Monthly Archives: May 2006

As Others See Us…

Two reviews that in the end are favorable yet that begin by pandering to cliche. (I know this is Dave Langford’s domain, but these are longer quotes that those he usually runs.)

Newsweek reviews Keith Donohue’s The Stolen Child:

In the event this is a deal breaker, you should know right off the bat that “The Stolen Child,” by Keith Donohue, belongs to the genre known as fantasy, and that its pages are populated by hobgoblins and changelings. Fantasy is often dismissed as a necessary evil to get kids to take their medicine — i.e., learn values — or as a soft blanket for 40-year-old virgins. But as the success of “The Time Traveler’s Wife” attests, fantasy can serve a nobler function. By replacing the sordidness of the everyday with magic, writers can approach the philosophers’ stone with questions about history, identity and (why not?) the meaning of life.

In the LA Times, a review of the Tsunami Relief Anthology Elemental, edited by Steven Savile and Alethea Kontis:

SUFFERIN’ saurians of Saturn!!! Can reading still be just plain fun? The way it was when judging a book (or a comic or a pulp magazine) by its cover (square-jawed hero in the grip of revolting Thing blazing away with his fearsomely foreshortened Antimatter Gun) was the rule to follow?

The virulent science-fiction and fantasy bug seems to infect most reader-kids somewhere around age 12. Once the jolt of pure story-spinning hits the preteen bloodstream, it is goodbye to chores, homework, even television. Although there is no known cure for SFitis, most of those affected appear to go into remission a few years later, thanks to copious doses of cultural elitism administered in high school. Others, either oblivious or more independent, stay fans of the genre for the rest of their days. To their delight, the sci-fi universe is continually expanding — there’s now the option of warping into parallel universes on the Net.

True Blue Science Fiction Award

Given the announcement of this year’s John W. Campbell Memorial Award finalists, and recalling the occasional consternation over fantasy winners of the Hugo Award (I get a couple three e-mail queries a year asking me to explain this), it occurs to me that I don’t think the Campbell Award is sufficiently recognized as possibly the truest bluest *science fiction* award of any of the major awards. Or at least, any of the major American awards — the Arthur C. Clarke Award stays pretty tightly on an SF focus, but is limited to book published in that country, whereas the Campbell (at least lately) seems open to anything published in the English language. (Oddly, even the British SF Association Award isn’t constrained to SF; it nominated Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and awarded Gaiman’s Coraline). It helps that the Campbell Award is juried, and so less swayed by popular trends, and the jurors include the likes of Gregory Benford, a defender of the SF net.

Sorry I haven’t written more here lately; as always, busy busy. I will mention that I was flattered to have been e-mail interviewed in the past week by James Patrick Kelly for an upcoming “On the Net” column in Asimov’s, and judging from the draft he sent me, have been Quoted At Length.

Arizona Aftermath

Ads: HarperCollins has kindly purchased no less than three ad spaces on the site this month — the homepage banner (at the top), a sidebar banner also on the homepage, and a flash banner ad (with the sound of a scraping sword) on five additional pages, including the Links Portal. Please show your support for HarperCollins and for Locus Online by clicking on the ads now and again — obviously, you’re not committing to buy anything just by browsing their webpages.

Poll: Locus Online ran an ‘all-time poetry’ poll alongside the formal Locus Poll this year, and voting for both ended April 15th. I have yet to tally up the results of the poetry poll, but will do so soon. (Curiously, no one has queried me about when the results will be released.) The response was of course far short of the response to the annual Locus Poll — just 61 e-mail submissions — so I’m not entirely sure the results will be meaningful. We’ll see.

Blog: It was slightly disconcerting to chat with three or four folks — real writers whose names you would recognize — over the Nebula Awards Weekend who alluded (one in print) to reading this blog (!). I tend to write as if my readership here consists of 6 or 8 folks with too much time on their hands, 2 of whom are myself a few weeks and months later. Thinking that it might be otherwise makes me self-conscious not so much about what I write here, as about how often I post; I’ve noted myself that an ideal blog should be updated every day. It’s not that I don’t have things to write about; the challenge is finding the time to do so, coherently.

Photos: OK, so I’m not a great photographer (Hi Chris!), at least not when jostling among 15 others (who *are* all these people?) trying to snap pix of the latest set of awards winners, who are quickly distracted, with a basic digital camera that blurs half the shots I do take. Tonight I replaced my own pic of the Nebula winners, which I hope did not embarrass the Locus name-brand too much, with a better photo taken by the magazine executive editor Liza Groen Trombi. Apologies to anyone who deserves them.

Nebulas ’06

It was a long, but well-run and very entertaining ceremony, with Connie Willis toastmastering, and Harlan Ellison capping the evening with a rambling but impassioned speech about honor and character and putting aside pettiness (which did not preclude him from citing what he sees as deficiencies in SFWA). I’m not quite the first to get the results posted, but perhaps the first to get a photo of the winners posted, however marginal the photo may be. (Perhaps Liza can supply me with a better one; her digital camera is way cooler than mine.)

It’s the first double-Nebula win since Connie did it in 1993, and only the 9th time overall. Greg Bear did it in the same two categories in 1984; Roger Zelazny in those categories in 1966.

Tempe Arrangements

I am in Tempe, Arizona, tonight, for the Nebula Awards weekend, after having been earlier this week at a professional conference in Salt Lake City (a coincident sequence of events that my partner at home is very unhappy about…)

Salt Lake City is a clean, uncrowded, rather Stepfordesque city that features a fabulous convention center that could easily host a Worldcon, if only some local group could/would support a bid, and a fabulous used/rare books dealer (just a couple blocks away, from the convention center and my hotel), Sam Weller’s, where I managed to spend a couple hours browsing the stacks, and picked up a select few first edition paperbacks by Pohl and Tenn and Delany that I didn’t already have. (Their stock is more generous than I’d remembered — with newly released books mixed among the used backlog — but I am fastidious enough to be willing to buy only very tight, clean copies of used books, price less important than condition. Which I found by Pohl and Tenn and Delany, and Harness and Asimov and couple others.)

I flew home on the company dime on Thursday, then drove myself to Tempe earlier today, Friday, much as I did a year and half ago when the World Fantasy Con was staged at this very hotel, the Tempe Mission Palms. As at that con, there was a mass autograph party this evening — and I brought books to sign — by Kelly, Margo, Eileen, and Connie, none of whom I’d ever obtained signatures from before (not even Connie!) — after which I hooked up with a dinner group including Liza Groen from Locus, Paolo Bacigalupi, and Gavin Grant & Kelly Link. (Liza clued me in on a breaking deal with a certain popular SF writer who’s doing a new column for Locus magazine/online — more about that anon.)

After dinner, back at the hotel, there was a “Nebula nominee and honoree reception” (sponsored by Dark Horse Comics and Tor Books) that included the awarding of pins to all the Nebula nominees, and then evolved into a roast of sorts of incipient Grand Master Harlan Ellison by the weekend’s toastmaster Connie Willis, with members of the audience spontaneously arising to tell variously complimentary or derisive anecdotes about the man — including Joe Haldeman, Jane Jewell, Ginjer Buchanan, Daryl Mallet, and Peter David — an amazing show, one that matches the Silverberg/Ellison co-roast I witnessed many years ago at a Westercon in LA. There were several people video-taping and snapping pix, so you can expect to see more about this on the web soon.