The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray

As we inch closer to the unveiling of the official Clarke Award shortlist on Wednesday, I should spend the next few days sharing my final three reviews from my own shortlist for the Shadow Clarke jury. These last three selections are the strongest novels on my own list, and even though my own further reading from the submissions list (and further debate with my fellow shadow jurors) has led me to reassess my shortlist, I have a personal interest in seeing that these novels get some well-deserved attention.

First up this week, I bring you The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray. This novel speaks to my heart, being both fannish and faanish (a new word I learned! thanks for the insult!) in its special way, and it often sparked genuine laugh-somewhat-audibly moments. Looking back, I have more reservations about it than I did when I wrote this review. Being a time-wimey type book, the plot is a bit complicated and, inevitably, unsatisfying. Being a lit-fic crossover, the aesthetic is a bit dry, the protagonist is a bit self-absorbed, and it kind of reeks of yuppiness. I’m not sure I can think of the kind of reader who would champion this novel on any shortlist, but I had a good time with nearly all 500+ pages of it.

Comments on the Shadow Clarke blog suggest an uncanny similarity with Ned Beauman’s The Teleportation Accident (2012)… if anyone cares to investigate the resemblance, let me know. I’m curious.

*****

This is the first novel I’ve read from my shortlist that feels like it belongs on the actual Clarke shortlist. Written by a genre outsider, but built definitively upon a classic sci-fi concept, and clearly aware of decades of science fiction fandom and inside jokes, it ticks a few those well-established Clarke-preferred boxes. It’s also quite enjoyable for those same reasons. Continue reading

The Torture of the Shadower: The 2017 #ShadowClarke

Cool things happening…

Recently, Anglia Ruskin University launched the online ARU Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy, spearheaded by Dr. Helen Marshall, in order to “explore science fiction and fantasy as products that depend on the interaction of literary and visual media and that are constructed by both the publishing industry and fan communities,” with plans to launch a master’s degree in SFF in 2018.

That alone is exciting news, but one of the first big projects of the Centre is to act as the central hub for the doings of the Clarke Award shadow jury, announced last week, which will work to bring robust discussion and debate to the Arthur C. Clarke Award, a juried UK SF award that is known for being both prestigious and controversial.

As you might know, I have informally shadowed current and vintage lists for the past few years, and my own experience with the Clarke Award has been short and rather grumpy (and podcasted!), so much so, that I maybe declared last year that I would never read the shortlist again. Now I’ve been made a liar.

This has been in the works for a long time, and I am delighted to finally be able to share that I am one of the nine jurors to shadow the Clarke Award this year, along with some of my favorite book people: Nina Allan, Vajra Chandrasekera, David Hebblethwaite, Victoria Hoyle, Dr. Nick Hubble, Paul Kincaid, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and Jonathan McCalmont. Out of this group of accomplished writers, critics, editors, and academics, I will be playing the part of amateur American blogger who sometimes likes what she reads. You can find all of our bios here. (Mine’s a bit… rude.) (And, yes, that is me with the donut. It was alright.)

I don’t know how I landed on this shadow jury, but I have respected and admired all of these people from afar, and am thrilled to have an opportunity to work and debate with them.

It seems I wasn’t far off by predicting that Valentine’s Day will kick off the 2017 SFF book award season, as the Clarke Award submissions list will drop this Tuesday. Each shadow juror will examine the (likely) 100+ submissions list for their own personal shortlist of six faves and/or most anticipated novels, and begin reading up. In the meantime, over the coming weeks, the ARU Centre for SFF will begin posting each shadow juror’s manifesto.

Some links if you’d like to brush up on the whole, quoting Vajra here, Sharkenado:

BBC announcement

Dr. Helen Marshall’s intro piece

Nina Allan’s intro piece at her blog

Nina Allan’s manifesto

Paul Kincaid’s introduction from The Arthur C. Clarke Award: A Critical Anthology

Victoria Hoyle’s booktube explanation about the process

On twitter: @csffanglia and #shadowclarke

 

To my vintage SF friends, I promise I’ll return to the land of the neglected and forgotten in the latter half of this year, but for now: Nina. Effing. Allan. I’m sure you understand.

 

 

Summer 2016 Reading Review

August is always a difficult and hectic time for me, but this month in particular has been extra difficult and hectic, no thanks to my particular sick anthill of work being extra sick and chaoticky, which I can usually forgive when I see it simply as the flaws of capitalism manifesting in the public sector, but this year, I can actually attribute our problems to some real concrete things that nobody can do anything about anyway. So I’ve been busy. I hope it wasn’t too apparent in my posts.

Since my last reading review post, I ditched the States, saw some sights, picked up a Peruvian parasite, and then returned home in order to burn out on stupid SF book awards. 70757 Continue reading

The 2016 Clarke Award Shortlist: Surface, Contrivance, & Salience

Perhaps most indicative of the mood surrounding the 2016 Clarke Award shortlist is that most of the discussion is about the Clarke Award itself, rather than the mostly baffling list of novels the jury selected this year. It’s a fairly cut-and-dry list that doesn’t garner much debate or consideration; each book seems to inspire unequivocal feels from most readers, but they do make a odd collection when taken together. After much thinking, and some discussion with Jonah Sutton-Morse and Maureen K. Speller on the Cabbages & Kings podcast, it seems some themes of kinship have emerged from what is an otherwise unfocused and random-looking award list.

There is more than one way to slice this, but I think the following pairings seem to suit: Surface. Contrivance. Salience.

 

Surface: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Way Down Dark Continue reading

Month in Review: May 2016

If it feels like this month at FC2M has been more gleefully contemptuous than usual, it’s only because I’m scraping the bottom of the Hugo ‘6 list, despite my careful planning to mix up the worthy classics with the dross. It’s not an even list to begin with, but man, those eighties, nineties, and aughties are painful to assign in any order. No amount of sugar makes Hominids go down easy.

 

Stuff I blogged Continue reading