the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘discussion

So, you’ve loved this one band for years. Years i say!  you’ve seen them in concert, bought the merch, back in the day you bought the physical albums (and the overpriced imports and live albums!!).  You told everyone you knew how much you loved this band.

 

and then their new album came out!

 

and you bought it!

 

and it was  .  .  .  .

 

pretty shitty, actually.

 

You listened to it a bunch of times, in hopes it would grow on you, and the only thing that grew was the hope that the band would go back to their old, wonderful music style. Yeah, yeah, you know they’ve gotten experimental lately, and every artist goes through those stages, but maybe next time they’ll experiment in a direction that you like more?

 

can you still call yourself a fan of theirs, if you think their new sounds sucks?

 

here’s what I’m really getting at:

What do you do when it isn’t a band whose new album isn’t to your tastes. . .  but it’s an author you like?

 

You loved their early stuff.  you special ordered signed editions. You bought all their books in hardcover!  You drove hours to see them at a booksigning (you’ve probably done this multiple times), and waited in line for a few hours to get your book signed and when you finally got to the front of the line and the person politely thanked you for coming you said some requisite stupid fangirl/fanboy thing like “omgiloveyourbookssomuchthankyouforbreathingthesameairibreathe”.

 

and you are SO EXCITED for their new book!

 

and it finally came out, and you got it and . . .

 

DNF’d it.

 

because while it was well written, it absolutely, truly, was not to your tastes and you just didn’t enjoy reading it.

 

what do you do now?   How do you respond when you friends say “you love so and so’s work, right? didn’t they have a new book come out?”

 

Can you still consider yourself a fan of this author?  Was this new book just an experimental phase, and maybe they’ll go back to writing the way they used to?  How do you reconcile your “omg, i love this author so much!”,  with your feels towards their new book?

 

and worst of all . . . is this just how art works?  A musician or author or artist or film maker makes something you love, and you love the thing and you love the creator of the thing. . . .   but the fact that you liked it, that was just a happy accident, as far as the artist and the universe is concerned.  The artist’s obligation isn’t to you, right? Their obligation is to their own need to create art.

 

 

and while I ruminate on that  I’m gonna go listen to Folie a Deux another hundred times, because every track on that album is GOLD.  Save Rock and Roll only had like 2 good tracks and the rest sucked (also, did Katy Perry write “Where did the Party Go?”).  Guess i can’t call myself a Fallout Boy fan anymore, since i think their new stuff is just meh. I didn’t even buy American Beauty/American Psycho.

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This week’s discussion topic is:

Topic for Jan 20 – Jan 26: Why is this important to you?   Why are you interested in reading Vintage SciFi? What do you get out of it?

With so many new books coming out every year, why even bother reading older science fiction?

Is there value in reading older science fiction?  Is it worth your time?

Why even read this stuff?

 

This is something I’ve thought about a lot over the past five years.  Reading older science fiction, for me, is like taking the world’s most fun history class. I get to see what life was like in the 60s, the 40s, the 30s, and before 1900, through the eyes of speculative fiction.     Because I can’t think of a way to phrase it better, I’m going to plagarize myself from a Vintage SciFi blog post I wrote in 2016:

If you could ask your great grandparents what their life was like when they were growing up, you would, right?

If you could go back in time and see what your country and your family were like before social media took over the universe, you’d be interesting in seeing what the world was like, right?

This January, you can. This January, I invite you to travel through time with me. Travel into the past, look into the youthful eyes of your great grandparents. See what came before so we could have what we have now.

Ok, maybe not time travel exactly. . . but sort of.

Everything comes from somewhere. You came from your parents, duh. But who are the parents of your favorite science fiction books? I’ll tell you: the parents of your favorite science fiction books are the books that author read to be inspired and to dream. And those books have parents too. If you don’t like me using the word “book parents” here, how about “the author’s influences”? Something they were influenced and inspired by to create something new and modern.

By reading older fiction, you get to see how that fiction progressed to get to where it is today. You get to experience the family tree, as it were, of speculative fiction.

Ok, that’s my two cents.

What are yours?

I used to struggle with short stories. I had no idea how to read anthologies.  How hard could a themed anthology be, right?  I’d overthink the entire thing, and make myself miserable.  I’d finish stories I didn’t enjoy because some part of my brain was telling me that these stories were chapters in a larger universe, and if I missed the end of the story, I’d have missed some important plot point. No wonder I didn’t get it! For the life of me, I could not understand why anyone thought short stories were worth a damn.

 

Luckily, I finally my hands on some anthologies that weren’t crap, and I came across some fantastic single author short story collection, and I found some fantastic short story podcasts (if you’ve not listened to Kate Baker tell you a story, you are in for a treat!).

 

Also? that table of contents? I completely ignore it.   The editor spent days or maybe weeks putting that table of contents together for goodness sakes, they are telling me something with that table of contents, I should respect their message, right?

 

The first time I realized I could read an anthology in any order I pleased was a revelation.  Since then, I’ve been reading the shortest stories first, and working my way up to the longest stories. Or, I’ll read the interesting sounding titles first. Or I’ll read my favorite authors first.  If I read two or three short stories and I’m still “meh” on the whole deal, I’ll probably put the book down and never pick it back up again. What I’m getting at is that when I started allowing myself to have control over how I read an anthology and read it however I damn pleased, I started enjoying them a lot more.   Sorry editor,  all your work on your perfect table of contents was wasted on me.  Can I buy you a drink or dinner when I see you at a convention, to make it up to you?

 

How about you?   Are you into short stories?  How do you imbibe them? Anthologies? single author collections? short story magazines and/or podcasts?   If you’re like me, and you used to struggle with short stories, how did you get past the struggle?

 

people have been posting Vintage SciFi reviews and discussions all over the place!   While I’m battling airport traffic today, you should enjoy these links to Vintage SciFi goodness all over the blogopshere!   it’s like a giftbox of chocolate truffles. where do I start?  with the caramel? with the white chocolate? with that sparkly one?

Found a link I missed?  Post it in the comments and I’ll update the list as soon as I can.

Howling Frog Books offers up a selection of reviews, including Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clark, We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester, and Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick.

Sheila Williams has a heartfelt editorial in Asimov’s about remembering Frederik Pohl

My Readers Block reviews Dangerous Visions #3, edited by Harlan Ellison and including short stories by Theodore Sturgeon, Roger Zelazny, Norman Spinrad, J. G. Ballard, and more, and Angels and Spaceships by Fredric Brown

Books Without Any Pictures reviews The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with some great cover art!! Also a great review of Flatland by Edwin Abbot.

Lynn’s Book Blog reviews Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

50 Year Project reviews The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

Genre-Bending discusses The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Some timely posts on SFSignal recently, one on Reading More Older SFF, and another on LGBT Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 1970s

I can always count on Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations for Vintage goodies. In the past week he’s posted an extensive cover art gallery, and a review of A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire  by Michael Bishop.

AQ’s Reviews discusses Marooned on Mars by Lester Del Rey

I Read Therefore I Am discusses The Day of The Triffids by John Wyndham

So many of these Vintage SF books feel dated, don’t they?  computers that are the size of rooms, a lack of non-male and non-anglo characters, technology that doesn’t really work, being able to breathe unaided on the surface of the Moon or Venus or some such. City dwellers who don’t know how to use a telephone or drive a car. Wow that feels dated!

What “classic” science fiction books have stood the test of time?  written decades ago, how has it survived not feeling dated? Is it something about the prose, the characters, the setting, the technology?

And now for the second, far more interesting question, prompted by a guest post written here a few days ago by Kamo of this is how she fight start. Go read the post, it’s one of my favorites, but the gist of it is this:

“Vintage SF is a perfect singularity of past, present, and future tenses. It shows us the world as it was going to be. When the world is changing fast enough that it becomes unrecognizable within the space of a lifetime that’s a rare kind of unity.”

Among other discussions in the comments, it’s mentioned that older science fiction is a time capsule, and that science fiction is always on the edge of and flirting with obsolescence, that all science fiction writers are influenced by what came before, whether they realize it or not.

There’s a lot to unpack in that post, and in the comments.  Kamo’s post prompts me to make a minor change to my original question:

What modern science fiction books will stand the test of time?

fifty years from now, when some other blogger does a Vintage month, what science fiction books written in the last 10 years will have stood the test of time? What will feel timeless, what will feel dated? what is the particular variable that will make a book feel dated, or feel timeless?

Wow, where did the beginning of December go?  Christmas is right around the corner, and then January. . .  and then, well, January is sort of the start of some explosions for me.  So in preparation for that, I won’t be doing much in the way of formal book reviews and expected blog posts for the rest of the year.  Sure, I’ve got another read along post (N.K. Jemisin is holy shit AMAZING btw), a “best of the year” post, and one more book review in the works, but I’m taking the rest of December easy.   Taking a breather to mentally prepare for January.

That said, let’s just have some fun discussions.   I’ll shamelessly steal discussion questions from i09,  Sunday Salon posts, and discussion memes, and we can just sit around and chat in the comments.

First random discussion question:

What’s your guilty pleasure in books?

this was on my mind recently, because I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that super hot sex scenes is a major guilty pleasure of mine.  No thanks to reading The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which for not having a ton of actual sex, has a ton of insanely steamy scenes.

I also have a major weakness for snarky, swear word filled dialog.  But that’s not so much a guilty pleasure, as I can find it just about anywhere.

 

Your turn!  Take it over in the comments!


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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