Since my last post, I caught up on everything published this year in Lightspeed Magazine, the free content at least, and there are some real gems. I’ll probably end up buying their Queers Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue for the additional exclusive content. So far, though, I loved Brooke Bolander’s action-packed cyberpunk novelette “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail of Dead”, which evoked for me a lot of what I loved about reading Neuromancer in my teens, combined with the guilty pleasures of coarse language and ultraviolence that I love in authors like Chuck Wendig. And it features an illustration by the excellent Galen Dara, for whom I’ll almost certainly be voting in one of the art categories next year.
Another Lightspeed novelette I quite liked was Dale Bailey’s “The Ministry of the Eye”, a well-told story of a grim, industrial dystopia in which beauty is contraband. And there were a couple short stories that do some clever things with the form: “Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind” by Erica L. Satifka is, as the title implies, written in the form of a teen’s last minute to-do list before humanity is uploaded to something called the Sing. And “Time Bomb Time” by C.C. Finlay is, well, it can’t really be described without spoiling the effect, so just give it a read. It’ll be worth your time.
I’ve also been working my way through the 2015 back issues of Apex Magazine, and there have been a few standouts there too, but so far, Ursula Vernon’s lovely modern folktale “Pocosin” is my favorite.
In graphic novels, I just finished reading The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, the collection of Sydney Padua’s comics about an alternative nineteenth-century in which Lovelace and Babbage succeed in creating the Difference Engine and then use their steam-powered computer to battle the various ills of Victorian England. I’m not a huge fan generally of graphic novels that are collections of individual strips without an overarching plot, but it’s still a fun, quirky volume, and the copious footnotes and appendices added to the print edition provide a bit more substance for history fans.
There’s been some discussion online whether Lovelace and Babbage is eligible for next year’s Hugo since it was based on a webcomic that well predated 2015. But as far as I can tell comparing the printed volume with the webcomic, many of the stories previously available only in draft form have been completely redrawn and relettered, the story “Ada Lovelace: The Secret Origin!” has been expanded to several times its original length, and some stories, such as “Luddites” or “Mr. Boole Comes to Tea,” don’t appear to have been previously available online. Padua has also added extensive footnotes, endnotes, and illustrated title pages throughout, as well as more than fifty pages of additional content and illustrations in the appendices and epilogue. I’m no expert on the Hugos, but I’ll go out on a limb and guess that it will be found eligible if it makes it through the nomination round.
That being said, there are quite a few graphic novels that my library has on pre-order or in cataloging at the moment that I’m excited about, including Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine, Thor: Goddess of Thunder, and The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power, so Lovelace and Babbage will likely have stiff competition for my vote.