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About KEV67

  • Rank
    Settling In
  • Birthday 06/18/1967

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  • Location:
    Reading, UK
  • Interests
    Victorian fiction, science fiction, economics, sustainability

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  1. I am reading Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. It's reminds me an awful lot of those Hammer House of Horror films from the early 70s. Vampire stories go back a long way. Which are the best?
  2. Things in books that annoy you

    In science fiction it annoys me if the SF aspect is only there to set up either a) some sort of alternative historical Earth with castles and what-not, or b) some sort of fantasy world with people resembling elves, dwarfs, etc. In both cases civiliation is recovering from nuclear war which set the date back to year zero. In the case of b) mutations caused by radioactive fall out led to the pointy ears and the short stature. Postmodern books that do not have beginnings, middles and ends in the correct order, and which have parallel stories that do not go anywhere annoy me. Surprisingly to me, since I am a bit of a reactionary and not a feminist, I don't like reading very macho characters in books. I really did not like How Green Was My Valley, and I disliked a SF book I read recently whihc had a rather domineering security officer.
  3. You're a Gissing enthusiast. Peter Ackroyd's book, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golum has been made into a film and it's scheduled to be released in September. One of the characters is George Gissing!

  4. That's a bit different. Those people weren't named characters on the whole. There was the curate and one or two scientific types at the start. Otherwise the victims were just part of an anonymous mass.
  5. I wonder if it's Mrs Gaskell. I don't think she is the most miserable of the Victorian authors, but her mortality rate is similar to a World War I novel.
  6. Some excellent suggestions so far. How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie Mrs Dalloway - Virginia Woolf The Island of the Day Before - Umberto Eco
  7. I have just read E.M. Forster's The Machine Stops. It's a bit like The Matrix and a bit like Brave New World. It seems to predict something like the internet.
  8. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    I think a decent stab at the science is important; otherwise it is just fantasy. SF books are often books of ideas, but if they break known scientific limits, such as travelling faster than lightspeed with no plausible explanation of how they do it, then to me they are fantasy or adventure books. Technology shapes society. A lot of SF books imagine what that society will be like, which pointless if the technology is unrealistic. Many SF books are projections of the fears of the time of writing, particularly dystopias. I am trying to think of some of my favourite SF books: The Mote in God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell - A first contact book. Basically it was a book about over-population. Ringworld, by Larry Niven - not sure if it fits my thesis about SF being a projection of modern fears, but it is an interesting idea, which sounded plausible when I read it. Larry Niven often wrote about criminal who killed people for their organs, but I can't remember if he was in the book. Dune by Fank Herbert - eugenics, a planet of inscrutable machine makers reminiscent of Japan, the control of spice needed throughout the galaxy reminiscent of oil. The Left Hand of Darkness , by Ursula Le Guin - quite a bit about gender, quite political. An envoy tries to persuade an isolated civilisation to join the community of planets. The science was pretty good. The Martian, by Andy Weir - not really a projection of modern society or fears at all, but the science was strong. Makes Mars colonisation seem plausible (although difficult). The Gods Themselves - the Earth has found a cheap and abundant source of energy, unfortunately it is damaging the environment in a big way.
  9. Favourite books from childhood?

    My favourite book was The Hobbit followed by Watership Down, which had similar plots. I read all Enid Blyton's Famous Five books. I never bothered with her Secret Seven. I liked the Willard Price Adventure series. They were about two lads who helped their father catch wild animals for a zoo. I liked the Dragonfall 5 books too when I was younger. They were about a family who flew an obsolete cargo spaceship.
  10. What makes sci-fi interesting?

    I read three of Iain Banks' books, two of which were science fiction. I can't remember what they were called. In one, the hero flits around the galaxy, offing people and trying not to get offed. The other takes place on Planet Medievalland. There's a king who has counsellor, or possibly a doctor, who is obviously from off-world. The neighbouring kingdom was usurped by a Oliver Cromwell type. He has a bodyguard who is in love with one of his harem. I thought it was a pretty good book, but there was not much science fiction in it. I have read one Arthur C Clarke book, The City and the Stars. I did not think it was that good. I hear Rendevous with Rama is better, but not to bother with the sequels. I read one Issac Asimov book: The Gods Themselves. I did like that, and it had some pretty hard science. Aliens from a parallel universe were tinkering with the strong atomic force.
  11. I recently finished Tau Zero by Poul Anderson. It had a great premise for a sci-fi book: spaceship gets closer and closer to light speed, while time slows down on board accordingly. It was described as a hard science sci-fi book. I was really disappointed with it. I can't say how good the science was for the time; it was written (approx 1970), but it is definitely out of date now. I think it was a bit cobblers then. What I really didn't like was the inter-personal stuff. The characters were either flat, or I did not like them. The attitudes were a bit out of date. The science in science fiction is nearly always wrong. Some sci-fi books are just plain fantasy. Some use a bit of science, e.g. nuclear war, space travel to another planet, just to get to another world, which either resembles a fantasy world or an historic world. Some use a bit of science to set up a plot and make it sound plausible, but don't really pretend that the science is perfect. Occasionally, you get a sci-fi book that tries to be as scientific as possible. The Martian is a decent example of that, but Andy Weir a) had to use a scientifically impossible device to strand his hero on Mars, and b) made the odd mistake, despite all his online readers pointing out his errors. Sci-fi books are books of ideas. I think H.G. Well's sci-fi books are interesting because they say something about the fears of the time. For instance, The Time Machine commented on the social divides in late Victorian Britain, Darwinian ideas, and there must have been something in the air about space-time, although Einstein had not got there yet. I remember The Day of the Triffids had a real Cold War feel about it. Unless a sci-fi book alludes to the concerns of society at the time it was written, it's probably a bit pointless.
  12. Skulduggery Pleasant perhaps, the dead detective. I haven't actually read any of the series but someone I follow on YouTube raves about them. The autistic boy in The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time has to do a bit of detective work. That's a good book and not particularly difficult to read. Father Brown is like a religious Sherlock Holmes. It's about as far away from real crime as it is possible to get.
  13. Pubs in books

    Thinking about Orwell, although more a café than a pub, they serve alcohol in the Chestnut Tree.
  14. Britain's all time top five authors

    It looks like the international critics agree with you about Virginia Woolf. She has three books in the top 25, including 2nd and 3rd. http://www.bbc.co.uk/culture/story/20151204-the-25-greatest-british-novels Still wouldn't have her in my top 5.
  15. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

    I liked Wuthering Heights a lot more than Jane Eyre, although my opinion of Jane Eyre is coloured by having to study it for O level at school. WH is very different and original. It's very poetic writing. I did not have too much trouble with Joseph because I've read the James Herriot books. Sadly, I don't think too many people speak like that any more.