ltmurnau: (CX)
Yanked from [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll who got it from.
No idea how these were chosen.

60 Essential Science Fiction & Fantasy Reads

Bold the ones that you have read.
I guess I'm pathetic.

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Tithe by Holly Black
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Synners by Pat Cadigan
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Survival by Julie E. Czerneda
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
Slow River by Nicola Griffith
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff
God's War by Kameron Hurley
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Ash by Malinda Lo
Warchild by Karin Lowachee
Legend by Marie Lu
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
The Thief's Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr. I haven't read this collection but have read some of the stories.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Farthing by Jo Walton
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
ltmurnau: (Default)
Over the weekend, J. G. Ballard succumbed to illness caused by prostate cancer. He was 78. He had been ill for several years, as he revealed at the end of his very last book, Miracles of Life.

JGB was a brilliant writer, a highly original thinker, my favourite author and an interesting man in his own right. No one saw the world just as he did, and he became, without most of the rest of that world knowing it, its unacknowledged prophet and psychic chronicler.

I read my first Ballard at age 13 - I saw a Penguin edition of The Terminal Beach, a collection of short stories, on a shelf in a dusty used bookstore in Sidney. I read them without completely understanding them at first, but there was this quality to the writing and the ideas that kept me coming back.

Since then, I have read everything that he wrote, with the exception of uncollected pieces that he did for newspapers and magazines. It's sad to think that there will be no more books or thoughts from him, ever.


THE site for things Ballardian: http://www.ballardian.com/ has a very moving personal tribute by Simon Sellars, and a collection of remembrances etc. by other authors. Here it is, I could not say it any better:

Goodbye, Jim…

As publisher of this site, my goal has always been to take J.G. Ballard as a philosopher, rather than simply a ‘novelist’. Sometimes this has truly angered fans and champions of his work, more often it has brought me into brilliant and inspiring contact with writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers and theorists who all see the world through that same Ballardian lens — and with Jim Ballard himself, who, along with his partner Claire Walsh, always remained supportive of the site.

Ballard articulates clearly to me the implications of living in an age of total consumerism, of blanket surveillance, of enslavement designed as mass entertainment. But he also speaks to me of resistance through irony, immersion, ambivalence, imagination — of remixing, recycling, remaking, remodelling.

Ballard embraces dystopian scenarios, including the archetypal non-space often characterised as a deadening feature of late capitalism. But this is not simply a call for nihilism. Ballard’s characters are not disengaged from their world. Rather, they embody a sense of resistance that derives from full immersion, a therapeutic confrontation with the powers of darkness, whereby merging with dystopian alienation negates its power.

This is predicated on concurrency: Ballard’s writing turns objectivity into subjectivity, opens up gaps where there is room for new subjects. His scenarios are what I term ‘affirmative dystopias’, neither straight utopia nor straight dystopia, but an occupant of the interstitial space between them, perpetual oscillation between the poles – the ‘yes or no of the borderzone’, to use a phrase from his work.

Here, dystopia becomes the real utopia, and utopian ideals, typically represented as a stifling of the imagination, the true dystopia. He reinhabits the frame to present a clearinghouse in which corporate and national governance is overthrown and regoverned as a ’state of mind’.

To read and to understand Ballard, then, is to be gloriously, finally liberated.

To James Graham Ballard: thank you.


Links, etc. - there are hundreds of Ballard sites out there but here are a couple I stuck in, for want of anything better or having to look harder:

CBC's rather superficial obit, apparently cribbed from Wikipedia_: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2009/04/19/ballard-obit.html
[EDIT: a much better written appreciation of Ballard replaced this shortly afterwards: http://www.cbc.ca/arts/books/story/2009/04/20/j-g-ballard-obituary.html]

Guardian article on JGB and pop music: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8008277.stm

And another reminiscence from V. Vale, co-founder of Re/Search of San Francisco which published a lot of Ballard miscellany (http://www.researchpubs.com/Blog/?p=163):

I particularly hate it when “rebels” die — there are already so few of them/us. Sometimes it seems like virtually everyone you meet these days in the world is a slave to the profit motive/capitalist imperative: “What’s the meaning of life?” “To make money!” J.G. Ballard, and another of my relatively recently deceased role models, W.S. Burroughs, both refused to prostitute their writing, and they both refused to shmooze and “network” merely to further their “careers.” Both had a hatred of bourgeois hypocrisy and phony politeness, while at the same time being deeply polite and courteous, almost to a fault …

But for now, let us think of ways to publicly mourn one of the greatest thinkers and poets of the past century. By some irony, “The Complete Short Stories of J.G. Ballard” is reportedly soon to be published in the United States, complete with two additional stories not included in the U.K. edition. Short stories, more than novels, may appropriately suit the trend of the increasingly shorter attention span of the human populace, who demand more flash ads, tiny videos and music quotations as they read their two-minute, two-page articles on the Internet. I suggest that for the next month (or year), readers shut out everything else and read ONLY J.G. Ballard novels, short stories, essays, interviews and reviews. Your mind, language, and outlook are guaranteed to be permanently altered…

“Death always presents the face of surprised recognition,” wrote William S. Burroughs. He also advised all of us to “Stay out of hospitals,” and “Avoid Doctors.” Well, even though I had been concerned about J.G. Ballard’s health after hearing two years ago that he had been diagnosed with “advanced” prostate cancer, I still felt a kind of unthinking complacency mixed with my concern: “Almost every humane male has prostate cancer when he dies; it acts very slowly and can take decades to kill a man.” To be honest, having seen him recently in October 2008, I really didn’t think he would die THIS SOON. And when I found out he had died — I had arrived home from a 9-hour bus trip today to hear the news on our answering machine — well, my first thought was, “There’s no thinker left alive that I can totally trust. They’re all dead.”

For the past two or more years Ballard had been undergoing state-of-the-art, high-tech treatment from a young doctor who reportedly was trying every new medical breakthrough remedy or procedure which promised “hope” for Ballard’s condition. Recently, however, Ballard had been rushed to a hospital, and after sustained care there had returned to the home to his longtime (40-plus years) companion, Claire Walsh. The latest word was that he had recently required around-the-clock care by visiting professional nurses, which sounded somewhat alarming. Still, I maintained calm. Now I wish I had tried to telephone him and talk one last time, even if just for a minute. I think I expected Ballard to live at least as long as Burroughs, who reached the age of 83, even after having been “a junkie” for years of his life. By a strange logic, I felt that since Ballard hadn’t been a junkie, he should live even longer than 83. Well, I was wrong. And now the world will miss his unique, witty, and sometimes acerbic commentaries on itself. We miss him and are grateful for his dark sense of humor and generous output.

– V. Vale, RE/Search founder back in 1977, San Francisco


I have that UK edition of his complete short stories and will start working through it. And I'm going to have a prostate exam. Let's all bend over for Uncle Jim! (well, the men, anyway)

One thing relatively few remembrances/comments I have read so far mention is his sense of humour and grim wit. I liked that in him; he was actually very funny, in his way.
ltmurnau: (Default)
The US Army Times reports on a conference where the US Marine Corps concept of using rockets to land as many as 13 lightly armed troops anywhere in the world within two hours of Something Happening was discussed:

http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/10/gns_space_troops_101408/



(not exactly as illustrated)

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