Sunday Links for January 30, 2011

The British Science Fiction Association has announced its short list for this year’s awards. Of the novels, I own copies of all three that have been published to date in the United States, but have yet to read them; and I’ve read none of the rest of the nominees. Looks like I need to start subscribing to Interzone again! And look there in the comments: two of the short story nominees have both said that a third of the nominees, Nine Allan, deserves to win for “Flying in the Face of God.” That seems remarkable to me; I’ve got to get hold of a copy of that story, which both nominees said was the best thing they read all year. The awards will be handed out at Illustrios in Birmingham, England – this year’s Eastercon, which takes place April 22 through 25, 2011. Wish I could be there!

The National Book Critics Circle has announced its short list for its awards. I own Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, thanks to Powell’s Indiespensable program (which I heartily recommend – getting this packages from Portland is often the high point of my month, and the chocolate-covered marshmallows which accompanied last month’s book were so good I can’t seem to forget them – and I don’t even particularly like chocolate), but none of the others. I presently have Christopher Hitchens’s Hitch-22: A Memoir home from the library. I’d put them all on reserve at the library, but I’ve already done that with the Philip K. Dick nominees, and I don’t want to get so backed up with library books that I wind up not reading any of them.

Beside, there’s yet another short list out that I probably want to dive into first: the Mystery Writers of America have announced the Edgar Award nominees. I’ve fallen far behind on mystery reading in the past year, concentrating most of my reading on fantasy, but I’d really like to sink my teeth into these. I’ve got David Gordon’s The Serialist and Duane Swierczynski’s Expiration Date home from the library, and both appear to be right up my reading alley. The latter, in fact, seems like a nice mystery/science fiction crossover, and crossover novels are my favorite sort. The winners will be announced at a gala banquet to be held in New York on April 28, 2011.

Mark Chadbourn is about to publish The Scar-Crow Men, an Elizabethan fantasy that sounds marvelous to me. He blogs about writing historical fantasy here, and follows it up with a more detailed description of his research here. He promises further blogging on the subject; the next entry will be about using historical characters in a novel.

The William L. Crawford Award was bestowed upon Karen Lord, the author of Redemption in Indigo. The award is given each year to the best new fantasy writer. Other short-listed books include The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City, and Anna Kendall’s Crossing Over. Two other books were given commendations: Robert Jackson Bennett’s Mr. Shivers and Amelia Beamer’s The Loving Dead. More books for your “To Read” list!

The future of publishing is the subject of SFSignal’s latest MindMeld. There are lots of predictions of an expansion of ebooks, new models of publishing, and a growth of self-publishing, but no one seems to think that print books are going to disappear. My own guess is that print books will tend to become more splendid items, and that hard copy print will be reserved for very special books that collectors will want to own; day-to-day reading will be on ereaders. I hope I’m wrong about that, because I love real books much more than I love disembodied texts. And I hate being dependent on an ereader; lose it and you lose your library, while if you lose a book, only that single text is gone. I might be entering old fogey-hood with these sorts of complaints, but so be it.

I’ve been meaning to get to James Enge’s work, published by Pyr Books; I purchased Blood of Ambrose some time ago, but still haven’t gotten to it, much less his next two books, This Crooked Way and The Wolf Age. This critical appreciation of Enge’s work has moved The Blood of Ambrose to the top of my considerable pile; I’m a sucker for “rich, witty prose.”

Gene Wolfe is one of those writers who makes you feel like you’re eating fudge when you read him: his prose is thick and dark and sweet and delicious, and you need to take your time with it to savor it. IO9 interviewed him about dystopian futures, his new book, Home Fires, and a good bit else (including Barbie dolls!). Definitely worth your time.

Strange Horizons interviewed Catherynne Valente, one of my favorite novelists. The particular focus of the interview is Valente’s coining of the term “mythpunk,” and precisely what that term means. Warning: postmodern literary theory is discussed! But it’s a good discussion.

The Locus Roundtable hosted a wonderful discussion between authors and critics regarding SF and the future, examining where science fiction has been and where it’s going. There is some considerable concern that SF is moving backwards with the recent fascination with steampunk and historical fantasy. Paul di Filippo even thinks that fiction itself might be broken. This discussion will reward your time and close attention.

Weird Tales has a new website, complete with a portal for electronic submissions for authors and a higher pay rate.

Paul Kemp writes about what to do about a bad review. Bottom line: let it lie. The odd thing to me is that so many writers need to be instructed that this is the best course of action! Let’s hope I remember that if and when I start publishing my own work.

Philip Pullman writes an angry bit of instruction to the British government: leave the libraries alone. I second his statement, and reinforce it for American municipalities and counties that find themselves squeezed financially: in hard times, people use libraries, and need libraries – and librarians – more than ever. Mine represents a haven for me; someone there knows how to choose science fiction, fantasy and horror, which means I can read far more than I could ever afford to buy. It’s entertainment and education and sheer joy to me, and I look forward to the days when I’m going to be stopping by more than you can imagine.

The Pentagon and NASA sat down with a few science fiction writers recently to discuss interstellar travel. I love that NASA is willing to talk to people with imaginations, be they writers or scientists.

I leave you this rainy Sunday with a bit of whimsy: Thom Browne’s Fall 2011 collection of menswear. It’s all steampunk! I can’t imagine anyone I know wearing any of it, but it’s sorta cool to look at.

Menswear Credit?

I find the catwalk clips hilarious, but no shout-out to steampunk? It's "Thomas Jefferson's visit to Paris?" Shame on them!


Those little round glasses

I know. All I had to do was see those little round glasses and the makeup and I knew we were in SF/F/H land -- not Paris, not England, not anywhere but in the imagination.

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