Paired Readings: Descriptions

Contributor: Dennis Higbee

The Princess Bride, William Goldman
Illusions, Richard Bach
"Life is not fair..." says Goldman in his wonderful story,

"...but it doesn't matter, so enjoy yourself anyway," replies Bach in one of the few New Age books I can stand.

The Gypsy, Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm
Someplace to Be Flying, Charles de Lint
Similar but different, these two urban fantasies concerning animal people are sides of the same coin. I'm not sure how much of the difference is due to writing style and how much to the variance in source legends (Central European for Brust/Lindholm and Native American for de Lint), but the books share the same basic plot and premise and nothing else.

Contributor: Bill Woods

Fail-Safe, Eugene Burdick
Dr. Strangelove, Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Peter Green
Last year, when I saw "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon", it struck me that they were sort of the '90s version of "Failsafe" and "Dr. Strangelove", which were books before they were movies.

TEOTWAWKI [ed. note: the end of the world as we know it] stories — then semi-accidental nuclear war, now comets/asteroids hitting the Earth. In each pair, one tragedy, the other comedy.

Contributor: Scott Drellishak

[See also a pair on the SPOILER PAGE.]

Sin of Origin, John Barnes
A Case of Conscience, James Blish (See also Hyperion and The Sparrow)
Both explore the theological implications of aliens whose biological nature is very different from humans'.
Armageddon 2419 A.D., Philip Francis Nowlan
City of Illusions, Ursula K. Le Guin
A man who is unfamiliar with his surroundings awakens in a heavily forested, largely uninhabited North America that is under the control of vaguely Asiatic alien oppressors who live in a fortified city in the Rocky Mountains.
Slan, A. E. Van Vogt
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Rags-to-riches-and-power stories about supermen.
The Galaxy Primes, E. E. "Doc" Smith
The Number of the Beast, Robert A. Heinlein
Four strong-willed, super-competent people, two men and two women, travel through space in a teleporting supership, outsmarting whomever they meet.
Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers, Larry Niven
Strata, Terry Pratchett
Explorations of artificially constructed worlds which are not planets. (Pratchett's book was a satire of and an homage to Niven's). [ed. note: see L-Space for more information.]
Darker Than You Think, Jack Williamson
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Classic re-workings of traditional monsters (werewolves and vampires) from a science-fictional point of view.
Dragon's Egg, Robert Forward
Flux, Stephen Baxter
Two very different speculations about life on a neutron star.
Looking Backward, Edward Bellamy
The Shape of Things to Come, H. G. Wells
Early, heavy-handed, message-laden future histories describing how wonderful the world will be after vaguely totalitarian-socialist philosophies are universally adopted.
The Lensman Series, E. E. "Doc" Smith
Agent of Vega, James H. Schmitz
Super-agent travels around the galaxy, righting wrongs and thwarting evil through infiltration and subterfuge.

Contributor: Richard M. Boyé

Illusion, Paula Volsky
The Golden Key, Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliot, Jennifer Roberson
"Fantastical" societies as they progress into modernity, as magic and monarchy work into science and democracy.
Freedom and Necessity, Steven Brust and Emma Bull
World Without End and Sea Without a Shore (the Moontide and Magic Rise duology), Sean Russell
Visions of the occult and mysticism in worlds of industry and science, Ages of Reason.
Dinotopia: The World Beneath, James Gurney
Voyage of the Basset, James C. Christensen, Renwick St. James, Alan Dean Foster
Men of science voyage to fantastical realms.

Contributor: Thomas Yan

Eva, Peter Dickinson
"Rachel in Love", Pat Murphy
They're both about consciousness transplants from a girl to a chimp, and explore what it means to be a person, a chimp, or a person in a chimp.

Contributor: Keith A. Higginson [New!]

Engine Summer, John Crowley
The Fortunate Fall, Raphael Carter
(See also more books than it's convenient to list here)
Both express the notion of a "soul" in a beautiful and unconventional fashion—not as some spiritual invariant, but as something that is earned by living.
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
Watership Down, Richard Adams
(See also)
Abstract forces of nature in The Last Unicorn and in the tales of El-ahrairah in Watership Down are both represented as animal presences. It feels less than mythological, perhaps because the worlds in these stories are a closer metaphor for our own than heaven.
The Dragon and the Unicorn, A. A. Attanasio
All at One Point, Italo Calvino
Mrs. PhiN(k)o is God, a mother presence in timeless coexistence at a single point before the Big Bang. Creation was spawned so that She could be imagined.

Contributor: Benjamin Adams [New!]

The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Birthright: the Book of Man, Mike Resnick
Birthright is very clearly a response to the Foundation Trilogy.
The Gap Series, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Ring, Daniel Keys Moran
Science-fictional takes on Wagner's Ring cycle.

Contributor: Dave Hemming [New!]

A Deepness in the Sky, Vernor Vinge
Cities in Flight series, James Blish
Effectively they're both about ships that people live on for their whole lives, trading with planets. It's just that Blish's series was written in the 50s. Read them at the same time and get cognitive whiplash.

Contributor: John S. Novak, III

The Sarantine Mosaic, Guy Gavriel Kay [New!]
Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
(See also "Erase/Record/Play" and Swordspoint.)
The central theme of each is the nature of legacy.

On to the SPOILERS page...

[ Book Reviews | Book Log | Miscellany ]
[ Home | E-mail ]