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Mini Challenge
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-01 12:06 AM (#23630)
Subject: Mini Challenge
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A while back I was asked to set up some mini challenges throughout the year, so we have new challenges starting at any time, rather than all at once in Januay.

I've decided to start it this year, and will start with the January Challenge - New Year/New Author.

Challenges will only be one or two books, so easy to do.

If anyone has any ideas for other mini challenges, please let me know and I'll see what I can do.





(New Year New Author.jpg)



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daxxh
Posted 2022-01-01 12:21 AM (#23633 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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I love this idea. I was thinking about adding a Gothic challenge, but wasn't sure if I really wanted to read more than 2 or 3, so I didn't add it. Maybe a Gothic mini challenge?
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-01 6:40 AM (#23640 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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Hey,Weesam,Happy New Year.
I just checked my posted TBR for January on the What are We Reading thread,and to my shame I have only one new to me author on the whole list,! lol.So I will dip my toe in with Mary Robinette Kowal's The Calculating Stars. An easily doable but interesting and library expanding challenge is cool!
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-02 10:26 PM (#23664 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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Hey Dusty, Happy New Year to you. I'm glad you like the new challenge, and hopefully people will like having new ones pop up regularly. I enjoyed The Calculating Stars. Hope you do to.

Thanks also, daxxh. Glad you like the mini challenge. I have been sitting on the idea for a while since Dave talked to me about it. A Gothic challenge is definitely doable, and I'll set that up later in the year.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-09 9:42 AM (#23690 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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Well.I finished Kowal's The Calculating Stars,and was a bit disappointed. At times ,if it had been a physical book,I would probably thrown it at the wall,but it as on Kindle,so I couldnt. It started off great with a meteor strike causing havoc,and the realisation than global warming was going to make the seas boil,and humans needed to get off the planet. The protagonist is a female pilot who really yearns to become an astronaut,and most of the book is about the glass ceiling preventing women from becoming astronauts. Its also in an alternate timeline,so all this takes place in a 1950s where the space programme becomes much accelerated.
I had trouble with the characters,mostly cardboard ,and the weird way that though millions starved in a nuclear winter,life goes on as normal. No shortages of food or booze.All in all I found suspension of disbelief very difficult,we had endless episodes of the Lady Astronaut vomiting because of anxiety and taking Miltown.
Like many others I cant conceive why this book won the Hugo!.
I am going to do a second book for the challenge,also about females in space,but very different - Naomi Mitchison's Memoirs of a Spacewoman
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lisagarrity
Posted 2022-01-09 1:38 PM (#23691 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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Hi Dusty, I think if we are hit by a meteor our response will be more like "Don't Look Up" rather than The Calculating Stars. People responded much more rationally than I would expect.

I am reading Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes for the mini challange. Very dark and powerful stories.
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-09 9:50 PM (#23694 - in reply to #23690)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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Hey Dusty, great that you've finished a challenge already and we're only a few days into the year!

I will have more mini challenges to come as the year progresses, all easy to finish like this one.
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-24 2:58 PM (#23728 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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I want to make the mini challenges something people will enjoy and feel engaged with. A WWEnd Community project as it were. So I have a couple of questions for you all.

I am thinking at the moment starting out with a new mini challenge every three months. Would two months be better? Anyone have thoughts on this?

I'm not sure how long these challenges should run for. I was originally thinking to finish a mini at the start of a new one (so two or three months). I ended up going with six months because I don't want people to feel pressured to read. With new challenges coming regularly, is six months too long?

We are hoping to make this a regular feature of the Challenges so we will always have fresh challenges. Input from you all on the structure of them, and what mini's you would like to see would be appreciated. You can drop in here at any time with suggestions.



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daxxh
Posted 2022-01-24 9:17 PM (#23729 - in reply to #23728)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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I think people will check the site more often if you introduce challenges more often. It seems like there is a lot of activity at the beginning of the year when most of the new challenges start and very little at the end of the year.

I wasn't paying attention and thought that the January Mini Challenge ended at the end of January. Because it is winter where I am and the days are short, I have more time to read. I was able to finish this challenge quickly. That will not be the case when it gets warmer and the days are longer. I would have a hard time with a mini challenge that only lasted for a month in June. If the goal is to have people engaged with the site, it won't matter if they are all 12 months long. People will be looking for the new one. (And commenting in the forums.) I get lots of recommendations by looking at what others are reading, reviewing and putting on the Award Worthy Novels list. If more people are joining new challenges, that is more books for me to check out.

Maybe you could vary how long the challenges are based on typical book length - three months for topics that tend to have shorter books and six for the 1000 page topics. Or 3 months for 1 book mini challenges, 6 months for 2 book mini challenges and 9 months for 3 book mini challenges. Or one month for a holiday-based challenge like the Halloween Mini Challenge.

I doubt that everyone will join every single mini challenge for various reasons, mine being time to read everything I want to read. I also try to make one book fit multiple challenges so what I choose for a mini challenge may not add to the overall yearly book count. The more I can do that, the more challenges I can join.

I am looking forward to the new challenges and the books that I will find that I may not have otherwise noticed.

Edited by daxxh 2022-01-24 9:35 PM
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-25 1:46 AM (#23730 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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Thanks for the feedback Daxxh. I like the idea of different lengths for different challenges. I think for know I will stick with the 6 months limit, and see how it goes, and maybe revise my plans and start a new challenge every couple of months.

I'll leave the Halloween Mini Challenge to you, obviously, and I plan to definitely not introduce a new mini in October. I love the Halloween Mini and already have my book picked out for it for this year!
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bazhsw
Posted 2022-01-28 4:46 PM (#23744 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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I like the idea of shorter challenges that can be completed with relatively few books. I would suggest more than one book per challenge is a good idea unless it's something seasonally thematic or quite unique. I clicked on the January challenge and it was a book I was reading anyway so it felt like I was not really engaging other than pressing a button (I know that's my fault - I could have picked something unique just for this one and upped the level to two books!)

I ended up reading 'The House in the Cerulean Sea' by TJ Klune and although YA isn't my favourite genre I had tons of fun with the book and it made me smile more than once which was rather delightful.

Edited by bazhsw 2022-01-28 4:49 PM
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-29 1:02 AM (#23746 - in reply to #23744)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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bazhsw - 2022-01-29 9:46 AM

I ended up reading 'The House in the Cerulean Sea' by TJ Klune and although YA isn't my favourite genre I had tons of fun with the book and it made me smile more than once which was rather delightful.


I'm not a big YA reader, either, but really enjoyed The House in the Cerulean Sea. As you say, it is a ton of fun.

To push myself a little, I may actually do a YA mini challenge later in the year.

Some people like to be able to combine, others like to try something they wouldn't have read otherwise. I tend to be a mixture of both, myself. I'm glad you like the mini challenge. I hope you check back for more later. At the moment I'm thinking of creating a new one every couple of months.

if there is anything you think would make a good mini, or something you'd like to see, let me know and I'll add it to my list.
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bazhsw
Posted 2022-01-29 5:07 PM (#23754 - in reply to #23746)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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I generally think of ideas for challenges I would like to set up one day and then think of all the other challenges others set up that I would like to try and rarely complete so maybe mini-challenges are a way to go.

Some themes in my head include;

Dystopia is a common theme in sci-fi but I am interested in utopia in sci-fi and what that means in reality for the people in the setting.

A good one for Midsummer is the theme of folk horror and where the horror comes from nature or things and rituals from a long time ago.

Allegedly February 26 is 'Tell a Fairy Tale day' and I always enjoy retellings or reinterpretation of folklore. A few years ago there was a 'full' 12 month challenge for this I looked at but not sure there is a year in it for me.

If I can think of any good, short themes for challenges I will share them for sure.
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Weesam
Posted 2022-01-29 10:50 PM (#23755 - in reply to #23754)
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I have Utopia on my list already, so we are thinking alike there. I didn't know that about Tell a Fairy Tale Day, but it seems like a logiclal match for the mini challenges.

Midsummer can be tricky - whose midsummer are we talking about? I'm in midsummer right now!
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bazhsw
Posted 2022-01-30 1:46 AM (#23756 - in reply to #23755)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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That was very presumptuous of me! I was thinking in terms of equinoxes but of course they differ depending where in the world one is! Folk horror can fit in anywhere really.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-01-30 5:18 AM (#23757 - in reply to #23756)
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I had intended to read Naomi Mitchison's Memoirs of a Space Woman as my second book for this challenge,but 55 pages into the ebook it was yanked away for another reader!
My Kindle library on PC has stopped working,so I had to resort to reading on my phone. I kept getting cramps in my admittedly already wrecked arthritic hands,reading on it is LITERALLY a pain. lol. But Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman's Illuminae was a fun fast paced rollercoaster ride. I rarely enjoy books made up of texts etc,but the story was engaging enough that I accepted it. I see why young readers love it.As an old SF hand there was little new,but it was a bright and breezy repackaging of themes.,and sped along,a real page turner.
Looking forward to the next mini challenge.
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bazhsw
Posted 2022-01-30 1:33 PM (#23762 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: Re: Mini Challenge
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I wasn't a massive fan of Illuminae but thought the presentation was both unique and beautiful. It wasn't the right book for me, but I remember thinking at the time this would be a really special book for some readers.
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Weesam
Posted 2022-02-01 4:23 PM (#23776 - in reply to #23630)
Subject: RE: Mini Challenge
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I know I said I'd do these twice a month, but most people appear to have already finished the January mini (except myself), and I couldn't resist Black History Month, so we have a February mini.



(Black History.jpg)



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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-02 8:34 AM (#23777 - in reply to #23630)
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I think this will be a chance to reread Octavia Butler's Bloodchild. It really was one of my favourite reads last year,and I will surely grasp even more on a second read. Very impressive.
Better get surfing for a second book!

Edited by dustydigger 2022-02-02 8:46 AM
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Weesam
Posted 2022-02-02 1:57 PM (#23779 - in reply to #23777)
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I love all of Octavia Butler's books, but Bloodchild is a standout among them. Happy re-reading.
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bazhsw
Posted 2022-02-02 2:40 PM (#23781 - in reply to #23779)
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I think I will read 'Trouble the Saints' by Alaya Dawn Johnson. She'll be a new author for me and fits in with the '12 in 12' challenge I am also doing. I didn't intend it but I will have accidentally completed a mini-challenge of 'books set in New York City' as I read N.K. Jemisin's 'The City We Became' last month. I am quite looking forward to reflecting on the two novels once read.
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Weesam
Posted 2022-02-02 6:31 PM (#23782 - in reply to #23781)
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Trouble the Saints is on my list of books to read this year as well.

You're a bit early for me, but I have a 'Linked' mini challenge coming later in the year, where 'linked' can be anything you choose it to be. Set in New York would have fitted perfectly!
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-11 3:05 PM (#23818 - in reply to #23630)
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Wow. I found Chip Delany's The Star Pit amazing,intricate,sad and downbeat,though it may have smidgen of hope at the end. Densely written,oblique and masterfully constructed it has several themes,but particularly the desperate frustration of not gaining freedom and the sadness of being refused the chance to get away from the confines of society's restrictions.Delany was this brilliant young writer in his early twenties at the time,and to us the enormous difficulties of his life as a man both black and gay shouts out to us today,but all readers can relate to the disappointments and failures of life.And the worldsetting,the outer reaches of our galaxy,is fascinating
A dense,difficult but absorbing read.
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Weesam
Posted 2022-02-11 9:17 PM (#23823 - in reply to #23818)
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That's a great recommendation Dusty. I haven't heard of The Star Pit before. Maybe I should go hunt it up.
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dustydigger
Posted 2022-02-18 6:05 AM (#23839 - in reply to #23630)
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I read another Delany short story for this challenge ''Aye,and Gomorrah'' This was Chip's first published short story,and it won the Nebula and was nominated for the Hugo.
Its about a future time when men are exploring the solar system,but have found radiation levels are very high,destroying reproductive functions. So with a ruthless practicality governments choose 15 year olds who are late developers,and neuter them so they can go into space to do dangerous jobs. People pay lip service to their work and sacrifice,but in reality avoid them if possible. But some people,known as frelks seek out these androgynous spacers,though there can be no future for the relationships. The story is only 10 pages long but shows off Delany's skill in densely packed,elusive story telling.
Interestingly ,though the tale targets real life gay issues of the 60s,the way it is written can be taken in a broader,nuanced way. Loneliness,isolation,prejudice etc come in many forms. It seems young transgender folks today are very into this tale.
The short story collection ''Aye,and Gomorrah'' has the eponymous tale,and also ''The Star Pit'' and several other famous Delany works
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