Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2020 Philip K. Dick Award Nominees Announced

Congratulations to Aqueduct's Sarah Tolmie, as well as to Ada Hoffman, Megan E. O'Keefe, Susan Palwick, Sarah Pinsker, and Tade Thompson, for their nominations to the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award. The books on the final ballot are:
THE OUTSIDE by Ada Hoffmann (Angry Robot)
VELOCITY WEAPON by Megan E. O'Keefe (Orbit)
ALL WORLDS ARE REAL: SHORT FICTIONS by Susan Palwick (Fairwood Press)
SOONER OR LATER EVERYTHING FALLS INTO THE SEA: STORIES by Sarah Pinsker (Small Beer Press)
THE LITTLE ANIMALS by Sarah Tolmie (Aqueduct Press)
THE ROSEWATER REDEMPTION by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
First prize and any special citations will be announced on Friday, April 10, 2020 at Norwescon 43 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Seattle Airport, SeaTac, Washington.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Plesures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2019, pt. 28: Arrate Hildago


2019 Pleasures
by Arrate Hidalgo


2019 has been, just as 2018, full of the chaos that comes with organizing a feminist SF festival in one’s hometown with not much organizing experience to speak of. This means that I have kept buying books but have finished far fewer of them than usual. Still, maybe that is why I have really enjoyed just sitting and reading a book this year, whenever I could. Below are some of the few books I have been able do that with in 2019.


My Tiptree (now Otherwise) award juror reading bled into the summer, when I had the chance to stop and really enjoy some of the books Gretchen sent me (thank you, Gretchen and publishers). One of those books is Sodom Road Exit by Amber Dawn, a queer ghost story which is much more than that and which really spoke to me in many ways, possibly due to my Catholic upbringing, among other reasons. The book bursts with sparkling language and yet manages to convey exactly what it is like to live with a lifetime of things unsaid.





I have been obsessed with CJ Cherryh’s Foreigner cycle since my friend and colleague Lawrence Schimel gave me the first book in the series. He has ever since kept providing me with volumes, and last summer I finished the first trilogy with Inheritor. One of the things I love the most about these books, apart from everything else, is the fact that as an overworked translator with anxiety I could not hope for a more relatable protagonist. I keep looking at the next three books on my shelf with longing. Maybe in February.



To be honest, if I were to highlight anything about my reading life in 2019, that would be the fact that I have kept delving deeper into contemporary women’s lit in Basque, and it has been a ride. Two of the titles that have had a greater impact in my head have been Kontrako eztarritik [“Down the wrong pipe”] collected by Uxue Alberdi, and Amek ez dute [“Mothers do not”] by Katixa Agirre.

Kontrako eztarritik is a collection of directed interviews conducted by bertsolari and author Uxue Alberdi with other women bertsolaris, which were then de-kernelled into classified topics relevant to feminism. Bertsolaritza or “bertso practice/making” is a Basque oral poetic tradition, performed in public, in which bertsolaris are given a subject and sometimes a metre and they must come up with an improvised, sung-on-the-spot string of verses that both rhyme and have a punchline at the end. Bertsolaris can be put in competition or cooperation with one another, depending on the moment, and they are important public figures in Basque folk and political culture. The same goes for contemporary feminist circles. Uxue Alberdi’s book is a pioneering attempt at X-raying the circumstances of women in the field by looking at concepts such as body, humor, Basqueness, and money and the way in which they all interrelate. (If you’re curious about this Basque thing, here is a thread by me on queer and trans representation in contemporary bertsolaritza, via legend Maialen Lujanbio’s outstanding work.)


On the other hand, Katixa Agirre’s Amek ez dute is a visceral look into the act of creation, both from the mother’s and the writer’s perspective, by merging both identities in the novel’s protagonist. After hearing the news that a woman near her hometown has drowned her infant twins, and finding out that the woman is actually someone she once met when she lived in England as an exchange student, the writer and rookie mum protagonist sets out to obsessively research the case and turn it into her next novel. To say it was a gripping read would be an understatement, and I was very surprised to be so sucked into a story with a plot summary that I would have definitely passed on, had my friends not recommended it to me. The author has translated herself into Spanish (Las madres no), if anybody out there is interested. It is very intense and, strangely, very enjoyable.




Among other things,  Arrate Hidalgo is Associate Editor at Aqueduct Press. She is also an English to Spanish translator, an founder and organizer of a feminist sf con, and an amateur singer. Visit her website at arratehidalgo.com.

Friday, January 3, 2020

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2019, pt. 27: Eileen Gunn

The Pleasures of Reading, 2019
by Eileen Gunn




I have a confession to make, though it may not surprise anyone. I am a person who does not readily finish books. All over my house, stacked on chairs, lying half-open on tables, tucked temporarily into bookshelves in an order that makes no sense, are all the books I’m in the process of reading. So when Timmi asks me to join her year-end roundup of the books we’ve all been reading, I rush frantically to finish a few of my books-in-progress. This year I have failed to finish any of the books I am currently most enjoying, so I have have decided to dispense with all pretense and finish the books at the leisurely pace they deserve. So here are the books I am in the middle of reading that I am enjoying most, plus three books I actually did finish this year, though I’m not going to tell you directly which those are.


Stray Bats, words by Margo Lanagan, Illustrations by Kathleen Jennings. A demonically wonderful book. Fifty tiny intense tales, little windows into the minds and lives of fearsome, magically inclined women and a few hapless men. Ms. Lanagan is a master of endings that do more than twist: they writhe in your mind, transforming the story you think you just read. Ms. Jennings’s evocative pencil illustrations, as warm and fully fleshed as the mama witch on the cover, are sweetly reassuring. There is an intriguing inventory of poems by Australian women at the back of the book, an adventure I’ve just begun. And, yes, there are bats.

Agency, by William Gibson. A problem for writers of science fiction right now is how to write about the near future without depicting it as a time of bleak misery, a time in which the bulk of humanity will be powerless, at the mercy of criminals and oligarchs, unable to act in their own interests—in other words, how to break with the present. In this book, Mr. Gibson returns to us our agency, at least for as long as we are reading. I admit that I was pathetically happy to be, however briefly, living in a sane, modestly prosperous future. I won’t tell you how he did that.



River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West, by Rebecca Solnit. This is the book about which men explained things to Ms. Solnit--the really important book that was reviewed in really important places, at the same time her own book on Muybridge came out…. Actually, as you and I know, that’s her book. And it’s a remarkable book, exploring the interconnectedness between place and technology and complex personalities--everything history is made of, really. It takes us places we would not have thought to go, and pays attention to the people who often get short shrift from history: the people at the edges. Muybridge seems at times like an excuse for the book, rather than its subject, as the readers’ attention is frequently directed at seemingly peripheral topics, such as the lives of individual Native American fighters in the Modoc War--whom Muybridge photographed--or the state of free-love feminism in the late 1870s—with which Muybridge, having murdered his wife’s lover, clearly disagreed. It is concerned, as is much of Ms. Solnit’s journalism, with what things mean and how they are connected.


Talk Like a Man, by Nisi Shawl. This is a Nisi Shawl sampler, with three stories, a novella, an essay, a detailed Shawl bibliography, and an interview of Shawl by Terry Bisson, cultural icon and editor of this series of chapbooks from PM Press. One of Mx. Shawl’s magnificent gifts is an ear for dialogue, both spoken and internal; another is an ability to anchor stories in time and space, in a specific moment. Even if you have their earlier collection, Filter House, you will find new people and places here. Isn’t it time for another major Nisi Shawl short-story roundup? Let’s get those dogies movin’!



Rule of Capture, by Christopher N. Brown. This is a grimly realistic, exceptionally well-observed novel that desperately cares about our near future of drought, misery, oligarchs, and criminals, and wants its characters to be able to fight back. Fighting back is a tough job, and Mr. Brown does not underestimate the forces being brought, in real life, to keep the powerful in control, nor is he mistaken about the nature of the struggle: a not-actually-fictional moment in the book, an encounter with a coyote in a post-industrial wilderness, suggests that humanity may not survive in the long run. The story continues in Failed State, which is due out in January, fast on the heels of Rule of Capture.


The Tales of Uncle Remus, as told by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinckney. I do love Julius Lester, have for over fifty years. I trust his voice: he said what he meant, he said it directly, he did not mess around. And here, in this four-book series, is his voice in the service of African-American folklore, telling stories that were collected a century ago, taking them out of 19th-century dialect, retelling them in what he says is contemporary southern black English, meaning in a voice that reflects his own speech and sense of humor. These are stories such as one might tell while putting the kids to bed, if one was the kind of witty, funny, slightly prankish storyteller that Julius Lester was. And, omigod, they’re illustrated by Jerry Pinckney, one of the greatest American illustrators of the past 70 years. These are not cartoons, thank you very much. These are gorgeous gouache illos of realistically imagined, beautifully drawn talking animals wearing human clothes. Do not settle for less!

"The Curve of the World," by Vonda N. McIntyre. A most enjoyable book, a rich portrait of Minoan Crete, with details drawn from existing artifacts, rigorous extrapolation, and an informed love of art, technology, textiles, and food. It introduces readers to the mostly peaceable trading peoples of the ancient eastern Mediterranean, and then whips them through the Pillars of Hercules for a brisk sail across the Atlantic and adventures in the new world. Part of the fun is trying to figure out when it’s set and where it’s going. Publication details are still being resolved. I am reading a typescript on my iPhone and trying to make it last and last.

There are lots more open books taking up space on my dining room table and in my brain. One of them may be yours. I’ll finish it soon—maybe for next year.



Eileen Gunn is the author of two story collections: Stable Strategies and Others (Tachyon Publications, 2004 and Hayakawa, 2007) and Questionable Practices (Small Beer Press, 2014). Her fiction has received the Nebula Award in the US and the Sense of Gender Award in Japan, and been nominated for the Hugo, Philip K. Dick, and World Fantasy awards and short-listed for the James Tiptree, Jr. award. Her most recent story, “Trudy on the Lam,” appeared in Asimovs, April 2019. Her non-fiction has appeared in Smithsonian magazine, Locus, Paradoxa, Science Fiction Eye, the New York Review of Science Fiction, and other magazines covering science fiction, technology, and culture. She is the author of The Difference Dictionary, a guide to and analysis of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s novel The Difference Engine. Gunn serves on the board of directors of the Locus Foundation, which publishes the genre newsmagazine Locus, and served for 22 years on the board of directors of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. After leaving the board, Gunn was an instructor at Clarion West in 2015, and will return as one in 2020. 

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening in 2019, pt. 26: Kristin King

The Pleasures of 2019: A Short List 
by Kristin King 






 
If I could just pick out four works this year to recommend, they would be:


In the Quiet Spaces by C. E. Young. This book is pocket-sized and goes with me 'most everywhere, and it always tells me something I need to hear. I’d explain it, but God is not in the explanations.


Talk Like a Man by Nisi Shawl. The story “Women of the Doll” takes an unforgettable superhero through her paces, and the essay “Ifa: Reverence, Science, and Social Technology” has given me hefty food for thought about how people make community.


The Expanse (novel series) by James S.A. Corey went through our family like the flu, one by one succumbing and losing hours, maybe days, at a time. I’ll never feel the same way about gravity again.


Exhalation by Ted Chiang gave me solace when I needed it most. Chiang had me at the story “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate,” which mixes the fairy-tale setting of the Arabian Nights together with time travel to create philosophical breakthroughs. One way or another, all his stories are that way.





Kristin King (http://kristinking.wordpress.com) is a writer, parent, and activist who lives in Seattle. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Calyx, The Pushcart Prize XXII (1998), and other places. Two of her stories appeared in an Aqueduct Press anthology, Missing Links and Secret Histories: A Selection of Wikipedia Entries Lost, Suppressed, or Misplaced in Time. A selection of her short fiction has been collected in Misfits from the Beehive State.