Discussion Forums - Science Fiction

Topic: 2013 SF Challenge /DISCUSS /Oct-Nov-Dec

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Subject: bump
Date Posted: 12/22/2013 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Brought to top of forum for convenience in closing out the year.



Last Edited on: 12/22/13 12:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/22/2013 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
Posts: 8,982
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Does anyone besides me still have books they plan to read for the challenge?

Subject: could be...
Date Posted: 12/22/2013 2:08 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Well, I'm one book away from finishing an expansion in all four sections.  I have hinted HEAVILY to the Rev. Mrs. that the paperback omnibus containing Shards of Honor and Barrayar would make an excellent xmas gift.  If so, I will have the remaining few days of 2013 to finish it.   

#31 First novel of a female writer
----- Primary Inversion, by Catherine Asaro (1995) ** finished 4/22/13
----- Brothers of Earth, by C.J. Cherryh (1976) *** finished 11/7/13
----- Rocannon's World, by Ursula K. LeGuin (1966) *** finished 11/21/13
----- Hammered, by Elizabeth Bear (2004) *** finished 12/9/13
----- Shards of Honor, by Lois McMaster Bujold (1986) - bookhunt



Last Edited on: 12/22/13 2:44 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/22/2013 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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If I can find time - hope springs eternal and all that.

Date Posted: 12/23/2013 9:34 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Nah.  I have a Christmas themed book to read in the next couple of days, and am a couple of books behind in a Goodreads discussion group.  There won't be enough time in the year already!

Date Posted: 12/27/2013 10:45 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Well, I did in fact receive that Lois McMaster Bujold omnibus, and then did finish her first novel - Shards of Honor - which I liked.  Even though there is nothing really original going on in terms of world building or concepts, the characters are just so vivid and likeable.  No wonder she keeps winning Hugos.

So, this finishes my four expansions, which completes the super version of the challenge.  I've actually already started another set of four expansions, but it is December 27 and that is just not going to happen.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/27/13 11:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/30/2013 12:10 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Congrats! 

I love all of her characters - especially Miles but I think where Bujold really shines is where she can take one piece of technology - a uterine replicator (i.e. an artificial womb) and use it in so many, many different ways!  In a lot of ways, a huge portion of this series all pivots around that one piece of technology.

It's not used much in Shards of Honor, but it gets used to talk about class issues, economic issues, gender and health issues... There's a planet where no females exist - just males that are conceived and grown in a lab.  And it lets extensive genetic engineering take place safely - which have such various applications as designing a sub-species with no legs and 4 arms adapted to freefall conditions, or a sub-species designed to do nothing but be a soldier -- and it allows a society where just a handful of people can control the whole planet's reproductive future and gene pool, since they control the replicators and no one conceives naturally.

I really hope you enjoy the series as much as I have!

 

I haven't read any more Sci Fi - at least nothing that would fill another challenge category - but I did read  Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Earlier this year, I read We, one of the earliest dystopian novels - the one that really inspired books like Brave New World, and all of its ilk.  In Notes, there's a couple of chapters where it lays out what science might be able to do - determine everyone's ideal career, mate, schedules, etc - and then argues against that scientifically determined ideal in favor of free will.  It matches the arguments in We nearly point for point - FAR too much for it to be a coincidence. 

So, you have the modern dystopian novels, many of which are re-hashes of Brave New World, which is a re-hash of We, which is a re-hash of a couple of chapters of Notes from Underground..   In other words - the modern dystopian novels, to a certain extent, owe their existence to a mid 19th century Russian novella.  Kind of cool how everything builds on each other, isn't it?

(P.S.  This also seems to be where Kafka got his inspiration for The Metamorphosis too!  A very influential work, and it wasn't even 100 pages long!)

Subject: Shards of Honor / Barrayar
Date Posted: 12/30/2013 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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The uterine replicator does get mentioned in Shards of Honor, but nothing is done with it.  I'm left wondering what is the difference between science fiction and fantasy when I can enjoy both this and The Curse of Chalion for essentially the same reasons. Is it really nothing more than the futuristic setting versus a nostalgic setting? Maybe that is actually true of space opera. But I like to think that science fiction is also a literature of ideas and speculation. So, as much as I did enjoy this for its telling of a personal story, I can't help but feel that something essentially science fictional was glossed over. You give me hope that this series will evolve more in the direction of ideas, but the beginning of Barrayar does not make me think so.  It is all Lady-this and Lord-that and loyal servants and imperial court intrigue. I'm afraid the whole anglo-medieval culture in space thing usually falls pretty flat for me.  Hints have been that Beta Colony is not like that at all, but the story is not set there.  Trying to reserve judgement... 

I have read We, but not Notes from Underground.  Sounds interesting.



Last Edited on: 12/30/13 11:02 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 12/30/2013 10:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
Posts: 826
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Something to keep in mind for the series is that there's a huge amount of variety in the books.  Some books are romances, some are court intrigue, others are detective novels, others are military thrillers.   Bujold just seems to write whatever she's in the mood to write and places it in the timeline so it makes sense.  And to some extent, you can skip around in the series since most of the stories make sense out of order.

We don't get a whole book set on Beta Colony, no.  But about half of the series is set off Barrayar where the culture mostly comes into play to explain Miles' rather interesting personality and outlook on life.

Even if you get tired of the anglo-medieval culture, Falling Free and Ethan of Athos are the two that focus most on the uterine replicator technology and both can be read as a stand-alone.  Neither have anything at all to do with Barrayar.

Subject: Bujold
Date Posted: 12/30/2013 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Oh, I've read Falling Free a couple of times.  For a long time, it was the only Bujold I'd read, and it set my expectations for the rest of her work. 

It seems to be spliced into the same timeline, but mostly unrelated and hundreds of years earlier.

-Tom Hl.

And I just realized a lot of people on Barrayar are having Russian-like names, even though they don't seem very Russian.  So maybe an impression of Imperial Russia was Bujold's model, and I should be thinking Czar rather than Emporer.



Last Edited on: 12/30/13 12:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
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