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Last post Author Topic: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!  (Read 34921 times)

IainB

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Science fiction book - "A for Andromeda".
« Reply #75 on: June 11, 2014, 01:34 PM »
As I mentioned here, my 12½ y/o daughter "...is studying the category of Science Fiction in her English class.".

She's just read A for Andromeda, and written a review about it. I had never read the book, though I well recall having seen a recording of the BBC's serialisation of the made-for-TV script (the book was written after the serialisation).

Here's the review. It's not too bad, doesn't give the plot away, and made me want to read the book.
______________________________________________

A for Andromeda - title.png
From Andromeda comes a message unlike any other. What is it? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure, you will enjoy reading this book.

Written by two fabulous authors Fred Hoyle and John Elliot in 1962, A for Andromeda is about a group of scientists at a new satellite base who pick up a mysterious code from another galaxy. Follow them and their gripping twelve chapter journey trying to solve the code in A for Andromeda.

The book begins with the young scientist Dr Fleming at a newly-built British satellite research base. A few days after its construction, a mysterious binary code is picked up by the base, coming from the distant Andromeda nebula. Over a few months, Dr Fleming deciphers the code. Surprisingly, it is a set of instructions to build a supercomputer unlike any other. Once built, the computer is examined by the British prime minister. The computer is started by the prime minister and the code from Andromeda is fed into it. Fleming and the other scientists wait for hours, but nothing seems to be happening until – to their relief – after ten hours, a string of messages asking several questions is printed out by the computer.

Answers to the questions are fed in to the computer, and, uplifted by the initial success of the computer, the scientists wait with bated breath for the next instructions. Soon the computer gathers an unprecedented level of knowledge about life on earth. Then it gives instructions on building a life form of its own specifications. Dr Dawnay, a friend of Fleming’s bosses, is ordered in to help with creating the life form in Fleming’s lab. A simple creature is made a few months later. Its insides and skin look like green gelatinous goo. The creature has one distinctive feature - a small orb at the top of its body that acts as its eye. The scientists, especially Dr Fleming, dislike the creature and name it Cyclops. Fleming grows slightly suspicious of the computer and tries to limit the amount of information fed into it, but his colleagues refuse to acknowledge his concerns and continue to think up new ways to utilise this marvellous computer. Fleming is extremely angry and frustrated. This quote is from when the scientists try to create Cyclops:
Quote
Pg.81:
The cell elongated into two lobes which stretched and broke apart, and then each lobe broke again into two new cells.
“It’s reproducing!” Dawnay leant back and watched the screen, “We’ve made life!”
Fleming was standing up watching the screen intently. “How are you going to stop it?”
“I’m not going to stop it. I want to see what it does.”
“It’s developing into quite a coherent structure.” Reinhart observed.
Fleming clenched his fists up on the table, “Kill it!”
“What?” Dawnay looked at him in mild surprise.
“Kill it while you can.”
“It’s perfectly well under control.”
“Is it? Look at the way it’s growing.” Fleming pointed at the rapidly doubling mass of cells on the screen. “Kill it.”
Fleming looked around at their anxious unyielding faces, and then back at the screen. He picked up the heavy container in which the tea had been brought and smashed it down on the viewing plate of the microscope. A clatter of metal and glass ran through the hushed room.
The viewing panel went dead.
____________________________

After creating Cyclops, the computer quickly progressed to growing a human. A strikingly beautiful woman rapidly develops from a baby born in the lab, modelled on the likeness of a co-worker who died a number of months ago, under suspicious circumstances. They name the woman Andromeda, and she is given schooling, and the scientists soon find that her mental capacity is larger than most humans, and she soon soaks up whatever she is taught, like a sponge. Realising that Andromeda is genius-level, certain people wish to use her advanced skills.

Soon, other nations find out about the computer and become fearful of this alien technology in the hands of the British government. Some nations decide that the only way to reassert their global dominance is by the use of scare tactics, but the British government decides to utilise Andromeda’s intelligence to demonstrate their power.

With Britain looking to become a world power once again and thus with an increasing reliance on the strange supercomputer, Fleming begins to suspect again that the computer is not all that it might seem to be. It may perhaps have other more cynical ideas for the human race.

Fleming sets out to destroy the very programme he helped to create, but the supercomputer is not going out without a fight.

A for Andromeda is a story about another intelligence, alien to ourselves, and about what could happen if we did make contact with such an intelligence from a distant part of the universe.

It also deals with themes such as mankind’s increasing reliance on technology, and his never-ending quest for dominance and power, and also the ideas of First Contact, and good versus evil.

A for Andromeda is one of the best science fiction books I have read in a while, and I warn you that this book will have you hooked until the bitter end. It uses some sophisticated language and some description which helps the story along. Overall the plot was excellent.

My only negative point would be how time does not seem to exist in this story, but that bit you will have to find out for yourself.

My overall rating of A for Andromeda is four and a half stars out of five.

The computer and genetic technology described could have been difficult to believe at the time when the book was written, but is more readily believable today as we have moved towards having aspects of that technology now anyway. The science in the story seems accurate (one of the authors, Fred Hoyle was a scientist), except it glosses over the impossibility of communicating with a galaxy some 200 lightyears distant.

I would recommend this engrossing book for all people of 13 and over.
______________________________________________

Arizona Hot

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oblivion

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #77 on: July 18, 2014, 04:20 AM »
Not sure if this is more appropriate here or not, really, but the current Humble books bundle is a pretty decent collection of sci-fi. Or speculative fiction. Or whatever Harlan Ellison now calls the collection of (excellent) short stories that are also available as part of the bundle. (There's three tiers to this one: pay what you want gets a set of books, beat the average gets a few more, more than $12 gets everything.)

Mostly, people are familiar with the Humble Bundle outfit as a source of (usually decent) games. However, they've done a couple of ebook and comics bundles in the past and they're usually pretty good.

40hz

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #78 on: July 18, 2014, 07:54 AM »
Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer.

200_s.gif

I'll say it up front - you will either love or hate this book. You'll either read the first 20 pages with a growing sense of frustration and toss it - or you'll read the first twenty pages with a growing sense of frustration and not put it down until it's finished.

I'm in the second group.

Jeff VanderMeer has a weird style and approach to telling a story that I find absolutely hypnotic. Without handing you much, he has the ability to conjure up the most amazing images and symbols in your mind's eye and invoke eerie moods in your subconscious. Like his earlier works City of Saints and Madmen, Finch, and the (sadly out-of-print) Shriek: An Afterword, Annihilation continues in the same tradition - but in a new storyline which doesn't take place in his brooding city named Ambergris. Pretty neat feat for someone using only the printed word.

So here's the deal:

Quote
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

     The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

     They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

Not for everyone. But, as the saying goes, "If you like this sort of book, this is a book you'll like."

Amazon's page has an extensive sampling of the first part of the book. Or you can read an excerpt of the first few pages here. I'd suggest you check them out first before buying it.

One review I saw that IMO nailed what this book is about can be found here.

Recommended - but with caveat. :Thmbsup:


-------------------------------------------------------

Note: if anybody has a copy of Shriek: An Afterword (either paperback or hardcover) they'd be interested in selling, please PM me? I need a second copy for a project I'm working on. Thx. :)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 08:08 AM by 40hz »

Arizona Hot

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #79 on: August 14, 2014, 10:45 AM »
I would like to recommend these books on Wattpad. They are complete and I read all of both of them.

Don't Be a Hero A Superhero Novel - Wattpad

Burn Code - Wattpad

IainB

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"Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0)" by Randolph Lalonde.
« Reply #80 on: September 24, 2014, 07:22 PM »
I have read 3 books in this series and would like to recommend it.
 (see attachment in previous post)
Amazon.com Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0) eBook Randolph Lalonde Kindle Store
Smashwords – Book Search randolph lalonde

Mentioned the first (Book 0) in the Spinward Fringe series:
I rather enjoyed the Spinward Fringe book. Difficult to put down. Recommended!  :Thmbsup:
Now want to read the rest in the series...

I'd like to add to this a (my) brief review of that book:
Quote
"Origins (Spinward Fringe Book 0)" by  Randolph Lalonde.    :Thmbsup:

As a veteran SF addict, I am often highly critical of new SF works, but I consider this book to be, overall, a good and enjoyable SF read.
I obtained it for FREE in the Kindle version, and it was evidently intended as a sample of more to come  - i.e., in the rest of the series.
I purchased a Kindle really just to try it out - a "suck-it-and-see" exercise. I was skeptical as to whether it could be an adequate or full replacement for all aspects of conventional books.
However, in the case of the "Origins" story, if I had not had a Kindle, then I suspect that I would probably never have bothered reading the story (even if it were available) in hardcopy. This is arguably a new dimension that Amazon Kindle has introduced to the book-readers in the publishing market, and is likely to lead to encouraging results for new authors like Randolph Lalonde, and more business for Amazon - so a  :up: for Kindle books there.

To my surprise, I found the Origins book to be hard to put down, due to it's having a good plot, good progressive development of the characters in the story (though sometimes a bit abrupt with the odd leap here and there, but that kept things moving), and lots of action, a love interest (just right, not too much), etc. - all "ticks in the box". The book is based in a future time, but is plausible - including, for example, the new future's science and technology invented by the author.

I read the Afterword by the author, where he summarises some of the trials and tribulations that he encountered in producing this book and developing it into a viable series. Very interesting, and I wish him the best of luck. I think he probably has a winner.
As a result of reading this first book I intend to follow it up with the next in the series.

Arizona Hot

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #81 on: October 09, 2014, 01:52 PM »
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.jpg

This e-book may be considered fantasy by the people here, but I think they will like it and it is very scientific. You can read it online or download various versions of it, including a PDF version.

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Sample texts:

Quote
This is the living-room of the house occupied by the eminent Professor Michael Verres-Evans, and his wife, Mrs. Petunia Evans-Verres, and their adopted son, Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres.
There is a letter lying on the living-room table, and an unstamped envelope of yellowish parchment, addressed to Mr. H. Potter in emerald-green ink.
------------------
Harry took a deep breath. "Mum, your parents didn't have magic, did they?"
"No," Petunia said, looking puzzled.
"Then no one in your family knew about magic when Lily got her letter. How did they get convinced?"
"Ah..." Petunia said. "They didn't just send a letter. They sent a professor from Hogwarts. He -" Petunia's eyes flicked to Michael. "He showed us some magic."
"Then you don't have to fight over this," Harry said firmly. Hoping against hope that this time, just this once, they would listen to him. "If it's true, we can just get a Hogwarts professor here and see the magic for ourselves, and Dad will admit that it's true. And if not, then Mum will admit that it's false. That's what the experimental method is for, so that we don't have to resolve things just by arguing."
--------------------
Harry was breathing in short gasps. His voice came out choked. "You can't DO that!"
"It's only a Transfiguration," said Professor McGonagall. "An Animagus transformation, to be exact."
"You turned into a cat! A SMALL cat! You violated Conservation of Energy! That's not just an arbitrary rule, it's implied by the form of the quantum Hamiltonian! Rejecting it destroys unitarity and then you get FTL signalling! And cats are COMPLICATED! A human mind can't just visualise a whole cat's anatomy and, and all the cat biochemistry, and what about the neurology? How can you go on thinking using a cat-sized brain?"
--------------------
"Well," Professor McGonagall sighed, after Harry's parents had composed themselves and returned. "Well. I think, under the circumstances, that I should avoid taking you to purchase your study materials until a day or two before school begins."
"What? Why? The other children already know magic, don't they? I have to start catching up right away!"
"Rest assured, Mr. Potter," replied Professor McGonagall, "Hogwarts is quite capable of teaching the basics. And I suspect, Mr. Potter, that if I leave you alone for two months with your schoolbooks, even without a wand, I will return to this house only to find a crater billowing purple smoke, a depopulated city surrounding it and a plague of flaming zebras terrorising what remains of England."

rjbull

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #82 on: October 09, 2014, 05:22 PM »
^ looks like two of Sir Terry Pratchett's books are in similar vein:
  • The Science of Discworld
    When a wizardly experiment goes adrift, the wizards of Unseen University find themselves with a pocket universe on their hands: Roundworld, where neither magic nor common sense seems to stand a chance against logic. The Universe, of course, is our own. And Roundworld is Earth. As the wizards watch their accidental creation grow, we follow the story of our universe from the primal singularity of the Big Bang to the Internet and beyond. Through this original Terry Pratchett story (with intervening chapters from Cohen and Stewart) we discover how puny and insignificant individual lives are against a cosmic backdrop of creation and disaster. Yet, paradoxically, we see how the richness of a universe based on rules, has led to a complex world and at least one species that tried to get a grip of what was going on.
  • The Science of Discworld II: The Globe
    The acclaimed Science of Discworld centred around an original Pratchett story about the Wizards of Discworld. In it they accidentally witnessed the creation and evolution of our universe, a plot which was interleaved with a Cohen & Stewart non-fiction narrative about Big Science. In The Science of Discworld II our authors join forces again to see just what happens when the wizards meddle with history in a battle against the elves for the future of humanity on Earth. London is replaced by a dozy Neanderthal village. The Renaissance is given a push. The role of fat women in art is developed. And one very famous playwright gets born and writes The Play. Weaving together a fast-paced Discworld novelette with cutting-edge scientific commentary on the evolution and development of the human mind, culture, language, art, and science, this is a book in which 'the hard science is as gripping as the fiction'. (The Times)
     

Arizona Hot

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #83 on: July 31, 2015, 08:45 AM »
Do you like Thai (stir) fry?

IainB

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EDIT 2017-07-05:
My abject apologies to DC forum readers. Please don't blame me if you don't like the stories in the anthology. I posted the comment below in good faith because I thought the article was a great idea and the origin story seemed like quite a good starter, but this was before my having actually read any of the various (22) stories that were linked to.
So I then started reading them. I rapidly found myself swimming in what seemed to be a sea of politically correct speculation, centered around confirmation bias, self-approbation and an orgy of virtue-signalling mutual masturbation amongst a cohort of authors apparently living in an echo-chamber.
I presume, but cannot be certain, that this may well have been due to the contextual directions for bias/"slant" that the authors had been given for writing the stories - unless, maybe, they had all been subjected to some kind of sudden mind-meld of groupthink and so preferred it that way (a lot of fringe publishing and journalism seems to be full of that sort of thing).

After reading the first 4 stories, I thought the rest couldn't possibly be as disappointingly banal, unimaginative and mediocre examples of SF as that first 4, but, sadlement, I was wrong. Nevertheless, I optimistically ploughed doggedly on, only to give up in disgust just after the halfway point at the 12th, as I decided I probably really did have better things to spend my valuable cognitive surplus on than those so-called "stories". So, I sat down with my nearly 7 y/o son and we took it in turns to read some of "Puck of Pook's Hill" by Rudyard Kipling (pub. 1906) - my son has always liked the stories in that book. For those that don't know it, POPH (free on Kindle) is a children's book containing an engrossing set of linked stories - with some useful/relevant B&W illustrations - that are a unique and superbly written exercise in archaeological imagination that, "...in fragments, delivers a look at the history of England, climaxing with the signing of Magna Carta." - the whole cleverly delivered via a combination of beautifully written historical and contemporary fantasy. Now that's good, speculative fiction, and it connects with historical reality whilst involving time-travel and inter-dimensional travel in the present and the past, towards an uncertain future (which is now "the present").

As for the so-called "SF" anthology below, I thought that one of the comments to the OP at arstechnica.com put it well and understated it quite politely:
Quote
Mustachioed Copy Cat Wise, Aged Ars Veteran
JUL 3, 2017 3:59 AM
"Is this future progressively devoured by organic chainsaws, or is this just an excuse to explore displacement and social/technological speculation?"
(Made me smile, anyway.)    ;D
===================================
Original posted comment:
Read post at: Read some seriously strange time travel stories from sci-fi’s modern masters (and enter the competition too, if you're a writer)
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Quote
New anthology Seat 14C tracks 22 passengers on a plane that jumps 20 years into the future.

ANNALEE NEWITZ - 7/3/2017, 3:00 AM
Art for Mike Resnick's story in Seat 14C.  David Demaret
Art for Gregory Benford's story in Seat 14C.  Sebastian Hue
Art for Sheila Finch's story in Seat 14C.  Stephan Martiniere
Art for Hannu Rajaniemi's story in Seat 14C.  Alexei Vella
Art for Karl Schroeder's story in Seat 14C.  Leon Tukker
Cover art for Seat 14C.  Saiful Haque

A flight from Tokyo to San Francisco jumps through time and lands 20 years in the future. That's the short version of a writing prompt taken up by 22 of today's most exciting science fiction writers, each of whom contributed stories about the flight's temporally dislocated passengers to an anthology called Seat 14C. Now you can read the book for free online, and I guarantee you'll be engrossed.

You'll find original stories by Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Chen Qiufan, Bruce Sterling, Charles Yu, Charlie Jane Anders, Margaret Atwood, Madeline Ashby, Gregory Benford, Daniel Wilson, Eileen Gunn, and more. Each author interpreted the prompt in his or her own way, resulting in a fascinating selection of very different kinds of stories. Twenty-two incredible artists illustrated the stories, and we have a selection of their work in the gallery above. Some of these tales are about weird new technologies, some are about social changes, and others are about the tragedy of being marooned in an unknown future.


Here's the backstory for Seat 14C
This anthology is first project of the Science Fiction Advisory Council XPRIZE (full disclosure: I'm on the council, but I did not work on this project). That means this anthology is also a contest—so you can submit your own story about the flight. The author of the best story gets a $10,000 prize package, including a trip for two to Tokyo.

Here's the full prompt for the stories:

At 4:58 am on June 28, 2017, passengers on board ANA Flight 008 on route from Tokyo to San Francisco are cruising at an altitude of 37,000 feet, approximately 1,500 nautical miles off the West Coast of the United States when the following apparently unremarkable incidents occur:
26A, earbuds in, mouth open, leaning against the window, shifts in her sleep;
4C, halfway through the first episode of "Westworld," is slightly confused; and
19B coughs–almost a non-cough, as if simply pretending to cough.
ANA Flight 008 then passes through a temporary wrinkle in the local region of space-time, experienced inside the cabin as a barely perceptible bout of turbulence. Beverage service continues, uninterrupted. The in-flight movie glitches, then resumes. As the Boeing 777 descends through the clouds for its approach into SFO, only a few of the passengers suspect they have arrived at the wrong destination. Which is incorrect, sort of. They have arrived at San Francisco International Airport... on June 28, 2037. The wrinkle has transported them 20 years into the future.
Spend the weekend reading these tales of reluctant (and a few not-so-reluctant) time travelers. And if you get inspired, write your own and enter the contest!

Listing image by Saiful Haque

ANNALEE NEWITZ
Annalee Newitz is the Tech Culture Editor at Ars Technica. She is the author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, and her first novel, Autonomous, comes out in September 2017.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2017, 07:54 PM by IainB »

Arizona Hot

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #85 on: July 21, 2017, 07:49 PM »
Not bad for free fiction(Believe me, I have read worse). I bet the authors had fun writing with no restraints. You may think any author always has restraints, but to the pros this was probably a liberating experience where they could write something outside the box for them. You may think these are trash, but I think you don't know what trash is until you have to write something and get someone else's opinion of it.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2017, 08:08 PM by Arizona Hot »

IainB

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #86 on: September 10, 2017, 12:19 PM »
...but I think you don't know what trash is until you have to write something and get someone else's opinion of it.
___________________________
Well, you could be right, of course, but my experience is quite different to the case that you give.
When I was preparing myself for GCE "O" Levels at secondary (high) school, and because most of my teachers didn't seem up to much (like many teachers, I suppose), I spent a lot of time in independent research aimed at gaining familiarity with doing/passing the exams - mostly by practicing - i.e., working through model answers to past exam papers/years.

However, that seemed to be good mostly for papers (exams) in fact-based and logical subjects like science (chemistry biology, physics), maths., and English grammar, where one could get by if one simply understood the facts, principles and related material, but it didn't help too much for papers where one had to basically write intelligible and concise explanations of something - e.g., (say) an essay in English, or the steps in a chemistry experiment.
Then I came across an excellent and most useful book - it was called "How to Pass Exams Easily", or something, and was written by a teacher who had also been an examiner and who had examined and marked many exam papers from students. I studied this book and re-read it a couple of times, practicing what it directed. Some of the main points that it made included (from memory):
  • that exams in several/most subjects required the student to have decent essay-writing skills.
  • the essay was thus the student's opportunity to use and communicate his/her knowledge in constructive, entertaining and intelligible fashion, which demonstrated competence to the intended audience (the examiner), and for which marks were correspondingly awarded.
  • examiners get sick and tired of ploughing through students' boring, rote-based repetitions of knowledge, and will tend to give higher marks for interesting, well-crafted essays that demonstrate competence.
  • thus, if you couldn't write a good essay, then you couldn't communicate your competence as well as if you could write good essays, and so you would gain fewer marks, and vice versa.

I thought this all through long and hard, and put it to empirical test by experimenting with my homework to my teachers.
We were occasionally required to write essays on stuff that we had dreamed up out of our heads - e.g., for English homework and economics - and I noted when and why this got a positive response from my teachers and when it didn't. Empirically, I found that the advice in the book seemed to hold good - i.e., it seemed to be generally true - but the real test would be in what I wrote as an anonymous student in a GCE exam paper to an examiner whom I did not know.

When I was doing my English GCE "O" Levels, they gave us two hour-long exams for Eng.Lang. - one for language/grammar, and one to write an essay - which latter had to be based on one of several subjects that they gave us at the start of the exam. The list they gave at my exam looked as dull as ditch-water. I spent a couple of minutes thinking and looking at it in disgust and then picked "Camping". Being a country boy and an active hill-tramper and ex-Boy Scout, I knew a lot about and was well-experienced in camping and hiking over the hills, but I recognised that a factual, descriptive essay, though easy for me to write, would probably be ho-hum for the examiner.

So I decided to write a fictional story. It was a diarised first-person account of a reporter attached to a rather depressing Himalayan expedition that was trekking up Mt.Everest hoping to recover the bodies of the missing members (nobody had returned) of an earlier expedition. The reporter was writing his diary recording events to date - the climb to the base camp location, the setting-up of the tents and his involvement in that, and his thoughts about the missing expedition members. He was writing this whilst he was sat safe in a tent in the base camp. He had been left there on his own whilst the expedition team proper (he was no mountaineer) went up to search the first leg of the dangerous route that the missing expedition members had been taking. The uncertain weather had held up well and remained good for the search.

My imagination, under pressure, suddenly popped the story, plot and all, into my head. It had a surprising twist at the end. My sole purpose - what I thought it would do - was to interest/entertain the anonymous examiner whom I imagined would be reading it. I wrote it all down, reviewed it, and finished with some time to spare. It seemed complete and sufficient as it stood at that point, so I tried not to worry about using surplus time to pad the thing out.

I won't describe the story any further here, but when I was at dinner that evening, my housemaster asked me what exams I had done that day and I told him that it had been the Eng.Lang. essay. He was an English teacher (not mine though) and, being interested, asked what I had written.
Well, you should have seen how his face fell as I told him!
"Oh dear. I don't think it was a very good idea to write that." he said, and more along those lines.
So, I left the dinner-table feeling a bit wretched, but told myself, what the heck, it was done now and irrecoverable, and just maybe my housemaster, being a teacher and a likeable idiot, was wrong. We would see, one way or the other.

I should stress here that I was my English Lang./Lit. teacher's bête noire and he had predicted in no uncertain terms that I would certainly fail the Eng.Lang. paper, and probably only scrape through Eng.Lit.
When the results came through a few weeks later, I had to smile. I only got a "1" for Eng.Lang."O" level (which included the essay paper and a grammar paper) - which is the best (top mark) a student can get. And I got a "3" for Eng.Lit. - a respectable pass.
I suspect that my Eng.Lang. essay (story) wasn't so much a good story as it was a welcome breath of fresh air for the examiner doing the marking - a slightly imaginative sparkle amongst the greater mass of hundreds of dreary essays that he/she had to plough through and mark.

The point I would make here is, not that I was a particularly brilliant student (I don't consider that I was), but that if a motivated child can do it (I wanted a high pass mark for the exam), just by following and practicing some good, tried-and-tested advice and by focusing always on the intended outcome - i.e., the intended audience's potential receipt of and welcome response to the written material - then so can any child/adult. Practice makes perfect. In the end, all one needs is a half-decent storyline to apply and practice with.

It's arguably a bit like painting by numbers. I reckon that Isaac Asimov (whose writing I have always enjoyed) did much the same with his SF, except I often wondered whether he padded out some of his writing unnecessarily, as though he were being paid by the word, or something. I don't know whether he did that in any of his textbooks though (I don't recall that I ever read any). Of course, the difference with Asimov was that he had such an amazing imagination for complex storylines - and I have read probably most/all of his SF output, and most of that at least twice. It was his story-telling that was practiced, and if you read them in order from oldest to latest, it was rather as though, with each successive story that he wrote, the better they seemed to get as he went along, over the years.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 12:40 PM by IainB »

IainB

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #87 on: September 10, 2017, 12:45 PM »
Cross-posted from Re: Jerry Pournelle - R.I.P.
Post below is from the Well-wishing site. Note the period of three days (starting 10 Sep 2017), open for a free Kindle copy of Vol. 1 of ‘There Will Be War’.
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For those that are interested in Dr. Pournelle’s books, please see the e-books  page or the Amazon page at http://amzn.to/2xliy73 .

Vox Day has announced that as part of a memorial the first volume of ‘There Will Be War’ will be free on Kindle for three days (starting 10 Sep 2017). See here:  http://amzn.to/2famw7N.

Arizona Hot

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #88 on: September 14, 2017, 11:46 AM »
Then I came across an excellent and most useful book - it was called "How to Pass Exams Easily", or something, and was written by a teacher who had also been an examiner and who had examined and marked many exam papers from students. I studied this book and re-read it a couple of times, practicing what it directed. Some of the main points that it made included (from memory):
that exams in several/most subjects required the student to have decent essay-writing skills.
the essay was thus the student's opportunity to use and communicate his/her knowledge in constructive, entertaining and intelligible fashion, which demonstrated competence to the intended audience (the examiner), and for which marks were correspondingly awarded.
examiners get sick and tired of ploughing through students' boring, rote-based repetitions of knowledge, and will tend to give higher marks for interesting, well-crafted essays that demonstrate competence.
thus, if you couldn't write a good essay, then you couldn't communicate your competence as well as if you could write good essays, and so you would gain fewer marks, and vice versa.

I can't find this online. I need to know the author's name.

IainB

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Re: You like science fiction, don't you? Of course you do!
« Reply #89 on: September 14, 2017, 01:06 PM »
I can't find this online. I need to know the author's name.
______________________________
No, I already searched quite a bit, but I couldn't find it online either. The thing is, I read it when I was preparing for GCE "O" levels (Oxford local) years ago, and I don't recall the author's name(s) or the year it was published/republished. The book itself might well have survived in my library (I rarely threw any book away) had it not been - a few years later - for "The Year Of The Great Fire", when I lost everything I owned in a fire which also totalled my - by then - not insignificant library of books. I never had the heart to rebuild it, and anyway, I didn't want to become too attached (or re-attached) to "things", after that fire.
Sorry about that.