Monthly Archives: May 2014

A New Website You Might Be Interested In

The-Big-Book-of-Swashbuckling-Adventure-smallBefore a few minutes ago, Lawrence Ellsworth was not a name with which I was familiar.  The I read this article at Black Gate in which he describes putting together an anthology of swashbucklers.  That’s it there on the left.  (December can’t get here soon enough.)

He also has a website in which he reviews historical novels.  You can check it out here.  Not that I need any more recommendations on things to read or anything.  Think of this as one addict telling another addict where to get a fix a public service announcement. Yeah, that’s it, a public service announcement.

Drothe (and Douglas Hulick) Are Back

Sworn-in-Steel-US-appvdSworn in Steel
Douglas Hulick
mass market ppb., 499 p., $7.99
ebook Kindle $4.59 B&N $7.99

If you’ve been reading this blog a while, you might recall that I really enjoyed Douglas Hulick’s debut novel Among Thieves. Well, at long last, the followup to that book is out. It’s every bit as good as the first one.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Hulick last year at Lone Star Con (AKA Worldcon). It was at a party that was so crowded and noisy that we literally had to shout at times to make ourselves be heard. I found him to be a very pleasant gentleman and a delight to talk to.

The story opens three months after the close of Among Thieves. Drothe is no longer a Nose (street language for information gatherer). He’s now a Gray Prince. What we would think of as a mafia Don. A Boss of Bosses.

And he’s in trouble. Continue reading

Orbit Limits Hugo Nominated Novels to Excerpts

In a move that’s sure to create even more controversy over this year’s Hugo Awards, Tim Holman, the CEO of Orbit Books, has stated that only excerpts of Orbit titles will be provided in this year’s Hugo Voters Packet.  I think this is a bad idea for reasons I’ll detail at the end of this post. Continue reading

In the Merry Month of May

Actually, I’m not sure what’s so merry about it, but that’s the saying, so there you go.

Finals finished up this week.  I got my grades in yesterday, and spent today dealing with all the emails from the students who weren’t happy about their lab grades.  I did have one student who sent me an email telling me I had done more than teach her physics this semester, I had taught her to believe in herself.  That’s the sort of thing you frame.  I guess some days it really is worth chewing through the straps.

Sworn-in-Steel-US-appvdI’ve been getting a little reading done, which I’ll blog about over the next few days.  I’m hoping to finish Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick tonight, but I may not be able to stay awake that long.  This is the sequel to Among Thieves, which was one of my favorite books the year it came out.  One of the next things up is The Silver Stallion, the next volume in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.  Other than that, I’ll be trying to get as many things read as possible.  I’m a bit behind on what folks have been sending me, so I’m going to read amongst those titles as the fancy hits me, whether it’s fantasy, science fiction, or crime.

There are some other things, but I’ll save mentioning them for another post.

Moore Than Just a Kuttner Kornucopia

Detour to OthernessDetour to Otherness
Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
Cover art by Richard Powers
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
Afterward by Frederik Pohl
Haffner Press
Hardcover $40, limited edition hardcover $150

In the history of the science fiction and fantasy fields, there have been few authors as versatile as the husband and wife team of Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore. This is especially true at short lengths. (Since Kuttner was an early mentor of Ray Bradbury, this is hardly surprising.)

In the early 1960s, Ballantine Books published two collections of their work, Bypass to Otherness and Return to Otherness. Stephen Haffner states on the page for Detour to Otherness that a third volume was planned but never published. I’ve never heard this before, but I’m more than willing to take his word for it.

The first two Otherness titles contain selections from several of Kuttner’s most popular and well-remembered series. The Hogbens are represented, as is Galloway Gallegher, a scientific genius but only when he’s drunk. Also included is the first of the Baldy stories that comprised the mosaic novel Mutant. They don’t have some of his best known stories, which may not have been available at the time because they were in another book from a different publisher (Line to Tomorrow, Bantam), but this is one of the best samplings of Kuttner and Moore’s work.

Haffner has assembled enough stories for a third collection and combined them in the present volume. That section of the book is called Detour to Otherness, which is also the title of the omnibus.

Haffner had nothing to do with the selections in Bypass and Return, he was responsible to the stories in Detour. Thus, while critiquing the choices in the original volumes is a waste of time, it is very much on the strength of the stories in Detour that the volume will rise or fall. None of these stories has appeared in a Kuttner collection before, although most of them have been reprinted somewhere. I’d read almost all of them before. Let’s look at them more closely. Continue reading

A Review of Jo Spurrier’s Second Novel, in Which I Taunt You Again

Black Sun Light my WayBlack Sun Light My Way
Jo Spurrier
Harper Voyager
trade paper, 473 p., $29 AU

The “you” in the title doesn’t refer to Ms. Spurrier. Rather it’s to all you readers in the US. I’m taunting you because I got to read this book and you don’t. This is NOT a good thing. (More of this later.)  The novel, however, is quite good.

Some of you may be wondering how I got to read it.  Would you believe I had my agents scouring the globe…No.  Okay, would you believe I have a coworker from Australia who had his wife pick up a copy for me while she was home on a visit?  I’d like to thank Dr. and Mrs. Maurice Clark for getting the book for me.  See, it’s not what you know, but who you know.

This trade paperback cost me more than a hardcover would here in the US (and I didn’t have to pay shipping), but it was worth it.  I liked the first book in this series, Winter Be My Shield, very much.  Black Sun Light My Way is even better. Continue reading

Gemmell vs. Gernsback

_41941602_gemmellrex_203300 I was indulging one of my vices (reading other people’s blogs, Sarah Hoyt’s in this case) and noticed in the comments a quote from a different blog.  That particular quote had some disparaging thing to say about the Gemmell Awards.  I’m not going to bother linking to the quoted blog because I’m not directly responding to the argument there, which concerned the number of white male authors nominated for awards, specifically the Hugos.  I will quote the relevant passage, because it’s representative of a pretty common attitude.  It also kicked off a train of thought that should be addressed.  Namely, the how relevant the Hugos are compared to the Gemmells.

The Gemmell Awards are named after David Gemmell and focus on heroic fantasy.  The Hugo Awards are named in honor of Hugo Gernsback, who published the first magazine devoted entirely to science fiction, Amazing Stories.  The Gemmell Awards specialize in heroic fantasy, while the Hugos encompass the entire sff field.

Hugo Gernsback (1884–1967) magazine publisher

Huog Gernsback

Here’s the quote:

“Why not just let the works speak for themselves?”

The issue is that when we let the works speak for themselves, we wind up with the Gemmell Awards: 70,000 votes (several orders of magnitudes greater than the Hugos), and every single nominee for Best Novel is a White Dude.  Every best debut novel is a dude, most of them white.

Of course these comments are totally bogus.  I’ll explain why in a second.  But it got me to thinking, always a dangerous thing.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, in addition to the shortlist for the Gemmell Awards, the shortlist for  the Hugo Awards, was announced recently.  And the internet has been having a major hissy fit ever since.

Continue reading