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Showing posts from August, 2017

The Third Queen: Thoughts on the Seventh Season of Game of Thrones

Well, this season of Game of Thrones was pretty shit, wasn't it?  That comes as a bit of a surprise, to be honest.  For years, I've taken an attitude of fond indulgence towards the show.  What's wrong, after all, with watching a bunch of generally quite fine actors enact a complicated plot with stratospheric production values and the occasional fantastic action scene?  Sure, the show wasn't actually about anything, and its writers had blind spots on issues of race and gender that were often glaring.  But if you're able to put that aside, what's left is a genuinely enjoyable, well-made soap opera whose main appeal is the desire to know what happens next.  It hadn't occurred to me that this was a formula that could be screwed up, but at the end of the shortened (and yet seemingly endless) seventh season, there's really no escaping the conclusion: Game of Thrones may not be a good show, but there is a palpable difference between good Game of Thrones and ba…

Recent Reading Roundup 44

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Summer is usually a dead reading time for me, the heat and dust making it difficult to concentrate on anything but the least challenging fare.  But this summer--which has anyway featured some interesting developments--has turned out to be very exciting on the reading front as well.  I didn't love all of these books--in fact one of them is easily my least favorite read in quite some time--but all of them broadened my horizons and took me places I wasn't expecting.  Here's to many more summers (and seasons) like this one.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro - I'm having trouble explaining to myself why I picked up The Buried Giant.  After all, the only other Ishiguro novel I've read, Never Let Me Go, left me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and genuinely puzzled at the love and admiration that so many other readers (including genre readers) had for it.  The only justification I have for giving Ishiguro another look is that it had been ten years since Never Let Me Go p…

The 2017 Hugo Awards: Well, That Happened

I am thrilled, overjoyed, and genuinely shocked to report that at the Hugo award ceremony held last night in Helsinki, I won the award for Best Fan Writer.

This came as a complete surprise to me.  I was certain that Chuck Tingle would carry the award away (and if you look at the voting breakdowns, it was a near thing).  At the same time, I knew that I had a chance, so the days before the award were spent in a state of anxiety.  I'm rather pleased with myself that after all that I managed to make it to the stage and deliver my speech in a semi-coherent manner.  For those of you who weren't there (and who weren't able to watch the live feed, which as I understand it failed early in the ceremony), here is the text of my speech:
Thank you very much.  I want to thank the administrators and voters, as well as my fellow nominees.

I was first nominated for a Hugo in 2014, as part of a ballot that was celebrated for its diversity.  In the intervening years, the Hugos were marred by…

New Scientist Column: Yoon Ha Lee, Karin Tidbeck, and Nina Allan

Greetings from Helsinki!  I am briefly emerging from the chaos of Worldcon to link to my latest column in The New Scientist, in which I discuss Yoon Ha Lee's Raven Stratagem, Karin Tidbeck's Amatka, and Nina Allan's The Rift.  It was interesting to see how three novels that seemed so superficially dissimilar ended up being about very similar things, chiefly the way that humans construct their own reality even when it seems rock-solid. 

I was particularly struck by how similar the approach that Lee and Tidbeck took to their stories was, in both cases taking a well-defined genre with extremely familiar tropes--space opera/military SF in Lee's case, highly conformist future dystopia in Tidbeck's--and use the idea of humans' ability to shape their world through agreed-upon concepts to subtly distort their stories' conventions.  In both cases, I think, the authors end up boxed in by their genres, perhaps more than they intended.  But both books (and the Allan) a…