June's female sci-fi and fantasy month: The Group Read
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So June is here and it's time to burrow into the TBR, skip to library and make booksellers happy by getting all those get books we keep meaning to try and celebrate women authors.
So over to you.. for reviews, merry discussions and a general heads up about what your are reading.
Question: I am happy for this thread to be about any type of books really but do we want a separate thread for non genre?
Anders: Hope you don't mind me setting up this thread.
Thanks for setting up this thread, Claire! Right now I am planning on reading the ER e-book I won from the May batch, Type by Alicia Hendley, which is billed as a Young Adult Sci-Fi read. Hendley is also a 'new to me' female author read, if we are tracking for both here.
I'm starting with my ER novel We are completely beside ourselves. It is very science based, but may not really be science fiction. Karen Joy Fowler is known for blurring the genre line. So far, it's about a dysfunctional scientific family that hosted an experiment. They raised their daughter and a chimp as twins.
Fowler was one of the women who began the Tiptree award. After that, I'll switch to one of the Tiptree books, probably Women of the Iron People, unless Suite Francais comes in at the library first.
I'd say this thread is fine for non-SF & F too. After all, women are behind in almost all genres except romance... which ironically is the biggest selling genre.
I'm currently reading Janny Wurts's Peril's Gate. So maddening and so addictive!
I'm currently lost in Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and wondering why I allowed the enormity of this wondrous tome to delay my reading of it for so very long.
I've started with Gaie Sebold's Babylon Steel, right from the first page I knew I would enjoy this one :-)
Thanks for setting up the thread, Claire! I have to finish the book I'm reading now first, and world's end before it's due back at the library next week. But I'll join you shortly!
I've started Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier which has Mary Anning, a fossil hunter, as one of the main characters. Historical fiction with some science interwoven.
why this thread & sub-challenge is important
> 12 - Good article Pete!
I don't as a rule read science fiction or fantasy so I couldn't help but notice that of the books I own, not a single one - outside of the book I just won through LTER - is a sci-fi or fantasy book written by a female author. As libraries are amazing places for finding books that one might not otherwise own, I searched the online catalogue of my local library for books to read for this month sub-challenge. The results were not all that promising. Once I had narrowed my search to New Titles - Fiction - Science Fiction - English (language), a whole 91 hits were produced. 13 of those books (a paltry 14%) were written by female authors. Trying to find a book with an interesting premise in that very short list was challenging, but not impossible.... Mary Pearson's Fox Forever looked interesting but it is book three in a series so I have instead placed a hold for The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I also placed a hold for Lea Tassi's Green Blood Rising - no touchstones because no works by Lea Tassi exist in LT, which is not surprising considering it is a local small press publication. What got me is that of those 13 books, 7 (just over half) are listed as Juvenile Fiction.
I did have more luck (more choices) running a similar search for Fantasy Fiction - 177 hits producing 84 books (47%) by female authors. Sadly, a large number of those books had covers that give the impression that there is a strong romantic element to the story.... not a selling feature when I am on the hunt for a fantasy novel to read.
I got Seraphina as an ARC but when I was ready to read it, I couldn't remember which shelf I put it on. I'm still looking but if I find it, I'll put it on my list for June.
I'm about to start Le Guin's Earthsea for this group read. I have the first three books in one omnibus, which I bought sometime in the 80s but never got around to reading. About time! :)
>12 psutto: Brilliant post from Ann Aguirre - I've only read one of her books and wasn't blown away, but I appreciated what she had to say so much I'll give her another try.
Thanks for posting the link, Pete.
BTW, what's the feeling about books co-authored by a woman and a man? Do they count for the GR?
14 that's really depressing especially since you think a library would try and retain the classics so the weighting would be higher than normal.
>17 Dejah_Thoris: - I'd say that it's your challenge, make of it what you will
I am thinking of including an ARC short story collection as it's edited by two women but not all the stories are by women....
>14 lkernagh:: I don't think you'll go wrong with The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I thought it was a very good book.
It's too bad you're having so much trouble finding candidates in your library, but maybe it's just the classification is not so good? One of my local libraries has Atwood's Oryx and Crake listed as "literature" rather than "sci-fi". This, of course, raises the question of whether we're reading "female SFF authors" or "female authors writing SFF", but I tend to agree with Pete's sentiment that it's your own challenge so make the rules as you like.
I also noticed A Discovery of Witches and Pretty Monsters, both among my candidates, don't have the "fantasy" tag associated with them in the library catalogue. Instead, they're under "fiction" and "young adult".
Peril's Gate by Janny Wurts ate my weekend! What a read! Maddening, compelling, and non-stop. Now to catch my breath!
21 I love it when that happens. It's hard to follow up after that though!
Just finished The Shining Girls which was probably one of the most gripping books I have read all year. Its expertly paced, and just complicated enough to be fascinating without overwhelming. Anyone who didn't like the Zoo City due to its sprawling nature may want to check it, this is tightly plotted to within the inch of its life.
>12 psutto:: Just got caught up on the SFWA controversy that motivated Aguirre's article. Wow. Hard to believe there are such dinosaurs among SF writers. I'd always thought this group was made up of mostly forward-thinking people.
I've finished Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - absolutely adored it! What a brilliant piece of work.
I also have read The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna. It has four narratives - one in the past, two in the present, and one in the future - which are all very loosely connected. The overall theme of the book is essentially the sacredness and fragility of motherhood and birth. It can be very loosely labeled as sci-fi because of the one future-based narrative.
And now I'm on to Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, which I've intended to read ever since I finished Kindred, which I loved. That was about two years ago, so I guess it's time!
Pete, wow. Thanks for that post by Anne Aguirre. Wow. The con I started at was WisCon, the feminist SF con, so I forget how it is. For me, WisCon is the norm and the other cons aren't. That's my world. And it's another good time to mention my Aha moment when reading The Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction by Justine Larbalestier, women haven't had the vote for 100 years yet in the United States. 40% of us may be out-earning our male spouses in an economic downturn, but that doesn't mean we're near equal yet.
Speaking of The Bloody Chamber, we had a tentative small group read scheduled for this month. It's short. Anyone want to include it in this month's reading?
I just finished reading We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Horribly named, but the book itself was excellent, in a weird way. It was science fiction, but not in the space craft way. It was all psychology and animal science that had already happened. I don't know much about chimpanzee studies, but there were enough I recognized that she mentioned that I knew she wasn't making any but the main case up. I call the novel weird simply because it was non-chronological and non-linear. She put to doubt memory in it, complete with the studies to throw doubt on memory. Too fresh to right the review just yet, but definitely worth the read.
>11 psutto: Good to know, I'll have to start looking for the rest of the series :-) Just about finished Babylon Steel and it is lots of fun.
>16 -Eva-: I've had Earthsea on my shelf for quite a while now, I'm hoping to get to this month so I'll look forward to your comments Eva.
Wow, that's quite an article from Ann Aguirre, very depressing though.
@25 I really liked Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell too, I think you have to be in the right mood to settle into it. I do wonder if she will ever write another book...
26 Look forward to your review of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, you have intrigued me!
27 and glad you are enjoying Babylon Steel, I hope to read the sequel this month.
- so far I've still not finished the Lavie Tidhar books! going to start this very soon though (and will probably go into July as well since I'm running a week late!)
Strange & Norrell is great, she did write the ladies of grace adieu as well
There's a 3rd Babylon Steel coming as well apparently, not sure of release dates though
I started The Mists of Avalon last night. Oh no!!! 1000 pages! I might not read much else. For being a King Arthur tale, it sure is feminist so far.
>31 cammykitty:: I really liked The Mists of Avalon, though it did feel as if it took forever to read. It felt like more than 1000 pages to me, because each page in my edition had about twice as many words as a page in a "typical" novel! If you finish only that book during this month's challenge, that would still be an achievement. :)
I started with a couple of shorter works. The first was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which was enjoyable enough. The second was volume 2 of the Digger series by Ursula Vernon, which I absolutely love! This is a Web comic which you can find here.
Katie I read most of Mists of Avalon last year and with only about 200 pages left I ran out of steam - I'll be interested to hear how it all ended up :-)
@33 Thanks for the link to the web comic, I had forgotten about it!
Not sci-fi / fantasy but definitely by a woman.
I am partway through Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James.
I find these books to be compelling reads but SO BADLY WRITTEN. Screams out for an editor. I would like to see a different phrase than 'I peeked up at him'!! over, and over and over again
36 I think that's partly why I enjoyed it, it's like watching a really bad movie. It can be fun
I've started listening to Among Others by Jo Walton as well as my other reads.
I finished The Grand Tour, or The Purloined Coronation Regalia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, and now I'm reading War for the Oaks by Emma Bull (urban fantasy). I'm really enjoying it so far!
Finished reading Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine. Such a nice surprise finding such an interesting, fabulous book. Her 1st too.
Finally starting my monthly challenge - a little late. I plan to read only female writers this month, and probably almost all SFF. I also plan to spill into july a bit to make up for it. I'm starting with Natural history by Justina Robson. Somewhat slowgoing in the beginning, but feels interesting!
>31 cammykitty: I'm reading that one too (one of my blind picks - Eva's!), but I feel I need to get at least a few other books under my belt first!
>37 psutto: Got it on my shelf. Looking forward to see what you think of it! (or, well, you've probably already finished by now, I'm sadly behind on all threads again)
I avoided Mists of Avalon 20 years ago when "everyone" was reading it. I didn't like that "Arthurian" stuff, but so far it's written from the women's perspective which makes it a bit different. It also deals more directly with the clash of religions than the typical (Mabinogian) versions of Arthur do. I picked it up because it was one of about three clearly SF&F books listed in my 500 Great Books by Women. The other two I've read, Kindred by Octavia Butler and Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. So far I'm liking it, but yes, it does take forever. Hopefully I won't be thinking it's dragging right around the end!!! That's a little too late to pearl rule.
And other stuff, 3 of us are doing a mini-group read of The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and if you'd like to join us or follow along, the thread is http://www.librarything.com/topic/155206
Just started a room of one's own by Virginia Woolf, not genre but it is a famous feminist polemic about fiction so I think it fits...
Just started Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. 1st story was quite wonderful (a man who falls in love with a airship) so I have high hopes.
More thoughts on sexism in writing, this time from Chuck Wendig
There are two follow up posts that are also worth reading...
Oh good for Chuck. I loved Blackbirds and I thought his woman heroine was awesome.
My first sci-fi book authored by a woman this month was Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. I appreciated that the author kept the technical information on the light side yet still managed to give me a few flashbacks to early Star Trek episodes. I loved the story of two mature lovers kept apart by moral and ethical conflicts, and have now added this series to my list.
On Claire's recommendation as to what to read next out of my pathetically small pile of books by women I've not read yet I've just started mechanique
I am reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin and getting some very good suggestions for other books to try as I have not explored science fiction much.
I read The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. It is written from the viewpoint of a 12-year old girl who narrates the events as they unfold when the Earth's rotation slows. Interesting speculation about what effects arise but since the narrator is so young, we don't get overloaded with science.
I finished Boneshaker by Cherie Priest this morning but unfortunately this book left me rather flat. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this book sounded as if it had all the right ingredients for me to really enjoy reading it. I probably will not continue with the trilogy.
DQ: I did not much care for Boneshaker either. I never really cared what happened to the protagonists for some reason.
>61 DeltaQueen50: Boneshaker was a close-but-no-cigar kind of read for me too. But I liked the world a lot, and will give Dreadnought a chance.
Speaking of which: this month's group read goes slowly for me. Natural History is fascinating but complex, and I find I'm often too tired to make much progress. And with The mists of Avalon lined up, it looks like I won't get many titles done in june. I'm thinking of devoting another month to this theme, later this year.
48. I'm SO GLAD you liked Earthsea, Eva! It's one of my favourites.
My Wish List has grown exponentially this month, courtesy of this thread and the discovery of the Worlds Without End website.
I've finished Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. I enjoyed this duology and found it thought provoking, but also found the pacing to be quite slow and the end-of-the-world concept to be dated.
I also read The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip and was quite disappointed. The story idea was marvelous, but the execution seemed very juvenile and contrived to me.
And my most recent read was Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper. I LOVED this book! It's incredibly well written and so very original. I was completely enthralled and wanted to do nothing but read. I'm definitely adding more of Tepper's work to my Must Read list.
Just read mechanique in pretty much one sitting, fantastic book, review to follow soon
Starting darkmans which at about 900 pages isn't going to be quite so quick!
Like Anders ill probably carry over this sub-challenge. I'm aiming to do the rest of my female reads next month, the ones that aren't SF&F
Finished two more books over the weekend: Soulless by Gail Carriger, which was a fun bit of escapism in Carriger's alternate history Victorian England; and His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik set in Novik's alternate world of the Napoleonic Wars - with dragons - which is currently my favorite read of the year so far!
Review of Soulless can be found here and review of His Majesty's Dragon can be found here
The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee. “The Jetsons” meets “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Basically...awful.
came across this today - interesting for this group read I hope
I'm starting Spirit's End by Rachel Aaron. I absolutely love this series, so I'm really looking forward to this final volume!
Just finished my second book for this group read: Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh. Interesting attempt to depict a clash of biological and cultural differences. Be prepared to not be sure what the heck is going on through it!
63 & 67 I'm with you. One month isn't enough to devote to this sub-challenge, especially with Mists of Avalon hogging up so much time. Deservedly hogging up so much time, but it's a chunkster! I've got two non-sf books from the library that may have to wait until July, Yoruba Girl Dancing and Recollections of Things to Come by Elena Garro, which is a Mexican novel. Not many Latinas get translated into English, and I don't think many of them get published in the first place.
Pete - cool link! Lots of C.L. Moore reviewed. I've only gotten around to reading one novel of hers. She's hard to find now. I was amazed at how up-to-date it seemed.
I finished the final books of two excellent series: Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son, the sequels of Lois Lowry's The Giver, as well as Deadline and Blackout, the sequels of Mira Grant's Feed. Both series were about dystopian worlds but were otherwise quite different in scope and writing style. However, they both featured great characters and thought-provoking ideas.
I've just finsihed the 1st of the Earthsea Quartet books A Wizard Of Earthsea and I have to say I was underwhelmed. I won't be continuing the series any time soon and am happily moving on to The Age Of Miracles. Whether it fits into June or not I'm also keen to start Kristen Cashore's Seven Kingdom's Trilogy.
I've just discovered this thread.
In June, so far I've read:
Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith,
Turning Point by Lisanne Norman,
Soulless by Gail Carriger,
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder and
The Uncrowned King by Rowena Cory Daniells.
I've only just finished Sherwood Smith's books, which were originally published as two books, but the edition I read has them rejoined in one book with an additional short story at the end. I have to say, I'm still immersed in her world.
Turning Point is a first contact book, and the only one that is sci-fi; I tend to read more fantasy. It is the first in the Sholan Alliance series, and interesting enough that I will probably carry on reading the series.
Soulless is the first in the Parasol Protectorate steampunk / paranormal series, as recommended by so many LTers, and I have the next book out already from the library.
Magic Study is the second in the Ixia/ Sitia series, following on from Poison Study.
The Uncrowned King is the second in King Rolen's Kin trilogy, following on from The King's Bastard.
ETA: I've just realised that the reason why I hadn't found this thread before is because I'm not in this group - sorry! Thought it was in the 75 book challenge :0)
#82: Nina, comeback, this year we are merging the group reads in both groups, so please keep posting here.
83 yes the more the merrier, please stay.
@78 And I think I am going to continue you into next month. A couple of blokes like Mr Gaiman snuck in. Plus I am enjoying this thread :)
I finished Karen Tidbeck short story collection Jagannath, which I think pretty much for anyone who enjoys fantasy/Sci fi etc and anything slightly odd. Really excellent small collection. Now I am onto Redemption in Indigo, a modern day Africn fairy tale.
>84 avatiakh:, 85 : Thank you, ladies; I'll definitely stick around then.
I'm currently a few chapters into The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which has been enthusiastically recommended on LT.
ETA: I'll mention this thread on the June TIOLI page, shall I, since challenge 8 ties in with it?
Yes, absolutely stick around - the cross-pollination between the groups is why the challenge wiki-pages were made in the first place. Hopefully we'll continue it next year too! The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is waiting on my NOOK - looking forward to hearing what you think.
Karen Tidbeck is on my wishlist thanks to you - like Anders, I am amused that I'm getting bookbullets of a Swedish writer from a non-Swede. :)
Just have to say Guinevere is such a ninny!
Still on Mists of Avalon.
Finished Angela Carter's short story collection The Bloody Chamber this afternoon. Interesting and in some cases rather shocking adaptations of various fairy tales and folklore but all written in wonderfully beautiful prose.
Finished the Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord, which wasn't my cup of tea really, bit too simple with a storyteller narrator than would have worked fine as an audio book.
Also finished the excellent novella The Grass-Cutting Sword by Catherynne M Valente. A reworking of the Japanese myth of creation and the slaying of 8 headed dragon Yamata no Orochi
Not sure what to read next, maybe Dangerous Gifts by Gaie Sebold.
I've read Sorcery and Cecilia - or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot, instead of continuing on with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland (but I will get back to that soon).
It was great fun to read; consisting entirely of correspondence between two cousins, one in London for her Season, and the other left behind at home, in an alternative Europe where magic exists and Wizard Wellington uses it in the war. There are nefarious doings afoot, involving an enchanted (of all things) chocolate pot.
I like the afterword, in which the two authors (Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer) take turns to tell us how the book came into being, as they wrote letters to each other in the personae of the two heroines, with no knowledge of the other writer's plot.
Austen-esque comedy of manners/romance, with magic thrown in
I could say the same for Sorcery and Cecilia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot.
I've finished Darkmans and pondering what's next:
on the list -
deathless by Cat Valente
the grass-cutting sword by Cat Valente
among others by Jo Walton
boneshaker by cherie priest
redemption in indigo by Karen Lord
will definitely be taking this into next month, will be opening it up to other books by women in July though
>97 humouress: They so have a similar feel, though the magic in Shades of Milk and Honey is more subtle, and Sorcery and Cecelia is written in a much more modern style.
I've finally wrapped up my first read for this group read! Natural history was complicated and not totally convincing, but still well worth it. I'm now picking up At the mouth of the river of bees and hope to finish it before june ends.
Like many other here I'll let this theme spill into july (after all, I still have Mists of Avalon to tackle, right?), but will then allow some non-genre books by women I need for work. I'll probably wrap up my Sandman group read too.
>85 clfisha: Glad you enjoyed it! I thought it was excellent. And thanks so much for pointing it my way, like Eva said!
>98 psutto: Very much looking forward to your review on Darkmans!
I am really tempted join in with Mists of Avalon read but instead I am going to wait for everyone to read it first and see if its universal liked. I may have a slight aversion to Arthurian stories...
@90/100 and no problem.. how many times has some non UK person recommended an English author ;)
Ay! Didn't know I was starting a small trend with Mists of Avalon. Gwen is still a twit. I'm liking it, just not Gwen.
100 Anders, can't wait to see what you think of At the Mouth of the River of Bees. She made a small splash with Fudoki here, and I've been meaning to read something more of hers than one or two short stories. Fudoki looks good.
@94 Claire, Redemption in Indigo has been on my radar too. Yours is the first mention I've seen of it though. Sorry you didn't like it better. Hmmm... Maybe it slips lower on the WL. I usually agree with your assessment of books.
I thought there were some great stories in At the Mouth of the River of Beeswhen I read it last year.
@102.. well it may have suffered from more complex books I read previously. It was it is: a nice modern day piece of storytelling.
I enjoyed At the Mouth of the River of Bees when I read it, hope you enjoy!
>104 clfisha: I know you did :) Another one of the numerous books you've nudged in my direction. I like it a whole lot so far.
I finished A Book of Tongues book one in the Hexslinger series by Gemma Files during my lunch hour today. It is my last female SFF read for June and unfortunately, it wasn't that great of a read for me. I guess I will have to continue reading female SFF in July so that I don't end this theme read on a sour note! For anyone interested, review can be found here.
At the Mouth of the River of Bees is definitely going on the WL then! I just finished reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu and liked it a lot. I can see why people either love or hate Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Even in the short stories, Clarke has a wandering style that gets to a point eventually, and then keeps going. I really enjoyed the collection, but think it lost 1/2 a star because I was listening to it on audio before bed and frequently got lost in the story telling simply because I was tired. I think I listened to the last disk three times before I actually heard it. That's reader error though! No fault of the book. Very interesting new tales mostly of fairy lore. I'll attempt Strange & Norrell sometime, but I think two chunksters a year is enough. It will have to wait until 2014. Yes, still reading Mists. Gwen is now a conniving twit, worse than just a plain twit. 280 pages left to go.
'Gwen is now a conniving twit, worse than just a plain twit' I would never do something as inelegant as snort, but you get my gist.
I've just finished Agent of Change (from the Liaden universe) co-written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller; I assume that counts?
Still working on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland....
>107 cammykitty: Gee, you're really selling me Avalon, ain't you?
I finished Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox. It's set in the same world as her Dreamhunter Duet but there is negligible crossover and this story is set after WW2.
For July I've lined up a few female fantasy/scifi reads including Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones, Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler and A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley.
edit: need to add The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater to my July list
>109 cammykitty:: Good; thanks cammy (I meant co-authored by male and female, but I think you understood that).
Agent of Change was fun, and if I can find them, I'll carry on with the Liaden series. I did like finding a whole super-race that is about my height ;0)
As for the cover, I downloaded the free e-book from the Baen website, which has a generic graphic, which isn't especially exciting.
I forgot to come here and report on my reding of Ashes, Ashes by Jo Treggiari, but frankly, I didn't enjoy the book and really couldn't recommend it to anyone.
I managed to round off the month with Changeless - silly and lovely all at the same time!
I'm definitely in on continuing with a July thread as well!
I haven't been posting much during the month, but here is a summary of the science fiction and fantasy I've read this month written by a female author:
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
The Magistrates of Hell by Barbara Hambly
Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon
The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger
Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George
Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina
Poison by Bridget Zinn
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
Hellburner by C. J. Cherryh
I love Agent of Change, and Changeless is good fun, although probably the weakest book of the series imho.
new thread here.. hmm no option to continue the thread
(just because June in the title is going bug me)
I liked Sister Mine. It's the second Hopkinson I've read. The other one I've read is The New Moon's Arms, which has much more of a Caribbean influence apparent in it. This one is urban fantasy set in Toronto (Hopkinson currently lives in Canada), a gritty tone with some demigods running things for the Big Man and a pair of half-demigod sisters dealing with issues.
@110 I'm sort of conflicted about Mists so far. I've never been a real Arthurian legend fan, or a Medieval Romance fan, so Anders, take what I say with a grain of salt, but don't doubt for a second that Gwenivere is a twit!
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