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 (five years ago) link

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

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

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

Brian W. "Crazy Baldhead" Aldiss

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

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

UK or US or other?

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

Probably UK

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 22:02 (five years ago) link

Considerably fewer in US

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

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 (five years ago) link

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

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

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

Ooh! I mean RIP but yknow

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:02 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

(xp, obv)

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

okay, "Brain Transplant."

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

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

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:06 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

has this been posted already?

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 November 2014 16:18 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link
"Mirror of Ice"

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:48 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 00:00 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

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 (five years ago) link

wow, quite an ambitious program.

Jazz Telemachy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 15 December 2019 20:18 (one month ago) link

I've never passed 20 books in a year, so it's optimistic. A bit of Brian Stableford, Phyllis Ann Karr, Lucius Shepard, Avram Davidson and Greer Gilman would be nice too. I'm dying to read all of it, so the obligatory stuff I must finish can get frustrating.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 15 December 2019 21:46 (one month ago) link

speaking of Christopher Priest, has “The Discharge” (re)appeared in any readily accessible form?

Jazz Telemachy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 16 December 2019 05:16 (one month ago) link

Rift is very accept the mystery..., Picnic at Hanging Rock being an acknowledged influence.

The Pingularity (ledge), Monday, 16 December 2019 12:11 (one month ago) link

Also wanted to ask: okay The Rift but what about The Race?

Jazz Telemachy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 18 December 2019 02:25 (one month ago) link

I feel a little bit misled by this one. It was perfectly well written and interesting, but the blurb promised SF and greyhounds, two of my absolute favourite things. The book is structured almost as four novellas, and two of the novellas are not SF at all. In fact, most of the book was not SF and it only featured holistic amounts of greyhounds, hence the low rating.

If someone wants to write a near-future SF that actually focuses on enhanced greyhounds, then I would buy that like a shot. But this is not that book.

The Pingularity (ledge), Wednesday, 18 December 2019 09:05 (one month ago) link

holistic amounts of greyhounds

mookieproof, Wednesday, 18 December 2019 14:01 (one month ago) link

are they referring to the racing dog or the cocktail?

Jazz Telemachy (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 18 December 2019 14:40 (one month ago) link

or the buses?

koogs, Wednesday, 18 December 2019 14:41 (one month ago) link

S. P. Somtow - The Throne Of Madness

Very different from the previous book. Much less linear journeys, characters are going all over the place here.

I'll start with some reservations...

I think the most glaring problem is the same problem from the first book: the heretic's plan is incredibly flimsy, why is the old heretic surprised when the plan doesn't go as specifically as he intended? Although the magical item is incredibly difficult to locate on such an enormous planet, it seemed too easy to find and it's hardly hidden (was there something stopping it from being hidden?) and why isn't there more concern over other people using it? Because other people know where it is. I hope we find out why it exists.

There's a tad too much recapping of the previous book. Perhaps this was standard practice to make this sequel accessible to new readers (?) but it's definitely not a "start at any book" series and if we really had to recap, surely doing it at the beginning, outside the actual text of the story would be best?
There is some new backstory (not in the previous book) that is told a bit inelegantly through the dialogue near the beginning, but it's a small issue.

The constant grumbling about the ways of the Inquest gets a bit excessive, completely understandable grumbling but it starts to get tiring.

Why are some Inquestors so sure they will forget important things when the oldest Inquestors seem to remember everything? Are these younger Inquestors simply wrong?

Wouldn't the Inquestors use their powers of illusion far more often?

There is a big issue which can be seen as a positive or a negative, or a bit of both: you never know quite where the characters stand. In the previous book, I think a lot more tension was there because I thought I knew the gravity of the situation. But here everything is in doubt.
We're made to constantly change our estimation of the situation. Constantly questioning how comprehensively the Inquest is run, what are the Inquestors' priorities, how much do they care about threats to their empire?
Is the grand Inquestor just lying all the time? Why does he speak about atrocities so casually to the doubters? Is he a coherent character? It seems that the Inquest is so big an operation that expecting any real consistency is just wrong.
Are the Thinkhives really listening all the time? What is their nature, really? Why do they serve anyone? How much do they care about protecting the empire?

I was often doubting Somtow was in good control of the whole situation, but for every question I could find some plausible theories, the Inquest has an endlessly twisted logic that could be used to justify almost anything (they're obsessed with compassion but power contorts it into insane shapes) and the Thinkhives seem as flawed as people. Occasionally I was losing confidence in the story but with enough shifting of the seeming circumstances and stakes, I felt better.

I very often wonder whether to read the speculative fiction canon in a more chronological order so I have a better idea of when innovations are truly happening but the main drawback of that is I may never get around to all the writers I'm most excited to read. Like Somtow.
So I'm wondering how truly original this series is. I'm guessing that the imagination, wildness, happy open bi-sexuality (I seen one reviewer wishing it had been embraced by LGBT readers) and extremity of the content towards the end was unusual for a relatively mainstream space opera mode in 1983.
Many of the characters have sex wherever they want and in front of absolutely anyone, is this just a privilege of the Inquestors or can anyone do this? Are the people on the ocean planet only so sexually open in their dire circumstances?

I've never seen a story of such universe-shaking consequences where the opponents like each other so much for the most part.

Although the first book had more momentum, tension and the spectacle had far more emotional impact, I think this sequel still manages to be a better book. It has a good amount of the varied locations, nice sprawl, rapid travel, increased wildness, extravagance and grotesque morbidity that I was looking forward to. Although it's roughly the same length as the previous, somehow three times as much happens and it never feels hurried. Somtow's classical/opera background is even more in evidence this time.

I particularly liked the flying palaces, city of the symphony and the ridiculous banquet party that lasts for days (the confrontation at the end of the banquet is brilliant, I wanted to hug Karakael). Genius, audacious.

Please read this amazing series and tell all your friends about it, so I can walk up to strangers at a science fiction convention and say "history there is, and no history!" and have a good chance of them knowing what I'm talking about.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 20 December 2019 23:05 (one month ago) link

is Up the Line good Silverbob or bad Silverbob?

Don’t Slander Meme (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 21 December 2019 17:34 (one month ago) link

Found this review quite persuasive

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 22 December 2019 14:48 (one month ago) link

thought that was a review of Up the Line for longer than I’d care to admit

Don’t Slander Meme (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 22 December 2019 15:01 (one month ago) link

Hahaha. Looking up goodreads for that, I'm not inclined to trust the reviews that say "too much sex" but Scott Lynch gets to the actual problems here

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 22 December 2019 16:40 (one month ago) link

B-b-but KSR liked it!

Don’t Slander Meme (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 22 December 2019 18:15 (one month ago) link

"Scott Lynch gets to the actual problems here"

I should say that maybe he gets to them.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 22 December 2019 19:43 (one month ago) link

I think I've also mentioned the gross sex scenes in some of Silverberg's bks on this thread - prob in reference to The World Inside, another good'un marred by Silverbob's horny-handedness. Last one I read was Hawksbill Station - all-male group of political criminals exiled into the prehistoric past - which was excellent - written near the start of Silverberg's 'hot streak' and because of the setting, light on the sexy stuff, although it imagines a 'turn to socialism' within late-20th century American society that - last time I checked - never quite came to pass. In general, I like the clear, efficient way that Silverberg presents his stories/ideas - but yes, a lot has to be 'forgiven' in his style these days.

Ward Fowler, Sunday, 22 December 2019 20:08 (one month ago) link

Gross as in yucky things most people wouldn't do, or gross as in ethically gross? Are they supposed to be screwed up in this way? Even a lot of talk of the Heinlein stuff makes it sound like he was going for the crazy shit.

There's some bizarre necro-pedophilic stuff in Somtow's book I reviewed above but it's very definitely supposed to be the acts of corrupt and desperately sad people.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 22 December 2019 20:37 (one month ago) link

Gross as in grossly sexist, male-centric, heteronormative, free loving seventies sf stuff that has dated v badly.

Ward Fowler, Sunday, 22 December 2019 20:46 (one month ago) link

think this book I just bought yesterday has some of that too but still might be pretty good. Malzberg likes it as well so, oh wait, yeah.

Don’t Slander Meme (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 22 December 2019 21:08 (one month ago) link

Malzberg and Silverbob - both of whom did extensive hackwork writing softcore porn under aliases - handle sex very differently in their SF work imo. Silverbob is often, as noted, just basically sexist/heteronormative/prurient (not always, but mostly). He's clearly just writing sexy crap he enjoys reading. Malzberg, however, approaches the subject with a great deal more self-loathing, irony, and black humor. He's by no means heteronormative either, a handful of his novels go deep into their male protagonist's homoeroticism; Tactics of Conquest for example hinges on the past sexual dalliance and suppressed attraction between its chess playing protagonist and antagonist.

Οὖτις, Monday, 23 December 2019 17:14 (four weeks ago) link

Malzberg writes about his characters' sex lives as if they are some laughably pathetic burden, the psychological and emotional costs of which are quite high and always foregrounded.

Οὖτις, Monday, 23 December 2019 17:16 (four weeks ago) link

Do I read 'Children of Time', or 'Three-Body Problem'?

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 23 December 2019 18:11 (four weeks ago) link

i read both in the same month earlier this year and there's an odd plot link between the two...

koogs, Monday, 23 December 2019 18:22 (four weeks ago) link

I enjoyed just about every story in xpost The Future is Female---a few of the Messages didn't quite make it over the finish line w undiminished momentum, but all takes remained v readable, with editor's mostly astute and always expert delving into wide span of eras and approaches. My fave discoveries are sonya Dorman (described by ed. as New Wave vanguard, got into the first Dangerous Visions). Here we get the affecting poetic compression of "When I Was Miss Dow," as oops upside the head to me as the relatively slo-mo, yet perfectly timed "Birth of a Gardner," by Doris Pitkin Buck (...her short story "Cacophony in Pink and Ochre" is...slated to appear in...The Last Dangerous Visions.") Dorman has several stories posted here and there, haven't had (even) as much luck with Buck yet, no collections of either, which makes me sad. Could always buy up quite a few back issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science, make my own bootleg anths, but I'm not that sad.

dow, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 16:00 (four weeks ago) link

"Birth of a *Gardener*" sheesh

dow, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 16:01 (four weeks ago) link

Geez all the young typos for Xmas, sorreee!

dow, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 16:04 (four weeks ago) link


― Οὖτις, Monday, December 23, 2019 5:14 PM

How does this reveal itself?

As explicit and dark as the Inquestor series is, Somtow still had limits placed on him (he said he's now adding some stuff in that he wouldn't have been allowed in the early 80s).
Some publishers in the 60s/70s still didn't allow curse words and I think Del Rey discouraged sex. I'm guessing even mention of gay stuff was still off-limits for a long time for some. I bet many publishers would have considered themselves publishers of childrens books.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 19:22 (four weeks ago) link

Beyond Apollo to thread!

Don’t Slander Meme (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 24 December 2019 19:39 (four weeks ago) link

xxpost, yep that's The Future Is Female! cover girl Jean Shrimpton (Jumpsuit by Loomtags, DIMAR Construction Co., Route 84, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, January 11, 1965. Photography by Richard Avedon. © The Richard Avedon Foundation) and diligent editor Lisa Yaszek.
The stories in here are pretty upfront about issues of sex and gender, pretty often---most startling in this regard is "Another Rib," by John Jay Wells (Juanita Coulson)& Marion Zimmer Bradley: gay and trans emergence while stranded on another astral body---published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963. Frank exchanges among the characters, (incl. an alien), although the stressed-out cap'n is a bit comical (seems deliberate)(maybe also for some in readership to relate to, re their own feelings or those of uptight males they know too well)(as is mentioned re reception of several selections)

dow, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 22:17 (four weeks ago) link

No need for dirty words in any of these, that I recall (published between 1928 and 1969).

dow, Tuesday, 24 December 2019 22:19 (four weeks ago) link

read children of time and liked it but it does feature something of a virus ex machina

read the stochastic man and the politics part is indeed very well done; the free will vs determinism rather less so

mookieproof, Friday, 27 December 2019 13:10 (three weeks ago) link

Maybe a year or two ago upthread I said Sapkowski was super grumpy, but after watching a few videos it seems it's actually humor most of the time. Still quite abrasively honest, he doesn't care for videogames and thought the Polish Witcher film was a "piece of shit".
He wrote a guide to fantasy, curated this series
and wrote intros for Fritz Leiber and John Crowley.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 27 December 2019 17:45 (three weeks ago) link

read nina allen’s the rift as kindly mentioned above; thought it was outstanding

mookieproof, Saturday, 28 December 2019 05:34 (three weeks ago) link

I just read the rift, too, and I agree - it was fantastic, and also extremely unsettling.

toby, Thursday, 2 January 2020 07:54 (two weeks ago) link

lol I got "A Time of Changes" out of the library over the holiday (one of the peak period Silverbob's I hadn't read before) and within the first 10 pages the narrator is "confessing" about his problems with premature ejaculation.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 2 January 2020 17:29 (two weeks ago) link

Seems like a lot of translated anthologies are produced specifically for conventions, as Hugos, Eurocon etc move all over the world; so really difficult to find some of them.
Reading some of these entries has been fun. So many soviet countries had a serious problem with straightforward fantasy (sometimes banning speculative fiction in general) for fear of being socially irresponsible unless you were telling a beloved national fairy tale, which is treated as an appropriate way to kiss the ass of your country's history (I think China is still like that sometimes). There are remnants of this concern in most places but some countries seem to struggle more with fantasy for it's own sake. I hate that.

Jan Potocki (of Saragossa Manuscript fame) produced an early anti-Semitic dystopia about (you guessed it) jews running the world.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 5 January 2020 16:08 (two weeks ago) link

despite really disliking the one iain (non-m) banks novel i read 20 years ago, i tried 'consider phlebas' and it was solid! he *really* stretched out the buildup to the climax but that's okay

also read 'this is how you lose the time war', which was short, excellent and lovely, although i'm not sure its title does it any favors

mookieproof, Friday, 10 January 2020 22:05 (one week ago) link

I think "Consider Phlebas" might be the best title for a SF novel, but I don't know why. Maybe the word "consider" suggests a cool detached speculation and "Phlebas" sounds like a weird ass name (even though it's just a sailor's name).

Once again I scooped up a load of stuff at charity shops. Why do all the books I'm most excited about have to be over 400 pages?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 10 January 2020 22:55 (one week ago) link

the Eaters chapter of Phlebus always feels wrong to me, like it doesn't belong. also, ick!

Player of Games is great if you want more, might be my favourite (currently re-reading them all at the rate of about one a year)

koogs, Saturday, 11 January 2020 04:59 (one week ago) link

yeah it's very ick, and treated as an abberration -- would have been better more explicitly tied into the culture's abandonment of them

mookieproof, Saturday, 11 January 2020 05:20 (one week ago) link

Been thinking a while about a difficult to pinpoint aesthetic change in sff and I wonder if its crucial in its gaining wider cultural acceptance. Did there used to be more ugly, dorky and twee stuff? Dorky is hard to define. Plenty of sff today looks ugly in a bland way and I'd argue amateurish cgi and photoshopped covers are worse than anything in the past, but most of that is from small presses.
I was watching some episodes of Prisoners Of Gravity (an 80s-90s Canadian interview show) and it was just so dorky in a way I cant imagine such a thing being today (but if there was such a thing today, I think more authors would be embarrassed to show their cover art).

If Game Of Thrones was on tv in the 90s, Jon Snow would have had a furry wisecracking sidekick called Queequar and there would have been more scenes of people laughing (especially men with beards) and dancing around a fire to quaintly merry music (all 80s-90s films set in medieval Europe have these scenes, I'm sure you could make a long compilation of them).

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 12 January 2020 12:51 (one week ago) link


The Soundtrack of Burl Ives (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 12 January 2020 21:43 (one week ago) link

Sad that Haikasoru has shut down, I wasn't aware.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 12 January 2020 21:44 (one week ago) link

There was a book with Adam Roberts commentary a while ago, don't know if it was funded but I don't think there was anything about interviews.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 17 January 2020 18:35 (five days ago) link

Clifford Simak - City

Important Note: the ninth story "Epilog" doesn't appear in every edition, it was written 20 years after the other stories, Simak has mixed feelings about it and so do his fans. I had to check isfdb to see which editions contained it and I bought one of them. According to that database, the Gollancz Masterworks edition doesn't have it, but I checked a copy in a bookstore last week and it actually does include it (maybe earlier printings didn't?)

My Methuen edition contains a 1976 Simak foreward included in even fewer versions of the book. He makes it pretty clear that he thinks cities should have been phased out as transportation improves. He admits that the stories are a kind of fanciful refuge and he doesn't think City is his best work. I wish he would have addressed what homes our growing population would allow for, because that's the first thing that seemed like a major obstacle preventing every family from living in their own luxurious acres.

City is a kind of mixture of wishful thinking and thinking more seriously about the potential problems of the speculated changes. Definitely not hard science fiction, so much of it is completely unconvincing (especially Joe's way of catalyzing the ants). I tend to dislike stories that go on about how awful we are as a species, they tend to be simplistic, intellectually lazy, naively idealizing other species (often ones that don't exist), but there's a lot more going on here.
Even when there's so much logic to quibble with (why does advanced underwater intelligence seem so unlikely to Jenkins? Does Geneva have to be so hopeless? What is essential to Simak's idea of human purpose?) there's so many interesting situations to ponder; it has a lot of charm and it's quite sad to see so many eras ending, one after another.
I'd strongly advise you to seek out an edition with "Epilog", I sort of understand why some people don't like it but I thought it contained perhaps the most powerful scene in the story and the thing that is staying with me most. I got a feeling that however much things change, some of those places and Jenkins will always be out there somewhere. I love Jenkins.

When I started reading the book, I was wondering whether to skip the introductions because I generally tend to read introductions and forewards after I finish the story, but most of them are part of the actual story! They're a framing a device. I wish Simak had cut out some recapping, it makes some sense for magazine serialization but it drags down the story in book form a bit.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 17 January 2020 23:24 (five days ago) link

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