Apr. 22nd, 2006 11:56 am
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I've been working through my bloglines backlog, so some of these are going to be pretty old.

From the Guardian: Ursula le Guin on Jose Saramago, Steve Davies (or Stevie Davies, depending on which bit of the byline you read) on Tamar Yellin, and Geoff Ryman on Cambodian writers.

The Accidental wins the Morning News Tournament of Books. Semi-related: beware of the snark.

Farah Mendlesohn on The Big Empty by JB Stephens and, incidentally, character:
This takes us to something I’ve been considering more and more both in terms of YA fiction and science fiction in general. It stems from that whole “sf doesn’t do character” argument. I’m not, here, going to give you a list of the sf writers who do write effective characters, nor am I going to pursue the idea I used in the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, that the “character” in sf may be the planet or the “what if”. Instead, lets accept that sf characters are often pretty bland. I think there is a reason for this: they aren’t “characters” in the proscenium arch, let’s watch someone develop sense at all, nor are they intended to be. Instead, they are avatars.
News of a new bimonthly zine attached to Fantasy Book Spot.

John Clute has moved on from livejournal to wikipedia.

Chris McLaren on confusing the art and the artist.

Gabe Chouinard on being a critic of the fantastic.

That can't be all the good stuff, though, so feel free to link me to anything else exciting I've missed in the past fortnight.


Apr. 1st, 2006 09:23 am
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Locus Online has its usual brace of April Fool's articles: I like these two best. Also at Locus Online, but not an April Fool's: extracts from Soundings.

Meanwhile, LJ goes pirate.

Concussion has a provisional programme grid up. Play programme bingo! A prize to anyone who doesn't know and guesses which items I'm on. (Hint: four, plus one things that's not listed on that grid.)

Abigail Nussbaum is back from holiday: here's her overview of the second half of Battlestar Galactica's second season. (Someone else has a theory about the ending here.)

Now, this is really fix-up at the level of criticism.

Jonathan Strahan wonders if we need nineteen (n-n-n-nineteen!) year's best volumes.

Alasdair Gray has a blog.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood's Guardian column rounds up books by Tanya Huff, Adam Roberts, Sarah Micklem and Tom Lloyd.

And because the rest of this post hasn't been gonzo enough: Bruce Sterling's State of the World 2006. [ profile] jonquil objects; someone who might be Sterling offers a rejoinder.


Mar. 25th, 2006 01:07 pm
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The introduction to Gary K. Wolfe's Hugo-nominated collection of reviews, Soundings. Why review?
Furthermore, I'd long admired the stylistic freedom of reviewers both in and out of the field, ranging from Pauline Kael and Edmund Wilson to Budrys and Clute. Not only were such writers simply enjoyable to read, but they demonstrated a fierce engagement with their subjects in a manner that frankly is hard to bring off in the constrained formalities of academic writing. And a constantly churning field such as SF seemed to invite such engagement.
Guardian review of Geoff Ryman's latest, The King's Last Song, not entirely complimentary:
Mundane science fiction is an intriguing idea. Whether there'll be any takers for mundane historical fiction is a different matter.
A four-part discussion about Black Swan Green.

This can't go well.

"Goths are like masons," I have been told. "They're everywhere."

An essay about 'The Heat Death of the Universe.'

And finally: 'Spot in Space'
See Spot
gazing out the porthole
of his space capsule, looking
down at Dick and Jane
who are waving good-bye
to him,


Mar. 18th, 2006 12:13 pm
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Beyond easy comprehension:
Every year, 8.5 million Chinese peasants move into cities. Most of their destinations are mere specks on western maps, if they appear at all. But their populations put them on a par with some of the world's megalopolises. Britain has five urban centres of more than a million people; China has ninety. A few - Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Nanjing - are well known around the world. The names of many others - Suqian, Suining, Xiantao, Xinghua, Liuan - are unfamiliar even to many Chinese. Nowhere is the staggering urbanisation of the world more evident than in Chongqing. Never heard of it? This is where the pace and scale of urbanisation is probably faster and bigger than anywhere in the world today. This is the Coketown of the early 21st century.
Also in the Guardian, Colin Greenland reviews Black Juice. Elsewhere, Paul Witcover says that Steph Swainston's "truest forebears are to be found in comic books". Not sure about that.

[ profile] despotliz says smart things about drug testing.

Fascinating post by [ profile] lasultrix about sexual equality in dystopian novels.

Itzkoff log, supplemental: Karen Joy Fowler writes about Octavia Butler for Salon (ye gods, the letters!), and in the process takes a swipe at Itzkoff. Michael Schaub responds. [ profile] megmccarron comments here. And somehow nobody told Marusek about the fuss until now.

Oh, what the hell: just this once, I'm going to pimp something I wrote. It's about a book you should all read, obviously.

One for the fanzine designers: what your font says about you. [via Gwenda]

And finally: old news, but this demo of Spore is just astonishing. Half an hour long, and worth watching to the end. [via Jed]


Mar. 5th, 2006 10:28 am
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'Singing My Sister Down' by Margo Lanagan is now online. This is the story from Black Juice that has extended eligibility for the Hugo Awards: you should go read it to see if you think it deserves a nomination.

When you're done with that, it probably wouldn't hurt to read Kelly Link's novella 'Magic for Beginners', too.

Tube Map for New Crobuzon (and railway modelers do Middle-Earth.)

Michael Chabon on the clock of the long now.

Essay by, profile of, and conversation with Octavia E. Butler.

Justine Larbalestier on acceptable self-promotion.

And finally: the credits for The Simpsons, but with real people.

EDIT: Hey look, Lisa Tuttle reviewing in the Times. (Shame she has the BSFA and Clarke Awards mixed up, though.)


Jan. 17th, 2006 12:10 pm
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I like this New Yorker piece [via] about Battlestar Galactica, because it seems to have a sense of the show as an exemplary piece of sf, rather than as something that transcends sf's perceived limitations:
If you switch to the term "speculative fiction," which many sci-fi writers prefer, the genre seems more interesting. In fact, the genre is so capacious that it’s not even very useful to call it a genre—at least, not as a put-down or a comment on its limitations. Stories that are geared to ask "What if?" and "What then?" and "Who are we?" and also have some life to them beyond the nuts and bolts of imagining an alternative reality are a genuine achievement. On the other hand, don’t feel bad if you don’t like watching shows filled with characters who have disturbingly shaped heads and faces. I myself am of the school that believes that frontal lobes belong inside the skull. I’m delighted when a character on TV has a brain—I just don’t want to see it.
Commentary on the most recent episode of Galactica here, here, and here.

James Lovelock thinks we are doomed. [via, links will probably become paid-only soon]

'The Faery Handbag' may become a film (scroll down a little).

Musings on evolving definitions of feminism. [via]

Obligatory pimpage of Strange Horizons reviews, part one: in a review of Christopher Priest: The Interaction, John Clute takes issue with the protocols of academic writing:
In following these shit-stupid protocols Hubble (and/or Butler) sedulously make near nonsense of a speculative historical argument, and they waste our time. I am very conscious that I too have, in a sense, been wasting our time as well with such a long excursus; but the dumb secret strength of the kind of protocols I've been attacking is that it takes a long time to explain how damaging their application is in each specific case. Hubble was my victim here, almost at random. There are dozens of similar dispiriting examples throughout Interaction, each so embedded in industrial practice that each would take a paragraph to describe. The cumulative effect is disastrous, both for the scholars locked into malpractice and for the readers who are baulked from accessing anything much of use in a book so compromised.
Obligatory pimpage of Strange Horizons reviews, part two: Graham Sleight and Tim Phipps debate the merits of 'The Christmas Invasion'.

And finally: a request for recommendations. I need recent (last 18 months or so) examples of either sf translated into English or sf written in English that is set in or engages with other cultures. Thanks!


Dec. 28th, 2005 02:34 pm
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Things I should have linked to ages ago:

A logarithmic map of the universe. (Root page here, but it seems to do weird things to Safari.)

A conversation with Joe Hill (author of the rather good 20th Century Ghosts) at the Mumpsimus.

Battlestar Galactica season two deleted scenes.

Nattering on:
"If a writer insists on (or is obsessed by) returning to the same themes and forms"? Well, now, in my reading of Shakespeare, of Dickens, the Romantic poets, Hawthorne, James, Thomas Hardy, Hemingway, Faulkner, T.S. Eliot, Yeats--actually of almost all serious writers still worth reading, I seem to find constant return to "the same themes and forms." Am I supposed to have grown "irritated"? Silly me. I just assumed that this was the mark of poets and novelists "obsessed" with the subjects that most interested them, that most strongly provoked their own powers of invention and led them to invest their "forms" with both imagination and authenticity. If I had only known they were just nattering on.
An excerpt (admittedly in a horrible font) from Ian R. Macleod's next novel, Song of Time.

The Top Blog Posts of 2005, allegedly. Number one is a livejournal post I missed completely.

The editors of the American Journal of Bioethics on the fabrication of stem cell data by Hwang Woo-suk,

And now I should go and do some useful things with my afternoon.


Nov. 14th, 2005 11:14 pm
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If you somehow missed the news of SCIFICTION's imminent demise ... well, now you know. Sucks, doesn't it? Gwenda Bond has been collecting links to other commentary, and gives her own personal Best Of from the site. Emails of shock and disappointment should go to

The authors of Refracted Light respond to the earlier discussion about the site around these parts.

Meet The Literary Darwinists, who "read books in search of innate patterns of human behaviour."

[ profile] white_hart reviews The Time-Traveler's Wife.

A call for submissions for an anthology of essays by and about Geek Girls.

[ profile] filomancer posts about flow and entertainment in writing.

Last but not least, Catherynne M. Valente on how she learned to stop worrying and love being a fantasy writer.


Oct. 23rd, 2005 04:23 pm
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For the small elite set of people who like both Veronica Mars and the work of Kelly Link, [ profile] despotliz has just made the best post ever.

In fact, it's very nearly as in-joke-tastic as the last part of Benjamin Rosenbaum's answer to the last question in this interview.

Brilliant character analysis of Captain Malcom Reynolds, with reference to Bufffy and Angel as well as Firefly.

Long but interesting article about the campaign to save Firefly, from an insider's viewpoint.

A Guardian review of Interzone 200.

[ profile] megmccarron summarises the hard fantasy discussion.

Rich Horton has an analysis of short fiction award winners and their editors at Locus Online.

Why the inclusion of Watchmen in Time's Top 100 Novels list is a bad thing.

I've been reading Michael Swanwick's Periodic Table of Science Fiction this weekend. I'd never read the whole thing through before; I particularly like Titanium, Aluminium, Phosphorus, and perhaps most of all Meitnerium.

And finally: not quite 1066 and all that. "Ah, a student who learns visually."


Oct. 16th, 2005 11:05 am
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Haven't done one of these for a while but hey, no time like the present:

Article in the Guardian about models of cognition and the portrayal of the mind in literature here:
Free indirect style, that fusing of third-person narrative with depictions of first-person consciousness, means that writers can state their characters' thoughts explicitly, as though they were utterances of speech, without having to describe their shape or character. Modern novelists' fondness for first-person storytelling, brilliantly exemplified in the embedded narratives of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, has often served as an excuse for writers merely to render thought, rather than getting to grips with its dynamics and complex simultaneities. For all their limitations, metaphors of mind give writers a handle on the ineffable qualities of cognition. When thought becomes no more than unspoken speech, fiction's gleaming reputation as a mirror of human consciousness will inevitably begin to tarnish.
Also links to this neato metaphor of mind databank. [via tom]

Interesting discussion of what 'hard fantasy' means (and what it should mean) in [ profile] megmccarron's journal here. David Moles asks what bad hard fantasy would be.

The US cover for River of Gods. Pretty, but not, I think, quite as good for the book as either of the UK covers.

In other cover art news, Locus online has an extensive directory (read: large page) of 2005 cover art. Good resource for awards etc.

The official talking squids in outer space webpage. With a Stephen Baxter story, obviously.

And finally: The Periodic Table of Dessert. Yum. [via [ profile] grahamsleight]


Aug. 3rd, 2005 08:31 am
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I'm off to Worldcon tomorrow. eeeeeeWorldcon! If you're there, feel free to say hi. I'll be back home on Tuesday evening. I'll probably be posting between now and then via the futurephone, but reading access might be limited. In the meantime, The Scotsman previews the con and The Herald talks to Chris Priest and Geoff Ryman. [both via Locus]

When a speech therapist goes to an sf convention [via someone on [ profile] sdn's journal]

A great conversation between Yoshio Kobayashi, Christopher Barzak and K. Bird Lincoln at Strange Horizons.

Some fiction: the first chapter of Double Vision by Tricia Sullivan; CommComm by George Saunders; and Peter Watts' backlist.

The rise of Shoujo and how it's caught the US comics industry on the hop. [via [ profile] coffee_and_ink]

What happened at this year's Romance Writers of America Awards. [via [ profile] fjm]

I have never played anything quite like this. There's a non-RPG version as well. [via Penny Arcade]

The September issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction includes Kelly Link's wonderful novella 'Magic for Beginners'. This means you should buy it. In addition, Robert J Killheffer's review column considers the UK/US divide. John Scalzi comments, [ profile] matociquala comments on his comments (here) and [ profile] sartorias comments on them both.

Just in case you think Kelly Link is not for you, Bluejack reviews 'Magic for Beginners' at the Internet Review of SF. He also muses about bias in the numbers of books by men and women that get reviewed on sf sites. Currently, the pile of review copies available for Strange Horizons leans strongly in the male direction. I've got a list of things I'm going to try to get hold of to help balance that (books by Elizabeth Bear, Judith Berman, L Timmel Duchamp, Carol Emshwiller, Gwyneth Jones, Margo Lanagan, Kelly Link, Maureen McHugh, Justina Robson, Tricia Sullivan, Cathrynne M Valente, Kate Wilhelm, and Liz Williams, although to be fair I'd be chasing all of those no matter what) but more suggestions are welcomed. I'm looking for forthcoming, new, or relatively recent books.


Jul. 27th, 2005 08:38 am
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Hmm. Haven't done one of these for a while. Two important bits of news first:

1. Tonight's BSFA London Meeting guest is the critic Gary K. Wolfe. He will be interviewed by Andrew McKie. I sincerely hope.

2. Strange Horizons needs reviewers. Specifically, reviewers interested in a broad range of speculative media who can say a lot in a small space. I know there are people reading this who can and do do this on a regular basis: I want your submissions! And spread the word far and wide. If you've got questions, ask away.

On to the rest of the links. First up: interview bonanaza! Paul Witcover at Fantastic Metropolis, Kelly Link at One Story (focusing on 'The Great Divorce'), and Ian McEwan at The Morning News and Spiegel.

The Fountain, Darren Aaronofsky's next film, sounds interesting.

Dirk Benedict is a moron. In other Galactica-related news, if you loved the piece of piano music on the soundtrack to episode 2x02 as much as I did, you might be glad to know that it's by Philip Glass and that you can download it here.

Lucius Shepard reviews War of the Worlds.

David Kipen gave a mixed review to the latest Harry Potter and got an inbox full of vitriol for his trouble. He addresses some myths about criticism:
Myth No. 1: Critics shouldn't reveal anything about a book's plot.

Myth No. 2: Any critic who disagrees with you must not have read the book.

Myth No. 3: All critics are frustrated writers.
There's a wiki for everything, these days.

And finally: Hamlet: the text adventure [via [ profile] matociquala]

EDIT: via [ profile] auros, a timeline for Primer. If you haven't seen the film, don't look at the timeline. In addition, if you haven't seen the film, see it as soon as possible. Don't find out what it's about first, just trust me on this one.


Jun. 22nd, 2005 07:58 am
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[ profile] shortform now has discussions for all three Hugo short fiction categories: short stories (by Liz), novellettes (by me) and novellas (by Chance). Go join in!

Tonight's BSFA London Meeting guest is Ben Jeapes, interviewed by Farah Mendlesohn.

Rick Kleffel reviews Accelerando, which you can download for free here. Also now available gratis is Cory Doctorow's urban-techno-fantasy-thing Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town (the one with the gorgeous cover, remember?)

One that I completely forgot to link last week: [ profile] coffee_and_ink starts a series of posts about her personal history with feminism, manga and anime.

Band of the week: The Airfields. I recommend 'Leaps and Bounds'.

Fascinating article about the rivalry between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. [via [ profile] oursin]



Jun. 15th, 2005 08:39 am
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'Smile Time': the comic.

The link to the dark cabal, an anonymous group blog devoted to reviewing short sf, has been bouncing around all over the sf blogosphere. I think [ profile] nhw was the first to spot it, as part of his Hugo round-up; after I posted about it to [ profile] shortform, Gwenda Bond picked it up, and subsequent commentary seen includes, but is not limited to: Justine Larbalestier here, Ben Peek here, Matt Cheney here (and more recently here), and this discussion at the Night Shade message boards.

If Molesworth went to Hogwarts [via [ profile] dyddgu]

The Third Alternative is truly no more; from now on, the magazine will be known as Black Static. [via [ profile] douglain]

A fantastic reinterpretation of Star Wars in the light of the prequels; and what happens when a 7-year old watches the old films after the new ones. [via [ profile] swisstone and [ profile] snowking]

Chance blogs about The Sparrow. And again. And again. And. Again. And then once more for luck.

Pretty pictures I'm nominating for the BSFA best artwork award: one, two, three.

Veronica Mars stuff: [ profile] vonnielake talks about the pilot, and [ profile] picklepocket has transcripts. Transcripts make me happy.

On the subject of the Global Frequency pilot: it turns out that Producer John Rogers has a blog, where he's made a couple of interesting posts about the show. One after the show got leaked; another about how the format of the comic would have been adapted for tv; and on the subject of a potential grassroots movement to get GF back on-screen somehow, this:
The odds of this working are way, way too small to take seriously.
On the other hand, the entire idea of Global Frequency is of ordinary people subverting the establishment and getting things done. The concept of a fan base for the show subverting the establishment and getting things done ... frankly that's a little irresistible.
And finally: Batman trained to be the best at everything, right? [via [ profile] mattia]


May. 25th, 2005 08:29 am
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Two more reasons to watch Tim Minear's new show The Inside: Amber Benson will be guest-starring in an episode, and Rob Kral will be providing the soundtrack. Premiere is two weeks today, people.

Tonight's BSFA London meeting guest is Harry Harrison, interviewed by Tom Hunter.

Locus has been reporting that Charles Stross' forthcoming novel Accelerando will be available for download from the website as an ebook under a creative commons license. This is a very cool thing.

Stross has also put up a tough guide to the singularity. He says he wrote it while channelling his inner fifteen-year-old; personally I think he sounds more like tom.

Via an interesting post by [ profile] filomancer, Rudy Rucker's guest of honour talk from this year's ICFA, 'Seek the Gnarl'. Includes classification of fiction into 'low gnarl' and 'high gnarl', which it's hard not to love.

Over the past fortnight, Strange Horizons has serialised David Moles' story 'Planet of the Amazon Women'. Did I tell you to read it yet? You should; it's been growing on me and I liked it quite a bit to start with. I will write about it for [ profile] shortform at some point, honest.

A rather nice Firefly vid: River and Simon, to the tune of 'Street Spirit' by Radiohead. [via [ profile] communicator]


May. 18th, 2005 08:03 am
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An interesting interview with David Mitchell, in which he talks (among other things) about constructing novels around a 'secret architecture'.

[ profile] benpeek has two interesting posts on Sword & Sorcery: definitions and recommendations.

A strangely calming (and actually, just fairly strange) flash animation.

For those who haven't read this year's Fountain Award-winning story, 'The Annals of Eelin-Ok' by Jeffrey Ford is now online.

An essay by John Kessel about Ender's Game: 'Creating the Innocent Killer'. Originally published in Foundation last year.

A Brief Brief History of Time. Like the movies in 15 minutes, but for science and therefore (to me) about a thousand times funnier.

And if you've been to see the Hitch-Hiker's movie and fancy a knitted Marvin ...


May. 11th, 2005 08:44 am
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Pretty painting with sand (18MB, .wmv, via withboots)

Matt Cheney chairs a symposium on speculative poetry at Strange Horizons. What is it? Does it matter? Why? etc. With Alan DeNiro, Theodora Goss, Mike Allen. Favourite poem linked to: 'Family Tree' by GO Clark.

Frank Black talks to Ray Bradbury. Yes, that Frank Black.

Survey claims that young people are "more grown up and responsible than their counterparts were 10 years ago". Uhhuh.

A PVP I find funny! Penny Arcade still going strong.

Discussion of the changing definition of slipstream infernokrusher fiction at David Moles' place. Also The Sparrow, for some reason.

Hot teen Shakespeare! One of Bookslut's columnists snarks about updatings of classic stories.

Around LJ: [ profile] butterfly writes about male writers writing female characters (friendslist opinion sought: should I be trying to watch this House show?); [ profile] die_fleiderhat gives us the LJ of the last Dalek; and [ profile] obsessive24 has come up with some Friends-esque Firefly credits.

Clarke Award tonight. Hopefully see plenty of you there. Watch [ profile] instant_fanzine for awards results updates.


May. 4th, 2005 08:20 am
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Who could have guessed that UKIP would have come up with the best party election broadcast? (via [ profile] mr_snips)

Although this one gives it some competition.

The definitive Star Wars fan conversation. Featuring Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Kevin Smith. Penny Arcade's all-too-plausible take on the mooted TV series should be read as well.

In the latest Asimov's, Cory Doctorow interviews Ray Kurzweil and discusses when the singularity is more than a literary device (the same issue appears to have a River of Gods-related (aeai are mentioned) novella by Ian McDonald, of which the opening is here).

An interview with Margo Lanagan.

A new nomenclature for flame wars.

Over at [ profile] shortform, [ profile] chance88088 and I discuss (well, mostly she says perceptive things and I prompt, but you know what I mean) Gavin Grant's excellent story 'Heads Down, Thumbs Up'. In addition [ profile] despotliz reviews some of Nature's Futures, which get made publically available (with a few weeks' delay) at this page. I recommend Justina Robson's offering.

Speaking of [ profile] shortform, I'm aware that I've been neglecting it quite shamefully over the past month. This month will be different. There will be discussion of the various Hugo short fiction lists, for starters; but more than that, I want to catch up on 2005's short fiction, because I've been lax about reading it as well as reviewing it. What should I seek out this month? What are the best stories you've read so far this year? Even better, go the community and write about them. :)


Jan. 10th, 2005 09:44 am
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David Moles is blogging his irrational histories (originally published as 'Five Irrational Histories' in Rabid Transit #3: The Petting Zoo). I really like them; hang in there for the Cthulu/Marx/Philip K Dick one, at least. Moles is eligible for the John W Campbell Award this year. [via Jed Hartman]

Bryan Appleyard writes in the Sunday Times about 'Hallelujah'--Cohen, Buckely and other versions--and what it means: '"Sexual love is, sadly, what we need, but is it what we want? It is hard to imagine a more bitterly subversive and countercultural question."'

A fascinating discussion at Farah Mendlesohn's blog about child readers and reading children (further discussion here). I assume most people I know would class themselves as reading children? Of particular interest to [ profile] squigglyruth, I suspect.

Andrew Watson reviews Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, and also mentions Veniss Underground.

The F&SF website now has F&SF's stories that made the preliminary Nebula ballot.

January 27th is rabbit hole day. I rather like that idea.

The Love Drug: "a recurring reason given for knocking it back on a night out in such copious amounts is sex. Or, more precisely, having a distinctly ambivalent, if not decidedly unimpressed, attitude towards it, which is only transformed into an appearance of enthusiasm after six double vodka cranberries." Not sure about that, to be honest. More interesting is this interview with Debbie Stoller, who 'describes herself, with all the due reservations a person would have about describing themselves as anything, as a third-wave feminist. No, that's not quite it - "I think we often get called third-wave feminists. First-wave suffragettes, second-wave 70s. I don't see us as a departure, but more an evolution. Those women could see the solutions to the problems of their day. Thirty years later, the problems aren't the same; new strategies have evolved."'. [both via [ profile] oursin]

Matt Cheney on the newish kinda weird, or the rise of a new formula fantasy.

Oh, and I've got myself one of those linklogs. Quite handy so far. Syndicated at [ profile] coalescentlinks, though I plan to keep pulling the most interesting ones out for marginalia posts, so you won't miss much if you're not watching it.


Aug. 26th, 2004 09:28 pm
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Last night was the monthly BSFA meeting, this month featuring Sean McMullen. Not an author I've ever read (or, to be honest, even heard of), but after hearing tales of how he built a model of a wind-powered submarine to check that it would work, and being filled in about the computer made of librarians, I'm inclined to pick up one of his books. Anyone got any advice as to where to start?

Most disconcerting moment of the night: learning that third row fandom has been chinese whispered into page 3 fandom. I don't think I'm speaking out of turn if I assure everyone that rumours of a 2005 calendar are greatly exaggerated.

Everyone and their mother has already linked to the Guardian science fiction supplement, but another hit won't hurt. It's slightly disconcerting to realise how much of a stranglehold the old authors have over peoples' opinions of the genre (as compared to what I read). Correct me if I'm wrong, but of their ten best authors only Clarke, Bradbury and Le Guin are still alive, and only Le Guin seems to still be producing important work. I'm also slightly surprised at the high showing for Fred Hoyle.

The Booker longlist is out; three cheers for the presence of David Mitchell and Susanna Clarke. There' s some discussion on [ profile] instant_fanzine, but it mostly consists of us wondering who the other people on the list are. If anyone out there can help out, please do!

The Agony Column has an interview with Ian McDonald. Best quote: " I've always thought of River of Gods (from an overheard at a UK Eastercon) as 'Khyber-punk'. Khyberpunk being to cyberpunk what Bollywood is to Hollywood..."

If I had more time I'd write a full post in response to this discussion about humour on [ profile] white_hart's journal. But I don't, so I'll just say that I think she's nailed some things about my sense of humour that I hadn't quite realised myself.

Paul Brazier is setting up a new online magazine, Quercus SF. His approach is ... interesting. I can see the merits of the workshop side - pro authors can submit as normal; new authors can submit for a five pound fee, but get a full crit whether or not their story is accepted - and I like the idea that the fiction will be published first on the web, then collected into books twice a year. However ... sixty pounds is a hefty subscription fee for any magazine, much less a brand-new one. I certainly can't afford it.

[ profile] fba was just here and finally got me watching some Doctor Who: the Peter Davison-starring 'Caves of Androzani'. I'm right there with them on the concept, really I am, but ... well, I have a theory about special effects, which is that the level to which you are exposed as a child is the lowest level from which you can suspend your disbelief. 'The Caves of Androzani' fell just below that level for me, so although the warring-factions backstabbing-mayhem was quite nicely done (no good guys here), I kept being jarred out of the story somewhat. It didn't help that Sharaz Jek came off as somewhere between the Phantom of the Opera and a poor man's Scorpius (and I can start to believe [ profile] pikelet when he talks about the books being better than the tv series). Still, like I say, I think the concept is strong, and I'm interested to see where Russell T Davies takes the franchise.

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