Tuesday, April 26, 2016

2016 Hugo shortlists

The 2016 Hugo Award shortlists were announced today. They are intended to be a popular vote of the science fiction community to determine the best work in various categories. As with last year, much of the ballot is supplanted this year by work that can be found on the 2016 Rabid Puppies slate (or as they would like to call it, a recommended list).

You could argue that the Rabid Puppies can't take credit for the success and talent of various authors and editors that they've listed. True. Simply for a visual representation, in the fiction categories I will list only those stories that do not overlap with the Rabid Puppies slate (I'll make an exception for Slow Bullets since the author publicly asked for his story to be removed from both Puppy lists) and add a little commentary:

BEST NOVEL (3695 ballots)
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

I'm disappointed that Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson didn't make the list, since it was my choice for best sf novel of the year. Still, these three are strong nominees.

BEST NOVELLA (2416 ballots)
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

BEST NOVELETTE (1975 ballots)
“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb2015)

BEST SHORT STORY (2451 ballots)

I could go on to the other categories, yet I'm sure the reader can play this game, too. I've already stated my opinion on the Rabid Puppy ballot manipulation:
Hugo Award slates and the politics of exclusion
Attention seeking troll puppies
I doubt that more needs to be said.

Here is a link for a complete list of all the 2016 Hugo Award shortlists.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

PKD in academia

Three days of academic conferences, 28-30 April 2016, regarding Philip K. Dick are spread across two neighboring universities in Southern California.

Beginning at the University of California, Irvine, 28 April, a one-day conference will feature speakers including: Gregory Benford, David Brin, Sherryl Vint, Tessa Dick, Grania Davis, Charles Platt, and others. The conference schedule is online. (Follow here.)

The following two days, 29-30 April, a multi-track event will be held at Cal State University Fullerton. Speakers include: James Blaylock, Tim Powers, Rob Latham, Jonathan Lethem, Howard Hendrix, Bruce McAllister, Jacob Weisman, Tessa Dick, Grania Davis, Gregory Benford, Ursula Heise, and others. The conference schedule is online. (Follow here.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Paolo and others

Paolo of the moment

Paolo Bacigalupi's voice could be heard on the 08 April 2016 episode of the Science Friday radio show/podcast. (Follow here.)

A print interview is featured in the current Locus Magazine. An excerpt appears online. (Follow here.)

Shedding some "Light"

M. John Harrison: "The best work neither shows nor tells: it says by being, not by saying."

A new Harrison interview is available online. (Follow here.)

Hugo numerology

According to a 14 April 2016 news release from MidAmericon2: "Over 4,000 nominating ballots were received for the 2016 Hugo Awards, nearly doubling the previous record of 2,122 ballots set last year by Sasquan, the 73rd Worldcon held in Spokane, WA."

The Hugo Award shortlists will be announced on 26 April 2016.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

X-Files reboot

The X-Files recently had a six-episode reboot, bringing back original stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The episodes aired in January and February, 2016.

A short review:
I want to believe.
I want the show to be better.

A slightly longer review:
I have a nostalgia for the original series. The X-Files was entertaining at a time when TV was a vast wasteland. It often had an anti-science message that rubbed me the wrong way, yet it had a sense of humor about the concept of the show itself. Most importantly, the original two stars were engaging.

Unfortunately, the new reboot takes itself too seriously, the violence is increased for no particular benefit, and Duchovny and Anderson are wooden and deliver their lines with little inflection. Not only is the chemistry between the lead actors absent, they are awkward in each others presence as if they've been through a messy divorce and they are trying to pretend they've never met.

The first and last episodes of the six-episode reboot are strident and unpleasant. The middle episodes are monster-of-the-week filler episodes.