Sunday, July 16, 2017

BW29: First Hugo Award - Alfred Bester for The Demolished Man



The very first Hugo Award for excellence in fantasy and science fiction was awarded to Alfred Bester for The Demolished Man.   




"Back cover:  "In 2301 A.D., guns are only museum pieces and benign telepaths sweep the minds of the populace to detect crimes before they happen.  In 2301 A.D., homicide is virtually impossible--but one man is about to change that.   In this classic science fiction novel, the first to win the prestigious Hugo award, a psychopathic business magnate devises the ultimate scheme to eliminate the competition and destroy the order of his society.  Hurtling from the orgies of a future aristocracy to a deep space game preserve, and across the densely realized subcultures of psychic doctors, grifters, and police, The Demolished Man is a masterpiece of high-tech suspense, set in a world in which everything has changed except for the ancient instinct for murder."

The people in Bester's futuristic world are peepers and can read each other's minds.   There are three different classes of Espers - the most common class three types hear what others are thinking at the moment, Class two peepers read a bit deeper and hear inner thoughts.     Class one go even deeper and pick up on peoples most inner urges before they even think about them and are therefore all involved in law enforcement and the government.   Bester illustrates how high evolved peepers think and converse telepathically with and at each other and it looks something like this:






Which makes for some rather interesting reading until the characters start to think in cohesive patterns.  So what happens when Reich decides to break the law and is determined to find a way to disguise his thoughts.   He goes to a songwriter who teaches him a song that he won't be able to get out of his head for a month.  

"A tune of utter monotony filled the room with agonizing, unforgettable banality.  It was the quintessence of every melodic cliche' Reich had ever heard.  No matter what melody you tried to remember, it invariably led down the path of familiarity to "Tensor, Said the Tensor."  Then Duffy began to sing.

Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three sir;
two sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor
Tenser, said the Tensor 
Tension, apprehension 
and dissension have begun. 

"Oh my God!"  Reich exclaimed.

"I've got some real gone tricks in that tune," Duffy said, still playing.  "Notice the beat after 'one? That's a semi-cadence. Then you get another beat after 'begun.' That turns the end of the song into a semi-cadence, too, so you can't ever end it.  The beat keeps you running in circles, like:  Tension, apprehension, and dissention have begun.  RIFF. Tension, apprehension, and dissension has begun. Riff..."

What would be more annoying? All the people talking or getting that song stuck in your head? *grin* The Demolished Man is a fun and enjoyable read and has definitely withstood the test of time. Alfred Bester also wrote "Tiger, Tiger," which was released in the U.S. as "The Stars My Destination", plus many other short stories. He wrote the non fiction book "The Life and Death of a Satellite" in 1966. 

Be sure to check out Bester's books as well as the rest of the Hugo Award winners.


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Sunday, July 9, 2017

BW28: Octavia Butler

Courtesy of Goodreads


Octavia Butler, born June 22, 1947, started creating stories in her head at the age of four and by the time she turned 13, was writing stories about new worlds on her mother's Remington typewriter. After college, she earned a spot in the Screenwriters Guild Open Door Program where she captured the attention of Harlan Ellison who encouraged her to do the Clarion Science Fiction Writer's workshop, where she also met Samuel Delaney.  Crossover, her first story was published in an anthology of student work.  From there, she  went on to publish twelve best selling novels as well as numerous short stories. She won several awards and is the first and only science fiction writer to win the MacArthur 'Genius' Fellowship.   Butler passed away in February 24, 2006 at the age of 59.

Clockshop launched Radio Imagination in 2016 to honor Octavia on the tenth anniversary of her death with a year long celebration including a series of performances and literary events.  As they so eloquently state:  
With Black female protagonists, radical notions of kinship, and a keen understanding of power dynamics, Butler’s writing revamped the conventions of the science fiction genre. Butler’s bold imagining of the future has come to inform the way we live now. 2016 marks the 10-year anniversary of Butler’s death.
 Exploring far-reaching issues of race, gender, power and, ultimately what it means to be human, Butler broke ground as a black woman writing science fiction—a genre dominated by white men. “I’m black, I’m solitary, I’ve always been an outsider,” The Los Angeles Times quoted Butler as saying in 1998. Her work suggested new ways of thinking and new models of working for generations of writers and artists to come

Emanuela Grinberg on CNN.com talks more about Clockwork and how Los Angeles Celebrates Octavia Butler, a Visionary among Futurists



In January of this year, Abrams ComicArts released a graphic novel edition of Kindred 




More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.


She has written three different series over the years:  Patternist, Xenogenesis and Parables.  SWFA provides a excellent chronological list of how to read her books.  I currently have Dawn in my stacks waiting to be read.  Find out more about Octavia through Portalist's 15 Fascinating Facts about Octavia Butler.

Join me in celebrating our author of the month and reading one of her novels this year. 


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Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.





Sunday, July 2, 2017

BW27: Scifi July




We embracing the heat with Scifi July, our author of the month, Octavia Butler as well as this month's gemstone, Ruby.  This month we are celebrating Independence Day in the United States in honor of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.  July is also National Blueberry, Hot dog, Ice Cream and Cell Phone Courtesy month.  Let's not forget Video Game day, Embrace your Geekness day, Global Hug Your Kids day as well as Ugly Truck Day and Threading the Needle Day. 

Our birthstone of the month is one of my favorites - Ruby.  Is anyone else thinking of Dorothy with her ruby red slippers.   There's no place like home.   You may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Ruby.   You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found.

Rubies were originally discovered in Myanmar (Burma) in the ancient times and soldiers thought the stones made them invincible.  Rubies have long been believed to symbols of passion, protections and prosperity. They were traded along China's North Silk Road and the stones were buried beneath the foundations of building to secure good fortune. Thailand is the main source today and the gemstones area also found in India, Madagascar, Russia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  

Our armchair travels continue as we delve into Science Fiction this month.  According to the Gunn Center for the study of science fiction, the genre is the literature of the human species encountering change through science, technology, and cultural shifts as well as ideas and philosophy, alternative point of view and an approach to understanding the universe.  More simply put, it is speculative fiction about the future, taking us through time and space and parallel universes.  

The sub genres vary from alien invasion to steampunk to artificial intelligence to nanotechnology to space operas. World's Without End has always been a fun site to explore  when it comes to finding science fiction and fantasy reads.  Other sites include Unbound Worlds, Tor, and SFFworld.  Our mini challenge - Mind Voyages  - also provides a variety of Hugo and Nebula award winners and nominees from which to choose. Octavia Butler, our author of the month, won numerous awards for her science fiction short stories, novelettes and books.  I have Dawn in my book stacks to read this month and will talk more about Octavia next week. 

Happy reading! 



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Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post






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