Mind Meld Archives

Spaceships have been a staple of science fiction stories since its earliest days of imagining ourselves beyond the stars. We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: If you could ride on any spaceship from written science fiction, which would it be? Why?

Here’s what they said.

Lois Tilton
Lois Tilton is now reviewing short fiction for Locus Online.

I’d like to book passage on one of the vehicles from Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels, because their names are totally cool, like: Sudden Shift in Emphasis and Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill.

Also because the ship Minds are highly superior entities, so I trust they’d be less likely to turn left at the wrong wormhole or crash-land on some uncharted planet with hostile life forms. And the accommodations onboard, I believe, are quite comfortable.

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MIND MELD: The Apple iPad: Sizzle or Fizzle?

Science fiction fans love new gadgets. The most recently hyped gadget is the Apple iPad. Sure, it’s sexy, but like any gadget, it has its pros and cons.

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Do you own an Apple iPad? If so, what are the things you like and dislike about it? If not, are you thinking of getting one? Why or why not?

Here’s what they said.

Marie Brennan
Marie Brennan is the author of the Onyx Court series of historical fantasy novels: Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and the upcoming A Star Shall Fall. She has also published nearly thirty short stories. More information at www.swantower.com.

Full disclosure: my brother works on the iPad. Which doesn’t give me any special insights or advantages — I spent a year and a half not knowing what his job was, just that he’d been moved to a new team at Apple, before they announced the thing publicly — but if you want to read bias into this, go ahead.

I don’t own an iPad, and am not likely to buy one any time soon, for a variety of reasons: cost paired with lack of immediate pressing need, caution regarding the first generation of *anything*, etc. Having said that, when I saw the specs of the iPad, I admit it looked attractive, for two reasons.

Weight/size and battery life…

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Continuing our theme of science fiction tropes, we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What are some of the coolest robots in science fiction? Why?

Here’s what they said. Are your favorites listed?

Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick is the author of 50 novels, 200 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of 50 anthologies, as well as the executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe. According to Locus, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 22 languages.

The single most memorable robot:

  • Jenkins, from Cliff Simak’s City. Simak made you care for Jenkins at a time when Asimov was creating scores of robots that only Susan Calvin cared about.

Others:

  • Joe, from Henry Kuttner’s “Robots Have No Tail”. Kuttner was another writer who had no interest in the Three Laws, and created a charming robot.
  • Roderick, from John Sladek’s Roderick and Roderick at Random. Roderick was a perfect vehicle for Sladek’s sardonic commentary.
  • Adam Link, from Eando Binder’s I, Robot (sic) and others; he’sthe missing link between clanking metallic monsters and positronic robots.
  • Sisto Settimo, from Robert Silverberg’s “Good News From the Vatican”. He’s only onstage for one paragraph, but the notion of a robot pope is as memorable as they come.

And if I can suggest three totally non-Asimovian robots that made major ballots:

  • Sammy, from my “Robots Don’t Cry”.
  • Jackson, from my “Article of Faith”.
  • Mose, from my and Lezli Robyn’s “Soulmates”.

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MIND MELD: The Best Sword & Sorcery Stories

My recent and long overdue discovery of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories made me wonder about other good sword and sorcery stories, so this week’s panelists were asked:

Q: What are some of the best sword and sorcery stories? What makes them so good?

Check out their excellent suggestions…(and share some of your own!)

Martha Wells
Martha Wells is the author of seven fantasy novels, including The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. Her publications also include two Stargate: Atlantis novels and several short stories.

I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of sword and sorcery, including the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser series, and Robert E. Howard’s Dark Agnes stories. One of my earliest favorites was Charles Saunders’ Dossouye stories, which first appeared in the anthologies Amazons! and Sword and Sorceress in the early 80s. When I read the first one, “Agbewe’s Sword,” I was about fifteen years old and desperately looking for strong female protagonists. The setting of an alternate version of Africa, using cultures and myths that I wasn’t familiar with, also really set the stories apart for me. The stories are available now in a collection titled Dossouye, and I highly recommend it.

I also loved Tanith Lee’s sword and sorcery, like The Storm Lord and Vazkor, Son of Vazkor, the sequel to The Birthgrave, and her Cyrion stories, which had the main character solving magical mysteries during his adventures. The settings are so lush and rich and detailed, with the feeling of starting out in a strange place, only to follow the characters somewhere much stranger.

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MIND MELD: The Best Genre Crossovers

Despite what someone might initially think, genre boundaries are blurry, allowing storytellers to mix-and-match (intentionally or not) different genres, thus producing a story with an altogether new flavor.

We asked this year’s panelists this question:

Q: What are some of your favorite genre crossovers?

Here’s what they said…

Angela Slatter
Angela Slatter writes speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Dreaming Again, Strange Tales II, 2012, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Shimmer. Her work has had Honourable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies and has been shortlisted for an Aurealis Award three times. She blogs at AngelaSlatter.com

Favourite genre cross-overs…I’m very partial to forms that mix crime noire with horror, sci-fi or dark fantasy…Blade Runner (the film) is the obvious example of a crime – sci-fi crossover. A newer one is Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch, a crime-dark fantasy crossover made of win, and MiĆ©ville’s The City & The City – which is kind of even more an expectation-breaker than usual.

I’m also a fan of things that are just plain weird – MiĆ©ville’s Perdido Street Station, a mix of science and magic and horror. Kelly Link’s mingling of fantasy, magical realism and some really creepy horror (e.g. ‘Some Zombie Contingency Plans’) is always a winner. I’m also a fan of John Connolly’s Charlie Parker detective series as it mixes ideas and legends drawn from the Apocrypha with a crime storyline and the books work really well.

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MIND MELD: The Best Aliens in Science Fiction

Aliens are a classic trope dating back to the earliest days of science fiction, so we asked this year’s panelists this question:

Q: What are some of the best aliens in science fiction? What makes them superior to other extraterrestrial creations?

Here’s what they said…

Tobias S. Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell is a Caribbean-born speculative fiction writer who grew up in Grenada, the British Virgin Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has published stories in various magazines and anthologies. His novels include Crystal Rain, Sly Mongoose, Ragamuffin, and Halo: The Cole Protocol. He also has a short story collection titled Tides from the New Worlds.

I always thought the alien in The Thing was great, because at its heart, it deviated from the ‘actors with bumps on their forehead’ sort of approach you get in movies so much. A parasite, with some intelligence (it builds that spaceship out of spare parts), it really is quite a fun stretch that you don’t see too much of. It never communicates (language is already such a gulf between us, let alone something truly alien). You get a strong sense out of that movie that you’ve encountered something truly alien.

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MIND MELD: Our Fondest Memories of Science Fiction

When I met Allen Steele at a convention two years ago, he told me a great story about when he first met Robert A. Heinlein. At a previous convention, David G. Hartwell talked about the time Barry Malzberg responded with good humor about a less-than-flattering review Hartwell had given him. There are lots of similarly fascinating stories floating around the minds of writers, and this week we aim to set them free. We asked some of the giants of science fiction to share their stories:

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of your life as a writer?

Here’s what they said…

C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherry has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988), both set in her Alliance-Union universe. Her latest novels are Conspirator and Regenesis. Besides writing, C.J likes to travel and try new things, like fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, painting and video games. She also has an asteroid named after her: 77185 Cherryh.

My first Worldcon was MAC—I’d never been to a con. So I packed what I’d wear for a very fancy business trip; I never entered a panel late, and because I was wearing heels, I was late to almost everything. So I saw almost no panels at all.

And the announcement was out that Robert Heinlein wanted SFWA members to really dress for the awards, I saw people in tuxes, and I knew for one event I must surely be underdressed. So I decided to go to the coffee shop and get something to eat. Marion Bradley saw me sitting by myself, took the chair next to mine, asked if I was missing the awards. We’d never met, mind. I said I hadn’t brought anything that fancy, she said she hadn’t either, so we both sat there at the counter, ordered a modest dinner, and just sat and talked for the duration of the event. I read her books. She took the trouble to say hello to a new writer, and we ended up talking about life, the universe, and everything and having a great time. Of course I found out later that my business dress would have been overkill—but I wouldn’t trade the awards dinner for the sandwich at the counter if you’d offered me the fanciest gown at the event.

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We turn our attention to book cover art this week. A good cover can mean more sales for a book…but what makes a good cover? We asked this week’s panelists this question:

Q: It’s generally well accepted that a book cover’s primary responsibility is to sell the book. But artistically speaking, what makes a successful sf/f/h book cover? Which recent sf/f/h books had a cover that blew you away?

Here’s what they said…

Dave Seeley
Dave Seeley was an award winning architect before punting and becoming an illustrator. Happy mucking about with both computers and oil paint, Dave’s SF work is heavily influenced by sci-fi film noir. Dave’s recent client’s include Baen Books, Tor, Random House, Lucasfilm, Harlequin-Gold Eagle, Solaris, Harper Collins, Pyr, Midway Games and Vivendi Universal. See his work, clients, and ramblings at www.daveseeley.com.

OK… honestly, I don’t see that many book covers because I’m reading tons of sf and f book manuscripts to then DO their covers…. so when I take a break, I don’t typically head off to the bookstore…. BUT, by way of homework for Mind Meld, this morning I stopped into my local Borders, and spent some time taking a look. In the end, I learned that I should do this more often, just to stay in touch with my market. First off, clearly I need to be doing more hot-babe-w-weapon +/- tattoo images, because clearly that’s half the market nowadays. (pic one)… Now I like those jackets as much as the next id-controlled red-blooded male…but if that is the context, then things that are NOT-context tend to stand out in my quest for “blew you away.” Also, I’ve learned to be leery of my id’s attraction to cover art, in that sometimes there’s a “honeymoon period.” ;-) Anyway… I decided to go hunt in the wild for these, and not just open my latest Spectrum, because a) I didn’t want to be filtered through the Spectrum judge panel, and b) I think that book design and type solution are critical to what makes a successful book cover…. and Spectrum doesn’t show me that. I even diligently wrote down all the designers names so I could credit them, and then promptly left it on the last shelf for the Border’s custodial staff, while snapping iPhone pics. I think that type/cover design is like parenting, where it can nurture, showcase and enhance the art if attended to diligently with an insightful light touch, and so easily frak it up otherwise.

So anyway…Here’s what I came up with…

Two, right off the bat by Greg Manchess. He does exceptionally good figure work (full figured?) with a perfectly spartan but juicy brushwork and fairly unfettered backgrounds…everything I do NOT do…hmmm.. Next up came Scott Fischer’s Titans of Chaos, with a beautifully rendered heroine in a levitation trance…. really exploring the boundaries of her image crop in an unconventional way. I also love Scott’s whimsical ornamentation and color use…

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SF/F fans love to talk about their favorite books being adapted for film. But what about television? Are there books better suited for a television series? We asked this week’s panelists (inspired by a suggestion from James Wallace Harris)…

Q: What SF/F book would make a great television series? How would you adapt it for the small screen?

Here’s what they said…

Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress is the author of over 20 books of SF, fantasy, and writing advice. Her latest is Steal Across the Sky. Her fiction has won three Nebulas, a Hugo, a Sturgeon, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

My choice for a TV miniseries would be More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon. Since the book is already divided into three distinct sections, it could be presented as three two-hour episodes. It focuses on character rather than on special effects, which is good for the small screen. Finally — it’s a wonderful story.

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The recently-announced 2009 Nebula Award ballot includes lots of great fiction from lots of great writers and only hints at all the great work being published. So we asked this year’s nominees this question:

Q: If your work couldn’t have been on the ballot this year, what work would you have liked in its place?

Here’s what they said…

[Note: Due to my poor interviewing skills, there were multiple revisions of this question ultimately intending to clarify that its intent was not to slight any of the fiction that was nominated, but rather, to name additional works that are also award-worthy. Along the way, I also left open the possibility that panelists could name work in any category. Any perceived lack of cohesion in this Mind Meld is thus entirely of my own making — but I think you’ll find plenty of great titles to seek out in addition to the one’s on this year’s Nebula ballot. So there.]

Scott Westerfeld
Scott Westerfeld is the author of five adult and ten young adult books, including the Risen Empire and Uglies series. His latest is Leviathan, the first of an illustrated steampunk trilogy.

I’d have liked to see Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a post-zombie-apocalypse novel.

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This week’s Mind Meld topic was suggested by John Klima. We asked this week’s panelists (including John):

Q: Which SF/F/H book do you love that everyone else hates? Which SF/F/H book do you hate that everyone else loves?

Here’s what they said…

Farah Mendlesohn
Farah Mendlesohn used to edit Foundation, the International Review of Science Fiction, is the President of the International Association of the Fantastic of the Arts, and is about to send McFarland a Manuscript about Children’s and Teen science fiction. She has read around 400 of these books so you don’t have to.

Gene Wolfe’s Wizard-Knight. As far as I am concerned this was like reading C.S.Lewis writing Conan the Barbarian. I was mostly repulsed by the ethics, and while I quite understand that this was meant to be a juvenile wet dream of muscular morality, that doesn’t mean I need to read it. The frightening thing was that when I presented this analysis to several well known critics, they agreed with me, and then went on to explain why it was a work of genius.

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This week, we turned our attention to SciFi television when we asked our panelists this question:

Q: Which off-the-air science fiction television show deserves a remake? What changes would you make to update it?

Here’s how they responded…

A. Lee Martinez
A. Lee Martinez is a writer you probably haven’t heard of but really should have. He is the author of Gil’s All Fright Diner, In the Company of Ogres, A Nameless Witch, The Automatic Detective, Too Many Curses, Monster and the upcoming Divine Misfortune. He credits comic books and Godzilla movies as his biggest influences, and thinks that every story is better with a dash of ninja.

I thought long and hard on this one, and with so many great candidates, it wasn’t easy. Manimal? The Night Stalker? Misfits of Science? Century City? Oh, the delightful possibilities. How can one man make such a controversial decision? Well, after much soul searching, meditation, and hours of telepathic communion with my ancient Martian spirit guide (his name is Jack), I can only find one worthy answer.

Darkwing Duck.

How would I update this classic show? Good question. I probably wouldn’t change it much. I’d give it a more action oriented update that wouldn’t lose the humor of the original. Something like Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Fun, retro, and sharp. I’d also expand Darkwing’s universe to include more superheroes and villains. In addition to the classics such as Liquidator, Bushroot, and Megavolt, I’d introduce new characters. And of course, you could never go wrong with a Gizmoduck team up on a fairly regular basis. All of this would inevitably lead to my ultimate spinoff series:

Justice Ducks Unlimited.

But one step at a time…

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The big news last week was the Amazon/Macmillan eBook Disagreement, so we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What’s your take on the Amazon/Macmillan eBook price disagreement and Amazon’s move to delist Macmillan books? What does this mean for publishers, authors and readers? Does this signal a change in the eBook market, and if so, what do you think is on the other side of this dispute?

Here’s what they said…

Nick Mamatas
Nick Mamatas is the author of two novels, and his third, Sensation, will be published by PM Press in 2011. With Ellen Datlow, he is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Haunted Legends, to be published by Tor (an imprint of Macmillan) in September 2010. His short story collection You Might Sleep… was called the work of “an amazing writer with a singularly unique (i.e. twisted) imagination” by the Barnes & Noble blog Unabashedly Bookish.

Same as it ever was. Amazon did this before, delisting various Print on Demand titles in an attempt to get those authors to sign up for its internal POD service. We also saw something similar with Apple, when music labels tried to pressure that company to do price maintenance. The “big issue” has less to do with ebooks or readers than with the simple fact that e-commerce allows for instant manipulations of pretend inventory. Ultimately, Amazon will start selling Macmillan books again. They’re not Dumpstering the books already in their warehouses, they’re just refusing to fill orders and will probably only do it for a few days. Amazon pays taxes on its real inventory even if pretends on its site that no such inventory exists.

Kindle and other dedicated readers are ultimately not going to take off for the simple reason that there aren’t enough people who read books voraciously enough to support a market for readers-they represent a $200 surcharge one must pay to be allowed to read. Publishing makes most of its money on the one or two books a year that people who only buy one or two books a year buy. Those people will skip the next Twilight or Atkins-style instant diet book or other phenomenon if it requires a special machine to read. Amazon’s attempt to save Kindle in the face of smartphones and tablets that do all sorts of things as well as allowing for reading will ultimately work about as well as its attempts to sell short fiction and articles for 49 cents (Amazon Shorts, failed), its attempt to corner the POD services market (not working), its attempt to get everyone to buy Segways (when was the last time you saw one under the feet of a civilian?) etc. Amazon is a company that spent years selling “Zen gardens” via mail order-these gardens were fish tanks full of rocks. It took the firm quite a while to figure out why they had to keep shipping and reshipping these things to customers, who’d end up with a box of shattered glass and just order a free replacement. Amazon STILL sells sledgehammers and ships them for free. Macmillan shouldn’t be overly worried and really neither should anyone else. This is slow news day stuff.

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There’s an overwhelming selection of appealing titles to choose from when it comes to reading science fiction, fantasy and horror books. Yet some titles float to the top of the pile, making them more immediate candidates for the next books you’ll read.

Q: What sf/f/h books are on the top of your “To-Be-Read” Pile?

Read on to see the tasty selections of this week’s panelists…

Lucius Shepard
Lucius Shepard is a writer who lives in Vancouver. In 2008, Subterranean Press published The Best of Lucius Shepard, a career retrospective. Shepard’s latest novels include Vacancy & Ariel, Viator Plus, and The Taborin Scale.

Art the top of my stack is Islington Crocodiles, the highly praised short fiction collection by the UK’s Paul Meloy. Intro by is by Graham Joyce. Really looking forward to that.

Next up: Strange Forces – The Stories of Leopoldo Lugones, a collection of fantastical stories from an Argentine writer released in 1906. Lugones is very well known in Latin America, almost unheard of here. He’s supposed to have been an eccentric a la Lovecraft and killed himself over a woman 30 years his junior by drinking a mixture of whiskey and cyanide.

Horacio Quiroga is a classic Latin American writer of extremely dark stories, some of which are included in The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories. A disciple of Poe, he lived a tormented life that included the suicide of one wife and desertion by his wife and child while enduring his final illness. Many of his stories are set in the jungle where much of his life was spent. Sounds like my kind of guy.

Lucy Snyder’s Spellbent — I’m not sure what this one is, a YA I guess, but it sounds like a blast. About hell coming to Ohio. Having played in a lot of Ohio’s armpit bars, I can relate.

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MIND MELD: Who Should Be The Next Grand Master?

[This week’s topic comes from Lawrence Person]

Once a year, the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) names a recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award which is then presented at the annual Nebula Awards banquet. The next recipient (for 2009) is Joe Haldeman who joins an already-impressive list of authors.

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: Who should be the next recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award? Why?

Read on to see their replies…

Adam Roberts
Adam Roberts was born two-thirds of the way through the last century; he presently lives a little way west of London, England, with a beautiful wife and two small children. He is a writer with a day-job (professor at Royal Holloway, University of London). The first of these two employments has resulted in eight published sf novels, the most recent being Splinter (Solaris 2007) and Land of the Headless (Victor Gollancz 2007). The second of these has occasioned such critical studies as The Palgrave History of Science Fiction (2006).

I’m staggered that Joanna Russ has never received this particular recognition — she’s a giant of the genre, the author of some of the most important SF of the 20th-century. She hasn’t published much recently (illness has prevented her, I understand), but nevertheless. Russ for 2010, I say: and for 2011 Christopher Priest.

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This week’s topic comes from Madeline Ashby:

What Are Your Top 5 Anime Films of All Time?

Read on to see the picks of this week’s illustrious panelists.

[Note: Following the responses will be a completely unscientific (but fun) list of The Top 14 Anime Films of All Time!]

Charles Stross
Charles Stross‘ first novel, Singularity Sky burst onto the science fiction scene in 2003 and earning Stross a Hugo nomination. Since then he has earned several awards for his novels, and his works Missile Gap and Accelerando are available online. His other novels include Glasshouse, Halting State, Saturn’s Children, Wireless, the books in The Merchant Princes series and the books in The Laundry series. In addition to writing, Stross has worked as a technical author, freelance journalist, programmer, and pharmacist. He holds degrees in Pharmacy and Computer Science, and some of the creatures he created for his Dungeons and Dragons adventures, the Death Knight and Githyanki, were published by TSR in the Fiend Folio.

I’ll peg my faves as being:

  1. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Asks some interesting questions about identity that pick up where the first GITS movie left off. Honourable mention also goes to GITS and GITS: Stand Alone Compex.)
  2. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki can do no wrong. It was this, or Princess Mononoke, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or …)
  3. Haibane Renmei (Haunting, weird exploration of self-discovery, death, and the loss of innocence via allegory)
  4. Akira (Just Because. Okay?)
  5. Serial Experiment Lain (More on identity and communication — you’re probably detecting a theme here, right?)

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MIND MELD: What’s the Best Story to Never Win a Hugo?

Awards are usually a good indicator of worthwhile and books and short fiction, but sometimes great stories get overlooked. We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What’s the best story and the best novel never to win a Hugo since the inception of the award in 1953?

What would you choose? Read on to see what this week’s panelists picked…

C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherry has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988), both set in her Alliance-Union universe. Her latest novels are Conspirator and Regenesis. Besides writing, C.J likes to travel and try new things, like fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, painting and video games. She also has an asteroid named after her: 77185 Cherryh.

Can’t speak for story, but the best novel never to win a Hugo, imho, is Jane Fancher’s Groundties. Due to the fact it came out as Warner imploded, it got no distribution. Period. Debut novel—with no distribution.

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MIND MELD: The Best Genre-Related Books/Films/Shows Consumed in 2009 (Part 5)

“Best of the Year” lists start appearing as early as November, so we are perhaps a little late in asking folks around the community:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2009?

[Also added was this note: They don’t have to have been released in 2009. Feel free to choose any combination of genres (science fiction/fantasy/horror) and media (books/movies/shows) you wish to include.]

Read on to see their picks (and also check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)…

Sandra McDonald
Sandra McDonald‘s novels – The Outback Stars, The Stars Down Under, and The Stars Blue Yonder – are about an Australian military lieutenant, her handsome sergeant, and their adventures in deep space. She also write short stories that have appeared in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy and other magazines and anthologies. Her short story collection Diana Comet and Other Tales, the fantastical romps of a Victorian heroine of questionable gender, will debut at Wiscon from Lethe Press.

For television, my favorite genre-related show continues to be Supernatural. I was a little late to the party, having resisted the handsome heroes for as long as possible, but finally fell hard. This year I’ve been watching in awe as Dean and Sam Winchester follow separate hero’s journeys that nevertheless always bring them back to each other. We’re currently in season 5 (no spoilers here) and let’s just say the showrunners have taken that journey to places I never anticipated, with awesome interior and exterior obstacles to hurdle, and I’m looking forward with great anticipation (and not a little fear) to the season (or series) finale coming next spring.

I’ve also read a lot of Supernatural community writing this year, and deeply appreciate the legions of writers out there weaving tales of the apocalypse, rewriting canon in inventive ways, and spinning the characters into hilarious, tragic, and complex alternate universes (sometimes all three at once). Some stories are short romps, some are novel-length adventures, and more than a few are written by traditionally published authors. If you’re on twitter you can follow Henry Jenkins at USC and his informative links about transmedia, participatory culture and digital storytelling. Or email me for story recs – I’ve got dozens. Maybe hundreds.

On the book-related front, I’ve been catching up on Rachel Caine’s excellent Weather Warden series, enjoying Linnea Sinclair’s romantic military sf (the Dock Five series, including Hope’s Folly), and reading more than a few YA adventures, from science fiction (Pete Hautman’s Hole in the Sky) to Victorian fantasy (Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty). All highly recommended. Break down the barriers of genre and I think many writers would get a kick out of Steve Hely’s How I Became a Famous Novelist. For the craft of writing itself I’m very much enjoying Pat Schneider’s Writing Alone and With Others.

Movies? Who has time to go to the movies? Okay, I confess to sneaking away to the cineplex once in awhile, but nothing genre-related had me reaching for the popcorn in 2009. Here’s to 2010!

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“Best of the Year” lists start appearing as early as November, so we are perhaps a little late in asking folks around the community:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2009?

[Also added was this note: They don’t have to have been released in 2009. Feel free to choose any combination of genres (science fiction/fantasy/horror) and media (books/movies/shows) you wish to include.]

Read on to see their picks (and also check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)…

Elizabeth Bear
Elizabeth Bear was born on the same day as Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, but in a different year. This, coupled with a childhood tendency to read the dictionary for fun, led her inevitably to penury, intransigence, the mispronunciation of common English words, and the writing of speculative fiction.

I was totally blown away by Robert Charles Wilson’s book Julian Comstock, which is about a post-peak-oil future in which Canada and the USA are ruled by a totalitarian family of religious fanatics, and the black sheep scion of a discredited branch of the family wants to–

Well, make movies, actually.

Other than that, my genre reading has been kind of sparse this year. I very much enjoyed Nisi Shawl’s Filter House and Christopher Barzak’s The Love We Share Without Knowing. I also like Margaret Ronald’s Spiral Hunt, which is light but satisfying

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“Best of the Year” lists start appearing as early as November, so we are perhaps a little late in asking folks around the community:

Q: What were the best genre-related books, movies and/or shows you consumed in 2009?

[Also added was this note: They don’t have to have been released in 2009. Feel free to choose any combination of genres (science fiction/fantasy/horror) and media (books/movies/shows) you wish to include.]

Read on to see their picks (and also check out Part 1 and Part 2)…

Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi is a four-time Hugo Award nominee, a Theodore Sturgeon Award winner, and the author of the Locus Award-winning collection Pump Six and Other Stories. His latest novel is The Windup Girl from Night Shade Books.

I’m not sure about the best answer to this question. I must be feeling a little depressed right now. Perhaps I’d suggest this:

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and our Last Chance to Save Humanity, by James Hansen.

It’s not genre-related at all, and that seems somehow telling. One hopes that science writers aren’t about to trump science fiction writers as the people who actively look at the world around us and speculate about its ramifications.

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