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el dang

Joined 1 year, 6 months ago


I'm currently the coordinator of the #SFFBookClub so a lot of what I'm reading is suggestions from there.

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started reading Short Fiction by Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

Short Fiction (EBook, Standard Ebooks) No rating

This is Standard Ebooks' collection of Gogol's shorter works. It appears to be a compilation …

Jade City (2017) 4 stars

Jade City is a 2017 fantasy novel by Fonda Lee. It won the World Fantasy …

The mobster-wuxia hybrid I never knew I needed (spoilers)

5 stars

I'm not usually all that excited about either really martial fantasy or mob stories, because both tend to rely on either very flatly good/evil dichotomies, or just telling the reader that one set of characters are the good ones and should be sympathised with.

At first, this book felt like it was going down that road, since our introduction to some of the core characters is them dispensing a lot of violence for profit, against some thieves who I found myself sympathising with. But by about 1/4 of the way I was getting reeled in by the Kauls' charm even as I was never convinced by their goodness. I think that ambiguity is one of the great strengths of Lee's writing. She could so easily have brought the world another set of Atreides/Skywalkers/Gandalf-and-the-hobbits, and instead we got some much more interesting, real and complex characters fighting a much smaller war. …

The conference of the birds (Paperback, 1984, Penguin) 3 stars

Composed in the twelfth century in north-eastern Iran, Attar's great mystical poem is among the …

charming, to a point

3 stars

I was quite charmed by The Conference of the Birds for some time, but eventually it became rather repetitive. The basic theme is delightful: the hoopoe painstakingly convincing all the other birds to join it on a spiritual quest, which they keep making excuses to cover up their cowardice about. But I was hoping a work of this length would have more breadth of discussion, without which it starts to feel like the same argument over and over again.

reviewed Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune (1978, New English Library) 4 stars

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, …

Dune and the suck fairy (spoilers)

2 stars

Content warning spoilers, though, you know, it's a book older than me

I've kind of lost interest in Don Quixote. Any half dozen or so chapters are fun, but after that the joke gets very old very fast. I think I'll keep occasionally dropping in on the group read, but I'm not even bothering to read chapters for the weeks I miss because it's not like the story really advances.

replied to el dang's status

The other issue with the Harkonnens is just that they're so purely, cartoonishly evil that their existence lets the Atreides off the hook for being white-knight colonisers who think they're so much purer than they are. A subtler villain would leave more space for considering that tension between the Atreides' self-concept and the colonialism inherent to how they found themselves on Arrakis in the first place.

@sohkamyung Yeah, it really does make sense, and re-reading it with adult eyes the hints about why certain tech was abandoned are there and intriguing. I hadn't remembered them, so when a friend referenced the "Butlerian Jihad" a few years ago I thought he was referring to stuff that's deep into sequels I hadn't read or something. And in hindsight it just seems odd that this part of the worldbuilding didn't make more of an impression on me back then - it's actually well done, and without it the backstory would be a bit random.

Bleargh. I remembered that the portrayal of Baron von Harkonnen was gross and fatphobic, but I'd forgotten that it extends to the whole House, and I don't think I'd quite processed the homophobia attached to it. There are so many interesting elements to this book, why did Herbert have to throw this one in?

Dune (1978, New English Library) 4 stars

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, …

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them."

Dune by  (Page 17)

This quote from the Reverend Mother in the very first scene is... prescient.

And it's interesting as a re-read because I didn't remember the general backstory to the oddly low-tech elements of Dune being explicit. I guess when I read it the first time they weren't the parts that made an impression. Not sure how much that reflects how young I was or how long ago it was in terms of tech progression.

Also, I have the edition pictured and I think it has some terrible careless typos in it. Or does the Reverend Mother really talk about the "Swisatz Haderach" in the first chapter? I suppose that's consistent with how much I don't like this edition's cover art, and how much better the Villeneuve film's visuals fit my recollection of the story and its atmosphere.

started reading Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune (1978, New English Library) 4 stars

Set on the desert planet Arrakis, Dune is the story of the boy Paul Atreides, …

Welp, I enjoyed the new movie a lot but it left me with a lot of questions about my recollections of this book that I probably read too young, at least 30 years ago. So it's time for a re-read.

The Farthest Shore (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 3) (Paperback, 2001, Aladdin) 4 stars

When one door is closed many more are open

4 stars

Content warning mild spoilers inside