The Evolution of Science Fiction discussion

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archived nominations from 2019 > Nominations for BotM discussion: November 2019

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message 1: by Cheryl (last edited Sep 30, 2019 07:55AM) (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) For the November discussion we'll be going back to the early days. Let's read something published between 1920 and 1939.

Granted, the choices are more limited. So do pay special attention to the rules below about eligibility.

Sci-fi novels or collections of short stories that have not previously been read by the group are eligible, so long as we've not read the author too many times already. Please check the bookshelf (https://www.goodreads.com/group/books...) & the nomination rules (https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...) for further clarification before nominating a book.

Please also add your nominated book title as a clickable link directly to the goodreads' book page, with author and year, so it looks like this:

Children of Time
Adrian Tchaikovsky
2015

We'd appreciate it if you tell everyone a bit about why you chose the book that you're nominating, but we don't require that.

Bear in mind, too, that we'll mostly likely be closing this nomination thread on the 15th, in order to have plenty of time for poll(s) and then for acquisitions of the winner(s).

Everything you can do to help the moderators' tasks will help the group flourish, so thank you!


message 2: by Cheryl (last edited Sep 07, 2019 07:12AM) (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) The Whisperer in Darkness
Armageddon 2419
The New Adam
Gladiator
Professor Dowell's Head


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
There's also a list of authors from this period here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 4: by Marc-André (last edited Aug 31, 2019 06:15PM) (new)

Marc-André | 298 comments The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft. It was published in 1931.

Explaining why it is sci-fi reveals too much. Probably one of Lovecraft's best.


message 5: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 732 comments The New Adam by Stanley G. Weinbaum, originally published in 1939


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
Gladiator by Philip Wylie (1930) is the progenitor of Superman, Doc Savage, & pretty much every comic book super hero. This is a story of angst, a coming of age story. An experiment, Hugo Danner is as strong as the Hulk & quite intelligent with only his conscience as a guide.

It's free on Gutenberg.org here:
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/42914
or as an audiobook on Librivox here:
https://librivox.org/gladiator-by-phi...


message 7: by Gregg (last edited Sep 01, 2019 09:53PM) (new)

Gregg Wingo (gwingo) I nominate "Brave New World" (1932). It is a classic and still dominates our thoughts on society:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5...

Plus it is still considered great literature and I bet none of us read it as a critique on American marketing as apparently the author meant it.


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
Gregg wrote: "I nominate "Brave New World" (1932). It is a classic and still dominates our thoughts on society..."

We read that in July 2016, so it's not eligible. It wasn't in the 1930s group of the bookshelves, but it was there. I've fixed that.


message 9: by Gregg (new)

Gregg Wingo (gwingo) Sorry about that. I did check the 20s, 30s, and the mixed one.


message 10: by Jim (last edited Sep 02, 2019 10:54AM) (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
Gregg wrote: "Sorry about that. I did check the 20s, 30s, and the mixed one."

It was just 'read'. Not a biggy. You tried & I would have missed it too, but I thought we'd read it so looked harder. Please come up with another. Remember that a lot of authors are listed in the "What's this Folder For?" topic of that age. It also has the books we've read, too. You can find it here:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 11: by David (new)

David Merrill | 240 comments Professor Dowell's Head by Alexander Belyaev 1925
I like reading Soviet SF. The reviews I could read made this seem quite good and predictive of our current era.


message 12: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 732 comments David wrote: "Professor Dowell's Head by Alexander Belyaev 1925
I like reading Soviet SF. The reviews I could read made this seem quite good and predictive of our current era."


If this one will be chosen, I may comment on any hard places in translations if needed


message 13: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Thank you, you two.


message 14: by David (new)

David Merrill | 240 comments Oleksandr wrote: "David wrote: "Professor Dowell's Head by Alexander Belyaev
If this one will be chosen, I may comment on any hard places in translations if neede .."


That will make for an even better discussion. Thanks!


message 15: by David (new)

David Merrill | 240 comments I just read the first chapter of Professor Dowell's Head. I've owned it for about 35 years and never picked it up before. The translation reads pretty smoothly and that first chapter really sucked me in.


message 16: by Ronald (new)

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 153 comments Carbon Footprint
Rosalie Parker

The narrator works in the family business, delivering coal to homes and also cleans chimneys.

One of the narrator's customers is Mrs. Jackson. Mrs. Jackson looks younger than she sounds on the phone.

Mrs. Jackson acts very needful for coal. For example, there is a scene where Mrs. Jackson asks our narrator if she can have the furnace going while our narrator cleans the chimney connected to it. No, that's dangerous. In another scene, the narrator is late in delivering coal to Mrs. Jackson, and Mrs. Jackson is upset and the narrator can hear anxiety in her voice. The narrator notices Mrs. Jackson aging, for example "the first flecks of grey in her hair."

It is not directly stated, but it seems that warmth slows down, or perhaps prevents, aging for Mrs. Jackson. This story reminded me of Robert Aickman's story "The Clockwatcher", where one of the character's existence is tied to clocks.

The story concludes that while the narrator still delivers coal, she is learning how to install wind turbines and solar panels. She no longer has Mrs. Jackson as a customer, for Mrs. Jackson moved to another country.

3.25 stars


message 17: by Ronald (new)

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 153 comments Ooops I posted to the wrong group!


message 18: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1826 comments Mod
Ronald wrote: "Ooops I posted to the wrong group!"

No big deal!


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
Nominations are closed & here are what we came up with:
The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft
Armageddon 2419 A.D. by Philip Francis Nowlan
The New Adam by Stanley G. Weinbaum
Gladiator by Philip Wylie
Professor Dowell's Head by Alexander Belyaev

You can find the poll here:
https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

Feel free to continue to tell us why your choice is the best in this thread &/or in the comments of the poll. Why should the rest of us read it? Please only vote if you intend to participate.


message 20: by David (new)

David Merrill | 240 comments Since I haven't read any of these yet, I can't tell you Professor Dowell's head is the best of the bunch, but I can tell you why I chose it. I've already mentioned I like reading soviet SF. There's a reason for that. Science Fiction was even bigger in the Soviet Union than in the United States. It was a place where people could surreptitiously talk about the government in a country that really did not allow that. Science Fiction from SU has a lot more layers to it than ours. It held hope for a better future. A layer deeper it allowed for political discussion not allowed anywhere else, but that discussion was couched in metaphors, sometimes somewhat obvious, but sometimes not. So, you can read it as escapist literature or you can dig for deeper meaning and find it.

Professor Dowell's head is about a new technology that allows for the reanimation of someone's (Professor Dowell's) head after they've died. It examines the ethics of doing so. It is then very much a story like Frankenstein.

The translation I have is by respected translator, Antonina Bouis. It seems to be a good job that reads smoothly, though I'd love Oleksandr's take on it, if we read it, which does not seem likely.

One reason I want to read it is it seems like one most in the United States would not likely read. That's true of most non- English language SF. That makes it more likely to be a more alien (to me) perspective, which is what I want when I read Science Fiction.


message 21: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1826 comments Mod
David wrote: "... I've already mentioned I like reading soviet SF...."

If you'd like to discuss some of your favorites, we have a thread specifically for discussing Soviet SF. I just put a comment there about something I recently read.


message 22: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Ty David. We can certainly add PDH to the nomination list when our eras cycle through again, in just six months.


message 23: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 1826 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Ty David. We can certainly add PDH to the nomination list when our eras cycle through again, in just six months."

Of course, it might actually win this time around!


message 24: by Oleksandr (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 732 comments David wrote: "I like reading soviet SF. There's a reason for that. Science Fiction was even bigger in the Soviet Union than in the United States."

Both bigger and less if we are talking about say the 60s-80s. It is the general premise that over 70 years of Soviet rule there were quite different periods, from avangarde-embrassing 20s to stilted 30s where instead of 'yellow peril' were 'evil capitalist spies' and so on. Also note that it was mostly assumed an entertainment, not a 'serious' literature, so there was a chronic deficit of SF (and a complete absence of fantasy)


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
We have 5 books nominated this month & 3 are about tied. If you haven't voted yet or want to change your vote, now is the time. The poll closes on 6Oct & it would be nice if there was a clear winner.

You can find the poll here:
https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...


message 26: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 3973 comments Mod
I sometimes wonder if anyone reads my posts & then something like this poll happens. The race is on!

The Whisperer in Darkness & Gladiator have both jumped from 4 to 7 votes & are racing out front in just a few hours.

Armageddon 2419 A.D. has 3 votes, while The New Adam & Professor Dowell's Head bring up the rear with 1 vote each.

Thanks all. There's still time to vote.


message 27: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Voting ended in a tie. We'll be reading two books, plain and simple.
Thanks for voting; see you in November for: Gladiator by Philip Wylie and The Whisperer in Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft !


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