Book Tag – Science Fiction Invaders

This book tag was penned by blogger K J Mulder of who is currently running a Science Fiction Invaders book challenge.

Q1 – Blast Off!

Which Book Got You Interested In Or Hooked on Science Fiction?

I was hooked into fantasy by some true classics like Earthsea, the Hobbit, etc.

Science fiction was different. I think the ur-book was Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, which has a great sense of wonder and narrative drive, and before you read the series, note that this are massively dated with all the -isms and otherwise awful to my adult tastes. Burroughs also writes without the slightest interest in consistency, or sound worldbuilding. I tore through these. The children’s library had Heinlein and Norton ‘juveniles’ and Hugh Walters who is very obscure now, and some good anthologies and that was it.  On screen, Dr Who and Star Trek were pretty influential.  I liked that the Doctor didn’t always try to blow people up. A good memory of finding the entire collected short stories of H G Wells in the school library and lunchtime by lunchtime I read the lot in order.

Q2 – Engage Targeting Systems!

What type of science fiction that you enjoy the most? Any specific tropes or sub-genre that makes something a must read?

Strong characters and relationships, and something which is about people and their problems without being preachy. Ideas well used. Also, if it’s in the future or on another planet, it needs to use that. Stories which could be Berkshire, now, don’t impress.

Q3 – Prime Your Weapons Systems

What’s Your Favourite Science Fiction book series?

I guess Ursula Le Guin’s Hainish sequence, because I really rate some of the books and stories in it. I often find series weary as they go on. As a series Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun is incredibly strong and memorable, and imaginative, and cruel. I should finish the Binti series by Nnedi Okorafator and the Becky Chambers books.

Q4 – Disengage Safeties

What would you like to see more of in the genre?

Compassion, empathy, joy, humour. Daring to be hopeful.           

Q5 – Weapons Free

What is your favourite adaptation of a science fiction work?

I sneak in the film the Shape of Water (because it’s an adaption of The Creature from the Black Lagoon). Poetic, romantic, about love and loyalty and difference and outsiders finding a place. The grimness of prejudice, xenophobia, and war.  Set in the past but clearly not about the past. All of these ring real bells.

Q6 – Torpedoes Away

Share an unpopular opinion which other sci-fi fans might judge you for

I’m with Wells that imaginative stories don’t have to be (i) rigorous attempts to extrapolate the future or (ii) strictly bound by our current understanding of science. Stories which meet those stern laws aren’t morally better than those which don’t. Genre boundaries are inevitably fuzzy. Non-SF fans can write good books with science fiction ideas, although they can also write terrible books which they claim are wildly original and far too well written to be SF…

It would be great if there was a version of the Snap where certain film and TV franchises faded from front of mind for a while.

Judge away.

Q7 – Victory

What’s the one science fiction book you always recommend to someone? Why?

Both of mine. But that’s only to start a conversation about what they’ve read I might like.  Not because I am needy at all. And both the Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. And depending on their interests.

Names I might throw out Becky Chambers, Arkardy Martin, Aliette de Bodard, Iain Banks, Nnedi Okorafator, Zen Cho, Silvia Morena-Garcia… Each of them in their own way is showing a future very different from futures of the past.

Books, Girl with All the Gifts, Redshirts, and in non-fiction, The Handmaid’s Tale.

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