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RIP, Madeleine L'Engle - F*cking with Clusters

About RIP, Madeleine L'Engle

Previous Entry RIP, Madeleine L'Engle Sep. 9th, 2027 @ 02:47 pm Next Entry
Thanks to L'Engle, I wanted to be an astrophysicist before I even knew what one was. She taught me that bunsen burners were cool, and that simultaneously liking both science and poetry didn't make you especially strange:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/08/books/07cnd-lengle.html?em&ex=1189483200&en=6085d935d8c5c173&ei=5087%0A

This has been a bad year for the major women in science fiction. I can't think of who is left aside from Le Guin and (somewhat) McCaffrey.

Edit:
I completely forgot about Connie Willis! The world is now a little brighter. (Doomsday Book has a solid spot on my top 50 list)

I included McCaffery for her Ship who Sang and her Pegasus in Flight serieses. I agree that most of her stuff is fantasy with psuedo-science backing it up, but imho those two are focused enough on science to make the cut.
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From:entomologist
Date:September 9th, 2007 11:02 pm (UTC)
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C. J. Cherryh's still with us, and I'd argue she's a better writer than McCaffrey, if perhaps not as well-known. Actually, I think if one is going to mention McCaffrey in this context one should probably also include Catherine Asaro -- again, less well-known, but her hard sf romances are again better written than anything I've read of the Dragonlady's since the first two Pern novels. And of course, there's Lois McMaster Bujold -- four "best novel" Hugos and Writer Guest of Honor at WorldCon is pretty major, I think. I'd also name Connie Willis as a major female SF writer for similar reasons.
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From:martian687
Date:September 10th, 2007 01:35 am (UTC)
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I haven't been that pleased with past 2 or 3 Vorkosigan books. Robin Hobb and Jacqueline Carey are both better authors, IMO. (And they're both women as well.)
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From:porfinn
Date:September 10th, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)
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They really aren't sci-fi authors. All three of them are very, very talented, but they always seem more fantastical than scientific (more magic, less outer space).
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From:martian687
Date:September 10th, 2007 02:33 am (UTC)
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Right, but Patri's first proposition was that Bujold was the best writer ever, not the best SF writer ever. I was merely expressing my opinion that Hobb and Carey are better writers.
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From:porfinn
Date:September 10th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
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Ah. Very good. I haven't read any of her stuff, but Robin Hobb is truly amazing. The worlds she creates and the depth of her characters amaze me. She is very, very gifted. So far, what I have read by Carey has been interesting and I look forward to more. I agree with you completely: they are both extremely creative and talented individuals. Now I will have to go track down the Bujold person. I just finished sucession of non-fiction, so the timing is perfect.
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From:avani
Date:September 10th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
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You should point me at a good SF title by Bujold.
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From:entomologist
Date:September 11th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
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All of her SF is set in the same universe, that of Miles Vorkosigan. I'd recommend beginning with either "Cordelia's Honor," which begins with Miles's parents' initial meeting and courtship and ends with his birth, or "Falling Free," a stand-alone set about 200 years earlier in the same universe. The latter is probably the most hard-sf of her books, centering on the ethics of bioengineering and with a deep-space construction engineer as the protagonist. She actually manages to make a starship repair sequence as tense and exciting as any battle scene I've ever read. Lois is extraordinarily good at that sort of thing; as she drily observed during a panel discussion at ConJosé in 2003, a dinner party, written the write way, can be more excruciating for the protagonist and the sympathetic reader than the most intense physical torture scene.
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From:avani
Date:September 11th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)
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I've actually started _Cordelia's Honor_ and not been too thrilled with it. It might be my particular circumstances making me less sympathetic to the main character, but it never really grabbed me.

Has she written anything outside that that you consider worthwhile?
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From:entomologist
Date:September 11th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
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I might argue that George R. R. Martin is a better writer, if I wasn't so ticked off at him over the unconscionable delay in finishing A Dance with Dragons....
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From:porfinn
Date:September 10th, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
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Yeah...that's who I thought of. And I find her much more of a hard core sci-fi artist than Anne McCaffrey. I'm not sure she is a better writer, but book for book I would put my money on Cherryh. I find her work much more thought provoking. I kind of thought L'Engle was more sort of speculative fiction than Sci-fi, but...well...reading her work certainly made me feel less out of place for enjoying the things I did.
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From:avani
Date:September 10th, 2007 08:29 pm (UTC)
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I haven't read Cherryh or Asaro. I'd had the impression that they weren't hard science writers, so I never really looked into them. Are there particular books by either that you'd recommend?
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From:mtbg
Date:September 10th, 2007 09:44 pm (UTC)
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Cherryh's Foreigner books are definitely SF, but much more about humans interacting with an alien culture than anything sciency.
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From:lorimt
Date:September 11th, 2007 12:07 am (UTC)
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Cherryh's Cyteen series is also SF, with a major theme related to the ethics of cloning.
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From:entomologist
Date:September 11th, 2007 06:16 am (UTC)
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I have to confess that the only one of Cherryh's novels I've actually read is Serpent's Reach. From what I've heard from other fen, it's one of the best examples of her third-person-extremely-limited style, where only what the viewpoint characters consciously think about makes it onto the page. This has the effect of giving the reader a rather narrow view of their world, since you don't get the details that are so obvious and commonplace from the character's POV that they're not worth really thinking about. The setting is fascinating, but you have to infer a fair amount of it, as a lot more is implied than stated. The human culture depicted in the book is in many ways more unsettlingly alien than that of the actual aliens, who are essentially large, sentient and empathic eusocial insects.
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From:entomologist
Date:September 11th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC)
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Oops, just realized I didn't get to Asaro before hitting "post." In her case, I'd recommend beginning with her first publication, Primary Inversion. From there, the main line of the Ruby Dynasty series goes like this:

The Last Hawk
The Radiant Seas
Ascendant Sun
The Quantum Rose
Spherical Harmonic
The Moon's Shadow

Then there's Catch the lightning, which takes place some fifty years after the aforementioned sequence, even though it was the second book to be published; indications are that more novels set between it and The Moon's Shadow are probably forthcoming at some point in the future. Most recently in that setting, she's done three prequels, which I haven't read yet: Skyfall, Scion, and The Third Key. She also has a fantasy trilogy which I also haven't read, and four (so far) near-future "SF thrillers" involving the development of AI and robotics technology, and a few short stories. A complete list of her works can be found here: http://www.sff.net/people/asaro/chapters.html/. If you want a good sample of her work, you could read the novella "Aurora in Four Voices" on the Analog website.
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From:cywrain
Date:September 10th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC)
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I'd count Margaret Atwood as major, even if she is more speculative fiction than science fiction. And while Joanna Russ hasn't published a novel since the 80s, she is still among the living.
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From:martian687
Date:September 10th, 2007 01:37 am (UTC)
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What about Elizabeth Moon?
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From:porfinn
Date:September 10th, 2007 02:31 am (UTC)
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Elizabeth Moon shows a lot of potential as a sci-fi author. I hope she keeps moving along.
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From:porfinn
Date:September 10th, 2007 02:50 am (UTC)
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I will have to check out Connie Willis! Her stuff managed to sneak by me. Thank you.
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From:coraa
Date:September 10th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)
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Connie Willis is definitely worth checking out. Doomsday Book is brilliant, though something of a downer. For a more cheerful Willis, there's To Say Nothing of the Dog.

I'm trying to think of more awesome female science fiction writers; most of the awesome female specfic writers I can think of do tend toward fantasy.
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From:jeffspender
Date:September 10th, 2007 05:03 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I will personally go hand-crank LeGuin's life support if it comes to that. Not that I think she'd be one to, y'know, actually appreciate that instead of going in a dignified way, but... you get the idea.
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