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I've been meaning to do this for a while.  I'm taking a break between novels to post a listing of the diaries I've written as part of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Club here at Readers & Book Lovers.  I'll be continuing to update and re-link to this index as the series progresses.

Quark's Notes:

These are in-depth synopses of some of my favorite SF and Fantasy novels.  I used three important criteria to choose these books:  (1) I think it is an important book in the development of the genre; (2) It is a popular book that most SF fans have at least heard of, even if they haven't read it; and (3) I have a copy at home so I don't have to borrow it from the library.  Of the three, the last is naturally the most important.  I have also tried to choose books with some political ideas as well, to excuse their presence here on Kos.

Dune by Frank Herbert (9 parts)
War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (4 parts)
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein (5 parts)
The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov (3 parts)
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (7 parts)
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (6 parts)
A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (4 parts)
The Voyage of the Space Beagle by A.E. van Vogt (4 parts)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (6 parts)
H.P. Lovecraft -- Selected Stories (6 parts)
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (7 parts)
The Skylark of Space by E.E. "Doc" Smith (6 parts)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- by Douglas Adams (6 parts)
The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (4 parts)
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (4 parts)
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (3 parts)
C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy (10 parts)
Three Hearts and Three Lions by Poul Anderson (2 parts)
Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock (3 parts)


These are shorter pieces on books I liked; quick overviews rather than detailed synopses.

Philosopher-Kings of Oz  The Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Soul Eater: or Mention My Name in Shibusen The anime series Soul Eater
The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman
Space Chantey by R.A. Lafferty
Nadia -- The Secret of Blue Water a Steampunk anime series inspired by the works of Jules Verne
Everything is Broken by John Shirley
Sci-Fi Guy -- a webcomic by Doug Holverson about growing up nerdy during the Summer of Star Wars
Buck Rogers -- The comic strip that introduced science fiction into the broader popular culture.

On Other Worlds:

These diaries are about general SF and Fantasy themes rather than specific works.

Introduction to the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Club
Sputnik Moment:  This Time it's Personal -- When Sarah Palin disses Sputnik, she disses us all
The Mohs Scale of SF Hardness -- Hard Science Fiction vs. Soft Science Fiction
The Mighty Mythopoeic Manner -- George MacDonald and mythopoea
Magic and Fantasy -- on different approaches to magic in fantasy fiction
Exploring the Outer Limits -- How my Dad introduced me to SF
The Shape of Things to Come An outline of future book topics for the series
Welcome to My Universe -- When novels share continuity
Do the Robot -- Robots in Science Fiction
Jules Verne -- A brief look at the Father of Science Fiction and his times.
Steampunk Poll -- A discussion thread about Steampunk
Red Planet Mars -- an overview of the planet Mars in science fiction
Women in Science Fiction -- a very brief survey of some notable female science fiction writers.
The Cross and the Rocket -- a selection of how SF works portray Christianity and Christian themes.

Friends of Quark:

Here is a non-exhaustive listing of a few diaries other Kossack have written about their own favorite SF and Fantasy novels.

The Hunger Games: The Next Harry Potter? -- Upper West
Books So Bad They're Good: Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu! -- Ellid -- some incredibly BAD science fiction
The Difference Between Science Fiction and Fantasy -- David Brin
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein -- ArkDem14 -- A scathing critique of Heinlein;
On Shadow and Substance, Order and Chaos -- Hammerhand -- about Roger Zelazny
My Favorite Authors/Books: The Dragonriders of P.E.R.N. -- Angie in WA State
On the Political Views Expressed by Robert Heinlein -- hagagaga -- another more favorable view of Heinlein
Books that Changed My Life:  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Anton Bursch
Has it been Fifty Years Already?  Some Thoughts on A Wrinkle in Time -- glendenb
Science Fiction Explores Ideas to Make This a Better World -- Blondmama
Meet George Jetson -- Mark Sumner -- Comparing the world of The Jetsons to how the future turned out
My Space Art: Under Alien Skies -- michelewln --  Some imaginative SF/Fantasy art
John Carter of Mars -- Zera Lee -- Discussing the culture of honor in the Burroughs Mars novels and comparing it to how honor is regarded in today's political scene.
Fantasy and Distopic Sci-Fi are Pissing Me Off -- Troubadour -- Doesn't pop culture have any settings for SF besides "Dark"?
My Favorite Authors: J.R.R.Tolkien, the Lord of Fantasy and Imagination -- MichiganChet -- A discussion of Tolkien and Lord of the Rings
Books That Changed My Life:  Taran Wanderer-- aravir -- The pivitol book in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain series, in which the hero seaches for his own identity.
Early Trilogy? The Incomplete Enchanter -- TofG -- DeCamp and Pratt's early tales of dimension-hopping fantasy
Books That Changed My Life:  The Little Prince-- michelewln -- Antoine de Saint Exupéry's jewel of a book
H.P Lovecraft: Honest Theologian -- Spenser Troxell -- I'm not a big Lovecraft fan myself, and I'm not sure I agree with all the diarist's conclusions, but this is a thoughtful look at HPL's work and legacy.
RIP, Ray Bradbury -- bjedward -- One of many diaries posted on the death of Ray Bradbury.  This one contains links to several rememberences of him.
Thank You, Ray Bradbury-- Cartoon Peril -- A brief appreciation of Bradbury, containing a video clip of the writer.
Books that Changed My Life: A RWNJ Lays the Foundation for a Liberal -- Moody Loner -- tells of discovering Larry Niven's Ringworld
Star Trek -- Why I'm a Liberal -- Mortifyd -- A personal recollection of a classic TV show.
Books that Changed My Life:  Philip K. Dick's Flow My Tears the Policeman Said -- Dumbo -- An in-depth look at one of Philip K. Dick's novels and a thoughtful discussion of his writing.
The Hobbit-- Ellid -- a rememberance of discovering The Hobbit for the first time
The Hobbit in Illustration and Translation -- Cartoon Peril -- discussing different illustrated editions of Tolkien's work.
The First Science Fiction Story -- MadScientist -- Francis Bacon's The New Atlantis
H.P Lovecraft and the Fear of the Unknown -- martianexpatriate -- Another piece on Lovecraft, focusing on the writer's racism and its roots.
The Wisdom of the Shire-- James Wells -- review of a book exploring Tolkien's world and applying the wisdom of the hobbits to life in the 21st Century.
Embarking on a Journey into the World of Doctor Who -- Troubadour -- Beginning an in-depth look at all Eleven Doctors
The Philosophy of Star Trek -- Rimjob -- A look at the idealistic and optimistic philosophy underlying the world of Star Trek, and some concerns about whether the J.J. Abrams reboot is turning it's back on it.
Film Genius Ray Harryhausen Has Died -- ericlewis0 -- A tribute to a master of imaginative film-making.
Science Fiction is Better than Religion -- Troubadour -- I don't agree that it's a contest, but a thoughtful essay
Books that Changed My Life: Flattery Saves a Life -- duhban -- An appreciation of Terry Brooks's The Sword of Shannara
Paul's Book Reviews: Science Fiction -- pwoodford -- Reviews of four classic novels by Philip K. Dick and of the "Wool" stories of Hugh Howey
The Culture Novels of Iain M. Banks -- Mark Sumner -- How do you make Utopia interesting?  Banks did it in his series of novels about a spacefaring society of the future.
Asimov or Clarke? Who Bears the Crown of Progressive Science Fiction's Grand Master? -- Troubadour -- Like it says in the title; which Grand Master of SF deservese to be called Grand Master of Progressive SF?
Frederik Pohl, a short appreciation -- rlegro -- A brief commentary on Pohl on the occasion of his death.
Redshirts by John Scalzi -- Susan from 29
Books that Changed My Life:  Frederick Pohl's The Space Merchants -- Dumbo
Which Ugly SF/Fantasy Ducklings Became Literary Swans? -- brecht -- About SF/F that's considered literary fiction
Brandon Sanderson's Words of Radiance -- scilicet
Books Go Boom!  How 'Lord of the Rings' Is Not a Very Good Book, and Yet  is a Great One -- brecht  -- A very good exploration of what makes LOTR Great with a rousing discussion in the comments.
Cyteen: The Original Orphan Black -- terrypinder -- a look at Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh
Racial and Gender Backlash in Science Fiction -- Richard Lyon -- excerpts from a Guest of Honor speech given by writer N.K. Jemisin at the WisCon 38 science fiction convention.

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:30 PM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar & Open Comment Thread (25+ / 0-)

    Next Week we start on the Grandaddy of the Planetary Romance:  A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  Strap on your radium pistol and saddle up your eight-legged thoat; there are princesses to rescue!

    And don't forget; I live for feedback!

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 11:21:31 AM PST

  •  What a great idea. Hotlisted for future reference (12+ / 0-)

    Thank you!

    "I cannot live without books" -- Thomas Jefferson, 1815

    by Susan Grigsby on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 06:56:05 PM PST

  •  Thank You - N/T (7+ / 0-)

    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 07:29:56 PM PST

  •  I can't sleep so I might as well post.... (5+ / 0-)

    I'm a little bummed because I found out that I could have jumped into the Omaha Alt Music scene 20-25 years ago, but didn't realize the opportunity right under my nose.

    I'm trying to figure out what to do with Sci Fi Guy! Right now it looks like I'll probably do a Hail Mary cold pitch without another artist. After that I don't know. The project may just get pruned down to just scripts being posted at Deviant Art.

    One of the hampers with Sci Fi Guy! right now is that my feedback loop is broken since Gerber died. I was under the impression I was getting feedback from everybody on my email list, but it turned out to be mostly just him. I feel that I'm really flying blind on the in-progress stuff.

    That and I'm having trouble with the characterizations of Edworthy and Hector. One needs to be less obnoxious and the other needs to be friendlier. That and another character needs to be root-canalled before he gets me in trouble.

    I had an idea in a dream about doing a Captain Saucer style broad parody of Time Travel. I'll probably won't follow through because the idea hasn't really gelled, is too sketchy, and I don't have the time. As presented in the dream, the main characters were a dumb impulsive jock and his female sidekick who knows better. An alternate would have a couple of fanservice gals but they're fat, although those two characters are too close to Agriculture and Industry for a planned future Sci Fi Guy! romp.

    BTW, that proposed Sci Fi Guy! romp is tentatively titled, "All of God's Mechanical Creatures" and is sort of based on what if a teenager stuck in a farm in the middle '70s invented Steam Punk? I wonder where that idea came from?....

    On the funner side: I'm running up to the Antiquarium after work tomorrow and picking up some old SF paperbacks. I'm in the middle of a long ink on an "Oort Cloud Fink". I'm going to try to make a big push on getting something going with Sci Fi Guy! on my next Tuesday and Wednesday off.

    Right after I rewire the fog lights on Wee Beastie....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:23:00 PM PST

  •  Transistor Punk (4+ / 0-)

    From the comments section of an io9 article on Steam Punk.

    I read an interview a few years back with SF writer Barry Malzberg (whose Breakfast in the Ruins and Galaxies are essential reading for anyone who wants to be a professional SF writer), and he hit the nail on the head when he described steampunk as "decadent" -- basically stuff for people who liked genre ornamentation but were completely unserious about the speculative aspects of science fiction. Yes, having a young Queen Elizabeth fighting Octopus Men From The Telluric Realms in a steam-powered exoskeleton is a lot of fun, but it doesn't really mean anything -- it's incoherent as alternative history, it has zero speculative value, nobody would ever have the wherewithal to design and build those things, etc. It's just another way of doing fantasy, but with vaguely real trappings from history and science.

    Oddly, I think this is a lot like what I'm trying to do  with Sci Fi Guy! although it's set in the Disco era (and contradictorily features whole lot of nerds who can't dance). I tongue in cheek call its genre 'Transistor Punk", "All Solid State Punk", or the more in-jokey "Panapet Punk".

    Although for an actual genre, it's either a genus sui, a glorified embellished Fan Comic, or it's a genre mashup of a nostalgic slice of slice of life versus a Science Fantasy Fan Comic.

    BTW, Uncle Swenn may get a chapter that revolves around him called "Genus Soowee". He may get the phrase "All of God's Mechanical Creatures" attributed to him.

    Although, I wonder if I really need to recycle Steam Punkish daydreams from the '70s into a Junior Gustafson romp if Sci Fi Guy! ever gets that far along. I just remembered that a lot of that stuff has already been recycled with the Leians. Twenty Vanes would be the most blatant example.

    What can I say? I went to a lot of Steam and Threshing shows back when I was a kid in the the Apollo, Skylab, and Star Trek rerun era. I was fascinated by weird old stuff like Wimhurst machines and Alder Clement. My first introduction to written Sf was H.G. Wells....

    Hopefully by now, I have tired myself out with all this tedious typing that I can finally ZZZ now....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:06:10 PM PST

  •  Barsoom Cartooned! (4+ / 0-)

    2:43 in:

    But I like the Comic Book cover parodies later on.

    The Space Opera parody with the parade of parody monsters is my favorite bit of animation ever.

    Oh yeah, the more serious version, oddly enough by Loony Tooner, Bob Clampett.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 09:17:11 PM PST

  •  Gawd, Do I Feel Guilty (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Aunt Pat, klamothe, quarkstomper

    But apparently not guilty enough to index my own diaries for R&BLers.

    'Job well done' is the phrase that comes to mind when I read a diary such as this one.

    I say, "Let Newt have the moon, we have Mars!"

    Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

    by Limelite on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 03:50:29 AM PST

  •  The Hyperion books by Dan Simmons are a good (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Aunt Pat, quarkstomper

    read. It's in four parts. Also on that note, add Illium and Olympus from Simmons.

    So say we all! Battlestar Galactica (re-imagined version)

    by nerve on Mon Jan 30, 2012 at 04:53:11 AM PST

  •  Just finished On Basilisk Station today (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's a great book. I hope to read more of Weber soon. I'm now going to start either Glory Road (Heinlein, who I've done a diary about) or Dune Messiah.

    •  Glory Road (0+ / 0-)

      It's been years since I've read Glory Road.  It, along with Harsh Mistress, is one of the few books Heinlein wrote after Stranger in a Strange Land that I liked

      "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

      by quarkstomper on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:49:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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