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      Moving Day Coming Soon   01/11/2021

      As many of you know, we've been looking at changing hosts for a while now. This will allow us to access the tech support we need for the site and should speed up the forum as well as ironing out a few issues we've been having recently.    We are now signed up to the new hosting plan and can go ahead with the move as soon as the new hosts have everything they need (which is currently being sorted!). The forum should not be offline for more than a day during the switch and hopefully it won't even take that long. I don't have an exact time or day for the move yet but this is an early warning to expect some downtime soon.   When we are offline, no matter how briefly, you can follow the forum twitter page (@bookclubforum) for updates.  


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About Raven

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    Happy-go-lucky scamp

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  • Reading now?
    Surface Detail, by Iain M. Banks
  1. Raven's Reads

    I've read a book! Yes, one with words and only one picture! To Be Taught, if Fortunate By Becky Chambers The crew of the Merian are on a mission to explore a new solar system, part of a number of crowd-funded ships sent out from Earth, taking mankind's first steps to gather information on worlds only hither-too glimpsed from afar. The four worlds they visit all present different challenges for the genetically altered humans, and then they lose contact with Earth... I've been picking up Becky Chamber's book in Waterstone's for a while now, reading their back covers and then putting them down again. They sound good, and they have certainly garnered enough plaudits - a Hugo award, and nominations for pretty much every other science fiction writing award going - but I've never been quite convinced enough to make a purchase, and then this novella popped up on my Kindle for 99p so I thought I would give it a go. The story is told in the form of a mission report from one of the crew members, related in such a way that the layman on Earth will be able to understand. It deals with the practicalities of an extended multi-year mission and the effect that has on the Merian's crew, especially when things don't go to plan. This is a science fiction story that is heavy on the science; Chambers comes from a family that her bio says were "heavily involved in space science" and the acknowledgments at the end of the book is largely a list of scientists who helped with the writing of the story. The story explores some solid science fiction concepts, but it is heavily grounded in the characters as seen from the point of view of the narrator. I don't like comparing books directly, but there was a lot in this that reminded me of Velocity Weapon, by Megan E. O'Keefe which I abandoned last year (I think it is probably because there are a number of scenes in both with characters in space suits, passing through airlocks and cargo holds etc. and it all seemed very familiar). I suspect that had I read this a year down the road, I wouldn't be drawing the same comparisons, but in this books favour I can say that it is definitely far better written! Whilst I enjoyed a lot of the story, I did find some parts of it were a little laboured, and I don't think some of the ideas were explored as fully as they could have been, but I did like the ending. Will I read more of Chamber's novels? I'm not sure... There was a lot to like, but at the same time nothing that really grabbed me. A full novel could be a different kettle of fish, though, so if I see her first novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet on offer on my Kindle I may very well give it a go. Not bad, but if you don't like science fiction or scientific concepts in general, this probably isn't the book for you.
  2. Imagining books in your head

    [Bit of an epic brain-dump post - sorry if it rambles around a bit!] I missed this thread the first time round, and have just read through it for the first time; very interesting! I read that and thought "Colin Dexter did that with Inspector Morse", and then I read: Genius! (You are on my wavelength, be concerned!)* I don't know if I'm unusual - well, more than the obvious, anyway - but I have a very visual imagination and "see" books as I am reading them, like a mini movie is being projected on the inside of my tiny brain (the same happens when I listen to film/TV scores etc. I see the images that were on screen as I hear the music, but I digress...). When I read a book, I "see" characters and places clearly, but in some cases there is a bit of an odd twist on this, because quite often the characters I see are a little "cartoonish" in nature. It's hard to describe in words just what I'm seeing, but George Smiley, for example, I think is described by le Carré in one of his early books as being reminiscent of a frog (or possibly toad like?) and ever since I read that I've always imagined a slightly cartoonish frog/toad [human] wearing a raincoat, but at the same time I've also always associated Alec Guinness with the character as well, so throw in a bit of Obi Wan (actually, one of his Ealing characters would be better) and you have a bit of an odd mental mix (in more than one way...)** Like willoyd, above, I don't like seeing film/TV adaptations of books I am interested in reading before I do read them. I stopped watching Game of Thrones after the first series as the show - good though it was - didn't match the mental images I had of the characters and settings, so I stopped and will watch it after Georgie boy finally finishes his written saga (assuming he ever does...) and I have finished reading it (yeah, I know the ending of the TV series sucks!). This is a bit of a double-edged sword, however, as I have a copy of The Martian I am pretty sure I will never read, but I cannot bring myself to watch the film without having read the book first! There are some books I have read, that have been made into films, that - in my opinion - have got it pretty much bang on; The Lord of the Rings being front and foremost in that list. I read The Fellowship of the Ring shortly before the film was released and it was like Peter Jackson had been inside my head (especially for Hobbiton and Rivendell etc). Back to the inside of my head (sorry) and there are mental images from books I have read that are still very strong in my mind, many years after I first read the passages that inspired them. The planet of Echronedal and it's fire driven eco-cycle, as described by Iain M. Banks in The Player of Games; a Cockchafer droning over a hedge in HG Wells The War of the Worlds (and the Martian manoeuvrings that play out around that scene); a city on the edge of collapse, in John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids (along with the story of the Triffid's origins). I could go on, and - obviously - all of these books are science fiction novels, which leads me to wonder whether vivid visual imagery is more easily conjured when the source material is more unworldly, although there are a lot of books I have strong visual imagery for that are contemporary and otherwise far more mundane (I developed a very strong and vivid mental image of the character Emma in David Nicholls novel One Day, for example, that is still with me many years after I read the book). I don't know if others find this, but I often don't pay proper attention to descriptions at the beginning of books, and although authors may have clearly described what their characters look like it doesn't always sink in with me until later (and sometimes not until subsequent re-reads). Thinking about it, I would liken it to background noise. Authors rarely jump straight into the action; description (obviously) is often used to set the set the scene, but although I read these sections, my mind seems to block some of it out whilst I'm waiting for the story proper to get started and I end up with characters in my head that possibly have little in common (certainly physically) with the characters as described by the author (but I still have my own, strong image, of what that character looks like). These errors usually get corrected in my head in subsequent re-readings, but not always. A couple of examples of my probably (and certainly) getting it wrong: I've read a lot of Mike Gayle's novels. For those that have not, these are contemporary novels that he started writing from the point of view of the male character in the story, and as someone who is roughly the same age as him the subjects he was talking about and the culture around them struck a chord with me (life post-university, relationships etc.) More recently, his books - to my mind - have veered away from the male confessional genre (books in a similar ilk to High Fidelity and Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby) and more towards Chick-lit. I can't say I've enjoyed his more recent books as much as his earlier ones - that were more relevant to myself - and they sometimes seem to be a little too far-fetched in the leaps the plots take, but they are generally enjoyable, life-affirming stories. Anyway, back to the point, Mike Gayle is black, and for some reason, after seeing him being interviewed on the BBC program Bookworm - many, many moons ago - I have (for the most part) visualised his main characters as being all black as well - although I am pretty sure that isn't the case. I don't really know how the visual part of my brain came to that conclusion. The second example, and one that may surprise some - given how much I type about these books - is that it took me nearly half of Rivers of London to realise Peter Grant wasn't white (and once I realised that, it took a lot longer to realise his dad, in subsequent books, is). It also took me several books to realise that the rivers themselves are almost all black as well. Re-reading the books, I don't know how I missed it as it is clearly described from the start but, for the first reading of the first few books, I had a mental image of Fleet as being an upper class, elderly white woman, when she is anything but! The only reason I can think to explain this is that I know Ben Aaronovitch is white, so I'm guessing that on some level my brain was thinking white author equals white characters... My mental image of Peter now, btw, comes largely from the graphic novels. *shrugs* I sometimes wonder if the vivid images my mind conjures up are - in part - due to me being a relatively slow reader, and that gives my mind more time to fill in the detail (I have friends who can rip through a book in an afternoon, and remember nothing about it a month later other than they enjoyed it, whilst I can usually remember the plots and characters years after I have read them). Now that I am typing this, and thinking about it in more depth, I'm also beginning to wonder if there is a link between the stories I enjoy the most and the ones I can see most clearly in my mind... *Especially when you read what follows... **Yeah, okay, I'm not sure this is going to give you, the reader, an accurate impression of what I actually see in my head space, but - hell - hopefully this is entertaining you, if nothing else!
  3. Kindle and ebooks deals

    The excellent The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks is 99p on Kindle today - well worth a read if you haven't done so already!
  4. Word Association

    frog (a bonus point for anyone who correctly gets that link!)
  5. "Oh look! Major Pinkerton has dropped dead in the library - how ghastly! Now do pass me another sherry old boy..."
  6. Kindle and ebooks deals

    I don't know if this will be of interest to anyone, but there is a selection of Garth Nix books on Kindle for 99p today.
  7. Oh no, what a pickle!
  8. Slowly making my way through these, but... Bravo! More of this please! Don't blame me, guv, I just bastardised the list we've been using for last few years! It is a fantastic book! One of the best written and vividly described books I think I've ever read (btw, don't bother with Stephen Baxter's official follow up, it's rubbish!).
  9. The Last Film You Saw - 2021

    I watched 111 films in 2020 (I won't list them all!), but none so far this year. Never did get around to that Lord of the Rings re-watch at Christmas...
  10. I have the Penguin Classic's Tales from the Thousand and One Nights (which is the same thing!) on my Kindle (another 99p purchase that I will probably never read!). The above is 99p on Kindle again at the moment. I'm guessing from the title that this is selected stories, so perhaps you could start with that and get a more comprehensive volume if you like it?
  11. I've read novels by several Japanese authors, but they are all contemporary, and even though some of them have fantastical elements none of them could be termed sci-fi (or are set in the future). Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami might be worth a look, but otherwise I'm not sure where you would start with this.
  12. Raven's Reads

    I've got two generations of their classic novels now, time for a third! But which one...
  13. Doctor Who Series 10 + New Doctor?

    That's not official yet, but it wouldn't surprise me - three series is about par for most of the New Who Doctors. Both Whittaker series so far have been 10 episodes and a special, the next series is 8 episodes because of COVID (the last two Capaldi series were 12 episodes and a special, by contrast). Whittaker has grown on me since her first series, but she's still far from being my favourite Doctor; I just wonder what they will do next... Going back to a man will prompt calls of the Doctor didn't work as a woman, but going for another woman will attract calls of political correctness gone mad - I don't think the BBC will win whatever they do! (for my own part, as long as they are competent, I don't care what sex they are!)
  14. Raven's Reads

    They're not much different; they've just changed the fonts on the spines and front covers. If you look at this page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Times-Penguin-Classics-Charles-Dickens/dp/014143967X You can see the new style in the product picture and you can compare it to the old style by clicking on the Look Inside link.
  15. Raven's Reads

    Not sure. I was looking at The Pickwick Papers recently, but I've noticed that Penguin seem to be rebranding their classics range again so I've held off buying a copy. I have a copy of Great Expectations, and I have also tried reading Moby Dick a couple of times, perhaps this might be the year I finally finish it! I've also been meaning to read Dracula and Frankenstein as well, so who knows!