Guardian Book Blog asks: Can the novella save literature?
And then I had an epiphany: could it be that we should look to classics like Ethan Frome to find the key to saving fiction from the worrisome tides of publishing sturm and drang, the statistics that indicate that people distracted by the trillions of choices provided by digital media are giving up on fiction? Might the way to stop our atrophied attention spans becoming terminally distracted be to simply publish more short books?
And best all, an upswing in the publication of novellas would not confirm the prejudices of those who rail against the dumbing-down of literature: novellas require an intelligent author and an intelligent reader to appreciate the power of brevity. Without exacting quite the level of austerity presented by the task of writing a good short story, novellas challenge writers to use words like wartime rations: with care and thought and the extra level of creative gusto required to ensure that they stretch to make a miniature read that is just as satisfying as something more substantial.
Robert Silverberg also echoes the virtues of the novella and I tend to agree with these sentiments. Short fiction can provide just a good a sci-fi jolt as a book can. But, geez, is literature really doomed if we continue book-length stories?
[via Likely Stories]
It seems like forever since LOST was last on the air, but that’s about to change in a hurry as season 4 starts tomorrow night, at 9pm ET. When we last left our survivors, rescue seemed immanent, thanks to Charlie disabling the Looking Glass hatch, allowing communications with the outside. Of course, being LOST things aren’t what they seem, and the ‘rescuers’ may not be looking for the Losties at all. Cue end of season 3. So that brings us to season 4. There is a wealth of unanswered questions out there. But we’d like to know what you want to see from Season 4. Keep in mind that, with only 16 episodes this season (if we’re lucky) you can’t get all the answers. And just for Trent, I’ll go ahead and place ‘less clothes‘ (see accompanying picture) on his list.
Some of the things I want to see are:
- Why is the island hidden from the outside world and how is that accomplished?
- Where did the ‘native’ others come from and who don’t they appear to age?
- Who, exactly, is Jacob?
- What is the smoke monster?
I know theres a lot more, but these are the ones foremost in my mind. Although, from what I’ve read, the smoke monster may remain a mystery for awhile longer. What say you?
Although science fiction fans know better, the general populace likes to think of sf as being written with the express purpose of predicting the future. So we posed the following question to a bunch of people in the since fiction community:
Science fiction is often accused of being The Great Predictor. Which predictions did Golden Age science fiction get right? Which ones were way off the mark?
, Emeritus Professor of English at K.U., has published a dozen novels and half a dozen collections of stories, and has edited a dozen and a half books. His best-known novels are The Immortals
, The Dreamers
, The Listeners
, and The Joy Makers
. The Immortals
was filmed as The Immortal
and became a TV series. He published The Science of Science-Fiction Writing
in 2002 and edited Speculations on Speculation: Theories of Science Fiction in 2005
. He has been president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association. His most recent publications are Gift from the Stars
and the reprint edition of The Listeners
, both available from BenBella Books. In 2007 he was named a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master by SFWA.
Science fiction has included a lot of speculations that look like predictions, and some of them have come to pass, most spectacularly spaceships and atomic power and bombs, but prediction is a side effect of creating plausible scenarios about future change, not its intent. SF has been more important as a means of persuading readers to think about issues and the ways in which they might develop and how that might affect the human condition. As Isaac Asimov said in 1973, “We live in a science-fiction world, a world very much like the one we were writing about in 1939.” It is a world that might well have been significantly different if science-fiction writers had not imagined it in detail. More specifically, to quote Isaac again, “Science-fiction writers and readers didn’t put a man on the moon all by themselves, but they created a climate in which the goal of putting a man on the moon became acceptable.” The same process is at work on other potential changes, in which, as John Campbell put it, futures are tested for human habitability. Or, as he went on, science-fiction is a way of practicing in a no-practice area. Some changes, like a parachute jump, have to be perfect the first time.
After finally getting to watch the first 3 episodes, I think we can safely start to see a few things about the show that wasn’t apparent from just the pilot. Spoiler alert – I’m going to discuss a few things from the plot if you haven’t seen it.
Here’s your chance to win some bling!
One lucky SF Signal reader, chosen at random, will win a Chronicles of The Necromancer Mega-Pack, courtesy of author Gail Martin and Solaris Books. The Mega-Pack contains:
- 1 signed limited edition advance review copy of The Summoner
- 1 signed limited edition advance review copy of The Blood King
- 1 signed final copy of The Blood King (which has about 20,000 words of new material from the ARC)
- 1 red crystal ball “Soulcatcher”
THE FINE PRINT
To enter, send an email from a valid email account to [contest at sfsignal dot com] with your real name and full mailing address. We hate spam, too, so your information will only be used for this contest. Only one email per address will be accepted, others will be discarded. The contest is open to anyone, anywhere. One winner will be chosen at random from all entries submitted before Saturday February 2nd, 2008 11:59 PM CT (GMT-6). The winner will be notified by email.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Fans of Hamilton’s galaxy-spanning space operas will not be disappointed.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Various players and factions move about the galaxy, trying to decide what to do about the Void, a planet-eating region of space from which dreams emanate.
PROS: Excellent world building; cool tech; some tense, page-turning moments.
CONS: Takes a while to get this behemoth moving along.
BOTTOM LINE: Solid SF Space Opera.
Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.
Where do you think surveillance technology will take us?
Comments this week:
“The multis are already much more efficient mining our biometric and geographic data. They’ll only get better… ’till the hackers strike back.” – Jeff
“‘Will’ take us? We’re already there!” – Paul Harper
“They’re gonna put a little camera in toilet bowls to see what kind of tp we use. Assign each brand a numeric value and plug it into a logarythmic formula along with the results from the breakfast cereal camera, the gas cap camera and the lead paint camera, and send me a 10% off coupon for Long John Silvers…” – platyjoe
Be sure to visit our front page and vote in this week’s poll about The Books of Philip José Farmer!
Today we have very interesting episode, “Our Mrs. Reynolds”, wherein Mal winds up getting married to a mystery woman. Hilarity and angst ensue! Of course, this entire episode is just a setup for seeing a nekkid Mal in a later episode.
The Books That Make You Dumb website correlates the most-read books by college students with the average SAT/ACT scores listed for that college. The result is a pretty chart that shows books (color coded by genre) on a “dumb/smart” scale.
I’ve taken the science fiction & Fantasy results from the sorted graph and show them here. Perpetuating the unscientific method that the website uses, the resulting list of science fiction books, from “Dumb” to “Not-so-Dumb”, are:
- Wicked by Gregory Maguire.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
- Dune by Frank Herbert.
- Eragon by Christopher Paolini.
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling.
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.
- Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.
- Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
[via O’Reilly Radar]
Starship Sofa is a science fiction audio podcast that offers up lots of free stories and in-depth profiles. Check out their latest offerings, “The Crystal Spheres” by David Brin and a profile of L. Sprague De Camp.
Tony writes in to let us know that upcoming audio renditions include fiction from Ian Watson, Pat Cadigan, Peter Watts, Harry Harrison, Joe Haldeman, Joan D Vinge, Norman Spinrad, Michael Moorcock, Ian MacDonald, J D Nordley, Bruce Sterling, Gweneth Jones, David Brin, Alastair Reynolds, Jerry Pournelle, Landon Jones, John Varley, Pat Murphy, John Kessel, Laurel Winter, Jeff Vanermeer, Kevin J Anderson, Jonathan Carroll, Bradley Denton, and Matthew Hughes.
Also coming up is a video documentary with Michael Moorcock.
There’s a lot going on, so keep an ear out!
The winners of the 2007 Aurealis Awards (given to works of SF, fantasy, and horror by Australians) have been announced:
- BEST SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: David Kowalski, The Company of the Dead, Pan Macmillan
- BEST SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY: Cat Sparks, ‘Hollywood Roadkill’, On Spec, #69
- BEST FANTASY NOVEL: Lian Hearn, Heaven’s Net is Wide, Tales of the Otori The First Book, Hachette Livre
- BEST FANTASY SHORT STORY: Garth Nix, ‘Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz go to War Again’, Jim Baen’s Universe, April 2007
- BEST HORROR NOVEL: Susan Parisi, Blood of Dreams, Penguin Group (Australia)
- BEST HORROR SHORT STORY: Anna Tambour, ‘The Jeweller of Second-Hand Roe’, Subterranean, #7
- BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL: Anthony Eaton, Skyfall, UQP
- BEST YOUNG ADULT SHORT STORY: Deborah Biancotti, ‘A Scar for Leida’, Fantastic Wonder Stories, Ticonderoga Publications
- BEST CHILDREN’S (8-12 YEARS) LONG FICTION:
- Kate Forsyth, The Silver Horse, The Chain of Charms 2, Pan Macmillan
- Kate Forsyth, The Herb of Grace, The Chain of Charms 3, Pan Macmillan
- Kate Forsyth, The Cat’s Eye Shell, The Chain of Charms 4, Pan Macmillan
- Kate Forsyth, The Lightning Bolt, The Chain of Charms 5, Pan Macmillan
- Kate Forsyth, The Butterfly in Amber, The Chain of Charms 6, Pan Macmillan
- BEST CHILDREN’S (8-12 YEARS) SHORT FICTION (tie): Marc McBride, World of Monsters, Scholastic Australia
- BEST CHILDREN’S (8-12 YEARS) SHORT FICTION (tie): Briony Stewart, Kumiko and the Dragon, UQP
- PETER MCNAMARA CONVENORS’ AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE: Terry Dowling, Rynemonn, Coeur de Lion Publications
- GOLDEN AUREALIS (Novel): David Kowalski fir The Company of the Dead, Pan Macmillan
- GOLDEN AUREALIS (Short Story): Cat Sparks, ‘Hollywood Roadkill’, On Spec, #69
PKD: A Day in the Afterlife, directed by Nicola Roberts, is an hour-long documentary about SF Author Philip K. Dick.
[via Milk & Cookies]