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Topic: 2013 SF Challenge /DISCUSS /March

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Subject: 2013 SF Challenge /DISCUSS /March
Date Posted: 3/2/2013 6:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Two months gone.   What are you reading now?

In case you are just joining the discussion, click here for an explanation of the 2013 SF Challenge.  It's not too late to join!

 

-Tom Hl.

Subject: #21 Work written by a Grand Master
Date Posted: 3/2/2013 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award winners, picked annually by the SFWA

 

The Coming, by Joe Haldeman (2000) ** finished 3/2/13

Joe Haldeman is a Grand Master, but this is a very minor work of his. Ostensibly about alien first contact, this is really a story about some academics living in a pretty seedy near-future, one of whom happens to have been the first astronomer to pick up an alien broadcast "We are coming. We are coming. We are coming..." The academic and political intrigue is simplistic, and the outcome a sort of tomato-surprise ending. Probably the most interesting aspect of the novel is its vision of a society with sexuality driven further underground, and yet tolerating more open sexual exploitation.  Stylistically, the novel's narrator hops from one character's perspective to the next in sometimes interesting ways, such as when two that don't know each other pass on the street.

All the characters make extensive use of Spanish words in little one and two word quips, but very little use of actual Spanish dialog. I guess that would be Haldeman's take on the growing population of Spanish speakers within the US.  But this is not Spanglish, this is Taco Bell talk. I did understand enough of it to not need a dictionary, but it got irritating after a while.

 



Last Edited on: 3/2/13 6:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: w
Date Posted: 3/3/2013 12:31 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Well, I finished Roadside Picnic.  The hoops that Communist authors had to jump through in the 70's - yikes!  Like unreal.   Found a review of Roadside Picnic online - New York Review of SF.  Quite detailed, interesting.  Would like to see  this movie.

Date Posted: 3/7/2013 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Roadside Picnic has returned to my kindle.  Thanks for the tip on the review; I missed the parallels to the Berlin Wall, but that seems pretty clear to me now.

 

Subject: deleted
Date Posted: 3/10/2013 10:40 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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deleted



Last Edited on: 2/3/15 9:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: #13 a Locus Award winning novel from any year (or nominee, 2010 or later)
Date Posted: 3/11/2013 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Terminal World, by Alastair Reynolds (2010) *** finished 3/10/13

This novel was a nominee for 2011 Locus Award, but did not win.  Initially, I thought this read like an imitation of Perdido Street Station - it unreels a tour of a bizarre series of settings, with a bizarre series of characters, seemingly without any consistency.  But eventually it does settle down into an airship adventure on a world of declined technology, and nearly magical technology suppression zones, and the adventure becomes engaging.  This is not the hard-sf future of Reynold's Revelation Space, but more of a planetary romance that emphasizes adventure over plausibility - even has a relentless degenerate army of drug-crazed killers for the good guys to fight against.  Entertaining, but much longer than can really be justified.



Last Edited on: 3/11/13 9:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: perhaps I am the only one still reading in the challenge?
Date Posted: 3/12/2013 2:27 PM ET
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#9 Time Travel - After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall, by Nancy Kress (2012) *** finished 3/12/13

This received a nomination for 2012 Nebula novella award; the winners have not yet been determined.

While this very short novel has a good hook, and contains a lot of good writing, it felt incomplete to me.  The narrative toggles between the very near future, and one generation down the timeline after a global catastrophe has left only a small habitat of humans alive.  They have been provided with an unpredictable time machine that allows them to grab supplies and children from the present.  Some really interesting character development and problem situations drew me in.  But in the easily-predicted ending, Kress just pulled a few derivative concepts off the shelf to explain things.   If the ending had been fleshed out more, expanding in some original way the conceptual questions raised, this probably would have been the size of standard novel, and been a very good one.  As it is, this seems like a draft version.



Last Edited on: 3/12/13 2:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: chat
Date Posted: 3/12/2013 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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I'm reading, just not challenge stuff.  Typing on the Kindle right now. Blah.

Reading The Grimm Curse Trilogy - I like the TV show.

After the Fall etc. not available w/my local library, but I want to read it.  I like Kress.

Read 1/3 of Ark.  Bored to tears, never went back.  I did think Flood was ok.

Forgive brevity - enjoy Tom's reviews.



Last Edited on: 3/13/13 1:41 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Sawyer
Date Posted: 3/12/2013 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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Red Planet Blues not out yet - I preordered, not lending enabled.  Sorry.  I still owe you one.

Subject: o my gosh
Date Posted: 3/13/2013 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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Last night I made a recommend with my on-line library to get After the Fall etc and this morning I had a message telling me to go pick it up!!!  I love my Kindle.

Subject: #20 a best of the year anthology containing at least one award winning/nomi
Date Posted: 3/13/2013 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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@Zylyn - I was looking up Factoring Humanity on Amazon, and saw Red Planet Blues.   The blurb sounded great!  Could be a brand new category - Noir Science Fiction

Some of the Best of Tor.com 2012 Edition, by Hayden, Gorinsky, Hartwell **** finished 3/14/2013

This totally free e-anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories and novellas is from Tor.com, available through Amazon.com.  I don't think a paper edition is available.  The quality of the stories varies, but it does include some well-known writers,  Nebula nominated works, and Locus Recommended Realing List works.  I think it is very interesting that the economy of publishing science fiction has evolved to the point where quality work is distributed this way, not just fanfic.  The table of contents is a little hard to parse out, as the volume seems to be a simple concatenation of ten short e-books.

  1. Dormanna, by Gene Wolfe
  2. Portrait of Lisane de Patagnia, by Rachel Swirsky   (Nebula nomination)
  3. The Mongolian Wizard, Michael Swanwick  (turkey)
  4. A Tall Tail, by Charles Stross
  5. The Ghosts of Christmas, by Paul Cornell   (Locus Recommended Readling List)
  6. The Finite Canvas, by Brit Mandelo    (Nebula nomination)
  7. Am I Free To Go?, by Kathryn Cramer
  8. About Fairies, by Pat Murphy   (Locus Recommended Readling List)
  9. Our Human, Adam Troy Castro  (turkey)
  10. Faster Gun, by Elizabeth Bear   *Locus Recommended Readling List

I have to say the price is right, and the good stories outweigh the couple of turkeys, so go for it!



Last Edited on: 3/14/13 9:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: #40 First person narrative
Date Posted: 3/18/2013 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Mindkiller, by Spider Robinson (1982) ***

This 1982 novel is an expansion of Spider Robinson's 1978 short story "God Is An Iron". Eventually, it became the first in the Lifehouse Trilogy, the others entitled Time Pressure (1987) and Lifehouse (1997).

This novel was like a return to the sixties for me. (I was a child then, mostly I read about the sixties during the seventies). I'm sure it seemed trendy when it was new, but the language, technology, and sexual mores are becoming almost unrecognizable. In addition, the brain science in which Robinson speculated is quite out of date (I am a biomedical engineer working in the field of magnetic resonance imaging, which is not even mentioned). Seriously, this novel could use an update.

That said, the narrative alternates between two storylines, one set in a "future" 1994 and written in 3rd person, and the other set in a "future" 1999 and written in 1st person, which is an interesting combination. Besides the now-quaint technological speculations, it is actually quite far into the book before the primary speculative concept is introduced. Since the explanation for events is a big part of the plot's tension, I will not comment further on that. I found the story entertaining, but not outstanding.

Brad -
Date Posted: 3/19/2013 7:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
Posts: 200
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Can't remember the last time I posted.  Here's ones I've finished recently:

Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clark:  Decent book.  Certainly not thrilling, but it held enough of my interest.

Lies by Michael Grant (Gone book 3):  I didn't finish it.  The first two in the series I enjoyed quite a bit.  Maybe this is a series fatigue book.

The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner book 2:  I enjoyed this book.  Not quite as much as the first one though.   Enjoyed it enough to go on to the third one.

Date Posted: 3/20/2013 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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I'll echo Allison's "I'm reading, just not challenge stuff."   I've been reading a lot of fantasy lately, and a bit of it counts for the Fantasy challenge.

Subject: Childhood's End
Date Posted: 3/20/2013 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Childhood's End is a classic and well-known work often referenced in other things since then.  It's a little dated now, and the concepts aren't so unique any more.  But Arthur C. Clarke gets some credit for being one of the first.   One day my (young adult) son came up to me and asked if I had ever read this new book he had just bought.  So I pulled my own copy off the shelf and told him "several times".  Turns out he went looking for it based on lyrics of some Indie band he was interested in at the time.

Subject: awards announcements
Date Posted: 4/1/2013 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Nominations for 2013 Hugo have been announced.  That makes the following books eligible for category #12 a Hugo Award winning novel from any year (or nominee, 2010 or later):

BEST NOVEL

BEST NOVELLA

Nominations for 2013 Campbell have been announced.  That makes their novels eligible for category #35 A winner or nominee of a best first novel/new writer award from any year:

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

  • Zen Cho
  • Max Gladstone
  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • Chuck Wendig

Winner for 2012 BSFA has been announced.  That makes the following book eligible for category #18 a winning novel of an English-Language, but non-US award:

BEST NOVEL

  • Jack Glass, Adam Roberts

Winner for 2012 Philip K Dick Award has been announced.  That makes the following books eligible for category #15: A Philip K. Dick Award winner or nominee:

WINNER

NOMINEES

  • BLUEPRINTS OF THE AFTERLIFE by Ryan Boudinot
  • HARMONY by Keith Brooke
  • HELIX WARS by Eric Brown
  • THE NOT YET by Moira Crone
  • FOUNTAINS OF AGE by Nancy Kress
  • LOVESTAR by Andri Snær Magnason

Nominations for 2013 Compton Crook Award have been announced.  That makes the following books eligible for category #35 A winner or nominee of a best first novel/new writer award from any year:

BEST FIRST NOVEL

  • Glitch, Heather Anastasiu
  • Shadow Ops: Control Point, Myke Cole
  • Stormdancer, Jay Kristoff
  • Fair Coin, E. C. Myers
  • Scourge of the Betrayer, Jeff Salyards

 

Subject: Jack Glass
Date Posted: 4/3/2013 10:21 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Good luck on finding Jack Glass in this country ! ! !



Last Edited on: 4/3/13 10:23 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/4/2013 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Good luck on finding Jack Glass in this country ! ! !

Only in hardcover, I guess.