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The 2013 Nebulas and Where You Can Find Them

BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Jay Fowler (Excerpt)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (Excerpt)
Fire with Fire by Charles E. Gannon (Amazon Excerpt)
Hild by Nicola Griffith (Amazon Excerpt)
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Excerpt) WINNER!
The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata (Excerpt)
A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar (Excerpt)
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (Excerpt)

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Full)
“The Weight of the Sunrise” by Vylar Kaftan (Full) WINNER!
“Annabel Lee” by Nancy Kress
“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes (Full)
“Trial of the Century” by Lawrence M. Schoen (Full)
“Six-Gun Snow White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Excerpt)

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“Paranormal Romance” by Christopher Barzak (Full)
“The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (Full) WINNER!
“They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass” by Alaya Dawn Johnson (???)
“Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” by Henry Lien (Excerpt)
“The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu (???)
“In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” by Sarah Pinsker (Part 1, Part 2)

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“The Sounds of Old Earth” by Matthew Kressel (Full)
“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Full)
“Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” by Kenneth Schneyer (Full)
“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Full) WINNER!
“Alive, Alive Oh” by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (Full)

Nothing much to not about this year’s nominees. I see quite a few females up here. There are more non-unique female nominations than male, and not by a small margin. That’s nice to see.

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2013 Hugos

Interestingly, I have not heard any reports about this. Only way I knew was from John Scalzi’s blog. Interesting. Makes me wonder if the Nebulas are still worth it, if anyone cares but SFWA people.

Also, eight nominees for novel? Really?

The 2013 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it
Blackout by Mira Grant (Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Excerpt) Either way
Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Excerpt) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (Excerpt) Either way

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall” by Nancy Kress (Amazon Excerpt) Either way
“The Emperor’s Soul” by Brandon Sanderson (Excerpt) Either way WINNER!
“On a Red Station, Drifting” by Aliette de Bodard (Excerpt) Skip it
“San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats” by Mira Grant (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“The Stars Do Not Lie” by Jay Lake (Full) Skip it

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Full) (Audio Version) Thumbs Up!
“The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan WINNER!
“In Sea-Salt Tears” by Seanan McGuire Thumbs Up!
“Rat-Catcher” by Seanan McGuire

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Full) (Audio Version) Either way
“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson Either way
“Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu (Amazon Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!

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My Nebula Ratings

Each year, I read through the nominations for the Hugos and Nebulas that I can (the ones available in some form, excerpt or full). I give them my “Thumbs Up“, “Skip It” or “Either way” vote. Now these are completely arbitrary ratings, based on my opinion. The opinion of a citizen, a man with a college degree, but not a masters. A man with no real literary background or experience. A lowercase-A author.

My main concern is the ones I rate “Skip it”. They’re usually stories that are too complicated or sequels to something. Like this year I gave a “Skip it” to Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Glamour and Glass”. Miss Kowal’s a wonderful person — ally of Scalzi and co-anchor of Writing Excuses. But A) her novel’s a sequel B) it’s based on regency novels (Jane Austen stuff).

But it was never my taste to begin with. I tend to give “Skip It”s to novels with too much internationalization, high science, and experimental works. Last year nothing I voted “Skip It” won anything.

Also, is “Skip it” even the right term to use? I’m a lowly consumer, prone to idiotic things, not sophisticated prose. Is it right to tell you to not bother with something? Does anyone even care about my opinion? Does anyone follow these recommendations? I’m just an uncultured bastard. I can’t vote in these things. I’ve never had a book published. I’m not part of the SFWA. Who am I to say you should skip a story? Does it help you at all?

The 2012 Nebulas And Where To Find Them

galaxy nebula

BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (Excerpt) Either way
Ironskin by Tina Connolly (Excerpt) [Book Trailer] Thumbs Up!
The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin (Excerpt) Skip it
The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan (Amazon Excerpt) [Book Trailer] Thumbs Up!
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal (Excerpt) Skip it
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it WINNER!

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“On a Red Station, Drifting” by Aliette de Bodard (Excerpt) Skip it
“After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall” by Nancy Kress (Amazon Excerpt) Either way WINNER!
“The Stars Do Not Lie” by Jay Lake (Full) Skip it
“All the Flavors” by Ken Liu (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Katabasis” by Robert Reed
“Barry’s Tale” by Lawence M. Schoen (Full) Thumbs Up!

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“The Pyre of New Day” by Catherine Asaro (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Close Encounters” by Andy Duncan WINNER!
“The Waves” by Ken Liu (Full) Thumbs Up!
“The Finite Canvas” by Brit Mandelo (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Swift, Brutal Retaliation” by Meghan McCarron (Full) Either way
“Portrait of Lisane da Patagnia” by Rachel Swirsky Thumbs Up!
“Fade to White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Full) (Audio Version) Thumbs Up!

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“Robot” by Helena Bell (Full) (Audio Version) Thumbs Up!
“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Full) (Audio Version) Either way WINNER!
“Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes” by Tom Crosshill (Full) (Audio Version) Thumbs Up!
“Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess Thumbs Up!
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley (Full) (Audio Version) Skip it
“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu (Full) (Audio Version) Thumbs Up!
“Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo (Full) (Audio Version) Either way

Nothing much to not about this year’s nominees. I see quite a few females up here. There are more non-unique female nominations than male, and not by a small margin. That’s nice to see.

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The 2012 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

And of course, as soon as I’m done reading the Nebulas, the Hugos get announced. Lots of crossovers this year though.

Remember — the Hugos are a popular vote, voted on by anyone who pays money to Worldcon to become a member.

BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
Among Others by Jo Walton (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!WINNER!
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
Deadline by Mira Grant (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
Embassytown by China Miéville (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“Countdown” by Mira Grant (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“The Ice Owl” by Caroly Ives Gilman (Interview)
“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Full) Thumbs Up!
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Excerpt) Either wayWINNER!
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Silently and Very Fast” by Catherine M. Valente (Full) Skip it

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Full) Skip it
“Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgenson (Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (Full) Thumbs Up!WINNER!
“What We Found” by Geoff Ryman

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Full) Either way
“The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Full + Audio) Either way
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (Full) (Audio) Thumbs Up!WINNER!
“Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (Full) Thumbs Up!

And finally some observations.

First, it is totally awesome that Jim C. Hines got nominated for best fan writer. I don’t even know how he got it, he actually posts as many pictures of neat Lego sculptures as he talks about science fiction. I can’t imagine what he must be feeling right now — he’s just a regular guy who only gets the time to write on his lunch break, like me. But this proves that the little guy can make it into a recognized author. And its inspired to dedicate more strength to my writing, less time to funny videos and Internet kerfuffles. I need to focus on the positive. I’m not going to become a science-fiction writer by being a cynical, argumentative person. The more time I dedicate to hate and insults is less time I’m writing.

Next, like I found last year, some of the nominations are very strange. One, under “Best Dramatic Presentation (short form)” is “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech” given at last years Hugo’s for best fanzine. It made a splash last year, but I didn’t watch it until day. It’s passionate, it’s lovely, but… well, maybe I’m missing something, but aren’t these awards supposed to be for creative works? I guess one of the criteria for creation is that it’s got to be pre-planned or engineered, at least in mind. This is not acting, this is not a planned skit. This is simply a spontaneous reaction.

Then, there’s John Scalzi’s “Shadow War of the Night Dragons”. This… well, this story was an April Fool’s joke. It was meant to mimic a real book release, written as a parody/satire of the prolific trend of dark fantasy. You know, girls with back tattoos and daggers looking at the moon. But… it’s a joke. A long form joke, yes, but, it’s really not meant to be taken as serious literature. Although Scalzi makes a good point about humor getting a nod. That’s fine, I’m all for funny. But it’s like the situation in The Producers, where someone attempts to make something bad and it’s critically revered. Ah well, sour grapes.

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The 2011 Nebulas and Where To Find Them

It’s award time already? Damn, felt like I just made this list. It’s only February people. The year just woke up.

Like I do every year, in my attempt to make myself seem like a legitimate writer (see previous post), I list what got nominated and where you can read ’em to judge for yourself. Personal judgement and winners to come.

Remember — the Nebulas are not a popular vote, they’re voted on by SFWA members and lean towards stories with more literary merit than popularity.

BEST NOVEL (40,000+ words)
Among Others by Jo Walton (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
Embassytown by China Miéville (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it
Firebird by Jack McDevitt (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) Either way
God’s War by Kameron Hurley (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it
Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
The Kingdom of Gods by N.K. Jemisin (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt) Skip it

BEST NOVELLA (17,500 – 40,000 words)
“Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Silently and Very Fast” by Catherine M. Valente (Full) Skip it
“The Ice Owl” by Caroly Ives Gilman (Interview)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Excerpt) Either way WINNER!
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Full) Thumbs Up!
“With Unclean Hands” by Adam-Troy Castro

BEST NOVELLETTE (7,500 – 17,500 words)
“Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgenson (Excerpt) Thumbs Up!
“Sauerkraut Station” by Ferrett Steinmetz (Full) Thumbs Up!
“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (Full) Thumbs Up!
“The Migratory Pattern of Dancers” by Katherine Sparrow (Full) Thumbs Up!
“The Old Equations” by Jake Kerr (Full) Thumbs Up!
“What We Found” by Geoff Ryman WINNER!

BEST SHORT STORY (less than 7,500 words)
“Her Husband’s Hands” by Adam-Troy Castro (Full + Audio) Thumbs Up!
“Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son” by Tom Crosshill (Full + Audio) Either way
“Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Full + Audio) Either way
“Shipbirth” by Aliette de Bodard (Full) Skip it
“The Axiom of Choice” by David W. Goldman (Full) Thumbs Up!
“The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Full) Either way
“The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (Full) (Audio) Thumbs Up! WINNER!

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction & Fantasy Book
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt)
Chime by Franny Billingsley (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt)
Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt)
The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt)
The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt) WINNER!
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (Excerpt) (Google Books Preview) (Amazon Excerpt)
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson (Excerpt) (Amazon Excerpt)

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2010 Hugos
2010 Nebulas
2011 Hugos

The 2011 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

Rachel Bloom Ray Bradbury

BEST NOVEL
·Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Amazon Excerpt) WINNER!
·Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Excerpt)
·The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Amazon Excerpt)
·Feed by Mira Grant (Excerpt) Either way
·The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Excerpt)

BEST NOVELLA
·The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Thumbs Up!
·The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
·The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon by Elizabeth Hand
·The Sultan of the Clouds by Geoffrey A. Landis (Full) Thumbs Up!
·Troika by Alastair Reynolds

BEST NOVELETTE
·Eight Miles by Sean McMullen
·The Emperor of Mars by Allen M. Steele (Full) (Audio) WINNER!
·The Jaguar House, in Shadow by Aliette de Bodard (Full) Skip it
·Plus or Minus by James Patrick Kelly (Full) Either way
·That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone (Full) Thumbs Up!

BEST SHORT STORY
·Amaryllis by Carrie Vaughn (Full) Skip it
·For Want of a Nail by Mary Robinette Kowal (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
·Ponies by Kij Johnson (Full) Thumbs Up!
·The Things by Peter Watts (Full) Either way

And as a special note, I wanted to exhibit something that was nominated for “Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form” as it seemed a real unusual pick. It’s an amateur YouTube video, a fan work, a meta-sci fi work (meaning it’s not a science fiction story, but it’s about science fiction) and features profanity in the title. Meaning that everyone who’s going to write about the Hugos is going to have a tough time with this one. I don’t know why the committee selected it, maybe it didn’t have a choice, like Madden with Peyton Hillis on the cover. It’s good, but is it Hugo good? You decide.

The 2010 Nebulas and Where You Can Find Them

Well, I did this for the Hugos last year, so why not for the Nebulas this year? Here’s where you can find all the stuff nominated for this year’s Nebulas if it’s available online along with my own personal review. I’m going to read them anyway, so why not you? Enjoy!

SHORT STORY
·“Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro (Full) Thumbs Up!
·“How Interesting: A Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER! (tie)
·“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER! (tie)
·“I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno” by Vylar Kaftan (EscapePod Audio Edition) (Full) Skip it
·“The Green Book” by Amal El-Mohtar (Full) Either way
·“Ghosts of New York” by Jennifer Pelland (Full) Either way
·“Conditional Love” by Felicity Shoulders (EscapePod Audio Edition) (Full) Thumbs Up!

NOVELETTE
·Map of Seventeen by Christopher Barzak
·The Jaguar House, in Shadow by Aliette de Bodard (Full) Skip it
·The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost and Oludara by Christopher Kastensmidt (Full) Thumbs Up!
·Plus or Minus by James Patrick Kelly (Full) Either way
·Pishaach by Shweta Narayan
·That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made by Eric James Stone (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
·Stone Wall Truth by Caroline M. Yoachim (Full) Skip it

NOVELLA
·The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi
·Iron Shoes by J. Kathleen Cheney
·The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Full) Thumbs Up!
·The Sultan of the Clouds by Geoffrey A. Landis (Full) Thumbs Up!
·Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance by Paul Park
·The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!

NOVEL
·The Native Star by M.K. Hobson (Amazon Excerpt)
·The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Excerpt)
·Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal (Amazon Excerpt)
·Echo Jack McDevitt (Excerpt)
·Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (Excerpt)
·Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Amazon Excerpt) WINNER!

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
·Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Amazon Excerpt)
·White Cat by Holly Black (Amazon Excerpt)
·Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (Amazon Excerpt)
·Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (Excerpt)
·The Boy from Ilysies by Pearl North (Amazon Excerpt)
·I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (Amazon Excerpt) WINNER!
·A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner (Amazon Excerpt)
·Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld (Amazon Excerpt)

The 2010 Hugos and Where You Can Find Them

So every year the Hugos and Nebulas come out and I try and read them all. Of course, it’s hard to read the novels, but they do have excerpts. So at least you can get an idea for what the book is about when they talk about it in the blogs.

This year, I thought I’d let you all in on what I find too. Share the wealth, that’s what I say. So here are all the links I found to this year’s Hugo nominations online. Some are full and some are excerpts. I usually didn’t include Amazon if I didn’t have to, but that’s another resource you can use.

Now I’m not 100% sure all of these online publications are legal. So if I put up a link here, and it’s not supposed to be there, let me know and I’ll take it down. However, no one likes a Narc.

And for those of you that didn’t put your work online–shame, shame. You’re ruining a good chance for people to read a sample of your work and possibly buy more. Just keep that in mind.

EDIT: I’ll also include a thumbs up or skip it rating, not that you care about my opinion

EDIT 2: Noted all the winners!

BEST NOVEL

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (Excerpt – Prologue) Thumbs Up! WINNER! (tie)
The City & The City by China Miéville (Excerpt – Chapter 1) Thumbs Up! WINNER! (tie)
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson (Excerpt – First 6 pages) Skip it
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente (Excerpt – Chapters 1 & 2) Either way
Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Excerpt – Chapters 1-12) Thumbs Up!
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Excerpt – Chapters 1-9) Skip it

BEST NOVELLA

Act One by Nancy Kress (Full) Thumbs Up!
The God Engines by John Scalzi (Excerpt – Chapter 1) Thumbs Up!
Palimpsest by Charles Stross (Full) Skip it WINNER!
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow (not found)
Vishnu at the Cat Circus by Ian McDonald (not found)
The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker (Excerpt – Chapter 1 & 2) Thumbs Up!

BEST NOVELETTE

Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky (Full) Skip it
The Island by Peter Watts (Full) Either way WINNER!
It Takes Two by Nicola Griffith (Full) Thumbs Up!
One of Our Bastards is Missing by Paul Cornell (Full) Skip it
Overtime by Charles Stross (Full) Thumbs Up!
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster (Full) Either way

BEST SHORT STORY

The Bride of Frankenstein by Mike Resnick (Full – audio) Thumbs Up!
Bridesicle by Will McIntosh (Full) Thumbs Up! WINNER!
The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen (Full – audio) Either way
Non-Zero Probabilities by N.K. Jemisin (Full) Either way
Spar by Kij Johnson (Full) Thumbs Up!

The Books I Read: January – March 2009

bookshelf books

While I’m wool-gathering brain-storming researching develop the background for Mermaid Story, let’s take a look at the books I read this past quarter.


Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I discovered this online for free shortly before the movie came out, although that’s not really relevant since I haven’t seen it yet. It’s a good book, good children’s story. Like Alice in Wonderland if it was directed by Tobe Hooper. There’s something about the “Person falls into Magic World” that’s still appealing, and Gaiman’s done it thrice now (Coraline for the kids, Mirrormask for the teens, and Neverwhere for the adults). He does a good job of starting out as mundane, moving to whimsical, then eerie, then oh-my-god-I’m-going-to-die-a-horrible-death-if-I-don’t-return-to-mundanity. I recommend it. It’s plenty short.


The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I saw the movie first and I thought “Gee, this movie’s not terribly great, but judging by the material, the book must be awesome”. And I discovered an inherent problem with seeing the movie first. The book becomes boring, because you know what’s going to happen. There really isn’t anything new to explore, all you get is a bunch more detail, and none of the fantastic details. Still, I did like this book, mostly because it has giant warrior bears. And I am probably going to read the other books in the series (before the movie comes out), after I get done with all the other books I’ve got to read.


Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

One from the archive of free stuff. I think I got this because I was going to read The Jungle Book (which is still on my list) in preparation for The Graveyard Book. This is a collection of stories about racial stereotypes. It’s always funny to read old stories and how blatantly racist they are. I know racism is wrong, but it’s basically unavoidable. And these stories come from a time when there weren’t any political activists or special interest groups that dedicate themselves to what words you can or can’t use, instead of useful things like the economy. Anyway, back on track here. The problem with this book is I’ve heard all these stories before, so I was able to zip through it. The ones I haven’t heard, well, now I know why. Especially the one which is basically about a father and daughter inventing the alphabet. I could have lived without reading this, but it’s still nice to have it as a notch. Sometimes I wonder why I read these old books.


Tigerheart by Peter David

This book is awesome. In the “The Big Idea” piece David did for Scalzi, he says that the reason he wrote this was because, of the many penned Peter Pan sequels, none of them succeeded in capturing the heart and soul of the first book. That’s because the first book narrates in a dream-like state, with frequent infodumps, fourth-wall interjections, and a general sense that you are being shown a story, not told. I think David recaptures this essence, but keeps the plot coherent. I found it delightful that we get to revisit and re-explore some of the lesser known characters, like Tiger Lily, but is mostly about the dichotomy between The Boy and the new main character who finds himself being basically harrassed by Neverland. But it retains a whimsical nature, a storyline both kids and adults can enjoy, and a child-fueled pace. I heartfully recommend it.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

I’m going to put these two together because I need to comment on Gaiman’s later works globally. Neverwhere is cool. Coraline is cool. My favorite Gaiman novel is Anansi Boys, (which I think he must hate, because he never mentions it anymore) and nothing compares to Sandman. So what’s the deal with his later works now? I don’t like them.

The Graveyard Book was good, but I don’t think it was a Newbery winner (not that I read the other candidates – maybe it was a crappy year for YA literature), and it’s also got a Hugo nod. It seems like it left a lot out that I wanted to see or know. The coolest part of the book – where a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy, and something else are in an epic battle, is barely mentioned. The best story is the Witch’s Headstone, and the rest are rather predictable stories. Bod’s ghost powers barely fit into the story, and most of the rest of it is how he doesn’t get along with any of the ghosts.

Then Fragile Things is a mish-mash of stories that don’t make any sense. I’d say only 3% of the stories I liked (most I read previously) and there were too many. And there’s disturbing stuff in there – pedophilia, rape, etc. Nothing I care to read. It’s not that they’re not good, it’s that they’re not coherent. I liked Smoke and Mirrors just fine, but this is not as good. So I guess my beef is that I’d like it if Neil Gaiman went back to being new Neil Gaiman instead of old Hugo Winner Neil Gaiman. The same thing happened to Stephen King. Except for Sandman, I’ve had enough of Gaiman for a while. At least until he comes out with another Anansi Boys.



Zero-Option by Lindsay Brambles


This was a novella I had in my archives, released under CC, that I finished in two days. It was awful, such a Mary Sue. Here’s the plot, some Space Navy Intelligence officer boards a ship with a “loose cannon” captain. The captain is a complete moron, taking unnecessary risks into deep space, enemy territory, and warp jumps, for no apparent reason. And in the end, they all die, because she was a moron. Here’s the narrative.

“Loose Cannon” Captain: I’m a loose cannon. I’ll do something stupid and unnecessarily risky.
Space Navy Officer: You’re crazy! (to some other guy) She’s crazy!
Some Other Guy: She’s a genius, we’ll do whatever she says.
“Loose Cannon” Captain: Now I’ve screwed us. But I’m a loose cannon. I’ll do something else stupid and risky to get us out of this.
Space Navy Officer: You’re crazy! (to some other guy) She’s crazy!
Some Other Guy: She’s a genius, we’ll do whatever she says.
“Loose Cannon” Captain: Now I’ve screwed us again and we’re going to die. But I’m a loose cannon. I’ll do something even more stupid and risky to get us out of this. Because I’m a loose cannon.
Space Navy Officer: You’re crazy! (to some other guy) She’s crazy!
Some Other Guy: She’s a genius. She’ll get us out of this.
All: Crap, we died.

Thus we come to another end of AuthorQuest Theater.

I mean seriously, as a writer, can you not see that your main character is a moron? Or that your plot is the same formula, all based on ridiculous jumps to conclusions, none of which are character based. Some books intimidate you to be a writer. Others make you realize that ‘you can do this’.



The Blue World by Jack Vance

The first of books I’m using to research Mermaid Story. It takes place on a world totally covered in water. All their tools and supplies come from biological resources. Most material is made from plants and plant-like animals (like sponges). The hardest substance they have is bone. There is no metal (until they start bleeding themselves to get to the iron in their blood – ew) and communication is done by big semaphore towers. This is true science fiction – a whole lot of science and not a terrible amount of story. Its saving grace is that its short and tight, and the science isn’t flooding, just distracting. And there is story here to latch onto – the conflict of religion and science. A man dares to question why things must be as they are, and the priests don’t much care for that. I like those kinds of stories (although there is some irrelevant stuff in the beginning that makes me question its relevance therein, and the romance is nil).

I just finished reading all the available Hugo nominees as well. Amazingly, I’ve read two of the nominated novels, and will probably read a third at some point. No one cares about anything but the novels in the Hugos, but there are multiple other categories of readables. I think the best stories this year (that were available to read) were “Alastair Baffle’s Emporium of Wonders” by Mike Resnick, “The Gambler” by Paolo Bacigalupi. “The Ray-Gun: A Love Story” by James Alan Gardner, “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang, “Pride and Prometheus” by John Kessel was quite good too, but it’s written in the Jane Austen style, which makes it difficult to get through. Jane Austen is like kryptonite to sci-fi readers. And “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson was good, but written in the abstract style which always comes off in a pretentious, art-film way.