The Royal Library of Alexandria (SP Book Discussion)

She nails the landing, too. All three books are fantastic


Those were great, really enjoyed all three.

Might start rereading Hugh Howey’s Wool series. Fantastic dystopian fiction; the original book stands alone but is even better when followed up by Shift and Dust.

I have had Wool on my shelf for years and never tackled it. Perhaps that will be what I go to next!

Just finished the much-praised To be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers, and it was good, very well-written at times, but from a plot pov, the arc and the ending were apparent from early on. It felt slightly allegorical to me, which I don’t mind exactly, but it didn’t feel like it was breaking some major new ground.

Before that, I tried Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson, an author that was among my favorites for a long time. But her recent work has not worked for me, and this was true here as well. The very interesting premise and framing of the plot just fell flat in execution. While I admire her willingness to be very experimental, the actual plot-level writing (and even some of the dialogue) felt quite stilted and forced. I think if I go back to it, I may just read the Mary Shelley chapters and skip the modern-day ones.

Also read the graphic novel/collection Die by Keiron Gillen (of The Wicked + The Divine fame), and it was very good and worth a read certainly–many of the folks here would like it. Plot: About 20 years ago, a bunch of friends started playing an rpg that they created themselves. A thing happened that sucked them into the reality of the game. All but one of them escaped. Present day, now adults, they get together for the first time in years and get sucked back in by the friend they left behind, who does not want them to leave. Gillen describes the series a “Goth Jumanji”, and that’s accurate.

You’re missing out! One of my favorites of all time.

I did not get on with Wool at all. YMMV.

I’m looking at Wool and it’s confusing…there are 5 parts? Should I just read the omnibus edition?

Also, it’s post-apocalyptic, which isn’t my favorite so I might be in @OhBollox’s court on this one.

Still, looking for something. Started The Poppy Wars and got to chapter 2 before I grew bored, so I’ll try anything right now.

I love post-apoc and it still hit me as a dud.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, however, is a good one.

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Think that’s the way to go… I started reading it when it was just short stories on Amazon; the Wool stuff was eventually compiled into a book, and then he released Shift and Dust afterwards.

And indeed, it’s about as post-apocalyptic as it gets just shy of The Road, so caveat emptor.


Oh, ok then–this is the most helpful thing anyone could have said. Wool is clearly not for me.


This week I leant that K.J. Parker is a nom de plume of Tom Holt, author of approximately 1 billion comic fantasy novels as well, of which I’ve read approximately half. Will therefore try Besieging Armies Hate These 10 Amazing Tricks.


I’ve now finished Foundryside and everything @OhBollox said is entirely correct. The remaining 400 pages are a brief note - “mystical apocalypse, everyone dies” - followed by increasing annoyed letters from the publisher interspersed with restaurant bills and Stephen Donaldson fanfic.

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The Things They Carried, O’Brien. Perhaps the finest novel about Vietnam, it’s a terrible, Gordian Ouroboros knot of a book, with love and lust and sadness tied up in implacable violence, hatred, cowardice, and the spectacle of man at his worst shredding himself with his own shame. There are better novels about some aspects of the war, but this is like having a slightly drunk veteran sit opposite you and spill his guts.

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I read that one over 20 years ago. Still remember the one about the guy stuck in the tree…

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The Plotters, Kim. A look into a strange world of contract killings in South Korea, and while it’s always good to try and gain some insight into other cultures, it’s also partially baffling and makes me wonder if there’s layers I’m not understanding (almost certainly) versus its conventions being just unlikely. Enjoyable but odd.

The British in India, Gilmour. My interest (borderline obsession) continues, following from the incredible tale of John Company’s capitalist madness via Dalrymple’s The Anarchy, to this book about the rather more respectable (or at least, less corrupt) British Raj. Perhaps the best time for this would have been some years earlier, where there was less knowledge about just how bad colonialism was for India, but in these times, such a book which features few Indians and Indian perspectives. It is a book about British efforts and British lives, but those are all in India, and it feels strange for that to be almost left out.

Warrior, Albert. A sometimes uneasy mix of archeology and more general history, it uses the excavation of an Anglo-Saxon warrior’s grave and the work involved there to root the rest of the book’s discussion of Anglo-Saxon Britain, its religious changes, warfare, immigration, and changing society. It uses the phrase ‘Dark Ages’ in the blurb, which is Not Great, but the book itself is decent so far.

Finished 16 Ways… and duly enjoyed it, so I thought I’d read a few more of K.J. Parker’s output.Started on his Engineer trilogy and have also finished Alexander at the World’s End. Also good, but there’s a certain sameness to the voice that I remember from the Tom Holt alter ego, especially the 16 Ways… and Alexander narrators. I did laugh at AatWE and recommend it, but think I’ll skip any backlog binge at this point.

Finally got around to The Fifth Season, by Jemison, and that’s a hell of a book. I feel like most fiction takes an idea or two, and imagines the consequences, while Jemison took an idea or two, imagined the consequences, imagined the consequences of those consequences, and on and on for a good long while. Most books I read make me think I could write a book; it would be fun. This one makes me feel like I really couldn’t.

Also, just started Declare, by Powers. I’m not pages in and already enthralled.


Hell yeah, Declare is among my top books of all time.


Declare really is the tits.



The Declare Kindle formatting is so bad that I couldn’t make it through the free trial. They put a break after every single paragraph; this becomes especially jarring where there is dialogue.

I feel like I should just suck it up and keep reading until I don’t notice. I’m 38% of the way through a Clancy book, but maybe I’ll move on to Declare next.

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Part of my incipient midlife crisis has been realising re-reading books is largely a waste of time as I will leave too many others unread. With that said, I’ve re-read Declare three times in the past couple of years. A physical copy is well worth it.