What are you reading at the moment?

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4th Dimension

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby 4th Dimension » Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:19 am

Yeah, the Nightblood thing did not work/seem logical to me either. From what I remembered Nightblood was supposed to be this great artifact that would help destroy Evil, but problem was while it wants to smire Evil, it was still a sword and as such it does know what Evil is and can not properly judge. So the fact that Nightblood likes you is not really a ringing endorsment. On the other hand Szeth could be new to it and is not aware of that teeming glitch, he just knows that this blade was given to him by herald of Justice himself. As to WHY Nightblood likes Lift, I have got nothing, except maybe he prefers awakened/infused (what is the term) persons.

As for the curse, I have been wondering about that too. It could be the personality freezing, but than again we do see that the carefree attitude is largely a front she erected to hide her hurt and darkness inside. It could be that she got excatly what she wanted, but the effects of Stormlight consumption are "healing" her towards her actual age. Of course this could be only happening IF she herself considers more adult look to be her PROPER look. We saw before that stormlight heals you to your ideal view of yourself because it, for example, will not heal scars and damage you see as part of yourself.
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McNutcase
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby McNutcase » Fri Dec 16, 2016 8:16 am

Getting really into Alastair Reynolds's Chasm City. First thing I remember reading in which Kessler Syndrome is caused by an actual pathogen. I really love the Revelation Space universe, there are so many interesting ideas in it.
gloatingswine

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby gloatingswine » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:00 pm

I think I maybe enjoyed Chasm City slightly more than the actual Revelation Space books.
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McNutcase
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby McNutcase » Sat Dec 17, 2016 1:25 am

gloatingswine wrote:I think I maybe enjoyed Chasm City slightly more than the actual Revelation Space books.

I can see how you might. It's a different scale of story, still well written.
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4th Dimension

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby 4th Dimension » Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:14 am

I was out of things to listen to/read so I went back to classics and read for the first time "I robot". Considering the entire book is basically a collection of stories with a loose thread tying it all, my enjoyment of it varied considerably depending on how much I found the plot plausible. For example that story set on one of the solar power relays broke for me because I simply could not stomach that such an important post that could pose such a danger to Earth would be as unmonitored and there would not be like a gazilion of safety equipment and ways to shut it down completely if ANYTHING went wrong. Also I did not like the resolution. A lot of my liking or disliking was based on also weather the solution was something I felt Asimov did not set up at all and pulled out of thin air at the end or not.

What I most liked is the past future setting. Looking at present as seen from like 50 years ago. And it's not the fact that they thought spacetravel would be more common, but small things. Like pulpy swears "By moons of Jupiter!", the fact that two educated chaps draw straws by seeing who can calculate root of 13 first, the fact that anything artificial is based around gears and cogs and is made of steel and complete absence of personal communication devices with most advanced ones being little more than radio sets. It makes you wonder how utterly wrong will our futurology be.
On the other hand this was written at the time of incredible expansion in several fields, while now we feel like we have achieved all low hanging fruits and any (non cold fusion, singularity or superconductors or any such tech that has been just around corner for decades) great breakthroughs feel waaayyy off.
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JadedDM

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby JadedDM » Mon Dec 19, 2016 4:58 pm

I recently re-read the Lucky Starr series (also by Asimov), and he gets even more stuff wrong in those ones. Including Venus having a water ocean! There are also no women or people of color in space (actually, a single woman appears in the entire six book series, with a single short scene and I think one line of dialogue; she's just another character's wife). Computers are covered in dials and gauges and vacuum tubes and they print out all responses on paper instead of simply displaying on a monitor.

I remember in one book there was a restaurant and it explained that the tables were all forcefields. And when dinner was over, instead of cleaning the table, you'd just shut off the forcefield for a split second, so that the crumbs and such would fall a bit, then reactivate the table, disintegrating all of the debris. And sure, it sounds futury, I guess. But all I could think of was how they were supplying so much power to constantly keep a restaurant of tables active. Wouldn't that be a huge waste of energy? Seems like it would be more cost-effective to just use regular, wooden tables instead and take the time to clean them.

Despite that all, though, I do love those old Asimov books.
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Retsam

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Retsam » Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:53 pm

Wouldn't that be a huge waste of energy? Seems like it would be more cost-effective to just use regular, wooden tables instead and take the time to clean them.


Not disagreeing, but I wonder how many modern appliances would fail that test to someone from a hundred years ago. Would they see a washing machine as a pointless waste of energy?
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McNutcase
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby McNutcase » Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:10 am

Retsam wrote:
Wouldn't that be a huge waste of energy? Seems like it would be more cost-effective to just use regular, wooden tables instead and take the time to clean them.


Not disagreeing, but I wonder how many modern appliances would fail that test to someone from a hundred years ago. Would they see a washing machine as a pointless waste of energy?

Very much doubt that. The key with a washing machine is you can set laundry going and then go do something else. It doesn't reduce the time taken to clean clothes so much as make it possible to do something with that time that isn't cleaning clothes.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Tue Dec 20, 2016 5:59 am

McNutcase wrote:
Retsam wrote:
Wouldn't that be a huge waste of energy? Seems like it would be more cost-effective to just use regular, wooden tables instead and take the time to clean them.


Not disagreeing, but I wonder how many modern appliances would fail that test to someone from a hundred years ago. Would they see a washing machine as a pointless waste of energy?

Very much doubt that. The key with a washing machine is you can set laundry going and then go do something else. It doesn't reduce the time taken to clean clothes so much as make it possible to do something with that time that isn't cleaning clothes.


He was talking about the enormous amounts of energy that goes into household appliances,that we dont notice as big simply because we produce it in such a huge bulk.I mean,there used to be contraptions similar to modern washing machines,but they required a whole big ass windmill/watermill in order to operate.
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McNutcase
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Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby McNutcase » Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:22 am

Daemian Lucifer wrote:
McNutcase wrote:
Retsam wrote:
Not disagreeing, but I wonder how many modern appliances would fail that test to someone from a hundred years ago. Would they see a washing machine as a pointless waste of energy?

Very much doubt that. The key with a washing machine is you can set laundry going and then go do something else. It doesn't reduce the time taken to clean clothes so much as make it possible to do something with that time that isn't cleaning clothes.


He was talking about the enormous amounts of energy that goes into household appliances,that we dont notice as big simply because we produce it in such a huge bulk.I mean,there used to be contraptions similar to modern washing machines,but they required a whole big ass windmill/watermill in order to operate.

True, as far as energy goes we could be in a post-scarcity situation if we bothered to do things right...
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4th Dimension

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby 4th Dimension » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:10 am

I would like to point out I'm not LAMBASTING Asimov. Probably in like 50s when he wrote it would have been totally fine t have a gigantic death laser that supplies power to Earth monitored by like 2 guys a malfunctioning main bot and a small army of lesser robots, with like no overides, reporting and just a single radio station to communicate with. That and all of the stuff I and JadedDM was talking about.

For the time he was writing this from all of that would sound fine. Hell I Robot was written even before transistor based computers, so integration, scalability and even having SCREENS as OUTPUT are all things that would happen quite later. So asthetics are also things that somebody from 50s could imagine. Sure if you really thought about it if you have access to such complex processors such as Robot brains certanly you could built something much more portable if weaker and dumber BUT that is the kind of understandable blindness that I'm talking about that OUR time futurologists are also having problem with. Which is why I find his portrayal of "future" interesting. It speaks volumes on how much the future is unpredictable.

As for the forcefield tables, if you are in some kind of future where the energy supply is no longer such an issue having those is perfectly fine. Think what would somebody who never had running water in his house think if he saw how we tend to use the water, open the tap and than use the stream to wahs things of a plate or something, instead of pooling that water and reusing it. He would think us mad, since for him the water is precious since for every drop you need to make a labor intensive trip to your well or local pump. Yet in many regions we consider water to be essentially limitless.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:25 am

4th Dimension wrote:I would like to point out I'm not LAMBASTING Asimov. Probably in like 50s when he wrote it would have been totally fine t have a gigantic death laser that supplies power to Earth monitored by like 2 guys a malfunctioning main bot and a small army of lesser robots, with like no overides, reporting and just a single radio station to communicate with.


To be fair,our modern safety standards are often...not good.To put it mildly.
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4th Dimension

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby 4th Dimension » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:24 am

Eh, thing with nukes is that it's not that the safety protocols are bad, it's that they are not being implemented because the funding keeps getting slashed and yet countries can not dispose of most of the more useless ones due to political reasons, both patriotic and economical. Here the trouble is that there ARE NO safety standards. Also silos and such are essentially warehouses. Meaning unless there is an external action by somebody such an operation will keep on trucking with minimal maintenance. Meanwhile the station I was talking about HAS to actively control the direction it's pointing because the random environmental effects are quite strong enough to push it off course and cause cataclysmic damage back on Earth.

Also at danger of veering into territory of forbidden topic of politics while fun I found that report to probably take some things out of context and overstate some others. Which still does not mean the way nukes are being handled is good.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:38 am

But its not just the nukes.If you just search the web youll find that there are plethora of factories and power plants that skirt around safety.Heck,there were a few really major disasters that happened because of this,like the deepwater horizon oil spill.

In the story you are talking about,we dont know if there are any regulations in place to govern all these extra terrestrial platforms,we just see how one of those is operating in one case of emergency.So we have no idea if the negligence is due to company policy,or the staff not caring about it,or whatever.

Also,this is a world were there are plethora of robots who take care of everything,and there really is no need for external failsafes because there are failsafes built into the robots themselves,and they are designed to ALWAYS care about humans around them.
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4th Dimension

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby 4th Dimension » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:48 pm

Yes but none of those can boil entire strips of Earth casually due to small missaligments. Also while there are robots, you should never rely on only ONE fail safe, especially in cases like these, because you never know when they might make a judgement mistake or their instruments on which they make mistakes can be wrong. And US Robot knows that despite all the laws the Robots can get stuck in the loops of inability to properly decide.
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Daemian Lucifer

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Daemian Lucifer » Wed Dec 21, 2016 8:02 pm

4th Dimension wrote:Yes but none of those can boil entire strips of Earth casually due to small missaligments.


The oil spill was a pretty expansive and long lasting disaster.And lets not forget chernobyl,which also happened because people disregarded the failsafes.That one had a huge impact on a big chunk of the planet.Or how about the fukushima disaster,which was also deemed to be a case of the owner not doing a proper risk assessment and preparation.So yeah,even 60 years after the book was published,humans are still prone to not preparing adequately for possible disasters of huge magnitudes.

4th Dimension wrote:Also while there are robots, you should never rely on only ONE fail safe,


But robots arent just one failsafe.All robots have multiple failsafes in them,and every robot independently acts like a failsafe on their own.

4th Dimension wrote:And US Robot knows that despite all the laws the Robots can get stuck in the loops of inability to properly decide.


Except that the laws were built in such a way that they override all of the higher functions of the robot,which can be seen in other stories(and I think is specifically mentioned by calvin in one of the stories).Especially the one with speedy,where a robot forgets everything in order to rush to the aid of a human.The only times when this was shown to actually fail was in the case when a robot was so thoroughly tampered with that either they had their first law diminished(the lost robot),or in the case where they were made operational without a thorough definition of what a human is(the story with the space station).
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Andrew

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Andrew » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:09 am

Just purchased Leviathan's Wake and Caliban's War through http://www.bookdepository.com. They're having a sale right now and the cost of the 2 novels averaged out to be $15 each. And they have free worldwide shipping too.

I'm not sure why I'm posting this as I haven't actually read anything worth discussing yet. I think I'm just plugging Book Depository as my favourite source for purchasing novels.
Ninety-Three

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Ninety-Three » Sun Jan 15, 2017 2:25 am

I am thinking about finally getting around to reading the Discworld books because everyone seems to like them so much. I'm never the sort to start midway through a series, but I've always heard that some of the books are bad (or at least, not as good), and Discworld doesn't have a whole lot in the way of continuity anyway. So where would you recommend someone new to the series start?
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:00 am

It's not that the earlier books are bad - they're very good but just of a different style than the later stories. His early books are parodies of fantasy stories, but he very quickly pivots into fantasy stories commenting and twisting on real topics.

(Sorry for the long, kind of offputting post. But I'm a nerd and had an opportunity to create a list of something! Don't feel obliged, I wrote it as much for my satisfaction as anyones. Tl;dr Guards! Guards!, Equal Rites, [i]Wyrd Sisters, Nightwatch[/i] or Going Postal are good places to start)

The Discworld novels are collected into storylines depending on the protagonists of the story, and the best way to start is to pick a storyline and read that from the beginning. The continuity is only ever loose, but it's cool to see the characters evolve.

List of storylines:

Rincewind - The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic,Sourcery, Eric, Interesting Times, The Last Continent, The Last Hero, Unseen Academicals
Who is the protagonist?
A useless, cowardly wizard. Rincewind doesn't believe in worrying where to run to, what's important is where to run from and preferably to not stop running.
What's the focus?
Rincewind novels are the most straightforward fantasy parodies
Pros
The first Discworld books are Rincewind stories, so it's kind of chronological.
Cons
Most different in style to the rest of the novels. Peters out as the books get newer. Eric is pretty thin and I'm convinced at least one of The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic and Sourcery isn't very good, but I'm not sure which.
My favourite books
Interesting Times, The Last Hero

Witches - Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Juggulum
Who is the protagonist?
A group of three witches - people who see the world as it really is rather than how they want it to be and who do what needs to be done rather than what people wish they would do.
What's the focus?
The Witches storyline covers quite a few topics, there's some stuff about belief, about helping people. Stories of all forms are a running theme, with Shakespeare and Phantom of the Opera riffs.
Pros
Equal Rites is the third ever Discworld book and the first to really begin to feel like traditional Pratchett. Terry's last book, The Shepard's Crown, prominently features the witches and so they feel like real bookends of the Discworld series. There are a lot of good witches stories, and one of the witches, Granny Weatherwax is tying for Pratchett's best ever character. Starting at Wyrd Sisters would be fine.
Cons
The Witches stories don't deal very much with Ankh-Morpork, the Discworlds metropolis, so you do feel like you're missing out on that a bit.
My favourite books
Wyrd Sisters, Maskerade, Carpe Jugglum

Death - Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, Thief of Time
Who is the protagonist?
Death aka the Grim Reaper, the Alpha and Omega, the Big One, The Final Sleep.
What's the focus?
Another one that covers quite a few topics, but with belief and what makes us human as big themes. Covers Rock and Roll as well as Christmas.
Pros
Death stories have a wide variety of other protagonists. Death is one of the Discworld's most iconic characters and (I believe) the only one to show up in every book in some form or another. Lots of really good stories. The early Death stories are real classics.
Cons
The early books are good, but Death stories don't really extend very far into the modern era.
My favourite books
Mort, Reaper Man, Hogfather, Thief of Time

City Watch - Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant[, Night Watch, Thud!, Snuff
Who is the protagonist?
A beaten and smart policeman who has turned his anger into a kind of internal combustion engine. Who watches the watchmen? Sam Vimes does.
What's the focus?
Police mystery stories, the City of Ankh-Morpork.
Pros
This is the storyline people will tell you to start with. It's the most popular Discworld series and has books which are constantly mentioned as the best in the series. Sam Vimes is the other character tied for best character in the series. It heavily features and Ankh-Morpork and some of Discworld's best side characters and concepts. It's the series which spans the most era's, from just after the early books with Guards Guards, right up to the end. It also has the most interesting and complete arcs for it's characters, Sam Vimes at the beginning is completely different from Sam Vimes at the end. Start with this one.
Cons
The City Watch were such big important characters that Terry began to struggle to not write stories about them. He'd start off with an idea and then think "Oh but then Sam Vimes would be doing this[/i]" and low and behold, it's a City Watch series. As a result they cameo in a lot of other books and it feels weird to see them and not have them become the centre of the story.
My favourite books
Guards! Guards!, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch (best book in the Discworld), Thud!

Tiffany Aching - Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, The Shepard's Crown
Who is the protagonist?
Tiffany Aching, a young witch who knows that magic is all well and good, but so is a pair of decent boots and a frying pan.
What's the focus?
Kind of a continuation of witches stories, but for a younger audience. Tiffany Aching stories are more focused on thoughts than plot compared to the witches stories.
Pros
Very enjoyable despite being for a younger audience. The last book, A Shepard's Crown, is Terry's last and it's great.
Cons
They are for a younger audience and you can tell. The stories are all from late era Pratchett and although all good, none are his best.
My favourite books
A Hat Full of Sky, The Shepard's Crown

Moist von Lipwig - (The Truth), Going Postal, Making Money, Raising Steam
Who is the protagonist?
A con-man who is discovering that going straight is about keeping the con going forever. Tapdance on quicksand, seize the moment.
What's the focus?
Building a business stories - and modernisation
Pros
Going Postal is one of the best of all time, and is emblematic of the best Discworld era. Lipwig is a great character and it heavily features Ankh Morpork with some of the great side characters. The Truth isn't a Lipwig story, but it was clearly the precursor to Going Postal.
Cons
It doesn't cover a big timespan. It starts very late in the series and has big City Watch cameos. Making Money isn't very good and Raising Steam is controversial.
My favourite books
The Truth, Going Postal (especially good)

There's also The Wizards, who are dual protagonists in a bunch of Rincewind and Death stories. They're another set of favourites, but I don't want to relist their books at the moment.

Finally there are the one-shots - Pyramids, Moving Pictures (this is a Wizards story), Small Gods, The Truth, Monstrous Regiment. They're all very good and I recommend all of them, but it wouldn't make sense just to focus on them as they're so different. I think The Truth and Monstrous Regiment are all time greats and you should definitely get round to them sooner or later. I gave Monstrous Regiment to a friend as his starting point in the Discworld.

My recommendation is to start with the City Watch, maybe try the Witches or Moist von Lipwig or Death and then go for the series that grabbed you the most. If you just want to read good stories without caring about the order (a very valid choice), that's fine too. Nightwatch or Going Postal are two of the best.
Last edited by Thomas on Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:09 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Lachlan the Sane
Location: I come from the land down under, where women blow and men chunder

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Lachlan the Sane » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:02 am

Ninety-Three wrote:I am thinking about finally getting around to reading the Discworld books because everyone seems to like them so much. I'm never the sort to start midway through a series, but I've always heard that some of the books are bad (or at least, not as good), and Discworld doesn't have a whole lot in the way of continuity anyway. So where would you recommend someone new to the series start?

There's nothing wrong with going through the whole series in order. You should certainly at least start with the earlier ones, even if not the earliest. The first book in the series, The Colour of Magic, is basically a series of parodies of fantasy series that were popular in the 80's (H. P. Lovecraft and Dragonriders of Pern mainly), and the second book, The Light Fantastic, is a direct sequel to TCoM, although it does fit a lot closer into the tone of the rest of the series.

Just in case you weren't aware, Discworld is largely organised into sequences of their main characters -- so TCoM and TLF are the first two Rincewind books, Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad are the first two Witches books (sort of), Guards! Guards! and Men At Arms are the first two City Watch books etc. etc. As the series goes on, the books come to intermingle a bit more, so you get books where the City Watch are secondary characters, which you'll come to enjoy more if you've read their character development through the City Watch books. Later books in the series are often better, but on the other hand they also often require more of an understanding of how the world works. But there are also a couple of books which have completely stand-alone stories, particularly in early parts of the series, some of which were fan-canonned as being set a century before most of the other books (there was eventually an official explanation of this in one of the novels). So all in all, if you're looking for a starting point, I'd say stick to the first half of the series and find a book which is the first in its sequence. Here's the full list of starting points, with my personal recommendations underlined:

  • The Colour of Magic (book #1, 1st Rincewind book)
  • Equal Rites (book #3, 0th Witches book, 1st Wizards book)
  • Mort (book #4, 1st Death book, one of the best books in the whole damn series)
  • Wyrd Sisters (book #6, 1st Witches book, a lot of people's favourite but I'm lukewarm on it)
  • Pyramids (book #7, standalone, one of the possibly-100-years-ago books)
  • Guards! Guards! (book #8, 1st City Watch book)
  • Moving Pictures (book #10, kind of standalone, kind of 2nd Wizards book)
  • Reaper Man (book #11, 2nd Death book but unconnected to Mort)
  • Small Gods (book #13, standalone, another one of the possibly-100-years-ago books, establishes a lot of the cosmological rules of the series, really really excellent overall)
  • Soul Music (book #16, 3rd Death book, loosely tied to Mort but you can pick it up easily enough -- this was the first one that I read and it remains one of my favourites)

But again, there's really nothing wrong with reading it in order, and it is probably the best way to go about it. Also, if you seek companionship, you can have a look at Mark Reads Stuff, who is currently up to book #22, The Last Continent. If nothing else, when you get to TLC, check the comment threads or send me a message, because I've been personally annotating that book. It contains a lot of Australia jokes.

Also, the absolute best Discworld book IMO is book #26, Thief of Time. But my favourite Terry Pratchett books are two of his non-Discworld works; Nation (my all-time favourite novel) and The Bromeliad (a trilogy for children, consisting of Truckers, Diggers and Wings, which taken as a whole is as good as ToT and deserves to be made into a movie by Disney and/or Pixar).
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Sun Jan 15, 2017 4:07 am

Rule #14 of the Discworld: You will never have enough knowledge to get all the references and jokes. Terry was seriously smart.
Steve C

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Steve C » Sun Jan 15, 2017 8:21 am

Look at the infographic and pick an arrow. You cannot go wrong.

Image
I suggest the Watch novels line. They are consistently good. I'm personally not fond of the Witches novels. Everyone has different preferences. So I'd also suggest jumping around a bit. Especially if you liked what you just read but didn't love it, that's when to pick a different discworld set.
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Thomas

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Thomas » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:14 am

That is a really.great diagram.
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Lachlan the Sane
Location: I come from the land down under, where women blow and men chunder

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Lachlan the Sane » Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:22 am

Steve C wrote:Look at the infographic and pick an arrow. You cannot go wrong.

Nitpick: You can go wrong if you pick the "Science Novels" arrow. They aren't great.
Alchemist64

Re: What are you reading at the moment?

Postby Alchemist64 » Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:55 am

When I wanted to start the series, someone online somewhere said to start with Going Postal (or they might have been naming the book they started with, not sure). I ended up reading that, then reading Making Money, jumping backwards to The Truth, then jumping all the way back to Equal Rites, and then reading Guards! Guards! (my personal favorite so far). Going backwards in the series can somewhat be really jarring, especially going from super late in the series to super early in the series. If you go forward, even within a single sequence, you get the experience of seeing society in Ankh Morpork and the rest of Discworld develop technologically and socially.

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