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I am Pilgrim, Terry Hayes

The fact that a book is promoted doesn’t mean it’s any good. This one isn’t.
The hero is a Mary Sue. The youngest in the Service, bla-bla. Shoots his boss because he’s working for the Russians. Gets his job. Yeah, right. Also, he’s the adopted son of a millionaire, so it’s not an issue for him to retire at 30 and do whatever he likes. Like writing the best book about criminal investigation ever. Because why not.
Storytelling is amateurish. The author wanted to tell the story from the first person, but then decided he needed to tell another story from 10 years ago, which is supposed to be based on accounts of interrogations, but contains details nobody would mention, like what was going on in the head of a terrorist, or his soon-to-be dead victims. Amateurish.

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Small Town in Germany, John le Carre

“Young Germans don’t blame their parents for starting the war. They blame them for losing it.”

Out of all John le Carre novels I’ve listened to until now, this is probably the best novel in terms of narrative yet. And it’s not really a spy novel, again! It’s a classical noir novel, with a “detective” in a trench coat, corrupt cops, unfaithful wives, and… Nazis.
The best part of the book, that made me laugh out loud, was the dinner that the head of Chancery, Bradfield, hosts. How the German and Dutch swear their “allegiance” to Britain, “my son studies there, my daughter studies there,” is so similar to how 50 years later, every Russian oligarch still sends their kids to study in Great Britain.
On a more serious and more nuanced tone, the book discusses what is the age of the Nazis’ crimes. Should they be forgiven in ’45? ’55? ’65? Never? Why is one arbitrary date better than the other?
And of course, common to le Carre is the theme of abandonment by your country, in this case, of a hunter for Nazis and a Jew asked to “forgive and forget.”

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Player of Games, Ian M. Banks

Finished listening to “Player of Games”.
This is basically a spy novel wrapped in Banks’ sci-fi utopia. A professor in game theory is bored with everything, and recruited by an intelligence agency to participate in a complex game played in a distant empire.
The empire is a parody on modern Britain, with fashion that haven’t changed hundreds of years (ouch), and all government positions decided by a result of a particularly elaborate Game. Hence universities that teach The Game have huge influence on politics of the Empire (ouch, ouch).
For ’88, the book is quite progressive. Banks plays with the idea that in the utopian future, people would be able to change their sex back and forth, for example. He also dedicates a lot of attention to the fact that AIs in this society considered to have the same rights as humans.
Overall, I enjoyed it far more than “Consider Phlebas”, his first book. It describes the obsession of something like a chess player quite well.

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Hardkiss

Recently I discovered HARDKISS. Better late than never, I guess.

 

 

 

 

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Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carre

Finished listening to Spy Who Came in from the Cold. And I can’t say that I enjoyed it much. Actually, I can’t say I enjoyed this book at all. It’s narrated very well, but that’s part of the problem. The hero is always grumpy, so you listen to a grumpy British actor for some 6 hours, or however long that book takes.
By the last third, the book turns into a procedural. Not sure how accurate proceeding in DDR are, and don’t care much about them. And the finale is just lazy. But that’s nothing new for John Le Carre.
Half of the book the hero tries to convince East German Intelligence Service that their head is a British mole. He fails, they requite him. Then it turns out he is a mole after all.
The girl gets shot trying to climb over the Berlin Wall, and the spy can’t bear that and apparently gets shot too. The end 🤷‍♂️

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RAYE

I think that someone who managed to make this:

And this:

Knows what they’re doing. I’m no expert, but there are some solid Amy Winehouse and Lady Gaga references there.

But this surprised me:

Everyone regards this as something personal, and I think it’s not, but still that’s a much more heavy theme that club music.

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Consider Phlebas, Iain Banks

Finished listening to Consider Phlebas. On one hand, I was surprised this book was written in ’87. It seems to be 10 years ahead of its time at least.
But the ending left me feeling unsatisfied, in an almost Warhammer 40K manner. You see, in Warhammer 40K, different factions usually chase an ancient artifact. In case of “Consider Phlebas”, it’s an artifact alright, although not ancient, but brand new: unique kind of AI, that managed to teleport itself into a planet, something no other AI managed to pull previously.
There’s a lengthy sequence of firefight for that artifact between humans and a couple of 3 meter tall warlike “Idiran”. Some people get killed. The protagonist decides to keep one of the Idirans captive. It escapes, and kills or mortally injures everybody else, besides a single crew member, that manages to return the AI to her people.
But then, the AI doesn’t seem to play any role in the ensuing war. Just like in W40K, where every artifact gets destroyed “because Chaos”, or, in other words, because no singular even can have any effect on the overarching story.

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Beast in Black – Moonlight Rendezvous

This music video is so bad it’s actually good:

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Ace Combat Zero live

“Zero” from Ace Combat Zero is one of my most favorite video game tracks of all time.
And this live performance of it is fantastic. Very interesting to see how the performer actually looks:

 

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Glitter and be Gay, Candide

Absolutely fantastic performance:

And slightly more americanised version:

 

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Sleeping In The Cold Below

Хоть что-то хорошее получилось из Warframe’а: космическое sea shanty.

 

О котором я узнал благодаря прекрасному cover’у от Gingertail:

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“Все свободны”, Михаил Зыгарь

Занимательное журналистское расследование о событиях середины 90ых годов в России.

Пара заметок:
Контроль над предприятиями приобретенными на залоговых аукционах покупатель получал лишь год спустя. Схему эту придумал Лифшиц. Таким образом появлялся риск, что если бы к власти пришел Зюганов, то предприятия у банкиров отобрали бы обратно.
Банки выкупали предприятия на деньги, которые предприятия у них хранили. Фактически МЕНАТЕП выкупил ЮКОС на деньги ЮКОСа.

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Why Nations Fail

Дослушал наконец-то Why Nations Fail. Прекрасное сочетание истории и экономики.

There is strong synergy between economic and political institutions. Extractive political institutions concentrate power in the hands of a narrow elite and place few constraints on the exercise of this power. Economic institutions are then often structured by this elite to extract resources from the rest of the society. Extractive economic institutions thus naturally accompany extractive political institutions. In fact, they must inherently depend on extractive political institutions for their survival. Inclusive political institutions, vesting power broadly, would tend to uproot economic institutions that expropriate the resources of the many, erect entry barriers, and suppress the functioning of markets so that only a few benefit.

The essence of the iron law of oligarchy, this particular facet of the vicious circle, is that new leaders overthrowing old ones with promises of radical change bring nothing but more of the same.At some level, the iron law of oligarchy is harder to understand than other forms of the vicious circle. There is a clear logic to the persistence of the extractive institutions in the U.S. South and in Guatemala. The same groups continued to dominate the economy and the politics for centuries. Even when challenged, as the U.S. southern planters were after the Civil War, their power remained intact and they were able to keep and re-create a similar set of extractive institutions from which they would again benefit. But how can we understand those who come to power in the name of radical change re-creating the same system?

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Imagine Dragons все

Новый альбом Imagine Dragons, Mercury, какая-то абсолютная хрень. Ничего уровня Beliver или Whatever It Take, даже до Natural или Bad Liar с Origins не дотянули.

Все же Evolve был пиком их карьеры. Теперь только вниз.

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О музыке

Последний альбом Nightwish терпимый. Лучше, чем два предыдущих, поскольку новая солистка хоть петь умеет. Но не лучше тех, где еще была Тарья. Хотя нет, может уровня Once, но не более того.
Зато неожиданно порадовали бразильцы из Semblant. Но с другой стороны, чем бразильцы хуже каких-нибудь чехов из Calathea?

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Upon A Burning Body

Открыл для себя на днях группу Upon A Burning Body. Не Five Finger Death Punch, конечно, но тоже очень неплохо. Похоже названия групп меньше чем из трех слов в этом жанре не котируются. Для ознакомления советую Scars.

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О группе “Кино”

Понимаю, что когда тексты группы были актуальны и злободневны, лет двадцать назад, слушать их было можно и модно. Но слушать это сейчас – нонсенс. Поет Цой слабо, играют музыканты кое-как, и ко всему прочему записано это на теплую ламповую “совковую” технику.

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Halestorm

Halestorm – Familiar Taste of Poison это почти Evanescence. А в целом, забавно, как Lzzy Hale поет, как будто только языком и зубами.

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О музыке

In This Moment – эта солистка может вообще не петь. Просто ходить туда-сюда. Что, впрочем, она и так делает. Другие достойные конкуренты: Butcher Babies.
Five Finger Death Punch – достойная замена Disturbed. Хороший мужской вокал, качественные тексты.

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Amaranthe

Открыл для себя группу Amaranthe, которая похоже заняла в моем сердце место Skillet. Что любопытно, у них целых два вокалиста и “гроулер”. Прослушал все три альбома (Amaranthe, Nexus, Massive Addictive) и практически без провисаний. Хороший ритм, приятный вокал, хорошие тексты.