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So, OUSFG has an award. This is its second year. It's voted on by the membership, and given to the best speculative fiction book receiving its first UK mass-market paperback publication in the preceding academic year. This is actually fairly straightforward--it's for books students will be able to find and afford. Last year Coalescent by Stephen Baxter won. The current shortlist is:
Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others (January 2005)
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (September 2005)
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas (February 2005)
Ian McDonald, River of Gods (April 2005)
Audrey Niffenegger, The Time-Traveler's Wife (January 2005)
Some notes: it's obviously not just for science fiction; it's obviously not just for novels; and goddamn, that's a hell of a list.

I mention this because this evening there is a balloon-debate discussion meeting, starting at 8pm, in the Lady Brodie Room in St Hilda's College, which means I'm going to have to decide how to rank them. And man, that's hard.

(On the subject of St Hilda's deciding to admit men ... I don't know what the reasoning behind the decision was, but I'm somewhat surprised that it happened, and it seems a bit of a shame, really.)

(And just to leave on a controversial note: I've finally got around to watching Deadwood--I'm about halfway through the first season at the moment--and I'm not terribly impressed. I think partly it's how stylised everything is; the dialogue bears as little resemblance to how people actually talk as that in The West Wing or Buffy, but where those shows were consciously presenting its characters as smarter-than-life Deadwood is constantly at pains to tell you how Real it is, how True To Life. The style doesn't mesh with the content, for me, in other words. Of course, that could just be a fancy excuse made up to cover the fact that I find all the characters except Jane excruciatingly boring; the episodes I've enjoyed most so far have been when circumstances have forced them to do something, as in, say, 'Plague'.)

EDIT: the ranking determined by the panel, in reverse order:
5. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
4. Cloud Atlas
3. The Time-Traveler's Wife
2. River of Gods
1. Stories of Your Life and Others
And those placings were almost all hotly contested. It'll be interesting to see whether the official result (announced Saturday) is the same or not.
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Tomorrow, I will be at the BSFA/SFF AGM event at Conway Hall:
1000 Doors open
1025-1030 Welcome (by BSFA)
1030-1120 Panel - "Story, Review or Criticism - Select Which to Download" - Roz Kaveney, Gary Hall and Tony Keen, with Simon Bradshaw as moderator
1130-1220 Guest - Juliet McKenna
1230-1300 SFF AGM
1300-1400 Break
1400-1430 BSFA AGM
1440-1530 Guest - Stephen Baxter
1540-1630 Guest - Bruce Sterling
1630-1640 Wrap-up (by SFF)
As you can see, the actual AGMs are confined to a short period either side of lunch, and the rest of the time is given over to panels and guests (Bruce Sterling!) and such. All welcome, so why not come along?
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If you've ever talked to me (or more likely, if I've ever talked at you) for more than ten minutes or so about Angel, chances are I've mentioned the fact that I quite like the show's music. I'm not talking about the theme tune, although it's certainly a damn fine theme tune; no, I'm talking about the score music, the incidental stuff that nobody apart from me ever seemed to notice. In fact, I'm enough of a geek about this that I can not only talk about how various episodes are enhanced by their respective scores, but I can tell you when and where certain bits of music recur. The tinkling piano music that played over Darla's birth in 'Reunion', for instance, was also used to soundtrack the deeply creepy stalking scenes in 'Billy'--and the mournful chords that marked the end of season three were reprised during the rain of fire in early season four. And I know who wrote it all, or almost all: a guy called Rob Kral.

Wait! Don't run away!

Read more... )
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The Arthur C Clarke Award is given annually to the best science fiction novel first published in the UK in the previous year. The first recipient of the award, in 1987, was The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. At the time, I didn't pay much attention; I was six.

Read more... ) And this year's winner (instantly blogged by Andrew, of course) is:

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Read more... )
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The thing about the nineties was, it had the internet.

The internet made fandom different, and arguably its greatest impact was in media fandom; suddenly it was much easier for a single, focused fandom to develop. The resultant culture clashes between snooty literature fandom and monomaniacal media fandoms are still very much with us...but I think the internet also did something else. Something more fundamental.

A case study:

On the 30th of November 2000, came into being. Read more... )
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How to explain an Eastercon to someone who's never been, or even heard of it? It's six hundred fans (literature fans, mind...) in the same place, over the same weekend, doing a very wide range of things: attending or contributing to panel discussions on anything sf-related you can think of, selling or buying books, producing (or complaining about) the con newsletter, filking (god help us), costuming, building robots, demonstrating how a Tesla coil works, drinking, and, of course, arguing about the definition of a sandwich. But it's also so much more than that.

Read more... )

So how did it all go down?

Friday might have been the best day. Read more... )

A couple of notes on a couple of things:

Read more... )

Other reports:

Geneva on paper vs. web|Sarah on media programming at cons

And to conclude, the obligatory list of media exchanges.

Read more... )

And now, I'm off into town. I'll have to catch up on my friends page later.
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When I got back from work on Friday evening, I found myself with a whole pile of Angel. I’d picked up 5x15 and 5x16 from [ profile] snowking the previous evening; My season four DVD set had been delivered from Amazon during the day; and my season two set had been returned.

The latter event was accompanied by some slightly depressing news: apparently disc two was scratched, and ‘Darla’ no longer played properly. So the first thing I did was to sit down and watch it, to check the extent of the damage. Thankfully, it was limited (at least on my player) to one minor skip just before the Lindsey/Darla kiss. It was interesting to watch, though; I hadn’t seen ‘Darla’ for over a year, probably, and it took me back somewhat to umta’s early days. Back when [ profile] gagravarr had not introduced me to the joys of downloading, and I would have to find some sneaky way of laying claim to the JCR TV on a Friday evening if I wanted to see Angel (either that, or get [ profile] brassyn to post me tapes...). Back when nat was still posting random thoughts; back when pretty much every viewer was united in their praise of the show. Back when I would have found the line ‘it’s not me you want to screw’ entirely innocent.

Anyway, after that I decided I was in the mood for something of a retrospective. The next episode I dropped in the player was ‘A New World’, grown-up Connor’s first appearance. It’s not really in the same class as ‘Darla’, but I like it lots anyway, mostly because I rate Vincent Kartheiser as an actor, and because I love and adore the Angel/Connor relationship. Every scene those two characters had together worked for me, and their meeting in Sunny’s apartment makes my breath catch in my throat every time I see it. So good. The bullet-time teaser ain’t too bad, either...And this episode carries a whole different set of memories; first time I watched it was off a magic CD, with [ profile] pikelet and [ profile] mattia, in the front room of the Marston Street house I lived in for the fourth year. I remember Tim being pleased that the end of the episode had Connor running off and leaving Angel alone; I remember the mockery of old Holtz’ makeup that followed.

Next had to be something from season four. I debated beween the commentary for ‘Inside Out’ or the commentary for ‘Home’. In the end ‘Home’ won because (a) it was the man Minear! and (b) I was going to follow it up with some season five, so maybe it was more relevant. ‘Home’, in my opinion, is up there with ‘Darla’; if season five doesn’t redeem itself, I’m more than happy to take this episode as a wrap to the show. Again, a lot of that love is due to Vincent Kartheiser and Connor. So often the actor and character were underused or misused, but when the writers got it right, as they do in this one, they produced some of the best scenes in the show’s history. The commentary turned out to be more about the directing of the episode than the writing – how different shots were used in different scenes, how they were all put together; no great insights into the plan for season five, and only a cursory nod to the fact that the CRC made ‘a lot of people unhappy' – but it was still enjoyable. When ‘Home’ aired, I was still living at home; my expectations had changed such that I was almost resentful if I didn’t get to see an episode before America. I can’t remember whether or not that happened in this specific instance.

On to season five! Opinions of 5x15 and 5x16, no content spoilers )

Anyway, all of this musing (and some prodding by [ profile] tomburnell) has led me to an inescapable conclusion: We need a series finale party. Current estimates suggest that 5x22 will air on May 19th, so Saturday 22nd seems to be the logical choice of date. Who's interested? I'd like to host, but I'm open to suggestions if anyone can think of a better location.

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