Sunday Links for November 27, 2011

The “best of the year” lists are starting to come fast and furious. Here is the Kirkus list. (Though perhaps it would be more appropriate to say “here are the Kirkus lists”; as you can see if you follow the link, they’ve got separate lists for separate categories. So far only the fiction and children’s lists have been published).

Book Page is taking a somewhat odd approach to their “best of” list by publishing it backwards. Here are books 31-50; here are books 21-30. Presumably the next 10 titles will be published tomorrow. Oddly, I have more books in the 21-30 category than in the 31-50 category, even though the latter is twice as long as the former. I guess I just pay much closer attention to reviews than I think I do.

Here is the list of New York Times notable books. As always, I find the list highly deficient in that it does not include genre fiction. A year’s best list without Neal Stephenson or China Mieville? That just doesn’t seem right to me.

It’s not exactly the same as a “year’s best” list, but here is the table of contents for Jonathan Strahan’s sixth annual The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, which will be published in March.

The reading list for the Bram Stoker Award looks like it’s full of horrific goodness, some of which already resides here in my study. All these lists! My reading cup runneth over.

Relevant to the Bram Stoker list is this essay, which attempts to define horror. The anonymous author of the piece correctly points out that horror pervades literature of every genre. It’s a thoughtful piece, well worth your time.

The winners of the 2011 Prix Aurora Awards have been announced. This award is for Canadian fiction, and often makes it obvious how insular Americans are about what they read. I almost always find something on this list that I hadn’t heard of before and now really must read. I’ve started collecting the Tesseracts series of anthologies, so I’m delighted to see the fourteenth in that series on this list in several places.

Anne McCaffrey died on November 21, 2001. Her books were important to a great many people, including me; I read the Pern books in a fever as a teenager, eager for another as soon as I finished one. They were a great introduction to the field. Book View Café has a number of tributes to McCaffrey, and Locus has an obituary here.

Here is something very clever indeed -- and amusing as well. My suspicion is that you could do much the same for just about any superhero; are any of them truly sane?

If a medical report on a fictional character isn’t your style, how about a biography or memoir by a real figure in the SF/F/H community? SFSignal’s latest Mind Meld is about biographies and memoirs worth reading. Read the comments as well as the piece itself, as there are lots more recommendations there.

For my fellow self-taught SF/F/H scholars out there, this bibliography of science fiction history, theory and criticism will prove invaluable. If anyone out there knows of a similar bibliography for fantasy or horror, I’d be grateful to learn of it.

Speaking of criticism, John Clute’s review of Margaret Atwood’s book, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination is beautifully done. I once asked Clute at a convention how I could get a career like his, and he replied, “Start 50 years ago.” He wasn’t being snide, not really, but he was pointing out that I was asking him to tell me how to do something that has been a lifetime in the making. Touche, I guess, but I’m hoping that fewer years will nonetheless someday bring me close.

More criticism: China Mieville talks about scholarly work on science fiction. I’ve not had the opportunity to watch this entire talk yet, but I’m looking forward to it.

Neil Gaiman famously said to impatient fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” In other words, don’t complain that the man’s living a life and not spending all his time writing the next book in the series just to feed your hunger. I thought it reasonable, but Brent Weeks now has me questioning that conclusion. Weeks points out that authors squander their readers’ goodwill at their peril. Amusingly, however, the final line in the article indicates that the publication of the third book in Weeks’s own trilogy has been pushed back four times. Oh, well, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, right?

I really enjoyed this piece about the libraries of well-known writers. None of these libraries much resembles my own except in the sense that books are shoved in wherever they’ll fit. I can’t believe we managed to fill up an extra 1000 square feet of space after our move this summer without buying a single new book – though, in fact – and you won’t be surprised to learn – we’ve acquired quite a few new books since then. The worst bookcase in the house is the one containing new acquisitions in the category of science fiction, fantasy and horror, which is in my study; I really need to rearrange and resort it, because otherwise the shelves are going to collapse. On top of me, too, probably.

Want to sound smarter? Enter Grammar Girl’s book giveaway!

Science fiction is full of great prison breaks. Io9 has compiled 10 great ones. You might want to have your “books to look for” list ready for additions as you peruse this list.

Although I love horror fiction, I am not an aficionado of the horror film. They just scare me too much. It’s rather surprising to me that I’m not more scared by what my brain can come up with unassisted – which is usually much worse than what can be shown on film – but somehow translating it to real people really suffering (okay, well, not really, but depicted as really suffering) just makes it unbearable for me. But maybe not for you, in which case this list of neglected horror films might be right up your alley. What better way to spend a cozy Christmas season, hmm?

This article about logical fallacies that we all commit makes for fascinating reading. It might be handy to print it out and have it to hand as the campaign season starts getting seriously under way with the January caucuses and primaries. I especially liked the scientific explanations for why we continue to commit these fallacies even when we know about them. It seems our brains are misprogrammed.

I’ll leave you, as usual, with some whimsy. This website is all about fictional food, from Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans to just about every food you can imagine from Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy, the recipes here will give you some fantastic eating.

Best of List

I've read more books published this year than in past years and it's kinda neat to see some of them pop up on best of list. The Kirkus list was particularly good.

What are your favorites?

Is there a Chad Hull "best of" list?

It's coming...

I did a 'year's best' post last year and look forward to doing so again in a few weeks. I can't say I follow Kirkus' reviews but I know they carry a lot of weight. It's nice to see that Annabel by Kathleen Winter, The Magician King by Lev Grossman and The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright got starred reviews. (I need to post my own review of the latter.)

It makes me feel like I know what I'm talking about when big name outlets champion the same books I rave about.

Are you planning an 'end of the year' list?

Year's Best

I've had an odd reading year, looking at magazines a good deal more than books, and altogether reading less because of my move and my massively increased workload. Still, I do plan on putting one together - but it will contain very few 2011 titles. I own a lot of 2011 titles, but I seem to have been reading mostly older books.

I'm hoping against hope to be able to read and write reviews from the time we return from our holiday travels until January 3. That should allow me to get at least a few things under my belt!

An Addition

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is well worth the hype. That statement is not in reference to the Booker award or anything else. It's not perfect (and what is?) but deserves to be read well past it's year of publication for all the right reasons.

And it's short!

Less than 170 pages. No one has an excuse for not reading this book within at least a two year time period.

(Now, being serious, it's really good. That said, Enright wasn't nominated; yet better...)

I'm done now.

On the list

Making my TBR pile ever higher, aren't you, Chad?

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