SD Alternative

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” - Dr. Seuss

Themed Lists!

Today I was overtaken by an irresistable urge to reread the classic SF I am sending to [info]petronia, followed by an equally irresistible urge to compile themed booklists for [info]reading-mix.

The Psychology of Science
Books with nuanced depictions of the personalities of research scientists.

1. Intuition, Allegra Goodman
2. Timescape, Gregory Benford
3. Eternal Sabbath, Fuyumi Soryo
3. Bellwether, Connie Willis

Descriptions:

1. An extremely thoughtful book about a group of scientists working at an independent research lab in Boston. Under pressure to produce results, one postdoc presents startling proof that a bioengineered virus can cause cancer remittance in rats. His results are good, but are they too good? About methodology and intellectual honesty. The most beautiful thing about this book is the way every action taken by the characters mirrors their overall trajectories within the story. Allegra Goodman is not a scientist but her grasp of other people’s worldviews is really amazing.

2. Classic sci fi about tachyons, faster-than-light particles that travel backwards in time. On the brink of ecological disaster, a physics lab in Cambridge elects to beam a coded stream of tachyons to 1963 with instructions for preventing the calamity. Has one of my favorite scenes in sci fi, where a member of the world council asks “Where is 1963?” and John Renfield points vaguely up and to the left; the earth has been revolving around the sun which has been revolving around the center of galaxy, so 1963 is in fact out in space somewhere. Both the 1998 group (this was written in 1980) and 1963 group are far from the center of the world’s attention and must deal with funding shortages, personality conflicts, and exactly what are the implications of sending messages that could alter the course of a history you have already lived.

Looping Stories
Short stories that reference each other in ways that make you go “Aha! I remember that!”

1. Dreams of Terror and Death, H.P. Lovecraft
2. Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Louis Sachar
3. Love Mode, Shimizu Yuki
4. Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich
5. Come to Me, Amy Bloom
6. J.D. Salinger’s “Glass family” short stories and novel
7. Not the End of the World, Kate Atkinson

Descriptions:

Are these all over the place, or what?

1. Classic Horror. This is a collection of Lovecraft’s short stories where his horrific fantasy world collides with our own. Half of these are about men from our world Boston who travel to another world in dreams, half are the other way around, and all of them reference each other. Nightmarish. Lovecraft is way too fond of the word “puerile”.

2. Classic YA. Wayside school is one room wide and 23 stories high. Straaaaange things happen there. See also: Wayside School is Falling Down, Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger.

3. Classic BL manga. (I SENSE A PATTERN HERE.) 10 volumes of mostly one-off chapters, revolving around ten male/male pairs somehow connected to Blue Boy (a host club). Volume four opens with a “semi/uke” chart; those who hate relationships with rigidly defined roles will probably want to stay FAR, FAR AWAY. But if you like that sort of thing or don’t mind it, the series is a fun read, and the payoff in the last few volumes, when certain earlier events fall into place, is HUGE.