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Showing posts from April, 2012

Worldbuilding

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From three of the most interesting things I've read recently and, thus, started thinking about together...
M. John Harrison:
A world can be built in a sentence, but epic fantasy doesn’t want that. At the same time, it isn’t really baggy or capacious, like Pynchon or Gunter Grass. It has no V. It has no Dog Years. It has no David Foster Wallace. It isn’t a generous genre. The same few stolen cultures & bits of history, the same few biomes, the same few ideas about things. It’s a big bag but there isn’t much in it. With deftness, economy of line, good design, compression & use of modern materials, you could ram it full of stuff. You could really build a world. But for all the talk, that’s not what that kind of fantasy wants. It wants to get away from a world. This one.
Ian Sales on Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey:
There are some 150 million people living in the Asteroid Belt. The greatest concentration is six million in the tunnels inside the dwarf planet Ceres. There is …

A Good Sign for the Caine Prize?

I've voiced my qualms about the Caine Prize for African Literature before, particularly in terms of the stories that often end up winning the award, and so I found this statement by this year's Chair of Judges, Bernardine Evaristo, encouraging:
I’m looking for stories about Africa that enlarge our concept of the continent beyond the familiar images that dominate the media: War-torn Africa, Starving Africa, Corrupt Africa — in short: The Tragic Continent. I’ve been banging on about this for years because while we are all aware of these negative realities, and some African writers have written great novels along these lines (as was necessary, crucial), isn’t it time now to move on? Or rather, for other kinds of African novels to be internationally celebrated. What other aspects of this most heterogeneous of continents are being explored through the imaginations of writers? I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with individual Tragic Continent stories — I like t…

Shirley Jackson Award Nominees

I am a juror for this year's Shirley Jackson Awards (along with Laird Barron, Maura McHugh, Kaaron Warren, and Gary K. Wolfe), for which the nominees have just been announced. It's a diverse and interesting list, I think, but then, I'm one fifth of the people responsible for it, so I'm a bit biased. The winners will be announced at Readercon in July.


NOVELThe Devil All the Time, Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday)The Dracula Papers, Reggie Oliver (Chômu Press)The Great Lover, Michael Cisco (Chômu Press)Knock Knock, S. P. Miskowski (Omnium Gatherum Media)The Last Werewolf, Glen Duncan (Canongate Books, Ltd.)Witches on the Road Tonight, Sheri Holman (Grove Press) NOVELLA“And the Dead Shall Outnumber the Living,” Deborah Biancotti (Ishtar, Gilgamesh Press)“A Child’s Problem,” Reggie Oliver (A Book of Horrors, Jo Fletcher Books)“Displacement,” Michael Marano (Stories from the Plague Years, Cemetery Dance Publications)The Men Upstairs, Tim Waggoner (Delirium Books)“Near Zenn…

Touch of Psycho

An exploration of echoes and variations — a few moments from Touch of Evil and Psycho reimagined through each other:




(The two films shared a number of personnel: actors Janet Leigh and Mort Mills, art director Robert Clatworthy, and John L. Russell, who worked as a camera operator on Touch of Evil and director of photography on Psycho.)

Fact, Fiction, Life

My latest Strange Horizons column is about John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's book The Lifespan of a Fact, which has been provoking a lot of discussion.

My favorite of the responses to the book is Ander Monson's "The Skeptical Gaze", because not only has Monson read Lifespan with some care (which cannot be said for many of the people punditing about it), but he's also done some wonderful work himself to explore the possibilities and boundaries of fact and fiction (I wrote about his excellent book Vanishing Point a couple years ago for Strange Horizons). (Pardon another parenthetical, but I also want to add that comparisons between Mike Daisy and John D'Agata are superficial and fundamentally wrongheaded, as Josh Voorhees pointed out at Slate. Daisy hid his lying and worked hard to do so, D'Agata has put his fictionalizing front and center and let the world respond. I wrote the column before the Daisy scandal broke, however.)

Anyway, my own take on The Life…