Sunday Links for May 22, 2011

The winners of the Nebula Awards have been announced. Connie Willis did it again – no real surprise there. For the record, I note that I failed to pick a single winner in the short story, novelette and novella categories, and even seriously dissed two of the winners in my series of Magazine Monday columns on the nominations. It’s very disappointing to learn that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have taste so obviously inferior to mine. (That’s a joke, guys; don’t point that laser gun at me!)

As readers of this blog know, I live with an unreasonable number of books – a number that feels awfully huge now that my husband and I are contemplating moving. Fred just packed a box of books this morning, and got all the way from “A” to “At” in the mainstream literature section. We anticipate having 400 boxes of books and files, as well as professional movers who will hate us with an unholy passion. Yet despite having all those books at my fingertips, I regularly visit my public library. It cheers me up; it saves me money; it’s like being in a bookstore where every book is free. It makes my day, every time I go. So the idea of a country without libraries is very distressing to me, as well as to Charles Simic. His picture of a library-less countryside is bleak. Let’s not let that happen, ‘kay?

Dale Peck believes the publishing industry is dying, and his essential point is: good! As a whole, the publishing industry treats authors terribly, he says, and no one should be mourning the end of a system that doesn’t work for the creative end of the industry. I’m not so sure he’s wrong, but I’m also pretty sure he’s not right. There’s a lot to be said for an industry that polishes your product, puts it in proper form and format, and does all the marketing. On the other hand, though, the publishing industry doesn’t exactly do all of that these days. My bottom line is that, if the publishing industry as it exists today goes the way of the dinosaurs and it’s a free-for-all, book reviewers like me will become all the more necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff so that you, the reader, don’t have to read bad books.

I wrote recently about fans who feel that their favorite writers owe them, big time. I still don’t agree with that, but Ryan Britt has a point when he says that if Steve Moffat kills off Doctor Who for good and all, he’ll be very angry indeed. Me too. At any rate, his thoughts on the subject of what authors owe readers is interesting. Take a look.

The British Library is hosting a series of talks about science fiction. The first session featured, among others, one of my favorite writers, China Mieville, and the highly regarded critic, Adam Roberts. I wish I lived in London and could attend these talks – and I’m holding out hope that they’ll be available on the Web at some point.

Time for summer books already? The Los Angeles Times thinks so. And, come to think of it, next weekend is Memorial Day Weekend, isn’t it? It’s been so chilly in my part of the world that it’s rarer snuck up on me, but there you have it.

I was startled, when seeing a trailer for the new Pirates of the Caribbean move, to see that the subtitle is “On Stranger Tides.” A book by that name, by Tim Powers, is one I’ve long admired and enjoyed (Powers is one of my all-time favorites, and I wish he wrote more). I thought that it had to be a weird coincidence, but no, the movie really is based loosely on the book. Powers sounds rather blasé about it -- as well he might, given that “loosely” is apparently the operative word.

Having established myself as a bookstore tourist last week, this week I can present you with the world’s most inspiring bookstores. I”ve been to Argosy Books in New York (and was less impressed than the writer of this article), Powell’s Books in Portland (in fact, we’ve been making a pilgrimage to Powell’s every Thanksgiving for at least the past four years) and, of course, City Lights in San Francisco – long before I lived in the Bay Area. I hope I’ll get to visit the others as the years go by.