As usual on this week’s Coode Street, Jonathan and Gary discuss what they’ve been reading lately, with a particular focus on how apocalyptic fiction has evolved over the decades, and how writers like Kim Stanley Robinson have found ways of finding some sort of hope even in the face of what increasingly seems inevitable.
This being the start of awards season, they also spend some time discussing the finalists for the Nebula, Stoker, and Spectrum awards, as well as the new Ray Bradbury Prize from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.
Mostly, though, they focus on the Nebulas and the interesting question of whether Nebula nominees which had a lot of buzz years or decades ago still have an impact today. We stop short of guessing which of this year’s nominees will have readers in another decade or so.
Among current and forthcoming books, Gary sounds pretty enthusiastic about the new Liz Williams novel Comet Season and James Bradley’s forthcoming novel, Ghost Species.
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.