Vector 267

Go away for a week, and all sorts of things happen! Vector 267 arrived while I was traveling. Most people seem to have received their copies on Saturday, although a fair minority of those were partially soaked from the ongoing rains.

This quarter’s mailing includes, in addition to Vector, a booklet of Maureen Kincaid Speller’s writings, edited by Jonathan McCalmont and laid out by Martin McGrath.

This issue contains a broad assortment of intriguing and (I hope) thought-provoking content, including a few pieces, including Sam Mardon’s elegant cover, in honour of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Arthur C Clarke Award.

Cover of Vector 267 by Sam MardonTable of Contents

Matrix: A Magazine out of Time, Ian Whates
Introducing The BSFA Review, Martin Lewis
Sci-Fi London in 2011 in REview, Alys Sterling
Against Utopia: Arthur C Clarke and the Heterotopian Impulse
Homer’s Odyssey: The World’s First Fantasy Novel?, Juliet E McKenna
An Interview with Samuel R Delany, Roz Kaveney
Avatar: The New Fantastic Horizons of Oneiric Justice, Roberto Quaglia, trans. Teo Popescu
Kincaid in Short, Paul Kincaid
Now and Then, Terry Martin
Resonances, Stephen Baxter
Foundation Favourites, Andy Sawyer

The BSFA Review, edited by Martin Lewis

The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sheryl Vint (Routledge, 2009) – Reviewed by Glyn Morgan
The Mervyn Stone Mysteries: Geek Tragedy, DVD Extras Include: Murder and Cursed Among Sequels by Nev Fountain (Big Finish, 2010) – Reviewed by Gary Dalkin
Sci-Fi London Film Festival: Dinoshark (2010), Sharktopus (2010), One Hundred Mornings (2009), Zenith (2010), Gantz (2011) and Super (2010) – Reviewed by Martin McGrath
Ignition City, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Gianluca Pagliarani (Avatar, 2010) – Reviewed by James Bacon
Twin Spica: Volume 1 by Kou Yaginuma (Vertical, 2010) – Reviewed by Nick Honeywell
Mardock Scramble by Tow Ubukata, translated by Edwin Hawkes (Haikasoru, 2011) – Reviewed by Alan Fraser
Gantz (2011) – Reviewed by Lalith Vipulananthan
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (Harper Voyager, 2010) – Reviewed by Dan Hartland
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (Orbit, 2010) – Reviewed by Andy Sawyer
On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (Corvus, 2011) – Reviewed by Paul Kincaid
The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin (Orbit, 2010) – Reviewed by Sandra Unerman
The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham (Orbit, 2011) – Reviewed by Sue Thomason
The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz, 2011) – Reviewed by Maureen Kincaid Speller
The Scarab Path by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tor, 2010) – Reviewed by Nic Clarke
The Wolf Age by James Enge (Pyr, 2010) – Reviewed by A.P. Canavan
Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne (Tor, 2010) – Reviewed by David Towsey
The Evolutionary Void by Peter F Hamilton (Pan MacMillan, 2010) – Reviewed by Martin Potts
Point by Thomas Blackthorne (Angry Robot, 2011) – Reviewed by Alan Fraser
Embedded by Dan Abnett (Angry Robot, 2011) – Reviewed by Stuart Carter

Vector welcomes letters of comment, or feedback on the forum.

Loose Ends

1. I’ve put together an index post linking too all the posts of the past week, plus the contexual posts from earlier in the autumn. If you want to link to the poll or discussions, that’s probably the best place to link to now.

2. Matt Denault asked what a top ten that treated book-length series (ie aggregated votes for, say, Bold as Love and Castle Made of Sand) as a single entry would look like:

1. Natural History/Living Next-Door to the God of Love, Justina Robson
2. The Carhullan Army, Sarah Hall
3. Maul, Tricia Sullivan
4. Small Change trilogy, Jo Walton
5. the Time-Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffeneger
6= Spirit, Gwyneth Jones
6= Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon
8. Bold as Love series, Gwyneth Jones
9. The Castle/Fourlands novels, Steph Swainston
10. The Vorkosigan novels, Lois McMaster Bujold

So new entries for Bujold and Swainston, Walton and Robson move up, and Life, Lavinia and City of Pearl drop out. Treating the two Robson novels as a series is arguable, I grant — they’re a shared universe but share no characters — and if you don’t, Natural History places joint third with Small Change.

3. A couple of dangling links: Tansy Rayner Roberts on Feed by Mira Grant and on The Gene Thieves by Maria Quinn, winner of the first Norma K Hemming Award. The latest Coode St podcast includes a bit of discussion about the list.

4. Follow-up. This obviously isn’t the last word on this topic; I have a few other ideas in mind, but none ready to go just yet.

Iain Banks on Open Book

Pointed out to me yesterday: last Sunday’s Open Book features an entertaining interview with Iain Banks about his new novel, Transition. As you’d expect, the sf/non-sf divide comes up, but this time it comes up because Transition is being marketed as a non-M novel, yet features parallel worlds and similar excitements. (And, in fact, in the US, it is an M-Banks novel.) Full marks to Muriel Gray for this exchange:

GREY: You’re one of Britain’s most popular and best-loved and best-selling writers, and yet something that really really annoys me personally is that you’ve never been nominated for one of the big literary prizes yet. Why do you think that is?

BANKS: I think possibly it’s because I’ve always got a foot in both camps as it were. Put it this way, I think if I’d kept my nose clean, if I hadn’t written science fiction, if I’d got away with The Wasp Factory as piece of a youthful indiscretion and if I’d written respectable novels since then, then maybe you know I’d have had a chance, a crack at the Booker prize by now!

GREY: You see, I have to interrupt you there. “Respectable novels”, referring to science fiction as not respectable, that’s Margaret Atwood territory –

BANKS: — well, quite, yeah

GREY: — the woman who refuses to admit she writes science fiction, she calls it “speculative fiction” so she continues to win prizes. This enrages me! Science fiction is perfectly respectable.

Alas, nobody has seen fit to send me a proof copy this time, so it may be a while before I get to it. Sounds promising, though.

Reminder: “Shoggoths in Bloom” discussion, and future schedule

Last of the novelettes, this Sunday. Read it here.

We now hit a slight snag, in that the Hugo voting deadline is 3rd July, which on a weekly discussion pattern would get us through only seven of the remaining nine (having already discussedExhalation“) short fiction nominees. My proposal, therefore, is to do the novellas like this:

17 May: “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress
24 May: “The Political Prisoner” by Charles Coleman Finlay
31 May: “The Tear” by Ian McDonald
7 June: “True Names” by Benjamin Rosenbaum and Cory Doctorow
14 June: “Truth” by Robert Reed

And then the short stories on Wednesdays and Sundays, like this:

17 June: “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss” by Kij Johnson
21 June: “Article of Faith” by Mike Resnick
24 June: “Evil Robot Monkey” by Mary Robinette Kowal
28 June: “From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled” by Michael Swanwick

Sound OK?

World Fantasy Award Winners

Aaannnd … we’re back. And how better to celebrate than with a set of award winners?

Novel: Ysabel, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada/Penguin Roc)
Novella: Illyria, Elizabeth Hand (PS Publishing)
Short Story: “Singing of Mount Abora”, Theodora Goss (Logorrhea, Bantam Spectra)
Anthology: Inferno: New Tales of Terror and the Supernatural, Ellen Datlow, Editor (Tor)
Collection: Tiny Deaths, Robert Shearman (Comma Press)
Artist: Edward Miller
Special Award, Professional: Peter Crowther for PS Publishing
Special Award, Non-Professional: Midori Snyder and Terri Windling for Endicott Studios Website

Congratulations to all, and now I really have to get around to reading my copies of Ysabel and Illyria.

In other news, the holiday was lovely. We were in this house and had many books to read, although most of my time was taken up by one huge book, namely A Suitable Boy. (I probably won’t get around to writing anything substantive about it, but you could do worse than check out Victoria’s review at Eve’s Alexandria.) There was also time for a side-trip to Hay-on-Wye, where I think we were remarkably restrained, and where Liz spotted a particularly good example of mis-shelving.

Coming later this week: other stuff.

The Gone Away Links

And now, to Wales!

Which is to say that having finished inflicting 12,000 words about various fantasy novels on you (and sent all the content for the next issue of Vector off to be laid out), I’m going to spend a week in a house near here with a bunch of friends, reading books, eating large meals, and going for the occasional walk. Liz is one of said friends, so it’s going to be pretty quiet around here for the next seven days. Hence: some links.

First, things that have been posted here recently, for ease of reference:

And now, things of interest elsewhere:

When I return: a review of The Knife of Never Letting Go, a discussion about The Ant King and Other Stories, and quite possibly some polls. Have a fun week, everyone!


In a week where one blog I read regularly shut up shop (for now? he said, impishly) and another expressed general boredom with the blogosphere, and given that I haven’t been posting much for the last few weeks, I figure it probably wouldn’t hurt to say: I aten’t dead, or bored, I’m just busy.

August was a sufficiently busy month that I managed to read a grand total of three books, and though I’ve done a bit better this month, that’s mostly because I’ve been the sort of busy that allows me to factor in reading time (i.e. train journeys). Between Vector (the next issue of which should be going to the printers in a week or two, which means hitting doormats in about a month) and SH reviews (which I’ve now been running for just over three years — where does the time go?) I’ve not had much time for writing of my own, although I do have a review of Anathem coming up at IROSF, and a review of Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends in the next issue of Fruitless Recursion. I’m also behind on email, so please bear with me if you’re waiting for a response on something. I’ve not even had much time for TV — I haven’t seen Heroes yet, and though I’ve fallen in love with The Middleman I’ve only watched half a dozen episodes.

However, it looks like — famous last words — things might be quietening down a bit, and I’ve got a bunch of stuff in the pipeline for here. I’ve been running a discussion about Flood, which is just waiting for final contributions, and hope to get discussions about Karen Joy Fowler’s Wit’s End and Anathem done soonish. I’m working on a series of posts about Sword & Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy, inspired by the lovely reissues of some of the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks earlier this year. So far I’ve got draft posts about The Broken Sword, Elric, Joanna Russ’s The Adventures of Alyx, and The Steel Remains, all of which need polishing, and some of which need me to do a bit more background reading. I’m also debating adding Lankhmar to the series, although that would delay posting it even longer. (I was originally planning to get them up at the end of August.) I also have a post about Gwyneth Jones’ late-eighties novel Kairos drafted, and posts about Benjamin Rosenbaum’s collection The Ant King and Other Stories and Ian R MacLeod’s new novel Song of Time gestating; the latter may end up combined with thoughts on the book I’m reading now, Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War, given that both have made me think about strategies for describing future history. Or, it may not. Other stuff I want to get to soon or soon-ish: the rest of the October/November F&SF; Blonde Roots by Bernadine Evaristo; and the recent Chris Beckett special issue of Interzone.

Of course, the thing that’s got lost in all this is the Baroque Cycle Reading Group. I have to admit, I don’t know when I’m going to get round to The Confusion; I was sufficiently unenthused by Quicksilver that it’s a matter of making time for it. Liz had nobly volunteered to write the post about it, but I gather she’s had computer woes and probably lost the draft she’d been working on. But if there’s still an appetite for discussion (it had seemed to be dropping off quite dramatically with each installment), I’ll bump it back up the reading stack. Thoughts?

A Panel I Would Like To Attend

As noted here, from the Wiscon schedule:

How Much Is Too Much?
“Unless we’re reading or writing about a utopia, the societies in our fantasy worlds are going to have problems. In fact, a culture without problems invariably comes off as shallow and unrealistic. Does this mean we need to include things like sexism and racism if we want to tell a believable story? And if so, are we, as authors, guilty of perpetuating whatever-ism in the real world?”
Monday, 8:30-9:45 A.M. (Assembly)
M: Sarah Monette, Catherynne M. Valente, Gregory Rihn, Elissa Malcohn, L. Timmel Duchamp

Alas, no Wiscon for me this year, so I’ll have to rely on panel reports from people keen enough to get up for an 8.30 am Monday panel. But it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about off and on since the question came up in the discussion of Martin’s review of Red Seas Under Red Skies last year, and thinking about it this week in particular having just finished Richard Morgan’s The Steel Remains, which takes a diametrically opposite position to Lynch.

In other news, I’ve gotten around to doing something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, which is to give Liz the ability to post here. Other additions may follow; this was always meant to be a Vector blog rather than just my blog, after all (Liz, as I’m sure I don’t need to point out for most of you, has been production editor for the last year or so).

Well, that makes life easier

Well, I was mulling the idea of posting a response to all the posts about reviews that popped up in the last day or so, but then Cheryl Morgan wrote a post I almost entirely agree with, so now I don’t need to bother. Hooray! Pretty much all that’s left is for someone to talk about what they like to see in reviews, as opposed to what they don’t like, but as Cheryl points out that varies from person to person and audience to audience, and my preferences are somewhat on the record already, anyway.

So instead I will talk briefly about reading, specifically to say that the first installment of the Baroque Cycle Reading Group will be somewhat delayed. I’ve been racing to meet a couple of review deadlines at the end of the month and, having met them (bar reading the reviews through in a few days, polishing them up and sending them off), I now need to knuckle down and start my Clarke Award shortlist re-read. I plan to keep reading Quicksilver in parallel, but it may be a couple of weeks before I have a post to show for it, now.

Out of interest, if I couldn’t face writing eight posts about the Baroque Cycle myself, would anyone be interested in writing a guest post about one or more of the books? (Remember I’m treating this as a series of eight books collected into three volumes. It’s just too daunting, otherwise.)