Showing posts from March, 2024

Announcing Track Changes: Selected Reviews by Abigail Nussbaum

Cover design by Tom Joyes I'm thrilled to announce that my first collection of reviews, Track Changes , will be published by Briardene Books this summer. Track Changes collects nearly sixty reviews from nearly twenty years of writing, covering novels, short fiction, television, and film in the science fiction and fantasy genres. It is, as the title suggests, a chronicle of shifting tides in genre fiction, in world politics, and in my own understanding of both. I've been working on this book for nearly a year, selecting, evaluating, and re-editing my old material, and the result is something that I am very proud of. Track Changes will be published in paperback (and those of you familiar with Briardene will know that it is going to be a handsome, substantial volume) and ebook versions. Both are available for preorder from the Briardene website, and the ebook will also be available from other vendors. The gorgeous cover design is by Tom Joyes. Track Changes is scheduled for p

Cahokia Jazz by Francis Spufford

Joe Barrow is a big city murder cop in 1922. A hulking, silent type who dogs the footsteps of his flashier, more loquacious partner Phineas Drummond, looming threateningly over suspects and occasionally roughing them up to get a confession or a lead. In the early hours of a late winter morning, Barrow and Drummond find themselves at the top of a government building, examining the body of a clerk, Fred Hopper, who has been extravagantly and gruesomely killed: throat slashed, ribcage torn open, heart removed. The papers quickly decide that the murder is a ritualistic killing, a conclusion spurred on by the city's business elite, who hope to use it to foment racial violence. As Drummond pursues that line of investigation, Barrow is approached by powerful figures in the city's leadership, who want him to prove that Hopper's death was orchestrated by those who wish to undermine their power. So far, we have the makings of a classic hardboiled, Jazz Age mystery. But the context to

Recent Reading Roundup 60

The first recent reading roundup of the year reflects the reading preoccupations of the first few months of the year. Which is to say, catching up with all the books I mean to get to last year and either didn't have the time, or the access to. Only one of the books discussed here is a 2024 publication (and even that is a reprint from 1844), and there is still quite a lot published last year that I'd like to get to. Orbital by Samantha Harvey - More a prose poem than a novel, Harvey's slim, evocative volume is a minutely detailed description of one day aboard the International Space Station. Divided into chapters according to the station's orbits around the Earth (sixteen in one day), the novel delves into both the personal and the mechanical with equal degrees of sensitivity and emotional remove. We learn about the station's routines, the compromises and indignities of life in zero gravity, and the mechanics of maintaining the station and caring for the—far from pr

Recent Movie: Dune, Part Two

This is going to be less a review as an I told you so. When I reviewed the first part of Denis Villeneuve's adaptation of Frank Herbert's psychedelic space opera three years ago, I offered praise mingled with skepticism. I admired the film's stark, gargantuan visuals, but also observed how its monochromatic palette felt almost like a panicked reaction to the campy visual excess of David Lynch's 1984 film version. I praised some of the decisions Villeneuve and co-writer Jon Spaihts made to the novel's lumpy, problematic plot—and more importantly, their willingness to make those decisions and make the story their own—but also observed how they tended to file off anything that was too weird or creepy about the original story, streamlining it into a familiar, Game of Thrones -style tale of palace intrigue and squabbles between royal houses. There was something about the first Dune that seemed almost respectability-obsessed. It left me wondering how this would team han

The 2024 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot

We've spent so much of the last six weeks talking about the debacle that was last year's Hugo awards, that it was easy to forget that another awards season was gearing up at the same time. So here we are, with less than a week left to nominate for this year's Hugos, and to be honest it feels a bit strange to make this post. I always love to talk about the things I enjoyed in the fantastic genres over the last year, and to encourage my readers to consider them for a Hugo nomination. But doing it this year, with the shadow of an award whose nominations and results we can have no faith in, can feel a bit pointless. Another way of putting it is that this is an act of faith--in the administrators of this year's award, who have been doing their utmost to project reliability and distance themselves from last year's inexcusable actions; in the fandom, which continues to care about this award and try to make it the best it can be; and in the award itself, and the idea that