Tag Archives: Cheryl Morgan

MIND MELD: Comic Book Characters Who Deserve Reboots

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The recent announcement of the Falcon taking over Captain America, the announcement of a female Thor, Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, the new Ms. Marvel, the various incarnations of Green Lantern…there is opportunity in rebooting comic book characters to reflect our diverse society, or to cast new light and new angles on old characters.

Q: What are the perils and challenges and opportunities of doing such a reboot? Pick a comic book character that you’d like to reboot. How would you do it, and to what end?

Here’s what they said…

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MIND MELD: Our Favorite SF/F/H Consumed In 2013

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It’s 2014 and that means it’s time to look back at all the SF/F/H available in 2013. Our panelists were asked this question:

Q: What was the best SF/F/H you “consumed” in 2013?

Consumed being anything read/watched/heard during 2013, but not necessarily new in 2013. Here’s what they said…
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MIND MELD: What’s on Your Mount To-Be-Read Book Pile?

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We asked this week’s panelists about what they are reading.

Q: Mount To-be-read! Every genre reader that collects and reads genre books has a Mount To-be-read. What Fantasy, SF and Horror books on the top of yours that is just begging for you to read?

Here’s what is on the bedside tables of our respondents:

L.E. Modesitt
L. E. Modesitt, Jr., is the New York Times best-selling author of more than 65 novels – primarily science fiction and fantasy, a number of short stories, and numerous technical and economic articles. His novels have sold millions of copies in the U.S. and world-wide, and have been translated into German, Polish, Dutch, Czech, Russian, Bulgarian, French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and Swedish. His first story was published in Analog in 1973, and his next book is The One-Eyed Man: A Fugue, With Winds And Accompaniment, to be released in mid-September, with a starred review from Kirkus.

My Mount To-be-read is actually very short, and that’s because I usually don’t buy books unless I know I’m going to have the time to read them – with one exception. I’m still making my way through Reine De Memoire 1. La Maison D’Oubli, by Elisabeth Vonarburg. It’s an excellent book, so far, but the difficulty is that I’m reading it in French, and I don’t read French nearly as fast as I read English. Because it’s been years since I read much in French, each time I pick it up it takes a few minutes and pages before I get into any sort of flow… and because she writes in a certain depth… well, I do need the dictionary, I confess. The other books currently on my very short mountain, perhaps better named Hill To-be-read, are Kay Kenyon’s A Thousand Perfect Things, Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312, and at the bottom… Brandon Sanderson’s The Emperor’s Soul, which I’ve had for almost a year and somehow never picked up.

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MIND MELD: LGBT Themes in Fantasy and SF – Recommendations

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June is LGBT Pride Month, so we thought a Mind Meld on LGBT themes in Fantasy and SF would be perfect, and asked some authors to send some recommendations our way!

Q: LGBT themes and characters have, thankfully, enjoyed an emergence in speculative fiction the past few years, and we’d love to know who some of your favorite LGBT authors, stories, and novels are, and why?

Here’s what they said…

Delia Sherman
Delia Sherman is a fantasy writer and editor. Her novel The Porcelain Dove won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. She was born in Tokyo and brought up in New York City. She earned a PhD in Renaissance studies at Brown University and taught at Boston and North-eastern universities. She is the author of the novels Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove (a Mythopoeic Award winner), and Changeling. Sherman co-founded the Interstitial Arts Foundation, dedicated to promoting art that crosses genre borders. She lives in New York City with her wife and sometime collaborator, Ellen Kushner

I like reading about worlds in which society takes no stand against same-sex or even multiple partners, where the gender of a character’s sexual desire is not a central emotional issue. There aren’t many, but there are a few, including Elizabeth Lynn’s Chronicles of Tornor, and, of course, most of Melissa Scott’s books, both those written alone and those written with her partner Lisa Barnett. Ellen Kushner has explored the ways society (and the lovers themselves) can make lovers of any gender suffer in her Riverside series: Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings. And finally, I want to mention the little-known Elemental Logic novels of Laurie J. Marks: Fire Logic, Earth Logic, and Water Logic, which take place in a society where the family units consist of multiple husbands and wives and their children. There are conflicts aplenty–mostly having to do with the military culture that has been occupying them for decades. Beautiful world-building, fascinating, thorny, very human characters.
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MIND MELD: Non-Fiction Books About Science Fiction That Should Be In Every Fan’s Library

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We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Which non-fiction books about science fiction should be in every fan’s library?
Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short fiction. He’s the author of 71 novels, over 250 stories, and 3 screenplays, and the editor of 41 anthologies — and he’s the Guest of Honor at this year’s Worldcon.

For a history of our most important magazine, you can do a lot worse than A Requiem for Astounding, by Alva Rogers. Explorers of the Infinite and Seekers of Tomorrow, both by Sam Moskowitz, aren’t all that well-written, but he knew just about every one of these giants personally. Brian Aldiss’s Billion Year Spree is a nice, serious history of the genre. Much more fun is Damon Knight’s The Futurians, the history of the late 30s/early 40s New York fan group, and except for Pohl, Wollheim, Asimov, Knight, Blish, Merril, Kornbluth, Lowndes, and Kidd, why, they hardly produced any major figures at all.

Speaking of Knight, his In Search of Wonder remains one of the best critical collections, along with Blish’s The Issue at Hand and More Issues at Hand (both written as “William Atheling, Jr.”). Also worth a look are Benchmarks by Algis Budrys, and Science Fiction at Large, edited by Peter Nichols.

If you’d like to read every word of every speech and panel given at the 1962 and 1963 Worldcons, try The Proceedings: Chicon III, edited by Earl Kemp (it’s being reprinted for Chicon 7), and The Proceedings; Discon, edited by Dick Eney. Noreascon I also did a Proceedings, though I think we were multi-track by then and it just covered the main track. A nice catch-all book was Sprague de Camp’s Science-Fiction Handbook, which he later revised and updated.

The best biographies are Fred Pohl’s The Way the Future Was, Jack Williamson’s Wonder’s Child, and the wonderful 6-bio catchall, Hell’s Cartographers. And then there’s E. Hoffman Price’s wonderful Book of the Dead, which covers his experiences with Lovecraft, Howard, Kuttner, Clark Ashton Smith. et al. And don’t overlook Bob Silverberg’s Other Spaces, Other Times, or Eric Leif Davin’s Pioneers of Wonder: Conversations with the Founders of Science Fiction. John Campbell deserves a shelf of his own, and you can begin filling with the first two massive volumes of The John W. Campbell Letters, and his Collected Editorials from Analog. There are endless indices to the magazines, but only one truly thoroughgoing history of them: Mike Ashley’s wonderful 3-volume The History of the Science Fiction Magazine.

Books on and about science fiction that belong on most writers’ shelves include Barry Malzberg’s Breakfast in the Ruins and Norman Spinrad’s Staying Alive and Science Fiction in the Real World. Half a century ago Advent gathered Heinlein, Bester, Kornbluth and Bloch for The Science Fiction Novel, then assembled Heinlein, Campbell, Doc Smith, and four others for Of Worlds Beyond. The Panshins wrote Science Fiction in Dimension, a very nice follow-up to the more limited Heinlein in Dimension, then won a Hugo for The World Beyond the Hill. Kingsley Amis’s New Maps of Hell remains a classic. And there are a couple of fine compendiums edited by Reginald Bretnor: The Craft of Science Fiction and Science Fiction Today and Tomorrow. Two charming books containing some serious and a lot of hilarious fanzine articles by Robert Bloch are The Eighth Stage of Fandom and Out of My Head. And on the subject of fandom, the best is Fancyclopedia II, with many more entries than the original. And of course there are the histories of fandom: The Immortal Storm by Sam Moskowitz; Up to Now by Jack Speer; and All Our Yesterdays and A Wealth of Fable by Harry Warner, Jr. Finally, I’ll mention some of my own: a trio of Hugo nominees, Putting it Together, I Have This Nifty Idea…, and (with Barry Malzberg) The Business of Science Fiction.

I realize that I haven’t mentioned some of the very popular recent “must-have” books like the Nichols/Clute Encyclopedia and similar, but that’s because I assume anyone reading this Mind Meld already has them or at least knows about them.
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MIND MELD: What’s The Value of SF/F Awards to the SF/F Community?

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One of the hallmarks of genre is the way we distinguish books by means of awards. So we asked this week’s panelists…

Q: What is the value of awards to the science fiction and fantasy community? How important are they to you?

Here’s what they said…

Jo Walton
Jo Walton is a Welsh-Canadian fantasy and science fiction writer and poet. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2002 and the World Fantasy award for her novel Tooth and Claw in 2004. Her novel Ha’penny was a co-winner of the 2008 Prometheus Award. Her novel Lifelode won the 2010 Mythopoeic Award. Her newest novel is Among Others, currently nominated for a 2011 Nebula Award. She also writes many things for Tor.com.

I think awards are valuable in two different ways. In the present tense, they can draw attention to books and writers that deserve more attention — as when China Mountain Zhang was nominated for the Hugo. The Philip K. Dick award manages to find something I like and hadn’t noticed pretty much every year. This is good for readers who pay attention to them, and it can be good for a writer’s career — if they get award notice a publisher might decide to stick with them even though they don’t have great sales.

Secondly, they’re valuable as part of the historical memory of the genre — the awards of a year give a kind of snapshot of what people at the time thought was good. They judgements of awards are not always the judgements of posterity — I certainly saw that when I did my Tor.com “Revisiting the Hugos” series and looked at every year from 1953 until 2000. But they remain interesting. And what’s interesting to me isn’t ever the winner, it’s the shortlist. One book is one datapoint, a shortlist is a spread. The question I asked was not “did the best book win” so much as “do those five books give a good picture of where the genre was in that year”.
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Panel: Young Adult Speculative Fiction

Charles Tan: Hi everyone! Thanks for agreeing to do this panel.

In case people don’t know each other, let me introduce you to one another. I’m Charles, your blogger from the Philippines. Today we have:

  • Malinda Lo from the US, author of Ash and Huntress.
  • Tehani Wessely from Australia, who is a publisher, editor, and librarian.
  • Cheryl Morgan from the UK, who is very active in the genre nonfiction and awards scene.
  • Gwenda Bond from the US, who dabbles in a little bit of everything.
  • Tarie Sabido from the Philippines as well, who is a blogger and a teacher.

I’m a bit new at this so we don’t have to be very formal. Feel free to steer the conversation in a direction you think is relevant, but I was hoping to start with the speculative fiction YA books (whether novels or anthologies) published this past year that interested you.

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MIND MELD: The Best Genre-Related Books/Films/Shows Consumed in 2009 (Part 2)

“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)…

Jack McDevitt
Jack McDevitt is the author of fifteen novels including The Devil’s Eye and Time Travelers Never Die, both from Ace. McDevitt has been a frequent Nebula finalist. He won for his 2006 novel, Seeker.

Books I most enjoyed:

  • WWW:Wake, Robert Sawyer
  • Mars Life, Ben Bova
  • Plague Zone, Jeff Carlson
  • Overthrowing Heaven, Mark Van Name
  • Rift in the Sky, Julie Czerneda

I’ve just started Galileo’s Dream, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Am hooked already.

We haven’t seen any SF films I can recall. A TV series that stands out: FlashForward.

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SF Tidbits for 9/4/09

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SF Tidbits for 9/3/09

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MIND MELD: What Can Worldcon and Comic-Con Learn From Each Other?

San Diego Comic-Con attracts between 125,000 to 140,000 attendees over a four-day weekend, whereas the World Science Fiction Convention draws anywhere from 4000 to 7000 attendees over a four-day weekend, depending on location. SDCC stays in one city and operates with a fairly stable staff structure from year to year, while Worldcon changes cities and staff lineups every year and is essentially a wholly volunteer, fan-organized effort. The two are almost impossible to compare, but we asked this week’s panelists:

Q: What are the lessons that Comic-Con and Worldcon can learn from the other? Is there in fact a generational migration of professionals and fans that are choosing to attend large, catch-all media cons like SDCC instead of Worldcon, and if so, why?

Read on to see the responses…

Diana Gill
Executive Editor Diana Gill runs Eos, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of William Morrow. She is the editor of New York Times bestselling authors Kim Harrison and Vicki Pettersson. Other authors with whom she has worked include Mario Acevedo, Jonathan Barnes, Trudi Canavan, Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Mary Stewart, Karen Traviss, and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

For the first time this year, I went to the San Diego Comic-con instead of Worldcon. I’d never been to Comic-con before, and while I’d been warned, the scale is truly beyond belief and has to be seen to be believed, from the hordes waiting to enter, the lines for anything and everything, and the mass of people and exhibits to the sheer spectacle.

Unlike Worldcon, attendees are younger–primarily teens up to 40s-somethings, including numerous families–and of all races.

And the joy and energy and excitement of the attendees reminded me of the first con I ever went to-a tiny Star Trek con outside of Philly, simply because it was there-where everything was new and so exciting and cool. I’m not ashamed to say that I had an absolute blast-being a geek is truly celebrated and welcomed there, and every turn had something fabulous to look at or explore. In the first couple of hours I saw Adama from Battlestar Galactica, amazing (and horrifying costumes), and ran into several people and authors I didn’t expect to-tons of fun!

What can Worldcon learn from Comic-con? Ignoring budgets, which simply cannot be compared, having a fixed location, timeframe, and many of the same staff and volunteers each year means Comic-con can focus on attracting stars (of all sorts), building their presence in re publicity/exposure/attendance, and constantly improving the overall experience (for example, selling all of the attendance badges beforehand, thus shortening the entrance lines), rather than having to start from scratch every time. Further, Comiccon’s constant location and timeframe makes it much easier for attendees to plan (and budget) for, versus the constantly shifting Worldcon (which this year was in Montreal and next year is in Australia).

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MIND MELD: The Hugo Awards – Success at Picking the Best, How Well it Represents the Genre, 2009 Predictions & Overlooked Titles

As is usual around awards-time, there is much discussion about the usefulness of awards, the books that made the list of finalists, and what the Best Novel shortlist says about the field. With the Hugo awards coming up, we thought it timely to ask this week’s panelists a series of Hugo-related questions:

  1. How would you rate the track record of the Hugo Awards at directing readers to the best that the genre has to offer?
  2. How well do you think the Hugo shortlist, year over year, represents to the outside world what speculative fiction has to offer?
  3. Which of this year’s finalists do you predict will receive the Hugo award for Best Novel?
  4. Which of this year’s finalists do you think should receive the Hugo award for Best Novel?
  5. Which books do you think were missing from this year’s list of Best Novel finalists?

Read on to see their answers…

Cheryl Morgan
Cheryl has been active in the science fiction community for many years with her Emerald City magazine. She can currently be found writing at Cheryl’s Mewsings and at SF Awards Watch.

1. How would you rate the track record of the Hugo Awards at directing readers to the best that the genre has to offer?

I wouldn’t. The Hugos are a popular vote award. The books that win are generally good books, but it would be silly to suggest that they are representative of some ideal of literary quality (always assuming you agree that such a thing exists in the first place). Furthermore, Hugo winners are always books of their time, voted on very quickly after they are published. It is entirely possible that deserving works get missed because they are not as widely available as books offered by the major US publishers. Also books do sometimes fail the test of time. What I will say is that the Hugos have a good track record of rewarding books that are good examples of the sort of science fiction that was popular in the year they were voted upon. It is probably better to look at the full nomination slate than just the winner, but I think very few Hugo winners have been bad books (except in the eyes of those who feel that any book that doesn’t meet their exacting standards is, de facto, BAD!!!).

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