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24 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

Oooooh I hadn’t seen this! Do we know what they’re going to look like yet? 

 

I love Great Expectations, Frankenstein and Dracula. If I was going to re-read one right now I think I’d pick Dracula. I hated Moby Dick though. Such a promising start and then you reach the chapters about whaling... 

 

 

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.

 

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Oh yeah, I thought they might have gone for something a bit different! I guess the penguin classics do have a fairly distinct look though, maybe it would be wrong to change them too dramatically. 

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2 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

Oh yeah, I thought they might have gone for something a bit different! I guess the penguin classics do have a fairly distinct look though, maybe it would be wrong to change them too dramatically. 

 

 

I've got two generations of their classic novels now, time for a third!

 

But which one...

 

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I've read a book! Yes, one with words and only one picture!

 

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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 books 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.

 

Edited by Raven
Typo!

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I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (really liked book 2 in the series, book 3 was allright), and have To Be Taught, If Fortunate on my TBR. I have heard from other people who have read both, that The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was better. I can't verify this myself until I've read the novella, but I thought I'd let you know anyway.

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I very nearly bought The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet a few years ago because one of the things that really appeals to me about science fiction is the exploration element and I thought it would be that kind of book. Like I loved watching Star Wars as kid mainly to see the different planets (wanted to live on the moon of Endor with the ewoks). But then I saw a couple of reviews of the book that said nothing really happens in it and it’s really just about the handful of characters living on a ship together. So that kind of put me off buying it! I don’t remember seeing your review though Gaia, I’ll have to have a look for it. 

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On 1/18/2021 at 12:56 PM, Athena said:

 

I loved The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (really liked book 2 in the series, book 3 was allright), and have To Be Taught, If Fortunate on my TBR. I have heard from other people who have read both, that The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was better. I can't verify this myself until I've read the novella, but I thought I'd let you know anyway.

 

 

Thanks for that! (not sure how I missed this when you originally posted it!)

 

3 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

But then I saw a couple of reviews of the book that said nothing really happens in it and it’s really just about the handful of characters living on a ship together. So that kind of put me off buying it! 

 

 

I can easily see her books being like that, to be honest. 

 

There's is not a whole lot of plot in To Be Taught, if Fortunate.  As I said in my review, it is more about the science, concepts and the characters (that doesn't make it a bad book, but - again, as I said - there were times where things were a little laboured).

 

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19 hours ago, Raven said:

As I said in my review, it is more about the science, concepts and the characters (that doesn't make it a bad book, but - again, as I said - there were times where things were a little laboured).

I agree, a book doesn’t need to be action packed to be good. I think it makes a big difference if you’re aware that it’s that kind of book though, otherwise it makes me feel like I’ve spent a lot of reading time waiting for something to happen instead of enjoying what’s there. 

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6 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

I agree, a book doesn’t need to be action packed to be good. I think it makes a big difference if you’re aware that it’s that kind of book though, otherwise it makes me feel like I’ve spent a lot of reading time waiting for something to happen instead of enjoying what’s there. 

 

 

Yes, and with her books being billed as Space Opera (by some) that kind of implies a degree of action and adventure - if they are not that, I would say the tag is misleading. 

 

From this novella alone, I would say she is definitely on the contemplative end of the writing spectrum.

 

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On 29/01/2021 at 4:54 PM, Hayley said:

I very nearly bought The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet a few years ago because one of the things that really appeals to me about science fiction is the exploration element and I thought it would be that kind of book. Like I loved watching Star Wars as kid mainly to see the different planets (wanted to live on the moon of Endor with the ewoks). But then I saw a couple of reviews of the book that said nothing really happens in it and it’s really just about the handful of characters living on a ship together. So that kind of put me off buying it! I don’t remember seeing your review though Gaia, I’ll have to have a look for it. 

 

I found it for you, here you go:

http://www.bookclubforum.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/13857-athenas-reading-list-2016/&do=findComment&comment=467640

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23 hours ago, Athena said:

Thank you! :) 

 

On 30/01/2021 at 10:02 PM, Raven said:

 

Yes, and with her books being billed as Space Opera (by some) that kind of implies a degree of action and adventure - if they are not that, I would say the tag is misleading. 

 

From this novella alone, I would say she is definitely on the contemplative end of the writing spectrum.

 

Based on your review I agree. Although Space Opera as a genre seems to have pretty vague boundaries it doesn’t sound like these books should be categorised that way to me. 

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3 hours ago, Hayley said:

 

Based on your review I agree. Although Space Opera as a genre seems to have pretty vague boundaries it doesn’t sound like these books should be categorised that way to me. 

 

 

I've always thought of Star Wars as defining the style of Space Opera, but the list of recognised Space Opera on Wikipedia is a lot broader than that:

 

List of space opera media - Wikipedia

 

My previous perception was that Space Opera doesn't have an awful lot of actual science in it and that it is just a sweeping/epic story set in space, hence Star Wars, but there are a lot on that list that encompass what I would call hard science fiction (Asimov's Robert series, for example).

 

In looking this up, I've found that Horse Opera is a thing, so time well spent! (it's a clichéd and formulaic Western movie, in case you are wondering!)

 

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28 minutes ago, Raven said:

My previous perception was that Space Opera doesn't have an awful lot of actual science in it and that it is just a sweeping/epic story set in space, hence Star Wars, but there are a lot on that list that encompass what I would call hard science fiction (Asimov's Robert series, for example).

 

In looking this up, I've found that Horse Opera is a thing, so time well spent! (it's a clichéd and formulaic Western movie, in case you are wondering!)

I think a lot of people do define Space Opera the same way you did though. It just doesn't sound right to say 'Asimov wrote space opera', does it?

If you want an example of someone getting it totally wrong though I spent quite a long time believing that Space Opera was based on the term Soap Opera and was therefore going to be like science fiction mixed with family drama and unlikely dramatic deaths :blush:

 

35 minutes ago, Raven said:

In looking this up, I've found that Horse Opera is a thing, so time well spent! (it's a clichéd and formulaic Western movie, in case you are wondering!)

This is a brilliant discovery and I look forward to telling people that I'm going to watch some Horse Opera :lol:

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30 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

I think a lot of people do define Space Opera the same way you did though. It just doesn't sound right to say 'Asimov wrote space opera', does it?

 

 

No, although thinking about it I'm not sure how you would define it. 

 

Epic science fiction? (for Foundation) not sure about the Robot series as I've not read it. 

 

You can have high fantasy, can you have high science fiction (and I don't mean a Phillip K Dick novel...).

 

Quote

 

If you want an example of someone getting it totally wrong though I spent quite a long time believing that Space Opera was based on the term Soap Opera and was therefore going to be like science fiction mixed with family drama and unlikely dramatic deaths :blush:

 

 

You are more right than you know:


The term has no relation to music, as in a traditional opera, but is instead a play on the terms "soap opera", a melodramatic television series, and "horse opera", which was coined during the 1930s to indicate a clichéd and formulaic Western movie.

 

More here: Space opera - Wikipedia

 

Edited by Raven

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Yay! Finished book 2 of the year! (The Ten Loves of Mr Nishino).

 

Not the best Hiromi Kawakami book I've read, to be honest.  An interesting idea, but far too many characters.  Not sure this one will get a review. 

 

Hmm.... What too read next?

 

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On 04/02/2021 at 3:57 PM, Raven said:

 

No, although thinking about it I'm not sure how you would define it. 

 

Epic science fiction? (for Foundation) not sure about the Robot series as I've not read it. 

 

You can have high fantasy, can you have high science fiction (and I don't mean a Phillip K Dick novel...).

 

 

You are more right than you know:


The term has no relation to music, as in a traditional opera, but is instead a play on the terms "soap opera", a melodramatic television series, and "horse opera", which was coined during the 1930s to indicate a clichéd and formulaic Western movie.

I've only read The Naked Sun from the Robot series but I'm not sure how I'd define it. It was kind of science fiction / detective novel / social commentary. Probably isn't a particular word for that branch of science fiction :lol:.

 

I'm pleased that I wasn't being completely ridiculous with my assumption about space opera / soap opera, but I'm still more pleased with the discovery of the term "horse opera".

 

[I thought I posted the above comment ages ago but clearly didn't send it and it saved instead! What I actually came to say was:]

 

It's a shame you didn't enjoy your last book that much. I'm having the same problem with my current book. Interesting idea but there are so many characters. It's kind of hard to care about any of them much when they have so little time to themselves.

 

Did you decide what to read next?

 

 

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On 3/1/2021 at 8:54 PM, Hayley said:

 

Did you decide what to read next?

 

 

Not really, not when you posted the above...

 

I did start The Princess Bride, but got fed up with the overly long intro explaining how the narrator came upon the story (I will probably go back to it, but I wasn't in the right mood for it when I tried it) but tonight - whilst flicking through the ever growing list of unread bargain books on my Kindle - I came upon Tales From the Folly, which I had forgotten I had, so I started on that. 

 

One story down, all looking good so far!

 

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On 1/3/2021 at 2:31 AM, Raven said:

 

I don't really do New Year's resolutions, but I will make some book related ones now for 2021:

 

- I will read more than I did in 2020

- All of the books I read in 2021 will be new to me

- One of the new books I read in 2021 will be a classic novel

 

 

Hmm... I'm kinda flirting with the truth of the second one now, as I've started re-reading the Rivers of London graphic novels... (I am counting them as something I have read, but I'm adding a (GN) disclaimer.) 

 

Yep, so that's one down two to burn through...

 

I do know what my classic novel will be now, though, once I can get back to a physical book shop and buy a copy myself... (you bunch of oiks will just have to wait and see what it is!)

 

Edited by Raven
typo

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On 04/03/2021 at 9:20 PM, Raven said:

I did start The Princess Bride, but got fed up with the overly long intro explaining how the narrator came upon the story (I will probably go back to it, but I wasn't in the right mood for it when I tried it) but tonight - whilst flicking through the ever growing list of unread bargain books on my Kindle - I came upon Tales From the Folly, which I had forgotten I had, so I started on that. 

 

One story down, all looking good so far!

 

I have The Princess Bride on my shelf, good to know I'll need to be patient at the start!

 

20 hours ago, Raven said:

I do know what my classic novel will be now, though, once I can get back to a physical book shop and buy a copy myself... (you bunch of oiks will just have to wait and see what it is!)

Oooh can we have clues? :lol:

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19 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

Oooh can we have clues? :lol:

 

 

No!

 

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3 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

Is... that the clue? Is it Wilkie Collins' No Name:P

 

 

No! (Never heard of it!)

 

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5 minutes ago, Raven said:

No! (Never heard of it!)

It's a good one actually. I like Wilkie Collins. It's basically about a very happy Victorian family with two daughters and then the parents die (that's not a spoiler it's right at the beginning) and the daughters discover they never got married (which means their daughters don't inherit anything). One of the daughters just accepts it and starts trying to find work but the other is really not having any of it. She teams up with a notorious swindler, has a pretty crazy time and it sort of becomes a question of how far she's willing to go to get their parents money and house back.

 

I really want to know what book you've chosen now!

 

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2 minutes ago, Hayley said:

 

I really want to know what book you've chosen now!

 

 

Mwahahahahahahaha!

 

(Still not telling...)

 

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So, after vowing not to re-read any books this year, I was flicking through the unread list on my Kindle last night, nothing was inspiring me, and then I hit upon Terry Pratchett's Equal Rites.

 

I've never read it on my Kindle, so technically it's not a re-read.

 

*cough*

 

^That's not COVID

 

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