10 thoughts on “Episode 30: Live with Gary K. Wolfe!”

  1. Note that the final list you mention isn’t Niall’s personal list, either: the list you give at about the 49 minute mark is actually the overall top 10 as determined by the 101 people who contributed votes. The three other lists you mention earlier in the podcast are based on that same overall data set of votes, filtered by the current citizenship of the authors (so an author with dual citizenship may place on two lists). FWIW, Niall did give his personal top 10 here.

  2. Jonathan, while Niall has a list of his own favorites, it lies so far back in the thread of posts that you’d have to page back to find it. All those final lists are the result of “cutting” the data of the poll in different ways. Incidentally, I submitted a list (after spending weeks trying to make the ten as representative as possible), and only 2 of my final ten wound up on the collated final list, and I’m sure nearly everyone who participated had a similar experience. Consensus is a very interesting process. I thought Niall did an excellent job of honoring the process above the results.

    Gary, there was no horror on the list because it was supposed to be science fiction ONLY. I can understand your confusion, since several of the titles are easier to embrace as fantasy (about which there was much discussion). Apparently the 101 of us who participated are clearer in our minds about what horror looks like than about any demarcation between science fiction and fantasy. The origin of the enterprise was the repeated defense of scanty representation of works by women among Clarke winners as “women just don’t write as much SF”. So Niall set out to explore.

    If you two wanted to push that exploration a little, comparison between a consensus list from the 90s and a consensus list from the oughties might prove interesting. My off-the-cuff-and-unexamined assumption is that the 90s had more robust offerings from women authors in SF.

    Jonathan, your response to Tooth and Claw was appalling, and I’m just going to rack it up to no sleep on your part. (I’m so sorry to hear about the week your family has had. Best wishes to everyone for a much better week ahead.) The premise behind Tooth and Claw is “what happens if you translate the societal rules described in Victorian literature into biological necessity.” (Austen is NOT a Victorian author. We’re talking Anthony Trollope here.) So when a young woman is “ruined” by contact with a man or a father shares his “substance” among his children at his death, Jo’s dragons actually change color or fight over who gets to eat the biggest haunch of dad at the funeral. It’s an amazingly brilliant book, but all its primary influences are really in mainstream literature, not in fantasy. The dragons are a way of concretizing some very outrageous societal principles in a way that makes those principles look outrageous. It isn’t a book that starts with a fantasy trope and decides to examine that. Perfectly okay not to like it if you don’t, but you may have not liked it because you came at it with mistaken expectations.

    Gary, I’m devasted to hear that the big Borders in Chicago is closing. Almost as bad a having Marshall Field’s become Macy’s. I’m getting old. The description of you going into Pink was just hysterically funny and surreal. Thank you for it.

    Among Others was at the top of my “read as soon as it comes out” list. I’ll be happy to provide feedback here once I do. On which note, I’ve finally read The Quantum Thief, which I started out truly loathing and wound up liking quite a lot. I have nearly zero tolerance for snarky first person thief narrators. The only amnesiac first person narrator I’ve ever been able to tolerate (with reservations) was Corwin of Amber. And on top of that, I found the post-human solar system with which Rajaniemi starts out to be unbearably derivative. And then I got to the detective and Mars, and he hooked me just as I was going to put the book down and walk away forever. I think the scene in which the detective visits his Quiet “father” it the one that stays with me. And my husband reports suddenly hearing me shout, “what do you mean LOST JUPITER? It’s a gas giant, not pocket change!” (In general, I don’t talk back to books I’m reading, although I’ve been known to talk back to podcasts.) In the end, I liked it quite a lot. It’s somewhere in the top fifteen of the year for me, and its position is still floating up and down. (Yes, Jonathan, The Dervish House and Cryoburn are at the top of my list, along with Ship Breaker and Who Fears Death. I think number five is Mira Grant’s Feed.)

    Thank you both for giving me a podcast to talk back to. Got to go find some post-apocalyptic fiction to read now. It’s snowing in Georgia in early December.

  3. the first Sci-fi book I remember reading was Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (as a teen in the 80′s) and my children likely Coville’s Aliens Ate My Homework. I had not consumed a Heinlein book until relatively recently.

  4. You asked, in this episode, about people finding sf through Henlein (at libraries). My gateway book was Citizen of the Galaxy — that book made me look for more by Heinlein, and Have Spacesuit, Will Travel made me realize that I should look for books labelled “science fiction”. This was approximately 1988 (I think I was nearly 13), at a small library in northern Sweden. Just another example ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>