5 books by 10 authors

There’s a thing that’s been going around Bluesky the first days of January: posting a list of 10 authors where you have read at least 5 of their books. I’m not sure who started that, but I’m certainly willing to throw my hat in the ring, as it were.

Here goes (in pretty random order):

  • Tanith Lee
  • Elizabeth A. Lynn
  • Claire North
  • Becky Chambers
  • Jo Walton
  • N.K. Jemsin
  • Connie Willis
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Nancy Kress
  • Sherri S. Tepper

(*Phew*. Got through it without having to admit how many books I’ve read by Marion Zimmer Bradley…)

Are those all science fiction and fantasy authors? Why yes. Why, yes they are.

Are those all women? Also, yes (and I could have listed more than 10). There are an equal (at least!) number of male authors I could have listed, but I remember noticing sometime in the early 90s my SFF shelves were dominated by men, and I made a concerted effort to change that. I don’t exclusively buy novels by women, but when I buy new books, women invitably outnumber men about 2-1 — I consider it my (very small) contribution to make up for many decades of male domination in the field.

And I don’t regret it for a moment — writers like Claire North, Jo Walton, Becky Chambers, and N.K. Jemsin are second to none in contemporary SFF.

What does you list look like?

And now for something (a little) different

I came across this on Mastodon today (you can find the blog entry here) and immediately thought, «this is a game I can play»! So I’ve marked all the Hugo-award winners I’ve read in red.

I was aware I hadn’t read as much Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman as people tell me I should, but am surprised to see Vernor Vinge feature here. He’s not a writer I ever really considered, but apparently there at least a couple of titles I should consider.

2023 Nettle & Bone by T. Kingfisher
2022 A Desolation Called Peaceby Arkady Martine
2021 Network Effect by Martha Wells
2020 A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

2019 The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
2018 The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
2017 The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin
2016 The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin
2015 The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (trans. Ken Liu)
2014 Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie

2013 Redshirts by John Scalzi
2012 Among Others by Jo Walton
2011 Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
2010 (tie) The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
2010 (tie) The City & the City by China Miéville

2009 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
2008 The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
2007 Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge
2006 Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
2005 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2004 Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
2003 Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer

2002 American Gods by Neil Gaiman
2001 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
2000 A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge

1999 To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
1998 Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
1997 Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

1996 The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
1995 Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
1994 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
1993 (tie) A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
1993 (tie) Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
1992 Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
1991 The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
1990 Hyperion by Dan Simmons

1989 Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh
1988 The Uplift War by David Brin
1987 Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
1986 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
1985 Neuromancer by William Gibson
1984 Startide Rising by David Brin
1983 Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov

1982 Downbelow Station by C. J. Cherryh
1981 The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
1980 The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

1979 Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre
1978 Gateway by Frederik Pohl
1977 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
1976 The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
1975 The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
1974 Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
1973 The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
1972 To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer
1971 Ringworld by Larry Niven
1970 The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

1969 Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
1968 Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
1967 The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
1966 (tie) Dune by Frank Herbert
1966 (tie) …And Call Me Conrad (aka: This Immortal) by Roger Zelazny
1965 The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber

1964 Here Gather the Stars (aka: Way Station) by Clifford D. Simak
1963 The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
1962 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
1961 A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

1960 Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

1959 A Case of Conscience by James Blish
1958 The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
1956 Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
1955 They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley
1953 The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

A take on dystopia. Or is it utopia? A stream of consciousness blog for #edcmooc

Ok, then. #edcmooc has begun, and the first unit is about utopias and dystopias. Naturally enough, given the focus on digital culture and education, we are to look at the first assignment while contemplating education…

At first we are asked to watch 4 short films. They are

All of them have a different take on technology.

Bendito Machine is a fairly standard parable about the dangers of technology, specifically televion, telling us how it corrupts a society. The more subtle background is a commentary on how perhaps humans are dependent on something to worship, and whether it is a gold calf or high-tech dancing television beast is not important to us. Indeed, the people in the film are quick to discard their idols for the next impressive thing, as their overflowing landfill will attest to.

Inbox is more sweet, a fable about connections, showing how if we allow ourselves to connect based on content rather than appearances, suprises and even love may ensue. The "inbox", in this case, is a magical paper bag – or rather, two, connected paper bags. In this case communications technology becomes a magical force bringing unlikely lovers together.

Thursday is the most complex of the selection. We are introduced to an urban nightmare, a sterile, mechanised, soul-sucking cityscape. And yet, within this seemingly sterile enviornment, life seems to thrive. A bird feeds and raises her three chicks. A man and a woman find each other and love. A clever twist on the dystopian tale, where the victor seems to be life and hope.

NewMedia is mostly a nightmarish meditation, where machines seem to float around feeding on the brains/thoughts/souls of the few humans around.

And so?

Science fiction is full of dystopias; words that tell us about the dangers of science, technology and messing with nature. It has been that way since the dawn of recorded history, starting with the story of Prometheus and the theft of fire from the gods. Progress is dangerous, and for all the benefits it also brings disaster for both the giver and receiver. Frankenstein is another example, where grave consequences are the result of meddling with nature. In real life, the introduction of cane toads into the Australian fauna can be seen as an example of a similar hubris.

Don’t mess with nature. Science will lead us to disaster; one of the more common themes of science fiction, especially now that we all see so clearly how human "progress" is poisoning our very planet and endangering our future.

The list of films that paint a rather bleak picture of the future is long. Metropolis. Westworld. Blade Runner.

Even films that at the outset seem to have a more positive view of technology end up with a rather bleak view, with a prime example being 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even a film like Source Code, where the technological progress saves a city has a downbeat ending.

One of the few examples of an unconditionally positive view of technologial progress is the Star Trek universe, and even here there are plenty of warnings and the two most recent films seem to have abandoned techno-optimism altogether.

Ok, then. What about education and digital cultures? That is what we are supposed to be reflecting on, isn’t it?

I don’t know yet.

I love gadgets and the connections the internet allows me to explore.

I think networked education has a huge potential, one I have experienced myself through experiments with things like #etmooc, #moocmooc, #ooe13, and, more recently, the Norwegian #smartlæring.

But, at the same time, the potential of networks to be misused is frightening – and Edward Snowden is not the first to point this out. We have been warned about it for a long time. This is a dystopian view of the world as it is today, and it is chillingly convincing.

What does it mean to educate within digital cultures in the modern surveillance state? What should I, as an educator, think about. What should I teach my students about this.

I am reminded about the slogan sometimes used by supporters of the national rifle associaton in the the USA:

Guns don’t kill people. People [with guns] kill people.

To which the obvious retort is:

So keep the damned guns away from the people!

But we can’t do that.

Can we?

And, even if we could – do we want to?

These thoughts are not yet digested, but I seem to have been chewing on them for some time now. This block in #edcmooc has just brought them to the surface again…