In response to Dave’s comment on my last post, I’m going to do something positive, rather than just bagging an out a fun-looking meme for being mythological in origin, like a grumpeh bastard.
1. JFS’s meme: (roughly) Take any one work from the ‘Big Read’ meme list, and either defend it or attack it.
Turns out it’s hard to take just one… I winnowed it down to a list of four, all in favour:
- Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
- DUNE – Frank Herbert
- Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
- The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy- Douglas Adams
But after much agonizing I decided to go with Hitch Hikers, since it likely has the least pre-existing readership of any of these.
The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is a book which must still hold some twisted kind of record for being (if I can use the phrase without cringing) genre-defying. It’s surreal, arguably post-modern. It’s a gateway drug for those with an aversion to F&SF, despite also being an elaborate parody of the genre. This book is at least a third of the reason I did a major in the more self-absorbed parts of philosophy.
As Purplexity can attest, HHGTTG is a book you may even have read if you publicly proclaim that you don’t read science fiction books.
Suitable for a stunningly wide age spectrum. It was a (at least one, very strange and different) radio play before it was a book. Since becoming a book, it has also been an Infocom text adventure, another radio play, a BBC TV mini-series, a picture book, an online encyclopedia, some more computer games, some stage shows, a major movie, some comic books, an infinite number of cultural references, an online translation service, a radiohead song, an instant-messaging tool and a Google search result. It has been appreciated in Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish and Ukrainian, among other languages.
It’s a wonderful book, it’s not very long, and it won’t try to sell you anything.
I’m trying to be positive here, so I didn’t choose to rubbish anything from the list, but I probably wouldn’t have anyway: There are works on that list which I don’t like at all, but none I feel I have anything like the authority to criticise.
2. What highly awarded F/SF novels have I read? (in bold)
- Dune, by Frank Herbert (N65, H66)
- The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K Le Guin (N69, H70)
- Ringworld, by Larry Niven (N70, H71)
- The Gods Themselves, by Isaac Asimov (N72, H73)
- Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C Clarke (N73, H74)
- The Dispossessed, by Ursula K Le Guin (N74, H75)
- The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman (N75, H76)
- Gateway, by Frederik Pohl (N77, H78)
- Dreamsnake, by Vonda McIntyre (N78, H79)
- The Fountains of Paradise, by Arthur C Clarke (N79, H80)
- Startide Rising, by David Brin (N83, H84)
- Neuromancer, by William Gibson (N84, H85)
- Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card (N85, H86)
- Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card (N86, H87)
- Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis (N92, H93)
- Forever Peace, by Joe Haldeman (N98, H98)
- American Gods, by Neil Gaiman (N02, H02)
- Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold (N04, H04)
ZOMG! So many breathtaking, awesome books in that lot!
I keep meaning to read The Disposessed, getting about half a chapter in and getting distracted by something shiny…
I have to admit though that like Dave, I haven’t read any of the four listed as awarded by teh brits:
- Take Back Plenty, by Colin Greenland (A91, B90)
- The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell (A98, B97)
- The Separation, by Christopher Priest (A03, B02)
- Air, by Geoff Ryman (A06, B05)