Author Topic: Reading Recommendations  (Read 471 times)

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Reading Recommendations
« on: December 29, 2017, 07:08:21 PM »
We've had a few book recommendations given in other threads, but I thought it might be worth giving the subject one of its own (not just recommendations, but anything connected to reading). 

To start off, here's a current list of my 15 favorite novels in no particular order and without using an author twice (genres indicated): 

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (French historical adventure)

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (detective)

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (detective)

One Lonely Night by Mickey Spillane (detective)

From Russia, with Love
by Ian Fleming (spy)

A Magnum for Schneider by James Mitchell (spy) 

When Eight Bells Toll by Alistair MacLean (spy)

The Chinese Gold Murders by Robert Van Gulik (historical mystery)

The Deer & the Cauldron by Louis Cha (Chinese historical kung-fu satire)

The Eleventh Son by Gu Long (Chinese historical kung-fu fantasy)

The Kouga Ninja Scrolls by Futaro Yamada (Japanese historical fantasy) 

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution by Nicholas Meyer (Sherlock Holmes historical mash-up) 

The Star Kings by Edmond Hamilton (space opera)

Arthur Rex by Thomas Berger (Arthurian legends satire) 

Soon I Will be Invincible by Austin Grossman (superhero)

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 11:22:17 AM »
I've read hundreds of short stories in my life, but most of them I've found quite forgettable.  However, these favorites below, which I first read about 40 years ago, made an indelible impression. 

My Favorite Short Stories, in no particular order, with the hero of the story noted:   

From Robert E. Howard,

Tower of the Elephant (Conan) 

Rogues in the House (Conan) 

The Frost Giant's Daughter (Conan) 

Queen of the Black Coast (Conan) 

By This Axe I Rule! (Kull) 

Red Shadows (Solomon Kane) 

The Moon of Skulls (Solomon Kane)

The Hills of the Dead (Solomon Kane)   

Wings in the Night (Solomon Kane) 


From Edgar Rice Burroughs,

The God of Tarzan (Tarzan) 

The Nightmare (Tarzan) 

Tarzan Rescues the Moon (Tarzan)
 

Addendum: Rogues in the House was adapted into a nice UA mod by Surge Protector (http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=2204.msg29453#msg29453).

Offline steve_mcdee

  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1978
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 08:07:32 PM »
Thanks hans.

Here is another short story that I found interesting: http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/books/amp1564/memento-mori-0301/

Online Nol Drek

  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2236
    • Nol Drek's Web Site
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 09:35:49 PM »
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (detective)

If you like The Big Sleep (and the Big Lebowski), then you might enjoy Hotel California, which is a Dungeon Craft mod derived from Chandler's second novel: Farewell, My Lovely.

http://www.noldrek.com/dc/HotelCalifornia.zip
"Into the Drachensgrab Mountains!"

http://www.noldrek.com

Online Mechanaut

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 172
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 09:39:27 PM »
  • The Black Company ~ by Glen Cook
  • The Worm Ouroboros ~ by Eric Rücker Eddison
  • Prentice Alvin ~ by Orson Scott Card
  • The Mote in God's Eye ~ by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 11:53:16 AM »
Thanks hans.

Here is another short story that I found interesting: http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/books/amp1564/memento-mori-0301/
 

I really like that story's very unconventional narrative.  I've experimented with unconventional narrative structures in UA, and hope to do more of it.

I also like how the reader was left to connect some of the dots.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2018, 11:33:26 AM by hans »

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2018, 11:48:02 AM »
  • The Black Company ~ by Glen Cook
  • The Worm Ouroboros ~ by Eric Rücker Eddison
  • Prentice Alvin ~ by Orson Scott Card
  • The Mote in God's Eye ~ by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
 

I read The Worm Ouroboros around 40 years ago.  I very much enjoyed it, too.  I was ambivalent about the ending, tho.  Didn't really know if I liked it, then, or not.  Back in those days of my very literal-minded youth, I focused mostly upon the surface actions and plot, over deeper things like themes and symbolism.  However, it is that unique ending that has most stuck with me over time. 

It did earn a permanent spot in my personal library where many other works did not.  I still have my old Ballantine copy.

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2018, 08:12:12 PM »
I finished re-reading Red Nails, last night; a tale of Conan by Robert E. Howard that could be called either a long short story or a short novel.
https://pulpcovers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Weird-Tales-July-1936.jpg 

I've found no other author who can match Howard's ability to write action scenes.  They smoulder with primal heat.  Pulse with blood and thunder.  Crackle in their detail. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_HBKWtrKbYAk/TI2FfHW9WqI/AAAAAAAAGOo/mttbDPNX-GI/s1600/050.jpg

He was also able to create horror moods to rival Lovecraft. 
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_HBKWtrKbYAk/TI2Eu5HSdZI/AAAAAAAAGN4/emOC8CBePrM/s1600/056.jpg

Exotica.  Suspense.  He was the complete master of the Sword & Sorcery genre. 
https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kNAyIAIopP0/We9qL-QMftI/AAAAAAAAfFk/jdHLc5E3ysAOpninxlq01DYuz4QzgatyQCLcBGAs/s1600/Weird-Tales-August-September-1936-p205.jpg 

Red Nails is an excellent example of his skill. 

It's a great shame that the movie adaptations of Howard's work and characters have been blended heavily with B-movie cheese.  1982's Conan the Barbarian suffered least from such cheese because it imports most directly characters and situations from Howard.  Still, it's far from pure Howard. 

It would be so cool to see Howard treated as honorably as Tolkien was by Peter Jackson.  Maybe someday...sigh. 

There has been one Conan story adaptation for UA: "Rogues in the House" by Surge Protector:
http://ua.reonis.com/index.php?topic=2204.msg29453#msg29453
   

Offline Null Null

  • Maker of excessively difficult vanilla mods
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2018, 11:03:03 AM »
Conan's too macho, I suspect. He's not nearly as stupid as his imitators made him out to be, but the whole 'swashbuckling barbarian who waltzes around cutting off heads and bedding women' seems too ah, problematic these days.

Lovecraft's problem is you can't make a Cthulhu that would actually drive movie-watchers insane.

People still think Tolkien's about WW2, so it gets a pass. (It may have been about WW1...)

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2018, 07:30:18 PM »
Conan's too macho, I suspect. He's not nearly as stupid as his imitators made him out to be, but the whole 'swashbuckling barbarian who waltzes around cutting off heads and bedding women' seems too ah, problematic these days...
 

Perhaps so. 

Conan is not a very noble hero.
Less noble than Howard's King Kull. 
And far less noble than Howard's Solomon Kane. 

Then again, they're still making gangster movies...and pirate movies...and monster movies...   ;)

Online Nol Drek

  • Dungeon Craft Tester
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2236
    • Nol Drek's Web Site
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2018, 10:05:26 PM »
  • The Last Unicorn - Peter S. Beagle
  • American Gods - Neil Gaiman
  • The Elric Saga - Michael Moorcock
  • A Deepness in the Sky - Vernor Vinge
  • Tales of the Dying Earth - Jack Vance
  • The Book of the New Sun - Gene Wolfe

A novel which is in the public domain and can be read online for free:
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter - Lord Dunsany
« Last Edit: February 19, 2018, 10:08:07 PM by Nol Drek »
"Into the Drachensgrab Mountains!"

http://www.noldrek.com

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2018, 01:19:17 PM »
I just finished reading First Power Play by John Miller, the first in TSR's old Buck Rogers in the 25th Century "The Inner Planets Trilogy." 
https://pictures.abebooks.com/isbn/9780880388405-de-300.jpg

I don't read a lot of franchise (by-writer-hireling) novels because they're usually poorly written, but since I'm planning a BR mod, I wanted to immerse myself in the milieu.  The faults I usually find in franchise novels include: 

1.  Long segments of characters doing nothing but thinking.  Making plans in their minds, evaluating recent events, etc.  The authors no doubt believe that they are advancing characterization and plot exposition, but that is the worst possible way to accomplish those things. 

2.  Overlong descriptions of irrelevant details.  Like a page and a half to describe the furnishings of a room.  As a rule of thumb, a single paragraph should be enough to describe an environment before beginning or returning to the action taking place in it. 

3.  Actions scenes are described flatly, with little flair or emotional impact.  Or, worse, in a confused manner.  Good writing builds suspense before the action, then maintains that suspense through the action.  These scenes are the rides in the amusement park of literature.  They should be thrilling, or scary, and maybe even exhausting (in a good way). 

4.  Actions scenes are few and far between.  The authors spend far too much time on the boring parts of their story and too little on the hot spots.  Too much is unnecessary or irrelevant or uninvolving. 

So, I was relieved that First Power Play held up better than most franchise entries.  Several of the action scenes were rather good.  The loss of one character almost moved me to tears.  It's not perfect, and certainly doesn't rank among my favorites, but was pleasantly better-than-average for a franchise novel. 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1458577.First_Power_Play

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2018, 02:13:39 PM »
Since I've recently begun work on a Buck Rogers mod set on Venus, I decided to read Perry Rhodan #14: Venus in Danger by Kurt Mahr to help set my mind in the proper mood. 
https://images.bonanzastatic.com/afu/images/2353/4447/96/__57.jpg 

(The Perry Rhodan adventures originally appeared in German pulp magazines, which numbered nearly 3000 issues, over a hundred of which were translated in English.) 
https://bilder.buecher.de/produkte/37/37077/37077731z.jpg 

The short novel was briskly paced and action packed.  In fact, it had at least as much action in its 105 pages as my previous post's First Power Play had in its well-over twice that. 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4340288-venus-in-danger

Some of the science has become obsolete or discredited, and Venus was never the primeval jungle fantasy envisioned, but its similarities to one of Buck Rogers are quite close. 

While no classic, it was a fun and lively read.

Offline hans

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2788
Re: Reading Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2018, 05:10:17 PM »
Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon by Joe Gores was a pleasure to read. 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3942307-spade-archer

It's not as good as Hammett's seminal classic (which I listed among my all-time favorite novels), but well worthwhile. 
http://www.k-libre.fr/klibre-bo/upload/illustration/spade-et-archer.jpg
 

 

anything