Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Byworlder
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > The Byworlder (Spoilers OK)

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

Kateblue | 3820 comments Mod
Here is where you can leave comments with spoilers for The Byworlder.


Jessalyn  | 29 comments Finished this today. I just didn't get it. Pretty much from start to finish. It seemed to have promise at the beginning but really took a left turn for me. By the end it was more an exercise in completion than wondering what was going to happen.


message 3: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
I'm only halfway through Perdido, so I'll only be reading this in a week or two.


message 4: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 3820 comments Mod
I am not reading it because no ebook is available. BUT now that you have given it such a wonderful review, Jessalyn, I think I am glad to not be reading it!


message 5: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
I have finished it. Not the best from the author, even if some ideas are quite nice.

re: ebook, in no spoilers section there is a link to openlibrary where you can borrow pdf or epub, the latter is OCRed not proofread, so with errors but readable


Allan Phillips | 2118 comments Mod
Didn’t like this one at all, so little I was motivated to write a review:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 8: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
I've read your review and I disagree, Allan. Yes, it is more 50s than 70s in style and a female lead could have been stronger, but I saw it more as she was obsessed with her work (after all the breakthru is made on her!) and then her rare (first?) romantic affair (because she was too deep in work before), which tend to make people insecure and foolish.

In 1978 edition (see in open library) the author admits that the female lead could have been better


Allan Phillips | 2118 comments Mod
Yes, that’s the one I read. I get the awakening part but after Skip shows up, nearly every reference is about her looks or sexuality, and she accomplishes nothing more - it’s Skip’s breakthrough idea that really gets through.

One thing I did like was the Olaf Stapledon- style travel and descriptions of their journeys. I could have gone for more of that and more alien interaction, but it was quickly overshadowed by the mundane Earthly concerns.


message 10: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Poul Anderson is a mystery to me, whatever little I've read I really disliked, I was hoping for this less known work would be slightly less ambitious therefore easier to swallow but judging from the comments it won't be the case.


message 11: by Allan (new) - rated it 1 star

Allan Phillips | 2118 comments Mod
I haven’t read enough of his work to generalize. I liked Tau Zero. But every author has their good and bad, I just want to find the good.


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

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "Yes, that’s the one I read. I get the awakening part but after Skip shows up, nearly every reference is about her looks or sexuality,."

Agreed. I thought it was chiefly because the author wanted to show the idea of byworldeers - new anarchists, so he cared less what he wrote about all else

Art wrote: "Poul Anderson is a mystery to me, whatever little I've read I really disliked."

He has some good stuff, at least one that quite impressed me as a teen, when I've read it. Alas this novel is not as good


message 13: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "I haven’t read enough of his work to generalize. I liked Tau Zero. But every author has their good and bad, I just want to find the good."

Don't get me started on Tau Zero!

Here's the threads for that, we've read it some time before you joined iirc.
Tau Zero by Poul Anderson (No Spoilers / Spoilers)


message 14: by Allan (new) - rated it 1 star

Allan Phillips | 2118 comments Mod
Wow, your memory is good. I joined in June 2018; it was a group read that month. It took me a few months to get my reading in line with the group. I skipped a few but came back later and filled in most of them, so I read Tau Zero last September. It wasn’t spectacular but it was better than this one. I only missed 1 group read in 2019, Strange/Norrell, which I still consider “in progress”, and 1 so far in 2020, Up the Walls.


message 15: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Sep 21, 2020 08:01PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
"Wrong time of month coming on?", he asked. She gulped and nodded, "Feels like it."

I can't with this book...


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

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
Art wrote: ""Wrong time of month coming on?", he asked. She gulped and nodded, "Feels like it."

I can't with this book..."


I guess that's the phrase he noted in the 1978 preface as the one for which he was criticized


message 17: by Allan (new) - rated it 1 star

Allan Phillips | 2118 comments Mod
That was a particularly cringy moment but the consistent references to her breasts in the second half were pretty bad too.


message 18: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "That was a particularly cringy moment but the consistent references to her breasts in the second half were pretty bad too."

it is kinda funny - I cannot recall a single reference, but I spedread it, so probably missed. I just made a search in my ebook for "breasts" and got a single reference:

You look like you’re blushing.’

From temples to breasts. ‘No, I’m comfortable.’

are we reading the same book?


message 19: by Allan (new) - rated it 1 star

Allan Phillips | 2118 comments Mod
Yes....perhaps not explicit. Isn’t one enough? I just didn’t like how the main character in the first half was submerged in the second, in favor of the man. Yes, he was the byworlder teaching others his ways but she became scenery and the alien became irrelevant.


message 20: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
Allan wrote: "Yes....perhaps not explicit. Isn’t one enough? "

Even that one was just saying "from here to here" as you can see from the quote. But It's a splithairing on my part, I agree that her role in the second part was ancillary at best

Allan wrote: "the main character in the first half was submerged in the second, in favor of the man. Yes, he was the byworlder teaching "

Exactly, it was more to show teachings that gave book's title. Just curious, replay the book in your mind with him as a linguist and her as a byworlder - in this case would it be better/worse/same?


message 21: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Sep 24, 2020 10:31AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "Exactly, it was more to show teachings that gave book's title.."

Z, are you saying that the sexism was coincidental and that Skip was supposed to highjack the plot at some point, earning the book it's name The Byworlder?

I see the possibility but I didn't feel that while reading the book. The feels just showed up and started running the show, one which originally only Yvonne was professional enough to even comprehend.


message 22: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Z, are you saying that the sexism was coincidental and that Skip was supposed to highjack the plot at some point, warning the book it's name The Byworlder?"

Yes. Moreover, I think that in a majority of old SF sexism was not intentional (this doesn't mean it was less hurtful, only that there was no desire by authors to "show woman her place" or somesuch).

As to professional vs amateurs, I guess one of the points is that we know too little about possible alien mind that limiting its contact only with scientists may be wrong


message 23: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 2 stars

Art | 2551 comments Mod
I disagree there.
The inner monologues were poorly written to the point where ignorance seemed to cross over into prejudice. Anderson didn't just paint her character, there was an overabundant presence of remarks and situations that were embarrassing to read.

I'm not arguing whether it was sexist or not, I'm saying it went a bit beyond it just being a part of the plot.


message 24: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new) - rated it 2 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3759 comments Mod
Art wrote: "The inner monologues were poorly written ..., I'm saying it went a bit beyond it just being a part of the plot."

I agree, the book is quite weak, it is surprising that it was nominated as all! there were books like Jack of Shadows or Dragonquest or over 300 other novels, according to ISFDB


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