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12/10/23 EMT | Main | Nation-Building Is Back, And It's Going To Work Just Fine In Gaza...Just Like In Iraq And Afghanistan!
December 10, 2023

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 12-10-2023 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]


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 we feel like reading (Remarkably, there were no pictures of politicians...). 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, spin that dreidel, and dive into a new book. What are YOU reading this fine morning?

NOTE: I will not be around on today's Sunday Morning Book Thread as I volunteered to assist at church this morning, which means I need to get there early. I'm learning how to run the tech behind the scenes. Please be nice to one another!


Happy Hannukah to our Jewish friends on the blog! No doubt this time of year is particularly difficult for you all because of the rise in anti-Semitism and the continuing war in Gaza for the future of Israel. I am praying for you. I don't know much about Judaism or Hannukah. I do know that Jewish history is vast, complicated, and filled with both tragedy and triumph. One of the things I admire most about Judaism is its commitment to tradition and preserving the history, going back thousands and thousands of years. Few other cultures on Earth can make that claim and even fewer hold the past in such spiritual reverence.


As I was putting together the content for this week's Sunday Morning Book Thread, I was searching for images of Phillip José Farmer's The Dark Design. I came across an old image of one of the paperback editions that caught my eye. Another cover image for the same book also caught my eye for similar reasons. Both feature a rather significant deviation from the source material, which you would not know unless you read the books.


In the first book, the main character is the famous explorer Richard Francis Burton. In the second book, the main character is Sam "Mark Twain" Clemens. Both men featured glorious mustaches in real life. However, in the Riverworld, where these stories take place, everyone in history has been resurrected into a 25-year-old copy of their former selves with one key difference: MEN DO NOT GROW FACIAL HAIR! Every single man on the Riverworld is bare-faced with neither mustache nor beard. Naturally, this drives the Muslims a bit crazier than usual because they believe they have a holy obligation to sport beards.

It's a small discrepancy, but it is noticeable if you've read the first two books. Also, The image on the right appears to depict Richard Francis Burton wearing the outfit of an "explorer." In the books, both Sam Clemens and Richard Burton wear the local version of clothes, which involves kilts and towels held together with magnetic tabs. I can understand why the artist(s) made these decisions, however, as you can recognize both Sam Clemens and Richard Burton on the cover as the "main character."

A more egregious example is when the cover doesn't have any relation with the subject matter inside. In the cover on the left below, you can see an image of my original cover for Raymond E. Feist's A Darkness at Sethanon. I can confirm that the image depicted is accurate to a significant scene in the book. The image on the right, however, has NO bearing on the content of the book. That scene is to be found nowhere in the book. I had to buy new copies of The Riftwar Saga because all of mine had become worn out. Although I have a "matched" set of covers now, NONE of them are in any way representative of the story. The original covers are far superior in that regard.






By strange coincidence, both Anonosaurus Wrecks and I came across the following video last week. We must have the same YouTube algorithm. I watched it shortly before I posted the Sunday Morning Book Thread and saved it for this week. Then I saw the following comment later:

A blast from the past! Specifically, from the book thread.

I just came across this 8 1/2 minute video. The 5 Most Difficult Books Ever!


Of the five, I've read three. Well, OK, I didn't make it all the way through Ulysses.
Posted by: Anonosaurus Wrecks, Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here at December 03, 2023 12:49 PM (FVME7)

I have never read any of those books, though I've heard of them. I have no burning desire to start. I don't mind reading challenging books, but none of those interest me in any way. I don't like "stream of consciousness" writing. I don't think like most people, nor do they think like me, so I struggle with trying to understand a jumble of seemingly-random thoughts. I'm OK with complex characters and plots. In fact, I enjoy those stories quite a bit. I don't like authors making the book harder to read than it needs to be. Maybe the prose is fantastic. I don't know. I'm just not keen on trying any of these books. Some time ago I picked up Mark Z. Danielewksi's House of Leaves. It's way up there on the difficulty scale, as the book has all sorts of weird formatting. I simply don't understand it, though people do rave about it.


You may have noticed that the title of this section has changed. This is because after last week's conversation in the comments, I received the following email. "Diana Pool" (not her real name) gave me permission to print it in full:

"Hello". I'm a very long time lurker, disturbing the shrubbery occasionally to post some pics of my garden/orchard (paw paws, goji berries, etc.) and my past dogs - I have had several Irish Wolfhound companions over the years. I think I understand the old AOS pudding allusions (Pink Floyd?) but am not too sure of the cowbell allusions.

I am in your first category of writers. I have written a book, am working on a second one, and would like to see people read it. No. Make them read it to atone for their crimes against humanity. Will I ever make more than $4.75 in a given year? Hope is eternal, but in reality this may not realistically happen before the arrival of SMOD. That is ok though, as I have a job that pays the bills and don't really need the money (lucky me). I have probably spent more on the cover and the make it go through Smashwords editing than I will ever make on the book. But I did spend literally, if you get my drift, years writing the book. It was worth every minute as the research took me down paths I otherwise never would have traveled. I have my own business and have tried successfully over the years to find effective paths to successfully market my somewhat niche business. When looking at the whole book thing, I wrote to and received advise from Sarah Hoyt about traditional publishing. She kindly responded and offered one word, "don't". So how to get a readership base? I have been to the workshops - start a blog, do book signings, commit a highly creative and very public murder where a human interest note in the newspaper articles will be something like "The murderer committed the crime exactly as they described in the book but they weren't named Consuela." None of these avenues particularly appeal to me due to time constraints. So what is an author to do?

I have a few ideas to bypass some of the lines to get into the trendy bars called "Famous Authors Hangout" and "Prison Yard Authors", one of which is to perhaps have exposure from an Ace of Spades Book Thread posting. Another was to try and get Elvira to pose with my book between her delicious, um, shapely hands for a graphics design (I actually did meet her and ask and she said "I'll get back to you ", Any day now, any day now). She wasn't buying, so I will probably do that with another paragon of social interest.

So, to the present, I have a book under the nom de imbécile Diana Pool. I chose that nom because it is nom nom and also because I love Greek mythology and the tale of Rex Nemorensis. And because I used to swim in Diana's Pool when going to University.

So to the book. It is available from the usual outlets [Link goes to Amazon - PS]. It has 50% more wolfhounds and is in a sleek package that you can leave on your coffee table and people will say "WTF? I need that book or I will surely perish". It will make you younger, stronger, more attractive, and fabulously wealthy in a literary sense. And a far better overall imbécile.



Holle is the exiled princess of the ruling family of the ancient seafaring kingdom of Solinacea who is gradually learning to love the seaport of Selinon to which she was exiled and appointed as the Sovereign in the unfolding years of the Renaissance. Having seen her success in turning the port into a flourishing and rapidly growing hub of trade, she begins to realize that she has made it a prize worth seizing. And she is suddenly aware that the recently colonized town in the wild and treacherous country on the far side of the cliffs ringing in the seaport are also beginning to flourish under the hand of an unknown leader of the men who live there.


Who is this mysterious leader Faolán, where did he come from, and most importantly, what are his connections to the outside world and his potential threat to her Selinon? His past is a mysterious mixture of combat experience, education in the natural arts, and courtly graces, hinting at some sort of elevated social status. Most disturbingly, he assumes a familiarity with her to which she is unaccustomed and from which her best friend, Elizabeth, the Apothecary, is deriving far too much amusement. Elizabeth likes and greatly respects Faolán, is intrigued by his cloak of mystery, and can see what Holle can't, that she hasn't a prayer of escaping his attractions. She just hopes it will end well for Holle and is reasonably sure her hopes are well founded. Reasonably sure.


Wolfhounds destroy all enemies by rending and breaking them as they do with everything when they are not being sweet and gentle and looking charming and fetching while doing just about anything.
So is this a proper request to be posted on the book thread? Let me know.


I sent a follow-up email to her, thanking her for reaching out to me. I also asked if I should change the name of this section. She's the one that came up with the term "Books By Imbeciles." She seems like someone who does not take herself too seriously and I'd love to meet her at a MOME sometime.

One of the challenges in attempting to verify if anyone is a "True Moron" is that we are by nature a secretive bunch who value personal privacy. Many of us (not me) use VPNs to avoid being tracked. Most of us (including me) use a "nic" that is NOT our real name on this blog and in other online social interactions. I've had communications with regular commenters via email without ever knowing their real names. I've met numerous folks at MOMEs and have no idea what their real names are. Members of the Horde come and go on the blog. I received an email from another person who used to comment frequently around here but has since gone back to lurking. Just the other day we saw "Vic" back in the comments section. He has been out of sorts for a few months due to medical and technological issues. There were a few folks skeptical it might be him, but he eventually seemed to confirm that he was indeed Vic. Or has he been replaced by a glowie? How would we know? This was actually a significant plot point in Tad Williams' Otherland series. A group of people are trapped in a virtual world, only interacting with each other through their online avatars. Unbeknownst to them, one of the trusted members of their party has been replaced by a deranged lunatic psychopath who killed the original inhabitant of the avatar and has infiltrated the group. Makes for a terrifying scenario when someone you trust online turns out to be very different in real life.


Good morning horde. My recent reading material has revolved around The Enigma War by Josef Garlinski. For some reason, I decided I didn't really know enough about the Enigma story so off we went.

Glad I did. Now I have a much better appreciation for the pre-war history of Enigma and the world of the Polish team that originally broke the code. I better understand how the Bletchley Park effort came to be and the thought behind the designs.

One goal was to better understand the plumbing of the machine - how it really worked. I wanted to get beyond the generic "codes" and "combinations." The book got a long way there, but a few youtube tutorials made the difference. At some point, animation can illustrate concepts better than words.

The math geeks will appreciate the sheer magnitude of combinations but an understanding of how the machine worked was necessary to make informed decisions to include/exclude options for decoding.

Enigma machines periodically are available for sale through private sale or auction. No bargains anymore though. While many were made, few survive in good condition that aren't held in museum collections.

Posted by: TRex at December 03, 2023 09:30 AM (IQ6Gq)

Comment: Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon was my first exposure to the story behind the cracking of the Enigma code and the Bletchley Park crew that deciphered messages. Stephenson includes a lot of interesting technical details behind cryptography and even includes a cipher that can be used with a deck of playing cards, along with a Perl script for running the algorithm on a computer. Cryptography is way above my head, but it's pretty wild stuff when you start looking into it.


I'm more open to looking at things from a spiritual perspective. I highly recommend Lorenzo Scupoli's The Spiritual Combat, which has helped me immensely.

His four weapons to win the spiritual combat are: absolute distrust of the self, absolute trust in God, proper orientation of our faculties and prayer.

That third one is really interesting because he's referring to surrounding yourself with things that elevate and inspire. If we look around, we see the opposite - instead of beauty, we get ugly, hateful things. It is remarkable how much you can change your view on things by cutting out the bad (books, TV, internet) and replacing it with good.

Posted by: Ace-Endorsed Author A.H. Lloyd at December 03, 2023 09:42 AM (llXky)

Comment: Anyone who looks at what is happening in the world today and doesn't see a spiritual warfare component may not be paying close enough attention. Of course, as a Christian I would believe that. Your own beliefs may vary. I do know that as my men's group neared the end of our study and fellowship program, it seemed like a lot of things were happening to men in the group all at once. It's easy to chalk it up to pure coincidence, but we're convinced that the Enemy does *not* like Christians banding together in fellowship and in Christ to strengthen our relationship with God. He'll do anything he can to break us apart, up to and including causing my cat to puke all over my shoes before church. Prayers for anyone who is going through a difficult time right now. Have faith and God will see you through these dark times!


I've been reading Directive 51, by John Barnes, recommended here by someone. It's an apocalyptic novel, and it's gripping.

Loosely organized groups of radicals (of various political bent) want to take down the Big System. It's good in theory, but when they are faced with the actual results, some are stricken with great remorse.

Multiple stories interweave: the people who do the deeds to bring the technological world down, the government agencies who are trying to keep order while preserving the constitution, ordinary citizens coping and stepping up to rebuild a nation and world.

Posted by: Dash my lace wigs! at December 03, 2023 09:47 AM (OX9vb)

Comment: I may have been the one that recommended this novel, though Zoltan has also recommended it based on my own recommendation. It's a terrifyingly plausible scenario. Though it does seem as though the technology level in Directive 51 is slightly higher than ours, as they mention convoys of self-driving trucks that are taken offline due to the bio-cyber attacks against the infrastructure that supports them. It gets a little weirder when the humans find out what is happening. The end result is even more horrifying, though at least there is a continued future for a remnant of humanity.


You're welcome. I learned about this only recently, reading Six Days of War, by Michael Oren. The first-third of the book is a recounting of Arab and Israeli internal political and foreign policy moves leading to the '67 war, from the 30s on. I recommend this book.

Posted by: Gref at December 03, 2023 09:43 PM (5fDan)

Comment: War is hell. 'Nuff said.

More Moron-recommended reading material can be found HERE! (1000+ Moron-recommended books!)



After reviewing some of OregonMuse's old Book Threads, I thought I'd try something a bit different. Instead of just listing WHAT I'm reading, I'll include commentary as well. Unless otherwise specified, you can interpret this as an implied recommendation, though as always your mileage may vary.


Riverworld Book 3 - The Dark Design by Philip José Farmer

Whereas the first two novels in this series had subplots involving racism and antisemitism, this one has a subplot revolving around misogyny and feminism. One of the main characters is a highly qualified airship pilot from the late twentieth century. She died in 1983, so she is familiar with a fairly high degree of technology compared to other folks in the Riverworld who died long before then. She's even a "trifecta" character in that she's black (descended from Australian Aborigines, but mixed in with white ancestors as well), a woman, and bisexual. She does have a chip on her shoulder about the first two, though nobody seems to care much about her sexual preferences in the Riverworld unless she rejects their advances. She spends a fair amount of time trying to prove her worth to the airship captain of the story, who likes and respects her, but is also wary of her. She suffers from PTSD as well, since she has had some rough experiences after her resurrection. This tends to manifest as violent, unprovoked attacks from time to time. So she's unpredictable and must come to grips with that behavior before she can be trusted to be a first mate on the airship under construction. Other members of the crew grew up in an earlier era (e.g., WWI) and are therefore highly mistrustful of her abilities until she demonstrates that she knows more about airships than anyone alive.

It's a bit disappointing because it seems to be something of a rehash of The Fabulous Riverboat, where Sam "Mark Twain" Clemens builds his riverboat and embarks on his journey to find the source of the River. Now a group is trying to create an airship and accomplish the same task in much less time, as airships can travel much farther much faster than a riverboat, which must follow the course of a ten-million-mile long river. An airship can easily take shortcuts from Point A to Point B across the intervening terrain. The heroes do start to uncover more about the mysteries of who resurrected them and why.


(HT: StewBurner)

Christmas: The Rest of the Story by Rick Renner

This is a slow read for me. Mainly because I want to digest and savor each chapter. It's less than 300 pages long, but I figure it will take me a few weeks to get all the way through it. Lots of interesting history. Lots of spiritual stuff in here as well.

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 - 12-03-23 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)


Disclaimer: No Morons were harmed in the making of this Sunday Morning Book Thread. Reading the Sunday Morning Book Thread may be hazardous to your mental, physical, or spiritual health.

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