Archive for May, 2012

WORD AND PICTURES: “Finder” and its Footnotes

Finder is sf of a very distinctive kind that isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. I’m not even certain it’s wholly, or always, to mine.

But do I think it’s remarkable? Absolutely. I’ve got a feeling that if comics were regarded as a normal, integral part of the sf field by fans and particularly critics, in the way that novels, short stories and to some extent film/TV are, there would be those – not everyone by any means, but some folks – citing Finder as a major work in the context of that whole field and giving it a lot of awards.

Do I wish there were more comics like Finder in the world? Definitely; but not too many, because I’m not sure my attention span’s up to the job. I don’t think my descriptive faculties are up to the job of conveying what Finder is like, either, but it doesn’t do to let inevitable failure deter one so off we go.

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Jules Verne Totally Wrote Fan Fiction

This week in the SF History series on the Kirkus Reviews blog, I look at the connection between American author Edgar Allan Poe and French author Jules Verne, and a common story that they both worked on, decades apart, which helped to set the tone for the science fiction genre moving forward.

This was an interesting point in science fiction history, because it’s an early point where there was a direct influence from one author to another, not just in one work, but stylistically as well.

Click on over and read The Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne over at the Kirkus Reviews blog!


“ESCAPISM: The desire to retreat into imaginative entertainment rather than deal with the stress, tedium, and daily problems of the mundane world.”

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. In what the misusers are fond of calling Real Life, Escape is evidently as a rule very practical, and may even be heroic. In real life it is difficult to blame it, unless it fails; in criticism it would seem to be the worse the better it succeeds. Evidently we are faced by a misuse of words, and also by a confusion of thought.”

- J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”

“Perhaps there is no way of escaping in art from one’s society, as any social product will of necessity embody the society’s values and pressures, and the less these values or pressures are confronted and examined in the work, the more in force they will be.”

I recently finished reading Thomas Ligotti’s Noctuary for review here at SF Signal, and as I sat in my bed, very late at night, I felt like a leaden statue that was levitating above my bed, impossibly unmoored from any comfort or connection to the world. My notebook computer was lying next to me, and the file that I had open to write down my reactions and thoughts was blank. I read the book in three sessions, which worked well since it is a collection, and each time I was so caught up in the reading, so harrowed and beguiled by the words, that I forgot to make any notes. I cannot think of many books that have had that effect on me, but as I sat there, still drifting but slowly feeling the pull of the world below me, I wondered why these words, this book, these stories had undone me so powerfully that I had a contradictory physical reaction of feeling cut off from the world but anchored deeply within my own skin. I had in some sense abandoned the world for a short time, but the question that came into my mind as I refamiliarized myself with my surroundings was: did I escape?
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Nancy Fulda is a 2012 Hugo and Nebula Nominee and has been honored by Baen Books and the National Space Society for her writing. She has been a featured writer at Apex Online, a guest on the Writing Excuses podcast, and is a regular attendee of the Villa Diodati Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction can be found in Asimov’s Science Fiction MagazineDaily Science FictionBeneath Ceaseless Skies and other professional venues.

At the Nebula Awards Weekend in Arlington, Virginia two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Nancy to talk about her Hugo- and Nebula-award nominated story, “Movement,” and about writing fiction and nonfiction. We sat just outside the hotel bar on a Thursday evening, as waves of science fiction and fantasy writers, editors, agents, publishers and fans trickled through the lobby to registration.


Jamie Todd Rubin: Congratulations on your nomination. How does it feel to be a Nebula nominee?

Nancy Fulda: Well, after I got done dancing around the house, my next concern was actually: how do I handle this without becoming an arrogant, pompous jerk, because it’s an incredible honor to be nominated and puts me in the company of so many illustrious authors. It feels really good. It feels really nice to have people recognize that this story is special because it’s one that was really meaningful to me when I wrote it. It’s nice for me to see the nomination as a means of brining more attention to the story and helping it reach more readers.
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TOC: Lightspeed Magazine, June 2012

Lightspeed Magazine sent along the table of contents for the June 2012 issue:

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SF Tidbits for 5/31/12

Interviews and Profiles

News

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G.J. Koch writes science fiction. Not the hard stuff, though. Because that requires actual scientific knowledge or at least actual scientific research. Knowledge may be power and research may be cool, but they take time away from writing jokes, action, and romance, and being witty in the face of death is what it’s really all about. Check out G.J.’s rollicking Alexander Outland: Space Pirate series from Night Shade Books and reach G.J. at Space…the Funny Frontier.

Why I Write Humorous Science Fiction

by G.J. Koch

I always thought Han Solo was a lot more fun before he found “religion” and got all serious about saving the galaxy and being a good boy for Leia. Though I like them both, I find the irreverence of Firefly much more relatable than the serious do-gooder-ness of Star Trek. And I actually enjoyed Ice Pirates. (Because it was funny, that’s why.)

I’m telling you this because I write humorous science fiction, and there’s a reason why I like the funny, and I like to bring the funny: I can get across whatever points that I want to so much more easily with humor than if I’m all serious about whatever it is I want to have a reader thinking about. In fact, many of my readers would never know that I HAVE serious points to make (oh, but I do, I really do). And that’s the way I like it.
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Did you ever notice how bookstore shelves are overflowing with enticing reads in Summer months?

Today at the Kirkus Review Blog, I take a look at is the 12 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books You Don’t Want to Miss in June.

There’s lots of great stuff aimed at sff fans…so check it out.

TOC: Philippine Speculative Fiction, Volumes 3 & 4

Here are the tables of contents for two new abthologies of Philippine speculative fiction…

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 3

Edited by Dean Francis Alfar

A diet drug gone wrong; A boy born with winged feet; A murder mystery set in a refrigerator. The Philippine Speculative Fiction series are anthologies that showcase the rich variety of Philippine literature: between these covers you will find magic realism next to science fiction, traditional fantasy beside slipstream, and imaginary worlds rubbing shoulders with alternate Philippine history — demonstrating that the literature of the fantastic is alive and well in the Philippines.

Stories from this series have been included in the Honorable Mentions list from The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror edited by Ellen Datlow and Kelly Link & Gavin Grant.

“[I] have been impressed with the quality of the fiction and the scope of it — quiet, personal stories of the fantastic, real science fiction, tales based on traditional Philippine folklore and mythology, structurally experimental pieces, and humorous commentaries on life in the 21st century.” – World Fantasy Award-winning author Jeffrey Ford

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MIND MELD: The Best Aliens in Science Fiction

[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
This week, we sent our distinguished panlists this question:

Q: With the upcoming movie Prometheus, Aliens are on our minds here. What makes for a good depiction of aliens in Science Fiction? What are some examples of that in practice?

Here is how they responded…

Kameron Hurley
Kameron Hurley is the author of the award-winning novel GOD’S WAR and the sequel, INFIDEL. Her third book, RAPTURE is due out in November. Find out more at godswarbook.com

My preference for great aliens is for the really unknowable ones. I like the ones with totally crazy physiology and motives so alien that we find them utterly unknowable. Just giving a human some head ridges and having them practice a form of Buddhism with a funny name doesn’t do it for me. That’s not alien. It’s deeply human. With head ridges.

Right now, I’m partial to the aliens in Octavia’s Butler’s Adulthood Rights, which is part of her Xenogenesis series. The book is about these tentacled, telepathic aliens who reproduce by merging themselves with other species. There are four or five parents involved, and the way they interact with the world – touch it and taste it and understand it – is very different from our own. Writing from a purely alien POV is hard, and not a lot of writers can pull it off. But Butler brings us into the POV of one of the alien hybrids – a mix of human and alien genes – to help make the aliens more accessible. The merging of the two ways of seeing the world, and how that character negotiates these different impulses, go a long way toward helping us understand his “other” half.

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Authors Stephen Gaskell & Bradley Beaulieu are making their book Strata available as a free Kindle download at Amazon US and Amazon UK — but only for a limited time! Download the book either today or tomorrow.

Here;s the description:

Strata is a stand-alone novella by two Writers of the Future Award winners.

It’s the middle of the twenty-second century. Earth’s oil and gas reserves have been spent, but humankind’s thirst for energy remains unquenched. Vast solar mining platforms circle the upper atmosphere of the sun, drawing power lines up from the stellar interior and tight-beaming the energy back to Earth. For most of the platforms’ teeming masses, life is hard, cramped–and hot. Most dream of a return Earthside, but a two-way ticket wasn’t part of the benefits package, and a Sun-Earth trip doesn’t come cheap.

Kawe Ndechi is luckier than most. He’s a gifted rider–a skimmer pilot who races the surface of the sun’s convection zone–and he needs only two more wins before he lands a ticket home. The only trouble is, Kawe’s spent most of his life on the platforms. He’s seen the misery, and he’s not sure he’s the only one who deserves a chance at returning home.

That makes Smith Pouslon nervous. Smith once raced the tunnels of fire himself, but now he’s a handler, and his rider, Kawe, is proving anything but easy to handle. Kawe’s slipping deeper and deeper into the Movement, but Smith knows that’s a fool’s game. His own foray into the Movement cost him his racing career–and nearly his life–and he doesn’t want Kawe to throw everything away for a revolt that will never succeed.

One sun. Two men. The fate of a million souls.

Remeber, Kindle eBooks work not only on Kindle devices, but also on devices that run Kindle software, like computers and smartphones.

TOC: ‘Permeable Borders’ by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Here’s the table of contents for Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s upcoming collection Permeable Borders:

  • “Key Signatures”
  • “The Weight of Wishes”
  • “How I Came to Marry a Herpetologist”
  • “Strikes of the Heart”
  • “Switched”
  • “Sourheart”
  • “Inner Child”
  • “Home for Christmas”
  • “Anger Management”
  • “Trees Perpetual of Sleep”
  • “Hostile Takeover”
  • “Here We Come A-Wandering”
  • “The Wisdom of Disaster”
  • “A Fault Against the Dead”
  • “The Trouble With Truth”
  • “Gone to Heaven Shouting”

Don Pizarro pointed me to this video treasure from Rod Serling’s Night Gallery…an episode titled “Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture” in which Carl Reiner mocks the Elder Gods. Great stuff…thanks, Don!
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Free SF/F/H Fiction for 5/30/2012

Another interjection from your Free Fiction curator: “The Zookeeper”.

Written

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SF Tidbits for 5/30/12

Interviews and Profiles

News

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REVIEW: Wrath of Iron by Chris Wraight

SYNOPSIS: Something foul is afoot on the planet of Shardenus in the Contqual sub-sector. Imperial Guard, Adeptus Mechanicus, and the fearsome Iron Hands Space Marine Chapter descend to cleanse the world of an unholy taint that has taken root.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW
PROS: Plenty of action from the perspectives of Imperial Guard, Titans, Space Marines, and even a Death Cult assassin.
CONS: Lack of plot and character depth; nothing new in regard to the Space Marine Battles series.
VERDICT: This is an average quality book in an average quality series.

The Space Marines of Clan Raukaan, Iron Hands Chapter, descend upon the hive world of Shardenus as part of a concerted Imperial effort to purge the world of mutant, heretic and daemon. Once the Iron Hands make planetfall it quickly becomes apparent to the mortal Imperial commanders that the space marines have an agenda of their own. Regular soldiers of the Imperial Guard are fed into the meat grinder of war at an alarming pace in order to expedite this superhuman agenda and eventually the question must be asked: “Are the Iron Hands any less monstrous than the enemy?”

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SF Signal Welcomes Nick Sharps!

We here at SF Signal HQ are pleased to announce that Nick Sharps has joined the ranks SF Signal’s ever-growing blog army!

As if associating himself with us wasn’t enough of a bother, we asked Nick to tell us about himself in the third-person. Here’s what he said:

Nick Sharps is an Advertising major at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He is passionate about movies, video games and music, but literature remains his one true love. More of Nick’s reviews can be found at Elitist Book Reviews and his personal blog, Goatfairy Review Blog.

Welcome aboard, Nick! We’re thrilled to have you on board. As a card-carrying member of the most suspicious-looking bunch of bloggers anywhere, you may finally be privy to a secret: New Guy (taht’s you) buys everyone else bagels! We’re not picky about flavor…but if I don’t get an “Everything Bagel” soon, there will be hell to pay. HELL TO PAY! ;)

While Nick is trying to figure out whether I’m serious, crazy or seriously crazy…check out his review of Wrath of Iron by Chris Wraight!

Meanwhile, please join me in welcoming Nick to the team!

Daily Science Fiction Roster of Stories for June 2012

Daily Science Fiction has announced its June 2012 line-up of free stories:

  • June 1: “The Time of Their Visitation” by Lisa Nohealani Morton
  • June 4: “The Princess and the Monster” by Ryan Creel
  • June 5: “An Open Letter in Defense of Our Alien Overlords” by Katherine Heath Shaeffer
  • June 6: “Metal and Flesh” by Steven R. Stewart
  • June 7: “Angel Plantation” by Tina Connolly
  • June 8: “Fairy Tales” by Eliza Victoria
  • June 11: “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli
  • June 12: “Deathday” by Jonas David
  • June 13: “British Colonial” by Amanda Clark
  • June 14: “The Magician of Words” by Ruth Nestvold
  • June 15: “The Pretty Woman Without Mercy” by Steven Mathes
  • June 18: “Faerie Food” by Kat Otis
  • June 19: “Ryan’s World” by Paul Ebbs
  • June 20: “Dark Roads for the Eternal Ruler” by Eric James Stone
  • June 21: “Peas, Plots, and Peril” by Melissa Mead
  • June 22: “The Midnight Knock Again” by Patricia Russo
  • June 25: “Taking Care of Ma” by Lee Hallison
  • June 26: “The Watchmaker’s Gift” by Rich Matrunick
  • June 27: “The Dream of the Night-Shift Power Worker” by Edoardo Albert
  • June 28: “Sacred Artifacts” by Greg Leunig
  • June 29: “Answer Man” by A.J. Barr

Dear SF Signal Readers,

Hi! My name’s Zack Jernigan. I conducted this roundtable interview over the last year. Just so you know, I wrote a long, painfully self-conscious introduction about my upbringing as a white, heterosexual male born into a middle-middle-class family and how that contributed to my desire to start a discussion on the subject of Writing About Race in Sff Literature, but I scrapped it. When you’ve received such amazing responses from your interviewees, it’s best to get to them with the minimum of words.

So: Suffice it to say, this is an important topic for discussion. I hope that you enjoy reading this first part, that you’ll return for the second, and that you’ll feel free to comment. I also encourage you to visit the authors’ websites and buy their amazing work.

And enjoy!


Writing About Race in Science Fiction and Fantasy

A Roundtable Interview with David Anthony Durham, Aliette de Bodard, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Ken Liu

Q: Is there an advantage to approaching the subject of race in science fiction and fantasy literature, as opposed to approaching the subject in mimetic (“mainstream” or “mundane”) fiction?
David Anthony Durham

I hope so.

Personal point of reference on a limitation of mimetic fiction… My first two novels were mainstream works about African-American history. Readers that picked up those books did so because they wanted to read about race and slavery. They went in knowing the material would be difficult, and most of them probably believed that ruminating about our racial history is relevant for modern day. That’s great, but it means a limited readership. What about reaching more folks-including folks that don’t think they’d be interested in reading about race?
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From Fairwood Press comes the table of contents for James van Pelt’s upcoming (October 2012) collection Flying in the Heart of the Lafayette Escadrille:

  1. “Father’s Dragon”
  2. “Just Before Recess”
  3. “O Tannebaum”
  4. “Night Sweats”
  5. “Teaching”
  6. “Working the Moon Unit”
  7. “Plant Life”
  8. “That He Might Yet Find the Unknown”
  9. “Floaters”
  10. “The Road’s End”
  11. “One in a Thousand”
  12. “Rockhouse”
  13. “Mrs. Hatcher’s Evaluation”
  14. “Far From the Emerald Isle”
  15. “Howl Above the Din”
  16. “No Small Change”
  17. “The Saint from Abdijan”
  18. “Ark Ascension”
  19. “Working Pushout”
  20. “Notes from the Field”
  21. “Savannah is Six”
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