Reading for the Hugos 2016 6/24

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.

lovelace_and_babbageThere’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.

The End is Nigh: Four Post-Apocalyptic Novels to Read Now

Midnight Special

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC 2.0

Recently wrote an article for the work blog with a few recommendations for 2015 post-apocalyptic novels:

As a kid, I spent quite a bit of time worrying about global nuclear annihilation. I was seven when the made-for-TV movie The Day After aired, too young to process much of the plot but old enough to remember the images of people being reduced to skeletal outlines by the flash of nuclear explosions. I also remember the movie ending with a chilling disclaimer: “The catastrophic events you have just witnessed are, in all likelihood, less severe than the destruction that would actually occur in the event of a full nuclear strike.”

Yeah, thanks for the childhood trauma, ABC.

Read the rest on

Reading for the Hugos 2016 6/14

So, this year, for the first time, I forked over forty dollars for a supporting membership to Worldcon so, yes, I could vote in the 2015 Hugo Awards but also to have a say in next year’s nomination round. Usually, I’m too busy catching up on a growing backlog of previous years’ award winners to actually keep current with newly released material, but the Puppy debacle, for better or worse, inspired me to take a more active role.

I’d like to think I usually have a good handle on the big categories, like the Best Novel, Graphic Story, and Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), but the shorter fiction and fan categories, in particular, haven’t been on my radar. So this year, I intend to be a little more intentional about my reading, broaden my SFF horizons, and share anything interesting I find with … um… the two or three people who actually read this blog.

Cover_Issue_Four_med-340x491So far, I’ve caught up on this year’s issues of Uncanny Magazine, which began publishing last year but didn’t have the requisite four issues in 2015 to qualify for the Best Semiprozine category. They’re eligible this year, however, and thus far, I’ve been very impressed with the overall quality.

Two stories in particular, Sam J. Miller’s alternative history of the Stonewall uprising, “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History,” and Elizabeth Bear’s charming story of research in a magical library, “In Libres,” stood out enough for me that I put them on my list of potential nominees in the Best Short Story category. They’ve also featured some great art, like the gorgeous cover by Tran Nguyen for their May/June issue.

octavias_brood_postcard_front_final_revOn the short-story front, I’ve also been reading through the anthology Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, which I originally encountered via BoingBoing. The majority of the featured authors hadn’t been published before in the genre and yet managed to produce some real quality speculative fiction. My favorite short stories included Bao Phi’s clever take on the zombie genre, “Revolution Shuffle,” and Morrigan Phillips’ dystopian tale about state power and the control of history, “The Long Memory.”

In miscellaneous other categories, Tea & Jeopardy, one of this year’s nominees for Best Fancast, has continued to produce some great episodes in 2015, including recent interviews with Kameron Hurley and Patrick Rothfuss. Mike Glyer’s File 770 has my nomination for Best Fanzine (and, apparently, George R.R. Martin’s as well) for its excellent ongoing coverage of the Puppy controversy. And, Alexandra Erin, hands down, is my front-runner for Best Fan Writer for her pitch-perfect “Sad Puppies Review Books” series. Also, I’m pretty confident Mad Max: Fury Road will be on my final list for Dramatic Presentation (Long Form).

So far, those are the highlights. If you happen to stumble on this blog and have recommendations of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments.