As usual when I’ve been away for a week, the links are many. Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
The nominees for the Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced. This is one of my favorite awards, and I’ve gleaned a lot of very good reading from the lists of nominees. The award is for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic, which covers a lot of ground. The award is juried, which tends to make the list stronger than many. And yes, I have copies of all the nominated novels and most of the collections and anthologies.
The winners of the Sir Julius Vogel Awards have been announced. I didn’t know that such an award existed, but I’m glad to know of it now: they are for excellence in science fiction, fantasy or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents.
The finalists for the 2014 Aurora Awards have been announced. These awards celebrate Canadian fiction.
The finalists for the 2014 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award have been announced. This award is for the best science fiction short story of the year.
The 2014 Arthur C. Clarke Award has been awarded to Ann Leckie for her first novel, Ancillary Justice. The book has already won the British Science Fiction Association’s award for best novel, and has been nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula as well. I think it’s time I read it.
The long list for the PEN Literary Awards has been announced. I’m intrigued by these selections, most of which are unknown to me. As I have a special love for debut novels, I may read widely from that particular list of nominees.
The winners of the Agatha Awards have been announced. These awards are for “traditional” mysteries — those that are focused on the puzzle and not on the gore, essentially.
A new award has been inaugurated: The James Herbert Award for Horror. The award “aims to discovery and publicise a new generation of horror authors working today and celebrate the boldest and most exciting talent in the genre.” It’s a welcome addition to the genre. F.R. Tallis hopes that women, in particular, will gain new recognition through this award.
What to Read Next
The Telegraph lists the best science fiction and fantasy of all time. There are some surprising omissions and surprising inclusions, and the comments remark on all of them and offer a considerable number of very good suggestions.
BuzzFeed suggests 20 May reads. The selections are from all genres, and there should be something here for just about every taste.
The year may yet be relatively young, but Kirkus thinks some books are already being overlooked. I hadn’t heard of any of these, so perhaps they’re right.
Rolling Stone lists the 50 best non-superhero graphic novels. There is enough great stuff on this list to keep you enthralled for a very long time.
The Huffington Post lists nine contemporary authors you should be reading. Since I love two of the authors they mention (VanderMeer and Oyeyemi), I figure I should give the others a look. Roxane Gay’s first novel, An Untamed State, is reviewed in this week’s New York Times Book Review, and sounds wonderful.
The issue of Lightspeed devoted to science fiction by female authors (dubbed “Women Destroy Science Fiction!”) will be out soon. Here’s the table of contents, which includes some of the strongest writers in SF today.
Tor.com does this cool thing every month in which they list the exciting books coming out in various subgenres for that month. For May, you’ll find the urban fantasy releases here; the new paranormal romances here; the science fiction releases here; the fantasy releases here; and the genre-benders here. It can come as no surprise whatsoever that I’d like one of each, please.
io9 lists the summer’s most exciting science fiction and fantasy books. As I said above: one of each, please. (In fact, I already own or have ordered a surprising number of them. Now all I need is the time in which to read them.)
News about Books and Reading
You know all those Star Wars books and comics? They are no longer part of the Star Wars canon. Apparently they were most inconvenient to the making of Chapter VII through IX.
Apparently everything about a book (or a screen, for that matter) affects how you feel and perceive when you read. The science of reading is fascinating, and we seem to be learning more all the time. Did you know, for instance, that your reading speed increases if you are exposed to images of fast food restaurants on a subliminal level?
Batman’s origin story has implications for psychotherapy. A child psychiatrist talks about how traumatized children act and play in the latest issue of The Atlantic, and particularly about how attracted they are to Batman’s story.
Does how you read — the rules you have for yourself about reading — reveal your personality? What does it mean if you always stop at the end of a chapter and never in the middle of one? If you scribble in your books, are you a messier person than the one who leaves the pages pristine? There’s no science to this article in Book Riot, just some interesting musing.
No longer are they limited to the pages of comics; superheroes have conquered serious fiction, it seems.
There appears to be a mounting controversy in Goodreads about whether giving books bad reviews is the equivalent of bullying. I’d say it depends on whether the reviews are actually reviews of the works instead of the authors themselves — but if a large community of readers wants to stand up and say that Anne Rice writes purple prose, they are entitled to do that.
Publishing and Selling Books
This will come as a shock, I know: women and people of color are still not equally represented among those who write and review science fiction, fantasy and horror.
Amazon is attempting to extract concessions from Hachette through such tactics as announcing that its books are out of stock (even though Hachette is making timely shipments), recommending other books on its website when a reader seeks out a Hachette book, and otherwise messing around with its books. It’s authors who suffer, as always, while the two leviathans take swipes at one another. I can’t figure out why Amazon hasn’t been prosecuted under the antitrust laws for this sort of tactic. And sometimes I really wonder whether I should continue to buy books from the e-tailer.
Is the “young adult” label a myth? Samantha Joseph says the label is irrelevant; a good book is a good book.
Censorship in China is extreme, and extremely interesting. Can that country maintain its stranglehold on information in the age of technology?
Technology, Science and Science Fiction
What makes us human? When I was in school, we were told that we were human because we made tools. Since then, we’ve discovered that chimpanzees and even crows make tools, so that’s out. Perhaps it’s because we explore, because we’re seekers? Because we imagine? A fair number of books are taking up this question lately, and they’re both good books and good sources of inspiration for philosophizing.
How will libraries change as the digital age rapidly takes hold? An attempt to take the hard-copy books (there’s a retronym for you!) out of the library in New York was overturned by an indignant public. On the other hand, 200 libraries closed their doors in 2012. Will today’s libraries become mere server farms, loaning out electronic copies of books on e-readers? Will they become mere sources of computer time for those unable to afford the technology for themselves? One thing is certain: changes are coming.
Science fiction has a tendency to become science fact. However, I am still waiting for my flying car.
Science plays a significant role in horror as well as in science fiction. The difference is that historically science has been a bad thing in horror, while in science fiction it was always the savior of humankind. But things are changing of late, and scientists are emerging as heroes in horror. After all, how do you do away with vampires and zombies except with the use of science?
The Political Schism in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community
It makes me sad that the science fiction and fantasy worlds have recently been roiled by the angry denunciations of those who see no real place in the genre for women and people of color, and are willing to state why in some pretty coarse language (though some resort to some pretty fancy footwork with words as well).
I wrote last time about the Hugo Awards and the controversy surrounding them. For a refresher, here’s a post from Amazing Stories — a forum you’d expect to be discussing the issue — and one from the Volokh Conspiracy, a Washington Post forum written by and about lawyers, which is a pretty surprising place to find the subject. Things have gotten more heated since then.
Teleread wants to blame the Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors (SFWA) for the ruckus, even though it has nothing to do with the Nebula Awards.
Perhaps encouraged by the Teleread article to take things further afield and stir up even more shit, John C. Wright has claimed that Robert A. Heinlein isn’t sufficiently politically correct to win a Hugo today. This comes shortly after Wright left SFWA in a huff, claiming that it has somehow harmed sales of his books (though declining to present any evidence to support this claim, or even any detail of how this was accomplished).
Wright’s claim is the subject of a long and eloquent discussion at Metafilter. One excellent contribution to the discussion comes from John Scalzi, who notes that we can’t assume Heinlein would write the exact same novels today that he wrote in more than half a century ago. In fact, he says, “That’s a fat lot of nonsense.” Yes. Yes, it is.
Amazing Stories has a direct response to Wright’s article. Wright couldn’t let it go, and wrote a lengthy response. File 770 followed up, making File 770the cogent argument that Heinlein in fact HAS won Hugos as recently as 2001, when the Retro Hugos for 1951 were awarded to Heinlein for best novel, best novella and best dramatic presentation. Shattersnipe also has a good response to Wright.
Daniel Abraham writes about the whole notion of controversy, the difference between anger and violence, and the possibility that maybe we really do need to look at all this stuff more closely, and really listen to one another. Certainly he comes down on the side of civility, which seems like a good place to be.
Damien Walter explains that we do need diversity in writing, and provides links to a campaign on the issue.
After all that, we need some unicorns and rainbows.
A new science fiction museum will open in Washington, D.C., next year. That’s worth a trip to the capitol all by itself. It’s billed as “the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum,” but that seems a bit of a swipe at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Still, I’m looking forward to it, especially when it’s fully up to speed in 2017.
Authors sometimes disown their own books. io9 gives us the rundown on 10 great authors who wished everyone would just forget at least one of their works.
BuzzFeed looks at real places that look like they come from fairy tales. There is such beauty in this world!
Imaginary books by fictional authors: which ones would you read?
Los Angeles is hosting a science fiction theater festival throughout the month of May.
Libraries make you happy — as happy as a pay raise, even!