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Topic: 2011 SF Challenge -- JANUARY DISCUSSION THREAD

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Subject: 2011 SF Challenge -- JANUARY DISCUSSION THREAD
Date Posted: 1/1/2011 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Previous, related posts:

2011 SF Challenge -- LISTS ONLY THREAD

2011 SF Challenge -- DECEMBER DISCUSSION THREAD

Welcome to the 2011 SF Challenge! Hope your New Year's treating you well so far. So what do you have planned as your first titles for the challenge? And please come back to let us know how they are!

Date Posted: 1/1/2011 2:19 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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I'm planning Chill, by Elizabeth Bear, for my dealing with robots/artificial intelligence category; Graveyard Dust, by Barbara Hambly, for my non-genre category; The Fall of Hyperion, by Dan Simmons, for my Seiun Award Winner; and Remains, by Mark W. Tiedemann, for my SF Mystery.

Subject: Anthology
Date Posted: 1/1/2011 2:48 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Whilst reading up on Alastair Reynolds, found out one of his stories is in Galactic Empires. This is a SFBC publication, Gardner Dozois (ed). Score! This book has stories from several of my favorite authors, very space opera. Liking this book a lot.

Also read that The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan was made into a short film and up for an Oscar, so checked it out of the children's section at the library. Kinda profound book for a child. I'm putting it under graphic novel for now, mightupdate this category later in the year. The "graphics" in this book were quite intricate and interesting.

I guess I just wanted something in my list to read 1-1-11.

Subject: TomHl
Date Posted: 1/1/2011 3:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Having finished off my end-of-the-year detour into fantasy yesterday with The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls, I am today returning to science fiction. After a last minute run-off vote, the hardsf group has selected Flood by Stephen Baxter for January 2011, and so that will be my first read of the new year, and I expect to count it in the challenge as "SF dealing with climate change".

-Tom Hl.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/1/2011 3:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I'm starting right at the top, reading The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi for the Biopunk category. I had to go into work this morning...not to do actual work, but to let some other people into the building, and lock up after they left. I got the first 140 pages done while I was there. That's what I call a productive work day!

ETA - I just got a Kindle, and my first purchase was The City and The City by China Mieville, which I plan to use to fill the SF mystery category.



Last Edited on: 1/1/11 3:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/1/2011 11:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2008
Posts: 59
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I received a Nook for Christmas. I love it!

I started Asimov's Pebble in the Sky (audio book) on my drive to Colorado for Christmas, just finished itand am going to cheat just a little bit and count it in my challenge.

I spent a lot of today just figuring out what to read in each category; but my next read is going to beThe Crossroads by L. Ron Hubbard for my Pulp SF selection.

I'm also doing the Fantasy Challenge.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Fern

Subject: e-readers and chat
Date Posted: 1/2/2011 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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e-reader? aww man - can't trade yer books.

Well,I was on Amazon yesterday and saw thatsome of the cheaper (really old or self published?) e-books youWERE allowed to share. Be nice if all the e-books were like that. I don't have a Kindle (yet) but do have the Kindle PC software. The problem? Man-oh-man is it ever easy to spend the money.

There's an Andre Norton download available for 99 cents which contains 12 books. Sweet.

I also read somewhere that Borders is having financial difficulty. Argh.....

No work for me today (Sunday) -it's just cold here. No snow, mud, wateror tornados. No complaints.

Subject: Andre Norton
Date Posted: 1/2/2011 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2008
Posts: 59
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Hi Alison,

Do you have the link for the 99 deal for Andre Norton? Amazing!

I have the Kindle and Nook for PC App, that was before I got the Nook. I found you can download lots of free stuff from various sites. That helps with the pocketbook issue. Check out Baen Free Library. http://www.baen.com/library/

And, though I haven't figured it out yet supposedly you can borrow e-books from the library.

Cheers,

Fern

Subject: Andre Norton link
Date Posted: 1/2/2011 5:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Just go to the Amazon web site, the Kindle store and search for Andre Norton.

I borrow a lot of e-books from the library and that software is free. Many of those books are audio and I am hard off getting computer time where I won't disturb the hubby or get distracted- got no earplugs, no portable e-reader nor i-pad. Anyways, I'd rather be in my big comfy chair by the fire than in front of the computer screen.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/3/2011 6:51 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I finished The Windup Girl as my first book of the year. I have mixed feelings. It was one of the most original conceptions and fascinating settings I have read in a while, but I do not feel that Bacigalupi is that great of a writer. I have high standards for the mechanics of writing itself, and thought he fell short.

Date Posted: 1/3/2011 9:26 PM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2005
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I'm starting of with Hyperion by Dan Simmons. It has only been waiting on the shelf for a month now. I've only gotten partway through the first pilgrim's story; so far it's fairly weird and morbid.

The mister got me a Kindle for Christmas. Finally I can read all those public domain classics -- I get eyestrain too easily to sit down and read anything on the computer. E-ink is pretty easy on the eyes. Book trading is enabled now, but the two I own aren't tradable. If I ever buy something that is, I'll post about loaning it out.

Date Posted: 1/4/2011 10:43 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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I am reading "War of the Worlds" by HG Wells. I must have started and stopped this book ten times last year. I need to get this one off my TBR. Currently I am using it to fill the tie spot on the challenge.

Brad -
Date Posted: 1/5/2011 10:41 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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I'm currently "suffering" from wanting to read too many books at one time. I'm currently at three. Usually I have two going, a "bus book" and "night book" but right now I've got going:

The Windup Girl, Little Brother, and Fatherland.

I was reading The Windup Girl but Fatherland sounded very good. Maybe that's because The Windup Girl so far hasn't been all that interesting reading, but maybe it's like many books it take lots of pages to get better.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/6/2011 3:56 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I just finished The Wrong End of Time by John Brunner.  It doesn't count for the challenge, since I started it last month, but I thought I'd comment on it since John Brunner was mentioned as an example of "New Wave" writing.  I'm not sure if this book in particular fits.  It's a philosophical cold war era book, with an interesting look at humanity and quite a negative picture the the US in the future.  It might be "highbrow" for SF, but definitely not experimental in the sense of some of his other writing, like The Jagged Orbit.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/8/2011 3:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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For the Graphic Novel category, I just finished The Surrogates by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele.  This is the original series that the movie was based on.  It was OK, but graphic novels never were or will be my preferred medium.

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 1:04 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
Posts: 122
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I just finished Blackout and All Clear, both by Connie Willis. They were written as one book, but published as two. It reminded me of reading a James Michener novel - 1000 pages long, and the first 300 pages were boring. Thumbs down to Blackout. Thumbs up to All Clear. I have no idea what category to put it (them) in. The books were about time travel to World War II Britain. Suggestions?



Last Edited on: 1/9/11 2:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/9/2011 2:33 AM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
Posts: 8,982
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I would think both Blackout and All Clear would fit nicely in the secret history catagory.  I enjoy Connie Willis a great deal.  If you haven't read it, To Say Nothing of the Dog is a lot of fun.

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 2:55 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Agreed that they both fit "Secret History." Also maybe SF Mystery? (Haven't read them yet, but going on Willis' other novels set in this universe, and what I can see on Wikipedia without spoilering myself, lol.) And there's always a chance one or both will make it onto Locus' Recommended Reading List! ;)

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 2:19 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
Posts: 122
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Thanks for the ideas!



Last Edited on: 1/14/11 11:56 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/9/2011 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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I just finsihed War of the Worlds by HG Wells. It was a fantastic read! I  have always been a fan of Wells and this did not disappoint. It was interesting to see what turn of the twentieth century London thought could be in the future. Hope everyone else is doing well with their challenge.

Date Posted: 1/10/2011 7:38 AM ET
Member Since: 1/6/2010
Posts: 60
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I usually read multiple books at a time, too (and have a whole pile I'm eager to get to next).

Right now I'm about to finish Blood Music by Greg Bear (singularity) and am about halfway through Sirius by Olaf Stapledon (biopunk).

Blood Music pulled me right in - it's the first of his I've read but now I will want to read more.

Sirius was recommended by a friend of mine a while back, so I'd been meaning to read it.  Unfortunately the copy I have has tiny print so it's slow going. 

Brad -
Date Posted: 1/10/2011 7:42 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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Thanks to Christmas Gifts, I have over 4,000 new pages to read with quite a number of them being Wish Listed books.  Plus, I have a Barnes&Noble gift certificate.

Finished Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.  Very good book.  It's sort of 1984, but with teens.  One teen gets arrested falsely by Homeland Security, he works to take them down.  It was just a tad too much computer jargon for me, but that was easy enough to get past. 

Starting CounterClock World by Philip K. Dick.  Really looking forward to this one.  My expectations might be too high, so it'll be a disappointment.



Last Edited on: 1/10/11 7:55 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/13/2011 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 3/21/2008
Posts: 59
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I just finished my Graphic Novel selection: Serenity, Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon. This was the first graphic novel I've ever read. I was a bit disoriented by the jump from the first page to the 2nd page but then I figured it out....just chalk it up to my "newbieness". I loved the Firefly Series and the movie Serenity. This read was great and I really didn't want it to end. I love the colloquial speech of these characters not to mention just loving all the characters!

When I was at B&N last week I browsed the Graphic Novel section. The first one I picked up was rather large and I didn't like the artwork as it seemed childish. I quickly moved onto another section of the store.

However, I must say that the artwork of Serenity, Those Left Behind was really good and I guess it doesn't hurt that the characters are pretty good representations of the actors in the Firefly Series.

(BTW, how did you all get those cool graphics at the bottom of your posts?)

Date Posted: 1/13/2011 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
Posts: 8,982
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I just finished The Jehovah Contract by Victor Koman my catagory dealing with religion.  An assassin is hired to kill God.  How does one destroy a being that is unseen and possibly imaginary?  This is a great satire lightly disguised as hard boiled noir. 

As for the graphics, in the settings part of My Account, there is a section for forum signatures where you can upload graphics.  Some great people have created neat banners for the challenges.

Subject: My first two books of the year
Date Posted: 1/15/2011 10:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Flood, by Stephen Baxter, 2008 ***

I thought the initial drama of the hostages and their rescue was a really strong hook, and it pulled me quickly into the story, and it started out with a lot of excitement as the floods begin.  The story spans the globe, and so I think every reader will watch for their own location and height above sea level. Unfortunately, Baxter demonstrates a geographic bias towards England, that I was unable to follow. I just don't know the names of individual roads and buildings in London, or small towns in the English countryside. At the same time, he seems to have some fuzziness about other areas. In Chapter 42, at a time when the sea level is about 50m above 2010 datum, Baxter writes: "But there was also a gathering refugee crisis in Canada, as Hudson Bay spread inexorably wider, and the sea forced its way down the throat of the Saint Lawrence valley toward the Great Lakes, drowning Quebec and Montreal and Toronto. Elena said there was another extinction event going on there. The lakes were the largest bodies of fresh water on Earth: now their ecologies were poisoned by salt." The problem is that Lake Ontario, where Toronto is, is at 75m, and while some extreme tidal actions might bring salt water up into it, there is no way the other Great Lakes would be inundated. Lake Erie is above Niagara Falls, at 174m. Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are at 176m, and Lake Superior is at 183m. Baxter might have noted that the seaports of Cleveland, Detroit, Duluth, Milwaukee, and Chicago would remain unflooded until much later in the story.

While I do appreciate the way it takes some time for the scientific reality of flooding to emerge from accepted global climate change data, just as it has taken some time for the reality of global climate change to emerge for accepted natural climate variation, I do feel that the science of huge reserves of water in the Earth's mantle and suddenly released is pretty far-fetched. Really, this is just a ploy that allows Baxter to push his characters around from disaster to disaster as eventually the entire Earth succumbs. The narrative does sometime skip forward years at a time, as the overall flooding takes something like 50 years.

The one character who drives the survival of the main characters is portrayed as a somewhat obsessed misanthrope. But then, maybe that's what it would take for a population to last through the experiences in this book. However, the main character plays along, as she must to survive, and I found her to be totally sympathetic. All in all, I give this a medium rating, for adequate entertainment, but nothing too special.

challenge category - Climate Change, but it could also be SF dealing with an ocean

Giant's Star, by James P. Hogan, 1981 **

I did enjoy the unraveling of paleontological mysteries in the predecessor books to this one - Inherit the Stars, and The Gentle Giants of Ganymede. In this sequel, humanity finally makes contact with the new home world of the Ganymedians, where they had resettled after prehistorically leaving our own Solar System. Unfortunately, by volume 3 of the series, Hogan has exhausted and exposed his big picture ideas, and now resorts to military space conflict. After some rather shallow and irritating meeting room intrigue, re-contact with the Ganymedians is made, and it turns out there are a bunch of bad guys who have manipulated Terran history and today are after the naive Ganymedians. Now, these bad guys are like something out of a Star Wars movie, not really sharp enough to have posed a threat to anyone for 50.000 years, even with their evil master mind computer system JEVEX. What a disappointment, after the fascinating start of the first two books. Well, I'm done with this series.

challenge category - Second Contact, but it could also be Secret History

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 1/15/11 10:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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