Paired Readings: Descriptions

Contributors: Emmet O'Brien and Jo Walton

The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury (See also)
The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe
Two very different lyrical evocations of Mars.
Mirror Dance, Lois McMaster Bujold (See also)
Aristoi, Walter Jon Williams (See also)
Split personality as a positive theme.
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Equal Rites, Terry Pratchett
Equal Rites is very much a commentary on A Wizard of Earthsea.
The White Bird of Kinship, Richard Cowper
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller
Treatments of religion in a post-catastrophe world
Dune, Frank Herbert
Neverness, David Zindell
Strange humans surviving in hostile environments, action taking place in small corners of a large and immensely complex society, and ancestral memories - also in Zindell's "Requiem for Homo sapiens" trilogy set subsequent to Neverness.
Anno Dracula, Kim Newman (See also)
Silverlock, John Myers Myers
Both books are one long exercise in spotting the metareferences.
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (See also)
Camp Concentration, Tom Disch
Flowers for Algernon traces the amplification of intelligence of a mentally handicapped 1st person protagonist to bright human levels. Camp Concentration traces the similar amplification of a quite bright protagonist to superhuman levels.
The Dying Earth, Jack Vance (See also)
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
Both treat with fantastically rich and strange far future Earths. Wolfe is heavily influenced by Vance - he has said that the Book of Gold mentioned early in The Book of the New Sun is meant to be The Dying Earth.
Imajica, Clive Barker
Songs of Earth and Power, Greg Bear
Both open with distinct and separate fantastic worlds, which move toward integration with Earth on large and small scales simultaneously.
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Golden Witchbreed, Mary Gentle
Golden Witchbreed is very much a commentary on The Left Hand of Darkness.
The Books of Genesys, Brian Stableford
The Coldfire Trilogy, C. S. Friedman
Both deal with medieval-tech worlds derived from higher technology societies by peculiarities of the world, and both play with fantasy tropes in SFnal ways.
Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh (See also)
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley (See also)
Different takes on the artificial production of people to fit social niches.
Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
The Genocides, Tom Disch
How the world gets taken over by plants.
Marooned in Realtime, Vernor Vinge
Metropolitan, Walter Jon Williams
The Vinge is explicitly about what happens people who miss the Singularity. The Williams is set in what looks very like a world full of people left behind after a Singularity-type event.
The Pyat Quartet, Michael Moorcook
The Treasure Seekers, E. Nesbit
Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabakov
Unreliable narrators. They're... really really good examples of the narrator not having the foggiest what's going on but the reader can tell. [Non-sf]
Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay (See also "Erase/Record/Play" and The Sarantine Mosaic.)
Swordspoint, Ellen Kushner
Fantasies derived from Renaissance Italy in some ways.
Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh (See also)
The Boys from Brazil, Ira Levin
The issue of attempting to recreate a person by cloning and raising in a matching environment.
A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (See also)
Ambient, Jack Womack
Dark futures with English changed to match.
The Chronicles of Morgaine, C. J. Cherryh
The Witch World series, Andre Norton
The Cherryh is more or less what the Norton would be if done in a really realistic low-key way. Lots and lots and lots of walking in the rain.
Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand (See also)
The Dice Man, Rhinehart (See also)
The Dice Man is about a very weird way of attaining personal fulfillment, and works as a satire on the pretensions of Atlas Shrugged.
Illuminatus!, Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea (See also)
Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon
Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
(See also)
Books that do really strange things to one's mind.
Hyperion, Dan Simmons (See also)
Tales of Neveryon, Samuel R. Delany
The Jewel in the Crown, Paul Scott
Constructing novels as mosaics.
Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
Random Acts of Senseless Violence, Jack Womack
"The Growing Up Dysfunctional Thematic Trilogy."
The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin (See also)
Under the Yoke, S. M. Stirling
The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks
(See also)
"The Force Concentration Mechanisms Thematic Trilogy."
Anno Dracula, Kim Newman (See also)
The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford
Empire of Fear, Brian Stableford
Fevre Dream, George R.R. Martin
"Alternate History with Vampires Thematic Tetralogy."
The Dice Man, Rhinehart (See also)
Aristoi, Walter Jon Williams (See also)
Permutation City, Greg Egan
"The Deliberate Personality Modification Thematic Trilogy."
Hyperion, Dan Simmons (See also)
"The Priest's Tale": A Case of Conscience, James Blish (See also The Sparrow and Sin of Origin)
"The Soldier's Tale": Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein, and The Forever War, Joe Haldeman (See also)
"The Poet's Tale": The Dying Earth, Jack Vance (See also)
"The Scholar's Tale": Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes (See also)
"The Detective's Tale": When Gravity Fails, George Alec Effinger
"The Consul's Tale": "Semley's Necklace," Ursula K. Le Guin
Triton, Samuel Delany
Out on Blue Six, Ian McDonald
The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman
(See also)
Triton features a rather strange theatre troupe that specialise in very short very intense microtheatre aimed at single individuals. Ian McDonald's Out on Blue Six has as major characters a theatre troupe that do strange subversive action pieces, and one of the protagonists is drawn in after seeing one of their pieces as aimed specifically at him. Out on Blue Six feels quite Triton-influenced in that.

Child Garden, by contrast, takes similar sort of tech and applies it to theatre and related artforms on a planetary scale. [E.O'B.]

Vida, Marge Piercy (See below)
The Armageddon Rag, George R.R. Martin
The "Why didn't we win in the sixties" paired reading. [J.W.]
Vida, Marge Piercy (See above)
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
"Heroine endures great event of American history while thinking about love life" - and remarkably similar ends too, in a very different way. [J.W.]
Possession, A.S. Byatt
Gaudy Night, Dorothy Sayers
Tam Lin, Pamela Dean
(See also)
The thematic linked triple of love vs a life of literature. [J.W.]
The Child Garden, Geoff Ryman (See also)
"His Dark Materials" trilogy, Philip Pullman
Redaction of Christian mythos with polar bears. (Credit shared with Sion Arrowsmith.)
The Severed Wasp, Madeleine L'Engle
The Fortunate Fall, Raphael Carter (See also more books than it's convenient to list here)
Genocide in the past affecting future sexual options, plus the order the information is given in the text affects the emotional understanding of that information. It would be a horribly anguished experience though, I think! [J.W.]
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien [New!]
The Phoenix Guards, Steven Brust
Because nobody else seems to have done Elves actually at the height of their civilisation rather than looking back on their glories.

[Unless otherwise noted, these pairs were submitted jointly by the contributors.]

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