[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
We asked this week’s panelists about what they are reading.
Here’s what is on the bedside tables of our respondents:
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.
[Today's Mind Meld was suggested by an SF Signal reader, Gary Farber, who is here among our guests. Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
In the past couple of years, we have seen the appearance of at the least two important biographies of Science Fiction writers, the first volume of Robert Patterson’s work on Robert A. Heinlein (Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century: Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve) and Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, a sort of complement to Weller’s biography, published in 2006. But there are so many writers out there, living and dead, whose lives we would have loved to know a bit more so we maybe could feel the same feeling of closeness we use to feel when we are reading their stories.
So, we asked this week’s panelists…
Here’s what they said…
I’d love to see a biography of Alfred Bester. I don’t know if his life was interesting enough to warrant one, but I do know that he left his literary estate to his bartender when he died, and anyone who does something like that had to have had SOME good real-life stories. (Apparently the bartender didn’t know what to do with the estate, and as a result Bester’s work was out of print for several years, until Byron Preiss rescued it and brought it back to light in the 90s.) Bester also wrote Green Lantern for a while, and created the oft-quoted Green Lantern oath, when he was writing the comic, though I don’t know if there would be any interesting stories surrounding that or his time writing comics. A few years ago, I went on a big Bester kick — I’d gone back to read though his ouvre more completely, and re-read The Stars My Destination (my favorite novel). Then, sometime later, I read the brilliant Tiptree biography by Julie Phillips, and that’s when I first conceived of this desire to read a Bester biography. Given there wasn’t one, I went on a bit of a scavenger hunt, tracking down all the information about Bester I could find, not just online, but in old magazines and the like–looking for interviews or anything that talked about the man himself, as opposed to just his fiction. I never did find much indication that there’d be enough good material to make a biography, but still I wish there was one (or perhaps that Bester had been as interesting in life as his fiction was).
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:
Here’s what they said.
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…
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:
Check out their excellent suggestions…(and share some of your own!)
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.
This week’s topic comes from Madeline Ashby:
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!]
I’ll peg my faves as being:
- 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.)
- Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki can do no wrong. It was this, or Princess Mononoke, or Howl’s Moving Castle, or …)
- Haibane Renmei (Haunting, weird exploration of self-discovery, death, and the loss of innocence via allegory)
- Akira (Just Because. Okay?)
- Serial Experiment Lain (More on identity and communication — you’re probably detecting a theme here, right?)
Fiction and fantasy book covers can be as awe-inspiring as the stories they are trying to sell. We asked this week’s panelists:
Read on to see their favorites …and not-so-favorites…
I’m a little out of my league given that I came to SF via art, rather than books… so most of my faves are pretty contemporary. But woe be me to pass up the mike. Here’s a list of representative book jackets , by some artists I love and think are stellar sci fi heads (in no particular order).
- The Sky People by Greg Manchess (Full artwork)
- Cities of the Moon by Donato Giancola (Full artwork)
- The Currents of Space by John Harris (Full artwork)
- Mission’s End by John Berkey (Full artwork)
- Variable Star and Quantumscapes by Stephan Martiniere (Full artwork)
- Species by H R Giger (Full artwork)
- Star Trek: Wounds by Rick Berry (Full artwork)
- Dark Horse Comics Dirty Pair by Adam Hughes (Full artwork)
Lou Anders has posted the table of contents for Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery, the anthology he co-edited with Jonathan Strahan, which will be available June 22, 2010 from Harper Eos:
- Introduction: Check Your Dark Lord at the Door by Lou Anders & Jonathan Strahan
- “Goats of Glory” by Steven Erikson
- “Tides Elba: A Tale of the Black Company” by Glen Cook
- “Bloodsport” by Gene Wolfe
- “The Singing Spear” by James Enge
- “A Wizard of Wiscezan” by C.J. Cherryh
- “A Rich Full Week” by K. J. Parker
- “A Suitable Present for a Sorcerous Puppet” by Garth Nix
- “Red Pearls: An Elric Story” by Michael Moorcock
- “The Deification of Dal Bamore” by Tim Lebbon
- “Dark Times at the Midnight Market” by Robert Silverberg
- “The Undefiled” by Greg Keyes
- “Hew the Tint Master” by Michael Shea
- “In the Stacks” by Scott Lynch
- “Two Lions, A Witch, and the War-Robe” by Tanith Lee
- “The Sea Troll’s Daughter” by Caitlin R Kiernan
- “Thieves of Daring” by Bill Willingham
- “The Fool Jobs” by Joe Abercrombie
- Interviews and Profiles:
- @Tor.com: J.C. Hutchins (Personal Effects: Dark Art).
- @Master of Light and Shadow: Janny Wurts.
- @BSCreview: Sharon Shinn
- @Temple Library Reviews: Kaaron Warren.
- @Stomping on Yeti: Jason Stoddard.
- @The Dragon Page: David Anthony Durham
- @I Should Be Writing: Mur Lafferty interviews Lou Anders and Pablo Defendini. Thanks for the shout-out, Lou!
- Michael Chabon, Cory Doctorow, and Annalee Newitz renew their privacy concerns as judge sets November 9th deadline for revised $125m Google book settlement
- Issue 21 of Death Ray magazine will be the last.
- There’s some good discussion going on at Lou Anders blog about science fiction going mainstream (or not).
- At Tor.com, GD Falksen offers up a beginner’s primer with Steampunk 101.
- Ann Aguirre on MST3King B-movies: “Anything with a lesser Baldwin is generally a good candidate”.
- For writers:
- Charles Tan on The Taboos of Editing.
- Here’s a sneak peek at Pyr’s Spring/Summer 2010 Season.
- Like retro gaming? Then you may like this Alfa Romeo commercial: Car vs. Space Invaders.
- Retrospace offers up a gallery of Monsters Carrying Chicks.
- Fun Flash Game: Frankenstein – The Creature Must Die!
- @BestScienceFictionStories: Science Fiction Stories About Kids With Powerful Objects.
- @Fandomania: 10 Notable Science Fiction Pulp Magazines.
- Alongside all the books about sex, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight makes the list of The top ten most pirated eBooks of 2009. [via LIT LISTS]
Short fiction anthologies come in many flavors: some contain original fiction and some are comprised of reprints; they can be themed or non-themed; they may restrict themselves to a certain sub-genre of speculative fiction… But one thing they all have in common is that it’s Editors that put them together.
Read on to see their illuminating responses…
My experience to date in anthology editing is rather thinner than that of most of my colleagues, as I have edited only “Best of the Year” collections. That makes my job easier on several grounds. Compared to an original anthologist, I don’t have to commission stories, nor wade through slush, nor work with authors to improve their submissions (either by line editing or by suggesting more dramatic changes). Compared to many reprint anthologists, I don’t have to look through nearly as many stories, and the authors I reprint are likely to be pretty accessible. (I have heard some harrowing stories about difficulties with finding out who controls the estate of dead authors, and also of difficulties working with authors’ heirs with unusual ideas of the market potential for reprinting old short stories.
The story of the conception of my books is simple enough. For many years, as an offshoot of my reviewing work for Locus (and prior to that, Tangent Online), I have prepared a list of the best stories of the year, organizing them (on occasion) as “virtual” best of the year books. A few years ago I had the thought that one market segment that was underrepresented in anthologies of this sort was online fiction. I suggested to Sean Wallace at Prime Books an anthology of the best online fiction of the year. Sean was unsure of the sales potential of such a book, but shortly later he suggested that we simply do a pair of more traditional Best of the Year anthologies: one for Science Fiction, one for Fantasy. (As of this year, those two books have been combined into one – and, happily, I am finally doing a Best Online short fiction book, Unplugged, for Wyrm Publishing.)
- @B&N: The Candy Man Can: Or Why John Joseph Adams is Genre Fiction’s Willy Wonka.
- Sequential Tart interviews Mike Allen (Mythic Delirium).
- Matthew Hughes has signed a three-book deal with Angry Robot for “a contemporary fantasy series about a mild-mannered actuary who becomes a caped crusader crime fighter with the unwilling assistance of a demon who talks and dresses like Jimmy Cagney in a 1930s gangster movie.”
- David Herter and Earthling Publications are offering a page of David Herter’s original manuscript to anyone who buys a copy of his upcoming Halloween novel, October Dark. (See also: Jeffrey Ford’s introduction.) [Thanks, Christopher!]
- James van Pelt discusses The Fundamental Disconnect Between Young Adults and Young Adults Writing.
- Lou Anders on Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (with spoilers): “Moffat, you can’t get here fast enough for me.”
- Mark Wegierski writes about Traditionalist and libertarian themes in science fiction and fantasy. Part Four concerns Fantasy in pop-culture; military SF; and space opera.
- Fantasy Magazine is Looking For Slush Readers.
- Hayao Miyazaki and his anime museum in Tokyo. [via Raymond Thornton]
- Dr. Horrible wins first Emmy for Joss Whedon. Yay, Joss!
- Angela Slatter lists Desirable Characteristics for an Editor (Not to be confused with What Makes an Editor Sexy).
- Den of Geek lists Top 75 spaceships in movies and TV (part 6).
- Innsmouth Free Press lists 10 Vampire Movies You Need to Watch.
- Movies Everyone Else Loved That Joseph Mallozzi Hated. Agreed on Deathproof and Goldmember, but The Usual Suspects? That’s just crazy talk.
- The Examiner lists Top 10 SciFi/Fantasy movies coming this Fall. Included is the premise for the new Rambo film, which involves technologically-enhanced soldiers. They’d have to be: Stallone is 63 years old.
- Newsarama points us to Neil Gaiman talking about Vampires.
- The latest Adventures in SciFi Publishing podcast features Matthew Rotundo, Jordan Lapp, Lou Anders
- Karen Wester Newton asks: Has reading changed? “For centuries if you wanted to read a book, you needed a physical copy of it, and either you had to read it, or another human had to read it to you. Now, in addition to print copies, a book can be recorded by the author or an actor, podcast, sold on CD or as a download, or sold as an ebook, and read on (or by) an eReader.”
- Meanwhile, Louise Marley asks: What Do Readers Want? “As writers, all we can do is tell the story that’s ours to tell, in the very best way we know how to tell it.”
- EVENT: The Singularity Summit is coming to NYC October 3 – 4. The list of speakers is impressive, including Anders Sandberg, Gregory Benford, and Ray Kurzweil. [via Gravity Lens]
- One of our recent followers on Twitter is The Clockwork Quartet, a steampunk band. Cool idea!
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:
Read on to see the responses…
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).
Much of the general populace believes that SciFi films are nothing more than dumb fun, but genre fans know better. Science fiction offers filmmakers a unique opportunity to be thought-provoking and meaningful, or at least something more cerebral than, say, Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
We asked this week’s panelists the following:
Read on to see the responses…
Some fairly obvious choices come to mind – 2001, Blade Runner, Contact, Gattaca, Children of Men – and while I wholeheartedly agree that they should make the list, I’d like to offer up five not so obvious candidates:
- Patrick at Stomping on Yeti thinks the contents of Eclipse 3 look suspicious: “To me the ToC says ‘I got in trouble for not having enough women authors last year, this ought to shut them up’ instead of ‘Hey here are some really good SF&F stories, enjoy.’”
- Soyka at Black Gate in wondering why the Strange Horizons fund drive succeeded while Baen’s Universe is closing.
- For the writers: Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Freelancer’s Survival Guide: Deadlines.
- Interviews and Profiles:
- Multiple award winning science fiction author Mike Resnick named as judge for Writers of the Future Contest.
- Ellen Datlow has posted photos from August 19 KGB reading.
- Sf Song-Meister John Anealio has posted Sci-Fi Songs Podcast #15.
- At AMC, John Scalzi’s Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design. Slashdotters are nerdgassing. Scalzi photoshops a return volley.
- The Daily P.O.P. takes a detailed look at one of the cartoons I grew up on: The 1967 version of Spider-Man.
- Calling Guy Montag…This Ewok comic looks too damn cute for its own good.
- S. Andrew Swann lists The Top 5 Lazy-ass SF Clichés.
- Aidan Moher lists his 7 Essential Second-step Fantasies.
- The International Society of Supervillains has an awesome list of the most common Supervillain blunders! [via BBT Magazine]
- Avatar Trailer backlash already? SpoutBlog lists 10 Movies Avatar Unfortunately Resembles.
- 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.]
- Interviews & Profiles:
- @Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews: an interview with Ekaterina Sedia, author of The Alchemy of Stone.
- The always-awesome Fast Forward has video reactions from Chesley Award winners John Picacio and Lou Anders.
- Guardian looks at the myth-making genius of Hugo winner Neil Gaiman. “His Hugo award doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but it’s supremely well deserved.”
- Orbit has a video interview with Joe Abercrombie, as well as an excerpt of his novel Best Served Cold.
- Bibliophile Stalker has an interview with Aliette de Bodard.
- @Strange Horizons: David Weber. [via Bibliophile Stalker]
- Shat alert! Time interviews William Shatner.
- @Subterranean Press: Joe R. Lansdale interviews Hap and Leonard. Yes, they’re his fictional creations. What’s it to ya’?
- Wired says the Hugo Awards are overdue for a videogame category. [Thanks Pawel]
- At Barnes & Noble, author Paul DiFilippo on Cyberpunk and its legacy while he discusses John Shirley’s Bleak Histoy, Rudy Rucker’s Hylozoic and Bruce Sterling’s The Caryatids. [via Enter the Octopus]
- Underwire looks at Vintage Mexican Sci-Fi. [via Boing Boing]
- “The relentless cacophony that is life in the 21st century can make settling in with a book difficult even for lifelong readers and those who are paid to do it.” So says the LA Times in their article about the lost art of reading.
- Book View Cafe’s 4th Twitter Fic contest is being held from August 11 through 13.
- The Onion illuminates us on the fine art of sf writing with the revelation that one Sci-Fi Writer Attributes Everything Mysterious To ‘Quantum Flux’. [via Bookninja]
- Now this is an idea I can get behind: Wizard of Oz Remastered And Returning To Theaters!
Lou Anders has posted the table of contents for his upcoming superhero anthology
With Great Power Masked, due out some time in 2010. Check out this line-up:
- Introduction: The Golden Age by Lou Anders
- “Cleansed and Set in Gold” by Matthew Sturges
- “Where their Worm Dieth Not” by James Maxey
- “Secret Identity” by Paul Cornell
- “The Non-Event” by Mike Carey
- “Avatar” by Mike Baron
- “Message from the Bubblegum Factory” by Daryl Gregory
- “Thug” by Gail Simone
- “Vacuum Lad” by Stephen Baxter
- “A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows” by Chris Roberson
- “Head Cases” by Peter David & Kathleen David
- “Downfall” by Joseph Mallozzi
- “By My Works You Shall Know Me” by Mark Chadbourn
- “Call Her Savage” by Marjorie M. Liu
- “Tonight we fly” by Ian McDonald
- “A to Z in the Ultimate Big Company Superhero Universe (Villains Too)” by Bill Willingham