Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

10 views
Challenges - Discussion > Ends May 31, 2019: Earth Day Challenge <Caution! Spoilers May Be Present!>

Comments Showing 1-30 of 30 (30 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
comments with spoilers for earth day challenge may be placed here


message 2: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
Thought I'd hop over here so as not to spoil anything. I sort of "accidentally" read through The Genocides. I downloaded it from epdf, but it was in text format. I didn't like how it looked, very chopped up, so I started editing it (instead of just looking for a PDF copy, duh). Anyhow, as I was editing, I found that I was grasping the story well. Not a difficult read, it's pretty short and not too complicated. So I'm booking it.

I'm about a quarter through This Immortal and it's still setting up. None if the characters is particularly likeable yet, and the story seems just a little slow. Of course I won't judge it on that, it's too early.


message 3: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 16, 2019 05:04AM) (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
A word on This Immortal there. Zelazny's books very often are character driven, this one is being particularly so. The main character and everything surrounding him is the actual story, his past reveals a lot about the world the vents take place and his present thoughts and actions reveal which of the rumors surrounding him are actually true, further defining the universe characters find themselves in.

I find that Zelazny can tell a story on different levels, some of his books have easy to follow plots and stories are reach enough without actually going into details and deciphering what it all means. This books is slightly more confusing however, there's a lot going on without the reader seeing the whole picture at first. I admit I did not enjoy this book the first time around as much as I am enjoying it now, over 15 years later.

It's curious for me to know that The Einstein Intersection came out a year after this novel did, which has many similar points raised.

Anyway, I am only half way and while I imagine some our members will possibly dislike how the story is told, I am so far loving it.


message 4: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
Shortly after I wrote that, it picked up through Conrad's comments. It's almost like the plot is barely there, like an On The Road in a dystopia future.


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

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
I read this one years ago and it is not one of my favorites of his. But I'm reading it again, anyway.


message 6: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Another reference I had to look up the last time I read this, you will notice Conrad quoting "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!":

Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias"

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


message 7: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
Just finished This Immortal and I have to say I liked it a lot. After a bit of a meandering start, it coalesced and turned into a solid '60's style semi-action, semi-philosophy tale. The action sequence was a bit ERB-esque, but I liked the parallels to Heart of Darkness and Greek mythology. I gave it five stars because it was a fun, enjoyable read with a somewhat unexpected conclusion.


message 8: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 24, 2019 04:06AM) (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "Just finished This Immortal and I have to say I liked it a lot. After a bit of a meandering start, it coalesced and turned into a solid '60's style semi-action, semi-philosophy tale. The action seq..."

I'm very glad you enjoyed it. This novel is great even as a reread, especially one a decade apart. The action sequences are very strong, especially when Zelazny is not fooling around with albino Down syndrome vampires.
The showdown between Hasan and Conrad is typical Zelazny, he can really suck you right into the conflict, not exactly knowing who you should be rooting for.


message 9: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
The kind of dog Albert Payson Terhune did write about:



Spoiler alert! That is NOT Bortan.


message 10: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
Having completed The Genocides and This Immortal, I've moved on to Juniper Time and I'm about 30% in. Finally, the audio version of Julian Comstock came my way, so I'll probably read that as a 4th entry. The nice thing about many of these is that they're old school short novels, so they're fairly easy to knock out quickly.


message 11: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I didn't want to comment specifically in the No Spoilers thread, but I didn't find The Genocides to be that great either. An early version of the post-apocalyptic tale, it's been done better since ..."

I am torn between giving it two or three stars. I saw some of the reviews here on Goodreads nad people are raving about how great the characters are, something I did not notice at all, the one thing they have going for them is that they are slightly unconventional and the absence of a "hero" character underlines that even further. But once you see past that I find that the characters, though not entirely one dimensional, are very boring and predictable.
Hmm two or three stars...


message 12: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 802 comments Finished This Immortal. Like Art, I kept thinking of Einstein Intersection all the while I was reading. Very similar ideas about recurrence of mythic themes, set in a desolate world.

The first 20 pages were unpromising: the constant barrage of new characters was a bit much, I had some trouble remembering who's who and how they were connected to each other. Luckily Zelazny didn't introduce almost any new characters after that.

One thing that really dated this book was the mutated animals. It was so endearingly stupid: six-legged cows, "boadiles", satyrs... As if radiation was magic that could produce completely novel species just like that. Yes, I understand the mutations served the theme of mythical times returning to Earth, but I still cringed. Of course, the science of genetics is pretty young, so perhaps the idea of DNA hadn't really have time to percolate to general consciousness in the 60's.


message 13: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "One thing that really dated this book was the mutated animals. It was so endearingly stupid: six-legged cows, "boadiles", satyrs..."

You say that two-headed bramins from Fallout are stupid?! How dare you!
https://images.app.goo.gl/d7udR24vSdN...


message 14: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Six-legged cows (poly"something") and two-headed cattle (polycephaly) already exist in our world, no need to look to science fiction for that.

P.s. don't mess with Fallout fans!


message 15: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Apr 28, 2019 05:58AM) (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
... And Call Me Conrad (a.k.a This Immortal) is Zelazny's first novel, in it you can see the scetches of what later would become his masterpieces. It's standalone value is probably not apparent, until one realised how Zelazny was able to mount the initial surge of the New Wave sci-fi and totally own it.

I loved how it was described by Budrys: Budrys much preferred Zelazny's This Immortal to Thomas Disch's The Genocide. Predicting that Zelazny's career would be more important and lasting than Disch's, he described the latter's book as "unflaggingly derivative of" the New Wave and filled with "dumb, resigned victims" who "run, hide, slither, grope and die" .

*
Antti wrote:"Like Art, I kept thinking of Einstein Intersection all the while I was reading. Very similar ideas about recurrence of mythic themes, set in a desolate world. "

Apparently Delaney was a big fan of Zelazny's work, so I suppose it is feasible that some of it reflects in his later writing.

*
Antti wrote: "The first 20 pages were unpromising: the constant barrage of new characters was a bit much, I had some trouble remembering who's who and how they were connected to each other. Luckily Zelazny didn't introduce almost any new characters after that."

I saw Zelazny commenting on this, it was a half-nod to the old school writing, sort of like how you get characters introduced in a play, in the first scenes. I also felt it a bit clunky and hard to read because the reader doesn't understand the importance of the information given to them.

*
Antti wrote:"One thing that really dated this book was the mutated animals. It was so endearingly stupid: six-legged cows, "boadiles", satyrs... As if radiation was magic that could produce completely novel species just like that."

This novel being the first Zelazny ever written, it has a lot of experimental stuff in it. "Mythicism" was Zelazny's lifelong passion, so it's hardly surprising seeing it in his early work in such an unpolished form.

Though do not be hasty to disregard satyrs born of radiation as naiveté, the use of it was intentional and in the context of New Wave sci-fi. For me it worked (not as splendidly as in his other works) only to a point. I also found "boadiles" childish and slightly mocking of the age pulp-fiction.

However, Zelazny spoke on the subject, clarifying any misunderstandings that this was supposed to be taken as a classic sci-fi: “I wanted to leave it open to several interpretations—well, at least two. I wanted to sort of combine fantasy and sf… either Conrad is a mutant or he is the Great God Pan. The book may be read either way.”

Were I one of those contrarian people who "fan-splain" things to other readers, I could argue that it all makes sense. But I'm not and I won't and it probably doesn't. It's enough for me that it is a book worth reading, worth rereading even, given the beautiful style Zelazny uses which is never apparent during the first reading, ridden with hidden hints, references. On the first reading everyone just rushes through the plot, which is often engaging enough and once gets the steam going it doesn't stop for the reader to "smell the roses".


message 16: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Art wrote: "... And Call Me Conrad (a.k.a This Immortal) is Zelazny's first novel, "

I didn't know that! Winning a Hugo (split with Dune) is quite a feat!


message 17: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 802 comments Art: I could understand satyrs, since they served the mythical theme, even if there really isn't any feasible way to mutate people to have horns and hooves.

And I had no trouble with Conrad himself, which goes to show that I am totally inconsistent with the things that bother me and things that don't. But Conrad was so obviously some sort of (demi-)god that his supernatural strength, longevity and psychic powers didn't really call for any explanation. Even the book's title betrays his status: "immortals" was another name for gods in Greek myths.

I just realized I didn't mention in my initial comment that I liked the book quite a lot. I especially liked the idea that the Earth had turned into third-world planet, with a lot of history but not much future, economically dependent on alien tourists' currency. Zelazny captured both the resentment and resignation this kind of situation can cause in people.


message 18: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
I agree with pretty much every point you raised, Antti. I just hoped to give some perspective on the things we discussed because I had some knowledge of it. Didn't mean to sound preachy.

By the way, in regards to the title, publisher pressured Zelazny into naming it this way. The original title serialized in the sci-fi magazine was ... And Call Me Conrad, I like it much more personally. With every member of his little company of misfits pestering him about one of the personas each of them met in the past, while he is trying to be just this Conrad fella.


message 19: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 802 comments ...And Call Me Conrad would've captured the book's overall atmosphere much better than This Immortal, but I can understand that from the publisher's point of view it is not the best name.

First of all, how do you alphabetize it? Under "A" or "#" or what? That's the kind of confusion no publisher wants.

Not to mention the title didn't really scream "SF/F". There would have been some, perhaps a lot of, lost potential readers. Especially with a writer's first novel you don't want to take those kinds of risks.


message 20: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
I completed my 3rd book in this theme/challenge, Kate Wilhelm's Juniper Time. Wow. While it feels like an older read, IMHO it was very nearly as good as Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, which was one of the best books I've read in a long time. She makes her Dying Earth version feel really, really bleak. Good ending too.


message 21: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I completed my 3rd book in this theme/challenge, Kate Wilhelm's Juniper Time."

Curious, this is one of just a few good old books that has no ebook or audio version, even despite her other books do


message 22: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
I finally found it on the Internet Archive for free.


message 23: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I finally found it on the Internet Archive for free."

Thanks for the info!


message 24: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited May 10, 2019 06:55AM) (new)

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
Here's my review of This Immortal . . . will discuss later if you guys want

(Hey, Art! I knew you would rate it 5 stars!)

Much better than I remembered. Zelazny's first novel definitely already shows his style of description and character internal monologue as explanation. Some fascinating bits about the "real" meaning of Greek mythology, and a great ending. Not something I would ever read again, however.

Recommended for those who like a little story along with their fascinating setting and character background. Complete with interesting twists and turns. A precursor that shows a similarity to the Amber books. Corwin and Conrad are very similar


message 25: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3726 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "A precursor that shows a similarity to the Amber books. "

I thought so too, when I've read it!


message 26: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
@Kate

It barely made it onto my 5 star list. If not for the fact that it was his first novel, I'd probably keep it as a 4*. It also deserved an extra point as an exciting reread, after ten years of experiences i noticed more depth in some of the references.


message 27: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2096 comments Mod
While I've read 3 of our eco-fiction list, I'm hoping to squeeze in a 4th. I'm reading Shadrach in the Furnace by Silverberg, which has a dystopic, if not dying earth, feel to it. Good book, wondering if it should qualify. No big deal if it doesn't though. Anyone read it?


message 28: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited May 11, 2019 05:51PM) (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
I've decided to get back to the Robot books by Asimov, with that and Ancillary Mercy I don't think I will have the chance to dig into another eco-fiction/dying Earth read.


message 29: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 3780 comments Mod
I have the robot books on my radar, also, but I have to do those Martha Wells robot books soon!


message 30: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Tate | 338 comments I'm just over halfway through The Inverted World and suddenly everything got super weird. I was expecting something strange, but not like this!


back to top