Thursday, August 26, 2010


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. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2010 World Fantasy Award Nominees

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!

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

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. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Very Short and Non-Specific Thoughts on Kay Kenyon and Ken Scholes

Prince of Storms: I find myself not knowing how to talk about Kay Kenyon’s Entire and the Rose series, and, as such, it’s been a couple of months since I finished the book. With each volume, the series becomes increasingly complex in terms of who the characters are and what, exactly, is going on in the world(s). Check out my reviews of the first three books to get a sense of what’s going on. If you’re not into it after the first two books, there’s not much reason to read the fourth. The third book, City Without End, was probably the high point of the series, but Prince of Storms provides solid resolution to the story arcs and offers unexpected delights and surprises. (reading copy provided courtesy of Pyr)

Antiphon: I really wanted to like this. I think Scholes has great potential with Psalms of Isaak series and he had a decent enough start with Lamentation (a book that doesn’t quite live up to the hype. The setting is fantastic, several millennium past a higher tech society fallen after at least one apocalypse. There’s magic, but there is also uncovered tech. If you read the book, the ending offers a strikingly discordant contrast with one particular event and everything else happening around it. Though, if you really think about the world Scholes has created, that contrast is ALL over the place and is likely to become even more stark in the final two books. My problem (and I think this really is my problem) is that as great as the underlying ideas behind the series and the setting are, the execution of the storytelling grates on me and frequently comes across as clunky. There is a marked improvement in Scholes’ craft from the first to the third book, but something in here just isn’t working for me. The thing is that I just can’t figure out what. (reading copy provided courtesy of Tor)  (reviews of Lamentation and Canticle)

Regarding Antiphon, you probably want to read "A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon" first.  It provides a bit of background to stuff that is referenced several times in the novel and, if I understand the novel correctly, will become increasingly important in the next two books.

Friday, August 20, 2010

CSM's "5 Great Books About Obscure Presidents"

I stumbled across this article listing out "5 great books about obscure presidents."  I don't read as much nonfiction as I really want to, but I have a soft spot for presidential biographies and early American history. 

Which means: NEW READING LIST!

Because I don't have enough of those.

I have, however, read #2 on the list, Fraud of the Century.  It's one hell of a story, but it felt like Morris took too long to get to the actual fraud of the century.  So it goes.  

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Last Run

Pretty Sweet!

The news isn't new anymore, but I just read that Greg Rucka has a third Queen & Country novel coming out this fall

I'm a huge fan of the Queen & Country graphic novels and I thought Rucka's previous two novels (A Gentleman's Game, and Private Wars), expanding the series into straight prose, also were excellent. 

So, given the ending to the series (or, what was the ending to the original storyline), I am very curious to see what Rucka has for us here.  And getting more Tara Chace and Q&C?  Always a good thing. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

No More Best American Fantasy

I'm a little bummed as a reader.  I found out via Larry Nolen's blog that the Best American Fantasy series is being discontinued after three volumes. (see my review of volume 2 here)

That led me to the official announcement from Jeff VanderMeer, one of the co-founders of the anthology series.

After three volumes, we’re discontinuing the Best American Fantasy series founded by me, Ann VanderMeer, and Sean Wallace, along with Matthew Cheney. The amicable move from Prime to Underland following the publication of BAF2 was meant to rejuvenate the series and to finally achieve stability for it. Unfortunately, this didn’t occur, for a variety of reasons. BAF did not having a wide margin for error. A cross-genre fantasy year’s best that focused not just on genre magazines but also on literary magazines, that required sympathy and generosity from both the mainstream and genre, as well as the right placement in the chains, was always going to be a difficult sell.
This is to say that I am disappointed, but I have to say that I am also to blame.  As interested as I am in the series, I did not purchase Volume 3.  So if sales weren't what they needed to be, where was my contribution?  It's a book that somehow slipped off my radar and now we've lost the series.

For a taste of what almost was, check out Larry's post one more time for a list of the 65 stories he, as series editor for Volume 4, recommended to the guest editor, Minister Faust.  The stories I am familiar with are, across the board, quite good.  I'm also chuffed to see Leah Bobet and Kelly Barnhill lined up right next to Peter Beagle.  That's pretty sweet. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Apex Issue

I’ve been slack on my ‘zine reading for the last year or so, but I noticed that the new issue of Apex Magazine is out.  I’ve enjoyed Apex for several years now.  They’ve been big supporters of Jennifer Pelland and had a Mary Robinette Kowal issue not too long ago and have also published Cherie Priest.  The newest issue is the first under the helm of the new fiction editor, Catherynne Valente. 

What does Valente have for us? 
Original fiction from Theodora Goss and Nick Mamatas, as well as the reprint of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Secret Life

Not bad at all. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fort Freak Excerpt: Rat Race


Since I know you are readers of discriminating taste and, as such, are avid fans of BOTH Cherie Priest and the Wild Cards series; you will be very interested to check out an excerpt of “The Rat Race”, part of Cherie Priest’s contribution to the next Wild Cards novel: Fort Freak.  You know you want to.  It’s okay.  We won’t judge. 

Priest’s authorial excitement is also rather delightful. 
I was going to wait until this afternoon to blog this, but I lost my saving throw vs. self-restraint – so here goes! It is with great and terrible squee that I present part one of The Rat Race … an introductory sample of Wild Cards XXI: Fort Freak, live on George R. R. Martin’s website.
[:: Snoopydances like a Snoopy ::]
(Fort Freak is a production of the Wild Cards consortium, edited by Mr. Martin. It is slated for publication in the summer of 2011.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Mirrored Heavens, by David J. Williams

The Mirrored Heavens
David J. Williams
Spectra: 2009

With blurbs from Jack Campbell and Peter Watts calling out how exciting, frantic, and action packed The Mirrored Heavens is, expectations are raised for the sort of debut novel this is from David J. Williams. From one perspective, they are correct. The actual action of the narrative kicks in to high gear at the start and remains an “action packed” novel through the end, with interludes of explanation between the ass-kicking and the cyber-battles. It would probably make a great action movie if you cut down on the exposition. The problem is that The Mirrored Heavens does not read like a kick-ass fast paced novel. It just doesn’t.

David J. Williams imagines a 22nd Century where the political lines and balances of power are redrawn after a century of various conflicts over energy and the environment have left the globe in another Cold War. With the destruction of a Joint US / Eurasia Space Elevator, several teams of Special-Op agents are dispatched to do…something. Williams is always clear that the various agents are fighting for their lives and fighting to complete a mission, but it is seldom clear as to exactly what that mission is. The characters themselves are ciphers. Bits of background on them are leaked out, but even those tidbits are not reliably factual. One of the primary characters is identified in the text as The Operative, which is as honest of an identity as the reader is likely to get. The Operative is named by other characters, but remains The Operative when referred to by the narrator.

Conspiracies abound at the highest levels and Williams generously peppers The Mirrored Heavens with explosions, physical conflict, and massive destruction and loss of life. It is everything a fellow should want out of a novel, except that something is lacking in the execution. The narrative fails to drive the reader along and the constant action comes across as flat, lifeless, and unengaging. Because the characters involved are so empty, the reader will likely struggle to engage with them or care about what happens. The impact of this is most strongly felt in the ending, which throws a strong twist on the novel and on the direction of the Autumn Rain trilogy. The ending is the sort that should, to commit cliché, “blow the mind of the reader”. It doesn’t. The ending does intrigue enough for the reader to potentially pick up The Burning Skies to see what happens next, but it isn’t a priority. It’s easy enough to forget.

What works is the revelations of the political interplay that forms the background of the conflict. There just is not enough of it to prop up the story. This is a story that is more conceptually interesting than it is one to recommend. The Mirrored Heavens is a novel that promises quite a bit, but fails to deliver on much of it.

Reading copy provided courtesy of David J. Williams and Bantam Spectra.

For a rather excellent and positive review, check this one out.  I don't agree, but it is well argued.