May 7th, 2006


Nebula Awards

This doesn't seem to have hit the wires yet - Scott Edelman's attempt to liveblog the event apparently never having started, and the SFWA website still not updated - but Jayme Lynne Blaschke has come up with the goods. I guess everyone else went to bed straight after the ceremony.

Best Novel: Camouflage, by Joe Haldeman. This beat three other books that I have read (1, 2, 3) and enjoyed, and two that I didn't plan to read. Must therefore now go and get it, and see if the Nebula voters made a reasonable choice (as they appear to have in the other categories). This evens out Haldeman's major award wins, now at 5 each for Hugos and Nebulas.

Best Novella: "Magic for Beginners", by Kelly Link. Heavily tipped for this year's Hugo as well. Unusual these days for anything to win the Nebula the year after publication, rather than two years after. Link's second Nebula, for a great story which was clearly the best in its category.

Best Novelette: "The Faery Handbag", by Kelly Link. The first time anyone has won two Nebulas on the same night since Connie Willis in 1993. Both of her stories that night (Doomsday Book and "Even the Queen") also won Hugos. "Magic for Beginners" is up for one this year, and "The Faery Handbag" has already won, making it the 57th on my list of joint winners.

Trivia point: other people who have won two Nebulas in the same year: Pamela Sargent in 1988 - The Falling Woman and "Rachel in Love"; Greg Bear in 1984 - "Hardfought" and "Blood Music"; Connie Willis again in 1983 - "Fire Watch" and "A Letter from the Clearys"; Ursula Le Guin in 1975 - The Dispossessed and "The Day Before the Revolution"; Samuel R. Delany in 1968 - The Einstein Intersection and "Aye, and Gomorrah..."; and Roger Zelazny, in the very first Nebula awards in 1966, for "He Who Shapes" and "The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth".

Best Short Story: "I Live With You", by Carol Emshwiller. It seemed more on the lines of horror to me than sf, and suffers from the cardinal defect of not being Margo Lanagan's superb "Singing My Sister Down". Not actually a bad story, but not I thought even the second-best on the short-list.

Best Script: Serenity. No surprise there; I haven't seen the Battlestar Galactiva which was its sole opposition, but it would have needed to be exceptional to beat Whedon.

I previously blogged about the short-list here and the long-list here. Right, off to update my website...

(PS: The Andre Norton Award, if anyone's interested, went to Valiant by Holly Black.)

I am not really very computer literate

My PC at home (a Compaq Presario) currently is partitioned into a 7.35 GB main drive and a 2 GB backup. Both are practically full. Our needs have changed in the last few months, as Fergal has discovered games and I have discovered, cough, archived videos. We've had it for just over five years.

Is there hope? Can I add much extra memory to it without having to resort to buying a new machine? If I do get a new computer, is it worth while considering getting one that I can just plug into the existing peripherals (printer, monitor/microphone, speakers)?

Your advice is welcome.

May Books 2) Spin

2) Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson

I've read two of Wilson's previous novels, Hugo nominees Blind Lake and The Chronoliths, and based on that experience probably wouldn't have bothered reading this if it had not also been nominated for the Hugo this year. And that would have been a mistake: much as I have enjoyed reading the other Hugo nominees, and much as I respect and like the other authors concerned, I think Spin is going at the top of my list. (Yes, I have bought a non-attending membership of LaCon IV.)

The Chronoliths had a fantastic story of Strange Alien Happenings in the near future on such a wide scale that the world is changed for ever; but lost out rather badly on the denouement. Blind Lake was a bit more modest on the Strange Alien Happenings front, concentrating a bit more on the social drama for the main characters, but essentially also failed in the delivery. Spin takes all the best aspects of the previous two, combines them with some very interesting political and philosophical commentary, and delivers a climax whose punch matches the expectations the rest of the story sets up.

The basic story is that one day, some time in the near future, humanity wakes up to find that the stars have disappeared, and that the earth is surrounded by a mysterious barrier. The mystery deepens when it becomes plain that time outside the barrier is passing 100 million times faster than time inside. But rather than rely on sensawunda to sell the story for him, Wilson concentrates on the implications of such a massive disruption for human society, telling it as the story of a family who are heavily implicated in the politics of the change.

Having just read Carl Yoke's book on Zelazny, I was struck also by the Christ-like career of Wilson's main character, Jason Lawton, perhaps a deliberate subtle contrast with the nutty Christian cultists with whom his sister Diane gets deeply involved. There is also a fascinating Martian character, who gives interesting responses to Wells, Bradbury and Heinlein's takes on his own planet.

A really good book. Haven't read Scalzi's Old Man's War yet - in fact I think that is the last piece of Hugo-nominated fiction for me to read this year - but I doubt it will change my mind: hope it wins.
doctor who

The Continuing Absence of Billie

Just watched last night's Doctor Who Confidential, and found it impossible to ignore the fact that Billie Piper wasn't even in shot when the cast did their read-through of the script.

Mind you, this is the same person who, when asked "Were you a big sci-fi fan before [_Dr Who_]?" replied "Not really. But when I read the scripts, I found it was a great balance between sci-fi, which can be a bit detached, and real, genuine, emotions." (Thanks to Ansible for that gem.)