Tag Archives: suzanne collins

Galactic Suburbia Spoilerific Book Club: The Hunger Games

It’s the trilogy that put dystopia into YA and not only kicked Harry Potter and Twilight off the bestseller charts, but also shot them between the eyes with a crossbow. While they were stung by wasps.

Tansy and Alisa are spoiling the hell out of The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins. Listener beware, the first rule about the Spoilerific Book Club is… WE SPOIL STUFF.

Please only listen to the podcast if you have read the books in question, plan never to read the books in question, or really truly don’t mind spoilers. Also, towards the end, we get pretty spoilery about Harry Potter too. It’s relevant! Mostly.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, by direct download or stream it on the site.

Girls in Spaceships, with a side order of robots please

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about YA science fiction – and the lack thereof. As YA fantasy took the noughties by storm, a regular refrain I heard was, but what about the science fiction?

It turned up from time to time, of course, and there have been some wildly successful examples: Scott Westerfeld’s dystopian Uglies series, Suzanne Collins’ the Hunger Games trilogy, and zombie thriller Feed by Mira Grant. Then there have been the steampunls stylings of Westerfeld (again), Richard Harland and Cassandra Clare. Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi have both written books for teens.

But… there just haven’t been enough spaceships. To be precise, not enough girls on spaceships. With robots.

Science fiction as a whole has been in a bit of a slump. More specifically, science fiction written by women has been shrinking at a rate of knots – it’s still around, but whenever publishers put out less of something, diversity is usually the first thing to suffer. A wave of spaceships and robots in YA could be just what the doctor ordered, sparking off a renaissance in the larger genre similar to what has happened with the development of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

There’s a myth that girls aren’t interested in science fiction. It’s far more likely that this idea has come about because, in fact, science fiction has not always been that interested in girls. This post about “hard SF now with girl cooties” was very nicely timed, and those books have gone straight on to my To Read list.

Science fiction has been around a really long time. It needs new ideas, new blood and new waves in order to revitalise itself on a regular basis. The thing that still hasn’t been done to death, in fact has hardly really got started (yet) is the science fiction for and about teenage girls.

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Super Bumper Catchy Uppy Review Post 2010

I’ve actually got to the point where it BUGS ME if I like a book and for one reason or another, don’t get around to reviewing it on my blog. Sometimes I don’t have time, or I can’t figure out what to say, or what I have to say is too big, or I just read too many awesome books in the one fortnight and some get lost along the way. Or I talked about it on Galactic Suburbia and lost impetus to write my thoughts down. There are also the books that I feel odd or uncomfortable about reviewing, because they’re written by friends (weirdly sometimes I do feel okay about doing this and sometimes not, and it has nothing to do with the degree of friendship) or because there’s some other perceived conflict of interest – there are some TPP books where I have contributed more editorial input than others, and of course there are anthologies in which a story of my own appears.

And there are the ones I just forgot about at the time. And the ones I finished really close to the end of the year, when all my blogging mojo was directed at Ace and the baseball bat.

Part of me wants to go, “REALLY? You REALLY can’t let it go? You’re going to actually feel guilty about not reviewing a small handful of awesome books that people probably know about anyway, rather than feeling proud about the zillions you have reviewed?”

To which I reply, “Okay, you’re obviously a part of me that does not know me very well AT ALL.”

Here then is a super post of a bunch of books I meant to review in 2010 but didn’t, so I can move on into 2011 with a clear conscience. Or something.

Russell T Davies & Benjamin Cook, The Writer’s Tale: the Final Chapter
I very much resented having to buy this book a second time, even if the extra amount added to the paperback was totally worth the price. I now have TWO copies on my shelves, and who’s going to want my hardback of the first half? It was, sadly, completely worth it. A fascinating behind the scenes look at the creative genius (and it has to be said, creative flukitude) of Russell T Davies, it’s a very candid correspondence and one of the best books I’ve ever read as far as capturing what it’s like to be a writer. All writerly spouses should read it, regardless of their interest or lack thereof in Doctor Who!

Helen Merrick, The Secret Feminist Cabal
A fascinating, crunchy examination of the history of fan culture, which happens to have an awful lot in it about women, attitudes to women, feminism, and attitudes to feminism. Awesome stuff.

Clayton Hickman (ed), The Brilliant Book of Doctor Who
One of two very well-chosen Christmas presents I bought myself! I’ve never bothered with the annuals or any of the tie in books about New Who, because they seem to mostly be aimed at kids – this was totally aimed at kids, but luckily the kids in question were mostly TWELVE YEAR OLD ME so I enjoyed it very much as a lazy Christmas read. Far closer to a Doctor Who Magazine Special than some boring old annual, this was full of cool bits and pieces, Moffatt quotes, cast interviews, making of features, and extras. The Brian Aldiss story was a bit of boring old tripe that didn’t capture the character voices at all, but the rest of the book was tip-top. My favourite bit was the collection of Churchill diary entries with mentions of all the Doctors who have crossed his path over his lifetime, which was genuinely funny and sweet.

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Future Classics

You all know how much I love it when people start talking about celebrating female authors, right?

In response to the recent discussions about women and the Clarke Award, women in British SF etc. Torque Control has announced a couple of interesting blogging plans. Firstly they have announced a plan to actively discuss some of the 2010 (British) SF releases by women in the first week of December, and are calling for other readers to pick some up (if they haven’t already) and join the discussion.

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The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

This is one I’ve heard about a lot, though apart from the basic premise I had somehow manage to get to it without major spoilers. Result! The premise: each year, a boy and a girl from each District are selected by lot to fight to the death in the arena, for the entertainment viewing of the masses. Of twenty four children, only the winner is allowed to live.

Katniss is an extraordinary heroine. At sixteen, she lives in great poverty and is the protector and food-gatherer for her family. When her beloved little sister Prim is called up to the Hunger Games, Katniss does not hesitate to take her place. Joining her is Peeta, the son of the local baker, a boy who once showed kindness to Katniss when she was starving. The two of them go through the pre-preparations in the Capitol, all the while knowing that they will soon have to fight not only the other contestants, but also each other.

If she is going to survive, Katniss has to be ruthless, she has to be smart, and she has to be very careful who she trusts.

The tagline on this edition of the book is ‘strategy is everything,’ and it’s this that really lifts the book into being a truly great story. Step by step, we follow Katniss into darkness, through thirst and starvation and the quite brutal reality of what she has to do. The combination of reality television with gladiatorial/deadly combat is hardly a new concept in science fiction – indeed, it was around long before reality television itself was established – and yet this feels fresh and authentic, with a cast of characters who are drawn vividly even when they only make brief appearances in the narrative.

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