKD novel overall. Check out his short stories too, really brief and generally really enjoyable with a focus on a single concept or technology. Kinda like a condensed version of his novels.

Gibson and Dick are pretty much the only sci-fi authors I will continue to read. Other authors it's like one and done. Gibson definitely has some thematic overlap with Dick, but not quite so much of the paranoia and headfuck of PKD's novels. Neuromancer is amazing. Does anyone want to offer their 3 favourite Gibson novels (excluding the rest of the Sprawl trilogy)?

edit: for all the Gibson and Dick fans out there, check out some of the China Mieville novels not set in Bas-Lag, ie, the more modern/urban novels. I generally hate fantasy (although Mieville describes his work as "weird fiction") but The City and The City blew my mind. The guy is a very readable author with some great ideas. I'm about to read Kraken next, looking forward to it.

krakeni.jpg

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Does anyone want to offer their 3 favourite Gibson novels (excluding the rest of the Sprawl trilogy)?

just go read the bridge trilogy

it starts with "virtual light"

right now i'm reading

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The City and The City blew my mind.

Mind elaborating on why it blew your mind? Finished it some time ago, and while I enjoyed the overall experience, it kinda left a bitter taste.

I'll try to explain. I loved the concept, the rich setting and his way of describing everything, but the overall plot felt almost non-existent. And too often I thought to myself "this is going nowhere". It felt like a formulaic detective novel, just with an exotic setting and the detective work was mostly chasing "ghosts" etc. The ending felt kinda half-assed and abrubt too.

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Maybe my statement was a bit strong. It was really the concept I loved. The plot/characters were all pretty standard noir fare. Still, I enjoyed it enough that I'd read more Mieville.

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^Glad you liked Scanner, fanboy. It's probably my favourite PKD novel overall. Check out his short stories too, really brief and generally really enjoyable with a focus on a single concept or technology. Kinda like a condensed version of his novels.

Gibson and Dick are pretty much the only sci-fi authors I will continue to read. Other authors it's like one and done. Gibson definitely has some thematic overlap with Dick, but not quite so much of the paranoia and headfuck of PKD's novels. Neuromancer is amazing. Does anyone want to offer their 3 favourite Gibson novels (excluding the rest of the Sprawl trilogy)?

edit: for all the Gibson and Dick fans out there, check out some of the China Mieville novels not set in Bas-Lag, ie, the more modern/urban novels. I generally hate fantasy (although Mieville describes his work as "weird fiction") but The City and The City blew my mind. The guy is a very readable author with some great ideas. I'm about to read Kraken next, looking forward to it.

krakeni.jpg

Can't rep, but love those authors and am picking this up next. Speaking of insane science fiction, any love for Peter Watts?

He wrote a lot about undersea / viral/ tech future, and I'll just quote a review:

"No one has taken this premise to such pitiless lengths — and depths — as Watts ... In a claustrophobic setting enlivened by periodic flashes of beauty and terror, the crew of Beebe Station come across as not only believable but likeable as they fight for equilibrium against their own demons, one another, their superiors and their remorselessly hostile surroundings."

—The New York Times (Notable Book of the Year)

I recommend highly. Most of the books are out of print sadly though, but if you'd like I'll send you a copy via USPS.

in other news, has anyone read Gravity's Rainbow? How long did it take you?

I'm planning on using the Pynchon Wiki as a means of keeping my head on straight throughout the novel.

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I have been trying to get through this. Hitchens is very candid about his life, especially his formative years. It is interesting to read about the later half of the twentieth century through his particular chain of events.

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and I just ordered this to have with me while I travel. I am not sure what to expect but a friend recommended it to me and we have similar ideologies so I figured it would be worth a read.

200px-Anti-Oedipus_Penguin_Cover_2009.png

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I recommend highly. Most of the books are out of print sadly though, but if you'd like I'll send you a copy via USPS.

in other news, has anyone read Gravity's Rainbow? How long did it take you?

I'm planning on using the Pynchon Wiki as a means of keeping my head on straight throughout the novel.

I'd love to get my hands on some personally recommended sci-fi. I've done book trades with a few other people here, happy to send you something back if you let me know what you're into.

Gravity's Rainbow, along with its companion guide of equivalent size, has been sitting on my bookshelf for the better part of 6 years... One day...

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I'm re-reading it right now, coincidentally. Honestly, you don't need any sort of guide. The book is more fun than it is frustrating. A character chart like the one on that site is handy, but other than that access to google and healthy curiosity is all you need.

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Appropriately enough, this was trans-Atlantic plane brainfood.

tragedyfarce.jpg

Guy in the next seat eyed it warily for the first hour of the flight, until he figured it wasn't a manual.

But then again he also hates vegetables (incl mushrooms)

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I'm tired of not really knowing whats going down in the Middle East.

as good places to start, i'd recommend:

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All-the-shahs-men.jpg

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not to mention:

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/

Careful though, there is a lot of literature out there that gambles on your laziness (not looking up the footnotes and citations). It's not uncommon to see academic literature that is in essence a corporate-interest feint. Example: big oil might hire out a particularly soulless, desperate or genuinely naive scholar to write a book. The author's thesis ideologically toes the line of oil-industry justifications. "Islam is a religion of rapine and Muhammad's preaching was disingenuous." is one such thesis. Then the author might lean on classic Greek sources while explaining how the Arab sources are incredible.

You see the same politicization happen on a lot of topics that have a relevance or legacy to current events: Italian and German fascism, American Indians and colonization, the American civil war, etc etc. It's a minefield out there.

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n24079.jpg

Just finished some Updike, might move onto the new Sayles joint after this. Forgot how much I dig historical fic.

a_moment_in_the_sun_john_sayles.jpg

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All-the-shahs-men.jpg

I can vouch for this. Great book. Stephen Kinzer knows his stuff. His later book, Overthrow, is also worth a look.

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inferno-poets-novel-eileen-myles-hardcover-cover-art.jpg

Fantastic book so far. I'm a big fan of this kind of stream-of-consciousness poetry fiction, and if you're a fan of disillusioned-young-20-something-ramblings, this is definitely worth a look. WARNING: I don't mean yoru quintessential coming-of-age bullshit Kerouac stuff. Example: this book is about how one watches their lives get more progressively fucked up as they lose track of who they really are. it's also an interesting look into the post-punk culture of seedy NYC.

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as good places to start, i'd recommend:

orientalism.jpg

I haven't read this book in its entirety but I have studied topics focused around the middle east (and africa/asia as a whole) and found Said's work to be really valuable and free of the new age corporate influence that sawyer has mentioned. To really get a good handle on what is going on, reading something about Orientalism will be helpful.

I would also recommend

lg

this book is a good historical narrative on how the Cold War heavily influenced the 'third world' during its independence and decolonization periods. These processes (arguably) continue to influence contemporary current events.

if your interest is purely on the middle east there are chapters solely on Iran and Afghanistan.

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Thanks everyone for the recommendations on the mid-east books. What should I read as an example of biased historical narrative (corporate, uniformed, or otherwise) so i can compare/contrast?

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Thanks everyone for the recommendations on the mid-east books. What should I read as an example of biased historical narrative (corporate, uniformed, or otherwise) so i can compare/contrast?

The two examples I've come across recently:

Patricia Crone - Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam

In my own reading of Crone's book, she opens with genuine inquiry but leans on the Bible, Greco-Roman and western authors while rejecting all Arabian sources as "storytellers." What is the difference between the Arabian storyteller from the Greek scholar? The question is central to the success of her argument, but that question is never resolved.

The slight of hand here is not in the footnotes, but the formal logic of the claims. This is a double-edged sword, however, and if you are sharp you can identify key sentences on which the argument turns.

"Tribal states must conquer to survive" is one such assertion. It's another important claim in her book but she gives no logical proof and scant qualitative evidence of its truth. We are expected to accept the statement (among many others) at face value.

Shepard Krech - The Ecological Indian

My interpretation of Krech's book is as follows: "See? Indians didn't treat the land with respect! They have no basis to criticize modern industry."

But he would never actually come out and say such a thing. It's all implied. As a response to Krech, look up Darren Ranco's "The Ecological Indian and the Politics of Representation"

Conflicts of interest are also easy to identify when you follow the money.

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addendum: all historical narratives are biased, some authors are more open about their bias than others. And some authors have an extreme bias (as in Crone's case) while others attempt to moderate their treatment of sources.

If you're interested enough, this is an extremely thorough, thoughtful, not to mention lyrical book on the subject of approaching history:

silencingthepast.jpg

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pretty much destroys that bullshit Rawls wrote, IMO

really need to read up more on political philosophy though

but most of the works on libertarianism just suck

Nozick, of course, being the notable exception

Anarchy-State-and-Utopia-by-Robert-Nozick.jpg

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