MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A strong anthology that transcends the seeming limitations of the theme to bring a set of high quality genre stories.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: An excellent set of original stories, some clearly in award-nomination class; beautiful cover art.
CONS: Readers not interested in the theme or subject matter will find little purchase here.
BOTTOM LINE: The stories in Glitter and Mayhem? Absolutely fabulous.
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MIND MELD: Great Books to Read During Winter

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This week, in time for the change of season, we asked about Winter:

In the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is turning colder, and the season of Winter is upon us. What are your favorite genre stories and novels that revolve around the coldest season. How do they make use of the season, and how do they evoke it?
This is what they had to say…
Gwenda Bond
Gwenda Bond’s debut novel, Blackwood, was a September 2012 launch title for Strange Chemistry, the new YA imprint of Angry Robot Books. Her next novel, The Woken Gods, will be released in July 2013. She is also a contributing writer for Publishers Weekly, regularly reviews for Locus, guest-edited a special YA issue of Subterranean Online, and has an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie. Visit her online at her website (www.gwendabond.com) or on twitter (@gwenda).

The first novel that leaps to mind is Geraldine McCaughrean’s The White Darkness. It’s a wonderfully bizarre tour de force about a girl, Sym, who is obsessed with all things Antarctic, including her imaginary boyfriend, the deceased Captain Lawrence “Titus” Oates. Her mad “uncle” takes her on a once in a lifetime trip there, which turns out to be a nightmare. He believes in the hollow Earth theory and that they will prove it’s true. Along the way, McCaughrean masterfully reveals more and more about Sym’s own past and her phony uncle. Sym’s voice is arresting despite how very in her own head she is—and it’s perhaps because of how that works with a backdrop that is spectacularly isolated and physically challenging. Some people may argue this isn’t a true fantasy, but I would debate them (citing spoilers), and regardless of which of us won I maintain it’d still be of interest to many genre readers because of the hollow Earth fringe science driving the plot.

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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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MIND MELD: Amazon’s Effect On Publishing

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Rumors surfaced recently that Amazon is contemplating opening a small brick and mortar store in Seattle to sell their ebook readers and their Amazon branded books. Couple this with Amazon’s recent foray into SF/F publishing and that got us to wondering:

Q: What effect, if any, do you think Amazon’s push into publishing, and retail, will have on the publishing industry in general, and SF/F in particular?
Lavie Tidhar
Lavie Tidhar is the author of The Bookman and sequel Camera Obscura. Other books include linked-story collection HebrewPunk, novel The Tel Aviv Dossier (with Nir Yaniv), and recent novellas Cloud Permutations and Osama. He also edited The Apex Book of World SF and runs the World SF News Blog.

It’s a difficult one to answer. I think Amazon is often seen as being responsible for the change in how books are sold/published, while it would be more accurate to see it as a product of that change. That it is currently the biggest, most successful model does not mean it would be one ten or twenty years from now, nor will it be the only major player.

I think there is plenty of room for traditional publishers, even while they struggle with the changing landscape of bookselling. That we are facing a shrinking presence of physical bookshops is undeniable – the question is where the next big online presence will come from.

I suspect we’ll be seeing partly the emergence of boutique sellers – in genre we can see the buds of such a move with specialist shops like Wizard’s Tower Books and Weightless Books – and at the same time the rise of other giant retail outlets like Amazon. Certainly big publishes are all backed by major corporate players, so we might see something from that direction.

The market is changing so rapidly, I think it’s pretty much everyone’s field at the moment – perhaps already being put into action in someone’s basement – or, alternatively, a boardroom.
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