Saturday, July 30, 2011

Handicapping the 2011 Hugo Awards

Wherein your humble correspondent predicts what the voters will choose for the 2011 Hugo Awards. For rankings that reflect my Hugo voting, see the links below.

Best Novel
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis almost certainly will win, an unfortunate result since it was the most disappointing of the best novel nominees that I read (I haven’t read Bujold’s Cryoburn). Willis is a popular personality at science fiction conventions and the Hugo Awards are a popular-vote award.  Willis has already amassed 10 Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards, including the 2011 best novel Nebula Award for Blackout/All Clear. There has been some outcry on the internet that this novel is in fact bad, so there is some chance that it will be passed over. (Read the SF Strangelove review of Blackout/All Clear.) The next most likely winner is Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold. Third mostly likely is Feed by Mira Grant. My choice for best novel, The Dervish House by Ian McDonald, is a long shot.

Best Novella
This was the strongest fiction category with four excellent nominees and one fairly good one. “The Lifecycle of Software Objects” by Ted Chiang is the likely winner. It’s brilliant, if slow paced. The notion that artificial intelligences would need to be nurtured for years, much like human children, is one of those smack-yourself-on-the-forehead ideas that is obvious now that Chiang has dramatized it. The next most likely winner is "The Sultan of the Clouds" by Geoffrey A. Landis, which for me was the weakest story in the category. The third most likely winner is "The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen's Window" by Rachel Swirsky, which got a boost from winning the 2011 Nebula Award. My top selection, "The Maiden Flight of McCauley's Bellerophon" by Elizabeth Hand, is another long shot.

Best Novelette
This is probably the hardest fiction category for me to predict, since I don’t understand what the nominating voters saw in most of these stories. I think “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly will win. It is the best of a weak category. The second most likely winner is “The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele, with its fan-friendly message about reading early science fiction about Mars. “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone won the 2011 Nebula Award for best novelette, making it the third most likely to win. The Nebula Award voters didn’t share my negative opinion regarding “That Leviathan.”

Best Short Story
I expect this category to have results similar to my own rankings. “The Things” by Peter Watts is the likely winner, benefiting from fan familiarity with the movie “The Thing.” The second most likely winner is “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal, set aboard a generation starship.

Best Dramatic Presentation -- Long Form
Inception is a pretty sure bet to win here. I was disappointed by it, as I noted in my short review, yet it remains the best of a weak field. Next most likely: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, is incomplete, and doesn’t stand on its own. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and How to Train Your Dragon seem to be aimed at a younger demographic than those who are likely to vote for the Hugo Awards. I haven’t seen Toy Story 3.

About the Hugo Awards
Anyone who is a supporting or attending member of the annual World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, can cast a ballot for the Hugo Awards. This year the convention, called Renovation, will be held in Reno, Nevada. Voting on the final ballot ends tomorrow at midnight Pacific time. There are two rounds of voting, a nominating round, which ended in March, and a final ballot. The nominees with the highest vote totals form the final ballot. In each of the past two years just over 1000 voters participated in the final ballot.

SF Strangelove’s rankings for the 2011 Hugo Awards fiction categories:
Best Novel
Best Novella
Best Novelette
Best Short Story

Related links:
Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention
Nicholas Whyte: 2011 Hugo Awards: who do voters say they will vote for?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

World Fantasy nominees announced

The World Fantasy Awards shortlist was announced today:

Best Novel
Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
The Silent Land by Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord (Small Beer)
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)

Best Novella
"Bone and Jewel Creatures" by Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
"The Broken Man" by Michael Byers (PS)
"The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon" by Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
"The Thief of Broken Toys" by Tim Lebbon (ChiZine)
"The Mystery Knight" by George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
"The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window" by Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)

Best Short Fiction
"Beautiful Men" by Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
"Booth’s Ghost" by Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
"Ponies" by Kij Johnson ( 11/17/10)
"Fossil-Figures" by Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
"Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us" by Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)

Winners will be announced at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30, in San Diego, CA. Announced in advance of the event, the World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011 are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer.

I was particularly pleased to see Under Heaven on the shortlist for best novel and "Booth’s Ghost" for best short fiction. These were two of my favorite works of fiction from 2010. There are quite a few nominees that I haven't read and I look forward to catching up with as many as I can.

Related link:

Monday, July 25, 2011

PM Press Outspoken Authors Series

Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike, 123 pages, PM Press 2009
Eleanor Arnason, Mammoths of the Great Plains, 145 pages, PM Press 2010
Michael Moorcock, Modern Times 2.0, 123 pages, PM Press 2011
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wild Girls, 102 pages, PM Press 2011

I would like to call attention to PM Press and the Outspoken Authors series. I’ve purchased four of these so far.  They are slightly larger than mass market paperbacks and are superior as physical objects as well as for their content. Each volume contains one or two pieces of short fiction, an essay by the author, an interview conducted by Terry Bisson, and a bibliography. The fiction selections are strong. The interviews are surprisingly good. The Eleanor Arnason has a long novella making its original appearance. Arnason is an important author who hasn’t reached as large an audience as she should. I recommend seeking out this series.

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Related link:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 2011 Hugo Awards: Novel shortlist

Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
Feed by Mira Grant (Orbit)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

I’ve read four of the five novels on the 2011 Hugo Awards shortlist. Cryoburn is the one that I’ve skipped. I decided that to give the book its due I should read the whole Vorkosigan series from the beginning, which I have never done. So far, I’ve read three books in the series and I am enjoying them. It will probably be several months before I’ve caught up with Cryoburn.

Blackout/All Clear was the most frustrating and disappointing of the novel nominees that I have read. There may be a good story about time travelers visiting England during World War II buried within these pages. Unfortunately, this two-volume novel is more than twice the length it should be and contains a multitude of structural issues, “idiot” plotting, and obsessive characters who worry about their concerns repetitively for hundreds of pages. I wrote about this novel in greater detail a few weeks ago. Read the full review.

I would call Feed an energetic puppy of a novel, except Jonathan McCalmont beat me to it, so I suppose I shouldn’t. Set during a U.S. presidential campaign 20-some years after a zombie outbreak, the story is narrated in first person by Georgia Mason, a web blogger who styles herself as a journalist. Georgia attaches herself to the campaign of a promising presidential contender. The zombie threat is ongoing, allowing for life and death situations to develop at any moment. The best parts of the story are the notions about the infectious nature of zombie transmission and the constant blood-testing needed for security. The novel is on less-sure ground when it deals with journalism and politics. Georgia tells us repeatedly that she is dedicated to objectivity and truth, yet when we read her published work it is opinion-filled ranting that has nothing to do with objectivity. She gets special access to her candidate that other media aren’t allowed and instantly she is biased in favor of her candidate. The reader gets little sense of the larger political landscape, either domestic or international. When the story keeps a narrow focus on Georgia and her circle of friends, colleagues, and relatives, with lots of blood and mayhem and zombie fighting, it is entertaining and moves along well. When the novel tries to address larger issues about the media and politics it is frustrating and unsatisfying.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a first novel and a promising one. It stands on its own even though it’s the first book in a trilogy. Yeine Darr is brought to the capitol of a globe-spanning empire and told that she is one of three possible heirs to the dying ruler, setting up a potentially lethal competition for succession. The empire derives much of its power from a pantheon of gods that have been bound and enslaved. The gods have varied and interesting personalities. The great strength of the novel is the first person narrative voice of Yeine, who is in over her head as the story begins. The author puts Yeine through a series of changes and the narrative voice reflects that. Yeine develops a romantic interest in one of the enslaved gods, which is handled well. There is one bedroom scene that is perhaps inadvertently funny, where sex is described in cosmic terms and results in broken furniture.

The Dervish House, set in Istanbul, is the third of the author’s novels dealing with emerging economies in the near future. Prior novels were River of Gods (2004), set in India, and Brasyl (2007), two of the most remarkable science fiction novels of recent years. There isn’t any overlap between these books, except that they each explore non-Western futures. The Dervish House is, I think, the most controlled and enjoyable of the three novels. A detailed picture of Istanbul in 2027 takes shape through a variety of viewpoint characters over the course of five days. Several of the characters live in or near an old converted Dervish house, which becomes something of a character itself. One plot thread turns into a variation on The Da Vinci Code, as an art dealer chases after an ancient artifact, called a mellified man. Unlike The Da Vinci Code, this thread of the story does not wear out its welcome. I was less interested in the story of the gas commodity trader and his plan to manipulate the market. Still, all the threads weave together into a coherent and satisfying whole.

This group of nominees provokes an extreme range of reactions from your humble correspondent, from the exceedingly weak Blackout/All Clear to the especially strong The Dervish House. Foremost among the books that should have been on the shortlist but weren't, Under Heaven by Guy Gaviel Kay was an exceptional fantasy novel set in Tang Dynasty China.

Rankings for the SF Strangelove Hugo Awards ballot for novel:
1. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
2. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
3. No award.

The 2011 Hugo Awards will be presented August 20, 2011 at Renovation, the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Reno, Nevada.

Related links:
2011 Hugo Nominees
Reactions to the 2011 Hugo Nominees
2011 Hugo Nominations: Novella
The 2011 Hugo Awards: Novelette Shortlist
The 2011 Hugo Awards: Short Story Shortlist
Renovation, The 69th World Science Fiction Convention: The Hugo Awards

Friday, July 22, 2011

The 2011 Hugo Awards: Novelette Shortlist

“Eight Miles” by Sean McMullen (Analog, September 2010)
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)
“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” by Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s, July 2010)
“Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010)
“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone (Analog, September 2010)

The novelette category is the weakest of the four fiction categories for the Hugo Awards this year. (The strongest fiction category this year is the novella, which was discussed here and here.) Two of these stories are poorly written, three do not provide convincing characters, and four have major flaws in structure or logic. There is only one of the five novelettes that I can recommend as worth reading.

“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” is perhaps the weakest story and has all the flaws just mentioned. The main character reminded me of the hilarious Gary Jennings novelette, “Sooner or Later or Never Never,” (F&SF, May 1972) which is narrated by a naïve missionary sent to convert natives in the Australian Outback. “That Leviathan” is not a comedy, at least not intentionally. It concerns an attempt to convert alien sun-dwelling beings, solcetaceans, or swales, to the Mormon faith. Chief among the story’s flaws are that the aliens are not convincingly alien and the reader learns nothing of their alien culture.

“The Emperor of Mars” is next weakest and exhibits all of the flaws I first mentioned. It concerns a blue-collar worker on a Mars colony in its roughly built early stages, as narrated in unconvincingly “folksy” style by the manager of the colony. The worker, Jeff, suffers a tragic loss that mentally unbalances him. He finds solace in reading early fantastic stories of Mars. Specifically mentioned are Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Stanley Weinbaum, and others. His coworkers indulge him and go along with his fantasy that he is the Emperor of Mars. By the end, the narrator is a transparent stand-in for the author as he heavy-handedly preaches the value of reading and particularly the value of early science fiction. Too bad the sermon doesn’t have much of a story attached.

“The Jaguar House, in Shadow” is hobbled by a structure filled with multiple flashbacks in several timeframes, none of which help the story. It is apparently part of a series of stories set in a high-tech Aztec Empire. It doesn’t stand well on its own. The memorable image that the story offers is that of two former allies, now enemy warriors, each carrying a wounded comrade, who meet in a darkened corridor. Rather than saving this until the end, this would have been a good starting point for the story.

“Eight Miles” is steampunk, set in 1840s England. An inventor on hard financial times earns money as a balloonist for hire. A wealthy aristocrat, Lord Gainsley, retains the inventor for scientific research at high altitudes. Lord Gainsley, the story reveals, is keenly interested in a creature he calls Miss Angelica, who is an alien from another world, exiled to Earth like Napoleon to Elba. She is nearly comatose at sea level and begins to regain her senses at high altitudes. None of the characters are particularly well drawn, and we learn nearly nothing about Miss Angelica, least of all why we should be comparing her to Napoleon.

“Plus or Minus” is the best of a weak group. Mariska is a young adult clone of her mother, a renowned space explorer. Desperate to be out from under the influence of her mother, Mariska finds work on a long-haul spaceship. Onboard ship she is subject to the harassment of her boss, Beep. This harassment and the boredom and escapist activities that make up life on the ship are well done. The story kicks in about midway with the loss of a large ball of ice from which the crew derives oxygen for their life support. In a variation of “The Cold Equations,” instead of surrendering to implacable death resulting from a mistake, the crew struggles to find a way to survive long enough to be rescued. This was stronger than the prior story about Mariska, “Going Deep” (Asimov's, June 2009), and easily gets my vote as the best of the nominees.

Rankings for the SF Strangelove Hugo Awards ballot for novelette:
1. “Plus or Minus” by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s, December 2010) (read the story)
2. No award.

What I said last time about readers looking for better stories than the Hugo nominees being able to find them in any of the best of the year anthologies is even truer of the novelette category. The 2011 Hugo Awards will be presented August 20, 2011 at Renovation, the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Reno, Nevada.

Related links:
2011 Hugo Nominees
Reactions to the 2011 Hugo Nominees
2011 Hugo Nominations: Novella
The 2011 Hugo Awards: Short Story Shortlist
Renovation, The 69th World Science Fiction Convention: The Hugo Awards

Monday, July 18, 2011

The 2011 Hugo Awards: Short Story Shortlist

It’s a modest year for the Hugo Awards short story shortlist. There are no major highs or lows on the list this year. Two of the stories are a little disappointing and two are pretty good.

“Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010)
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)
“Ponies” by Kij Johnson (, November 17, 2010)
“The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010)

The stories from weakest to strongest: “Ponies” is a very short, very slight story about mean girls and their talking, flying, unicorn ponies. It distantly recalls Shirley Jackson’s well-known short story “The Lottery.” “Ponies” may be an allegory for something (as was much discussed here). It’s too tiny a wisp of a story to bear any weight at all.

“Amaryllis” is set in a resource-scarce future, which is becoming a popular science fiction setting recently, and revolves around a communal family with a fishing boat who make do with limited circumstances. The setting is well done. The characters are bland and the story is uneventful. The only conflict in the story, with a dishonest weight inspector, is too-easily resolved.

“For Want of a Nail” is another resource-scarce future, set aboard a generation starship where high tech items and repair parts are limited to supplies that were anticipated and packed by great-grandparents. A young woman, Rava, attempts to repair a damaged computer AI and discovers that the AI has been corrupted and that it has been covering for an important member of the community. As the extent of the problem is revealed the story is appropriately tense. The characterizations are solid and the story resolves well.

“The Things” is an inverted retelling of the movie “The Thing,” from the viewpoint of the alien creature. There were two movies: John Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982) and Howard Hawks’ “The Thing from Another World” (1951) were both based on the often-reprinted 1938 story “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell, Jr., about the discovery of an alien spacecraft in the ice in Antarctica and the shape-changing alien survivor. The story was retold, again, in the episode “Ice” in the first season of “The X-Files” (1993). I’ve seen or read all of these prior versions, yet even those who have not will have no problem following the story. A simple inversion of viewpoint isn’t enough to make a successful story and the author does more than that. The first-person alien narrator discovers differences in biology between itself and the humans and goes on a rambling rant about it. It was interesting, even if I wasn’t persuaded by the argument.  The story suffers when compared, inevitably, to the prior year’s story “The Island” by the same author, which was quite a bit stronger. “The Island” also featured unusual alien biology. The story went on to win a well-deserved best novelette Hugo Award at Aussiecon 4, held in Melbourne in 2010.

Rankings for the SF Strangelove Hugo Awards ballot for short story:
1. “The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010) (read the story)
2. “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010) (read the story in PDF format)
3. “Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (Lightspeed, June 2010) (read the story)
4.  “Ponies” by Kij Johnson (, November 17, 2010) (read the story)

This category of the ballot isn’t particularly strong this year. Readers looking for better stories will find them in any of the best of the year anthologies that collected the best short fiction of 2010. Here are the four covering science fiction that I rely on:

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: 28th Annual Collection,
edited by Gardner Dozois (St. Martin’s)
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year:  Volume Four,
edited by Jonathan Strahan (Night Shade Books)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy: 2011,
edited by Rich Horton (Prime)
Year’s Best SF 16,
edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (Harper/Voyager)

The  2011 Hugo Awards will be presented August 20, 2011, at Renovation, the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Reno, Nevada.

Related links:
A brief review of “The Island” by Peter Watts
2011 Hugo Nominees
Reactions to the 2011 Hugo Nominees (best novella category)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Embassytown by China Miéville

Embassytown is that rare breed of science fiction novel that has greater depth than first meets the eye. The central metaphor of the novel, that language both describes and prescribes our experience of the world, expands out in all directions.  Language circumscribing identity. Language as intoxicant. Language as a noose that can hang the unwary.

Embassytown is a mostly human community within a larger alien city on a planet in a remote star system. It’s a fragile community, dependent on resources from the host aliens. Even the air of Embassytown is artificially maintained to be breathable for the humans. In order to bridge a confounding communication gap with the two-mouthed alien hosts, the Ariekei, the humans engineer pairs of humans who think alike and speak in overlapping sentences, finishing each other’s thoughts. The twin Ambassadors are able to negotiate the Ariekei language and successfully communicate, where single humans who speak the same words are ignored as non-sentient by the Ariekei. The story concerns a bewildering breakdown in communication between the human Ambassadors and the Ariekei. Chaos overtakes the Ariekei. Political and social structures collapse in Embassytown and the tenuous existence of the human community is threatened.

In the face of disaster, stunning conceptual breakthroughs are required to allow even a tiny trickle of communication. This is a thrilling novel about the nature of language and communication, and a gritty and unsentimental depiction of societal breakdown.

The first-person narrator, Avice Benner Cho, a human, was born in Embassytown, has traveled to many star systems, which is rare among those at the isolated outpost, and returned home. She has both insider and outsider status within the small, cloistered political power structure. Sometimes annoyingly self-absorbed, and relegated to observer status early on, Cho becomes entwined in key events as the story progresses. She is the most complete and memorable character in any Miéville novel I have read.

Embassytown is the fourth and best of China Miéville’s novels that I have read. Each novel has been more accomplished than the preceding one: Perdido Street Station (2000), The Scar (2002), The City & The City (2009), and now Embassytown (2011).

Embassytown could well have been not just a classic of science fiction; it could have been a breakout novel to a wider audience. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be held back from much of the success that it might have earned by a slow start. Miéville dwells on back-story for far too long. The back-story does not end until page 162 (U.S. edition) out of a total of 345 pages. Miéville interleaves a few chapters of the main story to entice the reader. Each time the author returns to the back-story the momentum is lost. Much of the back story eventually proves relevant as the story plays out. Yet, how many who haven’t read Miéville before, and don’t trust that their patience will be rewarded, will keep reading long enough to appreciate the book?

While the first half of the book is in need of significant pruning, the second half of the novel is excellent and perhaps too condensed, the story a bit rushed. Still, this is a brilliant book and it is one of the best science fiction novels of the year.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2011 Campbell and Sturgeon Memorial Awards announced

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (Gollancz/Pyr) won this year’s John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel published in 2010, and novella "The Sultan of the Clouds" by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Sept. 2010) won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short fiction of 2010. The awards were presented by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction, during the annual Campbell Conference, held July 7-10, 2011 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.

This is a jury award rather than a popular vote award, which usually means I am likely to have a high regard for the results. This year is no exception. McDonald's The Dervish House is, I think, the strongest science fiction novel from 2010. I am a less enthusiastic about "The Sultan of the Clouds." It's a solid story, with an interesting braided marriage concept. Still, it was a strong year for short fiction and "Sultan" is nowhere near my top pick, even among the Sturgeon nominees. A couple of my favorites were "The Maiden Flight of McAuley’s Bellerophon" by Elizabeth Hand and "Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance" by Paul Park. The remaining stories on the Sturgeon shortlist are worth tracking down, too.

Related links

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Roundup of recent links

SF Encyclopedia to be free online
The third edition of the prestigious Science Fiction Encyclopedia will be made available free online later this year with monthly updates through the end of 2012. Future plans include versions for electronic devices. Read the SF Encyclopedia announcement.

Hemingway wasn’t paranoid
Supposedly Ernest Hemingway descended into paranoia and then took his own life. Records obtained using the Freedom of Information Act present a different version. The unscrupulous director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, had Hemingway under surveillance for decades, including phone taps. Read the New York Times article.

Best SF and Fantasy books of 2011 so far according to Amazon editors
1. Among Others by Jo Walton
2. Embassytown by China Miéville
3. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness
4. 2030: The Real Story of What Happens to America by Albert Brooks
5. Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning
6. Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Cory
7. Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
8. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
9. The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham
10. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
I’ve read the first two novels and agree that they are likely among the best SF and Fantasy books of the year so far. I am at least tempted by most of the remaining books on the list. Read the Amazon list.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

12 months of pageviews

Here's an overview of total pageviews for the Strangelove for Science Fiction blog for each of the past 12 months.

2011 June -- 632
2011 May -- 552
2011 Apr -- 418
2011 Mar -- 514
2011 Feb -- 416
2011 Jan -- 339
2010 Dec -- 187
2010 Nov -- 268
2010 Oct -- 393
2010 Sept -- 437
2010 Aug -- 232
2010 July -- 394

These numbers are from the statistics built into Blogger.