Wednesday, 7 August 2013

SF Author Quiz - Judging a book by its Synopsis

A few days ago I read yet another post by a male SF fan who's somehow never read books by female SF author (and had somehow never heard of many well know, respected, award winning female SF authors).

My first impulse was to write a rant post.  Surely we've reached the point that if you're writing something on the internet you're also net savvy enough to be able to google 'female SF authors' to address your ignorance.  I've decided not to give suggestions on these types of posts anymore.  If someone honestly wants to find authors of a particular gender, race, sexuality, etc. then maybe doing the footwork to 1) find them and 2) see what's good, will convince them to actually read some books by people who are different from them.  I'm just getting the impression that writing an 'I haven't read X' post is becoming the 'I've admitted my fault and now I don't need to fix my fault' post.  The act of telling people what you're doing/planning on doing makes you feel good, so you don't end up actually DOING anything to address the problem.

So instead of a rant (ok, a major rant since that previous paragraph's a bit of a minor one) I've decided (at my husband's prompting) to do a quiz instead.  If you honestly judge books based on how much they interest you - rather than the cover or author's name - then try and guess whether the following books were written by a man or a woman base solely on the premise.  And note that the writing itself doesn't count, as it's the book's synopsis and thereby written by someone in the marketing department, not the author.

Because the bookshelves of people who honestly don't care about the gender of the author aren't just filled with books by men.  If you're truly interested in reading a good story it won't matter to you who the author is.

A few notes on my choices.  I purposely picked obscure/little known authors/books (both male and female) so they'd be harder to recognize by synopsis.  Some of these books are out of print.  Also, I picked hard SF books only, including some military SF and some space opera.  I'm putting the answers in a different post, which you can find here.

If you like this idea - getting the chance to examine books without being biased by the cover/author, then tell me in the comments and I'll do some more of these for different genres/sub-genres.  Also, if you do recognize a book, please don't mention the title/author in the comments.  Let others try their luck.

1) A starving artist on the planet Veledon agrees to let a colony of "brain enhancers" occupy her skull. These microscopic creatures live in the brain's outer linings, causing bursts of genius-or irreparable harm. The creatures themselves are like tiny human beings; one of their greatest concerns is getting their young to breed.

2) Kathryn and Jarrikk - she a human translator and he a S'sinn translator - had every reason to hate one another. Yet only by working together do they stand any chance of averting interstellar war.

3) She's a monster in the body of an eighteen-year-old girl. Bred by scientists, grown in vats, indoctrinated by the government, she and her sisters will win this war-no matter the cost.
And the costs are high. Their lifespan is short; as they age they become unstable and undergo a process called "the spoiling." On their eighteenth birthday they are discharged. Lined up and shot like cattle.

However, the truth is, Catherine and her sisters may not be strictly human, but they're not animals. They can twist their genomes and indoctrinate them to follow the principles of Faith and Death, but they can't shut off the part of them that wants more than war. Catherine may have only known death, but she dreams of life, and she will get it at any cost.

4) Early in the 21st century, global warming has caused sickness and death among plants, animals, and humans. Suddenly aliens contact and genetically modify a group of 14-years-olds, inviting them to visit their spacecraft. After several months of living among the aliens and studying genetics, the students discover that the aliens have been manipulating them and rebel. Upon their return to Earth, the girls in the group discover that they are pregnant and can only wonder what form their unborn children will take. Generations later, the offspring of these children seek to use their alien knowledge to change their genetic code, to allow them to live and prosper in an environment that is quickly becoming uninhabitable from the dual scourges of global warming and biowarfare. But after all the generations of change, will the genetically modified creatures resemble their ancestors, or will nothing human remain?

5) Jane Navio is the resource manager of Phoecea, an asteroid colony poised on the knife-edge of hard vacuum and unforgiving space. A mishap has dumped megatons of water and methane out the colony’s air lock, putting the entire human population at risk.

Jane discovers that the crisis may have been engineered by the Martian crime syndicate, as a means of executing a coup that will turn Phocaea into a client-state. And if that wasn't bad enough, an AI that spawned during the emergency has gone rogue…and there’s a giant x-factor in the form of the transhumanist Viridian cult that lives in Phocaea's bowels.

Jane’s in the prime of her career—she’s only a bit over a century old—but the conflict between politics and life-support is tearing her apart. To save her colony and her career, she’s going to have to solve several mysteries at once—a challenge that will put her up against all the difficulties, contradictions, and awkward compromises entailed in the human colonization of outer space.

6) When Jos' parents are killed in an attack on their trading ship, the boy is kidnapped by the attackers and then escapes - only to fall into the alien hands of humanity's greatest enemies. He is soon coerced into becoming a spy against the human race.

7) In the twenty-fourth century, nano-designed biology has turned the world into humanity's playground. And entrepreneur Lucius Sterling has created a trillion-dollar empire solving the world's problems: poverty, disease, war, and even death. But when a new technology attacks the fundamental building blocks of nano-biology, the survival of humanity is at stake.And only Sterling's estranged grandson, Jack, can stop the destruction.

8) What are the repercussions, once it has been made public, that two individuals have been found to be each other's perfect erotic object out to "point nine-nine-nine and several nines percent more"? What will it do to the individuals involved, to the city they inhabit, to their geosector, to their entire world society, especially when one is an illiterate worker, the sole survivor of a world destroyed by "cultural fugue," and the other is--you!

9) The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the invasion, Earth''s last roll of the dice was to dispatch three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. The human race would live on ... somewhere.

150 years later, the planet Darien hosts a thriving human settlement, which enjoys a peaceful relationship with an indigenous race, the scholarly Uvovo. But there are secrets buried on Darien''s forest moon. Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient races at the dawn of galactic civilization. Unknown to its colonists, Darien is about to become the focus of an intergalactic power struggle where the true stakes are beyond their comprehension. And what choices will the Uvovo make when their true nature is revealed and the skies grow dark with the enemy?

10) While drifting in space, lost due to navigational failure, a mineral scout discovers God. When word gets out, academics from the studiums across Orion scramble to gain the Entity’s favor. However, not all the sentients of Orion hold this "god" in awe—some, like the philosophers of Scolar and the Transhumans of Extropy are deeply suspicious. Onto the grand stage of interplanetary academic politics, intellectual conceit, and dubious theology walks Baronessa Mira Fedor. Her planet has been torn apart by the invasion of a race of giant tardigrades. Only the Orion League of Sentient Species can lend aid, but OLOSS is preoccupied with communicating with God. Mira, together with the rowdy, misogynist Jo-Jo Rasterovich, is left to her own resources to find help. In doing so she unmasks a galaxy-sized intrigue. But will she live long enough to tell anyone.

Once again, the answers can be found here.

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