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Topic: 3Q 2012 SF Challenge "Awards" /DISCUSS

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Subject: 3Q 2012 SF Challenge "Awards" /DISCUSS
Date Posted: 6/21/2012 6:34 PM ET
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Welcome to the 2012 SF Challenge for the third quarter of 2012, which runs from July 1, 2012 through September 30, 2012. 

The topical theme of this challenge ( SF Awards ), 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 A Topic thread and the Let's Choose Categories thread.   The process for selecting the fourth quarter challenge will begin approximately September 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.

Date Posted: 6/22/2012 5:14 PM ET
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I didn't realize until now how how many of the 2010 and newer nominees I've either read or are by authors I don't like.   And a good chunk of the rest are fantasy...

This might be harder than I thought!

Subject: fantasy
Date Posted: 6/22/2012 9:16 PM ET
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I usually read the Locus biweekly roundup of the new and just released books.  Lately they've been mostly fantasy or urban fantasy.  I don't keep track of these, but I do wonder just how many vampire, werewolf, psychic detective, wizard, etc. books are out there.  Maybe the fantasy chat board has a list of recommended reading, I've never looked.

 

Just curious, what authors don't you like?



Last Edited on: 6/22/12 9:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Baba Yaga
Date Posted: 6/22/2012 9:22 PM ET
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Tom:  I hope you find that book right away and read it right away, I'd like to know if it's any good.  That's the book I was thinking about reading.

Subject: deleted
Date Posted: 6/22/2012 10:12 PM ET
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deleted



Last Edited on: 2/10/15 1:53 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/22/2012 10:26 PM ET
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Let's see...
I don't like China Mieville, Cherie Priest, Mira Grant (Seanan McGuire), or William Gibson.
I didn't even make it through the free sample of The Dervish House when I tried it last year.
I'm currently holding a grudge against Stephen King, but I'll probably give him a third chance to impress me in a decade or so.
I've not given Robert J. Sawyer enough of a chance to say I don't like him for sure, but I've started two of his books and couldn't finish the first chapter on either.
And for Laura Anne Gilman, well, I've found most books published by Luna to be a waste of time.  And though this particular one isn't, I don't feel like being disappointed.

Robert Charles Wilson is a possibility. His books always sound interesting so I buy them, but then they just sit on my shelf and collect dust for years. 

The Hugo award will be the biggest problem.  But luckily, I haven't read The Wind-up Girl yet.  Hopefully I will like that one.

There's probably tens of thousands of vampire, werewolf, etc books out there right now.  They got co-opted by the romance lovers.  I'm sure we've had a rec thread at least once...  I'll look for it.  In the meantime, my standard recs are The Dresden Files for the sarcastic PI side of things and the Mercedes Thompson series for the more romance side of things.  -- Here's one thread.

Yes, Tom, thoughts on Baba Yaga, please, if you do read it.  It's been on my wishlist forever.

-- edited to add link to thread.



Last Edited on: 6/22/12 10:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/22/2012 10:27 PM ET
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Tom, NPR did a poll last summer that had a lot of SF classics.  The link to it is in my list.

Date Posted: 6/23/2012 3:09 AM ET
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I apologize, I must admit I didn't any further than the SF Site when I suggested the topic for reader's poll. 

The NPR reader's poll http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books   

(I'm rather dubious of a group that picks the Sword of Shannara as a top 100 book of all time)

Goodreads has a reader's choice award  The link is for the 2011 award.

http://www.goodreads.com/award/choice/2011?id=2011#56598-Best-Science-Fiction 

The Science Fiction Chronical had a reader award from 1982 to 1998  http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/Sfc1997.html

I'm thinking of reading Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling (SF Chronical choice for 1997) for my readers' choice award and Hull Zero Three for my Locus award nominee. Slow River would be the multiple award category.  It won the Nebula and the Lambda.  Little Brother would cover my Prometheus award category. I'm not sure where I'm going to go after that. 

 



Last Edited on: 6/23/12 3:53 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/23/2012 10:59 AM ET
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Here's an entertaining version of the NPR list.

I think the Shannara book made it on the NPR list because people get nostalgic over their teenage years, especially if they don't currently read a lot.   One of the drawbacks to doing a readers poll on places not dedicated to reading is that the people voting don't necessarily read a lot.

Date Posted: 6/24/2012 6:45 AM ET
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Ok.  I'll look some more before bending the reader poll category.

I should have thought of the NPR list.  I voted on it.  Each voter got to pick only 10 best sf books of all time, and so I went with major classics like The Time Machine and Fahrenheit 451.  Definitely not The Sword of Shannara.  I've read at least 75% of the books on that list, and a lot of the remaining are books I know of and have decided not to read.  But I'll keep looking for more reader polls.

Speaking of goodreads, they have a list-making area, and there is a list called Best Science Fiction of the 21 Century.  About two years ago, PhoenixFalls and I were among the first ten voters, and I seeded the list with about 100 books.  Since then, there have been about 450 more voters, and the result is an interesting list, I think.  I don't think this is usable for the challenge category, as it is not an award, but you might want to look at it.

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 7/3/2012 10:23 PM ET
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Hi all.  I'm spending the week near Potosi Missouri (106F), and currently reading Embassytown.  Finding it a little hard to concentrate on the book.  I hope you're all started on the 3Q challenge now...

-Tom Hl.

Subject: temperature
Date Posted: 7/4/2012 9:37 AM ET
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One hundred six..................... yousa ! ! ! ! 

Just finished Troll: A Love Story for the Tiptree category.

Date Posted: 7/5/2012 10:19 PM ET
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Not that hot here this year.  Not yet, anyway.  It's only topped 100 once so far.  It's still hot enough to cut way back on my audiobook listening though, since I mainly do that when out on walks.

I just started Snow Crash.  Is the whole book as silly as the first chapter?  Cause I've got to say, the pizza delivery is ridiculous.

Subject: #2 a Hugo Award winning novel, or nominee, 2010 or later
Date Posted: 7/8/2012 6:25 PM ET
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 Embassytown, by China Miéville, 2011 - finished 7/8/12 ****

I've read a number of Mieville's other books, and while most of them have fallen into a category called New Weird, which may or may not be a part of fantasy depending how you think about it, Embassytown is the first I would classify clearly as science fiction. I read this book during a mostly outdoor vacation near Potosi, Missouri, in a record-breaking heatwave - daytime high temps of approx 105-110F. I had a little trouble being thrown immediately into the complex setting Mieville created for this. However, a sufficient explanation is given by one major character who is a linguist (Scile) about fifty pages in. So, do not judge this book just on the first 50 pages.

Two years ago, Mieville's The City & The City won a boatload of awards, and Embassytown seems to be following those footsteps. So far it has won the 2012 Locus Award, been nominated for 2012 Nebula (although it did not win). It has also been nominated for 2012 Hugo, and the winner there is yet to be determined. As a science fiction Mieville novel, I think it has a good shot at that.

I'm not going to write a plot synopsis, except to say that a lot of the concepts of this book relate to language, and how non-literal constructs such as simile work in communication between alien species. If you like language concepts, you will love this book.

One probably unique perspective I can bring is that when the first person narrator (Avice) travels off-planet, she goes through the "immer", which seems to be the extradimensional cosmic interstice between universes or distant points in our own universe, as opposed to the "manchmal". These happen to be the German language words for "always" and "sometimes". Our more mundane universe is the "sometimes" one. Mieville doesn't do much with that, or even mention these meanings, but I found it interesting and relevant none-the-less.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars after finishing it, but as time passes and I think more about it, I find my ranking seems to be moving upward. I predict this book will get a lot of attention, and become widely read.



Last Edited on: 7/8/12 9:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Snow Crash
Date Posted: 7/8/2012 6:29 PM ET
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Cause I've got to say, the pizza delivery is ridiculous

Of course.  But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 7/9/2012 4:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2010
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Fortunately for me I haven't read too many SF books. I'm going to try this quarter but I'm currenly working 7 days a week. I don't seem to have as much time for reading as I normally do. We'll see how it goes. 

Date Posted: 7/10/2012 12:33 AM ET
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I take that as a "yes" on whether or not Snow Crash is silly all the way through.  Is it a parody of any particular book or just a parody of cyberpunk in general?  I'm not widely read enough to tell anything except that it's a parody of something.

 

In other news, I just finished Jo Walton's Ha'penny.  I didn't like this nearly as much as Farthing.  The world is still incredibly interesting, but I really disliked the characters, especially Viola.  I wanted to reach into the book, slap her, and ask her what she thought she was playing at.  That's all it seemed like to me -- an actress playing a role that conveniently let her sleep with someone she thought was handsome. 

In Farthing Lucy acted like a ditz much of the time, but at least she had the self awareness to say "that's part of it" when her father asked her if she was marrying David to make her mother angry.  And she was realistic enough about politics to quietly make plans for herself and David.  With Viola, I don't think she was capable of knowing why she went along with the plot.  I think she identified with her role as a hostage and never realized it was just a role she was playing.    And she certainly (and deliberately) made no plans whatsoever.

Subject: Snow Crash
Date Posted: 7/10/2012 3:59 PM ET
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I take that as a "yes" on whether or not Snow Crash is silly all the way through.  Is it a parody of any particular book or just a parody of cyberpunk in general?  I'm not widely read enough to tell anything except that it's a parody of something.

Sorry to be too terse.  I didn't mean to say it was a parody at all.  A skateboarding pizza delivery man is no hero-figure to me, but from a certain juvenile perspective it might be seen that way.  So what I am saying is that if you can accept that in the spirit of fun, there will be a more serious adventure underneath.

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 7/10/2012 5:03 PM ET
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The "it's a parody" is coming from me, not from anything you said.

I have a love/hate relationship with funny books.  It's usually on the "hate" side for the "silly" variety of funny, unfortunately.  I'm listening to it in very small doses for now.  Hopefully I'll get to the plot you've mentioned soon. I'm only to the point where he was just offered Snow Crash, which is rather early on.

Date Posted: 7/17/2012 12:32 AM ET
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I've read my first book for this challenge, Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear.  This was nominated for the Locus award last year.   A man awakes/is born aboard what turns out to be a space ship traveling...somewhere. A ship that is badly damaged and filled with monsters and corpses.  And his memories are fragmentary and contradictory. 

I thought this was a very interesting mystery with some philosophical questions regarding conscience and humanity thrown in. 

Subject: chat
Date Posted: 7/17/2012 12:13 PM ET
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I'd downloaded the first chapter of Hull Zero Three and could not get interested.  Guess I'll put it on the wish list to try later.

Ho hum, it's hit and miss on my book selections lately.  Currently reading Among Others and I'm wondering if anything is gonna happen here?  Finished Troll: A Love Story (very different than what I expected), also Leviathan Wakes (good space opera). 

Been working a lot so can't read as much.  No, I'm not complaining. 



Last Edited on: 7/17/12 9:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 7/17/2012 4:13 PM ET
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Among Others isn't plot driven. There's a little bit of action in the last few chapters, but not a large amounts of it.

I've been reading Windup Girl  lately, and I'm not all that enthused about it.  I think I have too much faith in humanity to really buy into it.

My other read so far this month was Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan.    Pretty typical Vonnegut, though the plot is more like something he would have attributed to Kilgore Trout in his later books.  He adds on "religion sucks" on top of his normal "war sucks" theme.  Douglas Adams claimed that he loved Sirens of Titan and that he learned a lot about writing from how it was constructed.  I can definitely see some resemblances from aliens manipulating human society for their own means right down to the hero wandering around space in a dirty bathrobe.

Subject: #5: A Philip K. Dick Award winner or nominee
Date Posted: 7/24/2012 5:20 PM ET
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Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan, 2003 - finished 7/18/12 ***

This winner of the 2003 Philip K. Dick Award is the violent first-person narrative of an ex-military character named Takeshi Kovacs, in a dystopic cyberpunk setting. He is captured for his criminal activities, digitally stored, and re-instantiated on Earth in the service of a rich man who does not believe the official story of his own suicide and recreation from back-up. The plot is so action-oriented, written with a lot of tough rhetoric, that it led me to consider parallels to Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination. But Kovacs is an actual hero, albeit a hardboiled one, not an anti-hero like Gulliver Foyle.

This is a very popular book in some circles. I felt the concepts while exercised nicely, were not all that original. And the main character, while interesting, was not enough like myself to strongly identify with. So an entertaining read, but not a great book.

One personal nit - Early in the book, Morgan gives the proper Slavic pronunciation of the main character's name, Kovacs. Well and good, correct even, except that name with that spelling is not Slavic, but Hungarian. It's a generalization I know, but I have found that British writers tend to be far more ignorant of central and eastern European culture than American writers. Maybe because their parents and grandparents didn't come from there?

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 7/31/2012 2:25 AM ET
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I finally remembered that I had a copy of Glasshouse by Charles Stross that I hadn't read yet. I moved Little Brother by Cory Doctorow into my multiple award category since it won the James M Campbell award and the Prometheus award.  I'm using Glasshouse as my Prometheus winner.

Both books are excellent.  Glasshouse is set in a posthuman universe after a major civil war.  To escape his enemies, Robin joins an experiment in recreating the "Dark Ages" the 20th and 21st century.  He wakes up as the female named Reeve in what ultimately turns out to be a prison and discovers all of what he thought he knew is incomplete or wrong.  This book has so much to say about gender, conformity, freedom of thought, and sexuality.  And it's a great story besides.

Little Brother is mainly the story of Marcus Yallow and a group of his friends following the aftermath of a terrorist attack.  Society becomes fixated on safety before all else.  People give up their privacy, control and freedoms, so that the Government will keep them safe and find that they are not safe from anyone including the Government.  The sad thing is, we are doing this now and without the excuse of the Golden Gate Bridge being destroyed by terrorists.  I understand that there is a sequel in the works, Homeland.  I definately want to read where he takes the story next.

I've started The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness for my James Tiptree Jr award.  It looks to be very interesting. 

Subject: Glasshouse & Little Brother
Date Posted: 8/1/2012 1:19 PM ET
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Yeah, I read those two maybe last year or so, and enjoyed both of them a lot.

-Tom Hl.

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