2017 Novellapalooza

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last couple of years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015 and 35 of the novellas published in 2016 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

Last year, the result of this was the 2016 Novellapalooza. I really felt as though I was able to do Hugo nominations for the novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I decided to do it again this year.

The success of Tor’s novella line seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas, with Subterranean Press, NewCon Press, PS Publishing, and Book Smugglers jumping on the bandwagon, as well as the Big 3 magazines and the online fiction venues – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. Toward the end, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2017 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

Read more…

Philip K. Dick Conference 2016 at CSUF

Philip K Dick event at Cal State Fullerton

The Philip K. Dick Conference 2016 runs from April 29-30 on the California State University, Fullerton campus, where Dick’s papers are deposited in the CSUF Library’s Special Collections.

The conference theme is “Philip K. Dick, Here and Now”, exploring his influence on sf and film.

There will be talks by Dr. Ursula Heise and Jonathan Lethem, and Recollections of and reflections on PKD by Tim Powers and James Blaylock, two sf authors and alums of CSUF.

Some of the conference schedule highlights are:

FRIDAY, APRIL 29               (Rooms in Titan Student Union unless stated otherwise)


Titan Student Union event                                                                     Gabrielino  

Curios and Artifacts–come talk about…                                                                                                      

  • Philip K. Dick’s original record collection, with musicologist Sean Nye

Library Panel                                                                                        Pollak Library North 130 

Philip K. Dick at CSUF, Discussion and Q and A

  • James Blaylock, Tim Powers
  • Moderators: Nicole Vandever, Paige Patterson, and Jasmine Romero


TSU Event                                                                                   TSU Theater  

On Steampunk, movie premiere, a film interview with Tim Powers

  • Moderator: Susan Geers

Library Panel                                                                                  Pollak Library North 130

Philip K. Dick from Marin County to Orange County, Discussion

  • Grania Davis, Tessa Dick, William Sarill
  • Moderator: Ted Hand


Keynote Talk                                                                                     Pollak Library North 130

Jonathan Lethem, The Philip K. Dick Society: A Preliminary Archeology


Library Panel                                                                                    Pollak Library North 130

Philip K. Dick, Here and Now

  • Howard Hendrix, Gregg Rickman, Jacob Weisman


TSU Event                                                                                          TSU Theater

Philip K. Dick Goes to the Movies, Discussion and Q and A

  • Daniel Gilbertson, Gary Westfahl, Paul Sammon


Library Panel                                                                                       Pollak Library North 130

Philip K. Dick in the Future

  • Greg Benford, Bruce McAllister, Maer Wilson
  • Moderator: David Kelman


Steampunk at Big Orange

Two of the originators of steampunk, James Blaylock and Tim Powers, will be joined by Nancy Holder and Suzanne Lazaer on a panel about steampunk’s history and influence  at the Big Orange Book Festival on September 22.

What is the history of Steampunk?
The term “steam-punk” was originally coined in the 1980s by K.W. Jeter who was trying to find a general way to describe the books coming from the Powers/Blaylock/Jeter camp. While influences and other seminal works came from the 60s and 70s it wasn’t until these three pioneers took the reigns that the genre really took off. Now the growth and influence is exponential.

The Festival takes place September 21-22 at Chapman University in Orange (CA). Admission is free.

Another sf/fantasy figure of note appearing later Saturday is Leslie S. Klinger, an authority on Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, and an officer of the Horror Writers Association.

Come on the first day, too, if you don’t want to miss Mary Badham, who played “Scout” in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird and received an Oscar nomination:

Mary maintains a busy schedule lecturing to audiences internationally about the book and the film. Her interest is in expanding knowledge about the film’s message of social injustice and to ensure that each generation of students can experience the film’s impact.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Photos From the Paperback Show

By John King Tarpinian: On Sunday March 25th I got to play the Author Wrangler for the 33rd Annual Vintage Paperback Collectors Show & Sale in Los Angeles. The show has two major draws, first, the ability to buy vintage dime novels, pulps, comics and magazines. Second, you have the chance to meet some of your favorite authors and get them to sign your books. I am told that there are only two other shows of this type, one in New York and another in the UK.

There were forty-seven dealers selling and forty-four authors greeting their fans and signing books. If you were unable to attend I am sure a goodly number of the books signed are already for sale on eBay.

It is always fun to be able to talk to these authors but I will only highlight a few. We have a couple authors who seem to be connected at the hip. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. A close third would be buddies Tim Powers and James Blaylock. Tim has a new book out just last week. Nobody came in Steampunk costume to visit with Blaylock.

One of the nicest men you’ll ever meet in the print world or the TV world is Earl Hamner, Jr. (Think Twilight Zone, The Waltons and Falcon Crest) Another jovial man is Peter Atkins, you’d never know he wrote the script and books for the some of Hellraiser series for his buddy Clive Barker. Or Dennis Etchison who wrote the scripts for Halloween II and Halloween III. If you are in the need of an Encyclopedia on Halloween there is the sweet Lisa Morton. Lastly, I’ll highlight Harry Turtledove who is great to joke around with.

We were afraid that most people in the other part of the world call drizzle but us Angelinos call a StormWatch would keep people away but it was the largest turnout recorded.

You can find the complete list of authors who attended here: http://www.la-vintage-paperback-show.com/index.html.

[Photos by John King Tarpinian.]

Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven

Ann Bannon and Lisa Morton.

Cody Goodfellow and John Skipp.

Earl Hamner Jr.

Tim Powers and James Blaylock.