254 thoughts on “Commentriggers 8/29

  1. @K8

    Yoon Ha Lee’s Ninefox Gambit is one of my favorite books this year. (It’s the anti-Seveneves–the author explains nothing.) I wasn’t quite as high on Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants, but it’s an interesting story told in an unusual way.

  2. @Ray Radlein

    I just got my e-mail ballot link and just finished voting. I’ll admit I was at a bit of a loss in the board game category.

    As someone for whom board games are very much A Thing, I thought it was a crazy-weird category too. But all of the categories were a mess.

    Really:
    1) Best Science Fiction novel.
    2) Best Fantasy novel.

    And then the categories were nearly all SF/F with no division.

    And the weirdly-specialized categories weren’t well-defined. For example, at least one of the Alt-Hist novels was – realistically – more MilSF.

    The tabletop games categories were a mess, too.

    1) Board Games
    2) Minis Games / Collectible Card Games / RPGs.

    Those are two very odd buckets to separate like that. CCGs should be up with board games (probably). So should minis, but I can see an argument for lumping the two together.

    and that’s before we look at the actual nominees …

  3. SciFiMike, it IS a pretty award. From the photo, I’m not quite sure if the central red part is abstract, a flame, or perhaps a dragon. Anyone know for sure? (I’m leaning toward “flame” or “abstract”; if it is a dragon I’d expect the head to be in the point and it doesn’t look quite head-like to me from what I can tell…)

  4. Another Dragon non-voter here, another person who feels that the award is aimed at community I’m not part of, and if it persuades the Puppies to stop bothering the Hugos, that’s a win for everyone.

    Different awards with different methods and different communities get different results, and that’s okay. Books submitted for this year’s Endeavour Award included a Hugo finalist (Seveneves) and a Nebula finalist (Zeroboxer), and neither of them made the shortlist. Does this necessarily mean one of those three awards is wrong or broken? No, it just means there are a lot of good books out there.

    (Obligatory plug since I mentioned the Endeavour Award: Endeavour reading season for next year is starting, and it’s always looking for more fan volunteers from the Pacific Northwest who’d like to help by reading and scoring books. You can read as many or as few books as you can handle.)

  5. I left a trail of half read books behind me pretty much all summer long. I’ve finally broken the jinx and am deeply into Martha Wells’ Ile-Rien series and Errantry by Elizabeth Hand.

    I voted for some of the Dragon Awards. I also thought some of the categories were a mess and filled with additional opportunities to litter the landscape with partially read work so I didn’t bother.

    Also, I love Lord Darcy, reread everything I could find recently and was glad that the suck fairy hasn’t visited it yet. It’s also a product of its time, so there’s that.

  6. Just finished the first two of Kristine Smiths’s Jani Killian chronicles which I loved. Both books end with a conclusion, no cliffhangers.
    The first is essentially a whodunit with a background of aliens with a strange culture and cutthroat, corrupt politics. The culprit reveal was a person I didn’t suspect although it was perfectly obvious in retrospect that it would be this person.
    The second book focuses more on the politics and the relations with aliens, although there is still a mystery aspect. Looking forward to book three.

  7. As an SJW, I’m waiting for the Dragon Awards to become a thing before I and the rest of the liberal horde sweep down upon them and ruin the fun that the regular folks are having. It is our way.

    Billy Haley and His* Comments? Most of which are not suitable for a public forum.

    * I always though it was a definite article and not a possessive. Live and learn.

  8. K8:

    I recently enjoyed:
    Jo Walton’s Thessaly books.
    A.M. Dellamonica’s Child of a Hidden Sea (Portal fantasy. I really appreciated a protagonist who pays attention to the biology of the fantasy world she stumbles into).
    R.A. Macavoy’s The Third Eagle.

  9. K8:

    The Comfort Read is currently Voice of the Whirlwind by Walter Jon Williams. It’s far-future cyberpunk novel about a mercenary tangled up in corporate warfare. The writing is great and the action moves nicely. One of my faves.

    The Will I Pick It Back Up book is The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville. It’s a magic realist book about Surrealism and WWII, but the first 50 pages or so felt like a drag. Mieville is usally a crackerjack prose writer but something is missing here. Maybe it’s because I dearly love Lisa Goldstein’s The Dream Years (which is similar in some ways). But I’ll try it again.

    The New Love is Indra Das’ The Devourers. As I mentioned in another message, this grabbed me from the very first word. The prose is just killer and the style feels like a blend of fantasy and magic realism (maybe like John Crowley but more visceral). Only 20 pages in but I am looking forward to the rest.

  10. I joined the ranks of the non-voters. The whole thing is a little too slapdash for my tastes and I expect a ridiculous amount of ballot stuffing. It’s difficult to take seriously any award that has Declean Finn’s work anywhere near it.

    That being said, I am hoping that they find their feet and continue. I don’t think there’s any kind of negative to having a new SF/F award out there, and associating it with DragonCon as a populist award will be a neat way of seeing what is trending with people, if they can steer it free of shenanigans at the ballot box.

  11. Oh, and as apparently it’s only just coming out in the US this year, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman and sequels.

  12. According to the Dragon Awards voting process, N.K. Jemisin could take home TWO awards for The Fifth Season. Huh.

    I voted (just as I did with the Hugo) in those areas where I felt like I could make an informed choice. The rest I skipped.

    Looking forward to seeing how the first Dragon Awards play out.

  13. @K8: Nothing that I’m reading right now is new. Some of it’s not even new to me.

    My re-reads are Stephen Brust’s Jhereg novels and Ellis Peters’ Cadfael novels. I’m up to Dragon in the Brust books and The Pilgrim of Hate in the Peters.

    Vlad Taltos is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. His cynical worldview very much colored my adolescence, but I’m getting into the books that came out after I was a real grown-up person on his own.

    And Brother Cadfael has been a (not so) guilty pleasure of mine since the late eighties, when I was reading anything I could get my hands on. I still read a fair number of mysteries,

    I’m also reading (for the first time) the “Rogue Squadron” series of Star Wars novels. I’m about half-way through Book One. It’s … it’s fun but not good. My wife calls them “Popcorn” novels because they’re light and fluffy with not a lot of substance.

  14. Well, I’ve been reading Bujold’s Vorkosigan books, which are generally quite good fun, and of course wildly popular. I just read Diplomatic Immunity and Cryoburn and picked up the Baen mass market paperback edition of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, which includes an excerpt from Torgersen’s The Chaplain’s War. That must have been quite a promotional boost.

  15. @Robert Whitaker Sirignano

    The Invisible Library – it’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread or anything, but they fit my “good fun, inhale them in an afternoon” sort of reading niche. The first book stands alone nicely, so you aren’t committing to 7 books before the plot is resolved or any nonsense like that.

  16. Got to admit, the Dragon Award itself is quite a good looking award.

    It reminds me of the red lava lamp we had when I was growing up in the 1970s.

    One day I heard a crash upstairs followed by my dad screaming profanities. He had dropped it. His face was covered in small red globules like he’d contracted a horrifying tropical disease.

  17. Book wise I’ve had a challenging couple months. I pushed through a couple books. However I have Enjoyed my last two books.
    Time Siege (Wesley Chu) which has already been talked about. Enjoyable take on time travel and negative future. I’ve been trying to describe what feels off in the book but it comes down to a shotgun issue. V srry yvxr gur znva punenpgre’f nypbubyvfz jnf nqqrq nsgre va beqre gb cbfvgvba gur fgbel. Fb vg npgf yvxr n fubgtha uhat va gur svefg npg gb or hfrq va gur guveq ohg vg srryf negvsvpvny. V nyfb unir fbzr vffhrf jvgu gur znva eryngvbafuvc orgjrra Wnzrf naq Ryvfr. V srry gung fbzr crbcyr jvyy or chg bss ol vg.

    However, I did just finish The Dragons of Heaven by Alyc Helms. Quite enjoyable, falls into light reading urban fantasy. Heavy influence of superhero pulp fiction. The flashback/current time swaps are handled well, and there is some good twist action. This is a pretty modern light action story.
    Throwing some spoilish reasons people might have issues into a rot13.
    Fgbel raqf hc pragrevat nebhaq n (frkhny)eryngvbafuvc naq gung eryngvbafuvc znal jbhyq svaq vanccebcevngr (fghqrag/znfgre).
    V xabj yvggyr nobhg Puvarfr phygher fb V nz hafher vs vg vf erfcrpgshy va vgf nccebcevngvba.

    I recommend both but ymmv

  18. I quite enjoyed both City of Stairs and City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett. Urban fantasy in a fascinating setting. The first works well as a stand-alone.

  19. I read something by Bujold years and years ago … all I remember is the protagonist and his crew stranded on a world trapped in feudal kingdom mode and the captain (protagonist) being tortured for not being able to adequately ‘service’ the obscenely fat queen.

    never really ventured back into the series … and tend to avoid most books/authors that use ‘torture’ as a significant part of the story. Joe Abercrombie & Gene Wolfe are two that spring to mind. Regrettable I suppose since Abercrombie and Wolfe are very highly regarded.

  20. Future reading: I’m toying with the idea of making 2017 a Year of Giant Anthologies, at least in part — both The Weird and The Big Book of Science Fiction seem like likely candidates. (And I really hope the VanderMeers do a similarly-gigantic fantasy anthology one of these years.)

  21. As a columnist for Fantasy Literature I visit File 770 every day. I just want to note that, while I’m loving the discussions happening here, I miss Mike. We at FanLit send you all our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. We miss you!

  22. k_choll on August 29, 2016 at 5:51 am said:

    …. After I finished Doomsday Book, I started Joe Haldeman’s Guardian. Haldeman is one of my favorite sci-fi authors; I love everything of his that I’ve read. This one is no exception. I plowed through half of it in one sitting (although it is reasonably short) and so far it is just a story of a woman on the run with her kid in the late 1800’s. There’s something simple about the story and the format that is refreshing (probably something I needed after being so devastated by the last 1/4 of Doomsday Book).

    And Willis seems like such a nice lady on panels!
    (Why, she wouldn’t hurt a fly.)
    I adore Doomsday Book and I immediately made everyone I know read it,
    But it is one harrowing read.
    Of course I came tearing after it, having just read To Say Nothing of the Dog, and expecting something similar.
    With, say, perhaps a little less Black Death mixed in.
    Kill your darlings, indeed, she mutters…

  23. Future reading: I’m toying with the idea of making 2017 a Year of Giant Anthologies, at least in part — both The Weird and The Big Book of Science Fiction seem like likely candidates.

    sounds like a good idea as I have both of the Vandermeer anthologies on my shelf … also have the last two Science Fiction anthologies edited by Gardner Dozois, plus GRRM’s Old Mars … have almost finished Old Venus and am enjoying it. If I can get through that batch, along with some Hugo reading, it will be a good year!

  24. @ clif:

    I read something by Bujold years and years ago … all I remember is the protagonist and his crew stranded on a world trapped in feudal kingdom mode and the captain (protagonist) being tortured for not being able to adequately ‘service’ the obscenely fat queen.

    This doesn’t sound like any Bujold I remember (did I just blank on something that heinous? I doubt it.) She uses torture as a plot point, but not like that – usually with psychological honesty.

  25. This doesn’t sound like any Bujold I remember (did I just blank on something that heinous? I doubt it.) She uses torture as a plot point, but not like that – usually with psychological honesty.

    huh. Well I may be mistaken on the author, and I certainly may be mistaken as to the plot … but that scene has stayed with me …

  26. I’ve been reading short fiction, including most of Tor.com publishing.

    Some I particularly enjoyed:
    Parker “The Devil You Know” (great version of Snhfg. Goes on my Hugo longlist)
    Wallace, Sin du jour series (He covered 3 deadly sins so far. More to come. Funny and tasty.)
    Reiss “Sunset Mantle” (Somewhat standard, but I loved the writing. Published in 2015, should have gone on my nomination ballot)
    Slatter “Of Sorrow and Such” (and everything else by her)
    Bujold “Penric’s Demon” (have not read the sequel yet)
    Swanwick, Mongolian Wizard series (7 parts so far, more to come)
    Vaughn “That Game We Played During the War”

  27. Books I enjoyed this year?

    “I am Princess X”
    Technically not SFF, rather a YA technothriller. But it’s fun, and that’d the Internet and cell phones not as liabilities, but as ways to drive the plot. And it’s about a webcomic, which directly related to my interests. So, think of it as scyberpunk novel worm back in 1985.

    “Child of a Hidden Sea”
    A really fun portal fantasy which gleefully reverses a lot of fantasy tropes, especially ones about sex and gender. It’s also the first portal fantasy I’ve seen where the main character’s interest in the alternative world is purely scientific.

    BSix Gun Snow White”
    A very beautiful and literary revision of the legend of Snow White. Devestating in parts, and the ending…the ending still reverberates in my mind.

    “Saint Olivia”
    I’m currently reading the story of the child of a genetically altered supersoldier, who decides to fight the oppression in her occupied city…by boxing. Really enjoying the characters and storytelling. Like some relationships I’ve been in, I suspect this story will end badly for all involved, but I’m enjoying the ride.

    “The Summer King”
    When one of the characters is named Enki, and another Gil, you know it’s not going to end well. To be fair, everyone knows from the beginning what will happen to be Summer Prince. I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, in spite of some unfortunate implications about what happens to the narrator.

    “Sparrow Hill Road”
    My favorite of Seanen McGuire’s work, it is a bit like American Gods written by someone who is a native to the country. It’s about American mythology, both urban legrnd and the imbedded elements of culture, and something of a love letter to the open road and those who travel it.

  28. New to me: Patema Inverted, about two kids dealing with weighty matters. Amusing enough but I wish the girl was not quickly reduced to a plot token the villain and hero struggle over.

  29. Also reading Voice of the Whirlwind, or re-reading rather though the first time was from the library long ago.

    It stands up remarkabley well, quite reminds me of Morgan’s Kovacs books although of course it predates them.

    Invisible Library was my last read, and was thoroughly enjoyable. Book two is on the wish list for purchase real soon. Though it is jockeying with Tricia Sulivan’s Maul, Ancillary Sword and a Peter F Hamilton doorstop for my limited run time.

  30. As an SJW, I’m waiting for the Dragon Awards to become a thing before I and the rest of the liberal horde sweep down upon them and ruin the fun that the regular folks are having. It is our way.

    I’m more of a Social Justice Couch Potato. So I’ll just lie here eating brownies and watch you do that.

    And, yes, that Dragon Award is nice looking! Good job, DragonCon!

  31. Rob Thornton said:

    The NYT is framing her away from genre writing. I wonder what she thinks about that…..

    What Le Guin says in the interview is consistent with what she’s said many times elsewhere. When people try to make her just an sf writer who belongs in the ghetto away from Proper Literature, she pushes back against that. (She has written some non-sf prose and a great deal of non-sf poetry, and also she’s said that she feels sf works can be literary.) But she’s fine with her sf works being called sf.

  32. James Davis Nicoll said:

    New to me: Patema Inverted, about two kids dealing with weighty matters.

    I see what you did there.

  33. clif on August 29, 2016 at 9:51 am said:

    I read something by Bujold years and years ago … all I remember is the protagonist and his crew stranded on a world trapped in feudal kingdom mode and the captain (protagonist) being tortured for not being able to adequately ‘service’ the obscenely fat queen.

    Yeah, clif, that wasn’t Bujold. I’ve read every word she’s ever written, and a scene like that would have stuck with me.

    If you are willing to try her again, you might like “The Warrior’s Apprentice” which is pretty early in the Miles Vorkosigan tale. He has just failed to make the entrance exam for the Barryaran military academy and goes off on a a wanderjahr. And gets into much, much trouble.

    Your basic “young man comes of age” story, with Lois’ very significant twists.

  34. Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal. If magic/psychic powers are used in WWI, does that become horror? A lot of the prose is light and even a little silly, but the topic is so dark the mix doesn’t quite work, for me. And I can’t figure out if the implied Qbpgbe Jub pebffbire vf whfg n fvyyvarff: Yrguoevqtr-Fgrjneg pbhyq whfg or n fvyyl, ohg gura Gbz-Onxre-Qbpgbe fubjf hc. Ohg jul qbrf gur ivyynva rfpncr sebz uvz fb rnfvyl? Is this a plot point, or am I confused?

    Similarly, gur oneenpxf rkcybfvba vf fhccbfrq gb sybbq gur Fcvevg Pbecf, birejuryzvat gurz fb gurl pna’g qrny jvgu tubfgf sebz gur bapbzvat onggyr. Ohg gur fgbel ortvaf nsgre gur Pbecf unf qrnyg jvgu gur svefg qnl bs gur Onggyr bs gur Fbzzr, jura 20,000 Oevgvfu fbyqvref jrer xvyyrq ba n fvatyr qnl. Vs gurl pna pbcr jvgu gung naq abg pbyyncfr ragveryl, ubj pna n fvatyr rkcybfvba or na rssrpgvir QQBF nggnpx?

    More importantly, I’d expect some of them to be realizing by July 1916 what a catastrophe the War is, and that the Germans might not be the real enemy compared to the commanders and politicians on all sides. WWI was a many-sided tragedy, and it’s not clear that ‘doing a better job’ would have done any actual good

  35. @clif. Also seconding the fact that your plot doesn’t sound like a Bujold book. I love her books and she is an insta-buy for me.

    Books I’ve read recently.
    City of Blades was read earlier this year but I adore both books in this series. Loved it very much. This book is all about the cost of war (and the cost after the war) and occupation. This book took a little to get into since the voice is so different but it was great. The protagonist is a reluctant, middle aged woman (which is my catnip) who is also missing an arm.

    The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells. This is the most recent book in the Raksura series and I enjoyed it but it ended without sufficient resolution for me. I’d suggest waiting for the sequel to come out. Despite not remembering some of the earlier books; this was a great read. I always enjoy the world of the Raksura and the many species they meet. Adventure/mystery would be how I classify it.

    Alliance of Equals by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Classic space opera in a long running series. Nobody does space opera better than Lee and Miller. Again I didn’t remember some of the plot points from earlier books and it did detract from the reading experience in this book. It is always a treat to read about Korval again and it is very much like meeting old friends again. With that being said, I think this was one of the weaker installments in the Liaden-verse.

    The last book I read was Behind the Throne by K. B. Wagers. This came via TheBookSmugglers recommendation. I’d agree with their rating of 7/10. This was a bit of an adventure/mystery book with a fairly large death toll. Another reluctant middle aged woman is the protagonist (this is the main reason I picked it up). I thought it was engaging and very well written and made me want to continue it but some of the tropes used were a little heavy handed. I need good endings and too many authors don’t do a good job here. This book did an excellent job of tying up the immediate plot points but leaving the larger ones unresolved for the sequel. I certainly didn’t feel dissatisfied with the ending.

    On a side note, both Behind the Throne and City of Blades present a disillusioned heroine in a lot of mental pain but there are no rape threats.

  36. Tasha Turner on August 29, 2016 at 7:39 am said:

    @SciFiMike Got to admit, the Dragon Award itself is quite a good looking award. http://awards.dragoncon.org/

    Oh my goodness, hold onto your seats, the website has been updated. Timothy the cat will be so excited.

    I’m imagining somebody at Dragon*Con HQ running around excitedly because they found the password to the website that had been missing since April.

  37. clif on August 29, 2016 at 9:51 am said:

    I read something by Bujold years and years ago … all I remember is the protagonist and his crew stranded on a world trapped in feudal kingdom mode and the captain (protagonist) being tortured for not being able to adequately ‘service’ the obscenely fat queen.

    I don’t know what that is, but it’s not Bujold. I hope you try Bujold again. But you’ll probably want to skip that one part of Mirror Dance with Mark and Ryoval.

  38. Camestros Felapton on August 29, 2016 at 11:44 am said:
    Tasha Turner on August 29, 2016 at 7:39 am said:
    @SciFiMike Got to admit, the Dragon Award itself is quite a good looking award. http://awards.dragoncon.org/
    Oh my goodness, hold onto your seats, the website has been updated. Timothy the cat will be so excited.
    I’m imagining somebody at Dragon*Con HQ running around excitedly because they found the password to the website that had been missing since April.

    They finally remembered whether they capitalized and put spaces into the name of their elementary school for the password reset challenge question.

  39. well now I’m bummed … apparently I’ve not read/dodged Lois Bujold due to a scene that was from another book. My loss I guess.

    Wondering now which book it was. Has to have been at least 25 years ago … possibly something by LE Modesitt, but that seems unlikely as I like most of his stuff.

  40. Don’t be bummed, clif! You now have a whole bunch of *really good* stuff to read!

    The scene you describe rings a very blurry, moist bell for me, so I think maybe I’ve read it, too. But where?

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