There’s a new time travel anthology called Fiction River: Time Streams edited by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. It’s the third entry in the Fiction River original anthology series.

Here’s the book description:

Time-travel stories open the entire world and all of time to writers’ imaginations. The fifteen writers in this third original anthology in the Fiction River line explore everything from Chicago gangsters to Japanese tsunamis, and travel from 2013 to the nineteenth century to a vast future. Featuring work from award winners to bestsellers to a few newcomers whose time will come, Time Streams turns the time-travel genre on its head.

The anthology features stories by Michael A. Stackpole, Lee Allred, Mike Resnick & Lou J. Berger, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Scott William Carter, Robert T. Jeschonek, Dean Wesley Smith, Ray Vukcevich, J. Steven York, Sharon Joss, D.K. Holmberg, Michael Robert Thomas, Jeffrey A. Ballard and Ken Hinckley.

And here’s the table of contents…
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While it is important to recognize women writers in genre, it is ultimately the characters in the stories and novels that we read that draw our imaginations. With that in mind, in what has been often seemingly a dominated field, strong female protagonists sometimes get short shrift. So let’s hear it for female heroes!

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Who are your favorite female protagonists? What makes for a strong female protagonist, anyway?

Here’s what they said…

Jacqueline Koyanagi lives in Colorado where she weaves all manner of things, including stories, chainmaille jewelry, and a life with her partners and dog. Her stories feature queer women of color, folks with disabilities, neuroatypical characters, and diverse relationship styles, because she grew tired of not seeing enough of herself and the people she loves reflected in genre fiction. Her debut science-fantasy queer romance novel, Ascension, is now available in digital formats from Prime/Masque; the trade paperback will release in December 2013. You can connect with Jacqueline on Twitter at @jkoyanagi.

I look for agency in any protagonist—for example, bucking macro- or micro-level subjugation either through subversion or direct rebellion. Many of the female characters I’ve loved over the years developed into strong protagonists by rejecting the dominant culture and finding alternate paths to personal fulfillment. Others have taken more direct routes toward claiming their agency, or have worked on behalf of large marginalized groups.

Onyesonwu is the eponymous protagonist of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death–a woman born into a violent world, conceived of war rape. It’s no wonder, then, that her personality is less likeable and more powerful; that power is fueled by both anger and magic. Her decisions reflect her position as a biracial women in the midst of a genocidal war, and the effects of her violent conception ripple out through the entire novel. It’s through Onyesonwu’s strength that the book explores oppression and the inherent power of story.
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MIND MELD: Who are Your Favorite Women in Genre?

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In celebration of Women in Genre Month we ask some of our favorites about some of their favorites!

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Who are your favorite women authors in genre? What are your favorite books written by them?

Here’s what they said…

Nancy Kress
Nancy Kress is the author of numerous science fiction and fantasy titles, including Beggars in Spain, Nothing Human, Probability Space, Stinger, and her bestselling Write Great Fiction series. She is a recipient of the Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards, and her work has been translated into 16 languages. She lives in Rochester, New York.

My favorite female author is Ursula K. LeGuin. I started reading her in the late sixties and have never stopped. Her best work combines genuine, multi-dimensional characters with “thought experiments” about how societies are organized, and with what consequences. My favorite of her works are The Dispossessed and the collection of related novellas, Four Ways Into Forgiveness. Brilliant, compassionate, believable, these books truly eplore what it means to be human, in human societies, striving for the things human beings care about.

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Here is the table of contents for the new anthology Fiction River: Unnatural Worlds edited by Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Here’s the book description for this entry into the Fiction River anthology series:

From a funeral procession in Vietnam to an ancestral estate deep in the heart of a made-up (vaguely Victorian) world, Unnatural Worlds takes readers on a journey to the far side of the imagination. Funny, heartbreaking, frightening, but most importantly, memorable, the stories in this anthology go places few writers dare reach. Featuring stories by Devon Monk, Ray Vukcevich, Esther M. Friesner, Irette Y. Patterson, Kellen Knolan, Annie Reed, Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Leah Cutter, Richard Bowes, Jane Yolen, and David Farland, Unnatural Worlds marks the perfect start to this brand-new anthology series.

Here’s the table of contents…
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Short Fiction Friday: Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2013

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REVIEW SUMMARY:  One strong short story and two fair novelettes stand out in comparison to a novella and short stories that never fully reach their potential.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS:   Time travel, the afterlife of nanotech, tactical warfare on a moon orbiting Mars, and an intimate look at two space-inspired young people and more await readers in the pages of the latest issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: One highly creative, thought-provoking short story; two novellettes that are fair; entertaining reflection on year’s best anthologies and their history by Robert Silverberg; nice editorial honoring early female astronauts.
CONS: A novella and short stories which felt like they could go somewhere interesting but never arrived.
BOTTOM LINE:  The March 2013 issue sits at the mediocre end of the spectrum in considering it against some of Asimov’s better offerings.  This is disappointing given the past quality of some of the included authors’ stories and the potential that almost every story appeared to have at the start.  Fans of the authors included should seek out the issue.  Those considering trying Asimov’s for the first time would be best served tracking down the January 2013 issue which set the standard impossibly high for the rest of the year.

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This week we asked out panelists the following question:

Q: With the prevalence of ebooks and audiobooks, how has your sf/f reading and buying habits changed, if at all?

Here’s what they said…

Laura Lam

Laura Lam was raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. Both of them encouraged her to finger-paint to her heart’s desire, colour outside of the lines, and consider the library a second home. This led to an overabundance of daydreams. She relocated to Scotland to be with her husband, whom she met on the internet when he insulted her taste in books. She almost blocked him but is glad she didn’t. At times she misses the sunshine.

I don’t listen to many audiobooks, but ebooks have definitely changed my reading habits. As a combination of being a poor university student and living in tiny quarters, I avoided buying most books I read because there would be nowhere to store 100 books a year. I limited myself to the occasional splurge but mainly relied on libraries, friends, etc. Now, I still live in tiny quarters but I’m not as poor as I was as a student. I buy a lot more of my books as ebooks, and I’m a lot more diverse in my reading. I also read more books and read them quicker because I don’t have to lug myself to the library or bookstore or wait for the book to arrive. If I read a great review of an SFF book, 5 minutes later I can be curled up on my sofa reading it with a nice cup of tea. I’m able to support authors I admire without running out of room to turn around in my tiny flat. At first, I found reading on the Kindle distracting, but now I’m used to it, and I could never go back to not having an e-reader.
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MIND MELD: The New Future For Star Wars

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The big news from last week was the acquisition of LucasFilm by Disney, giving the Mouse control of Star Wars and many other properties. While fans everywhere cheer the idea of no more Lucas mucking about with the films, another bit of news dropped that doesn’t seem to be getting as much play. Several decades after Lucas first floated the idea, Disney will be making three more episodes in the Star Wars saga, with episode 7 slated to land in 2015. Since this is apparently going to happen, our question is:

Q: What do you want to see from the new Star Wars movies in terms of stories? Do you have anyone you’d like to direct the movies or star in them?

Here’s what they said…
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REVIEW SUMMARY: Editor Jonathan Strahan buttresses his core argument about the next generation of SF with a strong set of Solar System-set Science Fiction stories

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: 18 stories from the likes of Elizabeth Bear, Alastair Reynolds and James S.A. Corey, all based around the idea of up to date views about living in the Solar System

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Strong writing, a dream line up of authors
CONS: A couple of the stories skate the boundaries set out by the editor
BOTTOM LINE: A book that effectively lays down a marker for Fourth Generation Science Fiction.

In the 1960’s, Science Fiction, already having gone through a couple of changes in the century but seemingly running a bit long in the tooth, runs into the New Wave, where authors like Harlan Ellison and Michael Moorcock bring new sensibilities and wonders and points of view to the genre. In the 1980’s, science fiction, again seemingly moribund and worn out, was transformed by William Gibson and the Cyberpunk movement.  In 2012, I see plenty of articles and chatter that science fiction is insular looking, more concerned with the past, unwilling to engage a future. That science fiction is getting “tired”, and science fiction authors are getting tired, or horrors, are fleeing into the kingdoms of fantasy. Sounds like awfully familiar rhetoric to me.  Are we due for another change? Jonathan Strahan and a host of heavyweights in the genre say ‘yes’.

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REVIEW: Boneyards by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

REVIEW SUMMARY: This is less a book about Boss than it is about Squishy and standing up for what you believe in no matter what the cost.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Boss and her wreck diving team explore the fate of the Lost Fleet while Squishy is on the run from the Empire after making a stand against research activities into long lost stealth technology.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Raises ethical and moral issues; Squishy’s well-told narrative (the driving force of the novel).
CONS: Though it may set the stage for the next adventure , the promise of the titular Boneyard is never quite realized; one really interesting plot twist is resolved too quickly.
BOTTOM LINE: An enjoyable space adventure with food for thought.

I’ve been quite enjoying Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s space adventure series about Boss, a no-nonsense loner who explores derelict space vessels for their historical value. As depicted in the first two novels, Diving Into the Wreck and City of Ruins, Boss and her space diving team have discovered long-lost “stealth tech”, a technology that’s very powerful (far more advanced than the current state of affairs) and also very dangerous. This is problematic for Boss because (1) the Empire wants to get their power-hungry hands on it, and (2) Boss is not exactly on speaking terms with the Empire.
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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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“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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Recent events and discussions once again bring the topic of genre fiction’s mainstream respectability to the forefront. So we thought it’d be timely to ask this week’s panelists:

Q: In your opinion, does literary science fiction and fantasy have mainstream respect? Why, if at all, does it need mainstream approval? What would such approval mean for genre fiction?

Read on to see their level-setting responses…

Gene Wolfe
Gene Wolfe is a science fiction author noted for his complex and dense prose which is liberally influenced by his Catholic faith. He has won the Nebula Award and World Fantasy Award four times and has been nominated for the Hugo Award multiple times.

That’s a softball. No. Literary sf and fantasy are not respected by mainstream critics or the mainstream professoriate. Neither needs mainstream approval, which would diminish (and perhaps destroy) both. Just look at what they DO respect. Look at what poetry was as late as the early 20th Century, and what it is now.

Now and then I’m asked at cons why I don’t write fiction of the respected sort. You know, he is a professor and she is a professor and they are having adulterous affairs, and they are almost overcome with guilt and angst, and there is no God, and scientific progress doesn’t enter into it, and just about everybody in the world is upper middle class.

When that happens, I ask the questioner abut Martin du Gard. Have you read him? Have you heard of him? Invariably the answers are no and no. Then I explain that Martin du Gard won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year H. P. Lovecraft died.

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