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Topic: SF Challenge 11/1/09-10/31/10: DISCUSSION THREAD (10/09)

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Subject: SF Challenge 11/1/09-10/31/10: DISCUSSION THREAD (10/09)
Date Posted: 10/14/2009 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Hey folks! This is the thread that will hold any discussion surrounding the challenge. Post questions about the categories or rules here; feel free to ask for or offer recommendations; discuss your progress if you like. But make sure to track your progress in the tracking thread according to the rules laid down in that thread. This way we keep the threads tidy and easy to use. (Hopefully.)

 

To start things off, here are the definitions for some of the subgenre categories, as well as some useful websites:

 

The following subgenre definitions should be followed:

Hard SF: Characterized by rigorous attention to accurate detail in quantitative sciences, especially physics, astrophysics, and chemistry, or accurately depicting worlds that more advanced technology may make possible.

Soft or Social SF: Works based on social sciences such as psychology, economics, political science, sociology, and anthropology. May also describe works focused primarily on character and emotion.

Cyberpunk: Works in which the time frame is usually near-future and the settings are often dystopian. Common themes include advances in information technology and especially the Internet, artificial intelligence and prosthetics, and post-democratic societal control where corporations have more influence than governments. Nihilism, post-modernism, and film noir techniques are common elements, and the protagonists may be disaffected or reluctant anti-heroes.

Alternate History: Works based on the premise that known historical events turned out differently. May or may not include time travel.

Military SF: Works set in the context of conflict between national, interplanetary, or interstellar armed forces; the primary viewpoint characters are usually soldiers. Stories include detail about military technology, procedure, ritual, and history; military stories may use parallels with historical conflicts.

Superhuman: Works that deal with the emergence of humans who have abilities beyond the norm. This can stem either from natural causes or be the result of intentional augmentation. These stories usually focus on the alienation that these beings feel as well as society's reaction to them.

Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic: Works concerned with the end of civilization through war, pandemic, astronomic impact, ecological disaster, or mankind's self-destruction.

Space Opera: Works that emphasize romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing powerful (and sometimes quite fanciful) technologies and abilities. Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale. These stories typically follow the Homeric tradition, in which a small band of adventurers are cast against larger-than-life backdrops of powerful warring factions.

Steampunk: Works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (but not actually by authors of that era) or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

Feminist SF: Works which pose questions about social issues such as how society constructs gender roles, the role reproduction plays in defining gender and the unequal political and personal power of men and women.

Science Fiction masquerading as Fantasy: Works featuring traditional fantasy elements such as iron-age of technology/knowledge or magic, but which reveal a traditional science fiction explanation such an apocalypse or a disintegration of communication with other human planets.

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To find a list of Science Fiction Grand Masters, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damon_Knight_Memorial_Grand_Master_Award

To find a list of Hugo Award Winners, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award_for_Best_Novel

To find a list of Nebula Award Winners, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebula_Award_for_Best_Novel

To find a list of Locus Award Winners, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_Award_for_Best_Novel

To find a list of James Tiptree, Jr. Award Winners, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tiptree_Jr._Award

To find a list of John W. Campbell Award Winners, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell_award_(best_novel)

To find a list of Philip K. Dick Award Winners, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_K._Dick_Award



Last Edited on: 10/27/09 8:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 12:46 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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Is there a way to keep this and the tracking thread at the top of the SF forum posts?

Also, many of the books I will read are new and on wishlists, and I don't keep what I read. Those participating in the challenge who are interested can join my buddy list, and I will PM you as they become available.



Last Edited on: 10/15/09 2:51 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 2:17 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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There has to be a way to keep it at the top. . . the book deals section is always at the top. . . but I have no idea how. I'm still relatively new to PBS. I'll look into it, and if anyone else knows how please post it here or PM me! (I was actually just planning on bumping the posts back to the top if they looked to be slipping past the first page. . . but it will be much less maintenance if they're just kept there automatically.)

 

I don't think there's a good way to make the books available exclusive to this challenge formally, but as far as I know you can announce a book that you have available here and then if someone participating wants it you can send it directly to that person and they can give you a credit. I don't think that's against the rules. . . but again, if anyone knows differently, fill me in!

 

Great ideas! :)



Last Edited on: 10/15/09 2:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 6:52 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
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In order to keep the thread at the top the PBS Team has to sticky it, and they're not very likely to do that.  You can always ask, but it's done pretty rarely.

Subject: more useful websites
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 7:24 AM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
Posts: 449
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Here's a couple more handy websites

 

http://www.gnooks.com/

Gnooks maps authors to other similar authors.  It's a good place to go to get a rough idea of new authors you might like based on ones you do like.


http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk

for SF (blurb from website)

Bibliographies for over 25,000 authors. Use the browse menu on the left to find an author by surname, or use the search boxes on the right to search for an author or book

Information on over 300,000 books. Throughout the site, just click on a book to see its cover picture, description and publication details

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 8:40 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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This forum is slow enough I wouldn't think we'd drop off the first page very quickly, and anyway, you can always select "Watch This Topic" to keep track of the posts.

I'm willing to share, though I doubt if any of my books are wishlisted, and some are very old unpostble paperbacks.

Just a warning about fantasticfiction...it has been one of my favorite sites for almost 10 years, but I have found numerous errors on the site.  I've emailed them about a few, and they are good about correcting things, but it's something to keep in mind, and you might want to double check if there's any doubt about a particular book. 



Last Edited on: 10/15/09 7:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 6:50 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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Anybody got any ideas for SF originally written in a foreign language? I've found it in the original language with no translation, and I've found SF written in English by foreign authors, but not the combination we're looking for.

Help!

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 7:32 PM ET
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DAW put out quite a few translated books, though some might not be that easy to find.  Pierre Barbet and Gerard Klein (both French authors) do have books available in the system here, but I'm not sure who else.

I haven't been able to find much about them, but Nathalie and Charles Henneberg were French SF authors as well...I have one book by them called The Green Gods that was translated by C.J. Cherryh. 



Last Edited on: 10/15/09 7:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/15/2009 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Solaris  by stanislaw lem was translated from french.    He was polish and wrote quite a few books & stories.   There are some other cold war eastern block authors.

Date Posted: 10/16/2009 5:54 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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Thanks.

What a resource this group is!

Subject: Foreign SF
Date Posted: 10/16/2009 10:51 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
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How about the classic War with the Newts by Karel Capek, it was written in Czech.  There is also a trend for Russian SF out there - don't have any names tho'

Margaret

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 10/16/2009 11:53 AM ET
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DAW published at least a couple of books by the Russian authors Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, but I don't have any.  There are also a few collections I haven't tracked down...like The Best From the Rest of the World, which might have been a Martin H. Greenberg collection.

Date Posted: 10/16/2009 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Found a list of translated authors:

 

http://greatsfandf.com/authors-lists.php#TRANSLATED

 

Subject: foreign authors
Date Posted: 10/16/2009 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Anybody got any ideas for SF originally written in a foreign language?

__________________________________________________________________

I would recommend The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach.  There are a couple of reviews on PBS, and some very good reviews from the respective SF websites.  It's not high-tech, not fantasy.  But kinda mind expanding. 



Last Edited on: 10/16/09 7:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/16/2009 8:38 PM ET
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My next question . . .

Can somone explain "a third-person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint" to me?

Date Posted: 10/16/2009 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Third person omniscient narrator is a book where the narrator is closest to feeling like the author him/herself. The narrator knows everything about everyone in the novel and has the freedom to jump from one character's perspective to another's within the same paragraph or even the same sentence. So for instance (and this is an example from Orson Scott Card's writing book Characters and Viewpoint):

Taking her out was like taking a final exam. Pete knew he was failing, but he couldn't figure out why. He kept bumbling along, trying to impress Nora with his sensitivity, never guessing that Nora was much more comfortable with beer-and-football types. She had grown up with brothers who thought that "fun" was any outdoor game that left scabs. She had often told her friends that all but six of delicate, fragile bones had been broken during childhood -- at least she could hardly remember a time when she didn't have a cast on some part of her body. She liked rowdiness, laughter, crude humor and general silliness; she had thought Pete was like that, from the way he bantered and joked with the others at the office.

See, the narrator knows what's going through BOTH Pete and Nora's heads, and is free to share as much or as little with the reader as it wants. This sort of narrator sometimes even has a style and flavor of its own (for instance, in the longer passage it is clear that the "delicate, fragile bones" comment is layered with heavy sarcasm). The narrator could add three other characters to this scene and jump into and out of all their heads as well, or could jump out of the scene to a scene somewhere else with no warning to the reader.

 

Third person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint is really two things in one. Third person limited means that even though it is not written by any of the characters (in other words, the narrator is not "I") it sticks faithfully to a single viewpoint character. The narrator never knows more than what his/her viewpoint character would know, and only shows the reader the inside of that viewpoint character's head. So in the passage above, third person limited would require the author to choose either Pete or Nora's perspective and only show the reader that character's thoughts, feelings, and history.

The multi-perspective addition to that gives the narrator a bit more freedom. In third person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint, the narrator writes each section or chapter in third-person limited perspective, but at a section or chapter break can jump to another character's head. That next section then needs to be in third person limited perspective, but from the new character.

While that sounds complicated, this is actually one of the most common perspectives used in science fiction. Timothy Zahn almost always uses it; Iain M. Banks almost always uses it; Alastair Reynolds almost always uses it; the list goes on and on.



Last Edited on: 10/16/09 8:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/16/2009 9:51 PM ET
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Thanks for the explanation, and for the author suggestions as well.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 10/18/2009 5:12 PM ET
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Sooo...who's going to be the overachiever who finishes the whole challenge by the end of the year?

Date Posted: 10/18/2009 6:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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I can't even figure out how I'm going to do it yet.  Do I pick the books for each category then read them?   Do I just randomly read and hope it fits a category until I need to be more selective?       I have 3 time travel books I haven't read and want to -to say nothing of the dog,  the man who folded himself , and the traveler hopefully 2 of them will fit into another category.  

 

The sooner we finish this one -the sooner we can start a fantasy one (if phoenixfalls feels like making up the categories??)   I'm hoping for a snowstorm so I can pretend to be trapped inside for a few days with plenty of books.  Here near DC that means 1-3 inches of snow.  I'm looking forward to this challenge and finding new authors & sub-genres but I still am dreading Darwin's Radio even though I do want to read it.

Date Posted: 10/18/2009 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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LOL! I must admit, I've been trying to think up fantasy categories already. . .

 

The way I'm approaching it is looking at all the SF on my shelf and seeing which categories each novel fits into. . . and after I decimate my TBR pile in that fashion I was planning on asking for recommendations for the categories I still needed to fill.

 

As for your time travel issue. . . To Say Nothing of the Dog can go in the Hugo winner category, the Locus winner category, the female author category, and I think I remember it using third person limited, multi-perspective viewpoints. So you can put it in one of those categories to free up your time travel category for one of the other novels. :)

Date Posted: 10/18/2009 6:31 PM ET
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Now I have a question for the group. . . I put in the "work written the year you were born" category thinking it would be easy -- how many books are written in a year, after all?

 

Then as soon as I started fitting books into their slots, I realized that I have absolutely NO idea of how to search for that category. I mean, I could go to the bookstore or library and just start looking at publication dates, but that's a little haphazard for my taste. Does anyone know of a convenient website that breaks SF novels down by publication  year?

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 10/18/2009 6:47 PM ET
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I have to admit I just looked up a prolific author (Larry Niven) to see if he'd had any books published the year I was born...in fact, he had two, and I had both on my TBR pile.   

This challenge is probably easier for some of us who have 500+ unread SF books lying around.

Date Posted: 10/18/2009 6:48 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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You can go to the internet speculative fiction database wiki site   http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/search.cgi

and do an advanced search on title give the ttitle type as novel for term 1 and the year as your birth year in term 2  it'll list quite a few

Date Posted: 10/18/2009 7:30 PM ET
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Thanks so much Ann! That was exactly what I wanted.

 

Matt, I must admit, I'm in awe. My TBR stack is only about 80 books long, and only about a third of it is SF. :)

Subject: for information
Date Posted: 10/18/2009 7:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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You can go to the internet speculative fiction database wiki site   http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/search.cgi

 

Wow, that is a sweet site

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