Over the past several years, I’ve read less and less. There are lots of reasons for this, but those reasons all fit in the file drawer labeled “Distraction”. It has been a very long time since I’ve finished an SF novel that I would consider “current”.

Using Hugo nominees for Best Novel as a guide, it looks like I stalled completely in 2013. That year I started but didn’t finish two of the nominated novels and didn’t read any of the others. In 2014, the same. I dnf’d two of the nominees and didn’t attempt any of the others. In 2015 and 2016, I didn’t read nor attempt to read any of the nominees.

Looking at this year’s Hugo nominees, I see an opportunity to reconnect. Three of the Hugo nominees are sequels, and two of those are sequels to previous Hugo winners. I haven’t read any of those, but in doing so I’d be reading a couple of previous Hugo winners in addition to this year’s stuff, so bonus.

When I’m finished, like them or not, I’ll feel able to rejoin the conversation.

Here are the books I’ll read:
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (currently reading)
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin (nominee)
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (nominee)
Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer (nominee)
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (nominee)
A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers (nominee)
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Dark Forest bu Cixin Liu
Death’s End by Cixin Liu (nominee)

I have till July 15th if I want to finish in time to vote. No deadline at all if I don’t care about voting. I’ll leave that in the air.

My history of posting lists isn’t so good. There’s something it that is unmotivating. At the moment, I’ve starting reading again in a big way and I’d love to post here more regularly. I’m very interested to find out if I like these books or not. If the list doesn’t damage my enthusiasm, then I’ll post something here about each one.

I won’t force myself to finish them. I will treat each of these like I do other things I read: if I’m not looking forward to getting back to the book after reading 50 pages then I’ll drop it and move on.

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Off to the desert till Easter…


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Friday Video: Chimamanda Adichie on What Americans Get Wrong About Africa

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The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi

The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino GuareschiThis week, one of my favorite episodes of Good Story posted. Julie and I talked about The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovannino Guareschi.

The book is a collection of very short, very poignant stories about a Catholic priest and mayor, written in and about Italy right after World War II. Fun to read, even more fun to talk about.

Find the episode here: Good Story 152: The Little World of Don Camillo.

Next up over there is a movie Julie picked that is up for an Oscar this year: Hell or High Water. I’ve seen it and liked it, but will watch again with my Good Story goggles on.

I have the two picks after that. We’ll read “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes (the novella, not the novel), a story about “what it means to be an intelligent being” said a very smart friend of mine at LTUE this past weekend. Then we’ll watch Arrival, which is also up for an Oscar. I’m eager, among other things, to talk about how “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang was so successfully brought to screen when I considered it unfilmable.

What do I know, anyway? Answer: NOT MUCH. Not much at all. So happy to be wrong.

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“A Walk in the Sun” by Geoffrey A. Landis, from Infinivox

Science Fiction - A Walk in the Sun be Geoffrey A. LandisWritten long before Andy Weir’s The Martian, “A Walk in the Sun” by Geoffrey A. Landis gives us a science fiction survival story a bit closer to home. Trish Mulligan is the last one alive on the moon after crash landing a ship that was never meant to land at all. Luckily, her solar powered spacesuit is operational. Unluckily, a rescue is thirty days away. To survive, she’s got to keep her suit working, and to keep her suit working? She’s got to keep it in the sun.

I like a science fiction story that lets me involve my calculator. (And yes, I mean “calculator”. My trusty old HP-15C… still love that thing.)

The diameter of the moon = 6786 miles.

The moon rotates once every 27 days.

So to keep that suit in the sun, Trish needs to average 10.47 miles per hour for 27 days. And she’s only got her legs to move her.

Can she keep that pace in the low gravity of the moon?

I listened to Infinivox’s recording of the story, read by Amy Bruce. She’s quite good and a great match with the story. It runs 51 minutes and you can get it on Audible for $5. I’ve listened to this a few times over the years so yeah, I enjoy it very much.

  • Here’s a link to the whole story at Baen
  • “A Walk in the Sun” won a Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1992.

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    “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison

    Top of the Volcano by Harlan EllisonOne of my most treasured books is my The Top of the Volcano hardcover, a complete (at the time of publication, 2014) collection of Harlan Ellison’s award-winning stories published by Subterranean Press. It’s a beautiful book and the content… well this is arguably Harlan Ellison’s very best stuff. It will blow your socks off.

    I recently re-read “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”, which is the first story in this collection. It’s one of my favorite Ellison stories because it hits me right where I live. It has inspired me a time or several to stop and wonder what it is exactly that I’m doing in my life. I’m still not a jelly bean tosser, but at the very least I’m galvanized to suppress my inner Ticktockman.

    The Voice from the Edge: I Have No Mouth and I Must ScreamAs beautiful a book at The Top of the Volcano is, there are two audio versions of this story that ought not be missed. The first is Harlan Ellison’s reading of the story that is part of The Voice from the Edge: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Ellison is a fine forward-leaning narrator that demands attention. You can find this audiobook at Downpour and Audible.

    2000X: Tales of the MilleniaThis story was dramatized as part of the 2000X: Tales of the New Millennia radio series, which is worth tracking down. It stars Robin Williams as the Harlequin (Everett C. Marm), Stefan Rudnicki as the Ticktockman, and Harlan Ellison as the narrator (and host of the entire series). Yuri Rasovsky was producer/director. It looks like it’s out of print, so a used copy is your best bet. Another gem in that series is Richard Dreyfuss starring in Robert A. Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps”. Listen through good headphones!

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