melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-07-11 10:45 pm

FMK #16: Psi-fi

Sorry for dropping off the face of the internet - life has been coming at me pretty hard the last couple of weeks, and part of that is having to find entirely different scraps of time to use for writing internet posts.

Anyway, I have read Juniper Time and am mostly through writing a review of it, so that should go up soon. I also read Always Coming Home because it was becoming increasingly clear that in order to talk about the sort of stories I want to, I needed to have read it. I'm not sure what I think of it as a novel, but as worldbuilding it is amazing and still haunting me (also I now want to go "forget sedoretu AU just give me Kesh AUs of everything", of course.) I have also made progress on reading both Melusine (not sure if I actually like it, but finding it compulsively readable, also not nearly enough snake-women so far) and Discount Armageddon (like it okay, but not finding it compulsively readable, a++ on snake-woman though.)

I also saw Spider-Man and have to say I enjoyed it more than most of the other recent Marvel movies I've watched (partly, I think, because the stakes were lower and it could just be fun.) I am mostly in it for Karen, to probably nobody's shock, although I am way too invested in Michelle because she is basically 100% me in high school (I'm white, and we weren't a well-funded magnet school so we didn't go to the academic quiz championship because the advisor got arrested for dealing crack halfway through the year and the paperwork got screwed up. But other than that, spot on. So I am terrified they will ruin her for me of course. Also I mostly just want the YW crossover where Michelle and Murph and Vision team up to help Karen with her Ordeal.)

This week's theme is Psi-Fi, for no particular reason except that it's getting harder to patch together themes from what's left. :P

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 #18572 FMK #14: SF In Translation
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 27


Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov (1950)

View Answers

F
8 (47.1%)

M
1 (5.9%)

K
8 (47.1%)

Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh (1988)

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F
10 (45.5%)

M
12 (54.5%)

K
0 (0.0%)

The Alien Way by Gordon R. Dickson (1965)

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F
5 (45.5%)

M
1 (9.1%)

K
5 (45.5%)

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl (1970)

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F
11 (68.8%)

M
4 (25.0%)

K
1 (6.2%)

Mindflight by Stephen Goldin (1978)

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F
3 (33.3%)

M
0 (0.0%)

K
6 (66.7%)

Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman (1993)

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F
5 (50.0%)

M
1 (10.0%)

K
4 (40.0%)

Telempath by Spider Robinson (1976)

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F
9 (52.9%)

M
1 (5.9%)

K
7 (41.2%)

Triplanetary by E. E. Smith (1948)

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F
7 (50.0%)

M
2 (14.3%)

K
5 (35.7%)

A Wizard and a Warlord by Christopher Stasheff (2000)

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F
5 (38.5%)

M
1 (7.7%)

K
7 (53.8%)

Today We Choose Faces by Roger Zelazny (1988)

View Answers

F
9 (75.0%)

M
2 (16.7%)

K
1 (8.3%)


rachelmanija: (Default)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-07-12 04:18 am (UTC)(link)
I adore Cyteen, once you get past the THREE unnecessary prologues. (No, I don't know why.) Telempath is, IIRC, about TWO completely unrelated apocalypses: a mutant virus causes everyone's sense of smell to become so acute that they go insane and kill each other (no, I don't know why) BUT LUCKILY it also enables them to evade the invading killer aliens who are gaseous and can only be detected by smell. Obviously I hope you read that one. ;)

I didn't really enjoy Enchantress From the Stars that much but it has a really fun central conceit: a girl from a high-tech world meets a boy from a low-tech world; her POV is written as sf, his as a fairytale.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 10:53 am (UTC)(link)
I remember reading Enchantress from the Stars as a teenager and being kind of irritated by it. The central idea stuck with me enough that I kept trying other Engdahl books and not quite liking those either. (The keeping on trying may have had more to do with the lack of available options at our local public library than with anything else. I had to really and truly loathe a book not to try others by that author if the library had them.)

I seem to recall that my reaction to Telempath was, "Really? You just did that? Why?" Of course, I stopped reading Robinson after college because that was turning out to be my reaction to every single book. I'm not sure if the things of his I read and liked in high school were actually better or if, well, I was in high school.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 03:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I think that a lot of Robinson's books are of the fun if read at the right age sort. There comes a point where one spots the holes and the skeeviness and that makes the fun bits much less fun. Is there such a thing as the Oh I Wish I Hadn't Noticed That Fairy?
petra: Barbara Gordon smiling knowingly (Default)

[personal profile] petra 2017-07-12 02:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Agreed on Cyteen and I haven't read the others. [personal profile] melannen, if you tell me which edition you've got, I am happy to give you a skip-it/read-it guide for the first ~150 pages.
petra: Barbara Gordon smiling knowingly (Default)

[personal profile] petra 2017-07-12 02:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh dear. Well, I'd say off-load the partial and, when you have the time, get the full thing from the library.
seekingferret: Photo of me with my 2012 Purim beard, with stripes shaven into it. (Default)

[personal profile] seekingferret 2017-07-12 03:15 pm (UTC)(link)
I think there's a way to read Cyteen in which the book is a puzzle game and you are supposed to be trying to figure out the puzzle based on all the clues she left in the prologues. Reading it that way gave me a massive headache the first time I tried to read it, and I only figured out a handful of the puzzles; CJ Cherryh is way smarter than I am. I eventually realized Cyteen is still a pretty great book if you don't try to play the puzzle game.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-07-12 07:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I read Enchantress From The Stars as a kid, and it really really really worked for me. I think in part because, 1, it is ultimately hopeful about both the fate of civilizations and the possibility of individual action mattering, 2, it doesn't insist that heterosexual monogamous true love makes Everything Work Out, 3, I really enjoyed the dreamy, lyrical quality of the authorial voice. And also I identified with the female protagonist.

But I can see how an older reader would want something that dug deeper into the worldbuilding or the character conflicts or something?

I really, really don't care for Telempath, but there are other Spider Robinson stories that I like a lot.

I find that Cyteen, while I enjoy it, has a bit too much for me of the Cherryh-dumps-you-into-the-political-action that often happens in CJC's writing; I can't track the motivations of the different characters. Unlike, say, the Chanur books; or the Faded Sun trilogy; where while there is a lot going on, the central cast is, for me, distinct enough to follow.
rushthatspeaks: (Default)

[personal profile] rushthatspeaks 2017-07-12 05:56 am (UTC)(link)
Triplanetary, despite being the first in the Lensman series in internal chronology, is a fix-up of short stories and was put together quite late in the series, so it's very much not the place to start. The place to start is Galactic Patrol.

I love Smith dearly, but I grew up on him; I can't remember not having read those books, which means I hit them somewhere before age six. I have less than no idea how he holds up nowadays.
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)

[personal profile] stardreamer 2017-07-12 07:55 am (UTC)(link)
I remember liking the Asimov, but I haven't read it recently enough to know if the Suck Fairy has been at it.

Robinson and Stasheff have not aged well IMO, and Smith even less so unless you can approach it as farce.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 10:15 am (UTC)(link)
The Stasheff book is part of a long series and falls quite late in the sequence. All of the Warlock/Grammayre (sp?) books come before it. It might be readable as a standalone, but I can't swear to it.

The Zelazny book has the virtue of being short. I read it in the 80s and don't remember much about it except that it got tangled up in my head with various cyberpunk books people tried to get me to like.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 03:45 pm (UTC)(link)
The Wizard books are linked because the main character is the oldest son of the guy from the Warlock books. He had his heart broken by betrayal and left home in his father's spaceship and never, ever went home. I think he visits a different planet in each book and intervenes in the development of the culture somehow and then moves on.

So same universe but not same planet.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 05:20 pm (UTC)(link)
As I recall the whole thing is set up for his identity to be a secret from the other characters. Most, if not all of the books are from other points of view, and he doesn't reveal his name for the first few books. It was weird to read because there wasn't actually a point to it.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 10:45 am (UTC)(link)
You list Norton in your cut tag, but I don't see anything by her on the list. Mostly, I was curious as to which book of hers you were putting forward since so very many of her books could fit. Also, I have Opinions on a number of her books.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-07-12 02:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Operation Time Search has some plot and logic holes big enough to drive a semi through, but I really adored it as a teenager, reading and rereading bits of it. I've seen other people comment that it's a weak book for Norton, but... Well, I can't actually judge with any accuracy and couldn't even if I reread it. Either I'd still love it, warts and all, or I'd dislike it that much more for having loved it once upon a time.

As I recall, there's an SF frame story, and then everything inside is headed much more in the direction of magic (though still science because psychic powers). Atlantis and Mu and time travel and interdimensional beings and mind control and... Also, the ending bit of the frame story makes my head hurt because a time traveler altering things thousands of years ago does not, in any universe I consider logical, lead to abrupt changes in the time he came from, changes that everybody notices and that don't change the history they remember in the slightest.

So, an F from me on that one.
hannah: (Rob and Laura - aureliapriscus)

[personal profile] hannah 2017-07-12 11:08 am (UTC)(link)
I'm so totally here for Kesh AUs.
espresso_addict: Two cups of espresso with star effect on coffee pot (coffee cups)

[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-07-12 03:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Not read any of this batch but interested if you were to review Always Coming Home in more detail.

My pile of unread books was augmented by the unfortunate happenstance of mixing the long-term unread with the bulk while putting a new floor in the study. I decided if it looked pristine and I had no recollection whatsoever of it based on the plot summary/first pages, I might as well class it as unread. I probably need a FMK poll of my own as I haven't made much progress on the heap this year.
evil_plotbunny: (stargazing)

[personal profile] evil_plotbunny 2017-07-13 11:53 am (UTC)(link)
Cherryh seems to be very much a love her or hate her author, I adore her but ymmv.

Like others I wanted to like Enchantress from the Stars but didn't.

I also agree with the sentiment above - unless you really like novels cobbled together from short stories (I do), start with Galactic Patrol, not Triplanetary. There will be a point in the series where you want to throw the books against the wall due to the eugenics thread or gender politics, whether you do or not is up to you. I'm a firm believer that one can enjoy problematic texts and call them out on their problems at the same time.

I tend to like Roger Zelazny but I don't remember Today We Choose Faces at all.