Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Obligatory Meme to Make Up for Sketchy Posting Post

SF Book Meme

If it's good enough for Tenser the Archmage, it's good enough for me.

1. Science fiction, fantasy, or horror?

The best way for me to answer this question was to look over at my bookshelves and see what I own more of with regards to speculative fiction. The hands down winner is fantasy.

2. Hardback, trade paperback, or mass market paperback?

Depends on the author. If I really like the author's writing, or I know the author, hardback is the only way for me. Otherwise I will go with the Mass Market due to space considerations.

3. Heinlein or Asimov?

I like Asimov a lot and I like Heinlein a great deal. Both authors sold out when they tried to "unify" their fictional narratives; one of the single largest wastes of time was the merging of the Foundation and Robot series. I'll keep my psychohistory a human creation if you please. That said, I think that I would choose Heinlein. He has writings for all of my moods. Do I want a kitschy fantasy yarn in the "skiffy" mold? Glory Road here I come. Do I want speculative fiction with political undertones? The Moon is a Harsh Mistress makes for a nice read. Heinlein could write more styles and like the Giving Tree has something for every stage of life.

4. Amazon or brick-and-mortar?

I purchase about 60% of my books at brick-and-mortar stores. I rely on Amazon primarily for the stuff I don't want the clerks frowning at me for purchasing (I am unusually susceptible to shame, Plato would be proud), and when I am looking to save money on Hardback copies.

5. Barnes & Noble or Borders?

There was a time when I would have said Barnes & Noble because of their "lounge" atmosphere, but that seems largely absent now. The local Borders has a better layout for non-ghetto fiction, but the B&N is better for my SF&F.

6. Hitchhiker or Discworld?

Discworld hands down. I like my humorous fantasy and mourn that there isn't more of it. Kids today, am I really that old geez, aren't often aware of the wonderful Compleat Enchanter series, which breaks my heart. Too many of the modern authors take themselves way to seriously, as do too many of the readers.

7. Bookmark or dogear?

A business card or a receipt.

8. Magazine: Asimov's Science Fiction or Fantasy & Science Fiction?

I have subscribed to both in the past, but I currently only subscribe to F&SF. If you include others though, you can add Realms of Fantasy (the People of F&SF mags) and Locus.

9. Alphabetize by author, by title, or random?

Alphabetize? That's for bookstores and libraries. I use the "genre pile" method. I do at least try to keep authors together if not in alphabetical order.

10. Keep, throw away, or sell?

I could build a house with my books and I would never throw away what could be donated to charity or sold.

11. Year's Best Science Fiction series (edited by Gardner Dozois) or Year's Best SF Series (edited by David G. Hartwell)?

I'll let you know next year, I haven't purchased either in the past.

12. Keep dustjacket or toss it?


13. Read with dustjacket or remove it?

On, it makes a great bookmark.

14. Short story or novel?

Novel. I read very few short stories. They are hard to do well and I am often disappointed. I am very sick of the "suprise twist" convention most fall into. I will read them from an author I admire, or by recommendation.

15. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?

Harry Potter, but if pressed for what "young adult" fantasy series I prefer, it'd be Lewis hands down.

16. Stop reading when tired or chapter breaks?

When tired.

17. "It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"?

"It was a dark and stormy night" is just bad writing; "once upon a time" is convention. I'll take convention over poor craftsmanship. When isn't a stormy night dark? If it isn't that is a more interesting opening.

18. Buy or borrow?

Buy like crazy. Have you read Polysyllabic Spree? That's me in a nutshell.

19. Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation, or browse?

Browse, recommendation, and then reviews. I like to find new things and really like brick-and-mortar for the ability to read book backs.

20. Lewis or Tolkien?

This seems a false dichotomy in many ways. I like both. Lewis for his allegory and his willingness to lift imagery from any source. Tolkien is a worldsmith who created an internally consistent milieu based on Anglo Saxon and Norse mythology. Lewis had humorous word play and Tolkien wrote poetry I skip when rereading. In the end...Tolkien.

21. Hard SF or space opera?

Space Opera, hands down. Anything too rooted in current scientific understandings will collapse under future scrutiny. No one cares that the world isn't hollow or that Deja Thoris can't exist, it is the imagined qualities and the characters that matter in Space Opera. And today's Hard SF that has science that becomes outdated, but has imaginative settings and memorable characters becomes tomorrow's Space Opera.

22. Collection (single author) or anthology (multiple authors)?

I really like both, but anthologies featuring authors I enjoy have introduced me to new authors. On the other hand, a P K Dick collection doesn't have the variable quality of some anthologies. Anthologies are deeply dependent on their editors. Chris Roberson's Adventure anthology was a fun read that introduced me to many new authors.

23. Hugo or Nebula?


24. Golden Age SF or New Wave SF?

I like both, but the preachy nature of much New Wave SF which often confuses progressive political screeds for cultural criticism sometimes turns me off as a reader and the conservatives are just as bad. I didn't like Terry Goodkind's oppressive inclusion of Objectivist philosophy in Wizards First Rule and when Cory Doctorow writes about intellectual property I want to run down to USC and strangle him.

25. Tidy ending or cliffhanger?

Finish the story, don't leave it up to me. When a book, or series, is done, it is done in my mind. If the author leaves unanswered questions, I will leave them unanswered and not speculate about them.

26. Morning reading, afternoon reading, or nighttime reading?

Lunch and nighttime.

27. Standalone or series?

I love a good standalone story, but being able to comeback and see what has been happening in the lives of characters I like. This is like asking Movie or TV series. A well made movie doesn't require a sequel, but a well made TV series deserves to continue.

28. Urban fantasy or high fantasy?

While I disagree with Michael Moorcock's Marxist critique of high fantasy as "bucolic bourgeois banality," I do tend to favor Urban Fantasy. Some of the folks over at Tenser's blog got up in arms about what he considered Urban Fantasy, so let me give an example of what I mean. I consider Fritz Lieber to be the master of Urban Fantasy. For me, Urban Fantasy is fantasy which takes place in an Urban environment and deals with the moral issues of industrialized society and high density living.

29. New or used?

New if it is new, used if it is out of print. Unlike Cory Doctorow, I like to see the authors I like get paid. I also like to see the people who got them published get paid, and the people who work at the little printing presses, and the people at the bookstores. New, it is hard enough for an author to make a living off their writing without a secondary market.

30. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard?

Like I have the hubris to claim to have "discovered" something. The Future of the Mass Audience by W. Russell Neumann. It isn't fiction, but it is a great speculation of what the future of entertainment will look like. It was written in 1991 and is a fairly accurate look.

31. Top 5 favorite genre books read last year?

I always hate "Top X" lists, but here are five I enjoyed:
Dzur by Steven Brust
The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Chinatown Deathcloud Peril by Paul Malmont
Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

32. Top 5 favorite genre books of all time?

Here are five genre books I think everybody should read.

King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dune by Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Everyone should also read:

The Iliad by Homer
The Nibelungenlied
Hans Christian Andersen
The Brother's Grimm

33. 5 favorite genre series?

What is the obsession with top 5s?

I have enjoyed the following:

Thieve's World edited by Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey
Wild Cards edited by George R.R. Martin
The Drizzt Series by R.A. Salvatore (totally mainstream, I know, sue me)
The John Carter Series by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Eternal Champion Saga by Michael Moorcock
and I'll add that the Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold will likely be up there when I am finally finished with the series

34. Top 5 favorite genre short stories?

Don't read enough short stories to provide a good list.

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