October 18th, 2004

earthrise

October Books 13) The Locus Awards

13) The Locus Awards: Thirty Years of the Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Charles N. Brown and Jonathan Strahan

This is a totally superb collection. OK, $15.95 for 500 pages paperback may seem a bit pricy, but the quality of the stories really justifies it. Of the 18 stories, I had read eight previously - the six that have won both Hugo and Nebula (as well as the Locus Award, a precondition for inclusion), and also Sterling's "Maneki Neko" and Le Guin's "The Day Before The Revolution". The other ten are all classics which I should have read years ago and somehow hadn't:

"The Death of Doctor Island" by Gene Wolfe
"The Way of Cross and Dragon", by George R.R. Martin
"Souls" by Joanna Russ
"The Only Neat Thing to Do", by James Tiptree Jr - possibly the weakest story in the collection, I thought, but still very good
"Rachel In Love", by Pat Murphy
"The Scale-Hunter's Beautiful Daughter", by Lucius Shepard
"Buffalo", by John Kessel
"Gone", by John Crowley
"Border Guards", by Greg Egan
"October in the Chair", by Neil Gaiman

Go out and buy it.
earthsea

October Books 14) A Treasury of Great American Scandals

14) A Treasury of Great American Scandals, by James Farquhar

Picked this up, as one does, in the Dulles Airport terminal branch of Borders. Lots of fun gossip and trivia, with a cut-off date of 1980, and a slightly contrived reaching back to cover the Salem Witch trials. But generally entertaining. The shortest chapter, "A Short, Ugly Story", reads, in full:
In 1875 James Stephen Hogg, the first native-born Texan to become the state's governor, names his daughter Ima.

Enough said.
She actually appears to have been quite famous.
earthsea

October Books 15) The Forever Machine

15) The Forever Machine, by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley

I spotted this in a Harvard bookshop and, as it's notoriously supposed to be the worst ever winner of the Hugo Award for Best Novel (under the original title "They'd Rather Be Right") I couldn't resist it, for only $3.

Well. It's not a great book, but it's not utterly terrible either; more sort of forgettable. Machine is invented that takes humanity to the Next Step of evolution. The misunderstood genius hero triumphs against the stupid mundanes. That's about it. Another tick in the box for me; if I can bring myself to finish Cyteen I'll only have three left.