How many of the 2014 nominees for the Arthur C. Clarke Award have you read? I have read zero and only know one name, Christopher Priest. http://t.co/zUg4vK0OC1
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So is Gravity the first sci-fi film to ever win a Best Director Oscar or is it not even sci-fi, as some argue? http://t.co/xdWWL6aMM5
The Nebula nominees for 2013 have been announced. Each year I recognize fewer and fewer writers. This year I only recognize 3 names, and of those I’ve only read books by two.
Samuel R. Delany is this year’s Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award winner. Can’t say I’m a big fan of his. http://ow.ly/rusn3
Nice to see that Robert J. Sawyer is getting a lifetime achievement Aurora at this year’s Can-Con. Only the 4th ever. http://ow.ly/p4b8V
Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 has won the Nebula. I’m actually reading it right now. I’m waiting for it to get better. http://t.co/OW4Gu6u2yE
The Guardian has a nice write-up on the winner of the Arthur Clarke award. http://t.co/lqD2qPLcWR
Clarke award shortlist is taking some heat for its all-male nominees list. Wouldn’t bother me if it was all-femae. http://t.co/75AGMrvWGX
Seanan McGuire, aka Mira Grant, garnered 5 Hugo nominations this year. Perhaps she’ll even win one. http://t.co/yuFUnESDHj
I am not inspired by the nominated novels for the 2013 Hugos. Perhaps my opinion will change once I read them all. http://t.co/bsV5wmjSWa
This year’s Nebula nominees are out, but I always find it hard to get excited by them. I prefer Hugo winners. http://t.co/ppw56lxY96
I am a bad fan. I haven’t seen a single one of the movies nominated for best #scifi for the Saturn Awards. http://t.co/5LL3TAdVsE
Time to nominate your favourite #scifi or #fantasy #tv show for the People’s Choice Awards. I’m picking Doctor Who. http://t.co/N3Gmu6aS
I wasn’t online to see the livestreamed Hugo ceremony, but it sounds like a lot of people tried, but got booted off. http://t.co/r2z02yRs
Congratulations to Jo Walton and all the other Hugo winners:
Once again this year, I endeavoured to read the Hugo nominees for best novel. I was mostly successful, although I skipped one book because it was book 5 of a series and another book I couldn’t finish. Here are my capsule reviews:
EMBASSYTOWN by China Mieville
China Mieville novels are not easy reading, but they are stories that will stay with you for a long time and Embassytown is one of those.
On one of mankind’s most distant worlds sits a group of ambassadors who are our race’s only means of communication with an alien species which is one of the most alien ever imagined.
These aliens have a language which is almost beyond human comprehension. It requires two humans to speak simultaneously, with each making different sounds in order for the words to be heard and understood. Ambassadors are twinned with each other at an early age so they can perfect this speech and live together as if the two are sharing one brain and thinking simultaneously.
The story is told through the eyes of a woman who grows up in Embassytown, but leaves to be a star-faring space pilot, only to return years later with a lover who is a linguist fascinated by the language of the aliens.
As the story unfolds, it seems that the aliens are addicted to the words and concepts that they hear and learn from the humans they speak with. Things go bad when one faction begins to break away from their addiction and clashes with those who remain hooked.
It’s really a hard book to explain which is probably why you’d have to read it for yourself to grasp its complexities.
It’s clearly not a book for someone seeking escapist entertainment, but if you’re looking to have your mind expanded and give your brain a workout, Embassytown is worth a read
LEVIATHAN WAKES by James Corey
The best way to describe this book is that it is a film noir space opera.
With the backdrop of a war that spans the solar system, a weary, street-savvy detective from one of the asteroid colonies attempts to get to the root of the cause of the conflict and maybe save the Earth in the process.
It is a time when Mars, the asteroids and moons of our solar system’s outer planets are colonized and there is as a thriving trade between them all, accompanied by the rivalries that come along with that as each vies for advantage over their economic competitors.
Our hero works security on an asteroid colony and gets word that an heiress has gone missing and may be involved with a revolutionary group of nogoodniks. He sets out to find her and ship her back to Earth.
During the investigation, he discovers a body that has been transformed beyond recognition by some sort of pathogen that may be powerful enough to destroy humanity if allowed to spread across the colonies.
In a separate story line, a salvage crew discovers a lifeless spaceship near a tiny asteroid and board it to investigate. They find evidence that it may have been attacked by Mars’ navy. They are themselves attacked and manage to escape on a smaller, armed pinnace. They broadcast their findings to the solar system and nations start blaming each other and it quickly escalates into war.
Meanwhile, back to our detective friend. He does some digging and finds a link with our disappeared heiress to the pinnace that was used by the crew in our other story line to escape. He tracks them down to whatever space rock they are hiding at and the two groups link up.
What is the link between the war, the disappeared heiress and the deadly pathogen? That is the mystery that they set out to solve and that keeps the reader glued to their book as they watch them have one obstacle after another thrown in their path.
I found Leviathan Wakes immensely satisfying as a good, old-fashioned science fiction novel. In some ways, the style and content reminded me of a book like Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon, but that’s a good thing since that was an excellent novel.
AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton
This year’s Nebula Winner by Montreal-resident Jo Walton was a surprise because it was a lot better than I expected.
It’s the first book of hers that I have read and found it hard to put down.
It is a fantasy story set in Wales, Walton’s homeland, about a teenage girl who sees fairies. She is sent off to England to study at a boarding school. Because she’s Welsh, has a handicap from a car accident that hinders her walking and is a big reader of science fiction, I couldn’t help but wonder how autobiographical a story it is consdiring Walton is Welsh, walks with the help of a cane and is a frequent and excellent critic of science fiction.
The book is written in a first-person, diary form and is set in 1979-1980. It recounts how our diarist is sent away after her sister dies in the car accident which leaves the writer with her disability.
The two of them would frequently see and interact with fairy-like creatures that lived in the Welsh countryside, mostly found near the abandoned structures of mines.
After the accident, the girl is sent off to a boarding school. Her tuition is paid for the aunts of her father, who she has never met since her parents split up a long time ago and now takes a more active role in her life. They bond because both are science fiction fans.
One of the amusing parts of the story is the ongoing book reviews that the girl jots down in her diary of the different science fiction titles she reads over the months she’s at school. If you isolated just that part of the book, you’d be left with Jo Walton’s canonical list of science fiction!
Because it is written as a diary, the story is very episodic and it may not appear to have a clear plot. As you read it, the story mostly deals with the day-to-day life of a schoolgirl with the usual concerns about friends, rivals and boys.
The only difference is there are sporadic references to the fairies and magic being used by her mother against her.
Considering that her sister has died, you start to wonder if these fairies are real or some sort of illusion created by her sick mind. For me, that ended up being the plot. Is this girl crazy or does she really see fairies? Finding the answer to that question was enough to keep me reading.
DEADLINE by Mira Grant
I y learned that this was book 2 of a trilogy, so set off to read the first book, Feed, which was nominated for a Hugo last year.
Sadly, I could not finish it. It’s yet another zombie apocalypse book which I found too self-conscious to be interesting. I got about a third of the way through and said “who cares?”
I’m sure it is beloved by many, but it was not my cup of tea and it’s extremley rare that I bail on a For the most part, I will slog through a book, no matter how dull or poorly written.
A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Having not read the previous 4 Game of Thrones books, I wasn’t going to plow through those just to read this book. I am sure it is a worthy title for nomination, but fear that it’s only here because of the success of the Game of Thrones mini-series. My bigger fear is that the name recognition is enough to propel this book to victory.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes wins the Saturn for best #scifi film. Still don’t know why Breaking Bad won anything. http://t.co/Dr2nfY4N
Old news I know, but I was intrigued to learn that Walton’s Among Others topped Mieville’s Embassytown for the Nebula. http://t.co/u6hQ5001
Nice list of names for this year’s 2012 Science Fiction Hall of Fame Inductees. http://t.co/slSiS6G9
The latest installment of Back to the Hugos looks at Dreamsnake, one of the few winners that I have never read. http://t.co/pnQbnnhT
You can win a prize for book collecting? This grad student won one for his R.A. Lafferty collecton! http://t.co/2fHVpG9Y
Despite Christopher Priest’s rant about the Clarke Award nominees, he managed to win BFSA prize with The Islanders. http://t.co/RpK6VsDo
Have the Hugo Awards gone mainstream? USA Today makes mention of them, albeit in a superficial manner. http://t.co/spOYNsI6
I was just perusing the list of Hugo nominations. I am going to go out on a limb and predict, without reading any of the nominated novels, that China Mieville will with for Embassytown.
Okay, I confess that I have read some of Embassytown as I picked it up in anticipation of it being nominated. I think that there is enough being said and written about the book that it will be an easy winner.
Seeing that the Hugos are more of a popularity contest these days, I think the closest competitor for Mieville will be George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, not because it’s a great book, which it very well may be, but because Martin’s Game of Thrones has been such a success in its HBO television adaptation. That name recognition factor will go a long way to helping it win votes.
Don’t get me started about how something with dragons in the title is being nominated for a science fiction award. You don’t see stories about rockets and robots when the World Fantasy Awards are handed out.
Probably the strangest nomination is for something called “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech” by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon from Renovation. How meta is that? If it wins, could the acceptance speech for that award be nominated for a Hugo next year?