According to the program for the Nebula awards weekend (hi Margo!), the Nebula results will have been announced by 10pm Saturday Arizona time (or 1pm Sunday Perth time). I’ll be curious to see how long they take to trickle out onto the net. Good luck to Margo, Kelly, and others. I have my fingers crossed for Air in Best Novel, “Singing My Sister Down” in Best Short Story, “Magic for Beginners” in Best Novella, would be happy to see any of the novelette nominees pick up the prize (though Kelly’s a friend, so I’m a little biassed), and would love to see Holly pick up the inaugural Norton award (that’s Andre not Emperor).
Sean Williams returns to the fantastical alternate Australia that he created in his Books of the Change fantasy trilogy in his latest fantasy work, The Books of the Cataclysm. The opening book in the series, The Crooked Letter, takes readers to a world shattered into a million pieces, the second, The Blood Debt, moves on to a far corner of that world where blood is power and water is more precious than freedom, and the third, The Hanging Mountains, looks to ancient enemies stalking the ghostly fog forests of legend. The fourth and final book in the series, The Devoured Earth, is due out in Australia in June.
I’ve been reading Sean Williams work since the early 1990s, when he was submitting stories to a semiprozine that I was editing in Perth. While even then he was focussed on the science fiction that has made his name, he has passionately pushed his own personal envelope, working hard to create work that is engaging, entertaining, and challenging. You can see this in this quartet of fantasies, all of which I think will repay your attention.
As a special bonus, Sean has let me post the opening chapters from each of the four Books of the Cataclysm. They’re linked to as FlashPaper files. To read them you can either scroll through the files using the scrollbars on the side of the flash windows, or click on the page symbol at the top right of each toolbar to open the file in a fresh window. You can also zoom in or out using the zoom tool to read the text more clearly. Neat, huh.
I’d love to hear from Coode Streeters on how you like The Books of the Cataclysm and how you like the FlashPaper experiment. And remember, if you like the samples, the books are published by HarperCollins in Australia and PYR in the US, and they have cool Greg Bridges covers.
1. The Crooked Letter
2. The Blood Debt
3. The Hanging Mountains
4. The Devoured Earth
I know readers like to hear what other people think of the books they’re reading, so I checked out some of the reviews for The Crooked Letter, the first book in Sean’s series. Turns out that Barnes and Noble’s reviewer calls it ” a page-turner of the highest order”, and it gets good notices here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.
Note: So, WordPress doesn’t like embedding Flash movies. Darn. You can read these by clicking on the links. The files will then operate as described. Still cool, but only moderately cool.
This is it. The number one book that I am waiting to read. I’d like to lie to you, suggest that there’s another book that I’m waiting for anywhere near as eagerly as Terry Pratchett’s third Tiffany Aching adventure, Wintersmith, but I’d be lying. While this has been a good year, it’s already left me exhausted. Too many late nights spent sitting in front of a computer monitor, proofing PDFs, and not getting to fulfil commitments on time has left me feeling a little wrung out. Nothing, nothing, refreshes like Pratchett, and I really liked The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky.
There is exactly one reprint in my forthcoming anthology, The Starry Rift. The first reason that there is a reprint in the book is that I was desperate to get a new story from Cory Doctorow, and he just didn’t have time to write a new one for me. The second is that it’s perfect for the book in a whole bunch of different ways.
The story, which has gone on to fame and fortune, is Anda’s Game. It is, as Cory himself describes it, “a riff on the way that property-rights are coming to games, and on the bizarre spectacle of sweat-shops in which children are paid to play the game all day in order to generate eBay-able game-wealth.” It is also a response of sorts to Orson Scott Card’s very famous “Ender’s Game”, and is a terrific story.
The story was originally published on Salon, and you can still read it there. Cory has also had it recorded by Alice Taylor of Wonderland as podcast. The story is told from the point of view of a young English girl, and Alice is perfect to read it. It is my favorite podcast ever. You can list to it here. Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
I don’t know when or whereÂ I first encountered The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It was some time in the early 1980s, though. F&SFÂ was one of the few science fiction or fantasy magazines you could buy on the newsstands here in Perth, Western Australia and I searched the few newsagents who carried it regularly for the latest issue. It never occurred to me to subscribe to the magazine and, even though I’ve bought every issue since January of 1987, I’ve either done so from a local newsagentÂ or from Slow Glass Books in Melbourne.
Although it seems odd now, what got me buying F&SF initially wasn’t the great fiction. I bought it for Algis Budrys’s book reviews and for Harlan Ellison’s film reviews. I found the former fascinating and the latter hilarious. Somewhere along the way, I did read the fiction, of course.Â How could I not? Looking back to the May 1986 issue, then editor Ed Ferman was featuring Brad Denton, Stan Robinson, and Michael Shea in one issue, and followed it with Jim Kelly and Michael Bishop. These were the writers I wanted to be reading.
There’s no doubt that the magazine has had an enormous impact onÂ my reading and my reading tastes over the past 25 years. AsÂ it has changed editors,Â moving from Ferman to Rusch to Van Gelder, it has changed and I’ve moved with it. It’s still the first fiction magazine I look for every month, still the one I’m happiest to see drop into my email inbox. And it’s more than just an old friend. I’m still discovering or rediscovering writers in its pages and, for me at least, it’s as vital as ever.
Why mention this now? Well, first of all, I would always encourage Coode Street’s readers to subscribe to the the magazine (I know, but I get it every month and this is the cheapest way to get it). The other reason is that over on the Night Shade Boards Gordon has made an offer to bloggers. Be amongst the first fifty to blog about F&SF, and he’ll send you a free copy of the July issue of the magazine. Now, me, I don’t need a copy. I buy it anyway, and he emails it to me, so I’ve seen the issue. This one has great stories by Ysabeau Wilce, Terry Bisson, Matt Hughes and (best ofÂ all) my friend and others. Go check it out, blog, get a copy, read the magazine, and support it.Â It’s been going since 1949, and it’s still the most contemporary magazine out there.