Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Blogger Panel #2

SFM16_7

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

It’s time for the second blogger panel, where I pose a science fiction related question to a selection of book bloggers! If you want to answer the question as well, let us know your response in the comment section below. 🙂 The question for this panel was:

If you had a time machine, where/when would you go, and why?

Anna @ There’s Always Room For One More

imyril avatar

Anna (@imyril) has been reading for nearly as long as she’s been walking, and arguably with greater success – or at least fewer bruises. She has a lot of very heavy books about archaeology and/or King Arthur on her shelves, most of which she has read, along with a glorious amount of more portable speculative fiction that she can read on the Tube. Favourite things beyond books include movies, cats, whisky and getting lost. Her musings can be found on her blog and on Twitter.

If I had a time machine…

As Rinn knew when she posed it, this is one of the most difficult questions you can pose an archaeologist. Even a recovered archaeologist (who am I kidding? You never recover). I studied archaeology because of all the things we don’t know, and I am fascinated by the gaps. The chance to examine one – just one – historical or mythical moment is a choice that makes my heart explode. My blood pressure has gone up just considering it.

But in some ways, it’s easy. I can get agitated and rattle off so many places and times (Justinian’s Constantinople; Troy VI; Crete after the eruption of Thera; Akhenaten’s Egypt), but I specialised in Dark Age economics (an academically acceptable option for an undergrad fascinated by Arthurian lore) so there can only ever really be one outcome. We know more than we ever have done about Anglo-Saxon ’invaders’ and the enduring links between post-Roman Britain and the Mediterranean, etched in broken amphorae and plague-carrying ship rats, but we still don’t know what to believe about Arthur.

If I set my time machine for Camelot, I have to assume it would draw a blank. The myth is just that – a beautifully illustrated body of stories concocted across Europe over centuries. But if there’s one thing the Doctor has taught me about having access to a time machine, it’s that you get to cheat a little. The transformation of post-Roman Europe is fascinating in its own right: I’d like to take a journey through the 5th through 8th centuries looking for the truth behind the myths and the realities of life in the ‘Dark Ages’. And maybe – just maybe – find a war leader who united the British and led them to victory against their enemies… even if it’s Vortigern, not Arthur.

There’s still a bit of me that’s shouting GO TO THE FUTURE. But at the moment, I’m not sure whether spoilers would really make me feel any better, so I’ll stick with my ancient past.

Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story

jorie avatar

Jorie is a book blogger and passionate reader at Jorie Loves A Story. She says that her blog was ‘inspired into creation due to a reader’s love and passion for the written word’.

She can be reached either through her blog or via Twitter (@JorieStory).

Such a curious question to be asked as this is something I have personally contemplated for such a long time – especially moreso now that I’ve become a book blogger and have regularly sought out stories which either travel through time or bend time within the narrative arc where the journey of the character has an equal foothold in both the present and the past; sometimes even within the future or an alternative variant of said future. Through my readings, I have garnished a healthy appetite of questioning my own opinion on the matter – would I travel through time if the opportunity presented itself? Or would I yield to understanding it’s best to live our lives forward rather than disappear back inside the past?

It’s a multi-layered question – as if you go by popular commentary found in fiction, television and motion pictures – you’ll find the discourse is not only actively commentated about but it’s a working thesis that has a variety of avenues to explore. One particular TV series comes to mind – it wasn’t inherently about ‘time travel’ but you knew going in something was ‘amiss’ on the time spectrum if the facts within the newspaper were meant to be found by one particular person who could impart his perception of those facts and events by making the best possible choice regarding what to do with the information. The series was called Early Edition and on a similar vein of Dr Beckett travelling through the quantum leap of time itself – both men strived to right wrongs and put people’s lives back on track. They did this from a genuine belief that they were given an ability to do good and it was their personal mission to fulfill that purpose.

When you approach it from a singular point-of-view, of personally travelling through time you have to re-consider the affect this is going to have on the continuum of time itself and how one individual person could effectively alter something that was originally non-existent in their timeline – either lived or unknown from their ancestral past as expertly explored in the new TV series Timeless, which embarks on exploring how individuals who are propelling themselves backwards through time’s arrow for a distinct purpose of stopping someone from aggressively altering history itself. Yet, as foreseen early into the series, each ‘step back’ leads to a ‘new tomorrow’ for their own timelines and histories – wells, technically in the beginning it only affected one character’s life, but evenso! It begged the question – are we meant to travel back or are we meant to continue to learn from the past without personally travelling there ourselves?

During Sci Fi Month 2014, I read A Stitch in Time by Amanda James wherein I revealed this:

A theory on time, the traveller who knits it back together, and the reality of time travel:

James reveals the basis of her running theory on the full dimension of being a time traveller and one who intends to not only travel along the meridians of time but on fusing time as a broken structure of record back together again; with a propensity of precision generally relegated to knitters or sewers. I, personally, loved what the time traveller’s mentor and guide is called inside the story (as a Time Needle sounds ever so posh) as ‘needling with time’ simply made a heap of sense to me! Time travellers by definition can either muck up an alignment of the continuum itself OR they can create positive contributions by causing a deviant of order as they re-distribute a level of calm within the chaos. I even liked how she parlayed her theory within the title of the novel itself, by using a Stitch in such a clever execution of a person’s job rather than rely solely on prior knowledge the reader may or may not have had as far as vetting information on the subject for themselves.

And, this is exactly my point. If a time traveller can effectively cause a positive outcome from their meddlings in time, then I think there is validity to time travel. However, it begs the question – how many who’d travel in time honestly consider the consequence of leaving a light footprint and not interfering when it’s unnecessary to do so? How many would have that kind of self-restraint?

Since 2014, I have also consumed the duology of Eruption and Reclamation by Adrienne Quintana, The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack and an alternative timeline of history in Kate Johnson’s The Untied Kingdom. In each of the stories, you are given valid arguments where time travel is a valid method of resolving something that has been left unresolved. Even in Doctor Who we are constantly reminded of the consequences of ‘spoilers’ a la River Song and of the key reasons why travelling in time is so very dangerous to one’s soul (i.e. the main reason the Doctor is older rather than younger is due to personal anguish for what he couldn’t change nor resolve the memories of those he had lost); yet where does that leave any of us to understand our own personal desire to re-visit the past?!

For me, I used to think having conversations with historical persons I had admired was the best way to chart a course into the past – my admirations for these women and gentlemen have never diminished, however, as I have started to journey into my own ancestral past as an Ancestry Sleuth inside my own family, I must lament there is a strong curiosity to re-visit my own ancestral roots through walking alongside my own ancestors at moments where they made key life decisions or lived moments of their ordinary hours where they were simply themselves caught up in the moment of living their lives.

To re-step through their footsteps – as I am only two or three generations away from the patriarchs of my family who immigrated to America, to see how they braved the ocean and conquered their fears to re-settle so far from their homes whilst uncertain of what they’d find once they were here is quite compelling. Even to go back to the late 1800s and walk through the hours with my great-grandmother of whom was my first best friend and watch as she took in the dawning of the 20th Century and how it shaped her thoughts and experiences from a Victorian upbringing would be incredible. To even go back further, to when the Fortune sailed from England to Plymouth and how my ancestors had to work off seven years of debt in order to stay in New England as the Fortune came without supplies would be incredible.

The only concern I still have – as a time traveller of stories and of an ancestral sleuth of memories – it is hard to turn-off the knowledge I have gained about how even one breath spent in the past can affect the future of tomorrow. Is it right to have the curiosity lead us into uncharted territories where our conjoined living histories could be altered like they are becoming in “Timeless” or is there a way to broker a foothold into the past without erasing the moments which already were lived yet give us a gain of entrance to observe? Perhaps the truer answer is meant to be left unknown. As how would any of us know exactly how we’d react if the choice was presented to us tomorrow? Would we lean on our foreknowledge or would we impulsively act on the hope of what we’d dare to find as seen in the film Midnight in Paris?

Tammy @ Books, Bones and Buffy

I think most people would probably choose a time from the past to visit, but me? I would most certainly want to visit the future. Even though things are looking pretty bleak on Earth, I think I’m enough of an optimist to envision a future filled with marvelous technology, alien visitors (the nice kind, of course) and a better quality of living for all. I’d like to think that scientists would have figured out the global warming problem and Earth would still be habitable in the next several hundred years or so.

I’m also very curious to see what my future ancestors (wait, is that a thing?) would be like, will my kids grow up to have kids of their own? And will they grow up to have kids? I’d love to visit my future relatives and see where everyone ends up. And wouldn’t it be cool to jump ahead in time and be able to see your present life as the past? What cool technology do we have today that will most certainly become obsolete in the future?

Plus, I really really want to visit some of the science fiction worlds I’ve read about in books, and who’s to say those worlds won’t become reality someday? Of course, I could jump ahead to the far future and wind up in a swirling mass of volcanic fire, but like I said, I’m an optimist…

tammy avatar

Tammy Sparks blogs at Books, Bones & Buffy, and tries to read and review as much speculative fiction as she possibly can, while working full time, raising two teens, and volunteering for her kids’ various school activities. You can also find her on Twitter: @tammy_sparks.

Claire @ Bitches With Books

claire avatar

Claire blogs at Bitches with Books. She can be reached via her blog or Twitter (@BWithBooks).

Ok, so my magical time machine is even better than that, it can move back between worlds (fictional or real) and throughout time!

So on first instinct, I think I’d go to The Shire and visit Hobbiton or even Lothlórien at its founding, before the Ring of Power was made. It just seems like a peaceful time in the stories and I’m imagining such lush, beautiful nature and good food. I’d basically just hit up a bunch of pubs or sort of convince hobbits, men and elves that I’m an awesome guest and that we should all have a massive feast! Is it bad that all I want to do is eat a good meal like I was at Bilbo Baggins’ birthday party? On second instinct, I’m not sure that’s a terribly good idea because I imagine that my appearance and dress and loud manner would be quite shocking and unappealing for some?

My third instinct is to go to the world of magic (like in Harry Potter) and visit Hogwarts when it was first founded by the great four, to travel to my home country in the Caribbean and see the magic that happened there with the melting pot of cultures, to go throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa to see how magic was explored and transformed with culture and time. I think that would be the best, to see that kind of awesome magic!

Let me know your own response to the panel question in the comments below! 🙂

Advertisements
Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Blogger Panel #1

SFM16_7

This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by myself and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

As with 2014, this year’s Sci-Fi Month sees the return of the blogger panel, where I pose a science fiction related question to a selection of book bloggers! If you want to answer the question as well, let us know your response in the comment section below. 🙂 The question for this panel was:

Of all the dystopian novels, which do you think has the scariest setting or events?

Greg @ Greg’s Book Haven

greg avatar

Greg is a book blogger and Renaissance faire enthusiast who reviews a bit of everything, but mostly fantasy and YA. He also enjoys music and movies, and never met a used bookstore he didn’t like. He has written reviews for Knights of the Dinner Table and contributed to SFSignal in the past. You can find him at Greg’s Book Haven or on Twitter at @GregsBookHaven.

When it comes to dystopians there are no shortage of bleak futures. My initial answer when I read the question was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. After all they pit children against children for entertainment purposes. How whacked is that? Then I thought maybe The Maze Runner (by James Dashner), but I’ve only seen the movie and I should read the book before making that call. The reason I thought of The Maze Runner though was because on a personal level it seemed terrifying – having no memory, being dropped into the Glade with no control of your future, and of course the terrifying and deadly Maze. But my definitive answer is… Divergent by Veronica Roth. Why? Well, I think growing up in a closed off city, finding out later you were under constant surveillance and being forced at sixteen to join a faction that will dominate your entire future. Regardless of the goal, to do this to so many people is just so manipulative – your whole life is just an experiment. I think that may be even worse than The Hunger Games society.

At the risk of giving too many answers, I’m going to add one more: Logan’s Run, by William F. Nolan. An older dystopian, but imagine having to submit to euthanasia at twenty one (thirty in the movie). Your life has just begun, and it’s over! That may be the scariest one.

Logan's Run

Lisa @ Over the Effing Rainbow

lisa

Lisa is a Glasgow-based blogger and reviewer, who has been cheerfully flailing (and occasionally ranting) at Over The Effing Rainbow since 2012. She’s generally fueled by copious amounts and tea and cake, and for the record those are the best ways to bribe her. You can find her via her website, on Twitter (@EffingRainbow), or presiding over her Imzy community. (Or by leaving a trail of cake.)

First of all I should probably confess that dystopian stories are not among my most widely read of sub-genres. I appreciate the really good ones I’ve read, but I am a bit of a delicate flower and I tend to prefer my reading to be less about doom and gloom and more about hope for humanity. Some dystopian-type books get this right, though the hope is usually accompanied by a LOT of nail-biting and lessons about being careful what you wish for.

It’s actually one such book that I immediately thought of when I considered how to answer this question, and despite the fact that I don’t read much dystopian science fiction, this is one of my absolute favourite SF books in general: Mira Grant’s Feed, which is the first in her Newsflesh trilogy. On the surface of things it is a post-apocalypse zombie novel. What it really is, though, is a really stunningly well-constructed examination of what society might become, not if we’re nearly wiped out by an apocalypse, but if we manage to survive one. It takes the question of “what if…?” and answers it in ways I still find marvellously clever, both in the simplicity of the answer and the terrifying complexity of it. Basically, this “apocalypse” is kicked off when cures for cancer and for the common cold are discovered, and the information leaked to the public before thorough testing is complete. Some well-meaning but vitally uneducated activists steal the cures, mix them and release them using (if I recall correctly) a crop-dusting plane. Bad, bad things happen. You can guess at the results. (Science is damn scary, you guys, and Grant clearly revels in it.)

But the novel takes place after humanity has found stable, relatively safe ground again, a few decades later. Security is tighter than ever, blood tests are mandatory in just about every public place possible – and in every home, naturally. These aspects are fairly par for the dystopian course, but it’s the social aspects that really twist the trope and make this book as interesting as it is. Rather than traditional news/media outlets being relied on to inform the public in general, it was every street-level blogger and capable, levelheaded Average Joe with a social media presence banding together and sharing actual useful, life-saving information and advice that helped humanity to pull through. The News let us all down, so we basically kept our heads and saved ourselves, and in this vision of a post-apocalyptic future, it’s the bloggers we trust. And this book was written and published several years ago. Sounds pretty frighteningly relevant today, doesn’t it?

It’s the level of apparent prescience there, as much as if not more than the more horror-centric zombie factor, that’s truly scary to me. We do, generally speaking, have a troubling habit of reacting rather than acting when faced with dangerous and/or violent situations, and thanks to the age of information, we often don’t bother with the context of facts; we tend more often to grab the facts and run with them. This is a potential future in which we literally do just that, and while the fact that we survive lightens the end of that tunnel, what’s really frightening is all the lessons we still haven’t learned, and the ways in which we still wrap ourselves up in fear and call it sensibility.

If you’ve ever found regular people to be scarier than zombies, which it feels like I do just about every day now, then this is one future that’s likely to scare the socks off you – and it’s really not as far-fetched as the zombies make it seem…

Feed

Jess @ Curiouser and Curiouser

jess avatar

Jess is a 25 year old book blogger from the UK currently working in academic publishing. A feminist killjoy, history nerd and unicorn enthusiast, she enjoys nothing more than reading books about well-written women and the men they make cry. You can find her on Twitter (@JGofton) or via her blog, Curiouser and Curiouser.

If a dystopian novel doesn’t creep you out, even the tiniest amount, then it’s not doing its job properly. The Hunger Games doesn’t seem like an all too distant reality in a world obsessed with reality TV and The Handmaid’s Tale continues to be read widely in schools and universities because there’s still so much to say about feminism and equal rights. For me, though, the most terrifying dystopian novel has to be the ‘big brother’ of them all: George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s bleak, cruel and devoid of all hope, and nothing freaks me out more than the idea of a place like Room 101, where your worst fears are quite literally realised. That the government in Nineteen Eighty-Four are able to make you think how they want you to think and essentially torture you into obedience is horrific – I’d genuinely rather live in Panem!

1984

Crini @ All About Books

crini avatar

Crini is a blogger from Germany who mostly tours foreign worlds of fantasy novels with occasional detours into space and explorations of magical realism. When she is not too busy re-watching Pacific Rim for the 100th time, she is probably re-reading one of her favorite books yet again. She can be found on her blog, All About Books or on Twitter (@xcrini).

Dystopian settings like those in The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner certainly are brutal and not a place I would ever want to be in, but they don’t necessarily scare me. That’s mostly because I don’t really see myself ever being in a similar situation. I don’t expect to end up in a fight for my life like that.

One series/book that definitely did scare me though (as rare as that is) was Neal Shusterman’s Unwind. If there is one thing in books that always make me break out in cold sweat, it’s situations where the main character isn’t allowed to decide for themselves (anymore). That someone else could be in charge, like being committed to a mental institution, against your will, even if it’s with good intentions, always freaked me out. And Neal’s book is a lot worse than that. That parents can decide that you’re not good enough anymore and better off as an organ donor is as scary as it gets for me. Reading about kids on the operating table, knowing exactly what’s to come, made this quite intense too.

Unwind

What do you think about the panelists’ responses? Let me know your answer to the panel question in the comments below!

Thoughts

Thoughts #28: Blogging and Studying

thoughts_16

One of my major worries last year about moving to the Netherlands to study was my lack of blogging time. As August drew closer, I suddenly felt confident that I’d be able to manage it – it’s not like I’d have NO free time at all, right?

But you know what? It’s been REALLY difficult to balance.
I mean UGHHH.

I mean UGHHH.

I didn’t factor in several things:

  • the fact that I’d actually have a social life and want to leave my room like a normal person, rather than the recluse I’ve been for the past two years
  • that I need to get out and EXPLORE this country (and the others surrounding it) whilst I can
  • that maybe sometimes I just won’t feel like writing posts when I have the time, not to mention replying to comments and commenting on other blogs
  • a Masters degree actually involves a LOT of work. I mean a LOT a lot. I work hard, but I have more of a variety of hobbies to balance out in my free time than last time, and it’s getting the balance right between working the right amount and driving myself crazy with work that’s difficult

I know I’m still posting a decent amount, but I rarely feel entirely happy with my posts. Before I spent ages on them, making sure each one was written to my heart’s content (or at least close!), but now I feel like I’m just writing to make sure it gets done. I also feel like my reviews have no real passion anymore – when I read I don’t want to feel bogged down by making notes, so I might try writing a few reviews just from memory and see if that changes things.

Another issue I’m having is feeling really awful about not commenting on any other blogs! I really appreciate every comment received on here, and wish I could return them all. I’m really sorry for not commenting back – but even my own blog is fairly low priority in the grand scheme of things.

I want to emphasise that I am not going anywhere. I just wanted to explain my lack of presence within the blogosphere – normally I’d be commenting, Tweeting and chatting away everyday, but I hope my lovely readers can understand when I say that I currently have some very important things to concentrate on. So if my usual features disappear for a while, or I don’t post at all for a few weeks, you’ll know why.

Not how I want to end up feeling!

Not how I want to end up feeling!

How do you deal with blogging and studying? Do you have any advice for me? I would really appreciate any tips that anyone can share!