Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004) by Susanna Clarke

JonathanStrange2Nikki at Book Punks recently did an interesting post about books that break books. In other words, books that are so good that no other book can ever be enjoyed again. Book Breakers. Story Smashers. Reader Eradicators.

My book breaking moment—a definitive moment in my life— occurred a little over a decade ago. I came upon it during a, at the time, typical aimless dance of bookstore aisle gazing, common to the unobsessed lay readers of the book world. Usually dissatisfying results, but this time… there it was. Eggshell-colored cover. Black typewriter font. Simple. Minimal. Zero hot chicks with guns.

What can I say? It caught my eye. So I took it home with me.

I would love to say that I was immediately whisked into a world of wizardry and wonder, where I engorged myself on the text in a weekend, and then called in sick on Monday because my brain was still spinning, but that’s not how it happened.

It sat by my bed for months. I read a little some nights. It was cute. Dry.

But then, at some point, it went from bedraggling to bedazzling. I couldn’t put it down. I LIVED IN IT. I caught on to what Clarke was doing and she opened my eyes to what fiction could do. I wasn’t able to enjoy another SF novel for another TEN WHOLE YEARS.

Clarke didn’t just break books for me. She murdered them. Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1994!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is today, August 17th at LonCon3! As we count down to the big moment, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 20 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, 1984 & 2004.)

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1994 Winner

1994 was a good year. The U.S. enjoyed an economic boom, gas was 99 cents per gallon, and Kim Stanley Robinson won the Hugo Best Novel Award for Green Mars!

 

 

 

The other nominees weren’t bad, either: Continue reading

Let’s Go To the Hugos: 1984!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 30 years ago! (See my previous posts on 195419641974, & 2004.)

StartideRising(1stEd)

1984 Hugo Winner

1984 brought us crack-cocaine, minivans, and the discovery of the AIDS virus. Kathryn Sullivan became the first woman to walk in space, Apple’s Mac PC was released to the technomasses, while The Karate Kid, Sixteen Candles, The Terminator, Ghostbusters, The NeverEnding Story, and This is Spinal Tap! transformed 80’s pop culture.

And David Brin’s Startide Rising won the 1984 Hugo Award for Best Novel! Continue reading

1939 Retro Hugo Awards Announced!

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Today at LonCon3 the winners of the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards were announced. See the full list here. Mary Robinette Kowal (Shades of Milk and Honey, 2010) and Rob Shearman (Doctor Who) hosted the event, which looked dazzling on Ustream.tv, even though none of us viewers could really hear what was going on. I would normally comment on the clever things people said and did, but because I couldn’t hear anything, I’m going to take the vain route and say that Mary looked gorgeous and I want her dress.

The winners [my comments in green]: Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1954!

The 1939 Retro Hugo Awards ceremony is this Thursday, August 14th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the last group of Retro Hugo Best Novel nominees.

Next up: 60 years ago! (See my previous posts on 19641974, and 2004.)

Fahrenheit_451_1st_ed_coverIn 2004, Hugo voters had an opportunity to vote for the Retro Hugos of 1954 because no best novel category was offered at the 1954 LonCon I Hugo Awards ceremony. (The 2014 WorldCon will host the 1939 Retro Hugos.)

In 1954, Vietnam heated up, McCarthyism peaked, and Brown v. the Board of Education abolished systematic segregation of U.S. schools. William Golding published Lord of the Flies, the first Godzilla film premiered in Japan, and Burger King opened its doors.

And Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 might have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel? Maybe? Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 2004!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: 10 years ago! (See my previous posts on 1964 and 1974.)

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2004 Winner!

2004: Not a good year. It began with promise when Opportunity knocked on Mars, and Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, but another divisive U. S. presidential election, followed by the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami ended the year on a depressing note.

Plus, Facebook launched, making it possible for grandparents worldwide to argue with other elderly family members in a public forum. Yay for technology. Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1974!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

Next up: forty years ago! (See my previous post on 1964.)

rendezvouswithrama1stUK1974: Nixon resigns, “Lucy” is discovered, and the world population reaches 4 billion. Stephen King publishes Carrie, the Rubik’s Cube is invented, and Dungeons & Dragons is released.

And Arthur C. Clarke wins the Hugo Award for Best Novel for Rendezvous with Rama (1973). Continue reading

Let’s Go to the Hugos: 1964!

The 2014 Hugo Awards ceremony is this Sunday, August 17th at LonCon3. As we count down to the big day, let’s review the best novel nominees from previous decades.

First up: Fifty years ago!

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1964 Hugo winner

1964: the U. S. abolishes legalized racial segregation, Nelson Mandela is sentenced to life in prison, and Che Guevara has a nice chat with the United Nations. The Beatles invade the west, Diet Pepsi is introduced, and Stanley Kubrick releases “Dr. Strangelove.”

… and Clifford Simak wins the Hugo Award for his 1963 novel Here Gather the Stars (Way Station) at Pacificon II in Oakland, CA in September.

 

I was -15 years old. Too young to vote, I suppose. Continue reading

My Thoughts on the 1939 Retro Hugos: A Sampling

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Read with caution.

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Avoid this.

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Read this.

Due to the likely obstacles that come with obtaining the rights to 75-year-old fiction and converting it to digital format, the 1939 Retro Hugo packet was released just five weeks before ballots were due, with incomplete categories that were riddled with typos. Plus, I was offline for a month.

But, no worries! I didn’t vote, but I got some of the reading done! Here are my thoughts: Continue reading

My Thoughts on the 2014 Hugo Noms: Novellas

Voting closed last Thursday for the 2014 Hugo Awards and 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. I managed to read for some of the categories, and here are my thoughts.

BEST NOVELLA OF 2014

My ranking order (best to worst):

Two of the stories in this category were so good they put a goofy grin on my face like a fiction-based narcotic. If you want to be pinned to the couch for most of an entire day, read Six-Gun Snow White (I’m starting to think that Valente can write anything), and “Wakulla Springs” (gorgeous and brilliant, and kind of not really SF, which is the best kind of SF). If you can ignore the terrible art and RPG background that supports The Butcher of Khardov, it’s a basic premise, but well-written, and I enjoyed the characterization. As much as I appreciate Stross’ jabbing at Lovecraft’s limp attempts at horror, “Equoid” is too colloquial and superficial (like a bare-bones, British version of The Dresden Files), and “The Chaplain’s Legacy” was so terrible, shoddy, and formulaic, it made me angry. Had I not been on vacation, my Twitter feed would have been filled with venomous expletives about this story.

It was tough choosing between “Wakulla Springs” and Six Gun Snow White. Ultimately, my top choice is “Wakulla Springs,” which dances at the fringes of imagination like a horror movie that won’t reveal the monster. Both are excellent reads, though.