August 16th, 2009

church

August Books 28) Sacred Visions, edited by Andrew M. Greeley and Michael Cassutt

The subtitle of this anthology is "Award-winning SF with Catholic Themes", and it's almost accurate - a couple of the stories did win awards, and most of them are at least loosely related to Catholicism. But I think that description rather undersells the collection, which is in general very good, and which really addresses the intersection between religion and science fiction from a number of different directions, not all of them obviously Catholic in sensibility; Robert Silverberg's "The Pope of the Chimps", for instance, looks at non-human religion. (I believe that all the other authors here are in fact Catholics, with the possible exception of Nancy Kress.)

Several other classics are included: "The Quest for Saint Aquin", by Anthony Boucher; "A Case of Conscience" (the original short story, which is the first and best section of the novel) by James Blish; "A Canticle for Leibowitz" (the original version, much improved by the author for the novel) by Walter M. Miller. There are also a couple of good original stories by Gene Wolfe and Jack McDevitt.

I got a lot more out of this collection than I did from the collection of Jewish sf which I read last year, and I don't think it is just because I am Catholic rather than Jewish. The editors here have consciously sought stories that engage intellectually with religion, rather than being based on cultural stereotypes (though admittedly the latter are not completely absent). I think this anthology would be much appreciated by any sf reader with an interest in religion and a basic knowledge of Christianity, and it's a bit unfortunate that it was marketed solely to Catholics.
books

Latest books meme

The rubric to this one goes, "The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up? Instructions: Copy and bold those you have read." I'm not sure where the BBC made this statement, and the list bears a close resemblance to the BBC Big Read of a few years back. But anyway, here goes, with the additional strikingthrough of books I didn't like:

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (have read all the plays, but not all the poetry)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
(odd to have it listed separately from Narnia...)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


83 read, three partially, 14 not yet.