Saturday, August 01, 2015

Books Read: July 2015

Saturday, August 01, 2015 0
The beginning of a new month brings with it the opportunity to look back at the month gone by and to give one last glance at what I most recently read. The below listed books are what I read during the month of July.

1. Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey
2. The Breadwinner, by Stevie Kopas
3. Consider Phlebas, by Iain Banks
4. A Crown of Cold Silver, by Alex Marshall
5. Daughters of the North, by Sarah Hall
6. Adrift on the Sea of Rains, by Ian Sales
7. Die Trying, by Lee Child
8. The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu
9. High Deryni, by Katherine Kurtz
10. Darkspell, by Katherine Kerr
11. Terms of Enlistment, by Marko Kloos
12. Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik
13. Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee
14. Justice Calling, by Annie Bellet
15. The Eye With Which the Universe Beholds Itself, by Ian Sales
16. Witch Hunt, by Annie Bellet
17. The Assassins, by Gayle Lynds
18. The Complete Peanuts: 1995-1996, by Charles M. Schulz

Best Book of the Month: It was close between Daughters of the North and Darkspell, but I think the slight edge is going to go to Sarah Hall's wonderful and beautifully ugly novel.

Disappointment of the Month: I hesitate to call The Three-Body Problem a true disappointment, because usually I reserve this space for what is often the "worst book of the month", and Cixin Liu's novel is certainly not that. But I had such high expectations for it based on all of the hype and the buzz and the award nominations and it was...also not that. The Three-Body Problem is a novel of ideas and some cool science-y type stuff. Remember, kids, I have a degree in English so when science becomes a major aspect of a novel, it's all hand waving magic to me. I like it, but it's magic. The ideas of The Three-Body Problem were cool and interesting and I wanted to know more about what happened next. The characters and the dialogue and the prose...I expected something different. Better? Cleaner? Less cardboard? Different. I'll still read The Dark Forest, it's just that my expectations will have changed and be more in line with what these books are.

Discovery of the Month: I had never read the short fiction of Ian Sales before learning about his Apollo Quartet, a series of novellas (and one short novel, I think) dealing with and around the space program - but exploring different science fictional ideas. The first two volumes are tightly told and thrilling stories and while they are not left with cliff hanger endings and each told very complete stories I was itching to know what happened after the final page. What happened next?

Worth Noting: I thought Katherine Kerr's Daggerspell was fantastic. Darkspell is even better. I hope to not let two years pass before reading The Bristling Wood.

Gender Breakdown: July was a weird month for me. At several times I thought the gender balance was going to skew heavily towards male writers, only to even the course and have it totter right back again. I swear I had this month planned out, but it all went wonky. I had some issues with my Nook at the end of the month, so several books I had loaded from the library became unreadable and I had to pull stuff I had on there from other sources, which helped me read two of Annie Bellet's novellas and one more Ian Sales. As for the breakdown, nine of of the eighteen books I read were written by women (Stevie Kopas is female). This brings my yearly total to 49 out of 86 books and moves my percentage to 56.97%.  I am still on track.


Previous Months:
January
February
March 
April 
May  
June

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fanzine

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 1

Black Gate declined its nomination after the Hugo Committee of Worldcon had locked the ballot, so they remain on the ballot for Best Fanzine. However, to respect the wishes of John O'Neil at Black Gate, I will leave it off my ballot.

While I don't normally read Elitist Book Reviews, or most other book blogs these days, it is the sort of fanzine I most appreciate. I have long enjoyed a good book blog, one that actually reviews books. There seem to be fewer of them around these days, or at least the old guard (and the older guard) are producing fewer reviews and have ventured off to new things and less bloggy things. Heck, if you've been following along here you'll see a relative lack of reviews, so as older guard as I am - I'm not reviewing much either. Regardless, I've enjoyed what I've read of Elitist Book Reviews.

Journey Planet, on the other hand, is a very traditional fanzine compiled in discrete issues with various writers and artists contributing. The issue in the voter's packet was a Doctor Who themed issue. Overall, a well constructed and well written fanzine. I think I'd enjoy it more in a blog format, but that has more to do how I prefer to consume media than it is about what Journey Planet is. While good, I'm not inspired to go seek out additional issues or follow what the zine does.

Tangent Online is a long running short fiction review website, and if you're looking for coverage of the short fiction market one of the best options you have (that I'm aware of) is Tangent. It's....fine. While I am happy that Tangent exists and that there are occasional sources and reviewers who cover short fiction, the reviewing at Tangent has never grabbed me.

The less said about The Revenge of Hump Day, the better. I don't understand the nomination. It does not get my vote.


My Vote:
1. Elitist Book Reviews
2. Journey Planet
3. Tangent Online
4. No Award


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Editor, Long Form

Monday, July 27, 2015 0
Vox Day (Castalia House)
Sheila Gilbert (DAW Books)
Jim Minz (Baen Books)
Anne Sowards (Ace Books)
Toni Weisskopf (Baen Books)

If I could wave my hands and remake the categories for the Hugo Awards, Best Editor (Long Form) would disappear. Not because the editors are not worthy of recognition, but because it is impossible to evaluate.  At least when we vote for the Short Form Editors, we are really recognizing the overall body of work in putting together a particular magazine and / or their work in compiling an anthology.The short form editor is, ultimately, the face and the vision of a particular 'zine or anthology so when that 'zine or anthology is successful, the editor was successful. We don't know and can't know how much editorial work was involved in helping the author better craft the submitted story, or if a given author submitted a piece of work which barely needed to be touched. We just know if the end result of the editor's "good eye" was something we appreciate.

This is where Long Form is yet more difficult. In most cases, the editor is not the face of a publishing house and does not acquire and edit every book published by a given house. The Long Form Editor Hugo Award is not for Best Publisher, and yet it is impossible to evaluate the work the editor did that year. Presumably the Long Form editor both acquired and helped shape the final product of each book published with his or her name listed as editor, but how much credit goes to the editor in terms of being "best" versus simply having the good taste and fortune to acquire something awesome.

But this is where we are left to evaluate the editors, with a further challenge of how difficult it would be to read everything published by each of these five editors, or even just a solid representation of those works published. I read over 100 books each year and I read widely enough and mostly works published prior to the eligibility year that hitting sufficient works from each editor is nearly impossible.

What am I left with? Looking at the Hugo Voting Packet and evaluating my impression of the works listed from each editor as a measure of quality and "best" for 2014. 

Anne Sowards and Sheila Gilbert both included a list of what they edited last year. Toni Weisskopf did not, but noted to go to baen.com to see her work. Neither Jim Minz nor Vox Day included sample lists of their editorial work, though Vox Day is the editor of Castalia House so presumably everything published there had Day's editorial work.

From that perspective, and without knowing specifically what Weisskopf edits at Baen compared to what Minz has edited, I would recognize Weisskopf's work as editor and publisher at Baen followed by the lists of Sowards and Gilbert. Jim Minz I place lower simply because neither Weisskopf nor Minz included their work and while Baen is very much worthy of recognition, there is no way for me to separate the two - so Weisskopf gets the nod at publisher and Minz is slid down the ballot. I recognize this is likely a disservice to Minz, but if I can't tell which works are his...  Vox Day has fifth slot, above No Award, because while I can't quite tell which novel-length works were published in 2014, I do feel comfortable acknowledging that I am not the intended audience for Castalia House and I am not interested in much if not most of what they publish.

My Vote:
1. Toni Weisskopf
2. Anne Sowards
3. Sheila Gilbert
4. Jim Minz
5. Vox Day


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Novel

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 0
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos (47North)
Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Roc Books)
The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
Marko Kloos declined his nomination after the ballot was announced. The Three Body Problem was added.

Even though Kloos declined his nomination I intend to read his debut novel, Terms of Enlistment. A copy of it is sitting at home, next to my laptop.

When I submitted my final Hugo nomination ballot, two novels which eventually received nominations were on it: Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor.  I thought they were two of the best novels of the year and none of the other nominees has been able to scratch that perch.  Of the five nominees, they slot in at #1 and #2.

While I think that in any other year, Jim Butcher would not likely have been nominated, I do have a significantly positive takeaway from this year's Hugo mess: Skin Game was really damn good and I have every intention of starting with Storm Front and reading all of Butcher's Dresden Files.  There's no way to predict that if I had read the previous fourteen books if I would have been quite excited for Skin Game or if I would have decided it was "just another solid entry from Butcher" - because that is a thing which happens in long running series, you can enjoy a book and even love it, but it starts to fade in the overall impression of comparative excellence because it isn't new anymore, it's not shiny. Coming in fresh to a series at book 15, however, is equally dangerous because I have no idea who these characters are, how they relate to each other, or what I might be missing and how that would change my impression of the book. So, straight up, Skin Games works on its own. I just don't know what I don't know. A very solid entry.

The Three-Body Problem is the first novel here where I have a problem: the science and overall concept of the novel is fun and exciting and something I want to know more about. The characters and the writing feel dated and clunky and almost as if they are a deliberate stereotype. Perhaps some of this is part of Ken Liu's translation, perhaps some is my lack of cultural understanding of Mao era China and how individuals might have spoken in slogans. I don't know. But that aspect of the novel felt more like it was coming from a sixty year old novel and not so much like one originally published in 2007 as this novel was. With all of that said, I kept reading and Cixin Liu held my attention. I wanted to know more and see where he was taking this story. Having completed the novel, I want read The Dark Forest. In the end it came across more as a fascinating yet flawed novel that isn't quite something I would hold up as the best of the year.

The last time I attempted to read a novel from Kevin J. Anderson's which was not part of either the Star Wars or Dune Universes, it was The Edge of the World, the first volume in his Terra Incognita series and it did not inspire me to read any of his other books. The Dark Between the Stars is the first volume of his new Saga of Shadows trilogy (which is a sequel to his 7 volume Saga of Seven Suns) and I am happy to report that it is significantly better than The Edge of the World. It is just not up to the level of the other nominated novels.

My Vote:
1. Ancillary Sword
2. The Goblin Emperor
3. Skin Game
4. The Three-Body Problem
5. The Dark Between the Stars


Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

2015 World Fantasy Award Nominees

Wednesday, July 08, 2015 0
The nominees for the 2015 World Fantasy Awards have been announced. This has long been one of my favorite awards to follow, so I'm looking forward to reading the nominees I have not yet encountered.

Congratulations to all of the nominees.

7/14/2015 edit: Kai Ashante Wilson's story has been moved to Novella, Ursula Vernon's story has been added to Short Story.


Novel
Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor (Tor Books)
Robert Jackson Bennett, City of Stairs (Broadway Books/Jo Fletcher Books)
David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks (Random House/Sceptre UK)
Jeff VanderMeer, Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux Originals)
Jo Walton, My Real Children (Tor Books US/Corsair UK)

Novella
Daryl Gregory, We Are All Completely Fine (Tachyon Publications)
Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, "Where the Trains Turn" (Tor.com, Nov. 19, 2014)
Michael Libling, "Hollywood North" (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov./Dec. 2014)
Mary Rickert, "The Mothers of Voorhisville" (Tor.com, Apr. 30, 2014)
Rachel Swirsky, “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)” (Subterranean Press magazine, Summer 2014)
Kai Ashante Wilson, "The Devil in America" (Tor.com, April 2, 2014)

Short Story
Kelly Link, "I Can See Right Through You" (McSweeney's 48)
Scott Nicolay, Do You Like to Look at Monsters? (Fedogan & Bremer, chapbook)
Ursula Vernon, "The Jackalope Wives" (Apex Magazine, January 2014)
Kaaron Warren, "Death's Door Café" (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)

Alyssa Wong, "The Fisher Queen," (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May/June 2014)

Anthology
Ellen Datlow, ed., Fearful Symmetries (ChiZine Publications)
George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, eds., Rogues (Bantam Books/Titan Books)
Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, eds., Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History (Crossed Genres)
Michael Kelly, ed. Shadows & Tall Trees 2014 (Undertow Publications)
Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, eds., Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales (Candlewick Press)

Collection
Rebecca Lloyd, Mercy and Other Stories (Tartarus Press)
Helen Marshall, Gifts for the One Who Comes After (ChiZine Publications)
Robert Shearman, They Do the Same Things Different There (ChiZine Publications)
Angela Slatter, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings (Tartarus Press)
Janeen Webb, Death at the Blue Elephant (Ticonderoga Publications)

Artist
Samuel Araya
Galen Dara
Jeffrey Alan Love
Erik Mohr
John Picacio

Special Award—Professional
John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines
Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey Writing workshops
Sandra Kasturi and Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
Gordon Van Gelder, for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press

Special Award—Non-professional
Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies: Literary Adventure Fantasy
Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean Press)
Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader
Ray B. Russell and Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press
Novel:
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
  • City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Random House; Sceptre)
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • My Real Children, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair)
Novella:
  • We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
  • “Where the Trains Turn”, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Tor.com 11/19/14)
  • “Hollywood North”, Michael Libling  (F&SF 11-12/14)
  • “The Mothers of Voorhisville”, Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
  • “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
Short Fiction:
  • “I Can See Right Through You”, Kelly Link,  (McSweeney’s 48)
  • Do You Like to Look at Monsters?, Scott Nicolay (Fedogan & Bremer)
  • “Death’s Door Café”, Kaaron Warren (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)
  • “The Devil in America”, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com, 4/2/14)
  • “The Fisher Queen”, Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5-6/14)
Anthology:
  • Fearful Symmetries, Ellen Datlow, ed. (ChiZine)
  • Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
  • Shadows & Tall Trees 2014, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow)
  • Monstrous Affections, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, ed. (Candlewick)
  • Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam; Titan)
Collection:
  • Mercy and Other Stories, Rebecca Lloyd (Tartarus)
  • Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine)
  • They Do the Same Things Different There, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
  • The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • Death at the Blue Elephant, Janeen Webb (Ticonderoga)
Artist:
  • Samuel Araya
  • Galen Dara
  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Erik Mohr
  • John Picacio
Special Award – Professional:
  • John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Nightmare and Fantasy magazines
  • Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey writing workshops
  • Sandra Kasturi & Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
  • Gordon Van Gelder, for F&SF
  • Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press
Special Award – Nonprofessional:
  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean)
  • Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader (civilianreader.wordpress.com)
  • Ray B. Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
  • Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press
- See more at: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/07/2015-world-fantasy-awards-ballot/#sthash.QNfCxq5G.dpuf
Novel:
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
  • City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Random House; Sceptre)
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • My Real Children, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair)
Novella:
  • We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
  • “Where the Trains Turn”, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Tor.com 11/19/14)
  • “Hollywood North”, Michael Libling  (F&SF 11-12/14)
  • “The Mothers of Voorhisville”, Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
  • “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
Short Fiction:
  • “I Can See Right Through You”, Kelly Link,  (McSweeney’s 48)
  • Do You Like to Look at Monsters?, Scott Nicolay (Fedogan & Bremer)
  • “Death’s Door Café”, Kaaron Warren (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)
  • “The Devil in America”, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com, 4/2/14)
  • “The Fisher Queen”, Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5-6/14)
Anthology:
  • Fearful Symmetries, Ellen Datlow, ed. (ChiZine)
  • Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
  • Shadows & Tall Trees 2014, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow)
  • Monstrous Affections, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, ed. (Candlewick)
  • Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam; Titan)
Collection:
  • Mercy and Other Stories, Rebecca Lloyd (Tartarus)
  • Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine)
  • They Do the Same Things Different There, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
  • The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • Death at the Blue Elephant, Janeen Webb (Ticonderoga)
Artist:
  • Samuel Araya
  • Galen Dara
  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Erik Mohr
  • John Picacio
Special Award – Professional:
  • John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Nightmare and Fantasy magazines
  • Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey writing workshops
  • Sandra Kasturi & Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
  • Gordon Van Gelder, for F&SF
  • Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press
Special Award – Nonprofessional:
  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean)
  • Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader (civilianreader.wordpress.com)
  • Ray B. Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
  • Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press
- See more at: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/07/2015-world-fantasy-awards-ballot/#sthash.QNfCxq5G.dpuf
Novel:
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
  • City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Random House; Sceptre)
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • My Real Children, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair)
Novella:
  • We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
  • “Where the Trains Turn”, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Tor.com 11/19/14)
  • “Hollywood North”, Michael Libling  (F&SF 11-12/14)
  • “The Mothers of Voorhisville”, Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
  • “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
Short Fiction:
  • “I Can See Right Through You”, Kelly Link,  (McSweeney’s 48)
  • Do You Like to Look at Monsters?, Scott Nicolay (Fedogan & Bremer)
  • “Death’s Door Café”, Kaaron Warren (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)
  • “The Devil in America”, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com, 4/2/14)
  • “The Fisher Queen”, Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5-6/14)
Anthology:
  • Fearful Symmetries, Ellen Datlow, ed. (ChiZine)
  • Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
  • Shadows & Tall Trees 2014, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow)
  • Monstrous Affections, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, ed. (Candlewick)
  • Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam; Titan)
Collection:
  • Mercy and Other Stories, Rebecca Lloyd (Tartarus)
  • Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine)
  • They Do the Same Things Different There, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
  • The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • Death at the Blue Elephant, Janeen Webb (Ticonderoga)
Artist:
  • Samuel Araya
  • Galen Dara
  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Erik Mohr
  • John Picacio
Special Award – Professional:
  • John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Nightmare and Fantasy magazines
  • Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey writing workshops
  • Sandra Kasturi & Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
  • Gordon Van Gelder, for F&SF
  • Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press
Special Award – Nonprofessional:
  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean)
  • Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader (civilianreader.wordpress.com)
  • Ray B. Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
  • Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press
- See more at: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/07/2015-world-fantasy-awards-ballot/#sthash.QNfCxq5G.dpuf
Novel:
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
  • City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
  • The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (Random House; Sceptre)
  • Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Jeff VanderMeer (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  • My Real Children, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair)
Novella:
  • We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
  • “Where the Trains Turn”, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen (Tor.com 11/19/14)
  • “Hollywood North”, Michael Libling  (F&SF 11-12/14)
  • “The Mothers of Voorhisville”, Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
  • “Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
Short Fiction:
  • “I Can See Right Through You”, Kelly Link,  (McSweeney’s 48)
  • Do You Like to Look at Monsters?, Scott Nicolay (Fedogan & Bremer)
  • “Death’s Door Café”, Kaaron Warren (Shadows & Tall Trees 2014)
  • “The Devil in America”, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com, 4/2/14)
  • “The Fisher Queen”, Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5-6/14)
Anthology:
  • Fearful Symmetries, Ellen Datlow, ed. (ChiZine)
  • Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
  • Shadows & Tall Trees 2014, Michael Kelly, ed. (Undertow)
  • Monstrous Affections, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, ed. (Candlewick)
  • Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds. (Bantam; Titan)
Collection:
  • Mercy and Other Stories, Rebecca Lloyd (Tartarus)
  • Gifts for the One Who Comes After, Helen Marshall (ChiZine)
  • They Do the Same Things Different There, Robert Shearman (ChiZine)
  • The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • Death at the Blue Elephant, Janeen Webb (Ticonderoga)
Artist:
  • Samuel Araya
  • Galen Dara
  • Jeffrey Alan Love
  • Erik Mohr
  • John Picacio
Special Award – Professional:
  • John Joseph Adams, for editing anthologies and Nightmare and Fantasy magazines
  • Jeanne Cavelos, for Odyssey writing workshops
  • Sandra Kasturi & Brett Alexander Savory, for ChiZine Publications
  • Gordon Van Gelder, for F&SF
  • Jerad Walters, for Centipede Press
Special Award – Nonprofessional:
  • Scott H. Andrews, for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Matt Cardin, for Born to Fear: Interviews with Thomas Ligotti (Subterranean)
  • Stefan Fergus, for Civilian Reader (civilianreader.wordpress.com)
  • Ray B. Russell & Rosalie Parker, for Tartarus Press
  • Patrick Swenson, for Fairwood Press
- See more at: http://www.locusmag.com/News/2015/07/2015-world-fantasy-awards-ballot/#sthash.QNfCxq5G.dpuf

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Books Read: June 2015

Thursday, July 02, 2015 0
The beginning of a new month brings with it the opportunity to look back at the month gone by and to give one last glance at what I most recently read. The below listed books are what I read during the month of June.

1. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
2. Control Point, by Myke Cole
3. Deryni Rising, by Katherine Kurtz
4. Finders Keepers, by Stephen King
5. How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back, by Diana Rowland
6. The Burning Stone, by Kate Elliott
7. Skin Deep, by Brandon Sanderson
8. Skin Game, by Jim Butcher
9. Heaven's Queen, by Rachel Bach
10. Phil Cross: Gypsy Joker to Hell's Angel, by Phil Cross
11. The Pride of Chanur, by C. J. Cherryh
12. Deryni Checkmate, by Katherine Kurtz
13. Infidel, by Kameron Hurley


Best Book of the Month: I'm somewhere between Girl on the Train, Deryni Checkmate, and Skin Game. There was a lot of very good reading this month. 

Disappointment of the Month: I've previously read a couple of books about motorcycle clubs. Like many people, watching Sons of Anarchy peaked my interest. Phil Cross's autobiography seemed like it would be a good one to load up on my Nook for a trip out of town. Sadly, it was light on the details of running the club and appears to have glossed over many of the events that frequently landed Cross in legal trouble. I'm sure there is plenty he can't talk about for club reasons or to not incriminate himself, but with that being the case, the book felt flat.  

Discovery of the Month: I had never read Jim Butcher before his Hugo nomination, and I jumped into Book 15 with Skin Game. It was plenty accessible for a new reader, though I expect I missed all sorts of detail and relationships that long time readers would be intimately familiar with. I expect to go back and read all of the Harry Dresden novels to catch up, though it may take me a while.

Worth Noting: If you've never read Katherine Kurtz's Deryni saga, you're really missing out. I came to the series from a different entry point (Camber of Culdi, which is the start of the next trilogy set 200 years in the past), but everyone should read these books. Deryni Rising is excellent and I think Deryni Checkmate is better. Read Deryni.

Gender Breakdown: After a dip last month when I read fewer female authored books than those by males, I pulled in another solid month with eight out of the thirteen books I read being written by women. This brings my yearly total up to 40 out of 68 and slides my percentage up from 58.19% to 58.82%. I am still on track to hit my goal for my first year where I've read more books written by women. It can happen.



Previous Months:
January
February
March 
April 
May

Friday, June 19, 2015

Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Novella

Friday, June 19, 2015 2
Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
Flow by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, Nov 2014)
One Bright Star to Guide Them by John C. Wright (Castalia House)
Pale Realms of Shade by John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
The Plural of Helen of Troy by John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

Sometime after I finish reading all of the nominees and after I do my last category write-up, I have a mind to write an article talking about what I think of this whole Hugo mess. I wrote several articles very early on, but since it has been an ongoing thing, I have different thoughts. But, those thoughts are not quite as germane to any individual category or any individual work and do not apply to taking the Hugo ballot seriously as it currently stands.  So here we are.

"Pale Realms of Shade" went in a very different direction than I had initially expected, what with the ghost of a murdered detective coming back to haunt and all. But, that is one of the more interesting aspects of reading stories because they were nominated for an award and not with the context of their original publication. Most stories don't necessarily require additional context, but "Pale Realms of Shade" was published in Wright's The Book of Feasts & Seasons, which is a story collection built around the religious calendar of the Catholic faith (if I have this correct). Knowing that context, readers who purchase the collection won't be surprised when the story takes a hard turn towards Heaven and Hell and a spiritual battle for a man's soul. 

But, where Wright's nominated short story "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" (also from this same collection) felt extraordinarily heavy handed, with "Pale Realms of Shade" he did a beautiful job with the religious aspects of the story (which, ultimately, is the story and it is quite well told).

The big surprise in this category, at least for me, was Tom Kratman's Big Boys Don't Cry. I had expected a very aggressive narrative designed to offend those of a more liberal persuasion, but what I got was a surprisingly graceful story of a dying sentient tank. That may sound weird, but given advancement in artificial intelligence and this being a science fiction story, it works. It works remarkably well, especially the deeper Kratman brings the story into Magnolia's history.  Yes, there are also some clumsier jabs at how military tactics have been handled by those not committed to the mission or by those who don't fully understand what it takes to win, and politicians get the sharp end of the stick in that regard (rightly so, in some cases).

If all of Arlan Andrews' "Flow" was as successful as the second half of the story, I might have been able to move it up another space on my ballot, but unfortunately the beginning of the story was something of a chore to push through. The primitive ice world (a partially frozen post apocalyptic Earth) was tough to take, less because of the writing and more because of what I was wanted / was getting from the story. I'll willingly take the hit that part of this is on me, but I often bounce off of fiction dealing with significantly more primitive Earth cultures unless the writing / storytelling can just grab a hold of me and make me care about the characters and / or the setting. "Flow" didn't...until it did, midway through as Rist began to discover more of the world and realized that what his people taught may not be the way things actually work. I'm now curious to find "Thaw", a previous story in this setting, and move on to "Fall", the next in the setting.  I'd like to see where Andrews is taking this. 

My Vote
1. "Pale Realms of Shade"
2. Big Boys Don't Cry
3. "Flow"
4. "The Plural of Helen of Troy"
5. No Award
6. One Bright Star to Guide Them

Standard 2015 Hugo Disclaimer:
In a typical year, I just jump right into whichever category I'm writing about and let my thoughts sort out the whole mess. This is not a typical year, so I'd like to start by talking a little bit about how I'm going to work through the various Hugo Award categories and how I am going to vote. Simply put, I am going to read everything. If I feel the work is strong enough to merit a ranked vote, I will vote for it in whatever order feels most appropriate. If I feel the work is not strong enough to merit ranking it above No Award, I will not do so.  But at no point am I making a blanket statement about Sad Puppies or Rabid Puppies or that I've heard Thomas Heuvelt may have been campaigning for a nomination or anything else that I am not aware of.  The ballot is what the ballot is and I will treat it as such.

I am also working with the same methodology as I have in the past, which is to say that there are frequently works and writers on the ballot that I simply and strongly disagree with. In most cases, I have still ranked those works above No Award. I don't believe I have always done this, and I know if I had participated last year, one novel would have been below No Award because I bounced so hard off of the first book in that series that I really can't understand how the second also managed a nomination - and that writer is a Hugo favorite. Most stories compare to works that have previously been on the ballot, so those works that meet my low-bar criteria will secure my vote.
 
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