@rampantbicycle It’s awesome to hear about what you’ve been reading, My only familiarity with the concept of “play” (aside from the crazy-ass way Derrida uses “play”) comes from this book, which is really old and almost certainly outdated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homo_Ludens_%28book%29. Oh, I also read a sociological ethnography in which the researcher discusses various social factors involved in tabletop roleplaying. It was pretty fascinating, though I believe it was written in the mid 80’s, so it’s not exactly groundbreaking research at this point. I could dig up a citation for you (or anyone else who’s interested).

The Master and Margarita is very much a novel you have to be in the mood for, so I would say that “almost” reading it is the way to go until you know you’re in the mood for it. Again, if you’ve read other late 19th century early 20th century Russian authors, you know what you’re getting yourself in to and you know that it’s the kind of thing you have to be willing to devote effort and hours to. It’s rewarding, but you have to put the time in, and it’s not posible to always be in the mood for something like that. I also like to alternate between something heavy and something light. I am thinking I will come off of Bulgakov with something a bit more “fun”. I’ve never read any Neal Stephenson, and I got a couple of his books when I got some Amazon gift cards a while back. Since his stuff seems to be in the wheelhouse of the folks here, I figured I’d ask if anyone’s read his stuff and if you’d recommend it or not. I have The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon. Has anyone read any of those, and, if so, are they worth checking out? I got them because they were compared favorably with Gibson’s cyberpunk stuff. Does Stephenson have the same sort of beat style as Gibson, or is the comparison mostly in terms of world building and plot? (I wish I could get some of the Shadowrun novels as ebooks. I love that world, and I need something to get me through the lack of a group to play the pen and paper game with.) Though, I’m sure I can get the paperbacks for the price of a sandwich these days, so maybe I should try to go that route.