Finished reading today Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, a literary novel with a skiffy premise at its core, to the shock and dismay of some mainstream critics. It’s a fine, subtle novel about the experience of growing up without fully understanding one’s destiny, and it might well be a case study in how a fairly ordinary (and not entirely plausible) SF premise is mined for the close attention to character and detail that typifies your average literary novel. I haven’t yet seen a review from an informed SFnal perspective that explores the plausibility of its premise.. has anyone seen one? I’m tempted to commission one.. nor have I seen a review that understands the broader implications of its thesis — that everyone’s life is lived without fully understanding its role in the larger scheme of things. A necessary aspect of human existence; a lesson that science fiction, as a literary form, is all about.
Monthly Archives: April 2005
Revised/updated links pages just posted, beginning with the Links Portal page. I believe I’ve checked every link on all the pages within the past week to verify their validity (broken links I either deleted or Googled the names of to track down the correct current links). The only lingering gap are those new links I’ve accumulated via Blinks or news stories or book/magazine listings in the past year or two, but neglected to incorporate into the links pages at the time; I still need to review those pages for any such links. I’ve gotten some of them in the past few days, but I suspect more are to be found. But at least for now, the links pages are correct as they stand, for the moment.
Since late last week I’ve been pre-occupied with updating the various Links pages on Locus Online, including the Links Portal page — checking for obsolete links, adding links suggested to me via email, and rearranging and consolidating the several links pages; they haven’t been completely overhauled since 2001! — to the point of neglecting all but the most urgent updates to the website itself, not to mention other mundane tasks, like answering email, writing checks, reading books, and so on. It’s taken longer than I’d expected — these things always do — but I expect to be done by this weekend at the latest. (The authors links page has already been updated, crudely, with over 500 links, more than twice the previous number; all the links pages will undergo some uniform reformatting.) Then regularly programming will resume…
While I don’t know of any connection between SF/F, however slender, and Saul Bellow, I can’t help noting this interesting coincidence.
Yesterday, this year’s Pulitzer Prizes were announced; and Saul Bellow died.
Last night I pulled down my copy of Humboldt’s Gift, and on page 3 read this–the narrator, Citrine, is quoting Humboldt, the failed poet:
When reports were brought of the damaging remarks he made I often found that I agree with him “They gave Citrine a Pulitzer prize for his book on Wilson and Tumulty. The Pulitzer is for the birds — for the pullets. It’s just a dummy newspaper publicity award given by crooks and illiterates. You become a walking Pulitzer ad, so even when you croak the first words of the obituary are ‘Pulitzer prizewinner passes.’”
Humboldt’s Gift won the Pulitzer.
And, inevitably, the obituary ledes, at least this one from CNN, read:
American Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Saul Bellow died Tuesday evening at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts, his literary agent said. …
Just as I was compiling descriptions for last night’s New Books page, Amazon changed its format. I clicked forward and then hit ‘back’ to return to one of the book pages–and it had changed! The new format displays a larger cover image, enlarges the purchase buttons, and omits the sidebars…
Related: Matthew Cheney’s The Locus Portal in the Wayback Machine uses the Internet Wayback Machine to retrieve versions of Locus Online‘s Links Portal page from as far back as February 2000. Versions, and layouts, I barely recognize myself. While I appreciate the nice things he says about the page, I must confess that I feel like I’m always behind in maintaining it; I have a backlog of email referrals to sites to add; I keep intending to systematically check out links compiled by others (including those on The Mumpsimus) for things I’ve missed; I figure for every interesting blog on the Links Portal page there must be another I just haven’t stumbled across yet. Suggestions always welcome! I’ll check them out eventually.
It’s been a busy three-day weekend, what with the many feature reports and reviews that needed to be posted on Friday, so I regret that my announcement here, on Friday, was so brief and abrupt that it caused such an immediate wave of alarmed response — so alarmed that I simply removed that April 1st post after a very short time (which is probably why you didn’t see it). No doubt my hasty post involved miswording that contributed to misunderstanding, and alarm. (What is it about April 1st that causes so much confusion?) So, without the elaborate explanations, just to clarify–
No, I have not withdrawn Locus Online from this year’s Hugo ballot.
No, I am not severing relationships with Locus Magazine and relaunching a differently-named site.
No, I have not sold my services to scifi.com and been able to quit my day job.
And no, to any of the other various mis-interpretations of Friday’s post, that was so quickly removed.
I shall strive to be more careful about such announcements in the future.
I didn’t mean to call the results into disrepute, or brand them silly, or pressure a fellow nominee to withdraw. My only point was that it is… curious… that there is a de facto overlap between the Best Web Site category and two or three of the other categories (as some SMOFs have observed) — Sci Fiction has the overlap with Ellen Datlow’s Best Editor nomination; Emerald City is both a fanzine and a web site (though there’s more on the web site than in the monthly ‘zine, a commentator to the previous post observed); and of course Locus Online has the tie to that venerable semiprozine Locus (which seems to have only a single editor this year). Is this right or fair? I’m not to judge — I’ll be the first to admit, as I’ve done in the past, that the success of Locus Online is due in large degree to its association with Charles Brown’s print ‘zine. A certain portion of the website’s content *does* overlap with the magazine — just look at today’s posts. At the same time, I’m resigned, no matter how much work I personally do on the website, no matter what innovations I create or unique content I commission, to being considered just a subsidiary of an established, perhaps tired, success story.
Which leads me to consider an announcement I will perhaps make… tomorrow.