Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.
We are finished moving things from one house to the other, but now (and for the foreseeable future) trapped in the endless unpacking and organizing. This is my project for today. Maybe next weekend I'll tackle the built in shelves. Assuming I'm not still organizing these.
The list was announced yesterday. This post lists all the nominees, some with links. If it's cataloged on booklikes, I've included a cover link. If there is an excerpt or the work is available for free, I've included a link.
+ link goes to sample, not full work
^ includes audio
* was on my nomination ballot
Also: Yes, there used to be 5 finalists per category. Last year's committee ratified a 5/6 rule that changed the rules. Nominees pick 5 and the top 6 are finalists.
Best Short Story
“An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)
Best Related Work
Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)+ [you'll have to scroll down a bit to find the excerpt]
Best Graphic Story
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (links to IMDB entries)
Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)*
Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)*
Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)*
Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (IMDB for TV episodes, youtube for album)
Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
Best Editor, Short Form
John Joseph Adams
Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
Best Editor, Long Form
Sheila E. Gilbert
Best Professional Artist
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff [I'm a patreon backer and have contributed an item to a previous fund drive give away - so, obviously a big fan of their work]*
Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James*
Castalia House Blog, edited by Jeffro Johnson
Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan*
nerds of a feather, flock together, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
Rocket Stack Rank, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
SF Bluestocking, edited by Bridget McKinney
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams*
Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
The Rageaholic, presented by RazörFist
Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman
Best Fan Writer
Best Fan Artist
Likhain (M. Sereno)
Best Series (2017 special category, may be permanent in future. First book cover shown for each)
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)
So, a pretty good list in general. Not everything I nominated made it, but several things did. Tor's representation in the short fiction categories is a bit heavy, but with so many high quality short fiction markets out there right now, I'm really interested in seeing the long lists for those categories.
I was more enamored with the first one, I think. This was still quite good, but possibly too much "more of the same" and not enough really great individual scenes.
Probably will still pick up the third book at some point.
An analysis following up on the dumbness I linked yesterday.
A new Sofia Samatar story is out today. Her short story collection Tender is out in 2 weeks.
So, maybe I'll stick with regency romance?
There are interesting scenes recalling the early days of the American space program, firmly fictionalized, but wildly exciting. Which is cool and all, but, as historical fiction, also means being trapped in the firmly entrenched gender roles in the national spotlight for that program.
The problem is me. I am in the wrong genre. I want the gender swapped version of this. I want a woman riding a rocket, hoping she'll make it back home to her man. And that just isn't going to happen in a historical set in the early days of our space program. The closest I could get would be a fictionalized version of female pilots going through the same training and never being taken seriously by NASA. And I'm sorry, but testifying before a congressional subcommittee with no resulting action is absolutely not going to work for me as a form of escapism. I'm looking for the fantastical version, which is not this genre at all.
So that's enough complaining about the book I didn't read, right?
This is the story of a divorcee with two kids figuring out independence while falling for the too hot and too kind to be real neighbor who happens to be a national icon. The friction in their relationship caused by it really just being too soon for her is well done, but not for me. The friction caused in their relationship by her concerns for her children when she inevitably breaks up with someone who is both a hero and a neighbor is well done, but not for me. The friction in their relationship caused by the public spotlight on his life and her very understandable desire for privacy is well done and interesting, but not quite enough.
Yeah. Sorry, book. I appreciate your feminist take on romance, but you just aren't for me.
I can't yell loud enough for him to hear, not with his head shoved that far up his ass.
I've seen this compared to Matter by Iain M. Banks, and while I understand the, uh, world building comparison (and the similarity in color schemes for the covers), that's just not the Culture novel it reminds me most of. This book is far closer to Surface Detail in plot (but without all the rape), or Excession in terms of pregnancy, relationships, and plots to control a new variable, or Look to Windward in so many functional ways I can't even get into without spoilers.
Of course, none of these comparisons really makes a lick of sense.
This is C. L. Moore rewriting Jack of Shadows as a Jirel of Joiry story far more than it is any Culture novel. Shit, the big decision at the end is straight out of a Moore story.
Whatever. I'm just going to stop trying to fit this into other things.
This big, beautiful, bold book. I read it as slowly as I could. I put it down every time I was sick (which has been a lot this year, y'all) so I wouldn't miss a thing. I heard it was gross, but I don't think it really was. All the gross stuff made too much sense to be off putting. So much sense.
And I want to play the rpg version of part II.
Read as adventure fiction or political allegory, this holds together and satisfies. I loved it. The characters, the setting, the wtf and the wonder. If this isn't the best books I read this year, it will be a very strange year indeed.
Got to love a good pun in a title.
This sequel to Borderline is both better than that book and not quite as enjoyable to this reader. The pacing is better. The exposition is better integrated. And there are several interesting new characters.
But, I don't know. Many of the plot twists seemed overly obvious to this reader. There were a few times when it seemed Millie took far too long to drawn the obvious conclusion. It's first person, so I know she's working from the same information as I am, and I got a bit frustrated in places because of this.
Also, and this is super unfair of me: she killed my favorite character.
That aside, I'd be interested in a third novel. The end of this shakes things up in a way that could be very interesting.
Last year, I failed to do any summary posts about what I had read in 2015. I think I just kept putting it off until it was so late in the year that it seemed not worth the bother. Of course, I see so many "best books of the year" posts in November of the year in discussion that sometimes January seems like it is too late. So March isn't even that late, really.
One year, I did a super thorough overview of every book that included rape or references to rape. This year, I'm being a hell of a lot less rigorous and just including the three that spring to mind. I don't know, okay, this is just where I am.
Vicious Circle by Ellie E. Ire has a plot largely motivated by a false rape accusation.
Shifter by Jennifer Lynn Reynolds is a romance where the heroine is threatened with rape and the hero hopes the female villain will be rapes.
Expendable by James Alan Garner features a protagonist who's motivation includes seeking justice for the rape of a woman she meets on an alien planet.
I'll try to take better notes for 2017 as this isn't terribly thorough.
Still working on gender stats for 2016 as well.
Is Dapperpunk a thing? Can it be a thing? I feel like this dapper AF badass fireball of a heroine could define the genre if it isn't already one.
If I have to stick to actual genres, this is a blend of space opera and western. Motorcycles instead of horses. And, as expected, the future is not evenly distributed. And the people under the boots of the intergalactic corporation are tired of taking shit. Deserts or mines, why not both.
Great adventure. Great characters. Great pacing, meshing never-to-long snappy dialog with action. This is the director's cut of the summer blockbuster movie I've always wanted.
Stand alone, but with hooks for direct sequels and other stories in the same universe. I'm not sure if reading it is the one thing keeping me sane with this endless cold, or the reason I'm not better yet as I read it instead of sleeping.
If you're looking for a fun adventure where you can root for the underdog, check this out.
Y'all, I'm on round three of antibiotics and almost completely out of sick leave. At least we were mostly moved out of the house before this crud came back. Note: not mostly moved in, mind. Still living out of boxes.
Most of my books are in piles on shelves as I didn't label the boxes well enough to know which to open first. I appear to be missing a box as well, so shelving is going slow.
How can one person make this much mucus in so short a period of time.
Also, got a new cat. A 3 year old tuxedo named Agent Niles "Noodle" Clawhammer.
So, that's things. Haven't finished a book in a bit. In the middle of at least 4, of course. Spend my last 30 minutes of consciousness each night rereading the same page of Hunger Makes The Wolf because my brain apparently stops working before my eyes do.
I am so tired of being tired and sick of being sick.
First in a series that I've only not pre-ordered the next volume of because I don't see a Kindle option yet. Will read, for sure.
I don't typically love origin stories. Probably because I've overdosed on Spiderman and Batman re-introductions over the years. With great power comes great repetition, Martha. This feels quite fresh, though. Not just a subtle variation on something I've read a dozen times before.
Part of that, of course, is that the protagonist is trans, and that just adds layers of bullshit for her to face. And why pick just one kind of gross asshole when you can have both the toxic masculinity mascot parents failing to accept you and the genetics-is-destiny feminist who considers you an invader?
Part of it is also the relationships she builds with supers in different socioeconomic brackets. It's quite interesting to see someone flit back and forth between a wealthy, corporate officially sanctioned setting and a street wise, morally gray setting and struggle to grok both individually and in relation to each other. I know I've read other stories that try to approach this, but not as successfully as Dreadnought.
The pacing is a bid slow to start, but ramps up in the last act. Sadly, while much of this feels novel, the villain's plan, when finally revealed, is disappointingly familiar when first introduced, and still well worn territory for scifi fans even after the twist is revealed. That's kind of okay, though, since this book is much more about the journey than the destination. And while the plan is meh, the motivation behind it has a lot of potential to lead the protagonist into new, interesting territory.
I am so looking forward to the next installment.
I am quite optimistic about this series. The writing is compelling, and so are this particular Holmes and Watson. There are some pacing issues in the first half, but overall, it's very satisfying in terms of plot, character, and craft. And it sets up a series that looks to be a great deal of fun without leaving the reader on cliff hanger.
I also really want to throw out a content warning, but that particular content is a major plot spoiler, so I'll hide it behind this tag.
I love Charlotte Holmes. I love both how good she is at solving puzzles and how bad she is at thinking outside the box. Which I know sounds contradictory, but isn't. If the pieces exist, she can put them together. However, a novel solution to her own problems evades her until another character suggests it, even though she's half way there. Her thinking is constrained to what is possible in society, even when she knows her own capacities aren't aligned.
I've already pre-ordered the next book in the series.
Note the individual sections are linked on the left.