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Showing posts from April, 2009

Recent Reading Roundup 21

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2009 started with a bit of a reading slump, from which I've only recently started to come out, which is why there's been a bit of silence on the recent reading roundup front. The recent arrival of an Amazon order will probably help with that, but in the meanwhile here are some of the books I did manage to read in the first months of the year.
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway - I was expecting to get a blog post out of Harkaway's much-discussed debut, but instead I ended it completely uncertain of my feelings. I still can't decide whether the novel is wonderful, or just a whole lot of wankery, or a whole lot of wonderful wankery. Harkaway's story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in which the laws of the physics have been overturned, and most of the planet is a nightmare realm in which reality is fluid and disconnected from reason. The ragged remnants of humanity huddle behind the protection of the Jorgmund Pipe, a massive construction that sprays FOX, a re…

The 2009 Hugo Awards: The Novelette Shortlist

Of the three short fiction categories, the novelette shortlist is the one I most look forward to in my annual Hugo reviews. It's where the best stories are generally found, and its overall quality is consistently high. So I sort screwed myself this year by reading so many novelettes and nominating for the Hugo, because though this year's novelette shortlist is pretty impressive, it's also made up, with only one exception, of stories I read, liked, and then rejected in favor of others I liked better. It's therefore a little hard for me to feel excited about this year's novelette shortlist. I keep thinking that though this is a strong bunch of stories, it could have been much stronger, which oddly enough is even more disappointing than the weak short story shortlist.

The only story on the shortlist I hadn't read before the nominees were announced was Mike Resnick's "Alastair Baffle's Emporium of Wonders," which might go some way towards expla…

The 2009 Hugo Awards: The Short Story Shortlist

I made a slight tactical error in my reading of this year's Hugo-nominated short stories when I prefaced it with a reading of Jhumpa Lahiri's recent collection, Unaccustomed Earth. The forced comparison with Lahiri's achingly immediate, scrupulously detailed prose would be unkind to almost any author, and the stories on this year's short story ballot--traditionally the weakest of the three short fiction categories--were no exception. Still, though it may be unfair to condemn the writers on the short story ballot for not giving Lahiri's limpid prose and deft characterization a run for their money, I do think it should count against the shortlist that none of the stories on it were able to remind me why, when all's said and done, I prefer genre shorts to mainstream ones. As astonishing as I found Lahiri's stories, I tend to grow rather weary of the New Yorker-friendly style of which she is so emblematic, and look to genre short fiction for qualities that m…

Self-Promotion

I was very impressed with John Langan's recent story "How the Day Runs Down," and even put it on my Hugo ballot, so I was quite eager to read more of his work, but Langan's collection Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters proved something of a disappointment. I talk about the reasons for this, and for my continued interest in Langan's writing despite being disappointed, in my review of Mr. Gaunt at Strange Horizons.

Endings and Beginnings

So, the master plan for April is to start moving away from the recent all TV, all the time theme of this blog and return to your regularly scheduled book-blogging (though in the interim you might want to read these very interesting discussions ofBSFA-nominatedshortfiction at Torque Control), but this week was an interesting one in the TV annals, comprising an early death, a late death (though both, I would say, somewhat overdue) and a resurrection. Here are my thoughts.
ER - The long-running hospital series came to an end this week after a fifteen-season run, and though I've been at best an occasional viewer for the last ten of those, it was hard not to feel a little misty this week, thinking back to those first five seasons and my deep devotion to the show during them. It's not that ER was the first 'grown-up' series I became invested in--that was either St. Elsewhere or LA Law--and it's not that it was my first fannish show--that was either original flavor Star …

April's Links

No jokes here, I promise.
Just when I thought I was out: SF Signal's latest Mind Meld asks contributors, including myself, what they would have done to fix the Battlestar Galactica series finale, though many take the same tack I did and spend more time talking about the series's overall problems. Several interesting perspectives here, such as a medieval historian who talks about the series's treatment of religion (though I strongly disagree with her conclusions), and even a few people who thought the finale was perfect just the way it was. Sadly, no contribution from John C. Wright, who is always good for a laugh.

Over at Torque Control, Niall Harrison has started a series of discussions of award-nominated short fiction. He's starting with the BSFA nominees and will move on to the Hugos shortly, but his first subject of discussion, Ted Chiang's "Exhalation," is on both shortlists. As I say over there, I'm probably going to save most of my thoughts f…