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Topic: 1Q 2012 SF Challenge "Full Spectrum" /DISCUSS

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Subject: 1Q 2012 SF Challenge "Full Spectrum" /DISCUSS
Date Posted: 12/17/2011 2:04 PM ET
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Welcome to the 2012 SF Challenge for the first quarter of 2012, which runs from January 1, 2012 through March 31, 2012. 

The topical theme of this challenge "Full Spectrum - one each from the major subgenre of speculative fiction - hard sf, social sf, space opera, science fantasy, fantasy, horror, time travel, alternate history, etc.", as well as the ten categories within it, were chosen through a group-consensus process of voting on this forum.  If you are interested in that process, see the Let's Choose Topic thread and the Let's Choose Categories thread.  The process for selecting the second quarter challenge will begin approximately March 1, 2012, on a new thread.

The challenge is to read one book in each of the ten categories within the quarter.   To participate, create a tracking post according to instructions on the /TRACK thread.  If you have questions about the challenge, or want to discuss the challenge or books to fill the categories, then post here.

(I edited this post on 12/20/11 just to clean up the links  -TomHl)



Last Edited on: 2/22/12 11:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 8
Subject: recommendations for me, please
Date Posted: 12/17/2011 6:16 PM ET
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I could probably fill the 1Q challenge right from my TBR shelf, but I think I would like to do some bookhunting too.  So, starting from the 2009 and 2010 Locus Recommended Reading Lists, if you have read any of these books, could you recommend to me which category you would put it in?

I have already actually read five of these, but your thoughts are still welcome on those too.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/17/11 6:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 12/17/2011 7:00 PM ET
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Hmmm. . . lessee:

The Empress of Mars: Soft Science Fiction, Science Fiction Western.

Yarn: It sort of fits either Soft Science Fiction or Social Science Fiction. . .

Chill: Space Opera, Science Fantasy

Cryoburn: Soft Science Fiction, Social Science Fiction, Space Opera (though less than other Vorkosigan novels), Science Fiction Mystery

Blackout/All Clear: Time Travel

Date Posted: 12/18/2011 9:39 AM ET
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Thanks.  The Empress of Mars as Space Western and Yarn as Social SF led to a breakthrough in my planning.  I also copied The Last Colony from your plan, and The Carpet Makers from Jasmine's.

A few categories are still open, and my bookhunting has begun...

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/18/11 9:53 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: categorize this!
Date Posted: 12/18/2011 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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Steal Across the Sky, and Yarn - social SF

Yellow Blue Tibia - sophisticated comedy

Chill- social SF, hard SF, science/fantasy (Tom, I remember you've read the first book.)  The nano, suspended animation, and human (genetic) evolution make this hard tech.  Bear writes this like a fantasy story however, making it really unique.  (my opinion and I'm sticking with it). 

Starbound, Surface Detail and Terminal World - space opera

Walls of the Universe - hmm, social I guess

This is not a Game - mystery

Subject: Blackout/All Clear
Date Posted: 12/18/2011 1:10 PM ET
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SF romance category for Blackout/All Clear  -  that's kind of a stretch.  Unless you're in love with the London Blitz time period. 

Yes there was a "love" interest but not really written about.  Oh wait, I guess that's how they got saved isn't it?  hmm, never mind.....

Date Posted: 12/18/2011 4:17 PM ET
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Zylyn,

"Starbound - space opera"  Hmm.  Based on Marsbound, and on the Starbound cover blurb, I thought it might be young adult hard-sf.  Maybe I should wait to read it before classifying.

"SF romance category for Blackout/All Clear."  Well, it's definitely not a formula romance novel if that's what's needed for SF-Romance, but several of the characters have significant romantic motivations.  It would be best not to say too much more about that though, for fear of spoilers.

-Tom Hl.

Subject: categories
Date Posted: 12/19/2011 11:08 PM ET
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Tom - yeah, Starbound series is also YA but not what I consider hard SF.  Matt read it and classified it as space opera, I know Early Reader read it but I don't know how he classified it.  Besides, I thought you wanted it to fit in with one of the ten 2012 categories.

Walls of the Universe would be a YA novel also.

Subject: Starbound
Date Posted: 12/20/2011 9:01 AM ET
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I was examining the book really closely, and suddenly I found myself on page 67.  smiley So now I won't be counting it in the 1Q2012 challenge at all.  sad

When I was thinking YA Hard-SF, I was thinking that the standards of hard science can get shorthanded in YA, so long as the general tone is scientifically reasonable. On the other hand, I now see there is going to be a space fleet, and that sounds like space opera. Maybe the two are not mutually exclusive.

Anybody read Earthbound yet?  The reviews on Amazon are not good.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/20/11 10:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 4:34 PM ET
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So, is there anywhere in past threads or in other discussions in this topic where there is a suggested list of books by category?  Some of us, new to the challenge (ME) don't necessarily know what books to seek to read for each category...  or where you are looking that categorizes books when you want to find books for a specific category.

Brad -
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 10:17 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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.



Last Edited on: 12/30/11 9:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: categorize this again!
Date Posted: 12/23/2011 11:43 PM ET
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So, is there anywhere in past threads or in other discussions in this topic where there is a suggested list of books by category?  Some of us, new to the challenge (ME) don't necessarily know what books to seek to read for each category...  or where you are looking that categorizes books when you want to find books for a specific category. 

Ha - I usually read a book and then fit it in place, but with this 3 month challenge I'm finding it harder to choose the right book for the category..  Hmmm.  Good question, I don't know the answer.  I'd probably check out Wikopedia.  Or ask on this board.

_____________________________________________________________________ 

Boneshaker could also be categorized as alternate history.

PhoenixFalls - have you read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms?  I'm wondering if that would fit the science fantasy category.

I downloaded the latest Stephen King time travel book - I'm hard pressed to ignore it - still working on The Dervish House for the 2011 challenge..



Last Edited on: 12/23/11 11:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/24/2011 1:42 AM ET
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Alison -- I have read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and I don't think there's any way to read it besides straight-out high fantasy. Sorry! (It's pretty good though!) :)

Sianeka -- Wikipedia's definitely a good resources; checking how people have tagged books on sites like LibraryThing and GoodReads is also pretty fruitful; and of course, please do ask us if you wonder about a specific book! But mostly it ends up just being your best guess based on the jacket description and any reviews you've read. . . and then sometimes you guess wrong! In which case, well, hopefully you've read a fun book! ;)

Subject: classification
Date Posted: 12/26/2011 11:36 PM ET
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So, is there anywhere in past threads or in other discussions in this topic where there is a suggested list of books by category?  Some of us, new to the challenge (ME) don't necessarily know what books to seek to read for each category...  or where you are looking that categorizes books when you want to find books for a specific category.

I'm not sure if you are new to science fiction, or just new to the challenge.  Would you or anyone else find it useful if we would create something like a list of recommendations or examples for each category?  These categories are not always distinct, sometimes more like an emphasis than a classification.  There are a lot of books that could actually count in more than one way, depending what you pick up on when reading it.  I think the Full Spectrum theme of this quarter will probably encourage discussion around what those categories mean, and this thread is the place to do it.

Personally, I've decided to emphasize recently released books, and books read by others on this forum in the past.  So I've skimmed the tracking threads of the 2011 challenge, and posted the Locus list for ideas.  That said, I just got a copy of Yellow Blue Tibia as an xmas gift, and based on the cover blurb I would call it a Secret History.  And Zylyn has called it a Sophisticated Comedy.  I really have no idea at this point if it would count for any of the categories we have, though.

-Tom Hl.

PS - Now that I've read it, it turns out I agree that Space Opera is the best category for Starbound.



Last Edited on: 12/27/11 8:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 12/28/2011 2:39 PM ET
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Tom, a list of category recommendations would be awesome and I for one would find it VERY useful!  (I like SF, and have been reading for a while, but am still constantly amazed by the recommendations in this thread that I've never read and sometimes never even heard of).

I thank everyone for the suggestions on categorizations; I'm having a hard time deciding how to categorize my SF reads...  Just started Heretics of Dune (Frank Herbert) - where would this be categorized?  Maybe Social Science Fiction - concerned with sociological speculation about society ?



Last Edited on: 12/28/11 2:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: category recommendations
Date Posted: 12/28/2011 11:06 PM ET
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Sianeka,

I've read the original 6-book Dune series by Frank Herbert, and while I think Dune itself is Soft-SF (mostly concerned with character's experience and feelings), the series later tended towards sociology, and so I agree that Social SF would be best for Heretics of Dune.  I think you could probably go either way with any of them.  By the way, I don't really care for the prequels/sequels written after Frank Herbert's death.

Please don't take my or anyone else's personal selections as an expectation that everyone seek out obscure titles.  The reason is that by the time you've read a lot of science fiction books, the lesser known titles and new releases tend to be where you focus.  But I love a lot of the classics, and re-read them periodically.  I've put together the following list of recommended classics and popular sf, and hope others here will chime in with some more recommendations.  Probably you have already read some of these, so will see how they fit.

  • #1 Hard Science Fiction –
    •  a particular emphasis on scientific detail and/or accuracy
    • Neuromancer, by William Gibson
    • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick
    • 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
    • Snow Crash, by Neil Stephenson
    • Contact, by Carl Sagan
  • #2 Soft Science Fiction –
    • focus on characters and their relations and feelings, while de-emphasizing the details of technological hardware and physical laws
    • Dune, by Frank Herbert
    • Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
    • Ringworld, by Larry Niven
  • #3 Social Science Fiction –
    • concerned with sociological speculation about society
    • Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    • The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
    • The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula LeGuin
  • #4 Space Opera
    • - emphasizes romantic adventure, exotic settings, and larger-than-life characters
    • Downbelow Station, by C. J. Cherryh
    • The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt
  • #5 Military Science Fiction
    • - principal characters are members of a military service and an armed conflict is taking place, normally in space, or on a planet other than Earth
    •  Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
    • The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
    • Old Man’s War, by Joe Scalzi
  • #6 Space Western –
    • transposes themes of American Western books and film to a backdrop of futuristic space frontiers.
    • The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
    • Coyote, by Allen Steele
  • #7 Science Fantasy –
    • a mixed genre of story which contains some science fiction and some fantasy elements
    • Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
    • Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
  • #8 Slipstream –
    • literature with science fiction elements, but marketed as mainstream
    • Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes
    • The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
    • The Time Traveller’s Wife, by Audrey Niffeneger
  • #9 Alternate History –
    • fiction set in a world in which history has diverged from history as it is generally known, can include Steampunk
    • The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick
    • The Guns of the South, by Harry Turtledove
  • #10 Time Travel –
    • moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space
    • Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
    • The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells
    • Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis

PS - Yellow Blue Tibia fell open, and suddenly I am on page 86.  I'm really liking the droll sense of humor so far.  But it looks like this one isn't going to be in the 2012 challenge for me either.



Last Edited on: 1/1/12 6:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Sianeka - ,
Date Posted: 12/29/2011 4:38 PM ET
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Tom, thank you for response and for compiling this list for me to use as a springboard for my first-ever SF challenge! I'm sure it will also help some of the other "lurkers" to this topic!

Brad -
Date Posted: 12/30/2011 8:59 AM ET
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Trying to work this with the "Bob Challenge".

#2 Soft Science Fiction:  Life as we knew it by Susan Beth Pfeffer
#3 Social Science Fiction:  The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Subject: funny
Date Posted: 1/1/2012 12:17 PM ET
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"Bob Challenge"  - hahahahahahahah

Subject: challenges
Date Posted: 1/1/2012 1:35 PM ET
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Besides this challenge (with the expectation of three other quarterly challenges for a total of up to 40 books in 2012), I'm also reading a hard-sf book of the month from a group on yahoogroups/goodreads (12 books).   I'm double-counting between the two plans, but not within this challenge.  In 1Q, I only expect to be able to count one of those hard-sf selections here.  Between the two plans, and other miscellaneous reads, I don't want to commit to anything else at this point.  I hope it works out for others who are trying multiple challenges as well. 

Speaking of hard-sf book of the month, if anyone is interested, the poll winner for January 2012 was Makers, by Cory Doctorow.  So I have revised my challenge plan to include that for hard-sf category.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 1/1/12 6:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/1/2012 4:46 PM ET
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I haven't read the Deathstalker series by Simon Green but I'm hoping I'll be able to fit it into one of the categories. I also have some of the Lost Fleet novels by Jack Campbell. 

Date Posted: 1/1/2012 6:21 PM ET
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Allyson,

It looks like you have Space Opera and Military SF covered, at least.  wink

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 1/1/12 6:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/1/2012 6:57 PM ET
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I didn't do too well on last year's challenge but I'm hoping to do better this time. Yay! For having two catagory options filled.
Date Posted: 1/2/2012 1:38 AM ET
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Started and finished Dauntless by Jack Campbell. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. 

 While recuperating from ringing in the new year I'm almost finished with Deathstalker by Simon Green. I should have it finished before the end of the week. Not sure what to read next.

My  current shelf choices are... Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman, Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge, Cordelia Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, Darkover: First Contact by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Freedom's Landing by Anne McCaffrey. Pretty sure I have more choices but those are the ones I can remember without looking.



Last Edited on: 1/3/12 2:58 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: #2 Soft Science Fiction
Date Posted: 1/3/2012 1:47 PM ET
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I think allysona wins the first book prize, unless someone beat  1/2/2012 1:38 AM ET.  Congratulations!  If you're on eastern time, it looks like you read into the night to finish it.  Was it that good?

I've now finished my first book as well, in the Soft-SF category, and liked it.

Steal Across The Sky (2009), by Nancy Kress - finished 1/2/12 ****

In 2020 an alien base appears on the moon, and the alien "Atoners" confess to having committed some crime against humanity in the past. They solicit a small number of human observers and send them to sets of planets where descendants of humans kidnapped from Earth 10 thousand years ago now live. The story moves within a few pages to the landing of two observers on two worlds, with the backstory told retrospectively. I was hooked immediately by the triple mystery 1) What is going on on Kular-A? 2) What is going on on Kular-B? and 3) What did the Atoners actually do? The enjoyment of this novel is in the unraveling of those mysteries, so that's all the plot I'm going to mention here.

I spent some time pondering whether the emphasis here is more on characters and plot, or social science speculation. The characters are multifaceted and are changed by their experiences, and characterization is a strength. And while there is a lot of unfamiliar human culture thrown at the reader, especially at the beginning, I feel that some big social issues are left undeveloped, possibly for a sequel not yet written. So, in spite of some similarities in the initial setup, this is not writing as in Ursula LeGuin's Hainish universe.

The only Nancy Kress I've read before this was her award winning novella "Beggers in Spain". So between that earlier work and this, I am very interested in finding more by her.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 1/3/12 1:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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