Posts Tagged ‘sf site’
My joint review of Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M Kimmel and Monstrous Creatures by Jeff VanderMeer is up now at SF Site. It turned into a bit of a ramble about the point of collections of criticism:
You love the fantastic, it is in your blood. You have devoted a substantial part of your life to it, a part friends and colleagues have sometimes suggested has been wasted. Sometimes you wonder if they are right. You have poured your blood out through your pen but you find yourself unregarded, unrewarded and out of pocket. You are invested… so you want a return on your investment. How do you crystallise this labour into something that means something? How can you — whisper it — moneterise it? The answer is, of course, a book. A book is an artefact that has value (even in this day and age) beyond its pulped wooden weight. Commensurate with this prestige is a question though: why do my thoughts deserve collecting?
Eventually I got onto the books themselves. Guess which one contains thoughts worth collecting.
My review of Swords & Dark Magic, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders, is up now at SF Site:
So Swords & Dark Magic is an excellent showcase for both its contributors and the subgenre itself. If epic fantasy is generally considered to be most comfortable with a word count measured in the millions, sword and sorcery proves to be the perfect genre for the short story. Like their protagonists, the authors follow the adventurers’ code: get in and get out. The result is an anthology with a remarkably high hit rate. In fact, this is probably the single best original fantasy anthology I’ve read. More please.
It turned out to be a cracker but I initially requested a copy of Swords & Dark Magic because of an increasing interest in commercial fantasy, its substance and its taxonomy. This was also the subject of two earlier posts:
Edit: I gave Gene Wolfe’s contribution, ‘Bloodsport’, short shrift in my review since I don’t think it really fits with the anthology. However, I did discuss it in detail here.
I’ll tell you about punk rock: punk rock is a word used by dilettantes and, uh… and, uh… heartless manipulators, about music… that takes up the energies, and the bodies, and the hearts and the souls and the time and the minds, of young men, who give what they have to it, and give everything they have to it. And it’s a… it’s a term that’s based on contempt; it’s a term that’s based on fashion, style, elitism, satanism, and, everything that’s rotten about rock ‘n’ roll. I don’t know Johnny Rotten… but I’m sure, I’m sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did. You see, what, what sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise… is in fact… the brilliant music of the genius… myself. And that music is so powerful, that it’s quite beyond my control. And, ah… when I’m in the grips of it, I don’t feel pleasure and I don’t feel pain, either physically or emotionally. Do you understand what I’m talking about? Have you ever, have you ever felt like that? When you just, when you just, you couldn’t feel anything, and you didn’t want to either. You know, like that? Do you understand what I’m saying, sir?
My review of Katja From The Punk Band by Simon Logan is up now at SF Site.
My review of A Guide To Fantasy Literature by Philip Martin is up now at SF Site. I’d completely forgotten about this review but it means that for the first time in almost a decade I have nothing pending. What freedom! Unfortunately, the book itself isn’t very good:
I still can’t tell you who the intended audience of The Guide To Fantasy Literature is, it falls between so many stools. Looking over my review, similar words and phrases crop up again and again: “scrappy,” “ragtag and vague,” “compressed and idiosyncratic,” “lackadaisical,” “remarkably casual.” These are not individually damning criticisms but they certainly don’t present any incentive to read this book. Martin’s book has passion but it lacks utility.
The 2009 SF Site Editors’ Poll – which I vote in – has just been published. What is particularly interesting about the SF Site poll is that it has a corresponding Readers’ Poll. So, for example, The City & The City by China Mieville tops the readers’ poll but is beaten into second by Dust Of Dreams by Steve Erickson in the editors’ poll (which doesn’t even feature on the readers’ list). In contrast, last year Anathem by Neal Stephenson topped both editors’ and readers’ polls and Erickson’s previous Malzan novel, Toll The Hounds, was similarly placed at fourth and fifth respectively.
My long review of The Secret History Of Science Fiction, edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel (and previously mentioned here, is up now at SF Site. The introduction is blunt but to the point:
The Secret History of Science Fiction is a very good collection of short stories. It is not, however, a very good anthology.
It is a problem I’ve had more than a few times – the gap between the individual stories and overall of aim of the editor – and it is a problem I’m sure I will have again.
Speaking of which, for the next of my story by story reading projects I’m planning to read The Ascent Of Wonder: The Evolution Of Hard SF, edited by David G Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. It is an absolute monster: just under 1,000 pages. It has three introductions, for God’s sake, one for each of the editors and a bonus one for Gregory Benford. Having read Paul Kincaid’s review of the anthology – in which he takes strong issue with the editors’ definition of hard SF – and sharing similar concerns to him, I suspect this will be another anthology which I find frustrated by its editors. We shall see.
I will start with Benford’s introduction later this week but the whole thing will probably take me until the end of the year.
My review of Biohell by Andy Remic is up now at SF Site. It is a very long time since I have written a review for them and I chose an absolutely shocking novel to return with. As I conclude:
When I opened this book I was hoping for something like David Gunn’s Deaths Head series: gung ho adventure SF with the wit to know its strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately this is just witless.
Fortunately, my next book for SF Site – In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield – seems infinitely better.