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Challengey Things!

I've been reading a lot for the GLBT challenge, which has been enlightening, to say the least. Also I've discovered that I love Emma Donoghue a lot and a lot. And I'm rather 'meh' on Jeanette Winterson. Her writing is extreeeemely devoid of detail (can something be extremely devoid? whatever, it can now) and I am not a fan of such things. But I'm not gonna call her bad, as she's one of those authors where one is perfectly aware that they're good, but they might not appeal to everyone. Example: I also do not like Hemingway, for a similar reason. I remember feeling super-clever in 6th grade, because my hippie English teacher Larry said Hemingway was great because "he only used the number of words he needed" and I replied "No, he only used the number of words he THOUGHT he needed." Because really, I could use a lot more in his books.

Ok, to be fair to Hemingway, I haven't even glanced at his works in years and I'm only 25, but I prefer to bask in my teenage habit of thinking he sucks.

So yes, Emma Donoghue is great, Jeanette Winterson is, y'know, okay, and Sarah Waters is, of course, fantastic. What's up with all the prominent lesbian authors being from the British Isles? I mean, who do we have here? Frickin' Patricia Cornwell. Boo. Emma Donoghue's work seems more imbued with smartitude in an academic sense. She can rewrite fairytales because she's studied them, knows the themes and knows therefore how to subvert them. Winterson is, I am sure, super-smart, but she presents it in a different way that doesn't quite jive with what I like.

Other than stuff for the GLBT challenge, I've been trying to make myself read some sci-fi. My dad's an aerospace engineer and one of my brothers is a biochemist, so I've been around enough sci-fi to the extent that I now consider myself a heritage speaker of it. I might not know the grammar, but I can be understood to a pretty decent extent when surrounded by true speakers. Example: I know the names of all the STNG cast members, as well as the basic qualities of each of the characters they play, but if someone referred to a specific plotline involving Counselor Troi, I would have no idea what they were talking about.

So. I like sci-fi, but I've never really gone in search of it. My voice teacher had a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which I have borrowed, and I recently bought a copy of William Gibson's Neuromancer. The only sci-fi books I've previously read are almost all of the Ender Wiggin/Bean series by Orson Scott Card, and I, Robot. If 1984 and Brave New World count, then those too, but I don't think they do. Oh, and Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorite books ever. Probably should mention that.

My main problem with the genre is that the characters aren't usually too developed since the focus tends to be on society/some futuristic dystopia. I'm way into characters over setting. Plus they tend to be about dudes. I don't know if this is because primarily dudes write them, but in any case, it can get a little overwhelmingly male as a genre. BUT I shall press on, and a friend of mine is making me read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, so maybe that'll break the trend.

Anyone read any good GLBT or sci-fi? Or hey -- GLBT sci-fi?


  1. Ray Bradbury is the MAN. My favorite is a short story, "All Summer in a Day".

    Once upon a time, the sci-fi/fantasy section was basically the only place I checked things out of. None of it was really good enough to remember, though. I'm pretty sure I read alllll of Anne McCaffrey's dragon books, which I guess would be more fantasy, and then her Freedom series, which was sci-fi. These are not recommendations, just illustrations.

    Connie Willis' Doomsday Book is really good though. I think she's written other books with a similar premise (time travel) but they're not as good.

  2. I never know Patricia Cornwell was gay! :O

    As for the LGBT challenge, is it a Goodreads thing (or something similarly public, in which case I can maybe find something to read as well :)) ) or is it something you've just decided yourself?

    As for Do Androids.., do let us know when you've finished reading it. It's on my to-read list, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on it.

  3. @waterfly89
    Errm, KNEW, obviously. It's past 1 a.m. though, so I feel justified.

  4. @waterfly89 If you look on the right of my blog, there should be a button with a lady on it. It's a challenge through a blog. Woooooo! And I'll totes tell you how the book with the long name is once I'm done.

  5. Recommending things to Alice is basically setting yourself up for a world of hurt, but if you want some sci-fi that combines classic space opera (with a fair amount of romance and humor), a passing knowledge of Russian and a real focus on character, Lois McMaster Bujold has a dozen or so novels in the "Vorkosigan Saga." The main character is usually Miles (sci fi is rather a sausage fest, but the first novels focus on Cordelia, Miles' mother), but the series visits a lot of different places and characters, and managed to focus on "alternative subject positions" (especially disability, but pretty much everything) without alienating the usual sci fi reading suspects (straight and white). "Ethan of Athos" also fits your gay sci fi bill. Which is not generally my cup of tea, but "Stars in my Pockets like Grains of Sand" or "Dhalgren" by Samuel Delany (former Comp Lit prof) is a classic of that subgenre (although I never finished "Stars"); "The Man who Folded Himself" by Gerrold (who also wrote one of the most beloved Star Trek episodes, but the novel has nothing to do with ST) has an interesting premise (who would be better to make out with than yourself?). There are tons of lists at Amazon, too.

  6. @Rob Rushing What! People can recommend things to me without fear!

    My knowledge of Russian at this point is along the lines of 'The dog goes to the druggist.' But I'll check out the first of that series.

    As for the gay ones, I'm not so into dude-with-dudes. But if sci-fi is almost female-less anyway, then I guess it'd be really hard to find lesbian sci-fi. Hm.


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