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Seven Question Book Questionnaire

Instead of apologizing for the lack of updates around here, I decided to use one of the reasons for my silence as fodder for a new post. This was made easy when I came across an entry on one of the science fiction blog/websites that I frequent that fit my situation perfectly. And since I’m being all meta right now, this upcoming summer season looks to be a weak one and I was starting to plan what I would do extra for The Null Set (maybe another round of anime quizzes, for instance) but I just received a letter saying that I’ve been picked for jury duty for the first half of July. This will not be conducive to spending time on a special project for The Null Set and might disrupt normal posting as well😦 .

So, anyways, here’s my answers to a seven question ‘Book Meme’, found here.

  1. A science fiction/fantasy/horror author whose books I will buy sight unseen is:

            – Neil Gaiman.

neil-gaiman-photo-credit-kimberly-butlerThere are a handful of authors that are currently active who I’ve read many times over and have yet to disappoint me; people like John Scalzi, Connie Willis, Ted Chiang, Neal Stephenson, James Van Pelt, and Jim Butcher; however, Neil Gaiman raises above this august group of authors because he is – without a doubt – the greatest living storyteller. Any genre, any format, any anything (at least in the English language). Reading his books draws forth that now half-remembered feeling of pure joy and wonder that one thought was forever lost and last felt as a young child as their favorite story was being told to them.

  1. My favorite book by that author is:

            – American Gods.

american_godsOne could devote their entire life to reading and still never get to all the books that call out to be read and enjoyed. This depressing thought keeps me from sparing time to reread my favorite books until their siren’s call breaks down my defenses and I can’t help but reread them. Many of my favorite books I’ve only read two or three times; in the dozen or so years since I first read American Gods, I’ve averaged reading it one time a year. Even after that dozen plus times I’ve read this book, I know there is still hidden bits of treasure that are waiting for me to discover the next time I pick it up to read.

  1. The most recent new-to-me sf/f/h author I discovered was:

            – Brandon Sanderson.

bsandersonNPR ran a poll a couple of years ago that asked people to vote for their top fantasy/science fiction books of all time and, after receiving tens of thousands of votes, they published a list of the top 100 books. Over this past winter I decided to begin reading entries to this list that were new to me. Brandon Sanderson was an author I had some interest in reading because of a recommendation I received on this blog; so, when I saw his Mistborn Trilogy finish at number 43, I decided to give him a chance.

  1. The book that helped me discover that author is:

            – The Mistborn Trilogy.

mistborncovers_trilogySometimes, when a book is truly exceptionally good, the saying about not being able to put the book down becomes literally true in my case. Just about everything else is either forgotten or pushed to the fringe. During a two-week period that covered the end of May and the beginning of June, I could not stop reading The Mistborn Trilogy. Certain authors most excel at certain aspects of their writing – storytelling to Neil Gaiman, plotting to Jim Butcher, and characters to Brandon Sanderson, to name a few examples. That’s not to say that The Mistborn Trilogy lacked anything in the storytelling or plotting or some other department; however, I was blown away with how exceptional the characters were created, detailed, developed, and awakened to life. Much like the anime Gurren Lagann, to which these books share a surprising number of parallels with, the characters in The Mistborn Trilogy are the types of characters that stay with one long after finishing the book. One of the other aspects that I really liked about The Mistborn Trilogy, being a person that generally prefers SF over fantasy, was how the rigid construction of the magic system and the author’s not shying away from scientific concepts almost makes this feel like a stealth science fiction book.

  1. One of my favorite sf/f/h authors is:

            – Connie Willis.

connie-willisI’d launch into the many reasons why but that’s the following question. I could pick a favorite work but that is really such a near impossible task to do and would require a re-reading of everything she’s wrote and much, much agonizing.

  1. She is one of my favorites because:

            – BlackoutConnie Willis might just be the most deceptively clever and insightful writer that the science fiction genre has ever spawned and I seriously doubt we’ll ever see another writer reach a similar level of mastery and then sustain it for over 30 years like she has. Equally adept at both novel and shorter lengths as well as writing comedy and serious, she has written about a wide variety of topics, though, she’s probably best known for her time travel novels. I believe time travel is one of science fiction’s most potent storytelling devices and Connie Willis wields the potential of time travel like a renowned surgeon wields a scalpel. One of her favorite settings is England during World War II and has used it for everything from a story, written decades before the current vampire craze, about a vampire that helps put out fires during the German night-time bombing of London to a novel about time travelers stuck in England and having to figure out how to survive the war and find a way to get home. She also has written many great Christmas themed short stories that have successfully balanced being “Christmassy” without sacrificing being good stories.

  1. The most coveted sf/f/h book I own is:

            – The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Vols. 1, 2A, 2B.

SFhofVOL1There are different ways to take “coveted”; I initially thought to consider the most rare, most pricey, book I own but that felt too cold and too calculating to me. I decided to go the direction of considering what book is most important to me and that made the decision easy – Volumes 1, 2A, and 2B of the anthology The Science Fiction Hall of Fame. This might look like I’m stretching the definition of “book” but these three books were conceived together as a way to honor the best science fiction stories that were written before the SFWA started the yearly Nebula awards. Covering the science fiction genre up to the early 1960’s, this anthology contains a wealth of absolutely wonderful stories that became the cornerstone and bedrock to my life long love of science fiction. Many of these stories featured here have become so ingrained in my memory that I only need to read the title to remember the story in minute detail.

Top Image from here.

2 thoughts on “Seven Question Book Questionnaire”

  1. Much like the anime Gurren Lagann, to which these books share a surprising number of parallels with, the characters in The Mistborn Trilogy are the types of characters that stay with one long after finishing the book.

    One could probably find my comment in the G L anime thread about that, going on and on concerning.

    Sanderson approaches magick using a logickal system, not a “wish it to be true” system. While it is true that in martial arts and H2H, having “willpower” actually does contribute enormously to accomplishing a task with power, it is not something that people can easily relate to, reading an abstract book about abstract things. Guns, explosives, and microwave ovens, however, people are familiar with. They may not know how it works, but that doesn’t change that it has power to do work. So Sanderson, somehow makes the obvious connection between fantasy and physics. Other authors have done something similar, but they normally aren’t scientists nor are they capable of warping the rules of physics to make magick happen (other than the quantum mechanical level).

    The principle concept is the one Orson Scott Card liked to use, I think. From Sagan, that any appropriately advanced technology is the same as magic.

    A tabletop RPG game, Numenera, is really big on combining the physics of this universe with the magic of another. Shadowrunner universe is similar. What’s unique about Sanderson is how he got into the mainstream via Tor, when the mainstream was known for rejecting creative worlds like Shadowrunner or Numenera, focusing instead on High Fantasy, Tolkien copies, or chicks and chainmail.

    I believe I finished the Mistborn trilogy before reaching GL. For you, it was the opposite.

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  2. Most authors from what I’ve seen, can simulate the physics of a magick system by borrowing science fiction theories about nanotechnology creating stuff from thin air. But nanotechnology is a familiar technology to us, even though it occupies a pseudo level of application. For a system of technology to be sufficiently advanced, it must be unfamiliar, it must be strange or crazy. Just as the magnetic field theory and Wright Brother’s flight theory were considered Absolutely Nuts and Crazy by the status quo denizens back then, scientist or serf it mattered not. Truly exceptional advances in society’s technology, literally appears insane to most people.

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