ThReads Must Roll: the new, improved rolling fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction &c. thread

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Because the old one got too long and Shakey couldn't load it. A sequel to rolling fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction &c. thread

fgtbaoutit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Hoping to report on Report On Probability A in the near future.

fgtbaoutit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:54 (four years ago) Permalink

Gregory Benford: Artifact --- archaeologists uncover lethal alien thingy in Mycenean burial ground. Not brilliantly written, but interesting enough to continue with. Entertainingly, for a book written in 1985, it contains early 21st-century Greece falling apart because of a worldwide economic depression/recession

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Thursday, 13 November 2014 01:11 (four years ago) Permalink

lol @ thread title

Report on Probability A - was idly thinking of re-reading that recently, I remember being p underwhelmed by its central formal conceit. I expected it to be much loopier and disorienting. In general, Aldiss is v hit or miss for me (something I've read Moorcock attribute to his needing a good editor/manager, someone to set goals/targets for him). Cryptozoic is undreadable, for example, but I consider Barefoot in the Head from just a year or two later a masterpiece.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 13 November 2014 17:20 (four years ago) Permalink

Brian W. "Crazy Baldhead" Aldiss

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 November 2014 17:27 (four years ago) Permalink

Read rep on prob a at least twice a long time ago, didn't know anything about last year at marienbad but enjoyed the formal conceit and the last few pages made me want to high five him.

thread title capitalisation and constant reminder of that dunderheaded heinlein story is gonna make me rmde to eternity.

ledge, Friday, 14 November 2014 10:03 (four years ago) Permalink

agonising as it may be for ledge, this restart is v handy for me, as I meant to start following the previous thread after the initial poll that prompted it, and then i didn't and then it got so long that my approach of 'I must read all of it before participating' turned into hiding from the thread and not ever talking about some of my favourite strands of writing :/

Fizzles, Friday, 14 November 2014 10:41 (four years ago) Permalink

Sorry for thread title, ledge, I did it to annoy Shakey, not you.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 11:17 (four years ago) Permalink

You are not the only one who couldn't read prior thread, Fizzles. Was constantly using the search feature or wondering where something was only to learn it was further upthread.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 11:26 (four years ago) Permalink

Still slogging through the last of Atwood's Maddadam trilogy. The third book is piss-weak, slow going and uninteresting, and her stylistic flaws seem to show through more and more. Because it's sci-fi there's an attempt to be, I dunno, edgy or hardboiled or something and it's about as convincing as one of your parents trying on an ill-fitting leather jacket. Bit of a shame really, becaus eI enjoyed the first two books (Oryx & Crake / Year of the Flood) immensely.

joni mitchell jarre (dog latin), Friday, 14 November 2014 11:34 (four years ago) Permalink

I think I forgotten to say on the previous thread that another one of the best features on fantasticfiction site is it shows you the blurbs writers have done for other people's books.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 14:35 (four years ago) Permalink

Cool I'll just keep pasting in stuff from prev thread everytime somebody mentions something already discussed thoroughly, as I kept etc on prev thread its own self. Speaking of blurbs, here's a good 'un from a recent library shop score, Wandering Stars, An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Jack Dann, Introduction by Isaac Asimov:
I loved Wandering Stars, and why not? Two of the thirteen stories are from Orbit, and I would have bought seven of the rest if I had got my hands on them first. If the book had nothing else going for it, it would still be a triumph to get William Tenn to write the great story he was talking about in the fifties.--Damon Knight
(Also a blurb from Leo Rosten, who wrote The Education of Hyman Kaplan, about an immigrant who tends to take over English classes with his own versions and visions of language and lit.)

dow, Friday, 14 November 2014 15:47 (four years ago) Permalink

Contents (some of these titles are corny, but the few stories I kinda remember from mags etc were good):

"Why Me?" by Isaac Asimov

William Tenn: "On Venus, Have We Got A Rabbi"

Avram Davidson: "The Golem"

Isaac Asimov: "Unto the Fourth Generation"

Carol Carr: "Look, You Think You've Got Troubles"

Avram Davidson: "Goslin Day"

Robert Silverberg: "The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV"

Horace L. Gold: "Trouble With Water"

Pamela Sargent: "Gather Blue Roses"

Bernard Malamud: "The Jewbird"

Geo. Alec Effinger: "Paradise Lost"

Robert Sheckley: "Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay"

Isaac Bashevis Singer: Jachid and Jechidah"

Harlan Ellison: "I'm Looking For Kadah"

dow, Friday, 14 November 2014 16:00 (four years ago) Permalink

I just looked at a full schedule of all the books on SF Gateway (presumably this is the ebook titles). It's 2599 books!
Cant remember where I found the document.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 21:16 (four years ago) Permalink

UK or US or other?

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 21:39 (four years ago) Permalink

Probably UK

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 22:02 (four years ago) Permalink

Considerably fewer in US

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 22:12 (four years ago) Permalink

Mark Sinker makes some connections (for inst., between Gothic and Futurist lit) new to me, after viewing the National Gallery's William Morris exhibition:

dow, Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Thanks. Surely the friend mentioned there is an ILB poster.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:59 (four years ago) Permalink

RMDE at that this thread title too, as well as the terrible screenname I had at the time. Don't know why I did it. I guess the door dilated and I just had to go through it.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:59 (four years ago) Permalink

before I forget: this Brazilian writer recently died and Clute tweeted link to very appealing SFE overview of his work:

dow, Sunday, 16 November 2014 15:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Ooh! I mean RIP but yknow

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:02 (four years ago) Permalink

Thanks. Often hard to find something like that in translation or even not in translation. Wonder if he had anything in that Cosmos Latinos anthology? Don't seem to recognize the name.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:03 (four years ago) Permalink

(xp, obv)

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:03 (four years ago) Permalink

okay, "Brain Transplant."

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:05 (four years ago) Permalink

I've only read Brain Transplant but would def read more provided stuff gets translated

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:06 (four years ago) Permalink

Hey James, tried to reply to yr kind email, but it won't let us reply directly, and the webmail form has the worst captcha evah, I refreshed it a half-dozen times, got rejected over and over and over and over and over and over. So I'll reply here: thanks, you keep up the good posts too!

dow, Monday, 17 November 2014 02:06 (four years ago) Permalink

has this been posted already?

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 November 2014 16:18 (four years ago) Permalink

Laird Barron wrote a parody of the horror/weird scene, it included jabs at Mark Samuels in particular (however serious they were intended, nobody knows), there was some discussion of this at the Ligotti forum and eventually that resulted in Justin Isis writing hilarious rap battle lyrics.
Several spread across this page

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 17 November 2014 23:35 (four years ago) Permalink

The xpost link to Mark Sinker's William Morris exhibit etc is back online this afternoon. Read that before reading further, for max headroom:
When his fellow visitor/ILXor xyzzz (sic?) said it was down this morning, I told Mark, and we had this email exchange:

Mark:oh cheers, yes, the guy who hosts it (on a laptop in his spare room) sometimes has to reboot :)

me: OK, will keep in mind. I fairly recently got into Morris and those Kipling stories (if you meant "As Easy As A-B-C" and "With The Night Mail," for inst), but hadn't made the connection. Now I'm also thinking of Blade Runner's Earth, a mostly abandoned First World-as-Third World backstreet, where it rains all night in perpetual eco-ruins; also PKD's original setting, more like a slightly-future-to-us Beijing, with workers scuttling between buildings, hoping not to be singed/cancer-seeded by the invisible sun. Some later Tiptree stories too, and Mary Shelley's The Last Man, for me amazing as Frankenstein.
Probably some of Kim Stanley Robinson's later novels too, though they've gotten so long I may never know (early The Wild Shore was fine, best I recall). But I recently saw a mention of "cli-fi" as emerging trend, so we may get sick of the whole thing even before it all comes true.

Mark: Yes, Kipling’s mum was related to a famous Pre-Raphaelite in the Morris circle — his dad of course ran the Lucknow museum — and when he was boarded in England as kid (not the notorious time that became Baa Baa Black Sheep) he stayed with the De Morgans, who were also minor slebs in Arts&Crafts terms: William DM a high-end potter and tile designer (he did the fireplaces for the Titanic iirc!)

Yrs partly (Kipling's)sic-fi stories, but also the stories about ships and trains and cars — esp.the ones from the perspective of the train or ship. The ones abt cars are really intriguing: he was totally an early adopter.

me: Didn't know any of that, thanks! Will def have to read more Kipling----recently found one of his I mentioned in an anth w HG's "The Land Ironclads"---getting back into Wells, and suspect the Eloi and Morlocks might have gotten Morris (and Tolkien) going. Finally read The Lord Of The Rings, and feel like I totally/mostly get it! Specific associations re the "not allegorical, dammit!" Ring/magic can shift, but lately I think of fossil fuels as thee ancient source of modern marvels, source which must now be sacrificed to/for any chance of future lives, bearable legacy But once that ship sails off into the autumn sea, it sails, buddy. So the book is a tragedy, but fairly often experienced as a comedy, in a commedia sense: fascination of the vivid details, robustly acted out, with some mortal meat joy, and other meat conditions.

dow, Tuesday, 18 November 2014 19:08 (four years ago) Permalink

William DM a high-end potter and tile designer (he did the fireplaces for the Titanic iirc!

De Morgan Centre looking for a foothold. (Those are Tolkien's ships, right there)

alimosina, Thursday, 20 November 2014 01:24 (four years ago) Permalink

Just heard "Dream Weaver" on the radio. Wasn't there an sf writer named Gary Wright who had a much anthologized story about some futuristic luge called something like "Ice Slide"? "Ice Capades"? "Ice Rink" ? "Ice Mutants"? and then was never heard from again? I'll guess I'll see what Clute & Co have to say.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:44 (four years ago) Permalink

Looks like some Canadian teacher assigned it to his students to adapt as a short film. Don't think it was clemenza, though.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:55 (four years ago) Permalink

Can anyone tell me what on earth Science Fiction Poetry is? Poems of fantasy and horror just uses tropes of those genres but how do you achieve the conceptual framework of SF in poetry? Because without that, the tropes by themselves would just be fantasy poems or poems about radical change.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:56 (four years ago) Permalink

If you have to ask you'll never know.

Tom Disch might have had something to tell you about it, but he is sadly no longer with us.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 21:00 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh gosh, now that you mention it, I've seen poetry in science fiction mags as far back as I can remember, though I don't remember any specific poem, at least in part because I haven't read any sf mags in a long time. I do remember there being quite a range, from short light verse (limericks, even)to much more ambitious testimonials and mini-sagas(never got much space in the page sense).
I'll have to dig up some of those zines; meanwhile this looks like a good place to start:

dow, Sunday, 23 November 2014 22:22 (four years ago) Permalink

Also notable were the infusion of a quantity of poetry into the text of Brian W Aldiss's novel Barefoot in the Head (1969)

Thinking about what Aldiss to read next, since I finished Report on Probability A , which I will give a report grade of 'A' to, and this is on my short list.

There are some poems in the anthology Sense of Wonder.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 22:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Just came across a 1962 American printing of The Long Afternoon of Earth, AKA Hothouse; unabridged edition didn't come out in the US 'til 76.

dow, Sunday, 23 November 2014 23:37 (four years ago) Permalink

Did you buy it? It is currently out of print. I loved the story/extract in the Silverberg SF 101 book, as mentioned on prior thread.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 23:41 (four years ago) Permalink

This is the abridged version I got (for 25 cents),204,203,200_.jpg

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 00:00 (four years ago) Permalink

in terms of thematic vibe, this cover may be more appropriate, but the UK is awesome o coures

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 00:01 (four years ago) Permalink

In your favorite online sf reference work I believe that book has the tag ***SEMISPOILER ALERT** "Space Elevator" **END OF SEMISPOILER ALERT

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 24 November 2014 00:28 (four years ago) Permalink

Vandermeer has come back to one he still thinks is underappreciated. The title and author seem vaguely familiar; anybody read it?

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 05:22 (four years ago) Permalink

New Yorker won't let me link, but check out Laura Miller's "Fresh Hell" for clear lens view of profuse YA dystopias, and how the lit varies from Classic adult-aimed (later school-assigned). TNY's Amy Davidson later agrees with much but not all of Miller's take.

dow, Tuesday, 25 November 2014 17:40 (four years ago) Permalink

been reading LeGuin's "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea" (they had it at the library). I took Disch to task in "The Dreams Our Stuff is Made of" for his attacks on her, and while I won't recant on that count (he was unnecessarily harsh and dismissive), she really can let her didacticism get in the way. I can think of few fiction writers that have a more keenly developed political agenda that is so readily apparent in their work. Ayn Rand obviously (lol) and Heinlein and Scott Card I suppose. But LeGuin's well to the left of those boorish blowhards, and arguably more audacious conceptually. I wonder if I should go back and re-read the Kestrel books for any political subtext I may have missed in jr high, I always liked those...

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 25 November 2014 22:17 (four years ago) Permalink

I don't think I'll read her for a very long time unless I come across her work in anthologies. Because once Moorcock said her work was self-consciously literary and left him cold. But he was very fond of her as a person.

That really put me off and what you say here adds to that. But Wizard Of Earthsea is an attractive name so I'm not totally discouraged.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:28 (four years ago) Permalink

Moorcock doesn't always make the right choices...

Even people I know who don't usually like her (or science fiction in general) tend to like this

dow, Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:40 (four years ago) Permalink

The ebook editions of the vie are unobjectionable in this respect, at least the ones I have bought (they have their own store, Spatterlight, run by Vance's son IIRC, and the ebooks are very affordable).

Paul Rhoads is a horrible clash of civilizations hard right neocon who latched onto Vance's legacy with his polluted beak. I don't think the other VIE people are ideologues of the same type as Rhoads and certainly many in Vance appreciation hate him.

I haven't checked lately but I do queasily wonder how Rhoads has processed the alt-right era.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 16:02 (one month ago) Permalink

Back to xpost Ian Watson's Books of the Black Current:
James M was dubious of the author's interest in mysticism, but at least here (almost the only Watson I've read) it's a cover story, one you tell other entities and yourself ('tis said that a real conperson starts with belief in own BS): a means to an end, to the Greater Good of course, also "rationalization" in the sense of making sense to yourself of some crazy senseshifting---stuff. Which goes, for one instance, with this reader's increasing awareness (narrator catches up sometimes, but then gets excited and distracted) that the Godmind (post-Singularity supercomputer of course, anointing itself w "precog myths" of Son of Man), also its "offspring," are essentially still passive, reactive, also passive-aggressive. in trying to anticipate problems or anyway solutions, to be plugged into any problems that might arise/further cohere---essentially algorithmic, maybe?
So that if our Mouth of the South Yaleen gets all "J'Accuse!", Something might respond, like,"Hadn't thought of that one, but now that you mention it---" She's not necessarily wrong in some or maybe all of this, but she sees and deduces and infers etc more than the Godmind or the Current might be aware of doing, or heading in the direction of; she makes the super/sub/post-humsn mind more self-aware, helps it further develop something like a self--which might be taken as an implied comment on or derivation from the history of religion (as well as a spin-off from Forbidden Planet, although mastermind there has to find out about his subconscious the hard way).
Anyway, one example of how familiar elements get thoroughly Watsonized, and it's all about character development (I did barely anticipate one plot point-mutation, but 0 of the ramifications). Now in the home-stretch.

dow, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:24 (one month ago) Permalink

She doesn't confront these Things very often, and they don't show up very often, and so many ramifications in between, spiraling to encounters that don't seem that much like previous, so of course developing habits of self-restraint aren't encouraged (not doing this too often keeps the running gag, sometimes a killing joke, from wearing out).

dow, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 17:31 (one month ago) Permalink

C'est la VIE

mick signals, Wednesday, 9 January 2019 18:03 (one month ago) Permalink

I hope the Spatterlight print books look okay. I'll probably be buying them mostly for the short story collections rather than easy to find novels.

Andre Norton has had quite a reappraisal in the last few years. But still, these retrospectives haven't given a list of the best ones. I've got my eye on a few collections.

I don't think Nicoll's list on the Tor site was supposed to be his definitive list or anything.

Sad that there isn't more Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks. I imagine they sell poorly because the prose style of fantasy classics is generally less accessible to most people.
This is actually the third time Gollancz has packaged some of that CL Moore material as classics. There was a Fantasy Masterworks and SF Gateway Omnibus with that stuff.
I'm happy about the Leigh Brackett announcement.
Wish Gollancz did more collections.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 11 January 2019 22:07 (one month ago) Permalink

No joke: I searched amazon for "Pamela Sargent Shore Of Women" and I got a result saying "we cannot find Pamela Sargent Shoes Of Women"

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 12 January 2019 23:58 (one month ago) Permalink

xpost Books of the Black Currentcharacters' mythopoeic urges getting more psychedelized go sister go

dow, Monday, 14 January 2019 02:43 (one month ago) Permalink

Finished it, and immediately started jumping back into it, toward the Afterword, written by another character, with her own, cooler-minded speculations about the authorship, comparative veracity, and long-superseded ancestral mindset behind these planterary-to-cosmic "romances," as she accurately labels them up front--"not that we aren't great romancers ourselves!" Magical thinking makes some great self-sacrifices/selves-sacrifice at times, in some bearable forms---incl. being taken as so quaint and done---but always comes back, the real black current maybe.
What an entry! Had no idear he's done so much:

dow, Friday, 18 January 2019 15:54 (one month ago) Permalink

I am about halfway through first Ghormenghast book (Titus Groan) and I totally get why goths love this, but not sure if I do, really. It is appealingly idiosyncratic, but the glacial pacing and obsessively detailed descriptions of every setting and minute character movement gets a little hard to slog through. The whole thing feels like a fussy Tim Burton movie.

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:23 (one month ago) Permalink

robyn hitchcock's favorite book btw

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Friday, 18 January 2019 16:29 (one month ago) Permalink

lol doesn't surprise me at all

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 January 2019 16:42 (one month ago) Permalink

Looking forward to it as I'm usually let down by lack of description in books.


Priya Sharma - All The Fabulous Beasts

Sad families and lovers, many of them horribly depressed and/or with some sort of aspect of another species.

Most of the stories are set in Britain (one of them over a hundred years ago), two in Hong Kong and one in India.

Despite most of the stories having a supernatural element and a few using mythology (one of them goes much further into fantasy), these are very grounded in realism, relationships being the main focus. The cover and title don't suggest quite how gritty and bleak the stories are.

I've got mixed feelings about this collection, there were lots of times I recognized Sharma's skill but just wasn't especially engaged, sometimes I thought the comparisons were overdoing it a bit (particularly all the things compared to birds in "Crow Palace"), and sometimes I felt the stories deserved something a little better than the perhaps too traditional supernatural elements they had.
But I was also frequently swept away with the stories and found several of them quite emotional. All in all, it's a pretty solid collection, the best stories are very good ("Son Of The Sea", "Fabulous Beasts", "The Absent Shade" and "Rag And Bone").

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 18 January 2019 20:11 (one month ago) Permalink

Looks nice.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 19 January 2019 18:51 (one month ago) Permalink

Post a controversial SF opinion -

Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel Ringworld by Larry Niven is boring as fuck

Ward Fowler, Saturday, 19 January 2019 19:57 (one month ago) Permalink


Οὖτις, Saturday, 19 January 2019 20:01 (one month ago) Permalink

And that's supposed to be his good one before he went bad.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 19 January 2019 21:18 (one month ago) Permalink

I received one of the Spatterlight paperbacks of Jack Vance and the typeface is a regular one, not like the screenshot above. These short story collections are very handy because there's never been good options before, mostly a lot of Best Ofs with overlapping contents.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 25 January 2019 20:39 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Wondering what I'm going to have to sacrifice to read as much of my wishlist as possible. Hope that a lot of the writers turn out to suck, so I can whittle down the wishlist.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 25 January 2019 23:42 (three weeks ago) Permalink

yeah i don't really 'get' ringworld. probably wouldn't have finished it if i hadn't brought it with me to the middle of nowhere

ciderpress, Saturday, 26 January 2019 01:12 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Never liked that one myself, preferred some of his short stories.

The Life-Changing Magic of “Tighten Up” (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 26 January 2019 01:17 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i finished a couple Scalzi novels recently, The Collapsing Empire and The Consuming Fire, the first two in a trilogy set to be finished later this year iirc. Very good, I thought. I guess it would depend on your tolerance for Scalzi's irreverence but it's a got a good cast of characters and could make for a decent TV series (it's been optioned, which usually means bupkis but you never know). Both are pretty swift reads.

omar little, Saturday, 26 January 2019 01:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

xp re: Ringworld.

The rampant interspecies sex (rishathra) held my pre-adolescent attention in 1982. It served some contractual/potlatch function, but I was totally cool with that at age 11.

Niven was always more a big idea guy than a someone who could plot an epic. So my nearly 35-year-old recollection of the book is as very episodic, reliant upon whether one could identify with aging-yet-not Louis Wu, improbably lucky Teela, feline pre-Worf Speaker-of-Tongues, or coward mastermind Nessus (still remember them, I'm not all gone). If you didn't want to be Wu or Teela, or bone them, then it fell apart.

dancing the Radioactive Flesh (Sanpaku), Saturday, 26 January 2019 01:38 (three weeks ago) Permalink

'ringworld' --- every generation gets the big dumb object book it deserves -- and this is the big dumb object of the first return to conservatism -- plus it could pander to post new wave sensibilities in that people had sex and there were swears --

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Saturday, 26 January 2019 07:30 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I recently read that Niven used to be a Marxist and that he hadn't swung fully right by the time of Ringworld, cant really find much about that.

For a while I didn't think I had any interest in buying a Heinlein book but seeing peoples hugely differing reactions to his work (most people I follow are not right wing) fascinates me. Like similar enough readers having totally different views on his most famous works.
Some trans person said that a few of their trans friends believes Heinlein may not have been completely cis or might just have had a fetish, because they said that men transforming into women is a recurring thing in his work.
Recently listened to a Pat Cadigan interview and I really didn't expect her to revere both the man and his work.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 26 January 2019 10:25 (three weeks ago) Permalink

ringworld' --- every generation gets the big dumb object book it deserves -- and this is the big dumb object of the first return to conservatism -- plus it could pander to post new wave sensibilities in that people had sex and there were swears --

Knew going in that Niven was part of the libertarian/conservative SF wing, but I couldn't especially read Ringworld as a right-wing tract (tbh, I was so bored I wasn't paying deep attention), tho' any 'big dumb object' can obv do almost any kind of metaphorical heavy lifting if you really really want it to. In Ringworld and Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama (another beloved hard SF favourite that did nothing for me) the big dumb object has been abandoned, its purpose unclear even at the end of the book - so in both cases, there's also the sense of past glories gone, vanished. I guess that could be considered a conservative version of history.

As to the New Wave influence, the book that Ringworld most reminded me of (other than Rama) was Samuel R Delany's Nova, which I adored when I read it fairly recently. Both Niven and Delany are doing a kind of Bester re-boot - slam bang incident and invention, smart slick writerly style (Delany more poetic, to good and bad effect), big cosmic canvas - except Niven gets bogged down in endless technical scientific detail, and his characters are cardboard, lacking any of Delany's florid, compelling self-involvement (or Bester's hep cat cheekiness). Needless to say, the treatment of the few female characters in Ringworld is close to grotesque.

Science Fiction always seems like a form that's constantly in dialogue with itself, so Ringworld definitely feels in part like Niven's manifesto for a modern hard SF, and sometimes (but only sometimes) it's smart and flip and fast enough to anticipate cyberpunk, while at the same time fighting against SF as an 'inner space', psychologically more complex literary form.

Ward Fowler, Saturday, 26 January 2019 22:32 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Good post, although I felt like Nova was a little bit overrated when I finally got to it a few years ago.

Only a Factory URL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 26 January 2019 22:41 (three weeks ago) Permalink

TY James - I guess Nova also has a mystical, metaphysical dimension (all that tarot stuff) that's absent in Ringworld, and that I'm a bit of a sucker for when done well.

Re: Heinlein - of the classic 'big three' of 20th-century SF - Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein - he seems to be easily the best writer as writer amongst them, tho admittedly it is not a hugely high bar set by the other two. Needless to say, his many flaws and kinks - the fascisty social and racial politics, the incesty leering - make him by far the most 'problematic', too.

Ward Fowler, Saturday, 26 January 2019 22:47 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I would say of those three Asimov is easily the worst writer. Heinlein was a good writer in that sense that he adapted some kind of clean, propulsive Dashiell Hammett style to sf, but it comes with all that baggage you mention which makes it difficult for many of us to (re)read. Clarke can be a bit of a snooze but he has a mystical side that intrigues, particularly evident in The City and the Stars.

Only a Factory URL (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 26 January 2019 22:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I love incest fantasies so that's a recommendation for me.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 26 January 2019 23:27 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Sure you posted that on the right thread?
I read Heinlein and Asimov mostly in childhood (1950s), their and my prime, thought of them as impressive idea guys then, although even then was put off by RAH's old-movie-style snappy patter. Did sense that it was part of his overall urgency, turning those stories out nonstop, and always dug the Future History, incl. New Dark Ages of backlash into hysteria and theocracy, also hushed-up probs of Progress, like space voyagers senile in their 20s (something for Elon Musk and his passengers to think about; the stresses are real, though still seldom mentioned). The high-strung Cold War consiousness could always go in different directions. Delany recalled reading Starship Troopers very early on, and despite the obviously ridiculous paranoid impulses, etc., the narrator just once mentioned in passing, in parenthesis maybe, that he was black---a unique and heartening moment of the era.
Glory Road was the one for me and my first girl friend: the narrator, a discontented young veteran of sprawly early 60s War in Southeast Asia, meets a mysterious beauty in a low-budget corner of the Med and they go a-roving with swords, sandals and not much else (except a sidekick, soon enough, whom I pictured as Uncle Fester. although he certainly worked harder), through some of the 20 Universes. Incl. encounters with hang-ups you didn't know you had, so dig yourself! This part's trickier than dealing with the dragons etc.
But eh Stranger in A Strange Land is where I got off the bus, seemed very tiresome.

dow, Sunday, 27 January 2019 02:32 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Oh speaking of Scalzi, I liked the way his Lock In, first in an occasional series, built on Asimov's robot detective stories: the narrator is locked (deep) into his body, the results of an epidemic, but he and some other survivors can operate robots via neural implants----so, now we have cyborg detectives! And it's set in very near future DC, with plently of salty political elements. Light reading, not bad. Thought Asimov, though more discreet or innocuous, was at his best with the robots, though enjoyed The Foundation Trilogy (in early 60s), especially the Mule, because (no spoilers)

dow, Sunday, 27 January 2019 02:44 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I know that the incest scenarios in Heinlein bother people for more reasons than that, there's supposed to be other screwed up things about the situations.
But still, peoples squicked out reactions to books is generally a recommendation for me because even if I have nothing in common with the sexual interests of the author, I still find it interesting and at best it can add a special depth, and at worst there's a psychoanalyst's speculative pleasure to it. Or sometimes I just want to see what is bothering people so much (I find that a lot of readers simply don't like reading about any kind of sex) or how the writer pulls off a odd sexual scenario in an otherwise regular genre book.
It only puts me off when it seems to come from a place of real aggression or self-loathing. I recently bought a Jodorowsky graphic novel and my interest was dampened considerably by what looks like a miserable racist/misogynist fantasy.
This is a definite recommendation, even though I have low expectations for the quality, I just want to see how bad it gets, how does he even attempt to portray a positive relationship with a 5 year old girl???
And how does he execute this?

unrelated, Rich Horton wrote some short reviews of Thomas Burnett Swann's work.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 27 January 2019 12:24 (three weeks ago) Permalink

sometimes I just want to see what is bothering people so much (I find that a lot of readers simply don't like reading about any kind of sex) or how the writer pulls off a odd sexual scenario in an otherwise regular genre book.

You should check out Pennterra then, where incest is all but unavoidable when empathic aliens make everyone super horny. Sounds ridiculous but it's very well handled; the main theme is also an interesting twist on the usually corny subject of science vs. faith.

large bananas pregnant (ledge), Tuesday, 29 January 2019 09:28 (three weeks ago) Permalink

new(ish) alastair reynolds, Elysium Fields. the previous, stand-alone novel The Prefect (2007) has been renamed and is now part 1 of the Prefect Dreyfus series and EF is the second. loved The Prefect, but this one dragged a bit.

Artemis, the follow up to The Martian, also dragged a bit.

or maybe it's ME that's dragging a bit...

koogs, Friday, 1 February 2019 15:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

currently halfway through Lathe Of Heaven

koogs, Friday, 1 February 2019 15:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Ledge - I'll note it on the wishlist, but a few reviewers don't think it was handled well.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 1 February 2019 18:22 (two weeks ago) Permalink

As much as I hate to report film/tv stuff on this thread, it is certainly noteworthy: the Babadook director is doing a series on Tiptree, a mixture of biography and her stories.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 1 February 2019 21:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

! is this for the BBC or something

Οὖτις, Friday, 1 February 2019 21:28 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I don't think there's anywhere confirmed so it may not even be a confirmed project

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 1 February 2019 22:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Again on the subject of books that gross people out for a variety of reasons. I cant remember if I've linked this before but it's quite an amusing meme that even John Ringo was amused by and it became a t-shirt.

I've seen it applied Andre Norton recently. Somebody included Mein Kampf on such a list and it's really funny to imagine someone saying "Oh Adolf Hitler no!"

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 February 2019 12:51 (one week ago) Permalink

I know we've dwelled on this book before but here's another review.

Farah Mendlesohn is bringing out a book on Heinlein soon.

More on the Silverberg controversy. He defends himself, comments section people unimpressed and brings up his past assessment of Tiptree's writing being masculine before her gender was revealed (apparently Damon Knight made a fool of himself in this regard too).

And then there was Benford calling Jemisin "honey" when he claimed her books didn't get the science right, causing another shitstorm.

Funnily enough, in some current far right wing circles, The Futurians collective are treated like villains.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 February 2019 17:41 (one week ago) Permalink

Trying to read the long prioritized stuff and I don't feel good about the idea of reviewing each book as I go along. I want to get a bigger picture of their body of work before I offer my assessments on a lot of it, but it's going to take a while, I hope to finish most of it this year before I move onto authors influenced by the big guys.

But something very clear is that Clark Ashton Smith's work really suffered from having to support his parents. It seems like he knew exactly what he wanted to do very early on but often had to compromise for the science fiction market and it really doesn't suit him. His orientalist quickies are even worse in some ways, even though that might seem like something he'd fare much better with. Sad to see the chronological collections start with three stories that represent him well, followed by so much compromise.
Sometimes even in the successes, I wish he'd gone just a bit further, but I've still to reach the most celebrated Zothique stories, which are generally considered his apotheosis.

Hodgson is often considered one of the less refined of the classic weird fictionists but I honestly find him generally much easier going even when he's not in his favored area.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 February 2019 21:47 (one week ago) Permalink

In the intro to Rule Golden, his quintet of mostly good-to-excellent-to-amazing (occasionally wobbly) novellas, Damon Knight confirms what comes across in reading them: that he wrote against the Cold War techonfascist vanguard in science fiction and elsewhere. He made several such statements, which may be one reason some current far rightists hate him.

dow, Sunday, 10 February 2019 04:21 (one week ago) Permalink

Probably but these far right people paint with a very broad brush, I could swear I've heard them call Knight and Merrill "sjws".

But I've seen Knight characterized as a bit of a jerk by other kinds of people.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 10 February 2019 09:49 (one week ago) Permalink

Speaking of Tiptree's way, SF Encyclopedia provides a handy map, incl. how she fooled some (in an era or when science fiction was mostly a male preserve)
...She joined the CIA in 1952 but left in 1955 and attended college, acquiring a PhD in experimental psychology in 1967. In that year she began writing as James Tiptree, Jr, taking on the persona of an emotionally robust and engaging middle-aged man with Pentagon experience whose only oddity was that no one had ever met him. Signing herself "Tip" in her widespread correspondence, she had found a voice to speak in. But.... Maybe a deep parody of ex-military Heinlein and his ilk? To some extent? Living that on paper for a while.

dow, Monday, 11 February 2019 02:03 (one week ago) Permalink

Oops meant to include the line before the CIA, Sheldon joined the US Army in 1942, eventually going into Air Force intelligence and working for a time in the Pentagon, so there'sanother part of "Tip."

dow, Monday, 11 February 2019 02:07 (one week ago) Permalink

Reading M.P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud, billed as Edwardian apocalypse literature. Starts out pretty ho-hum - protagonist is tempted by Evil Jezebel to try to be first at the North Pole because some billionaire left a fortune to whoever managed it - but takes a turn into very bizarre weird fiction. The distrust between the party and the inexplicable natural phenomena - dead animals everywhere, diamonds lying around, a lingering smell of peach - made me think of the Southern Reach trilogy. The protagonist puts all this down to the arrival at the North Pole being another Eve-biting-the-apple moment for mankind, and the ensuing chaos is the wrath of God, but I'm putting this down to savage superstition in order to keep the vibe eerie.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 10:48 (one week ago) Permalink

I want to read more Shiel, although some have said (maybe up this same thread?) that The Purple Cloud is disappointing. Others liked it. Anyway, I liked this story---posted on the previous Rolling Speculative etc thread:
...and all over his face broods a universe of rainbows, dingy and fat, which from the fat vapours of the pitch bringing forth rainbows, not rainbows of heaven, but, so to say, fallen angels, grown gross and sluggish. But, years ere this, I think, I had seen the bulrushes: for, soon after the volcano came, in roaming over to the left shore of the cataract's sea---the whole left shore is flat and widespread, and hath no high walls like the right side---I walked upon a freshet of fresh warm water, and after following it upward, saw all around a marsh's swamp, and the bush of bulrushes. This is where the oysters be so crass, and they be pearl oysters, for all that soil be crass with nacreous matter of some sort, with barrok pearls, mother of pearl, and in most of the oysters which I opened pearls; with a lot of conch shells which have within them pink pearls, and there be also the black pearl, such as they have in Mexico and the West Indies, with the yellow and likewise the white, which last be shaped like the pear, and large, and his pallor hath a blank brightness, very priceless, and so to say, bridal.

― dow, Monday, January 14, 2013 10:34 AM (six years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

That's from "The Dark Lot of One Saul," by M.P. Shiel. Had heard of him as a xenophobe, racist, anti-Semite and indeed, it seems that he was as smitten by the Yellow Peril as much as his Elizabethan castaway was the yellow pearl, to say the least. Also wanted to deport the Jews to Palestine, thus "making him a Zionist of sorts"--mots juste, Great Tales of Science Fiction eds. Silverberg & Greenberg! But in non-shit-talking stories like this, he earns the crack in his pot, a la xp David Lindsay. Other goodies in here so far from Twain, Kipling, Wells; compatible though creakier Poe and Verne. Currently reading "R.U.R."; quite a contrast so far with Shiel.

― dow, Monday, January 14, 2013 10:46 AM (six years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This quote is is one of the tamer bits actually; hard to avoid spoilers.

― dow, Monday, January 14, 2013

dow, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 19:32 (one week ago) Permalink

There's a new Margaret St Clair best of coming out called Hole In The Moon. I seen a database listing dating it back to 2017 but amazon says it's coming in September this year. Ramsey Campbell is editing it. It's very welcome since the last collection is becoming pricy.

Very Best Of Caitlin R Kiernan is coming out next month.

Zagava are starting to do paperbacks now. So some very desirable titles will be much much more affordable.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 17 February 2019 01:46 (three days ago) Permalink

Had heard of him as a xenophobe, racist, anti-Semite

Evidence of this in The Purple Cloud is him spending considerable time poring over the ethnic origins of corpses he finds. To be fair it's somewhat justified by the narrative - evidence of a mass exodus towards the North and West to escape the cloud of death - but still feels very much like the old guy in that episode of Community disparaging Britta as being of "dirty swedish peasant stock" or summat.

Didn't expect him to spend as much time being literally the Last Man On Earth, but I'm interested in seeing where it goes.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 18 February 2019 09:41 (two days ago) Permalink

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