Sunday, February 26, 2017

1939 Retro Hugo Award Longlist (awarded in 2014)

The Retro Hugo Awards seems like they were motivated by the best of intentions. Because the Hugo awards were not started until 1953, and then skipped a year, there are several Worldcons - mostly from the 1940s - for which no Hugo Awards were ever selected. The idea behind the Retro Hugo Awards seems to have been to allow fans to reach back and honor works from those years that were "missed" by the Hugo Awards by giving them "Retro" Hugos. This way, the gaps in the Award's history could be filled, and people could recognize the creative works of the greats of the past. The only problem is that it hasn't really worked out that way.

I have always been somewhat skeptical of the Retro Hugo Awards, and looking at the associated Longlists has done nothing to change my opinion. Looking back seventy-five years, as the voters did when nominating works for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards, results in quite sparse results. There weren't even sufficient numbers of nominations in the categories Best Related Work, Best Graphic Story, Best Long Form Dramatic Presentation, Best Long Form Editor, or Best Semiprozine for the categories to even be represented. Of the categories that did make the cut, only one was able to garner fifteen total nominees, while most categories fell far short of that mark. The evidence seems to show that either the Hugo voting populace isn't armed with enough information to be able to come up with a wide array of nominees, or the depth of the field decades ago was simply insufficient to reasonably support a comprehensive set of nominees. In either case, the dearth of longlisted nominees serves as yet more evidence that the Retro Hugos, although an interesting idea in theory, are just not up to snuff in practice.

Best Novel

Finalists:
Carson of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Galactic Patrol by E.E. "Doc" Smith
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien [ineligible]
The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
At Midnight on the 31st of March by Josephine Young Case
The Doomsday Men by J.B. Priestly
The Drums of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer
The Red Star of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Silver Princess in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson
Synthetic Men of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Tarzan and the Forbidden City by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Towers in the Mist by Elizabeth Goudge

Best Novella

Finalists:
Anthem by Ayn Rand
A Matter of Form by H.L. Gold
Sleepers of Mars by John Wyndham (writing as John Beynon)
The Time Trap by Henry Kuttner
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. (writing as Don A. Stuart) [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
The Black Drama by Manly Wade Wellman
Black Vulmea's Vengeance by Robert E. Howard
Dreadful Sleep by Jack Williamson
The Hairy Ones Shall Dance by Manly Wade Wellman
Tarzan and the Elephant Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Best Novelette

Finalists:
Dead Knowledge by John W. Campbell, Jr. (writing as Don A. Stuart)
Hollywood on the Moon by Henry Kuttner
Pigeons From Hell by Robert E. Howard
Rule 18 by Clifford D. Simak [winner]
Werewoman by C.L. Moore

Longlisted Nominees
Beyond the Screen by John Benyon
The Dead Spot by Jack Williamson
The Men and the Mirror by Ross Rocklynne
Reunion on Ganymede by Clifford D. Simak
Secret of the Observatory by Robert Bloch
Seeds of the Dusk by Raymond Z. Gallun
The World's Eighth Wonder by Eric Frank Russell

Best Short Story

Finalists:
Azethoth by H.P. Lovecraft [ineligible]
Beyond the Wall of Sleep by H.P. Lovecraft [ineligible]
The Faithful by Lester del Rey
Hollerbochen’s Dilemma by Ray Bradbury
How We Went to Mars by Arthur C. Clarke [winner]
Hyperpilosity by L. Sprague de Camp

Longlisted Nominees
Between Two Worlds by Mary Lutyens
The Book by H.P. Lovecraft
The Brain Pirates by John W. Campbell, Jr.
An Experiment of the Dead by Helen Simpson
Janice by Shirley Jackson
The Merman by L. Sprague de Camp
Robots Return by Robert Moore Williams
With and Without Buttons by Mary Butts

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Finalists:
Around the World in Eighty Days
A Christmas Carol
Dracula
R.U.R.
The War of the Worlds [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
The Brave Little Tailor
The Man Who Was Thursday
Mother Goose Goes to Hollywood
Porky in Wackyland

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

Finalists:
Forrest J Ackerman [ineligible]
John W. Campbell, Jr. [winner]
Walter H. Gillings
Raymond A. Palmer
Mort Wesinger
Farnsworth Wright

Longlisted Nominees:
T. O'Connor Sloane

Best Professional Artist

Finalists:
Margaret Brundage
Virgil Finlay [winner]
Frank R. Paul
Alex Schomburg
H.W. Wesso

Longlisted Nominees:
Howard V. Brown
Lee Morey
Norman Saunders
Charles Schneeman

Best Fanzine

Finalists:
Fantascience Digest
Fantasy News
F(antasy) A(mateur) P(ress) A(ssociation) [ineligible]
Imagination! [winner]
Novae Terrae
Spaceways [ineligible]
Tomorrow
Le Zombie [ineligible]

Longlisted Nominees:
Science Fiction Newsletter

Best Fan Writer

Finalists:
Forrest J Ackerman
Ray Bradbury [winner]
Arthur Wilson "Bob" Tucker
Harry Warner, Jr.
Donald A. Wollheim

Longlisted Nominees:
Robert A. Madle
Sam Moskowitz
William F. Temple

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

Go to 1939 Hugo Finalists and Winners

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Blogger Hop February 24th - March 2nd: The U.S. Navy Said That the Ship T-AG-193, Also Known as the Glomar Explorer, Was for Deep Sea Drilling


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: How do you feel about books with multiple narrators?

If done well, I quite like books with multiple narrators. One of my favorite classic works of literature is Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, which rather famously rotates between multiple narrators over the course of its story. I am currently reading a novel - Kameron Hurley's The Stars Are Legion - that has multiple narrators. Actually, more than one of Hurley's books are told from multiple points of view. This is a technique that George R.R. Martin has used in his Song of Ice and Fire series, and Tolkien used in The Lord of the Rings. In the hands of a capable author, using multiple narrators is a technique that can really make a book into something really special.


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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

2017 Nebula Award Nominees

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Comments: The 2017 Nebula Awards experienced a minor hiccup when SFWA President Cat Rambo's story Red in Tooth and Cog was nominated in the Best Novelette category despite being too short of a story to qualify for that category. The story could have been reassigned to the Best Short Story category, as it had sufficient votes to place in that category, but that would have eliminated the three stories that had finished in a tie for the last spot in that category. Instead, Rambo graciously elected to remove her story from consideration for the award, allowing both the replacement novelette The Orangery by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam and the three nominated short stories to keep their places on the ballot.

On another note, this list of nominees serves to remind me of just how far behind I am on my reading this year. Usually, when the Nebula nominees are announced, I have already read a couple of the nominated novels and a smattering of the short fiction. This year, the only things on the ballot that I have consumed have been three of the Ray Bradbury Award nominees. I own copies of several of the nominated works, I just haven't read them yet. I really need to rectify this situation soon.

Best Novel

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Borderline by Mishell Baker
Everfair by Nisi Shawl
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Best Novella

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Liar by John P. Murphy
Runtime by S.B. Divya
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

Best Novelette

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Blood Grains Speak Through Memories by Jason Sanford
The Jewel and Her Lapidary by Fran Wilde
The Long Fall Up by William Ledbetter
The Orangery by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo [ineligible in this category, withdrawn]
Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea by Sarah Pinsker
You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay by Alyssa Wong

Best Short Story

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong
Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander
Sabbath Wine by Barbara Krasnoff
Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar
Things With Beards by Sam J. Miller
This Is Not a Wardrobe Door by A. Merc Rustad
Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0 by Caroline M. Yoachim

Ray Bradbury Award

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Arrival
Doctor Strange
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Westworld: The Bicameral Mind
Zootopia

Andre Norton Award

Winner:
TBD

Other Nominees:
Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine
The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Delia Sherman
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Railhead by Philip Reeve
Rocks Fall by Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Go to previous year's nominees: 2016

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Review - The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories by Tom Doyle


Stories Included
The Wizard of Macatawa
A Sense of Closure
Inversions
Hooking Up
Art's Appreciation
Crossing Borders
The Floating Otherworld
Noise Man
The Garuda Bird
Sea and Stars
Consensus Building
While Ireland Holds These Graves
Full review: The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction by Tom Doyle, showcasing a broad range of his published works. With twelve stories, this volume offers an array of excellent stories with a little bit of fantasy, a lot of science fiction, and in many cases, huge dollops of creepiness. This volume features a reconstituted Ireland, an out of time L. Frank Baum, vicious advertising executives of the future, upside down aliens, Indian mythology brought to life via technology, the dystopian hellscape of high school made manifest, and so many more stories, all deftly and skillfully written and laden with sex, death, darkness, and just a touch of hope. Each story is introduced by a brief account by Doyle, outlining the background of the story, often describing what motivated him to write the story, and the circumstances under which it was written. These little individualized introductions serve to enhance each story, giving some insight into the process of their creation that serves to deepen the ensuing text.

The title story in the volume, The Wizard of Macatawa is set in the same lakeside town in Michigan where L. Frank Baum allegedly wrote The Wizard of Oz, and weaves Baum and his creation into Doyle's story to create a fantastic tale featuring a relatively unlikable but very relatable protagonist named Tip. Tip is every unhappy, terrible kid you have ever met, determined to cause as much malicious mischief as she can get away with simply because she's bored and looking for something to do. A chance discovery she and her brother make while out rowing on the lake sends the story in not quite an entirely different direction, as Tip's innate orneriness keeps the rather unusual events that transpire from taking over. There are twists and turns, as unusual people show up looking to claim the object Tip and her brother found, as well as some time travel in which Baum and a variety of characters from Oz show up and make things even more interesting. There is melancholy in the story, as seeing the future does not always mean that one finds good news ahead, but there is also defiance and hope, which elevates this story above the norm. This story won the WSFA Small Press Award in 2008, and in my opinion, the win was well-deserved.

Death is an endlessly fascinating subject for writers, but in A Sense of Closure the deaths that are central to the story are only notable because they are so rare. Doyle imagines a future in which the "Methuselah Project" made death obsolete, at least for the "Youngers", who were born after the project was completed and could be genetically altered to take advantage of it. Michael is one of the last coroners still working, as there is so little need for his services. He spends his time waiting for the call that one of the few remaining "Olders" has "closed", to use the euphemism popular in this imagined future. After a couple of cases that seem more interesting than the norm, Michael does some investigating and uncovers just a bit more than he expected. The story contemplates whether immortality might be as much of a curse as it is a boon, and also poses some interesting questions about who gets to decide the big issues in life - if someone gives a gift, are they then ethically permitted to take it away again. The story is full of questions, and like most truly good stories, leaves the resolution ambiguous.

With nearly inscrutable aliens, death, and sex, Inversions is a fascinating little story whose only real weakness is that it is so short. The story follows a pair of human envoys as they try to negotiate with the alien "Floaters", a species that looks a little bit like two squids sewn together and floating upside down in the air. The humans have been trying to convince the Floaters to attend an upcoming all-species conference and defend their rights on the interstellar stage. For their part, the Floaters seem entirely indifferent to off-world happenings, and entirely obsessed with making sure their guests maintain "proper orientation" - that is, making sure their guests present themselves upside down. A tragic misorientation leads to sex and death and then more death, and finally, to the somewhat chaotic and violent resolution of the story. The only real weakness of the story is that it is quite short, and given the strong world-building that underlies it, I would have liked to be able to explore more of the fictional future Doyle crafted for it.

Set in the high school of the future, Hooking Up is a dystopian nightmare that imagines what might happen when information technology becomes an omnipresent factor in our lives. John is a troubled teen with a string of petty offenses to his name, so his parents send him to a special school intended to whip him into shape. As soon as he arrives, John is drawn into the virtual reality that surrounds the school and his senses are assaulted by the various avatars and other virtual effects that his classmates throw at him. His efforts to participate in class only draw more derision, and even the mandatory school "dance party" is a computer generated nightmare for the teen. John is essentially at his wit's end when the two apparent burnout cases in the class come to his rescue, opening new vistas for him and arming him with new tools to survive, and possibly fight back. The story is a study in the nature of teen rebellion and oppressive control that parents and the government resort to in response, illustrating that even some of those who are the architects of a dystopia might not realize it, and may even be counted among its victims.

A somewhat disturbing story about an artist in a world devoid of art, Art's Appreciation examines the fine line between madness and artistic genius through the eye of an unpleasant and unsettling protagonist. Disaffected and dissatisfied, Art lives in a future world in which advertisements of every possible configuration lay siege to the senses of anyone who dares to step out onto the street, answer their phone, or even answer their own door. Art has defenses - specially programmed computer helpers that filter out the pervasive advertising to make Art into a free man, beholden to none of the corporate pitches that dominate every else's lives. Art is, however, a thief, having stolen his precious bots from the advertising company he works for. Art is also probably insane, and murderously so. One of the elements that makes this story so interesting is that the reader only sees the world through Art's madness and paranoia, so it is possible that some, or even all or the story is just a delusion spun by Art's unhealthy mind. On the other hand, Art does discover that in a world devoid of art, the most radical and rebellious thing one can do is create some, even if doing so is almost accidental. reading the story is a quite disquieting albeit rewarding experience.

With his penchant for creating mentally ill protagonists. Doyle makes many of his stories deeply ambiguous, posing the metatextual question of how reliable the narrator is to the reader. In Crossing Borders, the protagonist is something of a secret agent, but her lack of emotional memory means she flits back and forth between the various heavy hitters on the galactic stage, first cozying up to one side and then to the other. Along the way, she creates art out of the results of her liaisons and her own tortured mind. As in Art's Appreciation, Doyle draws a connection between madness and artistic creativity, and as in that story, the link between the two is deeply unsettling. The story is of intrigue, sex, and betrayal intercut with snippets from the protagonist's former life as Robynne, a wealthy but indifferent college student, and the backstory only serves to make the main story even more disturbing. One skill that Doyle has in spades is the ability to write about the dark underbelly of human existence, and this story is a sterling example of that fact.

In the most surreal story in the volume titled The Floating Otherworld, Doyle draws upon his experiences in Japan to craft a tale about an American coming to grips with essentially the spirit of Japan. Written in the second person, which gives it a visceral sense of immediacy ,the story at times seems almost reminiscent of some of the more ethereal portions of Doyle's American Craftsmen series, as the spirits of the dead from Japan's past killed at the hand of Americans show up in an almost angry reproach of the protagonist's very presence in their country. As with many of the other stories in this volume, the connection between love, sex, and death is featured prominently, as the main character's infatuation with the Japanese night receptionist Kaguya runs from an idle crush to a much more serious relationship against a shifting and increasingly terrifying backdrop. The story is compelling, although sometimes confusing, as it is laden with imagery and symbolism that is sometimes somewhat opaque.

Noise Man is an alternate history story, or more accurately, a secret history story. Set during the years leading up to and during World War II, the main character is Kenneth, a youthful prodigy who has a knack for working with radios, and the ability tell by sound when people lie. When his mother walks out of her abusive marriage to Kenneth's father, Kenneth elects to stay behind. To keep tabs on his father, Kenneth plants a listening device in the radio he made for the man to listen to while working at Bell Labs - which gets Kenneth into some trouble before he is offered a job there and starts working with a young engineer named Mike as his "noise man". While coming up with ways to eavesdrop on the Germans, Kenneth and Mike uncover a signal from outer space, and from there the story veers into secrecy and conspiracy. An appearance by Alan Turing, called in to unravel the code in the alien signal, leads to Britain sending a reply without coordinating with the U.S. Kenneth then essentially invents a whole branch of science fiction in order to cover up the alien contact and prepare the populace for the future revelation that they are not alone in the universe. The story wends through some twists and turns and ends with Kenneth essentially orchestrating the Roswell incident. Like many of the protagonists in Doyle's stories,Kenneth is a little bit mad and clearly obsessive, but he isn't quite as terrifying as some of the others.

Blending Indian mythology with an imagined high-tech future, The Garuda Bird tells two interconnected stories alongside one another, shifting back and forth between them. One story is an account of the high stakes of Indian politics of the future, complete with a powerful dynastic political family, a band of disaffected nationalistic fascists, and a military pilot in love with a woman above his station who uses cutting edge transdimensional technology to engage in nighttime liaisons to win the heart of his love. The other is a piece of Indian myth featuring a royal family, an opportunistic smith, and a soldier in love with the princess of the realm who uses a mechanical bird to fly into her bedchamber and woo her while disguised as the god Vishnu. The deliberate parallels in these stories are a bit heavy-handed, but the story takes a very clever left turn near the end that makes it all come together beautifully.

A story of love, death, and regret, Sea and Stars features a collection of friends on something of a holiday in Brazil, where almost on a lark they decide to participate in an Umbanda ritual. John is whiling away the hours getting tipsy and stoned on the beach with his college friend and fellow lawyer Paul and their mutual friends Miguel, Elena, and Deb. Most of the reason for the vacation seems to be to give Paul and John a break from their stressful lives working at large law firms, they are reconnecting with Miguel in his home country, and Paul has brought his current girlfriend and ex-girlfriend along for the journey. The quirky thing about the story is that even though John is the narrator of the story, the real protagonist of the story is Paul: He is the one who needs a break from law firm life, he is the one with the fiancee and the somewhat congenial ex, he is the one that Miguel plays backgammon with, and so on. When the Umbanda ritual takes place, predictions of Paul's future take center stage, and the critical decision John makes and later regrets relates entirely to Paul. Most of the story other than the Umbanda ritual feels kind of perfunctory, especially the denouement, but the ritual scene is so powerfully presented that it makes up for any deficiencies elsewhere, and the last two paragraphs are such a punch in the gut that the story will linger with you for a while.

In Consensus Building, Doyle returns to the pervasive nature of modern advertising and provides the story with a protagonist almost as ruthless and frightening as Art in Art's Appreciation. Actually, in many ways Irene, the main character in this story, is more terrifying than Art, because she seems to be willing to stop at literally nothing to get to where she wants. The story itself is built up of layers of deception - in the opening scene Irene gets up for work and realizes while she is getting herself ready for the day that her neural implants are trying to advertise products to her in a relatively subtle manner, although not so subtle that she does not notice it. Concerned, she sets up an appointment with the tech support people at her work, but decides to rush things when the events of her day get progressively more disturbing. This leads to the first twist in the story, which seems almost natural, and then the second, which is where the plot gets truly chilling. The story is equal parts entertaining, prophetic, and deeply disturbing.

I have read (and reviewed) While Ireland Holds These Graves before, but it is a story that holds up to repeated reading - especially after one has read Doyle's American Craftsmen books. In the Craftsmen books, Doyle plays with the idea of the magical power provided by a national mythology, imagining the heart of America to be a place where the honored ghosts of the country's war dead reenact the battles from the past continuously. This sort of theme crops up multiple times in Doyle's work, and the only real difference in While Ireland Holds These Graves is that the "ghosts" are technological creations, built out of the literature of the past. The story imagines a future Ireland, in a world in which advances in communication and information technology have homogenized the world into something of a monoculture, recapturing its own mythic and literary past via Personality Reconstructs, or "PRs" made by plumbing the output of Ireland's literary figures. The real question that lurks behind this story is whether a culture can subsist entirely upon nostalgia, because it seems that the those who hunger for "Ireland" in the story don't really hunger for a nation, but rather for the memory of the nation as it once was. The protagonist in the story is one of the architects of this new Ireland, and when he teams with the recreated James Joyce, seeks out the recreated Newly Dead Yeats (as opposed to Young Yeats and Old Yeats), and embarks on a journey that ends, inevitably, in regret. The story delves into the question of what makes national identity, what is lost through cultural assimilation, and what is lost through holding on the the past. It is an excellent story, but disturbing in a way that seems to be Doyle's calling card.

Overall, this is, quite bluntly, an excellent collection of stories that is well worth reading. Every story in The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories is at the very least good, and a couple are absolutely brilliant. Most of the stories are brutally insightful, and will almost certainly prove to be intriguing, thought-provoking, and consequently, deeply disturbing. Anyone who is interested in short science fiction and fantasy with a side order of delicious morbidity and terror would be certain to enjoy this set of stories.

2007 WSFA Small Press Award Winner: El Regalo by Peter S. Beagle
2009 WSFA Small Press Award Winner: The Absence of Stars: Part 1 by Greg Siewert

WSFA Small Press Award Winners

2008 WSFA Small Press Award Nominees

Tom Doyle     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Monday, February 20, 2017

Musical Monday - The Great American Melting Pot by Lynn Ahrens and Lori Lieberman


This song contains both an important truth and a dangerous lie. The truth at the heart of this song is that the United States is, and always has been, a nation of immigrants. Over the years, successive waves of immigrants have come into the United States and added their cultural distinctiveness to the country, and been assimilated and changed or even warped beyond recognition. Food, for example, is a concrete and easy to see example because most of what we take to be stereotypical American cuisine comes from other countries, but we have taken them, mangled them and put a distinctly American stamp upon them. Pizza and pasta came to the U.S. from Italy, but as served here, they are radically different from their origins. Hot dogs came to the U.S. in a roundabout way from Germany, but no German would recognize them as such. And so on. The culture of the U.S. is the result of this sort of mingling and mangling, creating something new out of the various cultures of the people who have immigrated to here.

The song contains a dangerous lie, however. The lie is simply this: This process of assimilation was not a gentle, easy process in which people came to the U.S., were accepted as Americans, and melted in. This is a myth that Americans like to tell themselves, but the reality is that pretty much every wave of immigrants has sparked a xenophobic and often violent backlash. In the early part of the nineteenth century, there were nativists who targeted Irish immigrants, often with violence. Later when waves of Jewish and Eastern European immigrants came to the United States, there were virulent anti-immigrant groups that sprang up to complain about them polluting American culture. Most Americans now happily eat a diet that includes lots of food from Italy, but at one point in time, Italian immigrants were weird, menacing, and despised. Chinese immigrants were openly discriminated against for extended periods of U.S. history. Japanese immigrants, and even descendants of immigrants, were interred during World War II. It is only after the assimilation has taken place that the xenophobia would die down, and in some cases, it only subsided a bit and never went away, as the Japanese-American experience shows.

Why is the lie at the heart of the Great American Melting Pot myth so dangerous? Because it makes it seem like the immigration, assimilation, and acceptance process was an easy and painless one. Because people mentally compare this idyllic and ideologically pleasing tale with the experience of immigration in the present, and come to believe that there is something "wrong" with new immigrants. I cannot count the number of times I have heard people complaining that Muslim immigrants from Somalia, or Sudan, or Iran, or any number of other places are "not assimilating" into American culture in a timely manner. What these comments really do is expose the historical ignorance of the commenter. Almost every cultural group has had a rocky and lengthy period of assimilation - that['s in part why there are regions in many cities called something like "Little Italy" or "Chinatown", or any of the myriad of other traditionally ethnic neighborhoods that dot the American landscape. Complaining about Muslim immigrants not assimilating as quickly as you expected them to ignores the history of immigration and assimilation in the United States.

I expect that a few generations from now, the various groups of Muslim immigrants will be considered, like Irish-Americans, Polish-Americans, Italian-Americans, and all the other permutations of "-Americans", to be a perfectly normal part of the cultural landscape, and everyone will wonder why there was so much anti-Muslim hysteria in the early part of the twenty-first century. But it won't happen easily, and it won't happen overnight. Until then, I expect ignorant xenophobes will keep screaming, and everyone else will have to keep working against them to keep the United States living up to the promise of its ideals.

Previous Musical Monday: Rocky Mountain High by John Denver
Subsequent Musical Monday: 22,000 Days by the Moody Blues

Lynn Ahrens     Lori Lieberman     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, February 19, 2017

2001 Hugo Longlist

When I started this project, I noted that there was a point at which continuing to work backwards in time to find the Hugo statistics would become exponentially more difficult. This is that point. As far as I can tell, prior to 2001, the Hugo administrators didn't, either because they could not or simply would not, post the extended Hugo statistics report in a manner that is currently accessible. I have data from the 1984 Hugos, which was reconstructed from the ballots from that year that have been made available due to an odd fluke, and I need to go back and find the data for the 1939, 1951, and 1954 Retro Hugo statistics, but after that I suspect that the only way to find more historic Hugo Longlist data is to dig it out of mostly forgotten and dusty filing cabinets.

The other thing I noted when I began this project is that the data would likely degrade in quality the further back one went in time, and that has also been proven true. In previous years, the extended list of nominees in the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories was presented without reference to the editors of those works, which made necessary a search for their identities. The 2001 data not only didn't list the editors for the nominees in the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories, they also omitted the names of the authors for all of the works nominated in the fiction categories and the Best Related Work category. I am reasonably knowledgeable concerning the authorship of science fiction stories, but even so, tracking down the identities of the authors of all of the books and stories on this Longlist was something of a chore.

Best Novel

Finalists:
Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling [winner]
Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Longlisted Nominees:
The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle
The Coming by Joe Haldeman
Declare by Tim Powers
Eater by Gregory Benford
Galveston by Sean Stewart
In Green's Jungles by Gene Wolfe
Infinity Beach by Jack McDevitt
Oceanspace by Allen M. Steele
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Ventus by Karl Schroeder
Wheelers by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart
Zeitgeist by Bruce Sterling

Best Novella

Finalists:
Oracle by Greg Egan
Radiant Green Star by Lucius Shepard
The Retrieval Artist by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
A Roll of the Dice by Catherine Asaro
Seventy-Two Letters by Ted Chiang
The Ultimate Earth by Jack Williamson [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Blue Kansas Sky by Michael Bishop
Changeling by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
The Enclave by Lois Tilton
Fly-by-Night by Larry Niven
The Forest Between the Worlds by G. David Nordley
Great Wall of Mars by Alastair Reynolds
Heart of Glass by William Barton
Identity Crisis by Kevin J. Anderson
To Leuchars by Rick Wilbur
Obsidian Harvest by Rick Cook and Ernest Hogan
One-Eyed Jacks and Suicide Kings by R. Garcia y Robertson
Path of the Dragon by George R.R. Martin
Savior by Nancy Kress
Under by Hal Clement

Best Novelette

Finalists:
Agape Among the Robots by Allen M. Steele
Generation Gap by Stanley Schmidt
Millennium Babies by Kristine Kathryn Rusch [winner]
On the Orion Line by Stephen Baxter
Redchapel by Mike Resnick

Longlisted Nominees
The Alien Abduction by James L. Cambias
Auspicious Eggs by James Morrow
The Birthday of the World by Ursula K. Le Guin
Bloody Bunnies by Bradley Denton
Chitty Bang Bang by Ian R. MacLeod
The Cloud Man by Eleanor Arnason
A Day's Work on the Moon by Mike Shepherd
Feel the Zaz by James Patrick Kelly
The Juniper Tree by John Kessel
Merlin's Gun by Alastair Reynolds
Noise of their Joye by Thomas Purdom
Primes by Lewis Shiner
The Prophet Ugly by Robert Reed
The Quantum Teleporter by Michael A. Burstein
Snowball in Hell by Brian Stableford
The Taranth Stone by Ron Collins

Best Short Story

Finalists:
Different Kinds of Darkness by David Langford [winner]
The Elephants on Neptune by Mike Resnick
The Gravity Mine by Stephen Baxter
Kaddish for the Last Survivor by Michael A. Burstein
Moon Dogs by Michael Swanwick

Longlisted Nominees
The Art of the Fugue by Charles Sheffield
Colours of the Soul by Sean McMullen
Escape Horizon by Michael A. Burstein
The Fantasy Writer's Assistant by Jeffrey Ford
The Foster Child by William Browning Spencer
Interstitial by Paul J. McAuley
Looking for Rhonda Honda by William Sanders
The Missing Mass by Larry Niven
Night Voices by Stephen L. Burns
The Royals of Hegn by Ursula K. Le Guin
Sheena 5 by Stephen Baxter
Silver Ghost by Stephen Baxter
The Suspended Fourth by Paul Levinson

Best Related Work

Finalists:
Concordance to Cordwainer Smith, Third Edition by Anthony R. Lewis
Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton by Bob Eggleton and Nigel Suckling [winner]
Putting It Together: Turning Sow's Ear Drafts into Silk Purse Stories by Mike Resnick
Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion by James Gifford
Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature by Andrew M. Butler, Edward James, and Farah Mendlesohn

Longlisted Nominees:
Algernon, Charlie, and I: A Writer's Journey by Daniel Keyes
At the Foot of the Story Tree: An Inquiry into the Fiction of Peter Straub by Bill Sheehan
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing SF by Karl Schroeder
Critical Theory and Science Fiction by Carl Freedman
The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies by R.G. Young
Frank Kelly Freas: As He Sees It by Frank Kelly Freas and Laura Brodian Freas
Jack Vance: Critical Appreciation and a Bibliography by Arthur E. Cunningham
J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey
L. Ron Hubbard Presents the Best of the Writers of the Future edited by Algis Budrys
Man of Two Worlds: My Life in Science Fiction and Comics by Julius Schwartz and Brian M. Thomsen
Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work by Fiona Kelleghan and Ralph Roberts
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Science Fiction Culture by Camille Bacon-Smith
Spectrum 7: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art edited by Cathy Fenner and ‎Arnie Fenner
Visions in Light and Shadow by John L. Flynn
Writing Horror by Edo Van Belkom

Best Dramatic Presentation

Finalists:
Chicken Run
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [winner]
Frank Herbert's Dune (miniseries)
Frequency
X-Men

Longlisted Nominees:
Battlefield Earth
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This Year's Girl and Who Are You
Fantasia 2000
George Lucas in Love
Gladiator
Gormenghast
Pitch Black
Shadow of the Vampire
Space Cowboys
Titan A.E.
Unbreakable

Best Professional Editor

Finalists:
Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois [winner]
David G. Hartwell
Stanley Schmidt
Gordon van Gelder

Longlisted Nominees:
Algis Budrys
Scott Edelman
Laura Anne Gilman
Martin H. Greenberg
Warren Lapine
Shawna McCarthy
Beth Meacham
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
David Pringle
Ian Randall Strock

Best Professional Artist

Finalists:
Jim Burns
Bob Eggleton [winner]
Frank Kelly Freas
Donato Giancola
Michael Whelan

Longlisted Nominees:
Beryl Bush
Tom Canty
David Cherry
Vincent di Fate
Dominic Harman
Nicholas Jainschigg
Don Maitz
Luis Royo
Ron Walotsky
Stephen Youll

Best Semi-Prozine

Finalists:
Interzone edited by David Pringle
Locus edited by Charles N. Brown [winner]
The New York Review of Science Fiction edited by Kathryn Cramer, David G. Hartwell, and Kevin Maroney
Science Fiction Chronicle edited by Andrew I. Porter
Speculations edited by Denise Lee and Susan Fry, published by Kent Brewster

Longlisted Nominees:
Aboriginal SF edited by Charles Ryan
Absolute Magnitude edited by Warren Lapine
Artemis edited by Ian Randal Strock
Century edited by Jenna Felice and Rob Killheffer
Dreams of Decadence edited by Angela Kessler
On Spec edited by Diane Walton
The SFWA Bulletin edited by David Truesdale
Spectrum SF edited by Paul Fraser
Tales of the Unanticipated edited by Eric M. Heideman
Weird Tales edited by Darrell Schweitzer and George Scithers

Best Fanzine

Finalists:
Challenger edited by Guy H. Lillian III
File 770 edited by Mike Glyer [winner]
Mimosa edited by Nicki Lynch and Richard Lynch
Plokta edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies and Mike Scott
STET edited by Dick Smith and Leah Zeldes Smith

Longlisted Nominees:
Ansible edited by David Langford
Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Bento edited by David D. Levine and Kate Yule
The Devniad edited by Bob Devney
Emerald City edited by Cheryl Morgan
Fosfax edited by Timothy Lane and Elizabeth Garrott
Idea edited by Geri Sullivan
Nova Express edited by Lawrence Person
Trap Door edited by Robert Lichtman
Twink edited by E.B. Frohvet

Best Fan Writer

Finalists:
Bob Devny
Mike Glyer
David Langford [winner]
Evelyn C. Leeper
Steven H Silver

Longlisted Nominees:
John L. Flynn
John Hertz
Arthur Hlavarty
Arnie Katz
Fred Lerner
David Levine
Guy H. Lillian, III
Joseph T. Major
Cheryl Morgan
Lloyd Penny
Leah Zeldes Smith
Geri Sullivan
Jo Walton

Best Fan Artist

Finalists:
Sheryl Burkhead
Brad Foster
Teddy Harvia [winner]
Sue Mason
Taral Wayne

Longlisted Nominees:
Freddie Baer
Kurt Erichsen
Alexis Gilliland
Joe Mayhew
Julia Morgan-Scott
Bill Neville
Stu Shiffman
Steve Stiles
D. West
Charles Williams

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Finalists:
James L. Cambias
Thomas Harlan
Douglas Smith
Kristine Smith [winner]
Jo Walton

Longlisted Nominees:
Daniel Abraham
Tobias Buckell
Jack Cohen
Tom Gerencer
Mindy L. Klasky
Fred Lerner
Lyda Moorehouse
Saira Ramasastry
Diane Turnshek
Melissa Yuan-Innes

Go to previous year's longlist: 1984
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 2002

Go to 2001 Hugo Finalists and Winners

Hugo Longlist Project     Book Award Reviews     Home

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Blogger Hop February 17th - February 23rd: The Achaean League Annexed Sparta in 192 B.C.


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: Can you read and watch TV or listen to the radio at the same time?

I can listen to the radio while I'm reading, but only if it is playing music. If the background is people talking, it distracts me from reading. The same holds true for television - it is just too distracting for me to read while something that I am interested in is on the television. I can tune out music in the background while I'm reading, probably because the rhythms are familiar and I don't really have to pay attention to the lyrics of most songs to follow along with them.

On a side note, I often wonder just how much of my brain space is taken up with remembering the lyrics to popular songs. I have never taken a count, but I must know the lyrics to literally hundreds, if not thousands of songs well enough that I can sing along with them whenever they come on the radio. I never consciously tried to learn all of these song lyrics, but they are sitting in there, taking up vast amounts of space in my brain that probably could have been used for better things.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, February 17, 2017

Follow Friday - The Roman Tetrarchy Was Established by Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius Chlorus, and Galerius in 293 A.D.


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and a single Follow Friday Featured Blogger each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - A GREAT Read.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What was the first book that moved you? Scared you, made you cry, disturbed your view of the world?

To go back to the first book that really changed how I looked at the world, you have to go back pretty far. I've read a lot of books that made me ponder how I view the world, but I think the first that really did this was The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill, which I first read when I was eight or nine. When I read it, my family had just moved to the suburbs of Washington D.C., before then my father had been a graduate student and I had lived most of my life surrounded by adults for whom getting a postgraduate education was a reality, although most of them were making considerable sacrifices to do so. Up to that point I had always lived in the midwest, first in Indiana, and then in Illinois, as my father's studies moved us about.

The Pushcart War is set quite explicitly in New York City (a place that I only knew of as the setting for the television show Sesame Street), and focuses on pushcart vendors living hardscrabble lives in the shadow of big industry. As I recall, one is explicitly described as being homeless, the others are vaguely described as living in rented rooms, and working all day on the streets of the city. And yet, when the trucking interests try to push them about, they join together to push back. Through the book, the pushcart vendors engage in what amounts to widespread civil disobedience, and even what can only be described as criminal activity - and yet they are the heroes of the story. For eightish year old me, the story challenged my embryonic ideas about how people lived, about how people are valued, and how people relate to authority. This was not the most influential book I have ever read, but it was probably the earliest, or at least the earliest I can remember.


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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review - Nobody Owns the Moon: The Ethics of Space Exploitation by Tony Milligan


Short review: A broad overview of the field of space ethics as explained by one of the more prominent figures in the discipline.

Haiku
The ethics of space
Exploration, colonies,
and terraforming

Disclosure: I received this book as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. Some people think this may bias a reviewer so I am making sure to put this information up front. I don't think it biases my reviews, but I'll let others be the judge of that.

Full review: Tony Milligan is a teaching fellow in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King's College in London. He has become known for his work in the area of animal ethics and space exploration, and so it is no real surprise that he penned Nobody Owns the Moon, a book examining the ethics of space exploration and exploitation. In this book, Milligan tackles a wide array of questions concerning human exploration of space, and what humanity's ethical obligations are when it comes to using the resources to be found there, and what responsibilities humanity has to be curators of what we may find, be it alive or otherwise.

In Nobody Owns the Moon, Milligan begins his inquiry from the ground up, so to speak, starting with the fundamental question of whether space exploration itself can be ethically justified at all, specifically focusing on whether manned space exploration is justifiable. By starting at such a fundamental level, Milligan indicates that he is going to tackle the questions at hand without presuming that anything is justified. Instead, Milligan works through each issue with as few preconceptions as possible, examining both the arguments for and against the proposition being examined. This can seem frustratingly indecisive at times, because with most questions there is no clear cut answer one way or the other due to the fact that there are pros and cons to almost every position. The end result is that for most such questions, the answer lies in choosing which is the best of a flawed collection of alternatives, not in choosing the one that is clearly correct.

Milligan is also concerned with only dealing with questions that result from actions that are within the realm of possibility. To this end, he spends a fair amount of time examining the question of whether terraforming a planet to be more Earth-like is possible before he gets into the question of whether it is ethical. As he points out, examining a question that could never possibly come to pass is simply idle speculation. To a certain extent, almost all of the questions Milligan addresses in the book are somewhat hypothetical - no one is currently actually mining asteroids or terraforming Mars, but as he outlines in the book, they are all within the realm of reasonable possibility, and thus it is worthwhile to consider their the ethical implications.

The topics covered by Milligan in Nobody Owns the Moon are wide-ranging. In many ways, this book covers the topic of space ethics in breadth rather than in depth, touching on issues from the ethics of terraforming celestial bodies to the ethics of multigenerational starships, with a broad collection of topics in between. In each case, Milligan makes an assessment of what the possible harms that could result from humans undertaking the proposed action, and then examines the justifications for doing them anyway. In some cases, Milligan points out potential harms that one might not have even considered to be harms. For example, while almost everyone agrees that humans have an ethical duty not to destroy extraterrestrial life should we find it on some planet or asteroid, but Milligan also considers whether humans have an ethical duty to preserve the very places themselves, regardless of whether they support life or not. If this seems strange, consider whether humans would be ethically justified in destroying the Grand Canyon, or destroying Mount Kilimanjaro. If not, then why would destroying Mons Olympus or the Mariner Valley by terraforming Mars be any different? As is usual for Milligan, the answers he comes up with for these questions are complex and at times, inconclusive, but ultimately thought-provoking.

Perusing the acknowledgements page reveals that three of the twelve chapters were originally published separately, as academic works, while other portions were formulated during formal and informal discussions. To acertain extent, this reveals the reason for the only true weaknesses of the book, which is that the material is sometimes presented in a moderately disjointed fashion, as the author darts from one topic to the next. The other weakness is that Milligan seems to repeat himself on occasion, covering the same issues more than once, and using the same language and thought-experiments to do so a couple of times. In the end this is a minor flaw, however, a tiny blemish on an otherwise beautiful and compelling piece of work.

To a certain extent, reading this book is a painful experience for a science fiction fan. By turning his eye upon many of the possible activities that underlie many of the treasured tropes of the genre, Milligan reveals that many of them are ethically dubious at best, and in some cases nigh impossible to justify. This is, of course, somewhat disappointing to science fiction fans - after all, if someone tells you that the heroes of the stories you love may have been behaving unethically when they launched themselves to the stars on a generation ship, or terraformed Mars and set into motion the destruction of its natural wonders, one is understandably a bit concerned. All of those stories about colonizing the Moon, mining the asteroids, and otherwise exploiting space at the very least raise some ethical questions that most stories (and much of the genre) have simply glided past without much in the way of self-reflection. On the other hand, the ideas presenting in this book seem like they could serve as useful inspiration for some new and insightful stories in the hands of the right author.

Nobody Owns the Moon is a good introduction and overview of the field of space ethics. Straddling the middle ground between the technical writing of academia and the simpler prose of "popular" ethics, this book has enough detail to be interesting, but not so much dry and abstruse analysis as to make it opaque to the lay reader. Reading this book won't make one an expert in space ethics, but it will likely provide enough basic information to allow one to be able to follow a discussion of the subject. Overall, this is an excellent place to start one's foray into the field of space ethics, and well worth reading.

Tony Milligan     Book Reviews A-Z     Home

Monday, February 13, 2017

Musical Monday - Rocky Mountain High by John Denver


Because it is so close to home, most Americans don't think of Rocky Mountain High as being a song about an immigrant, but on a fundamental level, it really is. This oversight is, I think, in part why Americans in general don't really understand the immigrant experience. For the most part, we only understand an immigrant story when it is explicitly couched as an immigrant story in the most hamfisted way possible. We recognize An American Tale or Gangs of New York as stories about immigrants, because they club us on the head with that fact, but the reality is that we as Americans are literally surrounded with immigrant stories.

The American myth is that we are a nation of immigrants. What most people think of when they say that is that we are a nation of people whose ancestors came from some place in Europe, Asia, or Africa, but the story of the United States itself is of migration. The westward expansion was a wave of migration - all those people who set out on the Oregon Trail were emigrating from somewhere, whether it was Ohio or Alabama or New Jersey. The central character in this song may not have emigrated from another country to Colorado, but they clearly emigrated from somewhere. And the wonder that is expressed in this song, the sense of rebirth, the sense of new possibilities, that is the immigrant experience. We forget that too often, attributing to immigrants the characteristic of looking back, reminiscing about their old life in their old home, when for the most part, an immigrant is looking forward, to the new vistas afforded them in their new home.

Previous Musical Monday: You Ruined Everything by Jonathan Coulton
Subsequent Musical Monday: Great American Melting Pot by Lynn Ahrens and Lori Lieberman

John Denver     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Book Blogger Hop February 10th - February 16th: Finding Special Order 191 Gave the Union Valuable Intelligence About Robert E. Lee's Plans and Led to the Battle of Antietam


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: What is your favorite Valentine's Day read?

I don't really have one. By that I mean that I don't think I have ever pulled out a specific book or story to read because Valentine's Day was imminent. Mostly when Valentine's Day rolls around, my "Valentine's Day read" is just whatever I happen to be reading when the day rolls around. This year, that is likely to be The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories by Tom Doyle, The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley, and maybe An Asimov Companion by Donald E. Palumbo.

Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: The Achaean League Annexed Sparta in 192 B.C.

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, February 10, 2017

Follow Friday- A/57/292 Is a United Nations Report on the Human Rights of Immigrants


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and a single Follow Friday Featured Blogger each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - The Caramel Files.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What book do you reread the most?

I have two books in contention for this honor. Actually, they are two trilogies that I keep coming back to time and again. The first is J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I am not quite as obsessed with the series as Christopher Lee apparently was - he claims that he read the trilogy once a year, pretty much every year of his adult life - but I have read the books ten or twelve times. The first time I read Tolkien's work was during the summer between my fourth and fifth grade year, when I was living with my family in Tanzania. I burned through the Hobbit in a single night, and then tackled the Lord of the Rings, polishing it off in about a week. A couple months later, I went back and read through them all at a somewhat slower pace, taking my time to absorb the language and the imagery. I have periodically gone back and reread them once every three or four years since then, which is a pattern I don't really see changing. This was my first real fantasy novel and I found the experience of reading them to be exhilarating. I had always been interested in ancient and medieval history, and had spent some time absorbing books about the ancient Greeks and Romans, about the Hundred Years War and the War of the Roses, and all of those old conflicts involving men in armor wielding spears and swords as hey tried to kill one another. I think that part of the attraction was that while living in Tanzania, I attended a British school, and as a result, my school history classes were heavy on Yorks vs. Lancasters and Cavaliers vs. Roundheads, which primed me for the study of their era.

The second series that I find myself going back to on a regular basis is Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy. And by trilogy, I mean the original three books Le Guin published. The books she wrote after a long gap in time are fine, but they just aren't quite as compelling as the original works were. Perhaps this is because I first read the original Earthsea trilogy when I was still young - if I recall correctly, the books were a gift from one of my childhood friends who I visited in between living in Tanzania and the country that was then called Zaire, which would have made me about twelve. This wasn't my first fantasy series - that was the Lord of the Rings - nor was it the second: By the time I found Le Guin's work I had already read both Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, but even though I enjoyed those, neither of them hit me quite the way Le Guin's books did. This was my first exposure to Le Guin's writing, and as a result, it was the start of my lifelong love of her work. Even now, years later, this series seems so very different from most other works of fantasy, and I just can't seem to get enough of it, or of the rest of Le Guin's books.


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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Musical Monday - You Ruined Everything by Jonathan Coulton



So, the redhead and I had a lot of plans we had worked out for this year, and a lot of possible plans we had sketched out for the longer term future. And now all those plans are derailed, because in an entirely unexpected plot twist our duo is going to become a trio. Nineteen years after I first became a father, I'm going to become one for the third time, and this is a little bit of a surprise. This means that everything the redhead and I had planned to do is now entirely up in the air. We had planned to go to several conventions. Now we don't know how many, if any, of those we will attend. We had planned out a few trips. Now I think at least some of those won't happen. And so on.

There she is, on the left - the architect of all this ruination. Her name is Sophia Rey Tiberius Pound, and she'll be making her first appearance outside the womb in early August.

Subsequent Musical Monday: Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

Jonathan Coulton     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Book Blogger Hop February 3rd - February 9th: The Great Geometer Apollonius of Perga Died in 190 B.C.


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: Read or Clean? Read or Bake? Read or Make Dinner? What would be your choice?

Read or clean? Read.

Read or bake? Read!

Read or make dinner? READ!

The correct answer is always read.


Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, February 3, 2017

Follow Friday - "291" Was a Magazine Published from 1915 to 1916 That Was Named After Stieglitz's Art Gallery of the Same Name


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and a single Follow Friday Featured Blogger each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the Featured Blogger of the week - Romance Lover Anonymous.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Groundhog Day! What book or scene from a book could you live in and have it on "repeat?"

I don't think I have a particular scene, but I'm reasonably sure that I could live in Middle-Earth forever. I think it would be ideal to be a Sindarin elf sage, able to read scrolls and books for the span of centuries, but I'd take any one of a wide array of lives in Middle-Earth so long as they don't involve being a servant of Morgoroth or Sauron. That is, of course, the downside of living in most books - many of them are places where interesting stories take place, but the settings for interesting stories can be quite unpleasant. Being an orc in Middle-Earth would be pretty terrible. Being one of the free peoples living in the midst of the War of the Jewels or the War of the Ring probably would be no picnic either.

This is not unique to Tolkien's works. The worlds of Gibson's Neuromancer, Delany's Nova, or Leckie's Ancillary Justice are worlds that have great stories set within them, and are fascinating fictional realities, but living in them would probably not be something I would choose. Still, I'd go to Middle-Earth, just to hear elves sing and see the halls of Menegroth, the towers of Gondolin, and the great trees of Lorien.


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