January 04, 2017

Mind Voyage live on Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Hello!  Mind Voyages command center has been moved over to Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  Please join us for some brand new adventures or continue an old journey.

December 14, 2010

Ready to continue the voyage in 2011?

2011 52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge

This past year has been awesome and I've had lots of fun.  2011 is almost upon us and time to start thinking about making some changes.  As I mentioned, I can't maintain two blog challenges at the same time so going to blend Mind Voyages with Read 52 books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge. 

You'll have the option of continuing the voyages, starting a new voyage or blending with the other challenge.  I've come up with a variety of mini challenges as well which will help people reach the 52 books goal.  The Mini challenges are also for those folks who don't think they can or have the time to read 52 books.  Challenges within the challenges.  Set a goal and go for it.  You'll be able to link to your reviews on the other blog as well.

The goal is simply to read (at least) one book a week for 52 weeks or 12 books in 12 weeks.

1)  Mind Voyages is a science fiction / fantasy challenge to explore the hugo and nebula winners, take side trips through the different decades reading the nominees, check out Philip K. Dick and Robert Heinlein.   Also, Since I can't  possibly imagine a reading challenge without exploring new releases that come out in 2011, we have the all inclusive Pluto challenge. Links to all the voyages are available on the Mind Voyages blog.

Moon Voyage :  Read at least 6 winners on the Hugo Winners List

Sling shot back to Earth
:  Read at least  3 winners on the Nebula Winner's List

Venus Voyage:  
Philip K. Dick Quest  - Read at least 2 of his books

Mercury  Voyage
:   Robert Heinlein Quest - Read at least 2 of his books

Mars Voyage
:   Read at least 6 winners on the Hugo List and take a side trip through the 21st century and read at least 4 nominees.

Go into Warp Drive and visit the other planets

Jupiter Voyage
:   Go side tripping 90's Style

:  Go Side Tripping 80's Style

: Go Side Tripping 70's Style

Neptune Voyage
:  Go Side Tripping through the 50's and 60's

The I'm going to Pluto because Pluto is still a planet as far as I'm concerned Voyage:  
Mix it up, choose the number of books you want to read from each voyage, include some new books you pick up along the way and enjoy the ride. 
2)  Read around the World:   I probably did read around the world last year but didn't pay much attention. So this year I'm paying attention to setting. Keep track of where the story takes place and see how many places you end up. 

3)  Ireland Reading Challenge: or just stick with one country such as Ireland and read books set in Ireland, written by Irish Authors or with an Irish theme. Pick 2, 4, 6, or 12 books to read.

4) Jane Austen Mini Challenge: Read Jane Austen's books -Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion. All can be found online here.

5)  Well Educated Mind Mini Challenge:  The Well Educated Mind written by Susan Wise Bauer is a guide to reading the great works.  Read 3 books from each category: Fiction, autobiography, history, drama and poetry.  

6) New Author Mini Challenge:   Read at least one new to you author per month.

7) Try a new genre challenge: Read at least one book in a genre you've never tried before. 

8)  E-Book reading challenge:   read at least 3, 6, 9, or 12 e-books this year. 

9)  Chunkster Challenge:  Chunksters are considered books that are over 500 pages in length.  Read one chunkster a month.  

10)  Read 12 classics in 12 months 

A new year, a fresh slate.  Time to discover some new friends and rediscover some old friends. Make the challenge as easy and casual as you want or spice it up and challenge yourself. Explore a bit, but most of all have fun.

The rules:

  1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011. 
  2. Our book weeks will begin on Sunday.  
  3. Participants may join at any time.
  4. All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc.
  5. Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2011.
  6. Books may overlap other challenges.
  7. Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  8. Come back and sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" in the 52 books blog.
  9. You don't have a blog to participate.  Post your weekly book in the comments section.
  10. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your most current reads. 
Get set to blast off for a new year and update your readers to follow 52 Books in 52 Weeks.

December 08, 2010

Plans for 2011

If you would like to continue the voyage or plan a new voyage, Mind Voyages is going to be melded in with the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge which will be continuing in 2011.   The voyages will be considered mini challenges within the 52 books challenge and Mr. Linky is posted weekly on the 52 books site for you to link to your reviews.  I worked rather hard to create this blog and don't want to see it go to waste. So the blog will remain up so folks can refer to the links for their voyages. 

The voyages are:

Moon Voyage :  Read at least 6 winners on the Hugo Winners List

Sling shot back to Earth:  Read at least  3 winners on the Nebula Winner's List

Venus Voyage:   Philip K. Dick Quest  - Read at least 2 of his books

Mercury  Voyage:   Robert Heinlein Quest - Read at least 2 of his books

Mars Voyage:   Read at least 6 winners on the Hugo List and take a side trip through the 21st century and read at least 4 nominees.

Go into Warp Drive and visit the other planets

Jupiter Voyage:   Go side tripping 90's Style

Saturn:  Go Side Tripping 80's Style

Uranus: Go Side Tripping 70's Style

Neptune Voyage:  Go Side Tripping through the 50's and 60's

The I'm going to Pluto because Pluto is still a planet as far as I'm concerned Voyage:   Mix it up, choose the number of books you want to read from each voyage, include some new books you pick up along the way and enjoy the ride.

December 01, 2010

Post your Reviews - July to Dec

July - December 2010 Reviews

Post will rotate to the first of the month every month

Link to your reviews.   Please link to your review url and not your blog url.  If you have multiple reviews indicate multi reviews in parentheses after your name.  Otherwise type in the name of the book in parentheses after your name.

September 19, 2010

Journey's End!

Canyon Bend - Courtesy Moodflow.com

Journey's End

I'm coming in for a landing, having reached the end of my journey.  I've run out of gas, food and energy.   Was I successful, let's see
  1. The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester (Hugo 1953) 
  2. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury (Hugo 1954)
  3. Dune - Frank Herbert  (Hugo 1966) 
  4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein  (Hugo 1967)
  5. Spin - Robert Charles Wilson (Hugo 2006)
  6. A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller  - 1961 Hugo  Started and couldn't finish
  7. To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Phillip Jose Farmer  1972 Hugo Started & couldn't finish
  8. The Mists of Avalon - Marian Zimmer Bradley
  9. The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan 
  10. Something Wicked This Way Comes - Robert Heinlein
  11. www.wake - Robert J. Sawyer
I successfully completed the moon voyages by reading 6 Hugo winners and the Mercury Voyages by reading two Robert Heinlein books.   It seems I did go to Pluto and back, kind of meandering about through the stars on my way.  I discovered a few things along the way - that I can't read all of one genre without getting bored, I need a variety.  That books which entertained and engaged me back in my 20's, no longer engage me in my 50's.   That I've gotten rather picky about what I do read and if I'm not enjoying it, stop reading, put the book down and go on to something else.   That I don't like time limits and too many choices overwhelm me.    

So, my journey has come to an end.  We started out with 26 voyagers joining me and all have crash landed except for maybe Eric, Heather and Miss Mouse.   I'm going to let the blog go static for the rest of the year because honestly, I simply don't have the energy to maintain it.  Life is set to get a bit more busy in the coming months with the start of my next class, Short Stories and Nanowrimo in November, plus other writing projects I want to work on.  Thank you to all who have been participating, following and lurking. 

"Nanoo Nanoo!"-  Mork

September 04, 2010

1967 Hugo Winner: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress


Robert A Heinlein

"It is a tale of revolution, of the rebellion of the former Lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth.  It is the tale of the disparate people--a computer technician, a vigorous young female agitator, and an elderly academic--who become the rebel movement's leaders.  And it is the story of Mike, the supercomputer whose sentience is known only to this inner circle, and who for reasons of his own is committed to the revolutions' ultimate success."  (Publisher: Orb Books, 1997 1st edition back cover)

Robert Heinlein won 4 Hugo awards and 3 retro Hugo award for his works including The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in 1967.  He was considered one of the most influential science fiction writers and won the first Damon Knight Grand Memorial Master award for lifetime achievement by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.   Many of the central themes in Heinlein's works included race, individualism, sexual freedom, philosophy and politics. He created many Utopian worlds revolving around political themes from liberal to conservative to fascism to libertarian.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a Utopian tale of a lunar colony in 2075 rebelling against authority and setting up a libertarian style government and is intriguing and thought provoking. The moon has been designated a penal colony and is populated by "loonies,"  who are either prisoners, political prisoners or descendants of prisoners.   Once prisoners have served their sentence they have to continue living on the moon because, after a few months, irreversible biological changes to their body force them to remain. They live in underground colonies and make their livings by exporting ice and wheat to the Earth. The men outnumber the woman two to one which has resulted in woman taking multiple husbands.  There are basically no laws and the population is self regulating.  Their women are held in high esteem and justice is served by ousting the trouble maker through an air lock.   They are loosely regulated by a Warden and all the facilities are controlled by one master computer, the HOLMES IV whose name is Mike.

"Mike was not official name; I had nicknamed him for Mycroft Holmes, in a story written by Dr. Watson before he founded IBM.  This story character would just sit and think--and that's what Mike did.  Mike was a fair dinkum thinkum, sharpest computer you'll ever meet."  (pg 11-12)

The story is narrated in first person point of view by  Manuel Garcia "Mannie" O'Kelly-Davis, a computer technician who takes care of the computer and discovers it has been malfunctioning out of boredom and is making mistakes on purpose.   Because controlling all the lunar functions only take up about 2% of it's operating capacity, the computer started learning as much as possible in it's free time and became self aware. 

"But on Monday, 13 may 2074 I was in computer room of Lunar Authority Complex, visiting with computer boss Mike while other machines whispered among themselves. 

Some logics get nervous breakdowns. Overloaded phone system behaves like frightened child.  Mike did not have upsets, acquired sense of humor instead.  Low one.  If he were a man, you wouldn't dare stoop over.  His idea of thigh-slapper would be to dump you out of bed--or put itch powder in pressure suit.

Not being equipped for that, Mike indulged in phony answers with skewed logic, or pranks like issuing pay cheque to a janitor in Authority's Luna City office for $10,000,000,000,000,185.15--last five digits being correct amount.  Just a great big overgrown lovable kid who ought to be kicked." (pg 13) 

The story is broken up into three sections:  Book 1 - That Dinkum Thinkum  is the prelude to the revolt with Mannie, Wyoming Knott and Professor Bernardo de la Paz deciding, along with "Mike" to form a covert executive cell and begin recruiting members.  Book 2- A Rabble in Arms in which every single person wants to have their say in how the government will be run.  "Mike" is given the persona "Adam Selene" a mysterious rich backer who is the Chairman of the executive cell who never appears in public for security sake.  The professor actually sets up a "congress" simply to keep the people occupied while he and Mannie go down to earth to sell the benefits of a free Luna society.   Book 3 - TANSTAAFL  (after one of Heinlein's saying "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch")  in which Earth attacks and Luna figures out how to counter attack by flinging rocks at Earth.

I was intrigued by Professor Bernardo de la Paz who was an anarchist and when the new congress formed, was surprised they choose him as one of the permanent heads of congress.  He did his best to cast doubts and pick apart their ideas.  Some of his ideas were interesting, but scary to say the least.

"Comrade members, like fire and fusion, government is a dangerous servant and a terrible master. You now have freedom--if you can keep it.  But do remember that you can lose this freedom more quickly to yourselves than to any other tyrant.  Move slowly, be hesitant, puzzle out the consequences of every word.  I would not be unhappy if this convention sat for ten years before reporting--but I would be frightened if you took less than one year.

Distrust the obvious, suspect the traditional...for in the past mankind has not done well when saddling itself with governments....

I note one proposal to make this congress a two house body.  Excellent--the more impediments to legislation the better.  But, instead of following tradition, I suggest one house of legislators, another whose single duty is to repeal laws.  let the legislators pass laws only with a two-thirds majority....while the repealers are able to cancel any law through a mere one-third majority.  Preposterous?  Think about it. If a bill is so poor that it cannot command two thirds of your consents, is it not likely that it would make a poor law?  And if a law is disliked by as many as one third is it not likely that you would be better off without it?

But in writing your constitution let me invite attention to the wonderful virtues of the negative!  Accentuate the negative!  Let your document be studded with things the government is forever forbidden to do.  No conscript armies..no interference however slight with freedom of press, or speech, or travel, or assembly, or of religion, or of instruction, or communication, or occupation...no involuntary taxation.  Comrades, if you were to spend five years in a study of history while thinking of more and more things that your government should promise never to do and then let your constitution be nothing but those negatives, I would not fear the outcome." (page 301 - 302)

A large part of the story deals with the rights of the individual and does have a big libertarian slant, despite the professors attempts at anarchism and it's interesting to note that other readers believe the book reflects Heinlein's Libertarian beliefs.  According to David Boaz who wrote Libertarianism: A Primer

Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property--rights that people have naturally, before governments are created. In the libertarian view, all human relationships should be voluntary; the only actions that should be forbidden by law are those that involve the initiation of force against those who have not themselves used force--actions like murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, and fraud.

Readers have had a hard time separating the author from the story.   In actually, he was very private about his political and religious beliefs.  According to the Heinlein society:

"People with particular slants seem to latch onto one work or another that suits their opinions or biases and take it as being representative of all of Heinlein. "Starship Troopers" is regarded by some 'fascist' (particularly after the hideous distortion presented in the movie version), it isn't . "Stranger in a Strange Land" became a banner book for liberals--yet it was written at the same time as "Starship Troopers" so couple the contradictions together on that account. Libertarians adore "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" with the anarchistic type of society that works so well, yet Heinlein came along with "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls" and smashed that same perfect setup to bits, showing the potential unpleasant outcome. For every political or social stance you care to choose to assign to Heinlein you can probably find something in his writing to support that opinion... and something else to contradict it"

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of stories about politics and wasn't too particularly thrilled with the story as the majority of the book is taken up with discussing politics and setting up the new government.  It was rather dry at times and the narrator's voice takes some getting used since he spoke with a dialect closely resembling Russian eliminating articles and some pronouns.  However, it is well written and does provides many diverse viewpoints for debate about the pursuit of liberty.

July 24, 2010

SFF Masterworks #49 Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Fantasy Masterworks # 49

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury 


Excerpt Chapter 10

"Just after midnight.  

Shuffling footsteps.

Along the empty street came the lightning-rod salesman, his leather valise swung almost empty in his baseball-mitt hand, his face at ease.  He turned a corner and stopped.  

Paper-soft white moths tapped at an empty store window, looking in. 

And in the window, like a great coffin boat of star-colored glass, beached on two sawhorses lay a chunk of Alaska Snow Company ice chopped to a size great enough to flash in a giant's ring. 

And sealed in this ice was the most beautiful woman in the world.
The lightning-rod salesman's smile faded.

In the dreaming coldness of ice like someone fallen and slept in snow avalanches a thousand years, forever young, was this woman. 

She was as fair as this morning and fresh as tomorrow's flowers and lovely as any maid when a man shuts his eyes and traps her, in cameo perfection, on the shell of his eyelids.

The lightning-rod salesman remembered to breath.  

Once, long ago, traveling among the marbles of Rome and Florence, he had seen women like this, kept in stone instead of ice.  Once, wandering in the Louvre, he had found women like this, washing in summer color and kept in paint.  Once, as a boy, sneaking the cool grottos behind a motion picture theater screen, on his way to a free seat, he had glanced up and there towering and flooding the haunted dark seen a woman's face as he had never seen it since, of such size and beauty built of milk-bone and moon-flesh as to freeze him there alone behind the stage, shadowed by the motion of her lips, the bird-wing flicker of her eyes, the snow-pale-death shimmering illumination from her cheeks.

So from other years there jumped forth images which flowed and found new substance here within the ice.  

What color was her hair? It was blond to whiteness and might take any color, once set free of cold.  

How tall was she?  

The prism of the ice might well multiply her size or diminish her as you moved this way or that before the empty store, the window, the night-soft rap-tapping ever-fingering gently probing moths.

Not important.

Far above all--the lightning-rod salesman shivered--he knew the most extraordinary thing. 

If by some miracle her eyelids should open with that sapphire and she should look at him, he knew what color her eyes would be.  

He knew what color her eyes would be.

If one were to enter this lonely night shop--

If one were to put forth one's hand, the warmth of that hand would...what?"

Melt the ice.

The lightning-rod salesman stood there for a long moment, his eyes quickened shut.  

He let his breath out.  

It was warm as summer on his teeth.

His hand touched the shop door.  It swung open.  Cold arctic are blew out around him. He stepped in.

The door shut.

The white snowflake moths tapped at the window."

June 30, 2010

July Status check

July Status Check

We are half way through the year and time for a flight status check.  How are you all doing on your voyages.   I've discovered some interesting things - that the same books I loved when I was 25, I don't so much when I'm 50.   Have my tastes changed or just more discerning.    I'm kind of winging it at this point and my original list has been retired.  When I last checked in had finished 5 books:

The Demolished Man (review) by Alfred Bester (1953 Hugo Winner)
Dune by Frank Herbert  (review)  (1966 Hugo winner)
Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (review) (2006 Hugo Winner) 
Under the Dome (review) by Stephen King (side trip)
Eye of the World (review) by Robert Jordan (side trip)

Since then I've completed 
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - 1954 Hugo and soon to be reviewed
www.wake by Robert J. Saywer -  2010 hugo nominee and soon to be reviewed.
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller  - 1961 Hugo  Started and couldn't finish
To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Phillip Jose Farmer  1972 Hugo Started and couldn't finish.

I'm currently reading 1967 Hugo winner "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein.  My Moon voyage is basically complete.   During July I plan on reading the other 2010 hugo nominees:  Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, The City & The City by China MiĆ©ville, Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson, Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente and The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.   The rest of the time I'll be floating through the atmosphere reading whatever across my radar.

For the remainder of the year, I'm going to post a monthly Mr. Linky to link to our reviews instead of continuing with the one major link.  Links to the posts will be put in the sidebar so can be found easily.   

How many of you are still with me and what have you been reading?

June 24, 2010

Beginnings: 1967 winner The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein

That Dinkum Thinkum

"I see in Lunaya Pravda that Luna City Council has passed on first reading a bill to examine, license, inspect--and tax---public food vendors operating inside municipal pressure. I see also is to be mass meeting tonight to organize "Sons of Revolution" talk-talk.

My old man taught me two things: "Mind own business" and "Always cut cards."  Politics never tempted me.  But on Monday 13 May 2075 I was in computer room of Lunar Authority Complex, visiting with computer boss Mike while other machines whispered among themselves.  Mike was not official name; I had nicknamed him for Mycroft Holmes, in a story written by Dr. Watson before he founded IBM.  This story character would just sit and think--and that's what Mike did.  Mike was a fair dinkum, thinkum, sharpest computer you'll ever meet.

Not fastest.  At Bell Labs, Bueno Aires, down Earthside, they've got a thinkum a tenth his size which can answer almost before you ask.  But matters whether you get answer in microsecond rather than millisecond as long as correct?

Not that Mike would necessarily give right answer; he wasn't completely honest.

When Mike was installed in Luna, he was pure thinkum, a flexible logic--"High-Optical, Logical Multi Evaluating Supervisor, Mark IV, Mod. L."--a HOLMES FOUR.  He computed ballistics for pilotless freighters and controlled their catapult.  This kept him busy less than one percent of the time and Luna Authority never believed in idle hands.  They keep hooking hardware into him--decision action boxes to let him boss other computer, bank on bank of additional memories, more banks of associational neural nets, another tubful of twelve-digit random numbers, a greatly augmented temporary memory.  Human brain has around ten-to-the-tenth neurons.  By third year Mike had better than one and a half times that number of neuristors.

And woke up."

Excerpt: Chapter one pg 11 - 12

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