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EMT 3 March 24 | Main | The Moral Equivalence Of The Left Is Structural, And Evil
March 03, 2024

Sunday Morning Book Thread - 03-03-2024 ["Perfessor" Squirrel]



(HT: TRex)

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 (strangely relevant in the world of the Malazan Empire). 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...(which are in desperate need of a weed whacker or at least some RoundUp!)

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 VIDEO NOTE

Moron TRex sent in the video linked above. It's a great example of a "specialty" library:

[T]his is a personal library of a man who is the world's foremost expert on Ferrari history. The collection is immense and extremely well organized. It is a pure research library.

This is a "behind the scenes" clip walking through the library. There are other interview clips on the same channel on subject matter, but this one is more of a library tour:

If you are serious about researching a subject, you will most likely acquire a similar range of resources, though maybe not to the same degree as this guy. It's impressive.

PLOT-CENTERED STORIES V. CHARACTER-CENTERED STORIES

Some stories can be classified as "plot-centered" in that the plot of the story is much more important than the characters or setting. Other stories, of course, can be considered "character-centerd" and focus on the all of the human interactions with the plot largely serving as a background against which the characters interact with each other.

A good example of a "plot-centered" story is E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series. The plot is about two ancient warring powers colliding with each other across galaxies in attempt to dominate each other. A cosmic battle of good versus evil, really, with the titular Lensmen serving the cause of good. However, the characters are pretty one-dimensional and not very interesting. I honestly can't remember any of the main characters in the story, but I do recall enjoying the insane arms race that develops over the course of the series. At the end of the books, the two warring fations are casually tossing anti-matter planets at each other between galaxies.

By contrast, Mrs. Dalloway, a novel by Virginia Woolf set in London in the 1920s, is a good example of a "character-centered" story. It's mostly about a woman organizing a party for some people she has met over the course of her life. It's *extremely* character-focused as we follow the titular character about her day's activities. There is no "plot" other than the events that take place at her party later that evening, when the characters interact with each other and become reacquainted after so many years apart. Or meet for the first time.

Most stories will probably fall on a spectrum between plot and characters. The series I've been reading for the past several weeks--Malazan Books of the Fallen is much more character-centered than most epic fantasy. Half the time I forget what the plot of the current book actually is until the climax. They are very long books and much of each one is taken up with the Malazan Army moving from Ponit A to Point B where they get to have an awesome battle.

We discussed the Jack Reacher series last week in the comments. I think those types of series tend to be more plot-focused than character-focused. Reacher is already at his peak capabilities. However, we do get to see how he affects the character development of those he meets along his journeys. He's basically a ronin, a masterless warrior who wanders the land, attempting to fix other peoples' problems, even when he'd prefer not to get involved. A central core tenet of his character is doing what is right, no matter the personal cost.

Murder mysteries can be a complex mix of both character and plot. The mystery is set up in such a way that we, the reader, are vested in discovering the solution to the mystery, which baffles the characters in the story. In the meantime, the detective has to unravel all of the tangled relationships that led to the murder in the first place to identify the correct killer.

Which do you prefer? Plot over character? Or vice versa? Or does it just depend on the writer/story? For me, I think it just depends on the writer and the story. Some writers do great with plot, but suck at characters, while others have difficulty maintaining their plots but have fascinating characters. Both writers can still entertain me.

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240303-Joke.jpg

++++++++++

TIME TRAVEL STORIES OF SURVIVAL

There were a couple of recommendations over the past week highlighting a somewhat popular niche time travel story: A military unit is transported back in time and has to learn to survive.

Hello, and welcome to Friday's ONT. I just finished reading Doomsday Recon, and I have to say, it was great. Not my usual fare, but it's very well written, kinda Clancy meets Tolkien. From the blurb:

The year is 1989. America has just invaded Noriega's Panama. And Specialist Bennett's platoon of Cav Scouts are in country...with, frankly, not a whole lot to do. Until the freak rainstorm that somehow transports the entire platoon--Humvees, weapons, and all--to another world. A world controlled by a wicked Aztec god. The Land of the Black Sun. In a heartbeat, the Scouts find themselves fighting for their lives against savage beasts, witches, zombies, subhuman tribes seeking sacrifices...and even themselves. Fuel runs low, ammo grows scarce, and their only allies are a tribe of all-female warriors and a single fledgling sorceress with a decidedly mean streak.

Sorry for steppin' on any toes, Perfessor, but I really did enjoy the book. On with the memes! I'll start with this one because you definitely could run into these guys in the Land of the Black Sun.

-- WeirdDave

and

So Taylor Anderson wrote a very good alternate history series called Destroyermen about a WW2 destroyer and crew transported to an alternate Earth. Read the whole series and liked it a lot.

Didn't realize he has a second series called Artillerymen about Mexican-American War era US soldiers transported to the same world. In the middle of the second book right now and enjoying it a lot. Reminds me somewhat of William R Forstchen's Lost Regiment series.

Posted by: Shy Lurking Voter at February 25, 2024 09:20 AM (e/Osv)

Writing a good time travel adventure story is hard. In the first example from WeirdDave, it sounds like they are really transported to an alternate dimension and have to survive a world where magic is entirely too real and brutally savage. The second example from Shy Lurking Voter also has the military unit transported to an alternate Earth. This is a bit of a cheat to get around all of the paradoxes that occur with "true" time travel, when the hero goes back into the actual past of our own reality and then has to adjust to the time and place. And hopefully not screw up the present too badly.

Question for the Horde: Who do you think would have an easier time adjusting? A person from the distant past (>200 years) who is transported to the current year? Or someone from the current era being transported into the past (again, >200 years or so)? Defend your answer...

STORY SEED - TXMOME Time Travel Adventure

Given the tremendous wealth of knowledge, experience, and skills possessed by the Moron Horde, imagine yourself at the TXMOME, which is located on a ranch outside of Corsica, Texas. Suddenly, a storm appears on the horizon unlike any storm anyone has ever witnessed. It sweeps over the TXMOME, raining destruction amongst us, enough to force us to seek shelter, but not so much as to totally wreck the ranch. When it's over just as suddenly as it's begun, we take stock of the situation. Unbeknownst to us, we have been swept along through the ethers of time, either back to the past to a pre-industrial America, or to the future in a post-apocalyptic world following a global civilizational collapse.

  • Which direction along the time stream would you write this story? Forward to the future or back to the past? Why?
  • How much emphasis would you put on a plot-centric story versus a character-centric story?
    • Plot-Centric -- We have to solve the external challenges of food/water/shelter/community/etc...
    • Character-Centric -- Much of the story involves the personal relationships and internal struggles of us adapting to a new way of life

MORON RECOMMENDATIONS

When we talk about the need to preserve western civilization, that includes the freedoms we enjoy. In Inventing Freedom, author Daniel Hannan traces the history of many of our freedoms to England, and the English speaking world that was colonized and created by them. The Anglo-Saxons created the idea and the very term common law. Even after the Norman conquest, the people of England required their kings to follow the law of the land. While most of Europe gave the state the right to determine inheritance, England accepted the will of the deceased, which led to the trusts and foundations that underpin civic society and respect the ownership of property. In 1381 the Peasants Revolt demanded King Richard allow all people the right to buy, sell, hunt and fish as they pleased. These represent just the early stages of the broad range of rights that a people are entitled to, and are not a gift from government. Hannan traces the history of freedom from these early stages to its fullest flowering in America in a clear and trenchant manner, and certainly debunks any idea that rights and freedoms come from government. Hannan has a strong command of facts, and displays them masterfully as usual

Posted by: Thomas Paine at February 25, 2024 09:19 AM (9X5dH)

Comment: We really do tend to take our freedoms for granted most of the time. Many of those freedoms are under siege, or could actually be considered extinct at this point, thanks to the inexorable Left and their mad designs to eradicate human freedom (and life!). I know I do not feel free to speak my mind where I work. If I say the wrong thing to the wrong person or the wrong person overhears me, I will be fired. It's not even up for debate. We need books like this to remind us of what we once had and that it's possible to reclaim them again in the future.

+++++

This week I'm reading Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich. It's about the secret Metropolitan Police squad investigating supernatural mysteries in modern London. Emphasis on _modern_ London -- the book is very multi-culti, but I think that's deliberate as one of the themes is the clash between modern cosmopolitan London and traditional England. I understand there's a Netflix or Amazon series based on it, but I haven't watched. Recommended.

Posted by: Trimegistus at February 25, 2024 09:42 AM (78a2H)

Comment: Urban fantasy stories set in various cities around the world are pretty popular. Jim Butcher's Dresden Files explores the seedy underworld of Chicago and F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack series does the same for New York City for the most part. I think they can be fun as the writers put otherwise ordinary people into very weird situations and then the "everyman" has to adapt or die. Of course, Harry Dresden is a wizard from the get-go, but Repairman Jack is just an ordinary, but resourceful and capable, guy who often finds himself way over his head. I can imagine the same thing here with a hapless detective findiing out the world is much, much stranger than he first imagined, but then gains skills and abilities that help him deal with the hidden nastiness underlying civilization.

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

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

WHAT I'VE BEEN READING THIS PAST WEEK:

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.


dust-of-dreams.jpg

Malazan Book of the Fallen 9 - Dust of Dreams by Steven Erickson

I managed to finish this 1,200-page behemoth on Tuesday evening. The last couple of hundred pages are a definite page-turner as Erickson kept ramping up the insanity. Even though this is a set-up for the next book (see below), he still left the reader with a pretty awesome climactic battle. Picture floating mountain citadels pounding each other to dust with massive blasts of power like miniature Death Stars. Meanwhile, below them two demonic armies go toe-to-toe in battle. One army is equipped with Ghostbuster-like proton-packs beaming out death while the other army is equipped with giant blades surgically grafted onto their arms and led by a couple of madmen who are themselves ascended from mere mortals. Caught between all this insanity is the remnants of human armies who are just trying to stay alive even as the world explodes into chaos around them. NO ONE signed up for this...


the-crippled-god.jpg

Malazan Book of the Fallen 10 - The Crippled God by Steven Erickson

Now we find out the endgame of this entire series. All 9000+ pages have led up to this--the reason why the world has become so crazy and incoherent over the past several millenia. I won't give away any spoilers (I hope). It all boils down to a group of sentient beings (not entirely sure if they were human) summoning a divinity they should not have summoned and he crashed landed on the planet, causing chaos and destruction in his wake. Now it's up to a few plucky bands of soldiers from the Malazan Empire to set right what once went very, very wrong. Standing in their way are the Forkrul Assail, an alien race of beings who are determined to scour the earth of all humanity, for the sake of "justice" as they see it. Oh, and there are dragons. Lots of dragons, including one that is anathema to all magic, even though dragons are powered by magic. By all rights this dragon is *impossible* even for this fantasy world, but there she is, in all her malevolent glory.

WHAT I'VE ACQUIRED THIS PAST WEEK:

I did get a few more books this week, though it will be a while before I get around to reading them.

  • The Painter's Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett -- Ever since I read American Elsewhere, I've been a huge fan of Bennett. He has a very fresh, bold style of storytelling that appeals to me. Often involving cosmic horror, which is also a plus.
  • Dragonlance - Defenders of Magic 2 - The Medusa Plague by Mary Kirchoff -- I'm just filling up a gap in my Dragonlance collection since I have the first book in the series. This will also be a good "fluff" series I can use to decompress from reading Malazan, a much darker and more intense reading experience.
  • Dragonlance - Defenders of Magic 3 - The Seventh Sentinel by Mary Kirchoff -- Again, just completing the series...

PREVIOUS SUNDAY MORNING BOOK THREAD - 02-25-24 (NOTE: Do NOT comment on old threads!)

240303-ClosingSquirrel.jpg

Disclaimer: No Morons were harmed in the making of this Sunday Morning Book Thread. Can the Moron Horde survive being trapped in the past?

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