Friday, January 13, 2006

Nebula update

When I last checked in with my Nebula-reading project, I had read 22 out of 41 novels. On our recent trip to Arizona, I read 2 more.

1977: Gateway

This first book in the Heechee series is one of the best that I've read recently. The structure of the book alternates between chapters in which the protagonist, older, looks back on his adventures in conversations with a robot psychiatrist and chapters in which he recounts the adventures themselves. Hmm, which chapters do you think work better?

Where Pohl shines in this novel is the unique world he has created. In the next century or two, humankind has discovered the remains of an ancient civilization -- the Heechee. Furthermore, we have discovered their interstellar, faster-than-light spaceships -- but we don't really know how to steer them. So "prospectors" go out on missions to unknown, and likely deadly, destinations in search of Heechee technology.

Good stuff!

1995: The Terminal Experiment

Reading Robert J. Sawyer's other work helped convince me of problems with the Hugo process. Since I was happier with the Nebulas I was surprised to see one of his novels on this list.

I will give the Nebulas this -- they gave the award to a 2-star book rather than a 1-star one. But, man, this guy can't write as well as he thinks he can.
"Pseudo was about fifty, and as slim as the Leafs' chances in the Stanley Cup."

Not so good stuff.


Sunday, January 08, 2006

Go Up, Go Down

After a shaky start, my December go experience turned out rather well. I finished 18 more games in the rest of December -- I'll skip the game-by-game recap. I was 14-4, although two of the wins were in unrated games and two were in games that didn't count because the opponent never showed back up after the first 4 stones were placed.
So 10-4 in rated games was enough to send me briefly to the heights of 22 kyu.

I am, however, 2-4 in 2006, with all the games rated. These losses included three that should have been close to even for a 25kyu player. As a result, I'm now hanging on the upper edges of 25 kyu myself.

The new year also brought the start of Dragon Tourney 2006, an on-line tournament that I had forgotten I signed up for. I'm the lowest rated player in my bracket. It's a reduced-handicap tournament, so I find myself at a little bit of a disadvantage in most of the games. (Conversely, losses will affect my rating less and wins more.)

I brought some go books out here to Arizona to read on vacation, but I've mostly been sticking with science fiction so far. I guess if I want to get back to 22 kyu, I should probably crack the books open.