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Food, books, and extraterrestrial activity

Dyson Sphere! Or, well, probably not.

Apprentice to Elves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear is out today! If you read that excerpt you might be able to figure out why I’m pushing it on all my friends. I mean besides the bit where it’s an excellent book, that is.

The World Fantasy Convention program is out. I’ll be on a food panel with Ellen Kushner and Kelly Robson. Should be fun; as you may have noticed, I have Opinions.

I discovered the Amazon list of 100 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books to Read in a Lifetime from Hot Chick Janiece. I’ve read 78 of the 100, and 7 more are on my to-read stack already. There were a couple I’d never heard of even though I was familiar with the author, and two I was completely unfamiliar with.

The list is 33% by women, and has a few non-white authors. It was more diverse than I expected, but my expectations are rather low. Ursula Le Guin appears three times; Clarke, Bradbury and Heinlein each twice.

Have read:
Frankenstein; Mary Shelley
The Time Machine; HG Wells
Sabriel; Garth Nix
Outlander: A Novel; Diana Gabaldon
The Color of Magic; Terry Pratchett
2001: A Space Odyssey; Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld; Larry Niven
The Curse of Chalion; Lois McMaster Bujold
Good Omens; Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
The Princess Bride; William Goldman
The Hunger Games; Suzanne Collins
A Game of Thrones; George RR Martin
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; CS Lewis
The Dark Is Rising; Susan Cooper
A Wrinkle in Time; Madeline L’Engle
Howl’s Moving Castle; Diana Wynne Jones
Pawn of Prophecy; David Eddings
Childhood’s End; Arthur C. Clarke
The Stars My Destination; Alfred Bester
Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel; Kurt Vonnegut
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Douglas Adams
I, Robot; Isaac Asimov
Interview with the Vampire; Anne Rice
Hyperion; Dan Simmons
Stories of Your Life: and Others; Ted Chiang
Daughter of the Blood; Anne Bishop
Guilty Pleasures; Laurell K. Hamilton
The Doomsday Book; Connie Willis
Dragonflight; Anne McCaffrey
Neuromancer; William Gibson
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; Susanna Clarke
The Sword of Shannara; Terry Brooks
Ender’s Game; Orson Scott Card
Lord Foul’s Bane; Stephen R. Donaldson
Assassin’s Apprentice; Robin Hobb
Old Man’s War; John Scalzi
The Golden Compass; Philip Pullman
Red Mars; Kim Stanley Robinson
A Canticle for Leibowitz; Walter M. Miller Jr
The Gunslinger; Stephen King
1984; George Orwell
Stranger in a Strange Land; Robert Heinlein
The Last Unicorn; Peter S. Beagle
A Wizard of Earthsea; Ursula K. Le Guin
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; J.K. Rowling
The Name of the Wind; Patrick Rothfuss
Kushiel’s Dart; Jacqueline Carey
The Martian: A Novel; Andy Weir
The Way of Kings; Brandon Sanderson
The Golem and the Jinni; Helene Wecker
Starship Troopers; Robert Heinlein
Snow Crash; Neal Stephenson
World War Z; Max Brooks
Ancillary Justice; Ann Leckie
Among Others; Jo Walton
Ready Player One; Ernest Cline
Dune; Frank Herbert
American Gods; Neil Gaiman
The Left Hand of Darkness; Ursula K. Le Guin
The Martian Chronicles; Ray Bradbury
The Handmaid’s Tale; Margaret Atwood
The Windup Girl; Paolo Bacigalupi
The Hobbit; J.R.R. Tolkien
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe; Charles Yu
Brave New World; Aldous Huxley
Altered Carbon; Richard Morgan
Grass; Sherri Tepper
Fahrenheit 451: A Novel; Ray Bradbury
The Speed of Dark; Elizabeth Moon
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Philip K. Dick
Uprooted; Naomi Novik
Perdido Street Station; China Mieville
The Magicians; Lev Grossman
The Mists of Avalon; Marion Zimmer Bradley
Riddle-Master (Trilogy); Patricia A. McKillip
The Lord of the Rings; J.R.R. Tolkein
Tales; H. P. Lovecraft;
Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea; Jules Verne

Own but haven’t read:
The Forever War; Joe Haldeman
Wool; Hugh Howey
Sandman Slim: A Novel; Richard Kadrey
The Eye of the World; Robert Jordan
Annihilation; Jeff VanderMeer
Dhalgren; Samuel R. Delaney
Foreigner; C.J. Cherryh

Haven’t read or not sure:
Solaris; Stanislaw Lem
I Am Legend; Richard Matheson
Kindred; Octavia Butler
Graceling; Kristin Cashore
Blood Music; Greg Bear
The Dispossessed; Ursula K. Le Guin
Uglies; Scott Westerfeld
Red Rising; Pierce Brown
The Rook; Daniel O’Malley
The Dragonbone Chair; Tad Williams
Cloud Atlas; David Mitchell
The Sparrow; Mary Doria Russell
The Road; Cormac McCarthy
Nights at the Circus; Angela Carter
The Time Traveler’s Wife; Audrey Niffenegger


Ad Astra: The 50th Anniversary SFWA Cookbook is now available for pre-order!

Food, beverages, badgers… it’s all there!

I’m in, with the stupidest recipe ever. (What? I’m not telling!) But I know there are some really good recipes to make up for it.

This cookbook is a fundraiser for the SFWA Legal Fund, and should be a great treat for any fan of food and speculative fiction.

Pissing in the pool

I grew up reading the Hugo award winners anthologies, those collections of the best works of the year. It wasn’t until much later that I learned how the Hugos work, and even later that I made the miraculous discovery that I could participate in that process by nominating works I cared about, and voting from among the finalists.


Need something to read?

Of course you do. And as a bonus, this star-packed fantasy anthology is a charity fundraiser for The Colon Cancer Alliance.

Fantasy for Good just came out, and it features old and new stories by folks like Neil Gaiman, Jane Lindskold and colon cancer victims Roger Zelazny and Jay Lake.

I suppose if you don’t want that fantasy stuff clogging up your bookshelves, you could just go give $5 straight to the Colon Cancer Alliance. That would be okay too.

ETA: I find it a bit odd to be purchasing something in support of a colon cancer charity, given what I’ve spent on colon cancer this year, but I am a recipient of all the research and education on the topic, and hey, stories!


Local peeps! Whatcha doing tonight? Coming to the State College launch party for Daryl Gregory’s new novel Afterparty, right? 

 Webster’s, 7pm (133 E. Beaver Ave.), followed by a mandatory afterparty. Of course.

See you there!

For the curious

After consulting with the internet and my To Be Read pile, I am reading BOTH:

Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch (reread)


The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi.

They are nearly as different as spec fic books can get, and both very different from the Bear and Kay.

I’m also reminded that I’ve gone exactly nowhere with the Reading the Masterworks idea, by which I mean I’ve read several and reviewed none.

Help me, internets!

I finished Shattered Pillars this morning, a wonderful second-world fantasy by Elizabeth Bear. I reviewed first book, Range of Ghosts, briefly (is there any other way?) on twitter: “Is ‘one of the top three books I read last year’ enough, or would you like specifics? Incredibly well-developed world, realistic interactions among fully-realized characters, emotional resonance. Second-world fantasy with not-Mongols, not-Islamic empire, not-Chinese empire. Magic, monsters, many horses.” Shattered Pillars is a middle book, so there’s neither the thrill of new worlds nor the resolution of a final book, but it nonetheless carried me along as the characters did perfectly reasonable (to them) things that I never would have thought of. One of Bear’s strengths is getting inside the heads of people whose worldviews are utterly unlike our own: not just worldbuilding, but how it affects the way the characters perceive their surroundings.

I’m very much looking forward to River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, the sequel to Under Heaven, out today. But I think reading those two books back to back might kill me.

So internets: what should I read next?

Lunch break

My new short story, “The Cries of the Dead and Dying,” will be published by Daily Science Fiction on 12/12/12. A free subscription will get you a new short work every weekday, and stories are published on the website a week after they go out to subscribers. But why not just subscribe?

I just started reading The Naming of Names last night, a history of botanical names by Anna Pavord. Think it sounds dull or esoteric? Ursula Le Guin liked it, and the illustrations are wonderful. I’m only a chapter in; I’ll let you know what I think later.

Making the List

A couple of writer friends of mine are getting some well-deserved recognition this week as the summer reading top ten lists appear.

Kirkus Reviews, 10 Must-Read Fiction Books for Spring: Toni Morrison, John Irving, Paul Theroux, Elizabeth Bear… Oh wait, Bear is first.

eSchool News, 10 books for high school summer reading: Charlotte Brontë, Alice Walker, Daryl Gregory.

I’ve been pushing Range of Ghosts for a while, and now that I’ve finally finished Raising Stony Mayhall I can recommend that to you all. You could do much, much worse than listen to the experts and pick up both of these books.

Not only does it make me no end of happy to see both of them getting such recognition, it’s just as exciting to see spec fic playing with the supposed mainstream on both lists.


SO MANY good things are coming out in March, or have appeared in the last couple of weeks. Here are a few of the things I’ve been looking forward to for ages. That’s what they mean by March Madness, right?

Books, lots of books. First a couple that came out in February:

Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed. I heard Saladin read from this at World Fantasy in Columbus, and have been waiting impatiently ever since. Fantasy set in somewhere other than northern Europe, with a protagonist who isn’t young and sexy? So refreshing.

Then there’s Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell. Toby and I have had various friendly online arguments about all sorts of things, and I’ve promised him a review of the science in his new novel. There should be more books with global warming in them. I also roped Toby into inaugurating the Science in My Fiction guest post irregular series.

Two books I’m interested in come out today, so you should buy them right now and make the authors happy and successful.

I’ve heard amazing things about The Drowning Girl, by Caitlin Kiernan. Kiernan writes dense, dark, complicated stories with unreliable narrators. Not easy reads in a number of ways, but worth the effort. The author and some talented artists put together a lovely, haunting trailer for the novel.

Seanan McGuire’s new book Discount Armageddon comes out today, starting a new series for her. Biology and magic: sounds like my kind of thing. I like her zombie novels (written as Mira Grant) better than her urban fantasy; I’m hoping this new series melds the things I like best about both.

Later this month Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear arrives. This is another fantasy novel with an unconventional setting. I had the opportunity to read an ARC, and I highly recommend this one. I’m a serious fan of Bear’s prose (top-notch sentences) and themes–the Promethean Age books are some of my favorite fantasy novels ever–and I enjoyed this tremendously.

And then there’s music. Whisperado’s website is badly in need of an update, since it doesn’t even mention their new album I’m Not the Road. Since you’ve probably never heard of the band, here’s a taste.

Long-time favorite of mine, The Magnetic Fields, have a new album out today, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, their first in several years. I’m enthralled by this video from it (though it’s not entirely work-safe).

What is it about March 6? Today has been a fabulous if somewhat expensive day. And I don’t have time to read any of them! I’m utterly swamped at work, so I hope these suggestions will keep you busy until mid-April or so when I expect to re-emerge. Of course, then I’ll have to spend some time buried under a pile of novels.