How to Talk to Girls at the Hugos

The nice folk, the web elf I suspect, at Neil Gaiman’s website have posted all sorts of stuff to do with his story “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” You can read the story, or download a recording of Neil reading it. There are also links to the other Hugo nominees for Best Short Story. You should read them all.

I have a real soft spot for “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”. Neil kindly and generously wrote it for my book The Starry Rift. When it first appeared in my email inbox I was struck by all of the things that make a good Neil Gaiman story a good Neil Gaiman story: his writing voice, the smoothness and confidence of the telling, the deft skill of it all. I was also struck by how dark it was. However, time and circumstance meant that it didn’t end up in The Starry Rift. Instead, in sterling fashion, it filled the role of original story in his excellent collection Fragile Things (which came out last year), and was reprinted in my The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 1. Neil kindly wrote a replacement story for The Starry Rift, “Orange”, which you’ll have to wait till next February to read, and “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” is on the Hugo ballot, which fills me with all kinds of pleasure. If I could vote for it, I would. And, who knows, maybe I’ll get to bring you another Neil story in some other book some time in the future. If I do, I know it’ll be a delight.

A few links…

A little linkage this morning:

  • John Clute talks clearly as always about the Jonathan Lethem-edited Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 60s over at He talks about everything except whether Dick, who must be admired and understood, can still actually be read, now that we are living in his world – something that Gary Wolfe touches on in Locus next month (not online). You need to read both articles, and perhaps glance at Graham Sleight’s related Locus article. I’d also draw your attention, when discussing Dick, to this new Gollancz book, Human Is?: A Philip K. Dick Reader, which collects some of his best short fiction.
  • Lou Anders has been discussing a number of interesting things over a Bowing to the Future. He’s written several suprisingly interesting pieces on SF and literary respectability: I say surprising, not because it’s surprising that Lou’s opinions are interesting, but because the subject is so deadly dull. I am constantly astonished that anyone still cares whether sf achieves literary respectabilty or not. Yes, it was nice that Stephen King won his big award, and it’s lovely that Bradbury got his Pulitzer. Good stuff. But, we live in a science fictional world. Whether or not the literary mainstream acknowledge it or not, we are living and breathing science fiction ever single minute of our 21st Century First World Western European lives. And Lou, in two quite elegant posts, seems pretty much headed to that point of view too, though I think he’d like the respect anyhow, which I can understand.
  • And via Lou, a pretty good review by David Soyka over at Strange Horizons, that looks at Lou’s Fast Forward and George Mann’s The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction. The review is fine, and both books are worth checking out. I think I like Lou’s better of the two, but that may just be my taste. Anyhow, Soyka says of anthologies that these days “You can’t just put together a bunch of stories you think are really cool”, and goes on to say that you need themes and such. I think you can. I think I have. And I think that’s what Lou and George have done. I do sometimes wonder if I’m slipping further and further out of touch…