Feb 20, 2010

Read-a-thon

avatar_meGood morning! The weekend is here, the Ick will be leaving soon. I have a very busy reading weekend planned for  myself.  Vasilly decided to have a little weekend read-a-thon and I invited myself to join her. We both have a lot of reading to do and can feel the end of the month bearing down on us. Today I hope to finish 4 books. Do you think that is too ambitious?

the_silver_child_us I have already start The Silver Child and I am more than halfway through it. The problem? I HATE IT. It is weird and awkward and just weird. I don’t like the writing, and the concept may possibly be even worse. So, what’s driving me to finish it? Well, it’s short and it’s on the dystopian list. And it is the first book in a series and I kind of want to figure out where the series is going. The cover and jacket flap of The Silver Child really caught my interest. (The cover in real life is striking, pictures of the cover are just kind of creepy. Weird how there’s a difference.) I expected it to be a really quick read in the genre of my interest and i could go on my merry way. But there is no merry way. I hope to finish the book today though.

Next up will be Hotel Under the Sand. I am about 4 chapters into this charming book by the late Kage Baker. I am really loving it but keep pushing it to the wayside for more time sensitive books. But the time for Hotel Under the Sand has come. So far it has this touch of Alice in Wonderland quality that I am really enjoying. I am eager to read more.

Following these two I have a pair of new reads. Today, I guess, is sort of focused on middle grade science fiction reads. The Big Empty should be a super fast read. The book was on my wishlist and when Chelsea found that out she mailed it to me. She said she really enjoyed the book but wasn’t sure when she would ever find the next book in the series. I was so excited to receive the book, but then…I NEVER READ IT. Today, that will change. In return for her generosity I got her the second book in the series now that she no longer has the first one to refresh with, oooooops. I have promised to remind her of some of the details so she can read the second book……..and mail it to me. Thoughtful, aren’t I? Also, The Big Empty is yet another title on the dystopian list.

duplikate-cover1Finally, and I am already tired just TYPING THE LIST (forget about reading all these!), I agreed to review DupliKate by the HILARIOUS Cherry Cheva FOREVER ago and my life just got in the way.  It was nominated for a Cybil and is part of my challenge so now there is no more avoiding it. DupliKate should be a super fun read and I am happy to be exploring some middle grade science fiction because I have a bit of a reading gap there, also I think there is a bit of content gap.

At LTUE some of the panelists were suggesting “MG is the new YA.” Why do you think that is?

Since I know you care so much, I will be updating you on my progress! Wish me luck. Wish Vasilly luck. And, happy reading.

Feb 19, 2010

Ick.

I know what you are thinking. Megan, what happened to all the details of the symposium you promised us? What about stalking James Dashner? We NEED to know. We’ll folks, while your enthusiasm is refreshing, I have bad news. I have Ick. The Ick has settled in my chest and head like a ugly slimy green monster. Ick is like a horrible temporary (I hope) zombification. I have become one of the walking dead. Each day is filled with less hope than the day before.

Therefore pondering about my experience and sharing it has become an impossible task. I have but limited time periods of cognition, which makes me hopeful that I will recover. As far as i can tell zombies never have cognition.

Maybe James Dashner will find a cure for zombieism and use his knowledge for good and not evil. Is Dashner even capable of good??

Feb 16, 2010

Presenting Lenore

432_dystopia-metal_poster4.5 I was really excited when I found out Lenore was devoting a WHOLE MONTH to reading dystopian fiction. I have been a fan of this genre/subgenre for a really long time. Oddly, I never realized that a lot of dystopian fiction can be classified as science fiction. Over the years I have always struggled to find more titles to satisfy my desires. But dystopian is trendy right now and there are also some great lists of dystopian fiction out there. It has been great finding other people around the blogosphere with the same interests as me. I think Lenore agrees with that because when I asked to interview her about dystopian fiction she didn’t hesitate to agree! And now, may I present Lenore!

What was the first piece of dystopian fiction that really impacted you and why?

Well, some of the dystopian fiction I’ve read, such as THE HANDMAID’S TALE or 1984, I read long before I was conscious that I was reading “dystopian fiction”. I just thought of them as really great novels.

I guess the book that made me actively seek out other dystopian fiction was NEVER LET ME GO. A friend put it in my hands shortly after it came out and told me it was a must read. I was enthralled. After that, I had to have more!

never
Why were you originally drawn to dystopian fiction?

Before I even knew dystopian fiction as a category, I was reading a lot of sci-fi recommended by my father. I noticed I liked stories that pictured a future Earth the most…and, well, a happy future Earth doesn’t make the most exciting story does it?


Why did you decide to devote a whole month to this kind of fiction on your blog?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         My TBR pile is huge and I thought it might be less overwhelming to add some structure via themed reading. I realized I had a huge pile of dystopian fiction I was excited about (about 20 books) and thought February would be the perfect month to do it. It’s always so dark and dreary in Frankfurt in February.


Is there a type of dystopian story you enjoy most?

Anything really high concept with an original premise grabs me. But most satisfying to me as a reader are the novels that really dig deep into their themes and are thought provoking.


Why do you think dystopic themes are relevant in modern society?

You know, a lot of people aren’t political. Look at how many people don’t even bother to exercise their right to vote. Maybe those people who instinctively shy away from having deep real life political discussions are able to discuss those themes in a fictional context. And that’s certainly better than not at all.

What book are you looking forward to reading the most this month?

I am keeping my fingers crossed that Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE will make it to me by the end of the month. *squeal* I also can’t wait to dig into INCARCERON. I’ve heard such great things about it, that I bought the sequel SAPPHIQUE just in case.

What book have you enjoyed the most so far?

shades-of-grey2the-ask-and-the-answer-by-patrick-nessThat’s a toss up between Jasper Fforde’s SHADES OF GREY and the 2nd book of Patrick Ness’ Chaos Walking Trilogy THE ASK AND THE ANSWER. Both authors deftly explore weighty themes with fully formed characters and engaging plot.




Why do you think that dystopia will be an enduring element of fiction?

I can imagine a scenario where someone makes a time capsule of a good canon of dystopian novels and buries it underground. In a couple of hundred years, after some earth-whipping catastrophe, a new society of survivors forms. After a couple of generations, some plucky teen heroine uncovers the dystopian novels (now the only literature on the planet) and tries to piece together what society used to be like. Probably figures she doesn’t have it too bad after all!

Thanks to Lenore for participating in this interview and highlighting dystopian fiction on her blog.

Feb 14, 2010

The Sunday Salon – The Wish List Edition

The Sunday Salon.comOne of the advantages/disadvantages to going to any book event is the inevitable growth of your wish list! At The Life, Universe, & the Everything Symposium I attended over 20 panels and presentations. That  meant a lot of titles getting jotted down in my notebook. I found myself drawn to different titles mentioned for different reasons. Some sounded like a similar title to something I already liked. Other books were simply by people who seemed interesting to me. Local authors who are passionate about the science fiction and fantasy genres. The most exciting part about my experience was the suggestion of some fantasy titles in particular that I am interested in reading.

Readers of my blog know that fantasy has been a huge stumbling block for me. It is hard for me to accept worlds I can’t understand. I have been exploring different titles in the fantasy genre and even when I enjoy them I feel something missing from reading experience.

One of the early panels I went to was called “Fantasy Without Magic” and it was perfect for me. I didn’t even think I wanted to attend this panel because I have this overwhelming bias to the world “fantasy.” For a long time I believed that I didn’t like science fiction OR fantasy. I felt that people who limited themselves to these genres were closing themselves off to a whole world of meaningful literature.

game-of-thronesSlowly I have come to accept science fiction as meaningful literature. Maybe the most personally meaningful literature I have ever read, especially because of the thought it requires out of its readers. But the same cannot be said for my acceptance of the fantasy genre. Something about the stories and writing tend to alienate me out of wanting to continue the story.

BUT when I stuck around for the “Fantasy Without Magic” panel I got to hear a list of recommended titles.  And one of the most emphatically recommended books was the first in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series entitled A Game of Thrones. Has anyone read this? All the panelists were talking about it so much, I felt like I was being left out of some big secret. But, of course, that is probably my own fault. Never before did I want to be let in on the secret.

My new interest in science fiction has definitely made me feel more curious about fantasy, but i have not yet been able to capitalize on this curiosity. To me, science fiction and fantasy are inherently different. For many of the panelists in the various topics of discuss they felt the two genres were inherently the same. I guess it will have to be a matter of time before I can make any kind of informed decision. It is very possible that I have yet to find the type of fantasy that speaks to me.

I have hope that some of these titles on my wishlist will spark something in me, that they will enlighten me out of my genre elitism.

There were several authors at the symposium I had never heard of before and being exposed to new local authors was definitely part of the excitement of the whole experience. There is something completely fascinating about hearing intelligent and articulate people talk about something that you love. Three local authors that I was exposed to through the LTUE experience were Julie Wright, Clint Johnson, and Michael Young.

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Paul Genesse, author of The Iron Dragon series, also brought to my attention to book Warlock by Wilbur Smith. The title really sounds like nothing I would ever want to read, but the way Genesse talked about it I am really eager to give it a try. it was so interesting listening to him summarize this story and explain how it was{4E5CF58A-B41A-499B-88BB-267CABD8CFBC}Img100 fantasy without magic (because he was a panelist for that discussion). Hearing the passion of these authors and fans of science fiction and fantasy reminded me of all the reasons why I am drawn to literature in general and science fiction in particular. It was great to feel connected to this genre I have just started to embrace.

Even though I am a new fan to science fiction so much of what it represents has always been vital to my reading experience, I just didn’t know where to find it. Why is it that science fiction and fantasy are so marginalized in our reading and educational experiences? How would the genres change if their appeal was broadened?

Science fiction is a genre about ideas and this concept is what made me passionate about literature! To see a world where magic is explainable by science or some other factor is suddenly very approachable and even appealing to me!

These books are just a small sampling of the ones listed in my notebooks. I was most influenced by the “Fantasy Without Magic” panel and just passion and humor of the local authors. These things are what made me the most eager to jot a title down.

What book events have you attended? What was your experience like? Did you feel overwhelmed by the amount of titles you were exposed to? What portion of interesti2ng titles did you actually follow through with reading?

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