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Showing posts from February, 2010

The 2010 Hugo Awards: My Draft Hugo Ballot

The deadline for submitting Hugo nominations is still two weeks away, but following in Niall's footsteps I thought I'd put my preliminary choices up as a way of encouraging others to give them a try and maybe nominate them as well, or to try to talk me out of them and into others.  I'm not quite done with my reading yet: there are several novellas I still want to get to, and in the best related book category my reading has been as paltry as usual, though I'm hoping to manage Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr.'s The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction and Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James's A Short History of Fantasy before the nominating deadline.  For other perspectives, you might want to take a look at ballots by Joe Sherry, Martin Lewis (1,2,3), Rich Horton, and Rachel Swirsky (1,2,3, though as these are Nebula nominations not all of her choices are eligible for the Hugo).

Best novel:
The City & The City by China MiĆ©villeThe Windup Girl by Paolo BacigalupiIn Great Wa…

Self-Promotion

My review of Jesse Bullington's The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart appears today at Strange Horizons.  Some of you may recall that Grossbart received one of the dishonorable mention slots in my summary of 2009's worst reads, and though I stand by that judgment as it relates to my own reading experience, my review is somewhat more ambivalent--possibly the most ambivalent I've ever written.

Fantasy and the Jewish Question

Farah Mendlesohn pours out her wrath on Michael Weingrad's article "Why There is No Jewish Narnia" in the inaugural issue of Jewish Review of Books, and its assertion that Weingard "cannot think of a single major fantasy writer who is Jewish, and there are only a handful of minor ones of any note. To no other field of modern literature have Jews contributed so little."  Allegedly a review of Lev Grossman's The Magicians and Hagar Yanai's HaMaim SheBeyn HaOlamot (The Water Between the Worlds), the second volume in an Israeli YA fantasy trilogy, Weingard treats only briefly with his two subjects and mostly uses them as a backdrop to his theory of Judaism being a far less hospitable environment than Christianity for the development of a fantastic tradition, of "all the elements necessary for classic fantasy—magic, myth, dualism, demonic forces, strange worlds, and so forth."  Farah responds by listing a dozen Jewish fantasy authors off the top of…

Recent Movie Roundup 10

I'm actually not a very enthusiastic consumer of movies.  When it comes to filmed fiction, TV does a lot more of what I'm interested in, and months can sometimes pass without me seeing the inside of a movie theater or even sitting down with a DVD.  But somehow, since the beginning of the year Israeli film distributors (and in one case, a local movie channel) have ladled out a whole raft of movies I've wanted to see, and I'm not even done--I'm still hoping to catch An Education, Fish Tank, The White Ribbon, and The Lovely Bones.  Here are my thoughts on 2010's movie-viewing thus far:
Bright Star (2009) - The first film I watched in 2010, Bright Star set a very high bar that has yet to be cleared by any other movie.  A slow, meandering sort-of biopic, the film follows the doomed romance between the romantic poet John Keats and his neighbor Fanny Brawne (a very fine Abbie Cornish).  This is a film that is steeped in the romantic--both the 19th century mode, which K…

Yes, Even Worse Than the Enterprise Theme Song

After three episodes, I remain agnostic about the Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica: interested enough to keep watching, but not so interested that the show's by-now all-but-guaranteed cancellation bothers me overmuch.  The one conclusion I have come to, however, is that this series has the very worst opening titles sequence ever aired on television.



The images are far too on the nose--Joseph Adama is kneeling before a tombstone (which conveniently bears his name) because he's mourning for his wife and daughter; Sister Clarice hands the symbol of the monotheistic cult to Lacy because she's indoctrinating her--and the Blade Runner-esque visual sensibility (with the zeppelin at the end adding a slight steampunk touch) is entirely at odds with the actual show's look, which can best be described as Naturalism Askew--familiar interiors and exteriors made strange through delicate touches of futuristic technology or unfamiliar design choices.  Most of all, the plast…

Recent Reading Roundup 24

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I've been posting these less often because most of my reading has either been for reviews or has ended up in longer posts, but I've finally worked up enough of a backlog to make up a post.
Scar Night by Alan Campbell - the first in the Deepgate Codex trilogy (followed by Iron Angel and God of Clocks), Scar Night is busy, complicated, and unrelenting.  This is quite a bit of fun for a couple hundred pages, as Campbell doles out more and more bits of information about his fantasy city and fantastically complicated premise.  A crumbling empire, Deepgate hangs by ancient, allegedly indestructible chains above a chasm that allegedly contains hell itself, and is ruled by an ancient religious order dedicated to providing the dead, whose bodies are tossed into the chasm, a way of navigating to salvation, in pursuit of which goal it rules the city with an iron fist.  There's a lot of blood, gore and destruction involved--in the wars between Deepgate's rulers and the rebellious c…

All Votes Are Equal, But, Well, You Know the Rest

This whole thing started in the summer of 2008, when Neil Clarke reported the results of that year's Locus award poll, as published in the July 2008 issue of the magazine, and noted with alarm a retroactive change to the award's vote counting system.  "Non-subscribers outnumbered subscribers by so much," the magazine's writers explained, "that in an attempt to better reflect the Locus magazine readership, we decided to change the counting system, so now subscriber votes count double."  The new weighting system (which was only disclosed in the print version of the magazine) changed the winners of at least two categories and unleashed a flurry of angry and resentful reactions, both for the system itself and for making the change only after the votes had been cast and the results tabulated.

The backlash was not long in coming.  As reported, again, by Clarke, the 2009 Locus poll (which continued the vote-weighting system) saw a dramatic drop in participatio…

Heroes and Villains: Dollhouse Thoughts

Dollhouse in its second season was not at all the same show it was in its first.  As far as the internet is concerned--or at least that infinitesimal portion that watched the show to its end--this is very much a good thing, and there's no denying that from a technical standpoint the show was massively improved.  The first season's tedious and contrived personality of the week stories quickly gave way to major upheavals in the show's premise as it raced towards the post-apocalyptic future glimpsed in the tantalizing, unaired first season finale "Epitaph One."  Still, I find myself missing first season Dollhouse.  I didn't like that show, but I thought it had the potential to tell an interesting SFnal story.  The second season tries to tell that story, but does so in a way that is so rushed, so heavy-handed, and most of all that so thoroughly tramples the creepy ambiguity of the first season's character work, that it hardly seems worth the effort.  The impr…