- 3 • Torque Control (Vector 273) • [Torque Control] • essay by Shana Worthen
- 4 • The Descendants of d’Artagnan: Alexandre Dumas and SFF • essay by Kari Sperring
- 7 • Diana Wynne Jones and the Oxfordshire Countryside in Power of Three • essay by Julia Cresswell
- 12 • Dialogue and Doomsday: Comedy and Conviction in Connie Willis and Oscar Wilde • essay by Gillian Polack
- 17 • The Volunteer, or Editing Vector and Beyond … • essay by David Wingrove
- 21 • Inside the V&A: Memory Palace • essay by Tom Hunter
- 22 • Gadget City by I O Evans • [Foundation Favourites] • essay by Andy Sawyer
- 24 • Meet the President! • [Kincaid in Short] • essay by Paul Kincaid
- 27 • Drilling for Oil in the North Sea • [Resonances] • essay by Stephen Baxter
- 31 • The BSFA Review (Vector 273) • [The BSFA Review] • essay by Martin Lewis
- 31 • Review of the graphic novel Savage: The Guv’nor by Pat Mills and Patrick Goddard • essay by Jonathan McCalmont
- 32 • Review: Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter • review by Niall Harrison
- 32 • Review: Bronze Summer by Stephen Baxter • review by Niall Harrison
- 32 • Review: Iron Winter by Stephen Baxter • review by Niall Harrison
- 34 • Review: Adam Robots by Adam Roberts • review by Dan Hartland
- 35 • Review: Jack Glass by Adam Roberts • review by Dave M. Roberts
- 35 • Review: The Soddit by Adam Roberts • review by David Hebblethwaite
- 36 • Review: Among Others by Jo Walton • review by Shaun Green
- 37 • Review: Wolfhound Century by Peter Higgins • review by Duncan Lawie
- 38 • Review: Communion Town by Sam Thompson • review by Mark Connorton
- 39 • Review: The Peacock Cloak by Chris Beckett • review by Martin McGrath
- 39 • Review: Solaris Rising 2: The New Solaris Book of Science Fiction by Ian Whates • review by Andy Sawyer
- 40 • Review: Existence by David Brin • review by Martin McGrath
- 41 • Review: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson • review by Gary S. Dalkin [as by Gary Dalkin]
- 41 • Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi • review by Liz Bourke
- 42 • Review: Nexus by Ramez Naam • review by Paul Graham Raven
- 43 • Review: The Curve of the Earth by Simon Morden • review by Stuart Carter
- 43 • Review: The Water Sign by C. S. Samulski • review by Karen Burnham
- 44 • Review: Dangerous Waters by Juliet E. McKenna • review by Patrick Mahon
- 44 • Review: Darkening Skies by Juliet E. McKenna • review by Patrick Mahon
- 45 • Review: The Legend of Eli Monpress by Rachel Aaron • review by A. P. Canavan
- 46 • Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow • review by Graham Andrews
- 46 • Review: Hell Train by Christopher Fowler • review by Lalith Vipulananthan
- 47 • Review: Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch • review by Anne F. Wilson
- 47 • Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness • review by Cherith Baldry
- 48 • Review: Railsea by China Miéville? • review by Liz Bourke
- 49 • Review: Dark Peak: The First Elemental by J. G. Parker • review by Sue Thomason
- 49 • Review: Sea Change by S. M. Wheeler • review by Mark Connorton
- 50 • Review: Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon • review by Alan Fraser
- 50 • Review: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke • review by Anne F. Wilson
- 51 • Review: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest • review by Alan Fraser
- 51 • Review: Apollo’s Outcasts by Allen Steele • review by Ian Sales
Tag: connie willis
Top Ten Writers
As was noted back at the start of the week, and by a good number of people casting their votes in the poll, the popularity of series in the sf field can make it hard to single out individual books. Moreover, many writers are prolific — if someone’s written one outstanding novel in a decade, they may have an advantage, in this sort of poll, over someone who’s written three. So here’s another way of looking at the data, counting up the top ten writers who were nominated for multiple books, ordered by total nominations received.
1. Gwyneth Jones
Not a surprise, given her three appearances this week. But two other books were also nominated: Castles Made of Sand, the follow-up to Bold as Love, and Siberia, one of Jones’ YA novels (published as by Ann Halam).
2. Justina Robson
Natural History did well, of course, but plenty of people also nominated Living Next-Door to the God of Love, Mappa Mundi and Keeping it Real.
3. Tricia Sullivan
As noted in this morning’s post, in addition to Maul, nominations were sent in for every other novel she’s published this decade — Double Vision, Sound Mind, and Lightborn.
4. Elizabeth Bear
The first writer to appear on this list who hasn’t appeared in the main top ten, Bear received nominations for Hammered (often as a proxy for the whole Jenny Casey trilogy), standalones Carnival and Undertow, for Dust, and for By the Mountain Bound.
5. Elizabeth Moon
In addition to Speed of Dark, Moon picked up nominations for Trading in Danger and Moving Target.
6. Jo Walton
Farthing‘s placement low in the top ten certainly doesn’t reflect the strength of support Walton received, with many nominations for the second Small Change novel, Ha’Penny, and for Lifelode.
7. Liz Williams
Like Bear, Williams hasn’t made it into the main top ten; but she achieves the distinction of having more novels nominated than any other writer, six in total:Ghost Sister, The Poison Master, Empire of Bones, Nine Layers of Sky, Banner of Souls, and Darkland.
8. Karen Traviss
In addition to the nominations for City of Pearl, Traviss picked up a few nods for her tie-in work — Gears of War novel Aspho Fields, and Star Wars novels Hard Contact, 501st, and Order 66.
9. Ursula K Le Guin
Lavinia accounted for the bulk of Le Guin’s nominations, but a few enthused about the Western Shore novels, in particular Gifts and Voices.
10. Connie Willis
And finally, Willis picked up nominations for both Blackout/All Clear, and for Passage — both not that far off the top ten.
Ranking calculated from 101 responses to a poll run during October, November and December 2010.
The 2010 Contenders
No books published in 2010 received enough nominations in the poll to make it into the overall top ten. This is probably not a surprise; the books haven’t been out for very long, so fewer people have read them. And some 2010 books received enough support to suggest that, were this poll to be run again in a couple of years, they might have matured into strong contenders. I thought it would be worth breaking those books out into a separate post, since their poll ranking is probably not reflective of the strength of feeling about them — and because they may be awards contenders next year. And so here they are:
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Lauren Beukes’ second novel has been picking up rave reviews all over the place. John Clute reviewed the book in his Scores column at Strange Horizons:
Zoo City may dive a little too glamorously into terrible high-rises and worse tunnels, and its protagonist (who survives the tale she tells) may wear her deformations and her scars and her cabaret presentation of self like war ribbons, and the present tense of the tale’s telling may try a little officiously to shove our faces in the fleuve of the overwhelming nows of an alternate-2011 urban South Africa (Johannesburg is hardly exited), but throughout the horrors and the almost synaesthesical complexities of the scenes unfolded we get a sense of vigour, some of it irrepressible. The main joy of Zoo City is the energy of the thing, that it doesn’t stop for breath until it stops for good.
Also worth noting is a strong showing for Beukes’ first novel, Moxyland; thanks to Moxyland‘s first US edition this year, both books are Hugo-eligible.
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold
I think of Bujold, rightly or wrongly, as occupying the sort of position in US sf that Iain M Banks occupies in UK sf: absolutely central in her home country, somewhat marginal beyond its borders. I’m not sure any of her books has ever been published over here, and as a result I’ve not read any of them (although the recent free ebooks of her entire back catalogue may change this). On the other hand, Cryoburn may also be a suitable jumping-on point, for all that it’s the latest entry in a long series. Tansy Rayner Roberts:
Cryoburn, while not actually hitting the heights of my very very very favourite Vorkosigans (honestly it’s hard to top Memory which is one of the best books I’ve ever read) has all the ingredients of a very successful Miles Vorkosigan outing. It also shows that yet again, Bujold is not afraid to take risks, to change up any patterns her series has developed, and even the world itself. I’m not going to address in the least the most important change she brings down upon Miles’ world, because it’s the massivest spoiler of all spoilers, but suffice to say – this is, like Civil Campaign and to some extent Diplomatic Immunity, a book which could stand very successfully as the last of the series, and yet unlike both those volumes it could as easily be the new beginning that refreshes the books so entirely that we see another five out in the next decade.
Feed by Mira Grant
Winner of this year’s John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not A Hugo), this is the first of Seanan McGuire aka Mira Grant’s books to be published in the UK, and was one of Publishers Weekly’s top five sf/f of 2010. It’s a zombie novel, but don’t let that put you off. Roz Kaveney:
Mira Grant’s Feed is less well-written [than The Passage] but has a can-do brio that Cronin would regard as whistling showtunes in the dark. Grant’s zombies are the result of experiments gone wrong – everyone is infected and everyone might turn in a moment. Yet civilisation does not collapse, and there are even elections; business as usual. Grant isn’t writing a horror novel at all – just an SF novel with zombies in it. And with bloggers – her heroine would die, or become undead, for a scoop.
Scoops follow her around. Hardly has she and her brother and team been embedded in a Presidential campaign than a saboteur tries to get the Candidate eaten or turned. Georgia and Shaun are supremely irritating young smart-arses, but Feed is a perfect antidote to Cronin’s gloomier excesses; sometimes after a well-cooked heavy meal, you really need a tub of ice-cream, with sprinkles.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Okorafor’s first published adult sf novel is another one that’s been appearing on end-of-year lists, not just Publishers Weekly but also Amazon US. Matt Cheney loved it:
So much reverberates between the lines of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death that the greatest marvel among the many here is that the novel succeeds in creating music and not cacophony. Archetypes and clichés jangle against each other to evoke enchanting new sounds, old narratives fall into a harmony that reveals unseen realms, and the fact of the book as artifact becomes itself a shadow story to that on the pages within. Okorafor is up to all sorts of serious, necessary mischief, setting up one expectation after another and dashing them all like dominoes made of dust. When the dust settles, rich realities emerge.
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
As Willis notes on her website, and as pretty much every review of either volume has noted, this is one novel split into two volumes: a sprawling epic set in London during the Blitz. Clute again:
Indeed, the least useful pages of All Clear are spent tracing its cast’s ultimately baulked attempts not to see anything, and it does take a while to grasp the beauty of All Clear, the intense humility of its portrait of London as her cast increasingly ignores Dunworthy’s strictures, especially in two superb, hugely extended setpieces: one devoted to the terrible first bombing raid on 7 September; the second massively expanding on the events first depicted in “Fire Watch” as Saint Paul’s almost burns at the end of December. Almost certainly some bad mistakes leak into the text (how else, given the oceans of data she had to attempt to master); but I for one found nothing to complain about. The main errors I noted myself were in fact easily correctible: Willis seems to have consulted a contemporary map of the London Underground, which seems to have led her to assume that the Victoria and the Jubilee Lines, both constructed decades later, were there in 1940; nurses bewilderingly tell patients their temperature in centigrade; and the term “disinformation” seems not to have existed before 1955, the first year it was used to describe false information created, usually by a government, for purposes of deceit. But none of these slips opened any plausible gulf into the alternate realities whose potential irruption haunts her cast. All Clear is a song of London, a song of England, and she has gotten the song right.