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January 2012 Archives

Changes for the Fiction Department , by Susan Marie Groppi (01/31/12)
We're looking to bring new fiction editors into the Strange Horizons team. This might not be much of a surprise, after our announcement in December that Karen Meisner was leaving the fiction department. What might be a surprise, though, is...
Why Does SF Hate Ordinary People?, by Niall Harrison (01/31/12)
Martin McGrath asks, with reference to James Lovegrove's Redlaw, Adam Roberts' By Light Alone, and Ahmed Khaled Towfik's Utopia: Perhaps, then, science fiction is just doing what it has always done in reflecting its times. It may be that all...
The Deep Still Burns, by Niall Harrison (01/31/12)
Nathaniel Katz revisits Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep, and finds it all comes down to the ideas: Despite all that, though, Vinge’s characters, and even his plots, are well overshadowed by his ideas. The excellence of each and every...
Hugo Recommendations, by Niall Harrison (01/30/12)
George RR Martin recommends some novels for the Hugo: Leviathan Wakes, Heaven's Shadow, The Wise Man's Fear, The Heroes, The Magician King, The Dragon's Path, and 11/22/63. For a bit of variety, the Dreamwidth community "Writers of Color 50 Books...
This Week ..., by Niall Harrison (01/30/12)
In our last issue of the month, we have Tracy Canfield's story "The Chastisement of Your Peace", and Erik Amundsen's poem, "Ariel"; John Clute takes a look at the Kessel/Kelly anthology Kafkaesque and the Kafkaesque new novel by Matt Ruff...
Strange Horizons, w/c 23rd January, by Rachel Monte (01/29/12)
This week's issue had: An article by Ehud Maimon, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters: The City of Haifa in Lavie Tidhar's Stories "FIADSBLTPPUTPWYP", Mark Plummer's latest Paraphernalia column Mike Allen's poem, "Carrington's Ferry" And reviews of Leigh Kennedy's Wind Angels, by...
Sea Hearts, by Niall Harrison (01/27/12)
Gary K. Wolfe's Locus review of Margo Lanagan's new novel: This odd but compelling narrative structure, with each successive tale opening up and commenting on earlier ones, gives an almost panoramic sense of passing generations for what is not a...
Osama and Alternate Reality, by Niall Harrison (01/26/12)
At SF Signal, John H. Stevens has a thorough two-part look at Lavie Tidhar's Osama, starting with the novel itself and then looking at it in the context of other alternate-reality novels by Joanna Russ and Philip K. Dick: Through...
Lavinia, by Niall Harrison (01/25/12)
Shana Worthen posts on Lavinia at Torque Control, as part of an ongoing series of "Future Classics" discussions. Part one looks at voice and identity; part two considers audience. I’m sure other Aeneid-related works are still being produced, if not...
Awards Catch-Up, by Niall Harrison (01/24/12)
1. Announced today: the winner of the William L Crawford Award for first fantasy book is Genevieve Valentine, for Mechanique. Shortlisted were Erin Morgenstern for The Night Circus, Tea Obreht for The Tiger's Wife, Stina Leicht for Of Blood and...
First Sentences, by Niall Harrison (01/24/12)
Kit Whitfield has an ongoing series of blog posts in which she deconstructs first sentences. Here she is on Five Children and It, The Haunting of Hill House, and Brave New World: Most obvious is the mimicry: thirty-four storeys merits...
"Jolly Good Yarn", by Niall Harrison (01/23/12)
On the occasion of a reissue of The Handmaid's Tale by The Folio Society, Margaret Atwood looks back at the novel: Stories about the future always have a "what-if" premise, and The Handmaid's Tale has several. For instance: if you...
This week ..., by Niall Harrison (01/23/12)
Monday is, as ever, new issue time. This week our feature article is Ehud Maimon's "Bridge Over Troubled Waters: The City of Haifa in Lavie Tidhar's Storie", Mark Plummer's Paraphernalia column explains "FIADSBLTPPUTPWYP", we have Mike Allen's poem "Carrington's Ferry",...
Strange Horizons, w/c 16th January, by Rachel Monte (01/22/12)
In this week's issue, we had: Alberto Yáñez's short story, "Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas" Tony Grist's poem, "The Lord Charon" And reviews of season 1 of American Horror Story, by Roz Kaveney, Lev A.C. Rosen's All Men of...
The Core, by Niall Harrison (01/20/12)
Picking up on a comment by Jonathan McCalmont, jennygadget asks: What would you consider “core genre?” Both in terms of definition and representative titles? (the genre of the book in question is fantasy, but really I'm more curious how people...
Beautiful and Horribly Serious Play, by Niall Harrison (01/19/12)
Sofia Samatar has been mulling fantasy and language and the value of literalness after reading Greer Gilman's Cloud & Ashes: What this does is return language to itself. It's a particularly important thing to do, I think, with the material...
Dancing The Other, by Niall Harrison (01/18/12)
Social Text has a Periscope feature on Speculative Life, featuring an interview with China Mieville, essays on Cuaron's Children of Men and Speculating Queerer Worlds (among others), and Andrea Hairston's "Disappearing Natives: Notes for Future SF&F Stories": In the Disappearing...
Heroine Chic, by Niall Harrison (01/18/12)
At the LA Review of Books, Evie Nagy looks at the collected Miss Fury: But, contrary to common belief, Wonder Woman was not the first female superhero. She was preceded by more than half a year by Miss Fury, who...
What Makes You Think The World’s Ever Been Saved?, by Niall Harrison (01/17/12)
Brit Mandelo continues her re-read of the works of Joanna Russ with a two part examination of her 1984 collection Extra(ordinary) People: Discussions of performativity often run the risk of sounding dismissive of the gender/sexuality paradigms that are being discussed...
If Christ Had Big Guns and a Bad Attitude, by Niall Harrison (01/17/12)
Lavie Tidhar counters Jonathan McCalmont's review of Red Claw to argue for the merit of Philip Palmer's novels: Yet these are merely technique. What slowly emerges – what fascinates about these novels – are they underlying moral principles at play....
Letting Some Air In, by Niall Harrison (01/16/12)
In The Guardian, Patrick Ness considers the new omnibus of Steven Millhauser stories, We Others: There's a doctorate to be written on a certain type of American literary paragraph. Densely packed with hyper-close observation, often containing unindented dialogue, and consuming...
This Week ..., by Niall Harrison (01/16/12)
Monday brings a new issue: this week we have Alberto Yáñez's story Recognizing Gabe: un cuento de hadas and Tony Grist's poem "The Lord Charon", while reviews kicks off the week with Roz Kaveney's take on American Horror Show, with...
Sunday Reading, by Niall Harrison (01/15/12)
Looking back over my reading for the past few years, I realise it's taken on a distinct annual shape. It's not an absolutely strict division, but in general spring is for catching up on award nominees that I missed, summer...
Strange Horizons, w/c 9th January, by Rachel Monte (01/15/12)
In this week's issue, we had: Robyn Fleming's Dice and D-Pads column, "Jumping to Beginnings" "In the Cold", a short story by Kelly Jennings Michele Bannister's poem, "Loki, Dynamicist" And reviews of Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three, by Finn Dempster,...
The Awards Race Begins, Ctd., by Niall Harrison (01/14/12)
Nisi Shawl has pointed out that I neglected to consider contenders for the Carl Brandon Parallax and Kindred awards in my awards round-up post; I have attempted to correct the oversight here....
Kitschies Nominees, by Niall Harrison (01/13/12)
Next up in this year's awards calendar is the new kid on the block: The Kitschies, for "the year's most progressive, intelligent and entertaining works" in three categories; Red Tentacle (Best Novel), Golden Tentacle (Best Debut) and Inky Tentacle (Best...
Hatchet Jobs, by Niall Harrison (01/13/12)
As you may have seen, The Omnivore has instituted an award for Hatchet Job of the Year: "It aims to raise the profile of professional critics and to promote honesty and wit in literary journalism." I'm not entirely convinced this...
From Heisenberg to Frank Zappa, by way of Philip K. Dick and Margaret Cavendish, by Niall Harrison (01/12/12)
At SF Site, Paul Kincaid reviews Matilda Told Such Dreadful Lies: The Essential Lucy Sussex: Lucy Sussex is one of the best writers of fantasy and science fiction to emerge from Australia over the last 25 years or so, and...
SFE Update, by Niall Harrison (01/11/12)
A progress report from the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: The SFE now contains about 138,500 more words than the launch version -- a whole long novel's worth -- spread over existing entries and more than 300 new ones, while approximately...
Philip K Dick Award Nominees, by Niall Harrison (01/10/12)
First out of the gate for this year's awards: The Company Man, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit) Deadline, Mira Grant (Orbit) The Other, Matthew Hughes (Underland) A Soldier’s Duty, Jean Johnson (Ace) The Postmortal, Drew Magary (Penguin) After the Apocalypse, Maureen...
An Acquired Taste, by Niall Harrison (01/10/12)
At HCN, Peter Watts reviews The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick: To a writer like myself, this stuff is flat-out fascinating: a trove to be mined not just for insights into the creative process of an SF colossus, but also...
Taste Hierarchies and Awards, by Niall Harrison (01/10/12)
Riffing off a post by Gregory Benford, Alec Austin writes about taste hierarchies: The tendency of the French upper classes to (for example) prefer classical music over popular music, Bourdieu argued, was a learned social behavior, and whether deployed consciously...
BallotWatch, by Niall Harrison (01/09/12)
To encourage people to think widely about their possible Hugo nominations (and other award nominations), when I see people post their ballots online over the next couple of months, I'm going to link to them. To start with: Martin McGrath's...
Readers' Poll Question, by Niall Harrison (01/09/12)
We're coming up on our annual Readers' Poll, and are interested in feedback on its format. Specifically, we're interested in feedback on the format of the poll for reviews and columns. Both departments, unlike fiction, poetry or articles, have a...
This week ..., by Niall Harrison (01/09/12)
In this week's issue, we have Kelly Jennings' story "In the Cold", Michele Bannister's poem "Loki, Dynamicist", the latest instalment of Robyn Fleming's Dice and D-Pads column, and reviews of Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear and (later in the...
Sunday Reading, by Niall Harrison (01/08/12)
So, my extended Christmas break is finally over, and I return to work properly tomorrow; and as you would hope, I managed to get through a good few books. Most of them deserve to be written about. I'm going to...
Strange Horizons, w/c 2nd January, by Rachel Monte (01/08/12)
In this week's issue, we had: Matthew Cheney's Lexias column on "Kipple" "MonitorBot and the King of Pop", a short story by Jessica Barber Shannon Connor Winward's poem, "Fallen" And a collection of our reviewers did 2011 In Review and...
Aqueduct's Pleasures of 2011, by Niall Harrison (01/07/12)
I'm not sure whether it's completely finished, but it at least seems to be in a bit of a lull, so it's time to round up links to the "pleasures of reading, viewing and listening in 2011" series at the...
The Awards Race Begins, by Niall Harrison (01/06/12)
Last week, Ursula Le Guin made an excellent post about literary awards and evaluating literary merit in general: Voting is the dangerous but essential tool of democracy. In art, voting is dangerous without being essential. Often it’s not even appropriate....
Reading Egan, Ctd., by Niall Harrison (01/06/12)
Discussion continues about the matter of Greg Egan and characterisation. Here's Matt Denault, responding to Karen: But this all comes down to what you're trying to do, I think. If you're trying to situate Egan within the field, then yes,...
Reviewing Reviews, by Niall Harrison (01/06/12)
To mark ten years of writing sf reviews, Martin Lewis takes another look at his first review, a piece on James Blish's A Case of Conscience for the SF Site, and goes through it paragraph-by-paragraph: As an atheist interpreting an...
Book of the Year?, by Niall Harrison (01/05/12)
China Mieville's Embassytown got more positive mentions than any other novel in our reviewers' overview of 2011; but some people also expressed reservations. Aishwarya Subramanian wrestles with the book in her review: But this is itself is a bit of...
Hugo Nominations Open, by Niall Harrison (01/05/12)
Nominations for this year's Hugo Awards are now open. You have until the end of January to join Chicon 7 and gain nomination rights, and until 11 March to actual submit your nominations. I'm attending C7, and will probably post...
Forthcoming Books, by Niall Harrison (01/04/12)
As promised yesterday, a short list of books I'm looking forward to in 2012. There is no shortage of such lists already out there, of course, but that's not going to stop me. (I will briefly note that there are...
Planesrunner, Ctd., by Niall Harrison (01/04/12)
At the risk of recursion, I note that Cheryl Morgan has reviewed Planesrunner and, among other things, commented on the discussion Phoebe and I were having last week: This brings us to the 64 million dollar question: does the book...
The Foundation SFF Criticism Masterclass 2012, by Niall Harrison (01/04/12)
A reminder that the Science Fiction Foundation are currently inviting applications for the 2012 SFF criticism masterclass, deadline 28 February. Full details here; the class leaders this year will be Edward James, Kari Sperring and M. John Harrison, which is...
The International Fantastic, Ctd., by Niall Harrison (01/03/12)
Maureen Kincaid Speller has reviewed the Words Without Borders fantasy issue mentioned here last week: "In all, this is mostly an excellent collection of fiction, and yet again, I am reminded of just how much material there is out there,...
2011 Reading Summary, by Niall Harrison (01/03/12)
My thoughts on the best books I read in 2011 are in our review of the year feature this week, along with those of many other SH reviewers. For convenience, with links edited to go to my own comments where...
Year's Best, Ctd., by Niall Harrison (01/03/12)
Yet another listing of this year's best short fiction, this time from Tangent Online, which subdivides works by length and by star rating (more stars = stronger recommendation). The Strange Horizons works listed are: "Eight" by Corinne Duyvis (no stars)...
Understanding the Popular, by Niall Harrison (01/03/12)
As a Christmas break project, Adam Roberts decided to read and blog the top ten all-time best-selling books (according to Wikipedia). The results: 10. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (1937) 9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown...
Reading Egan, Ctd., by Niall Harrison (01/02/12)
Karen Burnham comments on my previous post with a more detailed argument about Greg Egan's approach to characterisation: In the face of the universe, any single individual is a little insignificant. Egan’s characters stand out less than the enormous scientific...
This Week..., by Niall Harrison (01/02/12)
Our first issue of 2012 is live! This week we have Jessica Barber's story "MonitorBot and the King of Pop" (our 500th story! Don't forget to share your favourites here), Shannon Connor Winward's poem "Fallen", Matthew Cheney's latest Lexias column...
From Suburbia..., by Niall Harrison (01/02/12)
The latest Galactic Suburbia podcast announces the winner and honour list of their new award: for activism and/ or communication that advances the feminist conversation in the field of speculative fiction in 2011 The winner is Nicola Griffith for the...