General · reading

N is for Notorious

I am picking the word Notorious for this year’s Hugo awards.

It’s going to go down in history. All the people associated with it will likely be remembered for years to come. So, yeah, notorious.

I am hoping this doesn’t break the Hugo forever and ever. I am hoping it doesn’t set the tone for next year’s; I don’t like the idea of years and years of infighting, arguing and partisan politics. Just like real politics in this country, yeah? I disapprove of this mirroring of life and art.

That will destroy the Hugo.

If they don’t want that, all sides will have to cease and desist by next year. Because if one side does something, the other will have to respond. I cannot believe it will result in anything but the destruction of the Hugo.

I dread it.

But the Hugo will happen this year, because it isn’t destroyed yet. It had better happen next year, too, hopefully, with less drama. (I am not hopeful.)

And the awards haven’t even been awarded yet! I suspect this will all get worse when the winners are announced.

For those of you don’t know what Hugo are and what this present drama is about, there are plenty of blog posts on the topic. Plenty. The internet is overflowing with them.

reading

Judging a SciFi Book by its Cover

I was searching the web for more info on books I read a long time ago and happened across several covers:

If I had seen these covers in a bookstore or library, I would have thought they were general fiction or something like that.

Except I know that Kate Elliott (the writer I was looking for) writes fantasy/science fiction. These covers don’t look science fiction to me. Not at all! And these books are supposed to be science fiction, i. e. take place on a different planet.

Is that odd? For me to decide a book’s genre from the cover alone?

You’re not supposed to judge  a book by its cover, but I was. I don’t think I ever realized before that I pigeonhole books based on the cover. I thought I did that from the back cover copy.

reading · science fiction

Quotes from the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Part Three

So I was reading the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction again these past few days. Despite trying for a long time now, I have yet to actually finish this dense, gigantic tome.

I have posted random quotes from it before here and here.

I felt inspired to read the feminist theory chapter. 😉 It was written by Veronica Hollinger.

Although sf has often been called ‘the literature of change’, for the most part it has been slow to recognize the historical contingency and cultural conventionality of many of our ideas about sexual identity and desire, about gendered behaviour and about the ‘natural’ roles of women and men.

See, if it really was the literature of changes (or ideas, which I have also heard SF called), you would think odd and new ideas about gendered behavior would be right up SF’s alley. Don’t you think? It shouldn’t have been slow to recognize things like that.

Feminist theory contests the hegemonic representations of a patriarchal culture that does not recognize its ‘others’. Like other critical discourses, it works to create a critical distance between observer and observed, to defamiliarize certain taken-for-granted aspects of ordinary human reality, ‘denaturalizing’ situations of historical inequity and/or oppression that otherwise may appear inevitable to us, if indeed we notice them at all. The concept of defamiliarization – of making strange – has also, of course, long been associated with sf.

This, yes. As a writer, I don’t believe lofty goals like this should be the first aim of fiction (any fiction!). IMHO, the first aim of fiction is entertainment. But this makes a dandy secondary goal to shoot for. How to do it is another question . . .

It is also significant that many challenges to the conventions of male/female relations have focused on a radical critique of these relations as based in the inequities of what Adrienne Rich first identified as ‘compulsory heterosexuality’.

I am not entirely what this means, but it sounds interesting.

General · reading · science fiction

H is for Hugo

The Hugo nominees were announced on April 7. I am ashamed to say I haven’t read any of them. I’ve heard of them, of course, but I haven’t actually read them.

Best Novel

2011 Hugo Award Trophy
  1. Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
  2. A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
  3. Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  4. Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
  5. Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

Except for Embassytown and Leviathan Wakes, none of these are on my mental TBR list. So I can’t exactly decide which book should win.

I was better last year; I’d actually read most of the nominees. (Or made an attempt to read them. Before they were nominated even.)

I suppose I am not surprised Leviathan Wakes made this list; it has shown up over and over again on all my various online activities: twitter, G+, my Google reader, random browsing. It sounds like a good science fiction adventure, but I’ve not managed to get it yet. Later.

Deadline is a zombie novel, and I don’t know, but the blurb I read a while back (second or third in a zombie series?) did not inspire me. Can’t remember what it was actually about, though.

A Dance With Dragons, well, I haven’t managed to finish the first book in this series and I haven’t been keeping up with the show. So, no go.

I understand this story was highly anticipated and all that. But I doubt it could stand-alone and for some reason I had the impression the nominees were books that could stand by themselves, if they had to. Maybe Deadline can’t, I don’t know, but it sounds like urban fantasy and books early in urban fantasy series usually can stand alone. So I don’t think it breaks the pattern like A Dance With Dragons.

Among Others seems to be about a girl who opposes her evil witch mother, causes damage in said opposition and is than sent to boarding school by her father for her cheek and there she experiments with magic, promptly attracting her evil mother’s attention. Or so I surmise from the description.

Short Stories

  1. “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees”, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld)
  2. “The Homecoming”, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s)
  3. “Movement”, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s)
  4. “The Paper Menagerie”, Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  5. “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue”, John Scalzi (Tor.com)

Ha! I have actually managed to read most of these. All except The Homecoming. I am not sure how I missed it. Personally, I want the Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees to win. 😀 Though The Paper Menagerie is good, too. Take note; two of these short stories are from Asimov. Last year Asimov had three short stories nominated.

There are other categories: Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Related Work, Best Graphic Story, Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form, Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form, Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine, Best Fancast, Best Editor: Long Form, Best Editor: Short Form, Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Writer, The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

I am not sure what the difference between a novella and novelette, except length. But I don’t read a lot of them so I have no opinion on them. Or the other categories. The novel and short story are the ones I pay attention to. But I did see Dr. Who has three nominations. 😉

General · reading · science fiction · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: 1984

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Reading this for Banned Book Week!

My Teasers: 

He had given a quick glance up and down the street and then had slipping inside and bought the book for two dollars fifty. At the time he was not conscious of wanting it for any particular purpose. He had carried it guiltily home in his brief case. Even with nothing written in it, it was a compromising possession.

– 1984 by George Orwell

Interesting Links
Book Review — 1984 by George Orwell (caffeinesymposium)

George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984 (thefictiondesk)

reading · science fiction · Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday: Afterlife

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


My Teasers:

“The Cities of the Dead are gone,” I answered in my best monotone. Nobody needed cemeteries anymore. The empty carcasses left over after resurrection were just piled into incinerators and toasted.

– Afterlife (Resurrection Chronicles 01) by Merrie Destefano

fantasy · reading

How I Fell in Love with Dragons

I love dragons. They remain my favorite fantasy creatures.

I don’t remember where I first encountered dragons. It could be on TV or in books. In fact, it was probably TV, because I wasn’t the biggest reader when I was 5. Or 6. Or 7. Or even 8. LOL

But I know the first time I read The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, that was when I fell in love with dragons. I read the story over and over and over again in 6th grade. It was different somehow. Dragons were different.

I don’t think I’d ever seen them as medium-sized pests before. They’d always been huge menacing beasts in my head. And, yeah, there is a big dragon in the book. But the little ones came first and that made all the difference.

The big one was pretty magnificent, too. But more normal, you know? More what I pictured when someone said dragon.

That same year I discovered the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by  Patricia C. Wrede and it turned every princess story I’d ever watched on its head. I never imagined dragons could be like that!

A couple of years later (when I had my adult library card) I found the Pern books. I’d never seen dragons like that, either. They could talk, they needed to chew something to make fire and they could travel back in time. You could fly on the dragon! They were genetically engineered, but that was a minor detail.

I wanted to fly on my own dragon. I read the dragon rider books and dreamed of what it would be like to ride my own dragon.

Writing is the closest I’ve ever come to that feeling. If that makes sense. Maybe it doesn’t; dragons aren’t real after all.

reading · science fiction

Ender’s Game and Blogging

I was thinking of online newspapers and blogging and social networks and how they rarely appear in old science fiction. And than I realized: Ender’s Game has all that.

Oh, I am not sure it has social networking (i.e. facebook, twitter) but I am pretty sure it has blogging, online newspapers and online forums. Come to think of it, forums  and chat rooms are a form of social networks, aren’t they? So maybe it does have social networks.

Remember, when Ender’s sister and brother (the ones who were passed over for special schooling!) they wrote posts and articles to incite the public. Opposing posts, so that when one gave in, the other would look so much more reasonable.  For free at first (I think on their very own blog) but later for money.

Someone conceived of blogs whenever Ender’s Game was first published. I was postively stunned!

Now I have to find another copy of it to reread and see if I am right.

reading · science fiction

Lack of Science Fiction

I was just updating my 2011 Reads page and I realized I have yet to read a single science fiction novel this year. That’s embarrassing, particularly as I consider myself to be a fantasy/science fiction reader.

Instead, my list is made up of romance and fantasy, urban and otherwise. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those, but where is my science fiction? I love Lois McMaster Bujold, Catherine Asaro and the much newer Hunger Games series.

Even the page I use to keep track of new, interesting releases doesn’t have a lot science fiction. In fact, the only one I see is How Firm a Foundation by David Weber. It’s dammed odd.

When did I stop reading or even keeping track of new science fiction? I have no idea. Maybe it’s that the science fiction/fantasy shelves in the bookstore and the library are mostly filled with fantasy. The book blogs I visit are also filled with fantasy and the books on Amazon’s “Customers who viewed this also viewed” list are also largely fantasy.

All I know is I need some new science fiction titles. Anyone got any ideas?

And no Isaac Asimov or Ender’s Game, please. I didn’t particularly care for the Foundation series and I’ve already read Ender’s Game (good book though!).

Also, which science fiction did you read last? And, like me, are there any particular type of books you like but haven’t read lately?

fantasy · Writing

I got the Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy

I found out about the Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy book on twitter a couple weeks ago. I finally got it!!!!! I am so excited.

The first part of it defines fantasy. It says: Fantasy is about the fantastic that doesn’t rely on science for explanations. I quite agree with this. I think it is one of the better definitions of fantasy I’ve ever found.

It also why I think The City and The City by China Miéville  is more fantasy than science fiction. Before I found people talking about The City and The City online, I never imagined there was any reason to doubt whether it was fantasy or science fiction. There is no magic in it, but neither is there any science. Lots of people figure because it has no magic, it must be science fiction. I think since The City and The City has no science, it must be fantasy. 🙂 Pretty interesting. Mostly it is a noir detective novel in a speculative fiction setting. 😉