Comparing my Best of 2009 list with several award finalist announced recently

April 10, 2010 § 16 Comments

Now that several of the more interesting awards (with several more to follow in the next couple of months) have announced their shortlists I thought I’d compare the books I chose for my overall Best of 2009 with a few of the more prominent awards out there:

1.  Jeff VanderMeer, Finch (Nebula finalist)

2.   A.S. Byatt, The Children’s Book (finalist last year for the Man Booker Prize)

3.Terrence Holt, In the Valley of the Kings

4. Caitlín Kiernan, The Red Tree

5. Brian Evenson, Last Days (American Library Association RUSA 2010 award for best horror)

Books 6-25, in no particular order

Shaun Tan, Tales from Outer Suburbia

Dan Simmons, Drood

Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones

Zoran Zivković, The Bridge

Joe Kelly and JM Ken Nimura, I Kill Giants

Ildefonso Falcones, La mano de Fátima

Lev Grossman, The Magicians

Jeff Lemire, Essex County

Michael Ajvaz, The Other City

Robert Holdstock, Avilion

Daniel Abraham, The Price of Spring

Dave Eggers, Zeitoun (Entertainment Weekly Best of Decade list)

David Mazzucchelli, Asterios Polyp (Eisner Award; 4 nominations; LA Times Book Prize nominee for graphic novel)

Dave Eggers, The Wild Things

Cherie Priest, Boneshaker (Hugo finalist; Nebula finalist)

Jesse Bullington, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart (Gemmell finalist for newcomer)

Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City (NY Times 10 Best Books of 2009)

Paul Auster, Invisible

Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin (2009 National Book Award winner)

Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (2009 Man Booker Prize Winner)

I suspect I’m overlooking a few, as I’m only doing the most cursory of searches right now, but I suspect books like the Holt and Kiernan will garner some award nominations in the very near future and I know the French original of Littell’s work won a major award in France in 2006. 

I wonder how this list did compared to others developed by fellow bloggers.

New award announced to honor the best works translated into English

October 31, 2009 § 5 Comments

I’ve known about this for over a month now, but was asked to be mum about it until it was announced at the World Fantasy Convention.  Friday, a series of people, including the University of California at Riverside (who are the planned hosts for this award) announced the creation of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards, which aims to do for non-English SF/F translated into English that awards such as the Seiun Awards, Premio Ignotus, Utopiales, and other awards from Asia and Europe do to honor foreign translations of SF/F works into their native languages.

About damn time.  Between this and the expansion of the Best American Fantasy anthology series (starting in 2011) to cover translated fictions from Latin America, there will be much greater coverage and hopefully awareness of excellent works being produced outside the Anglophone regions.  Expect more coverage of these matters here at this blog (and obviously at the blogs/sites of those contributing to the founding of these translation awards) in the coming months and years, as this is something that appeals to me for obvious reasons.

New Heroic/Epic Fantasy Award announced

September 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

Saw this posted on Post-Weird Thoughts and found it to be interesting:

Heroic Fantasy has an award of its own. The David Gemmell Legend Award for Fantasy will choose among the best heroic fantasy titles of 2008. The first winner will be known somewhen next year.

As Cheryl Morgan said, that’s great news for fans and writers alike. Heroic Fantasy hardly hits the big awards’ radar.

We’ll definitely keep an eye on this one.

Looks like the deadline for submissions is late December 2008. Curious to see who’ll win the inaugural award.

Locus Award Finalists…and my thoughts on the ones I’ve read

April 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

Here are the just-announced Locus Award finalists, with winners to be announced later:

The Accidental Time Machine, Joe Haldeman (Ace) – Haven’t read
Brasyl, Ian McDonald (Pyr) – read, will review in a few weeks, really enjoyed it.
Halting State, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK) – haven’t read
Spook Country, William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK) – haven’t read
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins) – read, will review in a few weeks, thought this or the McDonald are deserving of awards.
Endless Things, John Crowley (Small Beer Press; Overlook) – have, but will not be reading for a month or two longer, expecting quite a lot due to past successes in the Ægypt cycle.
Making Money, Terry Pratchett (Doubleday UK; HarperCollins) – haven’t read
Pirate Freedom, Gene Wolfe (Tor) – read, reviewed last year, thought it was one of the best of 2007
Territory, Emma Bull (Tor) – see what I said above about the Wolfe book
Ysabel, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc) – haven’t read
Extras, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK) – haven’t read
The H-Bomb Girl, Stephen Baxter (Faber & Faber) – haven’t read
Magic’s Child, Justine Larbalestier (Razorbill) – haven’t read
Powers, Ursula K. Le Guin (Harcourt; Gollancz) – haven’t read
Un Lun Dun, China Miéville (Ballantine Del Rey; Macmillan UK) – read, reviewed last year, enjoyed it
City of Bones, Cassandra Clare (Simon & Schuster/McElderry) – haven’t read
Flora Segunda, Ysabeau S. Wilce (Harcourt) – haven’t read
Heart-Shaped Box, Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz) – haven’t read
The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (DAW; Gollancz) – read, reviewed it elsewhere last year, thought it was decent to good first effort
One for Sorrow, Christopher Barzak (Bantam Spectra) – read, reviewed it here back in January, really enjoyed it and I hope it wins here, like it did with the Crawford Award
“After the Siege”, Cory Doctorow (The Infinite Matrix Jan 2007) – haven’t read
“All Seated on the Ground”, Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec 2007) – haven’t read
“Memorare”, Gene Wolfe (F&SF Apr 2007) – haven’t read, awaiting the Wyrm limited-edition
“Muse of Fire”, Dan Simmons (The New Space Opera) – haven’t read
“Stars Seen through Stone”, Lucius Shepard (F&SF Jul 2007) – haven’t read
“Dark Integers”, Greg Egan (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2007) – haven’t read
“The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”, Ted Chiang (F&SF Sep 2007) – haven’t read, will buy the limited-edition later, perhaps
“Trunk and Disorderly”, Charles Stross (Asimov’s Jan 2007) – haven’t read
“We Never Talk About My Brother”, Peter S. Beagle (Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show Jun 2007) – haven’t read
“The Witch’s Headstone”, Neil Gaiman (Wizards) – read it last year, didn’t review the anthology in which it appeared, thought it was a decent effort from Gaiman, but far from his best
“The Last and Only, or, Mr. Moscowitz Becomes French”, Peter S. Beagle (Eclipse One) – haven’t read
“Last Contact”, Stephen Baxter (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction) – haven’t read
“A Small Room in Koboldtown”, Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Apr/May 2007) – haven’t read
“Tideline”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Apr/May 2007) – haven’t read
“Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?”, Ken MacLeod (The New Space Opera) – haven’t read
The Dog Said Bow-Wow, Michael Swanwick (Tachyon) – haven’t read
The Jack Vance Treasury, Jack Vance (Subterranean) – haven’t read
Overclocked, Cory Doctorow (Thunder’s Mouth) – haven’t read
Things Will Never Be the Same, Howard Waldrop (Old Earth) – haven’t read
The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, Connie Willis (Subterranean) – haven’t read
The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, eds. (Ballantine Del Rey) – read last year, didn’t review it, but ranked it as being a very solid anthology in my Best of 2007 post on New Year’s Eve
The Coyote Road, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds. (Viking) – haven’t read
The New Space Opera, Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, eds. (Eos) – haven’t read
The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror 2007: Twentieth Annual Collection, Ellen Datlow, Kelly Link & Gavin J. Grant, ed. (St. Martin’s) – haven’t read
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Fourth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s) – haven’t read
Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Jeff Prucher, ed. (Oxford University Press) – haven’t read
Breakfast in the Ruins, Barry N. Malzberg (Baen) – haven’t read
The Country You Have Never Seen, Joanna Russ (Liverpool University Press) – haven’t read
Gateways to Forever: The Story of the Science-Fiction Magazines from 1970 to 1980, Mike Ashley (Liverpool University Press) – haven’t read
Shadows of the New Sun: Wolfe on Writing/Writers on Wolfe, Peter Wright (Liverpool University Press) – haven’t read, but am strongly tempted to buy, considering the subject matter
The Arrival, Shaun Tan (Lothian 2006; Scholastic) – read it last year, reviewed it, it was the overall #1 Book of the Year for me last year. Fantastic illustrations and story told without words. Hope this one wins!
Dreamscape: The Best of Imaginary Realism, Claus Brusen & Marcel Salome, eds. (SalBru) – haven’t read
Emshwiller: Infinity x Two, Luis Ortiz, ed. (Nonstop Press) – haven’t read
Mervyn Peake: The Man and His Art, compiled by Sebastian Peake & Alison Eldred, edited by G. Peter Winnington (Peter Owen) – haven’t read
Spectrum 14: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood) – haven’t read
Ellen Datlow
Gardner Dozois
David G. Hartwell
Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Gordon Van Gelder
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet
Bantam Spectra
Night Shade Books
Subterranean Press
Stephan Martiniere
John Picacio
Shaun Tan
Charles Vess
Michael Whelan

Lots of “haven’t reads,” unfortunately, but much of that is due to me not reading the mags anymore, even if I do like more short fiction than my responses above might indicate. On the whole, not a bad list at all. The usual quibbles about the usual suspects, but I like the novel lists better than either the Nebula or Hugo shortlists. Solid but not spectacular set of finalists here.

Various award finalists and my review plans for them

March 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

Ah, spring is here and with the bird chirping and the trees fucking themselves and our sinus cavities, it must mean that it is time for the usual spate of spec fic awards announcements. I decided to wait a bit before linking to the various finalists, but here are a few interesting finalists (for novels only, although I do plan on reading the shorter fiction where possible):

Arthur C. Clarke Award

The Red Men: Matthew de Abaitua – Snow Books
The H-Bomb Girl: Stephen Baxter – Faber & Faber
The Carhullan Army: Sarah Hall – Faber & Faber
The Raw Shark Texts: Steven Hall – Canongate
The Execution Channel: Ken MacLeod – Orbit
Black Man: Richard Morgan – Gollancz

I have read only one of these so far (the Morgan), but I recently placed an order for the Hall and I do hope to have bought, read, and reviewed at least some of these six months in advance of the April 30 awards ceremonies.

Nebula Award

Tobias Buckell, Ragamuffin
Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine
Nalo Hopkinson, The New Moon’s Arms
Jack McDevitt, Odyssey

I have read the Buckell and Hopkinson last year and recently received a copy of the Chabon. I do plan on buying the other two in advance of the awards announcement, which is scheduled for the weekend of April 25-27.

Hugo Award

Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Ian McDonald, Brasyl
Robert J. Sawyer, Rollback
John Scalzi, The Last Colony
Charles Stross, Halting State

I haven’t read any of these yet, although I do have the Chabon and will order the others before the 2008 WorldCon in Denver, which meets August 6-10.

Of the three awards, I have to say that I am the least enthused by the Hugo list. Besides the failure of Richard Morgan’s Black Man/Thirteen to make the list (along with a dozen or more 2007 releases that I believe are better quality stories than the finalists, an expected reaction I suppose), I have had lukewarm to negative reactions to stories by Sawyer, McDonald, and Stross. I did enjoy some of Chabon’s earlier fiction and am looking forward to reading his entry, but I am hesitant to try Scalzi’s work, mostly because I am not interested in the sort of story (based on blurbs and a few reviews I’ve read over the years) that he prefers to tell. I will give them all a shot, but with a sense of trepidation.

The Nebulas are a mixed bag in my opinion. I did enjoy the Hopkinson and Buckell and Hopkinson’s book made it onto my personal Best of 2007 shortlist while the Buckell was on the extended list. Again, I have high hopes for the Chabon, while the Haldeman and McDevitt books just seem to be indicators of the growing belief that there is a “voting bloc” among the SFWA members that chooses friendship above story quality. Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter as much as the perception that such things are occurring.

The Clarke shortlist intrigues me the most. Although I’ve only read the Morgan, I have been curious about most of the others on that shortlist and from what I’ve gathered, there is a broader range of styles between those six novels.

On a related note, Victoria Hoyle has done a lengthy and interesting two-part examination of the finalists for the Crawford Award (awarded for the best debut work in “fantasy” – with the quotation marks to indicate that there isn’t a strictly-defined meaning). While I have read, enjoyed, and reviewed the winning book, Christopher Barzak’s One for Sorrow, I am not as familiar with the other finalists and based on her comments and how she provided small samples of their style and prose, I might just have to go out and buy some of these to read and to review in the coming months.

I guess I better get back into the reviewing swing of things sooner rather than later if I want to have informed opinions on these books when the winners are announced.

Thoughts on some of my favorite reads in 2006

December 27, 2006 § Leave a comment

It’s around that time of year again, the moment where people on the blogosphere stop and post about some of the books that “connected” with them. Although I’m going to be posting in a ranked format my favorite reads of 2006 on Sunday as part of the Admin Choices for the 2007 OF Awards held at wotmania, I thought I would take the time to post in no particular order the top reads out of books released in 2006, those released in previous years, and those I read in Spanish this year. So without further ado, the “finalists” for My Favorite Reads of 2006:

Best Books Released in 2006:

Here are the books released in the US for the first time in 2006 that I found to be the most enjoyable (as of 12/26):

Hal Duncan, Vellum – This finalist for the 2006 World Fantasy Award was released in the US in April. I am one of those readers who believe that a good, consistent style is an essential element of making a story work and in Vellum, Duncan does a masterful job in using word tone and pitch to craft a story that spans 3D time/space but yet in the end boils down to a very personal struggle of a small group of Unkin who are trying desperately to live their own lives. A very moving work and one of the more challenging ones that I’ve read in English this year, so no award ballot would be complete to me without mentioning Vellum here.

Gene Wolfe, Soldier of Sidon – Gene Wolfe is one of my favorite authors, not just in the speculative fiction realm, but in all of late 20th/early 21st century literature. His stories have layers upon layers of meaning and possibility to them, but out of all his creations (with the possible exception of Severian from The Book of the New Sun), none are as conflicted and intriguing as that of Latro, the partially amnesiac mercenary who “sees” the gods of the classical world and has been directed to find a certain temple so he can regain his memory. Wolfe utilizes the unreliable narrator trope to full effect here and this book, the third in the Latro series, is just as strong as the first two, despite being written almost twenty years afterwards.

Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan’s Tales: In the Night Garden – This was a remarkable undertaking. Now I have yet to read her other works (such an oversight I’ll correct soon), but in this book, she takes the traditional fairy tale format and weaves a complex interaction between the stories that not only fascinates the framework story’s young boy (in a mode similar to that of The Arabian Nights), but also the reader. As “traditional” as the stories feel (and I found myself drifting back in memory to my first encounters with written versions of fairy tales, 25+ years ago), there are a great many surprises to them, surprises that serve to build interest and anticipation among the reader. Valente did more than just utilize the form of the fairy tale – she recreated the emotion behind those. For that alone, she has earned a spot on this “finalist” list.

Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch (English Translation) – For many, including myself, one of the hallmarks of a good fantasy is the sense of something other interacting with the familiar. In this excellent translation of the bestselling Russian urban fantasy, Lukyanenko has established a world in which witches, wizards, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters move among us, unseen, checked only by a Cold War-like pact between the Light and the Dark, with said pact being managed by the Day and Night Watches. There are three connected stories within this 450 page book and the questions raised by the actions perpetrated by both sides make this book much more than just a simple good/evil morality play. I eagerly await the 2007 translated publications of the sequels Day Watch and Twilight Watch.

Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora – A lot of electronic ink has been used elsewhere to describe the joys that other readers have had in reading this opening volume to The Gentleman Bastards series. Suffice to say, I found this book living up to its hype and being one of the more enjoyable books of the year. Lynch writes very well, the dialogue is crisp and often funny, and the action flows very well from stage to stage, with few transition problems. The second volume, Red Seas under Red Skies, is due out in the Summer of 2007.

Jeff VanderMeer, Shriek: An Afterword – This Ambergris book (VanderMeer’s first true novel) might be the most emotional read out of the books I’ve read this year. VanderMeer uses very evocative images that seem to come straight from his own experiences (whether that’s true or not, it certainly feels authentic). If this book isn’t up for the major 2007 awards, then I want to know what books out there are better than this.

Mark Danielewski, Only Revolutions – This is not House of Leaves Part II. Thank God for that, as the style and the way the story (stories) are told show that Danielewski is not content to revisit what worked for him in the past. While the story isn’t what I’d call “accessible”, it certainly is breaking new ground. For that alone, it merits mention here.

Best Books Read in 2006 but Released in Previous Years:

I won’t elaborate as much here as I did above, but this is an unranked listing of my favorites that I read in English this past year that were released at some prior point:

Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry, The Tale of the Rose

John Steinbeck, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights

Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Umberto Eco, The Island of the Day Before

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children

Ben Okri, The Famished Road

Thomas Wolfe, The Web and the Rock

Hope Mirrlees, Lud-in-the-Mist

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz

Milorad Pavić, Dictionary of the Khazars

Edward Whittemore, Sinai Tapestry

V.S. Naipaul, A Way in the World

Danilo Kiš, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich

Ivo Andrić, The Bridge on the Drina

Kelly Link, Magic for Beginners

Libros en español que leí en 2006:

José Sarmago, Las intermitencias de la muerte; Ensayo sobre la lucídez; Todos los nombres

Gabriel García Márquez, El otoño del Patriarca

Rubén Darío, Azul…/Cantos de la vida y esperanza

Manuel Vincent, Son de mar

Manuel Mujica Lainez, Misteriosa Buenos Aires

Alejo Carpentier, El siglo de las luces

Alberto Fuguet, Cortos

José Eustasio Rivera, La vorágine

Hopefully, some of these books will appeal to readers here. On the 31st, I’ll try to sit down and choose which books will be in my Top 3 in each of these categories, as well as listing the remaining books that I have read in 2006. It has been a quiet year for me, but also a year full of quality reads. Thanks again to those whom I’ve heard about your favs, as sometimes they have influenced me in my purchases. It would be an honor to return the pleasure.

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