From last year, here is an article for the feline that may have been the inspiration for Grumpy Cat—the Pallas’s, or Pallas cat, indigenous to the Central Asian Steppes.
Malice Domestic announced the finalists for the Agatha Christie Awards this year. The award recognizes excellence in contemporary “traditional” mysteries, or what I might call, from their description, “cozies.” (I love that one of the finalists is titled The Finalist.)
The Library of America announces an April release of a collection of Ursula LeGuin’s poetry, edited by Harold Bloom. I don’t know how I feel about that, but Bloom certainly was well-read up to a point. (Thanks to File 770.)
Who knew? I didn’t. The iconic curlicued typeface that graced the paperback covers of Dune and the sequels is called Davison Art Nouveau. Did you know there is a website devoted to fonts, called Fonts in Use? I didn’t know that either.
Michael Murphy Burton takes us on a short tour of author websites. What do you think?
This Tor.com article is about technology and avoiding plot-derailment is aimed more at writers or game developers than readers, but it’s interesting. What do you think?
Do you all know about Neon Hemlock’s novellas? In case you don’t, here is a link to their Books page.
Nerds of a Feather asks Ryan Marshal Maresca about six books.
Locus came out with their 2022 Recommended Reading List today (https://locusmag.com/2023/02/2022-recommended-reading-list/). Marion, you may have to fix that URL if I’ve mangled the link. At any rate, it appears Locus is showing me how out of touch with current fashions in the fantasy/SF/horror genres I am.
The recommended Science Fiction list has 27 novels and I have only read one, Dave Hutchinson’s Cold Water (that was one of my year’s best picks). And I do also have Emmi Itaranta’s The Moonday Letters on my TBR pile of books.
I read none of the 17 recommended Horror novels, a little surprisingly. (The 2022 installment of Monstress did not make their lists under either Horror or Illustrated. Maybe they weren’t sure how to classify it?)
In the recommended Fantasy novel list, there were finally a fair number of books I had read, 8+ out of 28: Age of Ash (Daniel Abraham), The Origin of Storms (Elizabeth Bear), Book of Night (Holly Black), Last Exit (Max Gladstone, but this one was a DNF for me), Spear (Nicola Griffith), Hokuloa Road (Elizabeth Hand), Nona the Ninth (Tamsyn Muir), The Golden Enclaves (Naomi Novik), and Fevered Star (Rebecca Roanhorse). Nona the Ninth and Fevered Star were among my year’s best picks, the others I had varying lesser amounts of regard for. And I have Embertide (Liz Williams) in my TBR stack at home. Quite surprised that they don’t list P. C. Hodgell’s Deathless Gods (from her long-running Kencyrath series) under Fantasy, since that was the other member of my quartet of 2022 best picks. Do they not like Pat’s work? Or is it that they don’t like Baen, which shockingly has not a single published work credited to them on the list?
Some other authors that I noted as missing from these lists were Robert Jackson Bennett, Kameron Hurley, Mark Lawrence, Brian McClellan, Ed McDonald, Dan Stout, and Kimberly Unger. All had respectable books published in 2022, maybe not the greatest, but it’s odd that not one struck the fancy of (or even, perhaps, were read by) the curators of the Locus list.
Locus recommends 17 Young Adult novels, and I have only read one of those, Unraveller by Frances Hardinge (just as imaginative as her books usually are, but the story felt a little less under control than typical for her novels).
I am batting a big fat zero versus their First Novels, Collections and Anthologies. Wow.
Of the 27 novellas listed, I managed to read 4: Comeuppance Served Cold (Marion Deeds), Servant Mage (Kate Elliott), All the Horses of Iceland (Sarah Tolmie), and Into the Riverlands (Nghi Vo).
My being out of sync with genre “greatest” lists from Time, Esquire, or NPR is pretty much expected at this point, since that sort feel like thinly disguised marketing ploys. Being out of sync with Locus I guess means that I am out of sync with “the field” now. But, as they say, it is what it is. How has everyone else fared with these recommended works?
Paul, your link works fine.
I almost updated the column because I was on that list. :)
Robert Jackson Bennett in particular seems to occupy his own little spot in the SF landscape–he shows up on unusual lists, he isn’t ever a Con GOH that I’ve seen (he may not go to Cons)–he’s almost never on Best Of Lists and yet he’s mentioned by other writers as a favorite.
Of course I love this list because they included my story, but seriously, remember this is a group of reviewers, sharing their favorite reads. That’s really all Best of Lists ever are, right?
And the field may be moving in a direction that doesn’t work well for you. (I’m starting to feel that way about mysteries, myself.) That just seems to happen.
The field is indeed moving in directions I’m not happy with, especially the relentless micromarketing that the publishers seem to engage in. Also, at this point in life I don’t want to read stories where romance is a major factor. Something understated but moving like Takver and Shevek in The Dispossessed is fine, but the adolescent infatuation stories that border on Type 2 Extruded P0rn-Like Substance are just tedious. And the predominance of adolescent protagonists is tedious in its own right, especially adolescents that find their magic powers and set the world right. Also retold fairy tales with a modern slant, rehashed urban fantasy, zombies, serial killers, “body horror”, and the tired old “interstellar empires”…no thank you! But I guess people are buying this stuff, or why would so much of it be getting published?
I weathered the fat imitation Tolkien fantasy trilogy era, so maybe I can last long enough to outlive the current trends. (My actuary would probably disagree though.)
I am promptly stealing and scurrying away with “micromarketing.”
I just finished THE NECESSITY OF STARS, a novella by E. Catherine Tobler. It is science fiction–mostly– with a bit of a horror blend. I mention it because the main human character is 63 years old.
Another disincentive for reading newer books that have trendy but less than compelling descriptions is the huge backlog of fiction books previously published. Last year I read for the first time some works that most readers probably read long before, like I Capture the Castle, Three Men in a Boat, and Anne of Green Gables. Not genre, but very enjoyable fiction nonetheless. And there are many others that I haven’t caught up to yet. Why read yet another coming-of-age or “teen fights oppression” tale when there are a couple of centuries of different stories?
I Capture the Castle is one of my favorite books.
I’ve been a reader of Locus since high school (’80s) and I’m reading fewer and fewer reviews. From the 2022 lists, I have a handful of books from authors I’ve read before but haven’t read yet (GGK, Kate Elliott) and a few samples from new authors.
I guessed that Carolyn Cushman might have been the most likely Locus reviewer to have reviewed Hodgell, but there’s nothing listed in Cushman’s ISFDB entry. Overall, I feel like Locus is reviewing fewer of the authors like Hodgell. I don’t know if part of it is that there’s so many new and interesting books being released. Even if I don’t particularly want to read them, it’s pretty amazing.
Covid really knocked my reading sideways. I read hardly anything for months and definitely nothing new. When I finally started reading again, it was in the romance genre and while some of those can be quite angsty, they’re still easier to read for me than a lot of SF/F. Of the new SF/F authors that I’ve tried since Covid, they usually have a strong romance/relationship component like Freya Marske, Everina Maxwell, and K.L. Noone.
There are so many books, from so many presses, and I think Locus (like everyone) is struggling with the signal-to-noise ratio. From my own miniscule experience, I know publicists have a lot of “say” in which books get to the Locus reviewers. That is a factor.
That author websites link was so cool Marion! Many familiar writers and it was fun to see how they advertise themselves. Thanks for the link! [https://michaelmurphyburton.com/2023/01/25/author-websites-a-survey-of-sorts/]
I liked it and I liked his brief analysis of why each one worked for him (or didn’t.)
With Twitter being weird, more writers seems to be turning back to websites.