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Topic: SF Challenge DISCUSSION THREAD (10/10)

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Subject: SF Challenge DISCUSSION THREAD (10/10)
Date Posted: 10/1/2010 10:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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It's the last month! At least, formally it is. . . I'm going to continue through December because I haven't done most of the bonus challenges and the next challenge won't start until Jan. 2011.

But I'm only 5 books away from completing the regular part of the challenge! Barring catastrophe, I should be able to do that this month.

Where are you all at? Anybody else close to finishing? (Yes, I do remember that two of you are already done. . .) :)

Subject: Tom's reading.
Date Posted: 10/4/2010 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Strangely quiet on this topic...

Well, I'm working on the 11 official overachiever categories now, and the categories I have left are these five:

41. Multiverse setting
43. SF Mystery
45. Vampire SF
49. Aurora Award Winner
51. SF Comedy

I've currently got an Aurora Award winner in progress and an SF Comedy lined up - but I've also committed elsewhere to two other books this month that cannot be counted in the challenge.  So I'll probably make a good run at the overachievers, but not finish them by 11/1.

-Tom Hl.

Subject: Terraforming Earth, by Jack Williamson
Date Posted: 10/4/2010 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Finished #8 & #39: Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic & Work that has won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
Filled with: Terraforming Earth, by Jack Williamson
Other categories this work would fill: Work written by a Grand Master; Work with a male first-person narrator.

My capsule review: Not the book I thought I was getting, it was a depiction of an exercise in futility -- it did that well, but that's not my cup of tea. It was marred, however, by some seriously throwback science and gender & race relations.

My full review, with some very general spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/105705.html

Brad -
Date Posted: 10/6/2010 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 1/27/2009
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Looking forward to seeing what the 2011 challenge is.

Reading 20 books a year is good for me.  Thanks to having a 1.5 year old, my reading won't be near the peak.  Plus, I'm sure I'll want to read old favorites and non-SciFI stuff.

Still, I'll give it a try, to see how far I can get.  If not for anything else, it will help me look for other things to read.

Subject: Dust, by Elizabeth Bear
Date Posted: 10/7/2010 12:49 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Finished #33: Work set on a generation ship.
Filled with: Dust, by Elizabeth Bear
Other categories this work would fill: Superhuman; Science Fantasy (but not really); Feminist SF (but not really); Work written by a female author; Work with a third-person limited multi-perspective viewpoint.

My capsule review: Gloriously plays with conventions of science fiction and fantasy and of gender (hence my "not really"s above); full of good ol' fashioned sensawonder; and an ending that got me right in my sweet spot. Unfortunately, it took me 200 pages to really get into it, but it was totally worth the wait.

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/105848.html

Subject: 2011 Challenge
Date Posted: 10/14/2010 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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Just a suggestion on coming up with the format for next year. I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater. If there were too many categories this year, or some categories that nobody liked, there were nevertheless a lot of very good categories that would work well year after year. Rather than coming up with ever more esoteric categories, why not just shrink down the old list to the twenty best?

Date Posted: 10/14/2010 10:28 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Bob -- So which categories would you want to see repeated? Anybody else? (There's no way I'm not putting in ANY new categories though. . . just not happening. *wink*) Which categories did you find too repetetive, or too esoteric, and would thus want cut?

Subject: possible cuts?
Date Posted: 10/15/2010 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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I thought the character challenges were a little wonky.  But....... whatever.......cool

Subject: The Empress of Mars, by Kage Baker
Date Posted: 10/17/2010 1:39 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Just finished the bonus challenge "Humans on Mars" which I filled with The Empress of Mars, by Kage Baker. It was completely delightful, Baker at the top of her powers, and might be where I now introduce people to her Company novels. My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/106945.html

Subject: 40/40 +9/11 +5
Date Posted: 10/17/2010 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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I've picked off three more of the overachiever categories lately:

  • multiverse - Mort, by Terry Pratchett
  • aurora winner - The Terminal Experiment, by Robert J. Sawyer
  • sf comedy - Making Money, by Terry Pratchett

So that leaves me with only:

  • SF Mystery
  • Vampire SF

Nothing on my TBR shelf seems to fill those last categories, so I'm not sure if they can happen in the remaining days before 11/1/10.

-Tom Hl.

Subject: New Challenge Categories
Date Posted: 10/17/2010 10:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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Of last year's challenge, the categories that I think would work from year-to-year are;

1. Hard SF
3. Cyberpunk
5. Alternate History
6. Military SF
8. Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic
9. Space Opera
11. Feminist SF
12. First Contact
15. Work written by a Grand Master
20. Work written by a female author
22. Work by an author you haven't read before
28. Work set on Earth with no space travel
29. Work set in a human interstellar empire
30. Work set on a single human planet that is not Earth (may or may not have contact with Earth)
35. Work that has won the Hugo Award
36. Work that has won the Nebula Award
37. Work that has won the Locus Award
38. Work that has won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award
39. Work that has won the John W. Campbell Award
40. Work that has won the Philip K. Dick Award

I also thought the Comedy SF category was a good one.

Subject: really
Date Posted: 10/18/2010 10:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Well, without comparing this list with last years I can see right off the bat......

You gotta have time travel.

Personally, I like anthologies - I like short stories.

I like the idea of reading "runners-up" to the major awards for the year.  Only problem is that new books = $$$$$

I also like the Locus recommended reading list, I've always found good books from that list.

Also, no skin off my nose if we don't have the feminist category. 

And finally, I think the British have GREAT SF books and we should have their award listed. 

Date Posted: 10/20/2010 2:58 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Finished #27: Work with a third-person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint (after some shuffling of the categories)
Filled with: Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Other categories this work would fill: Soft SF; Young Adult (I think, though others may disagree); Female Author; On a single human planet that is not Earth.

My capsule review: A difficult novel, especially for the longtime reader, but full of Bujold's trademark wit and subtle exploration of what changes biological technology (as opposed to the physics most SF is concerned with) might bring to human society. Plus it's a fast-paced SF police procedural. Plus we get to see more of Miles happening to people. So of course I loved it, even though I kind of didn't.

In any case, my full review, somehow without spoilers (though that was difficult and you can read between the lines to figure it out if you know the series): http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/107397.html

Which means I am one book away from being done! And I'm already 2/3 of the way through that one book! And I've already completed four of the bonuses! I'm stoked! (Can't you tell, from the superfluous exclamation points?) ;-)

Subject: Cryoburn and Never Let Me Go
Date Posted: 10/21/2010 11:09 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Cryoburn - really? Wow.  How did you happen to get this book so fast?  My copy was pre-ordered from Amazon and they shipped it yesterday.  After skimming your review, I'm a little apprehensive. 

Finished Never Let Me Go, not at all what I expected.  I was aware of all the hype surrounding the book, very thought provoking, left me feeling very sad.  Can't say I'd recommend the book for just anyone.

Subject: Cryoburn again
Date Posted: 10/21/2010 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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Oh wait, I bet you got Cryoburn as an e-book.  And it was probably cheaper than the hardback.  I just checked my e-mail and apparently I'm getting 3 bucks off the $16 order price.  Yay!  Hope my book gets delivered today.

Date Posted: 10/21/2010 1:47 PM ET
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Posts: 1,376
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No, I ordered the hardback copy. . . I ordered it last Wednesday, it shipped on Friday, then arrived Tuesday. I figured they just made an effort to get books into peoples' hands on publication day so they wouldn't have an excuse not to order online. Weird that yours didn't come at the same time!

I'm STILL conflicted about Cryoburn! Looking forward to hearing what you think of it!

Subject: 40/40 +10/11 +5
Date Posted: 10/23/2010 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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I've finished the Vampire SF category with Fevre Dream, by George R.R. Martin (borrowed from MrsTomHl). I felt it had very good plotting and an excellent main character, and a fascinating 1850's Mississippi River setting - but the vampire concept, while an attempt was made towards sf plausibility, was still flawed. 1) If vampire women always die in childbirth, then this is a reproduction rate of only 50% and the species would never have made it. 2) If the vampire species lived in Europe before the humans, and must have human flesh/blood once per month (animals won't suffice), then what did they live on? Still, I did enjoy the novel for its other merits.

That leaves me only the SF Mystery category from the overachiever categories. I've found a pretty good list of SF Mysteries at www.sldirectory.com/libsf/booksf/mystery/sfmysteries.html, so am now optimistic about getting one and reading it before the end of the month.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 10/23/10 9:44 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/23/2010 2:11 PM ET
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Re: Your subject line

*grumble grumble grumble* Show off! ;)

 

So Tom (or anyone) -- is Fevre Dream fairly typical of GRRM's writing style? Because I know I'm supposed to read ASOIAF someday but resent the epic doorstopper fantasy series subgenre so I'd probably prefer to start him with a stand-alone. . .

Subject: George RR Martin
Date Posted: 10/24/2010 3:55 PM ET
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MrsTomHl and I actually met George RR at a con about 25 years ago, when he was a new writer, sitting on the line between science fiction and fantasy. Since then he has gone the more lucrative direction, and I fully expect to never read his Song of Ice and Fire books - so I couldn't say if his early writing is typical of his later writing. I have however read some older stand-alones - Armageddon Rag and Dying of the Light, and their style is similar. I would lean towards Fevre Dream and Dying of the Light as recommendations. You should feel good about the challenge as a whole. I've not used an organized list like this before, and really took to it. Thanks.
Subject: Cryoburn some more
Date Posted: 10/28/2010 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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I loved this book, I love this series, I plan to put McMaster-Bujold on my "SF buy" list.  The CD at the end of Cryoburn is quite a generous gift from Baen.  I still don't believe what the cover page from the CD says -14 books for free.   Love it.

I enjoyed this book, didn't find it at all hard to follow.  I guess cause Miles is maturing, things are changing, life goes on and I can relate.  Thought-provoking life and death questions.  And I have to agree with PhoenixFalls, dang, it's over and I have to wait for the next book.  However I'm guessing I'll be revisiting the Vorkosigan series and I'm looking forward to that.

For the Campbell award challenge I read The Year of the Quiet Sun, by Wilson Tucker.  Yes, it's old timey but interesting in that the time travel involves a survey 20 years into the future but that puts the timeline at 2000.  Hah!

This is an old book, it had a cigarette advertisement glued into the middle pages, which got me to thinking about how easy it would be for the Kindle to give us subliminal commercial messages.  What if they start putting commercial ads into our e-books?  Argh.  Double argh - what if they did product placement in our e-books?  (Guess that might be hard with SF). 

Anyways.  I highly recommend the hardback edition of Cryoburn (and hope they all come with CDs).

___________________ You are thirsty, go get a cup of coffee.  Brought to you by the coffee growers of Central America.

Date Posted: 10/28/2010 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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The CD is totally awesome. Baen is cool like that; if I read more MilSF I'd totally take advantage of their free library.

Sounds like you liked Cryoburn more than me! I just. . . don't have enough confidence that there will be another Vorkosigan novel for the ending to work for me. If there is another one that deals with the aftermath I will probably end up loving the ending, but if that's the LAST Vorkosigan novel, or if she writes more in the universe but jumps back in the timeline I think I would have preferred the series stop with A Civil Campaign.

Subject: 40/40 + 11/11 +5
Date Posted: 10/30/2010 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Sorry about the subject line, PhoenixFalls, but I feel a need to show off for a moment here.  I finished my last of the 11 overachiever categories today, within about a day of the official challenge period. 

I filled the SF Mystery category with Farthing, by Jo Walton.  I see from past postings that PhoenixFalls really liked this book, and Zylyn did not.  In the beginning, I nearly put this book down unfinished.  It is largely told from the first person point of view of a ditzy self-involved daughter of the British far upper class, featuring a cardboard daddy and husband, on a country weekend where a murder takes place.   It was almost painful for me to see the world through that lens.  However, I knew that if I did quit, I would need to find a new SF Mystery, and I didn't have much time left.  So I persevered.  I focused on the world as seen by the detective Carmichael and treated the Lucy narrative as evidence in his case.  But then the stakes escalate far beyond the murder case and the alternate history comes into play, and I was hooked right up to the last page.  The alternate history setting seems derived from Phillip Roth's The Plot Against America, and the ending was pretty much as I suspected it would be, but still it's powerfully done.  I recommend the book, although you may have to hold your nose through the beginning.

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 10/30/2010 3:33 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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LOL, congrats on finishing everything! I'm not too jealous. . . really. ;)

Glad you enjoyed Farthing by the end -- Lucy's narration didn't bother me as much as it did you, but for sure the last third is edge-of-your-seat reading (even though you can see it coming, that's part of the horror of it, isn't it).

Subject: 35/35 + 4/11 bonuses!
Date Posted: 11/1/2010 1:44 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Finished #36: Work that has won the Nebula Award
Filled with: Slow River, by Nicola Griffith
Other categories this novel would fill: Soft SF; Feminist SF; Female author; Set on Earth with no space travel.

My capsule review: Exquisite, deeply impressive, and incredibly difficult emotionally; I'll be reading more by Griffith, but I don't know that I'll ever be able to reread this one.

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/107848.html

With two hours to spare (my time) I am DONE with the SF Challenge! I did have to double count five books, but 35 SF novels (more, because I had to read all the Company novels even though I ran out of categories for them to fit in) in a year is great for me, so I'm happy. I whittled down my TBR (well, I would have, if I hadn't been adding to it at the same time because I found some new authors I love) and actually only had a couple total misses in the whole challenge.

Woo hoo! :)



Last Edited on: 11/1/10 2:29 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: congrats
Date Posted: 11/1/2010 1:29 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Congratulations on finishing just in the nick of time!

I liked Ammonite more than Slow River.  It makes some complex observations on gender and role without dragging the reader through so much pain.

-Tom Hl.

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