[identity profile] monissaw.livejournal.com
The Conversation: Publishing should be more about culture than book sales

"Publishing is viewed as a business not as a cultural activity. This perception of publishing as a business, even a creative one, means that the question of book sales dominates our conversations about it, rather than questions around how readers use books and book culture to develop a sense of the society in which they live and/or a sense of themselves."
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
Ian Sales makes a strong case for the inclusion of these ten books in the Gollancz Masterworks series.

I especially think Joan Slonczewski's The Wall Around Eden deserves to be much better known.

Wishlists

May. 9th, 2014 07:53 pm
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
You can view the wishlists I've made public at Libib's public face. Should you so wish.

Two so far. Assorted can only grow but I'm hoping Mistressworks will shrink.
[identity profile] monissaw.livejournal.com
Clickbaiting the Stellas

"Which is what Nicole Flint and the Advertiser seemed to be trying to do with the article, 'Stella Prize sends a message that women are incapable of competing intellectually with men', because at no time is that heading backed up with anything resembling facts or an attempt at thoughtful dialogue."
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
This list caused some heated debate when Ian Sales posted it to Facebook. 23 men, one woman. Apparently asking for more women is unreasonable as women all write Fantasy anyway. Yeah.

Let's take a look at what I've read and what I haven't, as we all so love that game.

Frank Herbert's Dune. It's probably illegal not to include this book--that would explain its ubiquity, anyway. Yes, I've read it. Let's move on.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Nope, haven't read this. Don't intend to, either. I read a short story that was a sequel, and it was a) without plot and b) without conflict. Pretty dull. Or dull but not even pretty.

I'm also aware of issues surrounding Card that make me reluctant to hand him my money. But if he has a story in an anthology that I want, I'm sorry, but that's not going to stop me buying it. Principle of shifting principles?

Talking of controversial authors, next we come to Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I've read a lot of Heinlein, especially at the time when I was still finding my feet in the genre and looking for another book like Brunner's Telepathist, but ST hasn't been one of them. I think my disenchantment with Heinlein set in with Friday. But he has written some entertaining and interesting books, so I wouldn't dismiss his work entirely.

Asimov's Foundation series. I've read the original trilogy, plus a really bad book that was a prequel, and which I'm not even sure was actually written by Asimov himself. It was very bad. I can't even remember what it was called. Not that I want to, particularly. If you were after a grounding in Golden Age SF, then you could do a lot worse. But the first book is almost if not quite entirely male, iirc. Tediously so. I mean, where DO all these men come from? There must be some women in the vast Empire. Somewhere.

So far, really, so predictable. Card, Heinlein and Asimov pop up with clock-like regularity on these lists, although the named books tend to vary--except in Card's case, where it's always Ender's Game. It's as if some readers come with presets. And The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester, is another one you see again and again and again. Perhaps there's really only one list, which occasionally mutates.

The one Bester book I have read made such an impression that I can't remember which it was, but I think it was the other one that keeps being cited. Or maybe it was this one. Hard to care.

Next up is the third of the oft-named trilogy of safe white men--Arthur C. Clarke. I have read 2001: A Space Odyssey and thought it very dull in lots of places and rather silly at the end. Clarke may have good ideas, but his execution is not of the best, especially at novel length. Still, we wouldn't want to get uppity and start demanding literary SF, or even literate SF, now would we?

Ahem.

Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons I know nothing about, except that it's familiar from, well, lists like this one.

I have read William Gibson's Neuromancer, as well as the other two books in the Sprawl series. Slick, stylish books that have been widely if not successfully imitated.

It'd be hard to claim you have a grounding in SF without having read Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. But oh he is a tedious writer, with narrative skills just above those of Clarke. Comes from having been trained as a journalist, maybe. Scary book that is gradually coming true, more's the pity.

HHGTTG by Douglas Adams. Sure, I've read it. I'd rather listen to the radio series, though, and do--often. Fun with serious undertones. Unforgettable characters. Dating rather rapidly.

Whenever someone brings forward Ubik as the Philip K. Dick book people should read, I cringe. But it's either that or The Man in the High Castle. I have to wonder why. He's written far better books than either of those. I suppose TMITHC is accessible whereas, say, Martian Time-Slip is not, but if Ubik was your first experience of PKD, I imagine you'd be put off the man for life. Unless you too have a surplus of dopamine and/or a fascination with all that religious stuff.

Joe Haldeman's Forever War I picked up cheap and read. It was okay, I guess. I've read two versions--we'll call them the Hump You version and the Fuck You version. FU was more understandable than HU, which wasn't an idiom with which I was familiar. They're entertaining enough books, I guess, but do better in the combat areas than in imagining social developments.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is another book that crawls towards this kind of list with astonishing regularity. It doesn't matter how you dress him up or what fancy gadgets you give him, a pizza delivery guy is not cool. End of. The book has its moments, but I could happily never read it again. And probably won't.

Vernor Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep has never crossed my radar.

I think this list loses any credibility with Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Old people get young, turn green, and have a lot of sex. Who cares?

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan is a book I once glanced at in a bookshop and dismissed as old hat, based on the cover blurb. But I haven't actually read it, so shall say no more. Rule No. One: If you ain't read it you cain't discuss it.

Is Gene Wolfe the Island of Murdering Young Women to Heal Men guy? Anyway, haven't read The Book of the New Sun, so that's all there is to say.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks, although I have seen it maligned in certain quarters. Well worth a read imo.

The Night's Dawn by Peter F. Hamilton hasn't crossed my radar before, although the author's name is familiar.

It's a relief that Frederik Pohl's Gateway has an everyman character I can relate to*. I was beginning to worry. I have a vague memory of reading some short stories about these HeeChee and enjoying them, although that may have been the BeeGees. Anyway, it's going on the wishlist.

Another book that has evaded my radar up till now is Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. Presumably he is to be distinguished from Robert Anton Wilson. I shall bear that in mind.

Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl? Now I know you gotta be kidding. Read some way into this and found it both pointless and offensive. Quite an achievement, but not one that's worth all those literary awards.

And another Neal Stephenson, Anathem. At least that was published this century, which gives it an edge on just about everything else. Except the book that's a windup, I guess.

Peter Watts's Blindsight has hovered on the edge of my awareness for a while, but I've never thought seriously about picking it up.

Finally, at the bottom, we come to the token woman: Lois McMaster Bujold. It's hard to guess who'll it be this time, so kudos if you got it right. The list cites the entirety of the Miles Vorkosigan Saga. I've read one book in this series--The Warrior's Apprentice--which was okay but didn't entice me to read any more.

It's impossible to total up when people insist on including series. But of the authors listed, I'm confident I've read something by sixteen of the men (out of 23) and all of the women.


* I've been distrustful of the 'everyman' character ever since it became associated for me with the protagonist in Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, who is a cipher.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
Abebooks (or Amazon #2 as they could otherwise be known) has ventured into blogging.

Can’t afford to get away at all, let alone to another planet? Pick up a book.

When you're done boggling at the idea that some people might be able to afford to go to another planet, and wondering which it would be and what they'd do when they got there, let's consider the list. Twenty-five books, five of which (20%) are by women.

Let's look at which I've read and which I haven't. Because I know you're all dying to find out.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Practically a required read for a child of my generation, along with Winnie the Pooh, The Secret Garden and Swallows and Amazons. It's surprising how it retains its appeal, given that most of what it's satirising will be entirely obscure to modern readers. Good fun though.

Dune by Frank Herbert.

Most of the mind-boggling for me in this book was the joyful head-hopping. I read a second Dune book but got disenchanted. It seems pointless to be able to see the future if you can't do anything to change it. Your child's going to be butchered, so you send him to the place where it'll happen--and lie to your wife about it. You're going to be blinded, and you walk blindly towards that fate. Ugh.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Great stuff. Fantasy of the best kind. It's sad that the quality of the books declined after the third one. I sympathise with Le Guin's aims in the later books, but they feel forced and the language of high Fantasy has got lost. A shame.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Not read this. Saw the movie tho.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Not read this, and it's really beginning to jar on me. Although my expectations may have been raised so high that it'll be a disappointment. Hard to know. Any book's a venture.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Well, yeah. Not a work you can ignore. Bit heavy on the exclamation marks, though.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Read this, but much prefer the radio series. Getting a bit dated now.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery.

Read it. Hated it.

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett.

Not one of Pratchett's best imo. But one of the first ones I read, after Good Omens, which rocks.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

Read it as an adult so I could say I had. Meh.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

Ditto.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini.

Never felt any inclination to read it.

The Secret Country by Pamela Dean.

Not heard of it before today. Wonder why not.

A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony.

Not read. If he's the author I think he is, one book by him was more than enough.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Read the whole lot. Quality is variable.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling.

Read it to find out what all the fuss was about. Still don't know.

The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Not read.

Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber.

Not read.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

Enjoyed this book as a child.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.

Not read. Don't much feel like reading it, either.

Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson

Not read.

The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

Not read. Not heard of.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer

Not read.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Not ventured down this road yet. Too much hype.

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Not read. I loved Tarzan as a child. Reread it as an adult and the magic was gone. Suspect Burroughs of not being a very good writer.

So, what's the total?

Twenty books by men, of which I have read ten, or 50%. Five books by women, of which I have read two, or 40%. Hmmm.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
"More frequent book readers tend to live in areas of lower deprivation with fewer children living in poverty, while respondents who never read books tend to live in areas of higher deprivation and more children living in poverty," the study says.

Correlation? Cause and effect? And if the latter, which is the cause and which is the effect?

And having a negative view of ebooks is not the same as having a negative view of reading, you doofuses. People who prefer LPs to CDs don't have a negative view of listening to music....

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