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February 16, 2005

Uncharacteristic SF industry post. I’ve agreed to be one of the five judges for this year’s World Fantasy Awards. The other four are Kate Elliott, Jeffrey Ford, Tim Lebbon, and Jessica Amanda Salmonson. Obviously, I’ll be looking at as much English-language fantasy writing published in 2004 as I can get my hands on. If there’s anything you think we should see, our ship-to addresses are here, and we’ll need to receive it by June 1.

In other genre news, I was happy to see two Tor books among the finalists for this year’s Nebula Award: Gene Wolfe’s outstanding re-envisioning of epic fantasy, The Knight, and Cory Doctorow’s breathlessly inventive debut novel Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. This year’s Nebulas will be given out over the weekend of April 28 - May 1 in Chicago, and I’ll actually be there this time, unlike the last couple of years. [10:21 AM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Uncharacteristic SF industry post.:

Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 11:16 AM:

Congratulations, Patrick!

Is there any conflict of interest if you recommend items of obscure origin to us as you get them?

On the 2nd item, I predict that Cory Doctorow will beat the immortal Gene Wolfe, because of the amount of open-sourcing downloads of Cory's work. The analogy is to the Jazz artist who won a Grammy this year for a work that was only distributed on the internet. Also, because Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is such a shockingly fun read.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 11:39 AM:

On the other hand, the Nebulas are voted on by the membership of SFWA, not by the downloadin' dudes of Slashdot World.

I'm trying to parse what "conflict of interest" might come into play. I'm an editor; singling out good stuff and urging people to read it is what I do.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 11:40 AM:

random thoughts:

Will there be a list of World Fantasy novel nominees?

*looks at list of Nebula nominees*
Well, I've read The Knight and Paladin of Souls. Must check out the other four books there. I was in fact on the verge of borrowing Down & Out from the library last night, but too-much-reading-guilt set in.

Hey, does this mean that Kate Elliott's finished the 6th book in her Crown of Stars series? *hopeful*

Francis ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 11:54 AM:

On the 2nd item, I predict that Cory Doctorow will beat the immortal Gene Wolfe, because of the amount of open-sourcing downloads of Cory's work. The analogy is to the Jazz artist who won a Grammy this year for a work that was only distributed on the internet.

The Baen approach?

*hides from the incoming rotten vegetables*

shsilver ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 12:17 PM:

mayakda-Kate hadn't finished the sixth book when I served with her on the Nebula jury a few years ago. Obviously the problem is she's spending all her time on juries rather than writing.

Patrick-I'm glad you'll be in Chicago. Should I make a list of good hot dog stands near the hotel for you?

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 12:19 PM:

Why would anyone throw rotting vegetables? Jim Baen's use of the internet to market his SF line has been absolutely brilliant, and I admire it unreservedly.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 12:20 PM:

(Chicago hot dogs, mmmm. I can smell the celery salt now.)

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 12:27 PM:

Quote Out Of Context:

"I predict that Cory Doctorow will beat the immortal Gene Wolfe."

Well, if you're going to pound on somebody, I guess it's wise to pick on someone who can't die. Although it's still not very nice.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 12:32 PM:

Ah, the perils of overheated writing. Or, to quote a probably-apocryphal wrestling-match announcer, "And now he's literally nailing his opponent's head to the floor!"

John Farrell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 01:00 PM:

A good omen, Patrick. April 28 when the Nebulas are presented is when I'm supposed to deliver a presentation (either in person or virtually) on Gene Wolfe in Rome....

Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 01:05 PM:

Surprisingly, I've read all of the Nebula nominees for novel. Either my taste is improving, or the SFWA members' taste is improving. Or I got lucky.

I was very glad to see that the jury added _Cloud Atlas_ to the final ballot. While I doubt it will win, and wouldn't vote for it myself, it's a brilliant novel that deserves a lot more attention.

They're all fine books. My money and my vote would be with Cory, for the sheer inventiveness of _Magic Kingdom_. I wouldn't be upset by any of them winning, though. (I don't know if SFWA plays the "sentimental favorite" game, rewarding a longer history of work, but Jack McDevitt's _Omega_ is a great conclusion to the _Engines of God_ - _Infinity Beach_ - _Deepsix_ - _Chindi_ sequence, which has gotten three Nebula nominations but no award so far.)

Congratulations to Tor on the two nominations, and to Patrick in particular for _Magic Kingdom_ (which he may have been too modest to note that he edited).

Patrick, I'm looking forward to seeing the list of World Fantasy Award nominees.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 01:27 PM:

Obviously the problem is she's spending all her time on juries rather than writing.

Obviously! Huh, whose idea was it to unshackle the writers from the desks anyway? Btw, can someone check if GRRM's still secured to the pc. Ok, good. *grin*

Just kidding. I don't mind waiting. Quality over speed. Plus it gives me time to check out new authors. If I should die before I finish either series though, I shall be quite annoyed.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 01:56 PM:

Well, the two books I nominated for the MFA are Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and Paladin of Souls, but you've probably already thought of those. I've been trying to get my hands on a copy of Cloud Atlas but it hasn't happened yet. I should get the MFA long list in early March, if there's anything interesting, I'll pass it on to you.


Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 05:06 PM:

Also, as to recent good books from Tor, see also:

Paul Di Filippo's review of
by Steven Gould

Tor Books
380 pages
Hardcover, Dec. 2004
ISBN 0-312-86421-3
MSRP: $25.95

Sounds like a winner, and contender for Best New Heinlein, in the same respectful way that Mary Turzillo's recent serial in Analog has all the strengths of a Podkayne of Mars told from the teenaged girl's perspective.

Also, I agree with Patrick that Jim Baen is way ahead of the curve on internet marketing, and has been for years. Finally, there are quite a number of Active SFWA members who are also "downloadin' dudes of Slashdot World."

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 07:01 PM:

While you're in Chicago, you might want to check out the Body Worlds exhibit of plastinated & posed cadavers. I believe it's at the Museum of Science & Industry until September.

Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 07:16 PM:

Here's the link for the corpse-fest at the Museum of Science and Industry. My husband keeps trying to get me to go, but his pleas of "Honey! now they have a Stukka, a terrifying coal mine elevator, AND way more corpses than usual!" have somehow failed to move me. I like my corpses properly organ-free and wrapped in linen, the way they keep them over at the Field Museum.

People who aren't squeamish, however, love the slices-of-some-dude exhibit that's been there for years, and this is supposed to be magnitudes cooler. So yes, do consider finding time for it if you can.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2005, 09:21 PM:

Patrick, are you going to buy the sequel to Reflex? I want to know what jumping does to fetuses.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 01:22 AM:

Actually, the slices are of a dudess. About a centimeter thick, and not-too-garishly stained for anatomical convenience.

The last time I saw them, they had been semi-hidden in a stairwell, but that was very long ago. It is unfortunate that Chicago cons are usually a long haul from Hyde Park.

Science & Industry always struck me as a quintessentially stefnal museum, at least for certain, Astounding-to-Analog-transition-era values thereof. Some items, like the cylindrical Display of the Elements (under a giant, rotating globe) had a distinctly Trantorian quality, and the high level of corporate sponsorship (which I understand the current directorate is trying hard to move away from) was in keeping with other Golden Age qualities. Not that the Bell Labs stuff wasn't swell (fold-up wireless telephones with little bitty teevee screens! What a notion in 1964! And you could hear a Bell voder sing "Daisy" long before you know who.)

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 03:30 AM:

Oh wow! Plastination in a town near you! I've been longing for it to come to Australia - would even have gone to the Singapore show if I'd found out about it before it closed.

(For some reason they didn't mention it in their email newsletter (I'm sure Google translation would have noticed "Singapore") Grr.)

Definitely part of The Wonder of the Natural World.

Janeyolen ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 07:08 AM:

Good luck. Having just done a stint as WF judge, I wish you joy of the boxes of enormous doorstops.

Between that and reading for YEARS BEST, you will have your hands full. Or at least your mind full.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 08:30 AM:

Marilee, I'm not Steven Gould's Tor editor, although I certainly like his work. Steve is edited for us by Beth Meacham.

Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 01:55 PM:

JMF: dudess, check. I've never gotten close enough to tell...I just go with non-squeamish friends and stand in another room with my hands over my eyes going "eeyew! deli-sliced corpse! eeeyew!" Seems like it's in a pretty well-lit, open area nowadays.

When I was a kid (1970's thru 80's) Sci&I was known for having several dull, broken exhibits about things like natural gas. You know, "Press this button to see how coal becomes a diamond" and then nothing happened. It redeemed itself by having the Colleen Moore Fairy House, the terrifying coal mine (the elevator drops down into it in total darkness), and a few other showy exhibits. And also by being in Chicago - I grew up in Northern Indiana, so even buttons that didn't do anything were pretty exciting.

Now that I live in the area, I go with visiting friends sometimes, and the exhibits are mostly not broken and they seem more interesting than they used to be...not so much like walking through a textbook. And this new exhibit on the body is the most talked-about thing they've done in ...well, maybe forever.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 05:25 PM:

Oh, I remember the broken exhibit buttons. (For those who've never been to the place, Science & Industry was noted for having operable exhibits; the level of hands-on varied -- mostly it was "push the button to start the demonstration." Union Carbide had a blow-molding apparatus that, for a dime, would generate a small bust of Abe Lincoln (leading to many home reenactments of Our American Cousin), and the Tribune's rather good news-technology hall had a linotype that for a similar investment spat out a still-warm lino slug, but most just did something, of variable interest. (In 1968, the US Army remodeled its hall in unimaginably bad taste -- the high point was a helicopter door-gunner "game" where one fired an M-60 at a model Vietnamese village, which would flash lights in response. I am not making this up. There were near-riots, and it was closed down very quickly.)

Okay, enough with the nostalgia trip already.

It was also open every day but Christmas, and had free admission. This meant that every bored kid in the area (Hyde Park, while it had the University of Chicago, was also seriously economic depressed, at least in my pre-1974 era) would go there, or be dumped by their parents, and run around the halls mashing buttons (an early incidence of that supposedly modern phrase) or, in a few cases, deliberately trying to break things. You know the drill. Things got fixed, but it was impossible to keep even. There's now an admission charge, and as I noted above, a new set of directors that's trying to be less commercial and more creative.

And were you in the Cal Region? I grew up just a few blocks over the Chicago line, in America's industrial armpit. I ask partly because I just acquired a copy of Richard Dorson's book on the folklore of the Region ("urban folklore" in a more classical sense) which I would recommend to anybody interested in modern mythopoesis, but particularly to fellow Region Rats. (Hey, that's not my coinage.)

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2005, 08:49 PM:

My favorite part:

A little plaque, in the "dreams of spaceflight" history section, not far from the TV set that endlessly shows clips of old SF films.

It thanks International Business Machines. And the National Air And Space Museum. And a bunch of other institutions.

And Ross Pavlac.

And William S. Higgins.

Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2005, 10:50 AM:

JMF: I'm from South Bend - I'm a "bender!" More specifically, I'm a UND/SMC faculty brat. Didn't know you were a fellow Hoosier. Hammond? East Chicago? My region friends are mostly from Highland, which is a fairly nice, suburb-ish place. I'll have to look for the book you mention.

Have you seen the South Shore Line "Workshop of America" poster? There's a bunch of terrific South Shore Line posters, including new ones, here, and IU press recently came out with a lovely book full of them, "Moonlight in Duneland," which you should get, if you're nostalgic about the most uncomfortable, ugly commuter train of all time.

As for Hyde Park, nowadays it's an oasis of money--not tons of money, but enough--surrounded by poorer neighborhoods. There have been some small improvements in some of the surrounding areas but not enough. There was a big deal made recently about a Starbucks finally moving into a poor south-side neighborhood - apparently a Starbucks is what you need to show potential residents that your neighborhood is improving. There's a charity that's subsidizing the Starbucks and the neighborhood aldermen campaigned for years to make this happen. Behold the power of coffee.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 18, 2005, 05:20 PM:

The extreme north end of Hammond -- Robertsdale, a subdivision that existed so that the larger city could get water from the lake, and was correspondingly last in its mind and its appropriations schedule. I grew up at approximately 116th Street (the numbers actually count from downtown Chicago) and Indianapolis Blvd. (aka US 41). It was almost entirely industrial -- seven oil refineries, five steel mills, other plants in various degrees of noxiousness (Lever Brothers was a breath of fresh soap on inversion days). The Dorson book calls it the most industrialized patch of ground in the US, which is not hard to believe. He does have a fascinating (for me, anyway) bit where he's being driven around my old neighborhood, and is counting the ethnic influences from the successive waves of employment-seeking immigrants -- East Europeans before the war, southern blacks during, poor Appalachian whites just after. It's called Land of the Millrats, and it's in print in an iUniverse edition that's . . . okay; you might be able to find a used copy of the Harvard hardcover for about the same price.

And yes, I have Moonlight in Duneland, along with the two hundred-odd other railroad-related books.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2005, 08:30 AM:

I suppose the Uncharacteristic SF industry post is as good (or bad) a place as any to pass along a report, from Victor Gonzalez, that F. M. Busby died yesterday afternoon in Seattle. Details will presumably be updated on his CaringBridge patient web page (with guestbook).

Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2005, 07:11 PM:

Well, thanks to google I now know where Robertsdale is - it's between the lake and that enormous water recreation area that spans the toll road. Possibly the water recreation thingy wasn't there yet when you were growing up - my brother's father-in-law is a city planner who worked on the project. I don't know when, though.

This isn't "water recreation" in the sense of slides, pools, etc - it's an expanse of big flat water with little strips of pavement and grass for folks to fish or launch boats from. Probably the most industrial-looking play area I've ever seen...

Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: February 19, 2005, 10:03 PM:

I included "The Sixth Borough" by Jonathan Safran Foer (The New York Times, 17 September 2004) on my Hugo nomination ballot. It's a beautiful, dreamlike historical fantasy that reminds me at lot of John Crowley and Mark Helprin.


HP ::: (view all by) ::: February 22, 2005, 05:43 PM:

John, I thought the museum had a sliced couple, husband and wife. And I vaguely recall learning their story--African-Americans who died penniless and without known relatives, whose bodies were claimed by the state and given to the museum, or something. Very tragic and dreadful, with overtones of the kind of casual racism endemic to the early 20th century. Wasn't the husband sliced laterally rather than longitudinally? Or I'm imagining it all--my memory is both vague and fanciful.

At any rate, I'm not imagining running into the sliced woman half-hidden in the stairwell. I believe this was in the early '80s. It felt as thought the museum were embarrassed to have her, but couldn't hide her completely because of the notoriety.

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 08:55 AM:

I've been trying to think of the fantasy I've read that was published last year, and one that stands out in my mind is Victoria Strauss' The Burning Land. I hope that's already on your pile to have a look at?

Another one would be Patricia McKillip's Alphabet of Thorn, but I confess there were three things about it that niggled at me, and I ended up fan-wanking two of those. Maybe that's just a reflection of my own deficiencies, though. Also worth a look at, imo.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 02:35 PM:

Mayakda: I've also read the McKillip -- I have such mixed feelings about her work. I really really liked some of the early writing but she seems to be turning more and more wispy and ethereal as time goes on. Less and less substance. The current entry does have some interesting and quite uncomplimentary things to say about love and its power though.


HP ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 04:55 PM:

Here's the official page for the sliced couple at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 05:37 PM:

I don't read much fantasy, but the best one I've read in a while is Lisa Goldstein's Dark Cities Underground.

John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: February 23, 2005, 09:33 PM:

Why does the photo of the couple looking at Mr. "Maybe You Can Be Too Thin" look like a still from Alphaville?

Oh, I forgot. The Nouvelle Vague was right all along.