The New SyFy Channel

the-expanse-series

SyFy is headed to space, and it seems as though they’re serious. Last week, they announced a 10-episode pickup of The Expanse, a series that will adapt (presumably) the first book from James S.A. Corey, . In the wake of the announcement, I’ve seen a lot of complaints from fans, noting SyFy’s general track record with shows. Despite the last five years of distancing themselves from harder SF stories, this falls in line with the direction the channel is trying to lurch itself towards, shaking off their reputation for something better. It’s about time, too.

The Expanse is a good move for SyFy and the announcement that they’ve picked up the TV show fills me with quite a bit of optimism for the direction of the channel’s future. Over the last couple of years, the channel has been talking quite a bit about returning to space, with news over the last couple of years of shows such as adaptations of Larry Niven’s novel Ringworld and Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End and shows such as Ascension and Defiance. So far, only Defiance (after a really long development period) has aired, and then, to tepid reviews and ratings. But, it’s a start, and shows that the channel is starting to think about bigger, more serious projects.

In the mid-2000s, the show was indisputably one of the better outlets for speculative fiction on the small screen: long-running shows such as Stargate SG-1 and its spinoff, Stargate: Atlantis collectively ran for fifteen seasons, while Farscape and Battlestar Galactica, two very ambitious space dramas, had fairly good runs before being cancelled. With the cancellation of Ronald D. Moore’s Galactica in 2009, the channel seemed to get nervous about shows set in space. Galactica‘s ratings had nosed down over the last two seasons (most likely due to some of the narrative stunts they took), and its follow-up successor, Caprica, set decades before, never found its voice or ratings, and was cancelled a year later. A third follow-up, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, died a slow death as SyFy executives waddled on the decision to release it to the web or to television. Ultimately, it was burned off on YouTube, effectively ending the franchise for the channel. A third Stargate entry, Stargate: Universe, a grown up, broody and excellent entry never quite captured the same attraction as its predecessors, and ended with a frustrating cliffhanger at the end of Season 2.

SyFy pivoted, perhaps seeing the successes rival networks enjoyed with shows such as True Blood, and went in an urban fantasy and Sci-Fi lite direction. It’s not really any surprise: the darker stuff hadn’t really succeeded, and shows such as Eureka had done really well. Alphas, Warehouse 13, Lost Girl, Bitten and Being Human have all been developed, and dominated the network’s offerings since 2009, alternatively earning praise from fans who enjoyed that type of story, and derided by those who missed the shows set in space.

All the while, SyFy expanded their offerings into reality TV, as well as the frequently-derided WWE on Wednesday nights. Often, their placement on the schedule has been explained as money makers for the channel (or, laughably, that it’s a type of fantasy in and of itself), which in turn support the programming of the other scripted shows. I don’t know that I’ve ever met anyone who’s actually watched WWE on the channel.

Meanwhile, a revolution in scripted television erupted from various premium and network channels. TNT’s Falling Skies, Fox’s Fringe, CBS’s Person of Interest, AMC’s The Walking Dead, and HBO’s Game of Thrones all came out, as well as show such as Awake, Under the Dome, Terra Nova, Revolution, Agents of SHIELD, Almost Human, Arrow, Orphan Black and Outcasts, to name a couple, while in non-Science fiction offerings, there’s Once Upon a Time, Grimm, Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, American Horror Story, Vampire Diaries, and others. Science Fiction TV, once largely limited to the SyFy channel, found new homes. While not all have been successful, it shows that there’s a new appetite for speculative works on the small screen, and that such shows can not only do well, but do really well. SyFy, while it’s had some success with their current offerings, hasn’t had any hits on the same scale. They easily could have, with the right mindset.

Major projects such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones aren’t easy projects to bring to television: they’re big, elaborate, and cover subject material that’s far from the material that SyFy was putting out between 2003-2008. They’re ambitious (and I’ll throw Person of Interest in there, too, as an example of what network channels *can* also do.) and have received a disproportionate amount of praise from critics and fans alike, all the while seeing their ratings go up as viewers keep watching.

It’s clearly a balancing act: Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead take on popular properties and subject matter, all the while they’re fairly well written and scripted. Others miss out: Awake, while fantastic, never caught on. Terra Nova was silly and stupidly expensive. Fringe lasted on critical glee, but wanted for viewers. Others just do really well with the right combination of characters and story, building year after year: Supernatural is well into its tenth year, and has a spin off in the works, while Arrow doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but up (and also has a spinoff in the works).

SyFy’s clearly got the vision for ambitious projects, but they’re held back; from themselves. It’s a business, and accordingly, the material they’re turning out needs to be successful. However, it’s always seemed as though this very risk-adverse mindset percolates down into what’s being picked up. They say that you never make the shot that you don’t take, and the channel has been on a course where they’re only taking shots where the basket is five feet off the floor. Until Defiance, it’s seemed that there’s no sense of risk to the shows that they’ve tried, but rather gone back to the well time and time again for material that is proven to run with a certain audience.

In many ways, SyFy pivoted one way, anticipating an audience that they wanted to grasp, only to end up missing an audience that’s since moved beyond the SyFy walls. Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Orphan Black and Doctor Who have become the destination shows that would make a dynamite portfolio for a dedicated genre-channel. Even the ambitious Defiance feels like it’s a compromise, existing only due to the momentum that a $100 million show causes. They’ve got a season 2, but the show won’t take off until the show becomes something a bit more interesting. Shows such as Helix have demonstrated that they’re ready to bring back some serious scripted drama.

Recently, SyFy seems to have realized something was up, and has been shaking off like a wet dog. VP Mark Stern, who oversaw the Battlestar-Defiance years at SyFy, and who’s been replaced by Bill McGoldrick. McGoldrick shift earlier this year has come with a lot of talk about bringing SyFy back. In an interview with Adweek, he noted that they’ve realized that scripted drama is what the channel’s reputation lives and dies by. The current reputation? Wounded from reality TV and crappy films. But, with the rise of shows such as Game of Thrones, they’re starting to see serious offers for new shows, one of which was apparently The Expanse.

If there’s a show that’ll demonstrate that the channel is serious about bringing back ‘proper’ science fiction, it’s Leviathan Wakes. The show has just about everything: spacecraft, epic world-building, military science fiction, conspiracies, and a huge cast of interesting and diverse characters. It’s large, hits all of the right notes, and it comes with a built in audience of readers who’ve made the books hits. The first novel was nominated for the Hugo Award, and along with a bunch of shorter entries in the series, an additional three novels were ordered after the first three. The fourth book in the series, Cibola Burn, hits this summer, this time as a more expensive hardcover novel (as opposed to trade paperback, like its preceding three books.)

Moreover, SyFy seems to realize that story’s paramount. Rather than putting together a pilot and worrying about ordering a full, 22-episode season, they’ve committed to a run of ten episodes – enough time to tell the story, but not so much that they’ll have to really stretch their special effects budget. In addition to The Expanse, SyFy has recently announced a limited 12 Monkeys series and Ascension, a limited series about a group of colonists, all the while cutting back on the B films.

Most of the complaints genre fans have had about SyFy are true. The channel’s shifted direction and gone the safe route, and accordingly, they’ve really missed out on both the opportunity to do great things, but also hitched themselves to the wrong horse, one that’s slowly running down. The Expanse has the potential to be an innovating move that can get the channel restarted with good stories, and can bring back an audience that they really want to attract. Already, shows such as Alphas, Being Human and Warehouse 13 have been wound down and ended, while SyFy is keeping shows like Lost Girl and Haven (which picked up a 2-season, 26 episode order) to have a balanced set of offerings for the foreseeable future. If you’re going to shake off a reputation, you’ve got to start somewhere.

There’s also a level of caution here. I don’t think fans should expect a return to the same SciFi channel that existed in the early 2000s. The landscape has changed, and accordingly, so has viewer tastes and viewing habits. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing a new channel that takes both storytelling and genre seriously, recognizing exactly what makes a good show that’ll not only do well season to season, but help the channel’s reputation and build on its audience year to year, which will mean more excellent projects will be attempted. More importantly, SyFy needs to learn to take risks. Even for projects that aren’t necessarily successful, the effort not only counts, but helps all involved figure out what to do next, in theory making things better in the future.

The Expanse is far from certain: it’s an ambitious project to run, and likely expensive. But, I’m optimistic. It’s got just about everything that science fiction fans have been asking for, and in an adaptation model that’s worked in the past. Let’s hope that the show-runners will do the books justice, but more importantly, tell a great story.

The Transformation of George R.R. Martin

I’ve been a fan of Game of Thrones since I first caught it a couple of years ago, and I’ve been impressed with the HBO series as I’ve continued to watch. When Season 1 hit, I pulled out my copies of A Song of Ice and Fire and started the first book, alternatively reading and watching the show. I’ve found the books to be a trial to get through, but I’ve ultimately enjoyed them.

I’ve found Martin’s rise to real fame in the last couple of years to be an interesting thing to watch, and it’s equally as interesting to look back and remember that he was a fairly prominent SF author throughout the 70s and 80s, and with this past weekend’s release of Season 4, it’s a good time to look back on his roots.

Go read The Transformation of George R.R. Martin over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources:

  • Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction, by Brian Aldiss: Aldiss notes Martin’s role in the late 70s in magazine fiction here, and it’s a helpful couple of pages contextually.
  • Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1970-1980, by Mike Ashley. Like Aldiss above, Ashley provides some good contextual information on Martin’s writing.
  • The Heart of a Small Boy, George R.R. Martin: This is a cool autobiographical piece about Martin’s upbringing.
  • The Faces of Science Fiction: Intimate portraits of the men and women who shape the way we look at the future, by Patti Perret. This is a really cool book. It’s portraits of a ton of major SF/F authors, and a little bit about their background, in their own words.
  • Martin, George R.R., SF Encyclopedia. This is a helpful biographical sketch of Martin and his place in genre fiction.

Because of Martin’s fame, there’s been a lot of (well rehearsed) interviews about his background:

Interviews:

 

I would also be remiss if I didn’t point to two of Martin’s stories, currently online at Lightspeed Magazine:

The Meteoric Rise and Fall of Gnome Press

In my day job, I work with MBA students, and in the time that I’ve been doing that (and working at my regular job), I’ve gained a certain appreciation for how businesses function. When it comes to researching the column, looking at how a business functions has a certain appeal, especially since a major, unspoken element of SF History is really a sort of business history.

An excellent case in point is the rise and fall of a small, independent publisher, Gnome Press, which existed for just over a decade in the middle of the 20th Century. They published some of the genre’s greatest authors, but ultimately failed, overtaken by their own inability to sell books and by changes in the marketplace. Gnome is an interesting business to study, because it carries with it some important lessons.

This post is quite a bit longer than the usual ones, but I had quite a bit of fun reading up on the history of this small press, and learning of the real implications it had for the genre as a whole.

Read The Meteoric Rise and Fall of Gnome Press over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources for Gnome Press

  • I, Asimov: A Memoir, by Isaac Asimov. Asimov provides a short chapter on his own frustrating interactions with Gnome Press, as well as some good detail on its publisher, Martin Greenberg.
  • The Science-Fantasy Publishers: A Critical and Bibliographic History, by Jack L. Chalker and Mark Owings. This was an extremely detailed and in depth look at the history of Gnome, but also provides an excellent listing of the books which they published between 1948 and 1962.
  • Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard, The Creator of Conan by L. Sprauge de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin. This text, while it has some problems, provides some solid details into de Camp’s interactions with Gnome Press.
  • Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era, by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. This was a whim buy at ICFA the other day, and nicely, it has a chapter on Gnome. Unfortunately, the book meanders quite a bit, and isn’t written well. It’s got a lot of very useful information on the history of Gnome and the people behind it, but it’s organized poorly.
  • A Pictorial History of Science Fiction, by David Kyle. It’s always good to get information right from the source, and in this case, Kyle briefly talks about Gnome in his book.
  • Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography, by Neil McAleer. Gnome is mentioned sparingly in this biography, but the points are helpful as reference points.
  • The Way the Future Was: A Memoir, by Frederik Pohl. Pohl talks a little about Gnome in this book, chiefly noting the business opportunities that Gnome had, and squandered.
  • Robert Silverberg – I’ve been e-mailing Silverberg for another project, and he kindly answered a couple of other questions that I had with this.

The Innumerable Short Stories of Theodore Sturgeon

One of the stories that remains a favorite for me is Theodore Sturgeon’s “Microcosmic God”, which I tore through when I received a copy of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame way back in High School. Sturgeon became an author that I’d turn to pretty quickly whenever I picked up another anthology, and I’ve generally enjoyed all of the stories I’ve read from him.

Sturgeon is someone who’s popped up a bit in the column already, and he’s been someone I’ve been wanting to write about for a while now. He left an enormous footprint within the SF/F short fiction genre, and his work really ran counter to the largely conservative-leaning authors and stories that had been published by Campbell & imitators.

“Microcosmic God” is still one of my absolute favorite stories in the genre. If you haven’t read it yet, go do so.

Go read The Innumerable Short Stories of Theodore Sturgeon over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources:

… are coming.

Aaron Allston

My Facebook wall blew up this morning with the following news: Star Wars author Aaron Allston collapsed at a convention last night, and passed away at the age of 53. I’m having trouble processing that; Aaron has been a steady presence in the Star Wars literary world as long as I’ve been reading Star Wars novels, and to learn that he’s gone is just a terrible thing.

Iron Fist, I’m pretty sure, was the first Star Wars novel I purchased on my own. I remember thinking that the cover looked cool in those monthly book catalogs we got when I was in Middle School, shortly after I realized ‘holy crap, there are Star Wars novels??’ I eagerly got the book… and couldn’t get into it. I hadn’t realized that it was in the middle of a longer series. The book ended up shelved for a number of years while I read my way around the rest of the Star Wars universe.

And then, I was out of books, save for the X-Wing novels. Written jointly by Michael A. Stackpole and Allston, they followed the new exploits of the Rogue Squadron, a group of fighter jocks who tangled with the Empire and generally got away with it. Stackpole’s books are straight up action fair (and they hold up well too), but Aaron’s novels did something different: they were funny. They had all the same stuff that Mike put in them, but Aaron injected a certain brand of humor into his stories:

His name is Kettch, and he’s an Ewok.
No.
Oh, yes. Determined to fight. You should hear him say, ‘Yub, yub.’ He makes it a battle cry.
Wes, assuming he could be educated up to Alliance fighter-pilot standards, an Ewok couldn’t even reach an X-wing’s controls.
He wears arm and leg extensions, prosthetics built for him by a sympathetic medical droid. And he’s anxious to go, Commander.
Please tell me you’re kidding.
Of course I’m kidding. Pilot-candidate number one is a Human female from Tatooine, Falynn Sandskimmer.
I’m going to get you, Janson.
Yub, yub, Commander.

- Wes Janson to Wedge Antilles, Wraith Squadron

Moreover, Aaron’s books navigated some fun points in the Star Wars canon, something that was always complicated for anyone trying to piece together events. He made it look effortless, but above all, he made it fun. I tore through those books over and over again, and while they’re tattered, they’re well loved.

I met Aaron in 2005 at Celebration 3 in Indianapolis. We’d chatted before:  I was a regular member of TheForce.net’s discussion forums, and I’d interviewed him for a website about his pitch-perfect Clone Wars story, The Pengalan Tradeoff (which is still one of my absolute favorite Star Wars stories). He signed my copies of Wraith Squadron, Iron Fist, Solo Command and Starfighters of Adumar, and graciously answered my questions and chatted with me several times throughout the convention.

He was friendly, excited to meet fans and happy to talk with us about the characters and stories he constructed. I didn’t know him as well as some of my other friends did; they regularly ran into him at Dragon*Con and other conventions, but I always enjoyed their stories and his sense of humor. I was beyond thrilled to see that the X-Wing series was granted a new addition recently, with Mercy Kill, and with Aaron behind the wheel. I bought a copy immediately, but I’ve been waiting to read it while I go back and re-read the entire series. Now, I’ll do so with the knowledge that it’ll be the last one he’ll write, and that’s a sad thing to contemplate. 

Yub, yub, commander. Thank you for the ride and the stories.

The Clients of Virginia Kidd

When Megan and I started dating, I made the trip from Vermont to Pennsylvania. It’s around eight hours, covering four states. On one such trip, I decided I really didn’t want to endure New Jersey, and took an early exit off of I-87 toward the alluring sign ‘Delaware Water Gap’. It didn’t take me much longer to cut through the two-lane road, perfect for driving a Mini Cooper on, and it took me through a quiet, quaint looking town of Milford. Since Megan and I have married, we make the trip frequently, crossing through Milford a couple of times a year. I like the town, even though I’ve never stopped.

While writing this column, I’ve come across the name ‘Milford Method’ a number of times, but it wasn’t until I started reading up on Virginia Kidd that I realized that the Milford that I’d been reading about was the very same quiet town that I’d been driving through for the last five years! Milford, PA, sitting right on the intersection of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, became a hub of activity for the science fiction world for decades, and is still home to the Virginia Kidd Literary Agency.

Virginia Kidd isn’t necessarily a recognizable name to anyone from outside of the genre’s walls: she worked behind the scenes, and appears between a number of pivotal figures within the genre. While authors get most of the credit, it’s important to see the influence of major editors and agents can play in shaping the direction of the arts world.

Go read The Clients of Agent Virginia Kidd over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources:

  • Transformations / Gateways to Forever, Mike Ashley. Kidd pops up briefly here and there in Ashley’s books, mainly around her short fiction.
  • The Futurians, Damon Knight. This book contains a wealth of information about Kidd on her life and influence within the Futurians group, and after.
  • Science Fiction after 1900: From the Steam Man to the Stars, Brooks Landon. This book has a good couple of notes on Kidd and her anthology, especially with how it fits into the feminist movements during the 1970s.
  • Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, by Judith Merril and Emily Pohl-Weary. Merril was close friends with Kidd, and there’s some great letters and background information on their interactions.

There’s a number of online sources that I found helpful:

Also, many thanks to Ursula K. LeGuin for answering some questions for me about Virginia.

The Big Ideas of James Blish

The first Blish story I read was Surface Tension in Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology. While there’s certainly some issues with the anthology, it’s a solid collection of short fiction. Blish isn’t an author I’ve read extensively, but I remember him popping up frequently in the various anthologies I read over the years.

We’re getting to a transitional phase in the history of SF following the ‘Golden Age’ period smack-dab in the middle of the century. Now, we’re starting to get into the early 1960s and beyond, which will have some interesting things happen.

Go read The Big Ideas of James Blish over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources

  • Billion Year Spree, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss has some good things to say about Blish and his influence
  • The Scribner Writer’s Series: Science Fiction Writers, 2nd Edition, edited by Richard Bleiler. John Clute has a great section on Blish’s works and career, particularly about his Cities in Flight and A Case of Conscience stories.
  • Age of Wonders: Exploring The World of Science Fiction, David G. Hartwell. Hartwell mentions Blish a couple of times, with some good points about the political undertones to his stories.
  • The Futurians: The Story of the Great Science Fiction “Family” of the 30′s That Produced Today’s Top SF Writers and Editors, Damon Knight. Blish shows up quite a bit in Knight’s book (they were fairly close friends), and there’s some good information about his career.
  • Better To Have Loved, The Life of Judith Merrill, by Judith Merrill and Emily Pohl-Weary. Merrill and Blish didn’t get along, to say the least, and there’s a couple of good points about Blish’s politics.
  • The Way the Future Was: A Memoir, Frederik Pohl. Pohl bought Blish’s first story, and has some good rememberences in his memoir.
  • American Science Fiction: Five Classic Novels, 1956-1958, edited by Gary K. Wolfe. I love the Library of America books. They’re beautiful to physically behold, and they include some great little biographical thumbnails that are great as starting points for this column.

Arthur C. Clarke, Proselytizer Of Space

There were two authors I read extensively when I first started reading science fiction. The first was Isaac Asimov, because, well. Robots. Foundation. Reasons. The other was Arthur C. Clarke. The first story I really remember reading from him came from a thick anthology cultivated by Asimov, with one fantastic story by Clarke in it: Who’s There? I then ran through a bunch of his books: 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010, 2061 and 3001 are the ones I checked out over and over again. Later, I dug into Rama and even later, Childhood’s End.

A while ago, I had some grand idea of doing a parallel column for another website on the history of SF film, but quickly found that I didn’t have the time or background to really get into it. I started writing an inaugural piece on – you guessed it – 2001: A Space Odyssey, before quickly realizing that I was really writing a column about the book.

There’s a lot out on Clarke, more than most of the authors I typically write about. As a result, this column’s quite a bit longer than what I usually put together.

There’s a lot of tie-in novels out there, from all the major franchises, but typically, the books come as a result of the film, or there’s a film based on the book. Far less common is when the book and film are created simultaneously, as is the case with Clarke’s book. It’s not his best work, but it’s probably his most visible.

Go read Arthur C. Clarke, Proselytizer Of Space over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources:

Billion / Trillion Year Spree, Brian Aldiss. Aldiss comes out of the British scene, and has some interesting and good notes on Clarke’s works, although not as much on 2001 specifically.
Science Fiction Writers: Second Edition, Richard Bleiler. This book has a good section on Clarke and his life, which works as a good thumbnail for his life and where everything fits.
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke. I have two editions of this book: a special release from 2001, and an original Signet Paperback from 1968. The latter has a good forward with some helpful details. The former is also neat, and it’s helpful to hold something one’s writing about in one’s hands.
Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Biography, Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke wrote a short autobiography of his time at Astounding, which helped with some of his earlier moments as a writer. This is pretty limited, only going up to the 1950s, but it’s a neat look at Astounding.
The Lost Worlds of 2001, Arthur C. Clarke. Not merely content to write a book to have a movie based on it, Clarke also did a book on how the movie came about. This has some particularly good details on the writing process, repent with dates and neat details. (Asimov’s 3 Laws in the movie? Think of how it could have changed!)
Olaf Stapledon: Speaking for the Future, Robert Crossley. Stapledon was a major influence on Clarke’s works, and this book recounts his encounter with Clarke, who invited him to a BIS meeting.
Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography, Neil McAleer. This book is a very good biography. Detailed and interesting, it provides a great amount of detail into how Clarke and Kubrick came up with the story.
History of Science Fiction, Adam Roberts. Clarke makes an appropriate appearance here, and Roberts has a good discussion of his works.

The Fantastic Foresight of Katherine MacLean

Over the last year, I’ve been trying to write more about the women who wrote SF throughout its history. We’ve seen a bunch: Francis Stevens, Margaret St. Clair, Judith Merrill, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, and Mary Shelley. While fewer in number than their male counterparts, they were all pretty influential. Recently, there’s been quite a bit of talk over the role of women who write genre fiction, and a common argument that women simply don’t write hard science fiction. Katherine MacLean counters this argument, adapting well to the world of magazine fiction from the 1950s through about the 1980s. For me, it was an introduction to a new author whom I have never come across before, and it was a delight to read up on some stories that really should be read more widely. 

Also, go wish her a happy birthday – she turns 89 today.

Go read The Fantastic Foresight of Katherine MacLean over on Kirkus Reviews.

Sources

  • Science Fiction Writers, 2nd Edition, edited by Richard Bleiler. Part of the Scribner Writers series, this volume has an excellent section on Katherine MacLean’s life and works.
  • Interview, Katherine MacLean. Katherine is the first subject which I’ve directly interviewed for this, and she provided quite a bit of detail for this piece.
  • The Diploids and Other Flights of Fancy, Katherine MacLean. This is an excellent collection of 8 short stories – in particular, read Incommunicado.
  • An Interview with Katherine MacLean, Darrell Schweitzer. This interview appeared in the New York Review of Science Fiction’s July 2013 issue, and it’s an excellent, in depth chat about her life and works, conducted at the 2012 ReaderCon in Burlington MA. It’s worth a read.

 

 

Hugo Nominations Period

The nominations period for the Hugo Awards are now open! This year’s World Science Fiction convention will be held in London. Nominations are open through March 31st.

If anyone’s so inclined to nominate my column for Kirkus Reviews, you’re welcome to do so – the posts can be considered for Best Related Work. I’m very proud of the work I did this year, covering an interesting range of science fiction, fantasy and horror authors. For reference, here’s the segment of columns eligible this year:

In the meantime, there’s a couple of books that I really want to recommend for Best Novel:

  • Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie: I’m confident that this one will end up on the final ballot, and I really hope that it wins. It’s a stunning book, my favorite of the year.
  • The Violent Century, Lavie Tidhar: Tidhar’s latest is another stunning novel, one that’s an excellent story in and of itself, but also a fantastic, critical look at our own culture.
  • The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes: Beukes novel is a great, engaging read. Great characters, wonderful time travel narrative.
  • NOS4A2, Joe Hill: Hill’s latest reminds me of Beukes in a lot of ways. This one is masterfully written.
  • Love Minus Eighty, Will McIntosh: I’m a huge fan of McIntosh’s books, and this is certainly an interesting and emotional take on technology.
  • Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey: It’s an Expanse novel: that means awesome. The first missed out on a Hugo, but this one should be considered.
  • You, Austin Grossman: Like Tidhar, Grossman’s fantastic at penning a great tale while looking deeply at our own culture.
  • The Golem & the Jinn, Helene Wecker: Currently reading this one. Wonderfully written, great characters and story.

For Best Semiprozine, I’d highly recommend Lightspeed Magazine, where I work, as well as John Joseph Adams for Best Editor, Short Form.

So, go, nominate!