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Showing posts from May, 2006

Oh Goody, Time to Start Reading the Aegypt Books

Nick Antosca has a great interview with John Crowley, AKA the author you should all be reading (start with Little, Big). As one might expect from Crowley's Readerville visits and his posts on his new livejournal, all that's really required to get beautiful and evocative thoughts about his career in particular and life in general out of Crowley is giving him a platform from which to speak--I couldn't pick a pull-quote if I wanted to. He does, however, have good news about the fourth and final Aegypt novel:
I'm not able to make the official announcement yet – the publisher wants to prepare his/her own press release announcing this momentous thing – but the book is, three years after its completion, at last going to be published, late next spring, from a surprising source. More on my Internet Journal [see below] when this is closer to actuality.(Via Bookslut)

Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 2006

Last month, when I was reviewing the Hugo short fiction nominees (1,2,3), I kept expecting someone to pop up and ask why, if I had such strong opinions about the nominees and, quite often, their unsuitability for major awards (and on more than one occasion, publication in a professional market), didn't I buy a voting membership in WorldCon and try to get some worthy stories on the ballot. I dreaded the question, too, because the sad truth is that I don't usually keep up with short genre fiction. I'll read author collections and, more rarely, anthologies, but I've never been up to date with the newest short fiction in the field, online or in print media. This was one of my reasons for taking Gordon Van Gelder up on his offer when he came up with a unique promotion scheme last month--free copies of Fantasy & Science Fiction's July issue for bloggers who agreed to write about them. I wanted to get a taste of the fiction that professional editors were putting out t…

Sooner or Later, Something Good Had to Come Out of The Da Vinci Code

...and now it has--Anthony Lane has reviewed the film:
Help arrives in the shape of Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a police cryptographer. She turns out to be the granddaughter of the deceased, and a dab hand at reversing down Paris streets in a car the size of a pissoir. This is useful, since she and Langdon are soon on the run, convinced that Fache is about to nail the professor on a murder charge—the blaming of Americans, on any pretext, being a much loved Gallic sport. Our hero, needing somebody to trust, does the same dumb thing that every fleeing innocent has done since Robert Donat in “The Thirty-nine Steps.” He and Sophie visit a cheery old duffer in the countryside and spill every possible bean. In this case, the duffer is Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen), who lectures them on the Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D. We get a flashback to the council in question, and I must say that, though I have recited the Nicene Creed throughout my adult life, I never …

Misfortune by Wesley Stace

Misfortune is to Middlesex as Carter Beats the Devil is to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. That was the Readerville adage last year, when Wesley Stace's debut novel was making the rounds. Which is to say: both novels deal with very similar subject matter (magicians and escapist acts in the case of Chabon and Gold's novels, male children raised as women in the case of Eugenides' and Stace's), but whereas the former novel is frothy and adventurous, the latter is meaty, thoughtful, and psychologically astute. In other words, Chabon and Eugenides' novels are steak dinners, and Gold's is a nice sandwich. Which is perfectly alright--an eclectic palette should have room for both--but sadly enough Misfortune doesn't even live up to these reduced expectations. If we were to continue the food analogy, Misfortune would be a stale packet of crisps. With no dip.

Misfortune takes place in early 19th century England, and opens with the discovery, by Lord…

Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

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Here's how you know that you've fallen in love with Jason Taylor, the narrator and protagonist of David Mitchell's fourth novel, Black Swan Green: about halfway through "January Man", the first of thirteen stories which each chronicle a month in Jason's life, he sits down to lunch with his parents and older sister. The older Taylors are distracted, primarily by a slowly-escalating cold war in which new kitchen tiles and secret mortgages are lobbed across the dining room table like ballistic missiles. Jason's sister Julia contents herself with deriding him ("Thing is being grotesque while we're eating, Mother"). The burning resentment which this brief scene elicits towards the Taylors is proof enough that Jason has caught us in his net. We have fallen, hook, line and sinker, for his point of view. We don't stop to consider that Mum and Dad are tired and that thirteen year old boys can be a pain (especially to older sisters). Within a few …

The Girl Detective On Her Second Outing: Scattered Veronica Mars Thoughts

Coming a distant second on my list of reasons for being glad about Veronica Mars' renewal is the fact that, had the show been cancelled, I probably wouldn't have had the heart to post this entry. Praising the season's strengths would have been too painful, and listing its faults would have felt cruel and pointless. And, let's be honest, there are faults to list. When judged against any other standard but the impossibly harsh one it had set for itself, Veronica Mars' second season is unquestionably a stunning accomplishment, and still the best show on TV. That impossible standard, however, is the one that matters, and in their second outing the show's writers have clearly failed to meet it.

But I'd rather start with praise than with censure, and in one case at least I believe that fans' complaints against the show are thoroughly unjustified. Pacing has been on the top of most fans' complaint list throughout the second season--the investigation moved a…

Hallelujah

TV Guide's Michael Ausiello reports:
Straight from the horse's mouth, Rob Thomas just e-mailed me to confirm that Veronica Mars has been renewed for a third season. The show got a 22-episode order that, depending on ratings, can be reduced to 13.Expect my thoughts on season 2 some time tomorrow.

Self-Promotion 7

My review of Simon Ings' The Weight of Numbers (which, as I've already said, is a novel that more people should be reading and talking about) appears in this week's Strange Horizons.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I've inaugurated a new segment on the sidebar, with links to reviews and articles of mine elsewhere on the web.

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

I read Iain M. Banks' most recent novel, The Algebraist, in December (review here) and up until its midpoint, I was thoroughly convinced that the book would turn out to be one of my favorite reads of the year. Following that point, however, Banks' intriguing combination of social SF and hyper-imaginative space opera gave way to a humorous but ultimately repetitive adventure story, and the book eventually amounted to a minor work. That first half was still enough to whet my apetite for more of Banks' fiction, specifically his Culture novels, and being a completist I started with Consider Phlebas, Banks' first science fiction novel. This, I now suspect, is a mistake on par with starting to read the Discworld series with The Color of Magic--the talent and the good ideas are there, but they've yet to be developed. Consider Phlebas suffers from many of the faults one might expect from a new writer who has yet to cement and take control of his voice (my awareness of the …

Preliminary Veronica Mars Thoughts

Ha!

And I say again ha!

Ha-ha!

Which is not to say that I'm pleased with what we got. My reasons for picking Beaver as the killer were that I hoped that by making the bus bomber a teenager the writers could avoid the cliché of the mustache-twirling villain, the seeming good guy who turns out to be a cackling criminal mastermind. As you might imagine, I am not thrilled with what we got--I think I could have lived with Beaver killing the kids on the bus because he wanted to keep his 'secret', but his sadism towards Mac and Veronica (dear God, did we have to bring up the rape again? Wasn't it a bad enough idea the first time around?), and for that matter the entire grand guignol of a climax felt over the top and unearned.

I'm planning to write a longer post about the season as a whole, but that's going to take a while. For one thing, I'd like to rewatch the season and see if it hangs together a little better when viewed as a single block. Also, I'd like…

Awesome

Piping Hot Nebula Results

Via Emerald City and blogger Jayme Lynn Blaschke. It's not terrible--in spite of his recent sweep of major awards, I had my doubts about Geoff Ryman carrying the Nebula, although I expected Susanna Clarke, not Joe Haldeman, to win. I'm certainly pleased that Kelly Link's "Magic for Beginners" was recognized for the excellent novella that it is, and I hope this bodes well for Link's chances with the Hugo, where she faces stronger competition. I think I would have preferred a different novelette winner, but realistically speaking, "The Faery Handbag" had the award in a lock, and it is by no means an undeserving story. The only real and surprising disappointment is that Margo Lanagan's "Singing My Sister Down" didn't carry the day. I've said already that Emshwiller's appeal escapes me, but I know that she has many admirers. Here's hoping the Hugos treat Lanagan better.

Veronica Mars: Good, Ambiguous, and Potentially Splendiferous News

Via Gwenda, this article about Veronica Mars' as-yet-unconfirmed third season.

The good: Rob Thomas wants to make Mac a regular next year. About bloody time.

The ambiguous: the writers are moving away from a single mystery that underlies the entire season and writing three mysteries, each lasting 7-8 episodes. This has been rumored for quite some time, and given the show's problems with pacing during the second season, it might be a good idea. I'll miss the grandeur of the season-long mystery, though--I enjoyed knowing that the writers had the guts to demand such an extended commitment from their viewers.

The potentially splendiferous: Rob Thomas is very, very certain of a third season. The official announcement won't come until May 18th, which gives us all time to sacrifice a black goat at the north end of a graveyard at midnight on a full moon, just to be on the safe side.

Counting the days until Tuesday--I'm sticking with Beaver as my pick for the bus bomber, by…