That warm and fuzzy feeling

(I’ve very, very, very slowly been re-reading Heinlein. Previous posts are here.)

Heinlein’s The Number of the Beast might just be my all-time favorite of his adult novels. No, it’s not the writing, although it does clip along with that Heinleinian efficiency and knack for phrase. No, it’s not how seamlessly Heinlein creates new worlds and how smoothly he signifies their subtle difference from our own. No, it’s not the ...Read More

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F. Brett Cox and Andy Duncan in Conversation: Southern Writers

On this week’s podcast we have Brett Cox (Norwich University) and Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University), co-editors of the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic. They discuss being on awards juries, slush pile reading, stories with crazy energy that can inspire strong reactions (both positive and negative), writers and critics, and being Southern writers.

Note: at the end Brett mentions the eBook anthology Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction, which ...Read More

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Short Story Club: "Plus or Minus" by James Patrick Kelly

For our final entry in the shorter (short story and novelette) category, this week we have “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly. He has published other stories with the same characters, including “Tourists” in Jonathan Strahan’s Eclipse 4. Here are some earlier comments on the story:

Lois Tilton, Locus Online

A sequel. Mariska’s mother had her cloned to fulfill her own ambitions to work in interstellar space, so Mariska ...Read More

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Jeffrey Ford, Elizabeth Hand, and Gary K. Wolfe in Conversation: Teaching and Genre Boundaries

This podcast starts out with Jeff and Liz talking about teaching, ideas, and process. Then the conversation strays to genre boundaries, and we ambush Gary to join us. From there we touch on music and jazz, how musical structure relates to narrative structure, and the history of genre boundaries. Your to-read list will grow long and healthy upon listening.

Note: the piece that Jeff talks about at the end that ...Read More

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Short Story Club: The Things by Peter Watts

This week we’ll be talking about “The Things” by Peter Watts. It appears on the Locus, Hugo, BSFA, and Shirley Jackson shortlists, as well as most recently showing up on the Sturgeon Award list. This makes it by far the most nominated piece of short fiction this year, as well as being a rare cross-over between the general genre awards and the horror awards.

This story has already been the ...Read More

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Link Graft

  • Ian Sales’ has a photo tour of his critical bookshelf. Some excellent volumes there.
  • Nicola Griffith points out that when a request for favorite SF books was put out to the general Internets, the responses came back with 96% male authors. Ouch. She suggests some possible remedies.
  • On a related note, Joanna Russ’ How to Suppress Women’s Writing is now available on Google Books.
  • Matt Cheney is blogging the Caine
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Tim Akers and Daryl Gregory in Conversation: Writing and Themes

In this edition of the Locus Roundtable podcast, we talk with Tim Akers and Daryl Gregory. The discussion ranges over genre blending, steampunk, writing process, and how themes enter into stories. They’ve both got books coming out in June: Dead of Veridon for Tim and Raising Stony Mayhall for Daryl. ...Read More Read more

Short Story Club: "That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made"

This week we have for consideration another Nebula winner, a novelette, “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone. This is a rare story from Analog making the awards rounds this year. We’ll start with a round-up of reviewer reactions.

Lois Tilton, Locus Online:

The narrator, Harry Malan, is the new President of the small Mormon congregation on Sol Central Station, which includes a number of the vast ...Read More

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Short Story Club: "Ponies"

Here are some views from around the net of Kij Johnson’s Nebula award winning story, “Ponies“.

Lois Tilton, from her bi-monthly column at Locus Online:

Every girl gets her own pastel talking pony with wings and a horn. But before the other girls will let her join the group, she has to take a knife and cut these off. The ending stings, but it’s still Highly Unsubtle.

Life, the Universe, ...Read More

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Link Draft

  • Theodora Goss on Reading Protocols by way of James Thurber.
  • Andrew Wheeler muses on the Characteristic Ages of Genres.
  • Matthew Cheney recounts his experience Teaching with the Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction.
  • John H. Stevens on Speculative Fiction as a critical term.
  • Tim Harford mentions Cory Doctorow’s For the Win in the context of selecting Five Books on Unexpected Economics.

Also a reminder: we’ll start discussing Kij Johnson’s Nebula award ...Read More

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Short Story Club: "The Jaguar House, in Shadow"

Welcome to the first installment of this awards-based Short Story Club. This week the focus is on Aliette de Bodard’s “The Jaguar House, in Shadow“. Here’s a round-up of reactions from around the Net:

From Lois Tilton:

Alternate history. Greater Mexica has been overtaken by a reactionary theocracy, and the traditional orders of Knights have been destroyed, except for the Jaguar House, whose leader Tecipiani has chosen to collaborate with ...Read More

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Brian Evenson and Peter Straub in Conversation: Conjunctions 39 and More

This week we have a Locus podcast recorded with Brian Evenson (Altmann’s Tongue, The Open Curtain) and Peter Straub (In the Night Room, A Dark Matter). We talk about Conjunctions magazine (specifically Conjunctions 39), genre writing and academia, Kelly Link, H. P. Lovecraft, Gene Wolfe, and much else. ...Read More Read more

Multiple Award Nominees for 2010

People both online and offline have written in to let me know about a whole bunch of award short lists that I missed in this post (although to be fair, some of those nominations were announced this week, a few days after the original Consensus post went up). Since there’s so much interest, I’ve gone through and done a more systematic round-up of the awards. I’ve also got a spreadsheet ...Read More

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Link Drift

  • The Guardian has been running quite a bit of material on SF in recent days, partly because of the opening of an sf exhibit at the British Library. Among the pieces featured: China Mieville bringing radical sf into the mainstream, many high profile sf writers talk about their favorite sf novels, Neil Gaiman on Gene Wolfe, and spurring the most discussion: Iain M. Banks on “science fiction is no place
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2010 Locus Short Story Club

OK, I’ve received just enough encouragement to be dangerous here, so we’ll try this out. Last week I put together a list based on all the awards short lists I could find to date. I argued that these represent a newborn consensus about the best fiction of 2010. On the list were three short stories and three novelettes, five of which are available online. In the spirit of Torque Control’s ...Read More

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Converging on Consensus

We are now deep in the thick of the 2011 awards season, with the announcement of the Locus, Hugo, and Nebula shortlists as well as other finalists and short lists. I thought I’d check in and see if there is any consensus forming about the fiction from 2010. Awards often form an interim-step in canon formation, after all. I went through all the short lists I could find for 2010 ...Read More

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Roundtable: All the Awards (Part 2 of 3)

As usual, if you’d like to see the whole conversation on one page, select ‘View All’ from the drop down menu above. If you don’t see a drop down menu above, click here and it should show up.

Andy Duncan

John’s and Paul’s comments, taken together, make me pose a related question to the group:

In a field so award-conscious, what happens to writers – new, veteran and in-between – ...Read More

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Roundtable: All the Awards (Part 1 of 3)

Karen Burnham

This weekend, awards season really geared up. The BSFA and Ditmar awards were announced, and the Hugo award nominations were revealed. Congratulations, by the way, to all the winners and nominees reading this!

So what do awards do for us as a community? Do they help shape the dialog, or are they just something to argue over? Along the way, do you have any gripes, praise, or handicapping ...Read More

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BSFA Awards

Later today (4pm CST) the Hugo nominations will be announced. But some 2010 awards are already coming out. At Eastercon yesterday, the British Science Fiction Awards were announced. As per SF Awards Watch, the results are:

Best Novel

  • WINNER: Ian McDonald – The Dervish House (Gollancz)
  • Paolo Bacigalupi – The Windup Girl (Orbit)
  • Lauren Beukes – Zoo City (Angry Robot)
  • Ken Macleod – The Restoration Game (Orbit)
  • Tricia Sullivan –
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Karen Burnham and Ted Chiang In Conversation

To follow on from my recent post on rogue AIs (and to celebrate the lack of missiles being launched by a newly awakened Skynet), I decided to post this podcast that I recorded with Ted Chiang recently. While we start off talking about Greg Egan’s work, we move into a broader discussion of AIs–how they may need to be evolved and grown, and how they are sometimes characters in sf, ...Read More

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Growing Our Own Aliens?

I’m reading another book right now that has a self-aware AI emerging from The Internet or other complex computer system. It seems like I’ve read quite a few novels and stories using this trope over the last few years. Probably the most recently prominent would be Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW trilogy, of which the first, Wake, was nominated for a Hugo in 2010. I have to say, I’m pretty skeptical ...Read More

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Link Rift

  • Paul Graham Raven writes on Transhumanism for the New Scientist.
  • Strange Horizons dedicated a week to author Nisi Shawl, including story “Pataki” and an essay by Shawl, “Race, Again, Still.”
  • Paul McAuley on “How to Write a Generic SF Novel.” (“No amount of exposure to suffering or slaughter should alter your hero in any significant way, although he is allowed to shed the odd manly tear or to express cold
...Read More Read more

Karen Burnham and Graham Sleight in Conversation

At ICFA, I was lucky enough to be on the same continent as regular Locus Roundtable contributor, Graham Sleight. We took advantage of the opportunity to sit down and record a podcast without worrying about time zone coordination. We talk about: the classic sf space futures that never were, how the field has changed and evolved, space travel and global warming, and storyable futures. Below are some links from the ...Read More

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Sandra McDonald: Bring Me the Unaware

For the last word on this series, we turn to Sandra McDonald. She is the author of novels The Outback Stars, The Stars Down Under, and The Stars Blue Yonder, and has a short story collection out titled Diana Comet and Other Tales. Her short story “Seven Sexy Cowboy Robots” was a finalist in the Strange Horizons’ Readers Poll this year.

As a student studying with a New York Times ...Read More

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Theodora Goss, Eileen Gunn, Cecelia Holland and Paul Park In Conversation

During the International Conference in the Fantastic in the Arts, I was lucky enough to sit down with these four distinguished writers: Theodora Goss, Eileen Gunn, Cecelia Holland, and Paul Park. We talked about: teaching, role models, the way that teachers can have positive or negative effects on students, writing non-fiction as well as fiction, the way both can open up the world to the reader, how writing advertising copy ...Read More

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Sarah Herbe: Focusing on a Theme

Sarah Herbe has a recently minted doctorate, and teaches at the University of Salzburg.

I am lucky to work and teach in a department with a strong research focus on the fantastic (the Department of English and American Studies, University of Salzburg). When I ask students about their reading habits, even in introductory classes to the analysis of literature, many of them state a preference for fantastic literature. Some years ...Read More

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New Wave Intensity

I’d like to offer some further thoughts inspired by F. Brett Cox’s recent post. The bit from his essay that seems to be generating the most comment is:

The New Wave still freaks people out. Whenever I teach Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah,” the students are almost always genuinely unsettled. They never know what to make of Pamela Zoline’s “The Heat Death of the Universe”; one or two have ...Read More

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F. Brett Cox: Recurring Themes

F. Brett Cox is a writer, editor, and educator living in (currently) snowy Vermont. He and Andy Duncan co-edited the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (2004).

Over years of teaching, as over years of anything, recurrent themes emerge. Here are a couple from my experience teaching college-level classes in sf.

The arguments about the “literary” qualities of sf are as present in the classroom as they are ...Read More

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Terry Bisson and Connie Willis in Conversation

In this edition of the Locus Roundtable podcast, I sat down with the two author Guests of Honor from this year’s International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts: Terry Bisson and Connie Willis. They sat down to spend some time talking about writing short stories, how they got started in the field, writing in other genres, the Sense of Wonder, Frederic Brown, controlling information, and quite a bit else. ...Read More

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Link Sift

  • In Salon Futura #7, Ken MacLeod writes on “SF and IR” (IR here meaning International Relations).
  • An essay by Roundtable contributor Paul Graham Raven on the first essay in Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism. Thoughtful comments by Jonathan McCalmont and Paul Kincaid follow.
  • Speaking of Jonathan, he reviews Gary K. Wolfe’s Evaporating Genres on Ruthless Culture.
  • This is really cute: Good Night Dune. [via Don Riggs]
  • Daniel Abraham wrestles with
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