I bought this as a result of attending a presentation by the author in Brussels in January (you'll hear me contributing to the discussion from about 58:48 onwards). It's lucid, enjoyable and moving - an account purely of one action on the battlefield that day, the ultimately unsuccessful defence of La Haye Sainte by the King's German Legion, a force of expat soldiers, originally exiles from Hanover, who held their position throughout the course of the day, absorbing massive amounts of fire from the French. Simms draws some wider lessons about European defence cooperation from the episode which I don't think are really valid, but the rest of it is an entertaining and enlightening description of a small but crucial episode.

Alas, I've left it too late to sort out my bicentennial tickets. But where there's a will, there's a way...

Links I found interesting for 19-04-2015

To a happier part of the 2015 Hugo discussion. I really enjoyed this graphic story about a teenage Pakistani-American girl in New Jersey who acquires super powers. It deftly combined a number of familiar tropes, from Buffy and urban fantasy on the one hand and the increasing literature about being a non-white kid in a new and largely white country on the other, and was also very entertaining. In this category at least, I may have a tough choice.

On crowdsourcing Hugo nominations

Someone sensible has looked at how the available data compares with Brad Torgerson's claim to have drawn up his Hugo nominations slate with "the democratic selection system of the Hugo awards... No “quiet” logrolling. Make it transparent."

It's clear from the figures that of the five novels recommended by Brad Torgerson, only three were actually recommended by his readers. They were Trial by Fire by Charles E. Gannon (unsuccessful); Skin Game, by Jim Butcher (successful) and Monster Hunter Nemesis, by Larry Correia (declined nomination). The other two on the slate received no mention at all when Torgerson asked for nominations. They were The Dark Between the Stars, by Kevin J. Anderson (successful); and Lines of Departure, by Marko Kloos (withdrawn).

Less easily visible, but equally interesting: four other novels were mentioned by three people each on Torgerson's discussion, and were unaccountably omitted from his slate when he proposed it. They were A Sword Into Darkness, by Thomas A. Mays; The Martian, by Andy Weir; Judge of Ages, by John C. Wright; and The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast, by Jack Campbell. Another 21 novels received a nomination each, which is one nomination more than Anderson's or Kloos's. I have read and enjoyed The Martian, which has far more owners on both LibraryThing and Goodreads than any other sf novel in the awards process so far this year, and it strikes me as exactly the kind of old-fashioned science fiction that some regret is not getting due recognition these days.

For Best Novella, "The Plural of Helen of Troy", by John C. Wright, got three nominations and was on Torgerson's slate. But the slate also included "Big Boys Don't Cry", by Tom Kratman, which had no nominations in Torgerson's crowdsourced discussion; and it did not include "Island in a Sea of Stars" by Kevin J. Anderson, which got two nominations, nor "Sixth of the Dusk" by Brandon Sanderson, which got one.

For Best Novelette, four stories were each proposed once in Torgerson's discussion. Torgerson's slate, however, comprised four completely different nominees which had not been mentioned in that discussion, and none of those that were.

Similarly, for Best Short Story, two potential nominees got more than one mention in Togerson's discussion. They were "Domo", by Joshua M. Young, which got a massive five (more than anything else in any category except Interstellar), and "Queen of the Tyrant Lizards" by John C. Wright, which got two. Neither, however, appeared on Torgerson's slate. Another 18 stories were each mentioned once in the "crowdsourcing" discussion. Two of those did make it to Torgerson's slate, as did two stories that had not been mentioned in the discussion.

In other words, of the 16 written fiction nominees on Torgerson's slate, 11 - more than two-thirds - had not actually been nominated by anyone in the crowd-sourced discussion from which, we are told, the slate emerged.

William Hartnell as Cliff Richard's father

doctor who
Thanks to the brilliant Twitter-sleuthing of Gareth Roberts, we have William Hartnell playing Cliff Richard's father in an episode of a 1969 series called Life With Johnny, so obscure that it is absent from IMDB (which generally seems to include everything down to drama students' five-minute final year projects). There were six episodes in total, each of which had Johnny (as played by Cliff) learning a valuable life lesson the hard way; three of them, including one of the two in which William Hartnell appeared, are lost, and three survive. The show was made by one of the minor ITV franchises, Tyne Tees, and was never picked up by the bigger ITV regions, which is one reason why it has remained quite so obscure. (Maybe not the only reason. The opening song includes the glorious lyrics: "Johnny cares about war! / Johnny cares about cancer! / Johnny wonders if there's any hope / wonders if there is an answer!")

The surviving episode with Hartnell is "Johnny Come Home", based on the parable of the Prodigal Son. Cliff and his band, the Settlers, squeeze six songs into the 21 minutes of the show. It also features Lynda Marchal, better known now as writer Lynda La Plante, as Johnny's girlfriend at home, and Una Stubbs as his girlfriend in London (desperately doing a regional accent, and with Cindy Kent dubbing her songs, but dancing very well). The Hartnell sections are a decent scene starting at 4:25 and a concluding line at 18:57, with no sign of the health difficulties that made it difficult for him to take on substantial roles after Who.

Considering the symbolism of the original parable, we may reflect that Hartnell's last surviving non-Who appearance has him playing God.

The other surviving episodes are "Up the Creek", an update of the Good Samaritan to include racism which also features a rather weird cover of the Beatles' "Help!" at 9:59; and "Johnny Faces Facts", a rather laboured extension of the mote and beam to a full episode which ends with a song and dance routine in front of a backlit cross, just in case you were wondering where all this was leading.

This not high art, but it's interesting to see what you could get away with in the late 1960s. Well done to Gareth Roberts for uncovering a Youtube video which had actually been online since 2011 - clearly there's not a huge overlap between Whovians and fans of Cliff's more obscure backlist.

Links I found interesting for 18-04-2015


Thursday reading

One thing I've been doing this week is polishing off the Clarke Award backlist, reading the first 50 pages of books that I had not got around to earlier in the process. One of them was so enjoyable that I read it to the end, but it was clearly not science fiction. None of the others were shortlist material either. Just a few more to go...

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (a chapter a day)
Watership Down, by Richard Adams (a chapter a week)
Scales of Gold, by Dorothy Dunnett
Here's One I Wrote Earlier, by Peter Purves

Last books finished
μ4 - 50 pages 
ν4 - 50 pages 
ξ4 - 50 pages
ο4 - 50 pages
Timeless by Steve Cole
π4 - 50 pages
ρ4 - 50 pages
σ4 - 60 pages
τ4 - enjoyed this so much that I read it to the end
Ship of Fools, by Dave Stone
υ4 - 50 pages
φ4 - 50 pages 
χ4 - 50 pages
Lethbridge-Stewart: Top Secret Files, by Andy Frankham-Allen, Nick Walters, Graeme Harper and David A. McIntee
ψ4 - 50 pages
ω4 - 50 pages
Kushiel's Justice, by Jacqueline Carey
α5 - 50 pages
β5 - 50 pages
γ5 - 50 pages
δ5 - 50 pages
ε5 - 50 pages

Last week's audios
The Romance of Crime, by Gareth Roberts, adapted by John Dorney

Next books
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Stopping for a Spell, by Diana Wynne Jones

Books acquired in last week
Tales from the Secret Annexe, by Anne Frank
De dagboeken van Anne Frank; wetenschappelijke editie
The Ragged Astronauts, by Bob Shaw
Ms Marvel, vol 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson et al

On the disintegration of the Hugo slates

Marko Kloos withdraws his novel Lines of Departure from the Hugos.
Annie Bellet withdraws her story "Goodnight Stars" from the Hugos.

As I said previously, both authors had my sympathy for being dragged unwittingly into Beale's campaign to destroy the Hugos. They both now have my deep respect.
This is just to correct one of the many talking points floating around the Hugo nominations. There is a conspiracy theory that Loncon 3 informed the Guardian ahead of time that Larry Correia's Warbound had been nominated for the 2014 Hugo for Best Novel, and as part of the evil conspiracy between Worldcon and the liberal press, the Guardian then commissioned Damien Walter to write a hit piece about Correia, so as to poison the latter's reputation in advance of the Hugo ballot's publication.

I know for sure that the timing of Damien Walter's piece was definitely not because the Guardian knew the details of the Hugo ballot before 11 April. I know this because, in my capacity as Loncon 3's Director of Promotions, it was I who sent that information to the Guardian on 17 April, six days after Damien Walters' article was published, and two days before the ballot was announced on 19 April. I myself saw the shortlist for the first time only on 14 April, three days after the publication of Damien Walters' article (which I don't think I had read until just now).

It is normal practice in media relations to give trusted and reliable outlets advance information of an upcoming announcement (especially if they ask really nicely), on the understanding that it won't be revealed until the agreed time ("under embargo" in the jargon). In this case I admit that it only partially paid off, as fully half of the article discussed the Wheel of Time nomination. I would have preferred the other finalists, including Correia, to get more equal coverage in the piece, and also to have had some mention of the other categories apart from Best Novel, but of course I had no control over what the Guardian wrote, and I was really just glad to get a generally positive story about Loncon 3. In fairness to the journalist, she was probably right to link her story about the (comparatively less well-known) Hugos to the Jordan/Sanderson epic, which many more readers will have heard of.

I don't know why Damien Walter's article (which incidentally mentions Correia in only one of its seven paragraphs, rather lame for a "hit piece") was published on 11 April, fully two months after the debate about Alex Dally McFarlane's Tor.com article about gender in sf; but I'm not particularly interested in that question. I do know that Damien Walter had no information about what was on the Hugo ballot before that was made public on 19 April; he wasn't even on our media release distribution list, then or at any stage of proceedings.

My saying this won't satisfy the conspiracy theorists, but I hope it will reassure the uncertain.

More on the translation of Anne Frank

Having mused on (and been bemused by) by divergences in the text of the published Diary of Anne Frank a couple of months ago, I was pleased to find a copy of the 1989 scholarly edition with parallel texts from the three versions (Anne's original 'a' text, her revised 'b' text and the 'c' text that her father published). I'll consider it at my leisure, but I feel like sharing the introduction of the dentist (real name Pfeffer, code-named Dussel in the first published version) as it's rather entertaining.

Read more...Collapse )

I don't plan to go though it systematically, but I will keep it on the shelf to look at now and again. It's always interesting to see how a text emerges.
Details here. The Wright story was on Beale's slate only, the Pro Artist nominee was on both slates. The new Novelette nomination in non-slate; the new Pro Artist is a Rabid.

Two books about Belgium

The Charm of Belgium, by Brian Lunn

Many many thanks for pgmcc for getting this for me, many years ago, and apologies for not getting around to reading it sooner. It's a guidebook to Belgium from 1934, and the copy I have was given to his mother by the author, and then reclaimed by him at a later stage. (His father founded the Lunn Poly travel firm.)

It's interesting just how much of the book is devoted to simply describing the great art on display in each of the large towns - Bruges and Ghent of course get the most coverage by far, but there are decent chapters also on Antwerp, Brussels and "Louvain". It's striking also that the linguistic issue simply isn't mentioned - the street names in Flemish cities are all given in French, so instead of Leuven's main artery being the Bondgenotenlaan we have the Avenue des Alliés of Louvain. At the same time, Lunn does manage to situate the Belgian national character - suspicious of authority, quietly individualistic - in the historical experience of medieval civic and guild autonomy, and it all makes sense.

The author's father founded the travel firm Lunn Poly.

Een geschiedenis van België voor nieuwsgierige kinderen (en hun ouders) by Benno Barnard and Geert Van Istendael

A history of Belgium for curious children and their parents; zooms bracingly through two millennia or so, starting with Julius Caesar. though with some odd editorialising - clerical celibacy? FDR knew about Pearl Harbour in advance? It didn't really linger with me, I'm afraid.

Both books have quite a lot to say about the Battle of the Golden Spurs of 1302, which few outside Belgium will have heard of. Barnard and Van Istendael explain its relevance to the Flemish movement; Lunn situates it as a Belgian rather than Flemish event. Times change, and history sometimes changes with them.
When I saw the domination of this year's Hugo finalists by a slate of works nominated by a misogynist racist and his colluders, my immediate reaction was that I should vote "No Award" ahead of every one of their nominations, no questions asked or quarter given. (I was not alone.)

There has been some debate about this in the last week. Notably, George R.R. Martin, John Scalzi and Mary Robinette Kowal all advocate assessing the Hugo finalists on merit, ie giving the slate nominations an equal chance. On the other hand, Phil Sandifer and Adam Roberts advocate voting No Award in every category, on the grounds that all of this year's Hugos are irretrievably tainted. I certainly don't agree with the latter position; there are no slate nominees in the Best Fan Artist category, and I can certainly choose between the five finalists there with a clear conscience

I was beginning to lean a bit towards making some allowance for those who were unwittingly included on the slate, but do not share its creator's racist and misogynist agenda, such as Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Annie Bellet and Edmund Schubert. Why should they be penalised because of my feelings about the decisions made by others?

But I'm back at my original position. The fact is that most of the slate nominees are on the ballot, not because people enjoyed and appreciated their work and decided to reward them with a Hugo nomination, but because the slate told its supporters to vote that way and they did so, sight unseen. All of the slate nominations are therefore unacceptable, a point made well by Matt Foster, whose wife Eugie, might well have had a chance at a nomination if the slate had not intervened. She will never have another chance to win a Hugo, because she died last September. She, and many other potential finalists, have lost out through the actions of the slate supporters, and by considering the slate nominees at all we compound the damage to them and to us. (Matt's posts in general are a thoughtful and sad response to the situation.)

I agree that some slate nominees are less undeserving than others. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine does great work, and it's a shame that they have been previously overlooked. I hope that will be put right in future years. But the fact is that at least 94 people nominated ASIM this year, whereas in 2013 and 2014 it did not even get into double figures. Along with one of its former editors, whose post on Facebook crystallised these thoughts for me, I simply do not believe that another 84-plus voters suddenly started browsing the ASIM website in the last twelve months, and then reached the point of enthusiasm where they nominated it in good faith alongside John C. Wright's fiction and Vox Day's editorial skills. In fact, I bet that 90% of those who nominated it have never even looked at it, but simply accepted the instructions of the slate.

The list of Hugo finalists has been rigged, and rigged to fit the agenda of a misogynist racist who clearly states that he wants to destroy the Hugos and whose slate designed for that purpose got 61 of its 67 candidates onto the list. (Three of those 61 declined nomination, and one of them has explained why at length.) These nominations were made out of spite, not out of love for the genre, let alone for the Hugos. I feel sorry for those unwittingly caught in the scheme, but there is only one way for me to cast my vote, and that is to rank "No Award" above all the slate candidates. Deirdre Saorse Moen has helpfully listed the remaining finalists.

Two more thoughts. First, I see (second-hand) reports of abusive messages and threats being sent directly to the slate organisers. This is wrong, stupid, dangerous, and a waste of energy. The way to win this is to engage the uncommitted and confused middle ground, not to yell at those who already disagree with you and are entrenched in their positions, let alone to threaten them. It's a very lazy option, sending someone a rude message and then relaxing in the righteous and erroneous glow of having achieved something thereby. Two wrongs don't make a right. Having said that, I note the complaints by the henchmen of the chief slate organiser that they are being unfairly described as racists, when one is married to an African-American and the other is Hispanic. Well, there are words for people in either of those situations who collude with racists on political projects; and one of the politest of those words is "fool". If you choose to ally with a notorious bigot, I am not obliged to research your family circumstances before passing comment.

Second, while I'm unexcited about most of the changes to procedure that have been recommended (though Mike Scott has a good thought), because they will take a couple of years to implement, there is other action that can be taken immediately. Mary Robinette Kowal proposes to donate supporting (ie Hugo-voting) memberships of Sasquan to anyone who asks, unconditionally. As noted above, I think Kowal is wrong on how we individual voters should approach the ballot, but she is dead right that the best future path is a more open and inclusive voting process, and kudos to her for proposing a practical way of making that happen.
Why did I do this?

Back in January, Mental Floss listed the "most famous book set in each US state" (and DC, but not Puerto Rico etc). My patriotic European soul was stirred; there are only slightly more European countries than US states, and it must surely be possible, I thought, to find a moderately well-known book set in each.

I also wanted to test the methodology of comparing statistics from Goodreads and LibraryThing, which I have used in other contexts as well, and see what sort of results it delivered for this exercise. To be honest, I couldn't see any other way of actually measuring which the best known books associated with each country might be. Amazon's statistics are notoriously unreliable; there is no central tally of books sold worldwide. At least GR/LT would provide a starting point.

What did I learn?

First, the task was much more difficult for Europe than the United States because of the variations of size of each location that I considered. The largest US state (California) has about fifty times the population of the smallest (Wyoming). Russia has 160,000 times as many inhabitants as the Vatican, and thousands of times more than the other microstates. Not surprisingly, a lot more books have been set in Russia.

Second, the related point that LibraryThing and Goodreads do indeed have a pretty strong Anglosphere bias, which makes it much more difficult to find books set in certain European countries than in any of the United States. I am certain that some of the smaller linguistic markets have pretty vigorous literary traditions that keep themselves to themselves. Online catalogues can be surprisingly deep in places, but not always as wide of reach as one would like. From the literature available in English which is set there, one could easily conclude that only one thing ever happened in Poland.

Third, there is a clear chronological bias to my methodology. Books which were best-sellers in the ages before the internet achieved its present size have often slipped off the radar screens of Goodreads and LibraryThing users. I had a number of grieved comments about this over the course of the project (thanks particularly to Vlatko), and they have a point. Nobel prize winners of past decades are overtaken by more recent airport thrillers. It has been illuminating and a bit depressing to watch this.

Fourth, books which people think of as being associated closely with a particular country are not necessarily set there, and well-known books set in a particular country may not be generally thought of in that way. The Harry Potter novels are strongly associated with England, although most of most of them is set in Hogwarts, which is explicitly in Scotland. The best-known French novels are set in outer space (Le Petit Prince) and Algeria (L'Étranger). Most novels about Armenia address events that took place outside the boundaries of the current state. The Iliad is set in a named place which is today in Turkey. Perhaps I could have considered looking at the best-known book originally written in each European language instead.

What sorts of book were on the list?

The full list is here. It includes:

Cross-cutting categories:
  • Nine books about the second world war - one non-fiction memoir by a writer who died at Belsen (Netherlands), two Holocaust novels (Ukraine, Poland), another five fictional treatments of other theatres of the conflict (Germany, Slovakia, Estonia, Jersey and Guernsey) and two competing memoirs of the resistance in Belarus.
  • Sixteen books of sixty-four are by women: Wales, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Serbia, Finland, Georgia, Bosnia, Albania, Estonia, Guernsey, Andorra, Åland Islands, Svalbard, San Marino. Also Macedonia credits a woman as co-writer. As far as I know, only the writer of the book set in Austria has a non-European family background. Given the parameters of the project, which was more about mapping the existing patterns of reading behaviour than challenging them, it's not very surprising.

It's a little depressing that potboiler thrillers and airport novels are so visible, particular toward the lower end of the list, but I guess that reflects the parameters I set myself. A poorly researched but glamorous Ruritanian setting can often be an attractive prospect to a writer selling in a market where very few people have heard of Ruritania, let alone been there. This is, of course, a tradition that goes back at least as far as Marlowe and Shakespeare; which doesn't make it right.

But where I've been able to identify local writing, it's been very intriguing and made me want to get hold of those books. Carlos Ruiz Zafón was on my to-read list anyway; but I am adding the likes of Sandor Márai, Tea Olbreht, Sofie Oksanen, Arnaldur Indridason, and Ulla-Lena Lundberg, plus various others who have come up in the course of my research. It's been well worth doing this, and thanks to those of you who contributed to the discussion.
body paint
This was the biography that put Tomalin on the map; I had previously enjoyed her Samuel Pepys and Jane Austen, and this did not disappoint either. I must admit that I knew very little about Wollstonecraft other than that she wrote the Vindication of the Rights of Women and then died giving birth to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. But I now know that hers was a fascinating life at a fascinating time. 

I had simply no idea about any of this, and there was so much to take in: the intellectual ferment of London in the 1780s, the weird and disturbing experience of being a governess in Ireland at Mitchelstown Castle (and the long-term legacy in Mary King's career), the terrifying proximity to the French Revolution, and the final years of struggle culminating in an early death.

The French revolutionary period was particularly fascinating. Maybe twenty-five years ago I read Simon Schama's Citizens, which mainly deals with an earlier stage of proceedings; by the time Mary and her entourage reached Paris, things had got very exciting and very dangerous. She was clearly seduced by the sense that all was possible, and also by a dubious American. By the time the Revolution had started decapitating feminists, Mary and her baby had got away.

The saddest part is her death, due to a partially retained placenta after her second daughter's birth; she appeared to be recovering well at first, but after a few days septicaemia had its horrible way with her. I guess that only modern antibiotics would have really solved the problem, though the medics of the day only made things worse. 

Her gravestone is in Old St Pancras Churchyard in London (though she was reburied in Bournemouth years later by her grandson, Percy Shelley junior). It's close to the Eurostar terminal, and I dropped by the other week to pay my respects. An admirer had left her a Valentine card. I'm not sure that she would have appreciated it; but I did.
picture of tombstoneCollapse )

Links I found interesting for 10-04-2015

One of the complaints I've seen, more than once, from those who believe that the hijacking of the Hugo Awards by racist misogynists was a justifiable tactic, is that back in 2011 a collection of Doctor Who essays by women called Chicks Dig Time Lords defeated a collection of articles by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg in the vote for Best Related Work; this proves, apparently, that chromatic feminists are conspiring against old white men to take away their rightfully earned rewards.

Of course, in 2011 we Hugo voters didn't know that Resnick and Malzberg would become poster boys for one side of the culture war due to the controversy around their column for the SFWA Bulletin in 2013, which ultimately led to the Bulletin itself being suspended and relaunched. I suspect that some people are reading the vote of 2011 retrospectively through a 2013 lens.

I have been poking around online and as far as I can tell, the only person who reviewed both books in advance of the awards was, er, me: see my LJ entries on Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea, and The Business of Science Fiction: Two Insiders Discuss Writing and Publishing, by Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg. I voted for Chicks Dig Time Lords, which is decently internally structured, sticks close to its theme, and admittedly has one or two duff essays but is generally enlightening stuff if you are a Doctor Who fan - possibly even if you aren't. Its title is of course a bit ironic and some people didn't get the joke. (Some people think that "ironic" is a synonym for "ferrous".)

By contrast, the Resnick/Malzberg book really was nothing more than a bunch of old articles assembled between two sets of covers, with no editing or updating; I enjoyed it none the less, but I felt it fell short of being a proper book. When choosing the Best Related Work for the 2011 Hugos, I preferred (and voters preferred) to go for something that feels like a properly finished concept, and which also relates reasonably closely to the view from 2010. If The Business of Science Fiction had actually been edited to look and feel like a book, I would feel a bit more sympathy - but I suspect that most of those now expressing outrage on its behalf have read neither it nor Chicks Dig Time Lords.

As a matter of fact, the Resnick/Malzberg book actually came third, beaten also by the pinko commie Social Justice Warriors who liked Robert A. Heinlein in Dialogue With His Century, Vol 1, by William H. Patterson Jr. It's odd how I don't see any of the slate campaigners complaining about the overlooking of the officially authorised biography of such a crucial figure in the history of sf; but of course they failed to include the second volume, published last year, on their slate so perhaps they are not really all that fond of Heinlein's legacy. I didn't like the Heinlein biography myself, and felt it was deficient as a biography, but I think it objectively meets the criteria of form for Best Related Work of 2011 better than the Resnick/Malzberg book did; Hugo voters in 2011 probably thought so too.

Incidentally the Best Novel winner that year was Connie Willis' Blackout/All Clear. I was very disappointed by that result; as it turns out, I should have counted my blessings.

Thursday Reading

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (a chapter a day)
Watership Down, by Richard Adams (a chapter a week)
Kushiel's Justice, by Jacqueline Carey
Timeless by Steve Cole

Last books finished
Wages of Sin, by Andrew M. Greeley
A Slip of the Keyboard, by Terry Pratchett
Burning Heart, by Dave Stone

Last week's audios
The Romance of Crime, by Gareth Roberts, adapted by John Dorney

Next books
Scales of Gold, by Dorothy Dunnett
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Ship of Fools, by Dave Stone

Books acquired in last week
El Libro del Mar / The Book of the Sea, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia
The Primal Urge, by Brian Aldiss
Comic Inferno, by Brian W. Aldiss
Frankenstein Unbound, by Brian W. Aldiss
Queen of the States, by Josephine Saxton
Valley of Lights, by Steve Gallagher
The Invention of Happiness, by Brian W. Aldiss
Lethbridge-Stewart: The Top-Secret Files, by Andy Frankham-Allen
Sprawl, ed. Alisa Krasnostein

Arthur C. Clarke Award 2015 shortlist

The Arthur C. Clarke Award 2015 shortlist has been announced. For obvious reasons, I'm not going to make further comment, but here are the Goodreads/LibaryThing stats for the six shortlisted novels.

Author Title GR owners GR ave rating LT owners LT ave rating
Emily St. John Mandel Station Eleven 47349 4.02 1294 4.24
M. R. Carey The Girl With All The Gifts 27144 3.91 643 4.05
Claire North The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August 9836 4.03 406 4.07
Michel Faber The Book of Strange New Things 6936 3.73 488 3.87
Emmi Itäranta Memory of Water 973 3.79 123 3.88
Dave Hutchinson Europe In Autumn 125 3.77 48 3.75

There are some interesting shifts from the figures of a few weeks ago (compiled 21 March).

Links I found interesting for 08-04-2015

Time to write something positive about this year's Hugos!

I was glad to nominate this and very glad to see it make the list of finalists. I found it more satisfying than Volume 2, as our heroes (after some initial faffing around) settle into the lighthouse stronghold of a cult writer; meanwhile we have a brain-bending parasite and two tabloid journalists who themselves are hiding a secret. Staples' art remains gorgeous, and I felt that Vaughan's plotting matched it here as well. Off to a good start.

Links I found interesting for 07-04-2015

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