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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2018 9:05 pm 
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I finished 'I, Robot' and it occurred to me that, based on what I've read by him, one of the things that distinguish Asimov from his peers is his vision of the future.

Some writers, such as Arthur C Clarke, or Gene Roddenberry, think that the future will a relentless march towards utopia, advances in science will cause human nature to change, leading to an end to all conflict and the extinction of all religion and a morally perfect human race.

Other writers do the opposite and argue that advances in science will create a dystopian future where everything is bad.

Asimov seems to have thought that advances in science might make some changes to the way people live, but it won't change human nature or human society and that in the future we will be pretty much the same way we are now. So far, I've read two of his works (the Foundation trilogy and 'I, Robot') and in both of them, he makes a point of saying that not only does technology not lead to the extinction of all religion, but religion won't even change all that much.

There is a passing reference in 'I, Robot' where a character says that the religious breakdown in Europe, is the same as it was at the time of the Reformation, with half of Europe being Catholic and the other half being Protestant. The person who says this lives in the 2060's, which was more than 100 years after Asimov wrote it. So, apparently, he didn't foresee any major changes in the way human beings live and view the world.

So, it seems Asimov took an optimistic vision of the future, not excessively optimistic, not utopian like 'Childhood's End' or Star Trek, but not dystopian either, in Asimov's view, it seems that technology may not 'save us' but it isn't going to destroy us either.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:27 am 
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Doom wrote:
I finished 'I, Robot' and it occurred to me that, based on what I've read by him, one of the things that distinguish Asimov from his peers is his vision of the future.

Some writers, such as Arthur C Clarke, or Gene Roddenberry, think that the future will a relentless march towards utopia, advances in science will cause human nature to change, leading to an end to all conflict and the extinction of all religion and a morally perfect human race.

Other writers do the opposite and argue that advances in science will create a dystopian future where everything is bad.

Asimov seems to have thought that advances in science might make some changes to the way people live, but it won't change human nature or human society and that in the future we will be pretty much the same way we are now. So far, I've read two of his works (the Foundation trilogy and 'I, Robot') and in both of them, he makes a point of saying that not only does technology not lead to the extinction of all religion, but religion won't even change all that much.

There is a passing reference in 'I, Robot' where a character says that the religious breakdown in Europe, is the same as it was at the time of the Reformation, with half of Europe being Catholic and the other half being Protestant. The person who says this lives in the 2060's, which was more than 100 years after Asimov wrote it. So, apparently, he didn't foresee any major changes in the way human beings live and view the world.

So, it seems Asimov took an optimistic vision of the future, not excessively optimistic, not utopian like 'Childhood's End' or Star Trek, but not dystopian either, in Asimov's view, it seems that technology may not 'save us' but it isn't going to destroy us either.


Seems reasonable, if more analysis than I usually give to SF.

Now read THE REST OF THE ROBOTS, just for fun. And be sure the edition includes CAVES OF STEEL and NAKED SUN. Or get them separately.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:08 am 
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GKC wrote:

Seems reasonable, if more analysis than I usually give to SF.

Now read THE REST OF THE ROBOTS, just for fun. And be sure the edition includes CAVES OF STEEL and NAKED SUN. Or get them separately.


Oh, I analyze everything I read in the same way. If the question is 'is the point of view advanced in a book necessarily the same as the point of view of the author?' the answer is clearly 'no, not always', but it is also true that the vast majority of the time it is so.

Ultimately, the reason why people write literature is to comment on their own contemporary times, all literature is an implied social criticism or critique of some kind. If it is written in an idealized past, such as the works of Dumas, then the author is subtly criticizing his own time by suggesting that things are not as good as they used to be. If the story is written in an idealized future, this also is a criticism of the present time that the writer finds himself in. If the story is written in the past, and everything is bad, then this is the author's way of suggesting that his own time is in some way better than earlier eras. If the story takes place in a dystopian future, then this is a way of suggesting that there are certain trends in his own day that, if allowed to fester, might lead to something bad.

I believe that all fiction is a form of social commentary, so I'm always interested in finding out just what the comment is. Or at least that is true of all fiction written for adults, not necessarily children's literature, I'm not interested in finding the social commentary in 'Hop on Pop' or 'Goodnight Moon'.

I do intend to read more Asimov, but I'm going to read 'Forever War' first because that is next on my list.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:16 am 
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:

Seems reasonable, if more analysis than I usually give to SF.

Now read THE REST OF THE ROBOTS, just for fun. And be sure the edition includes CAVES OF STEEL and NAKED SUN. Or get them separately.


Oh, I analyze everything I read in the same way. If the question is 'is the point of view advanced in a book necessarily the same as the point of view of the author?' the answer is clearly 'no, not always', but it is also true that the vast majority of the time it is so.

Ultimately, the reason why people write literature is to comment on their own contemporary times, all literature is an implied social criticism or critique of some kind. If it is written in an idealized past, such as the works of Dumas, then the author is subtly criticizing his own time by suggesting that things are not as good as they used to be. If the story is written in an idealized future, this also is a criticism of the present time that the writer finds himself in. If the story is written in the past, and everything is bad, then this is the author's way of suggesting that his own time is in some way better than earlier eras. If the story takes place in a dystopian future, then this is a way of suggesting that there are certain trends in his own day that, if allowed to fester, might lead to something bad.

I believe that all fiction is a form of social commentary, so I'm always interested in finding out just what the comment is. Or at least that is true of all fiction written for adults, not necessarily children's literature, I'm not interested in finding the social commentary in 'Hop on Pop' or 'Goodnight Moon'.

I do intend to read more Asimov, but I'm going to read 'Forever War' first because that is next on my list.


Or, as Belloc said, for money.

I usually read to see if I like the product. If so, I buy more.

I was not enamored of FOREVER WAR, but that is not a judgement on what one should think of the book.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:59 am 
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Actually you see Asimov's attitude (as expressed in his fiction) toward religion and secularization changing as society itself was changing. This is particularly obvious in the Robot novels where there was a gap of 28 years between the second novel in the series and the third. Less so in the Foundation series, even though there is a similar gap between Second Foundation and Foundation's Edge, but I think that is because the style is wildly different -- the trilogy is made up of nine short stories, all written by 1951 (the first was the last written, as it was written for the first volume of the trilogy), while Foundation's Edge is a longish novel with some attempts at character development.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 11:54 am 
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GKC wrote:

Or, as Belloc said, for money.

I usually read to see if I like the product. If so, I buy more.

I was not enamored of FOREVER WAR, but that is not a judgment on what one should think of the book.


But, even if a book is written solely for money, nevertheless, an author can only put into a book that which he already has, and thus, there is always something there even if the author did not consciously intend it.

I think it was Isaac Asimov who wrote an amusing short story where William Shakespeare comes back to life in the 20th century and takes a class in Shakespeare at a university and fails the course because the professor tells him that he 'doesn't understand Shakespeare'. I think Asimov intended this as a humorous way of saying that commentators often read into books meaning that isn't there. But that isn't the lesson I took away from it, I took the lesson that often authors don't consciously realize just what they've said with their books, that there are meanings there that the author never consciously intended.

There is actually an entire discipline calling called 'linguistic forensics' dedicated to carefully parsing people's words to find the 'hidden meanings' that they may not have consciously intended to convey. Linguistic forensics are often used by detectives trying to solve a case, dealing with the testimony of suspects and eyewitnesses to determine if maybe the guilty party is accidentally confessing to the crime without realizing it. This kind of analysis is more an art than a science, but it has proved useful in solving real cases.


Now, about Forever War, I am mainly interested in it because it is one of the very rare species of science fiction novels that has won what might be called 'a triple crown' of science fiction awards, namely the Nebula, the Hugo and the Locus awards, which a sequel, 'Forever Peace' won a different kind of 'triple crown', the Hugo, the Nebula and the John W Campbell awards (and nominated for the Locus, without winning). Awards don't necessarily mean anything, but if a book has that kind of acclaim, it think it is probably pretty good.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 12:01 pm 
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Peregrinator wrote:
Actually you see Asimov's attitude (as expressed in his fiction) toward religion and secularization changing as society itself was changing. This is particularly obvious in the Robot novels where there was a gap of 28 years between the second novel in the series and the third. Less so in the Foundation series, even though there is a similar gap between Second Foundation and Foundation's Edge, but I think that is because the style is wildly different -- the trilogy is made up of nine short stories, all written by 1951 (the first was the last written, as it was written for the first volume of the trilogy), while Foundation's Edge is a longish novel with some attempts at character development.


I would expect that there would be at least a subconscious reflection of his actual views in his work somewhere because after all, people can only write about what they know, but I've never seen anything that I would regard as 'overt'.

I do know that while he was an atheist, like Arthur C Clarke, unlike Clarke, Asimov doesn't seem to have been a militant atheist, the kind of atheist who would say that religion was the cause of all the problems in the world and thus deserved to be completely eradicated, by force if necessary.

Clarke was most definitely a militant atheist, and this shows up overtly and explicitly in his works. Somewhere in an interview, Clarke said that religion is a 'mind virus' that deserves to be completely eradicated.


However, Asimov said that while he personally has no interest in religion, he has no resentment or hostility toward anyone who does and if their religion makes them happy or gives them a sense of fulfillment, then he is content to let them be and he feels no desire to try to talk them out of their beliefs. So, if given the choice between the radical openly malevolent atheism of Clarke and the more benign neglect and tolerance of atheism of Asimov, I definitely prefer the latter. Although granted, Asimov's views might have gradually evolved over time into being more like Clarke's, I wouldn't really know that I'm far from an expert. I can only base my judgment on what I've read.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 2:25 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Peregrinator wrote:
Actually you see Asimov's attitude (as expressed in his fiction) toward religion and secularization changing as society itself was changing. This is particularly obvious in the Robot novels where there was a gap of 28 years between the second novel in the series and the third. Less so in the Foundation series, even though there is a similar gap between Second Foundation and Foundation's Edge, but I think that is because the style is wildly different -- the trilogy is made up of nine short stories, all written by 1951 (the first was the last written, as it was written for the first volume of the trilogy), while Foundation's Edge is a longish novel with some attempts at character development.


I would expect that there would be at least a subconscious reflection of his actual views in his work somewhere because after all, people can only write about what they know, but I've never seen anything that I would regard as 'overt'.

I do know that while he was an atheist, like Arthur C Clarke, unlike Clarke, Asimov doesn't seem to have been a militant atheist, the kind of atheist who would say that religion was the cause of all the problems in the world and thus deserved to be completely eradicated, by force if necessary.

Clarke was most definitely a militant atheist, and this shows up overtly and explicitly in his works. Somewhere in an interview, Clarke said that religion is a 'mind virus' that deserves to be completely eradicated.


However, Asimov said that while he personally has no interest in religion, he has no resentment or hostility toward anyone who does and if their religion makes them happy or gives them a sense of fulfillment, then he is content to let them be and he feels no desire to try to talk them out of their beliefs. So, if given the choice between the radical openly malevolent atheism of Clarke and the more benign neglect and tolerance of atheism of Asimov, I definitely prefer the latter. Although granted, Asimov's views might have gradually evolved over time into being more like Clarke's, I wouldn't really know that I'm far from an expert. I can only base my judgment on what I've read.


Though he said that he would seek to argue his children out of religious inclinations, as he would if they had taken up smoking, or other practices injurious to mind and body.

Asimov was a tolerant rational humanist. Which term (humanist) he grew to find more satisfying, in describing himself than the negative "atheist". Which he didn't deny he was, as he also insisted that, for all that, he was a Jew. Complex man. More so than Clarke, I would say. Better writer, better mind, IMO.

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Last edited by GKC on Sat Oct 27, 2018 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 2:31 pm 
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:

Or, as Belloc said, for money.

I usually read to see if I like the product. If so, I buy more.

I was not enamored of FOREVER WAR, but that is not a judgment on what one should think of the book.


But, even if a book is written solely for money, nevertheless, an author can only put into a book that which he already has, and thus, there is always something there even if the author did not consciously intend it.

I think it was Isaac Asimov who wrote an amusing short story where William Shakespeare comes back to life in the 20th century and takes a class in Shakespeare at a university and fails the course because the professor tells him that he 'doesn't understand Shakespeare'. I think Asimov intended this as a humorous way of saying that commentators often read into books meaning that isn't there. But that isn't the lesson I took away from it, I took the lesson that often authors don't consciously realize just what they've said with their books, that there are meanings there that the author never consciously intended.

There is actually an entire discipline calling called 'linguistic forensics' dedicated to carefully parsing people's words to find the 'hidden meanings' that they may not have consciously intended to convey. Linguistic forensics are often used by detectives trying to solve a case, dealing with the testimony of suspects and eyewitnesses to determine if maybe the guilty party is accidentally confessing to the crime without realizing it. This kind of analysis is more an art than a science, but it has proved useful in solving real cases.


Now, about Forever War, I am mainly interested in it because it is one of the very rare species of science fiction novels that has won what might be called 'a triple crown' of science fiction awards, namely the Nebula, the Hugo and the Locus awards, which a sequel, 'Forever Peace' won a different kind of 'triple crown', the Hugo, the Nebula and the John W Campbell awards (and nominated for the Locus, without winning). Awards don't necessarily mean anything, but if a book has that kind of acclaim, it think it is probably pretty good.


"The Immortal Bard".

Winning the highest accolades in SF-dom is increasingly a point in favor of avoiding the work entirely. Political correctness rules all.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 2:57 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Now, about Forever War, I am mainly interested in it because it is one of the very rare species of science fiction novels that has won what might be called 'a triple crown' of science fiction awards, namely the Nebula, the Hugo and the Locus awards, which a sequel, 'Forever Peace' won a different kind of 'triple crown', the Hugo, the Nebula and the John W Campbell awards (and nominated for the Locus, without winning). Awards don't necessarily mean anything, but if a book has that kind of acclaim, it think it is probably pretty good.

Here's a list of books that have won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/119 ... ategories_

Now I've not read a lot of the books in the list -- four out of 16 -- but of the ones I've read, 75% are worth reading (I'll leave the one that isn't worth it as an exercise for the reader).

The list of books that have won Hugo, Nebula, and something other than Locus is a bit shorter:

Quote:
Philip K. Dick award - Neuromancer (1984)
1st place Campbell award - Rendezvous with Rama (1974), Gateway (1978), Forever Peace (1998)
Arthur C. Clarke - Ancillary Justice (2014)

Ref: https://www.quora.com/Which-books-have- ... Dick-award

(So yes, Rendezvous with Rama and Gateway won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Campbell.)

I've read only one out of the five books listed.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:05 pm 
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Ones I've read:
Ringworld (long ago, don't remember much, I'll say 4/5)
Rama (3.5/5)
Gateway (4/5)
Dreamsnake (2/5; how did this win?)
Speaker for the Dead (5/5)
Doomsday Book (5/5)
Blackout/All Clear (3/5; time travel stories are hard to do, and Willis has done them well, but not this time. Too hard to follow.)

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:08 pm 
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GKC wrote:

"The Immortal Bard".

Winning the highest accolades in SF-dom is increasingly a point in favor of avoiding the work entirely. Political correctness rules all.


Right, I quite agree, which is why I said that 'awards don't necessarily mean anything.' That's why I asked if anyone here recommended it. When I got a generally positive response it sealed the deal for me.

Have you ever seen The Twilight Zone episode 'The Bard', where a hack TV writer performs some kind of magic spell to bring Shakespeare back to life to write TV scripts? It is one the rare humorous episodes of that show. The writer takes Shakespeare's scripts to the network, who then proceed to butcher them beyond all recognition. I think it was Rod Serling's way of complaining about all the censorship his scripts were subjected to by the network, a satire against the suits at the network who, in his view, butchered his scripts and made idiotic suggestions for changes. The episode features a very young Burt Reynolds in one of his very first roles playing a caricature of Marlon Brando. You don't expect Twilight Zone episodes to be funny, but this one is just absolutely hilarious. Rod Serling absolutely could have been a comedy writer.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:22 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Ones I've read:
Ringworld (long ago, don't remember much, I'll say 4/5)
Rama (3.5/5)
Gateway (4/5)
Dreamsnake (2/5; how did this win?)
Speaker for the Dead (5/5)
Doomsday Book (5/5)
Blackout/All Clear (3/5; time travel stories are hard to do, and Willis has done them well, but not this time. Too hard to follow.)


What are those? Winners of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards?

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:46 pm 
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Doom wrote:
GKC wrote:

"The Immortal Bard".

Winning the highest accolades in SF-dom is increasingly a point in favor of avoiding the work entirely. Political correctness rules all.


Right, I quite agree, which is why I said that 'awards don't necessarily mean anything.' That's why I asked if anyone here recommended it. When I got a generally positive response it sealed the deal for me.

Have you ever seen The Twilight Zone episode 'The Bard', where a hack TV writer performs some kind of magic spell to bring Shakespeare back to life to write TV scripts? It is one the rare humorous episodes of that show. The writer takes Shakespeare's scripts to the network, who then proceed to butcher them beyond all recognition. I think it was Rod Serling's way of complaining about all the censorship his scripts were subjected to by the network, a satire against the suits at the network who, in his view, butchered his scripts and made idiotic suggestions for changes. The episode features a very young Burt Reynolds in one of his very first roles playing a caricature of Marlon Brando. You don't expect Twilight Zone episodes to be funny, but this one is just absolutely hilarious. Rod Serling absolutely could have been a comedy writer.


The awards likely mean more sales.

Yes, on all that re: the Twilight Zone episode.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:50 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Ones I've read:
Ringworld (long ago, don't remember much, I'll say 4/5)
Rama (3.5/5)
Gateway (4/5)
Dreamsnake (2/5; how did this win?)
Speaker for the Dead (5/5)
Doomsday Book (5/5)
Blackout/All Clear (3/5; time travel stories are hard to do, and Willis has done them well, but not this time. Too hard to follow.)


What are those? Winners of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards?



Yes.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:51 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Ones I've read:
Ringworld (long ago, don't remember much, I'll say 4/5)
Rama (3.5/5)
Gateway (4/5)
Dreamsnake (2/5; how did this win?)
Speaker for the Dead (5/5)
Doomsday Book (5/5)
Blackout/All Clear (3/5; time travel stories are hard to do, and Willis has done them well, but not this time. Too hard to follow.)


Wasn't hard for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:59 pm 
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Peregrinator wrote:
Doom wrote:
Now, about Forever War, I am mainly interested in it because it is one of the very rare species of science fiction novels that has won what might be called 'a triple crown' of science fiction awards, namely the Nebula, the Hugo and the Locus awards, which a sequel, 'Forever Peace' won a different kind of 'triple crown', the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W Campbell awards (and nominated for the Locus, without winning). Awards don't necessarily mean anything, but if a book has that kind of acclaim, I think it is probably pretty good.

Here's a list of books that have won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/119 ... ategories_

Now I've not read a lot of the books in the list -- four out of 16 -- but of the ones I've read, 75% are worth reading (I'll leave the one that isn't worth it as an exercise for the reader).

The list of books that have won Hugo, Nebula, and something other than Locus is a bit shorter:

Quote:
Philip K. Dick award - Neuromancer (1984)
1st place Campbell award - Rendezvous with Rama (1974), Gateway (1978), Forever Peace (1998)
Arthur C. Clarke - Ancillary Justice (2014)

Ref: https://www.quora.com/Which-books-have- ... Dick-award

(So yes, Rendezvous with Rama and Gateway won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Campbell.)

I've read only one out of the five books listed.


Which raises the question of how many books, if any, won 4 or more awards.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:05 pm 
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Doom wrote:
Peregrinator wrote:
Doom wrote:
Now, about Forever War, I am mainly interested in it because it is one of the very rare species of science fiction novels that has won what might be called 'a triple crown' of science fiction awards, namely the Nebula, the Hugo and the Locus awards, which a sequel, 'Forever Peace' won a different kind of 'triple crown', the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W Campbell awards (and nominated for the Locus, without winning). Awards don't necessarily mean anything, but if a book has that kind of acclaim, I think it is probably pretty good.

Here's a list of books that have won Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards:
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/119 ... ategories_

Now I've not read a lot of the books in the list -- four out of 16 -- but of the ones I've read, 75% are worth reading (I'll leave the one that isn't worth it as an exercise for the reader).

The list of books that have won Hugo, Nebula, and something other than Locus is a bit shorter:

Quote:
Philip K. Dick award - Neuromancer (1984)
1st place Campbell award - Rendezvous with Rama (1974), Gateway (1978), Forever Peace (1998)
Arthur C. Clarke - Ancillary Justice (2014)

Ref: https://www.quora.com/Which-books-have- ... Dick-award

(So yes, Rendezvous with Rama and Gateway won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Campbell.)

I've read only one out of the five books listed.


Which raises the question of how many books, if any, won 4 or more awards.


ANCILLARY JUSTICE, at least, won 5. I've never read it.

Added: So did THE DISPOSSESSED. I don't read Le Quin.

I don't know if I'll check any more.

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Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher."


Last edited by GKC on Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:11 pm 
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King of Cool
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Never heard of either of those

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 Post subject: Re: Science Fictionn Yes or No
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 4:16 pm 
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Some Poor Bibliophile
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Doom wrote:
Never heard of either of those


I have.

How about AMERICAN GODS? It won 4. I found my signed copy two days ago. I seem to be losing more books than I find, lately.

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