by Geoff Ryman
Hugo Novelette Nominee 2012.
OK, so I said the last story was depressing. Reading these two in succession nearly tipped me over the edge!
Ostensibly a story about scientific discovery, this was also a story about madness and deprivation in an African family.
The two were unrelated, and could have been set separately with different characters. I’m probably missing something, but I didn’t see any parallels between the two apart from some fairly clumsy ones I can’t reveal without spoiling the plot (such as it is).
I admit, I have an issue with Authors writing about other cultures they’ve not spent a lot of time in. I read that Ryman has traveled in Africa, and the story certainly has verisimilitude and is plausible. I guess I have more time for a protagonist encountering cultures (which may be portrayed inaccurately) than I do for stories where the Author isn’t an indigenous member of the culture. Absurd, given that most sci-fi and fantasy cultures fall into that category, I know.
Anyway, that’s the last of the fiction (OK, apart from the periodicals, and I’ve already admitted to myself I wont get time to read them this year; didn;t last year either.. I don’t know how, other than making even more time for reading, which will be tricky, I can mange it next year). I’m going to give the Graphic Novels a try, but as the first one is 800 pages, I doubt I’ll read enough to be happy casting a vote..
By E. Lily Yu
First of the 2012 Hugo Nominees! Listened to thanks to the fine folks at Escape Pod (I’ve finally got round to donating, too), but you can also read it online at Clarksworld Magazine.
It was a lovely, odd piece. Still thinking about it and not sure what it had to say; I suspect this will haunt me for a while, in a good way. Lovely imagery.
This is a great start to Hugo season!
By Lawrence Watt-Evans
Back when eBooks first started coming out (after Project Gutenburg, but before the Sony Reader devices, I think – the early noughties perhaps?), fictionwise made quite a stir by publishing out of print works from lesser known or genre authors, and a lot of short stories (way before the Kindle shorts), at very decent prices. I went through buying works by W.T. Quick, Walter Jon Williams and Lawrence Watt Evans, for about £3 each (less with bulk buy and subscription discounts, if I recall). I even put a web page together about what devices I used and what tools (this was long before Calibre came along and made eBook conversion easy (reminds me, must donate).
I bought all the Lawrence Watt Evans books they had, but didn’t get round to reading any of them. My recent rediscovery of one of his books in the loft though, reminded me, and I’ve been working my way through them since.
I think I avoided this one originally because I didn’t fancy the premise, but it took a turn I hadn’t thought of, and got me interested in the whole Esthar world again. It turn out I’m reading them slightly out of sequence, so I get tantalising hints of back story from other characters.
I’m going to read through the others I have and then buy the rest (via fictionwise if I can buy them without DRM, via Kindle if not..
By Philip K. Jannert
Alas, my maths just isn’t up to this. I’m horrified at how much my calculus and algebra have declined, and they weren’t exactly my strongest suite to begin with.
I have the eBook thanks to an OReilly deal, and the Library at work bought a copy for me that I can go back to if I need to, so I plan to pick up a few of his suggested remedial reading books on Calculus and see if I can get back up to speed. In the meantime, I’ll release the dead tree version back to the Library to let them lend it to people who can make better use of it!
Edited by John Joseph Adams
I was actually going to buy this before receiving it as part of the Hugo Voters packet for 2011, and read it in instalments. I thought I’d blogged about it, but apparently not.
I’d forgotten that books like this are a few headline acts, a few no hopers, and some in between (and invariably not what you expect). It was the same here – I loved the George R. R. Martin story, disliked the Gaiman, and found a few authors I intend to check out when I’m short of fiction.
As always, the range of what the author considered a wizard was quite wide, sometimes interestingly so.
Mike Resnick is good, but then if you don’t know that about his short stories by now there’s no helping you. Check Podcastle, Fictionwise..
Simon R. Green is channelling both Jim Butcher and Charlie Stross, enough to make me want to check him out in the future, particularly in the featured character, if anything further has been written.
Same with Jeremiah Tolbert.
Jonathan L. Howard reignited my interest in his anti-hero Johannes Cabal the necromancer.
Ursula k. LeGuin delights with an earthsea story I’d missed ‘ The Word Of Unbinding’. I’ll have to go back and reread the Earthsea trilogy now..
Marion Zimmer Bradley’s ‘The Secret of The Blue Star’ reminded me of all I loved in Vance’s Dying Earth, and Leiber’s Lankhmar series, but was so indulgent that I was turned off her story by the end. That and I saw the plot twist early on.
Rajan Khanna was seriously channeling Deadlands with the serial numbers filed off, but that works for me.
Couldn’t get through Beagle’s ‘El Regalo’ – this makes both the reading and the Podcastle Giant episode. I know I should like his writing, but that piece I just don’t. Can’t say exactly why.
All in all, a good hall and several new authors to check out, as well as reminders of old favourites. A good hall!
By Peter Watts
The next in Escape pod’s Hugo 2011 Novelette podcasts.
There was no way in which this didn’t rock. Its a retelling of John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ from the alien’s POV, and its masterfully done, with Watt’s understanding & communication of biology.
The rest of the nominees need to be outstanding to top this for my nomination.
By Cory Doctorow
I read this serialised (with each serial announced on Twitter, so often from my mobile) on tor.com, but you can also download it from his site in a variety of formats (as well as, you know, buy a copy).
I’m not sure if this was as a result of the fragmented nature of the format (or the sleep deprived state I often read it in!), but I had trouble liking this book. Doctorow has spoken and written about how it started life as ‘themepunks’, serialised on Salon.com, and then he stalled and ended up rewriting it. Don’t know if thats what I’m picking up on, or not, but the plots and characters never really engaged me. Doctorow did a good job making you warm to Sammy, the disney exec at points, as well as showing things from a lawyers angle, but there were huge areas I wish he’d explored more – the curve of the ‘new work’ rise and fall would have been a worthwhile novelette in itself, for example. He didn’t dig into the ramifications of what happened to the protagonists often – perhaps this was a literary device meant to show their focus and singleminded-ness, but I felt it came across more that this wasn’t something Doctorow was interested in exploring.
Valid enough choices, but after Little Brother and ‘After The Siege’, I know he can do excellent work when inspired. I think that this was actually written before both of those, which may explain something. I’m hoping that in writing ‘Little Brother’, he’s got a different take and stance on writing, especially with being able to dedicate himself to it full time. Thinking about that, Little Brother was the first book he wrote when able to do that, if I’m recollecting and piercing together the chronology correctly, which may bode well for future output.
On the subject of Doctorow’s work, I wish he’d publish more about the ongoing progress of ‘with a little help’ – I’m fascinated with the minutiae and ‘new media’ angle of him doing this himself.
By Steven R Boyett
I bought this after John Scalzi’s offhand recomendation of the reprinted edition that had just come out. In fact, I bought it as an ePub ebook from Fictionwise as they were having a sale, and read it entirely on my Ereader.
Reading the authors afterward, he reveals he wrote it at 19, which comes across in the books style. There’s lots to recommend it, however, its a nice (if not fully thought out, as the author admits), post apocalyptic setup – the laws of physics change, and a lot of people just vanish. Magic and wondrous creatures come back into the world. Boy meets Unicorn. Boy & Unicorn challenge evil magician, learning truths about themselves (and how to fight with a samurai sword) along the way. Page turning fantasy, but very enjoyable.
I was left with a number of questions, the most intriguing of which was – where did all the people go, who were not left wandering? The author didn’t deal with this issue at all, which I suspect might have been the most interesting of all. Little more was made of magic as well, probably due to the authors own fascination with the martial arts, it was little more then a dues ex machina, which none of the heroes used (on-screen as it were, anyway) – I wanted to know more about this.
Overall, I enjoyed it but was left a little unsatisfied – lots of strands begging to be pulled on, both in terms of additional things to cover, and plots to unravel.