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

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Subject: SF Challenge 11/1/09-10/31/10: DISCUSSION THREAD (11/09)
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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And we're off!


It's Nov. 1st, the first day of our challenge, so good luck to everyone!

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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Excellent!

I am simultaneously starting Firestarter by Stephen King (weaseling it in under the superhuman category), Eon by Greg Bear (hard SF..also the oldest book on my TBR) and The Radioactive Redhead by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem.  I'm not sure where I'll stick this one yet.  It's male first person if nothing else. 



Last Edited on: 11/1/09 1:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/3/2009
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I'm beginning with Space Doctor by Lee Corey. Can't wait to start it tonight!

Date Posted: 11/1/2009 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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I'm starting with my anthology, Vanishing Acts, edited by Ellen Datlow. SF short stories centered around the theme of endangered species. . . if my NaNo goes well I'll also start one of my (many) Elizabeth Bear novels, but given that this is my first NaNo the chances of it going well are. . . slim, to say the least. Still, even if it goes really badly, I should have time to read a short story a day, so hopefully I won't be too terribly behind at the end of November. . .

Date Posted: 11/1/2009 7:58 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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I've decided to start with The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold.  I'm not sure what category I'm going to use it for yet (which is why the spreadsheet is so great) but it'll probably be for the time travel.  Darwin's radio is going to be my subway, dentist waiting room type book until I see how it goes.   It's a rainy yucky night -just perfect for reading!

Subject: first book
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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I read my first book in the challenge today.  It was Old Man's War, by John Scalzi.  For me, I think it would count as any of

  • hard SF
  • military SF
  • author previously unread
  • male, first person
  • in a galaxy with multiple non-human intelligences
  • Campbell Award (Best New Writer Award)

But since I think Campbell Award could be the toughest of those, I'm going to count it in that category.



Last Edited on: 11/1/09 10:35 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 9:50 PM ET
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Tom H.: You finished your first book?!? Already?!?!? Harrumph.


So was it good?

Subject: Old Man's War
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 10:32 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Not sure what "Harrumpth" means.  Maybe you are skeptical about me finishing it on the first day?  Well, I did start this book in the middle of last week.  But I work something like 12 hours a day most days during the week, and I hadn't gotten very far.  MrsTomHl works Sundays, so Sundays is when I do a lot of my recreational reading.  Also, it's pretty fast-paced and a quick read.  So I actually did read the majority of the book this afternoon.

This novel is very reminiscent of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, or Haldeman's The Forever War. In this case, the Colonial Defense Forces are made up of recruited 75 year olds, who are given rejuvenations in return for signing up. And there are some interesting developments within that concept as the novel proceeds. John Perry is an easy-to-identify-with first person narrator, whose continuing feelings for his deceased wife keep him in touch with his humanity through his transhuman experiences. I will be looking for the sequels.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 11/1/09 10:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 11:03 PM ET
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"Harrumph" is my generic disgruntled sound. It means I'm jealous. *wink*

Date Posted: 11/1/2009 11:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Well I just finished The Man Who Folded Himself. It's a short book and a quick read but not an easy one. It was rather thought provoking on the time-space paradox issues but I felt the main character was just not very likable. He was way too self absorbed and didn't seem to mature much during the story. The only person he is ever interested in is himself. It was rather difficult for me to believe that such a self centered person could come up with such thoughtful logical explanations about time. So I'm glad I read it for the way the time travel situation was explained but I didn't like it.



Last Edited on: 11/1/09 11:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/2/2009 1:02 PM ET
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I'm still reading The Aftermath (it's been a low-free-time week for me, not to mention a two-days-of-crippling-headaches week), and I'm only about halfway through it, so I am already behind in the challenge. Eek! Anyway, I'm planning on reading The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri Tepper as my first challenge book (categories TBD after reading). My goal is to complete this challenge by reading as many post-apocalyptic books as possible that fit into the categories. I have a huge TBR pile, most of which are PA fiction, so I hope it works out.

Date Posted: 11/2/2009 2:02 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
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I haven't started yet - I'm not too worried about getting 35/40 books in, as I've already read more than 150 this year...

...but I'm thinking of starting with The Sterkham Handshake by Susan Price, which should qualify as time travel or young adult.

I made my own spreadsheet to keep track of the challenge, and I might just fill a book in for all the categories it fits and then delete them as I read other things that fit into the category.  So this one will probably fit at least two, but if I read another book with time travel I might just keep this one as YA and put the other book as time travel.  I'm still trying to work things out. :)

Date Posted: 11/3/2009 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Sarah's other thread got me thinking about books reviews.  If  any of you have time to give a short review of the book you read for the challenge.  I would enjoy reading them.  Sarah's book looked like a potentially decent read but her comments on the book made me think it's not one I'm going to add.  Toms review was nice to read as well.  I realize we all have our own opinions but if we see that our tastes are consistantly similar then reviews might help us pick some books/authors out.
  How do others feel about something like that?

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/3/2009 9:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I will post something about all the books I read.

Subject: book two
Date Posted: 11/5/2009 11:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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I seem to be burning through the pages lately.  I just finished Tech-Heaven, by Linda Nagata, 1995.  I could count this as hard sf, or as female writer - and since the other female writer books on my tbr section are destined for more obscure categories, I'm going to burn one of the easy categories and count this for female writer.

In this near-future thriller, as Katie Kishida's husband lies dying, she decides to freeze him cryogenically, against the wishes of the rest of his family. As the years go by, Katie's life and the world itself take a number of drastically unexpected turns. The development of nanotechnology is central to cryonic restoration, and also the cure to aging - and therefore opposed by the government.

Unfortunately, the social trends and political movements created by Nagata seem forced and unrealistic. The character Katie herself is also a little inconsistent, switching between hard-nosed and victimized. But I'm especially confused by the character Roxanne; I have no idea what makes that one tick. It is as if Nagata started from the closing drama she wanted to have, which is in fact thrilling and engaging, and then worked backwards through unlikely events to bring that ending about.

I believe Linda Nagata has written better books. My next read, The Bohr Maker, is hopefully one of them.

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 11/6/2009 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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I'm right behind you Tom.  It's good for me to stock some up because I will get distracted later.  I just finished The Practice Effect by David Brin.  It's not a lot like his other books.  His protagonist, Dennis, is a likable, laid-back physicist who starts out in our world in our time.  He ends up in an an anomoly world where all the laws of thermodynamics don't exactly work as expected.  .It was pretty funny at times.  Dennis does get caught up in the politics of the new world in a rather dramatic fashion.  They decide he's a wizard.  He has adventures and it's interesting how he figures out what to do when.  There's a group of entertaining characters he hangs out with and a princess of sorts.   It's no masterpiece by any means but it's  a very enjoyable read.  

As far as categories it can be used for - third person mult-perspective and social SF is all I came up with.  I didn't mean to read it now but it was sitting there staring at me...


I'm still reading Darwin's Radio and I don't know why I was so reluctant to start it.  It's pretty good so far.

 

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/7/2009 3:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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My reading's off to a slightly slow start since I'm doing NaNoWriMo as well, but I finished my first book for the challenge: The Radioactive Redhead by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem.  This is the third in a series that starts with The Plutonium Blonde and features Zach Johnson, the last private detective on Earth, in the year 2057 (it's 2060 now in the third book). 

The series is funny, light and can be extremely corny.  I think this third one might have gone a little too far in that extreme, but I thought the ending was OK, so I'm not giving up on the series yet.  It was a fast read, anyway.  I am counting it for the first person male category, but I think it would also fit as soft/social SF and superhuman.  Probably Earth with no space travel as well, depending on how strict you are.  There is none in this story, but it very briefly mentions an alien race that came up in the second book, so interstellar travel does at least exist.

Date Posted: 11/8/2009 6:59 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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I just finshed Lost in Transmission by Wil McCarthy, my first. I read this for hard SF, and I sometimes wondered if it really fit. However, McCarthy includes references for his concepts as appendices, several of which are his own articles. For the most part, it does read a little quicker than most hard SF. I made a mistake I usually try to avoid. This book was the third of four in a series (I had not read the first two yet). I think it started fairly independently. It didn't feel too much like I got thrust into the middle of a situation. However, it did end abruptly. Clearly, a sequel was planned. In fact, my guess is that books 3 and 4 started out as one book, and were split arbitrarily. I would rate this book at three to three-and-a-half stars out of five, with three stars pretty much across the board - plot, character development, and dialogue. There is virtually no action.



Last Edited on: 11/8/09 7:01 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/8/2009 7:00 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
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I'm deeply behind on this challenge. I hope to start reading for it this week sometime. I am enjoying reading everyone's contributions so far. I hope to add my thoughts eventually.

I just read a short novel called Come Closer by Sara Gran. I didn't know anything about it when I picked it up  Bought it at a used book sale and wanted to read it before I swapped it, so I went through it a few days ago.  Definitely contemporary lit feeling to it, but it was about a woman who feels she's being possessed by something. Really a pretty effective book for how short it was.

Probably not the place for this, but thought I'd mention that I just posted a nearly new paperback version of Wolf and Iron (Gordon Dickson) tonight. Somehow I ordered two of them and just realized it (sigh). So if anyone is looking for a post-apocalyptic checkmark in their challenge list, here's one that comes highly recommended. =)

 

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 4:49 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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For the Soft SF category I read Mockingbird by Walter Tevis. What a great book! It takes place on Earth nearly 500 years in the future. Mockingbird provides a very grim look at mankind's future, underlaid by a strong thread of hope. This book represents what I like most in a science fiction novel - a well-crafted story. Mockingbird was nominated for the Nebula Award. Tevis also wrote The Hustler, The Color of Money, and The Man Who Fell to Earth. I highly recommend this novel - 5 stars! Mockingbird would also satisfy the Earth, No Space Travel category of the Challenge.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 8:29 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I didn't want to clutter up the other thread, but someone was asking about non-caucasian authors.  One that I don't think has come up is George Takei (from the original Star Trek) who co-wrote Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe with Robert Asprin.

Which of course leads to the next question: do co-authors count for these kind of challenges? 

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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I've read some of Tevis' short stories and enjoyed them but never a novel.  I'm going to add one to my must read list.

About George Takei & Robert Asprin - I've always wondered how much the non writer contributes to co-written material.  Does the writer -in this case Asprin-  just edit, tighten up the story and give his name so we know it is written say better than william shattner sings?  Or does Takei say hey I've got this idea can you write it up?  It could be either one.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I wonder about it too, Ann.  I know that some established authors allow their name to be added to help out a newer author, but don't do much writing themselves...Tom Clancy being the #1 example I can think of, where his name is still attached to several series he doesn't actually write.

With Asprin/Takei it seems different.  Asprin may have been a respected author, but I think George Takei would have had bigger name recognition, so there's no point in attaching his name to Asprin just for publicity, and an in-house publishing editor would probably clean it up if that's all that was needed...see William Shatner's Tek series... 

Date Posted: 11/10/2009 10:53 AM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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I wish I hadn't brought up william shatner.  Now his absolutely awful song -a remake of green taborine- has attacked my brain.  Look at this -- kind of interesting and puts yet another slant on the whole collaboration thing.  His book with Takei was written prior to this though I wonder how many authors do collaborations for tax purposes or other reasons.  It also is from wikipedia so...  

 

Due to a series of personal and financial problems, Asprin stopped writing in the 1990s. He had two books on the New York Times Bestsellers list which piqued the interest of fans and the IRS. Unfortunately this came right at the time of an almost seven year writing drought. Eventually, these problems were somewhat resolved, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he wrote several novels in collaboration with authors Peter Heck, Jody Lynn Nye, and Linda Evans. As a result of the conditions of his agreement with the IRS, [2] it would receive all income earned from books for which he was credited as sole author, making it in his own best interest to reduce his role to co-author. These novels included continuations of the "Myth" series and the "Phule" series as well as works in original series.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 11/10/2009 11:51 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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Interesting.  I don't know much about Asprin, except that he wrote a lot of books in the '70s (not my favorite period for SF).  He reminds me of a less successful version of Kevin J. Anderson (who I can't stand).

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