Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Sheep Look Up
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > September 2018 "The Sheep Look Up" Discussion <Caution! Spoilers May Be Present!>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Group Read #17


message 2: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 480 comments Mod
I finished it up a few days ago and I am having trouble deciding how to rate the book. I'm having trouble separating my feelings the book lead me to feel from the quality of the book itself.

I want to say it was a good book, but there were parts I wasn't thrilled with. I didn't like how it jumped from person to person without really letting the reader know the point of view changed. I also didn't like the ending...how pretty much all of our heroes died.

Then again, I liked how the author was able to make me feel the overwhelming despair that mankind was doing to the country and it's fellow man. I liked how the story progressed naturally and the stakes logically got worse. I liked the foreboding at the end that countries on the other side of the world could smell America burning when the winds shifted the right way.

So, I'm not sure. The book left me feel overwhelmed and depressed at just how real this possibility is. I know that was the point of the book...so I would say it was a 4 star book then. But, I usually base my ratings on the likelihood I am of rereading the book and if I would recommend it to other people. I can honestly say that I'll probably never read it again and I might only suggest it my brother, only because we like talking about stuff like this...and misery loves company. Looking at it from that angle I would rate it pretty low.

I guess for me, it would be a 4 star book and a Red color (from a green, yellow, and red system second part of my rating system). 4 star because it was a good book in that it was well told and it got it's point across. Red in that I'll tell my brother to read it, but that will be it for me and this book.

Ok, I'm good now. Thank you for letting me talk that out.


message 3: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4060 comments Mod
Please talk about the green, yellow, and red secondary rating system you have. To me, red would mean "STOP never ever read this" :-)


message 4: by Ed (new) - added it

Ed Erwin | 722 comments About 1/3 way in and I think I might put this one on pause for a while. It is just too depressing for me, and that is really saying something, since I love me some depressing books.

I guess that it just doesn't feel all that original to me. I know that it would have felt very different at the time it was written. But now, so much of this feels almost like everyday news.


message 5: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4060 comments Mod
well, if it's like everyday news, I know I don't want to read it. Too bad I bought it!


message 6: by Ed (new) - added it

Ed Erwin | 722 comments Definitely not finishing this. I don't mind reading something depressing about pollution and climate collapse. But I feel like that is all there is here. Not much of a story. Or maybe there is a story but it is so spread out among characters that I'm not following it.

In any event, it simply isn't working for me.


message 7: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4060 comments Mod
Ed, thanks for telling me that, depressing AND so many characters I won't be able to keep track of? Definitely not for me.

I might read the beginning just to get a feel for Brunner's writing.


message 8: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "Definitely not finishing this. I don't mind reading something depressing about pollution and climate collapse. But I feel like that is all there is here. Not much of a story. Or maybe there is a st..."

For the reasons Ed has stated above I also fail to take this book seriously. I am still lazily drudging through it, mostly when I'm on public transport.

The stories so far have failed to come together in any significant way, mostly it's just abrupt scenes and points of view of various characters. I suppose I will try and finish it, even if that's only because I haven't had any luck getting a copy of Collapsing Empire (which I'm planning to read when all the sequels are out anyway).


message 9: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3988 comments Mod
I finished it yesterday and I cannot state I liked it or the message in it. It does became interesting in the middle, when I finally learnt who is who and was able to follow.
I'll write a review a bit later


LuthienDillon | 24 comments That's an interesting review, Oleksandr. :-) I think I feel exactly the opposite way round about this book, though I, too, noticed there was no mention of climate change.
But on the other hand, there are still combustion engine cars on the roads and, as a pedestrian, and train passenger, I really don't like that they pollute the city centres with particular matter.
Then, the description of how the rich buy 'reform food' certainly rings a bell. That has become SO true. And the insects dying, another current issue.

As for the writing, I agree that the character switches are confusing. Headlines indicating who's who would have helped a lot.


message 12: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3988 comments Mod
LuthienDillon wrote: "Then, the description of how the rich buy 'reform food' certainly rings a bell. That has become SO true. And the insects dying, another current issue."

Definitely, there is a health food industry aimed at people with higher incomes. However, in the book, people are struggling to buy food, prices are over the top. At the same time in the modern advanced nations spending on food is below 10% of household expenditures.

Re insects, particularly bees - this is the problem, definitely. At the same time several major cities e.g. Paris now have much more bees than 50 years ago https://www.planetizen.com/node/45863

My major complaint that the book is negative ('you are killing me!', old shit all over the world) but in reality it can be changed and not by 'down with he rich!' but by positive approach.

There are a lot of environmental problems, and because they are mostly long run, humanity procrastinates. And true, there are negative externalities, like CO, CO2, SO2 emissions and they can be addressed. And the book for me largely says - you'll kill yourself, humanity, sooner or later


message 13: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4060 comments Mod
I am actually glad that you guys told me so much so that I feel better about not reading this one. I would have HATED it.

I am going to start a new column in my Hugo Nebula spreadsheet (courtesy of Brian) to show books that I have purposefully abandoned. I am counting these books as part completion %. But just in case it becomes a competition, I will keep them separate columns. :-)


message 14: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3988 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I am counting these books as part completion %. But just in case it becomes a competition, I will keep them separate columns. :-) "

It is surprising how many nominated novels are actually much weaker than non-nominated!


message 15: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Sep 30, 2018 11:43AM) (new)

Kateblue | 4060 comments Mod
I note that The Sheep Look Up" is yet another Nebula-nominee-only entrant. Still supporting twin theories that:

1) The Nebula nominators are not necessarily seeing a book that everyday readers will like, instead, it's cool ideas and new approaches and writing style that they look for,
and
2) I'm less likely to like books that are Nebula-nominee-only books


message 16: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3988 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "2) I'm less likely to like books that are Nebula-nominee-only books "

There are still quite a few I think you would like, e.g. Borderline. However, as I checked it was nominated for other rewards, so not truly Nebula-nominee-only


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