spoilers

2017 Hugo Noms

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We interrupt this irregularly scheduled podcast with a special, albeit belated, episode. We decided to sit down and discuss the 2017 Hugo Award Nominees for Best Novel. Extra heavy spoiler alert on this episode, as every book we talk about was published in 2016 at the earliest. In addition to touching on every nominated book, we also discuss diversity, writing styles, identity, and the proliferation of series in the SF/Fantasy world. We also talk about scenes that make you feel, writers who have never met a woman before, the future corporate age of exploration, and the cool factor of space wizards wielding laser swords.

The music bump is “Robots” by Flight of the Conchords because, as discussed in this episode of the podcast, all science fiction is about robots.

113 – 2017 Hugo Noms – Diversity of Ideas

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Homegoing

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After a long hiatus, Novel Ideas has returned with an episode about Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Ignore anything we say about timing in this episode as we recorded it back in March. I’d apologize, but by now you’ve been burned so many times by our erratic schedule that you would probably assume that I don’t mean it. In this episode we talk about strong characterization, elements of storytelling, the impact of the past, and history. We also discuss our lack of qualification to discuss this book, rehash the badness of slavery (we’ll stop when you guys finally get it), grudgingly reference Light in August (about which no more needs to be said), and get really uncomfortable trying to discuss racial issues despite being a pair of white idiots.

The music bump is “The Long Way Home” by Joshua Redman.

Homegoing – A Book Without Happy Endings

Our recommendations: It’s probably been too long since we read this to assign a realistic numerical rating, but it’s the kind of book that you read and think that everyone should read it regardless of their level of enjoyment. So I guess 10/10 for relevance and 0/10 if you hate it on principle because we’re telling you that you have to read it.

The Obelisk Gate

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Novel Ideas apologizes for the delay, but we return with a new episode on N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate. This novel is the sequel to The Fifth Season, the Hugo award winner and a Novel Ideas favorite. We should warn you going in, since this is a recent publication, this episode is chock full of spoilers. In addition to spoilers, we also cover Chosen One plots, dark elements, shades of gray, and family. We also talk about how this story is not Harry Potter, adorable monsters, the importance of the moon, and how none of these characters are actually Gandalf.

The music bump is “The Unanswered Question” by Charles Ives in honor of all of the questions from the first book that were answered with more questions in the second book.

108 – The Obelisk Gate – Sympathetic Murderers

Our rating: A worthy follow up to the original with excellent depth of world building and characterization.

Ben: 10/10. I love the world building and the characters and anything else I forgot to mention.

Gabs: 9/10 moons. Darkness is slightly less shocking the second time around, but the complexity is great.

 

Go Set A Watchman

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Novel Ideas returns with a rare venture into the topical, reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, the very hyped “sequel” to To Kill A Mockingbird. In this episode, we discuss why the word “sequel” might by appropriately contained within quotation marks, the murky ethics of this book’s publication, racism, and (of course) feminism. We also talk about whether this story takes place in a closely parallel alternate universe, shoddy research standards, how to get someone’s attention without backhanding them, and Ben’s utter lack of interest in Hank. And for a special bonus, we get at least two good Gabs rampages.

The sound quality is a little odd this week as I tried to use a more sensitive recording set up, but forgot to kill the fan in the background. Our voices are clearly audible, but the background is white noise city. My apologies. -Ben

The music bump this week is “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie” by Tom Lehrer, a satirical take on songs that glorify the south and things commonly associated with the south.

96 – Go Set A Watchman – Everyone Is People

Our Ratings:

Ben: 5/10. The flaws in the writing and Atticus’s heel turn bother me less than the fact that if TKAM didn’t exist, this book wouldn’t stand up for ten seconds under its own merit.

Gabs: 4/10. Didn’t hate it, but it was too unpolished. Also annoyed that a book dealing with racial issues only had black people in one scene.

Under the Dome

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Novel Ideas returns, still a tad off schedule, with Under the Dome by Stephen King. Yes we’re a week late. Yes we’ve switched up our order. But we made it. And we’re hoping to get back on track for a few weeks before our schedule mid-March disruption. But more on that later. Listen to the episode for our discussions on antagonists, black and white characters, feminism, and difficult thematic questions. We also talk about Stephen King-isms, people who don’t swear, functional bullshit detectors, and bursting a rage bubble.

The music bump is “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, chosen for possible thematic relevance.

Under the Dome – Worst Comedy Ever

Recommendations:

Gabs: 8/10. A fun and compelling read, where you don’t stop to ask questions until after you’ve finished.

Ben: 8/10. A very entertaining book, assuming you aren’t scared of its sheer mass.

Gone Girl

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This week on Novel Ideas, discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a psychological/mystery/thriller about two of the most thoroughly unlikeable people you’ll ever read about. This is a recent one, so if you don’t want the twists and turns spoiled, go read it before you listen! In this episode we talk about the ethics of cheating, manipulative people, and close sibling relationships. We also cover cat phrases, extreme relationship behavior, and timely references.

The music bump is “Bullhead City” by Umphries McGee, mostly because of something Ben said during the episode about losing a fortune twice. Total stream of consciousness on this one.

Doomsday Book

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Novel Ideas returns with Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, a novel by one of the most well regarded authors you’ve probably never heard of. Connie Willis is a Grand Master of science fiction and one of the most decorated science fiction authors in the history of the genre. This book is her classic tale of time travel and plague. But mostly plague. In this episode we discuss the many fantastic characters, our lack of desire to live in the middle ages, and morality as it relates to cultural context. We also lament the death of every character (more or less), the death of a beloved family pet, and worry about happened to that poor cow. There will also be history nerdgasms and quite a bit of broadcast professionalism on display.

The music bump is “Messe de Notre Dame” by Guillaume de Machaut, a contemporary of the novel’s 14th century time line who also happens to share the name of an often referenced character who never actually shows up in the book.

40 – Doomsday Book – Everybody Dies