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Topic: 2014 SF Challenge /DISCUSS /Jan-Feb

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Subject: 2014 SF Challenge /DISCUSS /Jan-Feb
Date Posted: 12/22/2013 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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This thread is for discussion and questions regarding the 2014 SF Challenge.  If you are new to this, the challenge itself can be found on the 2014 SF Challenge /TRACK  thread.



Last Edited on: 2/2/14 8:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Brad -
Date Posted: 12/22/2013 8:44 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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Looks great Tom. Thanks for doing all this! :)
Subject: First SF book read in 2014
Date Posted: 12/31/2013 6:50 PM ET
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We have this category called "F14 First SF book read in 2014".  A strategist might select something that didn't fit nicely into one of the other categories, since this is practically a wild card.  On the other hand, you might go for something you've been holding off until the new challenge starts.

So what's it gonna be? 

In my case, it's a book I had checked out from the library and is due in the first week of January.   I got started on re-reading Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers in last year's challenge, and now am ready to move on into unread sequels, starting with The Ringworld Throne for "First SF book read in 2014".

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/31/13 8:49 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: first category
Date Posted: 12/31/2013 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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I'm choosing Vicious by VE Schwab.

Subject: watching tv news thursday
Date Posted: 1/2/2014 9:10 PM ET
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Hey Tom.  Safe to say it's cold where you are????  wink

Brad -
Date Posted: 1/2/2014 11:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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Not exactly anything earth shattering, I'm reading Wizard (Gaea Book 2) by John Varley.

Date Posted: 1/3/2014 10:55 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2009
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I just picked up 3 new books the last few days of the year.

I bought Roadside Picnic - which I think will fit First Contact.  Perhaps? If not, maybe Found Artifact?  I guess I'll see!   If all else fails, it is a translated work, but I"m not in a rush to fill that category since I still have some Calvino and Lem on my shelves.

I also bought One Second After and The Snow Queen...  either of which would be good candidates for the first SF book of the year, since they don't fill any hard to find categories that I know of.

 

P.S...  I started a shelf on Goodreads called "kindle-lendable" so if I mention something you guys want to read and it's on that shelf, let me know.  (Though most of my Kindle purchases are old backlist titles, not current fiction...)

Subject: the weather and roadside picnic
Date Posted: 1/3/2014 1:38 PM ET
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     Hey Tom.  Safe to say it's cold where you are????

Well, the temp was -12F last night, which is kind of cold, but we've been lower than that in December.  The forecast is for -12F to be our HIGH temp on Monday, and that will be bad. 

I heard someone on the radio this morning talking about how bad it was on the East Coast with "almost a foot of snow" and "near zero".  Um, I wish.

Should ask Brad how things are in MN right now.

     I bought Roadside Picnic

First Contact would be good, although it involves the aftermath of contact rather than the contact itself.  Found artifact works too.  Have you read John Harrison's Nova Swing?  I read Roadside Picnic about a year ago, and my review is now reposted on goodreads.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 1/3/14 1:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/3/2014 2:34 PM ET
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The forecast is for -12F to be our HIGH temp on Monday, and that will be bad. 

Eek!  That makes the low of 26 I'm seeing in next week's forcast sound downright tropical!  (Our average low is generally about 45F this time of year, and it only "snows" here a few times a decade, "snow" being that white stuff that disappears as soon as it hits the ground.)

Have you read John Harrison's Nova Swing?  

Nope. I keep seeing everyone else reading and recommending his books but haven't read any myself.  Do you have to read the whole series or does it work as a stand-alone? 

Brad -
Date Posted: 1/3/2014 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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Should ask Brad how things are in MN right now.

Not bad today, but the governor closed all K-12 public schools for next Monday, because the forecast is so cold.

Here in Minneapolis it's not much different from Tom, forecast for Monday is a high of -14F.  With the wind chill they're saying it could get close to -30F.

I don't follow the NFL, but according to the Weather Channel if the Vikings had an outdoor stadium, which they did before the Metrodome was built, only Buffalo would have worse weather.

Eek! That makes the low of 26 I'm seeing in next week's forcast sound downright tropical! (Our average low is generally about 5F this time of year, and it only "snows" here a few times a decade, "snow" being that white stuff that disappears as soon as it hits the ground.)

I saw a picture of my aunt's house and you have to walk through a tunnel of snow to get to their door (no top on the tunnel).  The snow was basically getting close to the tops of the windows.  At times we may go a week before we get above zero (not even considering wind chill).



Last Edited on: 1/3/14 2:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/3/2014 8:51 PM ET
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Melanti - You should definitely read Light before Nova Swing.  I did not, and was confused for half the book.  I asked about Nova Swing, because the concepts are nearly identical with Roadside Picnic.  My review of Nova Swing is now also reposted on goodreads.

Brad - The Packers have a playoff game in Green Bay's outdoor Lambeau Field on Sunday.  The overnight low on Sunday is forecast to be -23F with 20mph winds, for a wind chill of -50F or so.  And they sold out!  Aren't those games ever cancelled?  People could die at the stadium or getting home that night.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 12/28/14 9:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/4/2014 8:04 AM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Hi-

I haven't been here for a while but I think I have time this year to join the challenge.  I have 2 questions for you guys.  I have read 2 books this year and I am wondering if they are scifi or fantasy.  The first is Octavia Butler Patternmaster.  She is generally a scifi writer but this particular book is difficult to catagorize.  It's like the Anne McCaffery books.  They have a background of earth & technology but none in the story.  Some people lable them scifi but they really seem like fantasy to me.  This one has a background of earth -references to the ones who came there-  and some genetic mutations and new technology (guns at least)  It is more scifi like than my other questionable book Mr. Penabra's 24 hour bookstore.  I'm leaning toward fantasy but the google and printing press stuff are scifi -ish.  Has anyone read either of these?  What do you think?

Date Posted: 1/4/2014 11:22 AM ET
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People can argue all day long on what constitutes fantasy and what is sci fi.  And IMO there's a great big grey area in the middle.

Patternmaster is one of those borderline ones, I agree.  A lot of people think of telepathy/psionics as science fictional elements.  Not sure why... I consider them more fantasy myself.  But the series  does bring in some more sci-fi-ish elements in the last couple of books.  Not a lot- just a little.  I consider them sci-fi mostly cause I've categorized her as a sci-fi author in general.  Part of that is, I think, that Butler generally has a Point -- not that fantasy books can't have a Point, but in general, more sci-fi books than fantasy have those big grand messages.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore,  I wouldn't consider a fantasy OR Sci-Fi.  Neither.  Just a mystery, maybe a bit of thriller in there, but just a tad.  IT does have a premise that sounds fantasyish at first, but once you read it, it's all rather mundane.  I'm sure the grand finale with Google and the printing press are what lead people to shelve it as Sci-Fi, 

Subject: science fantasy
Date Posted: 1/4/2014 7:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Ann - welcome back!

Some of us use the term "science fantasy" to include all the various ways that fantasy and science fiction can comingle in a single book.  Anne McCaffery is a well-known example of science fantasy - things happen that seem like fantasy, but we are given to understand that there is a scientific basis for them rather than magic, even if that basis is not explained very much or very well.  And there are other ways the two genres can be combined (What is that "force" thing in Star Wars, anyway?).

I have absolutely no qualms about using science fantasy books in this challenge for myself, but when I read outright fantasy (That does happen once in a while), it's a stretch for me to count it here.  In the end though, it's your own decision how to count your reads.

As for telepathy/psionics, like so many questions, my answer is "It depends."  I think it depends how they work in the book.  I've read books that involved a rational investigation of psionics, and other books where they are just part of a whole range of magical powers, and other books that are half-way between. 

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 1/4/14 7:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 1/4/2014 7:46 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Octavia Butler generally does have a scientific(ish) explaination for her mutations. (unlike McCaffrey I just can't label her scifi or even sci-fantasy)  In this particular series, it seems like the next books in the series are actually prequels so there should be more info on the mutations and how the world ended up as it is (I think).  This books seems a bit more fantasy than her usual though.  I'll see how the rest of the series goes.  Melanti  I hadn't even thought about Mr Penubra being a mundane book.  I pulled it out of the new fantasy section at the library.  I did enjoy it but it doesn't seem as though I can use it for this challange.

Subject: fantasy
Date Posted: 1/4/2014 9:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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I count three fantasy novels in my 2013 challenge.  I guess I should give my book selections more thought but .... since my library often lumps sf, fantasy, urban fantasy, horror, etc all together anyways....

Vicious is in one of those questionable categories, as is another of my challenge books - Odd Thomas.  Heck I'll probably even include an In Death series book by JD Robb (it was a Kindle daily deal) which really isn't my idea of science fiction at all.

I think I'm still gonna track 'em in the 2014 challenge.  Maybe at the end of the year I'll review and replace.  Maybe not.



Last Edited on: 1/5/14 2:11 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Brad -
Date Posted: 1/6/2014 9:57 AM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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Yeah, trying to figure the difference between SciFi and Fantasy can be tough.  Fantasy I consider to be elves, orcs, dragons, magic, etc.  So I'd consider something like The Lord of the Rings to be fantasy only.  There's certainly a huge grey area where they overlap.  So magic where there's a scientific explanation would be both.

Tom- Not sure.  I followed the NFL through my teens, 20s, and the early part of my 30s and I don't recall games being cancelled because of cold weather but it's certainly possible I'm not remembering right (my memory has gotten bad in my late 30s).  I'm thinking the NFL would never cancel because of cold.

Date Posted: 1/8/2014 12:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
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Finished Steelheart, and we're off and running! Wonder if I can keep this mad pace up..

Date Posted: 1/8/2014 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
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What did you think of the Ringworld sequels? I thought they fell off the pace as they went along, but I liked the Lerner/Niven quintology that came out the last few years

Subject: Ringworld sequels
Date Posted: 1/8/2014 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Ringworld Throne is the sequel to Larry Niven's award-winning Ringworld, and his pretty-good Ringworld Engineers. I re-read those first two recently and recommend both.  I'm now reading the next two sequels for the first time.  Ringworld Throne was a big disappointment. The contribution of this book to the overall series could have been made in two short chapters - one about Valavirgillan's war with the Vampires, and one about Louis Wu and Hindmost and Acolyte's war with all the rival Protectors. But the two stories as stretched out in this book, are incredibly poorly written and uninteresting. Numerous characters of numerous hominid species with mind-numbingly forgetable names. An obsession with repetitive interspecies sex mentions, as in "then they had sex again". Motivations of principal characters not disclosed. What a mess. But as I mentioned, it does advance the overall series a little, and probably cannot be skipped.



Last Edited on: 1/8/14 8:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/8/2014 10:40 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
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I wish you the best of luck in getting through Ringworld's Children...

Date Posted: 1/9/2014 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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The only thing I remember about ringworld is that I liked the original and ringworld engineers and I tried to read the next one but couldn't get through it.  I just ordered the first 2 and am planning to read them for the challenge -thank you for reminding me of them.   I think it doesn't count as a re-read  if you read them 40 years  ago...Basically I think the first 2 ringworlds and dream park are his best.  Does anyone know why he doesn't usually write by himself?

Date Posted: 1/9/2014 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
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I think at least lately the "second" author comes up with an idea to play in his universe, and Niven provides the outlines of the story. That was definately the case with the Edward Lerner novels. I think the Pournelle collaboration is more even handed. Not sure about the new one, the Goliath stone, but I'm looking forward to reading it beacuse I liked Matthew Joseph Harrington's stories in Man Kzin Wars.

Date Posted: 1/9/2014 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2009
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Finished the first Dirk Gently book for a book club. I think I can safely stash this one under Favorite Author. It's pretty easy to find categories in the early going, wonder what I'm going to say come June...

Brad -
Date Posted: 1/10/2014 4:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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Finished Wizard (Gaea Book 2) by John Varley.  Putting it as my First Book Read in 2014 category.  I definitely enjoyed it, a little bit less than the first Gaea book Titan.  Varley's stuff continues to be very enjoyful for me.  I'll definitely be reading the 3rd Gaea book (Daemon) this year.

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