World Wide Websday: May 14, 2014

The biggest news to hit the Internet in the last few weeks has been the addition of two wonderful new members to the happy family here at Fantasy Literature. Sandy Ferber is a name that readers who frequently visit the site will recognize, as Sandy has been a guest reviewer for a long time now; we’re delighted to have him as a full-timer. And Kate Lechler is someone we simply picked off the blogosphere because we liked her word-wielding. Please join us in welcoming them both!

And after that, a warning. We haven’t had a WWW column in a few weeks, and they’ve been a VERY busy couple of weeks in the electronic land we all know and love. So fasten your seatbelts; we have a lot to get through!

Awards News

Doctor Sleep by Stephen KingThe winners of the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards were announced at the World Horror Convention in Portland, Oregon, this past Sunday.

The nominees for the Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced. This is one of my favorite awards, and I’ve gleaned a lot of very good reading from the lists of nominees. The award is for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic, which covers a lot of ground. The award is juried, which tends to make the list stronger than many. And yes, I have copies of all the nominated novels and most of the collections and anthologies.

The finalists for the 2014 Hugo Awards have been announced.

The winners of the Sir Julius Vogel Awards have been announced. I didn’t know that such an award existed, but I’m glad to know of it now: they are for excellence in science fiction, fantasy or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents.

The finalists for the 2014 Aurora Awards have been announced. These awards celebrate Canadian fiction.

The finalists for the 2014 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award have been announced. This award is for the best science fiction short story of the year.

The Locus Award finalists have been announced.

The winners of the British Science Fiction Association’s annual awards have been announced. Ann Leckie won the Best Novel Award for her first novel, Ancillary Justice (which we loved). And the 2014 Arthur C. Clarke Award has been awarded to Ann Leckie, again for Ancillary Justice. The book has also been nominated for the Hugo and the Nebula as well. I think it’s time I read it.

A new award has been inaugurated: The James Herbert Award for Horror. The award “aims to discover and publicise a new generation of horror authors working today and celebrate the boldest and most exciting talent in the genre.” It’s a welcome addition to the genre. F.R. Tallis hopes that women, in particular, will gain new recognition through this award.

The shortlist for the 2014 Gemmell Awards for fantasy literature has been announced. Lookie here, not a single woman made the cut. Really, guys? No woman wrote a notable fantasy in 2013? Really?

The nominees for the Eisner Awards have been announced. Pornokitsch unpacks the awards for those who may not be fully familiar with all the nominated comics.

Many Bram Stoker Award nominees and winners are on sale for under $5 for the Kindle. It’s really amazing how much of a bill you can ring up with inexpensive ebooks, isn’t it? (She said, noting that her wallet had somehow emptied itself.)

Recommended Reading

The Telegraph lists the best science fiction and fantasy of all time. There are some surprising omissions and surprising inclusions, and the comments remark on all of them and offer a considerable number of very good suggestions.

Rolling Stone lists the 50 best non-superhero graphic novels. There is enough great stuff on this list to keep you enthralled for a very long time.

The issue of Lightspeed devoted to science fiction by female authors (dubbed “Women Destroy Science Fiction!”) will be out soon. Here’s the table of contents, which includes some of the strongest writers in SF today.

Tor.com does this cool thing every month in which they list the exciting books coming out in various subgenres for that month. For May, you’ll find the urban fantasy releases here; the new paranormal romances here; the science fiction releases here; the fantasy releases here; and the genre-benders here. It can come as no surprise whatsoever that I’d like one of each, please. And, as always, you can always find a list of new and upcoming SFF releases here at FanLit.

io9 lists the summer’s most exciting science fiction and fantasy books. As I said above: one of each, please. (In fact, I already own or have ordered a surprising number of them. Now all I need is the time in which to read them.)

A librarian takes a look at YA horror.

There’s a new speculative fiction magazine out there: Fantasy Scroll Mag. New magazines in all genres seem to be popping up like mushrooms. That’s got to be a healthy sign for literature.

I didn’t know that there was a branch of fantasy known as “grimdark,” though I know of the phenomenon itself: fantasy that is just a hop, skip and jump away from horror. See the works of Richard K. Morgan, for instance, or Joe Abercrombie. But now there’s a cure for anyone too immersed in the dark. Tor.com suggests 13 fantasies that are life-affirming.

Flavorwire suggests 25 essential graphic novels. I recognize some of these from Brad’s comics reviews and essays here at FanLit.

Publishing

io9 says that editors are sick and tired of several sorts of stories. I doubt it; what they’re tired of is stories that do nothing new with the themes that are mentioned. A new zombie story? My first reaction as an editor would be the same as my immediate reaction as a reader: I have no interest in it unless it’s something really new and different.

Want to help out your favorite writer? Pre-order his or her book, says epic fantasist Brian McClellan. Urban fantasist Kevin Hearne agrees. Me, I have three pages full of pre-orders on my account at Amazon. Anyone who is surprised at that news hasn’t been reading my columns long enough.

You know all those Star Wars books and comics? They are no longer part of the Star Wars canon. Apparently they were most inconvenient to the making of Chapter VII through IX.

Batman’s origin story has implications for psychotherapy. A child psychiatrist talks about how traumatized children act and play in the latest issue of The Atlantic, and particularly about how attracted they are to Batman’s story.

Speaking of superheroes, no longer are they limited to the pages of comics; they have conquered serious fiction, it seems.

Alex Dellamonica asks whether editors are still necessary. Hint: yes.

This will come as a shock, I know: women and people of color are still not equally represented among those who write and review science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Amazon is attempting to extract concessions from Hachette through such tactics as announcing that its books are out of stock (even though Hachette is making timely shipments), recommending other books on its website when a reader seeks out a Hachette book, and otherwise messing around with its books. It’s authors who suffer, as always, while the two leviathans take swipes at one another. I can’t figure out why Amazon hasn’t been prosecuted under the antitrust laws for this sort of tactic. And sometimes I really wonder whether I should continue to buy books from the e-tailer.

Is the “young adult” label a myth? Samantha Joseph says the label is irrelevant; a good book is a good book.

The Political Schism in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community

I debated long and hard about whether to include this next series of links in this week’s column. It’s not a happy subject; in fact, it makes my heart hurt, as one who has long considered science fiction, fantasy and horror a sort of home (odd as that may sound). Ultimately, I decided it was worth at least giving you the option to read about the battles that are roiling the SF community. Be prepared, though, because while there are some interesting issues being discussed, there are also some ugly things happening.

The announcement of the Hugo nominees has caused even more than the usual hue and cry (SF fans seem to be a quarrelsome lot, but not without cause). First, the entire Wheel of Time series has been nominated for the Best Novel award, 15 huge books (averaging over 600 pages each, with many approaching the 1,000 page mark) published over a 23-year period by two different authors. While the rules allow for this, some are outraged. The second of the two authors of the series, Brandon Sanderson, has written a sensible blog post about the controversy. Tor, the publisher of the series, is making the entire series available to Hugo voters as part of the packet they receive when they buy a membership in the World Science Fiction Convention.

A greater controversy about the awards has arisen from author Larry Correia’s proposition of a slate for the awards comprised mostly of far right-wing authors who write military science fiction. Correia’s own novel, Warbound: Book Three of the Grimnoir Chronicles, is one of the nominees, presumably as a result of his campaign. (Our own Kat read it, and liked it a lot.) Brad Torgerson is on the ballot, too, with nominees for the best novella and the best novelette, and he has his own take on the uproar over the awards. I mostly agree with Torgerson, actually: the Hugos are awards based on popular opinion, and I see no reason why any group of authors should be excluded from the popularity contest. And I mostly think that the awards should be about the work, not about the author.

But there is one author who is so far beyond the pale that I do think it a shame that he is on the ballot: Vox Day. He is an admitted sexist, racist and homophobe, and he writes about his “philosophy” at great length on his blog, to which I refuse to link. Bibliodaze explains why we should “just say no” to Day. As much as I attempt to distinguish the author from his work, in this case it doesn’t seem possible. I have, however, sampled the nominated novelette, and the writing is terrible. I’ll attempt to read the whole thing, but time is precious (not to mention that my stomach is queasy), so I may not make it. I’ll let you know.

You could spend an entire day reading nothing but blog posts on this controversy. Adventures in Reading has a sound post up. Jason Sandford writes about what this means for the rules governing the Hugo nominations, and gloomily concludes that the rules won’t change even though they should.

The beat goes on. A post from Amazing Stories — a forum you’d expect to be discussing the issue — and one from the Volokh Conspiracy, a Washington Post forum written by and about lawyers, which is a pretty surprising place to find the subject discussed, kept the controversy alive. Things have gotten more heated since then.

Teleread wants to blame the Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors (SFWA) for the ruckus, even though it has nothing to do with the Hugo Awards.

Perhaps encouraged by the Teleread article to take things further afield and stir up even more shit, John C. Wright has claimed that Robert A. Heinlein isn’t sufficiently politically correct to win a Hugo today. This comes shortly after Wright left SFWA in a huff, claiming that it has somehow harmed sales of his books (though declining to present any evidence to support this claim, or even any detail of how this was accomplished).

Wright’s claim is the subject of a long and eloquent discussion at Metafilter. One excellent contribution to the discussion comes from John Scalzi, who notes that we can’t assume Heinlein would write the exact same novels today that he wrote in more than half a century ago. In fact, he says, “That’s a fat lot of nonsense.” Yes. Yes, it is.

Amazing Stories has a direct response to Wright’s article. Wright couldn’t let it go, and wrote a lengthy response. File 770 followed up, making File 770 the cogent argument that Heinlein in fact HAS won Hugos as recently as 2001, when the Retro Hugos for 1951 were awarded to Heinlein for best novel, best novella and best dramatic presentation. Shattersnipe also has a good response to Wright.

Daniel Abraham writes about the whole notion of controversy, the difference between anger and violence, and the possibility that maybe we really do need to look at all this stuff more closely, and really listen to one another. Certainly he comes down on the side of civility, which seems like a good place to be.

Damien Walter explains that we do need diversity in writing, and provides links to a campaign on the issue.

Read as much or as little as you want, but by all means avoid the comments sections in unmoderated blogs unless you have a cast-iron stomach.

Cool Stuff

After all that, we need some unicorns and rainbows.

A new science fiction museum will open in Washington, D.C., next year. That’s worth a trip to the capitol all by itself. It’s billed as “the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum,” but that seems a bit of a swipe at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle. Still, I’m looking forward to it, especially when it’s fully up to speed in 2017.

Imaginary books by fictional authors: which ones would you read?

Los Angeles is hosting a science fiction theater festival throughout the month of May.

Who needs a damsel in distress when you can have a dude in distress?

Yes, the crazy ideas that science fiction writers come up with really do shape the future. Perhaps that’s why Americans tend to predict a science-fictional future.

BuzzFeed looks at real places that look like they come from fairy tales. There is such beauty in this world!


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TERRY WEYNA is spending the second half of her life as a reviewer, critic, scholar and writer, after having spent the first half practicing law in a variety of states and settings. (She still does legal research and writing for a law firm in California). Terry lives in Northern California with her husband, professor and writer Fred White, the imperious Cordelia Louise Cat Weyna-White, and a personal library that exceeds 12,000 volumes.

View all posts by Terry Weyna

6 comments

  1. Sandy Ferber /

    Wow, what an overload of information in this post, Terry! It’s going to take me a while to fully absorb all this. Many thanks for all your hard work here, and thanks also for the warm welcome!

  2. Resarching Sir Julius Vogel will be my current homework assignment.

    Terry, this was an amazing column with a prodigious pile of work! Thanks for taking this on in between opinion letters and legal analysis.

  3. Terry, you must have been up all night working on this post!

    Kate may take over this column in a couple of weeks. Are you trying to scare her off?

    Seriously, thanks for all the interesting stuff!

  4. Sandy Ferber /

    “The Telegraph” does NOT include “The Stars, My Destination,” still my favorite sci-fi novel of all time. Really?!?! Really?!?!

  5. just coming up for air after all these links–thanks!

  6. Brad /

    wow! My tablet is going to explode if I open any more tabs. My brain HAS exploded.

    Thanks for the links and info on comics! I’m terrible at keeping track of awards because I almost never surf the web (do people still say that?).

    And thanks for letting us know about all the controversy and summarizing it — as I just said, I often don’t know what’s going on because of my being allergic to the internet.

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