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Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-01-01 4:40 PM (#22775)
Subject: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Hello again folks. Ann Walker welcome,you joined almost ahead of me!
I am intending to read my usual mix of award winners,classics,and quite a lot of good old fashioned relaxing pulpy stuff from the 50s and 60s.
I want to complete the Locus best novels of all time list. I've read 47/50 of the list,just Dhalgren, Earth Abides and Last and First Men to go! It will be my first completed list,as I stopped following the Hugos and Nebulas around 2016. Our library hasnt bothered adding the latest books for several years due possibly to budget cuts,or they have lost interest in the lists,which certainly seem a bit patchy in quality these days.
This month though I will be reading Robert McCammon's Boy's Life and some good old pulpabout space tugs and doctors in space. Cool,
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-01-08 3:44 PM (#22814 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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1. Robert R McCammon's Boy's Life was an OK read,as far as I was concerned,but I didnt go into raptures as so many people have about this book about a year in the life of an 11 year old boy in rural Alabama in 1964.I found it far too long.It started out when the boy and his father saw a car containing a tortured dead man chained in the car career into a deep lake. It was over 500 pages later before we got the answers to the mystery,in between was numerous tales of the boy's life,often purported with have some magical elements.Found the denouement barely credibleI'm afraid. Lots of somewhat crude boisterous humour,not really my cup of tea,and while some sections were affecting and emotional and brought alump to my throat at times I felt the rapid changes of the story somewhat jarring at times..Lots of bullying too,which I never enjoy reading about.
Ah well,it was read as part of a challenge,so at least I finished it! lol.
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-01-24 4:57 AM (#22864 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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I really enjoyed Alan E Nourse's Star Surgeon about a young alien who desires to be a surgeon in a pangalactic set up where almost all doctors are humans,and Earth has become a giant hospital treating sick aliens from across the galaxy..This juvenile series predates James White's Sector General series by several years.Not sure if White was ffamiliar with the series.there are definitely similarities. And White even called the second book Star Surgeon in 1963!
Poor old Nourse,he never wins.The Sector General books became famous instead of his books,and then the makers of Blade Runner wanted the title without any copyright issues,so they bought up the rights to the book,discarded the whole book,which had no similarities whatsoever to the film!
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-01-24 10:53 AM (#22865 - in reply to #22864)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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YAY! FINALLY finished Boneshaker. I get the feeling that I was supposed to be bowled over by a big denouement,but since I never connected with the heroine(?) it left me totally cold,shrugging ''so what?'' :0) Will not be continuing the series.
Rest of the month I am reading other genres,though perhaps another couple of short stories from Mark R Kelly's list will be squeezed in.Such as Game of Rat and Dragon.
For pure fun and indulgence and celebrating the inauguration I did a reread of Heinlein's All You Zombies.No one like Bob for making time travel understandable (well,fairly......)
All You Zombies is still a good read. Not as shocking or mindblowing as when first encountered,naturally, but brilliantly executed. OK,its harder today to deal with the dodgy sexism and very strange reationships (to say the least) - typical later Heinlein - but the story still has great impact.
Here are the time travellers byelaws which he has above his bed

Never Do Yesterday What Should Be Done Tomorrow.
If at Last You Do Succeed, Never Try Again.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine Billion.
A Paradox May Be Paradoctored.
It Is Earlier When You Think.
Ancestors Are Just People.
Even Jove Nods.





Edited by dustydigger 2021-01-24 10:56 AM
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-01-28 4:55 AM (#22870 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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I read a fair to middling Edmond Hamilton tale,World With a Thousand Moons,and a shorter story,The Stars,My Brothers.A bit bland,and written well before his marriage to Leigh Brackett,so none of her subtle nudges towards a more modern take on women.Its claimed that they always worked apart save for one collaboration,but definitely his work in general improved greatly in later years. Apparently he did a lot of work on the early Superman and Batman stories for DC comics,including the well respected Last Days of Superman episodes in 1962.
Iam sorting out my reads for February,mostly 1950s stuff. Also trying for two or three award winners per month.Trying to fill in any early gaps in my lists,so probably Christopher Priest The Inverted World and Michael G Coney Brontomek will feature. Have read 67/69 Hugo winners,and 54/56 Nebulas,but am doing very badly with the BSFA award,only read 17/59 winners,despite being a Brit! lol Shame on me.I do have plans for reading a reasonable number this year to at least partially fill the ignorance gap. Looking at:
Michael G Coney - Brontomek!
Allette de Bodard - House of Shattered Wings
P K Dick - A Scanner Darkly
Colin Greenland - Take Back Plenty
Christopher Priest - Inverted World
Mary Doria Russell - The Sparrow
Ian Watson - The Jonah Kit
At least that will bring my tally into the mid twenties,but a long way to go.

Edited by dustydigger 2021-01-28 4:59 AM
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-01-31 4:12 PM (#22892 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Hey,Pick N' Mixers we got off to a good start for the 2021 challenge. 16 of us read 70 books in January! Excellent.
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-02-18 8:19 AM (#22929 - in reply to #22892)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Brontomek was a pleasant enough read about a planet being colonized that is failing,colonists are leaving .When a huge corporation seems to come to the rescue everyone greets them with open arms. Then surprise surprise the corporation brings in massive armoured agricultural robotic machines called brontomeks to cultivate drugs,and aliens called amorphs that can take on human forms . Things go down hill rapidly from there. It was an OK read during snowy weather during lockdown,but award winning? Not in my opinion.
Cordwainer Smith's famous short story Game of Rat and Dragon was interesting. When humans developed a type of FTL they found that in the dark expanses of space there are violent aliens who just want to destroy all humans using a form of telepathy to kill men,or leave survivors raving mad and in great pain. Humans have developed a technology to use laser lights,and form telepathic links with cats who see the aliens rather like huge rats and can counter them much better than slower humans can. They hate light,so earth is safe,but space travel is very dangerous,and earth would be isolated without these teams protecting ships. Pretty good stuff for 1955! I keep meaning to read more Cordwainer Smith. So far I've only read Norstrilia.Maybe next year?Oh boy,already planning 2022 reads,cant resist it!
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-11-06 7:35 AM (#23523 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Well,I managed to finish the Pick N' Mix challenge last month. Real life has been a pain (literally) this year. Dogged by illhealth,including pernicious anaemia which induces brain fog,lethargy and a host of other symptoms,and crippling arthritis I have done only a minimum of online typing,and so apart from the What Are We Reading In... thread I totally neglected this thread to my shame. Much time had to be spent too on looking after my 81 yr old husband,and coping with the isolation of sheltering from covid.I had to adjust my reading,reading a lot more short fiction than usual,and that was actually very enjoyable. I followed many recommendations from our excellent WWEnd lists.
Some of the most interesting books I read this year are:
David Lindsay - A voyage to Arcturus. A very strange book,often bizarre,but it has stuck in my mind for some reason!
Robert A Heinlein - All You Zombies. I often reread this paradoxical time travel story.I wouldnt want to try to explain this story,but its great for clearing cobwebs from the brain. RAH was so good at time travel stuff. I also love his delightful The Door Into Summer in the same subgenre
Octavia E Butler - Bloodchild. Possibly my favourite read of the year.
Charles G Finney - The Circus of Dr Lao. This was a bit of a weird one,about a magical circus coming to town. Spooky and dangerous
Neal Stephenson - .Seveneves. Surprised myself by actually LIKING a Stephenson book,which a never do as a rule.I think I enjoyed it as a sort of throwback on good old fashioned SF with engineers cobbling together on the fly solutions to disasters.
George R Stewart - Earth Abides. A wonderful book about the aftermath of a terrible plague which kills more than 99% of mankind. The protagonist gathers together a tiny group of people who have to rebuild.I had a horrible feeling that the group would die out in the future once the old generation who remembered civilisation died off. A rather sad book,but very impressive.
Ted Chiang - The Tower of Babylon. Fantastic short story,the first tale I have ever read by Chiang. Wont be the last.
I also thoroughly enjoyed yet another reread of Night in the Lonesome October,for Spooky October,and lots of Robert Bloch,Robert E Howard,Algernon Blacwood and other weird tale genre authors. Such fun.




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Mervi2012
Posted 2021-12-07 10:34 AM (#23575 - in reply to #23523)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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dustydigger - 2021-11-06 7:35 AM

Well,I managed to finish the Pick N' Mix challenge last month. Real life has been a pain (literally) this year. Dogged by illhealth,including pernicious anaemia which induces brain fog,lethargy and a host of other symptoms,and crippling arthritis I have done only a minimum of online typing,and so apart from the What Are We Reading In... thread I totally neglected this thread to my shame. Much time had to be spent too on looking after my 81 yr old husband,and coping with the isolation of sheltering from covid.I had to adjust my reading,reading a lot more short fiction than usual,and that was actually very enjoyable. I followed many recommendations from our excellent WWEnd.


I'm sorry about your troubles with health. I hope next year will be lot better.

But it was great to hear that your reading was good.

This year I've read less than before and tried to focus on reading my own books which I put in the Mount TBR challenge instead of here.

I enjoyed most of the books I read for Pick N' Mix this year.

T. Kingfisher's Swordheart is a stand-alone humorous fantasy adventure/romance book. Just the right type of book for me this year.
Kowal's Relentless Moon is the third book in the Lady Astronaut of Mars, focusing on Earth after the disaster in the first book. I enjoyed it a lot.
Cogman's the Secret Chapter was a good continuation to the series. This time the plot is a heist in an alternative world.
Bujold's Masquarede in Lodi is a Penric and Desdemona novella, which I also enjoyed a lot.
Muir Lafferty's Six Wakes was a fascinating stand-alone book about clones.
Wilson's Clockwork Dynasty merges historical fiction with steampunk and fantasy elements. I liked it a lot.
Chakraborty's The Empire of Gold is the third book in her Middle-Eastern inspired Daevabad trilogy. Sadly, it wasn't as good as the previous books.
I've greatly enjoyed Martha Wells' Murderbot SF series and tried out her fantasy. The City of Bones is a stand-alone fantasy book set in a post-apocalyptic world. It wasn't as good as the Murderbots but I still enjoyed it.
James Lovegrove's the Ghost Machine is the third book based on the SF tv-show Firefly. Sadly, I didn't really care for it.
The Mythic Dream collects fantasy and SF retellings of myths from around the world. It's a mixed bag but I enjoyed most of the stories.
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Engelbrecht
Posted 2021-12-27 1:49 AM (#23602 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: RE: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Dusty,

Nice list of your favorites from the past year!

As in previous years, I've used this challenge to show my favorite reads of the year.

Wishing you and yours good health and good reading in the coming year!

 

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dustydigger
Posted 2021-12-27 5:21 PM (#23603 - in reply to #23602)
Subject: RE: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Engelbrecht - 2021-12-27 7:49 AM

Dusty,

Nice list of your favorites from the past year!

As in previous years, I've used this challenge to show my favorite reads of the year.

Wishing you and yours good health and good reading in the coming year!

?



Hi Engelbrecht,good list as usual.
You will be pleased to know that I have grabbed a kindle copy of The Exploits of Engelbrecht by Maurice Richardson. Physical copies cost an arm and two legs,but I am happy with a kindle version of the exploits of the dwarf pugilist who boxed 10 rounds with a grandfather clock! l. May be a few months before I get to it,but I will read it in your honour. When I joined WWEnd back in 2012 Dave Post facetiously warned me against looking at your WWEnd page,where you were already clocking up impressive statistics on the various lists,putting my pathetic reads to shame. I have a much more satisfying presence now on said lists,but still nowhere near you,But your stats are something to aim for! :0)
Like you,I dont look at all impressive on the fantasy side,I love SF much more,particularly older stuff.I have started working my way through books added by year,am near the end of the 30s. Enormous fun. I still get immense pleasure from people like Eric Frank Russell,Poul Anderson,Clifford D Simak Hal Clement and others. They could tell great stories in around 200 pages. Modern writers have barely finished the prologue in 200 pages!.
I'll be back with Pick 'N Mix again next year - year 8 or 9! Wow,time flies when you are having fun.
Hope to see all the usual suspects back again. I love trawling everyones lists. So diverse and interesting!
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dustydigger
Posted 2021-12-30 12:58 PM (#23617 - in reply to #22775)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Another year finished. Many thanks to all the people who took part in the challenge,hope to see you all again next year,year nine of the challenge. We read 628 books this year,pretty good in the circumstances.. What a difficult year,started out with high hopes of a vaccine stopping the virus in its tracks,we thought everything would be fine by this Xmas. Oh boy,best laid plans of mice and men......
Have nice New Year celebration,then its back to the books. Here's hoping for a great reading year in 2022.
See you soon!
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Engelbrecht
Posted 2021-12-31 4:08 AM (#23619 - in reply to #23617)
Subject: Re: Pick & Mix 2021 challenge
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Dusty,

 I hope you enjoy the Richardson book!

 

Have a great new year!

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