Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Y'know, other stuff, Sinclair related.
equinox
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by equinox » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:50 am

Yeah decided to hijack the thread.
So:
1. What book sounded really good, but was sh*t when you read it?
2. What shitty book you never wanted to read turned out to be excellent?

Mine are:
1. Someone (genuinely intelligent) tried to make me read Harry Potter, and I thought, well Elizabeth liked it, and she's great and knows everything, so it must be good. But it was a rubbish child's book about wizards. Not even the typical case where a good book is made into a bad film, the book was just bad. -- ALSO I have been reading a book called "Affluenza" purportedly about how rich people are really unhappy, boo-hoo, but it's not even a good book. It's just like a really long extended Daily Mail editorial. I'm embarrassed I slapped down £13 for this sh*t book, it's mainly because my small town has been redeveloped and just got a Waterstones and I thought "any book in Waterstones must be obviously brilliant". hahaha. slit my wrists please.
2. Some ****ing Randian libertarian made me read "Anthem" by Ayn Rand, and I thought "oh no, i't sAyn Rand, it will probably tell me that I can only cry if my unhappiness is more than 0.0005743% of total emotions, etc." but it was ok. Barely.

umm and you?
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by Einar Saukas » Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:55 pm

Robert A. Heinlein is supposedly one of the "top 3" sci-fi authors, but his books are terrible! The worst of them is certainly "Sixth Column".
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by llewelyn » Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:26 pm

Einar Saukas wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:55 pm
Robert A. Heinlein is supposedly one of the "top 3" sci-fi authors, but his books are terrible! The worst of them is certainly "Sixth Column".
I wholeheartedly agree with you Einar. I read a couple of them fifty years or more ago and they seemed okay for space opera but that was that. WHY everyone made a big deal about 'Stranger in a strange land' I'll never know. I think that Heinlein is best for teen aged males but we learn, we grow, we develop. What seemed like 'Gosh! Wonderful!' then is just plain boring to dreadful now.
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Einar Saukas
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by Einar Saukas » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:35 pm

llewelyn wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:26 pm
Einar Saukas wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:55 pm
Robert A. Heinlein is supposedly one of the "top 3" sci-fi authors, but his books are terrible! The worst of them is certainly "Sixth Column".
I wholeheartedly agree with you Einar. I read a couple of them fifty years or more ago and they seemed okay for space opera but that was that. WHY everyone made a big deal about 'Stranger in a strange land' I'll never know. I think that Heinlein is best for teen aged males but we learn, we grow, we develop. What seemed like 'Gosh! Wonderful!' then is just plain boring to dreadful now.
Frankly I read "Stranger in a Strange Land" when I was a teen and I already thought it was dreadful...
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by Fahnn » Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:13 pm

Einar Saukas wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:35 pm
llewelyn wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:26 pm
Einar Saukas wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:55 pm
Robert A. Heinlein is supposedly one of the "top 3" sci-fi authors, but his books are terrible! The worst of them is certainly "Sixth Column".
I wholeheartedly agree with you Einar. I read a couple of them fifty years or more ago and they seemed okay for space opera but that was that. WHY everyone made a big deal about 'Stranger in a strange land' I'll never know. I think that Heinlein is best for teen aged males but we learn, we grow, we develop. What seemed like 'Gosh! Wonderful!' then is just plain boring to dreadful now.
Frankly I read "Stranger in a Strange Land" when I was a teen and I already thought it was dreadful...
Heinlein was a terrible writer, but he started out in the pulp era and that suited his writing. His short stories were serviceable and sold magazines. "Stranger In A Strange Land" is for some reason regarded as some sort of landmark, but it's an absolutely awful book, just wish-fulfilment rubbish. And as he got older, he got more reactionary and weird. Reading any of his 1980s stuff is painful.

Also he's indirectly responsible for Scientology. He was the one that suggested to L. Ron Hubbard that you couldn't really make a living writing science fiction and what you really needed to do, to make money, was to start a religion. I doubt that at the time he (Heinlein) actually believed that he (Hubbard) actually would, but there you go.
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by R-Tape » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:24 pm

Eq has taken my already tenuous thread into the scary realm of totally not Speccy at all, but hey—it's the Easter holiday! Here's mine:

Book that sounded good, but turned out to be bad: The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. To be fair it started off incredibly well, and maintained it for a while, but it lost its way in the most tedious, buttock-clenchingly bad manner possible. It sounds terrible to admit to book-burning, but I think I used this as kindling.

Book that I expected to be bad, but turned out to be good: I don't tend to read books that I expect to hate! But if push came to shove, I'd say 'Introducing Spectrum Machine Code: How to get more speed and power'. At first glance it looked very flabby and BASIC inspired, but I found some of the tables very useful.
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by Einar Saukas » Sat Apr 20, 2019 11:50 am

About the other famous classic sci-fi writers:

Philip K. Dick is OK. Certainly not bad, but somehow the movies manage to be much better than his books.

Isaac Asimov is good. A lot of diversity and imagination, although there's absolutely nothing special about his writing style.

Arthur C. Clarke is better. His stories combine both good style and good content.

Ray Bradbury is even more talented, although his stories are usually more fantasy than sci-fi.

Frank Herbert's DUNE is probably the best sci-fi book ever. Unfortunately all his book sequels are so terrible, that I was never motivated to read anything else from him, so I cannot comment about his unrelated stories. Am I missing anything?
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by Juan F. Ramirez » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:30 pm

For me, The Time Machine by George H. Wells is the best sci-fi book I've ever read. It's a topic I love both on books and films.

The Planets of the Apes by Pierre Boule is another great (and short) story with a cool ending.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury is a book that surprised me in a positive way. An enjoyable reading.
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by Fahnn » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:46 pm

I'll try to keep this focused, because to be honest it's a subject I could rattle on about until everyone's fallen asleep. I must have read hundreds of sf novels and thousands of short stories (the short story being my favourite form). A few authors I would recommend:

Alfred Bester (especially "The Demolished Man" and "The Stars My Destination"). A lot of 1950s sf has dated pretty badly, but his stuff remains surprisingly fresh.

Algis Budrys (particularly "Who?", another 1950s book that really stands up well today. There was a film made in the 1970s with Elliott Gould, but it's not a patch on the novel, it lost all the subtlety).

Frederick Pohl/Cyril Kornbluth (writing in tandem, especially "The Space Merchants" and "Gladiator-At-Law", two highly satirical looks at the near future, again from the 1950s and way ahead of their time). Pohl did tons of other stuff, generally very consistently, but I always found Kornbluth the more interesting character and he also wrote some absolutely cracking short stories ("The Marching Morons", "The Little Black Bag", "Ms. Found In A Chinese Fortune Cookie" and loads of others). Died very young (a heart attack at 34). Real shame.

Thomas M. Disch ("Camp Concentration" and "334" are particularly good). I think my absolute favourite period of science fiction is from around 1965-1970, when the "New Wave" was getting going on both sides of the Atlantic. Disch's stuff absolutely fitted in; far more literary and intelligent than most sf that had previously been published.

James Tiptree Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon). Not sure she ever did any novels, but her short stories are exceptional ("Ten Thousand Light Years From Home" is a great collection to start with, but there's a lot more). Always amused me that a leading critic wrote of her "there's something ineluctably masculine about Jim Tiptree's writing", shortly before the pseudonym was revealed!

Harlan Ellison (again, mainly short stories; any of his collections of such are worth getting). Some people find his stuff overwritten (I think I've seen the word "hysterical" used) but I find him endlessly readable. One of his most celebrated stories, "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream" was actually made into a computer game, but I've never played it.

And my absolute favourite, John Sladek. All his stuff is really funny (if you like very dark humour). Everything he did was great, but I'd definitely say that "The Muller-Fokker Effect", "The Reproductive System", "Roderick" (and the follow-up, "Roderick At Random") plus the later "Tik-Tok" and "Bugs" are essential. Plus "Alien Accounts", a short story collection based around office life; a lot of his stuff is centred on the absurdity of beaurocracy and how it can go awry.

Blimey, sorry that went on so long. And that's just off the top of my head! Hope somebody gets something out of this post, anyway.
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Re: Specchum's read a book, pass it on.

Post by stupidget » Mon Jun 03, 2019 8:26 am

Right then I’ve finally finished this book and, at best, it’s pretty average. Not a bad pulp sci-fi book, but, it never really gets going.

So who wants to be the next recipient of this book?
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