August 2015 Reading in Review

TheKappaChildOr maybe September should be the beginning of the year. Because August is death. Death by sun, death by heat, death by school traffic, death by Hugos. It’s like one long, drawn out, miserable, 106 degree New Year’s Eve, where I awkwardly stand next to a plant, feeding it my drink, and waiting for the night to be over. In comparison, September feels like a fresh beginning.

I must be getting older, looking forward to fall like this.
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The Unsleeping Eye/The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (1974) by D. G. Compton

TheUnsleepingEye1While the benefits of disease eradication are oft desired, the ramifications of such a world are not hard to imagine: overpopulation, senescence, entropy. Speculative fiction has played with this trope for ages, resulting in stories that span from the optimistic to the apocalyptic to the zombie apocalyptic. Some might argue that it’s overdone, but that doesn’t stop writers from continuing the trend, because it’s something we all want, we don’t have, and we should fear what we don’t have because we might not ever have it or understand it, and also vaccinations might cause zombies.

But leave it to D. G. Compton to find a new angle on the whole brave new disease-free world trope. In The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe (published in the U. S. as The Unsleeping Eye– my copy, and later as Death Watch, after the movie), D. G. Compton ignores those obvious consequences (although we get a slight flavor of societal decay in the background), and instead twists his tale to illuminate the effects of the absence of disease on a media-suffused, yet “pain-starved public” (p. 31). Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1994!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is today, August 17th at LonCon3! As we count down to the big moment, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 20 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, 1984 & 2004.)

greenmars2

1994 Winner

1994 was a good year. The U.S. enjoyed an economic boom, gas was 99 cents per gallon, and Kim Stanley Robinson won the Hugo Best Novel Award for Green Mars!

 

 

 

The other nominees weren’t bad, either: Continue reading

Let’s Go To the Hugos: 1984!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 30 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, & 2004.)

StartideRising(1stEd)

1984 Hugo Winner

1984 brought us crack-cocaine, minivans, and the discovery of the AIDS virus. Kathryn Sullivan became the first woman to walk in space, Apple’s Mac PC was released to the technomasses, while The Karate Kid, Sixteen Candles, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, The NeverEnding Story, and This is Spinal Tap! transformed 80’s pop culture.

And David Brin’s Startide Rising won the 1984 Hugo Award for Best Novel! Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1954!

The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards ceremony is this Thursday, August 14th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the last group of Retro Hugo Best Novel nominees.

Next up: 60 years ago! (See my previous posts on 19641974, and 2004.)

Fahrenheit_451_1st_ed_coverIn 2004, Hugo voters had an opportunity to vote for the Retro Hugos of 1954 because no best novel category was offered at the 1954 LonCon I Hugo Awards ceremony. (The 2014 WorldCon will host the 1939 Retro Hugos.)

In 1954, Vietnam heated up, McCarthyism peaked, and Brown v. the Board of Education abolished systematic segregation of U.S. schools. William Golding published Lord of the Flies, the first Godzilla film premiered in Japan, and Burger King opened its doors.

And Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 might have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel? Maybe? Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 2004!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 10 years ago! (See my previous posts on 1964 and 1974.)

paladinofsouls1st

2004 Winner!

2004: Not a good year. It began with promise when Opportunity knocked on Mars, and Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, but another divisive U. S. presidential election, followed by the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami ended the year on a depressing note.

Plus, Facebook launched, making it possible for grandparents worldwide to argue with other elderly family members in a public forum. Yay for technology. Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1964!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

First up: Fifty years ago!

waystation1st

1964 Hugo winner

1964: the U. S. abolishes legalized racial segregation, Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison, and Che Guevara has a nice chat with the United Nations. The Beatles invade the west, Diet Pepsi is introduced, and Stanley Kubrick releases “Dr. Strangelove.”

… and Clifford Simak wins the Hugo Award for his 1963 novel Here Gather the Stars (Way Station) at Pacificon II in Oakland, CA in September.

 

I was -15 years old. Too young to vote, I suppose. Continue reading