SF/F Reading in May 2018

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Boreas, May 2, 2018.

  1. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Don't you tire yourself from reading authors' work back to back? I can see you would gain an excellent understanding of the author writing development; still, if I did it your way, I couldn't do it justice.
     
  2. Sebaalco

    Sebaalco Full Member

    @Diziet Sma just a quick question. ¿Hablas español?
     
  3. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Sí, soy española ¿y tú?:)
     
  4. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    Eeeyah. I find Asimov interesting, but not fascinating. Loved his short "Nightfall," but when he said (paraphrasing) "...story and technology are far more important than character" I kinda tuned out. Not to say there aren't nuggets, but, as a storyteller, there has to be both. Just sayin'.
     
  5. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    Love the Heinlein juveniles (e.g., Have Spacesuit, Will Travel), but a steady diet is a bit much (though The Past Through Tomorrow is a great collection). Clarke, to me, is best absorbed in sips. He makes you think and reflect.
     
  6. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I'm fine with completely plot-based stories and also completely character-based stories. However, I will always give preference to plot-based stories over fully character-based ones for SF&F.

    For realist fiction, I'm perfectly fine if the narrative ends up being more or less plotless. But I want my SF to have plot. Less focus on characters doesn't bother me. That's not to say that a good balance isn't ideal.

    There are exceptions...Silverberg's Dying Inside is excellent. One of the few, early and explicitly SF works that's written like a mainstream novel.
     
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  7. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Nice to see you back, man! You've been reading them all back-to-back? Wish you'd given us your thoughts on each book here. Would have made for an interesting discussion. You reading them all is finally revving me up to re-read Asimov. I've been thinking of doing a Clarke & Asimov re-read for the last two years but keep putting it off. I think I'll finally start during the latter half of the year and read through as much as I can!
     
  8. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    Well, plotting and pacy are one thing, but when the characters are one-dimensional only in service to the plot, I tune out. I need to care about my protag/antag and they need to be 3-dimensional.
     
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  9. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    I can repost if you' d like?
     
  10. Sebaalco

    Sebaalco Full Member

    Soy de Argentina. Pero todos los libros de ficción que he leído fueron traducidos al español de España así que estoy ducho en el lenguaje hibérico. Leí por ahí que eres profesora de español? A mí me interesa mucho enseñar la lengua!
     
  11. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Please do!
     
  12. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    ¡Qué lindo el acento argentino!
    Sí, he sido profesora de español y he estudiado también traducción, pero ahora soy terapeuta de niños bien pequeñitos que están en el espectro autista.

    Now, did you find your next book to read? Where do you reading interest lies? Do you favour horror, science fiction, fantasy, other genres?
     
  13. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Characters, setting, plot, points of view, tone etc. These elements of a story are somewhat complex, and it probably deserves its own thread. In particular, considering we are lucky to have authors as well as readers who could contribute towards it.
    In my case, it will depend on the literary genre I'm reading, but generally, I like my characters alive and kicking. I want them to be real people, not mere caricatures. Hence, I tend to favour character-driven stories than plot based ones. However, in Asimov's case, as they tend to be brief connecting novellas, I can enjoy them very much.
     
  14. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    sometimes. so although I do a lot of focusing , if it does become an issue, I just read something else for a while. example. I am still putting off Asimov's Nightfall (the novel not the short story) .

    I also typically read 5 books at a given time ( i believe we discussed that last year.)
     
  15. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    as requested, copy and paste
    Foundation ~Isaac Asimov

    Foundation and Empire~ Isaac Asimoc

    Second Foundation ~Isaac Asimov

    Robot Visions ~ Isaac Asimov


    busy weekend.

    So Foundation series is wildly regarded as one of the best sci fi series of all time. If you don't agree we can at least give it a Lord of the Ring status for most influential . if you don't agree with that, you're fooling yourself.


    I have read the first two and half of the third previously. and here is your warning, inside my spoiler blocks I will ruin everything I mean everything.
    April Fools , okay from here on I will ruin everything


    Foundation


    the series is based heavily of the decline of the roman empire almost to a point you can probably watch the events without the plot , scfi fi, and with swapped proper nouns, and a summary of the decline. but one thing I also notice is that either the period sci fi influenced him, or the other way around. It's hard to tell when the publication dates overlap as they do.


    So Rome is in a downward spiral, but the citizenry in the interior doesn't acknowledge it The signs are there though. The economy is stretched too thin, the complacency is to well defined. it will collapse it is inevitable. soon the outer provinces or Bretogne Germania, and Iberia will start to declare independence and carve out new kingdoms. when Rome collapse we will be sent into a long period of anarchy with a lower value of living. The greatest psychohistorian of all time (a mathematical psychology of the mob which applied correctly can predict reactions to events)Harry Seldon gathers up the greatest minds in Rome to leave and apply their skills outside (very similar to various sci fi books of the time, most notably Atlas Shrugged [I have not read] which is published both before this book, and after some of its individual pieces}


    But they are deceived, the foundation is not creating a grand enclyclopedia , but forming a small civilization that will be able to survive through the anarchaic period, and through various crisis' restructure to meet the demands and expand into a second galaxy wide empire 28 thousand years earlier than originally predicted and or 28k less years of anarchy and turmoil.


    The rest of the book is about meeting these Seldon ciris' and expanding into various stages of control over the surronding regions each more expansive than the last.


    The book ends with the several changes throughout, first the encyclopedia is overthrown and they become the Holy roman empire. or religious center of the five neighboring kingdoms, power and empire without having the title. Then the religion is abandoned as they become a larger trading empire. And finally they are left with evidence that the Empire is still out there.


    Foundation and Earth


    This one starts in the same way as the last one ended. but.


    The approaching Seldon Crisis is only hinted at before it is interrupted, so first time through you might not even notice it until you see Harry Seldon say what it was supposed to be only to be wrong. I was supposed to be that the traders will incite civil war, leaving the foundation in a strnger state of union . the problem, Psychohistory deals with the psychology of the mob but there is a next evolution of man able to manipulate the psychology of the mob. we don't know that initially but when we find out the twist becomes very obvious, before that still pretty easy, but that might be because it has now been copied a thouasand times over..


    interesting side not, The Mule, is very much like DC comics Psycho Pirate (the 90s version for sure, the 80s version a little) but that character predates Foundation, it is possible Asimov got his idea from DC, or the same source. but I have not read any Psycho Pirae stuff before the 80s so it might be this psychologist bears little resemblance in his debut .


    The ending is very satisfying as a book two of three, an ending copied repeatedly but never this well done.


    they lost. the Mule conquers the foundation. Conquers the Empire (one of the future seldom crisis' and virtually becomes the ruler of the Foundation empire over a large quantity of the galaxy, it appears to be inevitable, it appears to look like he might cause the new empire earlier. However it is suggested his empire won't last as long as it should but ruin the plans only to descend into anarchy again.


    right at the end, the mule is only stalled, unable to find the second foundation (ironically)


    End.


    Second Foundation.


    less satisfying reveal.


    I thought it was pretty clear the second foundation would be n trantor in the last book, especially with the mere students of the universe able to hold off the invasion and the sacking of rome. then again with the mule disabled on trantor. Fondation then inherits the Mule's new empire.


    NEXT we have the foundation aware of second foundation two things, this is screwing up the psychohistory results and causing foundation to act like they have a safety net and underreact to everything. meanwhile an undercurrent was people who consider second foundation evil, and want rid of their influence.


    I do like the various interpretations of how to find never never land using that nurery rhyme "first star at night.........


    the overlaying evidence just keeps piling up that its on trantor but we still need to play a game of clue.


    "AHH HAA Trantor was just a red herring, really there is no second foundation"

    " AHH HAA you've been manipulated and are the red herring, SF is on this planet.

    " AHH HAA that planet was just a red herring SF is on the other planet

    " AHH HAA that planet is the red herring really SF was on Terminus the whole time, with us here"

    End.

    Epilogue

    " AHH HAA the audience was deceived Terminus was just a red herring too, SF was really on Trantor the whole time.


    Foundation 9/10

    Foundation and Earth 10/10

    Second Foundation 8.5/10
     
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  16. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    The End of Eternity ~ Isaac Asimov


    Not entirey familiar with the timetravel subgenre, mostly because its rarely not cheese. This was brilliant though.


    This book makes me question origins on a lot of timetravel cliché's it lays out the kill your own gradpa as if it is already part of the IRL culture (books written in 1955) but it also hits on a lot of other nonparadox clichés. I know most robot themes coiches and reoccurrences can all be attributed to Asimov, this makes me wonder if its time travel too.


    The book makes references to the foundation series, and is referenced (badly) in foundation edge.


    solid time travel novel though, and the if/when/going to was very concise and well thought out (sometimes it gets sooo bad)


    I mentioned earlier that psycho pirate (DC comics) resembled exactly "the Mule" . in the same story (is it time crisis?) the aspect of eternity and the time travel craziness is also copyied pretty heavily. someone in DC loves Asimov.


    The absolutely best part, that had me howl with delight, made the whole book genius...
    It didn't just serve as a dense allegory for Plato's Allegory of the Cave, but right at the end the character of the future who just tolod the protag was wrong, eternity is evil, eternity, hurts and destroys humanity, and sets up the Hiroshima many millennia early (now 1944 instead of 30,000) to destroy eternity, this character who revealed then the possibility (unachievable before) of interstellar travel, and galactic empire , she out right says, this is all the aollegory of the cave with extra words in one solid line.


    "come out to the mouth of the cave" right after giving him all that knowledge that makes him unable to return to eternity because he now knows too much.


    10/10
     
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  17. Dtyler99

    Dtyler99 Well-Known Member

    You need not look beyond your user name on this board. Banks married character and plot (even if the characters were whacked-out AIs) in a very sympathetic way. And when I say sympathetic, it's in service to the story and vice versa -- the story reveals character and character actions illuminate the universal condition.


    For writers -- and I am pleased and mortified and diminished to call myself one -- it all starts with character. Who is the lead? What do he/she need to so to achieve their goals? What is standing in the way of them attaining their goals? And what is the cost if they do NOT achieve their goals? This is fiction 1A, folks, and todays' publishers will not seriously consider work that do not address this fundamental rubric (with a few exceptions, cf. Neal Stephenson). Readers want to CARE about their characters. When plot is king, you get Justice League. When a story is character-driven, you get Wonder Woman.


    I look at a lot of the titles discussed on this board -- Asimov/Foundation just the latest example -- where the material was written in a time where the "science" in SF was infinitely more important than character. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of "I, Robot" stories and Citizen of the Galaxy Heinlein juveniles. As entertaining as they were in the day, they came from a time before TV, Mega Movies, and now entertainment streams of all types and qualities (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.). After watching a rousingly bloody episode of Game of Thrones, or an incredibly high-strung hour of Battlestar Galactica, I don't particularly want to take refuge in 30s-40s era, mostly misogynist tech talk that really isn't technologically interesting/relevant anymore. The stories may make me think, but they don't make me feel. I personally need more than that.


    There are very few hard SF writers out there trying to push the envelope, but the problem is there just isn’t much to push. And, once again, characters become in service to the plot/story, rather than the focus. In fact, I think that the narrow band of hard SF story possibilities is why fans of that subgenre are so often frustrated.
     
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  18. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    I can only comment on Foundation I: What I liked was its vision. Once you contextualise when Asimov wrote it, you have to admire his great sense of historical extrapolation. And this is why I believe the reader feels a sense of wonder but not of alienness: we have, somehow, heard this song before.
    I also liked, as I did when I read I, Robot, the thought experiments Asimov enjoys presenting to his readers. He wants to tease, and he gives you the clues to work the solution out if you are observant and astute enough. It is like a good thriller when the author doesn't cheat and doesn't resort to magic. The hints are all there if you know where to look for them.
     
  19. Diziet Sma

    Diziet Sma Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, you are right. However, one needs to cleanse the senses and contextualize a piece of work to appreciate it for what it is and what it meant in its time.
    For example, when one visits a Romanic church with its stubby, dark structure, short columns, small windows and next, you visit a Gothic cathedral, well, the differences are apparent. But if I were the Romanic church, I would feel a great sense of injustice to be compared to my gorgeous, gothic, younger, taller sister.
    She exists thanks to me. Evolution applies to the arts too.

    Yes, but don't you love it when now and then and a book surprises you? Out of the blue, an author reimagines the power of tale-telling and makes you fall in love again with reading.
    Besides, I believe this is the case in most genres, don't you?
    For the last decade or so, there has been this phenomenon in the Scandinavian crime fiction genre, in which authors were cropping up like mushrooms. The vast number of published books every year was overwhelming. If you were a Scandi, you ought to become either a crime fiction author or an Ikea employee...
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
  20. Bierschneeman

    Bierschneeman Well-Known Member

    your right, he doesn't cheat and use magic. but he does cheat by saying that "any technology, significantly enough advanced, will be indistinguishable from magic."

    This way, he doesn't have to fully describe the technologies to us, the audience.
     

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