Episode 573: The 2021 Locus Recommended Reading List

locus022022.jpegThis week, in our more-or-less annual discussion of the Locus Recommended Reading List, we are delighted to be joined by Locus Editor-in-Chief Liza Groen Trombi.

We talk about the purpose of the list, how it has changed over the years, how books or stories get on the list, and a few thorny questions about how to decide whether a novel is SF or fantasy if it contains substantial elements of both. In addition to mentioning some of our own favourite works of the year, we touch upon the importance of the First Novels list, which might be a harbinger of what’s to come, and how story collections and YA novels have grown in importance over the years.

Toward the end, we pay a brief tribute to two Locus Magazine pioneers, reviewer Faren Miller (who was also the magazine’s first full-time employee), and bibliographer William G. Contento, who helped establish resources that remain crucial to anyone interested in the SFF field.

Episode 572: Genre, change, and the passage of time

This week (episode 3 of season 13) we return to our tradition of almost entirely unstructured rambling. Jonathan and Gary consider such questions as to whether a novel can be good SF, but not much good in literary terms, or a good literary novel not much good as SF.

While we recognize that many popular subgenres, from military SF to heroic fantasy, have plenty of readers loyal to the old traditions, we muse about whether many of today’s writers feel some pressure to meet both traditional literary and SF standards, and Jonathan namechecks R.F. Kuang. Some writers we mention, such as Arkady Martine, seem to effortlessly do both. On the other hand, why were several genre mystery readers of the 1930s and 1940s, like Hammett and Chandler, were later recognized as major literary figures, the same didn’t seem to have to SF writers of the same period.

Toward the end, we touch upon Paul Kincaid’s provocative new essay, “A Taxonomy of Reviewing” and his book on Brian W. Aldiss, amongst other things.

As always, we hope you enjoy the episode.