The Nebula Award winners have been announced. Ann Leckie is cutting quite a swathe with her first novel, Ancillary Justice, which has now won the Nebula, the British Science Fiction Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award. It’s also up for a Hugo.
The winners of the Ditmar Awards have been announced. The Ditmar Awards are given by the Australian National Science Fiction Convention for professional and fan works by Australians.
The nominees for the 2014 Seiun Awards have been announced. These awards go to the best original and translated works of science fiction published in Japan.
The finalists for the Prometheus Award have been announced. These awards are awarded by the Libertarian Futurist Society, and go to books that are “pro-freedom,” whatever that means.
Baen Books has announced a new fantasy adventure award. The award is focused on short fiction, and it looks like anyone can enter. The inaugural award will be honored at this year’s Gen Con, to be held in August in Indiana.
Kirkus Media is also inaugurating a new award in three categories: fiction, nonfiction and children’s literature. The award is hefty: $50,000 in each category. Books receiving a starred award in the venerable review publication will automatically be nominated. The first award will cover the period from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014.
What to Read Now
Kirkus suggests nine writers at the top of their game.
Amazon offers the ten best summer beach reads, as does Kirkus. The New York Post is more ambitious for your summer reading, offering 29 of the best of the summer crop. The Los Angeles Times highlights 143 books coming out in June, July and August, the most ambitious of them all. And The New Republic’s summer reading list is out. Ooh, look, the third book in Lev Grossman’s trilogy, The Magician’s Land, is coming soon. And a new book by David Guterson. And Haruki Murakami has a new book coming out! Let’s all take the summer off and just read, shall we?
If you love Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, BookRiot has some suggestions for books you might enjoy.
Toovia suggests six of the best fantasy comics around. I’ve read five volumes of LOCKE & KEY, and they’re great (the whole series went on vacation with me; some of the best vacation reading I’ve ever done). I really enjoy FABLES, too; and I’ve got three volumes of SAGA patiently waiting on my shelf for me to get to them. Looks like I’ll be picking up an additional three series as well; if three of their recommendations are series I love, chances are good the other three will be equally as good, right?
The Atlantic lists and links more than 100 of the best articles from 2013.
Alice Littlewood talks about her favorite female horror writers.
You’ll notice from this list of 37 children’s books that changed your life that a fair proportion of them fall into the fantasy category. I didn’t read Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth until long after I’d grown up, but I still loved it. I read Black Beauty by Anna Sewell over and over when I was a kid. And Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time really did change my life; I think it was my first science fiction novel, and I was utterly enraptured by it. And just this morning, I pulled Little Women by Louisa May Alcott off my shelf for a reread, green plums, writing in the garret, falling through the ice, Pilgrim’s Progress and all. Which ones captured your imagination?
And while we’re on the subject of children’s books: John Green’s Mental Floss has 47 charming facts about children’s books. Be careful; if you’re not already a subscriber to Mental Floss, you could easily get sucked in to watching a great many more episodes. I’m just back after about 45 minutes of one after the other. Yep, now I’m a subscriber.
Canny readers will have figured out by now that I like short fiction. Powell’s has a strong “short list” of excellent short fiction it recommends, some of which falls under the speculative fiction umbrella. I strongly recommend Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life: and Others, which is simply extraordinary. So is Joe Hill’s Twentieth Century Ghosts, which bowled me over when I first read it (and still does today, truth be known). And Maureen McHugh’s collection, After the Apocalypse, contains the amazing story “Useless Things,” which is worth the cost of the book all by itself. (I reviewed the collection here.) In fact, I’m having trouble finding anything on this list that I don’t want to read. I do think they missed a bet in not including Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove, though I suppose they didn’t want to include more than one collection by any one writer (except: two books by George Saunders). And why isn’t there any Jeffrey Ford? Oh, and I see they’ve got one of David Foster Wallace’s books, but really, you need to read his essays as much as his fiction; Consider the Lobster is brilliant. Oops, I think my enthusiasm for short form writing is a bit too much on display; I should just go off and read.
For the youngster in your house (or the young one still inside you): five books for the kid who loves Harry Potter.
Helen Lowe lists the best fairy tale retellings. There are a few of my favorites here, but also some that are entirely new to me. I guess the “to be read” pile just got a few books higher.
If you’d like to make a study of speculative fiction, really delve into it, The Coursera course entitled Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, looks like great fun. The texts for the course are good for both beginners and those who are long-time readers and want to revisit the classics. I notice they’re including some Nathaniel Hawthorne — “Rapaccini’s Daughter,” I’ll bet, one of my favorites since I first read it in college.
Kill Your Darlings has a short list of high epic fantasies that are — prepare yourself for a shock — written by women. Some great stuff here; Robin Hobb, for instance, is pretty darned amazing.
Reading and Writing
The scandal du jour is whether adults ought to be reading young adult fiction. As one who sees little to distinguish YA and adult fiction beyond the labels slapped on them and the ages of the protagonists, I’m a little surprised by the vehemence with which Ruth Graham scolds adults who read YA. The counter comes from Julie Beck, who notes that YA fiction teaches adult lessons.
Twenty-one writers offer their harsh but eye-opening writing tips.
Black Gate praises the paperback.
The Millions interviews agent Erin Hosier about being an agent, and how it differs from being a writer. The key to writing: don’t do it for the money, she says; do it for the experience of writing in and of itself.
If you’re a book collector, this article about an inscribed collection of Thomas Pynchon’s work will have you salivating. But read the article more for the story of a friendship between a man who just happens to write novels and the folks he met at a party.
It’s an old argument, and it never goes away. When will people realize that genre fiction can be just as good as literary fiction?
You probably already know this if you’re at all bookish: Amazon and Hachette, one of the big New York publishers (and which includes the science fiction and fantasy imprint Orbit), are feuding. This means that when you try to buy an Orbit book on Amazon, it’s likely to cost more than some other books, may not be available for immediate shipment, and Amazon may try to steer you to a “similar” book by a different writer. And you can’t preorder Hachette books, but only get signed up for a notification when the book is available. TeleRead has a good summary of the whole affair.
It’s not clear who is at fault here, but it is clear who gets hurt: the writers. Gizmodo says Amazon is playing dirty, and that the reader loses, too. Damien Walter notes that Amazon is an “everything” seller, not a bookseller, and that that matters for writers. Charlie Stross thinks it’s pretty clear Amazon is to blame, and adds a footnote about the publishing industry in a separate post.
On the other side of the fence, Let’s Get Visible suggests that we all keep an open mind when it comes to pointing fingers, suggesting that Hachette may not be blameless in this debacle. Martin Shepard, co-publisher of The Permanent Press, is on Amazon’s side, finding that it levels the playing field between the Big Five publishers and smaller presses. David Gaughran thinks Hachette is really the bad guy in this dispute, as does Paul Levinson. J.A. Konrath thinks Hachette authors have no one to blame but themselves; they’re the ones who signed up with the big publisher in the first place. Hugh Howey thinks it’s the publishers who have gotten too big — and too out of touch — not Amazon. Slate blames the publishers, too, arguing that they could have thwarted Amazon before this particular dispute ever arose by sharing profits from ebooks with their authors. (And as one who has looked over book contracts, I’ve always been bemused — more, annoyed — at the fact that authors don’t get a bigger share from the sales of ebooks than from the sales of physical books. After all, the cost to produce an ebook is substantially less, even after considering editing, proofreading, and other soft costs.)
In the meantime, it’s authors who suffer. Amazon has characterized the dispute as a typical dispute between a regular old retailer and a regular old manufacturer, calling its tactics normal. But in so doing it has also offered to fund 50% of an author pool to mitigate the impact on authors. Hachette responded to Amazon’s broadside with a mirror image of its language; but notably, it offered to compensate authors for their losses only after its dispute with Amazon is resolved. Tor Books, in the meantime, has undertaken to publicize books by Hachette authors, even though they compete with Tor’s own authors. That’s a classy thing to do.
I frankly don’t know how best to help authors in this mess; I hope it gets settled soon.
Want to support your favorite author? Here’s how.
If the books you read seem to be filled with nothing but white people, that’s not your imagination; diversity is sadly lacking in our fiction. Why is that, exactly? Roni Loren, a romance writer, suggests it’s because writers are afraid to try writing more diverse characters, for fear that they’ll be called out for getting it wrong. But the fear is misplaced, Loren says; authors can write all sorts of characters if they do their homework and avoid stereotypes.
Tor.com has announced its own imprint dedicated to publishing “novellas, novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length.” The imprint will be primarily directed toward e-publication, but a limited number of titles will be published in hard copy each year. Three new positions have opened up at Tor as a result, and boy, do I wish I had the qualifications to apply to be a senior editor! That would be one fun job.
Peter Berkrot talks about making a living in the audiobook industry.
What happens when you plant your self-published book on Barnes & Noble’s shelves? People buy it. And you don’t get any royalty. And you’re out what you paid for that particular copy, or at least one of the copies you got for free from the publisher. Oops, was that a spoiler?
Those who read or watch — or both! — George R.R. Martin’s A GAME OF THRONES (known to those of us who read and don’t watch as A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE) will be moved to either shouts of joy or tears of sorrow and anger at the news that Martin is thinking of extending the series to eight books instead of delivering the previously promised conclusion in a mere seven novels averaging about 800 pages each. Don’t worry, though: Martin says his musing about an eighth book was merely a means of giving himself some wiggle room. He still intends to finish the series in seven books.
Writer of the Weird Mark Samuels talks about atheism, Christianity and more in this fascinating interview.
Many of my favorite fantasies have endpapers with maps, or show maps in the first few pages — maps of places that never were, maps of the imagination. Casey N. Cep, writing in The New Yorker, talks about the allure of the map. It’s a delightful essay, the very stuff that creative nonfiction should be made of. Read it if only for the perfect final sentence.
Flavorwire suggests some very bookish ways to cuddle up with a book. I want those sheets, myself!
The death of the independent bookstore has been exaggerated. Foyles has just opened a new store on Charing Cross Road in London, and it looks magnificent, with 37,000 square feet of space for more than 20,000 titles. Wow! Seems almost worth a trip to London all by itself!
Videogames for book lovers sounds oxymoronic, but this article suggests a few games that readers will love. They look pretty good to me, even if most of them seem fairly dated. But as I don’t play games much — I use that time to read books! — I don’t really need the most up-to-date technology in any event. Maybe I’ll try one or two.
These ten words are perfect for book lovers. I’m glad to know that what I really am is book-bosomed. That explains a lot.