March 26th, 2012


March Books 7) Strange England, by Simon Messingham

It was interesting to read this Seventh Doctor novel at the same time as the new Fourth Doctor audio The Renaissance Man, in that both involved Victorian-ish settings which turn out to be in some way representations of an inner space. This was apparently Messingham's first book, but it's a good combination of insect horror, worlds within worlds, and a new figure from the Doctor's Gallifreyan past which casts a new light on his motivations. Ghost Light with mind projections, perhaps. One of the more memorable ones.

Clarke Award shortlist

As Martin Lewis has mercilessly chronicled, I correctly predicted four of the six shortlisted novels for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Just to update the table I posted then, with the 1 March figures in parentheses:Collapse )Though it may not be immediately obvious, the big relative winner in the last three and a half weeks is Drew Magary's The End Specialist, which has 15.6% more entries on Goodreads and 8.2% on LibraryThing, comfortably ahead of the field in both cases. However in absolute terms, Embassytown is still far ahead, accounting for 45-46% of all copies of any of the six books, surprisingly consistently whether you count books registered as of 1 March, or registered as of today, or registered between the two dates. Rule 34 is also still ahead of The End Specialist in absolute numbers, and so is Hull Zero Three among LibraryThing users. The Testament of Jessie Lamb and The Waters Rising remain far behind. (The Waters Rising posted a big relative gain among LibraryThing users but from a very low base.)

I'm behind on reviewing (and have a busy week ahead, so it will be some time before I catch up); so far I have read Embassytown, The Testament of Jessie Lamb and The Waters Rising, and have made a start on Hull Zero Three and The End Specialist. I shall make a considered judgement when I have finished them all, but for me Jessie Lamb is way ahead so far.

March Books 8) The Waters Rising, by Sheri S. Tepper

All strength to Sheri S. Tepper! She will turn 83 this summer (she was born seven months after Philip K. Dick, three months before Ursula Le Guin) and keeps on turning out works dancing on the borderline of fantasy and science fiction, with deathly earnest political purpose. Her works repeatedly test Clarke's Third Law to destruction, which is why it is appropriate enough that this latest novel has been nominated for this year's Arthur C. Clarke Award.

I don't think it will win. There is a brilliant concept behind it all of the future of humanity in a world where environmental catastrophe will swallow the land, and some impressive description and also misdirection of the reader as to where the focus of the plot really is. But I'm afraid there is also too much infodumping in the early chapters. Still the overall vision is daring - how will the first post-human children be born? - and well executed after the early glitches. And it is good to see a writer who I think has not received her due appearing on the shortlist even at this late stage of her career.