Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: A Study in Science Fiction

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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.

For Sci-Fi Month this year, I wanted to create a little ‘study in science fiction’, by taking a look at last year’s sci-fi reads and drawing up some stats and comparisons. This includes things like author and main character gender, year publisher, average Goodreads rating and more. If you want to view the full spreadsheet, you can find it here.

  • In 2015, I read 106 books, and 28 of those were science fiction. This alone surprised me to be honest; I thought it would have been even more. Science fiction and fantasy make up the large majority of what I read, so I was expecting perhaps almost half SF. 8 of these were standalone novels, and 20 were part of a series.
  • This included 10 female authors, 17 male authors, and 1 book that was co-written by both a male and female author. Whilst I don’t go out of my way to purposely read authors of one gender more than the other, I would like to read more female science fiction authors – just because there is so much talent out there.
  • The main characters included 8 females, 16 males and 4 books from both POVs. This made me a little sad. I want more sci-fi from a female point of view. Although is it really surprising? Science fiction seems to still be a very male-dominated field – although interestingly, a lot of the people taking part in this event, and a lot of book bloggers in general, are female.
  • Of the female authors, 4 wrote from a female POV, 5 from a male POV and 1 wrote from both. Does science fiction sell better with male characters or do people think it will? Two of the books with a female author and male POV were by the same author, who uses her initials rather than her first name when writing.
  • Of the male authors, 11 wrote from a male POV, 4 from a female POV and 2 wrote from both. So the exact same number of male authors as female authors wrote from a female POV. However I did read more male authors – it would be interesting to repeat this experiment having read an equal amount of male and female authors.
  • I was quite saddened to realise my reading wasn’t very diverse in terms of decade published! With the exception of just three books, all the rest were published in the 2010s. One was published in the 1950s, one in the 1960s and one in the 2000s. Not representing the classic sci-fi very well here…
  • The lowest rated book of my list on Goodreads was The Hive Construct by Alexander Maskill, with an average of 3.32. I believe I might have actually listed this book in a previous Sci-Fi Month as one I was looking forward to reading, but sadly it was a bit of a disappointment when I got round to it and I only awarded it three stars.
  • The highest rated book of my list on Goodreads was Golden Son by Pierce Brown, with an average of 4.46. No surprises, am I right? 😉 Five stars from me!
  • I awarded two 2 stars, six 3 stars, eleven 4 stars and nine 5 stars. I’m quite generous with my ratings, but I also give up on stuff I’m not enjoying, so one star books very rarely even make it.
  • 16 of my ratings were higher than the Goodreads average, and 12 were lower. I don’t think that’s too bad, fairly even.

What do you think of these ‘statistics’? Have you ever looked at your reading habits like this?

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Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Blogger Panel #1

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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

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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.

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Lisa @ Over the Effing Rainbow

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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

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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!

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Crini @ All About Books

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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!

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: My Top SF Novels of 2016

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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.

With what has become something of a tradition amongst my Sci-Fi Month posts, here are my top science fiction novels of the year, in no particular order! This includes novels read this year, regardless of year published.

Revenger Calamity Vicious by Victoria Schwab

I received a copy of Revenger by Alastair Reynolds for review at the end of September, and had read it within a few weeks. I just absolutely love the whole premise of following a spaceship crew, and Revenger tells the story through the eyes of one of the new recruits, plus it has space scavengers, robots and space battles. Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson is the final book in the series, and was an excellent conclusion. The whole trilogy has just been hugely fun from the very beginning, and I honestly have never not enjoyed a Sanderson book. A previous book group read, Vicious by V.E. Schwab was one that I devoured in a couple of days. I loved reading a villain origin story!

The Lives of Tao Long Way Morningstar

The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu was a book I picked up by chance from the library, and I’m so glad I did. It is so clever and unique, and confirmed my belief that Chu is an excellent writer, after reading another of his books last year. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers was, quite honestly, one of my absolute favourite books this year in ANY genre. It felt like it was written just for me, and was exactly what I needed to read. Like I mentioned above, I love stories that follow spaceship crews, and this does nothing but. It’s more about the relationships between the characters and their backstories than any action. In fact, I almost want to re-read it again this year. Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown was the conclusion I sorely needed for the entire Red Rising trilogy. I fell in love with the first two books the instant I read them (almost back to back) and waiting for the final book to come out was utter agony. Another series I want to re-read already!

Unwind The Forever War New Pompeii

I thought a little while about adding Unwind (Unwind Dystology #1) by Neal Shusterman to this list, and then decided I would. I was expecting it to be a rather typical dystopian YA, with a horrendous cover that quite honestly reminds me of The Human Centipede, but actually… well, it was terrifying. And really very disturbing. I wasn’t expecting it to affect me in the way that it did, which is why I ended up giving it a higher rating. I’m not normally a fan of military science fiction, but The Forever War (The Forever War #1) by Joe Haldeman was an excellent book. It’s less about the military action, and more about the impact. If these soldiers have to travel through time and space to fight their wars, what happens when they finally return home and hundreds of years have passed back on Earth? How do they adjust to life without families and friends, and in an unfamiliar world? I immediately bought the next two books after reading this. New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey was a book I first saw mentioned in the back of A Darker Shade of Magic, and one that I just KNEW I had to read, as it sounded a bit like Jurassic Park meets the Roman Empire. It’s such a clever story, and that cover is genius!

What were the best science fiction books you read in 2016? Have you read any of the ones on my list?

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Exploring the Universe with No Man’s Sky

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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.

Recently, a video game called No Man’s Sky has been hitting the news a lot, and not for good reasons. When it was released in August this year, Hello Games promised that their procedurally generated universe exploration game would feature an amazing array of extras – none of which appeared in release. Things were shown in promotional videos that aren’t in the game or look totally different. And since then, they’ve even said that they might release paid DLC to provide these promised features, which should have come with the base game.

As you can understand, players are furious. The game has now received overwhelmingly negative reviews on Steam, with anyone who bought it on release day for the full price of £39.99 feeling jilted. I was one of those fools.

Now, I’m not quite as angry as some of these people. The game promises to contain a universe with 18 quintillion planets, meaning you could never explore them all. Each one is procedurally generated, with a random atmosphere, climate, landscape and different levels of flora and fauna, as well as various hazards. If you like exploring in your games, it’s pretty good – but there’s really not much else to do apart from fly around and look at stuff.

However, I thought this could be a fun experiment for Sci-Fi Month – I’d pick some planets at random that I’d not yet visited, explore them, and document my travels. I’m hoping to do this over several posts. I’ve left all the planet and system names as the defaults, which is why some of them are unpronounceable… So here we go!

Planet #1 – Ibwayar Rolingi

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I landed on this planet, in the Ulhorinbodo system, during its night cycle, and the sky was a dark turquoise colour. It actually felt pretty creepy, as I could hear the shrieks of animals, but I couldn’t see anything. It was a grassy, humid planet, covered with bodies of water – which was actually the first one I’d found of its type in all thirty or so of the planets I’d explored before this.

Before long, the sun (or maybe suns?) came up, and the sky turned a bright yellow/orange. My surroundings were instantly a lot less creepy! The vegetation was lush, dense and colourful. I found evidence of some intelligent species having been on the planet in the form of storage pods, but I still hadn’t found any creatures.

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Finally I spotted something! A very shy, spiny creature that ran whenever I got near. After that, creatures seemed to appear everywhere and luckily they were all harmless… Even this one that looks sort of like a raptor with bunny ears. I also found an arch of rare metals, but it looked almost like there was lava flowing up through it and back down.

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Soon my HUD told me that there was an incoming storm, so I thought it might be an idea to find shelter. I’d seen something pop up earlier, so flew towards it – a base, where I was able to learn some new words of an alien language, Korvak, and pick up some new technology blueprints to help me on my travels. The storms in No Man’s Sky can be lethal – freezing, acid rain, fire – whatever they are, you do NOT want to be outside when they hit.

And with that, I decided it was time to move on. I warped to the next system to see what I could find…

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Planet #2 – Linjunguangkara

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If I thought the previous planet was creepy at night, it was nothing compared to this one. Located in the Euclid system, this planet was tropical and damp, dark and creepy, creepy, creepy! I immediately landed by a base – abandoned, and taken over by… something. Some sort of alien growth, like the red weed in The War of the Worlds. As I carefully navigated the base looking for resources, I had to keep an eye out for tentacles on the ceiling that would attack me. Ergh…

This planet also had water, typical after all those planets without. But was I going in that water? Nope. Nope. I did not trust the look of ANYTHING in that water. And there were caves everywhere. But the whole planet had me creeped out and too scared to even contemplate going anywhere risky. Who knew what could be lurking in there, waiting for me?

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Nearby, I found an alien monolith, which taught me a few words in the Korvak language. Sometimes you’ll find these scattered across the landscape, always imposing and unnatural, sometimes requiring some kind of sacrifice for a gain. It did nothing to settle my unease at this planet, so I decided it was time to leave.

I’ll be back with more intergalactic adventures soon!

Giveaway, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Guess The SF Novel From The Emojis! + Giveaway

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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.

I’ve never done a post like this for Sci-Fi Month before, and I’m so excited to share it! You may have seen those quizzes on websites like Buzzfeed, where you have to guess film or book titles based on emojis. I thought I’d create one for Sci-Fi Month, all based around science fiction novels.

I’d also like to give a prize to the person with the highest score, although unfortunately this will have to be limited to UK only. However, if you’d like to take part just to see if you can get it all right, then you are more than welcome! To enter, please send your answers to rinnreads[at]gmail[dot]com, with the subject ‘SF Emoji Quiz’, and make it clear if you are definitely entering the giveaway.

The person with the highest score at the end of the month will win these two books provided by Angry Robot:

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Question 1:

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Question 2:

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Question 3:

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Question 4:

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Question 5:

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Question 6:

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Question 7:

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Question 8:

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Question 9:

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Question 10:

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Question 11:

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Question 12:

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Question 13:

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Please don’t give away answers in the comments, but email me if you’d like to guess or enter the competition!

Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: We Have Lift-Off!

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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 IS FINALLY HERE! I’m pretty sure Sci-Fi Month creeps up on us sooner and sooner each year. I have been running Sci-Fi Month for four years now, and it still surprises me every year. Everyone is so eager and passionate, and I absolutely love it. When I first started the event, in 2013, I wasn’t expecting this kind of response at all. It just completely snowballed and we have so many different types of people taking part, even major publishers have noticed. What makes me happiest is that I now know that sci-fi isn’t a ‘niche’ genre. It is loved by so many people all over the world, for so many different reasons.

I’ll be aiming to post every couple of days this year, and have some exciting prizes provided by Angry Robot and Titan Books. I’ll also be sharing discussion questions every day at 6pm GMT on the official Twitter account, @SciFiMonth, so be sure to keep an eye out!

As with every year I will try to tweet about and comment on each post, or at least as many as possible – if I’ve missed one, please let me know!

Below are some useful links to get you started for the month:

  • To view a list of everyone taking part in the event, click here.
  • To view the schedule or add your own posts, click here.
  • To view the overall Sci-Fi Month post, including how to sign up, ideas for posts etc, click here.

I can’t wait to see what everyone has in store for Sci-Fi Month 2016!

What are you most looking forward to about Sci-Fi Month? What are your plans?

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Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month 2016: Almost Time For Lift-Off!

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We’re halfway through October, and Sci-Fi Month is fast approaching! If you’re not aware of Sci-Fi Month, want to learn more about it, or want to take part, then please take a look at this post for more information.

There are currently more than 40 participants signed up (plus plenty of others who have shown interest), and a couple of authors and publishers. The wonderful Angry Robot Books have even sent me a box of books to give away for the event. Contents of said box to be revealed in November. 😉 Titan Books are also providing some prizes for the event!

If you’re interested in the month but haven’t yet signed up, please do – it really helps me to know how many people will be taking part! You can do so via this Google form.

If you’re signed up and can’t wait for Sci-Fi Month, don’t forget to share your excitement on Twitter using #RRSciFiMonth, or tweeting the @SciFiMonth account!

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