Today has not been a day of focus. Woke at 4.30 am, which is becoming more and more common, and then dealt with editorial and other emails before heading to the day job which was annoying without being terrible. I have started when we’ll start coronavirus precautions but no sign yet. Lots of announcements and exhortations to wash hands, but nothing else.
This weekend will be pretty social, which is nice. Keen to undo the lack of social contact with old friends, so the weekend will kick off with seeing Keira before a Cat Valente book signing on Saturday and lunch on Sunday. I need to find some time in there to get on top of work, including reading and editing some submissions and maybe finally writing some proposals. Perhaps time to dig out the ‘to do’ software and make some lists.
I’ve actually been reading quite a bit, which you can see from my Goodreads page, but not enough SF or F really. In fact, mostly the Adrian McKinty ‘Sean Duffy’ novels James Bradley recommended during his flying visit in February. I seem to have inhaled them and am currently reading Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (another lifted Tom Waits lyric) while thinking I should be reading something else.
Two anthologies fell through my inbox this morning: Ann VanderMeer’s second X-Prize book, Avatars Inc., which has an impressive table of contents, and Europa28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe, from the fabulous Comma Press, so maybe they’ll drag me back to the fantastic. Who knows?
This week Gary and Jonathan are joined by a long time friend of the podcast, Ken Liu, to discuss his new short story collection The Hidden Girl and Other Stories, approaching the end of his epic silkpunk fantasy series The Dandelion Dynasty, and how having good stories is more important to a society than having good institutions. Along the way, we talk about history, life, evolving art, and much, more more.
The Hidden Girl and Other Stories is out now and The Veiled Throne is out early next year.
As always, we’d like to thank Ken for making time to join us and hope that you all enjoy the episode. See you in two weeks with more!
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.
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.