The Windup Links

  • A bit of housekeeping first. First, per Jed’s suggestion, I’ve updated the short story club schedule with links to the discussions that have taken place so far. Second, I have started collating and analyzing the responses to the survey. I have 60,000 words of responses from 82 authors, and I need to write the whole thing up by mid-October. So it’s going to take a large chunk of my time over the next few weeks. (I should note that if there are any authors who meant to respond but haven’t yet, there’s still time! I can integrate a few late responses without trouble. Emails to the usual address.)
  • Graham Sleight reviews Mike Ashley’s much-discussed Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF
  • Abigail Nussbaum reviews Sylvia Kelso’s Amberlight and Riversend. I’m disappointed that nobody’s responded to this one; I’d like to see more discussion of these books.
  • Matt Cheney interviews Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr, author of The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction (which, remember, you should all read)
  • Reviews of Iain Banks’ Transition: James Walton in The Telegraph, Doug Johnstone in The Independent, and David Hebblethwaite; and there’s an interview in The Guardian today.
  • More District 9 views, mostly negative: Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, Nnedi Okorafor, Jonathan McCalmont
  • More on The Year of the Flood: Jane Shilling in The Telegraph, Robert Macfarlane in The Times, Philip Hensher in The Observer and, most punchily, Fredric Jameson in the LRB: “Atwood can now be considered to be a science-fiction writer, I’m happy to say, and this is not meant to disparage”
  • Paolo Bacigalupi in discussion at the Borders Babel Clash blog: “If you don’t have a model or archetypal pattern of a highly functional society that deals with drought or peak oil or global warming it makes it difficult for a rational dialogue to commence about how to create an adaptable society.”
  • The women in sf reading club reaches Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time
  • Tim Holman’s graphs of the commercial rise of what we are now calling urban fantasy; see also Paula Guran’s notes on the origins of the label.
  • Adam Roberts asks, “Is sf handwritten?” [pdf]
  • Nader Elhefnawy’s essay, “The problem of belonging in Robert A Heinlein’s Friday“, first published in Foundation, summer 2006
  • Excerpts from a Locus roundtable on fantasy and history, with Cecelia Holland and Guy Gavriel Kay
  • io9 graphs sf TV since the seventies
  • Scott Lynch joins the ranks of writers serializing projects online: Queen of the Iron Sands.
  • Richard Larson reviews The New Space Opera 2, and Paul Jessup’s Open Your Eyes
  • Abigail Nussbaum on Defying Gravity
  • Toby Litt on Generation A by Douglas Coupland
  • Lisa Tuttle’s latest sf roundup in The Times
  • David Hebblethwaite considers Penguin’s Robert E Howard collection
  • Martin Lewis discusses a review of Eric Brown’s Xenopath
  • And in The Guardian, Eric Brown reviews The Hurricane Party by Klas Ostergren:

    In an impoverished post-apocalyptic future, in an unnamed northern European city, Hanck Orn makes a living refurbishing ancient typewriters, a cherished commodity in an age bereft of manufactured goods. […] The novel details the slow, sensitive blossoming of a man from a loveless unit in a totalitarian state to someone whose account of his emotional travail might, it is suggested, change the heart of society.


    On the downside, a 50-page digression at the mid-point of the novel, recounting the Edda of Norse mythology, seems extraneous.

    My only problem with this is that The Hurricane Party is the latest in the Canongate Myths series, a fact that you can’t help thinking should have been mentioned somewhere in Brown’s review. Specifically it is — you guessed it — a rewrite of Norse mythology. Which makes the above digression seem a little less extraneous, although of course that doesn’t mean it’s well-integrated into the narrative. (On a side note, I’m a little surprised to see so many people on the Canongate site bemoaning the lack of a hardback edition of this book. I had the impression that most readers preferred paperbacks.)

3 thoughts on “The Windup Links

  1. I just finished Transition and I need a full re-read to fully asses it – I re-read quite a few passages several times to make sense of the novel, but I need an end-to-end re-read

    For now I think that as a literary novel (the UK marketing as I. Banks and dealing with “issues”, good writing, innovative techniques, unreliable narrators…) it is an A+

    As a sf novel (the US marketing as IM – so needing consistency, (multi) universe that makes some sense, sense of wonder, great characters, story, resolution) it is an A-, not up to his great Culture novels and the last review linked above hits that well

  2. Personally, I’d be inclined to give Transition a B overall; but would agree that it is more ‘literary’ than sf (as far as those categories can be usefully separated), in that Banks uses the parallel-worlds structure as a device for exploring issues and character, rather than ‘explaining’ it as one would generally expect in sf.

    Re Canongate Myths: the hardbacks were small size and rather handsome; I can well understand if people are annoyed at there not being one this time.

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