Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Missing: 2010

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I posted a similar list last year, and I think it is worth posting some of the books I didn't read in 2010.  Now, the actual list is absurdly long, but this is a decent representation of books I would have liked to have read and, for various reasons, never did.

For the sake of keeping this list manageable, I limited it to genre books.  If I browsed through listings of LitFic and Nonfiction, well, the list would be absurd.

Iorich, by Steven Brust
Galileo's Dream, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Black Hills, by Dan Simmons
The Sorcerer's House, by Gene Wolfe
Under Heaven, by Guy Gavriel Kay
Kraken, by China Mieville
Leviathan Wept, by Daniel Abraham
Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor
The Third Bear, by Jeff VanderMeer
Gaslight Dogs, by Karin Lowachee
The Loving Dead, by Amelia Beamer
Swords and Dark Magic, by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders
The Waters Rising, by Sheri S Tepper
Passion Play, by Beth Bernobich
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin
The Habitation of the Blessed, by Catherynne M. Valente

I would imagine that had I sampled through these books, my two Best Of lists which I'll post in the coming days would look a lot different. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Top Nine Author Discoveries of 2010

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The year is coming to an end and it’s time to reflect on all of the good stuff I’ve read in the last twelve months. This is going to come up again when I talk about the Best Books Published in 2010 (that I’ve read), but 2010 has been something of an off year in regards to the number of books that I’ve read and also with the number of new books and authors I have encountered for the first time. There are reasons for that, none of which I’m going to get into right now, but the pool of newness isn’t as deep this year. Happily, the quality is just as strong.

Here then, are my top nine author discoveries of 2010. In the spirit of acknowledging that there is always something or someone I’ve missed, either by a slip of memory or just lack of opportunity, the traditional tenth spot on my list remains blank.


1. Jeff VanderMeer: I’ve read VanderMeer before, the occasional short story (including his excellent novella The Situation last year), but Finch was a revelation that just blew me away. I felt like I wanted to be John Cusack in Say Anything, standing in the world’s driveway holding Finch above my head. I never did work out how the copy of Finch would play “In Your Eyes”, especially since it’s more a Murder By Death book, but there you go. Since Finch, I’ve picked up copies of some of VanderMeer’s other work.  I think that counts as "discovery".

2. Molly Gloss: One theme of this year’s list is that most of the authors will be here on the strength of just one novel. For Molly Gloss, that novel is The Dazzle of Day, a fantastic novel focusing on the quiet lives aboard a generation ship traveling to a new world. While I haven’t yet picked up another one of her books, I will. The Dazzle of Day was simply beautiful.

3. Kristine Kathryn Rusch: One novel can be enough to make you want to read everything else the writer has done. With Rusch, that novel is Diving Into the Wreck. There’s a sequel coming, but I’ve also picked up the first book in her Retrieval Artist series. Rusch has been around for a while, has won a host of awards, been involved in both ends of publishing, and is all around a recognizable name. Turns out she’s a heck of a writer, too. I only wish I read her sooner.

4. James Barclay: The only writer on the list where I’ve read more than one book. In Barclay’s case, I’ve read four. Barclay writes the sort of secondary world quest fantasy so chock full of action and ass kicking that I would have absolutely LOVED as a teenager / twenty something, and which I still quite rather enjoy today. In my review (of sorts) of The Chronicles of the Raven I wrote about how Barclay was something of a bridge between the more standard fantasies of the 80’s / early 90’s and the nastier / in your face stuff like Joe Abercrombie is writing today. This is good stuff.

5. Aliette de Bodard: Do you know anyone else writing historical fantasy set in Aztec times with the High Priest of the Dead investigating crimes that may involve the very real gods? Neither do I. Also, Servant of the Underworld was an excellent novel. Want. More.

6. Ian Tregillis: I knew the name from the Wild Cards series, but the first volume of the Milkweed Triptych, an alternate WWII tale with very broken super soldiers and secret histories, is one heck of a debut novel. Bitter Seeds isn’t nearly as lurid as all that, but it is a well told story with genetic manipulation and a breeding program by the Nazis. This is a writer you want to watch (I suppose, by virtue of being on this list, I think these are all writers you want to watch)

7. George Mann: Mann is probably best known for his highly praised debut novel The Affinity Bridge, but my experience is with Ghosts of Manhattan, which harks back to the radio pulp heroes (think, The Shadow). It's a lot of fun and sold me on George Mann as a storyteller I wanted more from.

8. Wen Spencer: A Brother's Price is a Regency Romance with the gender roles flipped and there is a serious gender imbalance in the world. Spencer's novel is good enough that I might be willing to read a standard Regency novel, and I wish she wrote more stories (Regency or not) set in this world. There is so much more to explore here. I'm overdue to read more of Spencer's work.

9. Bernard Beckett: Beckett is the author of Genesis, a slim post apocalyptic dystopian novel where we are given so much social and personal history in info-dumping explanations (the protagonist is facing his entrance examinations to the “Academy”. Genesis should stagger under the weight of exposition, but instead it shines. Genesis is smart fiction. It's enough to recommend seeking out more of Beckett's work.


Previous discoveries can be found for 2007, 2008, and 2009.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Servant of the Underworld, by Aliette de Bodard

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Servant of the Underworld
Aliette de Bodard
Angry Robot Books: 2010

Historical Fantasy. Mystery. Aztecs. That's the snapshot of Aliette de Bodard's debut novel Servant of the Underworld. This isn't the sort of fantasy readers come across too often. After Servant of the Underworld it's time to wonder why. This is delightful.

During the height of the Aztec Empire in the capitol city of Tenochtitlan a Priestess disappears from her calmecac (think, school). The room from which she disappeared, unseen, is drenched in an obscene amount of blood. Tasked to investigate is Acatl, the High Priest of the Dead. Acatl has tried to avoid the politics of Empire, but the investigation will touch the politics of the Empire, gods, and of family. Servant of the Underworld is a murder mystery / family drama / historical fantasy / coming of age story and it is all awesome.

Aliette de Bodard does a fantastic job spinning this story. Acatl is absolutely uncomfortable getting involved in anything larger than the private duties of his religion, but his integrity and competence demands that he sees this investigation through, no matter the impact it may have on his family, on his brother who is implicated in the crime. There is a tenseness that pervades the novel, a sense that the time to find out the truth is running short. Politics requires an expedited investigation.

Servant of the Underworld is a fantastic novel which delves into a world so seldom explored in fiction. de Bodard mentions in the Afterword that one of her motivations was to show the Aztecs as more than the more common representation of bloodthirsty barbarian villains. Her accomplishment here is that while the side of the Aztecs we see in Servant of the Underworld is mostly that of the clergy, there is a pervading sense of a vibrant culture behind the scenes. Finishing Servant of the Underworld, which is a complete story on its own, will only compel readers to impatiently wait for the next volume, Harbinger of the Storm. I want more. 

the rare side of Wild Cards

George R. R. Martin has a Wild Cards related post and he gives a bit of an overview of where things stand for readers looking to get a hold of the earlier volumes of the series. As George mentions, the first book was published in 1987, and there have been four different publishers involved.  This is a longer excerpt than I normally quote, but it really covers the trouble readers may have with some of the later books.  George's post has prettier pictures than mine, and more paragraphs of joy.


Which is where things get complicated. With that long a history, some of the volumes are naturally much harder to find than others. The original twelve-volume run from Bantam can usually be found via ABE.books or ebay at reasonable prices, but the three volume "Card Shark" series that followed, published by Baen Books, is considerably more challenging, especially the third and concluding volume of the triad, BLACK TRUMP. If you do find it, it will likely cost you a lot more than it originally sold for.

That being said, even BLACK TRUMP is easy to find compared to the two hardcover originals published by iBooks when they brought the series back after a seven-year hiatus -- DEUCES DOWN, a typical Wild Cards book with stories by various hands, and DEATH DRAWS FIVE, John Jos. Miller's solo WC novel. DD5 was published only one week before iBooks went bankrupt and closed up shop. As result, to the best of our knowledge, only 600 or so copies ever got into the bookstores. (Was that the total print run, or are there more sitting somewhere in a warehouse? No one seems to know, and there's no one left at iBooks to ask). In the years since, and especially after Tor and INSIDE STRAIGHT kicked off the second coming, demand for the book has steadily risen, along with its price. It has become the Holy Grail of Wild Cards collectors.

He's not kidding with Death Draws Five.  If you can find a copy under $80 right now, you've found a good deal.  It's the only book in the series I don't own.

I got lucky with the paperbacks and, no lie, found almost the complete set in one glorious trip to Uncle Hugo's - including all three volumes of the Card Sharks trilogy.  Didn't realize those were on the rare side.  I later received Deuces Down as a gift.  Which leaves Death Draws Five.  Every time I check in at Uncle Hugo's, I am prepared to lose bladder control should I see a copy on the shelf.  I am prepared to snatch that copy, clutch it close, and call it "my precious".  That copy just hasn't shown up yet. 

I knew that there was an e-book of Death Draws Five available, but I've only read through the first seven books (plus 18-20), so just reading it isn't a priority at the moment.  My library also has one precious copy, if it came to that.  I just want a full collection in print editions. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hugo Awards

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Just a heads up, start thinking about the 2011 Hugo Awards. 

If you were a member of the 2010 Worldcon (AussieCon 4), you will be eligible to nominate for the 2011 Hugo Awards.  If you want to vote, you'll need to be a member of Renovation.  The nomination period is from January to March (I saw the actual date range, just can't find it right now).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

steampunk - all day, all night

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If you have been under a rock for, well, ever, and you don't know much about steampunk at all or where to go with it, you might wish to check out this post from Jeff VanderMeer at Omnivoracious

Lots of good stuff there. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Man with the Knives, by Ellen Kushner

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Hey, you know that Different Sort of List I posted, the one where Jeff VanderMeer offered up a number of off the beaten path gift ideas?

Well, in that post Jeff mentioned that Catherynne Valente's Under in the Mere and Ellen Kushner's The Man With the Knives weren't available on Amazon.  If you follow the link, you'll find that Valente's novel is available via the publisher, Rabid Transit Press. 


The Man with the Knives is a limited edition chapbook published by Temporary Culture and there are few copies remaining for sale (via a link that didn't work when I tried it).

The good news: "The Man with the Knives" has been published on Tor.com and everyone who missed out on the chapbook (most people) can read it. 

The story ties into Kushner's 1987 novel Swordspoint and likely answers a lingering question or two and provides some closure.  I couldn't say.  I haven't read Swordspoint.  But after reading "The Man with the Knives", I want to. 

"The Man with the Knives" stands on its own as a story and is a bittersweet tale of a somewhat broken man letting go of the past, and of a man and a woman finding a small place of quiet and home in the world.  Very good story. 

one last catch up post

Back in August I posted a catch-up with how I was doing on my anticipated reading list for 2010.  Since I'm working on the 2011 list, it's time to check in on this one last time. 

1.  Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
2.  A Dance With Dragons, by George R. R. Martin (2011?)
3.  The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch (2011)
4.  Shadow Unit: Season One, by Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear (editors)
5.  Prince of Storms, by Kay Kenyon
6.  Swords and Dark Magic, by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan (editors)
7.  Fort Freak, by George R. R. Martin (editor) (2011)
8.  Dreadnought, by Cherie Priest 
9.  The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
10. The Sea Thy Mistress, by Elizabeth Bear (Q1 2011)
11. Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal
12. Horns, by Joe Hill
13. Eclipse Four, by Jonathan Strahan (editor) (2011)
14. Gardens of the Sun, by Paul McAuley
15. The Best of Joe R. Lansdale
16. Lesser Demons, by Norman Partridge
17. The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume 4, by Jonathan Strahan (editor)
18. Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor
19. Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld

With a number of titled slated for next year, I'm only slack on seven titles.  I own the McAuley and the Strahan anthology.  Interestingly, I have an ARC of Elizabeth Bear's novel and expect to finish that by the end of the year. 


Most of them will get read, if not in the next two weeks. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Different Sort of List

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Jeff VanderMeer has a post up on the Omnivoracious blog titled "Gift Book Suggestions for the Imaginative, the Curious, the Weird".  It's a selection of some twenty books from a variety of mostly small presses and I've heard of a grand total of three of them.  Chances are they will be mostly new to you, too.

I'm posting the list here, but go check out the above link to see VanderMeer's thoughts on them. Lists are just lists.  They don't tell you why. 

Under in the Mere, by Catherynne M. Valente
The Man With the Knives, by Ellen Kushner
Half World, by Hiromi Goto (Viking)
The Wild Kingdom, by Kevin Huizenga (Drawn & Quarterly)
Eden, by Pablo Holmberg (Drawn & Quarterly)
The Weird Fiction Review, edited by S.T. Joshi (Centipede Press)
The Library of Forgotten Books, by Rjurik Davidson (PS Publishing)
Elmer, by Gerry Alanguilan (Slave Labor Graphics)
Light Boxes, by Shane Jones (Penguin)
Horse, Flower, Bird, by Kate Bernheimer (Coffee House Press)
Poetry, Fiction, and Essays, by Eric Basso (various)
Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, by Barbara Comyns (Dorothy)
Event Factory, by Renee Gladman
Scorch Atlas, by Blake Butler (Featherproof Books)
I Wonder, by Marian Bantjes (The Monacelli Press)
The Honey Month, by Amal El-Mohtar (Papaveria Press)
Black Static magazine, edited by Andy Cox
The Revisionist, by Miranda Mellis (Calamari Press)

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Results Are In: The Final Top 10

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The results of Torque Control's poll to determine the top ten science fiction novels of the last decade written by women are in and final.  Niall has been posting the list, one by one, all week.  With the announcement of the number one novel, we now have the full list. 


1. The Carhullan Army/Daughters of the North, by Sarah Hall
2. Maul, by Tricia Sullivan
3. Natural History, by Justina Robson
4. The Time-Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
5= Spirit, by Gwyneth Jones
5= The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon
7. Life, by Gwyneth Jones
8. Lavinia, by Ursula K Le Guin
9. Farthing, by Jo Walton
10= Bold as Love, by Gwyneth Jones
10= City of Pearl, by Karen Traviss
 
My first thought is: Cool, two of my picks were popular enough to make the final list.  Both City of Pearl and The Time Traveler's Wife are excellent novels.  I'm glad I took the time to send in my picks because without them, City of Pearl would have dropped off the list.  It's nice to see that a number of other people though highly enough of it to include it on their lists as well. 

My second thought: Clearly I need to read some Gwyneth Jones.  And Tricia Sullivan's Maul.  I own a copy.  Maybe I should open it. 

Niall has also been compiling various stats based on the voting.

Various Top Tens by Category
The Full List of Works Nominated.
Top Ten Writers (based on total nominations, not necessarily placement on the list)

There have been a number of other posts keeping in the theme of the week, discussing other female authored SF works.  Just browse around and you'll find plenty of stuff to read.  Otherwise, the womensf tag grabs everything on wordpress using that tag.  You'll get all of Torque Control's recent stuff, but it stretches back farther than just this week.  Not a huge fan of the interface there, but it's another resource. 

So there you have it. 

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Many Lives of Inez Wick

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This isn’t something that I do very often. I’m leery of self published work, with some very specific exceptions. If you’re wondering if you are one of those very specific exceptions and want to send me an e-mail asking if I’ll promote and read your self-published novel or story? Don’t. You’re not, and I won’t. I’ve got opinions about this stuff and exceptions are hard to come by.


So why then am I posting about Aaron Wilson’s self published collection of linked stories? I haven’t read them and given my backlog and what’s coming up for me, I’m not sure when I’d even get to it.  This is just signal boosting.

Not sure if anyone remembers this, but Aaron used to run the Soulless Machine Review blog. He focused quite a bit on short fiction and delved a bit into novel length stuff, too. He’s been out of that game for a number of years now, but I did enjoy his blog back in the day. Also, for me, he’s a local writer. He’s Minneapolis based. I’ve interacted with the guy a bit in the past about our blogs and the local scene. He still has a blog under the Soulless Machine umbrella, but it’s not the same thing.

I also recently read one of his stories (included in this collection) and enjoyed it.

This is preamble to the point that Aaron Wilson has his debut collection making its way out there in the world and I want to get some word out on his behalf. Sometimes you just have to throw some support to a local author and a former fellow book blogger. And hey, his story “Dog Fight” was rather good and it’s part of this collection.

"The Many Lives of Inez Wick" is a collection of short stories that focus on the sometimes eco-heroine, Inez Wick, as she treads the underbelly of domestic terrorism, occasionally blowing up resource exploiters and pouters

Oh, and the cover art? It’s from Bob Lipski, creator of the awesomely awesome Uptown Girl comics.

Cat Valente's Ventriloquism

Back in September I posted a list of some of the books I was looking forward to in the fourth quarter, 2010.  Included on the list was Ventriloquism, a short story collection from Catherynne M. Valente published by PS Publishing (a UK based publisher). 

I mentioned at that time that I was concerned about difficulties finding a copy in the US.

Well...from time to time, Subterranean Press partners with PS Publishing to distribute PS volumes here in the States.

See where this is going?

SubPress will be selling Ventriloquism to American audiences.  I've purchased several PS volumes this way.  It's a great deal for folks in the US.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Senses Five Press Holiday Sale

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Via Kelly Barnhill (on Facebook, but I can't really link that)

Senses Five Press, the publisher of the Sybil's Garage Magazine and the Paper Cities anthology, is having a half price sale for the Holiday season.  On everything (which would be 7 magazines and one book). 

Sybil's Garage is a very well regarded magazine.  I own a copy of issue 6, but haven't read it.  Not sure exactly how long the sale is running, but I'm inclined to do some shopping.  They've got e-copies of the early magazines on the cheap.  You know, the ones that built the reputation.

To whet the appetite (and something I just discovered), issues three and four are currently available for free download.  I do have to drop a disclaimer, though.  There's something wonky about he checkout process to download the files.  Even though they are PDFs, the shopping cart keeps trying to add a nominal shipping charge to the order.  I did send a note via the "Contact Us" link - which is likely to editor Matthew Kressel, and I'd expect that stuff to get figured out.

Regardless - if you've been looking to try out the newer issues of Sybil's Garage, this is the time to do it.  Half price for what is essentially a short anthology series (my copy of issue 6 is 100 pages with 16 stories and 13 poems).  Not a bad deal at all.

Edit: The situation with inadvertent shipping charges has been resolved.   

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Justina Robson's Heliotrope

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Via Torque Control, Justina Robson has a short story collection due out next year titled Heliotrope.  Here is the press release

Awesome news.  I haven't read much Robson outside her excellent Quantum Gravity series (start here) and a couple of her stories, but everything has been quite good.

Hopefully this collection can find its way over to the US and not taunt me from the UK.  It'll be one to look for. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Top Ten SF Novels of the Last Decade, Written by Women (and which i have read)

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Over at Torque Control, Niall Harrison is having a weeklong discussion of SF written by women. The genesis of this stems from several different conversations, and you can follow the links from his post. I come into this sort of on the backend. What I missed over the last week was Niall's post several days ago asking for people to e-mail him their nominations for the Top 10 SF novels written by women over the last ten years (2001 - 2010). I quick looked over my collection, at my Years's Best posts from the last four years, and at a host of other links Niall had included and pulled together my list.

I had just missed the deadline, but since this isn't hard science, Niall let it slide and took my nominations anyway.

I noted to Niall that I'm not as well read in SF as I am in fantasy, which is true, but there is a further point is that I'm also less well read in SF from the last decade. Several novels I would have included without question or hesitation were published in the 90's. Nicola Griffith's Ammonite was published in 1992. The Sparrow, from Mary Doria Russell in 1996. Emma Bull's Bone Dance in 1991. Molly Gloss's The Dazzle of Day in 1998. Those were just the first four that came to mind.

So what, then?

There is no doubt that not only have I likely overlooked something awesome I read six years ago that would qualify for inclusion, I simply have to assume that there are dozens upon dozens (upon dozens) of novels which, if only had I read them, I would shout from the rooftops about how wonderful they are. To those authors, I apologize. I simply haven't read you.

Which brings me to the list of novels I did e-mail Niall as my nominations. I have some reservations about it, more regarding the novels I've overlooked and the novels I haven't read yet than regarding the actual inclusion of what I have here. Give me another decade and this list looks very different and I feel more assured of my choices. Another reservation is just where to draw my genre line between SF and Fantasy. Regardless, here are my nominees - based on what I have read and what I remember having read.

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (2003)
City of Pearl, by Karen Traviss (2004)
Alanya to Alanya, by L. Timmel Duchamp (2005)
Dust, by Elizabeth Bear (2007)
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (2008)
Refining Fire, by Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear (2008) (no review, per se)
Regenesis, by C. J. Cherryh (2009)
Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest (2009)
City Without End, by Kay Kenyon (2009)
Diving Into the Wreck, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (2009)

I have linked my reviews, where possible.

What would you have included? Sound off.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The Iron Khan is here!

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Well, electronically, that is. 

Editor Marty Halpern points out that the fifth volume of Liz Williams' Detective Inspector Chen series, The Iron Khan, has been published as an ebook by Morrigan Books.

Halpern mentions that a print edition is still planned and will be announced, but this is a great first step and it is wonderful to see that Detective Inspector Chen is still alive and kicking after the mess of this summer

I've had a Night Shade ARC of The Iron Khan for the last year, but held off on reading it - not knowing when, exactly, the manuscript would be published and if there were any substantial changes to it.  I still don't know this, but the real news is that the rest of the world will get the chance to read more Chen. 

Friday, December 03, 2010

"Ghosts of New York" available for free reading

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Via Jennifer Pelland.

I tracked down a copy of the Dark Faith anthology for just a couple of stories from some of my favorite writers, Jennifer Pelland's "Ghosts of New York" right at the top of that list.  I wrote about the story back in June.  As expected, it was excellent. 

But, the story was only available in a small press anthology and I couldn't share this awesomeness with everyone else.

Until now.

Apex has published "Ghosts of New York" on their website for some quality free reading.  This would be an excellent time to go read the story.  You don't even have to leave the comfort of your house. 

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Taxidermist's Other Wife, by Kelly Barnhill

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Since it is the beginning of another month, we have another set of stories from Clarkesworld Magazine.  I assume you've been reading Clarkesworld for a while now, but just in case you haven't...

The one I wanted to point out, if you haven't noted the title of this post, is "The Taxidermists's Other Wife", by Kelly Barnhill.  This is a twisted little tale, especially as the realization begins to set in. 

Now, I have to admit, Kelly Barnhill is a friend and a delightful person.  BUT, she is also a wonderful writer and while I've been anticipating her debut novel (The Mostly True Story of Jack, due out August 2011), I'm thrilled to run across her stories anywhere they may be.  You may recognize Barnhill from the VanderMeer's pirate anthology Fast Ships, Black Sails (though, clearly not from my review).  She's also been published in Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Postscripts, and Sybil's Garage.  Not too shabby.

Now go read.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

TOC: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 5

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Jonathan Strahan has posted the table of contents for the fifth volume of his annual Year's Best anthology of SFF.

Strahan has a great eye for picking out the best stories, so each volume is a must read.

Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
“Elegy for a Young Elk,” Hannu Rajaniemi
“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” Neil Gaiman
“Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots,” Sandra McDonald
“The Spy Who Never Grew Up,” Sarah Rees Brennan
“The Aarne-Thompson Classification Revue,” Holly Black
“Under the Moons of Venus,” Damien Broderick
“The Fool Jobs,” Joe Abercrombie
“Alone,” Robert Reed
“Names for Water,” Kij Johnson
“Fair Ladies,” Theodora Goss
“Plus or Minus,” James P. Kelly
“The Man With the Knives,” Ellen Kushner
“The Jammie Dodgers and the Adventure of the Leicester Square Screening,” Cory Doctorow
“The Maiden Flight of McAuley’s Bellerophon,” Elizabeth Hand
“The Miracle Aquilina,” Margo Lanagan
“The Taste of Night,” Pat Cadigan
“The Exterminator’s Want-Ad,” Bruce Sterling
“Map of Seventeen,” Christopher Barzak
“The Naturalist,” Maureen McHugh
“Sins of the Father,” Sara Genge
“The Sultan of the Clouds,” Geoffrey A. Landis
“Iteration,” John Kessel
“The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn,” Diana Peterfreund
“The Night Train,” Lavie Tidhar
“Still Life (A Sexagesimal Fairy Tale),” Ian Tregillis
“Amor Vincit Omnia,” K.J. Parker
“The Things,” Peter Watts
“The Zeppelin Conductors’ Society Annual Gentlemen’s Ball,” Genevieve Valentine
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window,” Rachel Swirsky
"The Things", from Peter Watts, is excellent.  I expect the others to be equally good.  A story from Rachel Swirsky is always a good sign.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forthcoming 2011: Q1

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Welcome to the latest installment of "Stuff I'm Looking Forward To This Year". As always, I take my information from the Locus Forthcoming list, plus a little bit of extra research when I'm aware of things that should be on the Locus list and are not.

January
The White City, by Elizabeth Bear: The third novella / book, following New Amsterdam and Seven for a Secret.  The more I read in this series, the more I want. 



February
The Sea Thy Mistress, by Elizabeth Bear.  I have an ARC in my hands right now.  This is the third book of Bear's excellent Edda of Burdens trilogy.  The first two are All the Windwracked Stars and By the Mountain Bound.  FANTASTIC stuff.  

Harbinger of the Storm, by Aliette de Bodard: This is the sequel to Servant of the Underworld, which I have not read.  That first book is on my library hold list, so I suppose I don't know for sure that this should be one of my anticipated books, but this historical fantasy / mystery set in the world of the Aztecs is something new and fresh that you don't see every day.  It should be worth keeping an eye on.

Down to the Bone, by Justina Robson: This is a UK only release for now, but Down to the Bone is the fifth volume in Robson's excellent Quantum Gravity series.  The first four were released in the US by Pyr.  I assume we'll see it in the States sometimes in 2011 or 2012.  Hopefully Pyr is picking it up.  They've put out great looking editions of the first four. 

Bloodshot, by Cherie Priest: New Cherie Priest.  It's not a Clockwork Century novel (alas), but Priest describes it as: "fabulous urban fantasy adventure about a neurotic vampire/thief and her wealthy blind client, now with Bonus! Cuban drag queen and military intrigue."  Or, as I call it: New Cherie Priest.  Nuff Said.


March
Grail, by Elizabeth Bear: Hey look, three months, three books by eBear!   This is the third volume of the Jacob's Ladder trilogy.  I favorably reviewed the first book, Dust, and I should really get around to reviewing the second, Chill (it's even better than the first!).

The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch: Is it possible?  Might it really? 


The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Five, by Jonathan Strahan: My favorite Year's Best anthology series.  I'm collecting these like candy. 


Lots of good stuff coming in 2011. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Chronicles of the Raven

Monday, November 29, 2010 4
I never wrote about the three books of James Barclay's The Chronicles of the Raven back when I first read them earlier this year. 

That's a shame, because Dawnthief, Noonshade, and Nightchild really are excellent fantasy novels.

This is the sort of stuff I would have loved beyond all recognition when I first discovered fantasy as a teenager.  It works as something of a bridge of the more simpler and safer quest fantasies of the 1980's (the stuff readers of my generation grew up on) and the nastier, more violent stuff written by Joe Abercrombie and Matthew Stover.  Yes, there is enough room and time in the fantasy genre to drive several buses through that gap, and surely other writers have played and are playing in that gap, but Barclay's work here demonstrates how a traditional quest fantasy can be told, feel modern, and yet stand firmly in the tradition of those novels which came before.

Barclay writes,
Dawnthief came from a personal frustration with the pace, style and character matter of other fantasy novels I’d read and has its roots in role playing. I wanted my principal characters to already be the best at what they did and not the classic ‘stable boy becomes hero/king’ types. Having The Raven as mercenaries introduces a moral greyness which means readers can’t assume they’ll always do the ‘right’ thing.

The aim is to entertain readers and for me, the ideal reaction on reading Dawnthief would be ‘bloody good read that, think I’ll buy Noonshade‘ (as opposed to ‘crumbs what a fascinating insight into the human psyche, think I’ll go for a lie down’).
He succeeded.  Dawnthief, and the subsequent novels, are a bloody good read. 

"The Raven" is a mercenary company loyal only to each other and the job, but circumstances has them fighting to save their world.  It's not quite as cliche as it sounds, but this is part of where the bridge lies.  The Chronicles of the Raven has its roots in the traditions of quest fantasies, but that moral ambiguity is important.  These are men (and an elf) fighting for the right thing, but not necessarily all for the right reasons.  The action is quite a bit more stark and in-your-face than in those earlier fantasies.  Ass is kicked and there are questions regarding the true safety of the heroes that don't exist in the fantasies of the 1980's and the early 1990's.  

The reason I continue to bring up a decade some twenty years in the past is that, admittedly, The Chronicles of the Raven is an answer to the books of that decade.  The conversation Barclay is having is not so much with his contemporaries or even those writers who began publishing in the 1990's, and the tone of that conversation is evident in the three novels.  It is important to note that Dawnthief was originally published in the UK in 1999.  It is less a novel of the last ten years as it is the ten years prior to that.

The obvious contemporary comparison here is Joe Abercrombie and readers won't taste the dirt on their teeth with Barclay as they will with Abercrombie.  That's neither a bad thing nor a good thing.  It's just a thing and why I consider The Chronicles of the Raven to be something of a "bridge" between two styles of quest-fantasy storytelling. Readers who cut their teeth on David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Tad Williams, and Raymond Feist, and who are still looking for a good fantasy in that tradition with just a bit of an edge to it will love James Barclay.  Readers digging on the newer fantasy writers on the scene will find Barclay a touch lighter than some of the new stuff, but should still find themselves pulled away by a well told story. 


The bottom line here is that The Chronicles of the Raven is, as James Barclay hoped, a "bloody good read".  Having finished these books early in 2010, I have recently received copies of the first two books of the next series Legends of the Raven.  Seeing those new books on my shelf has me itching to delve back into the world of Balaia.  It's good stuff, y'all.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Strange Horizons, change is in the air

Tuesday, November 02, 2010 1
A day after winning a World Fantasy Award for her work on Strange Horizons, Susan Marie Groppi announced that she was stepping down as Editor in Chief of Strange Horizons. 

Taking her place is Niall Harrison, the previous Reviews Editor at Strange Horizons.  Abigail Nussbaum will take Niall's position as head of the Reviews department.  Good choices, both of them.  Niall and Abigail are smart folk. 

Strange Horizons remains one of the premier places to find great short fiction, often from writers who are just beginning to make a name for themselves in the genre (as well as from more established writers).  Their book reviews are just as good. 

I expect Niall and Abigail will maintain the high standards of Strange Horizons and continue to deliver excellent fiction and nonfiction.  Congrats to them, and best of luck to Susan Groppi.

Now it's time to go check out some of that excellent fiction over there.

Monday, November 01, 2010

City of Ruins!

Monday, November 01, 2010 2
Sweet!  Just found out that there is going to be a follow up to Diving Into the Wreck (one of the best books of last year that I haven't written about) called City of RuinsThere's a cover and everything

I don't need to know anything else about it, except that it exists.  Diving Into the Wreck was so good that I immediately tracked down a copy of the first Retrieval Artist novel Rusch wrote.  Haven't read it yet, but clearly I must. 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2010 World Fantasy Award Winners

Sunday, October 31, 2010 1
The winners of the 2010 World Fantasy Awards have been announced.  


Best Novel: The City & The City, by China Mieville
Best Novella: "Sea Hearts", by Margo Lanagan
Best Short Story: "The Pelican Bar", by Karen Joy Fowler
Best Anthology: American Fantastic Tales, by Peter Straub (editor)
Best Collection (tie): The Very Best of Gene Wolfe / There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Best Artist: Charles Vess
Special Award, Professional: Jonathan Strahan
Special Award, Non Professional: Susan Marie Groppi

Congratulations to all the winners, with special congrats to Jonathan Strahan and Susan Marie Groppi.  Strahan is a fantastic anthologist and Groppi is the editor of Strange Horizons, one of my favorite places to find short fiction. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dust, by Elizabeth Bear

Friday, October 22, 2010 2
Dust
Elizabeth Bear
Spectra: 2007

On her website, Elizabeth Bear had this to say about Dust (and the trilogy as a whole):

This is a trilogy of novels set aboard a derelict generation ship in orbit around a dying sun. It's much more space opera and sweeping than the Jenny books, Carnival, or Undertow, which is to say that it has more of a quest or adventure sensibility and somewhat less intrigue and politicking. I described it to my editor in the pitch as "Amber:Gormenghast::Upstairs:Downstairs, in SPAAAAAAAAAACE!"

And she bought it, so you know, I kind of hope the same pitch works on you.

The first novel, Dust, is about two young women, Rien and Perceval, who meet under unkind circumstances and form a fragile alliance in an attempt to prevent a potentially devastating war. However, unbeknownst to them, they have attracted the attention of the flickering hulk of the dead ship's A.I...

Bioengineering, ancient betrayals, and spunky teenaged heroines. Also, an Elric parody. How can you say no?

Now, I’ll admit that the pitch itself wasn’t a strong sell for me, but I trust Bear and her set-up for the novel itself is intriguing. Moreso than the pitch.

The bioengineering here is important because Perceval is described as an angel who has had her wings cut off after she surrendered, and there are references to other angels, God, aspects of godhood, and the Elect. Among other things. Yet, as Bear states, this is set “aboard a derelict generation ship in orbit around a dying sun”. The contrast between what might elsewhere be religious in nature and concepts which are very much science fiction works very well here, though readers will likely spend some time trying to figure out exactly how these concepts fit together.

One of the things I have most appreciated about Bear’s fiction is her use of broken characters. Most of her characters, human or otherwise, are damaged in some manner. This makes them…like people. They aren’t flawed, per se, but more fully realized in how life and experience affects and alters an individual, not always in ways that are comfortable or pleasant. Except that these are the characters that lend themselves to beautiful writing and haunting stories. These are the characters which come across as more “real”.

Characterization tends to be one of the strongest aspects of Elizabeth Bear’s fiction (see her Stratford Man duology), but perhaps because the perspective is so much more tightly focused on Rien and Perceval, they are the only two characters who stand out as clearly defined characters. The other characters are much less…vibrant, or alive. Compared to Bear’s previous novels, this is a bit of a surprise, but it does permit the focus to be solely on Perceval and Rien. The actions of the other characters are important, and have ramifications for the next novel, Chill, and beyond, but they aren’t quite as important and immediate as the personal drama and adventure of the two protagonists. Though necessary to the story being told, the other characters just do not add the narrative weight and richness Bear’s readers have come to expect. On the other hand, Dust also contains a nano-tech improved power-tool named Gavin with a certain amount of sentience which has transformed itself into a basilisk. The awesomeness of Gavin can not be overstated.

Whether it is the adventure aspect of the novel or the strong characterization of Rien and Perceval which allowed an emotional bond to build, Dust has become one of my favorite novels from Elizabeth Bear. Dust is right up there with, though a step behind, her Promethean Age novels. This is high praise. The raw inventiveness in the worldbuilding is stunning, even as there is a sense of bewilderment at how all these disparate elements fit together. Dust is a novel which should not be overlooked.


Previous Reviews

Blood and Iron
Whiskey and Water
Ink and Steel
Hell and Earth
Hammered
Scardown
New Amsterdam
Seven for a Secret
A Companion to Wolves
All the Windwracked Stars
By the Mountain Bound

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Liz Williams!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 0
Not too long after she announced a new home for the Detective Inspector Chen series, Liz Williams has a new announcement.

I have signed a 3 book deal with Prime Books. It's called Worldsoul and it's about a stolen library, an unstable monorail, several renegade sphinxes and much else besides. It's more fantasy than SF. The first novel will be coming out either next year or early 2012,

Great news and looking forward to these! A stolen library AND an unstable monorail?  Hell yeah!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Lifecycle of Software Objects, by Ted Chiang

Saturday, October 09, 2010 3
For those who are interested, and this should be everyone, Subterranean Online has just published Ted Chiang's novella "The Lifecycle of Software Objects".

Chiang is not prolific and every time he publishes his stories tend to be one of the best published in a given year.  So, you'll want to go read this.

Honestly, though, this is one of the few times I've been disappointed in one of Chiang's stories.  There's supposed to be heart in the story, but Chiang left me feeling a bit cold towards the characters and that situation - which is never a good thing for me as a reader.  This is why I haven't talked about the story all year.  I had no idea what to really say.   Elizabeth Bear loved it, though. You can probably find scads of other positive reviews all over the place. 

Bear writes,
This is a descriptive work of science fiction, rather than a strongly plot-driven one. It’s meditative and thoughtful, and it does not offer tidy closure or resolution: just a series of ever-more-complicated questions.
I think this may be one of my issues, that more descriptive works challenge my reader-brain in ways that I just not tend to enjoy so much.

So why point out a story I didn't overly like? 

Dude, it's a new Ted Chiang.  Even when I don't like it, it's impressive and worth noting.  You don't want to miss new Ted Chiang that is offered online for free.  Besides, what the hell do I know?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

new Shadow Unit: Closet Monster

Sunday, October 03, 2010 0
"Closet Monster", written by Leah Bobet is up at Shadow Unit.  Season 3, Episode 5.

I assume you're caught up, so go read. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

EV Shirts

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 0
Not sure if you knew this or not (I didn't), but that awesome 'zine Electric Velocipede does more than offer great fiction, it also offers shirts and mugs, which I think is pretty cool. 

Great way to show some support while getting some stuff not everyone on the block has, and, actually, I rather like a couple of those shirts.  Might need to order me one.

Oh, and go read Electric Velocipede.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Melanie Rawn, The Diviner

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2
And, in news I've rather happy about, Melanie Rawn has announced a publication date for The Diviner: June 2011.  Actually, she announced it a month ago, and there's another post on her message board saying August 2011, but that Rawn is actually talking publication dates is an EXCELLENT sign. 

Don't know what in the world I'm talking about?  Have you heard of The Golden Key, written by Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott, and published back in the 90's? I would point you to my blog post covering the book, but it's been fifteen years since I read it.  Maybe longer.  Here's a review from Catherine Asaro from back in 1997.

The Golden Key was fantastic, people.  After it was published there was talk about sequels and prequels that would be individually written by the three co-authors.  The first one, the one that sets the stage and gives the other authors what they need to do their work was Melanie Rawn's The Diviner.  Without it, Roberson and Elliott can't continue. 

We're getting The Diviner next year!!!!!!


It's time for a re-read of The Golden Key, I think.

Oh, and there's artwork

Woo!

some Eclipse Four info

Jonathan Strahan posted a little bit of info about the forthcoming (Spring 2011) publication of Eclipse Four

I don't want to overquote, so here's a tease and then go read the rest over at Strahan's post.  

The third volume was different again. Responding to the criticism the series had received, I cast my net wider and ultimately I think produced a better book. It’s less centre-of-genre in many ways, but has a consistent feel to it and an overall high quality of stories that helped make it the most successful volume, critically and commercially, so far.
Given that it’s also the one I’m happiest with overall, my intention is to very much continue the series as a follow-on from Eclipse Three. The volume I’m working on now, Eclipse Four, is intended to be a direct follow-on from that book. It will feature some of the same writers, and hopefully will feel similar to Three.
Oh, and Strahan also reveals that Eclipse Four will include a story from the wonderful Emma Bull. 

Can't wait!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Clash of the Geeks: A Chapbook for Charity

Monday, September 20, 2010 0
Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi and Subterranean Press are proud to announce the publication of Clash of the Geeks, a special and fantastical electronic chapbook featuring stories by Wheaton, Scalzi, New York Times bestseller Patrick Rothfuss, Norton Award winner and Hugo Best Novel nominee Catherynne M. Valente, Hugo and Nebula Award nominee Rachel Swirsky and others, for the benefit of the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America. The chapbook is free to download, but voluntary payment is strongly encouraged, via Paypal or by tax-deductible donation forms, both linked to later in this entry. All proceeds from this chapbook will go to the Michigan/Indiana affiliate of the Lupus Alliance of America. Please enjoy the stories, link your friends to this page — and give!

I heard about this via Subterranean Press, and it's a cool thing these folks are doing. 

From the perspective of the reader, a lineup that includes Scalzi, Rothfuss, Valente, and Swirsky is fantastic.  You WANT this chapbook.  That all the proceeds go to charity only makes this cooler.  You'll get some quality fiction and help out some folks.

For more details, go to the official page here.  Then, download the chapbook and donate some dollars. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Shadow Unit

Sunday, September 19, 2010 0
Might I take a moment to ask you a question?

Are you reading Shadow Unit?

Might I ask you another?

If you're not, why the hell not? 

Shadow Unit is a science fictional story about a group of unrealistically sexy FBI agents struggling to protect humanity from the worst monsters imaginable. Except some of our heroes may be on the road to becoming monsters themselves....

Shadow Unit is one of my favorite fictional things, ever.  The above description works well, but my elevator pitch is "X-Files meets Criminal Minds, except the monsters are human". 

It's a web series comprised of short stories, novellas, and short novels.  Shadow Unit is released like a television show.  There are seasons and episodes.  We're currently in the middle of Season Three, but if you wanted a place to start, might I recommend the very first episode, "Breathe", written by Emma Bull?

The writers of Shadow Unit are Emma Bull, Elizabeth Bear, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette, Leah Bobet, Amanda Downum, Chelsea Polk, and Holly Black

The best thing for readers: IT'S ALL FREE.  Really.  Professional quality fiction from award winning writers, free.  Shadow Unit is run on the donation model, so if you like what you see and you have a couple of extra shekels, maybe throw some in the hat. 

So.  Shadow Unit

Read it. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Forthcoming 2010: Q4

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 5
This is a couple of months late, but, welcome to the latest installment of "Stuff I'm Looking Forward To This Year". As always, I take my information from the Locus Forthcoming list, plus a little bit of extra research when I'm aware of things that should be on the Locus list and are not.


October
Dreadnought, by Cherie Priest: Book of the month, right here. Dreadnought is Priest’s follow up to the quite excellent Boneshaker (review) (and also to Clementine) and I honestly don’t care what it is about – it’s a new novel from Cherie Priest. That it is a new Clockwork Century novel only sweetens the deal.

Ventriloquism, by Catherynne M. Valente: This is a collection from PS Publishing and I think the Locus list isn’t accurate and that it may be published in December. Cat Valente is good, and even though this may be a touch difficult to get on my side of the pond, it’s worth looking into. PS does good work.

Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld: The sequel to Leviathan (review), the 2009 offering from Scott Westerfeld. It’s new Westerfeld, what more do you need?


November
The Way of the Wizard, by John Joseph Adams: I’ll admit to being slack on reading JJA’s last couple of anthologies (the vampire one and the Sherlock Holmes one), but I tend to like his editorial eye for the anthologies of his I have read. I expect good things.

Gilded Latten Bones, by Glen Cook: The new Garrett PI novel. I’m waaaaay behind on this series, only having recently read Red Iron Nights, but this is just encouragement to keep going.

Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: Book of the Month. New Wheel of Time. Sanderson was very much on his game with The Gathering Storm (review) and I expect the penultimate book of the series to exceed my high expectations.

Full Dark, No Stars, by Stephen King: A novella anthology from King. I prefer him in the short form as his recent novels haven’t been all that (haven’t read Under the Dome, though)

Flaming Zeppelins: The Adventures of Ned the Seal, by Joe R. Lansdale: While I wait for a third Ned the Seal novella, here is a collection of the two previous novellas. Review and Review. Love this stuff.

Holiday, by M. Rickert: Story collection. Been waiting on this one for a couple of years.


The Habitation of the Blessed, by Catherynne M. Valente: The first in a new series from Valente.


December
Deadman’s Road, by Joe R. Lansdale: After a very stacked November, there’s not much in December I’m itching for. But this collection of stories (including the short novel Dead in the West - review) featuring the zombie killing preacher is just too good to pass up.

Friday, September 10, 2010

new swirsky

Friday, September 10, 2010 3
I haven't read this yet, but there's a new story from Rachel Swirsky up on Tor.com: "The Monster's Million Faces".  Since Swirsky brings the excellence on a regular basis, I thought you might like to know.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Phoenix

Wednesday, September 08, 2010 2
I don't really have a post in me talking about Steven Brust's Phoenix, which is another excellent entry in his Vlad Taltos series.

But, because I want to acknowledge its excellence - I point you to Jo Walton and her post over at Tor.com from last year

Actual Reviews

Jhereg
Yendi
Teckla
Taltos

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ark, by Stephen Baxter

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 0
Ark
Stephen Baxter
Roc: 2010

Damn, I’ve been meaning to write about this book for a while now. Ark is Stephen Baxter’s quasi-sequel to his excellent novel Flood (review). I say “quasi-sequel” because much of Ark runs concurrent to the events of Flood, just in different locations. There is some overlap with characters and major events, but not from the same perspectives.

The premise of Flood, if not guessed from the title, is that for whatever reason the ocean waters begin to rise and rise and rise above their current levels. Now, this may spoil some of the events of Flood, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, please put this blog post down and run, don’t walk, to the nearest copy of Flood and start reading immediately. It’s a wonderful book, so I won’t blame you. Just come back when you’re done. Okay. Now that you’re back, don’t care if you’re going to be spoiled, or are comfortable with a brief refresher, let’s move on. Flood is a novel of a global catastrophe on a scale that boggles the mind if people not named Stephen Baxter think about it for too long. The central cast of characters of Flood are focused on survival for themselves and for a remnant of humanity – on something called Ark Three, which can be described in the grossest of terms as a “giant raft” – a way to survive on the surface of the ocean when there is no land left. Can it be built? Will it work? The novel answers both.

As can be guessed by its name, Ark Three is one of a number of projects to save as many people as possible (a “select” many people, but people all the same). What about Ark One and Two?

Ark, the novel, is the story of the building, training, and mission of Ark One – a mission of sending a colony to the stars, so that even if life is extinguished on Earth, humanity will survive somewhere.

Ark features and references many of the same characters of Flood, but shifts the focus differently. Characters who stay behind on Earth, like Lily Brooke and Thandie Jones are not major players here. They are referenced by the children, like Grace, but the novel focuses more on the next generation – the would-be crew of Ark One.

Also, Ark prominently features the actual space mission and that lends a very different tenor to the novel.

So, while Ark could arguably be described as the sequel to Flood, it is more thematically a sister novel. Ark deals with much of the same stuff, the same issues, fears, and hopes, but it does so differently. Stephen Baxter understands that the initial discovery and wonder of how high the sea will rise and what it means for humanity just isn’t there this time around. Readers know what happens to the world and to the characters. Baxter plays with that sense of inevitability and doom that hangs over Earth and shows what else was happening, what other events were occurring that demonstrate humanity’s capacity for survival. The story of Ark is in the quiet moments during global destruction.

In a very real sense, Flood and Ark are hopeful novels. The promise implicit in Baxter’s story is that humanity will ever strive to survive as a species, and even in the most impossible conditions that have eliminated so much life, a remnant will adapt and survive and find a new way to persevere. Ultimately, it is a beautiful sentiment if one can get past the billions who have perished.

Though it is a very different sort of novel from the excellent Flood, Ark is a very welcome and able companion novel.  Ark does not have the same sort of awestruck wonder at the looming and encroaching disaster, but it is moving and wonderful all the same.

Monday, September 06, 2010

2010 Hugo Award Nomination List

Monday, September 06, 2010 1
This is the same PDF that has the voting breakdown, but scroll down and you'll get a list of works nominated in each category.  This isn't as complete or detailed a list as we got last year when the nominations were disclosed all the way down to 5 votes, but this is always interesting to me. 

What we get to see here is just how few votes it really takes to push a work that missed the ballot onto the final ballot.  Which goes to say, if you feel that nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards is worth a $50 supporting membership, and you are passionate about the works...there is an excellent opportunity to influence which works are recognized.

I am not listing out everything on the PDF in each category (that's what the file is for), but for the major fiction categories I will.

The works in bold were on my ballot.

Novel
142 The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (20.3%)
105 The City & The City, China Mieville (15%)
100 WWW: Wake, Robert J. Sawyer (14.3%)
77 Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (11%)
62 Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (8.9%)
62 Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente (8.9%)

Just Missed
53 Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld (7.6%)
49 This Is Not a Game, Walter Jon Williams (7%)
49 Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett (7%)
45 Galileo's Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson (6.4%)
42 Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (6%)
40 Makers, Cory Doctorow (5.7%)
40 The Sunless Countries, Karl Schroeder (5.7%)
37 Lifelode, Jo Walton (5.3%)
35 The Price of Spring, Daniel Abraham (5%)
32 Empress of Mars, Kage Baker (4.6%)
32 House of Suns, Alastair Reynolds (4.6%)
29 Green, Jay Lake (4.1%)
27 Steal Across the Sky, Nancy Kress (3.9%)
24 Rosemary and Rue, Seanan McGuire (3.4%)
24 Transition, Iain M. Banks (3.4%)
23 The Quiet War, Paul McAuley (3.3%)
22 The Magicians, Lev Grossman (3.1%)
22 Yellow Blue Tibia, Adam Roberts (3.1%)
21 Liar, Justine Larbalestier (3%)
21 Regenesis, C.J. Cherryh (3%)

This is everything listed for the novel, actually.  10 votes puts Leviathan on the ballot.  I'm also glad Finch got solid love. 

Novella
79 The God Engines, John Scalzi (21.1%)
66 Act One, Nancy Kress (17.6%)
56 Palimpsest, Charles Stross (14.9%)
51 Shambling Towards Hiroshima, James Morrow (13.6%)
51 The Women of Nell Gwynne's, Kage Baker (13.6%)
51 Vishnu at the Cat Circus, Ian McDonald (13.6%)

Just Missed
46 Wives, Paul Haines (12.3%)
27 The Spires of Denon, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (7.2%)
24 Sea-Hearts, Margo Lanagan (6.4%)
20 Broken Windchimes, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (5.3%)
20 Shaka II, Mike Resnick (5.3%)
19 Horn, Peter M Ball (5.1%)
18 Hot Rock, Greg Egan (4.8%)
16 Earth II, Stephen Baxter (4.3%)
16 Paradiso Lost, Albert E. Cowdrey (4.3%)
16 Sublimation Angels, Jason Sanford (4.3%)
15 Where the Winds Are All Asleep, Michael F. Flynn (4%)
14 Crimes and Glory, Paul McAuley (3.7%)
14 The Far End of History, John C Wright (3.7%)
11 Halloween Town, Lucius Shepard (2.9%)
11 Sugar, Leah Bobet (2.9%)

Five more votes, and "Wives" gets a tie and is on the ballot.  Six votes, and there's no question.  The reason why I posted the full nomination list for this category, though, is "Sugar", by Leah Bobet.  One, it was on my ballot.  Two, Shadow Unit!

Novelette
52 Overtime, Charles Stross (12.9%)
51 The Island, Peter Watts (12.7%)
38 Eros, Philia, Agape, Rachel Swirsky (9.5%)
38 It Takes Two, Nicola Griffith (9.5%)

38 One of Our Bastards is Missing, Paul Cornell (9.5%)
38 Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast, Eugie Foster (9.5%)

Just Missed
30 First Flight, Mary Robinette Kowal (7.5%)
30 Soulmates, Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn (7.5%)
26 Utriusque Cosmi, Robert Charles Wilson (6.5%)
26 Zeppelin City, Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick (6.5%)
23 A Memory of Wind, Rachel Swirsky (5.7%)
19 This Peaceable Land; or, the Unbearable Vision of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Robert Charles Wilson (4.7%)
16 But It Does Move, Harry Turtledove (4%)
16 Economancer, Carolyn Ives Gilman (4%)
16 Lion Walk, Mary Rosenblum (4%)
15 Controlled Experiment, Tom Purdom (3.7%)
15 This Wind Blowing, and This Tide, Damien Broderick (3.7%)
14 Events Preceding the Helvetican Renaissance, John Kessel (3.5%)
14 Truth and Bone, Pat Cadigan (3.5%)
13 Galapagos, Caitlin R. Kiernan (3.2%)
12 A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc; or, A Lullaby, Helen Keeble (3%)
12 Inevitable, Sean Williams (3%)
12 Siren Beat, Tansy Rayner Roberts (3%)
12 The Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon, Ken Scholes (3%)

Lots of ties going on here.  And, ahh!  Less than 10 votes and Mary Robinette Kowal would be on the ballot!

Short Story
59 Spar, Kij Johnson (13.7%)
37 The Bride of Frankenstein, Mike Resnick (8.6%)
31 Non-Zero Probabilities, N.K. Jemisin (7.2%)
25 The Moment, Lawrence M. Schoen (5.8%)
23 Bridesicle, Will McIntosh (5.3%)

Just Missed
20 Going Deep, James Patrick Kelly (4.6%)
17 Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction, Jo Walton (3.9%)
16 Before my Last Breath, Robert Reed (3.7%)
16 The Pelican Bar, Karen joy Fowler (3.7%)
16 Useless Things, Maureen F. McHugh (3.7%)
15 The Receivers, Alastair Reynolds (3.5%)
14 Blocked, Geoff Ryman (3.2%)
14 Donovan Sent Us, Gene Wolfe (3.2%)
12 Benchwarmer, Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn (2.8%)
11 A Story, With Beans, Steven Gould (2.5%)
11 As Women Fight, Sara Genge (2.5%)
11 Elan Vital, K. Tempest Bradford (2.5%)
11 The Consciousness Problem, Mary Robinette Kowal (2.5%)
11 The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew, Catherynne M. Valente (2.5%)
10 Butterfly Bomb, Dominic Green (2.3%)
10 Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela, Saladin Ahmed (2.3%)
10 To Go Boldly, Cory Doctorow (2.3%)

Four votes, and James Patrick Kelly is on the ballot.  That's why nominating is important.

It gets even tighter in Best Graphic Story.  One vote separated "on the ballot" from "not on the ballot".  One.  Same with Best Editor, Long Form, and Fan Writer.

Good to see Niall Harrison and Abigail Nussbaum get solid votes for Fan Writer, and SF Signal and Torque Control get Fanzine votes.  I don't know if it'll happen in the next five years, but I think we're probably not too far away from when blogs, websites, and podcasts (StarShipSofa for the WIN) will dominate the Fanzine category and the older model of what a "fanzine" used to be will start to slip away.  Maybe because I have never been part of the fanzine crowd, but I don't see quite the same value and relevance of the traditional fanzine today.

2010 Hugo Award Voting Breakdown

The voting breakdown for the 2010 Hugo Awards is available here.  Actually, the nominating breakdown is also on that same PDF, but I want to do a separate post for that.

For those keeping score at home, here are last year's results.

Novel (875 Ballots): I am completely fascinated by just how even the votes were between The City & The City and The Windup Girl.  I think you're more likely to see a work with fewer first place votes win the award than you are to see a dead heat rundown like this.  Alas, Boneshaker did not win.  I was really pulling for the awesome Cherie Priest (she was first on my ballot, but only 78 others).

I wrote this last year, but I think it bears repeating:
I've seen Kevin Standlee explain this before, but it takes a while for the math to sink in. I believe the winner has to have the majority of all votes cast and if that doesn't happen in the first round, the work with the lowest votes is dropped, the votes are redistributed, and it repeats until there is a winner. Something like that. This allows the winners to be more of a consensus pick, the work that most of the ballots felt was the strongest rather than necessarily being the work the most people gave first place votes to in the first round.

Novella (792 Ballots):  You know what I said about the "fewer first place votes" earlier?  Yeah.  The God Engines had the most first place votes, but not a majority.  As the rundown occurred, it just didn't have enough overall love to carry it through.  Shame. 

Novelette (775 Ballots): I honestly didn't feel "The Island" the same way that the voters did, but from everything I've heard, Peter Watts is a class act and he's had a rough year.  So how can you hate on that?  You can't, that's how.  Griffith and Swirsky were the class of the field, though.

Short Story (812 Ballots)

Campbell (544 Ballots)

What I find intensely interesting is that even though I remember hearing that there were more nominations this year, the actual voting isn't all that different from last year.  More people voting in some categories, less in others.  I think an expanding nominating pool is wonderful, but we should also find a way to expand the voting pool.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

2010 Hugo Award Winners

Sunday, September 05, 2010 1
Via N. K. Jemisin at John Scalzi's Whatever
and via The Hugo Awards website


Since Worldcon is in Australia this year, the Hugo Awards were given out at something like 5:00 AM this morning, American time.  Time Zone dependent.  I certainly didn't stay up for that, but eagerly searched out the winners this morning - as if it were Christmas.  

  • Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK); The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
  • Best Novella: “Palimpsest”, Charles Stross (Wireless; Ace, Orbit)
  • Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2; Eos)
  • Best Short Story: “Bridesicle”, Will McIntosh (Asimov’s 1/09)
  • Best Related Book: This is Me, Jack Vance! (Or, More Properly, This is “I”), Jack Vance (Subterranean)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm Written by Kaja and Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Moon Screenplay by Nathan Parker; Story by Duncan Jones; Directed by Duncan Jones (Liberty Films)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Who: “The Waters of Mars” Written by Russell T Davies & Phil Ford; Directed by Graeme Harper (BBC Wales)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Best Editor Long Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Professional Artist: Shaun Tan
  • Best Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fan Writer: Frederik Pohl
  • Best Fanzine: StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith
  • Best Fan Artist: Brad W. Foster
And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): Seanan McGuire


Congratulations to all the winners!  

And, for those keeping score at home - this is how I voted.  I called three of them as my top choice.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Return of Detective Inspector Chen

Saturday, September 04, 2010 0
Via Fantasy Book Critic

Some good news has come out of the mess with Night Shade Books: Liz Williams has found a new home for the Detective Inspector Chen series

Iron Khan and Morningstar will be published by Morrigan Books

Excellent news!  I've rather enjoyed this series and while I have an ARC of Iron Khan from Night Shade, I wondered if the novel would ever be published.  I also wonder if there will be any changes between the Night Shade edition and the Morrigan edition. 

Iron Khan is due out this December.  You'll want to look for it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vander-interview

Thursday, August 26, 2010 2
Aidan Moher interviews Jeff VanderMeer over at A Dribble of Ink.  Interesting and entertaining interview.  It gets a bit wonky at times, but decent reading.  What works is that it comes across as a conversation. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nnedi Okorafor interview

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 0
Matthew Cheney has an excellent interview with Nnedi Okorafor over at Omnivoracious.  Much of it focuses on her new novel Who Fears Death.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 World Fantasy Award Nominees

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 1
Via Pyromania and Locus Online

Nominees for the 2010 World Fantasy Awards.

As always with the World Fantasy Awards, there is some quality stuff nominated and this is generally my favorite nominee list of the three I pay the most attention to.  It's a great chance to discover stuff I never would have heard of. 

Congratulations to all the nominees, but I would like to also highlight Jeff VanderMeer, Genevieve Valentine, Jonathan Strahan, John Klima, Susan Groppi, and the Clarkesworld folks. Outstanding!

And double congratulations to Genevieve. That’s friggin cool!

Novel
Blood of Ambrose, James Enge (Pyr)
The Red Tree, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
The City & The City, China Miéville (Macmillan UK/ Del Rey)
Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (Underland)  (review)
In Great Waters, Kit Whitfield (Jonathan Cape UK/Del Rey)

Novella
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker (Subterranean)
“The Lion’s Den”, Steven Duffy (Nemonymous Nine: Cern Zoo)
The Night Cache, Andy Duncan (PS)
“Sea-Hearts”, Margo Lanagan (X6 )
“Everland”, Paul Witcover (Everland and Other Stories)

Short Story
“I Needs Must Part, the Policeman Said”, Richard Bowes (F&SF 12/09)
“The Pelican Bar”, Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse Three)
A Journal of Certain Events of Scientific Interest from the First Survey Voyage of the Southern Waters by HMS Ocelot, As Observed by Professor Thaddeus Boswell, DPhil, MSc, or, A Lullaby”, Helen Keeble (Strange Horizons 6/09)
“Singing on a Star”, Ellen Klages (Firebirds Soaring)
“The Persistence of Memory, or This Space for Sale”, Paul Park (Postscripts 20/21: Edison’s Frankenstein )
“In Waiting”, R.B. Russell (Putting the Pieces in Place)
Light on the Water”, Genevieve Valentine (Fantasy 10/09)

Anthology
Poe, Ellen Datlow, ed. (Solaris)
Songs of The Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Subterranean/Voyager)
Exotic Gothic 3: Strange Visitations, Danel Olson, ed. (Ash-Tree)
Eclipse Three, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)  (review)
American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny: From Poe to the Pulps/From the 1940s to Now, Peter Straub, ed. (Library of America)
The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction: Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology, Gordon Van Gelder, ed. (Tachyon)  (review)

Collection
We Never Talk About My Brother, Peter S. Beagle (Tachyon)  (review)
Fugue State, Brian Evenson (Coffee House)
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya (Penguin)
Northwest Passages, Barbara Roden (Prime)
Everland and Other Stories, Paul Witcover (PS)
The Very Best of Gene Wolfe/The Best of Gene Wolfe, Gene Wolfe (PS /Tor)

Artist
John Jude Palencar
John Picacio
Charles Vess
Jason Zerrillo
Sam Weber

Special Award – Professional
Peter & Nicky Crowther for PS Publishing
Ellen Datlow for editing anthologies
Hayao Miyazaki for Ponyo
Barbara & Christopher Roden for Ash-Tree Press
Jonathan Strahan for editing anthologies
Jacob & Rina Weisman for Tachyon Publications

Special Award – Non-Professional
John Berlyne for Powers: Secret Histories
Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, & Sean Wallace for Clarkesworld
Susan Marie Groppi for Strange Horizons
John Klima for Electric Velocipede
Bob Colby, B. Diane Martin, David Shaw, and Eric M. Van for Readercon
Ray Russell & Rosalie Parker for Tartarus Press

Monday, August 23, 2010

catching up with my anticipated reading list

Monday, August 23, 2010 0
Back in December I posted a list of the 19 books I was most looking forward to in 2010. It's time to take a look to see how I've done in actually reading them. I can be sketchy like that, and not read stuff I want to.

1.  Towers of Midnight, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (fall 2010)
2.  A Dance With Dragons, by George R. R. Martin (2011?)
3.  The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch (2011)
4.  Shadow Unit: Season One, by Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear (editors)
5.  Prince of Storms, by Kay Kenyon
6.  Swords and Dark Magic, by Lou Anders and Jonathan Strahan (editors)
7.  Fort Freak, by George R. R. Martin (editor) (2011)
8.  Dreadnought, by Cherie Priest (fall 2010)
9.  The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
10. The Sea Thy Mistress, by Elizabeth Bear (fall / winter 2010)
11. Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal
12. Horns, by Joe Hill
13. Eclipse Four, by Jonathan Strahan (editor) (2011)
14. Gardens of the Sun, by Paul McAuley
15. The Best of Joe R. Lansdale
16. Lesser Demons, by Norman Partridge
17. The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, Volume 4, by Jonathan Strahan (editor)
18. Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor
19. Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld (fall 2010)

The GRRM and the Lynch were my "oh, wouldn't that be nice" spots on the list.  The Lynch is almost definitely coming out next year.  We'll see about GRRM.  Fort Freak is set for next year, as is Eclipse Four. 

A handful are still slated for later this year, which means I'm only being slack of six presumably excellent books.  For me, that's not bad.  I own Strahan's Best Of and the McAuley. 
 
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