Pixel Scroll 7/17

Praise, complaints and tales of derring-didn’t fill the Scroll today.

(1) George Barr, Fan Guest of Honor at MidAmeriCon, the 1976 Worldcon, unexpectedly popped up in a soft-sell blog entry for PR firm Signal Hill, “Science Fiction Illustrator Finds Home”

Barr’s art, often marked by a distinctive watercolor-over-ballpoint pen technique, illustrated science fiction magazines for decades, including the covers of “Amazing Stories,” “Fantastic Stories” and “If.” Barr also brought books to life through his work with publishers like DAW Books and Ace Books.

Prior to compiling this impressive resume, Barr did a great deal of free work for “fanzines,” non-professional publications popular in the science fiction world. Not only did it help build his portfolio, but it was a way to get his illustrations out, he says. The work even earned him a Hugo Award for best fan artist at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1968.

Barr earned these achievements with only one formal art course under his belt. Though he says he learned a lot about color, harmony and composition, the emphasis on commercial art did not play toward his interests. The freedom of the fantasy genre spoke to him most, he says.

“There was absolutely nothing you could imagine that could not occur,” says Barr of the genre. “You can conceivably be drawing anything that ever existed or might.”

Barr is 78 and has good things to say about the retirement community where he lives.

(2) Was the late Christopher Lee’s illustrious war record a complete fabrication? The Daily Mail writer who penned Lee’s obituary is now deconstructing his claims.

Until the end of the war, the man who would be Dracula served with the air force as an intelligence officer, briefing and debriefing pilots, and liaising with other units.

It was during this time that he claimed to have served in some way with the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS.

As Gavin Mortimer has shown, there is simply no evidence to support this. Lee may have worked alongside these units in some way, but he was emphatically not a part of them.

‘Lee didn’t exactly lie,’ says Mortimer. ‘But he did lead us on, encouraging us to believe [his job] had involved more derring-do than it actually did.’

In an interview he gave to Belgian television to promote Lord Of The Rings, Lee claimed also to have served with a small special forces organisation called No 1 Demolition Squadron, better known as Popski’s Private Army (PPA) after its charismatic leader Major Vladimir Peniakoff.

Like the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS, the PPA was a raiding and reconnaissance unit, and its exploits are venerated by many.

Again, there is no hard evidence to support Lee’s claim that he worked with the PPA.

(3) It’s not so much the complaints about Comic-Con that drew me to Heidi MacDonald’s roundup of what the convention’s critics had to say, but what she revealed in passing about the support other cons give to fans with disabilities, which far exceeds anything I see at the cons I attend:

There were many complaints about Hall H this year as always. Was it different? Not sure. I do know at least one person told me he got in and found many empty seats inside while a huge line was still waiting to get in, but that could be due to safety measures for crowd control. I would like to draw your attention to this post by Nick Eskey on the Talk Back panel and the subsequent comment threads as it deals with disabled attendees and the line wait. While to some hearing a fellow complain about not having a place to plug in his CPAP machine while waiting for Hall H may seem the height of folly, but you know, physically challenged fans have the same right to experience whatever it is they want out of Hall H as anyone else.

This is that guy that only slept 16 hours and needed his CPAP machine. You apparently only caught part of what I was saying, which is, that if they had not removed the outlets I could have used my CPAP machine and slept outside just fine. Besides that, however, you missed the point completely which is not everyone with disabilities can sleep outside. Because of that they should be given special consideration for their placement in line. What other convention gives ADA this sort of consideration? Try Emerald City Comic Con and PAX Prime, both in Seattle and both allow ADA to ALWAYS be first in line. Try DragonCon in Atlanta, where ADA have volunteers that will guide them through the convention, hold their spot in line and generally assist them in whatever way needed. I was on the BoD for OkCon and we bent over backwards to assist our ADA. Maybe because we had people on the board with disabilities.

And there’s even more in the Nick Eskey post she links to.

(4) On the other hand, fans are responding skeptically to a blogger’s complaint to SDCC management that the nine-year-old Who fan in his party was traumatized by the horror-oriented displays near the items they went to see. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the complaint myself. As the parent of a 13-year-old, I have discovered my former ideas of what’s okay for kids were pretty out-of-touch.

I attended SDCC this year as part of a larger group. One of our party, a nine-year-old, is a HUGE Whovian (we are a large Whovian family), so the first day at the convention we immediately made our way to the BBC America booth for Doctor Who merchandise, photo ops, and chatting with the BBC America representatives onsite about Doctor Who and upcoming events. We found that the booth was sandwiched between a booth for AMC’s The Walking Dead and Starz’s upcoming series Ash vs Evil Dead. Though problematic on its own, we were extra upset to find that both horror booths had their walls covered in TVs playing, on loop, terrifying clips of zombie horror (The Walking Dead) and absurdly gory violence (Ash vs Evil Dead), of which the latter’s level of violence I, even as a 24 year old man, actively avoid because it’s an anxiety trigger to me.

That night our 9 year-old woke up screaming with nightmares about zombies attacking her, and the next day she burst into tears when we tried to enter the con floor (despite the fact that we were far from the horror booths). For the rest of the con, while we were able to get her onto the con floor without a meltdown, we had to make a wide berth around the BBC America booth because of its proximity to the Walking Dead and Ash vs Evil Dead booths, which was secondarily upsetting for her because she was previously extremely excited to be near the Doctor Who things (especially the TARDIS set up at the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum booth, also placed next to the Ash vs Evil Dead booth – she wanted to take her photo with the TARDIS so badly).

…Thank you so much for all that you do to organize and present this convention every year. Beyond this, we had very little issues with the rest of the con and overall had a great time. It’s simply unfortunate that the experience was marred by the emotional trauma inadvertently caused to our child stemming from the placement of BBC America’s booth between two of the biggest horror booths at the convention.

(5) John King Tarpinian says Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale is getting a lot of people wanting to buy reading copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, which led to a surprising discovery. “They are running out of paperback reading copies. A good customer says she wants a copy, the bookshop has one paperback left but Malcolm remembers that Christine paid $2 for a 40th anniversary hardback the other day and figures he’d be nice by offering it to the customer for $5 when she comes in. Malcolm, as is his habit, opens the book to discover it is SIGNED by Harper Lee. This is how a $2 book becomes a $1000 book.”

 

(6) While analyzing how the Hugos fit into contemporary fandom, Karl-Johan Norén points out that everyone thinks he/she is at the center of fandom.

(Ur-)Fandom came to Sweden in the 1950s. In the early 70s Tolkien societies evolved here from it, in many ways similar to SCA in the United States. The ties between the Tolkien societies and fandom in Sweden are still strong, and we can mingle relatively easily. However, media fandom, cosplay, LARP, and lots of other stuff were direct imports from the United States. Here the cultural differences are much larger and more profound. Partly this is because of the direct import, partly this is because Swedish fandom after the disastrous feuds of the 80s closed in on itself and very much focused on the core of discussing science fiction as books.

Put another way, the splinter lines within all the various off-shoots, special fandoms, and so are much easier to see here in Sweden. But the same tendencies are very much present in the United States, I imagine.

Another thing which has happened, from the 90s forward, is that the Internet has made it much easier to set up special interest groups that can gain critical size and connectivity. Baen’s Bar is one early such example, but there are many more nowadays.

So which of these disparate groups do the label “fandom” belong to nowadays? All of them. However, there is a tendency to use the word “fandom” as a shorthand for “the specific fannish group that I happen to be a member of”. I believe this is especially true within “core” fandom, the one that evolved around the pulp magazines in the 20s and 30s, with a primary interest in written science fiction. Historically, I think that movement can claim having first dibs on the label, but it helps to remember that fandom nowadays is much bigger and diverse than “core” fandom is.

(7) And as a kind of postscript, here are John Scalzi’s, Cheryl Morgan’s and Fred Kiesche’s tweets inspired by the report Michael Z. Williamson is voting No Award in every Hugo category.

170 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/17

  1. so regarding the bracket thing i’ve got it narrowed down to 64 titles but 32 brackets in the first round seems like a bit much

    also i am drunk now

    will have to think about this more going to bed for now

  2. @Jim Henley: A major failing of the Pups is they can’t accept that there can be honest differences of taste.

    I’ve known people who take “I don’t like this thing you like” as a personal attack – you’re not just expressing a different taste, you’re attacking their taste. (My father was like that. It gave me a healthy distaste for that sort.)

  3. Well, that went quickly. I finished the estimable Laura Resnick’s Abracadaver in pretty much one sitting, right after wolfing down the last book-and-a-half of the “Saving Mars” series earlier this week.

    Good work, as usual, but perhaps I should’ve skimmed the end of The Misfortune Cookie first. The recaps early on helped, though… and I can surmise that whatever the author’s favored pasta dish is, it is not overcooked ravioli. 🙂

    I think maybe it’s time for a short introduction to The Expanse; The Butcher of Anderson Station is next.

  4. Re: 1985 Hugos: Here is a link to that year’s works, reviewed by Jo Walton. She does a really great job looking at the other awards as well. As if a reading list wasn’t already too big, going back and finding some of these works would really turn me into a hermit!

  5. 2010, seriously? I remember seeing it, but that’s all I remember about it.

    A surprisingly well done movie, if you don’t expect it to be 2001 2. Continuity doesn’t quite match up — the glorious sixties view of space progress is almost completely gone– and it’s very much a product of the early eighties Cold War climate, assuming nuclear war would happen sooner rather than later. If you grew up during that time, it captures that feeling brilliantly.

    And it’s a redemption movie, as HAL 9000 gets to atone for its earlier actions.

  6. Will R:

    JCW apparently just disowned Heinlein. The schism is fully upon us.

    In fairness, he’s only said that SIASL isn’t actually Great Literature. I don’t think he’s wrong. I don’t even think it’s the best thing Heinlein wrote, or the second best, or the third.

  7. I’m undecided on whether ‘Dinosaur’ is SF, but I think it was definitely not the least SFnal work nominated for either a Hugo or a Nebula last year.

    As for Wright, several of the essays in Transhuman and Subhuman are quite critical of Heinlein. We shouldn’t credit the Puppies with too much unity.

  8. Can someone explain to me what the “sf bracket” is? I seem to have missed the original post about it, and all I can think of is the hardware for holding up shelves for SF books.

  9. I am so glad there’s no purity test for the Hugos.

    Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be to judge the SFF bona fides of a story? How on earth would you determine them? Who would decide?

    Better to have open standards, leave the grumbling to cranks and malcontents, and read and enjoy the stories.

    I plan to nominate Go Set a Watchmen, for it’s alternate universe portrayal of Atticus Finch.

    (Not really. I’m just trolling.)

  10. Okay, so something related somehow to spectator sports (I think; probably nothing to do with The March Hare). That doesn’t clarify things much, for me.

  11. Morris, it’s super-easy to google “March Madness.” Unless you’re doing the classic “Establish my nerd cred by loudly declaring I neither know nor care about icky sports” move. In which case, hey, go for it.

  12. @Morris Keesan

    What Cally said. Somewhere back in the threads there was discussion of of greatest sf writer of all time. Someone proposed an elimination tournament to determine an ultimate winner.

    For non-Americans (I’m pretty sure it’s mainly an American idiom) a bracket looks like this:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bracket_(tournament)

  13. And, btw, it’s easy to tell what’s science fiction and what isn’t. Just see what Damon Knight is pointing at.

  14. As to the guy who wants Comic Con to be 9-year-old Friendly, he’s someone who has never been to a Comic Con (or perhaps any comic convention) before this one and it isn’t what he imagined. And therefore it should change. I’ve had a discussion with him about this matter and he feels that since it’s a “comic book convention” it couldn’t be anything but for children. As a parent he apparently did no research about where he was bringing his child.

    He reminds me of the people who buy and move into houses near airports and then complain that the airport should change its hours of operation or close down because they’re too noisy and disturb people who live nearby.

  15. Craig, my parents had stories about people who buy houses in the country for the peace and quiet, and then discover that the country isn’t really either one. Same mindset, different location.

  16. And then there’s my favorite, the people who buy condominiums in “hip” neighborhoods with night life, then try to shut down the night life because it’s too noisy.

  17. @PJ Evans

    We had that near one place I lived. Folks moving out to the country only to discover that dairy farms next door reek of cow and cow manure. Many of those dairy farms have been there more than a hundred years but oh the letters to the editor demanding the country do something about it (mostly proposals to zone the dairy farms out of existence).

  18. Hi guys! I’ve been in Home Renovation Planning Hell, so I’ve kind of lost track of things around here. Where is the general conversation occuring? Is it on the Pixel Scrolls, rolling over to a new thread daily, or is on To Your Scattered Kennels? I just peaked over there and peoplea re arguing with Brian Z and I just … nope.

    I’ve also just read the re-edited ebook versions of the first 4 Exordium books, and am bouncing with excitement for the last one to come out in a few weeks. I reeaaallllllly want other people to read them too so I can discuss them in depth.

  19. Dr. Science, I’m entirely unfamiliar with the Exordium books. SF? Fantasy? What about them (in general terms rather than spoilerific ones, obviously) do you like? Should I hunt them down? Who wrote them?

  20. The Exordium series is particularly operatic space opera. It came out in paperback in the 90s, and has been out of hard-copy print for years. The authors, Sherwood Smith and Dave Trowbridge, have re-edited it for ebook publication.

    The authors’ say their ‘elevator pitch’ goes: Exordium is a cross between Star Wars and Dangerous Liaisons with a touch of the Three Stooges. It’s very richly-textured, with a cast of zillions, and contains very good space battles, political/personal machinations, mystical experiences, and a pie fight. The prose and emotions can be over-the-top, though, and there’s a good bit of vomiting and other excretions.

  21. How can I not like a series that includes a pie fight? Thanks much for the rec; I’ll have to hunt it down.

  22. Can’t remember which thread people were talking about what they were currently reading. I was feeling a bit burnt out on bad SF (thanks Brad) and thought I’d got for some bad thrillers for a bit.
    I started reading the first of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books. Oh. My. God.

    I now understand who Tank Marmot is playing at being.

  23. I’ve been reading some great fantastika lately.

    My recent reads have been Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross, Aurora by KSR, and Signal To Noise by Silvia Morena-Garcia. I have just started Flex by Ferrrett Steinmetz. Next up would be A Prospect of War by Ian Sales. All are 2015 novels.

  24. OK, so for the bracket I’ve got a 32-book version that was cut down with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. I realize that the 64-book/32 pairing set is only one iteration bigger than the other one, but I can’t help but feel that 32 pairings is kind of overwhelming to vote on. So I think I’m going to go with the smaller one. I am, however, going to provide a means to sneakily vote for the ones I left off, or others (see below) …

    The arbitrary rules used to select volumes included: any individual author only gets one entry, nothing published after 1999 for the “test of time” factor, arguably SF only, not pure fantasy (the 64-book set had more “borderline” cases, though), no series or individual short stories allowed, but an individual book from a series or a collection of short stories by a single author published as a volume are both allowed. Also an understanding that this is all meaningless fun and more an excuse to discuss books than anything else. 🙂

    Using those rules, I generated an initial set of 77 SF books, which I cut down to 64, then made a second cutting down to 32 while screaming ONLY THE STRONGEST SHALL SURVIVE THE REAPING at my computer.

    Basic rules will be:

    1) You can declare one book in a pairing the winner. An explanation why would be nice but is not required.

    2) You may declare a pairing a tie or say you cannot decide, An explanation why would be nice but is not required.

    3) You may declare that a book that I have selected as a representative book by an author is clearly THE WRONG BOOK, that author wrote another book which is CLEARLY superior, and you will vote for that one instead. Explanations why, along with insults to my intelligence and ancestry, would be nice but are not required. (Please note that it should ideally be an SF book, published before 2000.)

    4) You may declare that there is a book by a completely different author which is clearly better than EITHER BOOK that I have foolishly selected for a given pairing, and vote for that instead. Explanations, insults, SF from before 2000, etc. etc. I will include in a separate post a list of books I considered and left off as an aid to this should anyone wish to do it, but such a book need not come from this list.

  25. Kyra, this sounds like fun! So, are you going to post pairs for voting on, staggered over time, or the whole initial bracket? I’d vote “pairs” myself; it’ll give more room for in-depth comments (compliments, brickbats, pie fights) about authors and works…

  26. Hm, we can start with solo pairs, see how it goes. If we stick with that, that probably means Rule 4 will only come into play after the first cut, when it’s known what’s been selected and what hasn’t been.

    Anyway, here’s the first pairing of the 16 round one pairs, as coupled by random dice roll:

    1. ENEMIES FROM UP THERE, ENEMIES FROM DOWN HERE
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Octavia Butler: Kindred

  27. Embarrassed to say I can’t vote on this one; War of the Worlds is a fine example of seminal SF… but I’ve never read the Butler. So I abstain, but would welcome descriptions of Kindred….

  28. Don’t be embarrassed! No one’s read everything. Does make it seem like I should have more than one out at a time, though, to increase the chances that those who want to join in will have something to join in on. Maybe the whole list bracket at once is a better idea — people can, after all, spend as much time as they want discussing any individual pairing …

  29. Yeah, thinking about it, I’m judging that the chances that even fairly widely-read people have read enough to judge any given individual pair might be small. So here’s the whole thing! Feel free to approach it piecemeal, with whatever you’ve read, no need to address everything in a single comment. (And remember that you can replace books with other books you feel are superior in your discussion. Even if you haven’t read the book you’re replacing! If it was better, you’d have read it, right?)

    1. ENEMIES FROM UP THERE, ENEMIES FROM DOWN HERE
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Octavia Butler: Kindred

    2. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, WE CONTROL YOUR WORLD
    Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire
    Aldous Huxley: Brave New World

    3. AS ABOVE, DROWNBELOW
    J. G. Ballard: The Drowned World
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station

    4. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL VS. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination

    5. I AM TOTALLY NOT LOST IN THE COMPLEXITIES OF THIS NARRATIVE
    Harlan Ellison: The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World (the collection)
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    6. HATE IS THE PLAN THE PLAN IS DEATH
    George Orwell: 1984
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

    7. DO YOU GROK ME, MY DROOG?
    Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land
    Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange

    8. STRANGE PEOPLE, STRANGE DAYS
    Kate Wilhelm: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
    Samuel Delany: Dhalgren

    9. NEAR THE BEGINNING AND NEAR THE END
    Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End

    10. IS UNDERSTANDING POSSIBLE Y/N?
    Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness
    Stanislaw Lem: Solaris

    11. THE MOVIES REALLY DIDN’T DO EITHER OF THEM JUSTICE, HONESTLY
    Douglas Adams: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    12. TRAPPED IN A WORLD THEY NEVER MADE
    Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale
    Phillip K. Dick: Ubik

    13. LEARNING MORALITY — THE HARD WAY
    Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451
    Theodore Sturgeon: More Than Human

    14. FAR TRAVELLERS
    Iain M. Banks: Use of Weapons
    Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time

    15. UM, ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, HASN’T IT?
    Walter M. Miller Jr.: A Canticle for Leibowitz
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    16. THESE TWO ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO GET ALONG
    Joanna Russ: The Female Man
    Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game

  30. And for reference, here are some books that were on the larger list, but were removed when it was winnowed down to 32:

    Brian Aldiss: Hothouse
    Cyrano de Bergerac: Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon
    James Blish: A Life for the Stars
    John Brunner: The Sheep Look Up
    Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon
    Lois McMaster Bujold: The Warrior’s Apprentice
    Nicola Griffith: Slow River
    M. John Harrison: Light
    Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon
    Lois Lowry: The Giver
    Richard Matheson: I Am Legend
    Anne McCaffrey: Dragonflight
    Vonda McIntyre: Dreamsnake
    Michael Moorcock: The Condition of Muzak
    Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle: The Mote in God’s Eye
    Andre Norton: Witch World
    Christopher Priest: The Prestige
    Clifford Simak: City
    Olaf Stapledon: Star Maker
    Neal Stephenson: Snow Crash
    Arkady and Boris Strugatsky: Roadside Picnic
    Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels
    Sheri S. Tepper: The Gate to Women’s Country
    Jack Vance: The Pnume
    John Varley: Titan
    Joan D. Vinge: The Snow Queen
    Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five
    David Foster Wallace: Infinite Jest
    Connie Willis: Doomsday Book
    Robert Charles Wilson: Darwinia
    Gene Wolfe: The Urth of the New Sun
    John Wyndham: The Day of the Triffids
    Yevgeny Zamyatin: We

  31. Of all the matches, there are only two where I’ve read both halves. So I’d vote:

    11. FRANKENSTEIN

    13. FAHRENHEIT 451

    In both cases, I think the other choice is more fun and a book I’ve read more often. But I think those two are better artistic achievements.

  32. Let’s see…

    1. ENEMIES FROM UP THERE, ENEMIES FROM DOWN HERE
    Octavia Butler: Kindred

    2. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, WE CONTROL YOUR WORLD
    Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire
    The Huxley is better in some ways, but weakened by Huxley’s own yearnings for stuff that’s part of the system of control here. The Asimov, meanwhile, has depths of ambiguity that he’s seldom given credit for.

    3. AS ABOVE, DROWNBELOW
    J. G. Ballard: The Drowned World

    4. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL VS. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    I’m not sure I would have voted for Neuromancer over Shockwave Rider, and there’s some case for John Shirley’s City Come A-Walkin’ in here somewhere.

    5. I AM TOTALLY NOT LOST IN THE COMPLEXITIES OF THIS NARRATIVE
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    6. HATE IS THE PLAN THE PLAN IS DEATH
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
    I’d have put this up against a collection of Orwell’s essays instead. 🙂

    7. DO YOU GROK ME, MY DROOG?
    no opinion

    8. STRANGE PEOPLE, STRANGE DAYS
    can’t decide

    9. NEAR THE BEGINNING AND NEAR THE END
    Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End
    Really amazing in requiring both optimism and pessimism to be tempered.

    10. IS UNDERSTANDING POSSIBLE Y/N?
    Stanislaw Lem: Solaris
    For this subject, Lem wins. Le Guin would win with other priorities.

    11. THE MOVIES REALLY DIDN’T DO EITHER OF THEM JUSTICE, HONESTLY
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    It’s _so darned weird_.

    12. TRAPPED IN A WORLD THEY NEVER MADE
    can’t decide

    13. LEARNING MORALITY — THE HARD WAY
    Theodore Sturgeon: More Than Human

    14. FAR TRAVELLERS
    Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time

    15. UM, ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, HASN’T IT?
    Walter M. Miller Jr.: A Canticle for Leibowitz

    16. THESE TWO ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO GET ALONG
    Joanna Russ: The Female Man

  33. Kyra, <snork!> I *love* your titles for each heat….

    And you’ve picked some amazing books; it’s going to be really hard to rank them.

    That being said….

    1) No vote; haven’t read the Butler.

    2) I’ve gotta go with the Huxley on this one. Asimov was an amazing writer, but honestly I’d rank Nightfall higher than Foundation and Empire. And Brave New World is a really, really important early work.

    3) Downbelow Station. I re-read this one every few years….

    4) Um. Dang. This one is *hard. I think Neuromancer. But it’s close. Really, really close.

    5) Gotta go with the Ellison on this one; I re-read Dune recently and found to my dismay that it had been visited by the Suck Fairy. Lots of telling and not much showing. I remember it was *so good* when I was fifteen… <sigh>

    6) Tiptree by a nose.

    7) A Clockwork Orange. Stranger is, in my opinion, when Heinlein first started going off the rails….

    8) As a clone myself, I have a visceral dislike for Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang. Not rational, but there you go. Dhalgren was psychedelic, but fascinating. So I’m voting for the Delany.

    9) Childhood’s End. Verne just doesn’t hold up as well as Wells for me.

    10) LeGuin, absolutely. But anyone who hasn’t read Lem should go forth and do so…

    11) I have to go with Frankenstein on this one. If you’d put Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy instead of Restaurant, however, it might have edged it out.

    12) Gack. Two books I wish I hadn’t read; they both gave me nightmares. Of course, that’s the sign of quality writing. That said, I’ll go with the straightforward theocratic distopia in Atwood, rather than the LSD distopia in Ubik.

    13) I’ve read the Sturgeon, but it didn’t stick with me, so I’m voting for the Bradbury, because it did.

    14) Banks, without a doubt.

    15) Damn it, Kyra, you’re making me choose???? Um… .Zelazny. By a whisker.

    16) I don’t like Card’s politics, but his book stuck with me, and the Russ did not. So, Ender’s Game

    Huh. 32 great SF books, and I’ve read all but one of them….
    (After we’re done with this, I’d love a Fantasy bracket, too… )

  34. 1. H.G Wells. Because I have never read Octavia Butler. Never heard of her to be honest.

    2. Huxley. A very hard choice.

    3. Not read.

    4. Gaaaaaah! I’ll go for Alfred Bester, but to kick out Neuromancer at this stage…

    5. Frank Herbert. Never read Ellison.

    6. Orwell. Never read Tiptree Jr.

    7. Heinlein. While Clockwork Orange was a fantastic movie, the book was good but not great. Not my favourite Heinlein though, more like place four or five.

    8. Not read.

    9. Jules Verne. Easy, because I hate everything written by Clarke.

    10. LeGuin, never read that one by Lem.

    11. Douglas Adams. The language of Frankenstein is not that much to my taste.

    12. Not read.

    13. Bradbury. Never read Sturgeon.

    14. Banks. Never read L’Engle.

    15. Never read.

    16. Card. Never read Joanna Russ.

    My knowledge from older SF is mostly based on two things: What was available in swedish and what was available in my fathers library. A lot of SF authors that I understand are famous in US are total unknowns for me, like Tiptree Jr and Norton.

  35. 1. Octavia Butler: Kindred

    2. Aldous Huxley: Brave New World

    3. C.J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station

    4. William Gibson: Neuromancer

    5. Frank Herbert: Dune

    6. James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

    7. Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land

    8. Samuel Delany: Dhalgren

    9. Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End

    10. Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    11. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    12. Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale

    13. Theodore Sturgeon: More Than Human

    14. Iain M. Banks: Use of Weapons

    15. Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    16. Joanna Russ: The Female Man

  36. Holy crap Kyra. You’ve just kicked off an extensive ongoing argument within myself. Thanks 🙂

    Will get back to you once argument concludes, but so far (because these are, to me, obvious):

    5. I AM TOTALLY NOT LOST IN THE COMPLEXITIES OF THIS NARRATIVE
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    9. NEAR THE BEGINNING AND NEAR THE END
    Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

    10. IS UNDERSTANDING POSSIBLE Y/N?
    Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness

  37. 1. ENEMIES FROM UP THERE, ENEMIES FROM DOWN HERE
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds

    One of the first sf books I actually bought. An iconic story.

    2. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, WE CONTROL YOUR WORLD
    Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire

    I’d say the trilogy has meant more to me over the years, though Huxley’s is an important work in the field.

    3. AS ABOVE, DROWNBELOW
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station

    Prefer Cherryh’s storytelling to Ballard’s, for sure.

    4. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL VS. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL
    Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination

    Heh — I’m not that big a fan of either novel, strangely enough.

    5. I AM TOTALLY NOT LOST IN THE COMPLEXITIES OF THIS NARRATIVE
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    Good Ellison stories versus one of the greatest novels of worldbuilding, mysticism and complex storytelling.

    6. HATE IS THE PLAN THE PLAN IS DEATH
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

    Unlike the Ellison collection, this is the author’s A-game. I don’t love Big Brother that much.

    7. DO YOU GROK ME, MY DROOG?
    Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land

    I could have downvoted either of these against a work that has fared better against the ravages of time.

    8. STRANGE PEOPLE, STRANGE DAYS
    Kate Wilhelm: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

    Well, I was able to finish the Wilhelm, so that’s one thing in its favor, and I liked it, too.

    9. NEAR THE BEGINNING AND NEAR THE END
    Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End

    Since the point is to pick one, I will choose the better-written novel.

    10. IS UNDERSTANDING POSSIBLE Y/N?
    Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Not a big Lem fan, either.

    11. THE MOVIES REALLY DIDN’T DO EITHER OF THEM JUSTICE, HONESTLY
    Douglas Adams: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

    Frankenstein tried my patience. Moby-Dick was more fun. So have to vote Adams here.

    12. TRAPPED IN A WORLD THEY NEVER MADE
    Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale

    Not an especially important Dick novel.

    13. LEARNING MORALITY — THE HARD WAY
    Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451

    Hey, we’re all Bradbury all the time at File 770!

    14. FAR TRAVELLERS
    Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time

    A Wrinkle in Time changed my life more. Read it when I was a kid. Perhaps the earliest fantasy novel I encountered that wasn’t strictly a kid’s book.

    15. UM, ALL THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, HASN’T IT?
    Walter M. Miller Jr.: A Canticle for Leibowitz

    Miller imparts a stronger sense of tragedy.

    16. THESE TWO ARE PROBABLY NOT GOING TO GET ALONG
    Orson Scott Card: Ender’s Game

    One of the great works of sf. Will I have to pick between it and Dune at some point? If so, I will vote Dune…

  38. 1. Never read “Kindred”.

    2. Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire
    Yeah, Huxley probably has better sentences. But Asimov has the true world-building *vision*, not to mention being a crucial formative influence on my whole life.

    3. I read them both decades ago and can’t remember enough to decide: no opinion.

    4. William Gibson: Neuromancer.
    I can’t get past the fact that Gully Foyle is a rapist, and I’m not sorry.

    5. Harlan Ellison: The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World (the collection)
    Contains so many stories that have anchored in my brain, whether I like them or not. Meanwhile, there are a lot of things in Dune that haven’t worn well (e.g.: evil gays, Great White Hero), and there’s the later volumes, dragging down the first one.

    6. James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection, I assume)
    So many great stories, while 1984 is more of a set of infodumps than a story. The best infodumps, I hasten to add.

    7. I was never able to get through either of them: no opinion.

    8. I got through both of them and never understood either: no opinion.

    9. I can’t believe Mr Dr Science never read “Childhood’s End”. He can’t believe I never read “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.

    10. Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness
    But Solaris may well have been lost in translation.

    11. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    But it’s a hard choice, and I’d probably have to re-read them both to make a clear judgment, which I’m not going to do right now.

    12. Never read either: Handmaid’s Tale sounds much too realistically depressing, Ubik much too surrealistically confusing.

    13. Theodore Sturgeon: More Than Human
    But it’s a really, really hard call. My choice is mostly because I read (and obsessively re-read) the Sturgeon first, doing my formative years.

    14. I haven’t yet read “Use of Weapons”, though it’s on my File770-swollen TBR list.

    15. Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    I would really enjoy having the time to re-read them both, saying it’s so I can make a clear judgement but really because I love them both and haven’t re-read either in a long time.

    16. I am too conflicted to vote right now. Maybe I need a snack.

  39. 2. ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, WE CONTROL YOUR WORLD ?Isaac Asimov: Foundation and Empire ?Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
    Oh! an excellent dilemma but despite Brave New World being a truly great book my love for Foundation is deeper it seems. Foundation and Empire wins.

    3. AS ABOVE, DROWNBELOW? J. G. Ballard: The Drowned World ?C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    The Drowned World. The racial element is disturbing but it is a extraordinary novel.

    4. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL VS. THE FIRST CYBERPUNK NOVEL ?William Gibson: Neuromancer? Alfred Bester: The Stars My Destination
    No contest IMHO: Neuromancer.

    6. HATE IS THE PLAN THE PLAN IS DEATH? George Orwell: 1984? James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
    OK I haven’t read Her Smoke Rose Up Forever but 1984 wins because it just does.

    7. DO YOU GROK ME, MY DROOG?? Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land? Anthony Burgess: A Clockwork Orange
    A Clockwork Orange – hmm I’m in danger of voting primarily for post-WW2 Englishmen

    9. NEAR THE BEGINNING AND NEAR THE END? Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? Arthur C. Clarke: Childhood’s End
    Verne wins: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

    10. IS UNDERSTANDING POSSIBLE Y/N?? Ursula K. LeGuin: The Left Hand of Darkness? Stanislaw Lem: Solaris
    No? What? Kyra, you are a creature of pure evil. They both win. They will stand back to back and face all the other books and defeat them with their mightiness. However, if there can be only one then Solaris. A novel in which alien intelligence is genuinely alien and in which communication is impossible to distinguish from assault or miracles

    11. THE MOVIES REALLY DIDN’T DO EITHER OF THEM JUSTICE, HONESTLY ?Douglas Adams: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe? Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    Frankenstein (although the pain is great)

    12. TRAPPED IN A WORLD THEY NEVER MADE? Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale? Phillip K. Dick: Ubik
    Ubik but by a whisker.

    14. FAR TRAVELLERS ?Iain M. Banks: Use of Weapons? Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time
    Use of Weapons but it was a long time ago that I read A Wrinkle in Time.

  40. Butler is a brilliant writer who won a McArthur genius prize. Kindred is about a 20th century African American woman transported back to pre Civil war plantation. It is also about the only novel I have ever taught that everyone agrees is great. Her other work including the Xenogenesis Trilogy is amazing and gripping and all about power and race and gender. All her protagonists are Black women we lost her tragically young.

  41. 1. Butler

    2. Asimov

    3. Cherryh

    4. Cyberpunk

    Melissa Scott Trouble and her friends
    Pat Cadigan Synners

    Scott but Cadigan is a close second

    5. Ellison for short fiction Herbert for novel.

    6. Tiptree

    7. Burgess

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