Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Event - MidAmeriCon II, August 17th -21st, 2016: Saturday and Sunday

There are some people who say that Worldcon is too small, and that the convention should work to increase its attendance to five figures worth of attendees. My experience with Worldcon is that it is plenty big already. For every event that the redhead and I attended, there were usually a dozen others that we did not, and this doesn't even consider the other options we had, such as wandering through the dealer hall, playing games in the gaming area, or admiring the many "parks" that had been set up. There was so much to see and do that we didn't even notice there was an Iron Throne or a display of examples of past Hugo statues in the main convention hall until Sunday.

Not only was there a wide variety of events to choose from, all of the events the redhead and I went to were well attended, in some cases, they were filled to capacity or beyond. The lines at the signing sessions were quite long for all the authors one would expect long lines for, and even for lesser known authors there was often a fair amount of traffic. The Hugo Award ceremony was held in a large theater that was filled with attendees. When someone says that Worldcon "should" be larger, I have to wonder what they mean by that. Does Worldcon need to replicate Dragon*Con, or San Diego Comic Con, or some other large media convention in terms of attendance? There doesn't seem to be a need for that to happen, especially given that giant conventions like Dragon*Con and Gen Con already exist. What does Worldcon have to gain from trying to emulate them (and probably being a poor substitute) instead of being what it already is and delivering what it is already good at delivering?

I have been to Dragon*Con. I like Dragon*Con. I will probably go to Dragon*Con again at some point in the future. But I also like Worldcon, and I don't want or need the two conventions to supply the same experience. There is room in the world for different kinds of conventions, especially since some people want the giant media experience that Dragon*Con and the various Comic Cons provide, and others want the more relaxed experience of smaller, local literary conventions, and still others prefer the conventions that fit in between those two extremes. And for every person who loves a particular type of convention, there is probably another person who has no interest in it, but loves a different type. When people who are agitated about the way Worldcon is run say that it needs to change, to expand, to cater to a different audience, they never really seem to have a reason why. They always seem to put forward the notion that Worldcon should be different as if it were self-evident that it should, and that is a proposition that I think is dubious at best.

Saturday: This was another late start for the redhead and I, mostly because of how late we had stayed at the party the night before. At least in our experience, we have to decide if we want to attend convention events in the morning or parties in the evening, because doing both is a schedule that is simply too exhausting for us to keep up with.

The day also got off to a somewhat disappointing start. The first panel of the day that we intended to go to (actually the only real panel that we intended to attend) was The Shipping Forecast moderated by Keith Yatsuhashi, with Jaylee James and Alyssa Wong scheduled to be panelists. When we arrived, we were informed that Alyssa would not be joining the panel. As I figured out later, the reason for her absence appears to have been the result of the harassment she had been subjected to the evening before, and she was still in her hotel room filing her report with the MidAmeriCon response team. But we didn't know that on Saturday morning, all we knew is that the author we had most wanted to see at the panel wasn't there. I suspect we were not the only people who had decided to go to this panel to see Alyssa speak, and came away sad that she was not there. On the list of reasons why harassment is something conventions should be concerned about, this is well down the list, but it is not inconsequential: The ripple effects that follow-on after a harassment incident affect more than just those directly involved - they can, and often do, affect the entire convention. The problems of harassment and disruption are issues that I want to talk about, but I'm going to leave them for a blog post of their own, as I believe that they deserve a comprehensive treatment.

Friday had been a day dominated by magazine reading panels. In contrast, Saturday was a day of attending signing sessions. The first one the redhead and I went to featured David Brin and Greg Bear, who both signed books for us. While we were standing in line, David Gerrold ran over from a nearby booth where he was signing material to say "I guess this is where you come to Brin and Bear it". He then quickly ran away followed by a chorus of groans. I suspect that if people in the group had had popcorn on hand, we would have thrown it at him as he retreated. Both Walter H. Hunt and Fran Wilde were also part of this signing session, but as both of the authors have signed literally every work of theirs we own, all we could do is tell Hunt how much we liked Elements of Mind, and tell Fran how much we were looking forward to the release of her new novel Cloudbound.

The next signing session we attended featured Mary Robinette Kowal and Jo Walton. The redhead and I now have a complete set of the Glamourist Histories series, all signed by Ms. Kowal, and a copy of What Makes This Book So Great signed by Walton. Also at the signing session were astronauts Stan Love and Jeanette Epps, a fact that pretty much turned everyone present into star-struck twelve year old children. Some of the authors expressed an interest in abandoning their own signing sessions so they could go and have a fangasm over the two astronauts. Sarah Pinsker, who was signing at the table right next to Love and Epps, took a hilarious selfie with the astronaut table in the background. We ended up with signed pictures from both of them, and the redhead got to take a picture with each astronaut. All good things must come to an end, and before long the astronauts had retired to be replaced by the next collection of authors. We got books signed by John Scalzi and Ferrett Steinmetz, both of whom were exceptionally funny to talk to. We also got to speak with Sarah Beth Durst, who is scheduled to be the Guest of Honor at our "home" convention of CapClave in October.

The big event of the day was the Hugo Award ceremony, which started at eight in the evening, but for which we got in line shortly after six. At Worldcon, even waiting in line is frequently enjoyable, as you are always surrounded by people who have just as much of a passion for science fiction as you do. As part of a conversation, I brought up the line "[t]he sky above the port was the color of a television, tuned to a dead channel", and everyone knew exactly what I was referencing. Our conversation wandered across a variety of topics, but mostly centered on time travel scenarios and how we would (or would not) successfully cope with technological limitations if we were sent back to relive our teen years knowing what we know now. There are very few places that you can have that sort of conversation with a random group of strangers in a line, but Worldcon is one of them.

Once we got into the Pat Cadigan Theatre, things settled down as everyone took their seats. Many of the attendees had dressed up, and the redhead and I were no exception - she had made herself a very attractive dress decorated with text from The Hobbit, and had made me a matching kilt, also adorned with Tolkien's prose. Among the men, I believe that Scott Edelman stole the show with a fantastic suit covered in stars (although John Hertz in a tux and tails complete with a top hat gave him a good run for his money on that front), while Lynn Thomas and Alyssa Wong appeared to be competing for the Hugo Award for Best Dress. Pat Cadigan served as Toastmaster, assisted by Jan Siegel, and they hosted a magnificent ceremony. Through the night, Cadigan and Siegel were funny, especially when joined on stage by Ellen Datlow and Robert Silverberg, but most importantly, they kept the ceremony moving at an energetic pace. The Hugo Awards have a lot of categories, and it would be easy for them to bog down (and I have watched previous ceremonies in which they dragged at times), but Cadigan, Siegel, and the other presenters kept things moving and the entire show just flew by in what seemed to be no time at all.

As anyone who follows this blog probably knows already, I have thoughts on the Hugo Awards themselves, and how the voting turned out this year. I intend to talk about those topics more fully in a later blog post, but for now I will say that I am mostly pleased with the results. Worthy works won, and, with a few exceptions, things that deserved to finish behind "No Award" did so. The speeches by the winners were all excellent, but the true highlight of the night was when Andy Weir won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer - not his winning (he wasn't my first choice, but he was my second), but rather who accepted the award for him. Weir didn't come to the ceremony due to his reluctance to use air travel, so instead he had the astronauts in attendance accept the awards on his behalf, and Stan Love accepted the Campbell for him. For those who do not know, the Campbell Award comes with a tiara, and Love happily knelt to receive the shiny headgear from presented Elizabeth Bear and proudly wore it as he delivered Weir's acceptance speech. To Stan Love - you are the best of sports, and the most securely manly of men.

Every other speech was fantastic, from Hao Jingfang accepting the award for Best Novelette with a halting but delightful speech about how she was uncertain she wanted to win because she had been really looking forward to going to George R.R. Martin's annual Hugo Loser's Party, to Best Semiprozine editor Lynne Thomas opening her speech with "Well, shit" followed by fellow editor Michael Damien Thomas opening his with "Love is real!" Neil Gaiman provided the most direct speech of the night, thanking the voters for his win, but rebuking both the Sad and Rabid Puppies in no uncertain terms. Both Nnedi Okorafor and N.K. Jemisin supplied acceptance speeches that emphasized the need for, and the enriching nature of, diverse voices in the genre fiction field. The best, and most powerful speech of the night goes to another editor from Uncanny Magazine, Michi Trota, who pointed out that creating diversity is not merely opening the doors and expecting people to walk in, but also requires seeking out and encouraging new voices from the community of those who have previously been marginalized.

As quickly as the ceremony had begun, it was over. After the Hugo winners had come back to the stage for the traditional group photo, the redhead and I headed back to the con suite area for a snack and a drink and to get hold of copies of the post-Hugo statistics. We sat down with a couple of friends, and then slowly accumulated what seemed like most of the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association as we went through the rankings and the longlist of nominees, identifying who had been pushed off the ballot by slate voting, and figuring out what the ballot in some of the categories might have looked like absent the unethical actions of the Puppies. As I noted before regarding the experience of standing in line before the Hugo Award ceremony, there are few places where one can have an extended conversation about matters of mostly nerdy interest - in this case, a conversation about the nominating and voting stats for a genre fiction award - and have everyone within earshot as a fully on board participant. Worldcon is one of those places, and that is one of the things that makes it such an almost magical event.

Sunday: Sunday was the last day of the convention, and was also a shortened day, with the last scheduled event starting at four in the afternoon. There is always something melancholic about packing up and checking out of one's hotel room on the final day of a convention, but there is also some relief. Conventions are a lot of fun, but they are also exhausting.

We weren't quite ready to head home yet, so we made our way to the magazine group reading for the Hugo-Award winning Uncanny Magazine moderated by Lynne M. Thomas and featuring Scott Lynch, Alyssa Wong, Max Gladstone, and Elizabeth Bear. Lynch opened up the panel by passing out the name cards, deciding that he would like to be Gladstone for the day. Bear elected to be Alyssa Wong, and Wong decided to be Bear, because, as she said "Elizabeth Bear is awesome". That left Gladstone to be Scott Lynch, leading him to quip how great it was to have Lynch's long flowing hair. This bit of silliness completed, the four authors began their readings, quickly proving why Uncanny had won the Best Semiprozine Hugo Award the night before. I know I sound like a broken record, but I cannot recommend these types of multi-author reading panels enough.

Our next panel was Sense8 moderated by Kate Elliott, with panelists Meg Frank, Sunil Patel, and Mark Oshiro, focused, as one might expect, upon the Netflix television program. This panel was the very first one that the redhead and I had put on our schedule when we were first mapping it out, and it did not disappoint. Elliott led an energetic discussion about the series, what made it so very good, what it got right, and also what it got wrong - although the general consensus was that the show hit just the right tone much more often than it suffered a misstep. Every panelist was excellent, but the commentary provided by Oshiro concerning the storylines revolving around Leto was outstanding, as was Patel's commentary relating to Kala's story set in India. This was one of the best panels I have ever attended, which really should not be surprising given the high quality of both the panel and the subject matter.

The final convention-related event the redhead and I attended was Can Hard Science Fiction Be Too Hard? a panel with Geoffrey Landis and Ann Leckie. Even though it was late in the day on the last day of the convention, both Leckie and Landis were in top form, ranging across a wide variety of science fiction topics and works - commenting on works by authors such as Stephen Baxter and Hal Clement, and also contrasting hard science fiction with other modes of science fiction such as space opera. After the panel, we got a chance to talk to Leckie for a bit, and she was just as warm and personable as one would expect a person who wrote a space opera series in which tea was a major plot element. We also met a woman who had cosplayed as several characters from Leckie's Imperial Radch series over the course of the weekend, having taken on the appearance of Tisarwat, Breq, and Anaander Mianaai. I am always impressed by the dedication and creativity of skilled cosplayers, and this woman was no exception.

After our final panel, the redhead and I met up with a friend of ours from the local area to go out to eat at Jack's Stack, as it is probably a criminal offense to spend any time in Kansas City without having a barbecue meal. And then we drove away from Worldcon, taking with us some books, some autographs, a lot of pictures, and a collection of wonderful memories.

MidAmeriCon II, August 17th - 21st, 2016: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Musical Monday - Pure Imagination by Gene Wilder

He leaves behind Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Silver Streak, Young Frankenstein, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, The Little Prince, Start the Revolution Without Me, The World's Greatest Lover, and so many more movies. And now there won't be any more. Goodbye Gene. I'm so glad you left us the joy of pure imagination.

Subsequent Musical Monday: The River by Bruce Springsteen

Gene Wilder     Musical Monday     Home

Sunday, August 28, 2016

2016 Hugo Award Longlist

One of the benefits of the Hugo Longlist is that one can see the works and people who just missed making the list of finalists, and get a better picture of where the Hugo voters are in terms of the fiction that they regard as worthwhile. In a normal period, this could be used to see who is likely to show up on future finalists lists by looking at who barely missed the cut this time around. For example, in a normal era for the Hugos, one would expect Elizabeth Bear to be poised to garner a finalist nod in the next year or two, based upon her being longlisted in both the Best Novel and Best Novelette categories. Similarly, one would expect to see Ursula Vernon and Amal El-Mohtar on a future finalist list due to their each garnering two longlist nominations in the Best Short Story category.

We are not living in a normal era for the Hugos. This year and for a few years prior to this one has seen a split in fandom driven primarily by the intertwined groups of conservative-leaning Sad Puppies and fascist-leaning Rabid Puppies who organized a succession of slates that others in the Hugo voting community regarded as unethical, and which had a decisive impact on the nominations phase of the Hugo award for 2015 and 2016. Because the two groups of Puppies make up a minority of Hugo voters, they were able to dominate the nominating phase due to a weakness in the rules, but have had much less success in the actual voting. Looking at the Hugo longlist, it is readily apparent why those works promoted by the Puppies have fared so poorly: When taken as a whole, the Puppy supported nominees are noticeably weaker than the nominees that resulted from the choices made by non-Puppy Hugo voters. This had led to the odd result of the last couple of years in which the longlisted nominees in a category, when taken as a group are often a far superior group to the finalists in that category. Despite the claims made by various Puppy spokespeople about how they wanted to bring to light high-quality science fiction that was being neglected by Hugo voters, it is clear that their actions have resulted in lists of Hugo finalists that are clearly inferior to those that would have resulted in the absence of the Puppy campaigns.

To a certain extent, the Hugo longlists, and the works upon them, illustrate why the Puppy campaigns have had such difficulty winning over the Hugo voters. Although the identity of the nominees on the longlist is not revealed until after the Hugos themselves are presented, the voters still know that these other works exist, and in part are mentally comparing the works on the finalist list to them. So when Hugo voters are casting their ballots in the Best Related Work category, they are mentally comparing it to Letters to Tiptree, or Invisible 2, or Lois McMaster Bujold, and all of the finalists are well short of the quality of those possible alternates. Similarly, when a voter is considering the Best Fancast category, they aren't considering the five finalists in a vacuum, but rather considering them in light of the standards set by Galactic Suburbia, Tea and Jeopardy, or Sword and Laser, and the Puppy picks are simply not able to measure up. Even in a category where a reasonable choice had been made, such as Best Graphic Story, the nominees are likely being mentally compared to the alternatives, and while a story like Invisible Republic, Volume 01 isn't terrible, it simply doesn't hold up when compared to Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine, Nimona, or Ms. Marvel: Generation Why. What the Pups seem seem not to have realized, and what they seem to still not understand, is that voting for the Hugo Awards is not conducted in a vacuum. Hugo voters are, of course, primarily considering the finalists in relation to one another, but they are also considering them in relation to the other works that were available to be nominated, and previous works that have been finalists and winners. What we see when we look at the Hugo longlist for 2016, is that the Hugo voters had good reason to judge many of the finalists harshly, as they were simply not as good as many of the nominees on the longlist.

Best Novel

Ancillary Mercy by Anne Leckie
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin [winner]
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Longlisted Nominees:
Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Golden Son by Pierce Brown
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
The Just City by Jo Walton
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm by John C. Wright
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi

Best Novella

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor [winner]
The Builders by Daniel Polansky
Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

Longlisted Nominees:
The Bone Swans of Amandale by C.S.E. Cooney
The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
Fear of the Unknown and Self-Loathing in Hollywood by Nick Cole
The Four Thousand, the Eight Hundred by Greg Egan
The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T Malik
Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson
Waters of Versailles by Kelly Robson
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell

Best Novelette

And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead by Brooke Bolander
Flashpoint: Titan by Cheah Kai Wai
Folding Beijing by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu [winner]
Hyperspace Demons by Jonathan Moeller [nomination declined]
Obits by Stephen King
What Price Humanity? by David VanDyke

Longlisted Nominees
Another Word for World by Ann Leckie
Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts by Ida Countess
Entanglements by David Gerrold
Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg
The Heart's Filthy Lesson by Elizabeth Bear
The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild by Catherynne M. Valente (reviewed in Clarkesworld: Issue 100 (January 2015))
Our Lady of the Open Road by Sarah Pinsker
Rathangan by Ian McDonald
So Much Cooking by Naomi Kritzer

Best Short Story

Asymmetrical Warfare by S.R. Algernon (reviewed in 2016 Hugo Voting - Best Short Story)
The Commuter by Thomas Mays [nomination declined]
If You Were an Award, My Love by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (reviewed in 2016 Hugo Voting - Best Short Story)
Seven Kill Tiger by Charles Shao (reviewed in 2016 Hugo Voting - Best Short Story)
Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (reviewed in 2016 Hugo Voting - Best Short Story)

Longlisted Nominees
Damage by David D. Levine
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong
Madeleine by Amal El-Mohtar
Pockets by Amal El-Mohtar
Pocosin by Ursula Vernon
Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight by Aliette de Bodard (reviewed in Clarkesworld: Issue 100 (January 2015))
Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer by Megan Grey
Wooden Feathers by Ursula Vernon

Best Related Work

Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson
Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini
Safe Space as Rape Room by Daniel Eness
SJWs Always Lie by Theodore Beale
The Story of Moira Greyland by Moira Greyland

Longlisted Nominees:
Geek Knits by Toni Carr, (aka Joan of Dark)
A History of Epic Fantasy by Adam Whitehead
Invisible 2 edited by Jim Hines
John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels by Theophilus Pratt (aka Alexandra Erin)
Letters to Tiptree edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce
Lois McMaster Bujold by Edward James
Queers Destroy Science Fiction by Lightspeed Magazine
Sad Puppies Bite Back by Declan Finn
The Wheel of Time Companion by by Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons
You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Best Graphic Story

The Divine by Boaz Lavie, Asaf Hanuka, and Tomer Hanuka
Erin Dies Alone by Cory Rydell and Grey Carter
Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams
Invisible Republic, Volume 01 by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman

Longlisted Nominees:
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Saga, Volume Five by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
Stand Still Stay Silent - Volume 1 by Minna Sundberg
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian [winner]
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Longlisted Nominees:
Inside Out
Jessica Jones, Season 1
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Jupiter Ascending
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Until Dawn
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Doctor Who: Heaven Sent
Grimm: Headache
Jessica Jones: AKA Smile [winner]
Life is Strange, Episode 1 [ineligible]
My Little Pony, Friendship is Magic: The Cutie Map
Supernatural: Just My Imagination
Tales from the Borderlands: The Vault of the Traveller [ineligible]

Longlisted Nominees:
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 4,722 Hours
Daredevil: Cut Man
Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song
The Expanse: CQB
The Expanse: Dulcinea
Game of Thrones: Hardhome
Orphan Black: Certain Agony of the Battlefield
Person of Interest: If-Then-Else

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

John Joseph Adams
Neil Clarke
Ellen Datlow [winner]
Jerry Pournelle
Sheila Williams

Longlisted Nominees:
Gardner Dozois
C.C. Finlay
Paula Goodlett
Liz Gorinsky
Jason Rennie
Mike Resnick
Jonathan Strahan
Lynne M. Thomas
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
Ann VanderMeer

Best Professional Editor: Long Form

Theodore Beale
Mike Braff [ineligible]
Sheila Gilbert [winner]
Liz Gorinsky
Jim Minz
Anne Sowards [nomination declined]
Toni Weisskopf

Longlisted Nominees:
Anne Lesley Groell
David G. Hartwell
Jane Johnson
Joe Monti
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Marco Palmieri
Devi Pillai
Miriam Weinberg

Best Professional Artist

Lars Braad Anderson
Larry Elmore
Michal Karcz
Abigail Larson [winner]
Larry Rostant

Longlisted Nominees:
Richard Anderson
Galen Dara
Julie Dillon
John Harris
Kathleen Jennings
Chris McGrath
Rowena Morrill
Victo Ngai
John Picacio
Cynthia Sheppard
Sam Weber

Best Semi-Prozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Daily Science Fiction edited by Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden
Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie
Strange Horizons edited by Catherine Krahe, Julia Rios, A.J. Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons staff
Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Erika Ensign, and Steven Schapansky [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Abyss & Apex edited by Wendy Delmater
Apex Magazine edited by Jason Sizemore and Sigrid Ellis
The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
Clarkesworld Magazine edited by Neil Clarke
Escape Pod edited by Mur Lafferty and Al Stuart
Fireside Magazine edited by Brian White
Giganotosaurus edited Rashida J. Smith
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant
Podcastle edited by Graeme Dunlop and Rachael K. Jones

Best Fanzine

Black Gate edited by John O’Neill [nomination declined]
Castalia House blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
File 770 edited by Mike Glyer [winner]
Lady Business edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
Superversive SF edited by Brian Niemeier
Tangent SF Online edited by Dave Truesdale

Longlisted Nominees:
Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
A Dribble of Ink edited by Aiden Moher
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J. Garcia, Colin Harris, Alissa McKersie, and Helen J. Montgomery
Mad Genius Club edited by Dave Freer
Mark Watches edited by Mark Oshiro
Nerds of a Feather edited by The G and Vance Kotrla
Rocket Stack Rank edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
SF Mistressworks edited by Ian Sales
SF Signal edited by Jon Denardo

Best Fan Writer

Douglas Erns
Mike Glyer [winner]
Morgan Holmes
Jeffro Johnson
Shamus Young
Zenopus [nomination declined]

Longlisted Nominees:
Liz Bourke
Alexandra Erin
Eric Flint
Natalie Luhrs
Mark Oshiro
George R.R. Martin
Foz Meadows
James Nicoll
Abigail Nussbaum

Best Fan Artist

Matthew Callahan
Christian Quinot
RGUS [nomination declined]
Steve Stiles [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Ninni Aalto
Brad W. Foster
Megan Lara
Richard Man
Spring Schoenhuth
Piper Thibodeau

Best Fancast

8-4 Play by Mark MacDonald, John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, and Justin Epperson
Cane and Rinse by Cane and Rinse
Hello Greedo by HelloGreedo
The Rageaholic by RazörFist
Tales to Terrify by Stephen Kilpatrick

Longlisted Nominees:
The Coode Street Podcast by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Ditch Diggers by Matt Wallace and Mur Lafferty
Fangirl Happy Hour by Renay Williams and Ana Grilo
Galactic Suburbia by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts, and Andrew Finch
Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men by Jay Edidin and Miles Stokes
The Skiffy and Fanty Show by Shaun Duke, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, Mike Underwood, David Annadale, Rachael Acks, and Jen Zink
Starship Sofa by Tony C. Smith
Sword and Laser by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
Tea and Jeopardy by Emma Newman and Peter Newman
Verity! by Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Pierce Brown
Sebastien de Castell
Brian Niemeier
Andy Weir [winner]
Alyssa Wong

Longlisted Nominees:
Becky Chambers
Scott Hawkins
S.L. Huang
Rachael K. Jones
Sunil Patel
Natasha Pulley
Kelly Robson
Cheah Kai Wai
JY Yang
Isabel Yap

Go to previous year's longlist: 2015
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 2017

Go to 2016 Hugo Finalists and Winners

Hugo Longlist Project     Book Award Reviews     Home

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Book Blogger Hop August 26th - September 1st: Tracy 168 Is a Graffiti Artist in New York

Book Blogger Hop

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 say this sentence describes you? Example: READING IS MY PASSION.

Just one sentence? That's kind of a tall order. Hmmm, how about:


Yeah, that seems about right.

Previous Book Blogger Hop: Martina Navratilova Has 167 Tennis Titles
Subsequent Book Blogger Hop: 169 Is a Reversible Square Number

Book Blogger Hop     Home

Friday, August 26, 2016

Follow Friday - Saint Valentine Was (Possibly) Executed in 269 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 - Creativity and Crazy.
  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".
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And now for the Follow Friday Question: Top 5 Favorite Book Boy Friends

As I said in response to a similar question from about twenty weeks ago, I don't really have "book boyfriends", or, for that matter "book girlfriends". The mindset that leads to those sorts of relationships just isn't how I relate to books. In the previous post on this topic, I identified Ged from Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series, Taran from Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, and Éomer from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings as heroic male characters that I liked. Rather than rehash their names again, I'll pick five other male heroic characters that I like.

Paul Muad'Dib Atredies from Dune by Frank Herbert. Okay, so his story didn't end particularly well for him, but along the way he became the fulfillment of prophecies and took control of the entire galaxy as a messianic figure who could foretell the future. Starting out as the scion of a powerful noble family specially trained by his mother in the ways of a fanatical religious order was a good beginning, and then falling in with a desert dwelling collection of religious zealots looking for a leader to guide them to paradise, Paul rises to power on the top of a runaway train that quickly steams out of control. Unable to reconcile the galactic jihad he has unleashed with his precognitive abilities, and seeing no palatable future, he becomes a recluse living alone in the desert for a decade. Eventually, he returns and is murdered by his younger sister, but as compensation, his son becomes a sandworm and rules the galaxy for thousands of years.

Murdoc Jern from The Zero Stone and Uncharted Stars by Andre Norton. Jern is an apprentice gem trader with an unusual inheritance: His father left him a strange ring to large for any human finger set with a mysterious stone that had been found on an alien body floating in space. Stranded on a strange planet, Jern finds sanctuary and secures passage on a free trader where he befriends the ship's cat. After the cat eats a strange pebble, it gives birth to a cat-like creature called "Eet" that turns out to be telepathic and enigmatic. From there, Jern's adventures really get going, leading him about the galaxy as he and Eet are forced to stay one step ahead of their adversaries until Jern is able to unlock the final secret of the Zero Stone with unexpected results.

William Laurence from the Temeraire series (read review) by Naomi Novik. Laurence is an officer in the Royal Navy during the United Kingdom's war against Napoleon until his ship recovers a dragon egg from a captured French vessel and the resulting dragon, named Temeraire, imprints upon him. He is almost immediately transferred to the far less prestigious air service as Temeraire's captain. From there, Laurence's career takes him across the globe, first to China on a diplomatic mission to mollify the Chinese emperor, on an epic flight across all of Asia, arriving just in time to aid the Prussians when Napoleon invades their country, to Africa to find a cure for a dragon killing plague, into prison for treason that is converted into exile to Australia after he and Temeraire help defeat the French invasion of Great Britain, and then to South America to try to break up a political marriage for Napoleon. I haven't finished the entire series, but so far, Laurence's adventures with Temeraire have been exciting and interesting.

James Griffin-Mars from Time Salvager (red review) and Time Siege by Wesley Chu. Griffin-Mars is probably the most unlikable character in this bunch. Living in a distant future in which the Earth has been wrecked by centuries of pollution and war, and the rest of the Solar System's resources have been exhausted, Griffin-Mars works as a time salvager, traveling to the past to recover resources and technology that are no longer available in the present. Salvagers obtain these items just before the historical records say they would have been destroyed, they are prohibited from changing the past, and they must leave any people the encounter to their fates. To cope with leaving so many people to die, Griffin-Mars resorts to drinking heavily and being difficult to deal with. His story takes a left turn when he breaks the laws of time and brings someone back from the past, which sets him on a collision course with the authorities and the corporate interests that they answer to. This series is ongoing, so we have yet to see all of Griffin-Mars' story, but I think it will turn out to be interesting all the way to the end.

Lorq von Rey from Nova (read review) by Samuel R. Delany. Nova was one of the first science fiction novels that I read, which I will admit is a strange place for someone to start. Lorq von Ray is the head of the von Ray family, which holds vast business interests in the Pleiades Federation and is opposed by the Earth -based Red Shift company, owned by the villainous Prince Red and his sister Ruby. The key to power in the galaxy is the super heavy trace element Illyrion, vital to powering interstellar starships and terraforming. Both sides realize that the best place to find vast quantities of this element is in the midst of a star that is going nova, spewing its guts across space. As a result, both are racing to locate a star about to go nova and reach it in time to scoop up the most valuable element in the universe, cornering the market and ruining the competition. In the novel, von Ray leads this expedition, recruiting a strange crew of misfits, including Mouse, a gypsy skilled in the use of a complex instrument called a "sensory syrynx", and Katin, a man who aspires to write a novel, although novels are obsolete in this future. Lorq and his crew roam the stars and lock horns with Prince Red and Ruby, eventually leading to a final confrontation and a final conflagration.

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Event - MidAmeriCon II, August 17th - 21st, 2016: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday

Last week the seventy-fourth Worldcon, titled MidAmeriCon II, was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The redhead and I were among the many thousands of attendees this year, and at least as far as we are concerned, it was a terrific convention.

Wednesday: We arrived late in the day on the first day of the convention after driving eight hours to get to Kansas City. After checking in to our hotel, we took the Main Street streetcar to the convention center for the first time. I will take this opportunity to heap praise onto Kansas City for their excellent streetcar service, which was easy to use and got us where we needed to go in a most efficient manner.

After a short walk from the streetcar, we reached the convention center and found the registration desk shortly before it closed, claiming our badges. The redhead also got her first badge ribbon as the volunteer working the desk had a "Team Mystic" ribbon to give her. From there it was a escalator ride to the enormous main hall of the convention where the "consuite", dealer hall, and artists' alley could be found as well as the various "parks" that had been set up, and the "party rooms" were located. Con ops and the area for author signings were also located in this room, as were the gaming area and the cosplay repair station. Everything was separated by temporary dividers, which worked well, but did block some of the food vendors along the walls - a fact that we did not discover until Saturday, and then only by accident.

We took this opportunity to tour the dealer hall, as we didn't know if our schedule would permit us to do so later. We found the Studio Foglio booth where we acquired volumes twelve and thirteen of the Girl Genius series, and had them both signed by Phil and Kaja Foglio. From there we headed to Larry Smith's book store and acquired a number of books we had been looking forward to, including Time Siege by Wes Chu, League of Dragons by Naomi Novik, The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, and The Royal Succession by Maurice Druon. We would have also picked up Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal, but Larry didn't have the book, just as he had not had it at either Balticon or InConJunction. He had all of the other books in Kowal's Glamourist Histories series, but not that one for some reason, at least not at the start of the convention. All turned out well eventually, by Thursday Larry had received a mailed shipment of books that included Glamour in Glass, and in a stroke of luck, Mary was there when the redhead went to buy a copy and got it signed on the spot.

After leaving the main hall, we ran across Fran Wilde, Sarah Pinsker, Scott Edelman, and a few others, giving us an opportunity to catch up with them. After a short conversation, we headed over to the local supermarket Cosentino's to stock up on supplies for the rest of the week. We usually do this at most conventions, stocking up on snacks, drinks, and food for the convention and carrying the supplies in an insulated backpack we bring just for this purpose. We were able to get most of what we needed, but we discovered something we didn't previously know about Cosentino's: Their pre-prepared food is very attractive, but for the most part is mediocre at best.

Thursday: Our convention really got going on Thursday, with a panel on the Best (Mega)Bits of Gaming featuring Randy Henderson, Symantha Reagor, Andrea Stewart, Brianna Wu, and Carrie Patel moderated by Vivian Trask. We had mostly gone to the panel to see Brianna and Carrie, but the entire discussion was excellent, touching on a wide variety of issues related to video game development and design. On a side note, this panel was scheduled in the earliest time slot of the day, which was a quite reasonable 10 A.M. Whoever made the decision to have programming for this Worldcon start at 10 A.M. (as opposed to many conventions where 8 A.M. is the norm), I send my thanks to you. As a bonus, Brianna's husband Frank Wu was in attendance at the panel, and we were able to meet him as well. He thought my Five Year Mission t-shirt was interesting, so I pointed him to the band's website where I hope he enjoys the music they produce.

After our panel we ran across Mary Robinette Kowal, who was in costume for her roving book launch party for Ghost Talkers. We gave her the pass phrase from the blog post in which she had announced the roving book launch party, and she gave us a coded telegram. And thus our participation in the game of cracking Mary's various coded messages began, although it turned out that this was an inauspicious beginning, as there was no real way to crack the code in the telegram. It turned out that the code in the telegram was a book code keyed, naturally enough, to Ghost Talkers. Unfortunately, Ghost Talkers was pretty much impossible to acquire at the convention, as none of the book dealers had a copy available, which made the code impossible to crack. After we had beaten our heads against the code for the better part of a day, we ran into Mary again, and she gave us a postcard as a replacement code to puzzle out, and the rest of the challenges went quite smoothly. There were common Caesar codes, a keyed Caesar code, a pigpen cipher, and a columnar transposition cipher. We spent the better part of two days working them out and then tracking Mary down to give her the coded pass phrase to get the prizes of tea, chocolate, rum, and a pencil, and finally the final code. The final prize was to be delivered at the party on Friday evening, but I'll talk about that when I write about Friday's events.

Going back to the subject of musical acts, at noon, we attended Paul & Storm's concert. As usual, the duo were excellent, providing geeky comedy and music that included numbers such as Opening Band, Irish Drinking Song, Write Like the Wind (George R.R. Martin), Nun Fight, and Westerosi Pie. They closed their concert with a rousing (and lengthy) rendition of The Captain's Wife's Lament. If you have not attended a Paul & Storm concert, it is worth it to go just for that song alone, although one should be warned that they take a song that runs for about two minutes and twenty seconds in the studio recording and make it last for eight, ten, twelve, twenty, or even more minutes. As a consolation, the live version of the song incorporates substantial audience participation, which is what makes the song so long and so much fun.

Our next event was the Grand Master Chat featuring Larry Niven, Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, James Gunn, and Robert Silverberg. This is the sort of panel that it is almost impossible to find anywhere but Worldcon, because this assemblage of talent doesn't show up anywhere else very often. The panel was mostly an undirected conversation, in part because one would be hard-pressed to find someone who could moderate this group, and in part because there wasn't any real need to direct it. For the most part, this panel was a little bit like sitting in a room where some very old friends were having a conversation about whatever they thought was interesting. Everyone on the panel was excellent, but Willis and Silverberg stood out even in this group.

Our next panel was titled SF as Protest Literature with Bradford Lyau, Mark Oshiro, Jo Walton, Ann Leckie, and moderated by Alex Jablokow. Once again, this was a brilliant panel with intelligent and knowledgeable panelists providing insightful and interesting commentary. From there we went to Your Character Ate What? a game show style panel hosted by Fran Wilde and featuring Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Maz Gladstone, Esther Friesner, and John Chu. The format for the game show was fairly simple: Two audience members were selected as contestants; they then picked a member of the panel as their spokesperson for each question. Fran would ask a question and ask the selected panelists to answer it, at which point the contestants would have to decide if their chosen panelist's answer was right or wrong. The twist is that the questions almost always involve food, and are almost always incredibly weird. The real fun is watching authors who clearly have not read the book that the question is based upon try to bluff their way through their answer, or, as seemed to frequently be the case for Scott Lynch, when they simply make no pretense at getting the correct answer. This panel was great fun, and was one of the highlights of the convention. If you are ever at a convention where Fran is hosting this game show, I highly recommend attending.

The redhead and I then headed back to the main hall to cast our votes for site selection, which was an extremely well-organized process. Our return to the main hall also allowed us to stop by the various fan tables, including those organized by the various bids to host Worldcon and NASFiC. This allowed us to obtain a number of badge ribbons, both for the bids themselves - I got ribbons for New Orleans in 2018, Dublin in 2019, New Zealand in 2020, and San Jose in 2018 - and silly ones such as a ribbon stating "Adult Supervision Is Recommended", and a pair of Chuck Tingle influenced ribbons: One said "I Am Chuck Tingle", and the other "No Devilman Plots". The redhead got one that said "Ladys Get Hard". On that note, I should point out that anyone who thinks that Tingle's placement as a Hugo finalist embarrassed the Worldcon community is simply deluded. There were so many Chuck Tingle themed badge ribbons that if one didn't know better, they might have thought he was one of the guests of honor. There was even a matching set of ribbons that said "I am secretly Chuck Tingle" and "I am not secretly Chuck Tingle", which many people wore together, making them a kind of Schrödinger's Tingle. Far from being upset by the nomination, most people seemed to embrace the silly nature of it, and had great fun at the convention as a result.

Friday: Friday was supposed to start off with the panel It's Not Torture If It's the Good Guys, but the combination of Wednesday's drive and Thursday's packed schedule meant that the redhead and I didn't get ourselves together early enough to attend. One thing that almost always happens at a convention is that your planned schedule will be disrupted and you won't be able to do one of the things you had hoped to be able to do. Whether it is because you overslept, or because getting lunch took longer than you thought, or simply because the event you wanted to attend was so overcrowded that you couldn't get in, something is almost certain to go wrong somewhere, and it is unlikely to be a unique event. You just have to be prepared for this sort of thing to happen, and roll with it.

The first panel we actually made it to wasn't really a panel at all, it was the Magazine Group Reading for Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, moderated by C.C. Finlay and featuring readings by David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Sarah Pinsker, William Ledbetter, and Esther Friesner. This was the first of several magazine reading panels that the redhead and I had scheduled at the convention, and I cannot recommend this type of panel enough. There is no better way to get exposure to the work of a lot of writers than to go to a group reading panel, especially one that is themed in some way. The authors on this panel had all been published in Fantasy & Science Fiction at some point, and most read a section from one of their stories that had appeared in the magazine. Each of the authors gave a terrific reading, but both Gerrold and Friesner were notable for the humor that infused their readings.

Next we attended the Magazine Group Reading panel for Analog: Science Fiction and Fact moderated by Trevor Quachri and featuring Alec Nevala-Lee, Stanley Schmidt, Rosemary Claire Smith, and James van Pelt. Of all the group readings the redhead and I attended at Worldcon, this one was the least interesting overall. I'm not sure if it was because the readers delivered their material in a dull manner, or if the stories themselves were weak. I have found the stories in Analog, when taken as a group, to be the blandest and most pedestrian of the stories found in the major speculative fiction magazines, although I usually attribute this to the fact that the magazine emphasizes technical details more than the others, sometimes at the expense of storytelling, and that may have been what happened on this panel. On the plus side, there were two stories featuring dinosaurs. I will also say that while I have often been critical of Quachri's time at the helm of the magazine, the answers he gave to the audience questions were informative and insightful.

From the Analog reading, we moved directly to the Magazine Group Reading for Asimov's Science Fiction moderated by Sheila Williams and featuring readings by James Patrick Kelly, Mary Robinette Kowal, Steve Rasnic Tem, Connie Willis, and Robert Reed. As with the other readings, all of the authors were in top form, and all gave excellent readings, especially Willis and Kowal. One of the interesting things to see at these panels is the interaction between the editors and the authors, and one particularly funny exchange ended up with James Patrick Kelly crawling away into the audience in shame.

Friday was the day that David Truesdale hijacked a panel on The State of Short Fiction, an incident that led to his expulsion from the convention. I may write about that in some other post, but to satisfy my curiosity I went back and figured out where the redhead and I were when this happened: We were in line to get books signed by Robert Silverberg. Over the course of the convention, the redhead and I asked several authors to sign books for us, and every single one of them was gracious and generous, whether we were asking after a panel, or while in the dealer hall, or at an official signing session. Silverberg was no exception. One of the wonderful things about the science fiction community is that an author with as long and accomplished a career as Silverberg will still sit and talk with fans almost at the drop of a hat. In many cases, I have the impression that were it not for the requirements of scheduling, many authors would spend all of their time at Worldcon simply sitting around and talking with attendees.

Our final Magazine Group Reading of the day was for Clarkesworld, moderated by Neil Clarke and featuring Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kelly Robson, Seth Dickinson, Martin Shoemaker, and Naomi Kritzer. As with the other reading panels, this one was entertaining fro start to finish, with highlights provided when Kritzer read from her Hugo-nominated (and later Hugo-winning) story Cat Pictures Please and Shoemaker read from his WSFA Small Press Award-nominated story Today I Am Paul. Aside from the readings, the best moment in the panel came when Mohanraj pointed out to Clarke that he has turned down the sequel to the story she read and he went and stood in the corner in shame.

After four magazine group readings and two signing sessions, the redhead and I made it to our first actual panel of the day titled 'It Takes a Pack to Raise a Child' Families and Friends in Steampunk, with panelists Gail Carriger, Beth Cato, Sandee Rodriguez, and Belinda McBride moderated by Heather Rose Jones. This panel was quite good on the whole, delving into what makes a character a side character as opposed to a member of an ensemble, and how to use such characters to drive a story forward. All of the panelists contributed, but the star of the hour was definitely Beth Cato, whose commentary was consistently stellar.

The final event we attended on Friday was the Girl Genius Radio Play hosted by Phil and Kaja Foglio. As they explained at the outset, this event was neither radio nor a play, but rather a collection of people standing in front of microphones reading a story in character in a manner similar to that done in the past for radio broadcast. Except there was no broadcasting done on this night. After Phil selected members of the audience to fill out parts, Kaja took to the microphone as Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius, while her son took on the role of Krosp, Emperor of All Cats, and Phil assumed the role of narrator. With the cast in place, presentations of Revenge of the Weasel Queen and Agatha's Big Date commenced, with much fanfare and cheering and audience participation. Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer, tried to be heroic, Krosp was sarcastic, Zeetha knocked heads, and Agatha saved the day. Kind of. By mistake. The Girl Genius Radio Plays, despite being neither radio nor plays, are a rollicking good time, and if you are at a convention where they are held, I highly recommend going.

After the Radio Play, we went to dinner and eventually went to the party, and finally completed Mary Robinette Kowal's final code challenge. The prize for completing the challenge was supposed to be a story, written by Mary on the spot at the party using her portable manual typewriter. Unfortunately, she had accidentally dropped the typewriter earlier in the day, and it was not working. Mary spent nearly two hours trying to fix the machine, adjusting the tension of various screws and wires, trying to find just the magical combination that would get it working again. For much of this time, I sat next to her, having offered my Swiss Army Knife for her to use as a screwdriver and holding the miniature flashlight for her while she tinkered away. Eventually she gave up, and gave us an I.O.U. for the story, but even if she had not, this is the sort of experience that makes conventions what they are. As tense and out of sorts as Mary was for most of the time, I will never forget sitting there and doing my best to help. It wasn't how I imagined I would spend the bulk of the party, but I wouldn't trade the time spent being Mary's assistant for anything. On a more party-like note, I did get to spend some time making the acquaintance of Naomi Kritzer, who is just as delightful in person as her stories are on the page.

MidAmeriCon II, August 17th - 21st, 2016: Saturday and Sunday

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Musical Monday - Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

In last week's Musical Monday post I said I was getting ready to attend MidAmeriCon II, this year's Worldcon, which was located in Kansas City, Missouri. Today, I have returned from the convention, and after four days of convention-going sandwiched in between two long days of driving, I am pretty much exhausted.

That said, Worldcon was an amazing four days that were totally worth my current exhaustion. I attended a lot of panels and readings that showcased amazing authors, editors, game designers, and a wide variety of other people who (at least for the panels I attended) provided commentary that was knowledgeable, interesting, and often quite humorous. I got a huge pile of books signed, came away with an even larger stack of books to add to Mount To-Read, and was able to bring home a smart phone full of pictures. I was also able to attend the Hugo Award ceremony and see, in person, the presentation of the most prestigious honor in genre fiction to a collection of brilliant and well-deserving winners.

But the most important thing I bring home are the interactions with wonderful people, from authors that I knew from previous conventions, to new friends I made while at this event. The unexpected is almost always the best part of a convention, and this Worldcon was no exception. I'll be posting about Worldcon in general, and the Hugo Awards specifically, over the course of this week. Right now, I'm going to listen to some Bach, and get some much-needed sleep.

Subsequent Musical Monday: Pure Imagination by Gene Wilder

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review - An Atlas of Tolkien by David Day

Short review: A brief illustrated guide to all of Tolkien's mythology from the beginning of the world through the end of The Lord of the Rings.

First, the beginning
Then, all of the histories
End at the Havens

Full review: Suppose you wanted to have an understanding of the mythology Tolkien fabricated as the background to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings but found The Silmarillion and the Histories of Middle-Earth too dense for your liking, what could you do? Well, one option would be to read David Day's Atlas of Tolkien, which encapsulates pretty much the entire history of the fantasy world and provides some fantastic artwork to help illustrate its beauty.

In one sense, An Atlas of Tolkien is kind of like a Cliff's Notes version of Tolkien's fiction, summarizing the course of its invented history from the moment that Eru first awakened the Valar and had them sing the world into existence, through the wars against Morgoroth, the creation, theft, and eventual recovery of the Silmarils and the cataclysmic War of Wrath, the rise and fall of Numenore, the battles against Sauron, the forging of the Rings, and finally the events found in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, all contained in a mere 236 pages. From a certain perspective, this comparison is not entirely fair, because Cliff's Notes versions of books are usually vacuous affairs that strip out all of the heart and soul of a book. By contrast, even though An Atlas of Tolkien offers a summarized version of the events of Tolkien's fictional history, it does so in a manner that at least attempts to retain some of the imagery and poetry of the original. The book also includes several genealogies, lists, and charts showing in graphical form how the various elements of Tolkien's world are related to one another, which can be very useful for figuring out such things.

One area that An Atlas of Tolkien shines is in the artwork contained in its pages. The included illustrations are quirky and beautiful, presenting a version of Arda that is unique to Day's productions, and yet captures the essence of Tolkien as well. Much of the artwork is recycled from earlier works by David Day, such as his Tolkien Bestiary, so a reader who has read that book will find much of what appears in this one to be familiar. There is some new artwork, although such original pieces are a relatively small fraction of the total that are found in the book. Even so, the artwork is as beautiful this time around as it was the first time it appeared in a book by David Day, so the reader is unlikely to be disappointed on this front. Oddly, for a book that is described as an atlas, the maps are by and large mediocre at best, providing a reasonably accurate depiction of the region highlighted, but doing so in an uninspired, dull, and frequently almost featureless manner. In comparison to the illustrations, the maps seem almost like they were mailed in, with only passing attention given to their creation and execution. Fortunately (or unfortunately), actual maps are few and far between in this volume, so their seemingly perfunctory nature doesn't encroach on the book too much.

The volume does have some flaws, although they are small. For example, one of the charts included in the book is a chronological listing of battles of the War of the Ring, but it rather conspicuously leaves out the siege of Minas Tirith and the Battle of Pelennore Fields. which seems like a rather glaring omission. Perhaps the author felt that those conflicts were detailed well enough in The Return of the King that including them in this account would be unneeded, but the listing includes the Battle of Hornburg, which is the subject of much of The Two Towers, so that explanation doesn't really hold up. In addition, many of the descriptions are fairly brief, which raises the question as to whether someone unfamiliar with the source material would be able to understand the importance of some of the events that are described in this book, or how they relate to one another. This is a difficult assessment for me to make, as I have read all of the books that this atlas draws upon, so take this criticism with a grain of salt.

Overall, An Atlas of Tolkien is a nice little book that would be a useful addition to anyone's Tolkien library. For a newcomer to Tolkien's fiction who simply wants an overview of the professor's fictional world, this volume would serve as just that. For a dedicated fan, this book won't supply any new insights, but it could serve as a useful reference work for looking particular elements up when the need arises - the book even comes with a well-organized index just for this purpose. There isn't anything in this book that I would call new scholarship concerning Tolkien's work, but it is a well put-together and beautifully illustrated summary of his fictional history, and that makes it a book worth having and a book worth reading.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Musical Monday - Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra

The redhead and I will be attending Worldcon this week. Or more specifically, we will be attending MidAmeriCon II in Kansas City, which is the host for this year's Worldcon. This will be the first time for either of us to actually attend Worldcon, although I have been a supporting member for a number of years. We've mapped out our schedule, and it looks like a fantastic time - we're planning on going to panels to see many of our favorite authors discuss what look to be interesting topics. We're planning on going to see Paul & Storm perform, and I have a meetup scheduled to get together with a number of people who I have met online. I've got a pile of books to bring with me to take to the author signings, and the redhead made us new outfits to wear to the Hugo Award ceremony.

But as good as that all sounds, what usually makes or breaks a convention are the unplanned and unexpected things that happen: Sitting at the bar with a collection of authors talking for an hour. Sitting in between three Nebula nominated authors at a book launch party while they talk about their latest projects, running into some old friends who introduce you to new friends so that you can all figure out how to play a game that no one has heard of before, panelists throwing the topic of discussion aside and talking about something that is both unexpected and more interesting. These are the sorts of things that make conventions memorable, and I'm hoping for such serendipity to strike this week at Worldcon.

In the meantime, I'll just sit back and listen to some more of Bach's brilliant music.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

2010 Hugo Award Longlist

Among the revelations that come with the longlist every year is the fact that many authors seem to have had better years in the balloting than one would expect simply looking at the finalists. Robert Charles Wilson, for example, had one work place in the Best Novel finalists, but had two more show up on the longlist in the Best Novelette category. Rachel Swirsky had one story reach the finalists in the Best Novelette category, and another made the longlist. Kristine Kathryn Rusch had two stories appear on the Best Novella longlist, and Mary Robinette Kowal also had two longlisted stories: One in Best Novelette and one in Best Short Story. Mike Resnick had one story make it to the finalists, and three more appear on the longlist.

Resnick's longlisted stories contain a moderately interesting conundrum. Two of the stories that appear here were cowritten by him with his frequent collaborator Lezli Robyn, who was also nominated for the Campbell Award. The interesting thing is that in 2010, Robyn's most prominent stories were the ones she had cowritten with Resnick. The problem this poses is that it is difficult to separate Robyn's contribution from Resnick's for the purpose of voting on the Campbell Award. Apparently some voters felt comfortable doing so, as Robyn ended up doing reasonably well in the voting, placing second behind Seanan McGuire in the first pass through (although she ended up fourth overall), but how they sorted this question out remains a mystery.

Best Novel

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The City & the City by China Mieville [winner]
Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America by Robert Charles Wilson
Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi [winner]
WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

Longlisted Nominees:
Finch by Jeff VanderMeer
Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Lifecode by Jo Walton
Makers by Cory Doctorow
The Price of Spring by Daniel Abraham
The Sunless Countries by Karl Schroeder
This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

Best Novella

Act One by Nancy Kress
The God Engines by John Scalzi
Palimpsest by Charles Stross [winner]
Shambling Towards Hiroshima by James Morrow
Vishnu at the Cat Circus by Ian McDonald
The Women of Nell Gwynne's by Kage Baker

Longlisted Nominees:
Horn by Peter M. Ball
Hot Rock by Greg Egan
Paradiso Lost by Albert E. Cowdrey
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan
Shaka II by Mike Resnick
Wives by Paul Haines

Best Novelette

Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky
The Island by Peter Watts [winner]
It Takes Two by Nicola Griffith
One of Our Bastards Is Missing by Paul Cornell
Overtime by Charles Stross
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast by Eugie Foster

Longlisted Nominees
Economancer by Carolyn Ives Gilman
First Right by Mary Robinette Kowal
Lion Walk by Mary Rosenblum
A Memory of Wind by Rachel Swirsky
This Peaceable Land; or, the Unbearable Vision of Harriet Beecher Stowe by Robert Charles Wilson
Utriusque Cosmi by Robert Charles Wilson
Zeppelin City by Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick

Best Short Story

Bridescicle by Will McIntosh [winner]
The Moment by Lawrence M. Schoen
Non-Zero Probabilities by N.K. Jemisin
Spar by Kij Johnson

Longlisted Nominees
Benchwarmer by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn
Blocked by Geoff Ryman
Donovan Sent Us by Gene Wolfe
Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction by Jo Walton
The Pelican Bar by Karen Joy Fowler
The Radiant Car Thy Sparrows Drew by Catherynne M. Valente
The Receivers by Alastair Reynolds
A Story, with Beans by Steven Gould
Useless Things by Maureen F. McHugh

Best Related Work

Canary Fever: Reviews by John Clute
Hope in the Mist: The Extraordinary Career and Mysterious Life of Hope Mirrlees by Michael Swanwick
The Inter-Galactic Playground: A Critical Study of Children's and Teen's Science Fiction by Farah Mendelsohn
On Joanna Russ edited by Farah Mendelsohn
The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms by Helen Merrick
This Is Me, Jack Vance by Jack Vance [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer
Cheek by Jowl by Ursula K. Le Guin
Imagination/Space by Gwyneth Jones
Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist by James Gurney
Other Spaces, Other Times by Robert Silverberg
Powers: Secret Histories by John Berlyne
Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the 20th Century by Jane Frank
The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction by Istvan Osisceray Ronay, Jr.
Spectrum 16 by by Arnie Fenner and Cathy Fenner
Starcombing by David Langford

Best Graphic Story

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? by Neil Gaiman, penciled by Andy Kubert, inked by Scott Williams
Captain Britain and MI13, Volume 3: Vampire State by Paul Cornell, penciled by Leonard Kirk with Mike Collins, Adrian Alphona, and Ardian Syaf
Fables, Volume 12: The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham, penciled by Mark Buckingham, art by Peter Gross, Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allred, and David Hahn, color by Lee Loughridge and Laura Allred, letters by Todd Klein
Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne and the Heirs of the Storm by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio [winner]
Schlock Mercenary: The Longshoreman of the Apocalypse by Howard Tayler

Longlisted Nominees:
The Dresden Files, Storm Front: Volume 1, The Gathering Storm by Mark Powers, Jim Butcher, and Ardian Syaf
Dresden Kodak by Aaron Diaz
FreakAngels by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield
Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones by Phil Foglio and Kaja Foglio
Grandville by Bryan Talbot
Ignition City by Warren Ellis and Gianluca Pagliarani
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
Locke & Key: Head Games by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga
The Order of the Stick: Don't Split the Party by Rich Burlew
Pluto by Naoki Urasawa
Schlock Mercenary: The Scrapyard of Insufferable Arrogance by Howard Tayler
Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Star Trek: Countdown by Mike Johnson, Tim Jones, and David Messina
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá
The Unwritten by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

District 9
Moon [winner]
Star Trek

Longlisted Nominees:
Caprica: Pilot
Doctor Who: The End of Time
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Let the Right One In
Sherlock Holmes
Torchwood: Children of Earth
Where the Wild Things Are

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor
Doctor Who: The Planet of the Dead
Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars [winner]
Dollhouse: Epitaph 1
FlashForward: No More Good Days

Longlisted Nominees:
Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak
Chuck: Chuck Versus the Ring
Dollhouse: The Attic
Dollhouse: Belonging
FlashForward: The Gift
Lost: LaFleur
Lost: The Incident 1 & 2
Partly Cloudy
Stargate: Universe: Light
Stargate: Universe: Time
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Born to Run
Wallace and Gromit in a Matter of Loaf and Death

Best Professional Editor: Short Form

Ellen Datlow [winner]
Stanley Schmidt
Jonathan Strahan
Gordon van Gelder
Sheila Williams

Longlisted Nominees:
John Joseph Adams
Scott H. Andrews
Neil Clarke
Gardner Dozois
Eric Flint
Susan Marie Groppi
David G. Grubbs
Eric T. Reynolds
Ann VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer

Best Professional Editor: Long Form

Lou Anders
Ginjer Buchanan
Liz Gorinsky
David G. Hartwell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden [winner]
Juliet Ulman

Longlisted Nominees:
Jennifer Brehl
Jo Fletcher
Marc Gascoigne
Ann Groell
Jeremy Lassen
Beth Meacham
Betsy Mitchell
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
William Schafer
Stephanie Smith
Toni Weisskopf

Best Professional Artist

Daniel Dos Santos
Bob Eggleton
Donato Giancola
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio
Shaun Tan [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
John Coulthart
Kinuko Y. Craft
Phil Foglio
John Foster
Raphael Lacoste
John Jude Palncar
Adam Tredowski
Charles Vess

Best Semi-Prozine

Ansible edited by David Langford
Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, and Sean Wallace [winner]
Interzone edited by Andy Cox
Locus edited by Charles N. Brown, Kristen Gong-Wong, and Liza Groen Trombi
Weird Tales edited by Stephen H. Segal and Ann VanderMeer

Longlisted Nominees:
Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine edited by Zara Baxter, Sue Bursztynski, Andrew Finch, Simon Petrie, and Tehani Wessely
Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Charlie's Diary edited by Charles Stross
Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
Fantasy Magazine edited by K. Tempest Bradford, Cat Rambo, and Sean Wallace
The Internet Review of Science Fiction edited by Stacey Janssen
The New York Review of Science Fiction edited by Kathryn Cramer, David G. Hartwell, and Kevin J. Maroney
On Spec edited by Diane Walton, Barb Galler-Smith, Susan MacGregor, Ann Marston, Robin Carson, and Barry Hammond
Strange Horizons edited by Susan Marie Groppi
Subterranean edited by William Schafer edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Best Fanzine

Argentus edited by Steven H Silver
Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
Challenger edited by Guy H. Lillian III
The Drink Tank edited by Christopher J. Garcia with guest editor James Bacon
File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
StarShipSofa edited by Tony C. Smith [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Australian SF Bullsheet edited by Edwina Harvey and Ted Scribner
Australian SpecFic in Focus edited by Alisa Krasnostein
Chunga edited by Randy Byers, Andy Hooper, and Carl Juarez
Journey Planet edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
Plokta edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies, and Mike Scott
Relapse edited by Peter Weston
SF in SF edited by Chris Garcia
SF Signal John DeNardo
Steam Engine Time edited by Bruce Gillespie and Janine Stinson
Trap Door by Robert Lichtman

Best Fan Writer

Claire Brialey
Chris Garcia
James Nicoll
Lloyd Penny
Frederik Pohl [winner]

Longlisted Nominees:
Bruce Gillespie
Mike Glyer
Niall Harrison
John Hertz
David Langford
Guy Lillian
Cheryl Morgan
Abigail Nussbaum
Steven H Silver
Jo Walton
Taral Wayne

Best Fan Artist

Brad Foster [winner]
Dave Howell
Sue Mason
Steve Stiles
Taral Wayne

Longlisted Nominees:
Kate Beaton
Alan F. Beck
Kurt Erichsen
Dick Jenssen
Randall Munroe
Marc Schirmeister
Spring Schoenhuth
Espana Sheriff
Mo Starkey
Dan Steffan
D. West
Brianna "Spacekat" Wu
Frank Wu

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Saladin Ahmed
Gail Carriger
Felix Gilman
Seanan McGuire [winner]
Lezli Robyn

Longlisted Nominees:
Camille Alexa
Peter M. Ball
Jedidiah Barry
Lauren Beukes
Erin Cashier
Dani Kollin
Shweta Narayan
Shannon Page
Steven H Silver
Juliette Wade

Go to previous year's longlist: 2009
Go to subsequent year's longlist: 2011

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