I woke up this morning to find several thousand unexpected dollars in my bank account, which isn’t a problem writers usually have. My literary agency gives me a heads’ up when they make a deposit, but didn’t with this one, so it’s entirely possible this was a mistaken deposit. I’m sitting here dying to allocate the money to various bills, but waiting for a confirmation that the money is mine. ...Read MoreRead more
When we speak of forging, it is usually one of two types: the first is when we create something new out of disparate materials— the type of forging usually associated with blacksmiths—but the second type is one we often associate with thieves, charlatans, and mountebanks; the kind where we create something that is fake with the intention of duping or deceiving others into believing that what we have created is ...Read MoreRead more
Putting the science in science fiction involves a lot of moving parts and navigating them can be challenging at any point in your writing career. Both science and science fiction are ever-expanding fields, and staying on top of one, let alone both, requires diligence and persistence. Furthermore, getting the level of detail just right so as to not be so technical you alienate your readers, while avoiding being needlessly inaccurate, ...Read MoreRead more
Yoshiki Tanaka’s Sieun Award-winning Legend of the Galactic Heroes (LotGH) series is simultaneously a work of science fiction (specifically space opera) and an in-depth historiography. Multiple texts exist within its two-thousand-plus pages, with a single unnamed narrator drawing on (fictional) memoirs, autobiographies, and other histories in order to craft their own interpretation of the galactic conflicts of the thirty-sixth century. Originally published in Japan between 1982 and 1987, LotGH was ...Read MoreRead more
In general, speculative fiction in translation (SFT) accounts for a very small fraction of the fiction published in English each year. This past year was no exception: 50 books (novels, collections, and anthologies) and 80 short (standalone) works of SFT made their way to Anglophone readers. While this may not sound like much, it does signify a slow but steady increase in non-Anglophone speculative fiction since the turn of the ...Read MoreRead more
Before we get started, let’s define what we mean by “the end of the world.”
Extinguishing all life on earth would be difficult. Every day, 800 million viruses and tens of millions of bacteria rain down from the troposphere onto every square meter of the planet’s surface. Extremophile microorganisms flourish at unimaginable pressures in the depths of the Marianas Trench. Russian cosmonauts claim to have found plankton surviving the vacuum ...Read MoreRead more
A lever without a fulcrum is just a stick. That is, even the longest, sturdiest lever in the world will not shift even the tiniest object unless you have a fulcrum to balance it on.
Copyright law is billed as a lever creators can use to budge the corporations that bring our work to market. The companies may be large, and they may be powerful, but creators can resist that ...Read MoreRead more
The year 2019 saw the growth of interest in African fiction pay off in terms of publications of novels.
The biggest news of the year may be that Tade Thompson’s Rosewater won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. This year also saw the publication of the second and third books in the Wormwood series, The Rosewater Insurrection and The Rosewater Redemption. Thompson also published a new novella about Molly Southbourne, ...Read MoreRead more
Over the past few years, I’ve been talking here about a couple of recurring ideas on the shape of the SF and fantasy world. For instance, the notion that these fields are increasingly a pluralism and that there’s no default way that one should expect an SF/F novel to be written; that interplay between “genre” and “mainstream” writers of the fantastic is increasing, fruitfully; and that “science fiction” and “fantasy” ...Read MoreRead more
I often take this opportunity to discuss great podcasts of the past year. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get the chance to pick up too many new SF-related podcasts in 2019, but continue to enjoy new episodes of the familiar ones. Welcome to Night Vale is proceeding delightfully, with wars in time, space, and alternate realities, including a frightening conflict involving Night Vale citizen brains placed in future ...Read MoreRead more
In April 2005 I was well settled into my career as a romance novelist, writing everything from paranormal romances to adult and young adult contemporary fiction for New American Library (now Penguin Random House). My life was simple: I wrote books, lots of books. And then one day I heard about a new massively multiplayer online role playing game called World of Warcraft (WOW), and my life changed. Not only ...Read MoreRead more
My remit here at Locus is primarily to cover short fiction from print sources, and thus I thought to build my year end summary around just that. But don’t forget – there is a great deal of excellent work that appears first online. To that I will add my usual plea – don’t ignore the print work just because it’s harder to find.
I’ll begin with two collections that got ...Read MoreRead more
In 2019 I really learned about drinking from the firehose that is the amount of speculative short fiction available in electronic/online venues. As far as I can tell I read about 530 stories from at least 35 different outlets, and I know that there’s an immense amount of excellent work that I missed. The variety that’s available is fantastic, and I’m also very pleased by the overall quality that I’ve ...Read MoreRead more
The most impressive novel of 2019 was Michelle Paver’s Wakenhyrst. It’s an utter triumph of a book, a pitch-perfect evocation of the stories of M.R. James and A.C. Benson filtered through a 21st-century sensibility; the result is reminiscent of Sarah Waters’s The Little Stranger. Concise and intense, filled with references to the tradition of English ghost stories, Paver’s novel succeeds on a number of levels. Starting with her ...Read MoreRead more
Every so often you come across a book that seems to act as a nexus, drawing other recently read books into an unexpected pattern, even though they otherwise seem completely unconnected. For me, this year, that nexus was The Dollmaker by Nina Allan (riverrun). One of the two central characters is a dwarf who becomes an expert and sought-after maker of dolls, which immediately called to mind Little by Edward ...Read MoreRead more
Observe Mars in the night sky. Depending upon its distance from Earth, Mars varies in brightness and clarity— but it is always unique. No other celestial body reveals itself so red to the naked eye. Certainly, it is the color of roses and poppies and wine, but those comparisons are not what early stargazers had in mind when they referred to the Red Planet.
To them, it was the color ...Read MoreRead more
I read a lot of books in familiar series this year, and only a few really stood out. Ilona Andrews’s Sapphire Flames is a fun start to a new trilogy in the Hidden Legacy series of urban fantasy romances, focusing on Catalina, the second daughter in the heavily armed Baylor family, taking over as Head of the family’s House with her rare but powerful talent as a Siren – and ...Read MoreRead more
This was my first full year reviewing books for Locus. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, even the yawning, anxiety-inducing depth of the white screen as I desperately cobbled together something coherent to say about the books I was discussing. On that note (not the yawning depth of the white screen, but the books), I’ve read some terrific genre fiction this year. As has been the case for a decade ...Read MoreRead more
Most years I read a fair bit of science fiction and fantasy, but the majority of my pleasure reading tends to be mystery and crime (I don’t write in those genres, so I can enjoy them without that otherwise inevitable layer of analysis). This year, though, I’m on an award jury covering speculative fiction, and as a result, I’ve read more widely and deeply in my home field than I ...Read MoreRead more
I read a lot of great young adult SF/F books in 2019 and was most struck by the diversity of subjects that came across my desk. There continues (thankfully) to be no dominant theme in YA fantasy, a welcome departure from the past. With the exception of a cluster of titles set in Paris (which is fine; what’s not to like about Paris?), it’s really impossible to point in any ...Read MoreRead more
Let’s try a different metaphor for this annual make-sense-of-the-field exercise: a ramble through my science-fictional reading neighborhood, which is a virtual space instantiated from the manifold of all-the-books-published and distinct from the neighborhoods described elsewhere in these pages by my colleagues. As I have pointed out nearly every year of the 30 I’ve been writing these wrap-ups, my reading is not statistically or demographically or subculturally representative – it’s the ...Read MoreRead more
These end-of-the-year lists always flummox me, mostly because I never quite know what I’m supposed to write about. Should it be the big titles, the ones that made such a splash that you couldn’t help but notice them? Or should they be the smaller titles that only made a little ripple? That last group is full of the titles that make my reader’s heart sing because they show the writer’s ...Read MoreRead more
I would like nothing more than to be able to wrap the messy, tumultuous, vital, strange year in science fiction that was 2019 into a simple package that is easy to comprehend and digest for Locus readers. Instead, as rain falls on my patio roof here on the west coast of Australia while my fellow citizens are being emergency-evacuated from fire zones on the far side of the country in ...Read MoreRead more
I’ve found that the insidious problem for me in scrolling through social media is that it feels like action. Ironically, it also creates – in me – a profound feeling of being out of control over events in the wider world, while generating a huge amount of anxiety and worry. But while surfacing atrocity after atrocity, treason after treason, may feel like action, we often find that our righteous need ...Read MoreRead more
I confess to once having been one of those annoying calendar geeks who would point out at parties that the new century actually began in 2001, not 2000, and that a year like 2010 or 2020 actually represents the end of the decade, not the beginning of a new one. It was about as useful, and about as welcome, as pointing out to someone turning 40 that it’s actually the ...Read MoreRead more
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a movie theater or reading on your couch, and out of a character’s mouth comes the most laughably awful science you have ever heard. At first, you might try to hang onto your suspension of disbelief. But it’s just groan-inducingly wrong. Why couldn’t the writer spend five minutes on the internet to get it right? Maybe you vow to never see anything by ...Read MoreRead more
In XKCD comic 1357, “Free Speech”, Randall Munroe offers a characteristically concise and snappy summary of one of the canonical arguments about free expression: “The right to free speech means the government can’t arrest you for what you say. It doesn’t mean anyone else has to listen to your bullshit, or host you while you share it…. If you’re yelled at… or get banned from an internet community your free ...Read MoreRead more
I grew up thinking it wasn’t cool to care too much about things.
Caring about something too hard made you vulnerable. Weak. Care too much for a person, and they can hurt you emotionally. Care too much about a cause, and it will let you down. Care too much about a piece of media or an institution, and it opens you up to ridicule. The world was full of opportunities ...Read MoreRead more
My gratitude and appreciation to Natalia Burianyk, Anastasia Rohoza, Natalie Kononenko, Christine Worobec, Rachel Cordasco and Svitlana Taratorina for their input and support. All misunderstandings and misinterpretations are mine.
In American Gods, Neil Gaiman has Mr. Wednesday say of Czernobog and his family, “They’re not Rom. They’re Russian. Slavs. I believe.” Why would they be confused with the very un-Slavic Rom (“gypsies”)? Why is Czernobog, more often associated with ...Read MoreRead more
[All opinions expressed by commentators, guest bloggers, reviewers, and interviewees are solely their own and do not reflect the opinions of Locus magazine or its staff.]
At the Hugo Awards ceremony at this summer’s Dublin Worldcon, Jeannette Ng was presented with the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Ng gave an outstanding and brave acceptance speech in which she called Campbell – the award’s namesake and one of ...Read MoreRead more
The week before I got an offer on my debut novel, I made the decision to give up on it.
The Imaginary Corpse was a labor of love: a noir-flavored fantasy cobbled together from childhood memories, my experiences in therapy, and a million literary and ludological ancestors. Writing it felt right in a way that no other manuscript had before. I built this world in a matter of hours, the ...Read MoreRead more
At first glance you might think this topic is too comic-nerdy for you, but I promise there’s a universal theme that applies to any reader. Oh, and comic nerds? Spoiler alert.
For the uninitiated, Thor is a character from Marvel comics, created in 1962 by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby. The easiest thing to say about the origins is that Thor was inspired by Norse mythology by way ...Read MoreRead more