Book Award News
I doubt it means anything that the sky suddenly opened up and hailed for five minutes right after I saw the Hugo shortlists, but that’s what happened. 4000 votes seems less like redoubled dog efforts and more like a galvanized voting community with little ballot overlap and little interest in the anything but the novel category. I just like to see my own nominees on the voting stats list in August… at the very bottom of the list probably… but still.
I haven’t had much time to read up on reactions, etc., so I may need someone to explain to me the gay porn guy on the ballot. Which is all I’m really interested in anyway. Is this is a good thing or a dog thing?
On a more interesting note, the 2016 Clarke Award shortlist was also announced. Critical expectations always seem greater than what the Clarkes end up delivering, so again, I find myself glancing back at The Kitschies and BSFA lists with more fondness. Still, I was already curious about some of these Clarke shortlisted novels, so it seems a good enough excuse to read the list.
My blogging is finally catching up to my reading, meaning I’m back to posting one review per week, with the exception of a few upcoming and occasional mad scrambles. One weekly review is fun; any more than that is a total drag.
…which explains my PKD BINGO posts. In April, I blogged and BINGOed about VALIS (1981), the most self-aware novel I’ve read by PKD so far. Dick’s signature lack of self-awareness is his greatest weakness in his writing– all those unexamined character behaviors (arrogance, self-heroism, sexism, blue-collar fallacies) undermine his underdog approach. I never buy his “poor, oppressed rebel-man schtick.” VALIS was a refreshing change because he pokes fun at himself and the therapy scenes go deeper than I expected.
I followed VALIS with a review of The Thing Itself (2015) by Adam Roberts, which is daunting and gorgeous and progressive, while true to the spirit of classic SF. Yes, it is ridiculous it didn’t make the Clarke shortlist.
Then I did a compilation post about my first forays into Military SF, and I got a little flack from outside sources for covering the same big names. As a perpetual blog-skimmer, I’m the last to criticize folks for not reading every single word, however, I thought my introduction sufficiently explained the purpose of the post, which was definitely not intended as a “Best of” promotional list. One of the purposes of this blog (as it has evolved) is to examine and take down the SF canon, particularly the shitty Hugos. I should probably post that somewhere, but no one would read it anyway.
Anyway, The Forever War can stay.
I ended the month on a high note with Walk to the End of the World (1974) by Suzy McKee Charnas. It’s easy to get bogged down in the tedium of intricate character relations of science-fantasy novels, but Charnas pulls a big narrative twist toward the end that reframes the entire novel as something more powerful than it first seems. Also, the atmosphere-building is incredibly dense, yet surprising in its simplicity.
This month was busy and my mind was elsewhere. My audio selections Just. Did. Not. Work., which meant most of my reading was relegated to my limited sit-down-and-focus time. This resulted in much book rotation, just to break up some really dull reads. That said, I read exactly what I said I would read, although I didn’t actually complete the entire list until May 1st. I’m counting it this time.
The Stochastic Man (1975) by Robert Silverberg ✓
Loved, as expected.
Doorways in the Sand (1975) by Roger Zelazny ✓
LOVED, even better than …And Call Me Conrad.
Ender’s Game (1985) by Orson Scott Card ✓
Eh, you know, begrudgingly good read.
Blood Music (1985) by Greg Bear ✓
SF Masterwork, my ass.
The Heritage of Hastur (1975) by Marion Zimmer Bradley ✓
Points for complex LGBTQ themes. That’s about it, but that’s a pretty big deal for 1975.
The Divine Invasion (1981) by Philip K. Dick✓
And I thought I was the one drifting…
Books To Be Read
Learning the World (2005) by Ken McLeod
A new author to me. Also, I’m failing at the “Guess the plot/theme/metaphor from the title” Game.
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982) by Philip K. Dick
VALIS #3. Save me from Dick trying to save himself.
Footfall (1985) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
This will be the one that finally wins me over to Niven and Pournelle. I’m sure of it.
The Computer Connection (1975) by Alfred Bester
The Exile Waiting (1975) by Vonda N. McIntyre
Kate’s review is intriguing.
Plus, I’m still eyeing that tantalizing Kitchies Golden Tentacle list from earlier this year, and that freshly-minted Clarke list is begging for a perusal. Maybe this will be the month I find time for some newer releases.
April 2016 Book Tallies
Books blogged: 7
Books read: 6
Books about aliens: 3
Books about AI: 2
Books about telepathy: 2
Books about post-apocalypse: 0
Books about pre-apocalypse, sort of: 2
Books about artificially-intelligent superbugs that will infect us all and then transform us, thereby saving the planet from humanity: 1
Books that have me this close to saying, “fuck it, I need to read The Bible first”: 1
Books that kind of make it difficult to not see signals of then-future, now-past sexual abuse controversies, but maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m not: 1
Best prose: Doorways in the Sand
Best doze: Heritage of Hastur