February 1, 2016
A couple of weeks ago I posted my award-eligible work from 2015. I like putting my annual publications in one place because it reminds me that, hey, I really have been busy and productive! Cool!
But this is the time of year I also like to think about the cool new stuff I’ve encountered.
I don’t think I’ve done enough reading — I never do enough reading. Especially short fiction. I used to try to read every anthology my work appeared in, but that got out of hand a few years ago and I’ve never been able to keep up. So, my reading is awfully scattered.
I did read some good novels, though: Uprooted by Naomi Novik is getting a lot of buzz, and rightfully so. Really excellent stand-alone traditional fantasy, in the same vein as the books I love so much by Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip, about a young heroine who discovers that she’s much stronger than she knows and sets about saving the world because someone has to do it.
Then there are some of my go-to favorites: James S.A. Corey and Paolo Bacigalupi both had new books out last year. Nemesis Games is the fifth Expanse novel and the one that left most of us fans going “Holy crap did they really just do that? OMG, they really just did that.” I cannot wait to see where they go from here.
Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife is near-future speculation about drought and water rights in the west — issues literally in my own backyard. Paolo really knows his stuff and this book combines thought-provoking SF with a cool thriller plot. Good stuff there.
I also encountered The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith, a rather strange and wonderful YA novel about some difficult subjects, but still with some funny bits and a weird Philip K. Dick worthy subplot holding it all together. The main character is a teen refugee from an unnamed war-torn country, who is sent to summer camp with his new foster brother. So, it’s like terrible refugee stuff combined with teen-boy summer camp comedy. And it kind of actually works. I don’t think this book is for everyone, but it’s one of the things I read last year that stood out for me.
The dramatic categories for the Hugo are going to be super-interesting this year. These short-run TV shows with only 8-10 episodes are almost mini-series covering one storyline — so do we nominate them as short-form by episode or long form for the whole thing? No idea. But some TV episodes that caught my attention are the season finale of The Flash, and Ep. 8 of Daredevil — the Fisk backstory. Agent Carter also gets my attention.
Long form — this is going to be an immensely interesting year, because we have an embarrassment of riches. Marvel movies, Hunger Games, Star Wars — but I have to say, I’d rather avoid the long-running franchise in favor of nominating Fury Road and The Martian — both really solid stand-alone stories that showcase what SF storytelling is capable of. (Marvel and Star Wars in particular have gone past basic storytelling and have become something else — communities, wherein the movies are rituals of celebration. I have an essay about that brewing.)
And now I have really got to catch up on some short fiction before I fill out my ballots…
October 26, 2015
I’m still going through the big batch of books from my teenage years that my parents dropped off. Check this one out:
Just look at that cover! Can you not tell that my GI Joe-loving teenage self thought this was Pure! Unbridled! Awesome!?!? The premise: a special forces team made up of teenagers (WTF?) goes out and saves the world! Because reasons!
The author on this is Zachary Blue. But given what I’ve learned about some others of these teen adventure series, I suspected that maybe wasn’t a real author name. So I checked the copyright page:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!! R.L. Stine! OMG that’s so great!
October 19, 2015
I’ve given myself some homework — something you need to know if you want to be a pro writer is that there is always homework. I’m analyzing LeGuin’s The Dispossessed for structure. This story follows one person through much of his life, alternating between current pivotal events and flashbacks telling the story of his life. It’s a good structure, I think, that packs in a huge amount of information about the main character, his world, and his place in it. I’m contemplating a similar structure so I really want to get a handle on what the book does well.
It also turns out this is a book that reads differently at different points in one’s life. The last time I read it (and first time, I think) was for grad school 15 years ago. I was 27. I turned down a lot of pages to note things on those pages (without actually marking passages, alas), and this read through I can’t think of what I wanted to note back then, because of bunch of entirely different parts of the book are jumping out at me this time. Some of them are things I need to hear at this point in my life, oddly enough, so I’m enjoying this read through. And making notes.
TV: I seem to have stopped watching Castle. This used to be the center of my Monday night dinner parties, but we have so many other shows we’re trying to watch (Flash! Arrow!), that we can’t be bothered. The end of last season was such a perfect series finale, and the one episode I’ve managed to catch from this season doubled down so egregiously on the stupid conspiracy thriller plot that the show does so badly, that I just stopped watching and barely noticed.
I’m finally watching The Bletchley Circle, and I started liking it after I decided to stop being so furious at how condescending Susan’s husband is toward her. It’s such a contrast to the couple of times she speaks with men who have an inkling of what she did during the war.
And…I hear there’s some Star Wars buzz around today? Up late last night, someone posted a 15 second clip from the new trailer. 15 seconds. But it had X-wings and pilots and something big happening and dammit but I started crying.
I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to with all this new Star Wars stuff: meeting some new people. Following some new characters and new stories. My favorite Expanded Universe stories were always the ones dealing with new characters: Rogue Squadron, Tales of the Jedi, etc. This is a huge, rich, amazing universe — that’s why we keep coming back to it. But I want to meet some new people in it, please.
September 18, 2015
This is turning into a month of unexpected chaos. Most of it the good kind. But I’ve got nuthin’ much to post today, so I will leave you with this:
Are you overwhelmed by the sheer amount of short SF&F available right now? I definitely am. I have great intentions to keep up with it all. . .and then I just don’t because of all the other reading I need to do. But a group of editors who do “Years Best” anthologies have started a Twitter feed to tell us all what they’re liking in short fiction. It makes for a helluva reading list. It’s at least a place to start, you know?
September 4, 2015
If all is going as planned, right this minute I am at DragonCon running around like a mad thing being on panels and doing early holiday shopping and gawking at costumes and so on and so forth. I am very likely having a good time!
In the meantime, I think I’ve mentioned I’m re-watching Babylon 5 and enjoying it immensely. On the book side, I’ve just read Naomi Novik’s Unprooted, and it may be the best thing I’ve read all year. It reminded me very much of Robin McKinley’s and Patricia McKillip’s writing, and that’s very high praise indeed coming from me. Very recommended. I’ve also just read (late, I know!) Tamora Pierce’s Beka Cooper series, and I can’t wait until my niece is old enough to start handing her books by ALL these authors. Actually, I’d recommend the Beka Cooper books to just about anyone as well. Good adventure stuff right there.
Next up, as soon as I get back from the convention: Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife.
August 14, 2015
I really was worried that people wouldn’t like Kitty Saves the World. Would it live up to expectation? Would it be a satisfying close? Well, it’s got a 90% five star rating on Amazon. I think that may be the best of any of them. So I guess people liked it!
To celebrate, I posted a new G.I. Joe story that I wrote on a roadtrip last month. It just kind of happened. And I thought, why not let people read it? So here it is: G.I. Joe: That Famous Silent Issue. (Which will make sense to you if you’re a real old-school fan. Yes, it’s a Scarlett and Snake-Eyes story!)
In other news, both my parents and grandparents are in a downsizing phase, which means lots of boxes are going back and forth, to the thrift store, and so on. The last bits of childhood stuff that my parents had stored in their basement are finding their way back to me. Which means, my entire run of original Wild Cards novels are together again:
Aren’t they pretty? And yes, well-read indeed. But I think they’re pretty because they’re well read.
August 10, 2015
I’m not supposed to compulsively check Kitty Saves the World’s Amazon page, but I’ve been doing it anyway. It has 14 reviews so far. All of them 5 star. 100% five star. That’s….amazing. Thank you to everyone who’s picked up the book and been so supportive.
I reread Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword last week (it’s my favorite book to reread and always makes me happy), and this time decided that Corlath should be played by Oded Fehr. SWOON.
I’m not planning on seeing the new Fantastic Four. The bad reviews clinched it, but ultimately I think it was the matte gray color palette that did me in. Would it kill these guys to put a little sunshine in these movies? Is grimdark afraid of color?
Instead this weekend, I finally watched The Princess Diaries 2, and I only have one question: What the hell is Stan Lee doing in this movie? Seriously, there’s a Stan Lee cameo. He hits on Julie Andrews.
The only reasonable explanation is that of course Princess Mia is actually a superhero.