All posts by Jonathan Strahan

Ginny Sweethips Flying Circus closes – RIP Neal Barrett Jr

Joe Lansdale has reported on Twitter that the wonderful colorful gonzo Neal Barrett Jr has died. He was eighty-five years old. I didn’t have the chance to meet him, or to thank him for his wonderful books and stories, but he wrote two or three of the best books I’ve ever read.

His novel The Hereafter Gang is one of the great novels of the ’90s, a story of love, growing up, crime czars, proctologists, Western outlaws, dog-fighting aviators and trout-fishing Huns.  it is a totally essential book.  The same could be set for his collection Perpetuity Blues, which unbelievably is fourteen years old now. I remember reading it for review for Locus in 2000 and calling it “the first ‘must buy’ of the new millennium.” If anything I undersold it’s weird, gonzo magnificence.  I think this was the last, or one of the last, books edited by Jim Turner and it shows. Every story is wonderful. And finally, and especially if you can’t get Perpetuity Blues, a comprehensive collection of his short fiction was published not long ago.  Other Seasonsgives a great overview of the variety of work Barrett did over a long and prolific career.

A person is remembered by their friends. A writer is remembered by his or her readers. I know I’ll be re-reading Neal Barrett for the rest of my life.  In fact, now that he’s joined the hereafter gang, it might be time to re-revisit Doug, Sue Jean and the rest of the gang. Vale, and thank you.

Episode 174: Rachel Swirsky Redux

The Coode Street Podcast is a full service podcast. While Gary and Jonathan are on vacation, we asked long-time listener Cat Sparks to select some classic episodes that we could send out to entertain and enlighten in their absence.
This week Cat has selected a discussion with award winning author Rachel Swirksy. When we spoke to Rachel it was just following the publication of her major short story collection How the World Became Quiet. We discussed writing short stories, the business of science fiction and much more.
We hope you enjoy the podcast and our thanks to Cat!

Campbell addenda

Madeline Ashby, who is clearly fabulous, has written about her eligibility for the Campbell Award.  It would appear,  because of an earlier publication, she actually is ineligible.  I think she would have made a worthy nominee and winner, but admire her posting about it.

Given Madeline is not eligible for the Campbell, I’d suggest considering her  second novel, iD: The Second Machine Dynasty for  Best Novel or story “Social Services” for Best Short Story.

While I’m disappointed she can’t be on the Campbell ballot,  I’m glad she has work out there that can be considered in these and other categories.

John W. Campell Award

The John W. Campbell Award is the Hugo Award (1) that is not a Hugo Award.  Each year the publishers of Analog fund the award, named in honour of its greatest editor, which is presented to a writer who has made her first professional sale in the previous two calendar years.

There’s a good crop of Campbell nominees out there this year,  and when the time comes these are the writers I’ll be considering:

Madeline Ashby had a great year, publishing a great story (“Social Services” in An Aura of Familiarity: The Coming Age of Networked Matter) as well as the latest in her Machine Dynasty series. I am seriously eager to read her forthcoming novel Company Town. [Amended: Sadly Madeline isn’t eligible for the Campbell, though she is eligible for the Hugo!]

I met Helen Marshall at the Brighton World Fantasy Convention where we shared a fun evening in the bar. I read her powerful, demented collection Hair Side, Flesh Side after I got back to Perth, and consider her a serious contender for next year’s World Fantasy Awards.  Oxford will never be the same (nor will tapas).

Tim Maughan had a very interesting short collection, Paintwork, out not that long ago. His short work is contemporary in-your-face post-cyberpunk SF and his novelette “Flight Path Estate” ranked amongst my favourite stories of the year. I think this is his last year of eligibility and he’d be a worthy nominee and award recipient.

I have not read E.J. Swift‘s Osiris Trilogy, but her story “Saga’s Children” in The Lowest Heaven was smart, savvy and engaging.  I’m now seeking her work out eagerly and think she’s the sort of writer the Campbell should be recognising.

Back in August Gary K.  Wolfe and I spoke to the engaging and wonderful Sofia Samatar on the Coode Street Podcast about her first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, which was probably the best first fantasy novel of the year. Sofia also produced a batch of strong short stories, including one of my favourites, “Selkies are for Losers”.

Finally, Benjanun Sriduangkaew seemed to come out of nowhere this year with stories like “The Bees Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly” and my own favourite “Fade to Gold”. Her stories were refreshing and different. What more could you ask from a Campbell nominee?

These are not the only fine writers who are eligible for the Campbell.  Writertopia maintain a list of eligible writers that is worth looking looking at for suggestions and reminders.

I have no idea who will be on the Campbell ballot or who will walk up to the stage to receive the award in London this August, but any of these six fine writers would be great choices.

1. The award is not a Hugo, and has never been a Hugo. It is sometimes humorously referred to as “not a Hugo” because it presented during the Hugo Awards ceremony.

Thursday morning

A mixed day yesterday.  I took the new MacBook Air into the Apple Store to get looked at by a “Genius”. It was experiencing an odd problem, shutting down intermittently when going into sleep mode. I think we may have resolved the problem, so fingers crossed.  I am very happy that I managed to get Time Machine working on my Stora. The Genius did a total reset/reinstall on the laptop, but I was able to neatly restore from the backup, so win there.

As some of you would have noticed, I did the annual “what I did” post yesterday for the Hugos. I admit, as always, to being a little conflicted about this, but it’s done.  Adam Roberts talks about why I might be uncomfortable and John Scalzi provides an alternative view.

I am looking into providing some sort of download for Eclipse Online stories for awards nominators to consider.  It’s unfortunate they’re not online and I’d like to do what I can to make them available.

In other news, I am listening to Etienne Charles, reading J.G. Ballard, and basically trying to get things done. Busy month, as always!