Episode 645: Jack Dann and Fifty Years of Wandering Stars

WanderingStars.jpgOn the fiftieth anniversary of his groundbreaking anthology Wandering Stars: An Anthology of Jewish Science Fiction and Fantasy, we’re joined by the terrific author and editor Jack Dann.

During our conversation, we mention his new collection Islands of Time—published almost exactly 50 years after his first book— as well as his The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Alternate History and some of his classic novels like The Memory Cathedral and The Rebel.

Mostly, though, we discuss how that classic anthology evolved, in part from his friendship with Pamela Sargent and George Zebrowski, what the anthology meant in 1974, and how the nature of Jewish science fiction has evolved over the decades.

Episode 644: Cozy books and a prickly writer

This time out, Jonathan and Gary consider the meaning of “cozy” (or “cosy”) SF and fantasy, and whether cozy horror is even a thing. We trace the term back to cozy mystery novels and Brian W. Aldiss’s characterization of certain British writers of the 1950s—especially John Wyndham—as “cozy catastrophes”.

Not surprisingly, this doesn’t lead to any meaningful conclusions, but we do touch upon whether the notion of cozy has to do with the fiction itself, or just the reader’s experience of it. Authors mentioned include Travis Baldree, Becky Chambers, Peter S. Beagle, Martha Wells, and Terry Pratchett.

Then, with our usual lack of grace, we transition awkwardly into a discussion of the new Harlan Ellison’s Greatest Hits, how well Ellison’s fiction holds up, and some brief previews of forthcoming episodes.

Episode 643: All Time Top 5s

Somewhat hesitantly, Jonathan and Gary return to the mics, sans guests, and somehow get into a discussion of various SFF listicles—partly because of Gary’s recent contribution to fivebooks.com of a list of five novels about science fiction. Why are such lists so appealing and so ubiquitous these days, and who are they for?

By the time we’re done, Jonathan begins musing on a possible list of the top five most disappointing SF novels of all time. You’ll have to tune in to see what’s at the top of that list—and get ready to argue!

Episode 642: Premee Mohamed and The Butcher of the Forest

thebutcheroftheforest.jpegThis week Nebula and World Fantasy award winner, Premee Mohamed, joins Gary and Jonathan from somewhere in the wilds of Canada to discuss writing, reading, building a career, and her fabulous new novella, The Butcher of the Forest. We also discuss the projects Premee has planned for the rest of the year, including forthcoming new novel  The Siege of Burning Grass, which you can pre-order now.

As always, we’d like to thank Premee for making time to join us, and hope you enjoy the episode.

Episode 641: Kelly Link and the love of books

bookoflove.jpegFor our second episode of 2024, we’re joined by the inimitable Kelly Link, whose  forthcoming first novel The Book of Love is already receiving stellar advance reviews (including one from Gary in Locus). Kelly explains how the novel evolved, it connections to various genres from romance to supernatural horror, the importance of valuable encouragement from friends such as Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, the challenges of shifting from short fiction to a long novel, managing multiple narrative viewpoints, and maintaining the balance between the interiority of the characters and the large-scale history and spectacle of the fantasy elements. She also updates us a bit on Small Beer Press and her own plans for future work.

As always, our thanks to Kelly. We hope you enjoy the podcast!

…unavoidable stuff from jonathan strahan…