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7/23/23 EMT | Main | The Fly In The Ointment...The Turd In The Punchbowl...The Wrench In The Works? That Should Be Us!
July 23, 2023

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 07-23-2023 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]

230723-Library.jpg

Welcome to the prestigious, internationally acclaimed, stately, and illustrious Sunday Morning Book Thread! The place where all readers are welcome, regardless of whatever guilty pleasure (HT: Emmie) we feel like reading. Here is where we can discuss, argue, bicker, quibble, consider, debate, confabulate, converse, and jaw about our latest fancy in reading material. As always, pants are required, unless you are wearing these pants...(handy when you left your Kindle at home)

So relax, find yourself a warm kitty (or warm puppy--I won't judge) to curl up in your lap, and dive into a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?


PIC NOTE

Today's pic is of Chapters on Main new and used bookstore in Arkansas. It's mostly used books, but they do have a few recent releases available. They also have quite a selection of coffees and pastries for patrons to enjoy. I freely admit that I may have spent a few shekels on some used books. Although their fantasy and science fiction section was not as extensive as I might have hoped, they do have a rather impressive collection of Star Trek novels. They have quite a selection of books in other genres as well. Since this store is located in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, it's no surprise that there are a lot of Christian-themed books available for sale. The following quote by C.S. Lewis (a noted Christian author) is painted on the wall:

"It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between."

All in all, a very quaint little bookshop and highly recommended if you are in that area.

OPEN-ENDED SERIES

Last week we discussed closed, or completed, series of books. Now let's turn our attention to the open-ended series, where the author(s) create an ongoing series of adventures for their protagonists.

I like open-ended series because they are very character-driven stories instead of being plot-driven. In a closed series, characters may not get the full development that you might like to see, especially if they are only a minor character. With an open-ended series, the author may expand on minor characters in later installments to give them a chance to shine and strut their stuff.

Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series is very good about this. Although several of the books are told from the point of view of Owen Pitt, others take up the point of view of secondary characters, such as Agent Franks or even Owen's wife, Julie Shackleford. The books are loosely tied together with an overarching plot of a "big bad" of some kind attempting to destroy the Earth and everything in it. So far there are about eight novels in the series, with more to come as Monster Hunter Bloodlines ends on a cliffhanger. Knowing Correia's attitude towards authors who don't complete a series, it's unlikely he's just going to leave that thread hanging forever. There are also short stories that tie into the main storyline, but I don't think they are necessary for fully enjoying the series.

Some open-ended series can be turned into a closed series if the author decides to reach a stopping point. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files will most likely turn into this. As I understand it, he's planned a closing trilogy of books that will resolve a number of long-running plot threads, such as the importance and circumstances of Harry Dresden's birth. However, at the moment it's still open-ended in that each book up until this point is mostly episodic in nature, though there is a long-running story arc that connects many of the later books.

The fact that open-ended series can be episodic is another reason why they can be enjoyable. You, as the reader, can dive into the series at almost any point. When you encounter references to previous stories, you can then decide if you want to go back and read those books or, if the author is skilled enough, you'll gain enough information about previous events that you can enjoy the current book. That's how the Agent Pendergast novels sucked me in. I read book 4--Still Life with Crows--which stands pretty well on its own. However, there were references to events and characters that intrigued me, so I immediately purchased book 3--The Cabinet of Curiosities. Most of the books after that are intimately tied into book 3 in some form or another, as we find out much more about Agent Pendergast's dysfunctional, psychotic family and his ward, Constance Greene.

The episodic nature works really well for series derived from an existing intellectual property like Star Trek. Those books rely on you already having familiarity with the main characters (Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, etc.), so the author doesn't have to waste much time with character development. The author can also explore stories that would not be possible to do in a television series due to limitations with budgets and special effects. It can be a satisfying experience to explore ideas that way. Weird aliens and even weirder plots.

Finally, some series may be open-ended, yet still converge to a definite endpoint. F. Paul Wilson's Secret History of the World is an example of this approach. Nightworld is the concluding novel of both his Adversary Cycle and Repairman Jack series of books. However, he's continued to write stories that take place in that world even though Nightworld was published in 2012. It was actually published in 1992, but then the Repairman Jack books took off, so Wilson retrofitted Nightworld with a revised and expanded edition in 2012 to take into account all of the events of the Repairman Jack novels. He's even written an entire series that takes place in the Secret History of the World featuring different characters, but are still tied into the events in Nightworld. Makes for an interesting reading experience when you read the books in the chronological order of when events happen rather than the order when the books were released.

Any other unusual characteristics of open-ended series out there?

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(Narrator: The ARMoMe was NOT a wasted trip!)

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BOOKS BY MORONS

Moronette Author RKF Adams has a new release:

slack-tide.jpg Held off submitting this latest island misadventure since the release of Sound of Freedom. Like our intrepid here, I fictionalized an event to make a point. And like our hero, we must face that this is happening with the sanction of our own damned elected officials. Thank you for continuing to post books by morons. My collection grows.

Slack Tide RKF Adams on Amazon

In April of 1865 the cancer of slavery in these United States ended, its price in blood, but not everyone got the memo.

The sweet lady who collects knick-knacks and feeds stray cats runs a brothel out of her lovely suburban home. She rents one of her girls out for a week to a local gangster. The girl is to care for several young boys stolen from their war torn homeland and shipped halfway around the world. These boys will be offered for sale to the highest bidder within days.

That thirteen-year-old prostitute leads retired Marine Jess Archer into the dark heart of modern slavery.

Who will speak for these stolen children? Who will avenge their spilled blood?

When bidding for the orphans begins, Archer has no time to plan an assault to save these children. She must rely on instinct, honor, and pure rage because time has run out for these lost boys.

You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists.

MORON RECOMMENDATIONS

As part of my current obsession with learning Morse code, I've been reading Chris Rutkowski's The CW Way of Life. The opening story about Rutkowski's father, and his experience during WW2 of surviving a plane crash in Greenland would make a good movie. The plane and crew were located only because his father managed to tap out an SOS and their location after the plane struck a mountain in zero viz conditions and crashed (almost sliding into a crevasse). He then goes into the history of the code, and I'm just starting the portion where he talks about learning the code. NOT recommended unless the subject is of great interest, but for CW nerds the book has become mandatory reading.

Posted by: PabloD at July 16, 2023 09:40 AM (Epuwl)

Comment: Human creativity when it comes to languages is remarkable. Morse Code enabled telegraphers to quickly send messages back and forth around the world until even better methods came along (i.e., the telephone). Telegraph operators were also known to have a distinctive "fist" when they tapped out their code, making them identifiable to those who could recognize the distinctive patterns made by each individual. "SOS" is perhaps the perfect code for emergency situations because it's so simple that anyone can do it: three dots, three dashes, three dots: ...---.../...---.../...---... You don't even need any fancy tools or technology for Morse Code. You can tap it out with your fingers on a hard surface or you can even blink in Morse Code. Depending on your intended audience, it can be a subtle way to alert someone that things ain't quite right...

+++++

I've been reading 221B: Studies in Sherlock Holmes by Vincent Starrett. It's the first (I think) collections of essays by the Baker Street Irregulars. While the members take their interest seriously, they have fun coming up with 'insights' into Holmes, Watson and the other characters. All written with a straight face and plenty of footnotes to lend an academic aura but the silliness of the endeavor underlies the whole thing. It's a lot of fun.

Posted by: JTB at July 16, 2023 09:53 AM (7EjX1)

Comment: When Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child were writing White Fire, book 13 in the Special Agent Pendergast series, they received special permission from the Holmes estate to include a new story involving Sherlock Holmes and Watson based on a supposed meeting involving Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle. Wilde was touring the American west and came across a "true" story involving mutant cannibal miners. Conan Doyle then wrote a "lost" short story referencing this event. The Baker Street Irregulars also make an appearance in the main storyline as Pendergast tracks down this forgotten tale.

+++++

Saw the Siddons horror recommendation.

This put me in mind of Robert Chambers' The King in Yellow. I couldn't find it in the AosHQ library, so I will recommend it here.

Only three things have ever scared me so much I was effected for days afterwards: The movie Jacob's Ladder; Hope-Hodgson's House on the Borderland; and Chambers' The King in Yellow.

I think Jacob's Ladder got me the worst. I was absolutely shook for days.

But The King in Yellow was a close second. There are scenes in that book that still haunt me.

It's the story of a well-to-do youth who becomes involved with a very very dangerous book and occult organization....

If you like Dunsany, I'm 99.9% sure you'll "enjoy" this.

Just rememebered I felt an overwhelming need to watch Lovejoy and read Wodehouse as a curative afterwards.

Being spooked is all very very personal, of course.

I guess that might be a good mini-subject for a book thread?

Posted by: Thesokorus at July 16, 2023 10:29 AM (+rYbb)

Comment: I will absolutely do Book Threads on horror, even though I know it's not everyone's cup of tea. Horror, like comedy, can be highly subjective, and what scares one person doesn't affect others. The King in Yellow is a collection of short stories centered around a fictional play also called The King in Yellow. Reading it (or maybe performing it) drives people mad or leads them to a dark fate. H.P. Lovecraft was directly influenced by this book, and August Derleth suggested that the actual performance of the play is a summoning ritual for an eldritch abomination (Hastur?). It's one of those works that has influenced more authors and content creators than you may realize. Perhaps that's part of its subversive nature...

+++++

Ace's recent coverage of Disney theme park attendance decline inspired me to again recommend Peter Schweitzer's 1998 book Disney: The Mouse Betrayed. To say "kissing off middle class families" with Disney World pricing (and all their other parks) is not the original intention is a vast understatement.

As a boy, Walt Disney was unable to attend the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair because his family did not have the money. So he stood peering through the fence at all the happy children creating memories. This had such a profound impact on him that when his company started building theme parks, he ordered the prices be low so that no poor child would be unable to attend. He didn't care if they lost money. He wanted to ensure that no child experienced what he did.

That ended with the hiring of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner in 1984. Roy Disney objected to Eisner's big price increases, stating Walt's precedent. Eisner told him that Walt wasn't there anymore.

Posted by: Cesspit Pariah at July 16, 2023 11:24 AM (E49AC)

Comment: Ace has covered the issues surrounding the current Disney corporation in exhausting detail. It's really just a shame that a company that once prided itself on being the most family-friendly destination on Earth has devolved to its current state. Schweitzer wrote his book in 1998. I can only imagine what he might write 25 years later. Maybe he should come out with an expanded and updated version that takes into account all of the more recent betrayals of Walt Disney's vision by current "leadership."

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (875 Moron-recommended books so far!)

+-----+-----+-----+-----+

WHAT I'VE ACQUIRED THIS PAST WEEK:

*SIGH* Apparently I'm incapable of walking out of a used bookstore without one or more purchases...

  • The Magic Labyrinth by Philip Jose Farmer
  • Flinx's Folly by Alan Dean Foster
  • The Man Who Used the Universe by Alan Dean Foster
  • Necroscope: Defilers by Brian Lumley
  • Greatwinter Book 3 - Eyes of the Calculon by Sean McMullen
  • The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven
  • Gideon Crew 1 - Gideon's Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Gideon Crew 5 - The Pharaoh Key by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  • Olympos by Dan Simmons
  • A Hobbit Devotional by Ed Strauss
  • Dragonships 3 - Rage of the Dragon by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • The Knights of the Black Earth by Margaret Weis and Don Perrin
  • Null-A Continuum by John C. Wright
  • The Changing Land by Roger Zelazny

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS PAST WEEK:

  • Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast must solve the mystery of who killed his son and then dropped the body on his doorstep.
  • Crimson Shore by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast and his ward Constance Greene become embroiled in an ancient mystery surrounding the Salem witch trials in a sleepy New England town.
  • The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast is MIA, so his trusted bodyguard and manservant, Proctor, must chase down an old foe who has kidnapped Pendergast's ward, Constance Greene.
  • City of Endless Night by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast investigates a series of bizarre murders targeting the 1% of NYC.
  • Verses for the Dead by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast of the FBI is finally assigned a partner. Spoiler: The partner did it. (just kidding!)
  • Crooked River by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast investigates a bizarre crime involving severed feet washing up on shore

That's about all I have for this week. Thank you for all of your kind words regarding the Sunday Morning Book Thread. This is a very special place. You are very special people (in all the best ways!). The kindness, generosity, and wisdom of the Moron Horde knows no bounds. Let's keep reading!

If you have any suggestions for improvement, reading recommendations, or discussion topics that you'd like to see on the Sunday Morning Book Thread, you can send them to perfessor dot squirrel at-sign gmail dot com. Your feedback is always appreciated! You can also take a virtual tour of OUR library at libib.com/u/perfessorsquirrel. Since I added sections for AoSHQ, I now consider it OUR library, rather than my own personal fiefdom...

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 07-16-23 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)

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