the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘discussion

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.