Squid Ink – Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Posted on 5 August 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , , |

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Born in Nantes, Western France in 1828. Jules Verne was an author extraordinaire. Along with H. G. Wells he was considered the founding father of science fiction despite neither of them actually attempting to claim that title. Some people claim Hugo Gernsback and Edgar Allan Poe should share that same title. This cartoon stands, or rather, swims for itself.

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Miscellaneous Links

Posted on 26 July 2010. Filed under: Interesting websites | Tags: , , , , |

I came across a few interesting websites last week. This one was sent to me by scifitv on Twitter. I was quite excited about this one, Frederik Pohl is a fabulous author and to have him write about Frank Herbert, my heart just went a flutter and I had to click through to look at it. I was excited even if others aren’t.

This next one was also exciting to me. It’s an article about offenders being given a sentence to read instead of going go prison. I’m lead to believe that one of the problems with offenders is that they’re not very educated and the theory is that they should become educated and they will change. Whether this will work is something I’m not sure of, but I reckon if it gets them reading then it has to be good. This leads me directly to another website. The Australian Prison Foundation is collecting textbooks, dictionaries and novels to send to offenders in Australian prisons to ensure they can educate themselves and change their lives. They’re in need of donations of books and also money so they can send the books to the right places.

This article could be the future of publishing. It’s a fabulous idea and ensures books are chosen by the many and not just for their money making opportunities. I’ll encourage you to look at the article as I can’t begin to explain it properly.

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20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – Squid Ink

Posted on 17 June 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , , , |

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

If you like these a comment would be nice so I can pass it on to the artist. You did realise it wasn’t me didn’t you? I have trouble drawing recognizable stick figures.

Listed for sale on the website.

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Doctor Who

Posted on 23 May 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , |

Doctor Who, is it science fiction, fantasy and does it matter?

I was reading a slightly aged article today written by Sir Terry Pratchett about Doctor Who and why he keeps watching. Doctor Who is one of those love-em or hate-em programmes, I haven’t found anyone who is in-between. The original series until they were revived with Christopher Ecclestone had very dodgy sets and incredibly cheap special effects, one of the episodes had monsters covered with bubble wrap that had been sprayed green, you can’t get much cheaper than that. The science was always there and you knew a lot of it was possible, but in the current series the science is very much out there in the realms of the totally impossible, that assumes that it’s actually based on real science and not just made up.

Pratchett talks about the laws of narrative and that if there’s an axe in the room in an obvious place then it will be used at some point. He also talks about deus ex machina and how the Doctor really has become a god from the machine. Now I’m not entirely happy with that as one of the appeals of Doctor Who is that he was always very much human and he generally pointed out he wasn’t human by mentioning his two hearts. Now, his behaviour is very much alien and very bizarre. He doesn’t listen, at all, in Tom Baker’s day you knew he was listening and then pretending it was his idea, but at least he was listening. Now, these companions are just there to be talked at and that irks me, most especially as I still believe Karen Gillan would make a fantastic Doctor Who, she has so much potential just waiting to be tapped and she’s being kept sitting around with her mouth covered so she can be a sounding board.

I did start off with an actual goal in mind with this article, but that was several hours ago and I’ve managed to watch another episode since then. I’m beginning to not want to watch Doctor Who any more. It’s crossed the border and is mostly in the realms of fantasy, the science is rather scarce, the fantasy is rather dubious and the new Doctor just doesn’t excite me. The writing has ventured beyond the border of fandom and has stopped being the Doctor that I knew and loved, it seems to be more about the special effects and less about the story and the characters. I do understand that the Doctor has always been a little different but I think they’ve taken that interpretation way too far.

Next week I’ll be asking myself if I really want to watch this episode. That’s always a challenge as my computer gives me a decent view of the TV so even if I’m not watching it I’ll still be able to watch it…if you see what I mean. I have three other people in the house who will watch it.

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Website update

Posted on 21 May 2010. Filed under: Website Updates | Tags: , , , |

I’ve alluded to a few changes that have been happening to the Suz’s Space Website over the last few days. The changes aren’t over yet, but are almost there. If you’ve been looking for the website today you might have had trouble as we’ve been moving webhosts. When you move house there are always glitches and this move was no different. The biggest problem was with photo names, I didn’t do enough research when I set up the first website and didn’t realise spaces in file names were a big no-no so I had 2,000 photos with spaces in the file names. How wrong can you get? I was told of my error a few months ago and have been getting it right since then, but when the lovely and multitalented Tamara told me none of the photos were showing up with the move, I took the opportunity to fix everything up. I deleted all the photos so I could start with a clean slate and then re-attached them all with underscores in the place of spaces. With almost 900 listings it was not a small task but better done now than when I had 2,000 photos. There are a few photos I couldn’t find so until I find the books and retake the photos they are blank.

The biggest problem now is helping people find the right website. If you use your bookmark you’ll end up at the wrong IP address and any orders will go into cyberspace never to be found again. I’m sure there’s a book waiting to be written about all the things floating around cyberspace. I suggest you use this url http://suzs-space.com/ and for the tech savvy it should take you to this IP address 112.140.180.163.

Emails might use a different url such as http://www.sciencefictionandfantasybooks.com.au. Don’t be alarmed, it is still the same company and we still carry the same books. The number of science fiction and fantasy books we have waiting to be listed for your buying, and therefore reading, pleasure is hard to estimate but it’s certainly much, much more than any other genre so this new url makes sense. In due course you’ll be able to find us with either url, I just have to remember how to do the technical bits.

No, I’m not having trouble with my pronouns. One day I’ll explain.

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Skylark Three – E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith

Posted on 3 May 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

I opened up this book with the greatest trepidation. I have read some of his Lensman series with great distaste and didn’t really expect anything different from this one. I find his writing to be soap operatic and so full of technical stuff that I just can’t follow any of it. I also find the pace to be so headlong that I feel the need to read at top speed, making it distinctly hard to concentrate on anything at all. After a few pages I told myself I was in charge of my own reading and managed to slow down a bit and that helped a little. I also looked at the date of writing and got quite a shock. This particular copy was printed in 1974 but the book was originally published in 1930 and that made the most enormous difference to how I faced the book. Writing then was rather much different to the 1970s and the science was also vastly different. Instead of being just after the birth of space travel, this book was published decades before. Anyway, it only made a smidgeon of a difference, I still didn’t like the book.

The only piece I could pull out of it was a tiny bit of trivia. This book is about a group of people who go hairing off into space, find some aliens who are intent on wiping out absolutely every intelligent being in every universe they can find and then annihilating them. So, our protoganists are Martin Crane and Dick Seaton. Dick Seaton is arrogant, clever, brave and with extraordinarily fast reflexes and very much in love with his wife, Dorothy. Martin Crane is loyal, much more brainy than Seaton (he must be as we’re told this many times) and we presume, also in love with his wife. Why are these two women mentioned? They’re on the space ship with the men and are treated as appendages; they play music, they sing, they embroider and react with alarm to every situation…sorry, my feminist side just came out for a brief moment. The first notice they have of these aliens who want to destroy every intelligent being everywhere is when they are attacked. They manage to counterattack and take the captain of the ship hostage, but before being taken hostage the captain sends a rocket back to his world to inform them where he had found intelligent life. Seaton and Crane follow the rocket back to this world with many other adventures and having met and befriended other intelligent life only to find that the designation of the rocket was a “first degree emergency torpedo from flagship Y427W of fleet 42”. For those few people who don’t get the reference immediately, “42” is the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything as postulated by Douglas Adams in his five part trilogy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Was this where Douglas Adams got the number of 42? It could be, E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith is one of the most highly regarded science fiction writers, I am the only person I know of who doesn’t like his works, so it’s highly likely that Douglas Adams read this book.

Anyway, this is a BookCrossing book and will be released in due course as soon as I figure out a good place. I have lunch every so often with some book friends and will probably do it then. If you want to follow it’s journey the book ID number is 181-3846133 and you can follow it’s journey at BookCrossing.

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Tiptree Awards

Posted on 20 March 2010. Filed under: Rant and Rave Time | Tags: , , , , , |

Seeing the Tiptree Awards as sent to me by The Bookslut on Twitter reminded me of a conversation I was having with a customer four years ago. She was buying books for her partner, who was going through gender reassignment, and had a whole list of books she wanted to read. It came as little surprise to me that most of them were fantasy with a sprinkling of science fiction in there. It was a very interesting list and when I heard about the Tiptree Awards it occurred to me to publish the list here so other people can get the benefit of their research. I took the time to email my customer and seek permission which was granted.

The list is as follows (I’ve taken out any really objectionable words):

Aldiss, Brian. The Dark Light Years (1964)
The primal urge
The hand-reared boy

Bujold, Lois McMaster. Ethan of Athos (1986) –. Rest of the Miles Vorkosigan series includes other gay, hermaophriditic, and transgendered characters. See especially The Warrior’s Apprentice; The Vor Game; Mirror Dance; A Civil Campaign (transgender). In Barrayar and Mirror Dance there is some discussion of a major character’s bisexuality

Buttler, Octavia Dawn, Adulthood Rites, Imago
Aliens land on the earth and attempt to merge biologically with humankind. They know a third gender and try to incorporate the humans. Adventure driven novel which explores the positions of both groups who resist that change and those who conform to collaborate with the aliens. Octavia Buttler’s multiethnic and racial perspective adds to the depth of the novel.

Flewelling, Lynn.
–. The Bone Doll’s Twin (Tamir v.1) [bisexual tensions; protagonist is female raised, and magically disguised even from herself, as a boy]
–. Hidden Warrior (2003) (Tamir v.2)

Gaiman, Neil
Weird and sometimes gay and transgender individuals can be found in this short story collection my Neil Gaiman.
Also lot’s of werewolves and creatures from T. Lovecrafts universe. Funny, intelligent, some sci-fi, some horror.

Hall, Radclyffe. “Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself” (1934) (a lesbian WWI nurse ends up in the body of a prehistoric cave man)

Heinlein, Robert A. I will fear no evil 1971
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein
The Door into Summer
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls
For Us, The Living: A Comedy of Customs (Hardcover)
Job: A Comedy of Justice
The Green Hills Of Earth
Podkayne of Mars (Ace Science Fiction) (Paperback)

Le Guin, Ursula. –. The Left Hand of Darkness. (1969) (Classic work about a race that embodies both genders in each person; see also the other Gethenian stories.)
–. “The Matter of Seggri” (in a world with few men, men and women are kept separate; young men are encouraged to form homosexual relationships, and sometimes adult men to also; women form sexual and love relationships with each other; heterosexuality is ritualized & reproductive)
–. “Unchosen Love” and “Mountain Ways” (Both stories take place in the Ekumen universe, on the planet O), where marriages are of four people, two men and two women, with four pairings between them (two heterosexual, two homosexual), across “moieties” (traditional divisions between “morning” and “evening” people). In these two stories same-sex romances are the centerpieces of complex love / family relationships.)

Leigh, Stephen. Dark Water’s Embrace (lesbian, transgender; on another world hetero-sex doesn’t quite seem to work. homosexuality is officially discouraged & punished since it seems to be non-reproductive, but what do you do with seeming hermaphrodites?)
–. Speaking Stones (sequel to Dark Water’s Embrace, and continuing the story of the 3-sexed world. It’s worth it to point out that the “midmale” (the in-between sex) of the humans are often described as more similar to females than to males; and in fact they writing of them makes them seem more female than male. So their relationships with women feel like lesbian relationships.)

Lynn, Elizabeth. –. Watchtower (1979) (Chronicles of Tornor 1) (cross-dressing “ghyas,” homosexual passion, & cool lesbian sidekicks, in some of the best fantasy written)
–. Dancers of Arun (1979) (Chronicles of Tornor 2) (gay boy inc*st, sort of, in some of the best fantasy written)
–. The Northern Girl (1980) (the conclusion to the Chronicles of Tornor trilogy)

G R R Martin (song of ice and fire series)
Game of Thrones, Clash of Kings and Storm of Swords, feast for crows
Set to become one of the next classics in epic fantasy, there is a very small fraction on gay, lesbian content and Arja, one of the main protagonists that crossdresses as a boy,
to save her life and starts to live as a boy, while partially striving to retain their female identity. The dimension of this work merits comparison with Tolkiens Lord of the Rings.

McCaffrey, Anne
The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey
The Ship Who Searched (Baen Science Fiction) by Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey (Paperback)
The Ship Who Won (Paperback) by Jody Lynn Nye, Anne McCaffrey

McHugh, Maureen.–. Mission Child. (No gay sex, but a transgendered protagonist; a woman who, disguising herself as a man, then finding her own “two-spirit” self, then trying to be a woman, then giving up & becoming sort-of a man, sort-of a neuter.)

McKee Charnas, Suzy
Conqueror’s child
Won the Tipptree award. A boy who has to crossdress as a girl to save his life in a society of separatist women. Savannah, swamps, cities built on the ruins of an old currupt civiliasation, which detroyed itsself in a terrible war.

Pratchett, Terry
Feet of Clay – Also in Jingo, the Last Continent and the Fifth Elephant transgender is a major element in the new Terry Practchett books. Humorous, intelligent fantasy which reflects the struggles of coming out, transition and bigotry and gives a good laugh at the same time. Thoroughly recommended to brighten up your day, also a good gift for holidays, birthdays to everyone. Best are Feet of clay and Fifth elephant, but also the others are not bad. In fact Terry has already made it onto the top of Britain’s general bestseller lists.

In Jingo Corporal Nobbs from the City disguises as a woman and we can watch him to experiment with cross-dressing and exploring his female side on Jingo and the Fifth Elephant. A parallel string is the journey of the dwarven women, who are forced by custom to be not distigushable from men, to a proud expression of femalehood, which is started in Feet of Clay. Suffering gender-biased restrictions and discriminations however do not prevent dwarfs to discrimitate against werewolves. At the same time the City watch is solving crime cases of high politically impact, in a world were equal opportunity policy might encompass Vampires, Trolls (which own Si-based-brains), the undead and maybe even Golems. The balance of humor, thoughtful philosophy, fantasy adventure story and political satire is most likely the foundation of the sucess of these books.

Russ, Joanna
The Female Man (Bluestreak) (Paperback)
Extra (Ordinary) People (Hardcover)
Extraordinary People (1984), The Zanzibar Cat (1984), and The Hidden Side of the Moon (1987).

Scott, Melissa
Shadow man – What’s better – a world where gender identity is characterized by your genital anatomy (and the one of your partner if sexual identity is concerned) or one where your identity is determined by your personality? Intersexed protagonist, gay and gender bending characters and full of thoughtful sociopolitical analysis. A rival to the classic a “left hand side of darkness”.

Smith, Cordwainer
The world of Cordwainer Smith is inhabited by FTMs and cat-human hybrids. Besides he’s one of the major early writers in the field of Sci-fi. Norstilla the novel and the collection of short stories are both excellent choices, the hardcover also merits the price.
The instrumentality of mankind

Southall, Ivan
Bread and honey

Springer, Nancy Madbond, Mindbond, Godbond

Thomas, Thomas T. Crygender (1992)

Varley, John.
–. Lots of Varley’s work depicts transgender characters, multi-gender societies, and bi/omni-sexual characters.

Wells, John J. [pseud. for Marion Zimmer Bradley & Juanita Coulson], “Another Rib,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (June, 1963) [when an all-male crew returns from outer space to discover Earth destroyed, they have to figure out how to reproduce with each other]

Westerfeld, Scott Polymorph 1977

Westerfeld, Scott. Polymorph (1997) – (a shape-changer, born woman, can be male or female; has lesbian, straight, and gay sex; the protagonist seems to identify as female. at one point she actively resents a shape-changer who identifies as male butting in on dyke-turf. nice sf’al dyke bar scene.)

Williams, A. Susan, et al The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Lythande”

Worlds Apart: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Science Fiction and Fantasy (Paperback)
by Camilla Decarnin, Eric Garber, Lyn Paleo (Editor)

The Riddle of Gender : Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights (Hardcover)
by Deborah Rudacille

Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working With Gender-Variant People and Their Families (Haworth Marriage and the Family)
by Arlene Istar Lev (Paperback – April 2004)

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12 Greatest SF writers alive

Posted on 18 February 2010. Filed under: Lists | Tags: , |

I must be tired as I put this into WordPress three hours ago with the intention of just saving the information so I could work on it later, it was going to be my blog for tonight, but I clicked on the wrong button and published it with only my notes. I’m going to do it now and hope for the best

It’s a great premise and one I found on Twitter this morning tweeted by bantamspectra, the idea of choosing the 12 greatest science fiction writers currently alive. So, here’s the blog and it makes interesting reading. bantamspectra asked about Anne McCaffrey and whether she should be on the list. I’m going to give my list of the 12 greatest science fiction writers and I’m just going to forget about whether they’re alive or not as my list is going to be biased in favour of the older writers, I haven’t read many new authors yet so it’s hard to include them or exclude them.

Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, how can you argue with either of those two, they are the fathers of science fiction.
Isaac Asimov is a definite, as is Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury is up there in the top people. After that they start getting a bit harder to define. I suspect I should be Robert Heinlein in there even though I don’t like his writing, he had some rather strange ideas on sex. E.E. (Doc) Smith and Ursula K LeGuin must be in there at some point and I’m going to throw Roger Zelazny in there as well. Susan Cooper is pretty good despite the fact that I don’t actually like her Ship Who Sang series. I’m putting in Neal Stephenson and Phillip K. Dick but I’m not quite convinced about those two. Maybe if I did something radical and gave myself time to think about the whole idea I might have a totally different list. I have noticed there are only two females in this list and that’s interesting, I haven’t included Anne McCaffrey as I feel her work is more fantasy than science fiction until I review her books in my mind and come to a different conclusion. I might have to read a few of her books outside the Pern books and write down my conclusions.

So, can you give me your lists? It’s always good to see what other people read and it’d be interesting to see how your lists compare with Visions of Paradise’s list and mine. You might read different authors and I’d have to read them to see if I agree with you. Oooohhh, reading new books, now that has to be good.

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World’s Best Science Fiction Third Series

Posted on 26 January 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , |

This book was published in 1967 so it rather dated but the stories are not. The list of stories involved in this book are:

We Can Remember It For You Wholesale – Philip K. Dick
Light of Other Days – Bob Shaw
The Keys to December – Roger Zelazny
Nine Hundred Grandmothers – R. A. Lafferty
Bircher – A. A. Walde
Behold the Man – Michael Moorcock
Bumberboom – Avram Davidson
Day Million – Frederik Pohl
The Wings of a Bat – Paul Ash
The Man From When – Dannie Plachta
Amen and Out – Brian W Aldiss
For a Breath I Tarry – Roger Zelazny

I do actually wonder about the science fiction published in that year as Roger Zelazny features twice in this anthology, were the stories just not good enough or was Zelazny’s writing that much better than the competition? Don’t get me wrong, Zelazny’s writing is very good I did enjoy his stories, I just have to wonder, that’s all.

We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick was adapted into a movie called Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Reading the story again after all these years made me understand why Arnold Schwarzenegger got the role, he was just right for the part at the time. There are now other actors who would do a better job, I name Matt Damon as one, but Schwarzenegger was the best at the time. The only thing I have against Schwarzenegger in this role is his too memorable face. A secret agent shouldn’t look too distinctive as they need to fade into the background, or at least that’s what I’ve been taught by reading spy books by Robert Ludlum and John le Carre, and he just doesn’t do that whereas Matt Damon does. Anyway, this is meant to be a comment on the story, not the casting of the movie. If you’ve seen Total Recall you will have some idea of the story except in the story we don’t see the hero actually leaving his home town.

While I was reading the first part of Bumberboom by Avram Davidson I was also composing a blog in my mind all about books that have rather a large proportion of non-dictionary words that really need translating in order to be able to understand it. The story came good in the end and I was able to get the gist of what happened in the first half of the story but it was still hard going. I think I read the same page three times because I was so bored with it I kept putting it down after only a couple of paragraphs, it had so many words that didn’t make sense that I just couldn’t cope. I did make it through but it was slow going. The story was a lesson in reading instructions in full before using a dangerous machine.

Anyway, that’s just a taste of the stories in this book and now I’ve scribbled a little about it and recommended it to you I’m going to put it back on my shelf as I have no intention of selling it.

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Dream Dancer – Janet Morris

Posted on 23 January 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

Shebat was 16, she was the lowest of the low, her services sold to others by her employer. She was taken off her world by Marada Seleucus Kerrion, next in line to take control of the Kerrion Consortium. This is her story, how she rose to find herself almost at the top of the family and was then dismissed back to her original world.

I found this book to be really challenging to read. There were a number of new ideas that weren’t explained until quite some time after they were first introduced and I had trouble with this. Many of the books I’ve read have the new concepts explained fairly early on and I have contemplated the idea of introducing the concept and then explaining it much, much later in the book. Now that I’ve seen it used I find I don’t like it. I do wonder if it’s possible for it to work with a different author. Some of the ideas were very similar to other books. In Dream Dancer there is a prototype space ship that totally melds with the mind and can think and reason properly, the space ship is the brains while the pilot is the brawn, just like the space ships in The Ship Who Sang series by Anne McCaffrey.

Parts of the story are a rollicking good read and I had trouble putting it down, it was just hard to understand some of the concepts. The one I’ll speak about is the concept mentioned in the title. I’m still rather confused but I think the author is saying that dreaming is a commodity and that you can go to an illegal organisation and have a person create a dream for you. You can only qualify as a Dream Dancer within one of the illegal organisations when you can demonstrate all the approved Dreams and also create one within approved parameters. Shebat becomes a Dream Dancer and is very good at it. She creates a dream that startles and worries her fellow dream dancers so they have great trouble deciding if she should pass the test. I think I’ve explained it properly, although one bit that worried me with her Dream is that I couldn’t understand why it upset her fellow Dream Dancers so much, this just wasn’t sufficiently explained and I felt it was a relatively important point as it helped to round out the explaination as why Shebat was so desirable. She was wanted by all and sundry for her talents.

Warnings:
Violence
Sex scene

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