A (very) late review of the 2015 Kitschies Red Tentacle Shortlist

Yesterday, I brought you my thoughts on the 2015 Kitschies Golden Tentacle shortlist (the newbie award). Today, I bring you my thoughts on the Red Tentacle shortlist (ie the established writer’s award).


This year’s breakneck pace between shortlist announcement and award ceremony made it impossible for most people to play along at home with The Kitschies’ search for the most progressive, intelligent, and entertaining speculative fiction. A full list of ten novels, five book covers, and five digital creations (one of which is another novel), is a lot to digest in a matter of weeks. Without a chance of making the deadline, I opted to string out my Kitschies reading for most of the year.

So, ten months later… I give you my impressions of the Kitschies Red Tentacle list. In short, this is a good list, notwithstanding a couple of odd inclusions.

I reviewed the Golden Tentacle list here.

The Red Tentacle list (the old hat veteran writer award) Continue reading

A (very) late review of the 2015 Kitschies Golden Tentacle Shortlist

This year’s breakneck pace between shortlist announcement and award ceremony made it impossible for most people to play along at home with The Kitschies’ search for the most progressive, intelligent, and entertaining speculative fiction. A full list of ten novels, five book covers, and five digital creations (one of which is another novel), is a lot to digest in a matter of weeks. Without a chance of making the deadline, I opted to string out my Kitschies reading for most of the year.

So, ten months later… I give you my impressions of the Kitschies Golden Tentacle list. In short, this is a very good list. Continue reading

We barely put away the pumpkins and the post-election tissues and they’re already decorating for list-making season

Hey friends: How ya doin? How you holding up? Still breathing? British friends: Did we cause some retrauma over there? Some secondhand trauma? I’d give you all a nice one-armed side hug with a shoulder squeeze if I could.

I, thank the granfalloon, was busy most of last night, and by the time I got home it already wasn’t looking good. I had a minor moment of obsessive electoral count refreshing, but when Florida went all red, I went to bed. It was done. I’ve been through this before.

Some good news from this election: Continue reading

Radiomen (2015) by Eleanor Lerman

images-2When Eleanor Lerman’s Radiomen won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year back in August–out of ten other much more widely talked about, publicized, and celebrated SF novels–it absolutely caught my attention. Compared to its shortlisted peers (even Linda Nagata’s initially self-published series), Radiomen seemed to come out of nowhere, having appeared on zero other SF shortlists–not even the 218-item Tiptree recommendation list!– and absent from any of the SF discourse I usually observe. Even after winning the award, the book seems to have drifted back into obscurity, despite having won against an impressive and critically solid shortlist (not counting the few bits of gristle I’m choosing to ignore). I don’t know how this small press gem wound up on the shortlist, but the Campbell Memorial Award jury did us a service to bring it out into the open like this.

So why isn’t anyone talking about it? Continue reading

All Flesh is Grass (1965) by Clifford D. Simak

allfleshisgrass I want to take back what I said in my monthly review about this Simak novel being more wacky than contemplative. Looking back, I see no reason why I would say such a thing. In a way, it reminds me of his Time is the Simplest Thing (1961), which is wacky–or whacked out, rather–with a giant pink alien blob and meat plants and a kind of Halloween motif, but All Flesh is Grass isn’t quite that ridiculous, so maybe what I meant to say was that it’s ‘colorful.’ Continue reading

The Gracekeepers (2015) by Kirsty Logan

images“While we realize it’s not a crime to be creepy…”

I enjoyed a momentary snicker at that quote from a local newspaper a few weeks ago when it addressed our own local epidemic of painted jokers who were creeping in parks at midnight and scaring kids, prompting superfluous arrests and increased weapons sales. (Not that it takes much to do that around here.) But it also marked a moment of fiction-reality overlap that spun my own rational stability into a tailspin.

My sense of estrangement occurred just before the peak of public hysteria, when I pulled into the parking lot of my place of work at 7:30 am and nearly collided head-on with a swerving red car driven by a blue-wigged, red-suited individual. Naturally, I forgot the incident just seconds after they zoomed by, and went about my day, only recalling it hours later, just after the explosion of local and national headlines, arrests, and pepper spray kiosks, prompting me to wonder if I had really seen what thought I had seen, or if the day’s events had somehow transformed the memory in my mind.

It’s an odd feeling when you think you can’t trust your own memory. Continue reading