Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Hugo Award Nominees

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 0

Below are the finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees

Best Novel (3695 Ballots)
The Aeronauts Windlass, by Jim Butcher (Roc)
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Best Novella (2416 Ballots)
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
The Builders, by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com Publishing)
Penric's Demon, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
Perfect State, by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

Best Novelette (1975 Ballots)
And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead”, by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
Folding Beijing”, by Hao Jingfang, (Uncanny 1-2/15)
“Obits”, by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
“What Price Humanity?”, by David VanDyke (There Will Be War: Volume X)
“Flashpoint: Titan”, by Cheah Kai Wai (There Will Be War: Volume X)

Best Short Story (2451 Ballots)
Asymmetrical Warfare”, by S. R. Algernon (Nature 3/15)
The Commuter, by Thomas A. Mays (Stealth)
“Seven Kill Tiger”, by Charles Shao (There Will Be War: Volume X)
If You Were an Award, My Love”, by Juan Tabo & S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com 6/15)
Space Raptor Butt Invasion, by Chuck Tingle (self-published)

Best Related Work (2080 Ballots)
Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986, by Marc Aramini (Castalia House)
SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police, by Vox Day (Castalia House)
Safe Space as Rape Room”, by Daniel Eness (castaliahouse.com)
The Story of Moira Greyland”, by Moira Greyland (askthebigot.com)
The First Draft of My Appendix N Book”, by Jeffro Johnson (castaliahouse.com)

Best Graphic Story (1838 Ballots)
The Divine, written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka
Erin Dies Alone, written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell
Full Frontal Nerdity, by Aaron Williams
Invisible Republic: Volume 1, written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman
The Sandman: Overture, written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H, Williams III

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form (2904 Ballots)
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form (2219 Ballots)
Doctor Who: Heaven Sent
Grimm: Headache
Jessica Jones: aka Smile
My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic: The Cutie Map
Supernatural: Just My Imagination

Best Editor: Short Form (1891 Ballots)
John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow
Jerry Pournelle
Sheila Williams

Best Editor: Long Form (1764 Ballots)
Vox Day
Sheila E. Gilbert
Liz Gorinsky
Jim Minz
Toni Weisskopf

Best Professional Artist (1481 Ballots)
Lars Braad Anderson
Larry Elmore
Abigail Larson
Michal Karez
Larry Rostant

Best Semiprozine (1457 Ballots)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Daily Science Fiction
Sci Phi Journal
Strange Horizons
Uncanny Magazine

Best Fanzine (1455 Ballots)
Black Gate
Castalia House Blog
File 770
Subversive SF
Tangent Online

Best Fancast (1267 Ballots)
8-4 Play
Cane and Rinse
The Rageaholic
Tales to Terrify

Best Fan Writer (1568 Ballots)
Douglas Ernst
Mike Glyer
Morgan Holmes (Castalia House Blog, Sundays)
Jeffro Johnson
Shamus Young

Best Fan Artist (1073 Ballots)
Matthew Callahan
Christian Quinot
Steve Stiles

John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1922 Ballots)
Pierce Brown
Sebastiel De Castell
Brian Neimeier
Andy Weir
Alyssa Wong

As a side note, I expect to have some of my preliminary thoughts up in the next couple of days, either here or at Nerds of a Feather.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Books Read: March 2016

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 2
Now that we're done with March, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson
2. The Story of My Teeth, by Valeria Luiselli
3. The Warrior's Apprentice, by Lois McMaster Bujold
4. Bats of the Republic, by Zachary Thomas Dodson
5. Wings of Sorrow and Bone, by Beth Cato
6. Envy of Angels, by Matt Wallace
7. Domnall and the Borrowed Child, by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
8. Patchwerk, by David Tallerman
9. Ban en Banlieue, by Bhanu Kapil
10. Of Sorrow and Such, by Angela Slatter
11. The Last Witness, by KJ Parker
12. Perfect State, by Brandon Sanderson
13. The Sellout, by Paul Beatty (unfinished)
14. The Absconded Ambassador, by Michael R. Underwood
15. Lustlocked, by Matt Wallace
16. All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
17. Meeting Infinity, by Jonathan Strahan (editor)
18. Forest of Memory, by Mary Robinette Kowal
19. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Book of the Month: Even though I did not read the reviews, I could not avoid seeing the massive hype for Charlie Jane Anders' debut novel All the Birds in the Sky. I was convinced there was no way it could live up to that hype. The deeper I read into the novel, the more impressed I was and the more I wanted to see how Anders could possibly wrap it up. She stuck the landing.

Disappointment of the Month: My disappointment is for the collective of this year's Tournament of Books. While I've enjoyed reading the various judgments and playing along at home with my wife, there have been far fewer books this year which I've enjoyed or even appreciated.

Discovery of the Month: Matt Wallace's novellas are batshit insane and absolutely fantastic. Everyone should be reading his Sin du Jour. Start with Envy of Angels, then don't stop.

Worth Noting: This month's count is bolstered by a whole lot of novellas. If you're wondering how I count books, if it is published as an independent volume, I count it as a book I've read (see, Tor.com Publishing's novella line or Brandon Sanderson's Perfect State). However, if it is only available as part of a collection or in a magazine, it doesn't count as a distinct book even if the page count is just as long as those published on its own. I have to draw the line somewhere.

Gender Breakdown: March was a reasonably strong month, with 9 out of 19 books written by women. This brings my total to 26 / 51, or 50.98%.  It's a small drop, but it's also a small sample amount. The numbers should solidify in the coming months. While I do not a have specific goal this year to read more books written by women than those written by men, I would like to at least keep the breakdown near a 50/50 split. Thus far I am on track to accomplish that.

Previous Reads

Friday, April 01, 2016

My 2016 Hugo Nomination Ballot

Friday, April 01, 2016 1
Now that the nominations window has closed, here is my ballot for the 2016 Hugo Awards. I'm sure that you have all been clamoring to see how I nominated.

Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott (Orbit)
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)

“Ur”, by Stephen King (Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
The Builders, by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com Publishing)
Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)
Envy of Angels, by Matt Wallace (Tor.com Publishing)

“And the Balance in Blood”, by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny Magazine, Issue 7, November 2015)
“The Heart’s Filthy Lesson”, by Elizabeth Bear (Old Venus)
“The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss”, by David Brin (Old Venus)
“Obits”, by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
“Our Lady of the Open Road”, by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, June 2015)

Short Story
“The Light Brigade”, by Kameron Hurley (Lightspeed, November 2015) – published on Patreon 2015
“Cat Pictures Please”, by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
“Hello, Hello”, by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions, 2015)
“Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams”, by Sunny Moraine (Cyborgology, June 2, 2015)
“Tear Tracks”, by Malka Older (Tor.com, October 21, 2015)

Graphic Story
Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine (Vol 1), by Kelly Sue DeConnick
The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud
Lazarus: Conclave (Vol 3), by Greg Rucka
Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max (Vol 2), by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen
Stand Still. Stay Silent, by Minna Sundberg

Related Work
You’re Never Weird on the Internet, by Felicia Day
Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual Dictionary, by Michael Klastorin
Rocket Talk Podcast, hosted by Justin Landon
A History of Epic Fantasy, by Adam Whitehead
Speculative Fiction 2014, by Renay Williams and Shaun Duke (editors)

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Game of Thrones: “Hardhome”
Prune – iOS game by Joel McDonald
Traveler”, directed by Simon Brown

Editor, Short Form
John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed, Nightmare)
Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)
Jonathan Strahan (Meeting Infinity)
Lynne M. Thomas (Uncanny)
Ann VanderMeer (Tor.Com, Sisters of the Revolution)

Editor, Long Form
Anne Lesley Groell (Fool’s Quest, Uprooted)
Lee Harris (Tor.com Publishing)
Will Hinton (Ancillary Mercy, Nemesis Game)
Devi Pillai (Black Wolves, Autumn Republic, The Fifth Season)

Professional Artist
Richard Anderson (Empire Ascendant)
Shan Jian (Illustrated Man in the High Castle)
David Palumbo (Binti)
Cynthia Sheppard (Karen Memory)
Sam Weber (Illustrated Dune)

Fan Artist
Megan Lara
Orisoni / Ariel
Gabriel Picolo
Sarah Webb

Uncanny Magazine

Chaos Horizon
Lady Business
Nerds of a feather, flock together
SF Bluestocking
SF Mistressworks

Fan Writer
Brandon Kempner
Bridget McKinney
Abigail Nussbaum
Adam Whitehead
Renay Williams

Cabbages and Kings
Fan Girl Happy Hour

John W. Campbell Award
Becky Chambers
Kat Howard
Malka Older
Kelly Robson
Andy Weir

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

NoaF: Deryni, Deverry, Hugo

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 0
Good afternoon, folks!

Just a quick update to point you to some stuff I have up over at Nerds of a Feather.

1. Reading Deryni: Saint Camber - The second in my series of essays on Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels.

2. Reading Deverry: Act One - Likewise, the first of my series of essays on Katharine Kerr's Deverry novels (this one covers the first four books - read more Deverry)

3. My Favorite Stories Don't Get Nominated: A Hugo Love Story - a meditation on why I love the Hugo Awards even though, as the essay title states, my favorite stories don't get nominated.

I've been busy.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

NoaF: Black Wolves, Black Sword, and Resolutions

Tuesday, March 01, 2016 0
Hey kids!

I'd like to point you to two recent reviews I've done over at Nerds of a Feather. The first is Kate Elliott's excellent Black Wolves. The second is Larry Correia's fairly disappointing Son of the Black Sword.

For extra Star Wars nerdery, Dean and I have a conversation about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

For the sake of being amusing, I also collected a much delayed list of New Year's Resolutions from the flock.

Forthcoming, I have my next Deryni essay coming next week on Saint Camber, a Deverry essay on the four books comprising the first Act of the series, something on the Hugo Awards, and a bit farther out - a review of Emily Foster's The Drowning Eyes. That's just what I have written and scheduled for this month.

I'm still "working" on reviews of Central Station, Meeting Infinity, Forest of Memory, Runtime, and probably Lightless. By "working", I mean I need to read these. But, if I keep talking about it, maybe I'll actually do something about it.

Books Read: February 2016

With February having come to a close, let's take a look at the books I read last month.

1. The Survivor, by Vince Flynn and Kyle Mills
2. Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott
3. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
4. Hunter's Oath, by Michelle West
5. 1634: The Baltic War, by David Weber and Eric Flint
6. This Census-Taker, by China Mieville (unfinished)
7. The Force Awakens, by Alan Dean Foster
8. The New World, by Chris Adrian and Eli Horowitz
9. Grantville Gazette: Volume I, by Eric Flint (editor)
10. Step Aside, Pops, by Kate Beaton
11. Oreo, by Fran Ross (unfinished)
12. The Book of Aron, by Jim Shepard (unfinished)
13. The Drowning Eyes, by Emily Foster
14. City of Blades, by Robert Jackson Bennett
15. Lightless, by C.A. Higgins

Best Book of the Month: Black Wolves was a standout. See the review over at Nerds of a Feather. This is also a virtual tie with City of Blades as to which book was the best I read in February.

Disappointment of the Month: I always count the unfinished books in my tally because I still want a record of what I've attempted, even if I elected to not finish the book. This was a rare month when I decided I didn't want to finish three books. Some years I don't hit three, but I attempted the Ross and Shepard because I'm trying to read my way through the Tournament of Books and sometimes that means I hit books I just bounce off of and probably wouldn't have read otherwise. I bounced off of Oreo and The Book of Aron for very different reasons, but bounce I did. As well as with the Mieville.

Discovery of the Month: Emily Foster's The Drowning Eyes was amazingly good. I must read more from Foster, in that particular setting if possible. So, so good. 

Worth Noting: I loved City of Stairs. City of Blades was even better.

Gender Breakdown: My gender breakdown for February was a bit weaker, with only 6 out of 15 books this month being written by women. This drops my overall percentage down to 53.12%. While I do not a have specific goal this year to read more books written by women than those written by men, I would like to at least keep the breakdown near a 50/50 split. Thus far I am on track to accomplish that.

Previous Reads

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2015 Nebula Award Nominees

Saturday, February 20, 2016 0
Picked this up from Tor.com: Below are the nominees for the 2015 Nebula Awards (presented in 2016). I'll probably have some initial thoughts on the nominees this coming week. I will provide links to as many of the stories as become freely available online.

Congratulations to all the nominees.

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)
Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Impulse)
‘‘The Bone Swans of Amandale’’, C.S.E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
‘‘The New Mother’’, Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s 4-5/15)
‘‘The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn’’, Usman T. Malik (Tor.com 4/22/15)
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
‘‘Waters of Versailles’’, Kelly Robson (Tor.com 6/10/15)

‘‘Rattlesnakes and Men’’, Michael Bishop (Asimov’s 2/15)
‘‘And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’’, Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
‘‘Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds’’, Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/11/15)
‘‘The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society’’, Henry Lien (Asimov’s 6/15)
‘‘The Deepwater Bride’’, Tamsyn Muir (F&SF 7-8/15)
‘‘Our Lady of the Open Road’’, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story
‘‘Madeleine’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
‘‘Cat Pictures Please’’, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
‘‘Damage’’, David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
‘‘When Your Child Strays From God’’, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
‘‘Today I Am Paul’’, Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
‘‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation 
Ex Machina
Jessica Jones: AKA Smile
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet)
Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House)
Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux)
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray)
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

1634: The Baltic War, by David Weber and Eric Flint

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 0
1634: The Baltic War
David Weber and Eric Flint
Baen: 2007

1634: The Baltic War is the direct sequel to Eric Flint and David Weber's novel 1633, which should make it the third novel in Flint's 1632 Universe except between the publication of 1633 and 1634: The Baltic War, Flint published three additional novels as well as an anthology set in this universe. This could complicate things, and though we are certainly never wrong to read in publication order, Eric Flint has a very handy "recommended reading order" on his website which he helpfully updated this year. That's the reading order which I am following.

As a brief re-introduction to the series, the 1632 novels posit an alternate history where a small West Virginia mining town from the year 2000 is sent back and sideways in time to the year 1631 and moved geographically to a region in central Germany in the midst of the Thirty Years War. With no way home, this community of hard working, blue collar twentieth century Americans intends to survive, adapt, and perhaps kickstart the American Revolution just a little bit earlier than in our universe. 

Despite being fairly early in both the internal chronology as well as in the overall publication order, it is easy to see why so many offshoot novels have been published outside of the "main line" of the series. 1634: The Baltic War sees story threads taking place in London, Copenhagen, central Germany, and on the ironclad ships working their way from Madgeburg into the Baltic Sea. It would be somewhat of a mistake to describe the novel as "unfocused", but as the various characters begin to move around Europe and work on behalf of the United States of Europe, the separate storylines do not necessarily come together or build together.

This works, because if you're reading 1634: The Baltic War, you've at least read 1632, 1633, the Ring of Fire anthology and possibly / probably the other novels published before this one due to the delays of Flint and Weber coordinating their schedules to get this book done. If you're reading 1634: The Baltic War, you're invested in the characters and the world and are looking to see how the political situation develops, how the ironclads will crush everything they come across, if the captives get out of the tower, and everything else surrounding the novel.

The pacing may be a bit slower than the two previous novels, but whether it is the larger moments of actually seeing the ironclads in action or the smaller moments of Thorsten Engler trying to figure out how to propose to Caroline Platzer, Weber and Flint do a heck of a job in nailing all of the beats of the story, mixing in humor, action, drama, and anything else you might want, and telling a story you don't quite want to end after 700+ pages. Good thing there are still another dozen or so novels to keep this going.

Readers of 1632 and 1633 know exactly what they are getting with 1634: The Baltic War. I'm not sure this is the novel to introduce the series to new readers as it directly picks up story threads from the previous novels,  but it will satisfy readers who are still along for the ride.

One of the most interesting (to me) things that Weber and Flint accomplished in 1634: The Baltic War is that they have made John Simpson not only a sympathetic character, but a likeable one. Simpson was introduced in the first novel, 1632, as an autocratic CEO who seemed to exist to contrast the leadership of Union Leader Mike Stearns. Simpson was set up as a minor villain, an out of touch "suit" compared to the workboots on the ground miners and union shop workers and one who quickly lost the first power struggle in Grantville. However, because Simpson had not only served as a Naval officer in Vietnam, but also had great success in running a large corporation, Mike Stearns appointed Simpson to create Grantville's Navy.

It would be very easy to argue that the primary reason Simpson has become likeable is that he is coming to appreciate the leadership of Mike Stearns - and while that is true, what is also happening is that over the course of several years in universe, the reader is seeing a very competent man do absolutely stellar work in building the Navy, building the ironclads, and running the Navy. We see John Simpson's positive qualities, and yes, it is tempered by the softening relationship with Mike Stearns. But, that relationship goes both ways, and overall the two men grow to appreciate what the other does well. It's the overall growth of John Simpson that is one of the many things Weber and Flint do so well in 1634: The Baltic War.

Though many of the characters in the series have a large amount of American idealism, they become tempered by the reality of the new situation they find themselves, though this does not cause them (yet) to stop striving to quite literally change the world. I continue to be fascinated by what Eric Flint is doing with this series and I so very much want to see how he changes the history of Europe (and the world?). I am curious, though, if there is an end point plotted out for the series and if there is a plan to see what and how these changes wrought by dropping modern Americans into the 1600's will impact the next two three hundred years. What does the world look like the late 1700's with Grantville's influence? What about in 1942? It doesn't matter for my enjoyment of these novels, but I'd love to know what happens over the course of the rest of this world's history.

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