Summer Sci-Fi Read-a-Thon

2016-05-31 20.39.51

I’m playing around with a lot of different reading possibilities lately, both for myself and to experiment with some ideas for my profession.  Read-a-Thons intrigue me, and when Michelle Miller of Seasons of Reading posted a Sci-Fi Read-a-Thon, I decided to jump on board.  The Read-a-Thon lasted one week.  It gave me the opportunity to go through my TBR (to be read pile) and pull out the science fiction I’ve been meaning to read, but haven’t gotten to yet.  The photo above is what the TBR looked like, plus Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older and Dawn by Octavia Butler, both on eBook.

2016-06-01 17.54.32

I took a look at the books, and decided to start with the smallest first to see how many I could read in a week.  That meant Cormac McCarthy’s The Road was up first.  This book was recommended to my by friends on a few different occasions, and I had not yet seen the film.  That means I could also use this book for the Read Harder 2016 Challenge in the category that asks you to “Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie.  Debate which is better.”  The Road was beautifully written, and does a good job painting a picture of a physically bleak and desolate world.  The story felt drawn out at times, but I’m pretty sure this was intentionally done by the author.  It is a very thoughtful read, and I’ll be pondering it for a while.  I also watched the film this week for the Read Harder Challenge.  I was surprised by how closely it stuck to the book.  It incorporated a lot of the smaller stories, but the flashbacks seemed to take up more time.  While the film wasn’t bad, I think this type of contemplative story works better as a book.

2016-06-04 16.24.22

Next on the list was Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot.  While I love science fiction, I haven’t yet read any of Asimov’s classic work.  I enjoyed the 2004 film by the same name, and decided to give the book a shot.  (By the way, the film and the book have very little in common!)  When I first picked up this book, I was under the impression that it was a novel.  It’s actually a connected collection of short stories that Asimov wrote during the 1940s.  The reading felt a little bumpy until I figured that out.  A lot of thought went into the writing of this book, and a lot of thought needs to happen on the part of the reader.  It is intriguing to try to problem solve the “Three Laws of Robotics” alongside the characters.  I did struggle a bit with this book, and I had to continually remind myself that it was first published in 1950.  I had issues with the portrayal of the main female character, Robopsychologist Susan Calvin.  What Asimov did with this character might have been forward thinking at the time, but it now feels dated to me.  I feel I should read more Asimov, but I may skip forward a few decades to see how his prolific work evolved over time.

Screenshot 2016-06-06 16.59.46

I haven’t read an eBook all year, so I decided to choose from one of my eBooks for my next read.  One of my goals is to read more diversely by reading more books by authors of color.  Octavia Butler is an important science fiction author who has been on my list for a while, so she was a good choice.  I decided to read Dawn, the first book in Butler’s Xenogenesis series.  This means it also counts for the Read Harder Challenge, since it fits the category asking you to “read the first book in a series by a person of color.”  This is one of those books that really makes you think, as good science fiction should do.  I experienced a range of emotions while reading this story.  I was uncomfortable, angry, frustrated, and contemplative, but all in an intellectually curious way.  I definitely plan to read more of Octavia Butler’s work.

Totals for the Seasons of Reading Science Fiction Read-a-Thon:

  • Books Read: 3
  • Pages Read: 803
  • POC Authors: 33%


Bonus book!


And now, for something a little different.  In the middle of the Read-a-Thon, I came across Kameron Hurley’s essay collection called The Geek Feminist Revolution.  I ordered it, and it arrived as I was reading I, Robot.  While the author writes science fiction and fantasy, it was a collection of non-fiction essays.  I told myself if I finished three regular science fiction books, then I could read this one.  I love science fiction.  However, some events in the fan community in the last few years have been very disconcerting (to say the least).  I’ve been following controversies like GamerGate, the attempts to co-opt the Hugo Awards, and the Cosplay is Not Consent movement.  Hurley addresses similar issues in her book, and I’m excited to read her perspective.  So far, I’ve finished Part I of V in the book, and I’m enjoying it.

I’m glad I participated in the Read-a-Thon.  It got me reading more Science Fiction and I enjoyed the new authors I discovered.  I read more than I thought I would and I had a good time.  Thanks to Michelle for organizing a great event to kickstart some summer reading! #SciFiSummerJune



Book Recommendation: Lost on Planet China

If you’d like a great read on what it’s like to travel through China, I happily recommend the book Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid by J. Maarten Troost.  You can read a portion of the book here.  Troost visited many of the same places I did and he writes a pretty accurate and humorous portrayal of the things I experienced while in the Middle Kingdom.  It’s a great read.