State of the Blog and Weekend Links: April 22, 2018

Welp, last week was exhausting, and this week–and today, specifically, in which I worked a bit over ten hours at the day job–hasn’t been much better, though it has been slightly more productive. Only slightly, though, and most of that productivity was expended on selecting blog material for the Hugo Award voter’s packet and putting it together in ebook form. Plus reading Space Opera, which is the first perfect book I’ve read this year. Now I’ve moved on to A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, and it is delightful and exactly the sort of light read I needed after Space Opera.

This coming week is probably still going to be busy and tiring, so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to accomplish. In spite of my desire to work more like 25 hours a week, I’ve been working pretty much full time the last few weeks, which is a huge barrier to blogging. Even just consuming media has been more than I’m up for most days, and the sort of active critical engagement necessary for writing is mostly completely beyond me right now. I’ve also got a lot going on, just in general. This week, on top of work, I’ll be busy planning and executing my daughter’s birthday party (she just turned 15, which makes me feel a little old), taking her to a doctor appointment, and trying to squeeze in an appointment for me to get my hair cut and colored (thinking of going platinum). Tomorrow, I think we’re going to see The Cat Returns, and Wednesday my daughter’s a cappella group has a performance.

Fortunately, even if I’m not being productive, plenty of other people are, so I’ve got two weeks’ worth of links to share.

I still haven’t read Ilana C. Myer’s first novel, Last Song Before Night, but the more I read about her new book, Fire Dance, the more I think I ought to carve some time out for it.

Breaking the Glass Slipper has Five Questions with Martha Wells. The next book in Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, Artificial Condition, comes out May 1.

Catherynne M. Valente shared her Big Idea last week as well as five things she learned writing Space Opera.

Did you know there is a collection of short fiction inspired by Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation?

Fantasy Faction interviewed Ruthanna Emrys about her upcoming Lovecraftian novel, Deep Roots, the sequel to last year’s Winter Tide.

Catch 6 Books with Emma Newman over at nerds of a feather.

You can also find Emma Newman this week being interviewed at The Illustrated Page.

Also at The Illustrated Page, an interview with R.F. Kuang, whose debut novel, The Poppy War, just keeps creeping up towards to the top of my TBR even though it sounds much darker than I’ve had much taste for lately.

At the Book Smugglers, Michael R. Underwood talks inspirations and influences for Born to the Blade.

Matt Wallace talks about finishing up his fantastic Sin Du Jour series.

Jeanette Ng writes about reclaiming classics for today.

L.D. Lewis’s novella, A Ruin of Shadows, comes out this week. Preorder it! I did! If you aren’t convinced yet, be sure to read this Q&A with the author over at Dancing Star Press.

Ann Leckie’s 2019 fantasy novel, The Raven Tower, has a cover.

So does Ana Mardoll’s first short fiction collection, No Man of Woman Born.

Read an excerpt from Micah Yongo’s Lost Gods.

Bogi Takács kicked off a new series on QUILTBAG speculative classics over at Tor.com. FIrst up: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez.

Also at Tor.com, an appreciation of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

Emily Asher-Perrin breaks down the myth of Robin Hood.

Chloe N. Clark’s Horror 101 series continues with a look at Private vs. Global horror.

Atlas Obscura asks (and answers), why do fantasy novels have so much food?

It’s time for Fantasy Book Cafe’s annual Women in SFF Month again!

  • Renay from Lady Business started things off with a post about reading challenges and reading diversely.
  • Cass Morris wrote about historical fantasy.
  • Kim Wilkins shared her memories of falling in love with Princess Leia.
  • Peng Shepherd shared the book that served as her gateway to the genre.
  • Rowenna Miller wrote about women and the authenticity falsehood in fantasy.
  • R.F. Kuang shared a Chinese legend and what it means to her and how it influences her work.
  • Melissa Caruso talks fighting in ballgowns.
  • Ausma Zehanat Khan expounded upon the main theme of her Khorasan Archives series (which, incidentally, led to me finally ordering the first book).
  • Jeannette Ng offered a taxonomy of fairies.
  • Claire North had some thoughts about strong women.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: April 8, 2018

Well, today has been a Day, and it comes at the end of a Week. Readers, I am worn out. I’m also disappointed that I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished this week as I’d hoped to, but mostly I’m just ready to go to bed, even though it’s only 9:30. Fortunately, this coming week finally sees my availability change go into effect at the day job, which means far fewer too-early nights and hopefully much more productive time in the afternoons and evenings.

did manage to read a couple of books this week–Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation (it’s great, and you should be reading it right now instead of this) and The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg (also good)–and I watched Jesus Christ Superstar Live, which was excellent. I also managed to get out my Spring Reading List, and I’m doing some Gormenghast re-reading as well so that I can get back to work on that project this week. It was also my partner’s birthday on Thursday, as well as my day off work, so we had a nice day together and a good dinner at a good local pizza place. Mostly, though, I’ve been working and tired from work, which seems to be the story of my life so far this year, and even I’m getting bored of it.

That said, I’m stoked to be getting back to work on Gormenghast, and I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to write about The Expanse, season three of which starts this Wednesday, and Into the Badlands, which is back on in two weeks.

Speaking of Into the Badlands, I’m still kind of pissed about Veil being fridged at the end of season two, but season three looks pretty good:

And speaking of Gormenghast, it looks like it may be getting another television adaptation.

Meanwhile, Orientalism is Alive and Well in American Cinema.

Molly Ringwald looked back on the movies she made with John Hughes and how her feelings about them have changed in the era of #MeToo.

It makes sense that current criticisms of Ready Player One would be part of a cultural shift in response to Gamergate.

Tor.com is giving away the ebook of All Systems Red by Martha Wells for FREE through April 10. It’s fab, and you definitely want it if you don’t already have it.

Pre-orders are open for L.D. Lewis’s A Ruin of Shadows, a novella set in the same world as her 2017 novelette, “Chesirah.”

Check out this World Sci-Fi Storybundle. It’s fantastic.

Justina Ireland was profiled at Vulture.

Catherynne M. Valente shared her Favorite Bit of Space Opera.

Tor.com has lists of this month’s new releases:

Mythcreants points out 6 illogical genre aesthetics.

This is something I struggle with, to be honest, but it’s okay to give up on mediocre books (because we’re all going to die).

Mary Berry is going to be on a new cooking show on BBC One!

On the one hand, I don’t super care about Lost in Space, like, at all, but on the other hand, Parker Posey is playing a gender-swapped Dr. Smith:

I am very slowly starting to get hyped for this Han Solo movie, in spite of myself. Tonight, for the first time, I admitted to my partner that I want to go see it at the theater.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: April 1, 2018

The big news this week, obviously, is that SF Bluestocking is now a TWO TIME Hugo Finalist in the Best Fanzine category. The novelty of typing those words has still not worn off yet, though from now on I’ll probably keep it to myself. Thanks so, so much to everyone who nominated me; you are all The Best, and I love you.

After a shaky start to this year, what with life things happening and so on, I’m finally starting to feel like I’m being somewhat productive. I’ve gotten together an ebook version of my 2017 Let’s Read! Gormenghast posts, so watch for that this week, with new Gormenghast content to come, if not this week as well, then next. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my Spring Reading List as well as a look at my favorite reads from the first three months of 2018. This week is my final week of 5-sh in the morning start times at my day job, so I’m not making any set-in-stone promises about content, but after this my schedule will be much more reasonable and conducive to sleeping and writing and having some work/life balance, so while I don’t think we’ll see a return to my days of covering three or four television shows (plus books and the occasional movie) each week, I am hopeful that I’ll be back to some kind of regular blogging schedule. I’m even tentatively planning to cover The Expanse and Into the Badlands when they start back up in the coming weeks; I think I can handle one Wednesday show and one Sunday show, even if my posts end up being later than I’d prefer.

My favorite thing this week has to be this absolutely perfect tweet:

My second favorite thing this week is that one of my favorite books of 2017, Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Girl Reporter, won TWO Aurealis Awards and a Ditmar Award.

R.J. Theodore shares her Favorite Bit of her steampunk first contact novel, Flotsam.

Theodore also wrote about five things she learned while writing Flotsam.

And here at SF Bluestocking, I’ve got a guest post from R.J. Theodore where we’re also giving away a copy of the book.

The Nerdist has an interesting guide to the film references and influences of The Last Jedi.

At McSweeney’s, “Excerpts from My Upcoming Novel, Ready Player Two: Girl Stuff.”

Good news: Matt Wallace is writing an epic fantasy trilogy! The bad news is that we won’t get the first book until Spring 2020.

Jane Yolen’s story in verse, Finding Baba Yaga, has a cover.

S.B. Divya’s novella, Runtime, has been optioned for film and television. Yes, please.

You owe it to yourself to listen to Christopher Walken reading “The Raven.”

Apparently Ursula K. LeGuin did a folk/electronica album.

The Fandomentals continue their indepth analysis of Game of Thrones season seven with a look at events in King’s Landing: Part 1 (Recap) | Part 2 (Analysis).

There are violent rabbits in the margins of some medieval manuscripts, and you can click this link to find out why.

“The Male Glance” is a must-read essay.

 

 

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: March 25, 2018

Well, this has been another week in the life. While I haven’t posted here, I did actually have a productive three days in a row off work (potentially the last such lucky even for a while to come) during which I have actually been writing some stuff and reorganizing my schedule and trying out a new reward/incentive program for myself in order to encourage productivity so that I can get back to writing and posting more soon.

While this new system of doing things hasn’t paid off in any big way just yet, I’m already feeling encouraged. If nothing else, my mood has immediately improved, and I’ve been steadily checking things off my to-do lists, which I’m now doing daily and limiting to just a handful of good, reasonably accomplishable tasks. I’m hoping that this is going to be the long term motivational time-management and accountability tool I’ve been so desperately in need of.

My first big project under the new system is actually the resurrection of an old project. Last year, I began a detailed read-along of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books, but I only made it about halfway through Titus Groan before getting derailed by life stuff and a nasty bout of depression, but it’s actually the 2017 work that I’m most proud of and I think it’s worth returning to and finishing. Plus, I figure it will be good for me to work for a while on something that’s really not time-sensitive. The other most-rewarding work I do is television recaps and reviews, but I foresee it being a challenge to keep up with those while working full time.

That said, new seasons of both The Expanse and Into the Badlands are starting in April, so we’ll see how things go. In the meantime, however, GORMENGHAST. If you haven’t read my previous Gormenghast posts, I should have a convenient (and free) ebook of them out by the end of this week, and I’m hoping to have new posts starting next week.

Finally, be sure to check back here at SF Bluestocking tomorrow, where there will be a guest post by R.J. Theodore, author of the steampunk first contact novel Flotsam (out Tuesday from Parvus Press) as well as a giveaway of a copy of the book.

The finalists for this year’s Kitschies were announced.

Heroine’s Journey, the third book in Sarah Kuhn’s excellent superheroine series, has a cover, and it’s fab, but the somewhat bigger news is that there are going to be more books in the series: three more, to be precise, plus a novella.

L.D. Lewis revealed the cover for her upcoming short story, A Ruin of Shadows, set in the same world as her much-praised “Chesirah” (in the first issue of FIYAH Literary Magazine).

Margot Robbie is going to be producing a female-led Shakespearean drama series.

Last week, I shared a link to an Ada Palmer piece on Treating the Divine in Science Fiction, only to realize after posting it that I ought to have shared the other posts in that series as well because they are all interesting and worthwhile reads. Here they are:

And here’s a trailer for season three of Into the Badlands, which already looks fantastic:

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: March 18, 2018

I never did get around to writing up last week’s weekend links, though I did save the actual links to share this week. Working at 5:30 am on Sundays is really making it difficult for me to get these posts written, and I’m starting to think I ought to move them to Saturdays going forward (no doubt to find myself scheduled on Saturdays as soon as I settle into a new routine, because that’s how retail jobs work). In any case, the day job is still a major impediment to reading, writing, cooking, cleaning, and anything else fun that I might want to be spending my time doing. Booo.

That said, I’m hoping to have a more reasonable work schedule in another week or two, and I have some ideas for addressing my creative block and reorganizing my time to be more productive in the near future. Encouragingly, I think (fingers crossed) that I’m done being actually physically ill for a while, having recovered from the nasty cold I had the last two weeks, and that always bodes well for productivity.

If you’re looking for something to read in March, as always Tor.com has you covered, with comprehensive lists of this month’s new releases:

Virginia Bergen has won this year’s Tiptree Award, but there’s also a fantastic long list that’s been published for all of our edification.

A.C. Wise shares some non-binary authors to read in March.

If you want something to look forward to later in the year, be sure to check out the Book Smugglers’ announcement of their summer 2018 short fiction series: Awakenings.

If you want to support excellent short fiction, make sure you check out the Kickstarter for the next two years of The Dark Magazine:

Paolo Bacigalupi wrote about his Favorite Bit of The Tangled Lands, the new book he co-authored with Tobias S. Buckell.

Kelly Robson shares her Favorite Bit of her new Tor.com novella, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.

P. Djeli Clark’s upcoming Tor.com novella, The Black God’s Drum, is one of the books I’m most looking forward to this year, and it has a (gorgeous) cover.

Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird is now also an audio play.

Lady Business celebrated mothers in SFF.

There’s a proper trailer for season 3 of The Expanse:

Ada Palmer wrote about Treating the Divine in Science Fiction.

nerds of a feather’s Horror 101 series continued with a look at enclosed versus exposed horror.

Mythcreants opined on why the term “Mary Sue” should be retired.

The Fandomentals covered Redemption Arcs of many kinds.

The Wertzone took a look at some of the dogs of science fiction and fantasy.

Speaking of dogs:

Hugo Ballot Time!

Listen. I have been super flaky the last couple months, what with starting a new day job and being exhausted and busy with that (plus a nasty cold over the last couple of weeks that has only exacerbated the situation), but I finally managed to get my Hugo Awards ballot filled out and submitted today. Here it is, with thoughts on the categories.

Best Novel

  • Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng
  • Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
  • Null States by Malka Older

I always feel like I read far more Hugo-worthy novels than there are slots on the ballot, and that was true again in 2017. My nominations this year are definitely fantasy-heavy, and Jade City and Kings of the Wyld are pretty far and away my favorites. The Stone Sky is an obvious choice, but it really is that good a book, the author has expressed a preference for folks to nominate the book rather than the series (for the Best Series Hugo), and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Jemisin win a third Hugo in a row. Under the Pendulum Sun is likely a (very) long shot for the Hugo, which tends to skew towards the more populist side of literary SFF, but it’s a fantastic and ambitious book that deserves to be recognized for its ambitious creativity. Null States is the only science fiction novel I’m nominating this year, but there were several others that I considered (Ann Leckie’s Provenance and Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes in particular). Ultimately, however, the best books I read in 2017 were mostly fantasy.

Of my picks here, I’m guessing only one or two are likely to make the finalist list–probably Jade City and The Stone Sky. Last year, I had read all of the nominated novels, which was kind of neat, but this year I’m seeing a good deal of buzz about a couple of books that I didn’t get around to (most notably Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous), so I expect to have some reading to do before this year’s final round of voting.

Best Novella

  • Gluttony Bay by Matt Wallace
  • And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
  • Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

I read an awful lot of novellas, so this category was the hardest for me to pare down to just five nominees. I said very early last year that I though Sarah Pinsker’s murder mystery novella (and the first novella ever published in Uncanny) about a convention of Sarahs from multiple universes was going to be my favorite novella of the year, and that might still be true. I adore it. However, it was an incredible year for novellas, and there are several very worthy titles (All Systems Red by Martha Wells, The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson, Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Winterglass, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s self-published Prime Meridian) that I simply didn’t have room for here (though I fully expect to see one or two of those on the finalist list).

What I’m most excited about this year, RE: Novellas, is the likely end to Tor.com’s absolute dominance of the category. Sure, they’re still publishing great work that benefits from a formidable marketing apparatus, but I’m very happy to see so many other publishers (and self-publishers!) getting in on the novella game.

Best Novelette

  • “Cracks” by Xen
  • “Chesirah” by L.D. Lewis
  • “Down and Out in R’lyeh” by Catherynne M. Valente

Sadly, there weren’t many novelettes I was particularly passionate about this year. I found these two stories from FIYAH Literary Magazine‘s first year to be impressive, though, and Catherynne M. Valente’s Lovecraftian story is a delight. If only the novelette length could get the sort of renaissance that we’re seeing in the novella these days (hint, hint, publishers).

Best Short Story

  • “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” by Tobias S. Buckell
  • “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • “Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  • “The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant” by Rachael K. Jones
  • “Home is Where My Mother’s Heart is Buried” by Wole Talabi

The obvious standouts here are “Fandom for Robots” and “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” both of which have been widely shared and buzzed about. “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” is my favorite story from my favorite anthology of the year, the John Joseph Adams-edited Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies.

Best Series

  • Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya
  • The Crimson Empire Trilogy by Alex Marshall

I’m still not sold on the whole idea of a Best Series award, to be honest, but I have been following Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya work for some years now and think it deserves to be recognized. I also have really enjoyed Alex Marshall’s grimdark pastiche trilogy; it’s smart, funny and queer as heck.

Best Related Work

I suspect that this year’s Best Related Work will go to Ursula Le Guin’s final collection of essays, which I haven’t actually gotten around to reading yet.

Best Graphic Story

  • Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood
  • Victor LaValle’s Destroyer

I’m not a great reader of comic books, but these were the ones I read and liked most last year. I don’t expect Destroyer to make the cut, however, since the trade of it only just came out this week.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • The Shape of Water
  • The Good Place (Season 1)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • The Expanse (Season 2)
  • Get Out

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • “USS Callister” Black Mirror
  • “Twenty-Sided, Die” iZombie
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘ Opening Credits Sequence
  • “Rocket Man” music video by Majid Adin

I predict that the only overlap between my nominations and the actual finalist list is going to be the Black Mirror episode, but I am telling you, “Twenty-Sided, Die” is an amazing bit of television. Also, I want every single person who is still nominating episodes of Game of Thrones to explain to me what exactly they think is Hugo-worthy about that garbage show at this point.

Best Professional Editor, Long Form

  • Navah Wolfe
  • Diana Pho

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

  • Lee Harris
  • Brian White
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

I’d like to see Brian White’s work at Fireside get recognized. Lee Harris edits almost all my favorite Tor.com novellas. John Joseph Adams is probably the individual editor of short fiction whose tastes most often overlap with my own, and he edited a near-perfect anthology in 2017 (Cosmic Powers! Read it!). And the Thomases are consistently responsible for great content in Uncanny.

Best Professional Artist

  • Richard Anderson

Best Fan Artist

Skipped, because I don’t actually follow fan art enough to know anything about it.

Best Semiprozine

  • FIYAH Literary Magazine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • The Book Smugglers
  • Uncanny
  • Fireside Fiction

Personally, I think FIYAH is doing some of the most important work in the genre right now, debuting over 20 black authors just in their first year of publication, but this is a really competitive category.

Best Fanzine/Best Fan Writer

These are the categories that SF Bluestocking (the blog) and I (the writer) are eligible in, so I feel weird talking about my nominations and speculating publicly about how the categories will go. Let’s just say that I did nominate myself as well as some other great folks.

Best Fancast

  • Fangirl Happy Hour

Because, let’s be real, I only regularly listen to this one podcast. Renay and Ana are great.

Best Young Adult Book

  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

I didn’t read much YA in 2017, but this book was wonderful.

The John W. Campbell Award 

  • Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: March 4, 2018

So, last week there wasn’t much going on in terms of links OR interesting updates on my life, and I was absolutely worn out by the time Sunday rolled around, so I decided to just take a break from weekend links. I’d love to say that doing so let me accomplish a bunch of other stuff, but that’s not actually the case. I just went to bed really early, to be honest. The truth is, I am still struggling, heavily, with just how much of my time is now taken up by the day job, and it turns out that I SUCK at adapting to a new routine.

There’s no particular bright side here; I’m just still worn out, constantly, and even just reading is exhausting. I think things are still getting better, re: energy levels and so on, but I’m still resentful about having to go to bed so early in the evenings (I turn into a pumpkin at about 9:30 these days) and how much the early bedtime cuts into what has, historically, been productive time for me. I’ve made some minor changes to my availability that should help in the coming weeks, but that’s still like two weeks away. In the meantime, my goal for this week is to carve out at least an hour each day for dedicated writing time (I’ll be setting timers and everything to make sure I stay on task); I’m hoping that this will help me finish some of the many things I have started working on recently.

After years of being increasingly apathetic about Doctor Who, I have to admit I’m getting hyped for the new season with a new showrunner and a new Doctor:

Sad news: Pornokitsch is closing up shop at the end of March.

This year’s Nebula Awards finalists were announced last week.

Last week, Myke Cole shared the Big Idea of his new Tor.com novella, The Armored Saint.

This week, Tobias Buckell talked about the Big Idea of The Tangled Lands, his collaboration with Paolo Bacigalupi.

There’s a new interview with Fonda Lee over at Fantasy Faction.

Spencer Ellsworth popped in at Skiffy and Fanty with “That Thing You Love Doesn’t Always Love You Back.”

Lightspeed has an interview with Carmen Maria Machado.

This chat between Jeff VanderMeer and Alton Brown is interesting.

Weird Al and Lin Manuel Miranda are friends, and that makes me indescribably happy.

Speaking of indescribably happy, “The Hamilton Polka” dropped this week:

I preordered Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera this week, but if you’re still not sure if it’s a book for you, you can read the first chapter of it right now.

Tor.com’s Short History of South Asian Speculative Fiction has a Part II.

Emily Asher-Perrin says that all robot love stories are conversations about consent.

Mari Ness covers “Bearskin.”

As soon as I can find lamb shoulder at a reasonable price, I’ll be trying this delicious-sounding recipe for Wakandan Jeweled Vegetable Pilau with Berbere Braised Lamb.

The Expanse returns on April 11!

Sci-fi and Fantasy books, tv, films, and feminism