The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge - After a slow start, I wound up having a lot of fun with this one. I wouldn't necessarily call it science-fiction, per se. The setting, a world on the doorstep of a cyclical wormhole that allows for faster-than-light space travel, certainly belongs in a sci-fi novel. But the story was pure fantasy. And that's okay. The Hugo Awards honor the best in sci-fi and fantasy. It just threw me for a loop is all. Based loosely on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, it tells the tale of a world divided by trade, social status and well...Summer and Winter. When the wormhole closes, it's time for the simple Summer people to rule. While it is open and trade with the rest of the known worlds flourishes, it is ruled by the Winter people and their queen. A ruthless and charismatic leader who attempts to enhance her legacy by using the age-extending blood of a sentient race of sea-creatures that her people "harvest" and by cloning herself so that she can arrange to have her own progeny rule as the Summer Queen. It was a rip-roaring space opera that was a lot of fun with more than a few stabs at our own lack of humanity at times.
The Dispossessed by Ursala K. Le Guin - You know what I forget about while reading this novel? I forgot that Le Guin might be too smart for me. I just have such a hard time reading her books. The Left Hand of Darkness took me forever to read and that was back when I was a reading machine. But I trudged on. This one took place in the same fictional universe as TLHoD, but I barely remembered that. The book moves in a chapter-by-chapter fashion between the two worlds of Anarres (really a moon) and Urras in the Tau Ceti system. The politics on Urras are divided between two states/countries that are clearly parallels of the United States and the USSR during the heyday of the Cold War. Anarres is set up without any real political system with it's "citizens" focusing on scientific research. Then, of course, a revolution breaks out in a third-world area of Urras that is a clear allusion to the Vietnam War and the battle between Capitalism and Communism. This wasn't really my cup of tea, to be honest. It dragged in a lot of areas for me. But I did find it interesting that the term and functionality of the ansible was first written about here by Le Guin. A concept that Orson Scott Card took and ran with in his Ender series.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein - OK, I've got to come clean here. Just a few pages in on this one I realized that I had read it quite a long time ago. Apparently I have the memory of a moth, because this is the second book on the list that I've come across that I had forgotten that I had already read. It's becoming obvious that it won't be the last one. But I soldiered on, reading it in that "sometimes skimming" fashion that one does when re-reading something they have already read. Don't get me wrong...it's a fantastic piece of sci-fi. This Heinlein character can really write. At the very least it whetted my appetite for the other Heinlein work on my list which I promise to get to soon. In short, this novel is about a revolt of what amounts to a penal colony on the surface of the Moon against Earth-rule, largely in an effort to avert an ecological disaster that has to do with the Loonies (Loonies!!!) exporting a huge amount of crops to Earth.. The inhabitants of the Moon (Loonies!!!) are mostly criminals and political exiles. A small group of them are encouraged to start a revolution after a series of violent acts against Loonies by the Earth's security forces. And hey...look at that, the revolution begins in 2076! Shiny. The revolutionaries (Loonies!!!) build a couple of super-cool electromagnetic catapults that hurl huge rocks back at Earth with the force of small atomic bombs. Earth retaliates with their own atomic bombs and it's nuclear war a-go-go. Lots and lots of action is crammed into this one, and it's a lot of fun.
Next up: The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon and Rainbow's End by Vernor Vinge.
Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Bored yet?