What are you reading at the moment?

Discussion in 'Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books' started by Readsalot, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    So I was alive when punk was a thing. I mean, it still is a thing, but mostly with sad middle-aged dudes who've not gotten the memo that punk is over. But I, being the unique individual that I was back then, was never really into punk. I listened to grunge and alternative metal, industrial, and a bunch of other things because punk was "too mainstream" for me.

    I also couldn't afford a lot of the clothes, and my family would have ensured that I would never be able to sit down comfortably again if I'd wrecked the clothes that I had in my closet. So that might have had something to do with it, or the fact that I was in Washington State when punk was around, and grunge/alternative pretty much grew up there (so did coffeehouse indie singer/songwriters, but meh... screw those guys!)

    But now that I'm older, I find myself enjoying a lot of punk. Steampunk, magicpunk, dieselpunk, etc. Pretty much any of the 'punk literature I can get my hands on is devoured with a quickness. And that brings me to the Magebreakers series.

    I read "The Flaw In All Magic" quite a while ago, right around the time it was published (August of last year), but I don't think I mentioned it here. It's a really good example of magicpunk, where the main character is running a detective agency after he got booted out of the mage university when they finally found out that he has no magic. Yeah, the dude was dedicated - he went to gritty realistic fantasy Hogwarts for four full years and was about to graduate when he was like "haha, fooled you! I never had any magic at all!"

    As you can probably imagine, that ... didn't end very well for him. Protip: you probably shouldn't lie to folks, but if you're going to lie to folks, lie about the small stuff. "No honey, those pants don't make your butt look fat" or "I'm happy to help you guys move for no money" or "Sure, I'd love to come pick you up at the airport" and "Oh no, honey, I adore your mom and sure she can stay here for as long as she wants" are acceptable. Four years of faking magic? Less so.

    Anyway, so what does he do? He runs a detective agency. Because noir, I guess? I find that most 'punk stuff is populated with either detectives or bucklers of swashes (discounting the romance stuff, which I generally don't read even if it's 'punk). Then he finds out that one of his old friends was murdered in the magicpunk equivalent of a locked room, and must find the killer at all costs.

    I really quite enjoyed the books (there are three of them now). They're filled with action, intrigue, drama, and well-realized, complex characters that live and breathe. I've mentioned before that a good character, in my opinion, is one that you can imagine in your neighborhood pub (if your neighborhood was really "cosmopolitan" anyway, given the preponderance of nonhuman characters in science fiction and fantasy), and by that yardstick all of the characters in the series passes the pub test. The world building is great, although it can get a bit preachy with the full blown class and race warfare stuff, and even though all of the books take place in one city on one continent, it really feels like the city is on a living world somewhere.

    It's available free on KU, and it's a reasonably short read, so you should pick it up. I don't think you'll regret it.
     
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  2. LWFlouisa

    LWFlouisa Level 9 (Burgler) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I still visit Cyberpunk Forums from time to time, but I go for long periods of time between feeling isolated from everybody wherever I go.

    But defintiely great to find another punk fan!
     
  3. Kidlike101

    Kidlike101 Level 17 (Theurgist) Citizen

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    I was a Tween when punk was a thing. God I would have killed for those outfits!

    Being in the middleeast however meant that fashion was late. How late you ask? Well, shoulder pads that made you look like a manly woman were still a thing up until the mid nineties. Chew on that!

    The one time I ever saw any punk clothes was during a trip to malasiya in the early 90s and my mom dug her nails into my arm to stop me from sneaking into that store and blowing my savings... she really knows me LOL!


    I still like dark clothes and own a few items with studs but for me, punk is over and steam punk is for wanna bes! DOWN WITH GEARS AND BRASS!!!!!!!!
     
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  4. LWFlouisa

    LWFlouisa Level 9 (Burgler) Roleplaying LitRPG Author Citizen

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    I love punk clothes, but I started including way to many fantasy elf and fairy elements.
     
  5. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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  6. Yuli Ban

    Yuli Ban Level 18 (Magician) LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    Regarding the discussion of punk, I'd say that the big damn problem with punk since the '80s has been that there's no goal. Calling yourself an anarchist was pretty damn shocking in the relatively conservative and authoritarian '60s and '70s, but you have to actually back up that statement. Put up or shut up. Punk peaked when actual anarchists were a part of the scene. When "anarchism" became "anarchy", punk lost its identity because "anarchy" can mean everything from smashing the state all the way to getting drunk on Friday nights and watching lesbians kiss and retweeting anti-Trump news.
    Half the people calling themselves punk anarchists these days wouldn't know "praxis" from a praxis kit in Deus Ex or how non-hierarchical worker collectives differ from mutualist economic syndicates! Punk is completely nihilistic and doesn't know what it's fighting for anymore. Cyberpunk is a solid example: back in the day, a grim reflection on the reality of futuristic technology was subversive because so much sci-fi was either "neo-utopianism" or "uniform-clad space navies fighting wars in the great beyond" and the thought people would still take drugs and seek cheap, easy sex and abuse their families and die of alcohol poisoning in an era of flying cars and personal robots sounded so ridiculous that it was scarily accurate. Just like how looking grungy and anarchistic in the '70s was enough to make a statement, simply taking sci-fi tropes and putting them in filthy street-noir settings was a revolution in and of itself.

    It's been nearly 40 years since then, and cyberpunk hasn't moved on. There's not been any movement saying "so this is the world we're creating, but what is the world we want to achieve?" It's all negativity all the time. When you have no goal, when you're just a rebel without a cause, then rebellion becomes conformity. Cyberpunk these days is more or less just a setting you choose when you want punk girls with neon-pink undercuts shooting industrial guns at rival mercenaries for money, with the limit of societal commentary being "look at all these downtrodden poor living completely without hope as the megacorps crush all humanity for extra profit." When you bring cyberpunk to its obvious conclusion, something has to give. But for whatever reason, no one wants to tell stories of actual revolutions, their aftereffects, and what sort of society they want to build. Simply complaining about this one is enough.

    "People can imagine the end of the world more easily than they can imagine the end of capitalism." Well no shit, when you don't even make the attempt, don't be surprised when others don't.
     
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  7. Kidlike101

    Kidlike101 Level 17 (Theurgist) Citizen

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    Have you watched black mirror yet? Episode 2 titled (10000 merits I think) deals with that theme. Actual anarchy, the rebellion against the status quo. going to the extreme and putting everything, literally everything on the line just to be heard.

    And then... how the system incorporates that and sells it in neat little packages.

    Why rebel? Here buy this shirt with the image of the rebel, symbolically rebel. be a anarchist at heart.

    the actual rebel now makes youtube videos telling you, yes you, how broken the system is and how unfair it treats you. Pay no attention to the sponsors and the product placement through out. you are only supporting the rebel with your viewership and purchases not the system he is now a part of.
     
  8. Windfall

    Windfall Level 16 (Paladin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Just finished Tower of Gates book 4: Brute. I really like the switch to Josh's single POV in this book -- but that's just my personal preference to have the whole book be told from one POV. It's surprisingly dark when you think about it, and I think if it's written... less 'simply' it will be quite a tough read.

    I mean, Josh suffers a lot of abuse and tries to kill himself several times.

    So... to elaborate on the 'written simply'. Emotions will be reported in one sentence, and we move on from it, which keeps the tone much lighter than it could have been. I'm sure if you delve into the details of every scene, it will be much, much, much darker. Still, for the younger crowd, this is still going to feel very dark and gritty.

    I'm not saying it's a bad thing at all (otherwise, like I said, it won't be a light read at all!), since it fits with the overall lighter tone of the series. I really like how fast-paced the series is, and I like how the cast seems to be running into each other randomly (like the whole thing of Person A meets Person B in one scene, then in another scene Person B meets Person C, then Person C meets Person A, etc. I just love stuff like that.)

    Downloaded the next book already.

    Still, a recap somewhere of the whole series so far and how they fit together would be nice, since it's been a while since the last book.
     
  9. Windfall

    Windfall Level 16 (Paladin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    One thing I forgot to add about Brute is that... the series finally has an atmosphere. I don't know what it is exactly, but the city where with the gladiator games has a look and feel, which I never really felt with the previous books. But then again I'm a city girl and I love fantasy cities. Now that I've had time to process, I think I like this one the best so far. Maybe because of the single POV, maybe because of the added description or the added amount of introspection. Josh's real life recollections are also very nice. It's also got this heavy, depressing undertone, which is kinda my thing.
     
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  10. GameMasterPhoenix

    GameMasterPhoenix Level 8 (Thug) Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    The show Corporate did a similar episode. The corporation hires a street tagger to help market protestor merchandise to people protesting the company itself, and they end up turning a profit. Pretty funny.

    Oh, and more on topic, I just started the Alterworld series. A classic, I know, but late is better than never.
     
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  11. Kidlike101

    Kidlike101 Level 17 (Theurgist) Citizen

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    Good luck. Heavy read that one if memory serves.
     
  12. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    My poor elderly Kindle finally went belly-up, so I haven't been reading much new, but I did just get a bunch of old paperbacks so I'm re-reading some good old stuff.
     
  13. Windfall

    Windfall Level 16 (Paladin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Oh, no! RIP Viergacht's old Kindle!
     
  14. Kidlike101

    Kidlike101 Level 17 (Theurgist) Citizen

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    You could just download the app on your i-pad or PC. It's what I use to read kindle books.
     
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  15. Windfall

    Windfall Level 16 (Paladin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    It kinda burns your eyes though >_<
     
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  16. Kidlike101

    Kidlike101 Level 17 (Theurgist) Citizen

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    I switched my settings to the one with the binge background. No problems since. It was the stark white default one that was a pain -_-
     
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  17. Windfall

    Windfall Level 16 (Paladin) LitRPG Author Citizen

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    Ok, I'll try that!
     
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  18. CheshirePhoenix

    CheshirePhoenix Crazy Hermit on the Hill LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Editor Aspiring Writer

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    Yeah, the Kindle app has a night mode, too. I have mine set for black background with whitish grey text.
     
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  19. Viergacht

    Viergacht Thunderdragon Roleplaying LitRPG Author Beta Reader Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    My problem is my bad leg is giving me a lot of pain, to where I'm having trouble sitting up in a chair without it being elevated - it's easier to read holding a little kindle rather than the laptop.
     
  20. Paul Bellow

    Paul Bellow Forum Game Master Staff Member Shop Owner LitRPG Author Citizen Aspiring Writer

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    There's a reason, I think. The spoiler below doesn't give you anything you don't know yet, I believe, but for those who haven't started the series, I don't want to make it easily visible...

    With that said...

    This kinda has to do with the split of the levels - ie the first four are where Magi Inyontoo is trapped and the gamemaster has the most power - on the higher levels the players have built their own world within the game kinda. So, with actual people inhabiting the upper levels, I hope to give them more flavor/atmosphere. All the city-states on 1-9 are a bit different as I foreshadowed. Glad you're sticking with it. Means a lot to me. :)

    I think part of it is I'm just getting a bit better as a writer, maybe? All the feedback has been great.
     
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