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Old 09-19-2012, 02:23 PM   #106
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Ah, but the punishment must fit the crime, don't you think?
Actually, the correct response is, "That's cruel and unusual. If we do it to everyone, it's not unusual!"

(This has actually been used - successfully - as a defense by jails.)
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:36 PM   #107
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The Hugo is voted on by members of Worldcon so anybody who pay a supporting membership can vote. And looking at how people vote you will see that you cannot trust their taste... And good writing is usually not winning over old fashioned sf stories.
Well I don't think you can trust anybody's taste except your own.. and perhaps those people you have previously found to have similar taste to yours. Awards do tend to be somewhat unreliable because they are chosen by a group that changes over time. So even if you like authors who who the Hugo recently, it doesn't mean you will like the authors who won it 30 years ago.

I do have one thought though.. if you are at all a fan of science fiction, I find that books that win both the Hugo and the Nebula are probably books that should be read... if for no other reason that they will probably be books your other SF friends will read .

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Old 09-19-2012, 02:49 PM   #108
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Make a particular effort to avoid the Barsoom stuff by Edgar Rice Burroughs, then. Unlike the recent movie (where Dejah Thoris kicks ass better than John Carter, and they wonder why it bombed) the sole reason female characters exist is to get kidnapped, so that the he-man hero can rescue her (and she will fall madly in love with him and make his babies).

And I say this as someone who has a certain apprecation for the classics.

(Could not read the one written by his son, though. From what I could tell, by the writing style, the characterization, the plotting, it was written when said son was about three years old.)
I don't think you're giving Burroughs enough credit. When we first 'meet' Dejah Thoris, she is part of a scientific expedition although we aren't told her role. She then functions as a diplomat, standing up to a Warhoon leader despite believing that she is soon to be tortured and killed. She attacks Sarkoja (a green woman twice her size at least) when Sarkoja tries to blind John Carter during a duel. She's pretty strong for a female character written in 1912.

It's been a while but I also seem to remember that John Carter taught his daughter Tara how to handle a sword.

Thuvia saves John Carter's life in the Gods of Mars when they're about to be attacked by banths, and takes care of herself pretty well in her own book.

Tavia fights beside Tan Hadron in A Fighting Man of Mars.

Barsoomian women even get some independence in the reproductive process - they lay eggs and don't have to deal with pregnancy and delivery. We don't get a lot of detail about that, or about child rearing. (We do know that the green women are responsible for young children, but they're the 'barbarians' after all.)

I'm not claiming Barsoom is a feminist paradise by any stretch....but the women aren't simpering weaklings just waiting to be rescued.

I don't actually think of the Barsoom books as being primarily sci-fi. They are (along with all of Burroughs' other books) escapist romances aimed at men. They're essentially equivalent to the bodice rippers aimed at women....that's either your cup of tea or it ain't.
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Old 09-19-2012, 02:51 PM   #109
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Taste is so subjective so if you don't like Asimov's stories, no reason to call him overrated.

I think today's critics focus too much on character sometimes to the detriment of the story line. I skip past the extensive physical descriptions of people, places and objects because I find them boring.

On the other hand, we can't fault a 40's author for thinking nuclear power would be a major power source in the future. After all, we are still using it today and in space.

I don't have to defend Asimov - his career and work stands for itself. But I will highlight a few things:

1. He revolutionized robot stories. Before his I,Robot stories, most robot stories were of the "Frankenstein" bent. Always running amuck and killing their creators. Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" was a radically different approach.

2. He is credited with adding several new words to the English language including robotics, positronic and psychohistory. So the whole robotics industry is built on a word he made up.

3. He has writen what many people believe is the best science fiction short story of all time, "Nightfall," along with a ton of other excellent short stories.

His books have sold many,many copies and he has won numerous awards including multiple Hugos and Nebulas.

So while he may not be your cup of tea, he is not "overrated."
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:10 PM   #110
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It did occur to me that if you can't rely on power, a slide-rule might be a better choice, but I've never used one and have no idea how they work. I'm a victim of progress. (Although at least I do know how to work things out on paper.)
My High School physics teacher believed the best way to truly understand and internalize logarithms you had to use a slide rule. Also the best way to understand orders of magnitude in calculations. He had a honking big eight foot monster mounted in the classroom for demonstration and drills. (Plus, it looked really cool.)
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:15 PM   #111
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My High School physics teacher believed the best way to truly understand and internalize logarithms you had to use a slide rule. Also the best way to understand orders of magnitude in calculations. He had a honking big eight foot monster mounted in the classroom for demonstration and drills. (Plus, it looked really cool.)
Had one of those monsters in my class also! Pocket protectors were also part of the "Uniform"!


Sorry!

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Old 09-19-2012, 03:18 PM   #112
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Had one of those monsters in my class also! Pocket protectors were also part of the "Uniform"!
No pocket protectors for me--the glasses were bad enough.
But the T-square was a dead giveaway for first year engineering students. (So I bought an attache case and a modular one I could disassemble and hide so I could at least pass for human.)

Anyway, when I first read Heinlein's DOOR INTO SUMMER I was seriously impressed by his mechanical drafting machines. A bit less so after AUTOCAD and co came out.

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Old 09-19-2012, 03:33 PM   #113
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If you're going to ignore the Hugo Awards because they were chosen by readers as well as writers, then how about the Nebula Awards, chosen by writers? Just because you don't like the books that won the Hugo Awards doesn't mean that they are wrong.
My point was more that good writing is not a thing that will win you the Hugo usually. Competent writing and a really god story will most often win. Or just being a popular person might cause you to win.

The Nebula seemed to me at a certain period to be political in the way that the best book was not the one that won but a book could win if it was considered that the writer deserved to win for all the previous work.

The short list i think have the best books are the Carke Award short list.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:36 PM   #114
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I do have one thought though.. if you are at all a fan of science fiction, I find that books that win both the Hugo and the Nebula are probably books that should be read... if for no other reason that they will probably be books your other SF friends will read .
I think that all the books that are on the Hugo and Nubula and Clarke short list should be read. I read all the Hugo naminated novels and try to read the Clarke short list.

And this year the Hugo voting actually voted according to my taste with Jo Walton as winner and China Meiville as second.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:55 PM   #115
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2. He is credited with adding several new words to the English language including robotics, positronic and psychohistory. So the whole robotics industry is built on a word he made up.
'Robotics' perhaps, but not 'robot'. That comes from the play R.U.R by Karel Čapek (Rossum's Universal Robots).

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Old 09-19-2012, 03:58 PM   #116
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My point was more that good writing is not a thing that will win you the Hugo usually. Competent writing and a really god story will most often win. Or just being a popular person might cause you to win.
I suppose that is true. There are an awful lot of us that believe the first job of a novel is to tell a story. The better it tells the story, the better the book (in our view). Indeed, I tend to think of that as good writing . What you and others here seem to be talking about is good style.

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The Nebula seemed to me at a certain period to be political in the way that the best book was not the one that won but a book could win if it was considered that the writer deserved to win for all the previous work.
Don't most awards get political at some point or another? Certainly the criteria will be driven by what is most important to the voters. Even if we divorce politics from the question, in Science Fiction and Fantasy, there are additional criteria that must clearly be considered beyond how good the story is and how good the style is; the ideas presented and the world building are almost certainly aspects that would be considered as well.

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Old 09-19-2012, 04:35 PM   #117
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I prefer Asimov's short stories to his novels, especially his mystery stories. The "Black Widowers" stories are excellent, I think.
Thanks, I added this to my TBR list.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:53 PM   #118
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Actually, the correct response is, "That's cruel and unusual. If we do it to everyone, it's not unusual!"

(This has actually been used - successfully - as a defense by jails.)
I tried that argument back in high school in a government class. I seem to remember failing that particular essay.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:55 PM   #119
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I tried that argument back in high school in a government class. I seem to remember failing that particular essay.
As odd as it sounds, high school is more rational that real life courts.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:59 PM   #120
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I don't think you're giving Burroughs enough credit.
Now that you point it out, yeah, I exaggerated a bit. But their primary purpose in those stories was to give the male characters something to rescue, even if they did often serve to reduce the total number of characters you have to keep track of. And now that I think about it, he got better as time went by (the laters ones were written post WWII, and the world was changing at that point).
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