The 2015 Blewgo Awards! It’s not what you think!

Welcome to the 2015 Blewgo Awards! As in, I blew it for not reading these 2014 buzzed-about SF novels sooner. It sounds like it might be a porn award, but it’s not!

The shortlist was determined by me, based on an unscientific selection of novels I neglected during my 2014-novel reading extravaganza but remained implanted in my memory for whatever reason.

The 2015 Blewgo Award ceremony was held on Saturday night, in my kitchen, over a bowl of soup. The guests of honor were a couple of moths bodyslamming the window, and a gecko that wanted to eat those moths. It was an intimate affair.

The winner was determined by a panel of me.


During the early parts of this year, I read an unusually high number (for me) of new novels, in order to follow the 2015 SF book awards season. Now, just when everybody is looking forward to the Best of 2015 reading lists and Most Buzzed About 2016 releases, I’m here suffering from 2014 Book Neglect Regret. So, before we move on to the season of HurryUpAndRead2015s and PreOrderRushDelivery2016s (it comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?), let’s look back at the 2014 niche-buzzed books that were honored in some scenes, neglected in others, and ignored by yours truly.

In consecutive order of how I read them in a post-Labor Day reading frenzy, I give you…

The Books That Nagged Me All Year:

The 2015 Blewgo Shortlist:

(aka The Shadow TBR):

Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
B
ête by Adam Roberts
Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

And the winner of the 2015 Blewgo Award is…

(theremin roll)…

It’s a tie!

Bête and The Girl in the Road tie for being the two books from 2014 that I most regret not reading sooner! Both novels would have definitely appeared in my personal book award nominations and were far more entertaining, thoughtful, and stimulating than some of the books I read from other 2014 book award shortlists.

*silver glitter confetti falling from the rafters yay*


The Subjective Analysis


Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett

ElysiumHow I heard about it: Honored by Special Citation on the 2015 Philip K. Dick Award shortlist; Cecily Kane told me I would like it.

Why I didn’t read it: By the time I heard about it, my 2014 TBR was already teetering dangerously (digitally speaking, of course).

Why I finally read it: Maureen K. Speller’s in-depth review clinched it for me.

What it’s about: Perhaps another way of saying “different people, same shit” or “no boundaries, get over it,” where characters shift into different states of being and alternate worlds, all between breaks of computer code. On the Tiptree Award Honor List for its fluid transitions in gender, the backdrop of Greek myth and Roman history interplay with cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic scenery. Weird, in that nothing is supposed to feel very real here. Meta, in that it borrows from and plays with the disintegrating architecture of science fiction. The prose itself is surprisingly thin, an (anti)structural detail to blur these attenuated worlds, but there are moments of dialogue fluff makes it easy to barrel through this short book much faster than your ereader can predict. I’m not usually fond of interrelationally-heavy plots and “You okay?” “Everything is fine,” -type dialogue, but Brissett is doing something interesting that hearkens to a younger-feeling version of its 2014 peer, Nina Allan’s The Race, another intratextually-linked novel that I loved. As for the symbolism, damn me for reading Speller’s review first, because it felt burdensome to me, but maybe just because I knew it was coming. (And I swear that elk on the cover keeps moving when I’m not looking directly at it.) I loved Hector, but the longest section about the winged father and daughter captivated me the most.

Why I think it’s not getting the attention it deserves: It’s an easy surface read AND a hard interpretive read, so it may be equally dissatisfying to very different core readerships. Also, the ending will feel conventional to anyone with slight exposure to cyberpunk or The Matrix, so it may not have wowed enough people, though that they may have been the intention. Coming from a creative writing tradition, structural elements take center stage here, eventually transcending the several interesting stories, but sometimes choking them out of the narrative– a likely deliberate move that can frustrate readers. Recommended for readers who delight in puzzles.

What’s she up to next: Eluesis, the sequel to Elysium


The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

TheGirlintheRoadHow I heard about it: Nominated for the Kitchies Golden Tentacle Award

Why I didn’t read it: I’m sure it poked at me for a long time, but it remained in my book blind spot because, based on the title and cover alone, I assumed it was aimed at not me. Pink + The Girl _________ = “Oh, that’s probably not for me.” (The latest reprint edition would totally sell me, though.)

Why I finally read it: It won the 2015 Tiptree Award, AND THEN Byrne flipped a bloody bird at Donald Trump on Twitter and suddenly she became my hero. THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES, AUTHORS.

What it’s about: A little girl crosses Africa to get to the coast. A woman flees her demons in India. It might seem sweet, almost quirky, but the protagonists are consistently odd, outsiders in their respective societies, and what follows is a drumbeat of doom that permeates the link between two women’s stories, symbolized by a pontoon bridge umbilicus that stretches from Djibouti to India. This is psychological horror; the sense of dread is delicious, but never overwhelming. For sci-fi fans, if you love Robinson and Gibson and McDonald, you will love Byrne. (And that scene where Meena rides out a hurricane in a submarine bubble is as memorable as any Robinson-style space elevator catastrophe.)

Why it is excellent: Byrne seems to subscribe to a system of immersive, method writing, and the quality of minutiae layered on depth transcends the story in so many ways. Byrne neglects nothing. Her characters are whole and intense; she takes risks and sees them through. Do not be afraid of this book. Succumb to the Byrne.

Why I think it’s not getting the attention it deserves: It can’t technically be a niche-buzzed book when Neil Gaiman blurbed it, but I ignored it for its looks, and the book suffers from a load of mixed reviews. With the pink on the cover and a The Girl ____ -style title, it’s possible this book is attracting the wrong readers and ARC reviewers. Readers appreciative of dark psychological drama and savvy to textual metaphors and foreshadowing might avoid pink books with Girl in the title. But I bet the publisher got more money out of that kind of face-marketing so who am I…

And if you must read it, which you must: Please do yourself a favor and give the audio version a whirl. Narrators Dioni Collins and Nazneen Contractor are incredible performers. The neighborhood bunnies couldn’t distract me from Collins’ and Contractor’s hypnotic voices when I took it on my jogs. Even when I had time to read the text, I kept the audio going in my ears and I never do that.

What’s she up to next: The Actual Star, a Mayan sci-fi novel. This makes me nervous because it is an area I’m passionate about and I have been known to shred textbooks that refer to “the mysterious disappearance of the Mayans.” (Cuz they didn’t disappear. Go to southern Mexico. They’re there. In the streets. Begging, selling chicle, still speaking the language, still fighting for land rights.) The Girl in the Road just won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which lends some credibility to Byrne’s cross-cultural technique. I trust Byrne will handle the Mayan culture with equal respect.


The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley

TheBeautyHow I heard about it: Trusted blogger sites BookPunks and Speculiction reviewed it a while back.

Why I finally read it: The publisher from Unsung Stories contacted me about another novel (Oliver Langmead’s Dark Star) and was so charismatic and tuned in to my interests (a rarity in my limited experience), I couldn’t help but pay attention. I never accept ARCs, but my curiosity was piqued enough to give him a sell; Then The Beauty made the 2015 Tiptree Award Honor List

What it’s about: Monster mushrooms poison women and impregnate men. The fungus of impossible beauty ideals infect women and brainwash men in a small post-apocalyptic society. More than commenting on basic gender roles, this disturbing little tale places blame squarely on the society that perpetuates and prioritizes physical female beauty over human love and shared responsibility. I delighted in the fantastic truncated paragraph style, too. Nice and rhythmic.

Why I think it’s not getting the attention it deserves: Small press-ism? Feminism-ism? Tiptree Award-ism? Novella-ism? (But can’t we just make like the ’50s and call them all novels if they’re longer than a short story?)

What she’s up to next: It appears she is working on a series of linked novellas, but she also released Skein Island last February.


Bête by Adam Roberts

Bete1How I heard about it: Some time last year, I finally made the connection that that funny, erudite guy I’d been following on Twitter is the same guy who wrote that BSFA-winning novel with the pretty cover that I’d been admiring. (If you read this blog regularly, you know how I am with names.) Then Matt from Books, Brains and Beer wanted to do a dueling banjos review post and I said, “Jack Glass or no.” And then, you know, asteroidprison-bloodglobules-skinsuit-vacuum. I was hooked. Then Bete was released soon after, but only in the UK, so I resorted to drumming my fingers for the better part of a year.

Why I finally read it: I finally caved and bought the UK paperback even though it will probably be published in the US tomorrow. (More likely next month, if lame UK-US publishing patterns hold true.)

What it’s about: Animal activists chip animals with sapience software, which results in a global rise of vegetarianism, cow-owned farms, and landmark legal battles to reassess the personhood of animals. While the world changes and the economy collapses around him, former farmer Graham wanders the countryside, stripped of his value, battling the beast within.

Why it’s excellent: There is more to this misleadingly simple-sounding novel, and Roberts balances it beautifully. It is dark, funny, thoughtful, smart, but also quite moving and poignant—very human—all without being overly sentimental or emotionally manipulative like a lot of popular SF fiction. And with just enough weird to feel fresh and captivating. I keep comparing it to Stapledon, but with more heart and humor.

Why I think it’s not getting the attention it deserves: It’s not a silly parody and maybe people expect it to be a silly parody. Maybe it’s blurbed incorrectly; it’s not really like Animal Farm, it’s not even like Watership Down. Maybe carnivores are afraid this is Roberts’ Morrissey moment. (It’s really not. His approach is much less direct.) Maybe judging panels aren’t seeing the big picture when they read this (because they seem to prefer sentimental post-apoc trope-mash). Maybe overexposure, because promoting a well-known critic from The Guardian seems like an improper thing to do. (Am I stereotyping British propriety? I’m probably stereotyping.) Maybe because of the publication lag between continents. I really have no idea because more people should be blown away by this novel.

What he’s doing next: The Thing Itself, existential angst about alien existence, based on my favorite body-snatcher fic, Who Goes There?. And published (in the US) on my birthday, speaking of existential angst. Good timing.


Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Scale BrightDid I?: Oh yes I did.

How I heard about: The Little Red Reviewer posted a memorable and enthusiastic review around the time of its release.

Why I didn’t read it: Not long after I read that review, shit went down.

Why I finally read it: Dangerous as it may be to admit, I thought we might have the same taste. Sriduangkaew tends to dislike the kinds of books that I dislike, but also criticizes books I love when they commit crimes of White Gaze and cultural appropriation; all things I, a White reader, need to hear, and I am happy for the correction. That’s not to say Sriduangkaew doesn’t have a really fucked up way of saying and doing things. (But also, fan awards for bad behavior spreadsheets are tacky. Just sayin’.)

What it’s about: A modern retelling of a Chinese myth that incorporates romance, family, and feelings of being an outsider. The present-tense, intricate sentence styling is eye-catching and interesting, but overburdened by heavy descriptors. When every noun comes with a plush adjective, the gilded prose might turn off readers tired of that ornamental trend. Lots of jeweled and opulent aesthetics, but the story says little of anything new, nor is it very gripping or provocative. I felt no motivation to read the connected short stories in the second half of the book.

Why I’m okay with it not getting more attention: Sriduangkaew the person is more fascinating than Scale-Bright the book. This story needs more insight than the occasional, superficial unhappiness that tinges the things-happening-with-gods plot. Hints of mood disorders and failed relationships deserve deeper treatment. Sriduangkaew seems to be familiar with these things but can this super-defensive, highly-guarded author deliver a more intriguing, internally-aware story that plumbs personal depths? Can Sriduangkaew shift from simple myth-retelling to personal myth-breaking?


Honorable Mention That I Didn’t Read Yet, But Plan To:

TheBookoftheUnnamedMidwifeThe Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

How I heard about it: Winner of the 2015 Philip K. Dick Award; Discussed in much tantalizing detail on The Writer & the Critic.

Why I want to read it: Post-apocalyptic novels just aren’t realistic until you address the matter of birth control anxiety. Thank you, Meg Elison, for recognizing that.

Why I haven’t read it yet: Reality called and said I have to, like, do things.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway

How I heard about it: Appeared on a few ‘Best of’ lists last December.

Why I haven’t read it yet: It basically sounded like fannish-reference porn, so I dismissed it.

Why I want to read it: Jesse from Speculiction just finished it and called it “a significant work” (see comments below), which is significant praise.

 


*cue cheesy saxophone music*

Thanks for following the 2015 Blewgo Awards! The 1st annual Blewgo Award winners, Monica Byrne and Adam Roberts, win my Automatic Preorder Reflex and my deepest apologies for not reading their impressive and captivating books in time for award-nominating season. Bête and The Girl in the Road deserve a final honorary nod before we move on to the next book award season.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if we see these two novels on the SF Masterworks list after the next couple of decades. They certainly belong there.

Come back next year for the 2016 Blewgos because I’ll probably blow it again!

*more silver glitter confetti falling from the rafters and a piece gets stuck in somebody’s eyelashes and you want to pick it out for them but that would be weird and it would probably mess up their mascara so you just avoid looking at them all night*

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30 thoughts on “The 2015 Blewgo Awards! It’s not what you think!

  1. fromcouchtomoon says:

    It’s a limp rocket. Not a weird toucan. Stop saying it’s a weird toucan.

    Like

  2. OMG, not a porn award, I had a huge laugh over that. And love the drawing. That’s one award which would really stand out on a mantle..oh wait. As for the books, I was peripherally aware of most of these last year, which is actually really impressive for me! Got close to checking out The Girl in the Road but ended up backing off for similar reasons you stated. Maybe I should give it shot though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha, well this is awesome. The more so for me personally because I have either read or really very much want to read the entire list. Shabam! I totally agree on The Girl in the Road being a great fucking work (also that bloody bird picture hahahahaha) and am sad that I never got around to writing about it. There was a detail about the trans characters arc that annoyed me, but otherwise, pretty much perfect.

    I am also very glad that you liked The Beauty. What a weird and wonderful little book. One that I will never forget I think, unlike half the shit I read that flies out of my brain when I put it down. So did you also get a review copy of Dark Star then? Are we going to hear from you about that too??

    Thanks for reminding me that The Unnamed Midwife was on my to-read list; I had almost forgotten. And I might pass on Scale Bright after that review. I’ve been going back and forth on wanting to read that one for a while now for similar reasons. And yes, tacky, exactly, that is the perfect word for that.

    Aaaand I had no idea there was going to be a sequel to Elysium. I actually don’t feel deeply happy about that. Can’t books just exist by themselves anyfuckingmore jesus.

    Something amusing me as I read this…I have been wanting to read Bete for ages, and I only just now realized that I wanted to read it purely based on that excellent cover because I had no idea (or maybe I just forgot?) that is what it is about.

    Nice rocket. Heh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      Yeah, that bloody finger picture was the ballsiest thing I’ve seen in a long time. (The things that impress me…) As for the trans character, I’ve seen some criticism about her, but I saw her as a good person who was an innocent bystander– it’s certainly not her fault she was living with a nutjob. That happens in horror, and that’s partly why I think the novel was marketed wrong. If people knew they were reading a dark novel with diverse characters, maybe it wouldn’t have been so off-putting. Most importantly, I hope people read the book and judge for themselves.

      I absolutely loved The Beauty, in fact, it could have been a triple tie. Such a perfect metaphorical dark fantasy. Incredibly disturbing and odd, with a clever message, and I just love Whiteley’s rhythm with those short, little paragraphs. I bought Dark Star and totally plan to read it over Wanksgiving but I think I have more books planned to read than I have days off.

      Unnamed Midwife wasn’t even a blip on my radar until I heard them talking about it on The Writer and the Critic. That sold me. As for Scale-Bright, I dunno. Maybe I’m missing something, but it just felt like the same kind of simple stuff the author criticizes, except maybe with more adjectives. Maybe a longer novel would have made room for the absent things that prevented it from being very interesting to me. In the end, it was just people talking and doing things.

      I’m with you about sequels, but I’m wondering if Brissett has a Book of the New Sun-type plan here, where the whole puzzle will fit together and make greater meaning in the end. She’s actually making it a trilogy, eesh. I’m not good at interpreting heavy amounts of symbolism, and puzzles always seem arbitrary and futile to me (read: frustrating), so I probably need more exposure to her universe if I am to “get it.”

      Ah, Bete. Yes, the cover sold it to me first, and then I read the Animal Farm blurb and it dropped down on my must read list because, well, I’ve already read Animal Farm. At least three times. So I’m assuming other people are thinking the same thing. But it’s really nothing like that; it’s entirely original and fresh, just a good melancholic novel that I see as more of a metaphor for things like the MRA campaign– that white male struggle for identity in a world in which they’ve been dethroned. The protagonist’s transformation through this is both subtle and complete. In that sense, it reminds me more of Pohl’s Man Plus, which I came away with a similar interpretation– a reassessing of manhood, so to speak. Anyway, just a lovely novel. A great thought experiment.

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      • Re: Girl in the Road. Hmm, how will I say this without dropping spoilers for people who haven’t read it…ok people who haven’t read it, please skip down to the next paragraph! Or be doomed to find out something you do not want to know before reading this! So I had no problem with what happens to the trans character because it fits in perfectly with the entire book’s ruminations on violence and whatnot. What bothered me a little was what she was doing just before the violence happened (I apparently am still trying to make this paragraph semi spoiler free, so I hope it is followable). Because I think what she was doing makes it easy to blame her for what happened, and I thought the message would have been a lot stronger if we’d just seen her like, eating a meal with the other people who was there, you know? I agree that it is totally not her fault that she has fallen in love with a psychopath, but I would have liked the message that it isn’t in the least her fucking fault underlined by having her doing something at the time that is unquestionably insane to result in anger. Did that make sense? Ultimately it is a small nitpick, but I think it would have supported the book thematically really well. Otherwise it was pretty much a perfect book. Interesting to imagine it being marketed as horror. That would have probably been a really good move. I don’t think I was turned off by the Girl_____ title, maybe because the first moment I heard about it I hear so many rabidly positive things that I brushed right over it.

        I really loved Whiteley’s writing style too. I am excited to read more by her at some point. So much fungus in recent reading.

        The Unnamed Midwife came on my radar only because of the PK Dick award. I find I tend not to love the winner, but to passionately love at least one thing on the nominee list, so it is something I want to mine for books more.

        I hope that’s what Brissett is doing, though I feel so fatigued just by the thought of sequels these days that I don’t know if I will end up picking it up. Harumpf says grumpy reader, harumpf.

        Can’t wait for Bete. I have a feeling I am going to be a fan of his in general, once I finally get into his books because they have all sounded pretty interesting so far.

        Meanwhile, I am reading A Storm of Wings and am increasingly pissed off at all the things that are coming between me and reading A Storm of Wings. It is really beautiful, but requires more concentration to read than I seem to have at night at the moment. Boooo. I need a good five hour block to just really submerge into it. So far it feels better done than The Pastel City. I am really excited to get to the end of all the books and stories and see what kind of big-picture it offers. Such exciting books for me brain. Yey. Glad you reading them this month kicked my ass into picking them up now instead of later.

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        • fromcouchtomoon says:

          Re: Girl in the Road- yeah, I read that criticism, too, but I think have two obstacles that prevent me from seeing that: one, I didn’t realize that was a stereotype and it really doesn’t make much sense to me. Mind you, I live in a small, conservative town, so my exposure to that population is limited, and anyone who does live here tends to behave more or less the way you would expect small, conservative town people to behave, regardless of orientation/gender/etc: uptight, godly, etc. So yeah, I guess I was tone deaf to that argument.

          The second reason is that I see “cheating” behavior as a stereotype for HUMANITY, though nobody wants to see it that way. Considering all the divorce, break ups, and perpetually unhappy, jealous relationships that exist in the world, it leads me to think that monogamy probably isn’t the best idea for most people, and it might actually be a sickness for a lot of people. So, I think people are interpreting that scene backwards from the way Byrne intended: the whole thing made Meena look bad while the girlfriend (I can’t remember her name) was being completely rational and frank about it (though, yeah, she should have been upfront about it in the first place, but considering the social pressures to be mono-amorous in this society– and maybe a subconscious suspicion that Meena might be a few spice jars short of the rack– who can blame her for hiding it?). So, while I guess a lot of people were reacting to that scene with, “STEREOTYPE: trans cheater alert!” my reaction was, “See, this is how dangerous jealousy can be.” So, of course, the stereotype went completely over my head because I kind of just think the whole world is full of “cheaters” and society just needs to acknowledge that and adapt. (That said, I am painfully introverted and I like my little world to be as small and cozy and closed-off as possible, and my husband seems to be the same way, but I’ve always thought we were freaks of nature. And, of course, all that could change over the years, who knows, we’ll deal with it when we get to it.)

          But anyway, I really did interpret that scene as a comment on social mores about sex.

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          • fromcouchtomoon says:

            And now to bookend the day, I will respond to your other stuff 🙂 (why are my days so fucking crazy that I don’t have time to do everything I want to do and read people’s blogs and comment on them and read Twitter and short stories and pass that crazy Turing test on Jesse’s blog that I can never pass when I want to say something?)

            The PKD Award is something I’m completely unfamiliar with. It’s in my award blindspot. It just never pings my interest for some reason.

            “am increasingly pissed off at all the things that are coming between me and reading A Storm of Wings.”

            Me too! All I really have time for right now is audiobooks, but I go through phases when audiobooks work for me and other phases when they don’t, and I’m in the latter phase right now. I figured Viriconium would be too dense to enjoy on audio and I was right– it’s much better on paper, but all of my reading moments have been short spurts lately. Hardly worth it. Now Willis’ Remake is kind of perfect for audio because it’s so, er, light, but I just don’t want to listen to it. And I should have been long done with that and on to Accelerando, which I will likely prefer on audio because Stross is just better to power through, but here I am, just dragging on my reading list, in some sort of anemic fugue that makes me sleepy and unfocused.

            I’ll snap out of it. I hate it when Daylight Saving Time ends. They can take that extra measly hour, I just want the sun back in the evenings.

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          • While I still think she could have been a little more mindful of the stereotype, I think there is def potential for being like SEE READER EVEN YOU SEEM TO THINK THIS IS HER FAULT AND JUST CAUSE SHE DID SOMETHING PEOPLE DO ALL THE TIME (cheating). It is all very subtle, but because of the danger of that stereotype I would have liked a bit more of a hammer than a hummingbird wing on it. Still, it doesn’t make the book any lesser in my opinion, just gives it another element to discuss heatedly.

            I agree with your assessments of cheating and monogamy being a potentially very toxic thing (and so much related to and grounded in the idea of possession…both of your partner and because of shit like inheritance and needing/wanting to know those kids are really that person’s etc). But I am one of those polyamorous people (I kind of hate that word and label though, it kind of grossed me out typing that), so I would agree. It is certainly a very fun way to read it all (well not so much fun for the characters, but as an intellectual exercise for the reader), but at the same time I don’t see the text taking the subject of cheating/monogamy/etc on directly in a way that would have made that reading balance out the trans stereotype. ANYWAY. Still a great book. I hope it ends up on the masterwork list someday too.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely vivid ceremony description.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      Haha, thanks!

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      • thebookgator says:

        Agree with Warwick. I almost felt I was there, except I don’t believe you mentioned the kind of soup…

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        • fromcouchtomoon says:

          That’s funny because I originally included the kind of soup, but cut it at the last minute. It was carrot soup. More specifically, it was carrot-coriander-ginger soup with paprika roasted chickpeas and it was pretty awesome.

          Liked by 1 person

          • thebookgator says:

            Okay, that sounds awesome. Recipe, please. I have about 5 lbs of carrots to use up.

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          • fromcouchtomoon says:

            Here you go:

            12 oz carrots, peeled and sliced
            1/2 inch ginger, minced
            cilantro
            1 can chickpeas
            2 tsp ground coriander
            1 tsp smoked paprika
            3 cups veggie broth
            1 small can coconut milk

            Saute carrots, coriander, and ginger tbsp olive oil in pot over med-high heat until slightly softened (5-10 min). Add 3 cups veggie broth and bring to boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer until carrots are tender (15-18 min). Remove pot from heat and stir in coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

            While soup simmers, toss chickpeas with paprika, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp kosher salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 450 for 15-18 min.

            Transfer soup to blender. Blend until smooth, working in batches. Return to pot to keep warm.

            Serve soup, garnished with roasted chickpeas and cilantro. Very delicate and mild 🙂

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  5. thebookgator says:

    You know, I had the same reaction to the cover of The Girl in the Road. Perhaps that should teach me a lesson, but it probably won’t, because pink and swirls usually equals chick-lit. But taking on Donald Trump, while an easy intellectual battle, does tend to draw my positive attention. 🙂 I’ll add it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      It should teach me a lesson about book cover judging, too, but when there are so many books, and book blurbs just don’t really do a good job of capturing a novel’s essence (because just telling me what it’s about actually tells me nothing), I can do nothing but dismiss based on looks sometimes. What I love about the response to this post is how women are saying, “yeah, the cover deterred me, too.” Maybe one day publishers will get the hint and quit marketing books for men and books for women, and start marketing them to people.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Widdershins says:

    Nope, definitely not phallic-y at all. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. graycope14 says:

    This is so good on so many levels. Hilarious opening that had me laughing at loud at work. Love the limp Award Statuette. Great book summaries; when you praise a book, you make it sound like something essential that has been missing from my life. Better than any cover blurb! Your comment about Gibson and Gaiman re: ‘Girl in the Road’ has made me very curious about it. A goldmine of information. I would’ve totally missed this and ‘Bete’ otherwise. Thank you.

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    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      Thank you! I’m not sure how I feel about the statuette, but considering the Hugo statuette looks like a sex toy, I think it’ll do. The only reason I make those books sound essential to life because they seriously felt that way to me. I would turn around and read them again today if I had the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. […] now, perhaps I OD’d on book reviews this month, due in part to my Blewgo Award conglomeration post, in which I gave needed attention to some 2014 novels people have already stopped talking about. […]

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  9. […] Megan is reading all of the Hugo nominees. Ever. She is also really funny, and cynical, and good at Heinlein snark. And you should see her limp rocket drawing. […]

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  10. Jesse says:

    I assume the Blewgo is forever an award in progress? For 2014 I would suggest you check out Nick Harkaway’s Tigerman. Just finished it, and have to say I missed it as well last year. It’s a significant work (at least more significant than the majority of works that were actually nominated). Maybe you will want to add it???

    Liked by 1 person

    • fromcouchtomoon says:

      In order for the Blewgos to truly be the Blewgos, I think it has to be forever an award in progress. I am so glad you mentioned Tigerman. It popped up on some “Best of” lists this time last year, primarily from the British SF neighborhood, but I couldn’t get a sense of what was so great about it. I ended up dismissing it as being in the same vein as Ernest Cline: narrative-built-on=fannish- references. I doubt you would rate something like that so highly, and I know you have excellent taste, so I’m sold:-)

      Hmmm… not sure how to incorporate add-ons, so I think I’ll add this to the list with Unnamed Midwife and revisit it next November???

      Speaking of, I just listened to the Coode Street Year End special. It was kind of disappointing. This time last year, they gave me a huge list of novels to investigate. This year, it took four well-read white men to come up with something around 10 novels that everybody knows about already. Is 2015 just for the big names? At least they uncovered James Bradley’s Clade, which is something that wasn’t at all on my radar.

      I think Nina Allan’s list on her blog the other day was much better at directing away from the mainstream. She would make a great addition to the Coode Street panel next year.

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      • Jesse says:

        Yeah, I listened to that episode of Coode… 2015 was the year I finally got frustrated with the patience Gary and Jonathan have for heart-of-the-genre material. I no longer listen religiously. Thus hearing their recommendations was largely disappointing. Gary in particular seems more driven by what people around him say (i.e. it’s rare to hear him disagree), and so to see him rate Bacigalupi (something like the Joe Abercrombie of science fiction) so high, is annoying. And to hear two additional older white guys pontificate… well, as you say, it could have been better. Paul Kincaid, for as intellectual as he sounds, has trouble escaping a ‘traditional British sf is best’ perspective. Thankfully Roberts has a much broader view… (If your interested, his Guardian article expands his best of 2015, and touches upon a book I will be recommending as the best of 2015, Anne Charnock’s Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind. Get onboard before 2015’s Blewgos arrive!!)

        Bradley’s Clade has been on my radar for a while, it’s just getting a copy at a reasonable price that’s so damn tough. Thanks for pointing me toward the Spider’s House. Every three or four months I visit some of my favorite authors’ websites, including hers. But I haven’t been recently, so thanks for the head’s up.

        And yeah, Tigerman is far from just playing games with comic book superheroes. I don’t know if you’ve read Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, but Harkaway captures a similar (literary) tone while using genre material…

        Like

        • fromcouchtomoon says:

          I saw Roberts’ article in the Guardian, which I was also disappointed by because it felt so generically predictable. (Which is partly the fault of tiny word count The Guardian gives him.) Then to hear the same names again during the podcast was disappointing. It may just be a disappointing, big-name-only year: ripe for more Blewgos, perhaps. I will definitely look out for Charnock, however 🙂

          Funny you think Wolfe agrees with people too much. Strahan always seems to go in irrelevant directions, so I’m often glad when Wolfe finally speaks up to reframe things. That said, he and Strahan have a lot of cringe-worthy white guy moments– (Strahan can’t seem to mention one Asian author without mentioning another Asian author in the same breath, regardless of the lack of literary similarities). This last episode being the crown example: spend all year talking about women in SF, then invite two more white guys to talk about the best of the year, and acknowledge the misstep like they didn’t notice it until they started recording. Stop recording and call up one of your recent guests, guys.

          Like

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