REVIEW: His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

REVIEW SUMMARY: Surprisingly engaging read that I honestly couldn’t put down.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Will Laurence is a British navy captain during the time of Lord Nelson and when Napoleon was threatening to engulf all of Europe. But in a bit of alternative history, dragons are real and take (multiple) riders into battle. Laurence ends up a rider through what he considers bad luck, but ends up making the friend of a lifetime in his dragon Temeraire. The two then ride for the King in defense of the islands from the might of the French.


PROS: Very fun story, sympathetic characters, a setting that isn’t at all fantasy save for the dragons (strange, but true.)

CONS: Some of this has been done before by Ann McCaffrey

BOTTOM LINE: If you want a quick read, this book will hook you in and end up well worth your time.

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This one for Scott. :)

Filed under: Humor

From the Wired article Writers, Directors Fear ‘Sci-Fi’ Label Like an Attack From Mars:

Even when clearly appropriate, film studios and publishers avoid the phrase “science fiction.” So do the novelists, film directors and editors in their employ. McCarthy’s book [The Road], which is about to become a blockbuster — Oprah Winfrey will tout it on an upcoming TV show as part of her book club — is just another example of how the powers that be dodge the term, especially when it applies to “serious” fiction or cinema.

You won’t find the words “science fiction” in Random House’s bio of Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author China Miéville. Instead, he’s called the “edgiest mythmaker of the day.” Michel Gondry’s The Science of Sleep? It’s classified as comedy, drama, romance and fantasy, but not sci-fi, at

Even Battlestar Galactica, the flagship show of (hello!) the Sci Fi Channel, keeps a distance. “It’s fleshed-out reality,” explains executive producer Ronald D. Moore in the sci-fi mag SFX. “It’s not in the science-fiction genre.”

The nose-thumbing is nothing new. In the ’50s, Robert Heinlein dismissed the term, opting for “speculative fiction.” (What fiction isn’t?)

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SF Tidbits for 4/13/07

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Kurt Vonnegut Documentary

Here’s an 8-part documentary on Kurt Vonnegut, profiling the man and his work.

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RIP: Kurt Vonnegut

From the The NYT: Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84.

Kurt Vonnegut was the author of such works as Player Piano (1952), The Sirens of Titan (1959), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969) and Timequake (1997). Although often noted as a science fiction author, he has frequently expressed disdain at being labeled as such.

See also:

Wikipedia entry on Vonnegut

VonnegutWeb (unofficial)

A 1965 Vonnegut article: On Science Fiction

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SF Tidbits for 4/12/07

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SF/F Authors Piped!

Author S. Andrew Swann has out-geeked us.

He’s taken SF Signal’s list of SF/F Authors Who Blog and used Yahoo Pipes to create a stream of sf/f all author posts. This stream will be automatically updated when we update our post. Cool!

Take heed to his warning though…”Subscribing to this feed is the digital equivalent of drinking from a fire-hose.”

Filed under: BooksWeb Sites

REVIEW: Ports of Call by Jack Vance

REVIEW SUMMARY: A non-traditional book that was very fun to read.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Myron has been cast about on a sea of change. He floats from place to place encountering very different points of view and a story in every port.


PROS: Vance’s command of the language is subtle and fun. Non-traditional conventions, interesting characters, and good storytelling. Almost reads as a collection of short stories.

CONS: Neither a linear story nor a character study, this book may turn some readers off. Booksplit somewhat by accident (according to the author.) Light on sci-fi elements.

BOTTOM LINE: Fun set of stories that chronicle the travels of a young man adrift in the big universe.

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Another Free Hugo Short Story

Neil Gaiman has posted an audio version of his Hugo-nominated short story “How To Talk To Girls At Parties“.

The NOMINEES: 2007 Hugo Award post has been updated.

[via SFFAudio]

Filed under: Awards

SF Tidbits for 4/11/07

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REVIEW: Sun of Suns by Karl Schroeder

John and JP experimentally dispense with the usual review format to discuss Karl Schroeder’s latest book, Sun of Suns.

Sun of Suns is set in the world of Virga, an air-filled balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter whose major artificial light source is named Candesce, the sun of suns. There are smaller suns that exist to provide light to the many cylindrical habitats around Virga, which are spun up to create their own artificial gravities. Virga is low tech and the towns, built of wood and rope, are strung together to form nations. The story concerns Hayden Griffen, citizen of Aerie, whose parents were killed when they tried to assert their freedom through the creation of their own sun. Years later, Hayden seeks revenge on the man responsible: Chaison Fanning, head of the fleet of Slipstream, the nation that conquered Aerie.

John’s Rating

JP’s Rating

John: Cool book! This gets big points for sensawunda. The world Schroeder created is amazing…even if its unique physics took some getting used to. Fortunately he frequently works it into the story through things like floating water spheres, ropes and wires to pull yourself along, etc. That reminder was always there just in case you become too wrapped up in the human story of Hayden’s quest for revenge.

JP: Yup, this has sensawunda by the bucketfuls. And while the built world of Candesce is extremely cool, I was reminded of the following: The Integral Trees, Last Exile, and The Amazing Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, and that is a good thing.

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Free Audio Fiction: Rude Mechanicals by Kage Baker

Subterranean Press is offering a free audiobook version of Kage Baker’s short novel Rude Mechanicals, set in her Company universe.

The Company series is one I’ve been meaning to read since I started reading the short stories in various “Best of…” anthologies. My recent reading of Baker’s Gods & Pawns got me stoked even more. This is cool!

[via Locus Online]

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SF Tidbits for 4/10/07

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WINNERS: British SF Awards

Winners of year’s British Science Fiction Association Awards have been announced:

  • NOVEL: End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
  • SHORT FICTION: “The Djinn’s Wife” by Ian McDonald
  • ARTWORK: Angelbot (cover of Time Pieces, edited by Ian Whates) by Fanghorn

See also: Previous BSFA Awards winners.

[via Locus Online]

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SF Tidbits for 4/9/07

Filed under: Tidbits

Here are the results of the latest SF Signal poll.

Which of the 2007 Hugo nominees for best book should win?


(69 total votes)

Confession time: this was less of a poll than a social experiment. That fact that we got about half the usual number of responses says to me that people couldn’t choose one — probably because they did not read all (or any!) of the choices. That was expected. (This was the first SF Signal poll in which I didn’t participate!) But this leaves me wondering, did all of the people who voted read all of the books before they voted? Should they have? I ask because I wonder how many actual Hugo voters read all the books before they vote.

OK, enough of treating our readers like lab rats. Be sure to vote in this week’s poll on The Best SF Film Ever!

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15 Movies Re-Enacted by Bunnies

An Easter treat for science fiction/fantasy/horror fans…

Here’s a collection of links to Angry Alien‘s versions of genre movies. Rre-enacted by a troupe of bunnies. In 30 seconds.


  1. Alien
  2. The Exorcist
  3. Freddy vs. Jason
  4. Highlander
  5. King Kong (1933)
  6. Night of the Living Dead
  7. The Ring
  8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  9. Scream
  10. The Shining
  11. Spiderman 1 & 2
  12. Star Wars
  13. Superman: The Movie
  14. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  15. The War of the Worlds (1953)

Filed under: Humor

WINNER: Philip K. Dick Award

The winner of this year’s Philip K. Dick Award, given for best original paperback published in the US in 2005 2006, is Chris Moriarity’s Spin Control. A special citation was given to Elizabeth Bear for Carnival.

See also: Previous winners.

[via Locus Online]

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SF Tidbits for 4/7/07

Filed under: Tidbits

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