Episode 261: Gene Wolfe, John Clute and A Borrowed Man

Welcome to the first of Coode Street’s seasonal hiatus episodes. This November Gary and Jonathan were in Saratoga Springs for the World Fantasy Convention. Over the weekend they recorded several conversations that will come out over the coming weeks.

In this first podcast, they sit down with living legend Gene Wolfe to discuss his latest novel, A Borrowed Man. The publisher describes the book like this:

A Borrowed Man: a new science fiction novel, from Gene Wolfe, the celebrated author of the Book of the New Sun series.

It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.

We were extremely fortunate to be joined by Hugo Award winning critic John Clute for the conversation with Gene.  We’d like to thank John and Gene for making the time to appear on the podcast during what was a very busy weekend. We’d also like to apologise for some background noise in the recording, which we’ve attempted to remove.

As always, we hope you enjoy the podcast. More next week!

Episode 260: The Best of the Year with Charlie Jane Anders and Nisi Shawl

Welcome to the final episode of the Coode Street Podcast to be recorded for 2015. This week  Gary and Jonathan are joined by award-winning writers and critics Charlie Jane Anders and Nisi Shawl in the Gershwin Room to discuss more of the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year. As with last week, you’ll need to listen to the episode to hear what’s recommended, but there are a good handful of familiar books and few surprises that you may want to hunt down before the year is done.

We would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to listen to the podcast, for the feedback you’ve sent in throughout the year, and for your support of Coode Street. We’d also like to thank Charlie Jane and Nisi for making the time to appear on the podcast this week. There will be some new episodes coming up that were recorded back in November, which we hope you enjoy too, but we’re on holidays for a while, relaxing and enjoying the season. We wish all of you the happiest of holidays. See you in 2016 for another year of the Coode Street Podcast!

Twenty-one for 2016

Having just recorded the Coode Street Year in Review episode with Gary, Paul Kincaid, and Adam Roberts (more possibly to come), my mind turned to the coming year: 2016. Magazines and anthologies are already falling in to my inbox, as are advance copies of some novels and collections. I’m also getting whispers about how good (or not) some particular books might be.

I confess that I have over the years become a skittish and easily distractible reader. One negative whisper about a book and I’m already re-assigning my ridiculous short and overburdened reading time to something else. Without naming names, I’ve already read one book by a long-time favourite that disappointed and have been mostly put off reading a book by another. And thinking about the major books of 2015 – books like Aurora, Europe at Midnight, Clade, The Water Knife, Luna, and others – I began to think that 2016 was probably going to be a weak year following what I think was a very strong one.

So I thought I’d put together quick list of books I want to read next year. I already knew I wasn’t going to read certain titles, and I always have a lot of books fall onto lists as the year unfolds, but I wondered if I could scrape together a worthwhile list of books I wanted to read. It proved surprisingly, and happily, easy to compile. I didn’t overthink this list. I didn’t do a lot of research. I just worked from memory and one or two lists I have lying around. Suddenly there was substantial space opera here, a great debut there, some old favourites in epic fantasy, and a handful of great collections.

You never know what a reading year is going to be like till it’s done. There will be surprises. There will be unexpected brilliance. There will also be eagerly anticipated books that turn out to be turkeys, but this list makes me pretty happy. With these books coming, and with others sure to show up, I’m looking forward to it. (PS: If you’re a publicist and would like to send me any of these, that would be swell).

  1. Sharp Ends, Joe Abercrombie
    Joe’s writing some of the best short fantasy fiction out there, and is one of the very few writers doing anything interesting with classic Leiber-influenced fantasy at short lengths. Essential.
  2. Hwarhath Stories, Eleanor Arnason
    This collection should have come out a decade ago. Pithy, perceptive sociological SF from a great writer.
  3. Company Town, Madeline Ashby
    I feel like I’ve been waiting for this one for years. I love Madeline’s work and it’ll be fascinating to see her first post-series novel.
  4. A Natural History of Hell, Jeffrey Ford
    A new collection from Ford is a celebration and a treat.
  5. The Stars Are Legion, Kameron Hurley
    Hurley adds space opera to her bibliography in a book that should be pithy and strange.
  6. Europe in Winter, Dave Hutchinson
    The best SF series to come out of the UK in a decade draws to a close on the icy streets of a bleak near-future Europe.
  7. Children of Earth and Sky, Guy Gavriel Kay
    The single book I’m looking forward to the most in 2016 from one of the best novelists we have.
  8. Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee
    The debut novel from Lee, a brilliant short story writer, builds on her short work and looks to be one of the books of the year.
  9. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu
    The most awaited short story collection of the past decade, and sure not to disappoint. Also essential.
  10. The Corporation Wars 1: Dissidence, Ken Macleod
    New space opera from the greatest libertarian socialist in the field.  Can’t wait!
  11. Into Everywhere, Paul McAuley
    The second Jackaroo novel. Enough said. And America? Pay attention! This guy is good and the first book was brilliant.
  12. The Locomotive’s Graveyard, Ian McDonald
    A new novella from McDonald. Always great stuff, and will tide us over until Luna 2.
  13. Kingfisher, Patricia McKillip
    McKillip’s first new fantasy novel in five years.  I’ve read everything she’s written and wouldn’t miss it.
  14. The Last Days of New Paris, China Mieville
    I love China’s work. I love the title. I’m in!
  15. The Art of Starving, Sam J. Miller
    Miller had an outstanding year with short fiction in 2015. His debut, a YA novel, is due in 2016. I wouldn’t miss it.
  16. Summerland, Hannu Rajaniemi
    A major novel about defeating death.  Hannu’s The Quantum Thief was a great book. I’m convinced.
  17. Everfair, Nisi Shawl
    Nisi Shawl’s debut novel, I believe. Steampunk and stuff. I have loved her short fiction and wouldn’t miss this.
  18. Vigil, Angela Slatter
    Having told Angela that I thought her story “Brisneyland by Night” should be a novel, she went and wrote it. Can’t wait!
  19. The Last Mortal Bond, Brian Staveley
    I’ve read the reast of the series. Epic fantasy fun.
  20. Central Station, Lavie Tidhar
    This is one my top 5  for the year.  I’ve read the individual stories, but have been impatiently waiting for the book for a while. It’s one of those braided mega-narrative kind of novel thingies, but it’s SF and weird and interesting. What’s not to love?
  21. Crosstalk, Connie Willis
    New Connie. Frankly, the last one sucked a bit. So did Passage,  but she’s too smart and funny and readable not to give another shot.

And that’s it. I will read others. Definitely. None of these may end up on my best of the year list (though I would be surprised), but they all look worth chasing.  What new books are you looking forward to in 2016?

Episode 259: The Best of the Year with Paul Kincaid and Adam Roberts

The year is fast running out, but with the holiday season approaching Gary and Jonathan invited award-winning writers and critics Paul Kincaid and Adam Roberts to join them in the Gershwin Room to discuss a small sampling of the best science fiction and fantasy books of the year. They also discussed some of the most interesting and important trends in science fiction during 2015.

What books are recommended? Well, you’ll need to listen to the episode to get the full list, but there are a good handful of familiar books and few surprises that you may want to hunt down before the year is done.
As Jonathan says towards the end of the episode, whether this is the final Coode Street recorded for 2015 (we do have several others recorded for you and there may be a special second best of the year episode) or not, we would like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to listen to the podcast, for the feedback you’ve sent in throughout the year, and for your support of Coode Street. We’d also like to thank everyone who has made time to appear on the podcast during 2015. It’s been a heck of a year.