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SilverStormm

Small Talk: The Coffee Machine

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Just received a Biggles book to add to the collection.  (Actually, it's a collection of short stories, including one each about Gimlet, Worrals and Biggles.  The Biggles story was never published anywhere else, which earns this book a place in the Biggles collection.

But I just love the handwritten dedication in the flyleaf:

Quote

 

To Shirley
All the best 
from Auntie Doris
& Uncle Frank
Xmas 1947

 

Seventy one years and counting...

Edited by Netfoot

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I finished The Lathe of Heaven and I wondered if George created the turtle shell aliens; I think so.  There was a TV movie made in 1980 which apparently has a cult following; I'm sure I'll watch it one of these days.   I liked the book; it was somewhat reminiscent of The Expanse in that we have protagonists trying to do the right thing (that's really the only similarity).  Lawyer Heather was a great character as well.

I'm now reading Blackout by Connie Willis, which is a little all over the place with characters but still interesting.  I like time travel and paradoxes so we'll see.

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1 hour ago, raven said:

There was a TV movie made in 1980 which apparently has a cult following; I'm sure I'll watch it one of these days. 

There was another adaptation in 2002 that wasn't nearly as good IMO. See the original if you can.

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The 1980 adaptation of Lathe is quite good.  I liked it.  I think it was done by the BBC.

Edited by Captanne
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My library had George RR Martin's Nightflyers short story collection so I picked that up.  The Nightflyers story was just OK.   Mostly unlikable characters (not that likable characters are always necessary) and the concepts were interesting.  I haven't read any of the other stories yet.  I know it is coming to TV; I think it looks good and am curious how faithfully it will be adapted. 

I was messing around on my tablet and picked up Connie Willis's short story I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land, which I liked.   Not really scifi, more a fantasy type about an odd book store.  I like odd bookstore stories so I liked this; since I'm also reading CW's Blackout, I may have found a new author (yay).

If any one else likes odd stores related to books/bookstores, I recommend John Connolly's The Wanderer in Unknown Realms; Museum of Literary Souls (also Connolly) -these are novellas that I downloaded to my tablet, so I'm not sure if there are physical books as well.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind is very good  - he's written a series of these, but this one is my favorite. 

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Since I've seen so many comparisons between The Expanse and Firefly I got interested in watching that. I've heard about it before of course but I generally don't like space shows that much so I never gave it much thought.

I've gotte to episode five and it's entertaining so far. The misdirection are a lot of fun. The one thing that gives me pause is the relationship between Mal and Inara. I suppose their conflict could be kinda interesting if it was presented like her being torn about wanting to be with him and keep her career, but instead it's just them bickering with each other and being emotionally immature. 

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On 7/20/2018 at 9:03 AM, Holmbo said:

The one thing that gives me pause is the relationship between Mal and Inara.

Almost all the fans had trouble with this, especially with Mal. There is a woman you'll meet who is a MUCH better love interest for Mal.

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I’ve just finished Ada Palmer’s Too Like The Lightning and Ioved it. The writing style may be a little embellished for some, but I appreciate a future that is neither an apocalyptic wasteland or a flawless Utopia. Just like the Expanse! I have ordered the sequel from the library.

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Just finished Hidden Empire by  Kevin J. Anderson, the first of a heptalogy recommended a while back, by @AngelKitty.  

It's been hard going, and took me over a fortnight.  Not because the book wasn't good, but because I've been quite busy and haven't had as much time to read as usual.  And because the book is long.  As promised, it's a sweeping space story!   Book one is 619 pages (out of nearly 4,500 total for the set), and introduces a wide selection of characters in a number of settings and cultures.  I'm looking forward to reading the remainder.

I have one bone to pick.  

On or about page 20, the Klikiss Torch ignites the gas giant Oncier, creating a new sun.  A process watched by the "known Universe", with numerous observers from the Hanseatic League, the Ildiran Solar Navy, green priests, the Roamers... everybody.  "Suddenly, several incredibly fast, spherical objects streaked out like shotgun pellets.  They emerged from deep within Oncier's clouds and soared off into deep space.  Within seconds, the dwindling dots disappeared into the distance."  And for the next 200+ pages nobody even speculates as to what they were or what the ramifications of their existence might be?!??  These are the diamond-hulled globes of the Hydrogues, later described as "the size of asteroids", and traveling with "dizzying speed", even to Roamers, whose ships far out-perform those of the Hanseatic League and the Ildiran Navy.  They appear unexpectedly, right under the nose of observers from... everywhere!  And nobody thinks it's worth the trouble to say "WTF was that?"

Edited by Netfoot
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On 2018-07-23 at 12:08 PM, marinw said:

I’ve just finished Ada Palmer’s Too Like The Lightning and Ioved it. The writing style may be a little embellished for some, but I appreciate a future that is neither an apocalyptic wasteland or a flawless Utopia. Just like the Expanse! I have ordered the sequel from the library.

Non-apoctalyptic future stories are to few and far in between. Perhaps I'll check it out, the wikipedia article made it sound promising.

Though I've still to finish @Netfoots recommendations. I've a hard time getting into Stand on Zanzibar. Part of it feels like reading a twitter feed (which I suppose is one point in the authors favor for predicting the future). Two years before the mast I really like, but there I have logistically problems with the print of the e-book being miniscule and making it very tiring to read. I'm very invested in it though. Will the narrator be stuck in California for two more years? The title of the book suggest he won't, but who knows. 

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2 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I've a hard time getting into Stand on Zanzibar

I remember reading The Sheep Look Up by the same author. It’s very depressing because many predictions made when the novel was written (1972) seems to have been quite prescient.

Edited by marinw

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4 hours ago, Holmbo said:

Two years before the mast I really like, but there I have logistically problems with the print of the e-book being miniscule and making it very tiring to read.

Funnily enough, my ink & paper copy of Two years before the mast was also physically difficult to read.  It is a thin-skinned paperback, with large page format.  This makes each line about twice as long as those in a regular book.  When I reached the end of a line and my eyes swept back to the left, I would frequently miss the next line and either end up re-reading the same line again or reading one line too far down.  Very annoying!  This, plus the fact that the large, floppy book kept falling out of my hand unless I used a two-handed grip, made the entire process cumbersome and vexing.  In fact, it is only the very interesting and appealing story-line that stopped me from throwing the book down in frustration!  I'd still highly recommend the book, but advise seeking a copy with a more normal publication format / layout.

The writer also tends to use quite long paragraphs, which in itself isn't a problem... unless you keep dropping the book, and having to repeatedly pick it up and find your place again!

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Watching the series MARS on NatGeo and trying to view it as the prequel to The Expanse and wondering if Lukrum is run by Jules Pierre Mao's family.

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4 hours ago, WildPlum said:

Watching the series MARS on NatGeo and trying to view it as the prequel to The Expanse and wondering if Lukrum is run by Jules Pierre Mao's family.

I have Nat Geo until the end of the month when the free preview ends, and I pay far too much to the Bell Overlords already. MARS is such a weird show, but I kind of like it.

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3 hours ago, marinw said:

MARS is such a weird show, but I kind of like it.

I like it too.  Weird combination of documentary and science-fiction/space opera!

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On 7/5/2018 at 7:00 PM, raven said:

I'm now reading Blackout by Connie Willis, which is a little all over the place with characters but still interesting.  I like time travel and paradoxes so we'll see.

Oh, so it's you that recommended Blackout!   I thought it was someone in The Amazing race Meet Market.

Bought it back then, but only just read it.  I liked it a lot!  The time-traveling historian concept is interesting, and WW-II Europe is of particular interest.  I've now ordered All Clear and look forward to it's arrival.  

Thanks for the recommendation.  Any other suggestions?

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On 11/30/2018 at 8:54 PM, Netfoot said:

I've now ordered All Clear and look forward to it's arrival.  

I have All Clear on my shelf but haven't read it yet; though I ultimately liked Blackout and am curious as to how it wraps up, I needed a break for some of the silly things the time travelers did.  I took a detour from scifi to horror (14 by Peter Clines  was very good) and read some of Connie Willis's short stories, so I think anything by her will be a good read.

I just started Breakthrough by Michael Grumley, which has an intriguing premise and I think will be a good one.

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On 11/26/2018 at 9:58 PM, raven said:

We've landed on Mars!

The InSight spacecraft has, anyway.

I watched the landing on NASA's live stream. Even though it was just a bunch of people looking at computer monitors, it was really exciting. (Although not as exciting as Curiosity,  where they used a freakin' crane suspended from freakin' rockets.)

But what was kind of strange was the knowledge that every stage, as it was announced, had already happened. The time delay over distance meant that we were minutes behind what was actually happening.

And then I imagine the Expanse's UN command center. Knowing at some point that your fate has already been determined despite what you see in front of you.

Edited by xaxat
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Just finished 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.  It's taken me over two weeks to get through it.  I honestly can't say I enjoyed it that much.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good either.  I picked it up at a used-book tent, and on the strength of KSR's Red/Green/Blue Mars trilogy I figured it was worth the fiver.  Now, I'm not so sure.

Got a large pile here to read, so I'll pick one and hope it's more entertaining than the last.

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I'm reading Rosewater by Tade Thompson.  It's partly sci-fi, partly mystery, partly sociology.  I'm liking it so far; about 1/4 of the way through; it's imaginative and well written.  I don't think it's the type of sci fi with space ship battles, but I'm liking the setting and the protaganist's POV, even if he's a jerk a good part of the time.  I picked it up at the library.  It's the first in a trilogy, which is sort of annoying but seems to be the thing now.

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On 1/26/2019 at 11:12 PM, Netfoot said:

Actually, someone recommended the Wormwood Trilogy to me a while ago, but I have not looked into it as yet.

I'm nearly finished with this one; I'm really enjoying it.  It's written in a flashback/flashforward style so I have to pay attention LOL.  I will definitely read the second book when it's available.

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I'm reading General practice by James White. It's such a delightful novel. I found it by searching for positive Sci fi recommendations (cause I have to ration my intake of dystopia).

The story takes place at an interspecies space hospital which has a super wide variety of patients ( chlorine breathing, aquatic, adapted for various pressure etc) The greatest thing about it though is that its protagonist is a really conservative, prickly person. The reason she's there is her colleagues at her home world basically forced her to go, because they were so annoyed with her complaining about people upsetting tradition and propriety. She keeps trying to act according to those traditions at the hospital which causes a lot of conflict.

The book is somewhere in the middle of a series of books, all taking place at the hospital. But it seem to be stand alone.

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20 minutes ago, Holmbo said:

I'm reading General practice by James White. It's such a delightful novel.

I've read two or three of the books in the Sector General series by James White.  And not recently either. Some of the early books were written over 50 years ago!  Not great literature, perhaps, but I recall they were interesting and fun to read, with a different viewpoint on BEMs.  And at times quite funny!

Tried reading something caller MEM by Bethany Morrow.  All I can say is, thank ghodd I bought it second-hand, because I'd hate to think I spent much money on that crap.  I had to give up after two chapters.  I don't usually give up on a book, no matter how awful (After all, I read the first two Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, all six books, nearly a million words).  But MEM was one of those occasional books that I just can't face.

After that I quickly read through Freefall, book #1 of the Earth's Last Gambit series.  A bit of a pot-boiler with aliens and spies.  It wasn't terrible, but I won't be rushing to obtain book #2.

Just started last night: The Ace of Skulls, the fourth (and final?) Tale of the Ketty Jay.  I enjoyed the first three books.  I like all the characters, although each and every one has hugely unlikable flaws. (My favourite and saddest of them all:  Bess.)  I'm only a few pages in, but I anticipate/expect a few days of pleasurable reading from this one.

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2 hours ago, Netfoot said:
8 hours ago, Holmbo said:

I'm reading General practice by James White. It's such a delightful novel.

 I've read two or three of the books in the Sector General series by James White.  And not recently either. Some of the early books were written over 50 years ago!  Not great literature, perhaps, but I recall they were interesting and fun to read, with a different viewpoint on BEMs.  And at times quite funny!

I loved that series! The aliens were so....alien. And I loved the optimistic future. I could see this taking place in the Star Trek or Orville Universe.

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On 2/11/2019 at 12:19 AM, Netfoot said:

I've read two or three of the books in the Sector General series by James White.  And not recently either. Some of the early books were written over 50 years ago!  Not great literature, perhaps, but I recall they were interesting and fun to read, with a different viewpoint on BEMs.  And at times quite funny!

Yeah, I actually hesitated at reading it first because it was so old. I thought maybe it's views might be outdated or its, at the time original ideas, might already have been used later in other books I read.

But it doesn't show its age much. The only signs are that all the storage occurs on tapes. And a little bit weirdness in how the gender system is described. All different species referred to each other as IT, so that they won't make assumptions on gender roles.

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Saw Apollo 11 today

It was an interesting, fun watch.  Hopefully it will be available on streaming platforms for others to see.  There's no narration (though there's some music), just the footage and whatever dialogue corresponds to it.  I esp appreciate the space-eye view of docking the modules together.  It was kind of fun to imagine Alex and Naomi effortlessly performing the maneuvers 🙂

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This is pretty cool.  Eight radio telescopes in six places (Chile, Mexico, Spain, Hawaii, Arizona and the Antarctic) integrated their data to get this picture. 

First picture of a black hole

Quote

True to the nature of the science, the picture does not show the black hole itself. The defining feature of all black holes is that they are so dense, generating a gravity field so powerful, that nothing, not even electromagnetic energy — which, of course, includes visible light — can escape their pull. What the picture reveals instead is the black hole’s so-called event horizon, the swirl of gas and dust and stars and light itself, circling the gravitational drain, before they’re sucked inside never, ever to reemerge.

image.thumb.png.657c1db630dc3ebed009b3242c85011e.png

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And the young woman who started the project is absolutely delightful and relatable. Even though she is a magnitude smarter than I am.

Edited by xaxat
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52 minutes ago, raven said:

What the picture reveals instead is the black hole’s so-called event horizon....

Not blue?!??   Frederik Pohl would have been so disappointed!

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16 hours ago, johntfs said:

Sure.  Still, it is getting better if slowly. 

True, but it's easy for those not affected by racism to be complacent -- it's not their fight, after all.  "America had a Black president -- we must be living in a post-racial society!" is a sentiment used by those the "I am not a racist" crowd.  Often the same ones who quote Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech seriously.

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5 hours ago, jhlipton said:

True, but it's easy for those not affected by racism to be complacent -- it's not their fight, after all.  "America had a Black president -- we must be living in a post-racial society!" is a sentiment used by those the "I am not a racist" crowd.  Often the same ones who quote Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech seriously.

I heard something like "To the privileged fairness feels like oppression."  And if someone feels oppressed, their instinct will be to fight back.  If there's a business where Mr. White is making $40,000 a year and Mr. Black is making $20,000 for doing essentially the same job, it would be "fair" to pay them both $30,000.  That's great for Mr. Black.  But it's going to screw with Mr. White's life quite a bit.  Figure Mr. White is going to fearful and angry in the wake of that situation.  Assuming their names reflect their colors, does that make Mr. White racist?  Possibly.

In the other thread I made a (since deleted) comment that "White people rule the world."  The biggest goal for racial harmony is to make it so that they/we don't rule the world.  Or at least that they rule it along with the other races equally and fairly.  The problem is that, they/we still do kind of rule the world. 

Think of it like frogs in a cookpot.  Turn the heat up too much too fast and the frogs out, rolling back your progress toward frog legs.  The key is to turn the heat up (move toward equality) slowly and carefully so that white people don't notice (or at least don't get angry/afraid/combative).

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29 minutes ago, johntfs said:

Think of it like frogs in a cookpot.  Turn the heat up too much too fast and the frogs out, rolling back your progress toward frog legs.  The key is to turn the heat up (move toward equality) slowly and carefully so that white people don't notice (or at least don't get angry/afraid/combative).

The problem is that some frogs will jump out if they even think there might be some heat.  "Gays getting married?  Doesn't affect me in the slightest, but still can't have it!" "Light-skinned is OK, but dark-skinned, especially women, is BAD!!!"  It doesn't help when there are those who encourage the frogs to jump (not naming names, as it is pretty obvious).

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44 minutes ago, johntfs said:

If there's a business where Mr. White is making $40,000 a year and Mr. Black is making $20,000 for doing essentially the same job, it would be "fair" to pay them both $30,000. 

More like both Mr. Black and Mr. White can earn $50,000 and Mr. White prefers the status quo where he's learning less than that as long as he can still say he's earning more than  Mr. Black. Because his entire self-worth hinges on the fact that he's superior

Lyndon B. Johnson: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

Edited by ursula
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1 hour ago, jhlipton said:

The problem is that some frogs will jump out if they even think there might be some heat.  "Gays getting married?  Doesn't affect me in the slightest, but still can't have it!" "Light-skinned is OK, but dark-skinned, especially women, is BAD!!!"  It doesn't help when there are those who encourage the frogs to jump (not naming names, as it is pretty obvious).

The first African slaves arrived in what would become the USA in Virginia in 1619, around 400 years ago.  Slavery was formerly ended not quite 154 years ago when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in December of 1865.  I will say that it is my hope that we will achieve racial equality and acceptance before the year 2111, but we're not there yet.

1 hour ago, ursula said:

More like both Mr. Black and Mr. White can earn $50,000 and Mr. White prefers the status quo where he's learning less than that as long as he can still say he's earning more than  Mr. Black. Because his entire self-worth hinges on the fact that he's superior

Lyndon B. Johnson: "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

There are some people like that, but I don't think that's a driving force for most people - even most white people.  That said, I do think that there's been a lot of pickpocketing.  Wealth has become more and more concentrated into the hands of the already wealthy, leaving less and less for the other 80 or 90 or 99 percent of us.  The wealthy feast while the rest of us fight over the scraps.

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16 minutes ago, johntfs said:

The first African slaves arrived in what would become the USA in Virginia in 1619

Have you heard of the "1619 Project" from the New York Times?  It's a collection of essays, videos, poems, etc about the impact slavery continues to have on today's society.  It's worth a look.

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11 minutes ago, jhlipton said:

Have you heard of the "1619 Project" from the New York Times?  It's a collection of essays, videos, poems, etc about the impact slavery continues to have on today's society.  It's worth a look.

I need to check that out but I don't want to buy an online subscription to the New York Times.

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6 minutes ago, johntfs said:

I need to check that out but I don't want to buy an online subscription to the New York Times.

I think some parts of it are free.

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It's here!  Either it's a day early or it's an international dateline thing!  Only 10 eps.  p00p.  Better than ZERO!

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The last two seasons were 13 eps.  None of those in s4 are particularly long like you sometimes get on streamers.

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