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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 01:45:23 PM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "A Dance With Dragons", "Smile or Die". Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin, latest book in the Ice and Fire series. Enjoyed reading it quite a lot. I wasn't that impressed with "A Feast for Crows" which concentrated on the less-interesting characters, but this seemed an improvement. Has some nice scenes and some good drama.

However, while I was gripped by the first half, by the second half it was clear that the main plot is only advancing pretty slowly. A lot of stuff is happening, but the big stuff seems to be deferred. Could have had a couple of big battles, but they're either deferred or happening between paragraphs.

Also one key event just didn't seem plausible to me. After Jon Snow has spent all that time staying true to his vows and out of politics of Westeros, after he's ignored the fact that psychopathic torturer Ramsay Bolton is apparently marrying his sister, it just didn't make sense to me that he suddenly decide to go chasing off to rescue Mance Ryder of all people.

Overall, pretty good, but I don't think he's going to live up to the initial promise of the series.

What I'm Reading 2
Smile or Die by Barbara Ehrenreich is a book systematically attacking the Positive Thinking fad that's dominated America in various forms, from corporate brainwashing to personal self-improvement to religion.

Pretty good, especially when she goes into detail on how the health benefits have been systematically exaggerated.

Overall as you'd expect it seems to be better to be realistic rather than either optimistic or pessimistic: pessimists sabotage themselves, optimists underestimate risks and can cause themselves harm.

I think she goes slightly too far in trying to assign some blame for the banking crisis, when greed and self-interest were powerful motivators as well.

Worth a read if you're interested.

Web
Economics. Rating Agencies, (seem like Gosplan to me, may well employ smart people but that much centralization is deadly). Why Tyler Cowen is wrong to say "We thought were were richer than we are" via.

Video. San Francisco fog/ Fuck everything. La Guerre des Etoiles.

Articles. Rich people anxious. Reality show about Amazon tribe faked dialogue and scenes, via. Students try to produce newspaper with 20 year old tech.

Random. Space junk: Opportunity finds own heat shield, Columbia debris found in lake. Mysteries: German tunnels, via. Dead Grandmaster plays chess, via. Dating sites. Batman bin Suparman may be real person.

Science. Random dice rolls make results more truthful. Vesta pic.

Politics. EDL ditch shadowy strategist Alan Lake.

Pics. 1940s NYC in colour. A day may come.

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Dancing in the dark | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
1940's NYC by wiredog (4.00 / 3) #1 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 02:07:00 PM EST
Nice pics.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

A Dance with Dragons by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #2 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 02:17:32 PM EST
I enjoyed it along the way, but was very annoyed that the big climaxes that were being built to have mostly been deferred to the next book.  We spent the whole book reading about Tyrion getting to the same area as Danearys, but nothing came of it.  It's obvious that something will, but what?  Same with Victarion, getting just almost there in this book.  We spent the whole book reading about Stannis approaching battle and then get...nothing but a letter, which may be a lie.

I was also a bit annoyed about some of the side stories that seemed to not have much point.  For example, Quentyn Martell gets three viewpoint chapters, but in the end his whole purpose seems to be just to open a door to let the dragons out.

I found the implied death of Jon Snow annoying, since I don't for a minute believe it's true...there's too much story invested in that character for it to make sense.  I feel it's another "your favorite character is dead, nope tricked you!" moment as with Arya a couple books back.

Overall, I did enjoy the journey, but can't say I actually liked it overall until I see some resolution.  There's little resolution in this book.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Agree by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 02:30:21 PM EST
I was really looking forward to some big battles and important meetings and they just didn't happen.

Oh well, maybe when the next volume comes out in 2017 or so...
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Debating sitting this one out by marvin (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 03:00:07 PM EST
GRRM's cliffhangers and delays are starting to piss me off. His attitude bothers me too - he gets angry at fans who express any frustration at the incessant delays, he takes 6 years to finish one book, and he wastes copious amounts of time on other projects.

Worst of all, every time he finishes a book the series gets one book longer. Wasn't this supposed to be a trilogy, then it became four, then five, and now seven books? It's like the literary equivalent of fusion power - always two books and a decade away from being finished.

At this point, I'm hoping to make him wait to get my money until the series is done. Best quote I saw on another site compared him to Robert Jordan: "At least Sanderson is young. He'll be around to wrap this one up too."

[ Parent ]
Optimisitic by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 03:50:52 PM EST
He didn't had a new book this time around.  I am optimistic only in that it seems to be building up to a climax, and I see it heading in directions that were foreshadowed in book 1.  As an example in book 1, he established that Tyrion knew everything to know about dragons, and now he just happens to be in the same place as Danearys, who has dragons but doesn't know how to control them.   Also, the whole Bran story arc seems to be going someplace very much foreshadowed in book 1.  That is to say that I think Martin knows how this thing ends, even if he's gotten very distracted along the way.

I could of course be completely wrong.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Dude is >60 yrs old, >300 lbs by marvin (4.00 / 1) #7 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 03:58:29 PM EST
I think we have at least one person with access to good actuary tables on this site. Perhaps he could give us the probability of GRRM living to 75.

[ Parent ]
I think it was always supposed to be 7 by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 04:21:48 PM EST
According to the MeFi thread, GRRM says:
All the major things have been planned since the beginning, since the early 90s, the major deaths and the general direction of things. Obviously, the details and the minor things have been things that I've discovered along the way, part of the fun of writing the books is making these discoveries along the journey. But the general structure of the books has been in my head all along.
Hopefully he'll at least leave a plot outline so Brandon Sanderson can finish it up.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Pretty sure not by marvin (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 04:28:42 PM EST
I think my paperback of the first book that I purchased in the 90's mentioned a trilogy, as does Wikipedia. I remember it going up to 5 books around a decade ago, then 7 around the time of A Feast for Crows.

[ Parent ]
Couldn't have always been 7 by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 06:23:25 PM EST
...as "A Feast For Crows" and "A Dance With Dragons" were originally supposed to be one book.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I got annoyed... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 05:41:27 PM EST
somewhere in the middle of A Storm of Swords and I haven't picked it up since.

I think I jut got the feeling that GRRM is actually another Stephenson, he doesn't know how to write resolution, so for now he's delaying and at best he'll jerry-rig something together at the end of the series, but odds are by then it'll feel so foreshadowed and so pocked with lazy plot twists (like the one you mention involving a favourite character) that it becomes tedious ... so at the very least I'm not coming back until the whole thing is finished - and possibly not even then.


[ Parent ]
I think by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #15 Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 01:19:49 AM EST
This time, the size and complexity of the plot have run away from him. He's not sure how to do the plot and make it interesting enough for the reader.

But in general, he's been pretty good at managing plot and resolution. "Fevre Dream" had a good ending. Also he was the editor who managed the plots of the shared-world "Wild Cards" series: that had a massively complicated plot with doesn't of different threads, but he managed to work with them and pull them together.

It seems more like classical hubris to me. He decided that he's such supreme master of complex plots and multiple characters he can handle anything, but he can't quite make it work. At least not in a human lifetime: with more time he might have been able to edit down Crows and Dragons into something faster paced.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
My mate wrote this by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 02:30:58 PM EST
About the Ice and Fire series, pretty much sums up my feelings (though I'm only two thirds of the way through book 2, and haven't seen the TV series yet)

http://whatfroth.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/game-of-thrones/

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It's political correctness gone mad!

20 year old newspaper tech... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 05:25:48 PM EST
Christ, I'm now officially old, I've used all of those technologies to produce things in the past.



I don't think it's accurate by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #13 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 06:24:54 PM EST
I am fairly certain that word processors were used by reporters in 1990.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Or even before by lm (4.00 / 1) #14 Thu Aug 04, 2011 at 08:25:15 PM EST
I remember visiting the local newspaper on a field trip when I was in gradeschool in the mid-eighties. They had the paste-up they were doing with headlines and articles cut out and arranged on a broadsheet coated with beeswax to help them figure out how to lay out the paper.

In the corner of the room they had a computer that they showed us that they said would be doing the same job far more quickly as soon as they could develop the expertise to properly use it.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Book Series by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #16 Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 06:19:57 AM EST
My ability to get into a never ending series has been non-existent from the beginning of my book reading days.  I have no problem with a series that uses the same characters.  This whole multi-volume arc to resolve a main plot holds no interest in me.  Authorts need to learn how to resolve their plots.  I have no issue with needing two or three thousand pages to do it, but when you start writing you should have an idea of how you are going to end the plot and get the reader from point A to point B.




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
Dancing in the dark | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback