melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-04-04 05:44 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #7: The Moon and Mars

So, the clear K winner last week was Harry Harrison with Captive Universe and no discussion in comments. What do you people have against Harry Harrison other than him being a boring libertarian-ish white dude? It sounds cool! Generation ships in asteroids! Possibly a hispanic MC! (Possibly he totally fucks up the Mexica culture stuff?)

The F winner was The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge, also with no discussion. All I know going in is that I really like her Psion books, and I think The Snow Queen is probably fantasy but probably not a fairy tale AU? So that should be fun!


This week's theme is The Moon And Mars.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)


Poll #18138 FMK #7: The Moon and Mars
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 35


Mars by Ben Bova (1992)

View Answers

F
8 (42.1%)

M
0 (0.0%)

K
11 (57.9%)

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1951)

View Answers

F
11 (36.7%)

M
15 (50.0%)

K
4 (13.3%)

The Valley Where Time Stood Still by Lin Carter (1992)

View Answers

F
11 (78.6%)

M
1 (7.1%)

K
2 (14.3%)

This Place Has No Atmosphere by Paula Danzinger (1989)

View Answers

F
11 (55.0%)

M
5 (25.0%)

K
4 (20.0%)

Moon of Mutiny by Lester Del Rey (1961)

View Answers

F
8 (57.1%)

M
1 (7.1%)

K
5 (35.7%)

Growing Up Weighless by John M. Ford (1993)

View Answers

F
14 (56.0%)

M
9 (36.0%)

K
2 (8.0%)

Rocket Ship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein (1947)

View Answers

F
7 (28.0%)

M
3 (12.0%)

K
15 (60.0%)

Peace on Earth by Stanislaw Lem (1967)

View Answers

F
10 (58.8%)

M
5 (29.4%)

K
2 (11.8%)

Shoot at the Moon by William F. Temple (1966)

View Answers

F
6 (50.0%)

M
2 (16.7%)

K
4 (33.3%)

From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne (1865)

View Answers

F
13 (59.1%)

M
7 (31.8%)

K
2 (9.1%)

The First Men In The Moon by H. G. Wells (1901)

View Answers

F
10 (52.6%)

M
5 (26.3%)

K
4 (21.1%)


seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)

[personal profile] seekingferret 2017-04-04 10:05 pm (UTC)(link)
In the microgenre of weird implausible 19th century astronaut stories, I'm much fonder of the Verne than the Wells, but I would also mention Edward Hale's The Brick Moon, the American version of those books, and a wonderfully cracky story: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1633
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-04-05 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
Lunar man-bats! Yay!
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)

[personal profile] ambyr 2017-04-04 10:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I think The Snow Queen is probably fantasy but probably not a fairy tale AU

Ummmm.

I look forward to the review!
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)

[personal profile] stardreamer 2017-04-04 10:33 pm (UTC)(link)
The Verne, Wells, and Heinlein are worth reading just because they're part of the canon, but no need to keep if they don't work for you.

The Martian Chronicles gets my M vote specifically for the story "Way Up in the Middle of the Air". Several of the others are pretty good too, but that one seared itself into my young-teenager brain, and despite its flaws I still think it says something worthwhile.
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)

[personal profile] stardreamer 2017-04-05 01:40 am (UTC)(link)
Um... sort of both? They're all stories about / set on Mars, and they don't conflict with each other, but neither do they connect with each other specifically. It's more like if someone was writing vignettes from cities and cultures scattered thru space and time but on the same world.

And it's also been a long time since I re-read it, so I may be misremembering.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-04-05 02:24 am (UTC)(link)
They have related motifs and some reference each other, but there are also some apparent contradictions, as I recall. Mars is more of a *mood* or *symbol* than a sfnal setting. Like if someone wrote a collection of stories about deserts, or summer, or gardening - that kind of connectedness, without clear chronology.
lannamichaels: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds up For Sale sign after EVA. (Default)

[personal profile] lannamichaels 2017-04-04 10:59 pm (UTC)(link)
Whew, when your cut tag said Heinlein, I was worried this was gonna be a different one and then I'd try to have to figure out how to be like "so there's this book I love so much, but possibly you don't want to read it, but it's my fave 5ever". BUT rocket ship galileo, I feel I can tell you to kill. Like, I might recommend trying to fuck it first just because it's a Heinlein juvenile and it's short, but on the whole, Heinlein has Done It Better Elsewhere.
lannamichaels: Astronaut Dale Gardner holds up For Sale sign after EVA. (Default)

[personal profile] lannamichaels 2017-04-05 12:31 am (UTC)(link)

Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Rocket Ship Gallileo might be worth a one night fuck just for the historical nature of space nazis, being actual nazis, that close to the war & etc. Heinlein's pre-The Actual First Humans On The Moon stuff is pretty nifty from that historical perspective, especially his ideas about how people get there and how.

blueswan: girl reading book (book reading)

[personal profile] blueswan 2017-04-05 12:29 am (UTC)(link)
Much as I have enjoyed Heinlein's juveniles, I'd skip this one. I've tried several times to read it over the decades and it is still sitting unfinished on one of my shelves. (It needs to go in the donation box I'm gathering.)

snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2017-04-05 01:14 am (UTC)(link)
I wish I had liked The Moon Has No Atmosphere, but despite the setting, the "feel" wasn't speculative at all to me. It was your standard light, mildly comedic teen angst of novels of that era, which happened to be set on the moon.

Bradbury is an M, of course. :) And I love all Heilein's juveniles, so that got an F from me.
rachelmanija: (Default)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-04-05 11:30 pm (UTC)(link)
I had the same feeling about the Danziger at the time I read it, and I was a fan of hers. Disappointing.

I generally like Heinlein's juveniles but that one's for completists, despite the amusement factor of totally literal Moon Nazis.
stellar_dust: Stylized comic-book drawing of Scully at her laptop in the pilot. (Default)

[personal profile] stellar_dust 2017-04-06 12:22 am (UTC)(link)
I think that was part of why I liked it - basically, wow, this is what all the teen novels will be like in the future when space travel is taken for granted!

Granted I only read it once and I was like 12, so.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)

[personal profile] seekingferret 2017-04-06 08:51 pm (UTC)(link)
This exactly. Including the being 12 part.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-04-05 02:21 am (UTC)(link)
I actually disliked the Martian Chronicles as a kid because of the lack of internally consistent worldbuilding across the collected stories, but they are amazing stories with that luminous Bradbury voice, so I voted F. Most of the rest I either haven't read or found dull, so my answers are a bit scattershot.

I LOVE The Snow Queen. Science Fantasy! Identity issues, powerful women, and complicated societies! Mythic motifs without straight-up retelling! Have fun.
umadoshi: (read fast (bisty_icons))

[personal profile] umadoshi 2017-04-05 05:18 am (UTC)(link)
Not weighing in on the poll, but I just wanted to say I'm really enjoying these posts. ^_^
gehayi: (xena (cila81))

[personal profile] gehayi 2017-04-05 01:22 pm (UTC)(link)
Unpopular answer here, but I have to say KILL The Martian Chronicles. And I usually love Bradbury, so coming to that conclusion last year upset me.

Here's my review of that book, if it will help.

SPOILERS FOLLOW. LOTS AND LOTS OF SPOILERS.

Not badly crafted, but weakly characterized and depressing. The humans in the short stories--who were uniformly American because the rest of the world was too busy focusing on war to think of space--were destructive, bringing death to Mars, Martians and Earth alike.

As standout stories go--and I don't mean this in a good way--there is "Way in the Middle of the Air," a painful portrayal of all the African-Americans in the United States leaving for Mars (and there's no story in this book about them REACHING Mars or building a new community there), which would have been a hell of a lot more poignant if it hadn't been told from the point of view of a white racist (who, it's strongly suggested, had lynched blacks in the past for entertainment). I say that it's a painful portrayal because the racist keeps trying to stop the blacks from leaving, using money and the law and even a gun against them. That the black men in this story are calm and try not to anger the irrational, entitled fool makes perfect sense to me...but the only thing that he notices is that up to the last minute, they called him Mister. I kept asking myself throughout why this story had to be told from the point of view of a racist white man instead of from the point of view of a black man or, heaven help us, a black woman.

For the stories are strangely barren of female characters that actually play a part in the story. Most are ascended extras (sometimes possessing names), present but not actually doing anything: Anna, a bereft mother in "The Martian"; Elma Parkhill from "The Off Season," who figures out long before her greedy husband Sam that they're caught in a trap; Mother, in "The Million-Year Picnic," who exists to be a pregnant pioneer woman on Mars; and Alice Hathaway from "The Long Years," who...well, if you've seen the Twilight Zone episode "The Lateness of the Hour," I don't have to tell you. The same twist applies, but she and her kids are much better adjusted.

Only one story, "Ylla," features a female point of view, and it may be significant to note that Ylla, the Martian native, is not active in her own story. She dreams clairvoyantly of the arrival of humans on Mars and the fact that she finds the human astronaut attractive (because of COURSE she does) and the arrival intriguing outrages her husband, who straight-up murders the humans and destroys their rocket out of jealousy.

I was hoping that Ylla would kill her husband in the end and go off and make her own discoveries, but no, that would have been too active. Instead, she submits to her husband's emotionally abusive and isolating behavior and pretends that everything is fine, because that's what the homicidal idiot she's married to wants to believe. I was disgusted.

There is one black woman mentioned in these stories. Her name is Lucinda, and she is a maid. We never see her onscreen; the daughter of the racist shows up instead, whining that Lucinda just quit and wouldn't give up the chance to go to Mars even for a pay raise and two whole nights off a week. (So not even an entire weekend, then.) The daughter of the racist also demands that Lucinda love the white family that she works for; it never occurs to her or to anyone in that story that black people might have families, hopes or dreams of their own.

(To be fair, there is one story--"Night Meeting"--with a Latino protagonist, Tomás Gomez. But Tomás sounds exactly like all of the white protagonists to my ears, so I don't know how much that counts.)

The story most likely to induce depression and hopelessness has to be "There Will Come Soft Rains," which I understand is now taught in schools. For those who haven't read it, it's the story of the death of an automated house on Earth in the aftermath of a nuclear war. Shadows of two children playing ball are burned onto the outside of the house. A dog dies hideously of radiation poisoning. Basically, it's the death of Earth itself in microcosm. It's effectively written, but it's hard to take. It's not the sort of story that you'd read for fun.

The most grotesque and most horrific story, however, has to be "The Musicians." Barely a page long, it tells of boys, intent on playing a secret game, exploring the deserted towns of Martian natives--natives now dead from chicken pox. I'm going to spoil this one, because the behavior in this paragraph was completely beyond any comprehension or empathy that I could muster.

...he would kick about, thrash his feet, and the black leaves would fly through the air, brittle, thin as tissue cut from midnight sky. Behind him would race six others, and the first boy there would be the Musician, playing the white xylophone bones beneath the outer covering of black flakes. A great skull would roll to view, like a snowball; they shouted! Ribs, like spider legs, plangent as a dull harp, and then the black flakes of mortality blowing all about them in their scuffling dance; the boys pushed and heaved and fell in the leaves, in the death that had turned the dead to flakes and dryness, into a game played by boys whose stomachs gurgled with orange pop.

Yes. They're rolling around in the dried-out flakes of Martian corpses. They're using bones as musical instruments. And there's no societal or cultural reason for this. The boys just think that this is fun.

While the stories may have been intended as linked metaphors/warnings on colonialism and imperialism--and honestly, I could see them that way, especially in view of the Terran diseases that wipe out the indigenous population of Mars--no alternative to human destructiveness is ever presented. No one ever tries to work with the Martians, who, it's repeatedly shown, don't want the humans on their world at all. No one ever speaks of anyone trying to stop the constant wars on Earth. There is a persistent dreariness to the world view, which is perhaps not too strange, given that the stories were written during World War II or in the few years following it.

Nevertheless, I don't come to science fiction or fantasy for a good dose of hopelessness. I can manufacture quite enough on my own. This book made me feel as if I was drowning in fatalism. I wanted Bradbury to come up with solutions to the constant problems that he was positing, and he never did. I found this disappointing.

I have loved Bradbury's writing--science fiction, fantasy and horror--since I was sixteen, so this book was not what I expected. Or wanted, I suppose. I came here looking for imaginative solutions to problems, eeriness and wonder. I was shocked not to find any of the above.

(Anonymous) 2017-04-05 08:34 pm (UTC)(link)
LEM! LEM! LEM! this is pliny by the way. I have not read this particular lem but lem is so great and does such good, weird robots
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)

[personal profile] seekingferret 2017-04-06 08:59 pm (UTC)(link)
The Cyberiad is so amazing.