Sunday Links for May 29, 2011

The finalists for the 2011 Mythopoeic Awards have been announced. There’s a lot of interesting reading on that list. I find myself particularly drawn to some of the scholarship in myth and fantasy studies. Had I but world enough and time for such heavy-duty reading, I’d be deep into each of those books.

Nominations for the best science fiction and fantasy translations are out. This is a list I’m going to print out and use as a reference for bookstore and library visits. There is ridiculously little foreign SF/F/H available in this country (actually, there’s little foreign fiction of any sort), and I’d like to support the whole notion of translation. Not to mention that what does get translated is usually choice. Certainly I can vouch for the wonderful weirdness of Zoran Zivkovic’s work.

Here’s a great essay by John A. Stevens on weird fiction and its relationship to fear. It’s beautifully provocative and has a degree of wisdom to it as well. Well worth your time and attention.

I’ve been into short fiction for a couple of years now, and I continue to think that it’s where some of the best writing gets done these days – in any genre (with, perhaps, the exception of mysteries; despite the continued existence of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, I’m not convinced short stories really suit mysteries very well). This piece gives some guidance on the best contemporary and classic collections of short stories, though I hasten to add that the lists set forth in this article are limited to mainstream fiction.

Abigail Nussbaum is the reviews editor for Strange Horizons, one of the better online review periodicals out there. She has reopened a discussion she began this past January regarding the identity of the Strange Horizons audience. Some of the questions she poses are, it seems to me, easily resolved (no, you don’t give away spoilers in a review, though you almost certainly should discuss such developments in true criticism, which is different). It’s a nice primer for those who would like to see their reviews posted in the next issue of Strange Horizons, though, and I, at least, will be bookmarking this column for future reference.

The Guardian has been doing penance for its recent comments about science fiction as an inferior genre. Now is has published a guide to the best science fiction books, based on what its readers recommend. Many of the choices made complete sense to me, but others I find completely puzzling (The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison is one of the best science fiction novels out there? Really?). Lists are always enjoyable, and this one perhaps more than most just because of the range of choices.

I’ve yet to listen to this podcast about women in science fiction myself, but it sounds so interesting that I just had to share the link with you anyway. Is science fiction still a male-dominated genre? My off-the-cuff answer would be yes, but I’m curious as to what Gwyneth Jones and Karen Traviss, and by Farah Mendlesohn have to say about it.

Alan Rickman wrote a classy goodbye letter to J.K. Rowling after spending eleven years of his life acting the role of Severus Snape. It must be weird to say goodbye to a character after all that time; surely he must in some ways start to weasel his way into your own psyche, mustn’t he? Surely Snape, above all?

If you asked me which science fiction books were better books than they were films, I’m pretty sure my answer would be “all of them.” I can’t think of a single SF/F/H book that was improved upon by the change in medium, with the extremely unusual example of The Wizard of Oz. John DeNardo tells Kirkus Reviews about his candidates for the books-are-better designation, and manages to keep his list down to seven, which shows admirable restraint. And it’s impossible to disagree with a single one of his choices. Dune? Oh, yeah, you bet – by a million miles.

Do you live in a well-read city? If you’re in Cambridge, Massachusetts, or many other college towns, the answer is yes. See where your city stacks up, but don’t forget to note, as I did, that the methodology actually tracks book purchases, not books actually read.

Confusion

The list from the Guardian is a cluster**** to say the least. It's kinda scary to see what an unregulated internet list can generate.

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