Monday, March 29, 2010

Linky Establishment

Kim Stanley Robinson profile in the Los Angeles Times:
Some of the highlights are quotes from colleagues.
Terry Bisson: "He's sort of a high-modernist bohemian. But he's pretty middle-class about it too."

Karen Joy Fowler: "He believes that problems can be solved, and he sees the first step as imagining ways they might be solved. He is not interested in councils of despair."

Robinson, referencing his new novel Galileo's Dream (Spectra, 2009): Climate-change rejecters and free-market ideologues "have done just what the Catholic Church did with Galileo. They've made the wrong choice and are going to have to crawl away from it, but the damage will have been done." (read the Los Angeles Time article)

China Miéville on The Complete Stories of J.G. Ballard:
"In Ballard . . . the passive voice is part of an invocation of paranoid totality and helps create a baleful world stripped of human agency in which things occur and are done to things."

"Ballard's cool distance does not end at the bedroom door: if anything, what goes on behind that door seems to be dreamlike and abstract fucking, and it spills back out and affects everything else. Investigations of the pornographizing drive as much as an expression of it, this porn is all metaporn."

"Ballard's ambivalence is one of the reasons he is a diagnostician, not a dystopian, and a brilliant one."

(Read the article in The Nation. Be prepared to click through four times to read the whole thing due to irritating website design.)

Best SF and Fantasy of 2009:
Jeff VanderMeer expanded his earlier best of the year list (here) and added commentary: Expanded list

International SF and Fantasy:
Jeff VanderMeer compiled a much-needed best of the year overview of international science fiction.

Best Books of the Decade:
Both Jeff VanderMeer and Matthew Cheney have done a brave thing and compiled their lists of the best books they've read over the past decade. These are fascinating and reward close attention.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Black and White on Blackout

Below are two views of Connie Willis’s new book, Blackout (Ballantine/Spectra, 2010), the first half of her long-anticipated novel about London during the Blitz. The concluding half, All Clear, is due to be published October 2010.

Michael Dirda in The Washington Post:
Blackout plunges the reader right into the middle of three key happenings of 1940: the rescue of the British troops from Dunkirk, the evacuation of children to rural villages and country houses, and the life of ordinary Londoners during the Blitz. Every detail rings true, with the kind of authority that only intense research can bring. Still, all of Willis's knowledge is subsumed in her bravura storytelling: Blackout is, by turns, witty, suspenseful, harrowing and occasionally comic to the point of slapstick.
. . . It's hard to know what to praise more in Blackout, whether the comic misadventures of Eileen, or the nightmarish confusion of Dunkirk and its aftermath, or Polly's growing affection for the people with whom she shares a bomb shelter. (Full review.)
Nick Mamatas at Sci Fi Wire:
It's been nine years since Connie Willis' last novel, and the many fans of this winner of a record 10 Hugo Awards for fiction felt like they'd been waiting forever. And yet Blackout, a time-travel novel about historians in the Second World War, is just, dare we say it, a waste of time.
. . . Blackout starts very slowly. The first few dozen pages are much like standing in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Nobody knows anything, the waits are interminable, and management is entirely unavailable. Sci-fi is supposed to be an escape from the dreariness of everyday life; time travel to a war is supposed to be exciting, or at least terrifying. Instead, we live the life of a historian named Michael Davis, who goes back in time and misses the bus.
. . . War is days of tedium interspersed with moments of sheer terror, but Willis only wrote the tedium. (Full review.) 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Silverini covers Philip K. Dick

Here is a link (via to a gallery of Italian edition Philip K. Dick book covers by Antonello Silverini. Above is the cover for Martian Time-Slip. For comparison, here is the cover of the first American edition