Category Archives: Books and Reading

Books Consumed in 2016

The Statistics!

2016 SF Total 47
2016 Fantasy Total 61
2016 Non Fiction total 22
2016 Fiction total 2

Male 89
Female 41
Both 2

Paper book 64
E-book 27
Audio book 38
Beta 3

Total books 132

Philip K Dick gets the most by one author win, with 13 books by him.

I DO need to read more by women. Too much sausage in my diet. I noticed that I would get into “Streaks” of just reading women. I need to be more consistent.

The Golden Age of SF is 12 and the unbound time of SF

“The Golden Age of SF is 12”

You’ve heard that phrase, right?

For me, it may be the SF I read when I was 12, but I was not yet reading contemporary SF at that point. Thanks to an older brother introducing me to HIS Science fiction, I was reading for the most part slightly older science fiction than the contemporary at the beginning.

The 1984 Hugo novel nominees, for novels in 1983, when I was 12:

Startide Rising by David Brin [Bantam, 1983]
Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy [Bantam, 1983]
Millennium by John Varley [Berkley, 1983]
Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern by Anne McCaffrey [Ballantine Del Rey, 1983]
The Robots of Dawn by Isaac Asimov [Doubleday, 1983]

I read none of these in 1983 or 1984. It would take me a couple of years to discover Brin, Varley, McCaffrey. It was a long time before I hit on MacAvoy. I was reading Asimov at that point, Asimov was one of my first authors but I was reading used paperbacks, not new ones. So I didn’t get to this one for a while.

Similarly, I hit Cyberpunk and Neuromancer a few years after its Annus mirabilis of 1984. I wanted to “catch up” with all the back history of the field, you see.

Zelazny’s Merlin novels were the first novels I was eagerly trying to read “in real time”. As time went on, I slowly started to shift toward new or recently published SF. It was the mid to late 90’s when I started reading Hugo and Nebula nominees in the year they came out, as a way of staying abreast of the field.

When I started reviewing seriously enough to have publishers start sending me books was when I started managing to read books *before* official release, but that wasn’t until about 5 or 6 years ago.

New venues and new stuff for the start of summer

Time to toot my horn a little bit, if you please.

Visitors to Tor.com might have noticed a post called Of Dogs and Men: Clifford Simak’s City, under the rubric Lost Classics, by yours truly. Yes, I post at Tor.com now, and the title “Lost Classics” should clue you in that this is similar to the Mining
the Genre Asteroid column at Skiffy and Fanty. Speaking of Skiffy and Fanty, I have an interview with Morgan Grant Buchanan and Claudia Christian, yes, THAT Claudia Christian, at Skiffy and Fanty. Check that out.

Also, the new Fox Spirit Books Anthology: EVE OF WAR is now out, and that has a sword and sorcery story by yours truly called “The Crossing”. More info on the anthology, and links
to buy it, are here.

Pretty good for a week so far, eh?

Congrats to the 2015 Nebula Nominees

2015 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced!

Novel

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)

Novella

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)

Novelette

‘‘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, Written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original Story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Jessica Jones: AKA Smile, Teleplay by Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg; Story by Jamie King & Scott Reynolds
Mad Max: Fury Road, Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Written by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt

•••

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)

Messages and Escapism in Fiction

Via File 770, I came across this blog post from Puppy T.L. Knighton: “Why I no longer Care”

In this post, Tom posits that he doesn’t want to read message fiction, and wants to read purely for escapism.

I read for fun. If I want to challenge myself, I read non-fiction. I’m a damn political writer. I challenge myself daily. I read fiction for fun, and it’s not your place to suggest I challenge myself in what I do for pleasure. It’s not anyone’s place.

And that’s your place, Tom. It’s not Wrongfun at all. Its not even really limiting, since there is so much out there TO read. You could make your fiction diet entirely
composed of Popcorn Fiction and never come close to running out. That’s your business. Godspeed.

Don’t be fooled, though, to think that the Puppies are entirely escapism fiction. Some of it is (c.f. Larry Correia), and some of it (c.f. John C Wright) most certainly is not. And guess what? That’s true of non-Puppies as well! Try reading Leviathan Wakes, for example, if you don’t think non-Puppies can write fiction with a large dose of tasty escapism.

I’ve been one of those trying to argue that message fiction was a bad idea. I still think it is. But now, I just don’t care what those folks do.

I believe in free markets, and I think the market will slap some of these publishers hard. They’ll either learn from it, or not. Either way, new publishers will rise. Baen can’t publish everything, after all.

My point here, Mr. Knighton, is this: Every piece of fiction, even Popcorn Fiction, has messages in it, explicit or implicit. The puppies definition of message fiction, as far as I have ever been able to make out, is “fiction with messages that I don’t like”.

Let me illustrate two possible scenarios of a classic scenario and show you the messages within

1. Aliens secretly exist in the world all around us. The US government knows about this, and has an agency tasked with keeping tabs on them. The protagonist is recruited into this organization. There are comments dropped here how the public is not ready to know about the aliens.

2. Aliens secretly exist in the world all around us. A private organization knows about this, and manages their existence and keeps that from the US Government as well as the general public. The protagonist is recruited into this organization. There are comments dropped here and there about the fecklessness of the government and how the public is not ready to know about the aliens.

Fiction #1’s message is:The Government is not incompetent, and the public needs to be managed.
Fiction #2’s message is: The Government can’t be trusted AND the public needs to be managed.

Both are message fiction. I suspect that scenario #2, for a spectrum of the Puppies, is Not a message or seen as such, since it agrees with their politics.

Oh love Oh love to read them.

Oh love oh love just to read them
Writing on the printed page, oh my
Martha Wells , Zelazny, Katherine Elliott
Fantasy would fill my life and I
Love fantasy so much
Did you see in the morning light
I really talked, yes I did, to God’s early dawning light
And I was privileged to be as I am to this day
To read all of you. To read all of you. To read all of you. To read all of you.

With Apologies to Jon Anderson and Vangelis.

Campbell vs the New Wave, and Brad Torgersen

On Sarah Hoyt’s Mad Genius Club, Brad Torgersen, head of Sad Puppies 3, has an article on what
makes for good Hard SF, in his view.

http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/06/21/so-you-want-to-write-an-award-winning-hard-science-fiction-story/

Some of what he says, I have no problem with. For example, I *love* the Playground of the Imagination a la Niven. Yes, a double helping, please.

This, however, is something that I don’t:

Downbeat endings suck. They are ‘literary’ and some critics and aesthetes love them. But they suck. If you’re going to roast your characters in hell, at least give them a little silver lining at the end? Some kind of hope for a more positive outcome? Your readers will thank you.

Stories that demote humanity to being puny and insignificant, also suck. We may be small and/or not as advanced as other intelligent life in the universe, but we didn’t get to where we are now by being meaningless dullards. Humans are crafty and stubborn. Never say die. We should be reflected as such.

I do think that Torgersen is missing a large bet on a lot of stories. And I am not sure that Literary=downbeat=suck is an equation that works. HEA and HFA are fine and dandy, but those aren’t the only stories. Hell, look at Stephen Baxter’s Xeelee stories as an excellent counter example. I’m sure Baxter would be surprised to be called literary. And he definitely does not suck.

What strikes me from this article is how it fights the whole Campbell vs the New Wave argument that I’ve opined was at the heart of the Sad Puppies.. One of the File 770 group called him Neo-Campbell. So there you have it.

Torgersen post shows that SF fandom and authors are STILL fighting the New Wave conflict, decades later. The past isn’t dead, its not even past.