Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Big Idea: David Halperin

Hey there, folks. As I am busy today doing panels and signing books and fighting back the alien invasion of Chicago, I thought I might fill the void that otherwise might be here today by dropping in a Big Idea post. And what a thematically appropriate Big Idea we have for today, as David Halperin, a former professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, is here to talk about his debut novel, Journal of a UFO Investigator. I mention Professor Halperin’s other gig not just to impress you with his book learning (and Book learning, as it were), but because as you’ll see, for Halperin, there’s a thematic connection between UFOs and his chosen field of academia. Here he is to explain how.

DAVID HALPERIN:

In the fall of 1960, when I was just about thirteen years old, I became a believer in Unidentified Flying Objects.  For the next four or five years I made a substantial nuisance of myself, trying to convince anyone with the smallest disposition to listen that our skies were being visited by spaceships from another world, possibly here on a mission of peace and friendship.  But more likely, in my considered adolescent opinion, they’d come bent on invasion and conquest.

How was it possible, the grownups around me demanded, that a bright kid like me could believe this stuff?  My answer was that I was simply bowing to the weight of the evidence.  Now, with the perspective of fifty years, I can see how I deceived myself.  For me, and I think for those in our culture who share the views I once held, the conviction that UFOs were real was not a rational belief but something far more important and profound: a myth.

UFOs as myth—that’s the “big idea” behind Journal of a UFO Investigator.  “Myth,” not meaning “bunk, hooey,” but in the positive Jungian sense of a collective tale that’s a royal road into the depths of our souls.

What’s its meaning?  I start from the data I know best, my own experience.  I became a UFO believer upon reading a single book, Gray Barker’s 1956 bestseller They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. This book “revealed” the doings of the Three Men In Black, who visit those who’ve come close to solving the mystery of the UFOs and terrify them into silence—with threats, but also with the awful horror of the secret itself.  I believed in UFOs because I believed in the Men In Black.  And I believed in the Men In Black because they were a true and faithful mirror of the reality I knew from my household.  We indeed had a terrible secret, which none in my family dared to speak.  Namely that my mother was not merely ill—a “semi-invalid,” we called her—but slowly dying, of an incurable heart condition.

The Men In Black are part of Journal of a UFO Investigator.  The background of the novel is drawn from my own experience as a teenage boy with a dying mother.  Other parts are autobiographical, but in a different sense.  They start out from fantasies and dreams I recall having had during the years from 13 to 17, my years of being a “UFOlogist.”

Vividly do I remember: imagining myself standing outside my home, gazing into the starlit sky, watching as a glowing red disk blazed its way across the heaven.  I say: imagining myself.  I never had this experience, or anything close to it.  But I was utterly convinced I would have it, might have it, that it was there for the having.  This was the scene with which, many years later, I began the story of young Danny Shapiro, UFO investigator.

And I recall a dream I had as a teenager, or perhaps it was a waking fantasy.  I was in an old house, somewhere in the country, attending a meeting of a society of ultra-serious teenagers like myself, dedicated to exploring the mysteries that lie just beyond the borders of science.  Among them was a beautiful blonde girl in an evening dress …  Thus was born the episode of the novel in which Danny visits the headquarters of the “Super-Science Society” and first encounters Rochelle, the lovely young seductress and thief who’ll entice him into the realms of wonder, terror, and ultimately wisdom.

I didn’t remain a UFO investigator forever.  The unspoken, the unspeakable, at last happened: my mother died.  Not long afterward I went off to college.  My UFO belief, its function gone, slowly withered and waned.  My interest shifted to other subjects—the mysterious “wheels” of the Biblical Book of Ezekiel, and the otherworldly journeys of the ancient Jewish visionaries who made their shamanic way toward the “chariot” that Ezekiel claimed to have seen.  These were respectable subjects.  They might yield a Ph.D. dissertation, an academic job, eventually tenure.  Of course at bottom they were UFOs once more, a fact of which I was at least intermittently conscious.

I don’t now believe in visitors from outer space.  But I’ve never lost my sense there’s something vitally important about the modern UFO phenomenon—the “modern myth of things seen in the skies,” as Jung put it in the title of one of his last books—and not for me alone.  This “something” did not yield itself to being set forth in the discursive, analytic prose to which, as a professor of religious studies, I’d grown accustomed.  So I turned to the most natural way of exploring a myth, the way of the ancients.

I told it.  As a story.

It was my story.  But not mine alone.  There were times, during the 14 years that went into the writing of Journal of a UFO Investigator, that I felt the glorious winds blowing upon me from something beyond, and looking upon what I’ve written I can say: this is archetypal.  The myth is greater than me, but also a part of me, bound up inextricably with my individual pain and hope and yearning.

At bottom, I’m persuaded, UFOs are a myth of death, of our soul-struggles in the face of death’s finality.  Death—bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, born with me at the moment of my birth, my inseparable companion all my life.  Yet also death, the ultimate alienness, through which I cease to be I, cease to be anything at all.

The unknown interloper in my sky—and yours too—which paradoxically has always been there.  The eternal “unidentified,” which can’t be banished or rationalized away.  Only contemplated, in awe and wonder.

And its story told, in a thousand different guises.

As I’ve had the privilege to tell it.

—-
Journal of a UFO Investigator: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s
View the book trailer. Visit the author’s blog.

Today’s Nefarious Plans

They are: two panels (one on cover art and ebooks, one on the Hugo awards) and a reading, at which I will likely read from Fuzzy Nation and also from the current work in progress. Which means that the people who go to my reading today at Capricon will be first folks besides me and my wife to know about it. See what you miss by not being here? Also, later tonight there’s supposed to be a dance, so I will probably go out and grind down my arthritic hip a little more.

I will do this all nefariously. Of course. Otherwise what’s the point.

What will you do today? Nefariously?

How I’ve Been Spending My Evening

Standing on a giant scale so that the people running Capricon 31 could find out what my weight is in Coke Zero cans.

The answer: 204 cans, or for those of you with metric inclinations, 76.5 liters. A measurement of 76.5 liters is henceforth to be known as a “Scalzi,” as in “Your dad is coming and he does like his beer, better get a Scalzi’s worth from the liquor store.”

Someone please update Wikipedia to reflect this new knowledge.

Yes, there are pictures. No, I don’t have them because I was busy standing on the scale. I’ll post some when I get them.

I’m guessing that my night has been more interesting than yours so far. I mean, I haven’t even told you about the part where I was photographed fondling my own nipple yet.

You’re welcome for that mental image, by the way.

And now, off to a party.

In Chicago(land)

And here is the obligatory “photo from the hotel window” to prove it. Beyond you see the majestic 294 West freeway, and the parking lot for the mall which has attached itself to the Westin Chicago North Shore, which is where I am because that’s where Capricon 31 is, for which I am author Guest of Honor. If you’re in the Chicago area and were wondering what you were going to do with your weekend and/or swore that you would attempt to assassinate me if only I were within a hundred-mile radius, well. That’s your weekend sorted, isn’t it.

Now to catch up on e-mail and to make sure the folks in yesterday’s political thread haven’t set fire to each other. Excuse me –

The Big Idea: Karen Mahoney

Folklore has tropes and tales that it comes back to again and again — but today’s readers are a discerning lot, and it takes more than reheating a trope to engage them. How to mine the trope and yet make it fresh is a subject on author Karen Mahoney’s mind, and today she talks about how she approached the problem for her new YA novel The Iron Witch.

KAREN MAHONEY:

Many things went into the pot while stirring up The Iron Witch, but I think the ‘big idea’ at the heart of it all came down to a question: How can I make the ‘Armless Maiden’ folktales accessible to young, contemporary fantasy readers?

Ever since I first read Midori Snyder’s essay, ‘The Armless Maiden and the Hero’s Journey’ in The Journal of Mythic Arts, I couldn’t stop thinking about that particular strand of folklore and the application of its powerful themes to the lives of young women. There are many different versions of the tale from around the world, and the ‘Armless Maiden’ or ‘Handless Maiden’ are just two of the more familiar. But whatever the title, we are essentially talking about a narrative that speaks of the power of transformation – and, perhaps more significantly when writing young adult fantasy, the power of the female to transform herself. It’s a rite of passage; something that mirrors the traditional journey from adolescence to adulthood.

Common motifs of the stories include – and I am simplifying pretty drastically here – the violent loss of hands or arms for the girl of the title, and their eventual re-growth as she slowly regains her autonomy and independence. In many accounts there is a halfway point in the story where a magician builds a temporary replacement pair of hands for the girl, magical hands and arms that are usually made entirely of silver. What I find interesting is that this isn’t where the story ends; the gaining of silver hands simply marks the beginning of a whole new test for our heroine.

My own Handless Maiden in The Iron Witch – Donna Underwood – has always felt like an outsider (a “freak” as she has been labelled in high school), and must learn to look upon her swirling iron tattoos as a gift if she is ever truly to gain the freedom-from-duty she so desperately desires. I worked with the striking visual element of a girl with silver hands and created my modern-day heroine as a teenager born into an Order of alchemists. Donna has her hands and arms remade by alchemical magic after being mortally injured by the fey – specifically, the dark elves, who are the enemies of the alchemists – when she is just seven years old. She’s spent the last ten years trying to be ‘normal,’ while also keeping her tattoos – and the enhanced physical strength that they give her – hidden.

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, in her seminal work Women Who Run With the Wolves, says that ‘The Handless Maiden’ tale is truly that of the heroine’s Test of Endurance – and in The Iron Witch, Donna faces a huge test when she has to answer the question:

What are you willing to sacrifice for someone you love?

When her best friend, Navin Sharma, is abducted by the wood elves who reside in the dwindling remains of the Ironwood, Donna has to figure out her answer pretty quickly when she’s given a non-negotiable deadline to deliver the alchemists’ Elixir of Life in exchange for Navin’s safe return.

So, beginning with the idea of updating the Armless Maiden mythology for today’s young adults, I hit upon an effective way of linking the folklore I love with my other great passion: alchemy. I used to work in an occult bookstore in London and had ready access to some wonderful resources including some genuinely esoteric texts. Let me tell you: you haven’t lived until you’ve read John Dee’s journals! But that’s a blog post for another day…

—-

The Iron Witch: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read the first four chapters (with author commentary). Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.

Today’s Lesson From Congress

If you’re a married, Republican U.S. Representative, Craigslist’s personal ads are not for you.

Write that down, please.

And underline it.

(Mind you, Craigslist’s personal ads are probably not a good idea for any U.S. Representative. But especially married, Republican ones.)

Seriously, though. I looked at that story, and what I felt for the dude was not schadenfreude but pity. Literally, the first thought that popped into my head was, oh, you poor, dumb, horny bastard. You didn’t even know what you were getting into, did you.

My second thought was that he looked pretty good for a shirtless U.S. Representative. I’m trying to imagine, say, Henry Waxman shirtless in a cell phone mirror pic and my brain is all, dude, we are so not going there. Fair enough, brain. Fair enough.

And then I was back to you poor, dumb bastard. It’s a damn fool way to leave public service, it is.

Oh, and here’s some irony for you. Key quote here: “Private information and images can so easily be transmitted to friends and strangers alike.” Indeed, sir. Indeed.

A Curious Historical Artifact For You

I’ve mentioned to people before that I tend to write very small when I hand letter things. How small? Well, while going through some old writings, I unearthed this letter, which I wrote on standard 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper when I was 19 or 20:

I have the letter because it was one of those letters, i.e., the ones that are better as cathartic exercises than something actually read by someone else, and also, let’s face it, if someone wrote you a letter that densely packed with no-margin scribblings, your “holy crap, this dude’s nuts” sirens would be going off full blast even if the content was just about how much the person liked puppies and sunflowers (note also that it continues on the other side). It was just as well I never sent it, is what I’m saying, and I’m glad I recognized it at the time. Don’t worry, I’m much better now.

But for all that, maudlin content and flagrant inattention to margins aside, the lettering size was standard for me at the time, and even today I don’t write all that much larger; I’ve just always written really really really small.  I had to train myself a bit to write larger when I started writing handwritten notes in people’s books; it’s not nice to make fans squint. I didn’t have to make my signature larger, though. It’s always been big and swoopy. What it means that I have a huge signature yet really tiny lettering is left to the observer to hypothesize. I’m sure it means nothing good. There’s a reason I mostly type things these days.

Star Wars Characters: Some Actually Get Better

Over at FilmCritic.com this week, I act as a peacemaker between friends and settle a question about the Star Wars series, namely: Do any of the characters actually get more interesting as the series goes along? The answer probably won’t surprise you (it depends on the character), but you may be surprised which characters I think get better as the movies move forward — and which get worse (and in some cases, much worse). Check it out and as always feel free to leave comments over there.

My Capricon Schedule

For those of you who will be at Capricon, which begins this Thursday, here’s my schedule of programming. For those of you who will not be at Capricon, this is what you’ll be missing, you fools.

Opening Ceremonies – Thursday, 02-10-2011 – 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm – River C (Media)
Welcome to Capricon 31: Escape! Join us as we kick off this year’s event and get some idea of what to expect and to meet our GoHs and the people who make it all possible.

The Future of Cover Art in the Age of E-Books – Friday, 02-11-2011 – 10:00 am to 11:30 am – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
As we move towards digital readers, what happens to cover art? How can you judge a book by its e-cover? Some cover art can be horrendous, so is this a good thing?
Walt Boyes
John Picacio (M)
John Scalzi
Kathryn Sullivan

2011 Hugo Awards: Potential Nominees – Friday, 02-11-2011 – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
The nomination period for the 2011 Hugo Awards is open! What books, dramatic presentations, artists, fanzines, and new writers should be nominated?
Stephen Boucher
Deb Geisler (M)
Joe Karpierz
Mary Anne Mohanraj
John Scalzi

Reading: John Scalzi – Friday, 02-11-2011 – 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm – Botanic Garden A (Special Events)

Science Fiction Films Today: More Special Effects than Science Fiction? – Saturday, 02-12-2011 – 11:30 am to 1:00 pm – Willow
Are “Science Fiction” films still science fictional? Do cool special effects make up for the lack of actual science? What about critical successes like Moon, that didn’t have blockbuster special effects? Our film critics and experts discuss where SF and film is headed.
Bob Blackwood (M)
Mark Mallchok
Paul McComas
John Scalzi

GoH Q & A: John Scalzi – Saturday, 02-12-2011 – 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
We think we know John Scalzi through his long-running blog, Whatever. But really, there’s so much more you don’t know, secrets he has not yet revealed. Come and ask your questions – you shall be answered!
John Scalzi

Autographing: John Scalzi – Saturday, 02-12-2011 – 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm – Autograph Table

Can Bacon Go Wrong? – Sunday, 02-13-2011 – 10:00 am to 11:30 am – Botanic Garden B (Special Events)
Yes, we know that in theory, everything is better with bacon. But sometimes, occasionally, can it go horribly wrong? Can there be too much of this great thing? Are some things really not better with bacon? (Sunday morning pancakes not included.)
Brian “Thee Bluebeard” Miskelley
Erik V. Olson (M)
John Scalzi
Geri Sullivan
Leane Verhulst

Closing Ceremonies & Feedback Session – Sunday, 02-13-2011 – 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm – River C (Media)
All good things must come to an end and that includes Capricon 31, the best Capricon you’ll attend in 2011. Come to Closing Ceremonies to help us ring out the old con and usher in the new when the Cap32 chair gives a hint of what will happen when we convene in 2012.

The Big Idea: Stina Leicht

Fantasy authors incorporate elements of the fantastical into the modern world all the time — the genre of “urban fantasy” is all about that. But when authors inject fantasy into the real world, and into events of the real world that have a history of contentiousness and hard emotions, there’s another level of complication… and of opportunity. Debut author Stina Leicht found out about both with her novel Of Blood and Honey, which takes place in Northern Ireland of the not at all recent past. How does one thread the path between fantasy and reality in a setting like that? Leicht explains.

STINA LEICHT:

One of my favourite writers, Terry Pratchett, once wrote that stories were parasites that search for people to happen to.

I still wonder why this story picked me.

The first seeds of Liam’s tale were planted during a Science Fiction convention panel about culture and myth appropriation. The question posed was: Is it ethical for fantasy writers to strip-mine traditional stories and characters from minority cultures? During the ensuing battle, one panellist stated that the reason fantasy had ventured into foreign cultures was because the Celtic myths were tired and overdone. I walked away with the impression that what had actually been overworked were concepts based on other writers’ works—not ancient myth. My hunch was that genuine traditional Irish myths would be as foreign to most American readers as a Martian landscape.

Irish fairy tales come in two varieties. The first are no different than our Tall Tales of Paul Bunyan or John Henry. The second, according to Eddie Lenihan, traditional Irish storyteller and author of Meeting the Other Crowd—the Fair Folk—are dark, terrifying and ghostly. In fact, they have more in common with creatures from a Stephen King story than a Disney film. In addition, I wondered what it would be like to return those traditional myths to their native soil but in an urban setting. Unlike the United States, Ireland strikes me as a place where Christianity exists side by side with the Old Ways—maybe not always comfortably or peacefully, but they both exist. I wanted to write a story that treated those elements equally.

Not long after that I was working at BookPeople as a bookseller and found a nonfiction galley left in the employee lunchroom. The ARC was for Those Are Real Bullets, Aren’t They?: Bloody Sunday, Derry, 30 January 1972 by the British journalists Peter Pringle and Philip Jacobson. Like many Americans, “Bloody Sunday” meant nothing more to me than a popular U2 song. Out of curiosity, I picked up the book. The more I read Pringle’s and Jacobson’s firsthand account, the more horrified I became. To think that a government—the British government, mind you, not a third world dictatorship—could get away with such a terrible lie in spite of photographic evidence, film evidence, forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts in my lifetime was beyond belief. When I told close friends about it they thought I was exaggerating. I couldn’t blame them. Who would want to believe it?

So it was that I decided to use fantasy elements to understand the conflict. I started writing about Liam—a Catholic growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland who is told his father was a Protestant who abandoned his mother when she became pregnant. However, his Grandmother’s lies conceal more than an illegitimate birth, and he grows up with no knowledge of what he is—one of the Fair Folk—nor his true potential. Like other teens, he deals with the day to day dangers of coming of age in the middle of a war, and like others in his community, he’s traumatized by it, but Liam inherits other problems from his real father: fallen angels, the fey, a sect of Catholic priest-assassins dedicated to protecting humanity from the supernatural, and a sworn enemy. Of course, then there’s the possibility that Liam might be more than a little bit… crazy.

The Troubles is a complex subject, and Americans are infamous for treating it with little respect. That’s why I was thorough and careful in my research. The novel definitely took me into some uncomfortable places, and it wasn’t always easy to write. However, I soon began to see similarities between the Britain of the 1970s and contemporary America. In fact, I was already a good way into writing Of Blood and Honey when the news hit about the arrests at the 2008 Republican National Convention. The video of American police kicking in the front door of a student protest group in Minneapolis was both eerily familiar and downright chilling. I began to wonder if I was going to finish before history tragically repeated itself. I still worry about our vast political divide, the resulting hostility, and where America is ultimately headed. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing this book it’s that frightened people make terrible, stupid mistakes. Frightened people with guns make deadly ones.

It’s important to note that the British government apologized for the massacre at Bloody Sunday last summer—thirty-eight years after British paratroopers shot and killed thirteen unarmed civilian protestors and then labelled them “terrorists.” Most Americans believe the situation in Northern Ireland was resolved with the 1998 Northern Ireland Peace Agreement. However, Belfast now has more walls separating its communities than it did during The Troubles, and the recent economic situation has resulted in a resurgence of tension. So it is that the legacy of that Sunday in 1972 continues to tragically affect new generations. It’s why I believe we shouldn’t turn away from its lessons. Above all, we shouldn’t forget.

—-

Of Blood and Honey: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|IndieBound|Powell’s

Visit the author’s LiveJournal. Follow her on Twitter.

Bandwidth Boosting

A couple of things that people have sent me in the last week that I’m happy to boost the signal for:

First, this message from my pal Jesi Lipp, about the teen writing workshop called Alpha:

I was wondering if you would be so kind as to mention Alpha on your blog again. Here’s a short paragraph about it, composed by our lovely head of publicity: “The Alpha SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers (ages 14-19) will be held July 13-22, 2011 in Pittsburgh, PA. At Alpha, students can meet others who share their interest in writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They can learn about writing and publishing from guest authors, including Tamora Pierce, Ellen Kushner, and David Levine. Also, they will write and revise a short story during the workshop. Applications are due March 1, 2011.” The website is alpha.spellcaster.org.

Also, we’re currently trying to raise money for the Alpha Scholarship Fund. Going to Alpha isn’t cheap, and we don’t want great young writers to miss this chance because they couldn’t afford it. Last year, we raised almost $2000 by selling copies of “Ned and Jane,” a book written at Alpha 2008. We don’t have an awesome gimmick this year like last year, but we’re hoping that some of your readers might be willing to donate $5 or $10 to help fund two full and two partial scholarships this year. If you could also link to http://alpha.spellcaster.org/donate/, that would be amazing.

I’m a fan of the Alpha workshop — I visited it a couple years ago and was impressed at all the very smart young writers who will soon run me out of the business with their cleverness — so if you have a teen who wants to learn more about writing science fiction and fantasy, it’s a good place to start.

Moving on, this from Jeff VanderMeer, who is trying to raise $1,000 to hire translators for a book project, and is willing to put his feet where his mouth is (er, so to speak):

IF we reach the $1,000 goal, I will do an interpretative dance based on the title story in my story collection, “The Third Bear,” which will be taped and put up on YouTube for your enjoyment. Trust me when I say that…I am a terrible dancer…and very bad at interpretative dance…and, um, a dance based on The Third Bear…I could do myself an injury on accident…

Jeff’s currently at $425, so we’re not too far off from spastic flailing. It’s probably worth donating just for the comedy value alone.

For everyone else who has stuff they want to promote, I’ll be doing a pimp thread a little later in the week. Probably Thursday or Friday. Try to hold on until then.

And Now, My Thoughts On the AOL-Huffington Post Thing

Looks like AOL is still spending too much to replace me.

(Context, for those of you who lack it: For two years in the mid-90s I was AOL’s in-house writer/editor and did all sorts of various writing and editing gig for them. Then I was laid off and shortly thereafter AOL bought Time Warner. I liked to joke that AOL realized it still needed content, so Time Warner was what they got to replace me.)

(And for the record: I totally would have been willing to let AOL buy out Whatever for only $250 million. Think of the savings! Well, maybe next time.)

(No, I don’t know why I’m still using parenthesis at this point. Just go with it, please. Thanks.)

Hey, Look: Fanties!

In case you were wondering what those creatures, featured in both The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale, might look like.

Those of you familiar with the Subterranean Press limited editions of my Old Man’s War series will recognize the artwork as Vincent Chong’s, and a terrific job he’s done of it. This will be one of the interior illustrations for the upcoming SubPress edition of Zoe’s Tale, whose cover I’ve already burbled about here. The other interior decorations are similarly awesome. You can nominate him for a Hugo, you know. I’m just saying.

Dear Fluffy White Flakes of Snow, Which Are Currently Falling So Picturesquely and Settling On Top of the Glacier Which Now Surrounds My House

GAAAAAAHHHH ARRRRGH DIE DIE JUST GODDAMN DIE WHY DON’T YOU YOU FLUFFY WHITE BASTARDS I AM COMING FOR YOU WITH A FLAMETHROWER AND A FRIGGIN EASY BAKE OVEN I SWEAR TO ALL THAT IS HOLY IN THIS WORLD AND THE NEXT THAT I WILL END YOU BWA HA HA HA HAH AH HA HA HA YEEEEARRGGGH.

Thank you. And yes, I do feel better now.

Fun With Artwork

I liked Paul Kidby’s art for the French version of Agent to the Stars so much that I bought it. And here it is. And it looks fabulous. Paul was also kind enough to offer me the black and white sketch he did for the cover, which is also fabulous, in a monochromatic fashion, so now I have that too. How awesome is that. I mean, it’s cool enough just that people create covers for things I write. But to get to own it too? Well. I like my life, is what I have to say to that.

Science Fiction Award Recommendations 2010: The Reader’s List

We’re getting close to crunch time for Nebula and Hugo Award nominations: For SFWA members, the last day to get in Nebula nominations is 11:59pm (Pacific) on February 15, and while the Hugo nomination period lasts through March 26, it’s generally a good idea not to wait until the last minute to get in your nods. So if you can nominate for the Nebulas or the Hugos (or both!) now is a fine time to do it.

Last month I offered authors a chance here to note which works of theirs are eligible for awards this year; today I would like to offer science fiction and fantasy readers and fans some space to list eligible works and people who they think award nominators should keep in mind when filling out their ballots. After all, you’re the folks reading the books and watching the movies and TV shows; you should know what you think is the bast stuff of last year — and Whatever is read by a not-insignificant percentage of the people who nominate for science fiction and fantasy awards. So: Share!

Now, the rules:

1. Anyone may post in this thread — we’re all fans — but if you or your work is eligible for awards this year you may not recommend yourself or your work. There’s another thread for that (see link above). To repeat: Only recommend others and/or the work of others.

2. Only recommend works or people you know are eligible for awards this year (usually, works released or people who had work released in the 2010 calendar year). If you are not sure, please check. It’s not that difficult.

3. Please try to put all your recommendations into a single post; it makes it easier to for folks to scan through the comment thread.

4. When you recommend a work or a person, if possible (and it usually is possible), note the category in which it or they is eligible — remember, you’re trying to suggest nominations, so make it easy for people to know which category to nominate in. This is particularly the case for short fiction, which for both the Hugo and Nebula (and other awards) has three categories based on length: Short Story, Novelette and Novella. Here’s information on the Hugo Award categories; here’s information on the Nebula Award and its categories.

5. You may include links to eligible works if they are legally available online but be aware that posts with three or more links are likely to get punted into the moderation queue. If this happens, don’t panic — I’ll be along presently to free them.

6. Do not recommend me or my work, please. I’ve already let people know what work of mine is eligible; this thread is for everything else.

7. Finally, don’t post in the thread unless you’re making recommendations (i.e., no comments on other people’s recommendations, etc); I want the thread as uncluttered as possible so nominators can find good ideas.

Now, then: What science fiction and fantasy works and people do you think nominators should consider for awards this year? Tell us! Now!