Sunday, March 11, 2007

PZ and Skiffy

Apparently while I was offline, PZ Myers turned 50. And in doing so, he demanded that readers write poems celebrating him, or something. So here's a tri-partite Fibonacci poem in honor of Dr. Myers:


has turned
fifty. May
he never meet an
axe murderer in overalls.


the scourge
of I.D.,
but his secret love
is ever the cephalopod.


guy who
descends from
monkeys, he's oddly
mild-mannered. Clark Kent o' the Plains.

(Anyone quibbling with my accounting of syllables will be subject to pistols at dawn!)

He also provides the latest "Bold it if you've done it" meme-thing, this time springing from somebody's list of "the most significant SF and fantasy books ever" or something like that. Here's the list, to which I have added some comment where appropriate. Bold means I've read the book; italics means I definitely plan to read the book; strike means I have no intention of reading the book, for one reason or another, and a question mark before the title means that I haven't even heard of the book. No markup at all means I have no views on the book whatsoever. OK? OK.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (Duh!)

The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov (I'm always surprised at the way Asimov's writing seems to have fallen out of favor. I've loved the guy for years.)

Dune, Frank Herbert (I started it once, but I got exasperated at having to flip back to the glossary just about every other sentence. I'll definitely read it again, though.)

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin (Don't remember it all that well. My reaction at the time was "Meh". But then, I was in eighth grade.)

Neuromancer, William Gibson (Sorry, but cyberpunk just doesn't do it for me. I started this novel four or five times before I decided that it simply wasn't my cup of tea. One of the iconic opening sentences of SF, though.)

Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke (I love Clarke, too. I've read a lot by him, but never this, for some reason.)

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley (I'd have found this book a lot easier to like if not for the continual "Wow, do Christians suck!" subtext. So much good stuff here, though.)

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr. (Just got a copy from SFBC!)

The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov (Not familiar with this.)

? Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras

? Cities in Flight, James Blish (Aside from Blish's novelizations of Star Trek episodes, I've read nothing by him at all. It's really a shame how many SF authors are vanishing into the mists of out-of-print-land.)

The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett

Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison (Hey, Harlan, can we get a progress report on Last Dangerous Visions?)

? Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison

The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester

Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany

Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey (Tried McCaffrey years ago and bounced off her. Unlikely to try again.)

Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card (Sorry. I'm usually pretty good about not holding artists' political views against them, but for some reason, I can't get beyond the fact that Card is a homophobic reactionary twit.)

The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson

The Forever War, Joe Haldeman

Gateway, Frederik Pohl (I loved this! I need to read the follow-up books.)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson (What a great book this was.)

Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice (Saw the movie, see little to be gained by reading the book. Loved the movie, though. Cruise was fine as LeStat, in my eyes.)

The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin

? Little, Big, John Crowley

Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny (Ahhh, the Amber books. Gotta finish those.)

? The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

? Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement

? More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon

? The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith

On the Beach, Nevil Shute

Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke

Ringworld, Larry Niven

? Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys

The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien (Tried once. Got about three pages in. Will try again.)

Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut

Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson (Best ending ever! OK, not really. Stephenson has no idea how to end his books.)

Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester (Just acquired this one, too.)

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

? Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock

The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks (I read this in seventh grade, before I read Tolkien. I've never tried reading it since, for obvious reasons. I tried reading Brooks's non-Shannara series a few years ago -- some kind of dark fantasy thing -- and I didn't like it, either.)

Timescape, Gregory Benford

? To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

I obviously haven't read all of these, so I can't properly judge how "essential" or "significant" every title here may be. Seems to me, though, that Tigana should be in there somewhere, or The Stand. (I consider horror to be part of the SF and fantasy rubric.)

And now this is where you can all jump in comments and tell me what an ill-read slob I am, that I haven't read the Hitchhiker books or whatever else!


PZ Myers said...

I hope that isn't an oblique wish that I meet an axe murderer in slacks...

Sean Meade said...

Dune is great.
A Wizard of Earthsea is beautiful. i love LeGuin. i encourage you to try it again (and read Left Hand of Darkness).
hated Mists of Avalon for the subtext you mentioned.
hmm. i remember liking the first few McCaffrey.
and i think you're missing out on Ender's Game (but you probably think i'm missing out on Mists of Avalon ;-)
if you can make it past the creation story in the Silmarillion, and get started on the next part, you'll make it.

Tosy And Cosh said...

Caves of Steel is the first of the "robot series" novels, a series that, in my humble estimation, is the equal of Asimov's Foundation series.

Brooks' also has a third, comic, series set in a fantasy world. The first was "Magic Kingdom for Sale--SOLD" and the teen me liked it much. (Suburban schlub sees an ad for a $1,000,000 "magic kingdom" in a high-end catalog and buys it, making him the new king of a run-down fantasy world).

Anonymous said...

I love Vonnegut, and Slaughterhouse Five is definitely one of his best (and I can't believe you aren't even planning to read it!); however, I consider Player Piano (his first novel) or Cat's Cradle (his breakout novel) to be more essential to science fiction. Vonnegut definitely belongs on the list for using science fiction elements in works which cannot accurately be classified as sci-fi/fantasy.