Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Locus Awards Finalists for 2010

The 2010 Locus Awards finalists have been named, not surprisingly, at Locus Magazine. Here are the finalists in a partial list of the categories:


Short Story

  • "The Pelican Bar", Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse Three)
  • "An Invocation of Incuriosity", Neil Gaiman (Songs of the Dying Earth)
  • "Spar", Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld 10/09)
  • "Going Deep", James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's 6/09)
  • "Useless Things", Maureen F. McHugh (Eclipse Three)

Science Fiction Novel

  • The Empress of Mars, Kage Baker (Subterranean; Tor)
  • Steal Across the Sky, Nancy Kress (Tor)
  • Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor)
  • Galileo's Dream, Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperVoyager; Ballantine Spectra)
  • Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America, Robert Charles Wilson (Tor)

Fantasy Novel

  • The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)
  • Unseen Academicals, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
  • Drood, Dan Simmons (Little, Brown)
  • Palimpsest, Catherynne M. Valente (Bantam Spectra)
  • Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (Underland)

Other categories, including first novel, young-adult novel, novella, novelette, magazine, publisher, anthology, collection, editor, artist, non-fiction/art book, can be found here.

Neil Gaiman continues his string of awards, here with a short story. I've noticed that Nancy Kress is making many awards lists lately, too, here with a SF novel.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Found: Black Angel

If you're at least 38 years old, you may remember a short film that was shown jointly with the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. (I'm way past old enough, but have no recollection of that year at all.) The short film was Black Angel, produced with gift money of £25,000 from George Lucas for his appreciation of the art direction provided by Roger Christian in Star Wars.

Mr. Christian used the money to produce a moody, mystical fantasy art film set in the middle ages. The film was lost for many years following an illness suffered by Mr. Christian, but nevertheless was quite influential to filmmakers. Fortunately, a half-inch print of the film has been found. ShadowLocked has an excellent and exclusive interview with Black Shadow director Roger Christian. In the article containing the interview, you'll find stills from the film and conversation about its making and history.

An interesting quote from the interview:

"Cinema has changed so much, and I bless Peter Jackson [director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy], because he gave the world what it didn't know it wanted, and brought this kind of fantasy world into huge mainstream cinema, finally. And did it so beautifully."

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Trekkie-Zombie Mashup

We interrupt this post for an important announcement: The March 2010 issue of Flash Fiction Online is, well, online. It has three new, excellent stories by Daniel José Older, Caroline M. Yoachim and Andrew Gudgel, plus a classic story, and Bruce Holland Rogers' Short-Short Sighted monthly column.

Now back to our regular posting:

Yikes. Kevin David Anderson has contracted to write a Trekkie/Zombie apocalypse mashup, called Night of the Living Trekkies. Will Mr. Anderson be able to safely attend a Trekkie convention after this? He has published widely in magazines, anthologies and podcasts. My apologies for my earlier misreporting of the actual author of this work. Good luck with this project.

Die hard and prosper, dead Trekkies!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review of Flash Fiction Online

Sam Tomaino at SFRevu has a review of the Feb. 2010 edition of Flash Fiction Online. This month, he seemed to favor "Six Reasons Why My Sister Hates Me":

The narrator of Aimee C. Amodio's story details "Six Reasons Why My Sister Hates Me" and helps draw a picture of their relationship and the world they live in. It was quite good.

You can see this edition of FFO here.

Sam also reviews Abyss & Apex, Apex Magazine, Black Static, Jim Baen's Universe (penultimate issue), Outer Reaches, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nebula, Stoker and Saturn Ballots/Awards

The writing awards season has begun with three prestigious ballots or awards:

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has named their short list for the 2009 Nebula Awards. Their categories include short story, novel, novelette, novella, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. John Scalzi has two nominations, for the novella and young adult science fiction and fantasy categories.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced their ballot for the 2009 Stoker Award nominees. They include categories for superior achievement in a novel, first novel, long fiction, short fiction, anthology, collection, nonfiction and poetry.

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films (Academy) has announced their finalists for the 35th annual Saturn Awards. Here are the Saturn Award nominations and the Saturn Award winners (link will eventually change). The Dark Knight won five awards. Iron Man won the best science fiction film. This award has numerous categories, including films, directors, writers, actors, music and others.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review of Flash Fiction Online

Sam Tamiano at SFRevu has reviewed Flash Fiction Online's January 2010 edition. He liked "Caltrops" by Tim Pratt and "Hungry" by Tree Reisner. He seemed to especially like Ken Pisani's "Last Bites":

"Last Bites" by Ken Pisani takes place at a funeral parlor and begins with a boy biting off his dead uncle's nose and saying it tastes like chocolate. Soon, it becomes apparent that all the deceased are edible and tasty. This was an absolutely delicious story with a very amusing ending.

The staff at Flash Fiction Online had quite a lively discussion about that story. All three stories plus Bruce Holland Rogers' writing column can be seen here.

Sam has more reviews of speculative fiction magazines, including:

  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact
  • Apex Magazine
  • Asimov's Science Fiction
  • Black Static
  • Electric Velocipede
  • Encounters Magazine (first issue)
  • Interzone
  • Jupiter
  • Realms (first issue)



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Sunday, January 31, 2010

British Science Fiction and Fantasy Awards Short List

The British Science Fiction and Fantasy Association has announced their short list for the BSFA Award.

Novel

  • China Mieville - The City and the City, Macmillan

  • Stephen Baxter - Ark, Gollancz
  • 
Adam Roberts - Yellow Blue Tibia, Gollancz

  • Ursula Le Guin - Lavinia, Gollancz

Short Fiction

  • Ian Watson & Roberto Quaglia - "The Beloved Time of Their Lives" - The Beloved of My Beloved, Newcon Press

  • Eugie Foster - "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast" - Interzone
  • 
Ian Whates - "The Assistant" - The Solaris Book of Science Fiction Volume 3
  • Ian McDonald - "Vishnu at the Cat Circus"

  • Kim Lakin-Smith - "Johnnie and Emmie-Lou Get Married" - Interzone
  • Dave Hutchinson - "The Push," Newcon Press

Go to the BSFA Award site for more, including the art and non-fiction awards and links to the authors' sites.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Orson Scott Card Interview by David Steffen

David Steffen is a Flash Fiction Online staffer. He managed to snag Orson Scott Card's attention for an interview. You can read the interview of Orson Scott Card on David Steffen's blog, Diabolical Plots.

Perhaps one of the more interesting topics of the interview was Mr. Card's description of a work in progress. Pathfinder is a world in which the first Earth time/space-jumping spacecraft divides into 19 copies, including the people. The civilizations are isolated and develop independently.

Says Mr. Card:

Technology is deliberately hidden so it has to be developed anew, and starting with the identical gene pool, every colony has eleven thousand years in which to develop their own civilizations – and their own genetic differences – before they catch up to the “present” of the ship’s original jump through spacetime.

Nice interview, David. Good luck with the blog.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Aurealis Awards and SAG Awards for 2009

SFWA reports the finalists of Australia's Aurealis Awards for 2009 for science fiction, fantasy and horror, including three SFWA members: Ian McHugh, best fantasy short story (tie), "Once a Month, On a Sunday," Andremeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine; Jonathan Strahan (editor), best anthology, Eclipse 3, Nightshade books; and Cat Sparks, best YA short story, "Seventeen," Masques.

Other winners include:

  • best science fiction novel, Andrew McGahan, Wonders of a Godless World
  • best fantasy novel, Trudi Canavan, Magician's Apprentice
  • best horror novel, Honey Brown, Red Queen
  • best science fiction short story, Peter M. Ball, "Clockwork, Patchwork and Ravens," Apex Magazine
  • best fantasy short story (tie), Christopher Green, "Father’s Kill," Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • best horror short story (tie) Paul Haines, "Wives," X6; and Paul Haines, "Slice of Life - A Spot of Liver," Slice of Life

For the complete list of the finalists, go to the SFWA article or to the Aurealis Awards site article.

The Screen Actors Guild announced their awards for 2009. As SF Scope noted, the only speculative fiction notables were for stunt ensembles, in motion picture Star Trek and television series 24. Here is the SAG article on the Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees and recipients.



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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Review of Flash Fiction Online

Sam Tomaino at SF Revu has a review of recent short fiction, including a review of the December 2009 issue of Flash Fiction Online. That FFO issue is here. Thanks, Sam.

Sam also has reviews of Apex Magazine, the Thoughtcrime Experiments anthology (in which Yours Truly has a story), Jim Baen's Universe (one of the final issues of that great magazine), Shimmer, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Avatar: Pico Review

If all you want is a fresh plot and deeply drawn characters, Avatar is not the movie for you. (Ha.) But if it is a three-hour fest of freshly conceived, stunning visuals that you seek, you can hardly do better.

Premise: a paraplegic ex-marine, Jack Sully (Sam Worthington) is mind-controlling a hybrid human/native (Avatar) of the planet Pandora to help influence the natives to relocate from their mineral-rich location...or else.

The natives of Pandora (the Na'vi) live in a world with an embarrassment of riches of flora and fauna. The Na'vi are the predominate species, giant and willowy by human standards, and live among floating mountains and phosphorescent forests, in harmony with all living things, including the planet Herself. This, of course, cannot go on with stock good and evil human characters wanting their minerals.

Looking at this movie as a visual, rather than a storytelling effort, my main criticism would be that the Na'vi are always shown in huge, adult gatherings (including the big battle in the finale) or in flying beast-taming, ritualistic quests. They are interesting folk, but their family life is absent. Na'vi children make a couple of passing appearances only. I think the film would have been far richer to have spent fifteen minutes out of the three hours on Na'vi family life. That aside, the money was worth the price of admission on the visuals alone.

Spoiler: don't worry; you'll have the story figured out within ten minutes of the start of the movie. You've already figured out the basic story from the premise, right? If you've seen films like Medicine Man, you won't experience any shocking turns and twists.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joe Haldeman an SFWA Grandmaster.

No, no, not the Joe Haldeman/CBS producer associated with David Letterman's alleged blackmail incident. Venerable speculative fiction writer, Joe Haldeman, whose writing awards include five Hugos, five Nebulas, and one each Campbell, Tiptree and World Fantasy award, will receive SFWA's Grandmaster award next year, according to SF Scope.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Reading of Jay Lake's "Golden Pepper"

Jay Lake was scheduled to be at Orycon this year, during which time he was going to have a reading of his own material. Instead, he was recovering from surgery for treatment of cancer. We, and all his fans, friends, and family, wish him the best.

Jeff Soesbe, David Levine, and Mary Robinette Kowal took his slot and did readings for him. They're available at Mary Robinette's blog. One of the stories is "Golden Pepper", which was originally published here in February of this year. (Coincidentally, Jeff's "Apologies All Around" was published here exactly one year earlier.)

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Monday, November 30, 2009

First International Best Seller: A Fantasy

This book sold only about 20,000 copies in its original language, Spanish, and about 10,000 more in translation. Not exactly spectacular sales? Well, it was published just after the printing press was invented, so in that context, it was spectacular. According to Internet Review of Science Fiction's article by Sue Burke, it is Europe's first best seller, Amadís de Gaula (Amadis of Gaul), a Spanish novel of medieval chivalry, written by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo.


'The book is full of sorcery, enchanted weapons, giants, monsters, magical locales, and other "amazing things found outside the natural order," as Rodríguez de Montalvo described it. The story-telling style is medieval, clearly meant to be read aloud.'

One of the more interesting tidbits about the novel is that Cervantes referred to Amadis in Don Quixote de La Mancha, which some claim to be the first and best modern novel. In Don Quixote, travelers at inns listen to readings of Amadis as an evening entertainment.

Go to the IROSF article on Amadis of Gaul for the nine reasons why Amadis was a best seller, and many more interesting tidbits about the novel. Bonus: Sue Burke, a US writer who lives in Madrid, Spain, is doing a serial translation of Amadis on her blog. The link to the serial translation is for the 23rd chapter, the latest chapter at the time of posting. Chapter 0 is here.

Note: the author of the article cited here, Sue Burke, is also the author of a flash fiction story in Flash Fiction Online, Normalized Death.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hugo Awards SemiProzine Category Saved

Good news for small publishers: according to Internet Review of Science Fiction (IROSF), the SemiProzine category in the Hugo Awards has been saved from extinction. At issue was the odd situation in which Locus Magazine was the shoo-in winner for the award for so long that the award seemed pointless; attendees at the last WorldCon therefore suggested that the category be ended.

Various interested publishers formed SemiProzine.org and suggested reforms to better define and save the category and were successful in their bid for at least few years.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jim Hines' SF/F Humor Roundup: 2009

SF/Fantasy/Humor author Jim Hines started a list of humorous SF/F fiction published in 2009, including short fiction and novels. How can I explain why he did this? Um, I don't need to; Jim explained just fine:

Humor tends not to be taken seriously, and rarely makes the award ballots. It’s a shame, because humor can be as powerful, popular, and flat-out good as any other story.

Jim Hines' humor list includes a story first published at Flash Fiction Online by Rod M. Santos, "I Foretold You So." You'll recognize many other names on the list, including Mike Resnick, Nancy Fulda, Cory Doctorow, Terry Pratchett, and Jim Hines.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Our Post-Biological Future, Maybe

Futurists, including science fiction and fantasy readers and writers may find this article by William Grassie of the Metanexus Institute useful. The article is a report about the Singularity Summit 2009, and its 26 technophile speakers, including Ray Kurzweil.

According to Ray Kurzweil, a tipping point will occur in three or four decades that will send evolution into hyper mode, resulting in a post-biological civilization with its "blending of super-machines, enhanced brains, and immortal bodies," the Singularity.

Or not.

Kurzweil relies on curing death
through "exponential developments in genomics, nanotechnology, and robotics," and the Law of Accelerating Returns which he reckons is woven into the fabric of the universe. Other technophiles are suspicious of exponential growth, citing natural limitatons, such as unsolvable math problems (which I take to mean computationally infinite problems), and an unwarranted expectation that Moore's Law (doubling of computation power every ten years) will continue and apply to technologies other than computing, such as nanotechnology. The most damning-sounding counter to Kurzweil's vision is software development, which technologists say, in so many words, sucks, perhaps even going in the wrong direction. As a software developer, I find that attitude totally, um, believable.

Here is the article on our theorized post-biological future: "Millennialism at the Singularity: Reflections on Metaphors, Meanings, and the Limits of Exponential Logic," with ample references and links.



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Monday, October 26, 2009

Review of Flash Fiction Online, Aug. & Sept. 2009

Our friends at SFRevu had taken a month off for their review of short fiction. I missed that Sam Tomaino had juxtaposed two reviews of FFO. Sorry! He has a review of the Aug. 2009 Flash Fiction Online and a review of the Sept. 2009 Flash Fiction Online .

Those Flash Fiction Online issues are found here: Aug. 2009 and Sept. 2009.

Sam has also other reviews of short fiction:

  • Analog Science Fiction and Fact for December and November 2009
  • Asimov's Science Fiction for October/November 2009
  • Black Static Twelve for August/September 2009
  • Jim Baen's Universe for August 2009
  • Murky Depths #9 for 24 September 2009
  • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for October/November 2009

You'll also find book reviews of UK and US fiction at their SFRevu home page.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WSFA Small Press Award Winner

In August, we announced the finalists of the WSFA Small Press Award. The WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association) award is open to works of short speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.) published by a short press in English.

Science Fiction Awards Watch has announced the WSFA Small Press Award winner for 2009:"The Absence of Stars: Part 1," by Greg Siewert, published in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Having watched Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, with a 9-year-old and a greater-than-35-year-old, I was curious what reviewers thought of it, but found something more interesting: Spike Jonze's and Maurice Sendak's thoughts on the Where the Wild Things Are project, thanks to Pitchfork.

The Sendak picture book is sparse in text. (The article linked above says it has ten lines.) The characters in the book have no individual personalities, while in the movie, several have a fairly complex personalities. It was fascinating seeing a three-minute read interpreted as a 90-minute animated moody art drama.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Realms of Fantasy Open for Submissions

Normally, the opening of submissions for a magazine is not unusual news. In the case of Realms of Fantasy it is due to their drama of the last year: closing of the magazine, rumors of the sale of the magazine, sale of and reopening of the magazine. And for the last seven months or so since resuming publication, they've been consuming the stories that they already had in the pipeline before they closed, which I'm sure the authors appreciated. So...good luck from FFO!

Thanks to SFscope for the lead to this article, which has a link to the assistant editor's blog article on RoL's reopening to submissions.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Odyssey Writing Workshop Online

SFscope reports that Odyssey Writing Workshop, a respected classroom-based writing program, now has some online writing workshop offerings. Individual online courses are not equivalent to the residential courses, but may be useful to many speculative fiction writers. The class size is limited to 14 students. The next course is Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, beginning January 6, 2010 with applications accepted from October 10 to December 10, 2009.

This course will be taught by Jeanne Cavelos, an author and editor, and winner of the World Fantasy Award for launching the Abyss psychological horror imprint at Bantam Doubleday Dell. She is the director and primary instructor at Odyssey.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Technovelgy: Tracking Science Innovation in Fiction

Technovelgy has an interesting site that chronicles invention in literature. The home page is in blog format, showing the latest inventions or innovations. They usually give an explanation of the technology and links or information about literary references to similar innovations. For example, the latest innovation (at the time of posting) is a concept for SkyTran, an overhead monorail-like transportation system in which the personal cars (pods) magnetically levitate for a smooth ride (or to use recent marketing blather, an improved customer experience). They give reference to bubble cars, from Larry Niven's 1976 novel A World Out of Time.

Technovelgy provides sorting of innovation by time, going back to weightlessness, described by Johannes Kepler and mentioned by an unknown author in 1634. They also sort by category, and of course have a search facility.

This seems like a handy research tool for SF and fantasy writers or readers who want to know how innovative an innovation really is.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Halloween Flash Fiction and Graphic Contest: Fantasy Magazine

Fantasy Magazine now has a short window open for Halloween-themed flash fiction stories that are inspired by a graphic, such as a drawing or photograph that is available for publication. The graphic does not have to be the author's own work; it can come from archives of public domain images, for example. The submission window opened Oct. 1 and will remain open through Oct. 16.

Here are the details of Fantasy Magazine's 2009 Halloween Flash Fiction and Graphic Contest.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Behind The Scenes of Short Fiction Anthologies

SF Signal has an excellent three-part series of articles about the process of producing speculative short fiction anthologies. This should be of interest to readers and writers.

  • Part 1 Contributors: Jeff VanderMeer, Ellen Datlow, Mike Resnick, Nick Mamatas, Vera Nazarian, John Joseph Adams, Jonathan Strahan, and Allan Kaster
  • Part 2 Contributors: James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Mike Allen, Jetse de Vries, Julie E. Czerneda
  • Part 3 Contributors: Rich Horton, Nick Kyme, George Mann, Lou Anders, Ann VanderMeer, and Jack Dann

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

British Fantasy Awards Winners

The British Fantasy Society has announced the winners of the 2009 British Fantasy Awards, including:

  • Best Novel (The August Derleth Fantasy Award): Memoirs of a Master Forger, by William Heaney, aka Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
  • Best Novella: The Reach of Children, by Tim Lebbon (Humdrumming)
  • Best Short Fiction: Do You See, by Sarah Pinborough, from Myth-Understandings, ed. by Ian Whates (Newcon Press)
  • The PS Publishing Best Small Press Award: Elastic Press, run by Andrew Hook
  • Best Magazine/Periodical: Postscripts, ed. Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers (PS Publishing)
  • Best Artist: Vincent Chong

See the article for the complete listing. Here is the earlier list of nominees.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Harry Potter Going to Florida

According to the Orland Sentinel (and every other newspaper on the planet) , Harry Potter is going to the Universal Studios theme park in 2010. The Orlando Sentinel reporter claimed some special consideration in the dispersal of information, no doubt due to his proximity to the park.

The venues include: some reworked roller coasters, some themed stores (that's a shocker) from the books, the Forbidden Forest (probably), a ride within Hogwart's castle, and no doubt much more. Here is the full article on Harry Potter Goes to Universal Studios.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Review of Short Fiction--September 2009

Internet Review of Science Fiction has their review of short fiction up now for September, which, depending on the periodicals' publication schedules, ranges from August to November. This month, they've reviewed a mixture of print and online magazines:

  • F&SF, October-November 2009
  • Asimov's, September 2009
  • Analog, November 2009
  • Jim Baen's Universe, August 2009 (online)
  • Clarkesworld, August 2009 (online)
  • Strange Horizons, August 2009 (online)
  • Fantasy Magazine, August 2009 (online)
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, August 2009 (online)
  • Apex Magazine, August 2009 (online)
  • Abyss & Apex, Third Quarter 2009 (online)

Our friends at SFRevu are taking the month off for short fiction review.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tolkien Estate Settles LoTR Suit; Hobbit Films Unchained

According to Variety, the Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins have settled a lawsuit with New Line, which had hobbled the production of New Line's Hobbit films. The suit was over no small matter. The Tolkien estate claimed they were due over $200M from the LoTR films.

Here is the full Variety article on the Hobbit films lawsuit. Here is The Hobbit Movie website. (They have Hobbit bling you can buy, and stuff about the movie, too.)

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Chapter of New Wheel of Time Book

After Robert Jordan's passing, his widow selected Brandon Sanderson to write the last three books in the popular fantasy Wheel of Time series. Publisher Tor is now offering a free read of the first chapter of the first of these new books, A Gathering Storm (requires registration). This blog has a variety of WoT news, including the fact that the entire original series will be published in e-book format.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Awards Winners

The World Fantasy Convention is in October 29-November 1, but the Lifetime Achievement Award winners have been announced. They are Jane Yolen and Ellen Asher.

Jane Hyatt Yolen:

From Wikipedia, mostly: Jane Hyatt Yolen (born February 11, 1939) is an American author and editor of almost 300 books. These include folklore, fantasy, science fiction, and children's books. She wrote the Nebula Award-winning "Sister Emily's Lightship" (short story) and Lost Girls (novelette), as well as Owl Moon and The Emperor and the Kite, Caldecott Medal winners, the Commander Toad series and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.

From Jane Yolen's web site: She has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century.


Ellen Asher:

From Wikipedia: Ellen Asher is an American science fiction editor. She was the editor in chief of the Science Fiction Book Club for thirty-four years, from February 8, 1973 through June 1, 2007....Prior to joining the Science Fiction Book Club, Asher was the science fiction editor for NAL, when it was a subsidiary of Times Mirror.

From Readercon: Jane Asher was the editor of the Science Fiction Book Club for thirty-four years and three months, thereby fulfilling her life's ambition of beating John W. Campbell's record as the person with the longest tenure in the same science fiction job. Now that she has retired, she amuses herself by sleeping late, meeting friends for lunch, and reading only books she actually enjoys....

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Fantasy Insinuating Itself into Science Fiction?

FFO went all the way to the end of the universe for a link to this story. This National Post has an interesting article that questions whether fantasy is over-taking science fiction. (Of course it is because of Harry Potter.) More interesting are the examples of fantasy intruding into science fiction (which I assume makes it science fantasy). In the new Star Trek movie, which I enjoyed quite a bit, the characters invoked time travel via red matter, an unexplained substance. I remember uttering a WTH when that substance was introduced so casually. The National Post writer refers to this as a magic substance, and therefore fantasy, but at the same time undermines his argument a bit implying it was an instance of bad writing in the screenplay. I think it was more the latter and could have been replaced with a Time Travel button in the command module. It was annoying but didn't ruin the film. The article is enjoyable. Go there to see the writer's (Philip Marchand's) interesting comments about Carl Sagan's dance with the devil in Contact.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

SFWA Web Site Updated

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has vastly improved the appearance and usability of their website. The style and design is improved and more logically organized. They appear to be adding more industry news as well.

If you'd like to see the previous site for comparison, here is a link from archive.org's WayBack Machine, from March 2008.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

WSFA Small Press Award Finalists

SF Awards Watch, SF Site and others have announced the finalists for the WSFS Small Press Award. Here is the premise of this award, according to the WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association) web site:

The award is open to works of imaginative literature (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.) published in English for the first time in the previous calendar year. Furthermore, the Small Press Award is limited to works under 17,501 words in length that were published by a small press.

Here are the finalists:

  • “Drinking Problem,” by K.D. Wentworth, Seeds of Change
  • “Hard Rain at the Fortean Café,” by Lavie Tidhar, Aeon Speculative Fiction Magazine
  • “His Last Arrow,” by Christopher Sequeira, Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes
  • “Silent as Dust,” by James Maxey, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • “Spider the Artist,” by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Seeds of Change
  • “The Absence of Stars: Part 1,” by Greg Siewert, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show
  • “The Toy Car,” by Luisa Maria Garcia Velasco, (translated from Spanish by Ian Watson) Aberrant Dreams

Small gripe: why is it that--across the board--the official awards sites are the last sites on the planet to post their own results (or are so efficient at hiding them that they might as well not post them)?

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Neil Gaiman & Cory Doctorow: Giving Away Stuff Works

At SF/F publisher Tor's blog, Mur Lafferty briefly describes Neil Gaiman's and Cory Doctorow's WorldCon appearance where they share their experiences with giving away digital copies of their works as both a Nice Thing and a strategy for increasing sales. Neil Gaiman was the guest of honor at WorldCon. As noted previously on this blog, Doctorow is on the leading edge of digital rights philosophy and is well-known for sharing his work and seeing increased sales. Gaiman is now experimenting as well, and seeing positive results. (Being a Hugo/Nebula award winner might help, too.)

Here is the blog article on Gaiman and Doctorow at WorldCon.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 Chesley Awards for SF/F Artists

The Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA) has named the winners of the 2009 Chesley Awards. Here are a selection of the winners:

  • Best Cover Illustration - Hardcover: Donato Giancola for A Book of Wizards edited by Marvin Kaye (SFBC, April 2008)
  • Best Cover Illustration - Paperback: John Picacio for Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders (Pyr, October 2008)
  • Best Cover Illustration - Magazine: Matts Minhagen for Clarkesworld (April 2008)
  • Best Interior Illustration: Donato Giancola for The Wraith by J. Robert Lennon (Playboy, 11/2008)
  • Best 3-D: Vincent Villafranca for Otherworldly Procession (Bronze)

You can see the winners in the other categories and all the nominees here. Unrelated to the award, is an artist gallery that seems to be in its fledgling stage, but has quite a few samples.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 Hugo Award Winners

The 2009 Hugo Awards winners are in. Here is the official, complete list of Hugo Award winners. Here is a selection of the winners:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: David Anthony Durham

Here, you can see the details of the voting and nominations (PDFs).

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

2009 Sidewise and Prix Aurora Award Winners

SF Scope reports the 2009 winners for the Sidewise Awards for alternate history and the Prix Aurora Awards for Canadian science fiction and fantasy.

Here are the Sidewise nominees. The official site as not posted the winners, yet, but SF Scope has posted them here.

Similarly, SF Scope has posted the winners of the Prix Aurora Awards, here.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

2009 World Fantasy Awards Nominees

The World Fantasy Convention 2009 has announced the ballot for the 2009 World Fantasy Awards:

Best Novel

  • The House of the Stag, Kage Baker (Tor)
  • The Shadow Year, Jeffrey Ford (Morrow)
  • The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury)
  • Pandemonium, Daryl Gregory (Del Rey)
  • Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin; Knopf)

Best Short Story

  • “Caverns of Mystery”, Kage Baker (Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy)
  • “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 7/08)
  • “Pride and Prometheus”, John Kessel (F&SF 1/08)
  • “Our Man in the Sudan”, Sarah Pinborough (The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror Stories)
  • “A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica”, Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld 5/08)

Additional award categories include Best Novella, Best Anthology, Best Collection, Best Artist, Special Award--Professional, Special Award--Non-Professional.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Vonda MacIntyre's Pitfalls of Writing SF and Fantasy

Most writers have run across these pitfalls of writing science fiction and fantasy, but it's good to get a reminder now and then. Vonda MacIntyre's descriptions of these (currently) seven pitfalls are short and to the point. They include neologisms (Garfff brought a carrytab of steaming hot javening with boosem and sweetum on the side), Extreme Capital Abuse, sort of using an almost approximate spoken thing rather than a sensible word, etc.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review of Recent Speculative Fiction Books

SFRevu.com has about 30 recent speculative fiction books concisely reviewed (and many more in their archives). The three most recent are:

  • A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
  • Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
  • Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

These are from their U.S. book list of reviews. The also have UK books and graphic novel/Manga reviews.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Evolution of Cult TV

Here is part one and two of an Entertainment Weekly story about cult television. The linchpin of the article is Lost, the cult TV show. The article shows how the meaning of 'cult TV' has changed over time, from a failed experiment that caught a second wind (such as Star Trek), to a more calculated one:

Throughout the 1990s, cult TV began morphing into something more than just a category of brilliant-but-canceled-yet-fondly-recalled programs. "Cult" became a sensibility, made sexy by the rise of "alternative culture" and made marketable by a paradigm shift toward demo-targeted niche marketing. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks (1990-1991) quickly went from phenomenon to joke, yet nonetheless proved....(more)

Some of the shows mentioned in the article include the usual suspects, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and The Prisoner. Also mentioned are Doctor Who, The Stand, The Dark Tower, and others.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

LoTA Bests the LoTR?

LoTA: Lord of the Accountancy

A joke as old as Hollywood is that no film ever made a dime, according to the studio accountants who cooked the books. That is the joke behind the lawsuit filed by the heirs of JRR Tolkien against the studio that produced the Lord of the Rings-based movies. The heirs would like $220 million dollars, sooner rather than later. At risk is $4B in future sales associated with planned Hobbit movies. Here is the Bloomberg story that gives the details of the issues and large cast of players in the money issues of the LoTR and Hobbit movies.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Sunburst Award for Canadian Writers--Short List

By way of SFawardsWatch.com. The Sunburst Award is a juried Canadian award for Canadian authors of speculative fiction in two categories: adult and young adult. The authors may be living in Canada or abroad.

Here is the short list:

Adult list:

  • Night Child, by Jes Battis, Ace
  • The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson, Random House Canada
  • The Alchemist's Code, by Dave Duncan, Ace
  • Things Go Flying, by Shari Lapeña, Brindle & Glass
  • Half a Crown, by Jo Walton, Tor

Young adult list

  • The Summoning, by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
  • Dingo, by Charles de Lint, Viking
  • Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow, Tor
  • Wild Talent: A Novel of the Supernatural, by Eileen Kernaghan, Thistledown Press
  • Night Runner, by Max Turner, HarperTrophy

The jurors provided a suggested reading list, as well (honorable mentions). The right column of the award home page includes an announcement area with a log of international award winners by Canadian writers. From that you can see that Cory Doctorow and been on nearly every short list on the planet with Little Brother. He's in this list in the Young Adult Category and is a good bet.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Speculative Fiction Publishing Trends

Strange Horizons magazine has an interesting online article on the recent trends of speculative book publishing. It was written by Mr. Valentin D. Ivanov, a Bulgarian professional astronomer, folklorist and speculative fiction writer.

Mr. Ivanov's method was to survey the Notable Books received for review since about 1998 by Locus Online magazine, since they are highly regarded publication and have a broad view of what is speculative fiction. He tabulated and graphed the data for your viewing. He divided the books into 18 categories, including genres of speculative fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

In general, all categories are in a pleasing rise, with the exception of anthologies and collections, which are flat or slightly negative. The article also gives figures for the proportion of sequels published.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Review of Flash Fiction Online at SF Revu

Sam Tomaino at SF Revu has a review of the June 2009 issue of FFO, which should have this link after the June issue is published, otherwise, it is the current issue.

Sam was complimentary of all of the June stories, especially this one:

"Branwen’s Revenge" by Sarah Adams is a retelling of the old collection of Welsh myths called The Mabinogion. Branwen had been married off to a king who did not appreciate her. He made her a scullery maid and abuses her. Every day she sings to the mockingbird "Alas for Branwen the White, who suffers every day!" Will her brother hear her call? This was a beautifully written piece.

Sam also reviews the most recent editions of Analog Science Fiction and Fact (Sept.), Asimov's Science Fiction (August), Black Static Eleven (June/July), Greatest Uncommon Denominator Magazine (Spring), Jim Baen’s Universe (June), Sybil's Garage (#6, May), and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (August/September) .

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Campbell and Sturgeon Award Winners 2009

According to the University of Kansas Center for the Study of Science Fiction:

The John W. Campbell Memorial Award for the best science-fiction novel of the year is one of the three major annual awards for science fiction.

Although this award is announced officially at a banquet later in July at the university, the result is out, according to Locus magazine, a tie:

  • Cory Doctorow's Little Brother (Tor), and
  • Ian R. MacLeod's Song of Time (PS Publishing)

Here is the long list of finalists.

Also reported by Locus magazine is the winner of the the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, for the year's best short fiction, presented at the same banquet: "The Ray Gun: A Love Story" by James Alan Gardner (Asimov's 2/08)

Here is the long list of finalists for the Sturgeon Award.

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Locus Award Winners 2009

The literary award season is about over. Today, there are two results to report. Following this report of the Locus Awards will be the Cambell and Sturgeon winners.

The Locus Award is a readers' poll award conducted by Locus Magazine, with the original intent to inform Hugo award voters. The Locus Award honors the publishers of the works. This year's winners include:

  • Science Fiction Novel: Anathem, Neal Stephenson (Atlantic UK, Morrow)
  • Fantasy Novel: Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt)
  • First Novel: Singularity's Ring, Paul Melko (Tor)
  • Young-Adult Book: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, Bloomsbury)
  • Novella: "Pretty Monsters", Kelly Link (Pretty Monsters)
  • Novelette: "Pump Six", Paolo Bacigalupi (Pump Six and Other Stories)
  • Short Story: "Exhalation", Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)

The remaining categories are found here. Here is the 2009 Locus Award long list (finalists) .

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

David Gemmel Legend Award for Fantasy Winner

According to the David Gemmel Legend Award website: "the award will be given to a work written in the 'spirit' of the late, great David Gemmell, a true Master of Heroic Fantasy."

According to various sources, the award winner for the 2008 best fantasy novel is Andrzej Sapkowski for his Blood of Elves (in Polish, Krew elfów), although the award website does not yet reflect this, at the time of posting. This is the first award of this prize. Andrzej Sapkowski is a highly acclaimed Polish science fiction and fantasy writer. Blood of Elves is the first novel in the Witcher series. The English translation was published last year. Some of his novels have been translated into many languages, excepting English. Perhaps this will change, now.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Most SF/Fantasy-Like Cities on Earth

You want to write a SF story but don't want to event a world. What to do? What until tomorrow; that always works. Or go to Shared Worlds' article by Jeff VanderMeer and see what some SF/F authors think are the most SF-fantastical cities here on Earth. I can imagine they'd good horror settings as well.

Elizabeth Hand votes for Reykjavik, Iceland. Ursala K. LeGuin likes Venice, Italy. Michael Moorcock thinks Marrakesh, Morocco is the best choice. And there are others. But why these cities? Go to the article to find out, but here a sample from Hand on Reykjavik:

It's more like an off-world colony than any place on Earth. Architecture that consists largely of corrugated metal and concrete (think Quonset huts), a dauntingly inhospitable landscape –lava flows, cliffs, glaciers, hot springs, immense waterfalls....

Shared Worlds is a two-week interdisciplinary workshop at Wofford College focused on creating shared worlds. Jeff VanderMeer is an assistant director and instructor there, and has done everything else, too.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Reviews

The SF Site has the following SF/F book reviews for June 2009:

  • The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker
  • Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow
  • Xenopath by Eric Brown
  • Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover
  • Blood and Ice by Robert Masello
  • Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald
  • The Pretender's Crown by C.E. Murphy
  • Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders
  • The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling

If you look after the July 2009 issue is published, look here for the June and other issues.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Brief History of Arthuriana

Ruth Nestvold has an interesting and brief overview of the changing state of Arthuriana...the legends and literature surrounding the myths of King Arthur. She is an oft-published author with a PhD in literature.

Nestvold warns that a short article can not be complete considering that there were 200 novels and short stories related to King Arthurin English since 1884. She concentrates, therefore, on the post-WWII retellings. Here are a couple of snippets as teasers for her Arthuriana article at IRoSF.


Deliberately anachronistic and ahistorical, White's novel [The Sword and the Stone] is simultaneously comic and tragic. A number of critics have noted how the books become increasingly bleak, reflecting the fact that the two central books were written during the Second World War.

Regarding this snippet from The Book of Goddesses and Heroines:

….in Welsh mythology, she was said to be a queen of Avalon, the underworld fairyland where King Arthur was carried—some said by Morgan herself—when he disappeared from this world. In some legends, Morgan was Arthur's sister, whereas in other tales she was immortal, living with her eight sisters in Avalon, where she was an artist and a healer.

Nestvold says:

Using such feminist interpretations of the legends, Zimmer Bradley created a new mythology within the framework of the old, one that has substantially contributed to the way we now view Arthurian literature.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

British Fantasy Award Nominees 2009

British Fantasy Awards

The British Fantasy Society Has announced the shortlist of the British Fantasy Awards. Naturally, the short fiction is the most important category. The rules only mention the upper length limit (10000 words) so presumably flash fiction is permitted. The short fiction nominees include:

  • All Mouth (Paul Meloy) Black Static 6, Ed. Andy Cox - TTA Press
  • Do You See (Sarah Pinborough) Myth-Understandings, Ed. Ian Whates – Newcon Press
  • N (Stephen King) Just After Sunset - Hodder & Stoughton
  • Pinholes in Black Muslin (Simon Strantzas) The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror, Ed. Ian Alexander Martin - Humdrumming
  • The Caul Bearer (Allyson Bird) Bull Running For Girls – Screaming Dreams
  • The Tobacconist’s Concession (John Travis) The Second Humdrumming Book of Horror, Ed. Ian Alexander Martin - Humdrumming
  • The Vague (Paul Meloy) Islington Crocodiles, TTA Press
  • Winter Journey (Joel Lane) Black Static 5, Ed. Andy Cox - TTA Press

The nominees for the long-winded folks (novelists), include:

  • Memoirs of a Master Forger (William Heaney/Graham Joyce) Gollancz
  • Midnight Man (Simon Clark) Severn House
  • Rain Dogs (Gary McMahon) Humdrumming
  • The Graveyard Book (Neil Gaiman) Bloomsbury
  • The Victoria Vanishes (Christopher Fowler) Little Brown
  • Thieving Fear (Ramsey Campbell) PS Publishing

Other categories include Best Anthology, PS Publishing Small Press Award, Best Collection, Best Novella, Best Comic/Graphic Novel, Best Artist, Best Non-Fiction, Best Magazine, Best Television, and Best Film...all found here.

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Australian Ditmar Awards Winners for SF/F/H

The Ditmar Awards

The winners for the 2009 Ditmar Awards for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror have been announced.

The Ditmar Awards have been awarded at the National Science Fiction conventions since 1969 in order to recognise achievements in Australian Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
The short story nominees and winners (tie) are:

  • “Pale Dark Soldier”, Deborah Biancotti (in Midnight Echo, #2)
  • This Is Not My Story”, Dirk Flinthart (in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, #37)
  • The Goosle”, Margo Lanagan (in The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Ellen Datlow (ed), Del Rey)
  • “Her Collection of Intimacy”, Paul Haines (in Black: Australian Dark Culture Magazine, #2)
  • “Moments of Dying”, Rob Hood (in Black: Australian Dark Culture Magazine, #1)
  • “Sammarynda Deep”, Cat Sparks (in Paper Cities, Ekaterina Sedia (ed), Senses Five Press)
  • “Ass-Hat Magic Spider”, Scott Westerfeld (in The Starry Rift, Jonathan Strahan (ed), Viking Juvenile)

The best novel nominees and winner are:

  • Fivefold, Nathan Burrage (Random House)
  • Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, Simon Haynes (Fremantle Press)
  • Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin)
  • How to Ditch Your Fairy, Justine Larbaliester (Allen & Unwin)
  • The Daughters of Moab, Kim Westwood (HarperVoyager)
  • Earth Ascendant (Astropolis, book 2), Sean Wiliams (Orbit)

Other categories include: Best Novella, Best Collected Work, Best Artwork, Best Fan Writer, Best Fan Artist, Best Fan Publication, William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review, Best Achievement, and Best New Talent, all found here.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

SF/F TV Broadcast Shows for 2009/2010

SFF World has a list of science fiction and fantasy shows for the 2009/2010 season (U.S.), including new and returning shows. Some of the highlights of the new shows include:

  • ABC: Eastwick (based on the John Updike novel and movie "Witches of Eastwick")
  • ABC: Flash Forward (based on Robert J. Sawyer SF novel)
  • CBS: Merlin (BBC import)

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review of Short Fiction, June 2009

Internet Review of Science Fiction has short fiction reviews now of some major print and online speculative magazines, including Asimov's, Analog, Interzone, Clarkesworld, Fantasy Magazine, Apex Magazine, Strange Horizons, Abyss & Apex, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Heliotrope.

Oh, and some newcomer to speculative fiction, The New Yorker.

Some of the issues are monthly and others quarterly. Disclosure: Yours Truly has a story reviewed in the Abyss and Apex section.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Disney/Pixar's "Up" Movie: Lessons for Writers

Since my movie viewing is under the control of a nine-year-old, I had seen several trailers for Disney/Pixar's "Up." The trailer wasn't that appealing to me but it was inevitable that I would see the movie (and I haven't even seen the new Star Trek movie!).

Wow, was I surprised. I think the movie is a must-see for writers, particularly of short fiction, to see how quickly and fully a writer can paint a compelling character. I'm particularly talking about the Ellie character, who in a short time on screen, grew from 'tween to gray-haired old lady, tugging at you every step of the way.

Here is a snippet from Variety's review of "Up," the movie:

Tale of an unlikely journey to uncharted geographic and emotional territory by an old codger and a young explorer could easily have been cloying, but instead proves disarming in its deep reserves of narrative imagination and surprise, as well as its poignant thematic balance of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled.

And this:

...in less than five minutes, encapsulates the life-long love affair between Carl Fredericksen and his wife Ellie in a manner worthy of even the most poetic of silent-film directors.

The review says little else about the character of Ellie, because as the second snippet reveals, she enters and leaves the movie very quickly, but who was for me the highlight of the movie.

I'll bow to the Variety review for the rest of the story.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Audies Winners for 2009

The 2009 Audies Award for audiobooks have been announced which, according to TheAudies.com website, are:

Awards recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment sponsored by the Audio Publishers Association (APA).

Unless you are an out-of-touch Martian, you'll have heard of some of the winners:

  • Audiobook of the year: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Neil Gaiman, Read by Neil Gaiman, Harper Audio/ Recorded Books
  • Fiction: Tie:
  1. DUMA KEY, Stephen King, Read by John Slattery, Simon & Schuster Audio/ Recorded Books
  2. THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows, Read by Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, Juliet Mills, Random House Audio/ Books on Tape
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: CALCULATING GOD, Robert J. Sawyer, Read by Jonathan Davis, Audible, Inc.
  • Short Stories/Collections: ARMAGEDDON IN RETROSPECT, Kurt Vonnegut, Read by Rip Torn, Mark Vonnegut, Penguin Audio/ Blackstone Audiobooks

Note that the award web site also lists the finalists and winners.

Other categories include: Distinguished Achievement in Production, Non-Fiction, Solo Narration - Female, Solo Narration - Male, Audio Drama, Audiobook Adapation, Biography/Memoir, Business/Educational, Children's for Ages 8-12, Children's for Ages Up to 8, Classic, History, Humor, Inspirational/Faith-Based Fiction, Inspirational/Faith-Based Non-Fiction, Literary Fiction, Multi-Voiced Performance, Mystery, Narration by the Author or Authors, Original Work, Package Design, Personal Development, Politics - Judges Award, Romance, Spanish Language, Teens, Thriller/Suspense.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tolkien and Pratchett Sales

An interesting couple of notes at Locus Online. FFO noted in January that a new J.R.R. Tolkien story, edited by a relative, Christopher Tolkien, would be out in May. It is called The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrun and is published by Houghton Mifflin.

Locus is reporting moderate sales on Amazon.com of the book. On the other hand, the next Discworld volume by Terry Pratchett, The Unseen Academicals, is doing briskly on Amazon.com a full five months before publication and is expected to reach best-seller levels soon. It is published by Doubleday UK. FFO also noted that Terry Pratchett now may be addressed as Sir Terence David John Pratchett, OBE.

BONUS! Here is a gadget that will let you write and surf anywhere, Novatel's 2200 "MiFi." It's a credit card-sized (but thicker) gadget that is cellular data card and personal WiFi hotspot. It's similar to the cellular data cards that you can plug into a laptop with a USB or PCMCIA port for Internet access over the cellular network. This one is self-contained. Your access is via its integrated WiFi hotspot, which you can share anywhere (or not; it has encryption). It's battery powered.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

IRoSF Interview with Jay Lake

Jay Lake is a prolific writer of a couple hundred short stories (not to mention the one here at Flash Fiction Online) and five novels. He's had several honors, including the John C. Campbell Award (best new writer) and a Hugo nomination. Learn more about Jay at his personal web page and his Wikipedia page).

The Internet Review of Science Fiction has an interview with Jay. Here is a snippet:

I probably shouldn't admit this, but the outline for Endurance, Green's sequel, does in fact include mechanical men. Well, mechanical apes, actually, but what's a good fantasy without some punchtape-driven clockwork apes?

For the rest of the interview, go here.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Star Trek Movie (2009)

A survey of review snippets provided by Rotten Tomatoes, a film review site, indicates that "Star Trek" (2009) has exceeded expectations. The snippets have links to the full reviews. My feel from these reviews and others is that the reviewers have not worried if trekkies will by offended by a new or missing this-or-that. The reviewers are not saying it is just an adequate me-too sequel. Some are calling it "great" or "moving," even.

Fast-moving, funny, exciting warp-speed entertainment and, heaven help me, even quite moving - the kind of film that shows that, like it or not, commercial cinema can still deliver a sledgehammer punch. It sure didn't feel like a trek to me. --Peter Bradshaw, Guardian (UK)

What is clear from many reviews is that the filmmakers, though they had the familiar characters, were not shackled to the past TV series or movies. The characters, due to a time shift, have different past histories and so can behave unexpectedly. They also are resigned to cope with the time change rather than somehow reversing it.

Here is a full review, as a reality check, from the curmudgeonly NYT.

Note bene: I haven't seen the film yet....

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Lord of the Rings Fan Web Movie Opening

By way of SlashDot: a fan movie based on LoTR, Hunt for Gollum, opens this weekend via the web. This assumes the LoTC (lord of the courts) does not intervene in this £3,000 production. (I heard a rumor that it went over budget: £3,020 .)

Here is a BBC article on the 40-minute movie and an confirmed YouTube trailer or two.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Locus Awards Finalists

Here are novel and short story Locus Awards finalists. The rest may be found at the Locus S&F News site. The other categories include first novel, young adult novel, novela, novelette, magazine, publisher, anthology, collection, editor, artist, non-fiction/art book. The fantasy novelists seem wordier in their titles. I'm just sayin'....

Science Fiction Novel

  • Matter, Iain M. Banks (Orbit UK)
  • City at the End of Time, Greg Bear (Gollancz, Del Rey)
  • Marsbound, Joe Haldeman (Ace)
  • Anathem, Neal Stephenson (Atlantic UK, Morrow)
  • Saturn's Children, Charles Stross (Orbit, Ace)


Fantasy Novel

  • The Shadow Year, Jeffrey Ford (Morrow)
  • Lavinia, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt)
  • The Bell at Sealey Head, Patricia A. McKillip (Ace)
  • The Dragons of Babel, Michael Swanwick (Tor)
  • An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe (Tor)


Short Story

  • "King Pelles the Sure", Peter S. Beagle (Strange Roads)
  • "Boojum", Elizabeth Bear & Sarah Monette (Fast Ships, Black Sails)
  • "Exhalation", Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • "The Kindness of Strangers", Nancy Kress (Fast Forward 2)
  • "After the Coup", John Scalzi (Tor.com 7/08)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Fantasy Award: Gemmell Award Finalists

The full name of this new fantasy award is the David Gemmell Legend Award. The award is given through public voting:

...to a work written in the 'spirit' of the late, great David Gemmell, a true Master of Heroic Fantasy.

The award ceremony is on June 19 in London. The short list is:

  • ABERCROMBIE, Joe – Last Argument of Kings (Gollancz/Pyr)
  • MARILLIER, Juliet – Heir to Sevenwaters (Tor UK)
  • SANDERSON, Brandon - The Hero of Ages (Tor US)
  • SAPKOWSKI, Andrzej - Blood of Elves (Gollancz)
  • WEEKS, Brent - The Way of Shadows (Orbit)
Here is the list of nominees.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Final Chapter on the Wheel of Time Series

Tor Books will publish the final works in the Wheel of Time fantasy series, by late American author James Oliver Rigney, Jr., under the pen name Robert Jordan. He died in 2007 of a rare blood disease.

Tor Books is proud to announce the November 3rd, 2009 on-sale date for The Gathering Storm, Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time and the first of three volumes that will make up A Memory of Light, the stunning conclusion to Robert Jordan’s beloved and bestselling fantasy series. A Memory of Light, partially written by Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson, will be released over a two-year period.

Universal Pictures acquired the movie rights to The Wheel of Time in August 2008, and currently plan to adapt The Eye of the World as the first movie.

The premise of the series is, according to Wikipedia: At the dawn of time, a deity known as the Creator forged the universe and the Wheel of Time, which spins the lives of men and women as its threads. The Wheel has seven spokes, each representing an age, and it is rotated by the One Power, which flows from the True Source.....

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leading Children's Book in 2009, S. Meyers' Deep Run

The bestselling children's book of 2009, so far, is Stephanie Meyer's Deep Run (even though she can't write).

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reviews of Four Ursula K. Le Guin Novels

We'll forgive Graham Sleight for his sleight national slander that U.S. book covers are "weird." We know that, Graham, but you didn't have to say it in public in front of God and everyone. Nevertheless, Mr. Sleight wrote an interesting review for Locus Magazine of four Ursula K. Le Guin novels, including The Left Hand of Darkness, The Lathe of Heaven, The Disposed, and Always Coming Home.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Vampire!

Finally, a blog article you can sink your teeth into. A Venetian archeological dig unearthed a vampire woman from a 16th century burial ground associated with a plague. The woman had a brick stuck in her jaw:

...evidence, experts say, that she was believed to be a vampire. The unusual burial is thought to be the result of an ancient vampire-slaying ritual. It suggests the legend of the mythical bloodsucking creatures was tied to medieval ignorance of how diseases spread and what happens to bodies after death, experts said.

Well, let's analyze this. Perhaps these scientists have succumbed to logical fallacy. Maybe in 16th century Venice, it was fashionable for women to have bricks in their mouth.

"Vampires don't exist, but studies show people at the time believed they did," said Matteo Borrini, a forensic archaeologist and anthropologist at Florence University who studied the case over the last two years.

Oh my, where do they come up with these scientists? Dude, if there weren't any vampires, how would we know enough about them to write so many vampire stories?

Medieval texts show the belief in vampires was fueled by the disturbing appearance of decomposing bodies, Borrini told The Associated Press by telephone.

What's your point?

To kill the undead creatures, the stake-in-the-heart method popularized by later literature was not enough: A stone or brick had to be forced into the vampire's mouth so that it would starve to death, Borrini said.

So now the dude is contradicting himself. If they don't exist, you can't kill them. I've had enough of this. If you want to read the rest of this travesty, here it is...if you're not afraid.

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Hugo Award Nominees Finalized for 2009

The nominees for the 2009 Hugo Awards have been finalized. The nominees for the best novel are:

  • Anathem by Neal Stephenson (Morrow; Atlantic UK)
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; HarperVoyager UK)
  • Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
  • Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi (Tor)
The best short story:

  • “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Jul 2008)
  • “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick (Baen’s Universe Oct 2008)
  • “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two)
  • “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Feb 2008)
The other categories: Best Novella; Best Novelette; Best Related Book; Best Graphic Story; Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form; Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form; Best Editor, long form; Best Editor, Short Form; Best Professional Artist; Best Semiprozine; Best Fanzine; Fan Writer; Best Fan Artist; and Best New Writer.

Comments:

  • Mike Resnick is one of the nominees for Best Short Story. We re-published his "The Fallen Angel" here on Flash Fiction Online in January of this year.
  • Cory Doctorow is on a roll. We noted yesterday his nomination for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize.
  • "Evil Monkey Robots" by one of our friends at Liberty Hall, Mary Robinette Kowal, was nominated for a Best Short Story. She also just sold a book to Tor.
  • Where's the Flash Fiction category?

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Review of March Short Fiction

The Internet Review of Science Fiction has a treasure trove of short fiction review for March. Depending on the publications' schedules, the current edition may be reckoned Feb. or April-May. They review F&SF, Asimov's, Realms of Fantasy, Jim Baen's Universe, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Lone Star Stories, Apex & Abyss, Apex Magazine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saturn Awards Nominations: Best SF, Fantasy, Horror Films

Nominations for the 35th Annual Saturn Awards are in for the best science fiction, fantasy, horror and action/adventure/thriller films. They also honor the associated actors, writers, musicians, etc. (My apologies to the etc.) They also similarly honor television, television series and DVD editions.


Best SF

  • THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (20th Century Fox)
  • EAGLE EYE (Paramount / DreamWorks)
  • THE INCREDIBLE HULK (Universal / Marvel)
  • INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (Paramount / Lucasfilm)
  • IRON MAN (Paramount / Marvel)
  • JUMPER (20th Century Fox)

Best Fantasy

  • THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN (Walt Disney Studios)
  • THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON (Paramount)
  • HANCOCK (Sony)
  • THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (Paramount)
  • TWILIGHT (Summit Entertainment)
  • WANTED (Universal)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Realms of Fantasy--It's Alive!

Flash Fiction Online has been following the saga [Feb Jan] of Realms of Fantasy. Quite a few of the FFO staffers greatly admire this publication, both as readers and writers, and were disheartened to see it die. They were a profitable publication, but in the current climate, the owners wanted to focus on their core interests.

Fortunately, they've closed a deal with one of their potential buyers. Here is SF Scope's article on this new development. Here is their fledgling website. Thanks to Inarticulate Babbler for the tip.

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Victorian Techno-Thrillers

I suppose many historical and fantasy medieval stories could be thought of as techno-thrillers, but I think of Clancy and the like. As Strange Horizons points out, thinking about war and the consequences of technology goes to antiquity. Strange Horizons has a fascinating article on the Victorian techno-thriller.

Tellingly, Francis Bacon raised the issue in his classic The New Atlantis (1626), in which the scientifically-minded, nature-conquering Bensalemites proudly tell the story's narrator that they possess "ordnance and instruments of war and engines of all kinds . . . stronger and more violent than yours are, exceeding your greatest cannons and basilisks [heavy siege cannons]."

It seems that one of the world's great geniuses, da Vinci had such intrigues in mind. He famously added a mistake to each of his war machine designs, presumably to confound the enemy if the drawing got into the wrong hands.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grist for the Speculative Fiction Mill--Unsolved Scientific Puzzles

This fine Times Online (UK) article summarizes and provides article links for some of the unsolved scientific puzzles. These puzzles might provide you some mortar for your SF or fantasy world-building. Some of the questions involve dark matter, the ignorance of certain spacecraft that refuse to follow known physical laws, constants that aren't constant enough, what's the deal with cold fusion?, What's the deal with life?, what's the deal with sex?...and more.

As Spock would say, "Fascinating." But I have my own questions:

  • Why didn't we let Pluto vote on whether it wanted to be in the United Planets?
  • Why don't we send Geraldo to the moon to find out, once and for all, whether the moon landing was a hoax?
  • Seriously: how many angels can you fit on the head of a pin? Related: if the number is large, what is the composition of an angel? Are dark angels composed of dark matter?

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SFWA: Mea Culpa on Final Nebula Ballot

The SFWA posted a notice that the final Nebula ballot tally was a bit speculative and suffered a tally error. A novelette and short story were omitted:

  • the novelette "The Ray Gun: A Love Story" - James Alan Gardner(Asimov's, Feb08) and
  • the short story "Mars: A Traveler's Guide" - Ruth Nestvold (F&SF, Jan08)
I updated the earlier post to correct my own tally of which speculative fiction magazines rule the roost this year. F&SF still rules. Through extensive numerical analysis not even attempted by other blogs, my updated tally of ballot nominees is:

  • Fantasy & Science Fiction: 6
  • Asimov's: 4
  • Norilana: 2
  • Analog: 1

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Transhumanism: Point & Counterpoint

This post spans two issues of the Global Spiral, the online magazine associated with the Metanexus Institute, a group of scholars who study the “human meaning and purpose,” using transdisciplinary approach to science and religion. I thought this would be of interest to many writers since these topics span so much of literature.

The current issue of Global Spiral is an internal retort to their previous special issue on transhumanism, in which their guest authors expressed concerns about transhumanism, the idea that humans can transform themselves to superhuman (the guest editor would say posthuman) status through accelerated cultural evolution and technical means, such as bioengineering, medicine, cognitive studies and other disciplines.

Here is the guest editor's introduction to the first special issue on transhumanism, and here is the issue.

This is the stuff of many science fiction and fantasy novels about modified humans, described with certain level of angst by serious scholars in science and theology...cybernetics, genetics, nanotechnology.... (It is worth going there if only to see the incredible Tiffany stained glass piece.)

“If one accepts that transhumanism is more than an ideology, indeed a philosophy, one must look carefully at its understanding of the human, of biology, and of the relationship between technology and culture.”
Here is the guest editor's introduction to the current issue, which, as stated, is an internal retort to the first. Here is the issue. (This is the February issue if you go there after the next issue is published.)

“Transhumanists counter that nature’s gifts are sometimes poisoned and should not always be accepted. Cancer, malaria, dementia, aging, starvation, unnecessary suffering, cognitive shortcomings are all among the presents we wisely refuse.”

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nebula Awards® 2008 Final Ballot

The SFWA's final ballot for the 2008 Nebula Awards® is in. The nominees for best novel are:

Note: this post updated 4 Mar 09 to reflect the SFWA's balloting error.

  • Little Brother - Doctorow, Cory (Tor, Apr08)
  • Powers - Le Guin, Ursula K. (Harcourt, Sep07)
  • Cauldron - McDevitt, Jack (Ace, Nov07)
  • Brasyl - McDonald, Ian (Pyr, May07)
  • Making Money - Pratchett, Terry (Harper, Sep07)
  • Superpowers - Schwartz, David J. (Three Rivers Press, Jun08)
See the article for the nominees for the shorter works.

I was curious about what short fiction publications ruled. The combined totals for short stories, novellas and novelettes, the publishers having the most nominees are:

  • Fantasy & Science Fiction: 6
  • Asimov's: 4
  • Norilana: 2
  • Analog: 1

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Flash News: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone just $15K

Perhaps one of your story submissions came in positively and you're looking for a way to protect the money from the present market climate. You can bid on a first edition "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone." This is the limited first run of 200 soft cover copies, with a signed card within signed by J.K. Rowlings. Wait, I'll check who that is...he's a writer....no, he's a she. Great, so the book is a first edition AND has a signature by some author, apparently of note. Currently, the bidding is at $15,000.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Buffy the Bradbury Slayer

Says the SFWA: "Joss Whedon, creator of such science fiction and fantasy-themes television series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse, has been named recipient of the Bradbury Award for excellence in screenwriting, as presented by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America."

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Best SF/Fantasy Books in 2008

SF Site's Neil Walsh gives his picks here for the best Sci-Fi and fantasy books of 2008. I noticed that Neil Gaiman made the list with The Graveyard Book. He's been on a roll. We wrote about the movie rendition of Coraline. I watched Beowulf on DVD recently and noticed that Gaiman had written the original screenplay for that movie.

Let me check to see if Gaiman wrote the original novel....Nope. It was an epic poem of unknown authorship written in the 8-11th centuries. Let me check my calculator to see if Gaiman could have been the author....Nope, that would make him between 1000 and 1200 years old. There is no modern explanation for such an extended life. (It would explain a lot if he were, though.)

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Realms of Fantasy Update

We reported earlier about the demise of the 15-year-old Realms of Fantasy magazine. There are new rumblings at SFScope about a potential sale of the magazine to one of several bidders. It certainly has value as a continuously profitable and respected publication.

In a related story, SFScope listed the inventory of accepted but unpublished stories and gives the publisher's final thoughts on the demise of the magazine.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

When Satellites Collide

I frequently see SF writers ask what-if questions on writing forums like Hatrack to check their science. What if an asteroid strikes the moon and moves it to a higher orbit? What would be the effect on Earth?

I've seen several questions about explosions in space. You've probably seen recent news about two large satellites colliding in space over Siberia. Follow-up stories about this incident might be an opportunity to get a general grounding, so to speak, on the terminology and physics of collisions in space. This one also gives insight on the scattering of debris in the presence of planetary gravity.

I don't want to leave out fantasy writers from this article. On the same writing forums, fantasy writers often ask about creatures, magic, weapons, medieval history and the like. These writers might want to follow the 111th Congress. (Just a joke, please.)

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Friday, February 6, 2009

King vs. Meyers Smackdown

Stephen King minced no words in his USA Weekend interview with Lorrie Lynch about some popular, current writers (and also a bit about Lovecraft). King says:
"Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. ... The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good."
He as more to explain her success with young girls. He also weighs in on James Patterson and Erle Stanley Gardner (okay, leave Erle alone).

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

JK Rowling a French Knight

JK Rowling has named a knight of the Legion of Honor. Her great grandfather was French. According to BBC News, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first book in English to top France's sales chart. (It was later translated into French.) Rowling felt compelled to apologize for giving an evil character a French name, Voldemort.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Viz Media Publishing Japanese SF in North America

Via Publishers Weekly, San Francisco-based manga publisher Viz Media is launching Haikasoru, perhaps the first North American publishing house dedicated to publishing Japanese science fiction and fantasy in English translation.

It's good to see some expansion in publishing, for a change.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

1000 Novels You Must Read

1000 novels you must read, according to Guardian.co.uk, variously categorized in obvious and non-obvious ways (State of the Nation novels, War and Travel, Family and Self, Science Fiction and Fantasy...Whew!. (And they don't mind if you buy them via their bookstore). That'll be about 10 years at two novels per week. I hope Tolstoy didn't make their list.

Here are the best of SF/F selections (part 1).

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