Monday, February 1, 2016

Locus 'Year in Review' for 2015

Locus magazine's "Year in Review" issue is now available, and it's their most information packed issue of the year. It features recommended reading lists and extensive commentary from numerous reviewers, critics, and editors. Here's a brief sample:

Graham Sleight
A dozen books worth your time this year:
House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand
Dragon Heart by Cecelia Holland
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Best of Nancy Kress by Nancy Kress
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville
Galapagos Regained by James Morrow
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts
Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick

Russell Letson
Hidden Folk by Eleanor Arnason
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Tracker by C.J. Cherryh
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Where by Kit Reed
Gypsy by Carter Scholz
Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick

I think both Sleight and Letson offer excellent recommendations. My choice for best science fiction novel of the year is Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, and best single-author collection is Get in Trouble by Kelly Link.

For the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List, follow here.

Related link:
Best of the Year: 2015

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Four Year's Best anthologies;
Hugo nominations are open

Here are the tables of contents for four forthcoming best of the year anthologies, summarizing short fiction excellence for work published in 2015.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy
of the Year, Vol. 10
Edited by Jonathan Strahan
Solaris Books, forthcoming May 2016

Table of contents:
  1. “City of Ash” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Medium.com, read it here)
  2. “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  3. “The Machine Starts” by Greg Bear (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  4. “The Winter Wraith” by Jeffrey Ford (F&SF, November/December 2015)
  5. “Black Dog” by Neil Gaiman (Trigger Warnings)
  6. “Jamaica Ginger” by Nalo Hopkinson & Nisi Shawl (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  7. “Drones” by Simon Ings (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  8. “Emergence” by Gwyneth Jones (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  9. “Dancy vs. the Pterosaur” by Caitlin R. Kiernan (Sirenia Digest, April 2015)
  10. “Another Word for World” by Anne Leckie (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  11. “The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link (Strange Horizons, October 2015, read it here)
  12. “The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn” by Usman T. Mailk (Tor.com, April 2015, read it here)
  13. “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan” by Ian McDonald (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  14. “Little Sisters” by Vonda McIntyre (Book View Café, May 2015)
  15. “Calved” by Sam J. Miller (Asimov’s, September 2015)
  16. “Ghosts of Home” by Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed, August 2015, read it here)
  17. “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir (F&SF, July/August 2015)
  18. “The Empress in Her Glory” by Robert Reed (Clarkesworld, April 2015, read it here)
  19. “A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds (Interzone, March/April 2015)
  20. “Oral Argument” by Kim Stanley Robinson (Tor.com, December 2015, read it here)
  21. “Water of Versailles” by Kelly Robson (Tor.com, June 2015, read it here)
  22. “Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  23. “The Karen Joy Fowler Book Club” by Nike Sulway (Lightspeed, October 2015, read it here)
  24. “The Lily and the Horn” by Catherynne Valente (Fantasy Magazine, December 2015, read it here)
  25. “Blood, Ash, Braids” by Genevieve Valentine (Operation Arcana, edited by John Joseph Adams)
  26. “Kaiju maximus®: ‘So Various, So Beautiful, So New’” by Kai Ashante Wilson (Fantasy Magazine, December 2015, read it here)
  27. “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong (Nightmare Magazine, October 2015, read it here)

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016
Edited by Rich Horton
Prime Books, forthcoming May 2016

Table of contents:
  1. “The Daughters of John Demetrius” by Joe Pitkin (Analog, October 2015)
  2. “Endless Forms Most Beautiful” by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Analog, September 2015)
  3. “Twelve and Tag” by Gregory Norman Bossert (Asimov’s, March 2015)
  4. “Mutability” by Ray Nayler (Asimov’s, June 2015)
  5. “Acres of Perhaps” by Will Ludwigsen (Asimov’s, July 2015)
  6. “Unearthly Landscape by a Lady” by Rebecca Campbell (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, October 2015, read it here)
  7. “The King in the Cathedral” by Rich Larson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2015 read it here)
  8. “Little Sisters” by Vonda N. McIntyre (Book View Cafe, May 2015)
  9. “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, January 2015, read it here)
  10. “Asymptotic” by Andy Dudak (Clarkesworld, June 2015, read it here)
  11. “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015, read it here)
  12. “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld, August 2015, read it here)
  13. “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamysn Muir (F&SF, July/August 2015)
  14. “The Two Paupers” by C.S.E. Cooney (Fairchild Books)
  15. “Hello, Hello” by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  16. “The Astrakhan, the Homburg, and the Red, Red Coal” by Chaz Brenchley (Lightspeed, June 2015, read it here)
  17. “Time Bomb Time” by C.C. Finlay (Lightspeed, May 2015, read it here)
  18. “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, February 2015, read it here)
  19. “The Karen Joy Fowler Book Club” by Nike Sulway (Lightspeed, October 2015, read it here)
  20. “My Last Bringback” by John Barnes (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  21. “Drones” by Simon Ings (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  22. “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” by Elizabeth Bear (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  23. “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Idea Countness Rathagan” by Ian McDonald (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  24. “The Graphology of Hemorrhage” by Yoon Ha Lee (Operation Arcana, edited by John Joseph Adams)
  25. “Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  26. “The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link (Strange Horizons, October 2015, read it here)
  27. “This Evening’s Performance” by Genevieve Valentine (The Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk)
  28. “Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson (Tor.com, September 2015, read it here)
  29. “Consolation” by John Kessel (Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling)
  30. “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (Uncanny, January/February 2015, read it here)

The Best Science Fiction of the Year,
Vol. 1
Edited by Neil Clarke
Night Shade Books, forthcoming June 2016

Table of contents:
  1. “A Murmuration” by Alastair Reynolds (Interzone, March/April 2015)
  2. “In Blue Lily’s Wake” by Aliette de Bodard (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  3. “Outsider” by An Owomeyla (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  4. “Another Word for World” by Ann Leckie (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  5. “Iron Pegasus” by Brenda Cooper (Mission: Tomorrow, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt)
  6. “Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed, September 2015, read it here)
  7. “Bannerless” by Carrie Vaughn (The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey)
  8. “Gypsy” by Carter Scholz (PM Press)
  9. “The Smog Society” by Chen Qiufan, translated by Ken Liu and Carmen Yiling Yan (Lightspeed, August 2015, read it here)
  10. “The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss” by David Brin (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  11. “Damage” by David D. Levine (Tor.com, January 2015, read it here)
  12. “Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  13. “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (Uncanny, January/February 2015, read it here)
  14. “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess Rathangan” by Ian McDonald (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  15. “Hold-Time Violations” by John Chu (Tor.com, October 2015, read it here)
  16. “Two-Year Man” by Kelly Robson (Asimov’s, August 2015)
  17. “The Gods Have Not Died in Vain” by Ken Liu (The End Has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey)
  18. “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld, August 2015, read it here)
  19. “Cocoons” by Nancy Kress (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  20. “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015, read it here)
  21. “So Much Cooking” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, November 2015, read it here)
  22. “No Placeholder for You, My Love” by Nick Wolven (Asimov’s, August 2015)
  23. “Wild Honey” by Paul McAuley (Asimov’s, August 2015)
  24. “Meshed” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, February 2015, read it here)
  25. “Empty” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, December 2015)
  26. “Calved” by Sam J. Miller (Asimov’s, September 2015)
  27. “The Audience” by Sean McMullen (Analog, June 2015)
  28. “Hello, Hello” by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  29. “Three Bodies at Mitanni” by Seth Dickinson (Analog, June 2015)
  30. “Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” by Taiyo Fujii, translated by Jim Hubbert (Lightspeed, July 2015, read it here)
  31. “The Cold Inequalities” by Yoon Ha Lee (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)

The Year’s Best Science Fiction,
Thirty-third Annual Collection
Edited by Gardner Dozois 
St. Martin's Griffin, forthcoming July 2016

Table of contents:
  1. “The Falls: A Luna Story” by Ian McDonald (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  2. “Three Cups of Grief, By Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, January 2015, read it here)
  3. “Ruins” by Eleanor Arnason (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  4. “Gypsy” by Carter Scholz (PM Press)
  5. “Emergence” by Gwyneth Jones (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  6. “Calved” by Sam J. Miller (Asimov’s, September 2015)
  7. “Meshed” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, February 2015, read it here)
  8. “Bannerless” by Carrie Vaughn (The End has Come, edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey)
  9. “The Astrakhan, the Homberg, and the Red Red Coat” by Chaz Brenchley (Lightspeed, June 2015, read it here)
  10. “Another Word for World” by Ann Leckie (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  11. “City of Ash” by Paolo Bacigalupi (Medium.com, read it here)
  12. “The Muses of Shuyedan-18” by Indrapramit Das (Asimov’s, June 2015)
  13. “The Audience” by Sean McMullen (Analog, June 2015)
  14. “Consolation” by John Kessel (Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling)
  15. “Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Idea Countness Rathagan” by Ian McDonald (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  16. “Rates of Change” by James S.A. Corey (Meeting Infinity, edited by Jonathana Strahan)
  17. “The Children of Gal” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov's, April/May 2015)
  18. “Today I Am Paul” by Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld, August 2015, read it here)
  19. “Trapping the Pleistecene” by James Sarafin (F&SF, May/June 2015)
  20. “Machine Learning” by Nancy Kress (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  21. “Silence Like Diamonds” by John Barnes (LightReading, July 2015, read it here)
  22. “Inhuman Garbage” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov's, March 2015)
  23. “Planet of Fear” by Paul McAuley (Old Venus, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois)
  24. “It Takes More Than Muscles to Frown” by Ned Beauman (Twelve Tomorrows, edited by Bruce Sterling)
  25. “The Daughters of John Demetrius” by Joe Pitkin (Analog, October 2015)
  26. “Hello, Hello” by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions, edited by Microsoft & Melcher Media)
  27. “Capitalism in the 22nd Century” by Geoff Ryman (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  28. “Ice” by Rich Larson (Clarkesworld, October 2015, read it here)
  29. “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” by Kelly Robson (Clarkesworld, February 2015, read it here)
  30. “In Panic Town, on the Backward Moon” by Michael F. Flynn (Mission: Tomorrow, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt)
  31. “The First Gate of Logic” by Benjamin Rosenbaum (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  32. “Billy Tumult” by Nick Harkaway (Stories for Chip, edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell)
  33. “No Placeholder for You, My Love” by Nick Wolven (Asimov's, August 2015)
  34. “The Game of Smash and Recovery” by Kelly Link (Strange Horizons, October 2015, read it here)
  35. “A Stopped Clock” by Madeline Ashby (Atlantic Council's War Stories from the Future, read it here in PDF)
  36. “Citadel of Weeping Pearls” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov's, October/November 2015)

There's a lot that could be said about these lists: where they agree and disagree, which publications the editors found to have the best work, etc. For now I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader. I will mention that these lists make excellent preparation for people who vote for the Hugo Awards ...

The Hugo Award nominations are now open
Yes, from now until March 31, the Hugo nominations are open to members of the World Science Fiction Convention. In order to vote you need to be a member of last year's (Spokane), this year's (Kansas City), or next year's (Helsinki) convention.

Related link:
The Hugo Award nominations ballot

Friday, January 22, 2016

A Hartwell pick for 2016

Continuing yesterday's post: The 2016 book that David G. Hartwell was most emphatic about was Judenstaat by Simone Zelitch, due out in June 2016. He called it a masterpiece.

I didn't know Hartwell, except to say hello at an academic conference or science fiction convention, yet with his precision for language, I'm sure that he didn't use a term like "masterpiece" casually.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

David G. Hartwell (1941-2016)

David G. Hartwell, 74, passed away after a fall that resulted in a brain injury. I had the privilege of participating in a small group "literary beer" at the Worldcon in Spokane in 2015 (pictured) where Hartwell held forth on some of the authors whose books he has edited -- Gene Wolfe and Philip K. Dick were mentioned -- and he spoke enthusiastically about books he had acquired for publication in 2016.

To quote the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: "He was perhaps the single most influential book editor of the past forty years in the American sf publishing world." The only thing I would change in that sentence is the over-cautious "perhaps."

Related links:
Kathryn Cramer: Til Death Us Did Part
Locus Online: David G. Hartwell (1941-2016)
Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: David G. Hartwell


Friday, January 15, 2016

Four SF movies from 2015

Thumbnail reviews of four science fiction movies released in 2015.

The Martian
Update of "Robinson Crusoe on Mars" (1964) with some actual science and math and modern production values. Vistas of Mars are impressive, yet brief. Highly implausible at several crucial plot points.

Mad Max: Fury Road
Action, adventure. Franchise reboot. Recapitulates much of the plot of early movies.

Ex Machina
This gets my vote for the most interesting and intelligent science fiction movie that I saw in 2015. Considers the question of artificial intelligence in a way that is both immediate and visceral. Well-made on a modest budget. The ending is a big missed opportunity.
Hint: The ending should key on connectivity rather than isolation.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Action, adventure. Franchise reboot. Recapitulates much of the plot of early movies.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This Census-Taker

A short review of This Census-Taker by China Miéville

An immersive story of a boy's isolation, loneliness and terror. He's sure that his father had something to do with the disappearance of his mother, yet he is unable to convince the ineffectual authorities from the nearby town, which lies mostly in ruins. He is befriended by a small band of homeless children who live in the abandoned buildings of the town. Slowly we, the readers, gather clues about the world and the boy's father. A haunting story that retains a grip on the imagination long after the story is done.

I was provided with an advance reading copy.

Monday, December 28, 2015

All the Birds in the Sky

A short review of All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Patricia finds that she can talk to animals, and learns that they have unsettling things to say. Laurence invents high-tech gadgets, and is unprepared for the side effects. They meet as school children, become friends, and help each other survive their horrible childhoods. They meet again as twenty-something adults in San Francisco. Patricia belongs to a society of witches. Laurence works for a high-tech innovation company. In a lovingly detailed San Francisco, Patricia and Laurence navigate the dating scene, while disasters scar the world around them and they participate in high-risk, misguided solutions to the world's problems. They must find a way to make their incompatible worldviews mesh or all of humanity will pay the price. This is a wild, off-kilter, funny book about our society careening toward catastrophe. There are high-flying wondrous adventures and down-to-earth human relationships. Oh, and did I mention it was funny?

I was provided with an advance reading copy.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Best of the Year: 2015

It's that end-of-the-year list-making time.

Over at the Coode Street Podcast there was an interesting discussion of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2015. Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe were joined by noted critics Paul Kincaid and Adam Roberts. Prompted to give their individual choices for their top five picks:

Adam Roberts:
Top book: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. In dialog with the backlist of science fiction. Might be Robinson's best novel. Resonant and deep, clever, sophisticated.
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (the conclusion of a trilogy)
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (which appeared in 2015 in Britain)
Clade by James Bradley
Luna by Ian McDonald
Touch by Claire North
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson, sequel to Europe in Autumn, one of the best books of 2014

Paul Kincaid:
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, sequel to Life After Life (which was even better)
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson
Where by Kit Reed
Luna by Ian McDonald
Slade House by David Mitchell

Gary K. Wolfe:
Wolfe said he didn't want to overlap too much with Roberts and Kincaid
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Clade by James Bradley
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard
Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville (Roberts seconds this choice)

Jonathan Strahan:
Top book: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, most engaged, most timely
Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson
Clade by James Bradley
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge (Roberts seconds this choice)
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashanti Wilson
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Galapagos Regained by James Morrow

I've left out all the discussion around these lists, which was thought provoking and which I recommend listening to. I could quibble with some of the choices, having read several of these titles, yet on the whole these are strong lists. I agree that Aurora is the standout science fiction novel of 2015. (Listen to the Coode Street podcast here or on iTunes.)

Adam Roberts' sharp best of the year essay, with some additional titles, is on the Guardian website.

For a wider net that encompasses sf and fantasy, weird fiction and mainstream, especially international titles, I recommend Jeff VanderMeer's best books of 2015. His choice for best novel of the year is Animal Money by Michael Cisco. I've read an earlier novel by Cisco and I'm not sure I've recovered yet. I am definitely on board for this one.

For an example of poorly informed (or lazy?) list, there's BuzzFeed's 24 best sf books of 2015. About half of them are relevant and interesting. The other half look like someone randomly grabbed some books off a shelf.