The OF Blog: November 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Upcoming attractions

Just over a month remaining in the year.  The past couple of years have seen December pack in more posts and features than the other months and I hope to continue that this year, although time/energy concerns may put a damper on some of my goals.  But here are a few things I hope to do in the coming weeks:

  • Have 2-3 more articles up here related to the post I made on the Nebula Awards blog on international SF.  Had hoped to have had a follow-up by Sunday, but that just won't happen.  Perhaps by Tuesday.
  •  Write at least 2-3 more short commentaries on books listed in the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks series.  Finished re-reading Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes and will very shortly finish reading Lord Dunsany's Time and the Gods collection, with possible short reviews up by the weekend.
  •  Perhaps 1-3 more reviews of 2009 releases.  I did agree to read/review Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey (the first book of his I will read), so perhaps that review will be up in the next couple of weeks.  I believe this book is scheduled to be released just after Christmas.
  •  Starting a little before Christmas and ending on New Year's Eve, I plan on expanding my Best of 2009 posts.  I will cover Anthologies and Short Story Collections, Graphic Novels, YA literature, Translated Fiction, 2009 Fiction Read in Spanish and Portuguese, Debut Novels, Non-Speculative Fiction, SF/F Non-Fiction, and my Top 25 Reads of 2009 (both speculative and non-speculative fiction alike).  Hopefully I will have one of the more comprehensive year-end assessments out there.  One does need lofty goals, no?

Analysis of reads #401-500

Yes, I read my 500th book of 2009 this afternoon.  While I don't have as much of a life outside of work and other commitments, I suppose some might be curious about the latest 100.  Here goes:

  • 20% of the reads were (co)written or (co)edited by women.  A slight drop from the previous 100
  • 7% of the reads were in French, by far the highest amount of fiction I have ever read in that language.  All were originally written in French, but only 1 was a SF work.
  • 2% of the works were in Italian, both part of a two-volume graphic novel by Sergio Toppi.  Excellent, by the way.
  • 23% of the books were either illustrated or graphic novels, by far the highest percentage ever for me.  Most of those were not genre-related, however.
  • 4% of the reads were in Portuguese, all but one being originally published in that language.
  • 1% each of the reads were in Serbian, Latin, and Romanian, with only the Romanian being a translation from the English original.
  • Only 9% were in Spanish, one of the lowest percentages for me in years.
  • 2% of the reads were continuations by other authors of books associated with now-dead writers.
  • 12% were re-reads.
  • No popes or other religious figures for this latest 100, though.
  • 11% were anthologies or collections that were not omnibuses. 
  • Only 1% were YA fiction, far lower than the norm for me.
  • 5% of the books were omnibuses published by Library of America and another 1% was an omnibus by another publisher.

That'll do for now.  Likely will post the past month's reading either late tonight or tomorrow sometime.  Looks like it'll approach 70 books read for the month of November alone.

R.I.P. Robert Holdstock (1948-2009)

A little over a week ago, I learned that Robert Holdstock, author of Mythago Wood and other outstanding fantasy novels, was in a coma due to an e. coli infection.  Just learned that he died early this morning from the infection.

Although I had heard excellent things about him as an author and as a person from those who had met him, I never got around to reading any of his books until this summer, when I purchased Mythago Wood and Avilion (the recently-released direct sequel) after being challenged to do so by Mark Charan Newton.  I meant to blog at length some time about how much I enjoyed both stories, but I read them during a time when I was not in the mood to post much of anything.  However, those novels, full of a genuine warmth to them, were a comfort of sorts during that time and I am thankful for having read them.  So yeah, this was a major, major sad surprise over the past week.

Anyone else here read any of his works?  I know I have a used copy of Lavondyss that I'm going to read now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Umberto Eco book, The Vertigo of Lists

Only just learned about this via a search of the author's site for any possible upcoming releases.  This book was released in English translation almost two weeks ago.  I just placed my pre-order in hopes of receiving it on the 1st.  I think I just had one of my biggest bookgasms ever when I read the book description.  I guess Christmas just came early for myself!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Two bookcases full of books

After seeing a few posts on a few forums lately about how people organize their books, I thought I'd upload pictures of 7 shelves' worth of books from two of my eleven bookcases (which incidentally shelve only about half of the books I own.  I believe there's somewhere between 150-175 books pictured here).

Some of these books have been in the same places for over a year now; some less than an hour at the time of this posting.

Can you detect general patterns yet in my shelving?

Really, there is a pattern, just not a common one.

Is it by gender?

Hrmm....maybe not, or at least not strictly by gender...

Perhaps part of the organization is by religious subject matter or by language?

What would Mother Theresa make of being shelved between books by Pope Benedict XVI and St. Teresa of Ávila?

What significance is there to having the Catechism next to Sapkowski's work, which in turn is followed by that of Michael Cisco?

How comfortably can Calvino, Eggers, and Crowley rest with Abercrombie's books in their midst?

From Spiegelman to Gaiman to Camus to Ballard - are we running the gamut yet?

Is there any importance to be placed on all of Proust being together, along with Rushdie and some other thick books?

Outside of the Moorcock and Mahfouz, is there any semblance of order here on the bottom shelf of my second bookcase?

The final set of books.  Have you detected the pattern(s) that have emerged over the course of seven shelves and two bookcases (there is/are at least one)?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why review?

Gav of NextRead asks that question, or rather "Why reviews matter?" over on his blog.  Just now noticed this, since I've been all sorts of busy the past day or so, but for once, it's the good sort of busy.  Interesting responses.

I know I've blogged on this issue before several times, often writing at length on various facets of it, but I think the question could be turned around and viewed as being a corollary to that "duh" question asked of writers:  Why do writers write (especially if most of them won't be published or make much money from it if they do end up having their work published)?

Sometimes, there's this mountain that appears, it's there, so why not climb it (or blog about it, dissect it, or whatever you'd like to do that would involve some form of consent or at least acquiescence)?  That's all that matters.  I don't care if what I write is "correct" or "right" as much as I care about exploring things and generating something that I could learn from and which might generate a good, interesting conversation.  Anything else is just extra.  But hey, if the words I write can get some positive attention, great.  However, my best words are saved for an audience of one (well, two, if I count myself as well).  But I'll spare you any interpretations of Les Fleurs du Mal for now...

Monday, November 23, 2009

"International SF" and Problems of Identity article now up at the Nebula Awards Blog

Just click here for the link.

Feel free to comment there or here with questions, comments, and even snide remarks (if such are merited).  Even better, how about you write on your own blogs/LJs (if you have one) responses to the questions raised, as this piece was meant to raise questions for consideration more than making definitive statements.

A fun little late-night literary game

Below are six passages from famous books in French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish.  Each of these are first sentences/lines and all are available in English translation.  Name the author and work if you recognize them.  Curious to see how many people can get without having to resort to Google.

1.  Aujord'hui, maman est morte.

2.  Domingo.  Die schönen Tage in Aranjuez sind nun zu Ende.

3.  Nominato ufficiale, Giovanni Drogo partì una mattina di settembre dalla città per raggiungere la Fortezza Bastiani, sua prima destinazione.

4.  Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra?

5.  O sol mostra-se num dos cantos superioes do rectângulo, o que se encontra à esquerda de quem olha, representando, o astro-rei, uma cabeça de homem donde joram raios de aguda luz e sinuosas labaredas, tal uma rosa-dos-ventos indecisa sobre a direcção dos lugares para onde quer apontar, e essa cabeça tem um rosto que chora, crispado de uma dor que não poderemos ouvir, pois nenhuma destas coisas é real, o que temos diante de nós é papel e tinta, mais nada.

6.  Muchos años después, frente al pelotón de fusilamiento, el coronel Aureliano Buendía había de recordar aquella tarde remota en que su padre lo llevó a conocer el hielo.

Muy facil, no?  Three at least ought to be deduced from the names/word choices alone, while I guess the other three might be slightly harder.  So how did you do?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Week Book Porn

Quite a few books have arrived in the past few weeks or that I purchased this past Sunday when going to my favorite Nashville-area used bookstore, McKay's.  As might be apparent from these pics and the ones of the previous few times, I'm beginning to drift away from my readings/purchases being spec fic-oriented to a more diverse reading list.  Some of these so-called "mimetic," "literary," or "mainstream fiction" books are easily the equal of the best spec fic works I've read in terms of prose, plotting, characterization, and thematic elements.  Some I will review in the coming week, especially Paul Auster's outstanding Invisible, Colum McCann's National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, as well as Vladimir Nabokov's unfinished The Original of Laura, which might be the trickiest review/commentary I've contemplated attempting for this blog.  Oh, and that Remarque fellow has written some excellent books as well...

While I doubt I'll write a formal review of Ann and Jeff VanderMeer's flash fiction anthology, Last Drink Bird Head, I will note that the vast majority of the iterations of who/what is a "Last Drink Bird Head" were amusing.  Plus it was a bonus to get six author signatures in this book (the VanderMeers, Jesse Bullington (score!), Catherine Cheek,  Brendan Connell, and Rachel Swirsky), all from authors I've heard and/or read excellent things about (and yes, their stories were among the highlights here irrespective of their signatures besides their stories).  Finally got around to owning the Miller book, even though I've borrowed this book on a few occasions and I know it's well-deserving of its classic status.  The Lukyanenko is just mostly for completion's sake and it probably will be several weeks or months before I read the third and fourth volumes.  The Mahfouz is the opener to the Cairo Trilogy (I took pictures of the other two volumes last time) and I finished reading it Saturday night.  Excellent, excellent, super-excellent even narrative of family/social life in the Egypt of the British Protectorate of the early 20th century.  And finally, my Moorcock craving (how strange that sounds, I suppose!) continues with this volume of stories I've read and those I haven't from the Eternal Champion meta-series.

Proust - have to collect them all!

Remember how I said a week or two ago that I was looking to expand my French reading fluency?  Well, all of these books were between 35¢ and $1.75, so I snagged them all.  Helps that I've read all but the Sartre in English translation and that I enjoyed them quite a bit.  I think it's going to be fun learning to read French near the level of my Spanish, Portuguese, or Italian comprehension levels...
Oh, and before I forget, I studied classical Latin for two years at UT, so this was a refresher course.  Nice to see that I understood most of Cicero's smackdown on Catalline there, as my Latin is a little rusty after 15 years.  Will read the French originals of two beloved authors of mine later this year or next.  The graphic novel adaptation of The Merchant of Venice was near-flawless.  If I were still teaching high school English, I would use this as a supplement to teaching that play (or I would search for an analogue for another Shakespeare play).  Gareth Hinds did an outstanding job here adapting it for the graphic novel medium.  Oh, and there's some collection of stories by this George R.R. Martin fella.  Ever read any of his work before?  Nice to have a copy of "The Pear-Shaped Man," as I first read this in my school library when I was in the 8th grade back in 1987 when it appeared in the old OMNI magazine.  Freaked me out then.  Still freaks me out, 22 years later.

Boiardo in Italian!  Score!  Curious about the Roa Bastos, since I haven't read anything of his before.  Have read other works by Vargas Llosa, Maupassant (this in Spanish translation), and Calderón de la Barca, so I knew I likely would be reading quality works here.  Haven't read anything by Ferré, though, so that'll be new to me.

Read the Bordage a few weeks ago.  Very good, philosophical SF here.  Highly recommended (plus I wonder if his work is/will be available in English soon).  Jemisin's debut novel will likely be read just after the first of the year (book comes out in Feb. 2010), but I have heard many wonderful things about this book from people whose opinions I trust.  Same goes for Cherie Priest's latest novel, Boneshaker.  Read about 50 pages so far and plan on finishing it during Thanksgiving weekend.  So far, it matches or exceeds expectations.

Thirty-three books, to replace the several dozen I've traded in the past couple of weeks.  Not a bad exchange, since I suspect most, if not all, of these books will be keepers for years to come.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interesting discussion on the World Fantasy Award and just how much "world" needs to be added to it

Lavie Tidhar has a thoughtful, discussion-worthy article up on The World SF News Blog concerning the apparent American-centric nature of the World Fantasy Awards (and asides on Worldcon/Hugos as well). Although I raise a few questions and disagree slightly with some of his prescriptions, I think the points he raises are well-worth discussing and I think dovetail nicely with the growing global conversations about "international SF."

So what do you think of his arguments?  Contribute there or here (or wait until next week, when there should be the piece I wrote for the Nebula Awards Blog that might generate some related discussions) and weigh in with your thoughts, questions, and even your snide remarks or non sequiturs. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Interview with David Anthony Durham, Part II

Here is the second half of the interview I conducted with David Anthony Durham over the past month.  In this part, we focus more on his Acacia novels and his future plans.  For those wanting to read Part I, just click the link here.

Acacia: The War with the Mein was your first fantasy novel.  What lessons did you take from that experience and how did you apply them to your most recent novel, The Other Lands?

Every novel (and publication) is a learning experience. There are always up and downs. Hits and misses. I don't feel that the fantasy aspect of Acacia changed that – or that the lessons I walked away with are somehow more specific.

What I can say is that with most of the setting work done in the first book I could jump into motion faster in The Other Lands. Each character begins the novel either in action or with it thrust upon them pretty quickly. And when there is a new world to get to know it's done looking over the shoulders of the characters who are seeing it for the first time. It's less about world-building exposition and more about experiencing things with the characters. I like that about it. So far, at least, it seems like readers do too. That's something I want to keep rolling into the third book, which is where Acacia's ancient history and recent history really collide in earth shattering ways.

How different was it for you to sit down and to start writing a book which had little in the way of a true beginning and no real conclusion to it?  Did it take several drafts before the introductory and concluding chapters felt right?

It didn't take many drafts to figure out the opening or the conclusion. I knew the ending before I began. That's almost always the way it is for me. Right at the start I know how things conclude. Most of the writing process is about how I write the story to get to that ending.

So... The rocks that Dariel walks across heading west… The child that Kelis is guarding… What Mena is faced with in preparation for the next book… The magic that Corinn works at the end… I had all of that at the beginning. I know all the endings of the third book too. That doesn't mean it's easy to get to them, though.

With The Other Lands I took things as far as I could, up to moments of change and revelation for all of the main characters. And then I had to cut it there because the things that come next all mark the beginning of a plot arc that will take hundreds more pages before there's a pause. To me, that’s the stuff of another book. It’s a book that’s almost joined at the hip with The Other Lands, but it is its own creature.

Is there any danger of this third book spilling over its conceived boundaries and thus necessitating a fourth volume to the Acacia series?

Ah… How much do you think people would mind if it did?

That’s tempting, but I think I can keep it from happening. I know what the narrative arc of each character’s story is for this third book. The end is the end, and I don’t think it likely that I’ll need to carry on into another book.

I have other ideas of further Acacia books, though. I don’t know if I’ll write them. That depends on how much readers are interested. But those further ideas aren’t continuations of the core plotlines of this series. They’re other stories, perhaps other multi-volume series in themselves.

Well, there might be a few people who will threaten to hold their breaths and not buy your work, but outside of that, I guess most wouldn’t mind.  So you know the end of the story, huh?  Any chance that something in the writing process might inspire you to alter the narrative arcs in some major way?

That’s always possible, but I don’t think so. I’ll admit that I probably have more loose ends than I’m entirely sure what to do with at the moment. Just the other day I realized I had two plotlines that I couldn’t figure out how to merge. They just conflicted and I was getting pretty sure I couldn’t have both. One would need to be cut.

But then… I was admitting that to my wife. Halfway through saying it I realized the way I could have both. It was very weird. It just happened, and suddenly several things that I’d introduced but didn’t quite know what to do with slotted into place. That happens a lot. Usually, it’s not a matter of the outcome changing, though; what may change is the path to that outcome.

Several reviews of your last two books noted certain “real world” issues, from enslavement to the drug trade to imperialistic attitudes, being present.  Did you set out to tackle these issues from the beginning, or did they arise to meet the needs of the story?

I'm not sure what comes first: the issues or the story. Did I sit down to write a fantasy about slavery and drugs and imperialism? Not exactly. These novels began with a family, with a father and his children. But moments after that I have to place them in a context that feels real to me. And then seconds after that the seedy elements that have always controlled the world start to climb out of the woodwork.

The "real world" elements of the story are there because I've never seen – looking backwards at human history – a time when these issues weren't affecting our lives. It would be very strange for me to write a world in which some variation of enslavement didn't exist. It was part of our history ten thousand years ago. It's part of the modern world. For me, fantasy is wonderful, but it’s not an escape enough for me to ignore the gritty workings of the world.

Did I intend for the League to be some sort of egg-headed version of Haliburton? For Acacia to be some representation of American and European colonialism? For the mist to be something between China's opium trade and current "reality television" and a metaphor for living on credit? No. And yet… I can't deny that when I look at what I wrote it's those things that I see.

I just wrote a scene in the next book where one character explains why one nation is attacking another. I realized what I was describing could just as easily been about why Europeans conquered the New World. I hadn’t particularly thought of that ahead of time, but when the moment came to explain the move I realized the words coming out of the characters mouth could just as easily apply to our world history. That seems to happen a lot.

Since the root word for “story,” historia, also deals with our present-day concepts of “history,” perhaps there is a strong connection after all?  What would the Acacian chroniclers make of all this?

Oh, they’d be gravely perplexed, I imagine. Just like we’d be a bit disturbed to discover we are characters created for the amusement of another world…

It’s funny, though. The first thing that comes to mind when you ask about “Acacian chroniclers” is that it would depend on what age we’re talking about. The chroniclers from Tinhadin’s time to Corinn’s  - a period of four hundred and some years – weren’t expected to record the truth. Their  work in preserving the history of the empire was really about building the myth of the empire. They were there to lie convincingly about the nation’s history for certain political purposes.

But history goes on and on. I do see there being different ages of Acacian history, some of which would value finding the truth much more. Maybe I’ll get to write about that age someday.

What books, if any, did you read during the composition of your latest novels?  Were there any authors, whether read years ago or more recently, who have had some sort of influence on how you’ve chosen to tackle a narrative problem or how to tell a story?

I read all the time. I have books beside my bed for at night, and I’ve always got something on my iPod that I’m listening to as I go about life.

Thing is, most things I read don’t directly influence how I write or solve narrative problems. It’s not like I read something and go, “That’s it! That’s awesome. I should do the same thing!” That just doesn’t happen often. I may read something and think it’s awesome, but that doesn’t usually translate to wanting to do the same thing.

More often, I love reading writers that do things quite differently than I probably ever will. I’ve really come to love Neil Gaiman. I’ll never write like him, but that’s probably part of why I enjoy his work so much. He reminds me of the power of storytelling for storytelling’s sake. I’m on Richard K. Morgan kick, loving the technologically enhanced violence and cyber sex and hipness of his work. I’m in awe of the crime writer George Pelecanos. His writing is so unadorned, straight and to the point. It’s deep, too, but his approach to language is nothing like mine. I got a kick out S. M. Stirling’s In the Courts of the Crimson Kings because of the everyday strangeness of his Martian world. I enjoyed the blood-splattered macho melodrama of Tim Willocks’ The Religion. I couldn’t write something in which the triumph of the main character is so clearly pre-ordained, but I enjoyed the foul, stinking, lusty ride of that novel.

Octavia Butler has become very important to me also. In that case, I do feel a lot of kinship to her, but the thing she has that I don’t is bone-deep wisdom. She’s really, really empathetically wise. She layers that into her writing with a quiet skill that I’m in awe of. But that’s good. I like being in awe of other writers some times.

It’s interesting that you proclaim a love of reading authors that perhaps might touch upon some elements you include in your writing.  Many authors interviewed in the past by myself and others have stated that they try to avoid reading anyone working in a similar area to their own work.  What do you make of these claims that reading similar-type stories might “ruin” their own work and creativity?

I certainly believe that can be true for other writers. We each individually know what effects our writing, for better or worst. Personally, I just don’t feel it’s a problem. My voice is my voice. My style of storytelling is my style of storytelling. It can no more change because of influences than I can change my speaking voice because I’d rather have a Scottish accent. My wife has the Scottish accent in our family. I love it. I hear it every day. I lived for years in Scotland. But damn if I don’t sound like an American every time I open my mouth.

Same is true of my writing. But even with that example I know that other people are different. My sister in law is Scottish, but her accent changes depending on who she’s talking to. American, English, French (which she speaks fluently), New Zealander (she’s married to a Kiwi and lives down under)… it doesn’t matter. Her accent morphs to theirs, and I don’t think she’s consciously aware of it when it happens. I kinda wish I had some of that, but I don’t. Nor do I think my writing fundamentals are skewed by reading other writers.

I think not reading other writers of similar material is equally dangerous. I’ve never in my writing career been accused of stealing from another writer – except for some readers thinking that Acacia: The War With The Mein was influenced by Martin’s Ice and Fire series. Thing is, I hadn’t read a word of Martin when I wrote Acacia. I’ve read every word of the series since, and I love it. I can see similarities, but they’re not the similarities of influence. They’re the similarities of us both finding ourselves drawn to tell similar stories.
If I had read A Game of Thrones before starting my fantasy I would have modified some things. The effect would have been just the opposite of imitation; I’d have been compelled to make changes to avoid similarity. That wouldn’t have been hard to do. I see those similarities as superficial. Thematically, I think George and I work in very different territory.

The Locus review of Acacia: The War With The Mein said something I found very interesting. It was very thorough, insightful review. The reviewer explicitly said that the book shouldn’t be compared to Martin’s work nearly as much as it should be compared to China Mieville’s. I dig that. That makes sense to me. That reviewer is the only one I’m aware of that made that comparison, though. It’s got nothing at all to do with style and character and plot similarities. He was pointing at a philosophical backdrop to it all that’s harder to put your finger on. He may just have something there. I’ll have to read more Mieville to find out.

While I hadn’t thought of comparing the two of you like that, after reading that, I can see where the comparisons between you and Miéville could be made, especially in The Other Lands when the consequences of the mist trade are revealed.  Harking back to the “truth” question above, could it be argued that the revelations given by those victims constitute a central “truth” about the Acacian world and perhaps its possible future?

Yes. Well said. That sort of observation is key to the way I think societies need to be understood. Acacians aren’t going to understand what their nation is really about until they include within their notion of themselves all the things entailed in selling children to a foreign land – why they did it, how they benefited, what happened to the ones sold and to the souls of those who were spared. That’s Acacia. The sparkling palace on the idyllic isle is only a small part of the larger picture.

The same is true of real world societies. If you studied American history but only learned about the Founding Fathers, about the high-ideals of the nation and all the fine things we’ve accomplished… you might be studying the truth, but you’d be getting an incomplete picture, one that would hamper your working understanding of this country. In terms of functionally looking to the future, you’d also need to know about slavery, about the incredibly crimes done to Native Americans, about how long women were kept out of the political process, about how various immigrant groups were exploited… I don’t think people should consider such things for some bleeding heart liberal guilt reason; I think they should consider them because they’re smarter if they do and they’re more capable of making successful decisions.

I hope that Acacians manage to get more of that perspective as they move into their future.

You mentioned above that you are working with George R.R. Martin and other writers on stories set in the Wild Cards universe.  How did you come to be a part of this?

Albany, World Fantasy 2007. It's the night of the big signing session thing where all the authors show up in a big room, grab their name card, and find someplace to sit. Likely, you seek out friends, find a corner, or just carry on in with whomever you just had dinner with. I walked in there looking around for a choice seat. I saw George, kinda off by himself, getting settled down.

Thing about sitting near George at a signing is that… well, no one wants to do it! Who wants to sit there making paper airplanes next to a guy with an unending line of devoted fans/book dealers arriving with bags of first editions, etc? Apparently, I did. I went over and asked if I could share his table. He graciously agreed. He hadn’t read my work at that point, but he seemed to have heard good things about Acacia: The War With The Mein. He signed. We talked. He signed. We talked. He signed… You get the picture.

We ended up talking about historical fiction, including my novel Pride of Carthage. I offered to send him a copy. He said sure. So after the con I did. At some point a few months later I got an email from him saying he’d read and enjoyed the novel. Very cool. We’ve been in touch ever since. I’ve seen him at a number of cons, spent time at his parties or just in the bar.

I think is was sometime after World Fantasy in Calgary that he dropped me a short note asking if I’d any interest in being involved in Wild Cards. I’d read a few Wild Cards stories before, but never imagined I’d be part of it. Of course, when George makes an offer one should jump at it! That’s what I did.

I started reading up on the series, thinking up characters, brainstorming with my kids. I pitched him a few character ideas that he kindly shot down. And, then I offered one that he liked: The Infamous Black Tongue. Before I knew it, I was in, and IBT had a three-part story scheduled for an upcoming book!

So far it’s been a lot of fun. It makes me flex slightly different fictional muscles, and it means a level of collaboration I’ve never tried before. Wild Cards novels use characters created by lots of different authors, with twenty-some books worth of history to consider, with lots of different styles and temperaments to blend together. Very interesting process, and I’m still in the middle of it.

The book is called Fort Freak. Look for it in a year or so!

Is your contribution to Fort Freak your first published foray into writing shorter fiction, or have you had short fiction published in the past?

I’ve published a few short stories. Like… uh… three, I think. I got pretty good mileage out of them, though. A couple have been anthologized several times. Those stories “The Boy-Fish”, “August Fury”, and “An Act of Faith” are all contemporary African-American focused. Mainstream fiction.

Fort Freak is my first time writing SF in the short form. George had already signed me up before he thought to ask, “By the way, do you actually write short fiction?”

In the end, George met me halfway. My story is a three-parter, spaced throughout a larger narrative. It’s not miles away from having a novelistic feel to it. It’s still about my character over time, dealing with a series of events that are complicatedly plotted. Other characters written by other authors intersect with mine. In lots of ways I’m not so much writing three short stories as I am writing three parts of a larger narrative.

Writing in a shared-universe setting often carries a stigma.  What are your thoughts about shared-universe and/or media tie-in stories and how they relate to original fiction, genre or otherwise, in terms of story crafting and character creation?

I’m aware that to some degree I’m a writer for hire in this gig. George gave me pretty specific stipulations about the type of things that needed to happen in my sections. It’s up to me how I make those things happen, but I’ve got to do my part so that the other parts fit together. It’s not going to be about making my parts stand out from the crowd; it’s about being part of a collaborative. So, yeah, it’s different than writing entirely original fiction.

But I’m chuffed to be getting a shot at the contemporary, urban sf comic blend that Wild Cards is. By my internal cool meter, this one has the needle popping. I’ll trust that. I don’t think I’d say yes to just anything, though. Wild Cards pushes a lot of buttons that I find interesting. The first book, in particular, was serious, dark, intense. Since I respect the series I feel comfortable writing for it. If I didn’t respect the series that would be another issue entirely.

I’ve been invited in to bring things to the series. To bring perspectives and characterizations that are particularly my own. My story is about a vigilante half-snake mutant on the run from the police and trying to get the cops that framed him, but it’s also about an African-American youth that’s dealing with not having lived up to his family’s expectations. It’s about him coming to value himself despite that. It’s also about his search for connection – friendship and romance – and how the difficulties of that shape his character. Thematically, that stuff interests me, and I’m glad to layer it in the action the stories contain. To me, that’s engaging with the creative process in a meaningful way.

As for writing a media tie-in novel… that’s probably not my style, but I haven’t been asked yet either. I can’t swear I’d say no to something until it’s on offer as a real possibility.

After you finish the Acacia series and Fort Freak, what sorts of stories do you envision exploring next?

I’m tempted to give you a long, rambling answer, detailing all the story ideas that I have, all the different possibilities and explain why they’re important to me. But I think I’d regret that…

Truth is, I have lots of ideas, but I’m not sure what will come next. I won’t know until I’ve finished the Acacia trilogy. That’s all I can say with certainty now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Limited-Edition Book Porn: Jeff Vandermeer's Finch

Was too tired to post this yesterday, but my copy of the ultra-limited edition version of Jeff VanderMeer's Finch arrived in the mail.  For those curious about the $110 version, the following pictures illustrate what I received.  The line quoted on the jacket was excised from the final text.  I received copy #30.  Love the gold cover, by the way.  Book is solid and opens easily.  Very nice to hold.

Exclusive to the Heretic Edition is a 22 page chapbook that outlines the original story that morphed into Finch.  Good story, but I believe I prefer the final version much more.  Also included was the soundtrack to the novel, composed by Murder by Death.  Very good, atmospheric instrumental music.

Finally, here are two little extras: an Ambergris-inspired beer label sticker and a letter written on a special letterhead. Nice touches, but the other extras were the reason that I bought this limited-edition.

Was it worth $110? It depends on how much of a fan of an author's work you are. For me, it was worth the money, especially since I have hardcovers of the other two Ambergris Cycle novels (including the limited-edition for Shriek:  An Afterword that was published last year).  Hopefully, others purchasing this or the $50 other limited-edition version will find satisfaction in their purchases.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Here's some related links/videos for Jesse Bullington's The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

Despite being released on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, today marks the official release of Jesse Bullington's debut novel, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, which is currently a strong favorite to be my favorite 2009 debut novel, as well as being one of the ten books selected for Amazon's 2009 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy. 

But let's say you're not convinced.  You want to know a bit more about it.  Well, I received some links from Orbit's Director of Publicity, Alex Lincicki, that might help persuade those not swayed by the strong, positive word-of-mouth to date.

First off, here's a brief trailer for the book:

Next is a link to the first chapter of the book, which ought to give readers a better idea if this novel is right for them.

Finally, here is a post that Bullington wrote for Powell's Books that might be of interest to those who want to know more about the author behind the Grossbarts. 

Hopefully, these links, along with my encouragement for all to buy the book lest they embrace their Inner Grossbart, will be of some use to readers here looking for something a bit different (and darker) for the upcoming holiday season.  I rarely post articles like this, so take this as my way of reinforcing just how much I loved this book.  So go forth and read, okay?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A possibly controversial thought (well, for some Americans, I suppose)

Still working on the outline for a lengthy article on "international" SF (I think the quotes will be necessary, the more I think about it.  News at eleven, or something).  Wondering if taking a neo-Marxist approach toward surveying the field might yield some interesting discussion topics.  In particular, the issue of cultural dynamics seen in the form of cultural/political hegemony and the ways said hegemony might be resisted in literary form.  Might wait until another time to explore this possibility, but I think there might be something to it.  Wonder what Todorov might have made of all this.

And for those who are baffled by the above paragraph, just know that I believe that utilizing neo-Marxist critiques of material culture(s) is not only valid, but often invaluable in attempting to understand how cultural (ex)change takes place.  Again, more news at eleven or something.  Right now, it's probably a good idea to sleep, lest I take this musing a bit too far down the dogma path...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura, I Kill Giants

Ever read one of those stories, the ones that you know you can never explain fully to another, but that you just want for them to read it and feel it?  The type that is like a punch to the junk, but which also makes you want to reach out to the other poor crazies in this world and just give them a hug, just because...?

That is what I'm feeling now after reading Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura's I Kill Giants.  I thought of my childhood and early adulthood, dealing with three certain situations similar to the one that the main character, Barbara, confronts, sometimes with no success.  I also find myself thinking of those hundreds I've been around over the past 10 years who've been hurt, desperate in their attempts to cry out to others.  One of the support characters in this graphic novel reminds me of just how easy it is to feel futility when trying to help others.

The ending is just about perfect.  It is one that will stick with me for a long time and damn if I don't want to cry in shared understanding after reading it.  If that isn't the sign of a story touching emotional strings within its readers, I don't know what story could ever aspire to do so.  Just go out and read it, okay?  It certainly is one of the best 2009 graphic novels (or any type of fiction) that I've read this year.  And perhaps you'll find yourself thinking differently of those suffering people who have withdrawn from it all. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

International SF Poll

After several false starts (and health/work scares thrown in), I'm going to be working on a lengthy article this weekend on international SF.  In the meantime, thought it might be interesting to post a poll seeing which countries people here might view as having a vibrant SF/F scene(s).  I know I left off several countries, but I hope I managed to get most of the ones of interest out there.  If I failed to do so, feel free to leave a comment here in this post, for my (and others') edification.

Now back to grumbling about waking up two hours early...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good news, bad news

So I've been a bit quiet on certain things in recent months.  Just so much uncertainty in my professional life that I've been having some major stress-related issues.  A mild case of work-induced depression that lasted for a couple of months.  Sometimes severe stomach pain that is now being treated with Kapidex.  Bleeding where I shouldn't be bleeding.  Worrying about if I'll be laid off the next day or week.  Those sorts of things.

Well, I ended up having blood work done on Wednesday to see if all of the above perhaps had caused some form of anemia, which I was paler than normal and often would feel dizzy and faint/light-headed after eating a meal or having to stand up suddenly.  The results did indicate a slightly lower percentage of hemoglobin, but it's still in the low-normal range, so it's probably not anemia.  My white blood count dropped from 12% back in February to 7.5% yesterday, so that's a sign perhaps that my liver enzymes are dropping back into the normal range. Blood sugar was slightly higher than normal for me at 122, but that's nowhere near diabetic at this stage.  In fact, nothing in the blood work showed anything in the abnormal range, but...

Yes, that dreaded "but" that I heard from the doctor.

Due to the bleeding coming out in my stools on a regular basis over the past few months (and increasingly heavy lately), she wants me to get a 'scope done of my colon in the very near future to rule out polyps or colon cancer.  I have a family history of colo-rectal problems, as my aunt recently had to have a few surgeries to correct problems caused by Crohn's Disease.  So it looks like I'll have to get all that nasty stuff done soon...

Once I can figure out how to afford health insurance.  I work, but the employer doesn't offer health insurance anymore, since it is a small operation.  I might be able to get some things covered under CoverTN, but I'm uncertain if I'm even eligible for that program.  I'm not broke, but I also don't have tens of thousands of dollars to spare for this procedure.  Joy.

Guess I'll be spending the next few days/nights updating my resume, applying for a part-time adjunct position at local community colleges, and trying to figure out how to afford to pay for health coverage when I may or may not have a full-time job come Christmas.  Thinking back on it, I'm amazed I've even managed to do much online, since my paperwork at my job has suffered due to these preoccupations.  Perhaps there's something therapeutic about writing after midnight after not being able to go back to sleep after crashing for 4-5 hours this evening...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

French-language fiction (SF, mimetic, doesn't matter)

I've spent the past month or so working on learning enough French grammar to be able to read works written in that idiom.  Currently, I'm reading a collection of some of Balzac's shorter fictions and am finding myself understanding well over 75% of the words being said (in some places, it reads almost as naturally to me as English or Spanish).  Since Hubris is always looming over me, I feel like tempting fate.

For the well-read out there, what are some of the more excellent recent works written in French that might be easily available via Amazon?  I'm thinking now might be the time to try and tackle Elizabeth Vonerberg, but any other writers, SF or mimetic or all parts in-between, that I should consider?

Best of 2009: The (Tentative) Longlist

This will not be broken down into categories like my year-end shortlists will, but here are 51 works I'm currently considering to recognize as being among the best 2009 releases (with 2009 American copyrights in most cases, with a couple of exceptions for Brazilian and UK releases):

Jeff Lemire, The Nobody (graphic novel)

Jonathan Rosenberg, Goats:  Infinite Typewriters (graphic novel)

Peter Straub (ed.), American Fantastic Tales (two volume reprint anthology)

Gail Carringer, Soulless (debut novel)

Kristin Cashore, Fire (YA)

Dave Eggers, The Wild Things (YAish?)

Jeff VanderMeer, Finch (fantasy); Booklife (non-fiction)

Otsuichi, ZOO (translated fiction; collection)

Caitlín R. Kiernan, A is for Alien (collection); The Red Tree (fantasy)

David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (graphic novel)

Kazuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes (collection)

Zoran Živković, Impossible Stories II (collection); The Bridge (novella)

Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn, Awakening:  Volume I (graphic novel)

Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (non-fiction)

Gianpaolo Celli, Steampunk:  Histórias de um Passado Extraordinário (foreign language fiction; anthology)

David Anthony Durham, The Other Lands (fantasy)

Lavie Tidhar, The Apex Book of World SF (translated fiction; anthology)

Julio Cortázar, Papeles inesperados (foreign language fiction; collection; non-fiction; criticism)

David Petersen, Mouse Guard:  Winter 1152 (graphic novel)

Jesse Bullington, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart (debut novel; fantasy)

Robert Holdstock, Avilion (fantasy)

Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar, Philippine Speculative Fiction IV (anthology)

Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring (fantasy)

Issui Ogawa, The Lord of the Sands of Time (translated fiction)

Terrence Holt, In the Valley of the Kings (collection)

Lev Grossman, The Magicians (fantasy)

Sang Pak, Wait Until Twilight (debut novel)

Ildefonso Falcones, La mano de Fátima (historical novel; foreign language fiction)

Laura Restrepo, Demasiados héroes (foreign language fiction)

Rafael Ábalos, Grimpow y la bruja de la estirpe (foreign language fiction; YA)

Brian Evenson, Fugue State (collection); Last Days (fantasy)

Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice (mystery/everything else under the sun)

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (epic poetry)

Bradford Morrow (ed.); Conjunctions 52:  Betwixt the Between; Conjunctions 53:  Hybrid Histories (magazine/anthology)

Tamar Yellin, Tales of the Ten Lost Tribes (collection)

Tobias Buckell, Tides from the New Worlds (collection)

Peter Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother (collection)

Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones (semi-historical novel; translated fiction)

Yuri Andrukhovych, The Moscoviad (translated fiction)

Sarah Monette, Corambis (fantasy)

Mark Newton, Nights of Villjamur (debut novel)

Nick Gevers and Jay Lake (eds.), Other Earths (anthology)

Patrick Ness, The Ask and the Answer (YA)

Kay Kenyon, City Without End (SF)

Dan Simmons, Drood (horror; historical novel)

Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (eds.), Best American Fantasy 2 (anthology)

Jonathan Strahan (ed.), Eclipse Three (anthology)

James Morrow, Shambling Towards Hiroshima (novella)

Felix Gilman, Gears of the City (fantasy)

Peter Brett, The Warded Man (fantasy)

Richard Morgan, The Steel Remains (fantasy)

Feel free to weigh in with comments/questions.  Might be able to answer back in 24-48 hours.  I have a long article to write after work, though.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November 8 Used Book Porn

Another Sunday, another trip to the local used bookstore to trade in dozens of unwanted book in exchange for buying things for myself and for my students.  Here are the 26 books that I bought with over $200 of store credit (and almost $100 more left to spend some day).  One I already own in another translation, but that book is going to be a gift, plus the enclosed DVD is of the Lon Chaney silent film based on Hugo's novel.  I wonder if I'll hear "SPARTA!" when I open the Frank Miller book.  Two more fine Library of America editions to add to my collection, making it twelve so far.

These are three books for work, plus a high-quality Spanish-English dictionary for me to use with some possible translation projects in the near future.

I love collecting translations of the New Testament/Bible.  I now add Greek and Gullah editions to the English, Latin, Spanish, Haitian, and Serbian translations.  Oh, and some Balzac in French.

My exploration of Shirley Jackson's fiction continues, as well as that of Pat Barker's.  Curious about the Marguerite de Navarre book, but I am confident that the Wallace book will be great, based on reading another novel of his a couple of years ago.

I loved discovering the late Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz last year (again, thanks to Jeff Ford for making me aware of him) and here I have the last two books in his Cairo Trilogy as well as another omnibus of three stories.  Expecting good things out of these.  Also have two Neil Gaiman stories starring Death of the Endless, a George R.R. Martin story I haven't read and one that I have read which was later released in a graphic novel version.  Oh, and the first volume of the mostly-excellent Flight graphic novel story anthology series.

Oh, and that book dealing with da Vinci?  Look closely at the cover.  I wonder if Scott Bakker served as the model for one of the people appearing on the cover...

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Shameless Plug Before I Hit The Road

The latest issue of what I consider to be one of the best literary journals/anthologies, Conjunctions: 53:  Not Even Past:  Hybrid Histories, arrived in the mail this morning.  I've been looking forward to this issue for six months now.  Bradford Morrow, who's edited this journal since its inception almost 30 years ago, tends to have some really good themed stories and this one is promising.  Very promising.  So promising for me that they put translations of stories/poems by Thomas Bernhard and Roberto Bolaño in here.  Oh, and that Bolaño is from an upcoming book, Antwerp.  Read it already, very good, if not at the height of his abilities to invoke an emotional response from the reader.  Can't wait until it's released in the near future in both Spanish and English translation.

The other stories hold promise.  Some of the authors have a history of their own with "speculative fiction."  Others are more firmly grounded in "mimetic fiction."  This journal doesn't tend to shy away from mixing the two together.  Curious to see if this issue will be as good as the more heavily-speculative 52:  Betwixt the Between.  That one will get more feature time in my year-end recaps.  Haven't decided if I ought to place it in the Anthology category or if I should create a new Magazine category for these two issues, Weird Tales, and Electric Velocipede.  Regardless, if this issue can live up to the last issue's goodness, I will have more than gotten my money's worth for it.

Now to get ready to go.  It's the Vols' Homecoming game against Memphis.  Starts at 6 PM CST and I live 3.5 hours away from Knoxville and have to buy scalped tickets.  So I'm outta here until Sunday.  Ciao!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Amazon releases its Best of 2009 in SF and Fantasy

Here's the link:

1.  Catherynne M. Valente, Palimpsest (this novel left me with conflicted feelings.  The prose was strong, the setting unique, and yet there was something about the story that left me cold.  Sent this to another and she felt the same way.  Perhaps I'll buy another copy and re-read it to see what it was that bothered me about this story, but not right away)

2.  Caitlín R. Kiernan, The Red Tree (loved this book; already reviewed)

3.  David Anthony Durham, The Other Lands (enjoyed this one quite a bit as well)

4.  Peter Straub (ed.), American Fantastic Tales boxed set (this is a must-read anthology of dark fantasy/horror of the past two hundred years.  Library of America published this and their collections are a delight to hold)

5.  Cherie Priest, Boneshaker (haven't read, but will order shortly, since her earlier novels have been quite good)

6.  Michal Ajvaz, The Other City (just placed an order for this, as it sounds like just the sort of thing that I'd enjoy reading)

7.  Adam Roberts, Yellow Blue Tibia (might order this in the next few weeks)

8. Jonathan Strahan (ed.), Eclipse Three:  New Science Fiction and Fantasy (very good anthology of original stories.  Highly recommended)

9.  Delia Sherman (ed.), Interfictions 2:  An Anthology of Interstitial Fiction (I've had this on pre-order for months; expect to receive it in a couple of weeks)

10. Jesse Bullington, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart (the best debut novel I've read this year.  Thought so highly of it that I've bought two copies of it in addition to the ARC I received, just so I can give copies to two close friends as early Christmas gifts)

Those were my reactions to this list.  What are yours?

Evil incarnate or just a necessary evil?

I'll let you be the judge of that...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lautréamont, Maldoror

Reader, perhaps it is hatred you wish me to invoke at the outset of this work!  What makes you think that you will not sniff - drenched in numberless pleasures, for as long as you wish, with your proud nostrils, wide and thin, as you turn over on your belly like a shark, in the beautiful black air, as if you understood the importance of this act and the equal importance of your legitimate appetite, slowly and majestically - its red emanations.  I assure you, they will delight the two shapeless holes of your hideous muzzle, if you endeavour beforehand to inhale, in three thousand consecutive breaths, the accursed conscience of the Eternal One!  Your nostrils, which will dilate immeasurably in unspeakable contentment, in motionless ecstasy, will ask nothing better of space, for they will be full of fragrance as if of perfumes and incense; for they will be glutted with complete happiness, like the angels who dwell in the peace and magnificence of pleasant Heaven. (p. 30)
Note:  This originally was intended to be part of a private correspondence, so there will be a slightly different slant here, not to mention that it's much shorter than what I typically write these days.

I am glad that I was made aware of this proto-surrealist work by Isidore Ducasse/Lautréamont.  Written in the late 1860s, it is in turns shocking, repulsive, and grotesquely fascinating.  It is the literary equivalent of the prurient adult who rubbernecks to see the horrendous automobile crash.  It is a novel for those who want to hate the misanthropic narrator, while they end up finding themselves horrified by the reactions that the novel inspires in them.  There is such an element of decadence in this story that it anticipates the Decadents themselves by a generation.  No wonder Maldoror has influenced Dali, Ernst, and Verlaine.

The eponymous narrator reminds me of a more world-weary Melmoth the Wanderer.   He's done all things, fucked all things, and ennui washes all over him.  He is the spirit of Rebellion against order and morality (interestingly enough, Lautréamont, using his real name of Ducasse, writes a complete rebuttal that is attached as an appendix of sorts to the English-language translation, called Poems).  There is no "plot" to speak of in this quasi-poem told in six books.  Maldoror glories in his perversions in such a way that the reader perhaps might find him/herself unwittingly cheering him on.  It is a very unsettling book, one that (at least in English translation) uses the elevated language of the Romantics to create a character who shifts with the tides of time, one who the authorities are hunting down but who will never be caught, a sort of a darker and yet more romanticized version of Milton's Satan.

It is certain to haunt my dreams.  I suspect it'll continue to provide inspiration for dozens of illustrators and artists who want to touch upon that dark quality that makes this work unsettling 140 years after its publication.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A few late-night thoughts: The All Souls' Day Edition

Spent some of Saturday and most of yesterday in bed, coughing and vomiting a few times.  It's either a bad sinus infection developing, or I have a mild case of food poisoning (no fever, so I doubt it was the flu).  Ribs hurt like a mutha, though.  Not good.

Been reading the Library of America anthologies of Philip K. Dick's work.  Conflicted feelings so far.  Sometimes, he creates something wonderful to consider, then a few pages later the writing is very craptastic.

Also been reading some of William Faulkner's earliest works.  Interesting to see how his style developed in the 1920s.  Didn't like the first few stories in that Library of America edition, but The Sound and the Fury is all sorts of awesome for me.

Glanced over a few forums this weekend, amazed by how little I cared.  While Westeros still has some interesting content, sad to see just how quickly the wotmania replacement, Read and Find Out, has shrunk in participation.  Of course, I could deign to participate, but I don't feel like posting much anywhere these days, plus I don't care to post mirrors of posts here, lest a few benighted souls think that I'm out to "steal" their audience.  I am beginning to think that this blog and a few related ventures should be all I do for a while, since I'm struggling as it is to find ways to avoid working on my day job 24/7.

Speaking of "related ventures," I keep having problems thinking of how to start this one essay.  Of course, I do have a better topic header now and once I feel better (tomorrow?), I hope to get it wrapped up quickly.

I hate this time of year.  The leaves falling and the typically dreary early November Tennessee weather seem to aid any depressive spells I have.  Bad enough that I had to struggle through one from late July through the middle of October, don't need the weather and my sinus problems to add to it.

More thoughts later.  I feel sleepy enough to try sleeping again.  Fitting that this is posted on All Souls' Day, I suppose, since I feel half-dead at the moment.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

2009 World Fantasy Award winners announced

Taken from Science Fiction Awards Watch:

  • Lifetime Achievement: Ellen Asher & Jane Yolen
  • Best Novel (tie): The Shadow Year, Jeffrey Ford (Morrow) & Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan (Allen & Unwin; Knopf)
  • Best Novella: “If Angels Fight”, Richard Bowes (F&SF 2/08)
  • Best Short Story: “26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss”, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 7/08)
  • Best Anthology: Paper Cities: An Anthology of Urban Fantasy, Ekaterina Sedia, ed. (Senses Five Press)
  • Best Collection: The Drowned Life, Jeffrey Ford (HarperPerennial)
  • Best Artist: Shaun Tan
  • Special Award – Professional: Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant (for Small Beer Press and Big Mouth House)
  • Special Award – Non-Professional: Michael Walsh (for Howard Waldrop collections from Old Earth Books)
The judges for 2009 were: Jenny Blackford, Peter Heck, Ellen Klages, Chris Roberson & Delia Sherman.

Very deserving winners.  I thought it'd be between Ford and Lanagan and it's nice that both of them get the honor, as they had written some of the best fiction that I read in 2008.  Same goes for Ford for the collection and Shaun Tan for Best Artist.  In the anthology category, any of the works nominated would have been a good choice, but congrats to Kathy Sedia for Paper Cities winning!

Interesting how the winners in the Best Novel category didn't correspond with the poll I ran huh?

Kage Baker, The House of the Stag
  6 (5%)
Jeffrey Ford, The Shadow Year
  8 (7%)
Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book
  31 (29%)
Daryl Gregory, Pandemonium
  4 (3%)
Margo Lanagan, Tender Morsels
  7 (6%)
Don't care about any of them, to be honest
  48 (46%)

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