Monday, November 4, 2013

A Blind Date with Science Fiction


The American Book Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, has this great initiative where they give customers the chance to have a ‘blind date’ with their next purchase. The books are wrapped in brown paper so customers can’t judge them by their covers or see who the authors are. Labels with the genre and some content keywords provide the only clues to which novels might be lurking beneath the plain coverings. It’s like Christmas, only with book shopping and a huge dose of bookish sleuthing thrown in.

I asked Tiemen Zwaan, the mastermind behind the idea, to compile a list for a blind date with science fiction and he gladly obliged. Our version has a twist: Below you’ll find a list of 21 keywords (42 were just a tad unwieldy even though it’s the answer to life, the universe and everything). Your mission is to try to figure out which novels these clues refer to. Post your answers/guesses in the comments below and at the end of the month the actual titles will be revealed (even I don’t know the answers). Hopefully by then a couple of them will have piqued your interest enough to be worthy additions to your TBR lists.

  1. Apps for the Human Body/Corporate Politics/Antihero
  2. Melted Arctic Icecap/ New Wild Frontier/Airship Pilot
  3. Ambiguous Utopia/a World without Government/Brilliant Physicist
  4. Bored Genius/Cruel Empire/Incredible Complex Game
  5. Dystopia/Prison Experiments/Poetry
  6. Near Future/Virtual Worlds/Orcs robbing a Bank
  7. Near Future/Augmented Reality/Alzheimer
  8. Planet Spanning Shield/Earth is Doomed/Teleological Engineering
  9. Corporate Dystopia/Dr. Easy/Simulated Self is Watching You
  10. Fantasy & SF/Reality Show/ Alternate Dimension/Antihero is the Star
  11. Classic war novel/Time Dilation/Future Shock
  12. First Contact/Jesuit Mission/Mutilated Hands
  13. Colonization mission/Body adapted to Mars/Penis Removal = Trauma
  14. Visitation Zones/Alien Artefacts/Last, Tragic Foray
  15. Modified Humans/End of Slavery?/Scientific Report
  16. Unique Language/Protagonist is a Simile/Upset Equilibrium
  17. Asteroid Colony/ Water is Running Out/ Reputation Economy
  18. Self-Awareness was a Fluke/Freak Ambassadors/Chinese Room
  19. Middle Eastern Security State/Young Arab-Indian Hacker/Book of the Jinn
  20. Crowded Earth/ Extrapolation of Trends/Synthesist undercover spy
  21. Maker Culture/ New Work/ 3D Printers

Don those overcoats, charge up your laser pistols and get sleuthing!

(Google should be a weapon of last resort!)

Stumped? View the answers.

10 comments:

  1. Oh wow this is fun! I shall take these away with me and have a good think =D Brilliant post idea!

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  2. "Melted Arctic Icecap/ New Wild Frontier/Airship Pilot" - Is this ARCTIC RISING by Tobias Buckell?

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    Replies
    1. That would be my guess too, so it could very well be.

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  3. This is so cool! I've seen the blind date with a book on Tumblr and absolutely love the idea of it. Unfortunately, I haven't read enough sci-fi to make any kind of educational guess, but thank you for such a great post!

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  4. i second that this is totally cool! I'm pretty sure of a few of these, tried to give good guesses on others.


    First Contact/Jesuit Mission/Mutilated Hands - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.

    Fantasy & SF/Reality Show/ Alternate Dimension/Antihero is the Star - sounds like it could be Glasshouse by Charles Stross?

    Classic war novel/Time Dilation/Future Shock - Slaughterhouse Five?


    Unique Language/Protagonist is a Simile/Upset Equilibrium - Embassytown by China Mieville! soooooo good!!!!!!

    Crowded Earth/ Extrapolation of Trends/Synthesist undercover spy - maybe William Gibson's Pattern Recognition??

    Maker Culture/ New Work/ 3D Printers - is this Makers by Cory Doctorow? too funny if it is, I have a book review of this posting later this week!

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    1. I don't have the official answers, but I think(!) I've nailed most of them except for 2; ones I can't for the life of me figure out. Just to keep it fun I'm not going to share mine, but I'll say if it agrees with what I think. Keep in mind that I might be wrong.

      First Contact/Jesuit Mission/Mutilated Hands - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell: Also have that.
      Classic war novel/Time Dilation/Future Shock - Slaughterhouse Five?: I don't think so. I've got something else, which seems a better fit.
      Unique Language/Protagonist is a Simile/Upset Equilibrium - Embassytown by China Mieville: Doubt it can be anything else. Simile gives it away
      Crowded Earth/ Extrapolation of Trends/Synthesist undercover spy - maybe William Gibson's Pattern Recognition: I've got another more classic title
      Maker Culture/ New Work/ 3D Printers - Makers by Cory Doctorow: I'd say so. It seems to be too easy, so might be a trap. Or not.

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  5. Oh goodness, this would be SUCH a fun way to pick my next book to read! I haven't gotten into many sci-fi novels so I don't have many guesses as to what these titles could be.

    #15 could almost be Minority Report by Philip K. Dick, but the "End of Slavery?" throws me off. I'm thinking it's something else.

    I'm almost tempted to set up my TBR pile this way and pick something at random, but that would require too much time. My TBR is out of control. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Tell me about an out of control TBR-pile. I think I have around 4 or 5 years of reading material waiting for me, and that's just the stuff I already own. For some reason I keep buying more.

      Hopefully this will give you some ideas to increase your TBR some more.

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  6. I'm pretty sure that #11 is the forever war, but I wish I knew what #8 was! Hahaha

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    Replies
    1. I can't confirm if you are right or wrong except to say that you'll be able to find all the answers over here

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