SF Scene: KGB Fantastic Fiction 12/17/08

The December KGB Fantastic Fiction Reading series featured appearances by two talented young authors: Alaya Dawn Johnson, whose first novel Racing the Dark came out last year, read her short story “Down the Well” (full text online at the excellent Strange Horizons); and Chris Barzak read from his second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, which is just a few weeks old.

Because New York city saw its first (fluffy, gorgeous) snowfall on Tuesday and had its first major (and consequently less gorgeous) snowstorm forecast for Friday, I decided to pose the following scenario for this month’s Ridiculous Survey:

You find yourself snowbound in a cabin in the mountains for a week, but you’ve cleverly brought along two books: one to read, and one to burn for warmth. What are they?

Let’s just say that it’s pretty amazing how candid people become when they have a socially acceptable reason for holing up with some books and setting others afire. Check out the KGB-goers’ (heartfelt? irreverent? cruel?) responses beneath the cut and let us know what books you would have picked as cabinmates.

  • Alaya Dawn Johnson: Read: Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Burn: One of George R. R. Martin’s big fat books—A Clash of Kings, perhaps.
  • Ben Francisco: Read: Ursula K. Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness. Burn: Laurell K. Hamilton’s Micah—hot and steamy, so, good for burning.
  • Catherynne Valente: Read: Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Burn: Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love.
  • Chris Barzak: Read: Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle. Burn: James Joyce’s Ulysses.
  • Chris Cevasco: Read: the latest by Bernard Cornwell. Burn: the novelization of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (if it exists).
  • Douglas Cohen: Read: George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. Burn: Terry Goodkind’s The Pillars of Creation.
  • Ellen Datlow: Read: the new Dan Simmons, Drood. Burn: There’s so many…any Sidney Sheldon.
  • Ellen Kushner: Read: one of the big, fat Neal Stephenson books. Burn: a bestselling fantasy involving swords, dwarves, elves, and men who refer to women as “my lady”.
  • Eugene Myers: Read: J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Burn: anything by Robert Jordan.
  • Genevive Valentine: Read: Willa Cather’s O Pioneers!. Burn: Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
  • J. D. EveryHope: Read: the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe. Burn: anything by Ayn Rand.
  • Jason Eric Lundberg: Read: George Orwell’s 1984. Burn: Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
  • Jim Freund: Read: anything by Terry Pratchett, because it will keep my spirits up. Burn: anything by L. Ron Hubbard, because his books are thick and worth it.
  • John Joseph Adams: Read: Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination. Burn: Robert Jordan’s The Fires of Heaven—terrible, and also has fires in the title.
  • Jordan Hamessley: Read: the Robert Silverberg-edited Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1. Burn: the entire box set of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.
  • Josh Jasper: Read: Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. Burn: Neal Stephenson’s Anathem.
  • Josh Starr: Read: Dan Simmons’ The Terror—should fit the snowbound theme. Burn: J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: expunge the epilogue.
  • Kris Dikeman: Read: a book about the Donner party. Burn: Samuel Pepys’ diaries, because there were so many volumes.
  • Liz Gorinsky: Read: Thomas Pynchon’s Against the Day. Burn: the New York City phonebook.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal: Read: a Kindle with several books. Burn: the Braille edition of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, because the pages are thicker.
  • Matt Kressel: Read and burn: David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, because there’s so much to go around for both.
  • Meghan McCarron: Read: Roberto Bolano’s 2666. Burn: Stephanie Meyer’s Breaking Dawn, ’cause it’s bigger (that’s a smackdown on Genevieve)
  • Mercurio D. Rivera: Read: Frank Herbert’s Dune. Burn: the NYC phonebook.
  • Mike Greenhut: Read: Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game. Burn: Any book in David Eddings’ Belgariad series, in HC.
  • Monica Byrne: Read: Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels. Burn: Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.
  • Nora Jemisin: Read: Stephen King’s The Gunslinger—not the best book I’ve ever read, but does the most for my imagination. Burn: any romance novel with poser figurines on the cover.
  • Pablo Defendini: Read: Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle. Burn: L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics.
  • Rich Blint: Read: James Baldwin’s Just Above My Head. Burn: John Updike’s The Terrorist.
  • Rose Fox: Read: the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary. Burn: the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary.
  • Tempest Bradford: Read: China Mieville’s The Scar. Burn: anything by Elizabeth Bear.
  • Terrence Taylor: Read: Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. Burn: the Bible, because of the volume and length.
  • Veronica Schanoes: Read: Burning Your Boats, the collected Angela Carter. Burn: George Eliot’s Middlemarch.

If I mistranscribed your answer—or if you’d rather I linked to a different webpage or didn’t use your full name—please let me know via my shoutbox. And if I missed you this time, please come find me at the next event!

[Image by Flickr user Anosmia, CC licensed for commercial use.]

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