Sunday Links for October 17, 2010

Science fiction and fantasy are, we know, full of series. Where does one start? Some series have been around for so many years that we’ve lost track of what came first. Blogger T.N. Tobias gives us some insight for a few of the more popular series.

In 2008, SF Signal ran a Mind Meld feature in which various bloggers and critics were asked who tomorrow’s big genre stars are. Now it’s taken that one step further, and asked those named as tomorrow’s stars which of their works they’d recommend to someone wanting to try them out. As so many of these Mind Melds do, both these posts caused my list of books to look for to expand.

A few online acquaintances have recently said that they can’t stand Ursula K. LeGuin’s work, and I was bemused, to say the least; she is one of my favorite authors. So I’m going to direct them, and you, to this essay on why you should read LeGuin’s fantasy. In fact, that reminds me that I need to ask my 10-year-old nephew how he liked The Earthsea Trilogy, which I gave him for his birthday last month.

Speaking of newer authors, this interview of Brazilian writer Roberto de Sousa Causo may be the funniest interview I’ve ever read. I don’t know if this means I should start reading the blog from which it comes, From Bar to Bar: Dangerous Interviews, or if I should immediately learn enough Spanish to read de Sousa Causo’s work (which does not appear to be available in English – at least not yet), but the interview certainly piqued my curiosity. Poking around, I found an interview of Hal Duncan that really knocked my socks off. What a website!

Suvudu’s interview of Joe Abercrombie is rather more traditional, but it doesn’t lack in interest.

Paul Jessup interviews James Enge, “Sword and Sorcery’s next big thing.” Canny readers already know that Enge’s Blood of Ambrose is on this year’s ballot for a World Fantasy Award.

Canada has announced the Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists. Something new to make your “to read” list longer – especially if you read French, which effectively doubles the length of the list.

The World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Winners have been named, and you could hardly hope to come up with a better group. The awards will be bestowed on the winners at the World Fantasy Convention, which will take place October 28-31 in Columbus, Ohio. How I wish I were going!

The National Book Award finalists have been announced. Of particular note for genre readers is that Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker has received a nomination in the Young People’s Literature category.

Matt Cardin is new to SF Signal, and his column there is called Stained Glass Gothic. Cardin will be exploring how horror and religion overlap, and, more generally, how science fiction, fantasy and horror all react with religion. He certainly has plenty to talk about, from the classics A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow to more modern fantasies in which, for instance, an angel lives as a human (Thomas Sniegoski’s A Kiss Before the Apocalypse), or a magician has his soul torn from his body (Mark Teppo’s Lightbreaker, part of A Codex of Souls) or ancient Aztec gods rise in a mythical Old West (Gemma Files’s A Book of Tongues, reviewed here).

Speaking of urban fantasy (well, we were, sort of), M.L.N. Hanover blogs about this newish subgenre in advance of the publication of his latest book, Vicious Grace. You might remember that Unclean Spirits and Darker Angels; I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into , Vicious Grace.

The World in the Satin Bag has a series of thoughtful posts up about the difference between genre fiction and so-called “literary” fiction. Here they are: one, two, three. I don’t know why genre readers keep feeling compelled to explore this distinction, but it does make for some interesting literary criticism.

Are you an autodidact? I am: I’m working on a do-it-yourself-and-manufacture-your-own-diploma Ph.D. in English, reading an extensive list of fantasy works and working on a scholarly book about the relationship between Romantic literature and fantasy and science fiction. Jason Henninger on Tor.com has a more specific focus: science fiction, fantasy and horror writers who never went to college. Some really great books came from authors who never got past high school in their formal educations, but who know more than a lot of people with multiple graduate degrees.

Autodidacts can always use a little help from their friends, so I’m planning to join both of these feminist book clubs for 2011. I own but have not yet read a great many of the books on those lists, and have already read some of them but believe them worth rereading. I’m looking forward to these group discussions. Here’s the sign-up for The Women of Fantasy; and here’s the sign-up for The Women of Science Fiction. The Women of Science Fiction will also be discussing James Tiptree’s stories from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever on the 15th of each month.

Speaking of women writers, Niall Harrison has a follow-up to his previous post, linked last Sunday, about women and the Clarke Award. This post has lots of suggestions of great recent SF and fantasy by women, some of which I’ve not even heard of. Once again, my list of “to read” books has lengthened by quite a few titles.

Have you noticed that characters in books never seem to check their Blackberries or rush to their computers to read their email the moment they get home? The Book Futurist has.

Being a nerd myself, I was charmed by this column on the 15 most stereotypical depictions of nerds. Wesley Crusher is probably my favorite on this list. Does that make me even nerdier?

Benoit Mandelbrot, rest in peace.

If you’re a fan of T.S. Eliot, you might not enjoy this parody of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, but if you’re a computer aficionado, you will. “Do I dare/Disturb the interwebs?”

Everyone is going back to school

"do-it-yourself-and-manufacture-your-own-diploma Ph.D. in English"

Now is that an accredited degree? (A joke; kind of...Unless you're being serious.)

Does this research have anything to do with what you've submitted for publication last week?

I wish I were one of them

I'd love to go back to school. One of the biggest mistakes I've made in my life was not taking a sizable severance package and using it to finance graduate work back in my late 30s. I was already tired of being a lawyer in some ways, but not enough of them to stop the full-time practice of law just yet.

I'm serious about the autodidact degree, which is of course entirely fictitious; I'm just trying to replicate by self-study what I might get if I were to go to, say, Cal State Riverside and study with their SF/F/H expert. (I'm hoping I'll be able to take some graduate courses at UC Davis when/if we move back to Sacramento, though not for credit; I took a graduate level literary criticism course there years ago, and had a ball (oh, my, yes, I'm a nerd)).

My scholarly writing project is not related to the creative nonfiction I mailed off to a potential publisher this past Saturday. I guess I'm at work on several autodidactical projects at once!

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