WWWednesday: July 15, 2015

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Artist’s concept of New Horizon approaching Pluto, courtesy of NASA

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, the NASA craft New Horizons did a close fly-by of Pluto, the system’s most controversial maybe-planet. In honor of New Horizons the pictures today will be aspects of Pluto. (A famous and beloved cartoon character will not be included, sorry.) Pluto, or Hades in the Greek pantheon, was the god of the underworld, the dead and treasure, which led to the word “Plutocrat.” Pluto also has a bad reputation for his treatment of women, after he abducted the Proserpina, the daughter of Demeter. No means no, dude. Still, the myth of Proserpina and Pluto has fed the imaginations of hundred of storytellers and artists, and Pluto is often used to portray darkness and the unknown.

Awards:

The Shirley Jackson award winners for 2015 were announced Sunday at Readercon. This award recognizes excellence in the field of horror, psychological horror and the dark fantastic.

Jeff VanderMeer won best novel with Annihilation. You can read VanderMeer’s comments, posted to his blog, here. Daryl Gregory’s novella We Are All Completely Fine won for best novella.

World Fantasy Award nominees are out. Look at that list! Nominees for best novel include The Goblin Emperor, City of Stairs, The Bone Clocks and Jeff VanderMeer‘s SOUTHERN REACH trilogy. It’s nice to see Daryl Gregory‘s We Are All Completely Fine on the novella list. I think the World Fantasy Awards are the awards that are closest to my reading taste. Winners will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention in Sarasota Springs, New York, November 5-8.

The Eisner Awards winners for 2015 were announced at Comic-Con last Friday. There was a rush of

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Classical statue of Pluto, God of the Underworld and Cerberus

Little Nemo-themed material this year. Saga, written by Brian K, Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, walked away with an award for best continuing series. With its fine artwork and deep themes of family, love and war, I’m not surprised. The full list of winners can be seen here.

Internet:

New Zealand became the first country to have a national law making cyber-bullying illegal. Proponents see it as a firm first step in curbing bullying, harassment and internet hate attacks. Opponents worry that the definition of “harm” is too vague and that the law will be misused. I can see both sides of this one. It seems like a dedicated cyber-stalker, or someone who just wants to silence anyone who doesn’t agree with them, can twist this law and and use it to cause even more pain. Of course, that’s the worst case scenario. I also understand the “youthful hi-jinks” argument to some extent. At the same time, those “youthful hi-jinks” have had devastating consequences for the victims in many cases. It will be interesting to watch developments over the next few years.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Decoration on clay pot; Cerberus and Pluto.

Conventions:

There was some little get-together in San Diego last weekend. It has an alliterative name; don’t tell me… oh, that’s right. Comic-Con. Even BBC America covered it (which of course, because Orphan Black and Doctor Who).

Here are some amazing cosplay photos courtesy of IO9 — including an Optimus Prime costume that’s, what? Ten feet tall? That’s dedication.

Books and Fiction:

You see the book somewhere. You read the back; it sounds great. You read a page at random; it’s awesome! There’s a catch. It’s Book Seven, and you haven’t read the first six. Now what do you do? Barnes and Noble offers six mid-series books that are good places for newbies to join an existing series. I’m not sure I agree with all of them, but it’s a good start.

IO9 lists 11 classic speculative fiction works that are routinely taught in high schools and college. Okay, Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale and Octavia Butler‘s  Lilith’s Brood I could understand, but  A Princess of Mars? Really? Then I read the article, and I understand completely why Edgar Rice Burroughs’s pulp classic should be taught. And, if I had to read Samuel Delaney’s Dhalgren for a class, I might actually finish it.

This UK Guardian article offers the premise that Africa is the new home of speculative fiction. With writers like Nnedi Okorafor and Lauren Beukes, they make a strong argument. The article also has a link to a new zine for African speculative fiction. Who can resist the siren song of ” the distopian gloom of failed states, the iron rule of corruption, cartels snaking cold fingers into the upper echelons of government, and hi-tech gangs of disillusioned youth?”

Movies and TV:

There is a studio bidding war for Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. Rothfuss himself tweeted this, so however it goes, it can only be good news for him. Now we all need to start thinking about our fan-casting choices.

I may be weird but I’m not in a rush to see Stephen King‘s dark fantasy saga THE DARK TOWER made into a movie or a series. To me, for one thing, the series is uneven. This is also a fictional work that lives very vividly in my head and I don’t want “my” characters pushed out by actors. I think the majority of fans would not share my concerns, and for them, here’s some good news. They are moving forward on filming the series. This project will include multiple movies and some television.

The next film in the Marvel Universe, Antman, opens on Friday, July 17. The Vulture thinks this movie will be a box-office dud, and offers a timeline of its woes here. The Verge liked it, but I’m not linking to their review because I thought it contained spoilers.

I don’t even understand Antman the character and how he is a superhero (I could maybe see him being a spy, though). He shrinks to ant-sized, but he’s super-strong? Or, he’s super-strong for an ant? Fortunately, The Nerdist came through with a completely scientific explanation of the Antman suit.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Pluto

Did you miss the Doctor Who Series 9 trailer? We can help with that.

And here’s a real treat; the full length trailer for the TV series based on Lev Grossman‘s MAGICIANS series. (h/t to Kate.)

Speaking of Orphan Black, the cast and crew created three parody trailers based on everyone’s favorite dysfunctional suburban couple, Alison and Donnie. Enjoy!

To come full circle, I offer a link to Neil Degrasse Tyson’s classic 2009 appearance on The Daily Show, talking about his book The Pluto Files.


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Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town. You can read her blog at deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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4 comments

  1. Sandy Ferber /

    I just heard that there are ALREADY 11 Starbucks outlets on Pluto….

  2. Oooh, I hadn’t heard the Rothfuss potential series news. Nice work, as always, Marion.

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