Sunday, September 27, 2020

A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness, #1)A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read three other novels by Abercrombie and I was thrilled to see just how much grimdark fantasy has exploited the field of normal epic fantasy back in the day. I was IMPRESSED by the number of vibrant characters, the grit, darkness, the blood, and the feeling of utter hopelessness in the face of ridiculous odds.

I mean, we're all used to this kind of thing, aren't we? Now? Well, some novels capture the need to root for these characters at all costs, and Abercrombie is one of the best in the field.

Hopping into this new trilogy of his was something of a no-brainer. I mean, yes, I have to psych myself up for the grimdark aspects, but once I cracked the spine, it was the easiest decision I could have made. I got sucked right into the story. New characters, a few great walk-ons for old characters, but most importantly, a thrilling new story that catapults the kingdom into a truly delightful (if horrible) conflict.

It's the coming of the industrial age. Economics woes meet displaced workers as they knock heads with machine workers that do the jobs better. The worldbuilding is complex and timely (or universal if you take in the last 200+ years) and I found myself rooting for every side in the conflict.

This is a pretty awesome feat. I love it when authors refuse to give us clear-cut enemies. Instead, we have many wonderfully drawn characters standing on different lines, bloody and atrocious battles being waged, and the classic idealism vs opportunism motif.

I fell for this novel pretty hard. I really got into it.

Great characters, complex society and so many grey areas, and even love stories that I seriously love amidst all the hell. I'm all over this. It reminds me of the heyday of SoIaF but with characters I feel a bit MORE for. *ducks*

I'm quite pleased, indeed.

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

FerociousFerocious by Jeff Strand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes books like this are a breath of fresh air.

You know, a dash of humor and a whole forest full of undead animals, scary squirrels, and riding bronco bears. *yes, I know that ain't a thing*

It's all about the dismemberments, man. It's all about the dismemberments.

And THIS is why I can never have a normal conversation again.

This is a great start to spooky October. But since this is 2020, we all know that everything is out of whack. That's why October starts in September... so fake horror can replace real horror to make us all feel comfortable and secure in a totally fake world.

Be sure to wave bye-bye to all the undead animals, ya'll! ;)

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An American StoryAn American Story by Mark Lages
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a book about normal people for normal people.

The fact that it is written in a fairly experimental way that eschews plot and even theme shouldn't dissuade anyone from reading this. It's vignettes upon vignettes, illustrating America and American life not as Dos Pasos would do it, but as if a normal, average man would portray it from within the heart of America.

This includes modernish issues, from the nature of war or religion or sobriety or cheating or the nature of work, itself, but aside from the sobriety bits, the center of the text never quite butts up against the vital reality of them EXCEPT when it comes to addiction.

All in all, it's a book about a life, told in mini-theme snippets, that does a lot of light moralizing. It's not bad, but perhaps it wasn't quite for me. Mileage for others might vary.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Past MasterPast Master by R.A. Lafferty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's 1967. Most SF is generally steeped in a light-adventure mythos. Some are more tech-heavy, but around this time, most are leaning toward sociological SF constructs. Let's face it -- those were the times.

But when we have a fish-out-of-the-water novel that includes the famous Thomas Moore, the writer of Utopia, being turned into a front-man for far-future utopians to fix their broken world, the novel only *appears* to fit in the standard SF mold.

I mean, it's not like SF novels haven't tackled utopias before. Nor have they ignored Thomas Moore's own SF *SATIRE* from back in King Henry VIII's time. It's almost like Thomas Moore's own character was being used as a reasonable foil for his own satirical vision, flip-flopping back and forth between Hope and Disgust.

And it is. But there is something else that goes on this book that kinda blew my mind. I can totally get that most people might not see or care about it, but this particular book turned the popular medium of satire SF into a treatise on MYSTERY RELIGIONS.

I honestly laughed out loud as I read point after point. Right below the surface of the adventure, Lafferty was laying out something rather fundamental and somewhat universal. Okay. So. What the F am I talking about?

Hey! All you fans of The Golden Bough, Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz: Digest, or The Secret Teachings of All Ages! Lafferty OUTLINES in his plots the basic foundations of these mystery religions!

Being familiar with them, myself, I really enjoyed the deeper mysteries within THIS ONE.

And that's kinda the whole idea isn't it?

Past Masters refers to actual PAST MASTERS. Giants of thought. And it's funny, too, when we consider the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz, one of the original subversive literary ALCHEMICAL masterworks of the day, that it should feature under the surface of a completely transformed social society, only to be fixed (or turned into a Rosecrutian allegory) BY one of the great minds that dabbled IN alchemy back in the day!

But what, you ask, would an Average Joe get out of this book?

Probably a great deal, assuming you know it's a clear and easy blueprint for the Greater Mysteries and not simply a light, easy SF tale from the '60s.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A LifeRuth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron De Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I generally avoid speaking directly about political issues in my public life, but recent events have made me reconsider my stance.

I always considered myself a rather balanced person and I am STILL always willing to consider dissenting opinions on any subject so long as they are well-formed, respectful, and not explicitly designed to incite violent reactions.

I am American by birth, ideology, and natural gravity even if I no longer live within its borders. That doesn't mean I remain unmoved or less deeply invested in the amazing devolution of my home country.

I am an avid reader of news articles, social media, and I pay close attention to political trends, big decisions, and all the implications. I've been doing it since the late '80s. I never wanted to side with any particular party because none were all that admirable. So I kept my eyes open, tried to remain objective, and made up my mind on individual issues throughout current events and events from history that NEVER SEEM TO HAVE AN END.

One thing I can say, however, is that I've always respected Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Everything she stood for, fought for, and cleverly defended, I can easily say, "She speaks for me."

This book tells me, in particular, nothing new about the big judgments, from women's rights to modern-version desegregation. Nor does it lessen the horror that I feel, as RBG felt, to the devaluation of human life, the loss of reproductive rights, or the loss of the separation of church and state.

It does, however, re-instill an urgency, an immediacy, and the necessity to FIGHT FOR WHAT WE BELIEVE IN.

Me, I believe in cooperation, honesty, real justice, equality, and inclusiveness. I never thought I'd have to even SAY it. I thought, as an American, that all of that was a GIVEN.

It isn't.

Not by a long shot.

And if you know and respect RBG, you know how close to the edge we all stand before we lose it all.

Work together. Think together. Do everything we can to protect our liberties. We're all in this together. Don't let the few dictate the reality of our good majority.

Losing RBG was hard enough. We must all step up and be rational. Think strategically. Look toward the long-term goal. Don't let the Machiavellians drag the rest of us through the mud.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Rational Male - Positive MasculinityThe Rational Male - Positive Masculinity by Rollo Tomassi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


**The act or practice of seeking a spouse of higher socioeconomic status, or caste status than oneself.**

Let me be very clear here. There are a LOT of interesting ideas rolling around within this book and almost all of them have *TM* words associated with them, but Hypergamy is one of the biggest takeaways I've seen.

So what's the context? I mean, other than the fact that about a million women want to murder Rollo Tomassi for speaking his mind. What could be so damning?

The term of the Red Pill. In general, it's taken from the Matrix and it always blows your mind and it can be applied to just about anything, but in this context, it's about waking up to the fact that women have different sexual agendas than men. Specifically, it's the double standard of women's agendas with respect to men.

Let's keep it simple here without going into actual history, tons of studies, evolutionary psychology, legal precedence, massive observational correlations, or the gut feeling that most men nowadays have that SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG.

I'll just lay out the idea of Hypergamy. It can apply to men as well as women, but in general, the tables have been flipped. The last sixty years have given us a nearly unending stream of media that celebrates female sexuality in any of its forms, telling them to get their rocks off when they're young and then settle down with the *dependable* man when their sexiness declines. A perceptive person would note that this was the male ideal BEFORE that time period, and aside from a brief macho period in the '70s that quickly became derision for men in the '80s, the tables have turned.

Hypergamy, in the vernacular, is "always trade up when the opportunity presents itself".

Men who know what they want and plan for success are generally regarded as alpha males. They are the ones who ignore verbal narratives and act and behave in ways that are aligned with observable reality. They tend to eschew talk of soul-mates, softness in relationships, cuddly-feely emotionality.

Since biology predisposes women to feel heavy sexual attraction to males who know what they want and who plan for success, alphas are the ones who always tend to get the most women for practically no cost in terms of investment, intellectualism, emotionalism, or even care. These are the truly sexy ones and they always tend to ignore the feminist narrative that SAYS men should put in tons of investment, intellectualism, and emotionalism, and care in order to appease a woman.

Note, this statement is backed up by science, massive observations of real people, and (almost universally) in popular media.

The other kind of male is the beta male. These are the men who have grown up in an obviously feminist-dominated society, who were caught in the feminist narrative as children and bought it, hook, line, and sinker. The author notes that 80% of men are betas. These are the men who bought the idealized version of what they thought women wanted out of men. The ones who believe in soul-mates, true friendships, true equality, and believe (mostly because they are told to, repeatedly,) that women are smarter, stronger, and more capable than men.

Does this sound familiar? I think most men will agree -- if pressed -- and definitely not in the presence of anyone who might let it slip -- that something is very wrong. Men are collectively demonized as a whole sex.

And this is reasoning is used as justification for demonizing a whole sex.

Why would women do this? It's simple: it protects them from having to look at the things they believe about themselves.

Have fun in your youth and then settle down used to be the narrative of what men were taught to believe.

In this case, specifically, have fun with the bad boys (the ones who refuse to get down with the feminist narrative), and then dump them because they don't provide long-term stability. Marry the beta-choice, the one that doesn't truly stimulate you, and make sure he knows that he's a second-class citizen and that you always have someone else lined up on the sides if he doesn't stay cowed. Fortunately, most men are thoroughly indoctrinated to accept this. A man's self-worth is determined by how well he can provide for the family. The expectation is that he gets all the sex he wants within this stable arrangement. But here's the thing: women's behavior, in general, doesn't align with the narrative.

They drop the alphas that don't magically become subservient to the narrative once women are beyond their sexual prime. They actively start looking for the men who will be able to tow the narrative line, provide for them (despite being told constantly that they are just as good as men in everything, or better). This happens between ages 29-32. The second-best choice is beta men.

How many times have women complained that there aren't any good men out there?

Here's the breakdown, adjusted for an idealized equal playing field where both the men and women are otherwise equally desirable. Women are turned on by the anti-feminist narrative men but these same men are not good marriage material. The ones who ARE good marriage material don't turn them on. Just look at the dominance fantasies in romance literature if you don't believe me.

Of course, once you get beyond this point, it's in a woman's best interest to double down on the feminist narrative and make sure that this beta man is completely cowed and accepting of any and every decision you make, or he might wake up one day to realize that he was always the second-best choice.

Maintain the power differential. He must provide, he must defer all parenting decisions, and he can't even dissent in an argument. How many "Yes, dear" men are out there? It is not a small number.

Laws are designed to always side with the women. One example: 1 million men in the USA are forced to provide for children who aren't theirs. Let's get real here. That's called cuckoldry. There are very few support groups for men who have either been raped, need mental health assistance, who need pro-bono legal support in bad divorces, and the law even supports keeping genetic-data sealed from men on the assumption that it would be "bad for the children".

This is only one facet of a much larger problem. Of course, men know there is a problem. It's obvious when you see that men are 4-6 times more likely to commit suicide than women. The problem is REAL, it is PRESSING, and it is tragic.

The real issue, described here and with multiple resources within this book, (and others I myself could name), is whether or not we are able to SEE that there is a problem. Tomassi uses the term Red Pill constantly for this very reason.

And all of this is mostly just an aside within this particular book. It is an important aside, but it's still an aside.

What did I think of this book, aside from the important ideas inside it?

I love the insistence that the whole subject should remain apolitical. I agree with this. It affects all men and should not be conflated with any other designation EVEN IF it disproportionally condemns, say, black men, more intensely than it does white men. The problem is becoming more universal every single day.

THAT BEING SAID. The way this particular book is written reminds me of Tom Cruise's character in the movie Magnolia. It does bring up a ton of interesting and/or valid points, but it does not and frankly cannot capture the spirit or the scope of the problem. And while I DO believe it brings up some excellent points against egalitarianism in favor of complementarianism, the WAY it is written makes it sound like it's trying to sell something... which, of course, it is.

Even Trinity and Morpheus needed to seduce Neo into taking the Red Pill, and he backslid quite a bit.

Suffice to say, while this book is not perfect, it is still a very important kind of book to be reading.

And I mean that for both MEN AND WOMEN.

Not all women buy into the feminist narrative. And by this, let's be very clear: I don't think anyone alive has a problem with first and second wave Feminism. It's the third wave we should all be very skeptical about.

Let's open discussions! No name-calling, no shaming, no dehumanization, please.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Point BPoint B by Drew Magary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Drew Magary does it again. There hasn't been a novel of his that I've read that I haven't fallen over dead after having finished reading.

No, no, this isn't the Post-Mortal, and I didn't over-exert myself on a Hike. Indeed, the idea of traveling at all has become absurdly easy... just like reading this novel.

Cell-phones in ten years now allow us to teleport. Like Jaunting, ya? But these are tied to nasty cell phone plans with nastier reams of unread legal-sleaze. But who cares, right, so long as we can take a trip to Spain, Brazil, Newfoundland (just kidding), and back to school in New Jersey during your lunch break.

This SOUNDS like a pretty good YA, no? And it is. But it has some really dark points that are quite as dark as Post-Mortal (and with as huge a range of ramifications, evil, and annihilation) and *almost* as weird as the Hike. But let's just swap the weird with an epic tale of revenge and you'll have a better idea about what this novel is about.

It just goes to show, dehumanization and power and racism is STILL going to be a massively huge problem when anyone can go wherever they want. After all, if there are no restrictions, and just about anyone can hop into your room as you sleep, it may not be a *NICE* future. Take along your war, your hate, and your insanity, and suddenly no place is safe.

So how do we get to Point B? Dial it up! It's very worth the Jaunt, and lordy.... that last 1/3 of the novel was absolutely un-putdownable. Brilliant. I lost sleep over it.

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