Monthly Archives: October 2010

Tor.com Logo

Over on Tor.com, they’ve got a fun little game going on, tasking their readers with writing a Science Fiction or Fantasy story in only six words! There’s also a twitter hashtag thread.

I submitted two:

Steam powers his wings, he flies.

and

When Sara died, the future began.

It’s just for fun, but I’d love to see what you folk can come up with (either here in the comments section, or over at Tor.com). Also, make sure to point out your favourites that have already been submitted!

Over at Tor.com, Jo Walton, a World Fantasy Award-nominated author, is taking an expansive look at the Hugo Awards, one of the most respected and revered trophies in the Literature world. She’ll be covering the award’s history year-by-year, breaking down the nominees, the winners and who might have been left undeservedly in the dust.

Walton explains the motive behind the series of articles.

The Hugo is undoubtedly science fiction’s premier award, and it’s entirely fan-administered and fan-voted. It was first awarded in 1953, and has been awarded annually without a break since 1955. I’ve been told that it’s the only award that actually affects sales of a book. The winner gets a rocketship statuette and the inscribed bases are different every year.

I’m going to be talking about books, and sometimes stories, and only occasionally looking at the other categories. I’ll mention when new categories were introduced. I may mention fanzines and fan writers from time to time. I shall look at the Campbell nominees. I am a reader. I’m really not qualified to say anything about the visual categories. (In 1958, “No Award” won for Dramatic Presentation, and I think this excellent precedent could have been followed much more often since.) I shall be using the lists at Locus online, an invaluable resource, and at the official Hugo Awards site.

I haven’t, of course, read every single book nominated for the Hugos since 1953. (What have I been doing with my time?) If I haven’t read it, I shall say so, and I shall say why. Otherwise I shall talk briefly about the books and their place in the field. If I’m inspired to re-read a book and talk about it in detail, I’ll do that separately. I’ll be very interested to hear other opinions and especially suggestions for other things of the year that should have been nominated. My views are, of course, my views, but I’ll be interested to see if there is a consensus—my feeling is that for most years there is, and also that the Hugo nominators are often right, but there are occasionally some startling omissions and some live controversies out there.

So far, she’s taken a look at 1953, the very first year the Hugo Award was presented. Here’s what she had to say about 1953′s best novel:

Between 1953 and 1958 the Hugo Awards were fairly disorganized. The categories weren’t fixed, and there was only one round of voting—no nominees were announced. The 1953 first ever Hugo awards were presented at Philcon II, in Philadelphia.

The winning novel was Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man. (Review here.) It’s not in print, but it was recently, in Gollancz’s Science Fiction Masterworks series, and it’s never been hard to find. I read it when I was reading my way through science fiction in alphabetical order when I was twelve. It’s an examination of how it might be possible to commit a murder in a world of telepaths where not even your thoughts are private. There are some aspects of it that seem dated, but I’d say it was an enduring classic, and a worthy winner.

If you’re interested in gaining a better understanding and a deeper insight into the history of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, Walton’s series of articles can’t be missed. Though there’re a lot of great novels being released today, the genre’s got a history too deep to ignore and this is the perfect way to discover some of the gems lost to history.

The Half-made World by Felix Gilman

Hello May.

I haven’t written in a while and maybe it seems I only write when there’s bad news. Well, this is not the exception that proves the rule, if you know what I mean.

I lost almost all my business cards. If you got my last letter, you’ll remember I sent you one of them, so that you can see what your prodigal kid brother’s up to these days and maybe be proud, maybe just a little. If you didn’t get my letter—and who knows these days?—then they had my name, “Professor” Harry Ransom, “Professor” like that, in what they call “quotes,” because I always say I’m nothing if not honest, as best I can be, and at least I never claim to be anything I’m not. There were lightning bolts printed on either side of my name. Those cost extra. Under my name it said Lightbringer, then Licensed and then By Appointment, which weren’t exactly true but didn’t mean anything either way, as I saw it, and then below that Inventor of the Ransom Process for &c &c, which is true. A dollar for fifty at Tally’s Printers on Tenth Avenue in Melville City, and I bought two hundred-fifty, and in consequence went hungry for a week, and so did good old never-complaining Carver, my assistant, who I’m sure I’ve mentioned before.

Was chatting with a couple of folk on twitter about Gilman’s soon-to-be-released novel, The Half-Made World and, in my travels around the web to learn more about it and its sequel, came across a just-published short story set in the same universe. Lightbringers and Rainmakers is available as a free download on Tor.com.

If, like me, you’re curious about Gilman and his work, this looks like the perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself. If you like what you read, you can also find the first chapter of The Half-Made World.

From the always awesome Bookworm Blues:

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

Jean le Flambeur is a post-human criminal, mind burglar, confidence artist and trickster. His origins are shrouded in mystery, but his exploits are known throughout the Heterarchy – from breaking into the vast Zeusbrains of the Inner System to steal their thoughts, to stealing rare Earth antiques from the aristocrats of the Moving Cities of Mars. Except that Jean made one mistake. Now he is condemned to play endless variations of a game-theoretic riddle in the vast virtual jail of the Axelrod Archons – the Dilemma Prison – against countless copies of himself. Jean’s routine of death, defection and cooperation is upset by the arrival of Mieli and her spidership, Perhonen. She offers him a chance to win back his freedom and the powers of his old self – in exchange for finishing the one heist he never quite managed . . .The Quantum Thief is a dazzling hard SF novel set in the solar system of the far future – a heist novel peopled by bizarre post-humans but powered by very human motives of betrayal, revenge and jealousy. It is a stunning debut.

Ahh, the lovely Kekai Kotaki strikes again. There’s a reason he’s one of my absolute favourite artists working right now. Certainly this cover, coming from Tor Books, is a huge step up from the bland UK cover. I know it sounds shallow, but I’m suddenly a lot more interested in reading Rajaniemi’s novel thanks to this cover; despite the rave reviews, I was never really interested in it. What can I say? I’m easy to please (with good cover art).

From SFX, we’ve got a first peak at some of the confirmed casting choices for the upcoming film adaptation of The Hobbit. The big one, of course, is:

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Martin Freeman, officially cast as Bilbo Baggins Martin Freeman, officially cast as Bilbo Baggins

Martin Freeman is Bilbo as everyone expected. “Despite the various rumors and speculation surrounding this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us,” says Peter Jackson. “There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave – exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”

Absolutely spot-on perfect casting. I know him mostly for his role in Love Actually, but he’s got all the charm and lightheartedness to play Bilbo.

Also announced:

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield

Aidan Turner as Kili

Aidan Turner as Kili

Rob Kazinsky as Fili

Rob Kazinsky as Fili

Graham McTavish as Dwalin

Graham McTavish as Dwalin

I’ll admit that I expected the Dwarves to be older actors (despite Kili and Fili being the younguns of the group, Thorin’s certainly an old guy), but the makeup and costume will make all the difference (and we know WETA, Jackson’s production company, will come through there!) And, hey, casting a guy named Aidan can’t hurt.

Also cast, but without photos available through Google Images, are Stephen Hunter as Bombur, John Callen as Oin, Peter Hambleton as Gloin and Mark Hadlow as Dori.

With Peter Jackson back on board, all they need to do is round up Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis and work out the kinks so that the film(s?) can be filmed in New Zealand again! Oh, what am I thinking… it’s going to be a long wait until filming starts in February, 2011.