Sunday Links, January 19, 2014

LandisGeoffrey A. Landis has been chosen to receive the 2014 Robert A. Heinlein Award for outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space. I’ve heard Landis speak about the space program, and he truly is inspiring.

The National Book Critics Awards Finalists for 2013 have been announced. There are some interesting and unconventional choices here, and others that are just what you’d expect.

skillingsteadThe nominees for the Philip K. Dick Award have been announced. I’m startled to find that I own five of them — but have read none of them. Up the “to be read” pile they go.

The lists of great books from 2013 and great books to look forward to in 2014 are dropping off, but there are a few more that are worth perusing. First, Ranting Dragon lists the best of 2013. More plentiful are the lists of the good stuff coming this year. Omnivoracious lists the science fiction, fantasy and horror it’s looking forward to in 2014. io9 has a list that’s considerably more comprehensive, listing books on a month-by-month schedule. SF Signal has a MindMeld about books various reviewers and authors are looking forward to that is very tasty indeed. I want them all, from all the lists. Yum.

woe challengeIf you need some encouragement to ensure that you do enough reading in 2014, Worlds Without End has a “roll-your-own” challenge going this year. You can choose from challenges posted by others or invent your own. Sounds sort of cool.

Flavorwire says we need snow reads for winter, to balance out beach reads for summer, and offers its list of 26 of them to keep you warm during the polar vortex. Most of the books have been around for some time — it’s not a list of new books — but Hild by Nicola Griffith, just came out this fall, and is supposed to be wonderful. And again, up the “to be read” pile it goes.

shining girlsFor those who worry that I link too many articles about science fiction, fantasy and horror, here’s a treat: an article about books that blend science fiction and crime fiction. This happens to be one of my favorite subgenres, if it can be called that; for instance, I called Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls one of the best books of 2013 in my review. If you enjoy mysteries, this would be a fine way to get your feet wet with SF.

And if you’re curious about horror fiction, you could do a lot worse than to use the reading list Sofia Samatar is using for her world fiction class about “weird fiction.” It’s a great list, and I’m looking forward to perusing a number of the titles on it.

paul kempThere’s been yet another discussion online about “masculine virtues” and writers who purport to incorporate portraits of those with such virtues in their writing. Writer Paul Kemp got the discussion going by explaining why he writes “masculine stories.” Liz Bourke asks, ”This, again?” She notes that Kemp seems to think that admirable traits are masculine instead of just human. As Sam Sykes puts it, “I can’t get on board with the idea that bravery, a lust for adventure and a desire to protect people are traditionally masculine virtues.” Chuck Wendig has some thoughts, too. Professional provocateur Camille Paglia weighs in — not directly, but in a piece with tangential interest — with an interview by the Wall Street Journal. Neil Gaiman thinks all books have genders. Interesting questions, interestingly discussed by interesting people.

Were you planning to attend ChiFi, a convention scheduled for Chicago in March? Cancel those plane reservations: it’s been called off. The convention says it’s because the hotel staff made uncomplimentary comments about attendees, but the story appears to be a bit murkier than that.

If you’re about to start writing your first book, you might find these quotes to be useful. Of most use to me is the John Campbell quote: “The reason 99% of all stories written are not bought by editors is very simple. Editors never buy manuscripts that are left on the closet shelf at home.” Yes, that’s one of my (many) failings.

Bart's BoodsLists of bookstores are always fun, but this one seems especially interesting. It contains stores I’ve never seen photographed before, like Bart’s Books in Ojai, an outdoor bookstore. There is much fun to be had in perusing these photographs.

Please join me in shouting not just “No!” but “Hell, no!” at the notion of Kristen Stewart in a remake of George Orwell’s 1984 played as “a futuristic love story.” Talk about missing the point! Sounds like an excellent reason to stay away from the movie theater.

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