Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review - Stories from the Iliad and Odyssey by G. Chandon

Short review: A prose translation of Homer's two epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Translated to French
Then translated to English
With some Roman gods

Full review: Stories from the Iliad and Odyssey is an English prose translation of a French prose interpretation of the two famous ancient Greek poems by Homer. While the original poems were decidedly adult in nature, the versions presented in this book are aimed at younger readers, presumably to serve as an introduction of sorts to the classic works. Both poems have had chunks cut out of the narrative in this translation, although the basic stories remain unchanged. Several full-color plates depicting events from the stories are interspersed through the book.

The Iliad section comes first. It is, of course, the story of a brief period near the end of the ten year siege of Troy by the Greeks, culminating with the showdown between the Trojan hero Hector and the Greek hero Achilles. Due to the frequent interference of the Gods in the war, one of the oddities of this translation becomes quickly apparent: while the names of the heroes are all Greek, the various deities are referred to using their Romanized names. Consequently, the book refers to Achilles, Agamemnon, and Ajax on the one hand, and Jupiter, Mars, and Venus on the other. For some readers this may not be as jarring as it was to me, but every time I read about Minerva showing her concern for Patrocles, it just seemed to so odd to me that it pulled me out of the story a bit. Some of the better bits of Homeric imagery are left out of this version: for example the description of the various contingents of the Greek and Trojan armies is omitted, as well as the scene following Patrocles' death in which Achilles is made into a glowing tower of light by Athena to frighten the Trojans. In short, just about anything that is not directly related to the main storyline is left out, which reduces the poem to a fairly simple narrative. Simplifying the narrative probably makes the book more accessible to younger readers, but it does have the unfortunate side effect of eliminating a fair amount of interesting elements from the story.

The Odyssey follows the Iliad in the book, and like the first section, this portion is dramatically simplified. The basic structure of Ulysses' voyage is kept intact - his encounter with the cyclops Polyphemus, his visit with Aeolas, his struggles with the enchantress Circe and a couple of his seafaring travails - including Scylla, Charybdis, and the Sirens. However, many of Ulysses' adventures are simply removed from the story - he and his men do not run afoul of Helios by eating his sacred cattle, he never journeys to the land of the dead, and so on. Some of the scenes were probably excised from both poems because they didn't show the heroes in a light that would be appealing to the sensibilities of 20th century readers - the scene in which the twelve servant girls in Ithaca who slept with the unruly suitors are hanged is removed, as are a couple of instances in both stories in which the heroes behave in what would best be described as a piratical or particularly bloodthirsty manner (although those scenes that are necessary for the story in which the heroes do this have been left in). While I understand the need to truncate the tale to make it palatable to the intended younger audience, I think that this shortening process is unfortunate as Ulysses' resulting journey seems far too short and much too straightforward.

Despite both poems being shortened in this translation, this remains a decent introduction to Homer for a young reader. One note that must be made is that the language is somewhat stilted. This is probably a byproduct of the fact that it is the translation of a translation, and it was written in a time period in which formal and stylized language was expected. Even so, there isn't anything in this version that should be too difficult for a pre-adolescent reader to grasp, understand, and enjoy. While someone who has already been exposed to a more complete version of these poems, this may seem annoyingly incomplete, but for a reader for whom this is their first encounter with Homer, this version, being in prose, is probably a good place to start.

G. Chandon     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Random Thought - The Misery of the Hustler, and the Joy of Being a Fan

Or, we live in two worlds, and trying to cross the streams is asking for nothing but trouble.

This post is inspired, in large part, by a well-justified Twitter rant Seanan McGuire went on about a month ago. The first tweet in the thread can be found here for anyone who wants to go read it in its entirety. The short version is that Seanan and a group of her professional colleagues were at San Diego Comic Con having a conversation in a public space and a random dude jumped in to try to pitch his own work and did so in a fairly sexist and tone deaf manner. The part of the rant I want to focus on is this one:
Mr. Hustle promptly went into his pitch. And the reason I say that this was PUA techniques, and not a lack of social awareness, is that he knew it was a pitch. He called it a pitch, called it a hustle, said several times "this is why I came to con."
Seanan's story kind of dovetails with another that I recently observed, this time from Hillary Monahan concerning someone who moved in her writer circles. The first tweet in that thread can be found here. The short version of this story is that an aspiring author spent their time networking to "move up" the ladder of writerly contacts, discarding "lower tier" authors when they had been able to move "up" to more successful authors and then began name-dropping in order to get published, apparently wildly exaggerating the extent of their relationship. The specific part of Hillary's thread to focus upon is this:
If knowing people is a boost, pissing people off with power and influence . . . does a lot more to your career than that boost.

If you want to befriend authors, you should.

If you want to scale us while you scramble up a ladder, fuck you.
Once again, the focus is upon trying to cultivate relationships, not for the purpose of cultivating relationships, but for the sole, and seemingly exclusive, purpose of career advancement. The issue isn't forming a network of professional contacts, the issue is pretending that you are socializing with people for the purpose of cynically using them for career advancement.

I even have my own story in this vein: A couple of years ago I was at Gen Con and ended up playing a game of Cards Against Humanity in the hall of the convention center with a large group that included the redhead, most of the members of Five Year Mission, their spouses, and a couple of other people. It was late in the evening - late enough that the halls of the Indianapolis Convention Center were mostly deserted. While we were playing, a random dude walked up to the group and proceeded to try to pitch us on the game he and his buddies were trying to Kickstart. First he proceeded to denigrate the game we were playing, and then he spent a half an hour droning on about how great the card game he and his friends were producing was despite the fact that we were pointedly ignoring him after about the first five minutes of his pitch.

The reason I want to focus on these stories is that this sort of behavior seems to be all too common, despite the fact that it is unlikely to ever work and will probably result in an exasperated pro and an unhappy fan. Now, I'm not going to tell anyone else how to be a fan, but going to a convention with the goal of cold pitching your brilliant idea (or manuscript, or screenplay, or whatever) to a random famous person you recognize at the event is simply a recipe for disappointment. In short, the people who do this, who go to a convention (or a writer's group, or a reading, or any number of other similar spaces) with the notion that they will "hustle" themselves into the publishing industry are probably not having as much fun as the people who just show up to be fans and are probably deluding themselves as to their likelihood of success to boot.

The root of the problem in all of the examples is treating what is intended to be a social interaction as a commercial one. I am reminded of Dan Ariely pointing out in his book Predictably Irrational that humans don't live in one society, we effectively live in two. One society is the commercial world, in which we engage in professional transactions with others, trading labor for money, and then money for goods and services. When you go to a supermarket and buy food, or hire a tow truck to come get your car when it breaks down, you're participating in the commercial world. You pay them, and you get stuff in return. But humans also live in a social world of family and friends, and you interact with them very differently. If your car was to break down, and you asked a friend to come and help you fix it, you wouldn't tell them afterward "hey, to thank you, here is $50 for your time". You wouldn't go to your mother-in-law's house and leave her a cash tip for making a particularly good dinner. You might offer to take your friend out to dinner, or send your mother-in-law a thank you note, but you wouldn't pay them with cash. And if you did try to pay them with cash, they would probably be at least confused, and probably offended1.

When someone shows up at a convention or a writer's group or some similar event with the intention of locating a conveniently placed famous person (or potential customer) and trying to pitch their idea to them, they are trying to cram a commercial exchange into what pretty much everyone else expects will be a social one. This is why this sort of behavior is so very off-putting, why this sort of approach almost never works, and why approaching such venues with the intention of simply engaging in a social exchange results in a much better experience for everyone. When I think of the many guys (and almost all of them seem to be guys) who do this, I am struck by how much frustration they are causing themselves. They are taking what should be an enjoyable experience - attending a convention and meeting the creative people who make so much of what they profess to enjoy - and transforming it into a series of disappointments. They miss out on the joy of being a fan, and in some cases, on the human experience of having pleasant and friendly social interactions with other people. Their mercenary intentions have eliminated their ability to see the dual world they live in, and left them with only the cold comfort of existing solely within the commercial world.

In the end, this post is about expressing just how freeing it is to simply be a fan. I don't have stories to pitch, or books to sell, or a brand to promote - I don't even have ads or any other monetizing mechanism on this blog2. There is simply something glorious about being able to go to a convention with no ulterior motive of any kind. To bring this back to the first example in the post, I have met Seanan McGuire: She signed a couple of books for me and we talked about some of her other books. I got to hear her recount her story about the guy with the lizard in his leg and her story about the boa constrictor (at least I think it was a boa constrictor) that bit her arm. I got to hear her exchange stories about frogs and reptiles with Ursula Vernon. I also ended up having lunch in a group that included Ursula Vernon. I could do all of this without trying to figure out how I was going to launch myself at either McGuire or Vernon in order to pitch a comic book script.

If you multiply that experience by a couple hundred, you can get a sense of how many experiences I have had as a result of simply being a fan with no further expectations. Over my years of attending conventions, I have made many friends who are authors, editors, and even publishers. I have wound up having lunches or dinners with them, playing board games with them, or just sitting in a hotel bar and having long conversations with them. Several of the people I have made friends with keep in touch so they can be apprised of the adventures of the littlest starship captain, a few have even sent her gifts. If I had attempted to go to conventions in order to hustle some business instead of cultivating these friendships, there is a tiny chance I might have been able to get a story or something published somewhere, but I would have missed out on so many truly enjoyable interactions as a result. Even if all that had resulted from my fannish attendance at things like conventions and book readings had been sitting in the audience and listening, then the result would have been more rewarding than selling a couple of stories.

Just being a fan is freeing. Just being a fan is fun. Just being a fan is rewarding. Just being a fan is joyous.

1 This sort of mixing of the social and commercial is problematic in the other direction as well. Think back to those times when a salesperson tried to behave like they were your friend in order to make a sale and how off-putting that felt. This is also why people tend to react negatively to friends trying to sell Amway or Primerica products to them - these kinds of businesses advise their members to treat their circle of family and friends as a market for the company's products, essentially advising people to use their social circle as a source of commercial contacts.

2 On occasion, someone gets mad about something I've written and loudly proclaims that I must have "just written it for the clicks", or they declare that I have just lost them as a reader, and my response is to suppress a laugh. I don't make any money off this blog, and I have no plans to change that. I don't really care how many clicks a post gets or how many readers I have. Anyone who wants to stalk away mad is welcome to and it won't bother me a bit.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Musical Monday - The Rose by Bette Midler

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: July 5, 1980.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Movies have an enormous impact on popular music. The Rose is not the first movie-related song in the 1980s Project, but I would venture that it is the first that got a major boost out of its association with a movie due to the fact that reason for the belated success of Suicide Is Painless on the U.K. Chart remains a complete mystery to me. The Rose was featured in and released on the soundtrack of the 1979 movie of the same name, and clearly benefited from the association, probably assisted in part by the boost from the Golden Globe wins and Academy Award nominations that the film garnered.

I should note that the boost runs the other direction as well - the success of the songs Coward of the County and Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) provided the impetus for the creation of movies based upon them. Granted, movies based upon popular songs are often not particularly great, or even good, but as we will see in the next few weeks, bad movies have been known to push even mediocre songs over the top on the charts.

The story of The Rose is a thinly veiled loose retelling of the life story of Janis Joplin. The movie was originally intended to be titled Pearl, which was the name of Joplin's final album and a nickname she used for herself, but opposition from her surviving family members led to the change of name and some changes to the story in order to distance it a bit from Joplin. Given the fact that almost every discussion of The Rose includes a explanation about how it is loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin, this attempt at distancing the fictional work from the singer clearly didn't work very well.

Previous Musical Monday: Coming Up by Paul McCartney
Subsequent Musical Monday: Its Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Funkytown by the Lipps, Inc.
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: It's Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Bette Midler     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Book Blogger Hop September 7th - September 13th: 26 U.S.C. § 271 Deals With the Tax Treatment of Debts Owed by Political Parties

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Have you ever visited the location of a book you have read?

Not intentionally. I mean, I've read books set in London, and I have been to London, but I didn't specifically go to London because I read about it in a book.

Another issue is the fact that many of the location that appear in books that I read either don't exist or aren't really accessible using current technology. The asteroid belt might feature prominently in James S.A. Corey's Expanse books, but I can't really go there, and traveling to Lloyd Alexander's Prydain is simply not possible.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Random Thought - Five Things

There is a meme going around Twitter asking people "If you had to recommend 5 [of X things] to really get a feel for you and your tastes what 5 would you pick?" Rather than let my responses to these queries be lost to the winds of Twitter, I have compiled them here. I considered putting a little explanation as to why these particular entries are on each list, but I decided that this would be contrary to the spirit of the meme. Here are my responses:

Five Books:

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Grey King by Susan Cooper
The High King by Lloyd Alexander
Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

Five Movies:

Flash Gordon
Jason and the Argonauts

Five Television Shows:

Babylon 5
Hill Street Blues
Parks & Rec
Star Trek: The Original Series

Five Role-Playing Games:

Dungeons & Dragons, 1st edition
Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd or 3.5th edition
Generic Universal Role-Playing System
Hollow Earth Expedition
Mouse Guard

Five Tabletop Board Games:

Lords of Waterdeep
Mice & Mystics
Sentinels of the Multiverse

Five Video Games:

Alpha Centauri (including Alien Crossfire)
Crusader: No Remorse (followed by Crusader: No Regret)
Master of Magic
The Summoning
Temple of Elemental Evil (the modded version put out by Circle of Eight)

Five Battles:

Battle of Arbela (331 B.C., also known as the Battle of Gaugamela)
Battle of Lepanto (1571)
Battle of Marathon (490 B.C.)
Battle of Missionary Ridge (1863, really the entire Chattanooga Campaign)
Battle of Poitiers (1356)

Note: These lists vary in small ways from my original Twitter responses. In those cases, I decided after reflection that a different response was better than my initial response.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

Musical Monday - Coming Up by Paul McCartney

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: June 28, 1980 through July 12, 1980.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

The only two people who appear in this video are Paul McCartney and his then wife Linda McCartney. This is apropos, since they are the only two people who appear on the recording as well. Despite the fact that an alternate version of this song was recorded with McCartney's band Wings, Coming Up more or less signaled McCartney's break from the band, and his first real foray into a solo career since the early 1970s. By 1981, Wings was defunct.

Every instrument on this recording was played by McCartney, and Paul and Linda provided all of the vocals (with Paul's lead vocal track sped up using a vari-speed tape machine). The song is peppy, catchy, and not much more than that. On a side note, this song reached #1 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100, but it didn't top the charts in the U.K., which is somewhat unusual for McCartney as he tends to do better on the U.K. chart than he does on the U.S. charts.

Previous Musical Monday: Crying by Don McLean
Subsequent Musical Monday: The Rose by Bette Midler

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Funkytown by the Lipps, Inc.
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: It's Still Rock and Roll to Me by Billy Joel

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Paul McCartney     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Book Blogger Hop August 31st - September 6th: Aurelius Became Emperor of a Divided Rome in 270 A.D. He Proceeded to Reunify It.

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Do you have a YouTube channel? If so, do you post book review vlogs?

I do have a YouTube channel.

I do not post book review vlogs.

The only videos currently uploaded to my channel are a video of my daughter singing in a high school talent show, a video of my wedding to the redhead, and a video of the Doubleclicks singing me a happy birthday song.

I also have several YouTube playlists, all of which are related to my recurring Musical Monday feature.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, August 31, 2018

2018 WSFA Small Press Award Voting

As a member of the Washington Science Fiction Association, I may vote on the WSFA Small Press Award. The stories are presented to members of WSFA anonymously, with the intent being that all of the members vote based solely on the text of the story, as uninfluenced by the identities of the authors as possible. Unfortunately, as one of the stories was nominated for a Hugo Award this year (which seems to be a pattern for the nominees for this award), I went into the voting already knowing who had written it. Eight stories were nominated this year, and as usual with the WSFA Small Press Award nominees, the overall level of quality for the field as a whole was quite high, making voting fairly difficult. Most of these stories are quite good, even the stories I ranked sixth or seventh are still pretty good stories, I just thought that the ones in the higher slots were simply better. My rankings of the stories are as follows:

1. Probably Still the Chosen One by Kelly Barnhill: This story seems thematically aligned with Seanan McGuire's recent novella series that started with Every Heart a Doorway insofar as it focuses on a child who was whisked away to a magical land and then returned to mundane reality. despite the thematic similarity, Barnhill's story takes the idea in a fairly different direction - among other things, Corrina was specifically selected to journey into Nibiru by its High Priests because she was the "Chosen One" who would save them from their enemies the Zonniers, and she was returned to our world in order to protect her from some setbacks suffered by the forces of Nibiru.

The story starts off immediately after Corrina has been returned to our world, and most of the remaining pages detail Corrina's wait until the High Priests of Nibiru return for her and all of the ways she basically schemed and sacrificed to make sure she could stay near the door under the kitchen sink that only she could see. What sets this story apart is how it delves into a deeper issue when it explores exactly what happens when the eleven year old Chosen One grows to adulthood and gains in wisdom and judgment as she ages. This sends the story in an unexpected direction, or at least a direction that the High Priests didn't expect, but it ends up in a very satisfying place. In the end, this is the story of what would happen if the protagonist in a young adult fantasy novel was allowed to grow up and approach the problems they face with an adult perspective, and the end result is a story that is absolutely fantastic.

2. Floaters Can’t Float by Pip Coen: This is a time travel story in which time travel works only one way – into the future. This sounds like something rather mundane, after all everyone is always time traveling forward through time, but in Floaters Can’t Float, the travelers are flinging themselves forward, skipping past the intervening years and landing in the New York of the future. Unfortunately, jumping blindly into the future means that you are likely to end up running into something that wasn’t there when you left, resulting in dead arrivals called variously “floaters”, “clovers”, and “moles” depending upon their method of dying. These time travelers have made New York, now known as the “T-Zone”, uninhabitable save for the handful of archivists who have undertaken the job of cataloguing and cleaning up the incoming wave of corpses and handful of live refugees from the past.

The story itself centers upon Brix, one of the oldest and longest serving archivists who is being interviewed while on the job by reporter Kate Nolan. Brix is cranky and short-tempered, but through Brix's interactions with Kate, Coen paints a picture of the people desperate enough to hurl themselves into the void in the hope of a better future, and the decidedly unsympathetic attitude of the people at their destination. One can sympathize with those who dislike the newcomers – after all the influx of time travelers has rendered New York uninhabitable, but since time travel only works one direction, there is literally no way to warn the voyagers that their journey is hazardous to themselves and others, making the new arrivals morally innocent as well. In an era in which xenophobia seems to be on the rise, this story about time-displaced immigrants looking for a better future and the reactions of those who inhabit the time they are migrating to cuts even deeper than it otherwise might have.

Floaters Can’t Float is ultimately about Brix, but it is also larger than that. There are a couple of twists that seem both unexpected and entirely foreseeable at the same time. At the end, Coen throws in a final curveball that will send the reader back to the beginning of the story as they realize that what they thought they were reading wasn’t exactly what they had read. This is an intriguing, multilayered story that offers much more depth than most stories of this length.

3. The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer: Following the travails of a tiny maintenance bot on a starship, this story unfolds piece by piece, with the scope of the action slowly increasing starting with just the bot, and then its mission, and then some other bots, and then the mission of the other bots, and finally to the human crew and their mission. Each step along the way flows naturally from the last, with the reader’s understanding of the situation growing alongside that of the tiny hardworking bot.

There are some stories that hint at an enticing wider world outside the narrative. The Secret Life of Bots is one of those stories. From the moment the protagonist bot awakens and recites the Mantra Upon Waking, the reader is drawn into the world of the bots and left to wonder about the full extent of the hidden bot culture of which the humans on board the ship appear to be blissfully unaware. Once the story expands to include the human concerns, the reader is left to wonder at the larger conflict that the battered ship is part of: Who the aliens are, why humanity is at war with them, and is there any hope of victory, or at least survival. And finally, the reader is left to wonder about the emerging creativity of the bots, and what that might mean for the future of this fictional world.

In the end, this is an adorable little story about an adorable little bot that just wants to do its best. The element that sets this story apart from so many others is that the painting Palmer has crafted here suggests a much larger world surrounding this story that is both intriguing and inviting.

4. The Cat of Five Virtues by Richard Parks: This is a Japanese inspired fable involving a samurai, his son, a magical cat, luck, and fortune. The story focuses mostly on the young boy Taro, later named Masatoki, and his luck, which extends to benefit his entire family. Taro is guided in the rules concerning his luck by the usually invisible cat, and when the boy suffers a reversal, the cat reappears to give him advice as to how to rectify the situation.

Some stories are pleasant and enjoyable to read, but not really anything more than that. The Cat of Five Virtues is one of those stories. The plot is more or less straightforward: A child is born, favored by the gods. The child is blessed with a gift with restrictions. The restrictions, predictably prove to be too much to sustain the gift, and the child (now an adolescent) embarks on a journey to recover from the setback. There simply doesn't seem to really be anything more to this story other than serving as a pleasant diversion. That's perfectly a okay thing for a story to be, but that alone isn't enough to make a story award-worthy.

5. A Vague Inclination to Please by Brandon Daubs: Told in the form of an extended monologue, this story is essentially an extended confession by an android as it recounts the story of its artificial life. Short fiction must walk a fine line between providing sufficient background information so as to draw the reader into the world being presented, and avoiding overwhelming the reader with so much dry exposition that they get bored. A Vague Inclination to Please teeters off of this fine line in the direction of providing too little background, or rather provides expositional detail too late, meaning that story elements seem to crop up out of left field, blindsiding the reader with twists for which their was no foundation laid. The android, named Amaya, was originally owned by a genius researcher named Mayato, who was working in artificial intelligence. That detail, which motivates almost all of the action in the story, is left out until well after Mayato is dead - until the story is almost over, in fact. The fact that Mayato had disagreements with his former employer, and the nature of those disagreements, are also details that are not mentioned until the story is almost over. In some cases, material like this is left out because the viewpoint character does not know them until later in the story, but in this case, these details comprise most of the motivation Amaya has for all of her actions. Because these tidbits of information weren't introduced earlier in the story, when they do crop up, they feel like they were just thrown in almost haphazardly to justify the flow of the action. There are all of the elements of a pretty interesting story here, but the execution was so flawed that it doesn't really rise above mediocrity.

6. Oba Oyinbo by Jonathan Edelstein: I really wanted to like this story more than I actually did. I lived in Nigeria years ago, in Lagos specifically, so when a science fiction or fantasy story is set there, I always hope that it is a good one. In the case of Oba Oyinbo, this hope was not to pay off. The story, featuring a central character named Mary Ejiofor who is a lawyer and a witch, is serviceable but not really much more than that. The plot is fairly ordinary, involving a murder mystery that leads to a conspiracy to commit a politically motivated assassination, so what marks this story as unique is its setting.

I spent a fair amount of time in Africa, living in three different African countries and travelling to a handful of others, and one of the things about stories set on the continent is that they have to feel right. I can’t really describe the feeling more specifically, but Africa as a whole has a particular feel to it, and each country within Africa has its own particular flavor of that feel. Lagos, Nigeria has a particular feel to it that is recognizable to anyone who has been there, and to Edelstein’s credit, Oba Oyinbo feels fairly close to authentic in this regard as far as I can tell. The only real problem with this is that I lived in Lagos in the 1980s, and the story is set in 1937, so unless Lagos essentially stagnated for fifty years, this shouldn’t be the case. The incongruity is more or less equivalent to that which would result from a film about Al Capone that had the same feeling as Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

The story is wrapped up in issues related to colonialism – the one major nod towards the fact that it is set in 1937, when Nigeria was still a colonial possession of the United Kingdom, but even that feels a bit off in the narrative. When the issue comes up directly in the story, the text seems as though the American author of the work is explaining to the African characters how they should respond to colonial occupation. I realize that all of these criticisms are extremely idiosyncratic and specific to me, but they threw me out of the story every time they cropped up.

7. Through Milkweed and Gloom by Wendy Nikel: This is a beautifully atmospheric story about a search for a missing person in a swamp in which people seem to mysteriously go missing on a frequent basis. Hilly, the story's protagonist, lives on the edge of this foreboding bog, and joins in an expedition to search for a missing child, which all of the locals take as a chance to search for all of the people who have gone missing over the years. Though it starts with what amounts to an organizational meeting, with its clipped and efficient cadences, the story assumes a dreamlike quality as the searchers enter the marsh and before too long everything is drenched in the gloomy caprice of faery. The tension and sense of impending doom ramps up over the course of the narrative until everything seems lost. Unfortunately, after this superb build-up, the story kind of fizzles, seemingly skipping ahead to the end of the story in such a hurried manner that one gets the sense that the author just got tired of it and wanted to wrap things up. Through Milkweed and Gloom is a great story for the first eighty percent or so of its run, but that excellence is betrayed by the rushed final act.

8. The Oracle and the Warlord by Karina Sumner-Smith: Even though this story ranked last in my voting, it isn't really a bad story so much as it is a story that feels maddeningly incomplete. The framework of the story is fairly straightforward - a new Warlord comes to the Oracle Sayenne to seek the answer to the perpetual question posed by the ravages of the blight that plagues the land. The entire story is told from the perspective of Andra, Sayenne's assistant and lover. The Warlord arrives, makes gifts, asks her question, and then Sayenne retreats to the waters to find the prophecy, gets rescued by Andra, and then offers her response to the Warlord while Andra contemplates the prophecy she received when she went into the waters to save Sayenne.

The issue is that there really isn't much more substance to the story than that summary. The only real character in the story is Andra: The Warlord is the catalyst for the action in the story, but doesn't even have a name and her only real character trait is that she carries a sword and laser rifle. Sayenne is defined in the story by what she has given up to the waters in order to make prophecies, but doesn't really have much more substance than that. The Blight is described as an omnipresent threat, but it is so ill-defined as to be nothing more than a vague and undefined evil without any real menace to it. Even the temple and the waters that form the heart of the plot are cursorily described. There just isn't anything in this story that gives the world it takes place in any real definition or makes the characters who inhabit it anything more than empty shells.

On a kind of minor note, one element of this story that was bothersome was the persistent use of the word "prophecy" to describe responses that weren't actually prophecies, but were instead answers. This is a fairly petty complaint, especially given the other larger issues I had with this story, but it bothered me every time it came up.

Note: The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer won the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.

2017 WSFA Small Press Award Winner: The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon (reviewed in 2017 WSFA Small Press Award Voting)
2019 WSFA Small Press Award Winner: TBD

2017 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novelette: The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon (reviewed in 2017 WSFA Small Press Award Voting)
2019 Hugo Award Winner for Best Novelette: TBD

List of Hugo Award Winners for Best Novelette

2018 Hugo Award Finalists

2018 WSFA Small Press Award Nominees     Book Award Reviews     Home

Monday, August 27, 2018

Musical Monday - Crying by Don McLean

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: June 21, 1980 through July 5, 1980.

Last week I couldn't figure out why Suicide Is Painless reached number one on the U.K. chart in 1980. This week I can't even figure out why this recording exists, let alone why it reached number one on the U.K. chart for three weeks.

This is not to say that Don McLean is not a good singer-songwriter. American Pie is an iconic fixture in the history of music, and songs like Vincent and Castles in the Air are pretty good. The only problem is that he is not Roy Orbison, and Crying, then, now, and forever, belongs to Roy Orbison.

The primary issue is that while McLean is a decent vocalist, Orbison was described by Elvis Presley as the greatest rock singer he ever heard. And Crying, along with Only the Lonely and Pretty Woman, is one of Orbison's signature songs. No one else can do a version of this song that is as good as Orbison's, and that makes McLean's success with this cover of the song kind of perplexing. Orbison was still alive in 1980. His recording of this song still existed (and still exists). Just listen to that version and leave McLean's on the shelf where it belongs.

Previous Musical Monday: Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash
Subsequent Musical Monday: Coming Up by Paul McCartney

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Xanadu by Olivia Newton John and the Electric Light Orchestra

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

Don McLean     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Book Blogger Hop August 24th - August 30th: Apropos of Nothing in Particular, 26 U.S.C. § 269 Penalizes Acquisitions Made to Evade or Avoid Income Tax

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Where do you post your reviews besides your blog? Please list them all so perhaps we can find some new sites.

The only other place that I currently post my book and magazine reviews is LibraryThing. I mostly use LibraryThing as a place to draft my reviews, and when they are done, I post them here. There are often some small differences between my reviews on LibraryThing and my reviews here, as I end up doing some minor editing in the transition between the two locations.

I don't currently post my movie, television, music, or stand-alone short fiction reviews anywhere other than here.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: Pope Dionysius Died in 268 A.D.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Thursday, August 23, 2018

1943 Retro Hugo Award Longlist (awarded in 2018)

2018 is the year that I go back to complaining about the Retro Hugo Awards. On the one hand, it is nice to have direct evidence refuting those who claim that "Heinlein could never win a Hugo award today" in the form of Heinlein winning Hugo Awards pretty much every time a Retro Hugo Award ceremony is held. On the other hand, every time the Retro Hugo Awards are handed out, they always seem to end up going to the same four or five people, which the range of individuals nominated is only very slightly broader than that, which seems to call into question their validity.

The problem with the Retro Hugo Awards is that they require looking back over such long distances of time that the works of authors who had lengthy careers after the year the Retro Hugos are associated with are the ones that seem to loom largest in the minds of those nominating and voting on the awards. The end result is the kind of hyper-focused results that are evident in the winners, the finalists, and even the longlisted nominees. The result is that the question that comes to my mind is simply this: Is it worth holding Retro Hugo Award ceremonies if the only thing that is going to happen is handing Heinlein, Asimov, and Campbell another posthumous award? Is there a desperate need to give those individuals yet more recognition? Is that the only purpose this award serves? Because right now, that seems to be the case.

Best Novel

Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein [winner]
Darkness and the Light by Olaf Stapledon
Donovan’s Brain by Curt Siodmak
Islandia by Austin Tappan Wright
Second Stage Lensmen by E.E. “Doc” Smith
The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle

Longlisted Nominees:
The Adventures of Superman by George F. Lowther
Grand Canyon by Vita Sackville-West
Land of Unreason by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp
Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher
The Sorcerer's Ship by Hannes Bok

Best Novella

Asylum by A.E. van Vogt
The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher
Hell Is Forever by Alfred Bester
Nerves by Lester del Rey
The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag by Robert A. Heinlein (reviewed in The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein)

Longlisted Nominees:
Barrier by Anthony Boucher
The Push of a Finger by Alfred Bester
Recruiting Station by A.E. van Vogt
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

Best Novelette

Bridle and Saddle by Isaac Asimov
Foundation by Isaac Asimov [winner]
Goldfish Bowl by Robert A. Heinlein
The Star Mouse by Fredric Brown
There Shall Be Darkness by C.L. Moore
The Twonky by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner [ineligible, nominated in wrong category]

Longlisted Nominees
Child of the Sun by Leigh Brackett
Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon
QRM - Interplanetary by George O. Smith
Runaround by Isaac Asimov (reviewed in I, Robot)
The Sorcerer of Rhiannon by Leigh Brackett

Best Short Story

Etaoin Shrdlu by Fredric Brown
Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim
Proof by Hal Clement
Runaround by Isaac Asimov (reviewed in I, Robot)
The Sunken Land by Fritz Leiber
The Twonky by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner [winner]

Longlisted Nominees
Child of the Green Light by Leigh Brackett
Deadlock by Leigh Brackett and Henry Kuttner
Funes the Memorious by Jorge Luis Borges
Goldfish Bowl by Robert A. Heinlein
Masquerade by Henry Kuttner
Robot AL-76 Goes Astray by Isaac Asimov
Victory Unintentional by Isaac Asimov
Waldo by Robert A. Heinlein (reviewed in The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein)
The Wings of Night by Lester del Rey

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Bambi [winner]
Cat People
The Ghost of Frankenstein
I Married a Witch
Invisible Agent
Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book

Longlisted Nominees:
The Corpse Vanishes
The Mouse of Tomorrow

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

John W. Campbell [winner]
Oscar J. Friend
Dorothy McIlwraith
Raymond A. Palmer
Malcolm Reiss
Donald A. Wollheim

Longlisted Nominees:
Alden H. Norton
Frederik Pohl

Best Professional Artist

Hannes Bok
Margaret Brundage
Edd Cartier
Virgil Finlay [winner]
Harold W. McCauley
Hubert Rogers

Longlisted Nominees:
Earle Bergey
J. Allen St. John

Best Fanzine

Futurian War Digest edited by J. Michael Rosenblum
Inspiration edited by Lynn Bridges
The Phantagraph edited by Donald A. Wollheim
Spaceways edited by Harry Warner, Jr.
Voice of the Imagi-Nation edited by Forrest J Ackerman and Morojo
Le Zombie edited by Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
The Acolyte edited by Francis Towner Laney
Fanfare by The Stranger Club
Fantasy Fiction Field by Julius Unger
Fantasite by Phil Bronson
Madman of Mars by Forrest J Ackerman

Best Fan Writer

Forrest J Ackerman [winner]
Jack Speer
Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker
Harry Warner, Jr.
Art Widner
Donald A. Wollheim

Longlisted Nominees:
Ray Bradbury

Go to previous year's longlist: 1941 (awarded in 2016)
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 1946 (awarded in 1996)

Go to 1943 Hugo Finalists and Winners

Hugo Longlist Project     Book Award Reviews     Home

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2018 Hugo Award Longlist

The 2018 Hugo awards were the first since 2014 to be free of Puppy-related manipulation, and that appears to have extended to the Hugo Longlist as well. At the very least, I could not see any trace of Puppy-related support for any of the nominees who appear here. There might be, but if there is, I missed it, and that essentially means that the Scrappy Pups are essentially dead as a movement that matters. The die-hard members of that group will probably still run around for a few more years claiming "victory" using criteria that make no sense to anyone outside of their tiny circle-jerk, but as a movement that matters to anyone not in their insular clique, they are effectively a non-factor.

This means that we can turn to more important issues that need to be addressed, and the one that comes to my mind with this Hugo Longlist is the fact that when the Hugo administrators published the Hugo statistics for this year they left off the names of authors of the nominated stories and the various editors and other contributors to the nominated fanzines, semi-prozines, and fancasts. This isn't a new practice - several previous Hugo administrators have also omitted this information, and I really wish they would stop doing that. When it comes to the finalists, this isn't such a big issue, since the Hugo ballot includes this information, but for those works that are on the Longlist, this can be exceedingly annoying, especially if the work in question has an incredibly common name that makes looking them up to fill in this data time-consuming and tedious.

Therefore, I warn anyone looking at this Longlist that any author or contributor listed for any of the works outside of the official list of finalists are the results of my best efforts at research. I tried to attribute stories and publications to the correct individuals, but there is the possibility that I got something wrong. If I did get something wrong, and you know the correct information, please send me a note so I can correct the error.

Best Novel

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Provenance by Ann Leckie
Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Artemis by Andy Weir
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley
The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon
Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys

Best Novella

All Systems Red by Martha Wells [winner]
And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Longlisted Nominees:
17776 by Jon Bois
Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day by Seanan McGuire
The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch
In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
Mira's Last Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages
The Prisoner of Limnos by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Red Threads of Fortune by JY Yang
The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

Best Novelette

Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard
Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee
The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer [winner]
A Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara
Wind Will Rove by Sarah Pinsker

Longlisted Nominees
Angel of the Blockade by Alex Acks
Crispin's Model by Max Gladstone
The Dark Birds by Ursula Vernon
The Fisher of Bones by Sarah Gailey
A Human Stain by Kelly Robson
The Hermit of Houston by Samuel R. Delany
Pan-Humanism: Hope and Pragmatics by Jess Barber and Sara Saab
Uncanny Valley by Greg Egan
Waiting on a Bright Moon by JY Yang
The Worshipful Society of Glovers by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Short Story

Carnival Nine by Caroline M. Yoachim
Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand by Fran Wilde
Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
The Martian Obelisk by Linda Nagata
Sun, Moon, Dust by Ursula Vernon
Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM by Rebecca Roanhorse [winner]

Longlisted Nominees
Confessions of a Con Girl by Nick Wolven
Dear Sarah by Nancy Kress
Don't Press Charges and I Won't Sue by Charlie Jane Anders
Paradox by Naomi Kritzer
The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom by Max Gladstone
Sidewalks by Maureen F. McHugh
Utopia, LOL? by Jamie Wahls
Waiting Out the End of the World in Patty's Place Cafe by Naomi Kritzer
Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Buckell

Best Related Work

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoe Quinn
Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) by Paul Kincaid
A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison by Nat Segaloff
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal
No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin [winner]
Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy by Liz Bourke

Longlisted Nominees:
The 2016 #BlackSpecFic Report by Cecily Kane
Archive of Our Own by the Organization for Transformative Works
Don't Live for Your Obituary: Advice, Commentary and Personal Observations on Writing, 2008-2017 by John Scalzi
Freshly Remember'd: Kirk Drift by Erin Horáková
Invisible 3: Personal Essays and Poems on Representation in SF/F edited by Jim C. Hines and Mary Anne Mohanraj
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fiction by James E. Gunn
An Unexpected Honor by Ursula Vernon
WorldCon 75 restaurant guide edited by J. Robert Tupasela

Best Graphic Story

Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward
Bitch Planet, Volume Two: President Bitch written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine de Landro and Taki Soma
Monstress, Volume Two: The Blood written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda [winner]
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters written and illustrated by Emil Ferris
Paper Girls, Volume 3 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang
Saga, Volume 7 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

Longlisted Nominees:
17776 by John Bois
Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation written by Octavia E. Butler, adapted by Damian Duffy, illustrated by John Jennings
Ladycastle by Delilah Dawson, illustrated by Becca Farrow and Ashley A. Woods
Ms. Marvel, Volume 7: Damage Per Second written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa and Mirka Andolfo
Ms. Marvel, Volume 8: Mecca written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Marco Failla and Diego Olortegui
Saga, Volume 8 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 6: Who Run The World? Squirrels written by Ryan North, illustrated by Erica Henderson
The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 5: Imperial Phase I written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Kevin Wada

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

Blade Runner 2049
Get Out
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Thor: Ragnarok
Wonder Woman [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
The Expanse, Season 2
Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2
The Good Place, Season 1
The Handmaid's Tale
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Stranger Things, Season 2
Your Name

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Black Mirror: USS Callister
The Deep [song] by Clipping
Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time
The Good Place: Michael’s Gambit
The Good Place: The Trolley Problem [winner]
Star Trek: Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Longlisted Nominees:
Doctor Who: Thin Ice
Doctor Who: World Enough and Time
The Expanse: Caliban's War
The Expanse: Home
Game of Thrones: The Dragon and the Wolf
Game of Thrones: The Spoils of War
The Good Place: Dance Dance Resolution
Orphan Black: To Right the Wrongs of Many
Star Trek Continues: What Ships Are For

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Lee Harris
Jonathan Strahan
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas [winner]
Sheila Williams

Longlisted Nominees:
Scott H. Andrews
Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois
C.C. Finlay
Marguerite Kenner
Trevor Quachri
Julia Rios
Michi Trota
Ann Vandermeer

Best Professional Editor: Long Form

Sheila E. Gilbert [winner]
Liz Gorinsky [nomination declined]
Joe Monti
Diana M. Pho
Devi Pillai
Miriam Weinberg
Navah Wolfe

Longlisted Nominees:
Carl Engle-Laird
Lee Harris
Will Hinton
Beth Meacham
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Gillian Redfearn
Toni Weisskopf
Betsy Wollheim

Best Professional Artist

Galen Dara
Julie Dillon [nomination declined]
Kathleen Jennings
Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme
Victo Ngai
John Picacio
Sana Takeda [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Richard Anderson
Dan dos Santos
Jaime Jones
Likhain (M. Sereno)
Gregory Manchess
Maurizio Manzieri
Tran Nguyen
Yuko Shimizu

Best Semi-Prozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
Escape Pod edited by Mur Lafferty, S.B. Divya, and Norm Sherman, with assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney
Fireside Magazine edited by Brian White and Julia Rios; managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry; special feature editor Mikki Kendall; and publisher and art director Pablo Defendini
Strange Horizons edited by Kate Dollarhyde, Gautam Bhatia, A.J. Odasso, Lila Garrott, Heather McDougal, Ciro Faienza, Tahlia Day, Vanessa Rose Phin, and the Strange Horizons staff
Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Cast of Wonders edited by Marguerite Kenner
Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke and Sean Wallace
FIYAH Literary Magazine edited by Justina Ireland and Troy L. Wiggins
GigaNotoSaurus edited by Rashida J. Smith
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams and Wendy N. Wagner
PodCastle edited by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Jen R. Albert
Shimmer edited by E. Catherine Tobler, Nicola Belte, and Sophie Wereley
Tähtivaeltaja edited by Toni Jerrman

Best Fanzine

File 770 edited by Mike Glyer [winner]
Galactic Journey edited by Gideon Marcus
Journey Planet edited by Team Journey Planet
nerds of a feather, flock together edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
Rocket Stack Rank edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
SF Bluestocking edited by Bridget McKinney

Longlisted Nominees:
Ansible edited by David Langford
Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Black Gate edited by John O'Neill
Camestros Felapton by Camestros Felapton
Lady Business edited by Clare McBride, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
Quick Sip Reviews by Charles Payseur
The Rec Center edited by Elizabeth Minkel and Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
SF Commentary edited by Bruce Gillespie
Women Write About Comics edited by Megan Purdy

Best Fan Writer

Camestros Felapton
Sarah Gailey [winner]
Mike Glyer
Foz Meadows
Charles Payseur
Bogi Takács

Longlisted Nominees:
Liz Bourke
Erin Horakova
Natalie Luhrs
James Nicoll
Elsa Sjunneson-Henry
Alasdair Stuart
Chuck Tingle
Michi Trota
O. Westin

Best Fan Artist

Geneva Benton [winner]
Grace P. Fong
Maya Hahto
Likhain (M. Sereno)
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles

Longlisted Nominees:
Kirbi Fagan
Brad W. Foster
Meg Frank
Ariela Housman
Stephanie Law
Richard Man
Liv Rainey-Smith
Laya Rose
Leon Tukker

Best Fancast

The Coode Street Podcast presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Ditch Diggers presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace [winner]
Fangirl Happy Hour presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
Galactic Suburbia presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts; produced by Andrew Finch
Sword and Laser presented by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
Tea and Jeopardy presented by Emma Newman and Peter Newman [nomination declined]
Verity! presented by Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Longlisted Nominees:
Breaking the Glass Slipper presented by Lucy Hounsom, Charlotte Bond, and Megan Leigh
Eating the Fantastic presented by Scott Edelman
Fast Forward presented by Rose Eveleth
Get to Work Hurley! presented by Kameron Hurley
Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men presented by Jay and Miles
Kalanadi presented by Rachel
The Skiffy and Fanty Show presented by Shaun Duke, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, Mike Underwood, David Annandale, Rachael Acks, Trish Matson, and Jen Zink
Storyological presented by E.G. Cosh and Chris Kammerud

Best Series

Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells
The Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin [nomination declined]
The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone [too few words added since last nominated]
The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Expanse by James S.A. Corey [too few words added since last nominated]
InCryptid by Seanan McGuire
The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan
October Daye by Seanan McGuire [too few words added since last nominated]
The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson
World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
The Queen's Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer
Wild Cards by George R.R. Martin

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Katherine Arden
Sarah Kuhn
Jeannette Ng
Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Rebecca Roanhorse [winner]
Rivers Solomon

Longlisted Nominees:
G.V. Anderson
S.A. Chakraborty
April Daniels
Benjamin C. Kinney
Sylvain Neuvel
Annalee Newitz
Brandon O'Brien
Erin Roberts
K.B. Wagers

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor [winner]
The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller
The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan
A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge
Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

Longlisted Nominees:
Buried Heart by Kate Elliott
Dreadnought by April Daniels
Exo by Fonda Lee
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner
Tool of War by Paolo Bacigalupi
Want by Cindy Pon
Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren

Go to previous year's longlist: 2017
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 2019

Go to 2018 Hugo Finalists and Winners

Hugo Longlist Project     Book Award Reviews     Home

Monday, August 20, 2018

Musical Monday - Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide is Painless) by the Mash

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: May 31, 1980 through June 14, 1980.

I have no idea why this song became number one in the U.K. in 1980. That is not to say this is a bad song, but by the time it became number one in the U.K., it was a decade old. The song was originally released when the 1970 M*A*S*H movie starring Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould came out. It was used again for the M*A*S*H television series which ran in the United States from 1972 to 1982.

I thought that the song may have become popular to coincide with the airing of the television show in the U.K., but M*A*S*H wasn't aired in the U.K. until 1984. I thought it might have coincided with a release or rerelease of the movie, but that doesn't seem to be the case either. I checked every plausible reason I could come up with, and there just doesn't seem to be any kind of trigger that would explain why a ten-year old song pulled itself out of mothballs and climbed to the top of the U.K. charts.

On an entirely unrelated note, the song was commissioned by director Robert Altman for the 1970 movie, and the lyrics were written by Michael Altman, Robert's then 14-year old son. Robert turned the job over to his son because he couldn't write lyrics that he thought were dumb enough to be what he wanted out of the song. Ironically, Michael has reportedly earned far more in songwriting royalties for the song than his father did for directing the movie it appeared in.

Previous Musical Monday: Funkytown by Lipps, Inc.
Subsequent Musical Monday: Crying by Don McLean

Previous #1 on the U.K. Chart: Whats Another Year by Johnny Logan
Subsequent #1 on the U.K. Chart: Crying by Don McLean

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

The Mash     1980s Project     Musical Monday     Home