Looking ahead

I’m still buried more than neck deep in my TBR pile(s) right now, but I know someday, I’ll be buying books again. When I’m putting together my wishlist, I generally keep an ear on the buzz I’m hearing around me. Partially because people talk about the books that grab them, and partially because I believe that reading the books (or consuming the other media) that are the touchstones of your fandom is a good idea.

Awards can (sometimes) do that. I’m not going to turn this into an awards meta-post, as I believe there are quite enough of those. Suffice to say, briefly, that I’m displeased with the state of the Hugos this year, and more inclined to other sources. Moving on to more pleasant things, the Locus Awards Finalists for 2015 came out recently, and I see a number of interesting things that seem likely to appeal to me.

I’m mostly jotting my thoughts down here as a matter of reference later, but tell me: have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

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TBR Index 2015

1. The Outstretched Shadow – Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
2. Naked Economics – Charles Wheelan
3. Rise of the Spider Goddess – Jim C. Hines
4. Quiet – Susan Cain
5. To Light a Candle – Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
6. When Darkness Falls – Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
7. Rabbi Jesus – Bruce Chilton
8. Portrait of Lisane de Patagania – Rachel Swirsky
9. Night Sky Mine – Melissa Scott
10. The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell
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The Girl Who Was on Fire: Introduction

I started The Hunger Games because of the movie.  Not because I wanted to see the movie, but because I wanted to know why there were movies.  In SFF, there are works that become seminal, and whatever the culture is when you join it, you are expected to be able to converse with what has come before.  Heinlein should at least produce name recognition. So should Asimov.

I seek out these works (usually the books) to read what has come before. I can’t really critique, for example, the whole arc of feminism in SFF if I’m not familiar with I Will Fear No Evil, or Stranger in a Strange Land. I can’t fully comprehend AI without at least nodding to the Three Laws of Robotics.  Just like you can’t really critique modern science fiction movies without nodding in the direction of Star Wars.

I had a feeling, when The Hunger Games movie became such a huge phenomenon – even months and years before release – that I was seeing this happen in real time. Something about these books spoke to people, and they were likely to continue to speak to people. So I needed to read them.

Once I cracked the first book, I found out that these were incredibly “sticky” books.  I thought I’d read the first one.  I read all three in two days.  They were compelling to me for many reasons, but mostly because they had an honest and completely unflinching portrayal of completely mental breakdown.

That’s … well, really stark.  Unlike most, I didn’t dislike Mockingjay. I found it difficult to read, but also not a little ballsy.

I’m also a huge fan of dissecting pop culture, largely because I so frequently don’t get it at all.  It’s why I’m devoted to Smart Pop books, and why I’m now reading – and discussing with you – The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy (affiliate link). I’ll be going through the essays one-by-one, sharing thinky thoughts. I hope.

Though it should be obvious at this point, spoilers below. Exit now, ye who would remain pure.

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