Sunday Links for November 7, 2010

That Catherynne M. Valente has a new book out is good news to me; readers of this blog know that I’ll repeat until I’m blue in the face that last year’s Palimpsest was one of the best books of the year. This new offering, The Habitation of the Blessed, is about Prester John – a figure obscure to those who study history, but relatively well-known to those of us who read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. Valente talks about her new book on John Scalzi’s Whatever as the latest Big Idea.

Karen Burnham is one of the most interesting people I know: she works on designing spacesuits, has an advanced degree in (I think) engineering, reviews science fiction and takes master classes in SF criticism for fun, and generally has a terrific mind. Her latest project is to read Golden Age science fiction and write about it on her blog, Spiral Galaxy Reviewing Laboratory. Here’s a draft of her Golden Age reading list. You’re going to want to follow along as she reads these books if you love the classics.

Amazon Crossing is a program to make more work available in translation. It’s amazing what’s out there that we in the United States have absolutely no idea about. Here is some more information on the program, including planned 2011 releases, together with an interview of author Tierno Monénembo.

I discovered a new online magazine this week: Salon Futura. Looks interesting, doesn’t it? I’m especially interested in Cheryl Morgan’s discussion in the Salon feature on < a href=>the question whether fantasy is gendered.

I’m not sure why we keep fighting genre wars, but we do – and we keep having interesting discussions about them. Jo Walton questions whether science fiction is a genre at all. She starts from Daniel Abraham’s post on the subject on his own blog, and takes off from there. There’s a good discussion in the comments on both sites, too.

Mindy Klasky is asking some of the same sorts of questions on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Novelists blog. Once again, an interesting discussion follows in the comments.

Do you ever wonder what crime writers read when they’re looking to relax? Crime fiction, naturally, and they’re willing to recommend the best of what they read. This multi-part series will lengthen your “books to read” list by at least a few. Have you noticed that I tend to give you such links every Sunday? I’m just trying to get you all to equal my 65-page list, so that I can get my husband to stop making fun of me: “See, Honey, everyone has a ridiculously long list! I’m just normal!”

Speaking of lengthening your “to read” lists, Stomping on Yeti has a few good picks for November here. It won’t surprise you, I suspect, to know that I have M. Rickert’s new collection, Holiday, on order; have my copy of N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Kingdoms already on my “read next” pile, along with her first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms; and have an advance copy of M.L.N. Hanover’s Vicious Grace just waiting for me to get to it. It’s a good thing that we switched back to Standard Time today; I desperately need the additional hour of reading time!

We’re getting into that time of year: lists of the best books in various genres are starting to make their appearance. Amazon seems to be one of the first out of the gate. Here is its list of the best graphic novels of the year. Other Amazon top ten lists are here.

For those of you out there who are writing your own fantasy novels, here’s a test to make sure you’re on the right track. Bet you can’t get through all 75 questions without a single “yes” answer. Indeed, there are precious few writers of epic fantasy who could; there may not be any.

I continue to be fascinated by Jonathan Strahan’s podcasts about all manner of SF. Here’s the latest, recorded at the World Fantasy Convention. Gosh, I wish I’d been at that convention. It’s in San Diego next year, so maybe I’ll just make the long drive and attend. That way I could also get myself to the San Diego Zoo again, which I absolutely love.

Readers of this blog know that I have an abiding interest in the question whether ebooks will replace paper books – and that I’m a complete fan of the paper book, leaving my Kindle to languish most of the time. What led me to buy my Kindle, though, and the reason I keep it around, is that many publishers are more interested in handing out ebooks for review that hard copies of the same book. It’s got to be less expensive, wouldn’t you think? The Guardian explores this question.

Are you interested in the legal aspects of online publishing? If so, you might want to take advantage of Rutgers University law professor Greg Lastowka’s offer of free copies of his new book, Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds. You can find more information about obtaining a free copy on io9.

Finally, a dose of politics. The mid-year elections were disappointing to this die-hard liberal, but I at least was able to fall back on the reelection of Barbara Boxer as senator and Jerry Brown as governor here in California; all is not lost. Or is it? Among other losses we’re likely to experience in the next few years as Republicans make their voices heard are some serious problems with how the government approaches science, as io9 notes (though the article is far more tempered and balanced than my glum summary).

There’s also a new blog that is sharp and smart on political question, authored by my long-time friend Thomas Justice, an Orlando, Florida business litigation attorney, called Justice Politics. Tom has a great stable of commenters, too. You’ll learn a lot from reading this bunch. I recommend the blog highly.

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Just loved it. I think you will too.


I'll read it next

Or at least that's what I'd like to say -- but the pile of "read next" books is so high that Fred has asked me to please weed it so that I don't get buried by books in the event of an earthquake. (Though I'm surrounded by six foot tall bookcases; in an earthquake, wouldn't they be quite enough to do significant damage to me?)

I wish after all these years of struggling to balance the different parts of my life I'd really learned how to do it. But even working part-time, I still find myself without enough hours to read. My only consolation is that I know no one dies until she's read all her books -- right? Right?

Bookcase and Earthquakes, a commentary

Terry, the six-foot bookcases will not harm you during an earthquake because they will strike each other when they topple forward, creating a nave-like ceiling where you will be trapped with only a few bags of dried fruit and trail mix, several hundred books, and your faithful cat Cordelia. (Perhaps you have some cat food also.) I’m not sure where Fred is in this scenario; but clearly safe and working diligently to free you. During the several days you are there, you will have nothing to do but read. Oh, wait, maybe there’s a laptop and you have Internet access if you want it. And maybe it’s not days, but merely a day. However long you want and can make the fantasy last.
The “read next” pile, however, is a menacing avalanche waiting to happen.


I think there's a short story in there somewhere

You ought to write it!

Good advice

In light of Marion's wisdom, make sure those book cases that will collide above you and shower the contents of there shelves on you contain only books you haven't read.

That won't be hard

I don't think there are any shelves in this house containing only books I have read. It's an embarrassment of riches, I know -- and certainly leads to the question, then why do you have another ten or so books arriving tomorrow from Amazon? (Actually, I can answer that: I needed the three books for my reading group, none of which I've been able to find in used bookstores; and if I'm going to cause Amazon to box up and send books, I really should make it worth their while. Besides, one of the new books coming is Stephen King's latest, Full Dark, No Stars.)

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