Mandatory sci-fi

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Miss Chicken, Jun 18, 2013.

  1. Spot's Meow

    Spot's Meow Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    You know what the perfect scifi book for high school students to read would be? Containment by Christian Cantrell. If you haven't read this I highly recommend it. It's about teenagers in a futuristic society, living in a Venus colony. It's got all of the elements of a great story; underlying mystery (we start with the main character waking up from an unexplained coma), urgency (they have to solve the problems of a depleting oxygen supply), a bit of romance, great character development, an elaborate world that you feel a part of, and a great surprise ending.

    Cantrell also does a perfect job of balancing a human story with hard science. The kind of tech that he describes in detail actually seems plausible and really cool.

    Okay, it sounds like I'm just advertising the book now :lol:, but I'm not usually into scifi novels and this one has actually become one of my favorite books I've ever read.
     
  2. The Boy Who Cried Worf

    The Boy Who Cried Worf Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When I was in high school they had the students read and analyze one big novel for each grade. When I was a freshman it was Dune.
     
  3. Tora Ziyal

    Tora Ziyal Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    How 'bout satirical animal fantasy? ;)

    But, no, it's not sci-fi. I threw it in with 1984 because I couldn't remember which one I read in school and which on my own.
     
  4. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My education was through french schools with a number of english classes, which were some of my favourites. We read a lot of fiction in those classes. The one sci-fi book I remember having to read was The Chrysalids by John Wyndham, which I remember being a really convoluted book, with much I didn't understand. In general, I didn't find the book choices to be particularly inspired and it wasn't until I got older that I started reading for pleasure.

    Oh, I love Darwin's Radio! One of my favourite books :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2013
  5. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    My high school had a similar arrangement when I started the 9th grade in 1977. But the class was for either the 10th or the 11th grade and by the time I reached the appropriate grade, that elective was dropped.

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  6. Emher

    Emher Admiral Admiral

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    Finally someone agrees with me! Got pretty much forced by a friend in high school to read it and it just left feeling kinda...meh. The twist is sort of clever but...that's about what I can say about it. It left me kinda untouched.

    My personal suggestion for mandatory sci-fi is Contact. Both the novel and the film.
     
  7. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I read it after a number of recommendations and a lot of hype and I didn't really see anything special about it. I found it rather dryly written and the story not all that interesting to me. Left me feeling rather cold, in fact.
     
  8. thestrangequark

    thestrangequark Admiral Admiral

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    ^Aside from the technically poor writing, my problem was more the obvious Mary Sue revenge-fantasy aspect and the really fucking dubious morality. I'm not talking about the child soldiers, kids killing kids, and genocide either. I'm fine with that...those themes can make for really good, thought-provoking fiction, but Ender himself: What a stand-up kid! He'd never beat anyone to death unless he had to...

    Rebecca Watson reviewed it, and she sums up my feelings about it rather well.
     
  9. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Ender is a monster. A kind monster, but a monster nonetheless. That's part of the reason I love the book AND the rest of the series.

    I'm honestly not sure what it is about Ender's Game, but I have read every single book in that saga (which at this point is something like 10 or 12 books), and I love each and every one of them. It's the only book series that I continue to read, and I have been reading them since I was 14. There are still new books coming out now (though, admittedly, the current series is a prequel).
     
  10. TorontoTrekker

    TorontoTrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You've obviously never read anything by Alice Munro or Margaret Laurence.

    Sure-fire way to get onto a Canadian best-seller list: write a 300-page novel from the point of view of a 60ish woman, living in a small town on the Prairies, reminiscing about her life just before she dies.

    If you can find a way to work Mennonites into it, so much the better.

    I would encourage kids to read Pratchett and Adams too, but they wouldn't exactly serve the purpose of this undertaking (which is to interest kids in science). Unless you think there's a kid out there who's destined to invent the Infinite Improbability Drive. ;)

    I read that too - in grade nine, I think. I rather enjoyed it. We also read 1984 in grade twelve - which, for me, happened to actually be in 1984. :)

    (Yes, I'm old. Hush. :p)

    I quite enjoyed it too, though I remember being underwhelmed by its sequel, Darwin's Children. (They're both on the shelf across from me, along with several more of Greg Bear's novels.)

    I think that if I had to pick some SF novels to assign to a high school class, I would choose:

    - The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner
    - Commitment Hour by James Alan Gardner
    - The Doomsday Vault by Steven Harper
    - Wake by Robert J. Sawyer
     
  11. Miss Chicken

    Miss Chicken Little three legged cat with attitude Admiral

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    I can think of some sci-fi stories that I would have liked to be able to discuss in a class and which could lead to actual discussion of real science

    1) The Mouse by Howard Fast (the atmosphere of Jupiter, problems with exploring an alien world)

    2) Nightfall (how planets orbit suns, can solar systems with more than one sun exist)

    There is another short story but I can't remember its name or its author. In this story explorers arrive on a planet to find the local inhabitants living a very primitive but idyllic lifestyle. At first the explorers think that the locals are backwards/low in intelligence until the explorers start to notice how quickly the locals learn things and adapt to the new technology the explorers introduce. The explorers than realise that the locals are far more intelligent than man and are a threat to humankind. Maybe someone can tell me the name of this story. (EDITED TO ADD - just did a search and discovered it is Turning Point by Poul Anderson)

    I don't read much modern sci-fi but I am sure there must be many modern short stories that could lead to worthwhile discussion of science.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
  12. Darth Duck

    Darth Duck Commodore Commodore

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    Miriam Toews is my CanLit goddess.
     
  13. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, I liked the setup at the end of Darwin's Radio, but the followup was rather weak. Didn't feel like it had nearly taken advantage of the situation being proposed. There are loads of interesting books with interesting setups that I find disappointing due to execution. Oh and worst Greg Bear book I read? Moving Mars, because nothing is sillier than moving the planet to another galaxy. It was ridiculous and the pacing was terrible. Expected more out of him after Darwin's Radio.
     
  14. Jadin

    Jadin Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I'm reading Stanislav Lem's The Star Diaries again. Yesterday it was the one with the time loop and the weekdays...
     
  15. EmoBorg

    EmoBorg Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In high school, for English literature class, i read sci-fi books like The Chrysalids and The White Mountains.
    The Chrysalids was the book that opened my eyes to the dangers of religious fundamentalism.
     
  16. Rincewiend

    Rincewiend Vice Admiral Admiral

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    True, but they are great books to get kids interrested in reading scfi/fantasy.
    I read for fun from an early age, like The Famous Five, translated in Dutch, same for Roald Dahl stories and a series about 10 year old Frisian twin boys and their motorized sloop...
    Final year of highschool we had to read 11 books bij Dutch/Flemish writers for the Dutch course, there was a minimum of pages you had to read...
    Most classmates went to the library with a calculator to make sure they pick books that added up to the amount of minimum pages or just a tad over, i on the other hand had picked a book that had about the amount of pages you had to read...
    My classmates thought i was crazy, but it was a nice Detective book...
    With the 10 other books i read triple the amount of required pages...
     
  17. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Those who are critical of Asimov's Foundation series should remember that when it was written the field was rather young. Also that Asimov was rather young. Those who find it perhaps cliche-ridden should recognize it as the source of some of the cliches.

    When science fiction writers have been asked about their favorite series work many, if not most cite "Foundation". The series needs no defense from me but since it's a work from the forties that remains in print to this day, well, that ought to speak for itself.

    (Dismounts from soapbox.)

    Those interested in more contemporary SF that gets both the technology and the people right are advised to pick up some Robert J. Sawyer.
     
  18. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    But Moving Mars came out before Darwin's Radio! Anyway, that was just the climax of the story. What did you think of the rest of Moving Mars?
     
  19. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I didn't think very much of it :) I thought the whole concept was rather silly and it took forever to get interesting.
     
  20. TorontoTrekker

    TorontoTrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    *applause*

    Very true - but I only wanted to include one of Rob's books on my suggested list so that I didn't appear biased. ;)

    But Calculating God, Flash Forward, the Neanderthal Parallax series (Hominids, Humans and Hybrids) and the WWW series (Wake, Watch and Wonder) are some of the best books I've ever read. Rob's not the genre's best literary stylist, but he tells a damned good story and knows how to make you turn the pages (I read Triggers - his second-most recent novel - in about three days).