I haven't read it, but Darnton discusses it. And I will probably read it one day, there's a comfortable amount of unread Dumas waiting for me!
Alan Brown -- I absolutely agree about Pilcher's short stories, I loved reading the two collections of them available electronically, and thought a lot about how she does so much in so few lines.
Daniel: I can't answer that question. I read in between everything else and do not measure time spent reading. Also, it varies a lot. Some days I do nothing but read, some days I only read in bed before falling asleep.
Ecbatan: For normal people I'd suggest The Enchanted April which is probably her best book, but for you I'd suggest Fraulein Strauss and Mr Ansthuther because I think you'd enjoy what she's doing there with character and epistolary form.
11: I'm an idiot. I just dislike TV and can't get with it. I agree it's exactly the same as not being able to appreciate any other art form but there it is. I don't like comics either. I freely acknowledge these things as flaws in me and not in the art forms in question. I don't despise them. I agree I'm missing things. But they are not my thing. Sorry about that.
Rin: It is not my experience that very clever people are any more cruel than anyone else.
Nebilon -- thank you. That makes me feel better about it.
Amaryllis: I rescued Ethel from The Daisy Chain and took her to Plato's Republic in my novel The Just City.
Tekalynn: Yes, it made me cry too, but more with anger that she thought that was a happy ending.
DPZora: I own Pillars of the House but I haven't read it yet. I love all the others you mention!
Ngogam: Thank you. You'd think I could copy it, wouldn't you, but somehow between my eyes and my fingers it got confused with an island in Hong Kong called Cheung Chau. I'll fix it
Hoopmanjh: I read and then Hellburner and then Downbelow Station, and then Rimrunners in the bath, and I've been able to stop myself there though I now want to read AR again...
Hedges: Yes, for Shute it was leave school at 16 and work in a shop, or pay for your education -- entirely wealth based and not merit based in any way. The postwar settlement in the UK was very imperfect, and I do see why people of Shute's class felt unhappy, and why they wrote cosy catastrophes in which all the working class got killed by triffids or eaten by killer bees, and I acknowledge that they did lose something when society made an attempt (however flawed) to become fairer. Still, as somebody who wouldn't have had a higher education under Shute's preferred system, or the US system, or the present UK system, I think I am right to roll my eyes at this aspect of Trustee From the Toolroom, even though in most other respects I do love it.
CHip: I'm a fast reader, though some things faster than others. In recent years I've started reading multiple things at the same time, cycling through them, and that seems to help me get through slow reads faster. I don't know whether re-reads are faster, I've never thought about it.
GC: One of the reasons On the Beach had so much impact was because Shute had written What Happened to the Corbetts, which was in many ways prophetic, though in other ways very much not. So it gave him authority when he wrote another book about a near future war. As for living through that -- I was 25 when the Berlin Wall came down, and I started to believe for the first time there would be a future and I would be in it and having children was not an act of irresponsiblity.
CHip: Her parents were going to take her to Canada, probably Vancouver. She'd have probably ended up at McGill.
Thomas Goodey: Well, that wasn't my experience of going to university and living on a grant without parental help in the eighties. And I still think he was missing the point.
I re-read a lot. Ah, nine out of twenty-seven, a third. That's probably about normal, yes. I have written here about re-reading: https://www.tor.com/2017/08/04/revisiting-old-friends-or-why-i-re-read/
Saavik: I have not read Sounding, I'll look out for it. Sounds great.
David Evans: I have a new novel coming out May 28th, "Lent". I'm working on revising my novel after that, "Or What You Will".
Yes, Mike, but things take time, and his death is so recent that he was still with us when this book went through the process.
Indeed, I sent him a query email when I was in the last stages of proofing, and his response says how much he was looking forward to the book. This makes the eventual publication sad for me in a way, because he contributed to much to it and now he'll never see it.
It was bad enough when it was just David.
James -- If it's time, then I propose Rich Horton for the job. Not only is his knowledge of short fiction is far better than mine (as this book demonstrates) but also he has experience at putting together an anthology.
By the way, if anyone wants this in codex or ebook form, The Godzilla Sonnets are in my new collection Starlings.
Alee: Yes, parents raise their own children, but in a context where the parents are living in a group of four to twenty friends, and they all raise their children together.
You say "why are humans like that" in a way that makes me wonder whether I am human, as I have a child but no interest in geneaology or Facebook, or being connected especially with my family of origin even the ones I know, let alone more of them, whereas I am very close to my friends. Therefore, as in fact I am human, I don't see it as an invariant thing -- it's common, yes, but not ubiquitous.
You may also be interested in the Crooked Timber seminar on the books, which happened when Seven Surrenders came out. http://crookedtimber.org/category/ada-palmer-seminar/ and which includes a piece by me and a brilliant piece by Max Gladstone.
OM -- What to me seems conclusive is that the FTL works differently. The AU/Chanur universe has Jump and you need drugs to go through it. Phoenix doesn't work that way. Bren writes in his diary and Cajeiri watches movies while in FTL mode. Also, it's more interesting if it's a different universe.
I am super excited for a new Alliance Union book. Thank you everyone for letting me know it was on its way, so I have something to look forward to.
Chris -- I have recently only been re-reading the last four or five when there is a new Atevi book.
What is Alliance Rising?
Nine! Nine! There are now 18 Atevi books and book 17 is so great, really, so amazingly wonderful, but you have to have read all the others and how can I tell people they want to invest that much time?
Worth every minute, but...
(I wrote this post a long time ago. I wrote it on a train.)
Station Eleven is an interesting case. I really liked it except for the way it didn't make sense -- it had that quality that SF books written by mainstream authors often have of being brilliantly written but inadequately worldbuilt. I kept almost loving it and then being annoyed at things that were stupid and not thought through. But anyway, it's not quite in this subgenre, because it doesn't have that Twainlike voice, and also because it's Canada and not the US. I think there's a particular flavour to this genre of the world having gone back to a 1950's imagination of the Twain flavoured nineteenth centiry US, of course with everyone being white. Station Eleven is more a disaster novel or cosy catastrophe -- we see people living through the disaster as well as the world of afterwards.
I haven't read Earth Abides or Alas Babylon, I'm afraid, so I don't know. If you can still smell the oranges, I'll take your word for it. (I have not read everything. A bunch of stuff, but not everything.)
HP -- no problem with that, and I wasn't at all compleining about the kind of thing she wanted to write. You'd just expect (or I expected anyway) her female characters to be a bit less cliched.
Oh! Three to Conquer I have read. Thank you. I agree about Russell, though I've re-read a couple and enjoyed them and written about them here, Wasp and Next of Kin which were the ones I liked best when I was a kid.
PrincessRoxana -- so download everything right now while you have wifi, hey? Then they are on your device forever. I don't know about the Nook, but with the Kindle, once they're downloaded, they're still there always unless you tell it to remove them from the device. I have literally never used mine any other way -- nothing is "in the cloud", I buy the book, or I download it from Gutenberg, and then I put it on and there is is, always, whenever I want it. I connect to wifi for 30 seconds at a time to download stuff and then turn it off again. When I got the new one, it took me a few hours to download the 1000 books I already had and resort them into their collections. But anything I've bought since March 2014 when I bought it, I have right there, whether there's wifi or not. I bought the thing for travel in the first place. It's the infinite "library in your pocket" nature of the thing that makes it great. Just download them. There is no downside.
Um, the limit on an old one is 1000, and after 4 years I had filled my old one up and bought a new one where the limit seems to be about 5000. That is indeed "a" limit, but it's not much of one!
Right. But that was a choice on Tolkien's part, and a choice that was a departure from the norms and expectations of his own society.
Ajay -- I didn't say he understood logistics etc, (though I wouldn't be able to tell the difference whether he did or not) I said he made the journey bits fun to read and seem real and interesting. I can imagine a book written by somebody who understood all those things perfectly and got them utterly correct but who should instead have written "Ten days later when we arrived in X" because making journeys effective for the reader is hard. Though in fact I think Tolkien, who regularly went off for long hikes in England and the Welsh borders, understood walking pace and walking and weather but maybe not carrying provisions because he was never more than five miles from a pub!
Tolkien totally does talk down to his readers. He doesn't do it all the time, but The Hobbit is full of direct asides. Tolkien himself later in a letter repudiates this and wishes he hadn't done it, they get fewer as the book goes on and LOTR doesn't have any of it.
I agree that writing a children's book is a worthy and excellent thing to do, but it's inherently going to be less satisfying for adults than an equally excellent adult book. And an adult book is going to be less satisfying for children.
David Drake: Oh, how fascinating that it was Jim Baen and Liddell-Hart. Thank you for your comment.
And I have either not read The Clocks of Iraz or have blotted it from memory. De Camp could be very variable. When he was good he was splendid.
As for the attitude to Islam in the books, I assumed it was coming from Stirling, as it's very similar to what I've seen from him elsewhere.
Zvi: Oh, that's easy. I was having a conversation with a group of friends, and the question came up of Varley-style easy gender changes, and whether we'd do it if it was that easy. ALL the women said yes, and ALL the men said yes... as long as they were sure they could change back later. And I suddenly saw future gender choices as economic, and of course many people would hate this in many different ways, which I do explore in the book.
As for "we" have gay marriage, for one thing, we for values of "the West" do, being gay is still illegal in many parts of this planet right now. And we, same valuies of we, have a tendency to declare a battle won and forget about it and move on to the next battle. The US STILL does not have an Equal Rights Amendment, in 2017, the glass ceiling is very real, and the work of older women falls out of the canon in a depressingly frequent way. It's better than 1917! But I wouldn't say feminism is over and we can stop examining this stuff.
Anyway, this is a book that has main characters who we would identify as gay and trans, but that isn't quite how they identify, in the same way as you have very different identifications of those things historically.
You may well really hate what I've done with gender stuff in this book, but it's not a thing I did without thinking about it.
Crane: Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt. Appreciated.
Everyone else: Yay!
Thank you to the people who like it!
I had the idea for this story when a friend and I were both experiencing chronic pain and I thought how much easier it would be to swap -- because then it would be for something, not pointless.
For any SF idea there's a way of writing it that's simple, obvious, and boring. For this one, that would be the story of paying people to bear pain, oh look, rich people exploiting poor people, outsourcing literal pain, as much an allegory as a woman sitting on a lion with snakes and mirrors in her hands. This seemed to me a much more interesting approach.
One thing I do want to say in response to the negative remarks here -- a life with chronic pain is not a life without value, and saying and implying that it is directly disparages not just my own lived experience but that of others. Please don't do that.
Cambias -- it's all very well Viewing With Alarm, but there's ZERO evidence of that.
I just cited a whole bunch of specific examples of new exciting SF that's doing new exciting things, but growing out of the history of the genre. No reinventing the wheel. No regurgitation. No getting stale, and no disappearing up own navel. Those are indeed theoretical problems that could one day arise, but right now there's absolutely no evidence that this is happening, and massive evidence that people are writing exciting new shiny things that build on what has gone before.
Joel -- I don't personally see much Banks in Leckie, but McCaffrey's Ship Who Sang is a very good catch, and really obvious now that you mention it. Well done.
DemetriosX -- You know what they say about liberals being conservatives who have been arrested and conservatives being liberals who've been mugged? Similarly, coming from a position of privilege and being enslaved even for the length of a voyage between Syracuse and Aegina made Plato really think about slavery.
Hope you enjoy it, book club people!
Nan -- she's been doing a blog tour, on which she has written some very interesting stuff about how she did it. There are links on her blog Ex Urbe.
(We were just at Balticon, where all the dealers sold out of it on Friday.)
I feel so proud to have two milestones worthy of being listed here
I love this book with the burning fire of a thousand supernovas.
Doesn't Elise's tiara look amazing on my blue hat? I kept it on all of Balticon, and people kept commenting on it!
I'm really looking forward to the Borderlands Tiptree event. And in addition to singing, Ada's going to be reading from her novel, forthcoming from Tor next summer, Servants of the World. If you're in the Bay Area and you can make it, do come, it'll be fun.