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Topic: SF Challenge DISCUSSION THREAD (3/10)

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Subject: SF Challenge DISCUSSION THREAD (3/10)
Date Posted: 3/1/2010 3:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Welcome to month #5 of the SF Challenge!

OMG, I didn't realize we were so close to the halfway point! I've fallen behind. . . better get back to reading! My plans for this month are:

Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny (in progress)

The Risen Empire, by Scott Westerfeld
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
The Philosopher's Apprentice, by James Morrow
Six Moon Dance, by Sheri S. Tepper

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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Ah Well February wasn't a big month for me and science fiction.   I am still reading all the books I was reading.  That is The Year of Rice and Salt (great book so far just reading it slowly) Homecoming Harmony -which I'm about ready to just write off.  and a Philip K Dick -Do Android Dream (but that's a re-read so it doesn't count)  Rainbow's End -which I haven't started yet etc...   I did go through a brief Agatha Christie phase and I seem to have read a fair amount of fantasy.  I suspect I'll wander back into science fiction before too long.  I generally can't stay away...  I ordered Van derMeers books so those will be coming in soon.  I've got big plans for March!!

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 3/1/2010 8:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I didn't get that much read at all in February.  I've started the Hook series by Tully Zetford, but I'm not really sure where it'll fit into the challenge...maybe superhuman.

(Tully Zetford is one of several pen names used by the British author E.C. Tubb).

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
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February was a miserable failure for me.

I seem to be working and sleeping lately, and every time I get a chance to read, my body decides sleep would be more useful, no matter how much I fight it.

I'm slogging through Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber. It's not a large or difficult book, but it is KILLING me. I'd really like to chuck it. I didn't think it was making an impression on me, but last night I had a dream about joining some sort of religious order, but I couldn't get the Head Guy to sign my acceptance papers. Like I kept just missing him by a few minutes, wherever I was supposed to find him. And also I was never wearing the right religious... garb. I don't know. I dream crazy. Anyway, if I ever get through this book I'm hoping the next book doesn't sucketh so hard. I should have guessed this one wasn't going to be a winner. Who puts an exclamation point in their book title? Sheesh.



Last Edited on: 3/1/10 8:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/1/2010 8:59 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Hey now! I actually liked the two Darkover novels with exclamation points in their titles (that'd be Stormqueen! and Hawkmistress!). I will admit, I cringe every time I see the exclamation points. . . and those two are the most melodramatic and teenager-friendly of all the Darkover books. . . but don't go blaming the grammar for a bad book! ;)

I feel less bad for my poor production in February now. If I just read four SF novels this month and another four next month I'll be exactly halfway. . .

Subject: Fritz Leiber
Date Posted: 3/1/2010 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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I'm slogging through Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber. It's not a large or difficult book, but it is KILLING me.

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I recently read a few books by Fritz Leiber - The Wanderer (Hugo winner) and The Big Time (also a winner) and I agree that it was tough.  Leiber is one of those old time classic writers.  Well, I like the ideas in his book but the writing I find difficult.  I have on my wish list Conjur Wife because I remember reading it for a college SF class and want to check it out again - see if it's still as good.  I have The Best of Fritz Leiber on my TBR pile but think that will be the last I read of this author.  Just not my flavor I guess.

Date Posted: 3/1/2010 11:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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I just read two of the Nebula finalists from my local library, and there was a little gap before the two Nebula finalists I ordered online arrived, so I squeezed in an older short book.

THE SIOUX SPACEMAN, by Andre Norton, 1960.

I read a lot of Andre Norton's SF when I was 10-13 years old, and while this was a lot like them, this wasn't actually one that I had read before.  Young Kade Whitehawk is re-assigned to a new trade service position among a crew of 4, on the world Klor where the evil intersteller Styor have enslaved the native Ikkinni.  Kade, being Lakota Sioux, decides to help the Ikkinni fight for freedom, by bringing them plains horses from Earth.  Plot predictable.  But sometimes you just need that, you know?

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 3/2/10 8:37 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 3/2/2010 5:51 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
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I don't think I read any SF in February...other than half of None So Blind, I guess.  I think I've read 7/40 books total...I really need to get moving!

Date Posted: 3/4/2010 8:42 AM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
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Feb was a very rough month for me. After reading these posts I do not feel that bad. However, if anything good came out of Feb was the simple fact that I was able to start and finish Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson. What an amazing read. I highly reccommend. Now I am reading the City and the City by China Mievelle.
Subject: question for Earlyreader
Date Posted: 3/4/2010 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
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I was able to start and finish Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson. What an amazing read.

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That's good to hear, I enjoy RCW and was curious.  I saw that Earlyreader also finished the Comstock book.  Any comments?

I've got several books in the works- Yellow Blue Tibia (is this supposed to be a comedy?), Boneshaker (off to a slow start), and I'm itching to start Wireless and Starbound.    Also got a couple of library books coming due.  Hope I don't get called into work this week.......................

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 3/5/2010 1:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I finished Whirlpool of Stars by Tully Zetford today, and was a little disappointed at how brainless it was...well, part of that was I mistakenly thought that "Tully Zetford" was a pen name of the somewhat more serious author E.C. Tubb, but I was confusing him with Kenneth Bulmer, who is the actual author.

Anyway, I think I'll count this for the superhuman category.  It could also fit the 3rd person omniscient category, space opera, and Interstellar empire with humans and other races interacting.  I can't say I really recommend it, though.  It's more the kind of high-testosterone manly adventure I would have liked when I was 13.

Date Posted: 3/6/2010 1:03 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
Posts: 122
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I enjoyed Julian Comstock as well. I had a productive February (the nice thing about being retired), and should finish the challenge this month. I've enjoyed it so much, I'm thinking about doing it twice.



Last Edited on: 3/6/10 1:04 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2010 2:11 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Booo! Hiss! Braggart!

J/K Bob. . . congrats on being so far ahead of the game! If I was cooler I'd design a little badge to go in your signature as a congrats for being the first one done (I think -- you're the closest, but Tom's right on your heels) but alas, I am not that skilled at the computer. So you get an imaginary badge if you do finish this month. ;)

Are you going to do the bonus challenges too?

Date Posted: 3/6/2010 8:34 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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No. I think I'll just start over. Like most of us in the challenge, I have more TBR books than I will ever get to in this lifetime - probably 15 boxes of SF alone. So, I have plenty to choose from as I fill in the categories. Plus, in order to do the bonus challenge, I would have to buy even more!



Last Edited on: 3/6/10 9:29 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2010 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
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As mentioned previously, I've been working a lot this week, so this is the first time I've had a chance to check back on this thread.

Phoenix, I giggled when I read your remark about judging books by their choice of grammar. Hee. I think I was in a lousy mood when I posted that last one, so I hereby retract my statement about suspect punctuation.  =)

Also, I must admit: I got about 30 pages from the end of Gather, Darkness!!! when suddenly part of me just said, "Aaaaaand I'm done." So there it sits, waiting for me to finish it. In the meantime I finished Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (Kate Wilhelm) and enjoyed that much more.

And Alison, I have to agree with you -- it's not the ideas so much that I was bogged down by in Leiber's book; the story and such were pretty interesting. His writing though. Egads.

I am hoping someday to get my sweaty little book-stained hands on a copy of Julian Comstock. Sounds like my cup of tea and I'm on the wish list for it. I haven't checked that lately, but I'm sure it's one of those "You are wisher 568 of4588. Estimated time until you get your copy is NEVER."

Today I will buckle down and finish Gather, Darkness!!! I can't leave it that close to finished. My challenge list will suffer!

Next on my list is Susanne Collins's Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. I borrowed this one from a friend (same person who lent me book one) so I need to get through that one quickly (breezy young adult reading might help me recover from Leiber) and return it before it becomes one with my insurmountable TBR pile.

Happy weekend, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subject: "Tom's right on your heels"
Date Posted: 3/6/2010 12:36 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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Well, I just finished Boneshaker, so I'm at 26, and Bob is at 35 - so I'm not all that close.  It's looking like I might finish in May.

Bob, you've got to be the most disciplined reader I've seen in a while.  Did you just write out a list last November, and then just read down it, in order, since then? 

Don't even talk about things like doubling up and reading two in every category, unless you really want to make us all feel bad.  ;(

-Tom Hl.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 3/6/2010 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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I'm behind at 17/40 :(

Date Posted: 3/6/2010 2:01 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
Posts: 447
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I feel extremely undisciplined. I plan what books to read and then someone mentions a book that sounds interesting so I shoot off on a tangential read. Right now I am looking at Kage Baker and Micheal Chabin and they aren't on any list I've made up. I've only read 15 for this challenge and parts of a few more.



Last Edited on: 3/6/10 2:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/6/2010 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
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Ann -- I know what you mean! I overscheduled myself reading-wise this year, and now I'm in a position where I find something new and have to twist and turn, moving titles around until I can find a slot for the book to fill just to justify reading it! (And I'm running out of slots very quickly.)

Are you thinking of reading Baker's Company novels? If so, they can fill the Superhuman category, which it doesn't look like you have a book filling yet. . . and books 1&3 are female first-person, book 2 is male first-person, and book 4 is third-person omniscient (if you get that far). . . you could also probably stretch book 2 into the comic SF bonus category. . . and of course they all fit time travel, but I'm pretty sure you've already filled that one. But if you are going to read the Company novels, be careful -- they're addictive, and there are eight of them (plus two short story collections and a stand-alone novel). They're actually the books I'm feeling the most guilt over reading, because I've filled all the categories I can with them and now they're filling no need but my own craving.

Tom -- Awww, you exposed my lack of dedication. I just scanned the list to see who it looks like had the next most slots filled. . . I didn't actually count. ;)

Date Posted: 3/6/2010 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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uh oh I think I'll wait on the company books until I finish what I started here... But I have the first one and it's a library book.   Oh well,  I'll just finagle around til I find a spot for the ones I've read --whether planned or not.   I need to update the google list too.    I'm knocking out my TBR pile as well as finding a bunch of new books -so it's all good!

Subject: first person narrator - female
Date Posted: 3/12/2010 10:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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THE DEVIL'S EYE, by Jack McDevitt, 2008.

This is the fourth in a series featuring private starship pilot Chase Kolpath, and her boss Alex Benedict the antiquities trader.  The books in the series are:

  • A Talent For War (1989)
  • Polaris (2004)
  • Seeker (2005)
  • The Devil's Eye (2008)

A Talent for War was a fantastic book filled with subtlety and historical references.  The sequels, while still pretty good reads seem more along the lines of "the-further-adventures-of" stories.  If you're interested in these books, you might as well start at the beginning, although they really could be read in any order.  In this one, Alex and Chase receive a cryptic message from a famous writer shortly before she signs up to have her memories wiped.  Following slim leads, they retrace her steps to Salud Afar, an Earth-like human-settled world 20,000 light years outside the rim of the galaxy.  There, they unravel the mystery of what it is she learned, that led her to chose something nearly indistinguishable from suicide.

About 100 pages from the end, they solve the mystery, but then get stuck on the planet by a government edict that even I could have predicted - and then find themselves embroiled in a quite different situation involving the telepathic alien race briefly mentioned in the beginning of the book.  Now, this second plot is also action-oriented, and I enjoyed Chase's interactions with the telepaths - but still it was an odd transition, and plot structure.

Date Posted: 3/13/2010 3:03 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Tom -- Is A Talent for War where you suggest starting with Jack McDevitt? Have you read Eternity Road, and if so, how is it?

Subject: Georgia On My Mind
Date Posted: 3/13/2010 4:32 PM ET
Member Since: 9/3/2008
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I just read Georgia On My Mind & other stories by Charles Sheffield.  I always enjoy his work.  He's a hard sci fi guy but doesn't always conform to the expected.  I'll use this as an award winner.  One kind of creepy thing is that one story is about a guy that has a brain tumor.  He wrote that story in 1992 and died from a brain tumor in 2002.  I don't know that much about brain tumors but it seems like if he knew he had one in 1992 he'd  be dead long before 2002.  So it's an odd coincidence maybe.   I don't know why his name is not more recognised.  He's a wonderful writer with a dry sense of humor and a great scientific background.

Subject: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Date Posted: 3/13/2010 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Yeah, I know, what rock have I been hiding under that I've never read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy before? So when I was plugging in titles for the challenge, I figured I had to put it in there somewhere. . .  just finished it today, and my response is a general "meh." There were bits that I found amusing, there were bits that I found not quite as amusing as they were clearly intended to be, but other than that I don't really have any way to judge the book, because it certainly wasn't trying to embark on rich world- or character-building, and there's no plot to speak of. It was a quick read, though, which is good, because the month is half gone!

Subject: Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny
Date Posted: 3/13/2010 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Read this at the beginning of the month and kept putting off writing the review because I wanted to finish Kage Baker's Company series; it's been almost two weeks now, so I think I'll give up on the formal review and just post here about it.

I see why Lord of Light is a classic and Zelazny is a classic author -- fascinating world-building and good solid prose. However, the age of this novel is starting to show. The philosophy is very much late 60s-early 70s, which I still rather enjoy but is a bit passe in SF at the moment, and Zelazny used a terribly clunky structure -- the first chapter is set in the present, so to speak, then the narrative jumps backward some hundreds or thousands of years (it's never specified) and moves forward from that point until near the end it comes back up to the "present" time and goes forward from there. That structure seemed totally unnecessary, and made me wish I could have just rearranged the chapters into a linear structure and read the book that way.

Additionally, I know next to nothing about Buddhism and Hinduism, so I may have missed totally some of Zelazny's references; and his habit of giving each character multiple names was incredibly confusing (though it may have been less confusing if I knew who any of the gods were).

Still, an enjoyable book that I could imagine would have fairly strong reverberations if read at the right time (either objective time, as in when it was written, or personal time, as in teenage years), and a really wonderful central conceit. I'd definitely recommend it.

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