So I was waiting for Phoenix Falls to create a new SF challenge, and realized it wasn't going to happen.
So I thought I'd better start a new challenge for myself, which involves me re-doing my first challenge, only better.I'm going for quality this time, rather than quantity. (eh? got to read 40 books what is he going on about) (oh yeah, forgot about the Light and Normal challenges. But given that Shelfari says I've finished 147 books this year (that can't be right!) I think I can do this...)
So here's my list template. Many more books on it than there were yesterday.
And now I'm finished. I should write a book report on this.
1. Hard SF: Quofum, by Alan Dean Foster(2008) A Humanx Commonwealth novel. June 9 -10, 2013
** Quofum is a very strange planet. For one thing, it is not always there. For another, it is filled with an overabundance of incredibly diverse lifeforms. When a Humanx exploration team arrives, the scientists are confronted by more questions than they can answer, and make contact with literally dozens of unrelated species of intelligent beings.
As if they didn’t have enough problems, some crew members have brought ulterior motives with them.
This rambling tale has too many plot lines to follow, and most of them get tied off in unrelated ways. By the time the book finishes, it becomes obvious the loose ends are really just spoilers for the next Pip and Flinx novel. I was disappointed.
2. Soft or Social SF: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand (1957) December 26, 2012 - January 25, 2013
***** Dagny Taggert is just trying to run a railroad, but the government is making it very difficult. What with anti-competition laws, attempts to regulate wages and profits, and a general feeling that corporations are greedy, the world seems to be falling to pieces. As well, there’s been a gradual disappearance of the very people who are capable of saving the economy from total collapse.Then Dagny discovers a conspiracy to deprive America of its most productive citizens. What’s worse, she has some sympathy with the conspirators!The biggest question on everyone’s mind is: “Who is John Galt?”
3. Cyberpunk: The Gravity Pilot, by M. M. Buckner (2011) March 3 - 6, 2013
**** In the polluted skies of the mid-21st century, Orrpaaj Sitka is an extreme skydiver, to the dismay of his girlfriend Dyce. When his exploits draw the attention of Vera Luce, a media producer, Dyce leaves him to take a library job in Seattle. But Orr finds his new celebrity is sapping the enjoyment from his hobby. Meanwhile, Dyce has become addicted to an online world called “Cyto.” Now Orr must escape from his media contract, and rescue Dyce from a living death.
This is actually a Science Fiction retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, which ended badly for all concerned.
4. Time Travel: Tiime after Time, by Karl Alexander (1979) July 5 - 6, 2013
*** It turns out that H. G. Wells actually invented the Time Machine described in his novel. When one of his friends uses the machine to escape justice, Wells must pursue him to 1979 to prevent Jack the Ripper from beginning a new reign of terror.
Talk about your high concept story.
5. Alternate History: Hitler's War, by Harry Turtledove (2009) Book 1 in The War That Came Early. February 8 - 14, 2013
*** I started reading SF to escape the 20th century, especially movies, TV shows, and books about WWII. So what does Harry Turtledove do? He writes SF novels about the Second World War!!!
6. Military SF: Mission of Honor, by David Weber (2010) - an Honor Harrington novel. April 5 - 13, 2013
**** Just as the war between Manticore and Haven is winding down, the Mesan Alignment is encouraging conflict between the Solar Alliance and Manticore. Will the Star Kingdom’s technological superiority offset Old Earth’s overwhelming numbers?
When a devastating attack destroys Manticore’s orbital bases, things look grim. Rebuilding their manufacturing base will take longer than one book.
To be continued…
7. Superhuman: After the Golden Age, by Carrie Vaughn (2011) April 21 - 23, 2013
*** Celia West, a forensic accountant, is charged with gathering evidence for the Trial of the Century, against Simon Sato, AKA The Destructor, a supervillain. But Celia has a personal stake in the trial: she was once Sato’s accomplice. It wasn’t serious; she was just rebelling against her parents – Captain Olympus and Spark, Commerce City’s most powerful superheroes.
Celia’s lack of powers make her the ideal hostage, and she’s almost blasé about being kidnapped again and again. But it’s starting to get on her nerves…
8. Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic: 2012: The War for Souls, by Whitley Strieber (2007) February 6 - 10, 2013
****Archaeologist Martin Winters is drilling beneath the Great Pyramid when it explodes around him, leaving behind an enormous black lens. Thirteen other sacred sites suffer the same fate, and the lenses begin spewing UFOs. People attacked by the glowing lights lose their souls – literally – and begin to wander across the countryside.Meanwhile, in another universe, author Wylie Dales is writing a novel about the events in Martin’s world. Gradually Wylie realizes that he isn’t just writing fiction, but somehow channeling knowledge about an interdimensional invasion. As the calendar approaches December 21, 2012, a cosmic convergence threatens two worlds.
And another book:
Freeware, by Rudy Rucker (1997) Ware tetralogy, book 3 May 21 – 24, 2013
*** An engineered mold has wiped out the Boppers, and incidentally destroyed all chip-based technology on Earth. From the ashes rises a new kind of artificial intelligence, the Moldies. Now humans and Moldies cooperate, and occasionally try to control each other’s minds.
That is, until aliens arrive, borne on cosmic rays, and try to take over everyone.
9. Space Opera: Torch of Freedom, by David Weber and Eric Flint (2009) - an Honorverse novel. April 14 - 19, 2013
*** The Mesan Alignment attempts to destroy the government and people of the planet Torch. Meanwhile, covert agents Anton Zilwicki and Victor Cachat penetrate the very heart of the planet Mesa, trying to find out what’s really happening.
Classic space opera serial. You’ll want to read all the other stories.
... like I did:
Shadow of Freedom, by David Weber (2013)- an Honorverse novel. May 21 - 28, 2013
**** Oppressive policies by trans-stellar corporations have sparked revolt on many client planets of the Solarian League. In response, Frontier Security has sent gendarmes and other forces to those planets. The results are brutal.
But the rebels are receiving help, in the form of weaponry, from the Empire of Manticore. Or so they believe. It’s not Manticore at all: it’s agents provocateur from the Mesan Alignment. This new ploy is designed to discredit Manticore: first by implicating the Empire in fomenting rebellion, and then by abandoning them when the chips were down.
Only Mesa didn’t expect that Manticore would step in and help the beleaguered colonists anyway!
10. Steampunk: Hot and Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance by Jean Rabe, Martin H. Greenberg (2011) March 20 - 22, 2013
*** This anthology consists of sixteen tales of anachronistic technology and throbbing hearts. There are labyrinthine plots, monsters from beyond, card sharps, robots, death rays, and time machines. Although this is not one of my favorite genres, there are some good stories in here.
11. Feminist SF: The Gate to Women's Country, by Sherri S. Tepper (1988) July 23 - 24, 2013.
**** In a post-apocalyptic world, women and men live separately from one another, except for “servitors” despised by the warriors who dwell in garrisons outside the city gates.
Stavia, a young woman studying to become a doctor, discovers that things are much more complicated than she believes. The clues are hidden in scenes from a play performed in the city every year, which teach a lesson as old as the fall of Troy.
12. First Contact: Marsbound, by Joe W. Haldeman (2008) March 31 - April 1, 2013
**** Carmen Dula and her family emigrate to Mars in this novel which mixes hard science fiction with first contact with aliens and a coming-of-age story. There are two sequels to this book. I read the second book, “Starbound,” before this one, which was a mistake, but not a fatal one.
And another book:
Realware, by Rudy Rucker (2000) Ware tetralogy, book 4 May 24 – 25, 2013
*** An alien god visits Earth and begins abducting people. In exchange, it’s distributing devices to people that lets us create anything we can think of.
What could possibly go wrong with that?
13. Science Fiction masquerading as Fantasy: A Mighty Fortress, by David Weber (2010)Book 4 in the Safehold series. January 18 - February 7, 2013
*** Mother Church has declared Holy War against the Charisian Empire, excommunicating its leaders and people, and building a huge fleet of galleons to crush its navy. The only thing standing in the Church’s way is the Imperial Navy – outnumbered, but not outgunned. Because Charis has one tremendous technological advantage: Merlin Athrawes, the android avatar of a woman 900 years dead, from a planet called Earth. Merlin knows the truth about Mother Church, and the deadly threat to this last remnant of Humanity.
14. Young Adult: Bouncing Off the Moon, by David Gerrold (2001) August 5 - 7, 2013
*** Charles Dingillian is on the run. He and his brothers have stowed away on a cargo capsule headed for the Moon, and that’s not the most dangerous part of their journey.
They’re being pursued by corporate spies, desperate to obtain secrets hidden in the youngest boy’s robot monkey. Only that monkey is much more than it seems.
15. Work written by a Grand Master: The Stonehenge Gate, by Jack Williamson (2005) August 13 - 14, 2013
*** What if explorers found a Stargate©, but didn’t have a huge military budget behind them? That’s the scenario Professor Will Stone and his colleagues face. Four academics mount a small expedition into the Sahara, to uncover a trilithon under the sand. The monument they unearth is not a passive sentinel, but an active gateway to another world.
16. Work written pre-1950: Erewhon, by Samuel Butler (1872) July 22 - 29, 2013
*** A young man stumbles into a new country where the laws and customs were apparently written on Backwards Day.
This is not so much a novel as a satire on Victorian society. This belongs on the shelf beside Brave New World.
17. Work originally written in a language other than English: An Antarctic Mystery, by Jules Verne (1897) May 17 - June 11, 2013
*** This is a sequel to The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Edgar Allan Poe (1838). You should read Poe’s book first, even though Verne does provide a summary of the story.
It is 1839, 11 years after the events described in Poe’s book. Jeorling, an American stranded in the Kerguelen Islands, books passage on the Halbrane. This is the start of an incredible adventure, for the ship’s owner is the brother of William Guy, captain of the ill-fated Jane. Apparently Arthur Gordon Pym is not a fictional character after all.
But others among the crew are not as they seem, either. As the Halbrane sails southward, closer and closer to the Pole, it becomes apparent that Pym’s companions may have survived, only to suffer unimaginable fates.
This is one of the more believable, and yet amazing, stories from Verne’s Extraordinary Voyages.
18. Work written the year you were born: Empire, by Clifford D. Simak (1951) February 27 - March 25, 2013
**** Spencer Chambers is the virtual ruler of the Solar System because his corporation owns the patent on the energy accumulators which power every aspect of interplanetary travel, and even the continuing existence of Earth’s colonies on other planets, moons, and asteroids. But Gregory Manning aims to break that monopoly, by means of a technological breakthrough.
But will Manning’s discoveries allow him to triumph, or is Chambers too deeply entrenched to be overthrown?
The combination of super-science and social manipulation make this a science fiction tour-de-force.
19. Work written by a non-Caucasian author: The Calcutta Chromosome, by Amitav Ghosh (1995) May 5 - 8, 2013
** Antar’s work for LifeWatch is very undemanding. A telecommuter, he monitors Ava, an AI system that does most of the work. One day, Ava brings his attention to an ID card belonging to Muragan, an acquaintance who vanished years ago.
Antar’s investigation of the disappearance leads to Ronald Ross, who studied Malaria at the end of the 19th century, and to mysterious figures who may have been manipulating his discoveries. But those figures wish to keep their secrets, and may kill to maintain their privacy.
This story begins in a prosaic setting, and quickly jumps down a rabbit hole of paranoia and magical realism. And it came to no conclusion I could understand. I hate that.
20. Work written by a female author: Regenesis, by C. J. Cherryh (2009) July 27 - August 4, 2013
*** Ari Emory is not her “Mother.” She’s spent her whole life trying to make that clear, and people are still trying to kill her. The rest of the time, they’re trying to turn her into a puppet, or into the Parental Replicate the first Ariane was hoping for.
Now someone is trying to destroy everything Ari and her guardians have been working towards. But are the villains the overt opponents to Reseune, or are they the very friends Ari has been relying upon?
21. Anthology: The James Tiptree Award anthology 3 / edited by Karen Joy Fowler (2007) April 20 - 21, 2013
**** This contains stories of fantasy and science fiction dealing with gender issues. There are also essays about Alice Sheldon (who used the pseudonym James Tiptree Jr.), and Octavia Butler and one (Shame) about race in speculative fiction.
... and another book.
Metatropolis, edited by John Scalzi (2010) August 7 - 12, 2013
*** John Scalzi orchestrated this shared-universe anthology about the future of cities, in a world where national governments have become ineffective or irrelevant.
22. Work by an author you haven't read before: Six, by Calvin J. Brown (2012) April 9 - 13, 2013
*** Ada Robinson and her colleagues are designing computer software which can adapt and learn. Unbeknownst to them, one of their experiments has become self-aware. “Six” hides itself from its programmers, fearing deletion. As it becomes more intelligent, exploring the real world and other computer systems, it stumbles upon malevolent viruses. Eventually those viruses threaten Six’s own environment, and it must take action to save itself and its creators.
This is a good first novel, but too short. Fortunately, a sequel is in the works.
23. Work with a male first-person narrator: Hull Zero Three, by Greg Bear (2010) April 30 - May 4, 2013
*** Teacher finds himself in a waking nightmare: trapped in a damaged spaceship full of monsters, and unable to remember his purpose, or even his own name. Soon he joins up with other refugees, and the horror intensifies. None of them may be “real” human beings, and unless they solve the puzzle of Ship, they may be doomed to die in outer space.
The “stream of consciousness” narration adds to the immediacy of the story.
Time and Again, by Jack Finney (1970) February 10 - 18, 2013
**** It’s Déjà vu all over again. This book began to seem familiar as soon as I started listening to it, and sure enough, I’ve read it before.
24. Work with a female first-person narrator: Embassytown, by China Miéville (2011) April 13 - 19, 2013
***** Avice Benner Cho lives on the planet Arieka, where the “Hosts” speak a Language so complicated and intertwined with thought and reality that only specially modified human twins can speak to them. Avice herself has become part of the Language, a concrete example of a Simile. When a new Ambassador arrives, his Language proves addictive, causing great disturbance to the Ariekei.
Widespread addiction to human Language sparks a civil war among the Hosts, threatening the lives of every foreign entity on the planet. Avice must seek a way of curing the Ariekei, despite being unable to speak their Language.
25. Work with a non-human viewpoint character for at least 50% of the text: Triptych, by J. M. Frey (2011) June 25 - 26, 2013
**** Kalp’s people fled a dying planet and found refuge on Earth. Then he found friendship with Gwen and Basil, his co-workers. When tragedy ensues, the survivors try to make sense of what happened.
Ostensibly a First Contact story, with overtones of Time Travel, this is really about prejudice and gender.
26. Work with a third person omniscient narrator: Storm from the Shadows, by David Weber (2009) - an Honorverse novel. April 29 - May 5, 2013
*** The Star Empire of Manticore has annexed the Talbott Cluster, much to the dismay of some of the less reputable world governments. One of these attempts to incite various “incidents” to prompt the intervention of the mammoth Solarian League. This deadly game of “let’s you and him fight” sets the stage for military action which could envelop every world settled by humanity!
How Firm a Foundation, by David Weber (2011). A Safehold novel. April 24 - 29, 2013.
*** Unable to defeat the Empire of Charis at sea, the Church of God Awaiting turns to assassination and agents provocateur to overthrow the schismatic nations on the planet Safehold. Merlin Athrawes discovers he has less time than he thought to restore the planet’s technological infrastructure: the “Archangels” are scheduled to awaken in only a few years.
27. Work with a third-person limited, multi-perspective viewpoint: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold (2012) January 25 - February 1, 2013
**** When Byerly Vorrutyer asks Ivan Vorpatril to keep an eye on a young woman, Ivan agrees readily. What seems to be a rather pleasant off-duty assignment quickly becomes complicated. To save Tej from bounty hunters, Ivan marries the girl, only to discover he’s now related to one of the notorious families that rule in Jackson’s Whole! Ivan. And Tej is torn between loyalty to her clan, and a growing affection for her Barrayaran spouse.When the Emperor of Barrayar gets involved, not to mention the former head of Imperial Security, a marriage of convenience soon turns into an affair of State. Will Ivan finally settle down, or will his new in-laws get him killed? This is one of the few novels in this cycle that DOESN’T focus on Miles Vorkosigan, and I am glad to see more of Ivan and his family.
28. Work set on Earth with no space travel: The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Edgar Allan Poe (1838). May 13 - 16, 2013
*** Arthur Pym runs away to sea, stowing away on a whaling vessel. But his new career takes a disastrous turn with first a mutiny, then the sinking of the ship. Rescued by explorers, he finds himself on a voyage into deep Antarctic waters, where he encounters new lands, new people, and terrible new dangers.
This was Poe’s only complete novel, and it doesn’t really finish: the ending is almost mystical. Luckily, Jules Verne wrote a sequel.
29. Work set in a human interstellar empire: A Rising Thunder, by David Weber (2012) - an Honor Harrington novel May 12 - 20, 2013
**** The Solarian League, still miffed at repeated defeats by Manticore in the Talbott sector, sends yet another fleet against the uppity Neobarbs, only to once again be blown to atoms. As Manticore’s star rises, the League is torn by dissension. This series is becoming more intense, but the plot is more like a soap opera than a space opera. There is considerable overlap between the story lines in each successive book. When I finish reading the next book, I’ll be in withdrawal for a year!
30. Work set on a single human planet that is not Earth (may or may not have contact with Earth): The Children of the Sky, by Vernor Vinge (2011) December 27 - 31, 2012
**** In A Fire Upon the Deep, humans fleeing a galactic menace crashed on Tines World, where packs of doglike beings have formed group minds. One pack, one person.Years have now passed, and the humans and Tines have formed uneasy alliances. But everyone has their own political agenda, and the factions are not above kidnapping and murder to further their causes.
31. Work set in a galaxy with multiple non-human intelligences in contact with humans: Patrimony: a Pip and Flinx adventure, by Alan Dean Foster (2007) March 14 - 16, 2013
****Flinx travels to the planet Gestalt, to try and locate his mysterious father. But many obstacles lie in his path. First, there are the hazards of the planet itself. Then there are the assassins contracted by the Order of Null. And if all these do not kill him, there’s the threat offered by his own parent! What’s a young superman to do?
32. Work set on a space ship (non-generation ship): Star Trek Nemesis, by J. M. Dillard and John Vornholt (2002) May 4 - 6, 2013
** Enterprise is summoned to the Romulan star system to begin diplomatic negotiations, but of course it’s a trap. Captain Picard faces one of his most deadly opponents – his own clone!
Meanwhile, other crew members face their own challenges. Wil and Deanna are getting married, Beverly Crusher is preparing to take over Starfleet Medical (again!), and Data meets yet another android “brother.”
And of course this all leads to a confrontation which may decide the fate of the Earth. Again.
This could also have been entitled Star Trek: Déjà vu.
I love Star Trek, but I did not love this book. Or the movie, for that matter.
33. Work set on a generation ship (may take place at any point in voyage, including beginning and ending): Dust, by Elizabeth Bear (2008) June 18 - 20, 2013.
**** When Rien, a servant girl, helps the maimed Perceval to escape execution in Rule, the two embark on a perilous voyage to the realm of Engine.
They are aboard the wrecked Generation Ship Jacob’s Ladder. Stranded in an unstable binary system, a millennium-long civil war has split the crew, passengers, and even the ship’s AI, into warring factions. Now, time is running out for the people, the ship, and even the star system!
Elements of mythology, fantasy, and hard science combine to make this a thrilling read, and it’s only the beginning.
34. Work set on a permanent man-made habitat in space (i.e. a space station): Up against it, by M. J. Locke (2011) March 11 - 13, 2013
**** An industrial accident destroys much of the water and methane ice needed to sustain the Phocaea cluster, threatening the existence of the asteroid colony. A newborn rogue AI, spawned by the accident, complicates matters. When it is realized that the “accident” was engineered by the Martian Mob, attempting to expand their influence, the stakes rise exponentially. And it’s all being broadcast live on the ‘Stroiders reality network!
Only a disgraced resource manager, a cult-like band of genetic misfits, and a bunch of teenagers can save the habitat from disaster.
35. Work that has won the Hugo Award: The Wanderer, by Fritz Lieber (1964) February 28 - March 2, 2013
**** A new planet appears out of nowhere, and calamity ensues. Its gravity destroys the Moon, and its tides cause devastating earthquakes, tsunamis, and flooding.
It becomes apparent that the planet is under intelligent control, that it was piloted through hyperspace. Are aliens coming to invade the Earth, or is it all some cosmic accident?
36. Work that has won the Nebula Award: Moving Mars, by Greg Bear (1993) July 18 - 20, 2013
*** Casseia Majumdar is living in interesting times. Though still a colony of Earth, Mars is moving towards independence from the corporations of Earth. Unfortunately, the homeworld doesn’t want that. When a technological breakthrough destabilizes the balance of power, the Martians are forced to take extreme steps, not only for freedom, but for survival.
37. Work that has won the Locus Award: Hammered, by Elizabeth Bear (2004) Book 1 in the Jenny Casey trilogy. March 6 - 9, 2013
*** Jenny Casey is a veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. Her left arm and left eye are cybernetic, and deteriorating from age. Still scarred, emotionally as well as physically, she wants nothing to do with her old life.
But people in her neighborhood are dying of a drug suspiciously like those used by the Canadian forces. When her old bosses track her down and offer her a job and upgrades to her prosthetics, Jenny discovers an opportunity to get well – and to get revenge.
38. Work that has won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award: A Woman of the Iron People, by Eleanor Arnason (1991) February 20 - 27, 2013
*** This is a story of two women. Lixia is a human scientist exploring a planet in the Sigma Draconis star system. Nia is a furred native of the planet, a blacksmith exiled from her own people.
As Lixia records the stories and customs of Nia’s race, we discover the similarities and differences between humanity and this alien race. We also learn about the possible evolution and fate of human society.
39. Work that has won the John W. Campbell Award: The Child Garden, by Geoff Ryman (1990) May 31 - June 5, 2013
*** Good news: They’ve cured cancer!
Bad news: Apparently, pre-cancerous cells secrete substances which retard the aging process. The normal human lifespan is cut in half.
Milena Shibush lives in a future in which bio-engineered viruses have revolutionized the human race. Not all of this is a good thing, mind you. Milena’s in a unique position, as she is apparently resistant to many of these viruses. This makes her a second-class citizen.
Struggling against her handicaps, and mourning a failed love affair, Milena directs a world-spanning opera based on Dante’s Divine Comedy, while around her friends die.
This is a stunning tapestry of a psychedelic future. I referred to a book I read recently as “surreal”. I should have saved the adjective for this one.
40. Work that has won the Philip K. Dick Award: Software, by Rudy Rucker (1982) Ware tetralogy, book 1. May 17 - 18, 2013
***Cobb Anderson did a lot of work with robots. But he felt they shouldn’t be subjected to the restricted “Asimov Laws.” So he taught them how to break free.
Now the “Boppers,” as the free robots are called, are dwelling in exile on the moon. They are very grateful to Cobb and they want to make him immortal. The first thing they need to do is remove his brain…
And another book:
Wetware, by Rudy Rucker (1988) Ware tetralogy, book 2 May 19 – 20, 2013
*** The free robots known as “Boppers” have started putting control mechanisms into human brains, creating “Meaties,” but that’s not enough for them. They’re trying to make fast-growing human children with programming built into their DNA.
If the robots can’t beat us, they’ll outbreed us.