snickfic: "Nobody can explain a dragon" (Le Guin quotation) (mood fantasy)
Short Story
Wooden Feathers by Ursula Vernon. Vernon just has my number, I guess. The main character here is a woman who carves decoys, not very well, and sells many of them to an old man who, it turns out, also used to carve. I love the concreteness of the carving, the creepy factor in the middle, and the hopeful note at the end.

Novelette
So Much Cooking by Naomi Kritzer. Selected entries from a food blog during an epidemic. This feels like a very affectionate and hopeful look at the human spirit, and I can appreciate that.

Deadline for Hugo nominating is a week from today!
snickfic: Spaceman Spiff about to crash his spaceship (mood sf)
In case people are looking for things to consider for the Hugos or just good stuff to read/watch. For the short stories, lucky you, you get the off-hand blurb I put in Excel, with later thoughts in brackets.

I would really like to find at least one or two things to nominate for the novelette and novella categories. I welcome suggestions. I know there are two novellas on Tor.com that I need to check out, and I would also be willing to spend small amounts of $ to read stuff for that category.

Short Story
Pocosin by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine)
Beautifully told, Pratchett-esque witches. I cried.

Cloth Mother by Sarah Pauling (Strange Horizons)
Parental AIs, pet holograms. Bit sentimental? Yet I loved it. [The longer I think about this one, the smarter it gets.]

Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld)
Funny, deft, pokes at AI tropes. [One of those that will probably age quickly. Whatever, it was fun.]

Three Cups of Grief by Aliette de Bodard
People birthing ships. Neat worldbuilding.

Novel
Cuckoo Song, by Frances Hardinge. MY FAVORITE PRO THING I HAVE READ FOR 2015. Gaiman-esque dark-ish YA fantasy with rich female characters and emotional complicatedness. If you read only one thing in this post, read this.

Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. Steampunk lesbians in kind-of Seattle.

The Just City, by Jo Walton. Athena and friends attempt to make Plato's Republic thought experiment a reality, which works about as well as you would expect. A book full of very cerebral characters.

Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie. Space opera about identity and embodiment and personhood and fish sauce.

Graphic Novel
Bitch Planet: Vol. I, by Kelly Sue Deconnick, Valentine de Landro, others. Sharp and rich and vicious in its criticism of patriarchy, in the best ways. I feel like Deconnick's voice and approach doesn't always suit the stories she writes, but this book is a pitch-perfect fit for her.

Copperhead: Vol. I, by Jay Faerber, Scott Godlewski. Space western with single mom sheriff, colonization/racial tensions. Still haven't decided if these creators are just very lucky at not putting their foot it in yet or if they know exactly what they're doing. Either way, first volume was A+.

Dramatic Presentation: Long
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. I'd nominate this in all five slots if they let me.

Agent Carter: Season One.

Best Fancast
Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men.
snickfic: Spaceman Spiff about to crash his spaceship (mood sf)
I finished, at long last! Unspoilery thoughts:
* I enjoyed the first two thirds for the human drama aspect.
* The last third was not worth reading - if you want to know how it goes, get someone to spoil it for you.
* Neal Stephenson would stop mid-coitus to tell you how condoms work. At length. At least three times.

spoilery thoughts )
snickfic: Spaceman Spiff about to crash his spaceship (mood sf)
All conversations worth having about space voyages were couched in terms of "delta vee," meaning the increase or decrease in velocity that had to be imparted to a vehicle en route. For, in a common bit of mathematical shorthand, the Greek letter delta (Δ) was used to mean "the amount of change in..." and V was the obvious abbreviation for velocity. The words "delta vee," then, were what you heard when engineers read those symbols aloud.


Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying this book. The Big Thing happened thirty or forty pages ago, and I got a little teary for a moment. But SERIOUSLY, GET AN EDITOR.
snickfic: "Nobody can explain a dragon" (Le Guin quotation) (mood fantasy)
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson.
I figured out why Stephenson's books are so long. It's because they feature sentences like this:

And also so they could give the peoples of the world some agency. ... "Agency," in the lingo of the sorts of people who had set up this announcement, meant giving people options, giving them some things that they could do to have an effect - imaginary or not.

I've read similarly 3rd-grade-level explanations of, for example, Soyuz spacecraft. At the time I assumed he just wanted to be clear for any non-scientific audience, but now I don't know what audience he's going for. And even supposing your audience is familiar with neither agency nor the Soyuz spacecraft, there are more elegant and less patronizing ways to convey that information. Was he this bad back in the day, like in Cryptonomicon? Maybe he was and I just didn't notice.

In any case, I'm maybe ~60 pages into a 860-page book. This'll be a while.

Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho.
I found this pleasant but not entirely satisfactory. The jacket cover suggests comparisons to Heyer and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, but it has too much serious subject matter for the former and none of the ambitiousness of backstory, worldbuilding, and footnotes of the latter. Someone suggested that perhaps I'd like it better on a second read, now that I know what to expect, and I think that might be true. Even then, the ending seemed weak, and I suspect I will still want more worldbuilding.

In any case, it is a Regency fantasy romp with familiars and magicians and also lots of women, people of color, and examination of various forms of oppression. If that is your sort of thing, then I suspect you would enjoy it.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
I finished this a bit ago. It was suitably psychologically twisted, as I'd hoped, although it lacked the building menace of Haunting of Hill House. I couldn't decide if the reveal towards the end of the book was actually intended to be a reveal, since I'd assumed it to be true since about page two. Anyway, a very Jackson book. I want to read more of her novels.
snickfic: by <user name=toreadabook site=livejournal.com> (mood horror)
THIS WAS SO GREAT. I've hit some really fun books so far during this Hugo reading project, but this one brought me by far the most unalloyed joy. It also does every single thing I never knew I wanted in a book about [SPOILER]. I am so happy right now, I can't even tell you.

If you like Gaiman but also female characters and emotional complicatedness, GET THEE TO THIS BOOK.

fyi

Sep. 19th, 2015 10:34 am
snickfic: by <user name=toreadabook site=livejournal.com> (mood horror)
If you want something spooky and alarming along the lines of Coraline but subtler and with much more complex family dynamics, Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge is the book for you.

(Disclaimer: I did not like Coraline that much. I really am enjoying this, though!)
snickfic: girl reading on bench (mood reading)
Have just finished The Just City, the first of Jo Walton's trilogy about a colony of time travelers the goddess Athena collects on the island of Atlantis to create Plato's Republic. very mild spoilers )
snickfic: girl reading on bench (mood reading)
I have been reading BOOKS, you guys! I have been finishing them, even! I can't remember the last time I read a bunch of books in a row. The motivating factor has been reading for the Hugos next year, but honestly that's largely just an excuse to get myself reading more.

books! )
snickfic: "Nobody can explain a dragon" (Le Guin quotation) (mood fantasy)
The Hugo-eligible reading project continues. I'm reading a novel that I will definitely be telling you all about when it's done! In the meantime, of the short stories I've read since last update, this is the standout winner:
Pocosin, by Ursula Vernon. It has a possum god and a Pratchett-esque witch and God and the Devil and Death, and it made me tear me up.

Also, if you are interested in following Hugo discussion and don't mind anon memes, some folks are facilitating an ongoing Hugo-reading project on ffa. Everything is open to be talked about whenever, but in particular they're reading short fiction by the month. The latest thread is here and includes things like a roundup of the last couple of weeks of discussion and links to free online short fiction published in February. And the threads always have the same title, so you can find them in the future by searching ffa (note: must be logged into DW to use search).
snickfic: Spaceman Spiff about to crash his spaceship (mood sf)
I've been following the Hugo discussion for most of the year, ever since the 2015 nominations were announced. It seems to me that the most important thing to come out of all the Hugo brouhaha is that if we care about them as awards (not that you have to! plenty of people don't give a darn, and that's fine!), the most important thing we can do to support them is be more active at the nominations stage as well as the voting stage.

With that in mind, I've been actively reading pro literary SFF for the first time in probably at least five years (other than, like, Mieville). So far, the novels I've been reading are old, but within the next week or so I should be picking up Jo Walton's The Just City and Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory at the library, which I am looking forward to.

However, I've been reading a lot of 2015 short fiction! You guys, there is SO MUCH short SFF being published these days. Tons of it's free online - Clarkesworld, Abyss & Apex, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, Tor.com - and there's more that costs, like the big three and Lightspeed.

There've been some threads on ffa for this purpose, which has been keeping me motivated. I've tried a bunch of stuff, but so far Clarkesworld is ahead by a mile in terms of producing stuff I like. What I've read there has been at least moderately successful at least 85% of the time, which is already a better rate than I have previously experienced at any short fiction venue ever. In case you're looking for recs for nominating/general reading purposes, here are a bunch that I enjoyed or found interesting, though sometimes with caveats:
* Cat Pictures Please, by Naomi Kritzer - a would-be benevolent AI who likes cats
* A Universal Elegy, by Tang Fei - unreliable, unstable narrator, creeping alien horror
* Three Cups of Grief, with Starlight, by Aliette de Bodard - mind ships! complicated sibling dynamics
* The 3 Resurrections of Jessica Churchill, by Kelly Robson - compelling, creepy aliens, teen Native girl protagonist, am not sure how I feel about inclusion of 9/11 element, beware graphic rape scene

Anyway, this is a post for talking about 2015 stuff you've read, whether or not you have any intention of nominating things for Hugos. Novels you've read or are looking forward to? Short fiction that you enjoyed?

(FYI if you're looking for things to read, [livejournal.com profile] mrissa posts occasional roundup of short fiction she's enjoyed, and someone's keeping a spreadsheet of recced Hugo-eligible works here.)

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