Sarah Sarah's Comments (member since Jan 07, 2009)

Sarah's comments from the SciFi and Fantasy Book Club group.

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Nov 29, 2016 09:07AM

1865 I'm not sure if you're looking for literary secondary world fantasy or if you're fine with magic realism/stuff set in our world and time.

I'd recommend Ted Chiang's The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate,
Elizabeth Hand's Wylding Hall
Jeff VanderMeer's Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy
NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season
off the top of my head.
Also, if you're into short fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is a magazine devoted to literary secondary world fantasy.
2016 Hugo Awards (42 new)
Apr 29, 2016 08:15AM

1865 Yefim wrote: "Reading the Fifth Season now. It' second person? I wasn't expecting that."

Parts are, but not all of it. It helps distinguish the different sections.
1865 I read this for the first time when I was fourteen. Read it again a year or two ago for a book club discussion. There are parts that feel dated (technology, social mores) but the writing is great and the ideas and the way they are followed still work.
Mar 10, 2016 09:04AM

1865 I was very surprised to see some people classifying this book as YA. The character is 17 when the book opens, but there are plenty of adult books with young narrators, and plenty of adult fairy tales.
Mar 02, 2016 08:30AM

1865 I hadn't read Novik before, but I really enjoyed this novel.
Mar 02, 2016 08:30AM

1865 I thought this book was absolutely amazing.
Dec 14, 2015 07:57AM

1865 Denise wrote: "Does anyone know what year Tiptree was found to be female? I discovered a very old paperback by tiptree in a used book store last week. The forward certainly made it seem as though no one was aware..."

1976, I believe. I have all the old paperback collections. The Silverberg introduction is the one that is most awkward for its author, I think, with its big nobody-but-a-man-could-have-written-this declarations. Le Guin's post-outing essay is excellent.
Dec 11, 2015 07:00AM

1865 Exactly.
Dec 09, 2015 06:02PM

1865 Dylan wrote: "Thanks, Sarah. I am looking forward to reading them. I remember all three authors on the panel saying that many of Tiptree's stories were "terrifying." In what way, I don't know. But I'm curious to find out. .."

I think they say that because the stories are often utterly bleak in their opinion of humanity. A dark mirror.

I'll put in a plug for the Letters to Tiptree anthology that came out this year. It's nonfiction, and includes all kinds of stuff: correspondence between Le Guin and Tiptree, academic essays, and fan letters from modern authors. (full disclosure: I have a fan letter in there.) Also, Julie Phillips' James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon is a very readable biography.
Dec 08, 2015 09:09AM

1865 Dylan wrote: "I picked up copy of Tiptree's "Her Smoke Rises Up Forever" while I was there. I had never read (or heard of) Tiptree before this event. "

Great choice! That is a magnificent collection of stories. They still hold up today.
Dec 03, 2015 06:43AM

1865 I find Scalzi engaging and easy to read, and this was entertaining but at times derivative.
1865 I loved this book. As a horse person, I'm a fan of expressive ears. I read way more SF than fantasy, and the high language in the first chapter almost made me quit, but I'm glad I worked past it and discovered it was there for a reason. I enjoyed Maia as a character.
Nov 17, 2015 10:54AM

1865 I love the Connie Willis books. Though they're loosely connected, Doomsday Book or To Say Nothing of the Dog can be read alone. Blackout/All Clear are one giant book that was split in two by the publisher - neither makes sense without the other.

Octavia Butler's Kindred and Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time are both harrowing and excellent.

Time and Again by Jack Finney is a classic, as is Slaughter-house Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Glimpses by Lewis Shiner is a rock & roll time travel novel that I loved when I read it.

Kage Baker's Company series, which starts with In the Garden of Iden?

Daphne Du Maurier's The House on the Strand.

And I kind of love Heinlein's Door Into Summer despite the skeeviness of the relationship.

On the short story front, I just re-read Heinlein's All You Zombies and I have to say I like the new movie version better than the original. The movie is called Predestination.

Here's Daily Science Fiction's list of time travel short stories they've published:
1865 And meanwhile, DC didn't even bother to plan any Supergirl comics to tie in with the new TV show, and we're still miles from Wonder Woman or Black Widow getting their own movies...

I was lucky enough to have an SF-reading father whose collection DID include Le Guin and Tiptree - everything both wrote, actually - but even so those shelves were far outnumbered by Wolfe, Delany, etc. All worth reading, but I can see how easily his collection might have differed. I wonder whether anyone has ever gone back to look at what percentage of the Science Fiction Book Club's selections were by whom over time...
1865 Chris wrote: "If you've never heard of Ursula K. Le Guin or Connie Willis, it's your own fault, not the sexism of the sff industry"

I agree with you on the whole, Chris - particularly with regards to those two names - but there's also a degree to which it is the fault of the industry.
There's also the question of whose work gets promoted, whose work gets reviewed, etc. Research (see VIDA count ( & Nicola Griffith's stats on how books about women don't tend to win awards ( shows some interesting biases in reviewing and awards.

Here's someone's list of "10 modern SF masterpieces" on which only .5 out of ten was written by a woman. Read the first couple of comments below it, the usual "you forgot about ____" and it's more suggestions of books by male authors. As you scroll down you get Willis and Bujold.I could find half a dozen Buzzfeed lists like that without even trying. io9 tends to be a little more aware.

When people say "I read the books that look most interesting on the bookstore shelf" they don't take into account that somebody at the store has chosen to highlight certain books. There might be another that you would like just as much, but if the cover is facing inward, or it's on the bottom shelf - or it didn't win two inches of the increasingly limited shelf space at all - it might never catch your eye. Not because you wouldn't like it, or wouldn't have given it a chance. Just because reading it would have taken active searching, and you didn't even know it existed in the first place.

All that is to say there's a lot that goes into making sure the next book you choose is ____. I agree entirely that it's worth looking back on your own personal selection process to see if it is being manipulated, whether by personal bias or the industry.
1865 Memory of Water was excellent as well. I always have this passing thought that classics like Cyteen are fun to discuss and easy to vote for because people have read them already, but voting for something new or newish can actively help an author. Especially an author whose book may not have the same promotional backing that Tor gives Scalzi (nothing against Scalzi.)
Sep 10, 2015 09:48AM

1865 Paul wrote: "A Darkling SeaA Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias"

I was coming to recommend this one as well.
1865 Sarah wrote: "Thank you :)"

You're welcome! Here's one more that looks interesting:
Terra Incognita: New Speculative Fiction from Africa
I just saw a review today.
1865 African authors writing SF and fantasy:

There's a new African short speculative fiction magazine called Omenana. I'm sure you can look there for authors.
The first editorial was excellent, about speculative fiction in Nigeria:

I think Lauren Beukes was also running a series on her blog for a while that was meant to riff on Scalzi's Big Idea posts, introducing readers to new African authors. I know that's how I ended up reading Charlie Human's bizarre Apocalypse Now Now.
1865 I think we're used to character-based SF in the US these days, so the emphasis on ideas reads a bit strangely. Ken is such a lyrical writer in his own fiction. I'm pretty sure that his translation is true to the author's intent. I loved the translator's notes; I would have missed all of those things without his calling attention to them.
Ken translated the first and third novels in the series. I think the choice of another translator for the second book had more to do with his lack of time (his own series launching this year) than anything else.
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