Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nebula Award Nominees Project

I am reading the second novel in Robert V.S. Redick's The Chathrand Voyage series, The Ruling Sea. I liked book one, The Red Wold Conspiracy, but I am starting to feel Redick has lost his way in the second book. Anyway, I'll write a review of at least the Red Wolf Conspiracy soon. However, the Science Fiction Writers Association announced the Nebula award nominees today and I have not read a single one, which is very sad. So, I am going to try to read and review each of the novels and each of the short stories and make my vote for which should win the Nebula.

The novels are:
The Native Star, M.K. Hobson (Spectra)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Echo, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)

The short stories are:
‘‘Arvies’’, Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed Magazine 8/10)
‘‘How Interesting: A Tiny Man’’, Harlan Ellison® (Realms of Fantasy 2/10)
‘‘Ponies’’, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 1/17/10)
‘‘I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno’’, Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed Magazine 6/10)
‘‘The Green Book’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Apex Magazine 11/1/10)
‘‘Ghosts of New York’’, Jennifer Pelland (Dark Faith)
‘‘Conditional Love’’, Felicity Shoulders (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine1/10)

I'll do the novel and novelette categories too, as time allows. And if you have a vote for who you think should win the Nebula, I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The New Cop in Ghost Possessed London

Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot
Free fifty page preview on Suvudu or full novel available for $7.99 at Amazon.

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch is a fun, fast-paced urban fantasy. The main character Peter Grant is a probationary constable in the London police who awakes to the magic and fantastical denizens around him in the first pages of the novel. Following Grant as he discovers the fantastical side of his city lends an authentic pace to the reader’s discovery of that same world.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not Even If You Were Blind

Book of Eli (2010) – Albert Hughes, Dir.


That is really enough. There are lots of movies out there. No one has enough time to consume them all much less all the books and articles we want to read, the games we want to play, the people we want to chat up. So cross this one off your list. If you are looking for a post-apocalyptic fix, watch Mad Max or even Escape from LA, play Fallout 3, and if you want a spiritual fix to go with your post-apocalypticism, read A Canticle for Leibowitz, but do not spend two of your glorious free hours on this movie.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kim Stanley Robinson Wants Me Off His Lawn

Ran across this quote posted by Niall Harrison over at Strange Horizons and I think it is an interesting response to one of the claims that I was trying to make about Cory Doctorow's For the Win here. Kim Stanley Robinson was asked by Terry Bisson to respond to the allegation that his Mars trilogy was an infodump "tunneled by narrative moles." His response is published in the Outspoken Authors book The Lucky Strike:

I reject the word "infodump" categorically -- that's a smartass word out of the cyberpunks' workshop culture, them thinking that they knew how fiction works, as if it were a tinker toy they could disassemble and label superciliously, as if they knew what they were doing. Not true in any way. I reject "expository lump" also, which is another way of saying it. All these are attacks on the idea that fiction can have any kind of writing included in it. It's an attempt to say "fiction can only be stage business" which is a stupid position I abhor and find all too common in responses on amazon.com and the like. All these people who think they know what fiction is, where do they come from? I've been writing it for thirty years and I don't know what it is, but what I do know is that the novel in particular is a very big and flexible form, and I say, or sing: Don't fence me in!

I say, what's interesting is whatever you can make interesting. And the world is interesting beyond our silly stage business. So "exposition" creeps in. What is it anyway? It's just another kind of narrative. One thing I believe: it's all narrative. Once you get out of the phone book anyway, it's all narrative.

And in science fiction, you need some science sometimes; and science is expository; and so science fiction without exposition is like science fiction without science, and we have a lot of that, but it's not good. So the word "infodump" is like a red flag to me, it's a Thought Police command saying "Dumb it down, quit talking about the world, people don't have attention spans, blah blah blah." No. I say, go read
Moby Dick, Dostoevsky Garcia Marquez, Jameson, Bakhtin, Joyce, Sterne -- learn a little bit about what fiction can do and come back to me when you're done. That would be never and I could go about my work in peace.

Robinson's response is blustery, but makes a good point. The genre is particularly suitable for more expository discussion of, in his case, science, or in Doctorow's case, economics and sociology. And I did find For the Win interesting. That said, I am not sure that there is not still a valid critique to be made regarding substituting exposition for more traditional narrative. But I will consider my wrists slapped by Mr. Robinson anyway.

The Beauty of a Well Written Character Amidst the Brutality of the "Deadly Game"

Suzanne Collins, Hunger Games (book one in the Hunger Games Trilogy)

Read the first chapter or purchase the book for $8.99 at Amazon.

In Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins revives a science fiction staple: the "deadly game." Collins sets her story in Panem, a country that arose from the ruin of the United States. The story stars Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who is doing all she can to feed her family and hold them together despite the tragedy of losing her father. But further tragedy awaits the Everdeen family when Katniss's younger sister is chosen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, an arena battle to the death starring the children of Panem. Katniss volunteers to replace her sister and the balance of the novel tells of her experience preparing for and participating in the Hunger Games.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Solidarity in an Illicit Trade: Are Gold Farmer Unions Really the Answer?

Cory Doctorow’s For the Win
Full book available for free download on his website and in hardcover for $11.04 on Amazon.

There is no doubt that Cory Doctorow is an idea-driven writer. His novels are showcases for prognosticating on society. In his latest effort, For the Win, Doctorow presents two main ideas: that the internet poses a unique opportunity for the working class to share the organizational advantages previously reserved for the ruling/owning class and that all modern economies, and perhaps simply all economies, are fundamentally unstable because at base they depend on the mass belief in their solidity to function.


I've long read science fiction, fantasy, horror, and other genre fiction and I've also long read the blogs dedicated to such things. I really enjoy the science fiction/fantasy community online. I love all of the free short stories that are presented, all of the thoughtful commentary, and all of the wild speculation. I hope that I will be able to offer up a small amount of unique commentary to fit among that galaxy of writing. I intend mostly to post reviews of books, movies and other media in the genre. I may also at times provide links and commentary on other science fiction/fantasy websites that I particularly enjoy.

The Blog's title is borrowed from a passage from one of my very favorite authors, Samuel Delaney. The full quote is from Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand:

"We're plotting to steal time itself from you.... We're going to spike it to the floor as it slips by. And just as you come over to see why it's so still, we'll pull it out from under you--and send you spinning off around the galaxy's edge. We're planning to pluck all the best stars out of the sky and stuff them in our pockets... so that when we meet you once again and thrust our hands deep inside to hide our embarrassment, our fingertips will smart on them, as if they were desert grains, caught down in the seams, and we'll smile at you on your way to a glory that, for all our stellar thefts, we shall never be able to duplicate."