Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Science Fiction Books Have I Read

I'm going to jump on Dana's great meme idea, to list which of NPR's Top SciFi books we've read. Silver Fox has also already listed hers.

Ones I've gotten to in bold!

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury

8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman

30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells

40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind (most... but not all...)
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville

99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

So, first, I agree with Dana that Wild Seed by Octavia Butler should be on here! Almost anything by Octavia Butler is quality. Kindred. Lilith. Fledging. All. Amazing.

I also recently enjoyed in Science Fiction:
Dies the Fire by SM Stirling
Rain of Ashes by Robert Wolff
The Great Bay by Dale Pendall
The Postman by David Brin

hmmmm.... 29/100: a bit less than I would have guessed! I better read more! (I'm not sure this is possible... clearly I should quit my job.) I'm amused that the Song of Ice and Fire Series is so close to the top of the list: Not only am I currently reading the latest book in that series, but I am also knitting an ... icy scarf (? not sure how to describe it... but it's Game of Thrones inspired!) for my sister's roommate who is (almost too) obsessed with those books!

And for anyone else also into good geology in their fiction, the #1 has to be Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy: one of the main characters, Ann, is an aerologist (which is a Martian geologist in Robinson's lexicography), and has several monologues on Mars' formation and morphology. One of the main arguments through all three books is the possibility and morality of terraforming Mars--lately several of my acquaintances have (randomly) asked me about the possibility of geoengineering our own planet that I initially thought of the arguments in that book. Which is both weird, and what really good fiction should do: stick in our heads and make us think!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

AW #35: The Point of Words

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
--Douglas Adams

Hello Geoblogosphere!!

At the beginning of July, I fully intended to contribute to this month's Accretionary Wedge, on favorite geology words. And then... I... completely forgot to.

i am a long time lurker (and occasional comment-er) on many of your fabulous sites/blogs. First of all, many, many, many thanks for all the interesting articles, pictures, and links you have all posted!


Picking a favorite geologic word is definitely a challenge. Every time I open Selley's Encyclopedia of Geology, there's another term i hadn't heard before, but love. I've been curating a list of interesting/odd/new to me/essential Geology words at wordnik. (Geobloggers will notice some of the more recent additions to the list are from the recent AW!)

From my ongoing list of favorite geology words, there's a few I especially like:

Petrichor: the smell of the earth after rain.

Erg: A series of dunes, [I once used this word in Scrabble! to the great dismay of my sister!]

Anemology: science of the wind.

Karoo: A vast prairie bordering a desert.

Xeric: extremely dry.

...ooh goodness I really could go on! Rhabdolith, lithosphere, drusy, fenestra... there are way too many to choose from! Geology has a huge variety of vocabulary, as it's not only a wide field of study, many landscape terms were adapted from the language group(s) that originally encounterd the landform(s).

We have terms from German (karst fenster, flysch, greywacke, horst, feldspar, thalweg, quartz). We have (mostly glacial) terms from Swedish (fjord, tarn), Welsh (cwm, llyn), and Icelandic (jokulhlaup, geyser). We have (mostly desert) terms from Australian Aborigine languages (gilgai), Spanish (arroyo, cuesta, mesa, canyon), and Arabic (wadi, haboob, amber, azimuth, sabkha). And we have terms from several Native American languages (bayou, tepui, yazoo, tuya), French (coulee, butte). And of course Latin and Greek (way too many to list!). Geological words vary from very, very broad, to the almost comically specific. Etymology is interesting as it shows who ideas/things were (first/most) important to, and how we, in the English-speaking world, first became aware of foreign concepts. I think that's even more true with our descriptive science.

But what makes a good geology word, or a good scientific term of any sort, is its precision. That is, to anyone who hasn't seen exactly the sample or location that you have, if you use precise enough terminology others can still get an idea of what is there. If you use the Standard Abbreviations for Lithologic Descriptions and painstakingly match colours to Munsell's, and always take measurements, anybody with the patience can get a mental image of just what you saw. For that reason I like the many adjectives we can apply to minerals/etc.; all of the "-oids" and "-ys" and "-ateds."

The purpose--the point, if you will--of descriptive terminology is to be able to write or portray anything the audience hasn't seen so thoroughly that they'll feel like they have seen it. (Of course, we rarely do that--it's exhausting!) And conversely, another reason to have precise terminology is for when two+ geologists are looking at the same thing, so that they can agree on what's there (also... exhausting!).

And my absolute favorite? I'm going to have to go with acicular, 'needle-like crystal form,' aka long, thin, or point. Needle-y.

So welcome to my new blog!

I also like "acicular" because it's just general enough for the non-geologist to understand, yet evokes a very specific shape/image, and a wide variety of minerals can have this form. The first time I heard this word, I thought it sounded like some sort of Spanish action verb, so I always remember my initial, 'oooooh... it's English!' reaction. (And it's punny, too, my secondary interest after geology happens to be knitting... which involves even more pointy things!)


I also have a little word mystery that I would like to present to the Geoblogging community: Shazam!! In college, I distinctly remember a TA telling us that "shazam" was the word for the zig-zagged line we could draw when correlating logs if there wasn't enough information to fully/accurately correlate them. However... since then I've not heard others use this word for that situation, nor have other geologists from other schools seemed to know what I meant when I've used it. Does anyone know if 'Shazam' is an actual (common) term, or a nonce description a few grad students happened to like?