REVIEW SUMMARY: Clarkesworld Year Six includes all 34 original pieces published in Clarkesworld Magazine during their sixth year. If you’re looking to get caught up on Clarkesworld, you can’t beat their yearly volumes.

MY RATING:

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Large variety of voice and style; good mix of famous writers and newer voices; includes many excellent examples of speculative fiction that pushes the boundaries; stories can be read in any order.
CONS: None. One of the strongest collections I’ve read in a long time.
BOTTOM LINE: This collection is jam-packed with Nebula and Locus award winners and Hugo nominated works. Well worth the money for that alone.

Skimming the table of contents of Clarkesworld Year Six, you’re going to recognize a lot of titles. The fiction that Clarkesworld published in their sixth year includes Nebula and Locus winners and nominees, Hugo nominees, and stories included in Gardner Dozois’ Years Best Science Fiction, Jonathan Strahan’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, and Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. So it easily goes without saying that the 34 stories included in Clarkesworld Year Six are some of the best of the best.

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Cover & Synopsis: INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM MAGIC by Catherynne M. Valente

Amazon has the cover art and synopsis of Catherynne M. Valente’s upcoming essay collection Indistinguishable from Magic, coming March 2014 from Mad Norwegian Press.

Here’s the synopsis:
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BOOK REVIEW: The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente

REVIEW SUMMARY: Short fiction and poetry with a connection to Japan, including mythology interpretations, dystopian alternate history, the education and protection of artificial intelligences, and the development of the author herself.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Valente has recently garnered a lot of well-deserved attention for her young adult The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland series. Many of the pieces in The Melancholy of Mechagirl have an emotional and autobiographical flavor, and touch on more mature and layered themes, sex and love, failure, expectations vs. reality, and the lies we tell ourselves when hope is on the line.

MY REVIEW
PROS: Gorgeous prose and imagery; multi-layered and evocative stories that bend back onto themselves, pulling the reader in and offering a unique combination of mythology, intimacy, and science fictional ideas.
CONS: The poetry was mostly lost on me. It was pretty, but I didn’t know what any of it meant.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a must-have collection for both fans of Valente’s works, and readers who are new to her works and are looking for a good starting point.

Catherynne M. Valente spent only a few years in Japan as a young Navy wife, but those few years helped make her the writer she is today. She went for love, armed only with a few stories, and returned with memories of shrines and tsukumogami, patron spirits and folklore, and weaved it all together in a way only Valente’s poetic imagination can. One of her first published novels, In the Night Garden, was born in Japan, and her experiences there, both good and bad, helped shape her into one of our generation’s most imaginative and talented authors.

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Short Fiction Friday: Tor.com and More

REVIEW SUMMARY: Four short works pulled from various online and dead-tree formats, reviewed for your reading pleasure.

MY RATING: 

BRIEF SUMMARY: A mechanical woman; a man on fire; a savage adventurer and a man in search of such an adventurer are the protagonists in the works reviewed this week.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Two selections have the nostalgic feel of old pulp adventure stories; skillful wordplay; poetic imagery; pacing that makes you lean into the story.
CONS: One story takes a disappointing turn and feels like a cheat.
BOTTOM LINE: There is a lot to like in the stories this week.  The three works of fiction demonstrated that a short story, even when it has a definitive beginning, middle and end, can be the ideal springboard into a larger work while the poetic selection of Catherynne M. Valente shows that stories are not bound to a strictly prose format.   The lack of foreknowledge that one short story is actually a piece of a larger created universe leads to some bitter disappointment, especially when contrasted to another story which is up front about a similar status right from the beginning.

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A.C. Wise is the author of numerous short stories appearing in print and online in publications such as Clarkesworld, Apex, Lightspeed, and the Best Horror of the Year Vol. 4. In addition to her fiction, she co-edits The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, an online magazine devoted to fiction and art about bugs. Follow her on twitter as @ac_wise.

Women to Read About: Where to Start

by A.C. Wise

For this installment of Women to Read, I thought I’d try something a little different and suggest some young women to read about. Summer is a time for vacations, for long lazy days reading on the shore of a lake, or up in the branches of a favorite tree. Well, at least it is when you’re a kid. Perhaps you know such a child, an avid devourer of Young Adult and Middle-Grade fiction? And perhaps you’d like to show them that heroes aren’t always boys with great destinies, and girls aren’t always helpless princesses waiting to be rescued? If so, I have some suggestions for you!
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Check out this awesome cover art for Catherynne M. Valente’s upcoming (July 16, 2013) collection The Melancholy of Mechagirl.

The information on it is sparse, so far. Here’s the synopsis:

Science fiction and fantasy stories about Japan by the multiple-award winning author and New York Times best seller Catherynne M. Valente.

A collection of some of Catherynne Valente’s most admired stories, including the Hugo Award-nominated novella Silently and Very Fast and the Locus Award finalist “13 Ways of Looking at Space/Time,” with a brand-new long story to anchor the collection.

Book info as per Amazon US [Also available via Amazon UK]:

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: VIZ Media; Original edition (July 16, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1421556138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421556130

TOC: ‘The Bread We Eat in Dreams’ by Catherynne M. Valente

Subterranean Press has posted the table of contents for Catherynne M. Valente’s upcoming collection The Bread We Eat in Dreams:

Here’s the book description:

Subterranean Press proudly presents a major new collection by one of the brightest stars in the literary firmament. Catherynne M. Valente, the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and other acclaimed novels, now brings readers a treasure trove of stories and poems in The Bread We Eat in Dreams.

In the Locus Award-winning novelette “White Lines on a Green Field,” an old story plays out against a high school backdrop as Coyote is quarterback and king for a season. A girl named Mallow embarks on an adventure of memorable and magical politicks in “The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While.” The award-winning, tour de force novella “Silently and Very Fast” is an ancient epic set in a far-flung future, the intimate autobiography of an evolving A.I. And in the title story, the history of a New England town and that of an outcast demon are irrevocably linked.

The thirty-five pieces collected here explore an extraordinary breadth of styles and genres, as Valente presents readers with something fresh and evocative on every page. From noir to Native American myth, from folklore to the final frontier, each tale showcases Valente’s eloquence and originality.

Limited: 250 signed numbered copies, bound in leather
Trade: Fully cloth-bound hardcover edition

And here’s the table of contents…
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Here is the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente, coming to a bookstore near you in October.

Here’s the synopsis:
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Cover & Synopsis: “Six-Gun Snow White” by Catherynne M. Valente

Check out the cover art and synopsis of the upcoming novel Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente.

Here’s the synopsis:
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Apex has sent along the table of contents for the upcoming anthology The Book of Apex: Volume 3 edited by by Catherynne M. Valente.

Here’s the book description:

You’ll encounter strange, compelling magics interwoven within a haunted book made of vegetation, cities that come to life and go to war, and surreal suburban nightmares played out through the eyes of children. The Book of Apex: Volume 3 contains work by Seanan McGuire, Saladin Ahmed, Theodora Goss, Forrest Aguirre, Cat Rambo, Ian Tregillis, Annalee Newitz, Peter M. Ball, and many other masters of the short form.

Here’s the table of contents…
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If you are in the New York City area on Tuesday, March 6th, it’d be worth your time to check out The New York Review of Science Fiction Reading scheduled for that night: A Journey to Barsoom! The event is to help promote John Joseph Adams’ new John Carter anthology Under the Moons of Mars

Press release follows…

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Grab your water bottles, gas masks and Lugers folks! It’s time for another Book Cover Smackdown!

Here are the contenders…

Your Mission (should you choose to accept it): Tell us which cover you like best and why.

Books shown here:

NOTE: Bigger, better cover art images are available by clicking the images or title links.

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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SF Tidbits for 8/20/09

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SF Tidbits for 8/7/09

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