Thursday, June 09, 2016

Books Read: May 2016

Thursday, June 09, 2016 1
Now that another month has come and gone, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. The Art of Rube Goldberg, by Jessica George
2. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
3. Camber the Heretic, by Katherine Kurtz
4. Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
5. This Is Mars, by Xavier Barral
6. The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle
7. Playground, by James Mollison
8. Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning, by Elizabeth Partridge
9. The Devil You Know, by K.J. Parker
10. A Criminal Magic, by Lee Kelly
11. An Apprentice to Elves, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
12. Wylding Hall, by Elizabeth Hand
13. Changeless, by Gail Carriger
14. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, by Joby Warrick
15. 1634: The Ram Rebellion, by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce (editors)
16. The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher
17. Then Will the Great Ocean Wash Deep Above, by Ian Sales

Best Book of the Month: Every Heart a Doorway is everything I didn't know I wanted from a book. Read it. Then, read it again.

Disappointment of the Month: I've enjoyed all of Eric Flint's 1632 universe novels / stories I've read so far, but 1634: The Ram Rebellion was a bit of a slog. It's not a proper novel, but it is also not quite an anthology. It's more like a mosaic novel (like George R. R. Martin's Wild Cards series), where there is mostly a single storyline running through (the titular rebellion) - but the writing is generally weaker and the stories are much less interesting than anything that has come before.

Discovery of the Month: We're probably all familiar with Dorothea Lange's famous Migrant Mother photograph, but Patridge's part biography / part photo collection is an essential look at both the life and life work of a excellent and important photographer.

Worth Noting: Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City is every bit as good as everyone has said it was, and I really should have read it years ago. But, at least I did read it just in time to visit Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend and sort of recognize a couple of locations mentioned in the book.

Gender Breakdown: After the relative paucity of April reading, I somehow exploded with a 17 book month in May. 9 of those were written by women, which brings my total to 37 / 73 for the year, or just a smidge over 50% (50.68%). Since the only real goal that I have is to keep the number near a 50/50 split, I am so far on track to accomplish that.

Previous Reads

Sunday, May 15, 2016

2015 Nebula Award Winners

Sunday, May 15, 2016 0
Picked this up from Locus, but it was all over the internet.

Below are the winners of the 2015 Nebula Awards.  Congratulations to all the winners (an an extra congratulations to Sarah Pinsker and Nnedi Okorafor - I LOVED those stories)

Novel: Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Novella: Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing)
Novelette: "Our Lady of the Open Road", by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov's June 2015)
Short Story: "Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers", by Alyssa Wong (Nightmare Oct 2015)
Andre Norton Award: Updraft, by Fran Wilde (Tor)
Ray Bradbury Award: Mad Max: Fury Road
SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master: C.J. Cherryh

Friday, May 06, 2016

Hugo Award Updates: Naomi Kritzer, Lady Business

Friday, May 06, 2016 0
Since the original announcement of the Hugo Award finalists, both Black Gate and Thomas A. Mays declared their intention to decline their nomination / position on the final ballot.

MidAmeriConII has announced the new Hugo Award finalists taking those previously vacant spots.

Thomas A. Mays has withdrawn his short story "The Commuter". It will be replaced on the ballot by the story "Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015).

John O'Neill has withdrawn the fanzine Black Gate. It will be replaced on the ballot by Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan.

Congratulations to both Naomi Kritzer and Lady Business. 

The list of the finalists has been updated to reflect theses changes.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

2016 Locus Award Finalists

Wednesday, May 04, 2016 0
Locus announced the finalists for their annual Locus Award yesterday.

This is likely worth a longer discussion, but this year's Locus Awards are pretty close to what the Hugo Awards should have looked like in the absence of the Rabid Puppy participants voting a slate in apparent lockstep.

Granted, Locus splits Science Fiction and Fantasy, and from the best of my memory, if a book hits First Novel it will not also be in one of the two other categories (which allows Locus to spread the recognition around).

I've read nearly half of the fiction nominees, and they're almost all really darn good. I also seem to be in the minority on the the ones I didn't appreciate quite so much.

Now, there are things we can argue with because it isn't an awards list or a list of books at all if there isn't something to argue with. For example, the YA category features five books written by men even though a huuuuuuge number of YA novels are written by women. Further, Navah Wolfe points out that the nominees in this category are, across the board, writers best known for adult science fiction and fantasy.

In terms of the Locus Awards, I think this is a bug rather than a feature. Locus (and it's readers who voted / nominated), as a whole, is far more plugged into the adult SFF scene. Their nominees for Young Adult Book very strongly reflects this.

This isn't to say that these finalists are bad, because they very much are not, but they are also not reflective of the YA field.

If you want a good overview of what some of the best science fiction and fantasy is today, and what is happening and current in the genre, you can do far worse than reading the finalists for the 2016 Locus Awards.

The Water Knife, Paolo Bacigalupi (Borzoi; Orbit UK)
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Aurora, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson (Morrow)
A Borrowed Man, Gene Wolfe (Tor)

Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
The House of Shattered Wings, Aliette de Bodard (Roc; Gollancz)
Wylding Hall, Elizabeth Hand (PS; Open Road)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Half a War, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Harper Voyager UK)
Half the World, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey)
Harrison Squared, Daryl Gregory (Tor)
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)

Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho (Ace; Macmillan UK)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Signal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Solaris)
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, Natasha Pulley (Bloomsbury US; Bloomsbury UK)
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Kai Ashante Wilson (

Penric’s Demon, Lois McMaster Bujold (self-published)
‘‘The Citadel of Weeping Pearls’’, Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s 10-11/15)
‘‘The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred’’, Greg Egan (Asimov’s 12/15)
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (
Slow Bullets, Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

‘‘The Heart’s Filthy Lesson’’, Elizabeth Bear (Old Venus)
‘‘And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’’, Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
‘‘Black Dog’’, Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warning)
‘‘Folding Beijing’’, Hao Jingfang (Uncanny 1-2/15)
‘‘Another Word for World’’, Ann Leckie (Future Visions)

‘‘Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight’’, Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 1/15)
‘‘Madeleine’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
‘‘Cat Pictures Please’’, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
‘‘The Dowager of Bees’’, China Miéville (Three Moments of an Explosion)
‘‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-second Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Old Venus, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam)
Hanzai Japan: Fantastical, Futuristic Stories of Crime From and About Japan, Nick Mamatas & Masumi Washington, eds. (Haikasoru)
Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, Nisi Shawl & Bill Campbell, eds. (Rosarium)
Meeting Infinity, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)

The Best of Gregory Benford, Gregory Benford (Subterranean)
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, Neil Gaiman (Morrow)
The Best of Nancy Kress, Nancy Kress (Subterranean)
Dancing Through the Fire, Tanith Lee (Fantastic Books)
Three Moments of an Explosion, China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey 2016)

File 770


John Joseph Adams
Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois
David G. Hartwell
Jonathan Strahan

Galen Dara
Julie Dillon
Bob Eggleton
John Picacio
Michael Whelan

The Culture Series of Iain M. Banks, Simone Caroti (McFarland)
Lois McMaster Bujold, Edward James (University of Illinois Press)
Letters to Tiptree, Alisa Krasnostein & Alexandra Pierce, eds. (Twelfth Planet)
Frederik Pohl, Michael R. Page (University of Illinois Press)
Ray Bradbury, David Seed (University of Illinois Press)

Julie Dillon’s Imagined Realms, Book 2: Earth and Sky, Julie Dillon (self-published)
Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner, ed. (Underwood)
Spectrum 22: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, John Fleskes, ed. (Flesk)
Edward Gorey: His Book Cover Art & Design, Steven Heller, ed. (Pomegranate)
The Fantasy Illustration Library, Volume One: Lands & Legends, Malcolm R. Phifer & Michael C. Phifer (Michael Publishing)

Monday, May 02, 2016

Books Read: April 2016

Monday, May 02, 2016 0
Now that another month has come, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. Runtime, by SB Divya
2. The Tempering of Men, by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear
3. Central Sation, by Lavie Tidhar
4. The Crimson Campaign, by Brian McClellan
5. Nemesis Games, by James S.A. Corey

Best Book of the Month: Because I take so long in between reading each volume, I forget just how good The Expanse is - both as a series and as individual volumes. Despite separating the crew of the Rocinate, Nemesis Games holds together and feels both broad and tight. And wonderful.

Disappointment of the Month: Despite reading the praise for years, I've not read Lavie Tidhar's work before. I had reasonably high expectations and despite the praise this particular book is receiving, I bounced off of Central Station. I expect this is a case of wrong book / wrong reader. Or right book, / wrong reader. Whichever is most appropriate for the situation.

Discovery of the Month: None. Having only read five books this month, it is difficult to discover much.

Worth Noting: In terms of reading, this was a very down month. Due to a temporary change in my work schedule, I didn't have my usual lunchtime reading hour. To add to that, we were doing some work to the family room, so I lost some time in the evenings after we put the kid to bed where I might be able to do some additional reading. I hope / expect that I'll get more done in May. Five books just seems extra disappointing.

Gender Breakdown: With such a small volume of books read, it is difficult to analyze much of what happened except to say that 2 out of the 5 books were written by women. This brings my total to 28 / 56, or an even 50%. Since the only real goal that I have is to keep the number near a 50/50 split, I am so far on track to accomplish that.

Previous Reads

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Hugo Award Nominees

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 0

Below are the finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees

Update 5/6/2015: Two nominees on the final ballot declined their nominations. MidAmericonII has replaced them on the ballot.

Best Novel (3695 Ballots)
The Aeronauts Windlass, by Jim Butcher (Roc)
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Best Novella (2416 Ballots)
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing)
The Builders, by Daniel Polansky ( Publishing)
Penric's Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
Perfect State, by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

Best Novelette (1975 Ballots)
And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead”, by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
Folding Beijing”, by Hao Jingfang, (Uncanny 1-2/15)
“Obits”, by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
“What Price Humanity?”, by David VanDyke (There Will Be War: Volume X)
“Flashpoint: Titan”, by Cheah Kai Wai (There Will Be War: Volume X)

Best Short Story (2451 Ballots)
Asymmetrical Warfare”, by S. R. Algernon (Nature 3/15)
"Cat Pictures Please", by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
The Commuter, by Thomas A. Mays (Stealth)
“Seven Kill Tiger”, by Charles Shao (There Will Be War: Volume X)
If You Were an Award, My Love”, by Juan Tabo & S. Harris ( 6/15)
Space Raptor Butt Invasion, by Chuck Tingle (self-published)

Thomas A. Mays declined his nomination. Naomi Kritzer's "Cat Pictures Please" has been added to the final ballot.

Best Related Work (2080 Ballots)
Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986, by Marc Aramini (Castalia House)
SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police, by Vox Day (Castalia House)
Safe Space as Rape Room”, by Daniel Eness (
The Story of Moira Greyland”, by Moira Greyland (
The First Draft of My Appendix N Book”, by Jeffro Johnson (

Best Graphic Story (1838 Ballots)
The Divine, written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka
Erin Dies Alone, written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell
Full Frontal Nerdity, by Aaron Williams
Invisible Republic: Volume 1, written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman
The Sandman: Overture, written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H, Williams III

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form (2904 Ballots)
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form (2219 Ballots)
Doctor Who: Heaven Sent
Grimm: Headache
Jessica Jones: aka Smile
My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic: The Cutie Map
Supernatural: Just My Imagination

Best Editor: Short Form (1891 Ballots)
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow
Jerry Pournelle
Sheila Williams

Best Editor: Long Form (1764 Ballots)
Vox Day
Sheila E. Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Jim Minz
Toni Weisskopf

Best Professional Artist (1481 Ballots)
Lars Braad Anderson
Larry Elmore
Abigail Larson
Michal Karcz
Larry Rostant

Best Semiprozine (1457 Ballots)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Daily Science Fiction
Sci Phi Journal
Strange Horizons
Uncanny Magazine

Best Fanzine (1455 Ballots)
Black Gate
Castalia House Blog
File 770
Lady Business
Subversive SF
Tangent Online

The editors of Black Gate have declined their nomination. Lady Business has been added to the final ballot.

Best Fancast (1267 Ballots)
8-4 Play
Cane and Rinse
The Rageaholic
Tales to Terrify

Best Fan Writer (1568 Ballots)
Douglas Ernst
Mike Glyer
Morgan Holmes (Castalia House Blog, Sundays)
Jeffro Johnson
Shamus Young

Best Fan Artist (1073 Ballots)
Matthew Callahan
Christian Quinot
Steve Stiles

John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1922 Ballots)
Pierce Brown
Sebastiel De Castell
Brian Neimeier
Andy Weir
Alyssa Wong

As a side note, I expect to have some of my preliminary thoughts up in the next couple of days, either here or at Nerds of a Feather.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Books Read: March 2016

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 2
Now that we're done with March, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson
2. The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Luiselli
3. The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold
4. Bats of the Republic, by Zachary Thomas Dodson
5. Wings of Sorrow and Bone, by Beth Cato
6. Envy of Angels, by Matt Wallace
7. Domnall and the Borrowed Child, by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
8. Patchwerk, by David Tallerman
9. Ban en Banlieue, by Bhanu Kapil
10. Of Sorrow and Such, by Angela Slatter
11. The Last Witness, by KJ Parker
12. Perfect State, by Brandon Sanderson
13. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (unfinished)
14. The Absconded Ambassador, by Michael R. Underwood
15. Lustlocked, by Matt Wallace
16. All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
17. Meeting Infinity, by Jonathan Strahan (editor)
18. Forest of Memory, by Mary Robinette Kowal
19. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Book of the Month: Even though I did not read the reviews, I could not avoid seeing the massive hype for Charlie Jane Anders' debut novel All the Birds in the Sky. I was convinced there was no way it could live up to that hype. The deeper I read into the novel, the more impressed I was and the more I wanted to see how Anders could possibly wrap it up. She stuck the landing.

Disappointment of the Month: My disappointment is for the collective of this year's Tournament of Books. While I've enjoyed reading the various judgments and playing along at home with my wife, there have been far fewer books this year which I've enjoyed or even appreciated.

Discovery of the Month: Matt Wallace's novellas are batshit insane and absolutely fantastic. Everyone should be reading his Sin du Jour. Start with Envy of Angels, then don't stop.

Worth Noting: This month's count is bolstered by a whole lot of novellas. If you're wondering how I count books, if it is published as an independent volume, I count it as a book I've read (see, Publishing's novella line or Brandon Sanderson's Perfect State). However, if it is only available as part of a collection or in a magazine, it doesn't count as a distinct book even if the page count is just as long as those published on its own. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Gender Breakdown: March was a reasonably strong month, with 9 out of 19 books written by women. This brings my total to 26 / 51, or 50.98%.  It's a small drop, but it's also a small sample amount. The numbers should solidify in the coming months. While I do not a have specific goal this year to read more books written by women than those written by men, I would like to at least keep the breakdown near a 50/50 split. Thus far I am on track to accomplish that.

Previous Reads
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