Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review: Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn

Lynda Williams of Okal Rel Universe fame has written this book review.

Lynda Williams Reviews Summer at Castle Auburn

Summers at Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn is a charming tale of disillusionment and romance set in a classical fantasy setting with some unique touches.

I picked it up second hand for the sake of the endorsements from Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, and I wasn't disappointed.

Image used with permission.
It's a gentle story, although the protagonist has to live through discovering the ugliness behind her rosy childhood vision of the courtly relatives. I enjoyed the fey species called the aliora, prized as slaves for their unfailing kindness even in captivity, and the many well integrated subplots.

Like many strong-minded heroines in medieval fantasies, the heroine Corie gets away with more than might be historically justified, but not so much that her choices are easy ones. Corie's training in the healing arts of her grandmother, a village wise woman, makes her independence more believable.

A manageable read for young lovers of romantic fantasy and entertaining for adults, also.

by Lynda Williams
Author Okal Rel Universe

More About Sharon Shinn

Sharon Shinn's website lists this book in the novels section where it is described as, "Named to the ALA list of Best Books for Young Adults."

Sharon Shinn writes fantasy for adults and young adults alike. On her website she lists 5 novels and 1 short story written specifically for young adults. Among these, 3 deserve special mention.
  • The Safe-Keeper's Secret, first published in 2004, "was named to the ALA list of Best Books for Young Adults."
  • The Truth Teller’s Tale was "named a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age and made it onto the 2006 Bank Street Children’s Book List."
  • The short story "Wintermoon Wish" was published in the young adult anthology Firebirds Rising 
I enjoyed exploring Sharon Shinn's beautiful website and reading the extremely interesting descriptions of her books. Who knows, maybe I will begin to read more fantasy, a feat that I currently do on a limited basis as I am such a die-hard hard SF fan. Am I mellowing as I age? Of course, I have always loved a good romance novel!

Thanks, Lynda, for this introduction to another spec fiction author.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Facebook Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 2/22/11

Reading For the Future Some of my favorite authors publish with Baen, however a couple of their works were left off the list. But it is a start. Fledgling and Saltation, both by Lee and Miller were both left off the list, although Baen published them last year or so. At least the ones on the list were personally vetted by someone who has read each one. ~Valerie C.
Young Adult Reading List - Baen Books
This is a preliminary list of books published by Baen deemed by me, Toni Weisskopf, executive editor, (with help from editor Hank Davis) to be suitable for an intelligent young adult reader. These are the books I would have read (and in some cases did read) when I was in middle and high school. I en

Reading For the Future Good luck if you have been nominated! :)
SFWA announces the 2010 Nebula Award Nominees
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Reading For the Future Three great books represented here, so it was a must share
(even though only two were SF) __this refers to an image posted by REading For the Future.

Reading for the Future: 'Admiral Richard Byrd said on the eve of his polar voyage "Jules Verne guides me."'
There are some great examples here. Answer the call for help, or use it as a jumping off point in a discussion.
Inspired By Science Fiction?: Science Fiction in the News
Inspired By Science Fiction? I'm doing a talk on science fiction and innovation at the Wharton business school, and I need a list of people who were inspired by science fiction in their careers. Also, I need more examples of modern-day scientists who have specifically stated that particular ideas we.....153 ImpressionsRaw number of times this story has been seen on your Wall and in the News Feed of your Fans · 0% FeedbackNumber of Comments and Likes per impression

Reading For the Future Futuristic Movie Timeline, also by Dan Meth.
Yes, these are movies, but most started out as great books.
Notes by the creator:
No one really pays much attention to what year sci-fi movies take place. I thought it would be interesting to arrange some classic films about the future into chronological order and see what we’d find. I’ve als...o charted the years in which they were released as well as the current year. This is by far the geekiest thing I’ve ever done.
* I only included movies in which Wikipedia knew the exact year.See More

Lynn E. Cohen Koehler
Today's Al's Book Club for Kids pick! Tony DiTerlizzi!!
The Search For WondLa
[reposted from 1/31/11]

The Fantasy World Map by Dan Meth (an image)
..270 ImpressionsRaw number of times this story has been seen on your Wall and in the News Feed of your Fans · 1.85% FeedbackNumber of Comments and Likes per impression

Reading For the Future Very interesting contest - Imaginary books!
Lost Pages’ Imaginary Book Contest :: ChiZine Publications

Reading For the Future


Reading For the Future Who we are and how to reach us
(Link to Notes where information is kept for websites, blog and physical address of RFF,Inc.)

Reading for the Future~Valerie via EDGE Publishing
As you may already know, "Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales", edited by Julie Czerneda, and Susan MacGregor (Fall 2011) is the ONLY Tesseracts in the 16 edition all-Canadian speculative fiction series to be developed for a YA audience. So, in celebration of T15, our question for you today i...s: "What was your favorite fantasy story growing up?". Would you read it again now?See More

Laura Lind What got me into SF was _Black Cauldron_, but now I can't stand it.
February 16
Reading For the Future I loved the juvenile Heinleins. I no longer get surprised to have adults say certain books are boring and formulaic. After all, kids like different stuff. And although I love H. Beam Piper, who writes suitably for YA, I cannot make myself finish reading Fuzzy Sapiens even though I recommend it highly for YA and junior high along with a science class discussion of scientific method and a history discussion on colonization sociology and politics.
February 17

Reading For the Future
Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed, 2008 winner of the Golden Duck for Best Picture Book, now a motion picture from Disney
Mars Needs Moms | Disney
Learn about Milo, Ki, Gribble, and the gang from Mars Needs Moms... with videos, games, character bios, and more.

Reading For the Future
Get ready for the 2011 Renovation, the WorldCon in Las Vegas this August. RFF will be there with this teaching workshop called Roadshow. ~Valerie C.
Reading for the Future Reflections: Announcement: RFF Teams with AboutSF for Roadshow at Renovation

Reading For the Future This newsletter links to several new articles posted to the RFF blog. Enjoy!
Check back in a couple of days, too, because some articles mentioned are still in draft form. I plan to edit the newsletter with links as I get the articles completed.
Reading for the Future Reflections: Reflections Collections -- 2/15/11

Friday, February 18, 2011

FB Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 2/18/11

Reading For the Future ~Valerie via EDGE Publishing
As you may already know, "Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales", edited by Julie Czerneda, and Susan MacGregor (Fall 2011) is the ONLY Tesseracts in the 16 edition all-Canadian speculative fiction series to be developed for a YA audience. So, in celebration of T15, our question for you today i...s: "What was your favorite fantasy story growing up?". Would you read it again now?See More


Reading For the Future I had to shorten EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing to make the item fit in the space.~Valerie
Reading For the Future From Cie: Sword of Shanara. I must have read it five times before I went to college. I reread it recently and was so disappointed. It seemed like a LotR clone. But from 10-17 I love it :D
Laura Lind
Not exactly fantasy, but in elementary school it was D'Auleries (sp?) Greek Myths. I didn't actually get into SF until middle school, but then it was the Alanna books by Tamora Pierce. Now there's more in the same world, & I still enjoy t...hem. In high school, I think my favorites were the Pern books. Of course, my answer to "What's your favorite book" has always been "Whatever book I'm reading now." Just looking back, I can see that I read those books more than anything else during those years.See More
Laura Lind What got me into SF was _Black Cauldron_, but now I can't stand it.
Reading For the Future I loved the juvenile Heinleins. I no longer get surprised to have adults say certain books are boring and formulaic. After all, kids like different stuff. And although I love H. Beam Piper, who writes suitably for YA, I cannot make myself finish reading Fuzzy Sapiens even though I recommend it highly for YA and junior high along with a science class discussion of scientific method and a history discussion on colonization sociology and politics.

Reading For the Future Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed, 2008 winner of the Golden Duck for Best Picture Book, now a motion picture from Disney
Mars Needs Moms | Disney
Learn about Milo, Ki, Gribble, and the gang from Mars Needs Moms... with videos, games, character bios, and more.

Reading For the Future Get ready for the 2011 Renovation, the WorldCon in Las Vegas this August. RFF will be there with this teaching workshop called Roadshow. ~Valerie C.
Reading for the Future Reflections: Announcement: RFF Teams with AboutSF for Roadshow at Renovation

Reading For the Future This newsletter links to several new articles posted to the RFF blog. Enjoy!

Check back in a couple of days, too, because some articles mentioned are still in draft form. I plan to edit the newsletter with links as I get the articles completed.
Reading for the Future Reflections: Reflections Collections -- 2/15/11

Reading For the Future "All persons, living and dead, are purely coincidental."
15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has Or Will,1858/
1. "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'" The actual advice here is technically a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's "good uncle" Alex, but Vonnegut was nice enough to pass it on at speeches and in A Man Wit...


Lawrence Morrison I knew Kurt since I was seven. wonderful man, remembered me at Noreascon3, years later, fantastic mind!!!!

Reading For the Future You are privileged :)
Slaughterhouse 5 has always been one of my favorite books.

Lynn E. Cohen Koehler Today's Al's Book Club for Kids pick! Tony DiTerlizzi!!
The Search For WondLa
January 31 [Reposted 2/16/11]

Reading For the Future
Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers

The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers is a ten-day workshop for speculative fiction writers aged 14-19 at the University of Pittsburgh's Greensburg campus. At Alpha, students write and revise a short story, give and receive critiques, work with four ...professional authors, and form friendships that often last for years. They also get the opportunity to do a public reading of one of their stories or poems. During or after Alpha, many students submit their work to professional magazines for the first time. Previous attendees have placed in the Dell Magazines Award and Writer’s of the Future contests, and have sold stories to Boys’ Life, Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy Magazine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Fantastic Stories, Corpse Blossoms, Aberrant Dreams, and Fantastical Visions. Want more details? Check out the website.

Reading For the Future via David Brin Change is the principal feature of our age and literature should explore how people deal with it. The best science fiction does that, head-on.
–from an interview for Locus

Reading For the Future Sad news
Brian Jacques, Writer of Redwall Series, Dies at 71
Mr. Jacques worked many trades before finding his métier as a writer of the Redwall children’s fantasy books.

Reading For the Future More to celebrate Jules Verne's birthday
8 Jules Verne Inventions That Came True (Pictures)
See eight real-life inventions dreamed up decades earlier by Jules Verne—whose 183rd birthday is honored Tuesday with a Google doodle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Announcement: RFF Teams with AboutSF for Roadshow at Renovation

About Renovation

AboutSF/Reading for the Future Roadshow @ Renovation

Roadshow @ Renovation
a workshop on using science fiction to promote literacy
9:00am - 5:30pm,
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Reno-Sparks Convention Center
Reno, NV

The AboutSF/Reading For the Future Roadshow is a collaborative effort designed to encourage teachers, librarians,  parents, and the general public to incorporate science fiction as a teaching tool. Other Roadshows have been held at Denvention and at Anticipation.

Roadshow participants include Renovation GoH Tim Powers, L. E. Modesitt, Donna Young, Helge Moulding, Lindalee Stuckey, David-Glenn Anderson, and Val Ontell.

The AboutSF/Reading for the Future Roadshow will be at Renovation in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, beginning at 9am on Wednesday, August 17 and run until about 5:30pm.

For more information: reading4future @

Find out more about Reading for the Future and more about AboutSF

Renovation short banner

Renovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention

Renovation is an international science fiction annual convention presented by WorldCon.

The organization can be reached at by email at

You can also write a snail mail: Renovation, PO Box 13278, Portland, OR 97213-0278, USA.

Besides the fun & games, and the chances to meet one's favorite authors and artists, to dress in the stylistic costumes, and to share in the comraderie, there is an academic program. Below is quoted from the Renovation site:

Academic Program

Renovation will be running an Academic Program through the middle three days of the Convention, from Thursday August 18 to Saturday August 20, 2011. The subject of this special conference is "Speculative Frontiers: Reading, Seeing, Being, Going", reflecting Renovation's overall theme of The New Frontiers. You can read the Call for Papers here.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Re: Skeptical Environmentalist by David Brin

David Brin provided this excerpt of his new book with this introductory comment:

"Here is a section of my new nonfiction book, in which I comment on both Lomberg & his foes."

The Cliche of Contempt

In saying all of this, I expect to be accused of complacency.
After all, what other reason could I possibly have, for
downplaying our contemporary tragedies and problems?
Isn't optimism the worst enemy of activism?

This meritless assumption, apparently shared across all spectra of personality and politics, insists that we must choose between two starkly simplistic attitudes. On one side are those who perceive a world in extremis, teetering at the edge of an abyss, requiring desperate and costly intervention in order to stave off doom by global warming, pollution, starvation, topsoil loss, resource-depletion, ethnic intolerance and species mass-extinction.

From Paul Ehrlich to the Worldwatch Institute, to those kids demonstrating against "globalization", the pattern is consistent and uniform -- one must take a worst-possible interpretation, accepting no evidence of success or progress. Above all, never acknowledge any past errors of prediction.

Implicit is an underlying belief that anything less shrill than a cry of despair will be ignored. Public pressure for action to fade away, resulting in complete neglect of very real problems.

Of course this behavior plays conveniently into the hands of those opposing activism, who fiercely rebuke every exaggeration and failed prediction, as statistician Bjorn Lomborg did in a recent book--The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World. Lomberg especially pilloried Worldwatch for ignoring dramatic improvements in every painful category that the Institute had lamented in their own dour 1989 report -- problems from acid rain to population growth, that appear to have eased remarkably during the last dozen years or so. (*See notes + "Extinction" file.)

Alas, the opposite pole in this 'dichotomy' is no better. Take for example a persistent mythos spread by elements of the American right-wing for twenty years, campaigning to denigrate the very idea of Global Warming. In the face of overwhelming evidence, this bloc kept insisting that "the jury is still out" -- while it was simultaneously revealed that the U.S. Navy is drawing up battle plans for an ice-free Arctic Ocean. Finally, pressed by a nearly universal consensus among prominent scientists, the obstinate bulwark collapsed in June of 2002, when the administration of President George W. Bush issued a new report admitting that the Earth's climate is being dramatically altered by human intervention, in ways that will at-minimum cause major economic disruption, along with serious potential for profound human suffering.

Did this retreat portend a genuine concession and acceptance of fault? Perhaps a willingness to shift in a pragmatic compromise toward activist intervention and a policy of harm-reduction?

Not at all. The new party line claims that it is now too late to interrupt or even palliate this unstoppable trend by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, we had better spend money on preparing emergency services to deal with a coming wave of chaotic weather patterns. Moreover this new policy was announced without even a hint of self-aware irony.

Cynics on the left and right are quick to offer explanations for their opponents' apparent hypocrisy. From one perspective, activist "doomsayers" are intellectual parasites who want to double our taxeswhile reducing us all to the level of rustic hippies, spinning our own yarn by the light of a single, flickering, wind-powered bulb. In the opposite direction, "obstructionists" are shortsighted planet-ravishers using their political connections to conceal hidden costs or foist them on public, while privatizing profits at our children's expense.

Both sides make smug -- and almost totally unexamined -- assumptions. Members of the activist left seem to be saying that only anticipation by a far-seeing elite (their own) can grasp the future and its needs. Their calls for sustainable technology, e.g. solar and wind power, focus upon a prescribed set of state interventions, forcing individuals and corporations to "forsake selfishness to save the future."

In response, the right wing dismisses all such efforts to predict failure modes, calling the activist agenda a throwback to socialist-style state planning -- "choosing winners and losers". Their alternative is to put total faith in the resilience of markets, trusting that the fluid appeal of supply-and-demand will draw innovators to solve all problems.

When re-expressed this way, it's easy to see that these positions were staked out not because of some proved efficacy or track record, but because each helps its adherents to feel better about themselves.

Alas, such examples of partisan tunnel vision are all-too common nowadays. Is it any wonder that, when offered only a stark choice between such opposite extremes, so many of our fellow citizens get suckered into the fallacy of taking sides?

Can we afford this kind of doctrinaire rigidity in an era of rapid change?

The culture of contempt results in one layer of foolishness being laid upon another For example, take another look at Bjorn Lomborg's appraisal of the dismal forecasts made by the Worldwatch Institute in 1989, asserting that all of them proved wrong by the turn of the century. Population growth rates are falling, suggesting an approach to stabilization instead of boom-then-bust. Extinction rates for temperate-climate species appear to be declining instead of increasing. Acid rain and depletion of the ozone layer were addressed with alacrity and effectiveness by European and North American democracies, though pollution remediation lags in developing countries such as China.

Lomborg -- along with others who are even more fiercely critical -- suggest that these failures of prediction eviscerate the activists' portrayal of a world under perpetual threat from human abuse. In science, failure to accurately forecast the outcome of an experiment is considered to cast a theory in shadow, if not complete repudiation.

And yet, there is a potentially devastating answer to this riposte.

Might the environmental activists claim, with some justification, that their earlier worst-case scenarios failed to come true because of the warnings? Because the admonishers were effective, heeded by an attentive public, just as they hoped to be? You might expect to hear such crowing. And yet, despite strong evidence that public opinion and democratic institutions can sometimes respond to danger with great agility, you almost never hearthese proponents of activism bragging. No one says -- "I told you so... and you all listened. Good for you!"

To do so would require admitting something that most partisans find more distasteful than defeat -- that "the masses" aren't stupid, after all.

In later chapters we'll discuss more generally the phenomenon of self-preventing prophecies -- gloomy predictions that don't come true because the forecasts were powerfully persuasive and dissuasive, prompting smart people to act, helping ensure that a particular failure mode never happens, after all. We'll examine this marvel,not only in light of environmentalism and nuclear war, but also politics and the fierce battlefield of terror.

Indeed, it may be the tool that saves us. Isn't this what foresight is supposed to be about?

And yet, this very idea is almost never discussed. Partisans of all stripes and persuasions would much rather portray themselves as lonely Cassandras, as tragically ignored Jeremiahs.

So enamored are they to the delectable addiction of disdain.

David Brin is the author of the Uplift Series, Brightness Reef, The Practice Effect, Earth, and many other SF books. He is a physicist and professor. Visit his blogs: and
Read his biography at Wikipedia.

Reflections Collections -- 2/15/11

What a busy few weeks! Some activities listed below will be discussed in this blog post, some in other blog posts. Watch for the links. (Check back in few days for some items that are not yet posted. I will edit this page by adding links when these are posted.)

Alien ©julien tromeur -
Licensed for use only by Valerie Coskrey
  • A committee is working on setting up the newly incorporated RFF, Inc. Mission, goals, bylaws, projects, officers--all must be finalized. Look for an official report on all this activity soon when the Board of Directors authorizes a press release.
  • Dave Anderson took part in a couple of book give-aways to young readers. In one, he gave 40 books to a kindergarten class, commenting that it was hard to find this many quality books of speculative fiction for this age group. All in all, he has recently donated 119 books to 3 kindergarten classes. He claimed to have learned that a ratio of just slightly more than 2:1 books per child seems to work best.
  • Links to lessons using science fiction are in the first post of the new series "Teaching with Science Fiction." To introduce the series, Andy Love sent links to his educational essays;  Michael Kingsley sent a link to a short paper on Steppenwolf, the Rogue Planet; and Dave Anderson instructs us in what not to ask during a lesson.
  • Several conversations at the rff Yahoo! Group, called Talking RFF, produced additional information of interest, including a booklist, opinions on what to call science fiction, how to decide what to recommend to youth, and personal opinions on numerous books. Read about them in the linked individual blog posts.
  • A friend sent in a book review on The Grandmother's' Hive, a book suitable for youth written by new member Donna Barr.
  • A new series of blog posts called "To Share or Not to Share" continues the search for a rubric began last month.
  • David Brin sent an excerpt from his new non-fiction book in a topic called "Skeptical Environmentalist".
  • Facebook links were highly informative, as always. Read the FB Reports for 2/3/11 and 2/18/11.
  • Review the stats for this blog and the RFF Facebook page.
  • Finally, there are additional snippets of historical information contributed by Dave Anderson and by Andy Love and others.

Snippets of History

Dave Describes the Past and Present of RFF
Reading for the Future enters our sixteenth year. RFF, Inc is meeting on line working on bylaws and nonprofit status. RFF, Inc is made up of the old guard and the young turks.

In 1995, Dave Brin, Greg Bear and Gregory Benford were the Killer Bs or young turks who wanted kids to read science fiction. I joined RFF in 1997 when Dave was CONduit's writer guest of honor who asked us what were we doing to get science fiction to the kids. CONduit is Utah's spring sf convention.

RFF will always be a grassroots organization with a common mission. I am giving a Kindergarten 40 pass-it-along books Monday..Friday I gave two Earthsea books to a sixth grader. Not all books are sf. The first word in RFF is reading. So if a kid reads Ender's Game that I passed it along to him -- success. Will he read more sf? Chances are good.

David-Glenn Anderson
Andy Asks for another Hugo Award Category
Andy Love sent a copy of a letter sent to WorldCon a while back. He provided Talking RFF with a copy of the letter during a recent discussion.

Andy Love
Who was Hal Clement, Really?
Some of our members of Talking RFF attended sci fi conventions with Hal Clement, author of numerous SF books suitable for youth; some worked with him on convention projects; some know him personally. Some of these RFFers provided us with this information.

Hal [Clement] used a different name for his teaching life, his writing life and his art life.

Hal was once LGoH, FGoH, & AGoH at the same con using his different names. :-)

Hal's real name was Harry Stubbs.

George Richard was his name as an artist.

One of the organizations with which RFF works closely is the Golden Duck Awards committee of the organization Duckon. Along with the Golden Duck Awards presented annually by Duckon is the annual Hal Clement Award for YA science fiction.

In a message to the RFF member who is also active in Duckon, Dave Anderson offered this snippet of history:

"I presented the Golden Ducks at Conucopia, the 1999 NASFiC on Friday,Aug 27. [] The two real Golden Ducks advocates were at Aussicon Three, Mebourne Australia. Attendance at the presentation included Hal Clement."

Thanks to Dave, Jim, and others.


Reflections Collections Stats for 2/10/11
Pageviews for last month, January 1011: 160
Pageviews since creation, October, 2010: 889.
Most Popular Post: Wake, Far-Seer and their author Robert J. Sawyer (December 2010)
Second Most Popular Post: Reflections Collections -- 11/7/10 (November 2010)
Third Most Popular Post: Krysia Anderson, A YA herself, Writer and Poet... (November 2010)
Reading For the Future page on Facebook Stats for 2/11/11
214 monthly active users; 20 since last week
325 people like this; 7 since last week
20 wall posts or comments this week; 20 since last week
90 visits this week; 40 since last week

'Til next time~Valerie C.

To Share or Not to Share; How does one Decide what Books to Recommend to Youth?

The Birth of Human Intelligence, an image by ©AlienCat -

This image may only be used with permission of It is used here by Valerie Coskrey, who purchased a license for its use.

About the series "To Share or not to Share"

I asked this question of the rff Yahoo! Group and got a dialog that is currently 60 messages long and still growing. To share the insights of these science fiction fans will take several blog posts. Look for the To Share or not to Share series.

You can read the original messages in the topic thread "Why would you not share a book with a kid?" In the blog series some messages will be skipped, summarized or quoted in full or quoted in part; i.e., edited, you know.

Skins and other Shows:
The eMail that Started the Dialog

My local paper had this heading by Frazier Moore, AP Television Writer:

"'Skins' viewership plunges for its second airing."

"Skins" was criticized as too sexual, even practically pornographic, by folks on MSNBC, FSTV and even CNN when it first came out.

There is much criticism of TV shows for violence. And goodness knows the dramas like the soaps, 90210, and dozens more deal with all kinds of sexuality. Cable movie channels and The Comedy Channel makes no bones about profane language.
My favorite shows Highlander, Burn Notice and even the movies Terminator, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Bladerunner and hundreds more have heroes who break laws, kill, destroy property and all in the guise of helping others. Heck, we are at war. I consider these examples of situational ethics. What values are being taught here?

Got a question or two:
  • What makes an adult book of speculative fiction unsuitable/suitable for youth (YA)?
  • What adult sci fi books do you recommend for youth? Which ones would youabsolutely NOT give to a teen under 18?

This email above was from Valerie Coskrey of Valerie Coskrey's Classroom Tools and Ideas

First Response

"The Puritans ride forth to defend the country from thinking," said one RFFer.

Others were equally concerned about censorship, to which Valerie responded:

"... I do not want censorship, but guidance might help. As a teacher in high school, what limits should I
put on my recommendations to my students? (I am not teaching this year, but have years of experience in the science classroom.)

"I have recommended Brightness Reef. Another of Brin's is The Practice Effect. I am wondering about Moon's Vatta's War series and Esmay Suiza series. Then there is Weber's On Basilisk Station and the Prince Roger series. His Dalak series I would recommend, but there is lots of violence in the Prince Roger series. The Weber's Honor Universe books about other characters seem to be suitable to me. But why? or why not?"

Rule of Thumb from a Teacher

One high school teacher, Mary, claiming that she is "not talking censorship," but in recognition of and respect for the opinions of parents, offered a personal guideline.

"I find that if I would be hesitant or embarrassed to speak with my grandmother (may she rest in peace) about the book and its contents, I would not recommend it to a student...I have suggested Vonnegut, Heinlein (yes, even some "adult" titles to carefully screened students--and sometimes I've talked with parents), Gibson, Butler, and others. But I generally stick with the "old school" authors and titles unless I have really found the kid has special interest. (I gave a Senior who is a (mostly) devout Catholic Stranger in a Strange Land; he was really intrigued and enjoyed it.)

"I found that as a kid -- 4th grade and up -- I was generally drawn to 'classic' authors with minimal gore and/or sexual content. I tend to recommend books like that to kids as well."

On Parental Resistance and Personal Opinions

Valerie responded.

"...I had resistance from parents, too, when I had books in the classroom and let the kids borrow them. One parent even threw away one of my favorite paperbacks. I do not think she believed that I had lent it to the student. It was The Prince of Mercenaries so maybe I should have known better.

"I would have loved to use Vonnegut's Galapagos in biology, but never dared to because of the in-vitro-type of impregnation that allowed the species to continue. Was I too cautious?

"I found H. Beam Piper and Asimov safe to use. Fuzzy Sapiens and a few others are similar to Heinlein's juveniles, which I shared with students. I would not use the Methuselah's Children or Cat who Walks through Walls because of the incest."

A Librarian Weighs in

Librarian Sandy Moltz had this to say.

"My biggest concern--and why I mentioned Cryptonomicon--is turning off a kid. I don't want to give them a book that is not just a stretch, but too difficult for them, either the vocabulary or the plot. I don't mind if they don't like a book I recommend - that makes for an interesting discussion - but I want them to have felt up to the task of reading the book. My goals include confidence building and encouraging creativity of the teens.

"I also tell them about books I am reading, even if the book is not something they are ready to read. For example, the teens loved hearing about the crazy off-the-wall description I gave them of Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. Heavy sexual content so I would not give it to a middle school student. But maybe they'll remember it and read it on their own some day.

"Besides the authors I've mentioned in this and the previous e-mail, the other adult authors I give the kids include Bradbury, Douglas Adams, and Bradbury."

The Dialog Continues

From here the direction of the conversation shifted a bit to talking about the value of science fiction. Look for that part of the conversation in the next post in this series "To Share or Not to Share."


Teaching with Science Fiction: Physics Lessons and More

Image courtesy of NASA
Andy, Michael, and Dave, three members of the rff Yahoo! Group, which is called Talking RFF, have contributed links to lessons this month.

From Andrew E. Love, Jr.

RFFer Andy Love, a fan of Larry Niven's Ringworld, has posted lessons on the net in several places. His main topics of interest is physics.

On Larry Niven's website, Andy has these 2 lessons posted:
  • The Physics in Science Fiction, which is described as "A 'slides and notes' version of a talk, written and presented to the Johns Hopkins University Society of Physics Students by Andrew E. Love Jr, a long-standing subscriber, and frequent contributor, to the Larry Niven mail list."
  • Teaching Physics with Niven, which is described as "... a 'slides and notes' version of a talk, written by Andrew E. Love Jr, a long-standing subscriber, and frequent contributor, to the Larry Niven mail list, and presented by him as part of the 2007 Balticon science program."
  • Also look for Lessons by Andy Love on the AboutSF original site or its new Univ. of Kansas site.

From Michael Kingsley

RFFer Michael Kingsley told us about "Rogue Planets and 'the Steppenwolf: A Proposal for a habitable planet in interstellar space."

A rogue planet is one that has escaped the gravitational pull of its host star and is moving freely through interstellar space (such as the ones featured in WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE by Philip Wylie & Edwin Balmer). Evidence is mounting that such unattached worlds are common.

Rogue planets are a common theme in science fiction. A recent paper from scientists at the University of Chicago investigates the possibility that a rogue planet could maintain a liquid ocean under layers of thermally-insulating water ice and frozen atmosphere as a result of geothermal heat flux. The German name Steppenwolf comes from the lonesome wolf of the steppes, and the name is applied to this hypothetical planet.

The short 4-page paper is available at

From Dave Anderson

Dave, who is a Trustee for RFF, Inc., suggested that "The science fiction magazines are good for science classes."

Ever wonder which questions are best not to use with books? Dave provided this anecdote:
"Motheread, an adult literacy program developed in a woman's prison where mom reads with kids and involves them in the process, uses Where the Wild Things Are with the first lesson. One facilitator asked a tenth grade alternative high school class of young mother What was the wildest thing you ever did? She no longer asks that question."

More Lesson Resources

In the Resources page of this blog, there are links to sites with lessons, booklists, and more. Look for additional pages with more specific information in the future.

Finally, the rff Yahoo! Group site frequently maintains sets of lessons in its Files. These sets are often associated with current workshops that members of RFF are presenting somewhere. And there is often ideas for lessons on the Reading For the Future page on Facebook and the main Reading for the Future website. (See links in left panel.)


Booklist: Lindalee Stuckey Recommends these Classic SF Books for Young Adults

Said RFFer Lindalee, "I would Recommended these classic SF books for Young Adults. I would also recommend all of the Heinlein "juveniles" except Podcayne. Sorry I find her a terrible role model."

(Note from Valerie: I liked Podkayne of Mars, but this is Lindalee's list!)
* all of the Heinlein "juveniles"
* Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
* Earthmans Burden by Poul Anderson.
Image courtesy of  NASA
* Guardians of Time by Poul Anderson.
* The High Crusade by Poul Anderson.
* The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov.
* Nightfall and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov.
* Foundation by Isaac Asimov.
* Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov.
* Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov.
* Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card.
* Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh.
* Red Sands of Mars by Arthur C. Clark.
* Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement.
* Dune by Frank Herbert.
* The Lensman Series by E.E. Smith.
* The Skylark Series by E.E. Smith.
* Loch Ness Monster by Sheila Williams.
* Slan by A.E. Van Vogt.
* The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells.
* The Time Machine by H.G. Wells.
* The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
* Encounter Near Venus by Leonard Wibberly.
* The Legion of Space by Jack Williamson.
* The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson

Lindalee provided this list as part of a Talking RFF dialog this month on criteria for recommending books. She closed her message with, "I love many other books but I would have to know the kid and the parent before making other recommendations."

Lindalee Stuckey is active in Duckon, the sponsoring organization for the Worldcon's annual presentation of the Golden Duck Award and the Hal Clement Award.

More about the Dialog on Talking RFF
Read the upcoming series "To Share or Not to Share" beginning this month in this blog.

Talking RFF is what RFFers call the emails from the rff Yahoo! Group. Join in.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

FB Report: Lots of Links on Speculative Fiction -- 2/3/11

Today's FB Report covers 2 weeks. Life is just too busy to keep to the weekly schedule. It is possible that a biweekly FB Report is to be the pattern of the future. We will see. ~Valerie C.

Reading For the Future After the sad and unnecessary death of Melissa Mia Hall, aka MMH, all writers should know there is now an option out there.
Please, pass this along
We Now Offer Health Insurance to Our Members | NWU - National Writers Union
Effective immediately, the National Writers Union is offering our members a chance to buy quality health insurance. This program offers the most comprehensive health insurance package available to individual freelance writers in the U.S.

Reading For the Future My 11-year-old is very interested in History and Greek Mythology; I can't think of any science fiction that has _more_ gore and sexual content than History and Greek Mythology. - Alberto Monteiro

This quote is from our Talking RFF Yahoo group discussion entitled 'Why would you not share a book to a kid?'. If you'd lik...e to join in, pop on over to Yahoo and join the group :)

  • Lawrence Morrison Could not find the forum, hope someone suggested the Percy Jackson series.!

  • Reading For the Future  Lawrence, so glad you looked for it! :D
  • Talking RFF is a Yahoo Group, not a forum. I am unsure if I can post a link to the group section, since the one downside is that everyone does need to create a Yahoo ID to join. However, I have all upd...ates sent to me once a day at my regular address. Feel free to msg me, Cie McCullough, with any questions.See More

  • Reading For the Future In the Yahoo! Group directory the group is called rff. Hope this helps. More links to come soon.~Valerie C.

Reading For the Future Thank you Jan Howard Finder for this, although I would still like my pneumatic people tube.
Ray Bradbury Prunes Commercial
Strange prunes commercial from, I believe, the 60s.

Reading For the Future courtesy of Lynn E. Cohen Koehler: Today's Al's Book Club for Kids pick! Tony DiTerlizzi!!
The Search For WondLa

Reading For the Future What vintage science fiction has to do with the future of self-directed learning.
Isaac Asimov on Creativity in Education & The Future of Science | Brain Pickings
In a rare 1988 interview, iconic sci-fi author Isaac Asimov shares cunning insights on the role of creativity in education and predicts the future of technology with astounding accuracy.

Reading For the Future SF a la Bollywood
Endiran - Enthiran - எந்திரன் Excellent HD Quality
Summa Adhirudhulla..... Enthiran (Tamil: எந்திரன்) is a forthcoming Tamil science fiction film co-written and directed by S. Shankar. The film features Rajinikanth and Aishwarya Rai in the lead roles with A. R. Rahman working on background score and soundtrack. Produced by Kalanidhi Maran, it is kn


Reading For the Future I just re-read Salvage and Destroy by the late Edward LLewelyn. I remembered enjoying it but this re-read was extra fun. Although the first person narration follows an alien's entry into puberty and hence a subtheme of sexuality runs through the book, I think the book is suitable for youth. Toss in some sociology conce...pts, and the book could spark great discussions.

Reading For the Future
Asimov on Art versus Science
How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason...

Reading For the Future Forwarding to the teachers here. Thank you to Don Glover.
NASA Offers Space Shuttle Tiles to Schools
NASA offers shuttle tiles to preserve the Space Shuttle Program's history and inspire the next generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers.

Reading For the Future After a holiday break, the newsletter for the RFF blog is out. There are 2 new articles mentioned and 2 new FB Reports. Check it out.
Like the alien? It's a royalty free image from Fotolia donated by me--hey it only cost $1.00-- for shared use with my websites and RFF. Isn't he cute? ~Valerie C.
Reading for the Future Reflections: Reflections Collections -- 1/21/11

Reading For the Future From Jeff VanderMeer: I always loved the Infinity Plus website. Now they're doing e-books.
Omnivoracious: Infinity Plus: New Science Fiction/Fantasy Books for the Kindle
For years, Infinity Plus provided a source for high-quality, free science fiction, fantasy, and horror short stories online, plus nonfiction and some novellas. You can still access their website and read hundreds of great stories. But now, too, they've launched a great new e-book series that's very ...


Reading For the Future Thanks to Christopher Barzak for this link: 'If you like Steampunk, and if you like YA, here's your anthology, hot off the press from Candlewick Books, one of my favorite YA publishers, edited by Gavin Grant and Kelly Link, two of my favorite people.
Steampunk! ToC | Small Beer Press
Today Kelly and I are handing over the final copyedited manuscript of the anthology we've been working on for the last year or so: Steampunk! An Anthology of

Reading For the Future News from Nichelle Nichols Communications Page:
Tonight on PBS at 8pm - Gene Roddenberry, Rod Serling, & Irwin Allen.
Great way to introduce the Golden Age of SF
Season Two Preview, Pioneers of Television, PBS Video
PIONEERS OF TELEVISION returns with new stories of the visionaries who shaped the medium.

Reading For the Future Just in case you have not heard the nominations yet.
Philip K. Dick Award
The judges of the 2010 Philip K. Dick Award and the Philadelphia SF Society, along with the Philip K. Dick Trust, are pleased to announce seven nominated works that comprise the final ballot for the award:

Many thanks to Cie for her tireless efforts to keep this page interesting. You can locate Cie as a Friend of the page. Thanks to other contributors to the page, too.

Visit the Reading For the Future page on Facebook!

Book Review: The Grandmothers' Hive by Donna Barr

I explored Donna Barr's works at after reading her comments on self-publishing. Low and behold, I found a book written for children with an intriguing description. I immediately schemed to get a review of the book. June Vigants, a fan of Barr's and an artist herself, agreed to write a review for this blog.

I could not get the photos from the passworded sites to work, so I copied the one below from Donna Barr's DeviantArt album. The image is not from the book, but is in the basic style of the book's cover as pictured at

Donna Barr has given permission for me to use what images I can retrieve for use in a review of her book. ~ Valerie C

This image of Donna Barr's is available at DeviantArt

June Vigants Reviews
The Grandmothers' Hive by Donna Barr

I first happened upon the work of Donna Barr in 2008 when my dear friends at the comics shop in my hometown of Manchester, Connecticut (Buried Under Comics) referred me to her successful series The Desert Peach. It was love at first sight, and I haven’t looked back since. The historical context of "The Desert Peach" lured me in, but it was Barr's artwork (which is something entirely unique) that kept me hooked. Two years later over Winter Break, the same comic shop friends introduced me to yet another of Barr's masterpieces: The Grandmothers’ Hive.

The Grandmothers’ Hive is a visual wonderland which people of all age groups would find captivating. An impressive amount of detail is put into every texture, patchwork, shading and border. From the clever design of each page to Barr’s own whimsical handwriting, The Grandmothers' Hive is nothing short of inspirational and sensational.

One feature of the tale which readers and listeners alike will find entertaining is the poetic narrative perspective and tempo maintained throughout the story. As if Barr's unique design of the text itself was not alluring enough, the lyrical words are delightfully reminiscent of classic fables.

All the artistic skill aside, the plot itself is very alluring. The Grandmothers’ Hive tells the tale of a young boy named Ben and his adventure through what seems to be the neighboring “Haunted House". Led by a mysterious girl by the name of The Rat, Ben soon learns that this seemingly Bedeviled Abode is actually a Magnificent Mansion occupied by The Rat's eccentric Grandmothers. One feature I greatly enjoyed was that each grandmother comes from a different cultural background, a detail mirrored in each grandmother's actions and speech. Included in the back is an index explaining what the grandmothers reference, information which I found to be stimulating and educational.

The Grandmothers' Hive is a story about facing your fears and trying things new to you. It is a tale suitable for children of younger ages with wonderful illustrations which will delight older audiences as well. Every aspect of the work points to one thing: If you do not have a copy in your library, you are missing out.While The Grandmothers’ Hive is suitable for younger audiences, older youth brackets and young adults may enjoy Barr’s other series, “The Desert Peach” and “Stinz”, both of which have their own unique flavor--being great additions to the Barr collection. Needless to say, it was The Grandmothers’ Hive which really made my WinterBreak magical.
About June Vigants
June Vigants currently attends the School of Visual Arts, studying Animation. She possesses a deep passion for history and comic books and more than often, these two collide. This past November, she launched her first comic series “Benny and Fritz”- which takes place during the First World War and tells the tale of two soldiers who have left their bodies but not quite left Earth, and their trials and tribulations in the trenches. Her blog can be followed here, where there will be updates on the comic as well as other artwork: