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7/30/23 EMT | Main | The Stupidity Of Our Legislators Knows No Bounds: Inequality Is Solved By Taking From The Rich...And Giving To The Government!
July 30, 2023

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 07-30-2023 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]

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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 (message received!) 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...

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 features a library vending machine in Beijing, China. Apparently they are quite popular over there. Or simply enforced by the State. I wonder if we'll ever reach a point where we can print out a book on demand, then return the book to a recycling point so it can be turned into other books...

SERIES WITHIN SERIES

Let's talk about books that are part of a series within a longer series. It's somewhat uncommon, but there are authors who like to group some of their stories within a larger context or within a larger world so that all of their series are connected in some way to form a much larger narrative for the reader to enjoy.

Terry Brooks (Shannara) and Raymond E. Feist (Riftwar) are both quite prolific authors who have each written about 30 books or so in their respective series. Most of the sub-series are divided into duologies, trilogies, or quartets. Each subseries will usually focus on separate groups of characters, though you may have cameos from characters in a previous series or characters from that previous series will be given their own spot in the limelight. Terry Brooks' Shannara series is notable for "canon welding" a previous series into the main overarching worldbuilding with a couple of bridging series of novels. The entire narrative from start to finish spans thousands of years, starting in the present day, continuing through the Great Wars--where the world was mostly destroyed in nuclear and magical fire--up through several ages of magic until magical technology asserts itself to become the dominant form of power on the planet. Feist's Riftwar series only spans a few centuries by comparison, but we do get to see the rise and fall of several empires during that time, including the collapse of the Kingdom of the Isles, where most of the action takes place. We even get to witness the destruction of Kelewan, the homeworld of the Tsurani, who invaded the Kingdom in the very first book, Magician: Apprentice.

Series within series is not just confined to fantasy, of course. Science fiction also has its fair share of such groupings within a larger narrative. Asimov's Foundation series has the original trilogy, plus a sequel series. It takes place over thousands of years, so there's plenty of room for many, many stories detailing the rise and fall of the Galactic Empire. Foundation was inspired by Edward Gibbons' The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Enough material has been written in this series for it to become its own franchise, as authors have been given permission to add to the narrative over time.

Frank Herbert's Dune series started out as a trilogy, then expanded to six books. Frank's son Brian has since collaborated with Kevin J. Anderson to continue writing books in the Dune universe. Many of the books are grouped into their own series, such as Prelude to Dune (3 books), Legends of Dune (also 3 books), etc.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child also include subseries within their larger Agent Pendergast series (mostly mysteries with an overtone of light science-fictiony elements). Many of the books are standalone, but do refer to important plot elements from previous books, so it helps to read the series in order. Along the way, a few books can be grouped together, such as Brimstone, Dance of Death, and The Book of the Dead, which are known collectively as the Diogenes Trilogy. This documents Pendergast's complicated and tortuous relationship with his younger brother, Diogenes Pendergast, who tuns out to be a criminal mastermind. If A. X. L. Pendergast is Holmes, then Diogenes is Moriarty. Like Isaac Asimov and F. Paul Wilson, the Agent Pendergast series is just one segment of worldbuilding crafted by the two authors, as each author writes standalone novels set in the same world and they have other series in the world they have cowritten, such as the Gideon Crew series of novels.

I often enjoy reading multiple series set in the same world simply because I *love* worldbuilding, especially when the author takes painstaking care in revealing just a little bit more detail with each novel set in that universe. Though some authors (Feist) are notorious for not paying close attention to previous novels, often resulting in canon discontinuities.

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INCLUSIVE WRITING GUIDE

Sometimes an interesting comment will pop up in non-Sunday Morning Book Thread that warrants additional commentary:

The new edition of the Newspeak dictionary is out!'

Ladies and Gentlemen, Portland's "INCLUSIVE WRITING GUIDE"!

https://tinyurl.com/2m5hw69e

It's every bit as bad as you might expect.

Posted by: A Provocative Parade Of Perverts! at July 10, 2023 01:12 PM (2tUFv)

Comment: I did read through the "Inclusive Writing Guide." Some of it actually makes a certain amount of sense, such as: "Mention race, ethnicity, disability, gender, and other identities only if relevant to the story." In other words, don't mention these details unless the story involves those details in some way. But then other guidelines are obviously pandering to woke language, such as: "Enslaved People - Use this term, not slaves. The term emphasizes that the slave status has been imposed on individuals [by whitey, of course! - PS]. The term slave denotes an inherent identity of a person or people treated as chattel or property." The term "Hawaiian" is to be reserved exclusively for Native Hawaiians. Anyone else is a "Hawaiian resident."

There's a rather long list of preferred terminology for race, disability, and, of course, gender and LGBTQIA2S+ terms. That last one refers to "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, and Two-spirit." I'm guessing the "+" is reserved for "minor-attracted persons."

Reading through the acknowledgements, it was compiled over two years by a diverse group of people from several different administrative units in the City of Portland, as well as like-minded community activist groups. I'm just glad I am not required in my job to adhere to these ridiculous and overly-complicated guidelines.

MORON RECOMMENDATIONS

There is a book Barbarians to Bureaucrats that outlines/describes the various stages a company may go through from its nascent years to when it ends up in bankruptcy or is pure evil.

Walt was certainly the "Visionary" while Eisner was the "Aristocrat". There are many steps along the way, particularly when the Professional Class steps in and smothers out the vision and mission of the entity in pursuit of validating the MBA degree.

Posted by: Reuben Hick at July 23, 2023 09:13 AM (p8A+W)

Comment: Many long-lasting, well-established companies have reached a point where senior executive leadership is no longer interested in being a good steward of the companies they lead. I've seen it even in my own industry of higher education. The top guy swoops in from outside the organization, sticks around a few years, makes all sorts of crazy changes, then leaves to their next gig. Their goal isn't to be a good leader of the organization, but to leave a "legacy" they can point to as a "success" for their next gig. Meanwhile, the people left behind have clean up the mess. It can be quite frustrating when you are in the lower levels of an organization.

+++++

I'm continuing with Tales of the South a collection of short stories of antebellum South Carolina by William Gilmore Simms. His writing is delightful in itself: sprightly, wonderful straight-face humor (reminds me of PG Wodehouse many years later), great characters, and a touch of the supernatural. Everything of Simms that I've read, The Golden Christmas and his biography of Francis Marion has been excellent.

Simms was as popular as Poe and Melville in his time. Although he has been 'rediscovered' to a point, I wonder if his 'fall' was because he was from the South. Most of the one star reviews of his books come from snowflakes offended that anything connected to the Confederacy is allowed in print. The others bitched about his 'old' style writing that they find difficult to understand. That alone should mean his books are worth reading.

Posted by: JTB at July 23, 2023 09:16 AM (7EjX1)

Comment: That's an interesting point that a Southern author may be dismissed simply because he was on the "wrong" side of a major political issue. Of course, we see this all the time today with conservative authors who are dismissed or cancelled because of their "wrongthink." I admit I've never heard of Sims. However, I could see that he might have a touch of the supernatural if he is writing about stories in antebellum South Carolina. I was reading Bloodless in the Agent Pendergast series, which takes place in Savannah, Georgia, which has a long tradition of supernatural horror in its history. I imagine South Carolina has a similar history...

+++++

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry is a story set in 1939, when two sisters are sent to the countryside to escape the oncoming Blitz. Fourteen-year-old Hazel weaves stories for five-year-old Flora to keep her happy and distracted -- their own private fairyland, Whisperwood, a secret place they can escape to. But one day Flora vanishes while playing by the riverside. She's never found, and Hazel grows up crippled by guilt.

Twenty years later Hazel, who works at a rare book store in London, unwraps a package with an illustrated copy of Whisperwood and the River of Stars. They never shared their stories with anyone -- is Flora still alive?

The town of Binsey, where our young evacuees ended up, was a great literary choice for the setting. Per Wiki: "[Binsey's historic pub] The Perch was frequented by author Lewis Carroll and is noted as one of the first places that he gave public readings of Alice in Wonderland. It was also a favourite of C. S. Lewis".

Here's a link on Operation Pied Piper:

https://tinyurl.com/2p8km8j6

Posted by: All Hail Eris at July 23, 2023 09:25 AM (IO+iC)

Comment: C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll, of course, are both noted for writing stories where children escape to a magical land (Narnia and Wonderland, respectively). One can only imagine the adventures Flora had while she was away from the "real" world...assuming she is still alive, of course.

+++++

When I was in the fourth grade (centuries ago now), I read two books that I loved with all my heart: The Little Grey Men by D. J. Watkins-Pitchford who went by the pseudonym B.B., and The Borrowers by Mary Norton. For years I searched for those books for my children but it seems they went out of print. Then, to my delight, they must have been re-released and I found them on Amazon (yes, I know, gak, pfui), and the sequels as well. They were written for children, but I've been reading them and I discover that they encompass some themes you wouldn't imagine would be in children's books (at least not in those written before the current Age of Decadence). They're fairy tales, and like the old fairy tales, they don't pull punches. I'll give them to my grandchildren for their children when I've done with them.

Posted by: RebeccaH at July 23, 2023 10:24 AM (JI6AV)

Comment: I'm not familiar with The Little Grey Men, but I do vaguely remember reading The Borrowers, or maybe my mom read it to us kids...Anyway, I am always a huge fan of stories that you can pass on to your children and grandchildren. Children (and grandchildren) should be encouraged to read as soon as humanly possible so that they become lifelong readers.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (896 Moron-recommended books so far!)

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

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS PAST WEEK:

  • Bloodless by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast and his partner Agent Coldmoon investigate a series of bizarre murders in Savannah, Georgia, where the victims have been drained of all their blood.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Leng by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast and his ward Constance Greene travel deep into Contance's past...
  • Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- Agent Pendergast investigates a series of bizarre murders at the American Natural History Museum in NYC. The first in the Pendergast series. Also contains hilariously dated computer technology since it takes place in 1995 or so.
  • Reliquary by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child -- A wealthy socialite is murdered under mysterious circumstances, along with numerous homeless among NYC's underground mole people.

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 - 07-23-23 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)

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