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  1. Darren

    What are you reading at the moment?

    I genuinely loved it. As I said, I thought the last book was easily the worst as it was mainly increasingly sketchy summaries of the later bible stories, as if Milton himself was getting sick of it all by then but having committed to covering absolutely everything he had to keep ploughing on. After the story of Noah I think Michael even says (paraphrasing) "we'll be here all day if I keep going into this much detail, so from now on I'm just going to give you the headlines." And then the final expulsion from Eden comes very suddenly and without much of the richness of all the earlier exchanges between Adam and the angels. Although even that last book includes some fantastic passages, such as Adam being appalled by the vision of people dying of illness, and asking if there's no alternative, and Michael telling him "the rule of not too much" as the key to a long life. But everything in the preceding nine books was brilliant. I might not read another epic poem, at least not for a while, but I will probably read this again, although next time maybe with a commentary - but I'm glad I did this first read through entirely under my own steam, as it were, making my own interpretations as I went along. No doubt I'll have missed loads of nuance (and I admit that I often skipped a page or two when he got into yet another list of similarities between the present narrative and that time HERCULES went across th'AGEAN to retrieve the ROD OF WOTNOT etc. etc.) but I made sense of it and found it totally rewarding.
  2. Darren

    What are you reading at the moment?

    I finished Paradise Lost last night, and while it's hard to recommend, because it's not an easy read, I must say for me it was worth the effort. I only read it on a whim in the first place because I read Frankenstein a few months ago, and in that it's one of the books the creature finds and learns from, and later talks about, comparing his own sad state with Adam's, both separated from their creators, but realises he is even worse off as, unlike him, Adam is never truly alone, having Eve to keep him company (which Adam thoroughly enjoys, as per my post above). You can tell it's all I've been reading for the last couple of weeks - look how many commas are in that last sentence. Just be grateful I'm not posting this in iambic pentameter. The word masterpiece is often misused but I think it definitely applies here. I read it as a work of fiction but that's not how it was written at all. It's really an attempt by John Milton not just to tell in expanded form the biblical story of creation, the fall of Satan and the temptation of Man (which are the central events of the narrative) but also to summarise the rest of the bible (both testaments - although this drags and makes the last chapter a bit dull), as well as touching on some of the major events from the whole of recorded human history up to the time of its writing in the mid-17th century (Columbus discovering America gets a mention), and including an account of the structure and motion of the earth, the major bodies of the solar system and the wider cosmos, throwing in speculation about the existence of life on other planets orbiting distant stars. It is, in other words, a description and explanation of Life, the Universe, and Everything, or as Milton himself put it in the first part of the text, an attempt to "justify the ways of God to men." Of course you have to read classics bearing in mind the prevailing culture in which they were written, and that's absolutely the case here. Apart from Milton writing this not as a fantasy but as divinely revealed history, the thing that jumps out the most is how unbelievably sexist it is. Eve is not just blamed entirely for innocently falling into temptation and then leading Adam astray, but is presented as the archetype for women in general: incapable of the higher thoughts of men, fit only for domestic chores, and, unless kept in line by a male superior, prone to be a danger to herself and everyone else around her. At times it comes across like a Restoration era version of the Harry Enfield "Women: Know Your Place" sketches. But this is only a reflection of the beliefs of the time. So I'm very glad I decided to read this thanks to an oblique recommendation from Mary Shelley. And next I'm going to re-read His Dark Materials while this is fresh in my mind, and see how familiarity with the source that inspired it changes my appreciation of it.
  3. Darren

    What are you reading at the moment?

    Yep. I'm now on book nine (of ten - the freebie kindle version I'm reading is apparently taken from the first edition before it was recut into twelve parts) and absolutely loving it. The unintended comedy highlight so far came in the conversation between Adam and the angel Raphael, which I would paraphrase thus: Adam: And I thought this was paradise with all the fruits and friendly animals etc, but then Eve came along. It turns out I didn't really know what pleasure was until I got stuck in there. I could happily do her all day, every day. And I plan to. Tell God thanks from me when you see him! Raphael: Ah, but don't get so obsessed with carnal delight. It can't be that good or God wouldn't have let the animals do it too. He has given you rational thought and emotions, and it is the pleasures that come with this higher contemplation that are the true pinnacle of your human existence. Adam: Have you seen her though? Phwooaarr!!!
  4. Plus of course it was the first war of its kind, there had never been anything similar with machine guns, tanks and gas. So nobody without first hand experience of the trenches had any idea what they’d experienced. One of the voiceovers during one of the early training scenes even said something like their instructors were soldiers who’d served in previous campaigns, but who had no idea what they were sending their recruits into.
  5. Darren

    Kindle shop Recommendations

    Apart from the daily deals email that @milko mentioned, my top tip is to create a separate wish list for kindle books, and put anything you’re interested in on it, then check it from time to time and sort by price, lowest to highest. Anything on sale will show up at or near the top of your list. I’ve got about 200 books on my list including all Stephen Kings, all Clive Barkers etc. Every now and then one of them goes on sale and I snap it up for a quid or so. Edit: I should point out that the only drawback with this is that although you can view this wishlist on your kindle, it will only show the last 100 items you added, and you can’t sort by price on the kindle itself. So you have to find the deals on another device before buying them, which is a minor annoyance but worth it for all those cheap books.
  6. No, Europe is Westeros. We're the frozen north. And next year, we build the wall.
  7. Darren

    Doctor Who

    Ah but that's because Old Nan was speaking English with her own accent. Young Nan was speaking her own language which was translated into English by the Tardis, and as we know from the Doctor's Wife the Tardis has quite a posh accent.
  8. Darren

    Doctor Who

    I thought the episode was a bit dull (although it tugged at the heartstrings very effectively) but it was JW’s best performance so far. “I like biscuits!”
  9. Darren

    The 2019 Xmas Sandwich Thread

    This is the 2019 thread Take it to the 2018 Xmas Sandwich Thread!
  10. Darren

    Tomorrow's World - a one off special

    They missed a trick not getting Serafinowicz & co involved.
  11. Darren

    Star Wars - the new canon

    Well, there's Han Solo: Imperial Cadet which is a 5-issue series starting this week. Then after that they don't so much wind things back as go in a slightly different direction, with three themed mini-series starting with Age of Republic (9 issues, starts December), then Age of Rebellion (8 issues, starts April) and finally Age of Resistance (8 issues, starts July). There's also supposed to be another Vader mini-series called Shadow of Vader, but that looks like it's on the back-burner as Marvel fired the writer Chuck Wendig (of Aftermath fame) while it was still being written for "negative tweets", which is one of those things that if you said it to someone at any time in the 20th century they would assume you'd gone mad.
  12. Darren

    Doctor Who

    I thought that was really good, and again a very back to basics type episode. I enjoyed the Doctor realising she was in the wrong when talking to the actual doctor bloke about his responsibility to everyone on board. And Graham continues to be the best companion in ages. This series is turning out so much better than expected.
  13. Darren

    What are you reading at the moment?

    I’ve just finished 2001: a Space Odyssey for at least the third time. I first read it when I was about 12 and couldn’t understand the last quarter at all (from the star gate onwards) even though it’s actually all really carefully described, albeit from the point of view of a protagonist who is himself quite bamboozled. Anyway it’s been one of my favourite novels since my second read and this time I loved it all over again. And now for something completely different: Paradise Lost. I’ve only read the first part (of about 12 I think) but I’m enjoying it so far, although it takes a while to decipher sometimes.

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