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Then, sheepish about his hesitations, he grabbed one breast, squeezed it hard, pinched the nipple until he imagined a real girl would squeal with pain. The corpse did not move. It's ostensibly a commentary on loneliness and the need for human connection, as Trager has trouble talking to real women and becomes increasingly obsessed with visiting "meathouses.

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Trager then decides that love is a lie, abandons any hope of improving his life, and finds himself a nice corpse with "a strange erotic innocence in her smile" to settle down with. But critics have pointed out that once you get beyond the shock value, the message is "If only this man who happily fucks corpses had a steady girlfriend, then he'd be all better!

So when you read "The sensuous evenings with Laurel and the fumbling sex of his boyhood were things of yesterday; Trager took his meatmates hard and quick, almost brutally, fucked them with a wordless savage power to the inevitable perfect orgasm," it's hard not to interpret it as the manifesto of a futuristic incel. Martin himself calls it "the darkest, bleakest, sickest, most twisted thing I ever wrote," although he did promote the graphic novel , in case anyone reading this was hoping for visuals.

The next time you hear someone ask "How could a mind be twisted enough to come up with the Red Wedding? Nerdy teenagers have long been legally required to read Ender's Game, lauded for its clever twists and mature handling of subjects like war and genocide. Orson Scott Card has since had an insanely prolific career, writing everything from 17 more Ender books to Bible story retellings , but somewhere along the line, the quality started to suffer, and Card became better-known for being outspoken about his politics, like his zealous opposition to gay marriage.

That brings us to 's Empire. Bush For Legal Reasons is somehow a beloved moderate who gets assassinated by the far-left Progressive Restoration, which puts the country on the brink of a new civil war. The Restoration is led by Not George Soros For Legal Reasons, who has somehow managed to train a huge army and revolutionize warfare by developing mechs and hoverbikes from his secret mountain lair. The Restoration then occupies New York City and uses their mechs to gun down anyone in uniform, to which the city's civilians react by Card, with apparent sincerity, hammers home that all political extremes are dangerous, and that the overwhelming majority of moderate Americans need to make their voices better heard so that demagoguery can be resisted.

But our moderate soldier heroes who help restore order amidst the madness hate the media, make fun of Al Gore and that crazy fake climate change he's always on about, complain that Europe is too tolerant of other cultures, believe that a woman's place is only in the home, and even, and this is not a joke, appear on the single trustworthy media outlet out there to spread their message: The O'Reilly Factor.

Empire is an appeal for sanity from someone who thinks the military should never be questioned and that Dick Cheney is an unappreciated moderate in a world where half of America would cheer cops getting gunned down in the streets by killbots. It reads like a sad rant from someone who's let his anger get in the way of his talent, and that anger became Card's biggest shtick after he followed up Empire with deeply homophobic statements and comparing Obama to Hitler. It only gets worse in the sequel, Hidden Empire, in which white Christian Americans have to save barbarous Africa from evil Muslims.

This is perhaps the only franchise in history where the video game has the best story. Back around , the entire cultural landscape was based on either being a fan of Twilight or making fun of Twilight. Stephenie Meyer sold over million books , but was criticized for romanticizing a quasi-abusive relationship that featured a heroine with about as much agency as a Tetris block. But I'm not trying to reopen that debate, because the romantic relationship in her thriller The Chemist is much, much worse.

The Chemist stars Alex, a genius interrogator for an extra double secret government spy agency. Her specialty is concocting chemical injections so painful that otherwise-unbreakable prisoners spill their secrets, and she's presented as an unflappable terror who also happens to listen to relatable indie rock and obsess over her appearance.

Oh yeah, and she's also an awkward virgin who needs to hit up spy thrillers at the library for "going on the run" tips. Her old handlers are trying to kill her, but then they offer her amnesty if she completes, wait for it, one last job. It's paced like a sumo wrestler running a marathon and has less tension than a broken guitar string. It would be forgettably bland if not for the romance, which sees our heroine fall deeply in love with her hot new torture victim. Daniel Beach is a teacher believed to be planning a terror attack, and Alex's assignment is to torture the information out of him.

But plot twist, it's actually his identical twin CIA agent brother Kevin who's the mastermind! But, additional plot shimmy, Kevin is being framed for reasons too stupid to get into here! But, ridiculous plot convolution, Alex doesn't learn any of this until she's kidnapped Daniel, stripped him naked, and inflicted what is supposed to be among the greatest agonies known to humanity upon him. Once that awkward misunderstanding is cleared up, Daniel immediately forgives Alex and expresses regret that she wasted her time torturing him. He even offers to fetch her an Aspirin for her minor injury after he regains consciousness from, once again for emphasis, being brutally tortured.

Daniel is soon fawning over Alex with lines like "You make every other person I've known seem insubstantial, somehow incomplete," which melts her lil' secret government torturer's heart.

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I'm not saying that Meyer is bad at writing believable men, but Daniel's reaction to twice being warned that he needs to lay low because the government wants him dead is to go grocery shopping. In between "action" that reads like a confused Meyer trying to recap her child's Call Of Duty matches, Alex and Daniel spend long stretches of the book making out like teenagers, cooking, talking about movies, and playing with dogs, all while ostensibly on the run from super spies.

The Chemist ends with them opening a restaurant together and even appearing on a cooking show, despite having left a pile of bodies and an angry government in their wake. It's as if Nora Roberts had to write a Jason Borne book after suffering a severe concussion. Thomas Harris is famous for Hannibal Lecter and not much else. His sporadic output is attributed to his view of writing as a grim slog , so when he announced his first novel in 13 years, and his first non-Hannibal novel in 44, the hype was massive.

Then Cari Mora came out, and readers noticed that the font size was massive , as if the publisher was trying to make a short work look long. It didn't get any better once people started reading those words. Various evildoers are seeking that treasure it's unclear why the government doesn't just seize it , and chief among them is, ugh, Hans-Peter Schneider. Schneider reads like Harris was filling out a villainous Bingo card in a desperate attempt to one-up the iconic Lecter.

He has the bizarre physical abnormality of being totally hairless! He's so evil that he locked his parents in a freezer so he could shatter their frozen bodies with an axe! His day job is maiming women to satisfy the sexual fetishes of his clients! Oh, and he traffics organs! And he carries around a "liquid cremation machine" to dispose of bodies and flush their remains down toilets! And he sings a little theme song when he uses it!

Now, any book can be described in a way that makes it sound dumb, but even the most generous review of Cari Mora suggested that maybe it was bad ironically. Any threat created by Schneider goes out the window when he's described as having a "whiff of brimstone," looking like "a dick wearing glasses," planning to "Creep [the house] with the girl Cari Mora asleep in her hotness upstairs," and working with an associate dubbed "Bobby Joe of the yellow eyes. Cari Mora was ripped apart for having all the signs of a sad cash-in that received less revision than most drunk texts.

At one point, Harris abandons the plot entirely to hype up the bird sanctuary he volunteers at, because that's apparently more interesting to him than writing now. Jesus, if he needed money this badly, he could have just put up a GoFundMe. In , airport scourge James Patterson teamed up with former president Bill Clinton to write a political thriller, or at least to hash out the basics over coffee before their respective underlings wrote it for them. If Duncan flubs this questioning, he could face impeachment.

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That would, of course, be the greatest outrage in American history, because President Duncan is a motherfucking American. This is a man who declares "At a ball game, there is no finer beverage than an ice-cold Bud," and small-minded Republicans want to engage in partisan hackery by questioning his decisions?

What could be more patriotic than blindly trusting the president at all times, especially when he insists that he totally didn't commit sexual miscondu- uh, negotiate with a terrorist? There's a rambling story about stopping a magical virus from annihilating all of America's computers, but this is primarily Clinton fanfic.

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Duncan's basic biographical details are identical to Clinton's, but the manly wish-fulfilling president is also a former ballplayer and accomplished Army Ranger who survived torture in the Gulf War. Oh, and Duncan's wife is dead, but she didn't depart this Earth before telling her friend, "one of the twenty most beautiful women on the planet," to keep Duncan from getting lonely. Read into that what you will. The President Is Missing is full of the usual Patterson inanity that keeps your mom entertained during bathtub wine night, like the classical-music-loving female assassin named Bach who sleeps with her lover "no more than three times a week to maximize his potency.

Craig Cutbirth taught political communications and rhetoric at Illinois State University. Tim Smith is a retired attorney with a lifelong interest in the Constitution. Time Magazine John Moore. This term, group members will read and discuss 16 stories from The Best Mystery Stories of the 19th Century. Beginning with stories in , the entries in this collection trace the origins and evolution of mystery elements familiar to modern readers.

Group members will be expected to read and be ready to discuss two stories, totaling approximately pages, each week. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Bonnie participates actively in the Mystery Stories study group. Paula Kaufman is the University Librarian emerita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after spending her career in academic and special libraries and an information-industry startup company. Paula discovered Ellery Queen, Jr.

She has participated in the Mystery Short Story study group since The group will discuss selected readings from Health Affairs, which is the leading journal of health policy thought and research. The peer-reviewed journal was founded in under the aegis of Project HOPE, a nonprofit international health education organization. Health Affairs explores health policy issues of current concern in both domestic and international spheres.

For assistance with library access, please contact the OLLI office. Facilitators: Chuck Van Vorst worked in health care administration for about 35 years. Sallie Miller worked in health care administration for about 30 years.

She has worked in a hospital system, a nursing home, and for a health insurance company. Join the group in reading and discussing world events as seen more broadly than from any other periodical being published today.

Reading material : All participants are expected to have access to The Economist in print or digitally. Student subscription rate is available for short term or annually. Facilitators: Peg Maher, Social Worker, retired after having had many casework and management positions in several organizations family service, juvenile justice, mental health and child welfare and in several states and returned to Champaign in In the s Diana Gabaldon, a scientific researcher living in Arizona, decided to write a fictional book about Scotland in the s.

The result was Outlander , published in It was the first volume of what became, so far, an 8-book series more on the way. The book contains an element of time travel, but is mostly history, romance, and adventure. The book, and the series it started, became a huge hit, but fans had to wait until to see it come to the screen.

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Please be aware that there is some adult content language, violence, and nudity , but that is not the main focus. The group will view two minute episodes 16 total of the STARZ production each week and discuss what we've seen, including the historical context. As time permits, we will watch bonus features about the making of the series. Reading material: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon not required. Cindy loves to do historical research and will provide additional understanding of the context of the story. Don, having lived for years with Joyce, has been hearing a lot about the books and has been enjoying the TV series.

This study group will consist of discussions and hands-on experiences for turning our tech tools -smartphones, laptops, and tablets into writing machines.