Monthly Archives: July 2011

UNDER HEAVEN by Guy Gavriel KayVia Locus Online:

Best Novel

  • Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
  • Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
  • Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
  • Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Best Novella

  • Bone and JewelCreatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
  • The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
  • “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine)
  • “The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
  • “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)

Best Short Fiction

  • “Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
  • “Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
  • “Ponies”, Kij Johnson ( 11/17/10)
  • “Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)

Best Anthology

  • The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
  • My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
  • Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
  • Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
  • Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
  • Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)

Best Anthology

  • What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
  • The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
  • Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)

Best Artist

  • Vincent Chong
  • Kinuko Y. Craft
  • Richard A. Kirk
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan

Special Award, Professional

  • John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
  • Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
  • Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
  • Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
  • Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine

Special Award, Non-Professional

  • Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
  • Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
  • Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
  • Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
  • Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog

As always, good to see so many great authors and industry folk represented. Really hope that ‘The Mystery Knight’ by George R.R. Martin wins the award it’s up for. Under Heaven has my easy vote for best novel.


The difference betweem A GAME OF THRONES and A DANCE WITH DRAGONS

While reading A Dance with Dragons, the fifth volume in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I was struck by a particular passage that really encapsulated the difference in Martin’s writing when comparing his earlier work to his later works. Not surprisingly, it’s a descriptive piece:

Deepwood’s mossy walls enclosed a wide, rounded hill with a flattened top, crowned by a cavernous longhall with a watchtower at one end, rising fifty feet above the hill. Beneath the hill was the bailey, with its stables, paddock, smithy, well, and sheepfold, defended by a deep ditch, a sloping earthen dike, and a palisade of logs. The outer defenses made an oval, following the contours of the land. There were two gates, each protected by a pair of square wooden towers, and wallwalks around the perimeter. On the south side of the castle, moss grew thick upon the palisade and crept halfway up the towers. To east and west were empty fields. Oats and barley had been growing there when [spoiler] took the castle, only to be crushed underfoot during her attack. A series of hard frosts had killed the crops they’d planted afterward, leaving only mud and ash and wilted, rotting stalks.

This is an exhaustingly detailed passage about Deepwood Motte, a strategically important castle, but one that has little to offer the series other than it’s place within the politics and military movement of Westeros’ various factions. And, frankly, it’s just not very interesting.
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TROIKA by Alastair Reynolds


AuthorAlastair Reynolds

Pages: 104 pages
Publisher: Subterranean Press
Release Date: July 31st, 2011
ISBN-10: 1596063769
ISBN-13: 978-1596063761

Troika, a novella by Alastair Reynolds, best known for his Revelation Space series, starts off with so much promise, but is ultimately constrained by the nature and natural boundaries of its length. Reminiscent (both structurally and thematically) of Robert Charles Wilson’s Hugo-winning Spin, Troika tells its tale through two parallel stories–one a light-thriller/mystery in ‘present’ day that deals with the fallout of the second story, a past-tense first-contact narrative detailing the narrator’s experiences with the Matryoshka, an enormous space-bound monolith of alien origin that mysteriously appears in Earth’s solar system. There’s terrific tension and mystery in both narratives, which are balanced nicely by having the narrator fleeing in the ‘present’ narrative and seeking in the ‘past’ narrative.

The setting of the novella also excels. Showcasing the space age from the point of view of the Russians (who have reclaimed the space race after all the other nations dropped out, deeming it irrelevant and/or too expensive) is a nice change of pace from the typically American- or Chinese-dominated near future space tales. There’s a certain bite to the characters and the pride they show in their status as a cosmonaut and their mission to solve the mystery of the Matryoshka.
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'The Grinders' by Adam CallawayI submitted my first story ever to a contest called Inkspotter on July 2nd, 2008. Two months later, I submitted my second story to Apex Magazine. A day after that, I received my first rejection letter, from Apex Magazine.

In the three years since those first stories, I have collected 192 rejection letters, a handful of fanzine sales, one pro level sale, and one, SFWA-qualifying pro sale. I heard an anecdote that Ray Bradbury had 800 rejections before his first sale, so, by that metric, I’m not doing too bad.

I’m convinced that there are only two things required to become a published author. One is the dedication to write. The other is the ability to take a rejection. If you possess those two qualities, you will be published someday.
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'The Grinders' by Adam CallawaySetting is king in ‘Walls of Paper, Soft as Skin,’ and Ars Lacuna, Callaway’s fictional city and muse, is an absolute wonder, even in the brief time we get to spend with it in this (very) short story. A haunting, weird city, Ars Lacuna breathes originality and creativity, and in very few words Callaway is able to conjure up another world that just begs to be explored. There are several quotable passages within the thousand words of the story, but this was possibly my favourite:

“Tomai. Did you hear Tomai? An entire debarking team swam into the termite’s jaws. On purpose Tomai!” Kork said pulling at Tomai’s frayed shirt. Kork stood waist high on his tiptoes.

“I can believe it,” Tomai said. He looked for a pine or birch pole.

“Really Tomai? I can’t. Debarkers have sickle bone arms. They can swim better than any trout Tomai! Who’d want to kill themselves with features like that Tomai?” Kork made wild hand gestures.

“I can believe it.”

“Even if they decided, ‘Okay, let’s do this girls,’ they could have come up with a better way. The autoblades would have made short work of them. The paper sizers down the way too. But being hacked up and digested by a bug the size of a city block though! Really Tomai? Can you believe it Tomai?”

Tomai spotted a curved pine pole under a stack of oak. He grabbed it.

“I can believe it.”

Kork squinted. “I’m not talking to you anymore today.”

Tomai dragged his pole through the inside flap. Into Parchment Run. Where the river exchanged a canopy of sky for corrugated tin. Dozens of pole workers were straightening sawn, debarked logs to enter the jaws of the bug. He took an open spot.

Callaway’s creation is unlike anything I’ve run across before, a city built on paper and books, words and whims; a loveletter to literature. But, like Tomai, I can believe it.

Within this wonderful setting is only the barest hint of a plot or forward narrative; instead, Callaway lulls the reader in with his quiet, abrupt prose and paints a stark picture for them. Only at the very last does Callaway call back to the opening of the story and, in a lovely bit of world- and character-building, twists things around in a way that encourages the reader to go back and re-read the tale from a new perspective, making its brevity not a weakness but a strength. An enchanting introduction to Callaway’s fiction and more than enough to convince me to explore his other work set in Ars Lacuna.