Friday, July 21, 2017

Goodreads!

Dive on in!

[EDIT: yo, I just edited that so it goes to the Friends link ... been having a devil of a time consolidating my for-real Goodreads account.]

Some of my Facebook friends are on Goodreads, so I went in and spent a little time revitalizing my Goodreads profile, which was tied to a now-defunct Facebook page (I have a Charon Dunn author page on Facebook now, in case you want to check out my likeage).

I have token representation on a lot of platforms like Goodreads and Facebook and Google+ and more writer and reader forums than I can remember, but this blog is where I mainly hang out and write reviews and bloviate and stuff.  I don't do Amazon and Goodreads reviews, yet, although I haven't ruled it out for future plans. Eventually I may consolidate, once I find a platform that's comfortable for me and my readers to hang out, until then you'll find me here.

I do rate books on Goodreads. It pained me, but I just decommissioned a bunch of 5-star reviews to 4, because it was getting perilously close to meaningless. My 5-star ratings are currently reserved for Watership Down, Options, Game of Thrones (the whole series) and Dark Tower (the whole series), subject to reconsideration.

I realize some people prefer to have a slate of pure 5-star reviews, and I don't want to mess up their perfection with any of my 4-star ratings, so if I see a forest of 5s I'll steer clear. Similarly, if your book has a bunch of 1-star reviews, I'm going to avoid irritating your huge clique of enemies until I have enough time to look at the facts and decide whether or not they're wrong. If you can live with feedback in the 2-4 range, drop me a note.

Per my normal review policy, I'll be glad to hand out Goodreads ratings if given a review copy, although I won't do it for money or sex or cupcakes or anything like that.

My Goodreads reading is NOT limited to YA, so that's the only place I'll opine on books for adults (and books for little kids).  My tastes are eclectic, as you might notice.  It's also very incomplete. Every once in a while I have the patience to sit still and rate things I read long ago, but that's not a frequent thing.





Thursday, July 13, 2017

Last 2017 Hugo Review - Every Heart a Doorway Can Keep A-Knockin' But It Can't Come In

I read Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire.  This story hates Narnia even more than The Magician by Lev Grossman.  It’s about a halfway house for kids that have ventured to other worlds via stories that are collectively known as Portal Fantasies (like Narnia, Phantom Tollbooth and many other stories where kids find a portal to a fantasy land). 


Our teenage girl protagonist is a goth who has mastered the art of standing still and who has a sadness meltdown upon discovering her parents have replaced her “carefully” packed goth shrouds with rainbow-colored garments.  I gave up on her story during an intense and bitter discussion of whether she wanted to bump uglies with some guy from Oklahoma that she'd just met.  I see no reason to revise my ballot.






Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My Regulars and Net Neutrality

According to the blog stats, this place has a lot of sporadic viewers who drop by to check out my Hugo stuff, or respond to my feeble attempts at PR.  It has a handful of regular viewers -- a small handful for a while, now it's getting to be a nice large fistful.

I'm not sure who all of you are -- I'm pretty certain about one (who owes me an email by the way) -- but the rest might be people from real life checking up on me, or fans of some of the other blogs I've done over the years, or enemies making sure I haven't said anything actionable.

I figure that people who hang out here are savvy enough to know about net neutrality without me having to shake a bunch of banners and gimmicks in their faces. I feel pretty strongly about not cluttering this place up with ads and malware and crap, and that includes not spamming you with political stuff.  Unfortunately, the entire foundation of net neutrality has to do with banners and gimmicks, and issues like whether I'll be able to keep running an ad-free blog with minimal clutter and plenty of words.  I did my obligatory click-to-contact-my-elected-representatives, and I've got faith those of you that are into computers are doing the same thing. I'm glad we can deal with it like grownups and therefore I don't have to resort to any sordid nagging and whining and popup windows.






Hugo Errata

As it turns out I was being blonde as to my understanding of Hugo voting/membership, so I did a swift disgorgement of funds to the correct website (this time) to unlock my voting ability.

I'm capricious with regard to swiftly disgorging funds. Impulsively decide to join Worldcon and fly to Spokane? Okay. Spend ten bucks grabbing a nominated book? Too expensive -- no!

Then I voted as previously mentioned, with the exception of substituting my vote for Elisabeth Leggett for a withdrawn nominee.

And now I've got something like 48 hours, so I might as well read the Mieville and McGuire stories too, to see if I like them enough to squeeze them onto my ballot.

EDIT: I'm reading McGuire, anyway, because there was a nice clean Mobi as opposed to the watermarked pdf of Mieville -- no thanks.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hugo Reviews: Best Novel

There has been lively debate on File 770 as to whether it’s cheating if you don’t read ALL the nominees. I’ve read most of the nominees. I didn’t feel like buying all the novels and ten-dollar-novellae that were in the freebie bundle for people signed up for the ’17 Worldcon, so I omitted certain works because paying to read something I’m already pretty sure I’m not going to like, just so I can torture myself by reading it and then not vote for it, makes me feel like a sucker. So I vote how I vote, change the rules if you don’t like it.

I also didn’t read the JCW story. I wondered whether he was being sexist again, I read a few reviews that confirmed yes, he was; I therefore determined this was a story only for men and that exposing my delicate little feminine retinae to said story would probably expose them to preternatural amounts of testosterone. 

And finally, we’re up to novels I didn’t read. Which is half of them. And yet I have the temerity to vote anyway. Let me explain.

The N.K. Jemisin and Cixin Liu entries were parts of series. Each author won a prior best novel Hugo for entries in the same series – I voted for both. I’ve got qualms about voting for two books in the same series winning best novel.  Particularly if they are part of a series I wasn’t at all eager to re-enter. That’s why I didn’t read either, and omitted them from my ballot.

I did read Ninefox Gambit and Too Like The Lighting, and wrote brief reviews. I love them both, in different ways.

As for the Anders book, there was a preview first chapter available and I gave it a spin … paragraph one, bird with a  crushed wing (“waving” it, in fact). A few paragraphs down, mutilated frogs and mice. Scanning further, bird engages in lengthy dialogue despite crush injury, begs for quick death; subsequent encounter with vicious cat … that’s enough.  

I could have grabbed both the Anders and Chambers books and scanned them real fast, but once I got into the Chambers book, I noticed the crisp contrast in how unfailingly nice she is, even when she’s having her waif heroine kill, butcher and eat the predatory dogs that attack her. The gore is off camera, and the waif’s sensitivities are considered. Contrasted with Anders’ vision, where an even younger child deals in blasé fashion with all kinds of animal abuse inside the first few paragraphs … it wasn’t worth straining my eyeballs or my sensibilities or my time constraints. I only had time to read one. 

I had my hesitations about A Close and Common Orbit  Book one in the series was endless introductions to new alien co-workers, and discussions on how to politely serve everyone’s diverse needs. Then ACaCO started off by pushing my buttons, nearly as severely as the animal abuse, by giving me a hero that was an AI walking around inside a “kit” or human-resembling body. 

And then it redeemed itself in spectacular synchronicitous fashion. The walking AI hero, Sidra, is getting a tattoo. The tattoo artist character then begins riffing on how mind and body, despite the thoughts of our AI character, are not entirely separate, that In fact they are interconnected. Which is exactly the flaw I had with the entire concept of yet another dreary example of a ghost in a machine. And here’s a fabulous tattoo artist character setting the hero straight. And I was blown away. Partially because I’m planning on spending Friday afternoon in a tattoo parlor getting a big nice tattoo to cover a small ugly tattoo, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years – I’m stoked about it.

And now I’ll have a great story to tell the inkslinger while he stabs pigment into my flesh. How I voted for the best science fiction novel of the year on the basis of a scene in which a tattoo appears as the symbol for integration of body and spirit, something I’ve been militant about enforcing in my own personal aesthetic.

ACaCO continued blowing me away, as a nurturing child-rearing AI helps a foundling waif to re-start a crashed spaceship, putting her in contact with the steppin’ AI (who now has a very close appreciation of the symbiosis between mind and body) – I’m not going to spoiler any further other than to note that Chambers' AIs are warmer and kinder than many writers' human characters. I'll also say that emotions were involved, and it was all gooey and messy.  I love this book. I’m glad I gave it a chance, and slowed down to focus on it. 

Final tally:

NUMBER ONE: A Close and Common Orbit
NUMBER TWO: Ninefox Gambit 
NUMBER THREE: Too Like the Lightning


And now I think I need to take a break and read something completely different.





Sunday, July 9, 2017

My 2017 Hugo Ballot

I'm still reading Becky Chambers ... but here's the rest.

I was sporadic this year. I felt free to ignore works I didn’t intend to vote for. In some categories I picked my favorite and ignored everything else, in others I give rankings. I didn’t vote No Award this year, because every category where I voted contained at least one work that I felt deserves an award.

Category and Nominees
My Vote
Comments and Links
Best Novel
Ø All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)
Ø A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)
Ø Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)
Ø Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)
Ø The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
Ø Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)


1.  A Closed and Common Orbit 
2.  Ninefox Gambit
3.  Too Like the Lightning


Best Novella
Ø The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (Tor.com publishing)
Ø The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson (Tor.com publishing)
Ø Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing)
Ø Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)
Ø A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com publishing)
Ø This Census-Taker, by China Miéville (Del Rey / Picador)

1. The Ballad of Black Tom
2. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
3. Penric and the Shaman
4. A Taste of Honey




I forgot to write a review of Black Tom, and I'm not going to read it again so that I can write one, nor am I going to reread the Lovecraft story it's riffing on, "The Horror at Red Hook." I'll trust my memory that assures me it's worthy.

EDIT: I read McGuire's story but didn't like it.
Best Novelette
Ø Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
Ø “The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan (Tor.com , July 2016)
Ø “The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, by Fran Wilde (Tor.com publishing, May 2016)
Ø “The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
Ø “Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
Ø “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

1. Touring with the Alien
2. The Tomato Thief
3. The Art of Space Travel
Best Short Story
Ø  “The City Born Great”, by N. K. Jemisin (Tor.com, September 2016)
Ø “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, by Alyssa Wong (Tor.com, March 2016)
Ø “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
Ø “Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
Ø “That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn (Tor.com, March 2016)
Ø “An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

1. Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies
Best Related Work
Ø The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley (Tor Books)
Ø The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)
Ø Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)
Ø The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow / Harper Collins)
Ø The Women of Harry Potter posts, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)
Ø Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

1. Silverberg
Best Graphic Story
Ø Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our       Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)
Ø Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
Ø Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)
Ø Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image)
Ø Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image)
Ø The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)

Abstain

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Ø Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)
Ø Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)
Ø Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)
Ø Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)
Ø Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)
Ø Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

1. Rogue One




Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Ø Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)
Ø Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)
Ø The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
Ø Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)
Ø Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)
Ø Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

1. Battle of the Bastards

Best Editor, Short Form
Ø John Joseph Adams
Ø Neil Clarke
Ø Ellen Datlow
Ø Jonathan Strahan
Ø Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
Ø Sheila Williams

Abstain

Best Editor, Long Form
Ø Vox Day
Ø Sheila E. Gilbert
Ø Liz Gorinsky
Ø Devi Pillai
Ø Miriam Weinberg
Ø Navah Wolfe

Abstain

Best Professional Artist
Ø Galen Dara
Ø Julie Dillon
Ø Chris McGrath
Ø Victo Ngai
Ø John Picacio
Ø Sana Takeda

1. Sana Takeda
Dara: very impressionistic.
Dillon: also impressionistic but more colorful.
McGrath: brooding protagoni.
Ngai: pastel surrealism.
Picacio: colorfully brooding protagoni.
Takeda: very versatile and talented - winner winner chicken dinner.
Best Semiprozine
Ø Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Ø Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander
Ø GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith
Ø Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff
Ø Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
Ø The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

Abstain 

Best Fanzine
Ø Castalia House Blog, edited by Jeffro Johnson
Ø Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood
Ø Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
Ø nerds of a feather, flock together, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry
Ø Rocket Stack Rank, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong
Ø SF Bluestocking, edited by Bridget McKinney

1. Rocket Stack Rank
Solely due to Filer nepotism
Best Fancast
Ø The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan
Ø Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace
Ø Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
Ø Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
Ø The Rageaholic, presented by RazörFist
Ø Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

Abstain

Best Fan Writer
Ø Mike Glyer
Ø Jeffro Johnson
Ø Natalie Luhrs
Ø Foz Meadows
Ø Abigail Nussbaum
Ø Chuck Tingle

1. Chuck Tingle
2. Mike Glyer

Best Fan Artist
Ø Ninni Aalto
Ø Vesa Lehtimäki
Ø Likhain (M. Sereno)
Ø Spring Schoenhuth
Ø Steve Stiles
Ø Mansik Yang

1. Ninni
2. Vesa
3. Likhain
4. Mansik Leggett
5. Steve
6. Spring
Very brief reviews

EDIT: I got my data from a bad source; Mansik Yang is out and Elisabeth Leggett is in, I had it backwards.  I do that a lot.  Anyway, I'm goint to vote Leggett in Mansik's place; I like her stuff. 
Best Series
Ø The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone (Tor Books)
Ø The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
Ø The October Daye Books, by Seanan McGuire (DAW / Corsair)
Ø The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz / Del Rey / DAW / Subterranean)
Ø The Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Harper Voyager UK)
Ø The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

Abstain
My, that’s a lot of words, and I haven't read any of them.
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Ø Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
Ø J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
Ø Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
Ø Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
Ø Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
Ø Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)


1. Ada Palmer