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Postby Sibyl » Sat Jan 20, 2007 6:14 pm

*thumbs down*Deryni Magic by Katherine Kurtz. This is a sort of (fictional, of course) encyclopedia explaining all the stuff about the Deryni people. Their spells, their telepathy, dark magic, shape-changing, healing abilities, etc. If you want to read anything by her, though, you should find Deryni Rising (her debut) and go from there. This is something to skim through after reading the others, if you have questions or want to know more.
Well, sorta. That one is for people who are already deep-dyed fans, which you did say. For the people it's for, thumbs up.

But "Deryni Rising" isn't her debut, it isn't even the first in that world. I believe that "Camber of Culdi" is that, though she probably went back into Saint Camber's "prehistory" afterward. There are a _lot_ of the books in the world, besides all the others she writes.
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Postby lovesonia » Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:47 am

*thumbs down*Deryni Magic by Katherine Kurtz. This is a sort of (fictional, of course) encyclopedia explaining all the stuff about the Deryni people. Their spells, their telepathy, dark magic, shape-changing, healing abilities, etc. If you want to read anything by her, though, you should find Deryni Rising (her debut) and go from there. This is something to skim through after reading the others, if you have questions or want to know more.
Well, sorta. That one is for people who are already deep-dyed fans, which you did say. For the people it's for, thumbs up.

But "Deryni Rising" isn't her debut, it isn't even the first in that world. I believe that "Camber of Culdi" is that, though she probably went back into Saint Camber's "prehistory" afterward. There are a _lot_ of the books in the world, besides all the others she writes.
I sort of figured Deryni Rising wasn't the first of all her books, but I was under the impression that it was the first for that world. Go me, being misinformed. I guess I should search Amazon and read from the real beginning.

But, yeah, definitely thumbs up... I just wouldn't recommend it right off the bat.
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Postby locke » Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:53 pm

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch is one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time.

in brief it's self contained adventure/con/thriller (and the debut of a talented new writer) about a con artist in a Renaissance world.

Locke Lamora is the orphan of one of the periodic plagues that sweep through cities in a lax sanitation world, he's such an adroit thief that he's an immediate problem for the Fagin-like character that took him in. After violating several rules and endangering this thiefmaker's authority, Locke is quietly shuffled off to be the responsibility of a blind priest, Father Chains, who is not so blind, and not much of a priest, but a completely different kind of thief. Chains is the consummate con artist and he's collecting a very focused coterie of talent that he can train from a young age into pulling off the most amazing feats of theft that the victims don't even really know they've been stolen from. The book moves back and forth between Locke's training (and background) in childhood, and his movements as the professional, uncatchable, untraceable leader of the Gentleman Bastards con artist gang. He has to play a double game with the mafia, another with the priests, and a triple, soon to become even more deliciosly complex, game with those he's robbing. The book is unexpected, brilliant, savagely funny, clever, wry, shocking and downright noble by the end of the darn mess. A fantastic and enjoyable read, not a perfect book, but a damned grand time.
So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

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Postby locke » Thu Apr 19, 2007 2:41 am

my current 'to read' pile from the library is sort of a best of list from 2006, and somehow I've ended up with all the hot books from last year all at once:

River of Gods - Ian McDonald
Old Man's War - John Scalzi
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
The Last Witchfinder - James Morrow
Blindsight - Peter Watts (from what I hear, probably winning the hugo
Empire of Ice Cream - Jeffrey Ford
Glass Books of the Dream Eaters - Gordon Dahlquist
Vellum - Hal Duncan (this one comes with highest recommendations to me)
Infoquake - David Louis Edelman.
Fragile Things (shorts collection) - Neil Gaiman
Special Topics in Calamity Physics - Marisha Pessl (not nonficion, crazy fiction)

So I'd toss all those out there as suggestiosn since I'll be attempting to plow through all of them.
So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

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Postby locke » Thu May 03, 2007 11:11 am

Blindsight by Peter Watts

Vampires in space.

No really, it's actually incredibly awesome and not nearly as cheesy as it sounds.

(btw this is HARD scifi, lots of jargon and dense explanations of bleeding edge theoretical concepts, it's utterly brilliant, and has an appendix where the author sources and defends the roots of his ideas).

Set in the 2080s, Earth has been contacted by an unknown alien race. Earth had been turning more and more internal, few people are not virgins in the real world, almost everybaby is a testtube and instead of dying your consciousness is uploaded to "Heaven".

Siri Keeton had a radical hemispherectomy as a child to save his life and with only half a brain has had to rebuild his ability to interact with humans from scratch. This has made him the ideal synthesist, or jargonaut, to convert and explain something specialized into something the general population can comprehend. Siri sees everything from emotions, relationships, science and thought processes as patterns and algorithms on a meta level most people can't observe. Naturally Siri is included in the first attempt to send human contact to the aliens, he's supposed to report back and explain what all the hyper specialists figure out. Included are a linguist who has split her brain into four 'cores' each with their own distinct personality so she can process five times faster than a normal human; A doctor with implants and extensions that let him see xrays and taste sound; a military specialist known for her unorthodox but always brutal, peacable and immenselly effective approach; and Jukka Sarasti, their revived vampire captain.

speaking of vampires... it turns out they evolved as the natural predator of humans, but since their birth/death/reproduction pattern was so similar to humans they also evolved a suspended animation process (similar to lungfish) that let them 'die' only to revive later down the road when the prey population of humans is again thriving. Unfortunately some other genetic mutations that gave them preternatural speed and savant like intellectual abilities also left them vulnerable to grand mal seizures when their visual cortex was interrupted by perpendicular intersecting lines (really how many of those do you find in nature? So by a happy accident of evolution when humans started civilizing with euclidian architecture, vampires began to go extinct.

Luckily for us, archeaologists have unearthed some vampires and they've been revived and reintroduced to our new enlightened society. What's more splice some vampire dna into a regular human and you're capable of inducing the suspended animation state of 'death' safely and repeatedly so you can send humans off at relativistic speeds for long voyages without having to worry about supplies and whatnot.

So you have vampires, in space, and potentially hostile, truly alien aliens. None of this bipedal, man in suit stuff, something much different much more alien in carbon based evolution.

It's a really entertaining and quick read, as I said it's dense with jargon and concepts but if you're into any of that it's terrific fun.
So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

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Postby locke » Wed May 23, 2007 9:59 am

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Probably the most annoying book I've read since I read Thane Rosenbaum's the Golems of Gotham. Both have the potential to be really GREAT works, and both are bogged down by their pretensions to be great, legacy-envy and in general bad execution at the important stuff (character interrelationships and overall arc of the story.

Special Topics is fatally flawed by having a narrator who begins sympathetically but quickly becomes tiresome, shrill, one dimensional, self absorbed and so utterly uninteresting as a figure in her own story that you wonder if she could be cut out.

Mary Sue anyone?

The rest of the characters are not given character development. They're not given different voices. They're given QUIRKS. But they all talk in the same tone, the same cadence, the same diction, vocabulary. For six hundred pages there is no differentiation or significant development of any of the supporting characters or the characters/victims/perps involved in the 'central mystery'. That's in quotes because the thing that is supposed to be a mystery doesn't occur until about page 450, and it is not so much solved as an answer is slowly dictated to us piece by excruciating piece. Pathetic.

There is exactly one character that is not exactly like everyone else, a very average very middle class kid who is infatuated with the narrator, but she dismisses him because he's beneath her class--she is part of the intellectual aristocracy and can't date beneath herself. That's actually exactly what she thinks. It's what her friends tell her. It's what her father tells her. and we only meet him and see his parents and his house to provide oppurtunities for vicious and wholely undeserved mockery on the part of the narrator.

Don't read it, it's terrible.


-------------------------
The Road - Cormac McCarthy


Oprah officially has better taste than the scifi readers community. She picked this book for her book club. It won the Pulitzer Prize. And it wasn't even nominated for the Hugo. Seriously, what is wrong with the voters that they didn't nominate this? At least they DID nominate the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay in it's year, this year they missed out on what is probably the finest scifi novel in a long, long time. They also overlooked the tremendous Lies of Locke Lamora, but no worries, Scott Lynch will be winning the John W Campbell award for best new writer, and Red Seas Under Red Skies will probably be nominated next year.

The Road is a masterpiece. Chilling, devasting, consistently powerful and wrenching portrait of the unbreakable love and devotion of a father for his son. Set in a post nuclear world, they are moving, slowly, further south, always south, to try and avoid the nuclear winter that is slowly killing everything to the north of them. It has been years and years since the devastation of the bombs. Every animal has been eaten, every store has been ransacked, food that is still found in abandoned houses may well be poisoned, and the most untrustworthy creatures of all are the bands of cannibal humans who have turned completely inhuman in the horrifying lengths they go to stay alive. This book is filled with incredibly haunting and disturbing images, some of them you will never get out of your head. But it is also, in a little way, about hope, about the determination of the human spirit to remain aloft, to not be degraded into a monster but to continue to try to live.

In fact this would be one of my favorite books ever if the author used punctuation, but he decided to not employ quotation marks anywhere in the book. It drove me crazy for the first fifty pages and then I was absorbed into the cadence of the book anyway. Still its frustrating to not see quotation marks on the page. :(

On the other hand, it's a decision that actually works for the novel, because it gives an extra textual eerie, surreal and unreliable feel. You're not quite sure who is saying what and who is thinking what. The world has become so devastated you're no longer sure if the father is talking outloud or if he is just thinking, maybe both.

Tremendous superb, short and incredibly powerful. Read it right away!

Adam
So, Lone Star, now you see that evil will always triumph because good is dumb.

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Postby wizzard » Fri Jul 13, 2007 8:34 pm

*bump* cause I think this is a good thread, and Pweb has been slow lately.

I recently picked up Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, mostly because I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan. First of all, I would highly recomend this book to anyone who enjoys Pratchett. He is one of the few authors who can actually make me laugh out loud, which I did multiple times while reading Good Omens.

The second thing that came out of this is that I was intrigued and picked up American Gods by Neil Gaiman. If you're expecting anything at all like Pratchett, then prepare to be surprised. However, this was one of the best books I've read in a long time. Gaiman has a story-telling quality to his writing that makes the impossible seem not only possible, but ordinary.

Over the past couple days I've read Anansi Boys, also by Gaiman. It is linked very slightly to American Gods, but it does not attempt to be a sequel, or a re-writing of the first book, or anything like that. It is it's own book, with it's own feel, and it stands perfectly well on it's own. I didn't find it quite as intriguing as American Gods but still definitely a good read.

I'm looking forward to reading more Gaiman. Anyone have any reccomendations for what I should read next?
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Postby eriador » Sun Jul 29, 2007 12:45 am

The Baroque Cycle by Neil Stephenson

There's too much good stuff here to do a good review. It has great characters, great places, and a TREMENDOUS grasp on the history it deals with. It's fun, fast paced, immersive, educational and over 3000 pages all combined. Go for it!

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Postby Locke_ » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:58 am

Hopefully, come Tuesday, I will have read 30 books since May 31st-ish when summer vacation started. That includes a short story and some plays though, but who's counting?
I leave for Europe next week, and here are the books I'm planning on taking, because of course they don't sell books in Europe.

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey -- apparently the underrated, underappreciated second novel by the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe -- about the author of above and his exploits around California introducing acid to the soon-to-be hippie populace, and making a name for the Grateful Dead when they were still the Warlocks

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens -- one of my fave authors, or at least most appealing. I'm trying to read each of his novels chronologically by when they were published.

Rudyard Kipling's Complete Verse -- gotta have a little poetry to snack on every now and then.

Red Moon Rising by Pete Greig and Dave Roberts -- bought it a long time ago. It talks about a mass prayer movement in England in 1999.

The Trial by Franz Kafka -- We'll see if I try to get around to this one. I read a few of his stories. I just want to see Prague badly and wanted to familiraize myself with a famous writer from there.

Varieties of the Religious Experience by William James -- this is just.. well.. for fun I guess, in case I want some nice philosophy of religion.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce -- I'd say I'm most excited to get to this one after Sometimes a Great Notion. Dublin baby!

Comments, ideas, or recs for me? Heh, who knows if I'll even finish one book while I'm in Europe. It's a 3 month trip but I'll probly be stomping around all the time.
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Postby Achilles » Thu Dec 06, 2007 6:14 pm

The Alex Rider series

I know in my school the books are super popular, i'm in 8th grade btw, but i read them when i was in fourth grade, so to begin i'll say...

Please dont tell my i'm just reccomending the popular books of the day.

I liked the books, and i like the author. I havent read any of the authors books lately though, so i wouldnt be able to tell you the specifics of why i like them.

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Postby KennEnder » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:38 pm

Funny, I was just looking at the Alex Rider books in the store yesterday... would you recommend them even to "old people"?
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Postby Darth Petra » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:14 am

I recomend "The Giver" by Lois Lowry. It's awesome.

Oh, and Redwall is cool too....
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Postby KennEnder » Fri Dec 07, 2007 1:47 pm

Looks interesting, DP. (On another note, it's a lot like a book I wrote myself... which means I'll probably never be able to get mine published because their concepts are too similar. Darn it!)
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Postby Darth Petra » Fri Dec 07, 2007 3:00 pm

Looks interesting, DP. (On another note, it's a lot like a book I wrote myself... which means I'll probably never be able to get mine published because their concepts are too similar. Darn it!)
Plagarizer!!! Yeah, I've had problems like that....I've written things that sound to much like something else..
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kite runner

Postby ender23 » Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:31 pm

kite runner anyone? great book, for me it defined riveting... couldn't put it down for a long time, i just kept going back to it. not because of a crazy plot line where iw anted to find out what happens. I just felt so invested in teh character...

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Postby SaintDrogo » Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:29 am

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by David Eggers is great. It's all about the irony, but while trying to specifically avoid actually BEING what is says it is, it does break your heart, and at times does reach the point of staggering genius. It's subtle, it's disarming, it's funny, it's tender. Two thumbs way way up. I only hope that one day I can write that kind of honest, self-referential gut-laugh-and-tears-slugfest that this is.

Also great for its attention to empty spots. Dig the inside of the cover, and the publication page and stuff. Plus the back 1/8 of the book is to be turned upside down as a companion to it, "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making."
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Postby Warmaker » Thu Jan 31, 2008 5:33 pm

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius by David Eggers is great. It's all about the irony, but while trying to specifically avoid actually BEING what is says it is, it does break your heart, and at times does reach the point of staggering genius. It's subtle, it's disarming, it's funny, it's tender. Two thumbs way way up. I only hope that one day I can write that kind of honest, self-referential gut-laugh-and-tears-slugfest that this is.

Also great for its attention to empty spots. Dig the inside of the cover, and the publication page and stuff. Plus the back 1/8 of the book is to be turned upside down as a companion to it, "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making."
Anberlin totally ripped off that title of that book for the name of a song.

His Dark Materials is still my favorite literary collection to date. Also,:
Watership Down
The Riots of Eighty (also a kick-ass hardcore band)
American Psycho
The Life of Pi
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Postby SaintDrogo » Mon Feb 04, 2008 9:26 am

Are we surprised that Anberlin ripped someone off?

I just got The Subtle Knife, actually, after watching The Golden Compass on DVD the other day. Pissed me off to find out they hadn't, and may not be, made the sequels yet. From what I hear they changed a LOT from the book anyway, so I might need to read The Golden Compass/Northern Lights for myself first.
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Miles to go before I sleep

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Postby eriador » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:38 am

mmmm. read all three in order.

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Postby KennEnder » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:25 pm

Pissed me off to find out they hadn't, and may not be, made the sequels yet.
It shouldn't be that surprising that they haven't made the sequels yet; the movie has been out for a relatively short period of time. "Lord of the Rings" was very unique to have filmed all three novels at the same time; most others have to film one at a time and see how it goes. Even "Harry Potter" which is a shoe-in for profit! So there may be sequels, or there may not be... they're just not willing to count their chickens before they hatch and commit themselves to it.

Oh, and all three books are pretty good. I haven't seen the movie yet, but like all movies based on a book, it MUST have made a lot of changes. Read all three.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:55 pm

I've been hearing rumours that the sequels aren't going to be made. Largely because the first movie was so bad and such a flop. Can't say I care, one way or the other. The first book was far and away the best, and the story got increasingly incoherent as it went on. If the first movie was bad, I can't imagine what the other two would turn out like.
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Postby eriador » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:59 pm

the story got increasingly incoherent as it went on
It being the movie, right? Because I totally disagree if you're talking about the book(s).

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Postby Eaquae Legit » Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:07 pm

No, the books. They started off with a lot of potential, but characters got dropped, prophecies got totally ignored, things weren't explained, nonsensical decisions were made... I would have loved for the series to have lived up to the promise of The Golden Compass, but somewhere in there Pullman lost his plot.

We read The Golden Compass on Pweb 2.0, and it's a shame the thread got eaten, because we could take the discussion over there. Maybe one of the book club mods will re-start a thread for it, otherwise I'm dropping this because it doesn't really belong here.
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Postby eriador » Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:09 pm

ehhhh. I don't totally agree with you there, but i can see you on that.

what do you think of his theological themes?

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Postby SaintDrogo » Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:45 am

I'm also about to read the whole Chronicles of Narnia series... I read a couple in school, but Duck recently mentioned wanting to re-read The Magician's Nephew. So we're reading it together, and then I'ma read the whole series. Anyone have any thoughts on that one?
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Postby eriador » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:10 pm

Yeah. Avoid 'em. C.S. Lewis packs in too much theology to make the story interesting. Though I'll be the first to admit I'm biased.

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Postby SaintDrogo » Wed Feb 06, 2008 7:31 pm

Ooh, and I love subtle theology-a-poppin'. I think I might dig 'em, so I'ma give it a try.
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But I have promises to keep
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Postby eriador » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:14 pm

he's not subtle in the same way pullman is, but diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks i guess

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Postby Rei » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:32 pm

*snrk* Subtle like a brick.
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Postby eriador » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:51 pm

Pullman or Lewis?

Lewis was obvious to me at eight. Pullman wasn't apparent until around 14. Also, it took me two goes at Pullman to see it. So I'd say Lewis is less subtle.

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Postby Rei » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:31 pm

I saw them both. I do retain a higher respect for Lewis, though. He had less of a propaganda agenda than Pullman. Sure he had a definite religious purpose written into the stories, but he was not writing them because he hated someone else's work (which Pullman must have drastically misunderstood, if his apparent rant about Narnia is to be accepted as honestly meant).
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Postby eriador » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:45 pm

He had less of a propaganda agenda than Pullman.
I disagree for two reasons:

1) Pullman (imo) gave a more reasoned ARGUMENT whereas Lewis repeated doctrine, rather than reasoning for it.

2) The very origin of the word propaganda comes from, get this,
modern Latin congregatio de propaganda fide ‘congregation for propagation of the faith’
The Propaganda was
a committee of cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church responsible for foreign missions, founded in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.
I'll admit, in the end it's a matter of opinion though.

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Postby Warmaker » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:39 pm

Theology and propaganda aside, the Narnia books are boring as hell. Its just not entertaining, And the characters are completely uninteresting. Lewis could indoctrinate all he wanted, but couldn't write a decent book to save his life.
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Postby Eaquae Legit » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:01 pm

That sounds just like the comments we sometimes get over the the Enderverse section from students hoping we'll do their homework. "This book is boring and it sucks!" Frankly, I think it reflects more on the reader than it does the books, because there's a reason some stories are held up as classics in a genre.
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Postby Rei » Fri Feb 08, 2008 10:06 pm

Honestly, I'm going to go with EL on this one. You're allowed to not enjoy a book, but that does not make it badly written. And even less does it mean that the author is incapable of writing well. It just outs a reader who can't read critically.
Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point.
~Blaise Pascal


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