Daily Archives: April 2, 2013

The Android’s Dream Nominated for the Seiun Award

So, this is turning out to be a pretty good week for me in terms of award nominations, since in addition to Hugo and Kurd Lasswitz nods for Redshirts, the Japanese translation of The Android’s Dream has been nominated for the Seiun Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Hugo, in the category of Best Foreign Novel. The entire category:

* The Android’s Dream – John Scalzi

* The Quantum Thief – Hannu Rajaniemi

* Vortex – Robert Charles Wilson

* Black Out – Connie Willis

* The Leviathan Trilogy – Scott Westerfeld

Once again, I am in an excellent field of competitors and I will be delighted to lose to any of them (I won the Seiun a couple of years back, so I’m good). In the short fiction foreign category, Allen Steele, Rachel Swirsky, Adam Troy Castro, Ian McDonald and Paolo Bacigalupi (twice!) are the nominees, so good luck to them.

As I did yesterday with the Kurd Lasswitz award, let me take a moment here to thank my translator, in this case Masayuki Uchida (内田昌之). I believe good translators deserve as much recognition as authors can give them. Thank you also to the Japanese fans who nominated me. I am grateful, and pleased.

The Big Idea: Mary Robinette Kowal

Short version: Mary Robinette Kowal is awesome and one of my favorite people on the planet, her two previous novels have both been nominated for the Nebula Award, which is a fine trick, and Without a Summer continues her streak of excellence handily. Now I’m going to get out of the way and let Mary be awesome in your general direction.

MARY ROBINETTE KOWAL:

“Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure;

seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised or a little mistaken.”

Jane Austen, Emma

When I pitched Without a Summer to my editor, I described it as, “Jane Austen’s Emma against the Luddite rebellion.”

When we talk about Luddites today, we think of people who are backwards and don’t like technology. What was actually going on with the Luddites was way more complicated than that. The Regency was a time of great social change. It’s when we see the rise of the middle class. It has the beginning of steam power and the start of the industrial revolution. The Luddites were a movement that began to protest the introduction of automated looms.

Prior to this, cloth was woven by individuals at home, for a factory. The introduction of the looms reduced the demand for this labor. It also meant that workers were now employed outside the home, which suddenly caused a need for childcare. For this and other reasons, the looms were seen as a disruption of lifestyle and weavers began a series of riots. They were eventually stopped when seventeen of the protesters were put on trial in 1813, with the key members being hanged.

I used the Luddites as the basis for my coldmongers.

In my version of history, everyone has the ability to work glamour, or magic. For most of society it’s simply a decorative art that’s used to beautify the home. But there is one set of skills that is practical and that’s the ability to make things cooler. (Not cold, mind you, because full on refrigeration would break history.) Coldmongers can make things a few degrees cooler, but it’s difficult and takes a hard physical toll. As a result, it falls into the category of labor that is done by the poor and the young for the wealthy.

When the Year Without a Summer hits, which is a real historical event, the world had record cold temperatures and in my novel that forced the coldmongers out of work. This parallels what actually happened.

But it also allowed me to talk about class in ways that you don’t normally get to in a Jane Austen style novel.

In Emma, there are a dozen places where Miss Austen obliquely refers to servants and to Emma’s obliviousness to them. They are invisible and ubiquitous. In Without a Summer, by centering events on coldmongers I’m able to bring the servant class out of the background and on stage as actors.

I use Jane Vincent, my main character, to stand in for the role of Emma. She’s a young lady of quality and has a certain set of assumptions based on how she was raised. When Miss Austen wrote Emma, she said, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like,” because the character was often blinded her own beliefs.

In Emma’s case, those assumptions were about matchmaking. For Jane, with the Luddites and coldmongers, we get into a whole different set of prejudices.

It is a little frightening to take a character I love and make her flaws so visible. But that journey was the thing that excited me. That’s why I wanted Emma to meet the Luddites.

—-

Without a Summer: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s journal. Follow her on Twitter.

The Human Division, Episode Twelve: The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads is Now Live

It’s Penultimate Tuesday — the week before the thrilling finale of The Human Division. Which is not to say that this episode — “The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads” — does not have a few explosive moments of its own (look at that cover art! It’s got an explosion!). Here’s what this week’s episode is all about:

United States Diplomat Danielle Lowen was there when one of her fellow diplomats committed an unthinkable act, which had consequences for the entire planet. Now she’s trying to figure out how it happened before it can happen again. Putting the puzzle pieces together could solve the mystery—or it could threaten her own life.

Readers of The Human Division will remember Danielle Lowen from Episode Nine, “The Observers,” as part of the contingent of diplomats from Earth. In this episode, we’re actually on Earth, and Lowen gets her moment in the spotlight. I’m happy with this because I’m pleased with how she turned out as a character, and wanted to give her a piece that let readers spend a little more time with her before we plunge headlong into the finale.

As ever, the episode will be chatted about over at Tor.com today, and I’ll include a link when it’s up (update: It’s here!). Also, and again as ever, feel free to drop reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, your personal blog or wherever you like, if the mood strikes you. As this is the shortest episode in the series (just over 6,000 words) I’m sure there will be some reviews griping about length, so it would be nice to have some reviews that talk about story instead.

Speaking of length, however, next week’s finale, “Earth Below, Sky Above” is a double-length episode — because we have quite a lot of get through before The Human Division comes to an end. You’re not going to want to miss it. Trust me on this.

The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|iBookstore|Google Play|Kobo|Audible (audiobook) (all links US)