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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: VIZ Media; Original edition (July 16, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 1421556138
- ISBN-13: 978-1421556130
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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Cover & Synopsis: “The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two” by Catherynne M. Valente
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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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…
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:
- Echo City by Tim Lebbon (Artist: Lee Gibbons)
- The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher (Artist: Unknown)
- Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente (Artist: Beth White Designer: Peter Lutjen)
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:
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.]
- Slate finds the graphic novel version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 worrisome. [via Locus Online]
- Interviews & Profiles [some of these via Bibliophile Stalker]:
- Mur Lafferty interviews Cory Doctorow.
- Meanwhile, At Your Library video-interviews Cory Doctorow.
- @Wow.com: Catherynne M. Valente
- Electric Velocipede interviews John Langan.
- Josh Vogt interviews T.A. Pratt.
- The Crotchety Old Fan interviews Nick Mamatas.
- @PJTV.com: John Ringo.
- @Whatever: Lev Grossman.
- @Stomping on Yeti: Jay Lake, author of Green.
- Over at Suvudu, David J. Williams talks about the demise of Mundane SF.
- Sue Lange talks Steampunk at Polka Dot Banner. Check it out and get a free copy of the a shared-world steampunk anthology Shadow Conspiracy, just by posting a comment!
- Ellen Datlow tells us she’ll not only be attending, but she will be delivering a eulogy at Edgar Allan Poe’s funeral.
- David Weber talks about worldbuilding.
- Lou Anders shows off the cover for This Crooked Way by James Enge.
- Point Reyes Cypress Press has published the memoir-biography Search for Philip K. Dick, Revised 2009, with new material, by Anne R. Dick.
- Advice for Writers: How to Give Public Readings by Mary Robinette Kowal. [via Nancy Kress]
- M-BRANE is in full support of the new GreenPunk movement.
- Jeremiah Tolbert says Be a Positive Force in Fandom, Not an @$$hole. Nick Mamatas responds.
- Scott Edelman continues posting video recently obtained from the 2000 Nebula Awards ceremony, this time with Best Short Story Category. Hilarious stuff.
- Nick Abadzis (Laika) is writing a Torchwood comic strip.
- Are you ready for a remake of Outland?
- Our UK friends can get a sneak peek at Doctor Who‘s Greatest Moments from the BBC.
- Zombaritaville zombifies song lyrics. Cool. [via Boing Boing. Speaking of whom, check out their print advertisement from 10 years ago.]
- The controversy over Justine Larbalestier’s cover for Liar results in a new cover. [via Bibliophile Stalker]
- RainTaxi interviews Catherynne M. Valente.
- Fantasy Book Critic interviews: Jennifer Fallon.
- As of today, urban fantasy author, Seanan McGuire (Rosemary and Rue), joins Book View Cafe.
- For the next two weeks Karen Miller will be guest-posting at the Babel Clash blog. [via Orbit]
- Adam Roberts wants you to pick the best cover for Jack Vance’s Lyonesse. [via Pyr-o-mania]
- John Clute reviews George Zebrowski’s Empties. [via Locus Online]
- Omnivoracious looks at a few Young Adult titles.
- There’s an interesting discussion going on at Asimov’s forums about SF Masterpieces Ruined by the Ending.
- Norilana Books has acquired the Jane Austen mashup Mansfield Mark and Mummies by by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian.
- Locus Online has posted the contents of the August 2009 issue, which features the obituary of the Magazines longtime Editor-in-Chief, Charles N. Brown.
- File 770 #156 has been posted at eFanzines.
- @TeleRead: Why print books are like zombies.
- John Anealio posts his latest Sci-Fi Song regarding the recent flap over George R.R. Martin getting fan backlash over his Game of Thrones delays.
- John Scalzi talks about the chances of this year’s Hugo nominees making it to the big screen.
- Terry Gilliam wants to adapt Philip K. Dick’s The World Jones Made.
- Can someone explain to me why Ridley Scott, the man who said SciFi film is dead, is not only directing an Alien prequel, but no an adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? What, is he done with Monopoly already?
- Wikipedia features this handy List of science fiction film and television series by lengths.
- Geekend asks: Which characters do you want to see in the Star Trek sequel? I think seeing Chief Wiggum would be cool, but only if it could realistically explained by a wormhole to another dimension where people are yellow.
- Mary Robinette Kowal lists Iconic Fantasy Weapons. Bouns points for including Jackie Chan. (Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.)
- In response to the table of contents of The Mammoth book of Mindblowing SF, Marooned has posted the TOC for the imaginary The Mammoth e-Book of Mindblowing Mars SF.