The 2015 BSFA Best Novel Rundown: My Thoughts

The 2015 BSFA Award winners were announced this weekend! Here’s my rundown on the Best Novel shortlist.

After discovering new favorites on previous BSFA award lists, and thoroughly enjoying five-eighths of the BSFA Best Novel shortlist last year, I finally got myself a BSFA membership, perhaps becoming the only Texas member of the British Science Fiction Association. I didn’t nominate or vote because it just doesn’t feel right to do so as an outsider, but I do like to play along and support things I like. Call me a shadow member.

I didn’t experience as much delight with this year’s BSFA Best Novel list, (and no, I haven’t yet touched the short fiction nominees, though I might do a rundown of the really fab nonfiction nominees later on), but this selection of novels is way more interesting than this year’s Hugo list that hasn’t been determined yet but I’m probably right.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the 2015 British Science Fiction Association Best Novel shortlist: Continue reading

The Moon is a Harsh Maestro- Luna: New Moon (2015) by Ian McDonald

Luna1It’s no secret that Ian McDonald’s latest novel, Luna (2015), is an interrogation of a certain specimen of canon clogger, the kind I complain about all the time, and I suspect, though I have neither read nor heard this, that it’s also a kind of submission to criticism that his work too often represents White literary appropriation of non-White cultures. Fine, fine, I’ll go elsewhere, McDonald seems to be saying, backing away from the third world, placating the critics with a book about the moon. In space, no one can hear your appetite for third world exoticism. Continue reading

River of Gods (2004) by Ian McDonald

RiverofGods1Rich in content, dazzling in delivery, McDonald’s 2004 collage of near-future India is a deeper pre-echo of its 2010 sibling The Dervish House: a multi-character exploration of culture and high-tech speculations that clash amidst an urban heat wave. Less friendly, with less charm and more grit than The Dervish House, there’s no cute little boy with his toy bot to sweeten the plot when things get ugly.

As with all culture novels written by an outsider, the outsider reader must go in with hesitation; this cannot be the book to define India, no matter how well-rounded and respectful its depiction may appear. This can only be a book to define McDonald’s visions of technological and social evolution in a third-world society.

It’s the year 2047, the centennial of Indian Independence,

Continue reading

The Dervish House (2010) by Ian McDonald

Check out my Dervish House bloggersation with blogbuddy Matt from Books, Brains, and Beer.

TheDervishHouseWe choose our friends, not our family… but what of our neighbors? Those non-blood non-friends with whom we share geography and often nothing more, who force awkward small talk at the mailbox, whose kids’ bike tires streak the driveway, who happen to be there when the ambulance arrives. We hold them in an arms-length intimacy– ‘I hate cleaning after your messy pine tree, but I might need you if I sprain my ankle on my jog.’ (But how many ugly pickups do you really need?)

The Dervish House is a story about neighbors: a small, diverse Istanbul community, which populates an aging, neglected plaza that once housed an order of dervishes. Its inhabitants are as varied and complex as the city itself, where a cataclysm of worlds, cultures, and ideas collide and spill over the Bosphorus strait. At Adem Dede, the dervish house, rival tea houses stare each other down, old Greek immigrants gossip and argue, an art dealer prowls for religious artifacts, a pothead hides from his family, and a precocious nine-year-old with a heart condition explores the world through his bitbots (the coolest toy ever!). Continue reading