Ancillary Justice, the debut novel from Ann Leckie, first caught my attention thanks to its gorgeous John Harris cover art. It was hard to escape, and, frankly, antithetical to the idea that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. With a cover this good, it’s hard not to be immediately interested. Skip forward a few weeks, and Orbit Books, publisher of Ancillary Justice, noticed a trend on twitter: everybody loves Leckie’s book. And, by golly, they’re right.
So, naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about, and picked up Ancillary Justice myself. They were right, they were so, so right. I’ll withhold my full opinion for a review, but Ancillary Justice is a bold, mind-twistingly adventurous SF tale with big ideas and so much confidence that it’s hard to believe it’s Leckie’s first novel. Come award season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leckie and Ancillary Justice all over the ballots. It’s that good.
So, I’ve gathered together some of the early reviews that nail exactly why I’m so excited about this book (and why I think you should be, too. Orbit’s had huge success with James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, and it looks like they’re about to add another heavyweight to the mix with Leckie. It’s a damn good time to be an SF fan. Continue reading
2014 Hugo Award Nominations (ver. 0.5)
So, the Hugo awards have come and gone for 2013. People have blogged widely about it, and all that need saying has already been said (see here for my thoughts on this year’s ‘Best Novel’ winner, Redshirts by John Scalzi, for instance). So, instead of recapping the conversation (which, to be frank, I’m a little behind the curveball in catching up on), I thought it would be more interesting to look ahead at next year’s awards, and start the conversation a little early. This way, I can hopefully convince you to check out some of the year’s best works while there’s still time to enjoy and nominate it.
I’ll work through several of the categories, those which I have any sort of opinion of, and discuss the works that I think are most impactful and important, and will, as of right now, appear on my ballot (until they’re replaced by something even more awesome between now and the time nominations are due.) And then, in the ‘Also/maybe/are these good?’ sections, I’ll list off a few choices that I haven’t read/experienced yet, but feel that they deserve to be in the conversation and will likely be considered when I do get around to them.
I’d also encourage you to join me in the comments. Tell me why I’m wrong. Tell me what you’ve read this year that resonated with you. Because, what’s the point of award season if not to encourage people to discover great new books, films, and every other story of art? Continue reading
Science Fiction is in the Future… Society
Outside of the places we convene as a tribe, such as Worldcon (coming up in San Antonio this coming weekend), it’s hard to find locations where the science fiction writer in me feels at home. It’s easy to go where people love fantasy, and perhaps – just perhaps – mumble behind their hand that they read science fiction. Maybe they say they read ‘it’ when they were younger. But this year I found a new place where fantasy is mumbled about and brings a blush to the cheeks, while the faces of SF gurus show up in PowerPoint slides. Continue reading
Change Can Be a Good Thing. Or not...
Readers, in many ways, want the same experience they’ve already had, only slightly different.
I was at a convention recently, and I was sitting on a panel with R.T. Kaelin, Timothy Zahn, and Pat Rothfuss. The subject of the panel was the ins and outs of writing the trilogy, but as you tend to do on panels, we started to wander toward other topics. Thus was born the subject of this post.
I was blabbering on about how you create arcs, not only for individual books but for an entire series (a trilogy or longer series), and I coughed up that old chestnut, that your characters need to change over the course of the story. Pat, being the contrarian he is, said something like, “I don’t really know that that’s true. Readers, in many ways, want the same experience they’ve already had, only slightly different.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but the point is that he DISAGREED WITH ME! How DARE he! No, wait, that isn’t the point at all. Once I got over being flustered, I started to think of all the ways I could defend my point.
I ran out of those relatively quickly.
Then I started thinking about the ways I was wrong. Is it true? Should characters, in fact, not change much at all? Continue reading
3000 years of Adventure - From Enlightenment to Entertainment
I Like a Little Globetrotting with My Action
Let’s talk about modern adventure stories. My generation grew up watching what I consider to be the pinnacle of the modern adventure story: Raiders of the Lost Ark. So when adventure comes to mind, Indiana Jones is the first name on the tip of my tongue. Like any classic film, there are so many standout moments in Raiders, and I it’s difficult to narrow its successes to just one or two. Let’s take a handful.
I remember the massive boulder chasing Indy through the narrow corridor and that somehow cocky look of fear only Harrison Ford can pull off. There’s the bar fight with the read poker and burning alcohol, the bad dates and the dead monkey, that guy with the big sword who Indy guns down as he catches his breath. Then there’s the snakes (“Why did it have to be snakes”), the fist fight and bloody plane propellers, and of course the opening of the arc which is so face-meltingly magnificent, it literally melts their faces.
Man, Raiders of the Lost Ark is a great film.
But for all the action and glory the modern adventure genre story tacks on, over the years I worry that it has lost something somehow. Adventure is classified by traveling action. One scene is in America, the next is in France, then we’re stealing some gold in Africa, and dodging explosions in Australia. These days, it seems the between Action and Adventure is only the distance put on the odometer during the course of the story. Continue reading