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Topic: SF Challenge DISCUSSION THREAD (4/10)

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Subject: SF Challenge DISCUSSION THREAD (4/10)
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 1:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Welcome to month #6 of the challenge!

Is anyone starting to have trouble finding books to fill certain categories, this close to the halfway point? Or are you all sailing through, decimating your TBR stacks? Does anyone have a major "find" -- a book or author you absolutely loved, that you might not have gotten around to if it weren't for the challenge?

For me, the major find so far was Jo Walton's Small Change trilogy -- alternate history mysteries that I am almost positive I would not have read if I didn't have an "alternate history" category to fill. I loved them, and have been recommending them to anyone who seemed like they might be interested ever since. The secondary find for me is Kage Baker, but she was on my TBR stack already, so I can't give the challenge sole credit for that. ;)

Subject: 30/40+1
Date Posted: 4/1/2010 2:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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I'm 3/4 done, projecting completion about May 20.  But it may slow down a little, because in the wings I have...

  • Cyteen (because 3 volumes only count as 1 Hugo winner)
  • Der letzte Tag der Schöpfung, by Wolfgang Jeschke (because German is not my native language)

From here, I think I start targeting each remaining category, rather than just grabbing a book off TBR and figuring out later what category it can fill.

New writer discoveries for me came mostly from the Nebula final ballot.  Fortunately, I found a way to fit each into a challenge category as well.

-Tom Hl.



Last Edited on: 5/26/10 12:33 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 4/2/2010 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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Hi all.  I can't think of any great new authors I've discovered.  I was pleasant;y surprised by R.M. Meluch's Sagittarius Command series, but they were more diverting than great.  Overall, I've had a number of mediocre reads.  Even including a couple of my favorite authors (Heinlein and Haldeman) I was disappointed.

I've started reading Deathkiller by Spider Robinson, and it seems very good...but I'm not sure I can find a category for it.

Subject: Not Less Than Gods, by Kage Baker
Date Posted: 4/4/2010 3:25 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished #10: Steampunk
Filled with: Not Less Than Gods, by Kage Baker

My capsule review: Well, I'm glad I read it (and glad it had enough steampunk elements in it that I don't feel guilty for using YET ANOTHER Company novel for this challenge) but I think it's that rare series standalone that works better for those who DON'T know everything that's going on behind the scenes. Nowhere near a perfect book (or even Baker's best) but I could admire what she was trying to do and I hope that it finds an audience.

My full review, but I warn you that I do talk about the theme quite a bit so it's a little spoiler-y (not of facts, exactly, but of the spirit at least) here: http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/94362.html



Last Edited on: 4/4/10 3:25 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/4/2010 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
Posts: 122
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I read two by M. John Harrison - Light which won the Campbell Award, and Nova Swing which won the Phillip K. DIck Award. I didn't enjoy Light at all, but I would recommend Nova Swing.

Date Posted: 4/5/2010 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Bob -- I thought Nova Swing was a sequel to Light? Can they be read out of order? And what was it that you didn't like about Light? (I ask because I have it on my TBR stack for the challenge. . .)

Date Posted: 4/5/2010 11:11 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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It is the sequel. You could probably read Nova Swing as a standalone without a problem. However, I wouldn't read Light second.

I just felt like I had to wade through Light; it rarely engaged me. There are four separate story lines (that do not converge at the end of the book). I found that I was looking forward to one of them, dreading another, and kind of blase about the other two. It is not well-written, purely from a craft perspective. In my opinion it won the award because Harrison's vision was fresh and detailed.

Date Posted: 4/5/2010 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 9/20/2008
Posts: 402
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I am hitting up Jules Verne Around the World in Eighty Days. My Science Fiction reading has fallen to the wayside.
Subject: MJ Harrison
Date Posted: 4/5/2010 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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 I didn't enjoy Light at all, but I would recommend Nova Swing.

___________________________________________________________

Heh,  color me surprised.   After a miserable time with Light, I swore I'd only read Harrison again if someone recommended a book.  It's been two years since my go-round with Light.  What was wrong with it?  The characters.  I felt absolutely nothing for the characters.  I reluctantly admit the story line(s) were intriguing.  I can't remember much about the book but I was amazed that Light was nominated for any kind of award, 'cept maybe how to waste your time. 

Well, I just don't know if I want to try Nova Swing cause Light left such a bad taste.  Nuff said.



Last Edited on: 4/5/10 10:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: M. John Harrison, cont.
Date Posted: 4/5/2010 10:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Bob, Alison: Have either of you read Viriconium? That was my first experience with Harrison, and I thought it was (they were? it's four novellas) wonderful. Wondering how Light and Nova Swing compare. . . because the beauty of the writing in that work really impressed me, I thought the world-building was incredible, and the characters did draw me in (at least enough for a novella-length story). . .

P.S. I am highly amused by the fact that I underline titles, Bob uses bold to separate them, and Alison sets them off in italics. ;)



Last Edited on: 4/5/10 10:57 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/6/2010 2:56 AM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2009
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I haven't read Virconium (I am now using the underlining convention as I was once taught). Nova Swing has a cyberpunk feel to it. Characterization is better, but still not great. However, the storylines reel you in a lot more effectively.



Last Edited on: 4/6/10 11:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: I'll try again
Date Posted: 4/6/2010 11:42 AM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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OK - I went and put them on my wish list even though I'm really not much into fantasy.  My library has Things That Never Happen (with an intro by China Mieville), so I'll give that book a go.  Shouldn't judge an author by only one book I guess.

____________________________________________________________

I was taught to use italics on titles, but I'll go with consensus. 

Not sure about this smiley - old geezer??

Date Posted: 4/7/2010 1:56 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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LOL, I wasn't saying everyone had to adopt my strategy for titles. . . I just thought it was funny that we were using all the options available to us. ;) (And I don't get fancy with my smileys -- still stuck in my late 90s AIM/ICQ talk days. . . I do like your "old geezer" one though!)

I wouldn't call Viriconium fantasy. . . it's technically a set of Dying Earth novellas, but the feel is very steampunk. There's all this detritus of greater (and more technological) days strewn about the place. Of course, anything with a zeppelin gets to be steampunk in my mind. . .

It could be that Harrison's natural length is somewhat shorter than novel-length. . . but I think I'll still attempt Light. I have easy access to it (my dad owns it), and I need to fill that award category anyway. . .

 

Oh, and Bob-- CONGRATULATIONS! Just noticed that Nova Swing was your last SF Challenge book (for your first go-through). It didn't even take you to the halfway point. . . very impressive!



Last Edited on: 4/7/10 2:36 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/7/2010 10:44 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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I was taught to use italics on titles, but I'll go with consensus. 

depending on the style, italics or underlining is correct. 

(and this is informal, so bolding is fine...though I'm bolding each category as I complete it , so it wouldn't even turn up on mine!)

Subject: The Risen Empire, by Scott Westerfeld
Date Posted: 4/7/2010 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished #1: Hard SF
Filled with: The Risen Empire, by Scott Westerfeld
Other categories this book could fill: Military SF; Space Opera; Work with a third-person limited multi-perspective viewpoint; Work set in a human interstellar empire; Work set on a space ship (non-generation ship) -- well, half of it is. (It's actually only borderline Hard SF, but until I find something better I'm leaving it in this category)

My capsule review: The sort of space opera I can love. Great world-building, great action sequences, and great characters; moments of levity liberally interspersed (who wouldn't love a book involving undead cats?); and an actual, honest-to-goodness love story between equals that is essential (rather than ancillary) to the plot. Of course, as soon as I find a male author I can absolutely love, I then discover that he has written exactly five novels for adults, and three are so out-of-print that they're $100+ on Amazon. I guess I'll actually have to read the books he's more famous for -- his YA series starting with Uglies. :(

My full review, no spoilers: http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/94495.html

Subject: No Idea
Date Posted: 4/9/2010 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 3/16/2008
Posts: 19
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I've never used the forum nor have any idea of the challenge here, if there is one. I would like to say I love alt history and picked up a new author for which I am greatful. If whatever this is starts each year I'll have to be in next year as I read a lot of books and have a decent sized shelf of mixed subjects. Anyway, thx for the alt history pointer. Wmsuspence

Date Posted: 4/10/2010 1:27 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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William -- if you're interested in taking a look at the challenge, the thread with all the info is here: http://www.paperbackswap.com/forum/topic.php?t=183335 .

Date Posted: 4/10/2010 10:14 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 6,633
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I guess I'll actually have to read the books he's more famous for -- his YA series starting with Uglies. :(

I don't love Scott Westerfeld as much as I think I'm supposed to.  Uglies is pretty good, Pretties is a page-turner, but by Specials you've already gone through the premise of the series twice (each book begins with Tally discovering something isn't quite right about her world because she's initially forgotten what she discovered in the prior book) that it took me two attempts and more than a year to finish it.

But his new book (Levithan, I think?) is supposed to be great.

Subject: Re: Scott Westerfeld
Date Posted: 4/10/2010 5:08 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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LOL, that's why I wasn't so excited about the prospect of reading Uglies. . . but The Risen Empire is really good.

I'll might check out Leviathan from the library before reading Uglies. . . it looks more up my alley, seeing as if I'm going to read YA I'd rather it be steampunk adventure YA than dystopian YA. . .

Date Posted: 4/10/2010 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 4/4/2009
Posts: 9,517
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Phoenix, re italica vs underlining.

MLA Handbook (conprehensive guidelines for formatting scholarly papers in liberal arts, regarded as totally authoritative) says titles of major works (books, plays, movies, book-length poems) are  to be placed in italics, unless whatever you are writing with doesn't "do" italics. In that case, titles of major works are to be underlined.

Simple, no?

And of course, that means that either way is correct as long as you are consistent within a given paper.

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 4/10/2010 9:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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Being an ex-English major, it's a habit to use italics for book titles...however, I realize there is nowhere outside academia that it matters in the slightest.

Subject: The Killing of Worlds, by Scott Westerfeld.
Date Posted: 4/10/2010 10:35 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Just finished #29: Work set in a human interstellar empire
Filled with: The Killing of Worlds, by Scott Westerfeld
Other categories this book could fill: Military SF; Space Opera; Work with a third-person limited multi-perspective viewpoint; Work set on a space ship (non-generation ship) -- well, half of it is. I don't think it could fill Hard SF -- the first volume was borderline, and those elements are downplayed in this one.

My capsule review: Exactly as good as The Risen Empire, which makes sense given that it's a single story. These books are definitely going on my favorites shelf. :)

My full review, no spoilers (though there are spoilers for The Risen Empire): http://community.livejournal.com/sf_book_reviews/95099.html

Subject: Re: Underlining/Italics
Date Posted: 4/10/2010 10:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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At both my high school and the two colleges I attended, my teachers taught me to underline, which is why I do it. But I know that when we were told which handbook to buy (if we wanted one, which I did not particularly) it wasn't the MLA Handbook they referred us to. . . it was the Chicago Manual of Style. (I didn't buy it though, so I have no idea if the Chicago Manual of Style says to underline or if my teachers/professors were just non-standard in that preference.)

Date Posted: 4/11/2010 12:36 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2009
Posts: 175
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Chicago (at least the 14th and 15th edition, the ones I'm familiar with) prefers italics on book titles. The publishing house I worked for several years ago used Chicago. And my personal copy of the 15th edition backs this up. (Yup, I'm a book nerd.)

I'm trying to get used to AP style for a new freelance gig, and it's making my head hurt. It's also taking up a lot of my free time so my SF challenge total is suffering. 

;(

Date Posted: 4/11/2010 3:09 AM ET
Member Since: 4/18/2009
Posts: 1,376
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Huh. I wonder why I got told to use underlining. . .

Maybe a holdover from when people were more likely to use typewriters than computers? Were italics harder on typewriters? I did tend to have pretty old teachers. . .

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