Feb 27, 2009

Sci-Fi Experience Wrap-Up

Carl's enthusiasm is contagious. This year, he invited us for the second time to join him in a sci-fi lovefest for the months of January and February. I hate to say this, but I'm not a very big science fiction reader. And I hate it to say it because I worry it'll sound like "Eww, I don't read sci-fi", and that's so not how I mean it. I'm not doubting sci-fi's potential for brilliance - that potential is equal for any genre, I think. It's just that I'm naturally much more drawn to fantasy.

Anyway, all this to say that I joined the Experience again this year in the hopes of beginning to understand sci-fi better, and thus to appreciate it more. And you know what? I think it worked. Here's what I read:
I enjoyed every single one of these books. So much that I can't even pick a favourite. And sure, you could argue that some aren't traditional science fiction. But like Michael Chabon, I'm a firm believer that the only difference between science fiction that calls itself so and science fiction that doesn't is what the cover will look like and where it gets placed at the bookstore.

Memory was saying recently that the reason why she's not big on sci-fi is because it tends to be ideas-oriented, and she's more of a character-oriented reader. I haven't really read enough sci-fi to be able to say if I agree that this is a trend, but I'm also very much a character-oriented reader myself. A lot of these novels had great characters, and that's part of why I loved them. And my favourite sci-fi TV shows, Stargate and Babylon 5, do as well. But for example, Galápagos is very much an ideas sort of novel, and I could hardly have loved it more. It works - the ideas make it work, and Vonnegut's writing makes it work.

If you're wondering where this is going, you're not alone. So am I. Nowhere much, really. I think I'll always prefer fantasy, but I'm glad I pushed myself to go further with sci-fi, and I plan to continue to do so.

Thanks you, Carl. Now bring on the 3 months fantasy lovefest.


  1. Congratulations on finishing this challenge!

  2. Well done on finishing the challenge. I loved The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

  3. I'm character-oriented as well. I think you can find that in science fiction--cough, cough Orson Scott Card--but not always. And sometimes those idea-plot-driven books surprise you :)

    Congrats on finishing the challenge.

  4. that's a lot of sci-fi books! I only read two, but I loved them both and looking forward to reading more.
    A Fantasy experience would be awesome!

  5. WOW!!! Despite the fact that I've read all your reviews, I hadn't really been noticing just how many sci-fi books you were piling up! Great job!!!

    (Makes me feel even worse though...all I got read for Carl's challenge was a pile of short stories. Still hoping against hope that I can get in The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge...but with just a day to go, it's not looking good.)

  6. Horray for wrap-up posts! You got through a lot of sci fi.

    For the record, I'm not sure if the whole idea-oriented thing is actually a trend or if I just read all the wrong books in my younger years. :)

  7. Congrats on finishing the challenge, Nymeth!

    I read a few sci-fi, but just not much into them as compared to fantasy. And funnily I don't even understand why...

  8. I loved The Time Traveler's Wife and Speaker for the Dead. And I had never heard of Lois Lowry's books classified as sci-fi. I've wanted to read them for quite some time. Maybe I need to check into sci-fi more.

  9. Congratulations on the completion of the challenge! Love the titles you've picked out. Some of them are in my TBR pile. :)

  10. I read Galapagos after I went to the Galapagos and I remeber thinking it was so out there. I've never read any other Kurt Vonnegut but I should probably give him another chance.

  11. Good for you for finishing the challenge. I never have the self-discipline for book challenges! :-)

  12. That's quite a few you got through! :-) I like the fact that sci-fi is ideas-oriented, although I don't think that rules out great characters. All the future realities these authors imagine are so interesting - and judging by sci-fi writers of the past, you never know what just might come true. :-)

  13. Congratulations!!
    I'm not a sci-fi reader myself, I also lean towards fantasy. However, I never thought to categorize Time Traveler's Wife as sci-fi, good call! If there were more like that, as you said, character-oriented, I'd probably be reading more sci-fi. The only ones I remember reading were CS Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

  14. I've always avoided sci-fi myself, apart from a very few authors. I never really thought of it as being an issue of character vs. idea oriented, though that's an excellent point. I think the thing I enjoy about science fiction - and fiction generally, I guess - is that at its best it can be a really lovely and interesting exploration of the parameters of being human. (she said, and returned to compulsively watching the second series of Battlestar Galactica)

  15. lol... I used to be one of those "eww, I don't read sci-fi" kind of people, even though I did read sci-fi occasionally. I just didn't love it as a genre. But now (especially because of the books I read for the Sci-Fi Experience) I am quickly changing my mind!

    Congrats on completing the challenge!

  16. Bermudaonion and Scrap Girl, thanks!

    Becky: lol, I agree with you on both accounts. OSC does write some great characters, and some of those idea books really do surprise you.

    Valentina: I'm pretty sure Carl will be doing the Once Upon a Time Challenge again, so I meant that :D

    Debi: you know, I actually hadn't quite noticed myself :P No reason to feel bad, though! The stories you read sound like excellent ones, and that's what counts.

    Memory: You're not the first to mention it, though, so a lot more people have that impression. But it's good to find exceptions!

    Melody: I actually can't pinpoint why either. It's definitely not about them not being "real", as that's never been a problem for me.

    Naida, thanks!

    Framed: I think The Giver trilogy can be classified as dystopias, which is a branch of sci-fi.

    Alice: Thanks! I hope you enjoy them when you get to them.

    Lenore: He is out there, but in a way that I like. If you want to give him another chance. I recommend Slaughterhouse-Five.

    Marie: I tend to be a bit obsessive about them. Not sure if that's always a good thing :P

    Joanna: That's an excellent point - the two don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    Claire: Well, it has time-travel :P I guess it's one of those books that are not marked as sci-fi to make them more appealing to a mainstream audience, but I really don't think there's much of a difference beyond that. I haven't read those Lewis books...all I've read by him was Narnia.

    Jenny: lol! I agree.

    Marineko: But as a fantasy fan, I doubt you did it because it wasn't "highbrow" enough :P Nothing wrong with finding the genre less appealing. But yes, I'm changing my mind too. I guess that any genre will have books we'll enjoy if we look hard enough! Well, maybe except westerns :P (lol, and even there I know I'm wrong.)

  17. I'm so glad you participated. Wow, you read some great books during this experience! I've got to get back and read some of your reviews that I missed out on. You are a dear friend and I so enjoy your support and participation. Thank you so very much!

    And yes, I'm excited about Once Upon a Time III!!!

  18. Carl: aww, thank you and likewise! You know, I've missed you these past few weeks. I seriously can't wait for Once Upon a Time III :D


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