Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel
Is there really any difference between post-modernism, interstitial fiction, slipstream and New Weird? Does anyone know? James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel try to outline the boundaries of slipstream with their anthology, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology, particularly by including a learned introduction and excerpts from a discussion that took place on the subject on a blog a few years ago. Ultimately, like so many things literary, from science fiction to erotica, it comes down to this: slipstream is what I’m pointing to when I say “slipstream.” Yes, there are a few defining features. It’s fantas... Read More
James Patrick Kelly(1951- )
James Kelly grew up in Mineola, New York. He began publishing in the 1970s. Kelly attended Notre Dame University and graduated cum laude. He has won two Hugos, one in 1996 for “Think Like a Dinosaur” and one in 2000 for “1016 to 1”, and a Nebula in 2007 for his novella “Burn.” He is an alumnus of the Clarion fiction workshops. Currently he teaches at the University of Southern Maine. Learn more at James Patrick Kelly’s website.
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Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel
The Nebula Awards Showcase 2011 edited by Kevin J. Anderson
The Nebula Awards are one of the great institutions in science fiction and fantasy. Each year since 1965, the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have voted for the Best Novel, Novella (40,000-17,500 words), Novelette (17,500-7,500 words), and Short Story (less than 7,500 words) in SF and fantasy. Compiling a list of the nominees and winners for all those years would get you an excellent reading list and a comprehensive cross-view of the best that can be found in the genres. To make this task easier, every Nebu... Read More
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014 edited by Rich Horton
I've been reading a lot of anthologies lately, including another of the several "Year's Best" collections (the Jonathan Strahan one). I was pleased to find that, unlike some of the others, this one matched my tastes fairly well for the most part.
I enjoy stories in which capable, likeable or sympathetic characters, confronted by challenges, confront them right back and bring the situation to some sort of meaningful conclusion. I was worried when I read the editor's introduction and saw him praising Lightspeed and Clarkesworld magazines, because they can often be the home of another kind of story, in which alienate... Read More
Ninety Percent of Everything — (2001) Publisher: From the collaborative team of Jonathan Lethem, John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly come two short novels of the near but-very-odd future. In “Ninety Percent of Everything” mysterious aliens have landed but nobody can figure out what they want. Enter Liz Cobble, a frustrated professor of sapientology who finds herself swept up in a madcap romantic adventure with an eccentric billionaire and an architect who designs flying buildings. In “The True History of the End of the World,” Chester Drummond, would–be revolutionary and one time presidential candidate, loses his way when his world is transformed into a utopia. The Carcopino-Koster boost has made almost everyone kinder, gentler — and smarter. What’s a politician to do? Lethem, Kessel and Kelly, all established, award-winning writers with their own unique voices, harmonize here in two compelling stories reprinted for the first time.
The novelettes nominated for the Nebula Award this year are so dissimilar that it’s going to be difficult for the judges to compare them and make a decision. Ranging from hard science fiction to the softest of fantasy, these stories are a testament to the breadth of the field. Ruth Arnell and I teamed up to take a look at the seven nominated stories.
One of the nominees is from the pages of Analog: Eric James Stone’s “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made.” Its central character is Harry Malan, the president of the Sol Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints – a church that exists at the heart of the sun, adjacent to the interstellar portal that exists there. The story does not explain how humans came to discover this portal, or the energy shield that allows humans to exist at the core of a star, literally in the middle of an ongoing fusion reaction – but ... Read More
Sheila Williams, the editor of Asimov’s, says that the annual October/November issue is “slightly spooky.” There are a few frights in the magazine, as well as some solid science fiction, but overall, I was generally disappointed in this double issue.
Alan Smale’s novella, “The Mongolian Book of the Dead,” was not one of the disappointments; to the contrary, it is a nicely imagined tale of what might happen if the Chinese decide to mount a military invasion of Mongolia — an independent landlocked country sandwiched between Russia and China. I enjoyed Smale’s use of folklore, fantasy and politics as seen through the eyes of an American caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, a man who serves as a linchpin for the plans of an ugdan, the female equivalent of a shaman. The shadow of Chinggis Khan and his fearsome band of Mon... Read More
The February 2013 issue of Asimov’s is a delight from cover to cover. This time around, it’s the longer pieces that really given it is heft.
“The Weight of the Sunrise” by Vylar Kaftan is a fascinating alternate history novella that offers a pointed perspective on American history, serving as a sort of bookend to the recent film, “Lincoln.” Slavery was an evil obvious even to those who practiced human sacrifice and saw nothing wrong with incestuous marriages of royalty, as did the Incas, as Kaftan makes clear. Kaftan envisions an Incan civilization that has escaped the ravages of Spanish conquistadors with military cunning. Smallpox still troubles the Incas, though they have learned in this tale, unlike in life, to manage it through quarantine, thanks to the insight of a great physician. This makes it a strong and wealthy civilization in the 18th century when the Americans are planning for revolution. The Americans send an ambassador to t... Read More
The April/May 2013 issue of Asimov’s leads off with a difficult but exciting novella by Neal Asher entitled “The Other Gun.” It portrays a complicated universe in which humanity has found itself at war with a race called the prador, which is ruthless, merciless and completely uninterested in compromise. It has already exterminated several species when it runs into humans, and a survivor of one of those wars, a member of a hive species, has allied itself with humans. The narrator of this tale is a parasitologist and bio-synthesist who was working on a biological weapon to be used against the prador when he was reassigned to work for the Client, as he knows the survivor of another species. The Client has somehow managed to steal a prador cargo ship, and is using it to hunt down pieces of a doomsday weapon called a farcaster that had been broken up and scattered across the galaxy. The narrator no longer has a human body in any sense that we... Read More
“Soulcatcher,” the opening story in the May 2013 issue of Clarkesworld, is one of James Patrick Kelly’s best stories. His protagonist, Klary, is the owner of an art gallery who has lured xeni-Harvel Asher, the ambassador from the Four Worlds, into her establishment. The xeni is “embodied” as a human male, but he retains the charisma that causes some to liken his species to the human legend of faeries; he is nearly irresistible. But Klary has been on a regimen of emotion, and besides, this xeni ruined her life, we learn in the second paragraph. This tale of revenge embodies the alien beautifully. More than that, though, Kelly imagines new forms of art, most especially a rug known as a soulcatcher, with especial vividness.
Andy Dudak’s “Tachy Psyche” is also about art, in a sense, though it truly... Read More
Issue 84 of Clarkesworld begins with “Mar Pacifico” by Greg Mellor, which I found to be one of the two best stories in this issue. It’s hard to resist a story that starts, “A pale dawn spread across the Pacific as my dead mother emerged from the waves.” The first person narrator’s mother is formed by a bloom of algeron. Algeron developed from nanotech built by humans “to bring the carbon cycles back into balance and enhance the power of the oceans to absorb more carbon from the polluted air.” But as it evolved, it overran its safeguards and washed inland, absorbing nearly every living thing on the planet. The narrator and her daughter are the only ones left, so far as they know, and they are slowly starving to death. But the algeron seems to have achieved a sort of consciousness; it is able to assemble itself into a form the narrator recognizes as her mother. Ultimately, the narrator must decide whether to fight the algeron or work with it.