The Links We Share Without Knowing

As you may have spotted, I didn’t manage to get that post about Ark finished. I’m now aiming for Monday, although I have a daunting number of other things I need to get done this weekend, as well. In the meantime: some links!

The Dream of Perpetual Links

EDIT: Actually, finally finally: don’t forget the deadline for applications to this year’s SF Foundation Masterclass in SF criticism is creeping up. (I suddenly realised last night, and sent in my application so that I don’t have to worry about it while I’m away.)

A Rag, A Bone, and a Hank of Links

Tender Linksels

BSFA Award Nominations So Far — Best Non-Fiction

Per yesterday’s post, this is a list of all works that have so far received at least one nomination for this year’s BSFA Award for Best Non-Fiction. This is a very open category: “any written work about science fiction and/or fantasy which appeared in its current form in 2009, in print or online” is eligible. And, as ever, send additional nominations with your membership number and/or postcode.

Michael Bay Finally Made an Art Movie“: review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Charlie Jane Anders (io9, 24 June)
Powers: Secret Histories, ed. John Berlyne (PS Publishing)
Red Planets: Marxism and Science Fiction, ed. Mark Bould and China Mieville (Wesleyan University Press)
The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint (Routledge)
Fifty Key Figures in Science Fiction, edited by Mark Bould, Andrew M Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint (Routledge)
Unleashing the Strange: 21st Century Science Fiction Literature by Damien Broderick (Borgo)
Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute (Beccon)
The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr (Wesleyan)
I Didn’t Dream of Dragons” by Deepa D (LJ, 13 January 2009)
“Summation: 2008” by Gardner Dozois (in The Mammoth Book of New SF 22)
Ethics and Enthusiasm” by Hal Duncan (Notes from the Geek Show, 8 June 2009)
“Alterity and Ethics” by Neil Easterbrook (in The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction)
The Rise and Fall of the Military Techno-Thriller” by Nader Elhefnawy (IROSF, November 2009)
Review of Orbus by Neal Asher” by Dan Hartland (Strange Horizons, 30 October 2009)
A Short History of Fantasy by Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (Middlesex University Press)
Imagination/Space: Essays and Talks on Fiction, Feminism, Technology and Politics by Gwyneth Jones (Aqueduct Press)
The City is a Battlesuit for Surviving the Future” by Matt Jones (io9, 20 September 2009)
Starcombing: Columns, Essays, Reviews and More by David Langford (Wildside)
Review of The Ask & The Answer by Patrick Ness” by Martin Lewis
“Mutant Popcorn” by Nick Lowe (Interzone)
(Strange Horizons, 17 August 2009)
The BLDGBLOG Book by Geoff Manaugh (Chronicle)
The Inter-Galactic Playground by Farah Mendlesohn (McFarland)
On Joanna Russ ed. Farah Mendlesohn (Wesleyan)
“On The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction“, by Farah Mendlesohn (in LJ community nonficawards: one, two, three, four)
The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms by Helen Merrick (Aqueduct)
In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language by Arika Okrent (Spiegel & Grau; website)
Review of Anathem by Neal Stephenson” by Adam Roberts (Punkadiddle, 2 February 2009)
Review of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by JRR Tolkien” by Adam Roberts (Strange Horizons, 6 July 2009)
Introduction to The Very Best of Gene Wolfe by Kim Stanley Robinson (PS Publishing)
Whatever by John Scalzi
Yesterday’s Tomorrows: AE van Vogt” by Graham Sleight (Locus, August)
Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Brian Aldiss” by Graham Sleight (Locus, December)
Quantum Sorcery by Dave Smith (Immanion Press)
Hope-in-the-Mist: the Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees by Michael Swanwick (Temporary Culture)
Extrapolation, Volume 50, no 2 Summer 2009: The China Mieville Special Issue, ed. Sherryl Vint
“Joanna Russ’s The Two of Them in an age of Third-Wave Feminism” by Sherryl Vint (in On Joanna Russ)
About Time 3: The Unauthorized Guide to Doctor Who: Expanded Second Edition by Tat Wood

(Presumably following the Hugos’ lead in granting The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction extended eligibility, there.)

History and In Great Waters

I’ve been meaning to post this all week, but somehow not getting around to it. Anyway: as Martin noted, the most popular fiction books in this year’s Strange Horizons best of the year round-up were, first, The City & The City by China Mieville, second, In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield, and third equal, Ark by Stephen Baxter and Cloud & Ashes by Greer Gilman. (And wouldn’t those four be a good start for a Hugo shortlist?) I’d been meaning to link to Hannah’s appreciative post about In Great Waters anyway, but it picked up this fascinating comment:

I happened to read this just this week because sovay told me to, and it staggered me. It’s set in a period where I do know the history very well, and one of the things that absolutely blew me away was the way it uses the real history to create suspense. After the marriage, I was absolutely terrified for everybody, simply because of the names of the characters, because she’s Anne and he’s Henry and the ramifications of that. Anne and Mary are the Boleyn girls, with Philip changed from brother to uncle, incestuous implications and all. I sat there going oh, God, do not be Anne of the thousand days, it would be so easy, with the most significant man Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery with (other than Philip) cast as Henry’s foster-brother… and I knew what kind of trouble Henry was going to have most violently on coming to the throne, and couldn’t guess how they were going to get out of it. Because of course Samuel is Saint Sir Thomas More, and that was a trainwreck coming.

I can’t recall seeing another novel that has done this particular thing, where it isn’t a one-to-one AU but the resonances of our history shape the tensions of the plot without being either obtrusive or implausible. The expectations that come from knowing what ought to happen to these people make the last half of the book almost unbearably cruel, but then also pull off what I experienced as a genuine eucatastrophe, also an incredibly rare bird.

This book gets my Hugo nomination this year, and I need to write a long review in hopes of drawing the attention of more people towards it, because I’ve seen almost no buzz, which is a damn shame.

The long review has, sadly, not appeared yet, but I’d love to hear more about this side of the book; history is very much not my thing, so my appreciation for In Great Waters — it’s getting my Hugo nomination, too — is independent of any of these resonances.

Also of note: Faren Miller’s Locus review.

While Whitfield’s strong sense of character gives life and complexity even to the schemers, arrogant power-mongers, and borderline maniacs who collectively make life for Henry, Anne and other relative innocents more dangerous than any ocean current swarming with sharks, her two young protagonists stand at the heart of the book. Still it’s not just their tale. She interweaves the story of their trials and maturation into a mixture of real and imagined political and cultural history (both English and in a larger European sphere) that manages to be thoroughly compelling, even without the drama of those later revolutions.

Go on, pick up a copy of In Great Waters. You know you want to.

White is for Linking

The Other Links

The Link Hand of God

Right! Hello again, everyone. After a ridiculously hectic month, I’m on holiday for the next week, giving me a chance to catch up on all the admin, reading, blogging and other writing I haven’t had time to do. And where better to start than with a links post? Some of these, obviously, are fairly old…

How To Sell Me A Book

In case anyone was wondering, the answer is to write a review like Matt Denault’s review of Filaria by Brent Hayward, published last year by ChiZine Publications:

At a time when novels that are carbon copies of an author’s previous work and pastiches banged out due to contractual obligations have been short-listed for major genre awards, it is immeasurably refreshing to encounter a book that feels carefully yet ambitiously wrought to maximize the potential of its project. This is not to suggest that Filaria is (or rather, was) award-worthy, but the book is a reminder that this mixture of care and ambition marks a useful baseline for what we expect of fiction. Filaria is not a work that dazzles with new ideas, rather it impresses by deploying a greater set of storytelling techniques than many better-known works, and in so doing renews the sense of wonder associated with familiar concepts of SF and horror. The result is a novel that is entertaining in the commonly understood, page-turning sense, without fatally insulting the intelligence or the aesthetics of a cultivated reader. Filaria is a short book whose movements occur in a tightly enclosed space, that nonetheless manages to capture a great deal of the horror and the hope of human endeavor.

There is a level, I admit, on which the review plays to my ego: here is an interesting, under-appreciated novel, it says, and I think ooh, I want to know about the cool thing. Of such reactions is buzz made. But rather more important factors include the thoroughness of the analysis, the clarity about the reviewer’s own tastes and expectations, the care taken in composition — the review is a good piece of writing in itself, which makes me trust the recommendation that much more — and the modesty and specificity of its claims. It does not say Filaria is a criminally neglected masterwork; it does not say that it is flawless. It says: “Filaria is good because it handles the basics of entertaining storytelling so well, balancing plot, character, setting, prose, and pacing, while encompassing core themes of both SF and horror”; and that what it uses those elements to do is interesting. And so I ordered a copy for myself, and it arrived a couple of days ago.