Calling all old school sci fan/fantasy readers! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 12:39 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've decided to jump into the 'classics' as there are a bunch of authors who I never got into, for some reason. So many of them have huge series that I don't want to get into unless they're worth it...What can you tell me about your favourites from the 80s/90s?

Terry Pratchett

Spider Robinson

Roger Zelazny

Charles de Lint

Orson Scott Card

Harry Turtledove

...etc.?
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#2 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 07:59 AM
 
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Oh, I am so jealous! You are in for such a treat!

Terry Pratchett is my favourite authour of all time (and A.S. Byatt's, too, I should add!). Very funny, and yet always has a deeper message. Incisively intelligent.

Spider Robinson I read when I was in my 20s and loved him then; not so much now.

Charles de Lint I still can't make up my mind about. He's really well grounded in all the myth and folklore, being a prof, and I love the blend of urban and fantasy, but I've never found his characters really believable or engaging. Still, nice reads.

Orson Scott Card. Oh, what can you say about Ender's Game? Riveting to pretty much all ages. I love his whole Ender series, although I'm finding I'm preferring Ender's Shadow. His other series -- Alvin the Maker and the like -- I could never really get into.

Don't forget Connie Willis. Her books are always fascinating and her collections of short stories will give you nuggets to chew on for days.

Also, another 'old-school' personal favourite is Lois McMaster Bujold. She's one a tonne of awards and very deservedly. Her Vorkosigan series is space opera at it's best and if you don't fall madly in love with her protagonist, I'd sadly say you had to get your head examined.

And if you're including Terry Pratchett as 'old school,' you need to visit Neil Gaiman, too.
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#3 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 08:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Crittersmom Thank you thank you! That's just what I'm looking for! I normally browse books on amazon and goodreads, but it's nice just to get an overall 'author summary' from people who've read the books, rather than reviews of individual ones.

I went through a stage where I only wanted to read books by female authors (don't ask; it was a phase in university ) but I'm over that now, and I've obviously missed out on some gems.

I forgot to ask about Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan with their never-ending series that so many of my friends were fanatic about. Did you read them, and should I bother?

I picked up Dhalgren from the library yesterday - supposed to be a classic...
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#4 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 08:34 PM
 
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Terry Brooks' Shannara series is basically a LOTR rehash. Plus the plot of all those books is essentially the same...annoying imo. Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series has great characters, and its worth a read, but it just keeps going and going and going. In fact its still not finished and Robert Jordan is freaking dead Plus by the end you wish the main character would just get therapy or something.

ETA: My favorite fantasy series ever is Tad Williams' Memory Sorry and Thorn trilogy (there are actually four books in paperback).
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#5 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#6 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 08:46 PM
 
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I really loved Storm Constantine and her Wraeththu series.

I liked what I read of Robert Jordan and Lois McMaster Bujold too. I haven't gotten around to reading all of them though.

I should mention that I also went through a phase where I only wanted to read women authors as well. I think its a good phase to go through.
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#7 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 08:56 PM
 
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Kate Wilhelm's Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang.

Pamela Sargent's Venus of Dreams or Cloned Lives.

Tanith Lee is very odd, but I did like her Days of Grass.


Robert Heinlein's books have some great turns and twists.... including some freer sexual mores he hoped we'd see in the future.

M.K. Wren has one called A Gift Upon the Shore... one of my favorite end of the world stories from a female perspective.
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#8 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 08:59 PM
 
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Oh man, I thought from the title that we were gonna be talking about Asimov and Heinlein...

Spider Robinson is fantastic with the Calahan series. I am still wishing I could find that bar!

DeLint is something I have to be in the mood for, but when I am I get obsessed.

I love Bujold's Vorkosigan series. Love it!

It has been a while but I used to enjoy Anne McCaffrey (sp?) with the Pern series.

Love the Speaker For The Dead series.

I just read a series called the Dark Jewel series by Anne Bishop. I haven't been so obsessed to read more in a long time.

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#9 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 09:26 PM
 
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Anne Mcaffrey;

*books in the series I didn't read

The Rowan
Damia
Damia's Children
Lyon's Pride
The Tower and The Hive*

Powers That Be
Power Lines
Power Play

Freedom's Landing
Freedom's Choice
Freedom's Challenge*
Freedom's Ransom*

The Landover series from Terry Brooks, the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.

Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson by George Alec Effinger

If you go really old school, I read the Foundation series (Asimov) in the 90's. My mom was a member of the science fiction book club so I read a lot of sci fi/fantasy during my teen years.
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#10 of 111 Old 07-20-2010, 11:25 PM
 
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I have not read the others the OP mentioned but I absolutely love Charles De Lint books! I just discovered him last year and he has become one of my favourite authors. I am reading his Newford series at the moment. What I like is he combines myths and folklore with urban fantasy and magical realism. Sex and violence is not overly graphic. His characters are usually really likeable.
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#11 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 12:16 AM
 
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Charles de Lint-I'm a little mixed about charles de lint. some of his stuff I found fantastic, amazing, life-view changing (the mystery of grace in particular), other's I've found so-so. The first time I read widdershins (without having read the onion girl or timeskip, in which the same characters feature, and which come first), I thought it was so so. the second time, it was completely riveting. Widdershins (a book of his short stories), I found a couple of them good (but not amazing), maybe one or two great, and quite a few downright boring/mediocre. I liked the blue girl a lot, it was very solid. I read it long enough ago and it wasn't SO amazing that it stands really strongly in my mind, so it might good, or great.

Orson Scott Card-I haven't read a thing by him I haven't totally adored. And I've read... 7+ books in the ender-world and all of the earth's memory series. He appealed to me in ender's shadow and ender's game when I was 12, and he appeals to me now as an adult. (side note, did the fact that earth's memory is refered to in various places as being a retelling of the book of mormon really make you want to check it out at the library to figure out how the **** it was possibly a retelling of the book of mormon? no, it didn't make me less inclined to read it, it doesn't feel... strongly mormon in an icky to people of other religions way. until I read it was, I didn't catch any mormon overtones at all) I highly highly highly recommend reading orson scott card. and I recommend buying/checking out books in the same series in sets of two or three, because you won't want to wait to get the next one.

Robert Jordan-I remember loving the ones I read. I just stopped after a while. It seemed like it just dragged on and on. there are those series where I'll quickly read through every single book (though I can't at the moment think of a true series as compared to sets of quartets or trilogies), and this is not one. I was so excited to read the second and third and fourth books but eventually it was like, eh, yeah, maybe if I run into it at the library. I think if he had wrote it as like a quartet or quintet, it would have been more amazing. (that said, he's still worth reading)

I've been meaning to read anne mccaffery (specifically the dragon___________ series), but the library only has the 2nd and third books or something and I keep forgeting to request the 1st from another branch.

and I've definitely gone through (and am in atm) mostly female authors phases.

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#12 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 12:27 AM
 
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I'm another another huge Card fan. I've recently gotten my nine year old into the Ender series - he wishes he could go to Battle School . If you know a lot about Mormonism, you'll catch some of the connections he makes (even in books other than the Memory of Earth series), but I was not at all bothered by it (even as an atheist!). (Also, he has a really fantastic historical fiction novel about the beginnings of the Mormon church and the spiritual roots of plural marriage that I just adored. I cannot remember what it's called, and it's clearly not sci-fi, but if you run into it's definitely worth a read. He also has fiction books based on women of the old testament. I only read one of them, but I enjoyed it).
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#13 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 12:37 AM
 
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#14 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 12:41 AM
 
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Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress absolutely blew my mind when I was in my early 20's. I would definitely put it on a must read book for Sci-Fi "classics"

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#15 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:21 AM
 
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Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress absolutely blew my mind when I was in my early 20's. I would definitely put it on a must read book for Sci-Fi "classics"
Oh, I love that book. It is very cool look at a dystopia!

My hubby loves the Charles DeLint... I don't, I'm not into urban fantasy.

Anne McCaffery's Freedom series is a really great set of books. Aliens yank us to another world and strand us.. we humans have to survive by our wits and get along with each other. Naturally, it gets dicey once in awhile.
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#16 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all! THis is amazing!

I really like when people recommend books and give a little descriptive sentence or something...it saves me a step from cutting and pasting into amazon

I'm a big fan of dystopian spec fiction and just finished Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (post-viral world, everyone dead except for main character, lots of genetic modification and 'Big Pharma out of control') - loved it, but that's what made me realize that there's a lot of great spec fiction out there that I haven't read...hence this thread

...and I still have a wee tendency towards female authors but have read some males who were fabulous with the depth of the females they wrote about, and weren't too extreme so that I couldn't identify at least a bit with the characters..
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#17 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 02:04 AM
 
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Anne McCaffery's Pern books are basically feel-good fantasy. A bit on the simplistic side, because you know that everything pretty much always turns out ok in the end.

Another good series is Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince and then Dragon Star books. Sort of a similar world to Pern in some ways but much darker. I love them! Again, another series with some great characters.

My favorite SciFi book of all time...seriously, it might be my favrite book of all time, is Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. The beginning is slow but OMG what a great book! It ought to be required reading for living.

ETA: You've read the Handmaiden's Tale as well then? Also a follow up to Oryx and Crake just came out...can't remember what its called....AHHA...its The Year of the Flood.
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#18 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 08:11 AM
 
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The only thing that bugged me about Orson Scott Card's books are the female roles. Was I being oversensitive, or did other people find that they are almost universally...maternal?
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#19 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 12:52 PM
 
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I was tired when I wrote my post last night, so I’d just like to add a few things regarding Charles De Lint. I much prefer his novels to his short stories. I also did not care for some his short stories.

The premise for many of his Newford series books are that mythological beings like the “First People” or “Animal people” of many First Nations (Native Americans) legends are still alive today. Many have intermarried with humans and live along side them. As well, fairies and other supernatural beings followed the first settlers from Europe to the New World. One of the PP mentioned his characters not being believable, and I have to agree that some of his supernatural characters are too over the top to believe, however I still enjoyed the stories. However his human characters are totally believable. Perhaps because CDL is also an artist and musician, his characters are often artistic, bohemian types as well as people living on the margins.

If you want to read the Newford series you could start with Memory and Dream http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/memory-desc01.htm
or Trader http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/trader-desc01.htm.
Someplace to be flying is also good http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/...ace-desc01.htm
the next I’ll read will be The Onion Girl
http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/onion-desc01.htm which I was advised not to read until I’d read some of the earlier Newford books. Same goes for Widdershins. http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/...ins-desc01.htm
I actually started with that book not knowing it was a part of a series, but noticed after a few chapters that I was missing a lot information so went back to the first.

A good book to start with to see if you like De Lint’s style might be the Mystery of Grace http://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/mystery-desc01.htm a beautiful story! It is a book on its own, not part of a series.

I have also been curious about Orson Scott Card but a bit turned off because I read his was extremely right wing. Do his political opinions show in his work?

Another author I’d like to try is Neil Gaiman. Anyone like him?
How about Alice Hoffman?
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#20 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey took my fantasy/scifi virginity, so to speak. I was lost in the world of Pern and the dragons for a while, but I found thatboth just started to churn them out for the sake of churning them out - esp when they partnered with other wirters - the writing lost some of its depth.

The Ship Who Sang (about a rocketship that falls in love with the captain) still haunts me, as well as some of Tanith Lee's works, which were so surreal.

For something different - magic realism mixed with fantastical elements, I can recommend Nalo Hopkinson - Brown Girl in the Ring (dystopian Toronto future, full of voodoo) and Salt Roads (told from the POV of a slave girl, an African goddess and a 17th C black woman in France).

Also fabulous are the short stories by numerous authors in the Ellen Datlow (ed.) series, eg. Black Heart, Ivory Bones. There are about 6 of them (?) and some are simply amazing.

Oh - good female scifi (sorry, my only frame of reference ) was Terrorists of Irustan, about a colony on another planet - female dystopian (wearing veils, 2nd class citizens), with an offworlder who ends up helping the protagonist in a criminal investigation. Nice twist at the end.
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#21 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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Oh - good female scifi (sorry, my only frame of reference ) was Terrorists of Irustan, about a colony on another planet - female dystopian (wearing veils, 2nd class citizens), with an offworlder who ends up helping the protagonist in a criminal investigation. Nice twist at the end.
Yes, Louise Marley rocks! I made my stuffy ladies book club read this book and they liked it. I also made them read The Child Goddess by her... did you read that one?
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#22 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My favorite SciFi book of all time...seriously, it might be my favrite book of all time, is Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. The beginning is slow but OMG what a great book! It ought to be required reading for living.

ETA: You've read the Handmaiden's Tale as well then? Also a follow up to Oryx and Crake just came out...can't remember what its called....AHHA...its The Year of the Flood.
Hey! Stranger in a Strange Land might also be my favourite scifi book as well! It's so haunting and beautiful!

I didn't know that the 2nd book to Oryx and Crake came out!! Must find! I did grow attached to the main character of the first book, and read a chapter from the new one at the back of the first book - different characters..I hope it doesn't disappoint..
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#23 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, Louise Marley rocks! I made my stuffy ladies book club read this book and they liked it. I also made them read The Child Goddess by her... did you read that one?
No I haven't - no reason in particular (ok, the reason was that I got heavily into historical fiction ) I must pick it up! I have rediscovered my library

Wanted to mention another book that is quite 'out there' - Touched by Venom http://www.amazon.com/Touched-Venom-...9731064&sr=1-1 by Janine Cross. Think a cross between McCaffrey's dragons, dystopian female future and really...really...really...bizarre sexuality. Not for the faint of heart. In fact, many of the amazon reviewers were HORRIFIED.
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#24 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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I have also been curious about Orson Scott Card but a bit turned off because I read his was extremely right wing. Do his political opinions show in his work?
I don't recall it really showing up. In the ender's game series, I can't recall it at all being really right wing. I mean, a few things come across, fairly lightly. light handed enough that I had to discuss it with DP who's also read him to think of any evidence of his right wing-ness. we came up with a few things, but really not obnoxious. thinking of embryos as children, in later books, focus on marriage, a lot of the characters are religious, there aren't any gay/pagan/polygamist/etc otherwise less mainstream and ummm... disapproved by many mainstream religions characters, but as I said, we had to think hard about it to come up with any evidence of his right wing-ness, and we've both read them several times. Mostly, I'd say it's pretty neutral and non-offensive. Reading the memory of earth series, I don't recall it really coming up either. I mean, it apparently is a retelling of the book of mormon, but to me (being only slightly more knowledgeable about mormonism than your average person) I read it completely as an engaging sci-fi and after reading that it was a retelling of the book of mormon, spending the rest of the books trying to figure out how without coming to a conclusion.

I would agree in the ender's game series, there are few primary female characters, and most of them are fairly maternal in some way. That said, it starts as a book about little children living in space to be trained as soliders/generals. I wouldn't necessarily expect there to be a ton of non-maternal female characters. I mean, not to say there couldn't be tons and tons of non-maternal kick a** girl soldiers, but you know, it's not something I expect from most average writers (who are not known for particularly strong female characters.)


I loved handmaiden's tale, though I wouldn't consider it sci-fi/fantasy.

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#25 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 02:09 PM
 
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I should mention that I also went through a phase where I only wanted to read women authors as well. I think its a good phase to go through.
I did this. It got me into Melanie Rawn, Octavia Butler, Marion Zimmer Bradley 's Darkover series, Bujold, McCaffrey, Lackey, LeGuin and a number of lesser known writers. I recommend it. I never much enjoyed Atwood or Joanna Russ, though. I like Rawn's newer urban fantasies a lot, too.

ETA oh - and C.J. Cherryh! I'm about to buy a set of her Merchanter books and Cyteen books for my daughter... And Sherri Tepper!

Hard for me to think of Charles de Lint as an old-school writer as I've just discovered him recently, but yes, definitely worth reading his books. You can friend him on Facebook, too -- he is generous with fans. Love his poetic status updates and his photos.

Card's best book, imo is Pastwatch -- the female characters are perhaps a bit more interesting in that one, too. It is also a book without sequels so you can get an idea of his strengths without investing in a series.

I'd read it with Butler's Wild Seed - also a novel about slavery and a one-book story-- Also love her Parable of the Sower and the Xenogenesis series by Butler.

I've never heard of Nalo Hopkinson or Nancy Kress, off to request at the library...

Raymond Feist is my favorite of the Tolkien-style high fantasy writers. I do not like Jordan much. I like Eddings well enough.

I always liked Heinlein's Moon is a Harsh Mistress better than Stranger. I actually threw away all my Heinlein paperbacks though, after deciding I didn't want my kids reading them at impressionable ages. They were falling apart from my re-readings anyway. (yes I'm conflicted about Heinlein )

Read lots of Asimov and Frank Herbert. I think the early Dune books are important to read - maybe it's time for me to reread them...

But first I'm going to reread the 4-volume omnibus of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I got for 50 cents at the library book sale...
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#26 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Atwood - I'm not a fan of her as a *person* (she's a mean old sourpuss - I met her in person socially a few times and she definitely doesn't win hostess of the year), and didn't enjoy all of her books. Alias Grace (hist-fiction; told from perspective of a 17 yr old prisoner accused of killing her employer) and Oryx and Crake are probably the only books of hers I liked.

Spider Robinson - when I started this thread I googled him - his wife died at the end of May this year - she was a dancer and a Zen monk. Very interesting person.

I'm most intrigued by Charles de Lint, moreso from the reviews on here. I think I might start there (as soon as I get through Dhalgren, which most reviewers have a love/hate relationship with). I'm going to friend him, just for kicks

Edit: Hee hee, done;
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#27 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 02:34 PM
 
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Card and female roles - there are a lot of maternal type female roles, but it was never really off putting to me (there are and plenty of female space explorers and scientists). In the memories of Earth series, the original culture is a matriarchy and the new culture created (a la Book of Mormon) is a patriarchy - but seeing as how it's a retelling of the BOM, I can see where that comes from, especially since the matriarchy is oppressive to men. As a PP said, Pastwatch is really interesting and has some powerful women (also an interesting take on religion and it's effects on society).

As for political views - Card has at times been an open opponent of things like gay marriage (which really isn't surprising considering his religious affiliations). The only time I've seen that even possibly hinted at is in the Memories of Earth series where a male gay character marries and has children with a woman for the "good of society." (But considering there are only a few people trying to populate a society, and he's the only gay one, his other choice would have been a life of alone). There's also a book in the Ender series where celebrating cultural/religious holidays at the battle school has been banned and the kids rebel and do it anyway - I haven't read it, but it appears to be based in the whole right wing concept of a "war on Christmas." For the most part, though, his political opinions don't really come to bear in his work.
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#28 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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Oryx and Crake was good, but I loved The Handmaid's Tale.

I really enjoyed Stephen R. Donaldson's Mirror of Her Dreams and the sequel, A Man Rides Through.

I've taken short stories from two Bruce Colville anthologies and used them in my classroom. The anthologies are called Oddly Enough and Odder Than Ever. I think in one of them Colville edited and put in one story, but the rest are from other YA authors, like Jane Yolen. LOTS of good Sci-fi, fantasy stuff in those.

One of my all time favorite short stories is "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury.
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#29 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 05:59 PM
 
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I just discovered Bruce Colville as a YA writer. We are listening to his books on CD in the car with the kids this summer.
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#30 of 111 Old 07-21-2010, 06:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aubergine68 View Post
I just discovered Bruce Colville as a YA writer. We are listening to his books on CD in the car with the kids this summer.
If it weren't for Animorphs and Bruce Colville.. my ds would have never learned to read.
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