Showing posts from March, 2015

Review: Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho at Strange Horizons

Today at Strange Horizons , I review Zen Cho's Crawford-winning short story collection Spirits Abroad .  This is something of a milestone for me--the first review I've had published in Strange Horizons since stepping down as a reviews editor.  It's also a welcome return to writing full-length book reviews, and for both of those occasions I couldn't have chosen a better subject with which to mark them than Cho's vibrant, funny, brilliantly-written collection.  The stories in Spirits Abroad are remarkable for how they capture their worlds--be they Malaysian villages, ex-pat communities in the UK, or fantastical worlds--in a few well-chosen sentences, and for the equal weight that Cho gives to folklore and more hard-nosed worldbuilding elements such as politics and history.  Cho uses fantasy to shed a light on her stories' worlds, and on the relationships that drive her plots, but her fantasies are also coherent and engaging in themselves.  Spirits Abroad is ea

The 2015 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Best Novel and Cambpell Award

With just under a day and a half left to nominate for the 2015 Hugo awards, I have an embarrassing confession to make: I don't actually have any best novel nominations.  I don't tend to keep up to date with my reading, and in 2014 I fell seriously behind--there are more than a dozen Hugo-eligible books that I hoped to get to before the nominating deadline, but that is clearly not going to happen. Which is a particular shame because 2014 seems to have been a very good year for genre novels, with a large number of interesting-looking books that I'd very much like to see on this year's ballots, and whose public reception makes a nomination not at all unlikely.  Books like Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (in theory, the entire Southern Reach trilogy could be nominated as a single work, but I'm fundamentally opposed to such an approach; if a book was published as a single volume, it should be judged as a single volume when it comes time to nominate it for awards), St

The 2015 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories

Last year when I wrote about this group of categories, I noted that it consisted of two categories in which I didn't feel that my vote mattered much, and two in which I didn't feel knowledgeable enough to nominate well in.  That hasn't changed much this year--in the case of the Dramatic Presentation, Long Form category, in fact, my vote feels even more useless than usual.  2014 was full of so many high profile, well liked genre films that the final ballot feels predictable from here (for the record: Interstellar , Guardians of the Galaxy , The Lego Movie , Snowpiercer , and either Mockingjay Part 1 or Edge of Tomorrow ) and just as unexciting.  On the other hand, other categories in this group, like Best Graphic Story, feel as if they're coming into their own.  After several years of feeling as if the category was being voted on exclusively by a small and cliquish group while the rest of the membership looked on with indifference, there's been a growing consensus i

The 2015 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories

With only a week left to the nominating deadline, let's continue swiftly to the publishing and fan categories.  As I did last year, I'm going to be skipping the best editor categories, because I don't feel that I have enough of a sense of what each editor does to know which one of them deserves an award.  I also don't listen to podcasts, so I'll be leaving the best fancast category blank as well.  Unlike the short fiction categories, I have several blank spaces here, especially in the best fanzine category.  So if you have recommendations, I'll be happy to hear them. Speaking of recommendations, a very good source is the Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom , a crowdsourced recommendation document that anyone can read and edit.  I found a lot of ideas for the artist categories there, for example. Previous entries in this series: The Short Fiction Categories Best Semiprozine: Strange Horizons - This is the last year that nominating this magazine counts as voting f

The 2015 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories

With only ten days left before the Hugo nominating deadline, I'm cutting these posts a little close.  And the truth is, I could have done with another two weeks to round out my Hugo reading this year, which between the absence of free time and a two week vacation in the middle of February that didn't leave me much time for reading, has not been as comprehensive as I would have liked.  Even as I sat down to make the final lists from which I would cull the selections for this post, I kept remembering stories I'd wanted to get to, venues I'd wanted to at least skim.  But here we are on March 1st, the deadline I set myself, and it's time to admit that I've seen as much of the vast field of last year's genre short fiction as I am going to, and to get to the work of picking out my favorite reads. As it was last year, my reading was concentrated in online venues, of which there is an ever-increasing amount that ranges in style and focus.  It was a particular deli