WWWednesday; August 26, 2015

We’ll just get right to it today.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Zeppelin (c) Ken Berman 2015

Awards:

The Hugo Awards were announced Saturday, August 22, in Spokane Washington at WorldCon. David Gerrold and Tananarive Due were the hosts. The event started late and ran very long, making it a normal awards event (I watched the Sasquan livestream, which should be available next week). The full list of awards can be found here:

Best NovelThe Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (See our reviews here, here and here.)

Best Novella: No Hugo was awarded

Best Novelette: “The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt (see our review.)

Best Short Story: No Hugo was awarded.

Best Related Work: No Hugo was awarded.

Best “Long Form” (movie): Guardians of the Galaxy

Best drama (TV Show): Orphan Black

Best Graphic Novel: Ms Marvel.

Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Wesley Chu

As you might expect, there was a lot of discussion about the history-making event. Wired Magazine provided an article, and even the Wall Street Journal weighed in on the Hugos via one of their blogs. These are good overviews of the Great Hugo Debate this year, with (of course) both sides claiming victory. If it gets more readers in the field, I’ll be happy.

At WorldCon a local Spokane newspaper profiled George RR Martin as WorldCon opened. They even tried to find out when the next SOIAF book might be out, and met with the same success as everyone else who’s asked that question.

WorldCon always acknowledges the artist who created the base for the award, which always contains a rocket but which changes each year, the style set by the hosting city. Here is Sasquan’s award.

And then there were the drinking games. Jason Sanford created one, and so did Natalie Luhrs on her blog Pretty-Terrible.

For those of you who like inside-baseball, here are some statistics, and here are the ballot rules.

The 2017 WorldCon will be held in Helsinki. I think my passport will still be current!

I have a question for our readers. It seemed to me that there was a valid question raised this year during the Hugos, which got drowned out by subsequent noise; and that was that “traditional” hard SF and space opera SF were getting pushed out by works with more literary sensibilities. The Three Body Problem is classic hard SF, isn’t it? Does this prove, or disprove, the original argument?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Coney Island (c) Ken Berman 2015

Books and Writing:

Leah Schnelbach provides a nice essay about Ray Bradbury on his birthday, August 22. (From Tor.com)

Doris Lessing, Nobel prize winner for literature, was under surveillance by MI5 for two decades, the UK Guardian reports. Her youthful involvement with the Communist Party followed her. Most amusing is the section where an analyst speculates that her flat, which hosted people of various nationalities, “including Americans, Indians, Chinese and Negroes,” might actually be a brothel. Lessing, who was born in Zimbabwe when it was still called Rhodesia, was radicalized by the racism and inequities based on skin color. She was an active member of the Communist party but was disillusioned by Russia’s brutal suppression of the Hungarian uprising.

Last Week’s SF Signal Mind Meld asked various writers and readers which author they would like to see make a comeback. Our own Jana Nyman participated on this one. Warning; this will increase the size of your Must Read list!

Philip Pullman, author of the HIS DARK MATERIALS series, has strong opinions about art and education. He is perfectly willing to take on Britain’s Secretary of Education about the matter, too.

Last week, Adrienne Brown wrote about the dangers of utopias and why genuine social transformation means giving up on them.

Last, from the UK Guardian again, two Doctor Who articles. In the first novelist AL Kennedy says she thinks the Doctor should never be played by a woman because one essential quality is “blokeyness.” In the second post, Kennedy talks about the role Doctor Who plays in her literary life.

Space:

Sky and Telescope Magazine wants to be sure we’re all prepared for the full solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, because it’s not too soon to start preparing. It’s a Monday, you might want to put in for a personal day that date now. (Maybe I’ll just be getting back from Helsinki.)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Untitled (c) Ken Berman

Internet:

Sir Patrick Stewart, who stars in Blunt Talk, playing a character who is, well, nothing like Professor Xavier or Jean-Luc Picard, participated in a Reddit AMA. The actor’s wit and humor shine right through.

The New York Times published an article about working at Amazon. Apparently, not all that fun. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos joined the discussion.

If paleo-futurism or retro-futurism is your thing, Gizmodo unveils a series of pulp-magazine transportation devices. Most of these are from Frank Reade Weekly Magazine, a series of short pulp adventure novels. I like the Ice Ranger, although I do wonder what a pack of wolves is doing on an ice floe.

The Mary Sue reports that Steven Moffat doesn’t understand why the fans love the Doctor Who episode “Blink,” even though he wrote it. It’s atmospheric and scary, with great casting, and it plays fairly with a time-travel paradox — and it introduces the Weeping Angels. Other than that, I can see why he is baffled.

A hat-tip to Brad Hawley for this short film — one of the most gorgeous, funny and bizarre-in-a-good-way things I’ve seen in a while.

Earth. Specifically, California:

There hasn’t been a wolf pack in California since the 1920s — until now. Trail cams captured images of what appear to be five gray wolf cubs and two adults in the Mt. Shasta area. The US Department of Fish and Wildlife is keeping the exact location under wraps to protect the animals. Before this, California had one part-time wolf, a single male designated OR-7 who came down to visit from Oregon from time to time. (He’s a border jumper!) OR-7 does not appear to be affiliated with this family.

Giveaways:

FanLit has three active giveaways right now: Five Questions for Ernest Cline, Identify Those Covers, and Romani Power in Sci-Fi and Fantasy.

Art:

Ken Berman, a Sebastopol, California artist, has a master’s degree in architecture and draws heavily on that for his “Mechanical and Industrial” style. He paints skateboards and works on canvas (I own one). I didn’t have a chance to talk to Ken directly, but check out his website. His stuff is interesting and a little different. By the way, Elizabeth Leggett whose work we featured on August 5, 2015, won a Hugo for best fan artist. Congratulations, Elizabeth!


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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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9 comments

  1. Thanks for the link to the Bradbury essay on Tor.com! I don’t know how I missed that when it was first posted.

  2. Rebecca /

    I’m very pleased that Orphan Black took home the award for Best Drama, especially as I wasn’t hugely impressed with Doctor Who’s “Listen”. It’s a fantastic show (easily my favourite at the moment) and deserves all the publicity it can get.

  3. I really love Ken Berman’s art! I’m seriously thinking about buying a print of Coney Island for my office. The only thing that’s stopping me is that I have no wall space left, thanks to the War of the Worlds print that I bought after it was featured here a while back. (http://postertext.com/)

  4. The Wired article on the Hugo Awards and Sad Puppy Backlash is an excellent round-up of the major issues and public figures involved. I’m happy that Three-Body Problem won Best Novel since I thought it was a deserving winner (though I didn’t read the other nominees). To answer Marion’s question, I don’t really think it represented a victory for “hard SF” over “literary SF”: It just so happened that way. Ancillary Justice was a combination of both, but Redshirts, Among Others, and Blackout/All Clear are certainly not hard SF.
    I think it’s great for an Asian writer like Cixin Liu to win the award, especially since it’s based on a translation. That opens up a lot of possibilities for future awards – is SF becoming more international? I certainly hope so, if it broadens the talent pool~

    • I think in the US we are getting access to more international works, and I’m thrilled about that.

      I’ve always thought that Ancillary Justice was really good old-fashioned space opera and never really grasped the dislike of it, except that the author imagined a society that didn’t use gendered nouns/pronouns. Three Body Problem is conventional hard SF; I would guess people who read magazines like Analog would have voted for it over, say, The Goblin Emperor, generally speaking.

  5. It’s pretty tough to compare two books as different at Three-Body Problem and Goblin Emperor. In the end, the one with more voting fans wins. My question for Marion (since she read both): should The Goblin Emperor even be considered SF? It sounds more like fantasy to me.

    • Purely fantasy, From the FAQs: “The Hugo Awards, to give them their full title, are awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy.”

      This is yet another issue; is it reasonable to compare second-world fantasy with “hard” science fiction? And apparently the answer is “yes,” at least for now. Some awards, like the Locus Awards, have best SF and best Fantasy (as least I think it’s the Locus awards I’m thinking of.)

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