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I love a great SF read. A book that not only inspires me and opens my mind, my also pushes me through its pages at blinding pace because it's just too good to put down. Such great reads are rare… which is both a curse and a blessing.

The curse is, of course, there aren't enough great reads. If only every book could shine that brightly! The blessing is that we don't have to suffer the same withdrawl symptoms all the time. When I finish a great read, I want/expect my next read to be just as good. It almost never is, leaving me feeling a bit lost and depressed.

Note use of the word "almost". I just had a rare double-header of great SF novels: James S.A. Corey's "Abaddon's Gate" www.amazon.com/Abaddons-Gate-E… and Ranez Naam's "Nexus" www.amazon.com/Nexus-Ramez-Naa…. I heartily recommend both… though be warned, each one will probably have you itching to read the sequel by the last page. "Nexus'" sequel www.amazon.com/Crux-Ramez-Naam… comes out in August. The next James S.A. Corey Expanse book won't be out for AT LEAST a year.

But that brings me to the interactive segment of this blog. What are the Really Great SF books you've read in the past couple of years – the ones make you sad when you realize you've digested the last word on their last page and/or the ones that seem to call you back for a re-read, if only to relive some of its reader experience? Care to share?

And finally… on the subject of sharing… here are my recent picks for really cool deviations. Explore and enjoy!

CNSA Nanking by Abiogenisis North American B-70b Valkyrie by bagera3005 Richard Nixon fighting a Saber Tooth Tiger by SharpWriter Neuromancer cover : update by sourgasm <da:thumb id="381585614"/> The Rock Rats by TK769 <da:thumb id="376434062"/> ICAN-II by SMPritchard VA104 by yakonusuke National Supersonic Dream by jactoc Kassandra by GrahamTG Warbot by Lenzerwin Pulp by fanlay CALIBAN'S WAR by dana-redde Cover to The 5th Beatle GN by Andrew-Robinson Kalle Linnaeus ASV-01 by AtomicGenjin Cowboy Bebop: Faye Valentine. Realism. by Shilesque Flight from the Imperial Palace by Colourbrand Earth religions beyond the milky way -Buddhism. by V4m2c4 It Approaches.... by CyberRaven MM45 /  Benoit Godde Concept Artist by Benoit-Godde Yellowjacket Destroyer by Reactor-Axe-Man Shuttlecraft - Microbus by BJ-O23 Sush and The Beach Scooter colors by Sabakakrazny HAL 900 by Smaggers
  • Mood: Tired
  • Listening to: The Rain....
  • Reading: &quot;Fleet of Worlds&quot; Niven/Lerner
  • Watching: Space Battleship Yamato 2199
  • Playing: zip
  • Eating: usually
  • Drinking: only the good stuff
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:icondana-redde:
dana-redde Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I totally know what you mean. I was on such a roll with the Expanse books, and then I encountered some real stinkers immediately after, which probably seemed even worse in comparison to the Expanse books. I had such a visceral reaction to the mediocre book I read after finishing one of my favorite books, China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, that I chucked it across the room and have had a vendetta against it ever since. It was like being served a processed Hostess cupcake when I'd grown used to high quality chocolate cake.

Some good recommendations here! I tend to read books that are a little hard to box in--rarely straight-forward hard SF or high fantasy. As mentioned, I love China Mieville's "weird fiction." (I will cut anyone who calls them 'steampunk'). I've also really enjoyed Paolo Bacigalupi's  dystopian "bio-punk" work.

I recently read Gene Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer and hated it x_x

On the burner I've got some Iain Banks, more Paolo Bacigalupi, Gibson's Idoru, and Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312. Also making my way through an 800 page nonfiction brick about post-independence Africa, just to mix things up!
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
Which Bacigalupi do you have on deck? I loved Windup Girl. Shipbreakers was good. But The Drowned Cities.... well, it's technically a well crafted story, but one of the biggest downers I've ever read.
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:icondana-redde:
dana-redde Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Reading Shipbreakers now! Really enjoying it, and amazed how they'll slap the YA label on anything with a younger protagonist. Windup Girl is one of my favorites. It's imperfect, but it's really stuck with me in the few years since I read it. I've always been an Asiaphile (I was in steamy Hong Kong when I read it!) but the book got me interested in Thailand in a way I haven't been able to shake. I also enjoyed Pump Six, his collection of short stories.

I fear he's eerily prophetic about a lot of things. I'm excited about his next "adult" book, The Water Knife, due out next year or later, about a war between Phoenix and Vegas over water resources.

Oh no, I was looking forward to The Drowned Cities after this one! Was it a downer because it was disappointing or because it was depressing?
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2013  Professional General Artist
I really enjoyed the Pump Six collection. Most of the stories felt Baccigalupi-like, but it was nice to see him explore a wider variety of themes.

Drowned Cities was technically accomplished... it was just a downer. It's not the setting, it's the character's stories. Maybe I was in an over-sensitive mood when I read it? I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

So is The Water Knife set in his established future history or is it stand-alone?
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:icondana-redde:
dana-redde Featured By Owner Jul 23, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm really enjoying Ship Breaker, so I'll definitely give Drowned Cities a try. I'm finding Ship Breaker quite dark and harrowing, so maybe it's good that I'm going into DC prepared :D (YA my ass lol)

Not sure, I think it may be standalone? I've just gathered bits and pieces about it from his Twitter.

He also has a book about zombies coming out, but it's for middle-grade readers, haha.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Professional General Artist
I can do without the zombie book, though I'm sure his publisher will love it. I have a friend who's an established SF author and his publisher has, at times, suggested he work vampires into his stories. Sad.....
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:icondana-redde:
dana-redde Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Ugh, seriously? Yeah, zombies do nothing for me. They often just become a metaphor for the poor or some other undesirables, and then we get to watch a (usually) white dude butcher a bunch of them. Fun.
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:iconevilestone:
EvilestOne Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
I tend to prefer the scifi books written in the 1940s. Seems to be better to me for some reason.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Whatever works! We do it for OUR enjoyment, eh?
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:iconevilestone:
EvilestOne Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013
I like to tinker...I like the equipment...seems like the stuff written back then was more interested in figuring out how we'd be doing the things they were doing in the stories than it is now.
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:iconstarshipmodeler:
starshipmodeler Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013
Hull Zero Three - Greg Bear. It's a fast read.

Hammered/ Scardown/ World Wired - Elizabeth Bear. Hammered was my introduction to her writings. She's now one of my favorite authors. This particular series is ... loosely ... near-future first contact.

For space opera done right, you cannot go wrong with Elizabeth Moon. Any of the Serrano women (6 books in the familias Regnant series) or Vatta women (Vatta's War .... four books, IIRC) beat the pants of Honor Harrington. (Well, after the first couple of books, when she turned into superwoman, anyway).

Chris Moriarty writes some good, hard SF. Spin State and Spin Control are well worth reading.

I like Neal Stephenson, especially "Diamond Age". Also Kim Stanly Robinson, especially his Mars trilogy (but he's written a *lot* of good s/f).

I have a fondness for what is usually dismissed as "YA". I think what I like most is that the protagonists tend to be younger - and have to face not only whatever major problem drives the plot, but that they're ... well, _kids_, in an adult society. Think RAH's "juveniles" - which were anything but. Scott Westerfield writes some terrific stuff in this vein - Leviathan/Goliath/Behemoth (pre-WWI alt-history with Britain's tech mased on gene-mods and Germany's based on steam); Uglies/Pretties/Specials/Extras - near-future dystopia.

That should probably do for a start.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
I still need to finish that Elizabeth Bear that you sent me. I don't think it'd really taken off when I was drawn away from it.

I'll have to look into Chris Moriarty, too :)
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:iconsakebandit:
SakeBandit Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013
I've reviewed mine here... [link]
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
I used to keep a reading log, though not as ambitious and detailed as yours. Very cool! :)
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:iconsakebandit:
SakeBandit Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013
Thanks.

I've kind of stopped updating it as my reading has dropped off (internet, movies, etc). But I will finish those reviews one day!
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:iconbartlebooth:
Bartlebooth Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
LOL! Did you expect this flood of comments? My passion for SF started during childhood and more or less ended when I turned 20. Since then, I've read great SF books, but the big fire was extinguished.
For some strange reason that I can't explain, my all time favorite is "The Yaren" by Barry Longyear.

Other works that I've loved: "Starship Troopers" by R.A. Heinlein, then - at a short distance - "The Traveler in Black" by John Brunner,  "Hard Landing" by Algis Budrys and everything by Phil Dick, but above all the short story "The King of the Elves".
Notice that - strictly speaking - at least two can't be classified as SF, but their authors worked essentially in this field.

Obviously I'm leaving tons of significant books out.. but I've tried to reply as honestly as possible, based on my memory and my feelings.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Honestly, no... I didn't expect QUITE this many comments.... but that's OK. The more the merrier! :D

Barry Longyear.... there's a name I haven't heard in ages. I have a few of his works on the shelves, but I don't think I ever heard of The Yaren? I'll have to look it up.
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:iconcomptech224:
comptech224 Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2013
The Alex Benedict Series:

Books- Seeker, The Devil's Eye, and Polaris by Jack McDevitt.
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:iconarmorclad:
armorclad Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Student Interface Designer
Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War (S.A. Corey) are top 10 for me. I just started Abbadon's Gate, so far its good. Tar-Aiym Krang( Alan Dean Foster). I enjoyed On Basilisk Station (David Weber) but i never read any further in the series than that. Orphanage (Robert Buettner) was good. The second book in the series is good too but I started number three and haven't finished it yet. it kinda "nuked the fridge" or something.
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:iconspacecowboy5000:
SpaceCowboy5000 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Whenever someone mentions Frank Herbert the first thing that pops into peoples' heads is the Dune series. But he's written a lot of other great novels. My favorite is one called Whipping Star and its sequel The Dosadi Experiment. One excellent non-SF novel he wrote was called The White Plague, a book about bio terrorism. I like to explore lesser-known works by popular authors. Usually I'm pleasantly surprised. :D
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:iconmillenniumfalsehood:
MillenniumFalsehood Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013
The last great sci-fi book I read was Rendezvous With Rama, which I re-read a couple of months ago. Before that was Ringworld.

I am thinking about expanding my sci-fi collection, though. Most of it is pulp sci-fi books and the Star Wars novels I was crazy about as a kid, and I'd like to get more classics like OSC, Clarke, and Asimov.

I also want to read Carl Sagan's "Contact". I just rewatched the movie for the thousandth time, and it is just such an awesome sci-fi piece that it makes me want to check out the book.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
i DO need to read Contact sometime, too! It's on my shelf...
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:iconmillenniumfalsehood:
MillenniumFalsehood Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013
It's a great movie, for sure. It completely redefined my belief on the relationship between science and faith.
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:iconjames-is-james:
James-Is-James Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, The Children of the Sky... Vinge is 68, will he be able to finish this series?
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Professional General Artist
68's not old anymore ;) Hell, my sister's 67!
Enjoyed "A Fire Upon the Deep", but still having troubles connecting with the other two.
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:iconjames-is-james:
James-Is-James Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
The others are less "space opera" I think...
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Kinda seemed that way.
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:iconblades-123:
Blades-123 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'd thoroughly recommend the late, great Iain M Banks' wonderful 'Culture' novels, and the brilliant "Gone-Away World" by Nick Harkaway.
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:iconmetalsnail:
MetalSnail Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My copy of Abbadons gate still hasn't arrived, I just cancelled my order and have to buy it elsewhere.
I'm reading some John Scalzi while I wait, his book Old mans war is one of my faves!
I'll check out Ranez Naam!
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Did you finally grab a copy of Abaddon's Gate?
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:iconmetalsnail:
MetalSnail Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not yet, I have ordered it, now I gotta wait :)
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:iconshoguneagle:
Shoguneagle Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
Two of my long-standing favorites are The Forever War and Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman; both military science fiction pieces, and sort of a counter to Starship Troopers (which I also enjoy for different reasons). The Starfire series by Steve White and David Weber (Insurrection, Crusade, In Death Ground and The Shiva Option) are also decent novels. And, Armor by John Steakley, another classic military sci-fi novel!
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:icondjgaijin:
djgaijin Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
In the last few years? Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. Though it's not pure sci-fi: it's a sort of fantasy/steampunk/horror/dystopian fiction blend. Embassytown by the same author is more pure science fiction (although, despite being set in a spacefaring civilization, the science it most focuses its speculation on is linguistics) was also a great read.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks!
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:iconlespion1944:
Lespion1944 Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
I have several series that I wish could go on forever. One is David Weber's Honor Harrington series. A second is Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. Honourable mentions go to Mike Shepherd's Kris Longknife series and David Drake's Lieutenant Leary Series. Those are all SF as the thread stated. But another superb series was Kate Elliot's Crown of Stars fantasy quintet and I quite enjoyed Katherine Kerr's 14 novel epic Deverry series. Too bad she has taken to writing about vampire hunters instead of creating more of her brilliant medieval fantasy.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
My wife's been trying to get me to read the Bujold books for years now! One day I'll cave in. I think she loaded a couple onto my Kindle when I wasn't looking... ;)
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:iconlespion1944:
Lespion1944 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013
I only started to read them last year and read through the entire series. One of the things I like about the Vorkosigan Saga is that all of the stories are complete in themselves and don't keep you in suspense as to what is going to happen to the hero. However, reading them in the correct chronological order of events (not the order they were written)does make sense.
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:icondrell-7:
Drell-7 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
I LOVE all the Vorkosigan books. They hold together, and are interesting from beginning to end!
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:icontaka67:
Taka67 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013
The Vorsokigan books by Bujold are good. :)
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:iconmaddog3060:
Maddog3060 Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
Starship Troopers by Heinlein. I've felt compelled to reread it several times since I bought it, and I've never gotten tired of it. Really, many of Heinlein's stories really gripped me that way.

Aside from that I don't remember much that had that profound of an effect on me, save a few classics. Dune, for instance, Islands in the Sky and Rendezvous with Rama by Clarke, that sort of thing.

Really, the thing that always gripped me was less individual works and more universal settings that provide a comprehensive experience, and let people potentially explore different stories from different authors, while maintaining a baseline familiarity that lets them see how different styles are reflected in handling that basic material. It's why Battletech still remains deeply ingrained in my head despite my inner fanboy whinging about certain things that I shall not bring up. Most of the novels were merely average, a few terrible, and even fewer good, but not excellent. (Yes, I like Stackpole's writing.) Yet I keep coming back to them and the sourcebooks again and again.

I've seen a few commenters mention the Mars Trilogy, and I'd add to that; they're a good series of books, and entertaining, even if some of the characters seem to definitely hold the idiot ball on occasion.

Personally, I'd say if you weren't out for high-minded Poignant (with a capital P) stories, I'd recommend David Weber's Honor Harrington series. Not the hardest of sci-fi by any means, but thoroughly enjoyable and not completely soft (any story series where the author has calculated relativistic vectors to keep the story straight isn't all that bad).
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks. As mentioned above I really haven't been in a military SF mindset of late. Probably the last qualifying one I read was the expanded "Forever War", a couple of years back.... though the second James S.A.Corey novel has some great spacecraft combat, too.
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:iconmaddog3060:
Maddog3060 Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013
Ah. Well, I'm that sort of guy, yanno? I just like tales of epic struggle and conflict.

But yeah, like I said, the classics from the greats from the Golden Age of Sci-Fi ought to work well enough. Even some of Clarke's later stuff where he co-authored, like The Light of Other Days or Richter 10, are pretty decent reads. I'd stay away from Bradbury, though; most of his stuff just depresses the s**t out of me.
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:iconascavilya:
Ascavilya Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Pretty much anything by Roger Zelazny I'd have to say, and there is a lot. He treads a fine line at times between science fiction, fantasy and fantastical science fiction, what with alternate worlds, high tech AI, star ships and gods, but dammit, I haven't read one of his books that I didn't like, and I've re-read all the ones I have in my library more than once.

For something a little closer to home, Ready Player One is a good read with some great nods to the 80's and gamer culture.
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
I'd been eyeing Ready Player One - thanks for the endorsement!
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:iconascavilya:
Ascavilya Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
My pleasure.
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:iconcelticarchie:
celticarchie Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
I like a good anthology of short stories. Because a novel can start off good, but vary off into badness at any point, and it's then when I tend to put a book down. Whereas with short stories if it's getting bad, then you can either pick another one to read, or stick with it knowing you haven't got far to go with it. :)
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:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
Sage advice :)
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:iconcelticarchie:
celticarchie Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013
From a sage! :D
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:iconleakygraphics:
LeAKyGrAPHics Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Check out John M. Faucette`s Crown of Infinity, I think you`ll enjoy it.
Reply
:iconrob-caswell:
Rob-Caswell Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Professional General Artist
What's it about, in a nutshell?
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