In the second (or maybe third) episode in our new bi-weekly schedule, Jonathan and Gary eventually get around to the question of what books to recommend to someone new to science fiction and fantasy or someone who’s been away from the field for years or even decades.
The standard answer to this a generation ago—Heinlein, Bradbury, Clarke—hardly provides an intro to modern SF, and while names like Le Guin and Butler still seem helpful, the question remains what current authors are good entry points. Along the way, we touch upon N.K. Jemisin’s forthcoming The City We Became, which Octavia Butler novel might be the best to start with, Kim Stanley Robinson’s novels, including the recent reissue of his California trilogy along with Maureen McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang.
But first, Gary complains about the overused shorthand of describing a new novel in terms of other novels (“think Novel X meets Novel Y”), and the habit of publicists and even reviewers of describing novels as “for both literary and genre readers.
This week, after more or less inadvertently falling into a discussion of Simon Jimenez’s new novel The Vanished Birds (Del Rey) and whether it will successfully gain attention from both SF and mainstream literary readers, Jonathan and Gary mention a few other forthcoming books and eventually circle in on a discussion of fandom—what it means to be a fan, different kinds of fandom, and questions of what happens when you stop being a fan of a particular series or author, what major works you may have missed or over-looked despite considering yourself a fan of the author, and why some fans drift away in the face of too much sameness, while others remain fans because of that sameness. Characteristically, we fail to adequately answer any of these questions, but at least we raise them.
We are officially moving from a weekly schedule to a two-weekly schedule, so look for the next episode on the weekend of Febuary 8th, wherever good podcasts are sold.
After last week’s episode where Jonathan and Gary discussed their favourite books from 2019, this time they talk about books they’re looking forward to in 2020 (a few of which, in fairness, they’ve already seen or in Jonathan’s case even edited).
It’s a pretty varied list, and probably incomplete, so feel free to suggest more titles that we might not have known about. Overall, though, 2020 is starting off as a pretty promising year.
- Susanna Clarke, Piranesi
- William Gibson, Agency
- M. John Harrison, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again
- N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became
- Hao Jingfang, Vagabonds
- Nancy Kress, Eleventh Gate and Sea Change
- Yoon Ha Lee, Phoenix Extravagant
- Ken Liu, The Veiled Throne
- Paul J. McCauley, War of the Maps
- Tamsin Muir, Harrow the Ninth
- Tochi Onyebuchi, Riot Baby
- K.M. Szpara, Docile
- Lavie Tidhar, By Force Alone
- Jo Walton, Or What You Will
- Gene Wolfe, Interlibrary Loan
- Alexander Irvine, Anthropocene Rag
- Greg Egan, Dispersion
- Jeffrey Ford, Out of Body
- The Best of Elizabeth Bear
- Ken Liu, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories
- The Best of Jeffrey Ford
- Jonathan Strahan (ed.), Made to Order: Robots and Revolution
- Jonathan Strahan (ed.), The Book of Dragons
- Agency, William Gibson (Viking)
- Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappara (Chatto & Windus)
- The City We Became, NK Jemisin (Orbit)
- Burn, Patrick Ness (Walker)
- Utopia Avenue, David Mitchell (Sceptre)
- Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
- By Force Alone, Lavie Tidhar (Head of Zeus/Tor)
- Vagabonds, Hao Jingfang (Saga)
- The Angel of the Crows, Katherine Addison (Tor)
- Unconquerable Sun, Kate Elliott (Orbit)
- The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, M. John Harrison (Gollancz)
- Or What You Will, Jo Walton (Tor)
- The Left-Handed Booksellers of London, Garth Nix (Allen & Unwin/Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins)
- Ghost Species, James Bradley (Penguin)
- Comet Weather, Liz Williams (Newcon)
It’s been a long time! Jonathan and Gary are together again for the first new episode of Coode Street since October!
There’s a lot to catch up on, ranging from the current climate apocalypse in Australia—and the question of whether SF has done much to prepare us for this sort of thing—to major events of 2019, such as the renaming of major awards, the dramatic growth in awareness of world SF (from Asia in particular, with important recent anthologies of Chinese, Korean, and South Asian fiction), the explosion in the market for novellas and the question of whether short fiction can be similarly profitable for writers after years of getting it for free on the web, and our own lists of major books and likely award nominees from 2019.
Our expectation and hope is that the Coode Street Podcast will return to a more or less regular schedule during the coming year, complete with brilliant guests and our own half-baked ideas and theories.
As always, we hope you enjoy the episode!
It’s New Year’s Eve and as a complete social failure, I’m stretching a several years-long streak of doing nothing on NYE by another year. Instead, this year I’ll drive the 18-year-old to a friend’s party, come home, and then see the new year in quietly with Marianne and Jess. I expect to do some kind of year in review blog and even to do some book stuff, but since no-one reads this thing anymore who even knows? I’ve been blogging since May 2002 and I’m not entirely sure why.
Today, so far has been a wasted say. Some 2020 reading is sitting on the coffee table, silently rebuking me for paying it so little attention, there’s stuff to do for work, and I’m not really listening to music because of my hearing these days. Fun times.