The Drink Tank Issue 286 The Hugo Award for Best Novel 2011

Chris Garcia & James Bacon - Editors

The Drink Tank - The Hugo Award for Best Novel 2011
Table of Contents
Cover by Paul Sizer of Sizer Designs (
Page 1 - Table of Contents Page 2 - Editorial by Christopher J Garcia

Feed by Mira Grant

Page 25 - Reviewed byThea of The Book Smugglers ( Page 30 - If Danielle Steele Wrote Horror, It MIght Turn Out Like Feed by Adrienne Foster

On The Year in Novels

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
Page 30 - Reviewed by Boston Book Bums ( Page 32 - Reviewed by Juan Sanmiguel

Page 3 - The Best of 2010 by James Bacon Page 4 - The 2010 Contenders by Niall Harrison Page 10 - What Was Forgotten by Christopher J Garcia

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
Page 33 - Reviewed by Chris Hensley Page 34 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: I’m Looking For The Man Who Shot My Ma by Christopher J Garcia

By Its Cover

Page 12 - A Survey of the Covers for the Best Novel Nominees Warren Buff, Jay Crasdan, Flick, Christopher J Garcia, Glenn Glazer, Lucy Huntzinger, Robert Hole, Mike Perschon, Steven H Silver

On The 2011 Nominees
Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis
Page 21 - Reviewed by Ana of The Book Smugglers (

Page 35 - My Hugo Winning Novel by Jay Crasdan

A Parting Shot

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

Page 23 - Reviewed by Laura Taylor of Buried Under Books (

Chris Garcia - Editors - James Bacon

Editorial By Ch ris Garcia
The Hugo for Best Novel is always the biggest category. For some reason, folks are more interested in Best Novel than in Best Fanzine. Yeah, I don’t get it either. This year, there are some great nominees, especially with a couple of novels from folks who have never been on the ballot, and two from folks who have won a couple of the pointy trophies! There’s horror, fantasy, space opera, alternate history, near-future SF and just plain fun stuff, all in five novels. I’m happy with the list, who could I not be? There are two folks who I have had the privledge to chat with a bunch of times, one of my favorite writers and one whose writing brings the bile to the back of my throat. Without the wrong how much would we appreciate the right? I’ve read a couple more of the previous winners, most importantly Dune, and I’ve read a couple of things that didn’t win but I always thought should have. Re-reading Accelerando, it should have DESTROYED Spin in 2006. It’s just not right to have denied it! Two of the things that are most interesting about recent years is that the winners have been so varied. In 2006, we have Spin, and in 2007, it was Rainbow’s End. Wilson and Vinge fill very much the same niche. 2008 and The Yiddish Policeman’s Union wins. It was the most literary of all the winners. It was a beautiful novel and perhaps the most mainstream winner in years. 2009 and The Graveyad Book wins. I thought it was a weak winner, especially when compared with Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, but what are you gonna do? Last year and we got the tie: The City & The City and The Windup Girl. No question that these were two very different novels and both of them were wonderful and I coudl see both of them going on to becoming serious classics. The Wilson,Vinge and Paolo works could all be seen as somewhat similar, or at least in the same corner of the genre. Fantasy? There was one, and there was an Alt Hist. Then there was The City & The City, which was either a science fiction novel or a fantasy novel. I say calling it just Weird would be a little too easy. It shows something that had long been true about the Hugos: that there is no typical winner. There is no formula for winning, and I don’t thing there ever will be. One of the things about this issue is that it is one that really makes me feel like I always hoped I would about the Drink Tank. I always hoped it would be a place that can talk about books, about writing, about reading and readers. I have a sercon stripe, so kill me! So, this issue has looks at all five novels, as well as a couple of looks at what wasn’t on the ballot and what could have been. There’s also a thing by Jay that had me cracking up when he sent it my way. There are several folks making their Drink Tank debut. That always makes me happy!

The Best of 2010 By Ja mes Bac on
Its so terribly hard to work out what the best of any given year actually is. Who decides this? Well the first hurdle is usually an editor or publisher who allows a novel to actually see print. I am pretty sure that they think its going to be a success that year. Do publishers publish novels hoping they have good and decent but not astronomical sales? Then we have awards. No matter which award you look at, it’s never a true guide of what the best is, there are the criteria for even entering an award, and then the voters, be it a mass public gang, ra ving and gnashing in the public internet bull ring or a select chosen group of judges, in some darkened smoke filled room conniving and conspiring for the novel I like to lose, god damn them. In fairness this year, I was relatively pleased that Lauren Beukes won the Clarke Award. I am slowly coming to value this award more than I once did, and I suppose Mark Plummer who continually seems to remind me that at least the judges read all the eligible novels, which adds a level, well a level of something, integrity maybe, well at least means they have read them, is a good thing. I was disappointed that Dervish House hadn’t won. I am pretty sure that it is an incredible novel, and not just a novel that will be popular now and then no more. In actual fact McDonald is really quite the author. I still have vivid imaginings of Desolation Road, although much of that may be the transfixing in my metal zone of the trains, massive behemoths that they are. Yet, he lost to Beukes in the Clarke, but amongst the masses that are the members of The British Science Fiction Association, he won. And now McDonald is nominated in the Hugo. So this surely must be my favourite book of 2010. Well, not my favouritist favourite, I only read City and the City in 2010, and Mievilles awesomeness is still my favourite book of the year. I was not as taken with Kraken, which was published last year at least, as I felt it could have had an element of humour about it that could have made it brilliant. The BSFA bunch nominated some 60 books, while The Clarke crowd received 54 books. You know, a number of books which are my favourites were not submitted to The Clarke, but this is not the Clarke Awards fault, its up to the publishers. But what about the hugo hooligans. The worldcon wallah’s. Now here is a different faction of fans altogether, it seems a lot of New Zealanders and Australian fans used their vote, but mostly it was the Americans who voted. Thats OK. I secretly love America you know, sure, they gave me Coke and Comics, what more do I need in life, and then there is Movies and Mustangs, and I have mentioned the fans and girls. Lots to like over there I tell you. And I am not even a wrestling or Nascar fan. Anyhow, between us all, around this very small feeling world, we managed to nominate some 374 novels. Like that’s more than one novel a day. That is mad. Of course, there’ll be loads of novels just voted on once, or a couple of times, obscure perhaps, but not at all invalid, and reading the super long list after the announcement is something I may try and attempt. I shall put on a lot of sweat bands on my wrists first though and wonder, its s shame there isn’t some massive spread sheet of doom to tell me what each book is about. Three Hundred and Seventy Four Novels.That’s just so incredible. And out of the few titles that are nominated, rather like the BSFA and Clarke short lists, Ian McDonald does stand out for me. I liked Cryoburn, but it’s one of the ones that doesn’t kill me stone dead, as Bujoid has done before. She is so awesome. Not that the other novels on the list are not that great, I think

it’s a bloody strong list this year. Yet what thrashy goodness has been left off the short lists. Well where is Anvil gate by Karen Travis.Yup this is one of those media tie in novels, you know the ones that sell really well and enter into the best seller type things. Gears of War may be a computer game, but it is also a fantastical science fictional world. The game has sold some seven million units to date and its good fun, as is this well written tight novel, by a British woman who seems to grasp and understand the military mind better than many a modern writer. Yukikaze by five time Sieun winner Chohei Kambayashi is a stunning book. It has quite a legacy, having been written in the eighties, and been turned into a Anime series, with five episodes released over three year to celebrate Bandai visual’s 20th anniversary. Battle Fairy Yukikaze was first publidhed in 1984. A revised edition was released in 2002. There are two sequels Good Luck Battle Fairy Yukikaze and the third part was published in July 2009 as Unbroken Arrow. The 2002 novel Battle Fairey was translated in 2010. Yukikaze is the nickname of a Super Sylph B503 recon fighter plane, that has a pretty awesome artificial intelligence system that makes her feel real. A battle between aliens and the United Nations has occurred at a portal in Antarctica, years later we follow Lt Rei Fukai who is part of Boomerang Squadron, based on the Alien side of the Portal and its awesome. The Japanese Defence Force were involved with the Anime, but it’s this damn story that makes it just so high quality. The interaction between man and machine, and what or how human that machine is, the society of the future with intelligent machines and how an invasion may be obscured, it’s all brilliant. Kambayashi is compared to Phillip K. Dick in Japan, and it’s easy to scoff and dismiss such a statement, but this book is really good and I can understand the reasoning behind such a statement, I already know that the next book in the series is going to hurt my head. In good ways. It’s distinctly different to much military SF, yet it is also dealing with matters which really

strike a chord, and which I enjoy, questioning many human aspects, as well as portraying scenes and situations vividly and beautifully. The sequel ‘Good Luck Yukikaze’ is due out in about, nine days time, and I cannot wait... And what of The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and other unnatural attractions by Robert Rankin. This is a splendidly fun adventure story set in the aftermath of one of the great science fiction classics, War of the Worlds, and yet it’s thankfully fresh and full of humor, and belies a deeper, more thoughtful message. Never happy with a clichéd setting, Rankin immediately meddles with literary history by moving the infamous interplanetary conflict so that in his farfetched world it occurred in 1885, allowing him further flexibility and to draw in more historical characters. Not that this was needed by an author who regularly addresses his readers through his footnotes, creating pseudo-scientific explanations in a jocular fashion to explain away inconsistencies and to allow him latitude for laughter. Despite being set in the wake of the Wellsian masterpiece, it is in no way a derivative or second rate work, and in actual fact, like most Rankin books, is of its own style and setting, with quite an imaginative and visually satisfying feeling and in this case relying on an interestingly fantastical mixture of alternative history and steampunkedness, while discreetly reflecting on our current situation—most pointedly the current conflict in Afghanistan. The author manages to provide us with Jovians and Venusians to complement the Martians of invading fame, while the callous and most horrid manner in which the war with the Martians is brought to their home planet and to an end is quite inspired in its despicability, but not unimaginable. The British Empire, for all its pomp, was never fair and quite frequently horrifyingly diabolical, something missed by many in a Steampunk costume these days, and Rankin ably reminds us that lying to the masses and using means justified by the ends is as common as ever.

The manipulation and true horror of what powers will do to stay in control, convince people that they have something to fear, and then deal with the matter in such an underhand and despicable manner is insightful. This occurs on a number of levels, as mind control, both manipulative manoeuvring and chemically induced, are included in the story.There is nothing as horrible as thinking you may have been forced or induced to do something you didn’t want, and this is an important part of the immediate story, or how this is overcome, and how nastiness, greed and self interest can easily make any qualms disappear. Rankin has an inspired understanding of the human consciousness and thought process, yet he makes it feel light and understandable; there is no high level philosophy being shoved down the reader’s throat, but as part of the story, as part of the tale, we get to understand the evil nature of a man who wants to manipulate. There is also an embedded moral message within this book, that goodness and love will overcome. This sounds rather whimsy, but it is George’s intrinsic goodness that allows him to overcome evil. There are other metaphorical references, a recurring anti-war message reflecting Britain’s current state of war and a finger is also pointed at the preposterousness of violence for the sake of beliefs. I frequently feel that there has been a lack of reflective science fictional work shining a thoughtful light on the current conflicts. I realise that the job that was once science fiction’s, with Heinlein and Starship Troopers calling on his World War 2 experience, and Joe Haldeman and The Forever War with‘Nam, James White and Tableua with the background of Irish Problems, John Scazi’s books perhaps a reflection of his own issues, but where are the books for the now conflicts? Ken McLeods Execution Channel is one I can hold up for sure, but it stands out. Meanwhile reality has caught up with SF, with an RAF squadron based in Nevada, piloting remote control MQ-9 Reaper UAV’s in Afghanistan. His ability to give a reader a cheap laugh as they sup on a pint, to impart the fun of adventure and vividly visualise great settings and yet as a by product, somehow, subconsciously even, with the laughter make a reader think, just a little bit about what is going on in reality is a reflection of the intelligence of this writer.To laugh and later think about it, is indeed unusual. A splendid story, from an author who seems to be at home in a very far-fetched yet wonderfully

realised Victorian Scientific Romance world. And that my dear friends are the books that I enjoyed. I enjoyed many more of course, but they were not all published in 2010, or they were stories but not novels and of course, there were some non science fiction. I can sit here calmly in west London and consider the knowledge, taste, opinion of many, but I sit here assured that I know what I like. And then the Sidewise award comes to mind. And do you think I have read any of them yet, and me a self professed alternative history fan. Dog gammit, I need more time now, don’t I. Like Columbia and Britannia by Adam Chamberlain and Brian A. Dixon looks really smart, Jay Lakes Pinion, I will need to read, as Chris is always on about Jay being awesome, which he has been so far for sure, and then Eric Swedin’s When Angels Wept: A What-If History of the Cuban Missile Crisis, sounds super cool, in that counter factual way that I don’t like to admit that I secretly like. I really like the look of Stoney Comptons Alaska Republik, and have been eyeing up the first book in this series with some considerable envy every time I see it in town, and then there is Destroymen by Taylor Anderson, and didn’t Distant Thunders come out, and then there is Behemoth by Westerfield, Dreadnaught by Priest and what about Blameless and Changless by Gail Carrigher, I feel my self assured self starting to spin around and around and wonder am I working too hard, or have had too much coffee. And Chris Wooding comes to mind, like I haven’t gotten to The Black Lung Captain, a sequel to one of my 2009 fav’s Retribution falls. And realise that its much worse, I may need to learn German and read Ich war Hitlers Schutzengel: Fiktionen:Vier Szenarios by Dieter Kuhn, which are four different alternate history stories were assassinations on Hitler succeeded. Of course, maybe, and its a big maybe right now, I’ll get along to the worldcon, and if I do, one of the things I will do is ask others about their favourite books of the now, this worked out real smart in Montreal, I had an awesome Breakfast discussion with Rod O’Hanlon about his favourites which kicked me off on asking many folks, and maybe in 2011, its time again to make that list of books to read.

The 2010 Contenders By Naill Harrison
First appeared at and No books published in 2010 received enough nominations in the poll to make it into the overall top ten. This is probably not a surprise; the books haven’t been out for very long, so fewer people have read them. And some 2010 books received enough support to suggest that, were this poll to be run again in a couple of years, they might have matured into strong contenders. I thought it would be worth breaking those books out into a separate post, since their poll ranking is probably not reflective of the strength of feeling about them — and because they may be awards contenders next year. And so here they are: Zoo City by Lauren Beukes Lauren Beukes’ second novel has been picking up rave reviews all over the place. John Clute reviewed the book in his Scores column at Strange Horizons: Zoo City may dive a little too glamorously into terrible high-rises and worse tunnels, and its protagonist (who survives the tale she tells) may wear her deformations and her scars and her cabaret presentation of self like war ribbons, and the present tense of the tale’s telling may try a little officiously to shove our faces in the fleuve of the overwhelming nows of an alternate-2011 urban South Africa (Johannesburg is hardly exited), but throughout the horrors and the almost synaesthesical complexities of the scenes unfolded we get a sense of vigour, some of it irrepressible. The main joy of Zoo City is the energy of the thing, that it doesn’t stop for breath until it stops for good. Also worth noting is a strong showing for Beukes’ first novel, Moxyland; thanks to Moxyland‘s first US edition this year, both books are Hugo-eligible. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold I think of Bujold, rightly or wrongly, as occupying the sort of position in US sf that Iain M Banks occupies in UK sf: absolutely central in her home country, somewhat marginal beyond its borders. I’m not sure any of her books has ever been published over here, and as a result I’ve not read any of them (although the recent free ebooks of her entire back catalogue may change this). On the other hand, Cryoburn may also be a suitable jumping-on point, for all that it’s the latest entry in a long series. Tansy Rayner Roberts: Cryoburn, while not actually hitting the heights of my very very very favourite Vorkosigans (honestly it’s hard to top Memory which is one of the best books I’ve ever read) has all the ingredients of a very successful Miles Vorkosigan outing. It also shows that yet again, Bujold is not afraid to take risks, to change up any patterns her series has developed, and even the world itself. I’m not going to address in the least the most important change she brings down upon Miles’ world, because it’s the massivest spoiler of all spoilers, but suffice to say – this is, like Civil Campaign and to some extent Diplomatic Immunity, a book which could stand very successfully as the last of the series, and yet unlike both those volumes it could as easily be the new beginning that refreshes the books so entirely that we see another five out in the next decade. Feed by Mira Grant Winner of this year’s John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not A Hugo), this is the first of Seanan McGuire aka Mira Grant’s books to be published in the UK, and was one of Publishers Weekly’s top five sf/f of 2010. It’s a zombie novel, but don’t let that put you off. Roz Kaveney: Mira Grant’s Feed is less well-written [than The Passage] but has a can-do brio that Cronin would regard as whistling showtunes in the dark. Grant’s zombies are the result of experiments gone wrong – everyone is infected

and everyone might turn in a moment. Yet civilisation does not collapse, and there are even elections; business as usual. Grant isn’t writing a horror novel at all – just an SF novel with zombies in it. And with bloggers – her heroine would die, or become undead, for a scoop. Scoops follow her around. Hardly has she and her brother and team been embedded in a Presidential campaign than a saboteur tries to get the Candidate eaten or turned. Georgia and Shaun are supremely irritating young smart-arses, but Feed is a perfect antidote to Cronin’s gloomier excesses; sometimes after a well-cooked heavy meal, you really need a tub of ice-cream, with sprinkles. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor Okorafor’s first published adult sf novel is another one that’s been appearing on end-of-year lists, not just Publishers Weekly but also Amazon US. Matt Cheney loved it: So much reverberates between the lines of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death that the greatest marvel among the many here is that the novel succeeds in creating music and not cacophony. Archetypes and clichés jangle against each other to evoke enchanting new sounds, old narratives fall into a harmony that reveals unseen realms, and the fact of the book as artifact becomes itself a shadow story to that on the pages within. Okorafor is up to all sorts of serious, necessary mischief, setting up one expectation after another and dashing them all like dominoes made of dust. When the dust settles, rich realities emerge.

Clear, the intense humility of its portrait of London as her cast increasingly ignores Dunworthy’s strictures, especially in two superb, hugely extended setpieces: one devoted to the terrible first bombing raid on 7 September; the second massively expanding on the events first depicted in “Fire Watch” as Saint Paul’s almost burns at the end of December. Almost certainly some bad mistakes leak into the text (how else, given the oceans of data she had to attempt to master); but I for one found nothing to complain about. The main errors I noted myself were in fact easily correctible:Willis seems to have consulted a contemporary map of the London Underground, which seems to have led her to assume that the Victoria and the Jubilee Lines, both constructed decades later, were there in 1940; nurses bewilderingly tell patients their temperature in centigrade; and the term “disinformation” seems not to have existed before 1955, the first year it was used to describe false information created, usually by a government, for purposes of deceit. But none of these slips opened any plausible gulf into the alternate realities whose potential irruption haunts her cast. All Clear is a song of London, a song of England, and she has gotten the song right.

Birdbrain by Johanna Sinisalo I suppose that if you’re going to revise Heart of Darkness you might as well be up front about it, but you probably don’t want to leave readers wishing you’d shut up about it. The constant explicit nods to Joseph Conrad’s horror taproot text – both as lines remembered by one of the two protagonists, and in the form of regularly interpolated quotations – are, Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis however, the only real problem with Birdbrain, which As Willis notes on her website, and as pretty otherwise is seductively sparing, and almost unbearmuch every review of either volume has noted, this is ably precise in its audience ministrations. The stories one novel split into two volumes: a sprawling epic set of two Finns hiking their way across large chunks of in London during the Blitz. Clute again: New Zealand, mainland Australia and Tasmania, Johanna Indeed, the least useful pages of All Clear are spent Sinisalo’s first novel to be translated into English since tracing its cast’s ultimately baulked attempts not to see any- Not Before Sundown (2000/2003) is a more sombre thing, and it does take a while to grasp the beauty of All piece than its predecessor, but no less striking.

Finn one, Heidi, is an assistant working in PR when, on one trying evening out with clients, she meets Finn two, Jyrki, who at the time is working as a bartender. This is what Heidi sees: I didn’t have a problem with my constant trips to the bar: the bloke behind the counter was a fairly decent specimen. He was almost two metres tall, slim with broad shoulders. His eyes were a light-grey colour, and there was a darker circle around his irises that gave his stare an almost paralysing intensity. No ring on his left hand, but he had a large golden earring dangling at the side of his shiny shaved head. The most impressive thing about him was that he never seemed to make a single unnecessary or unconsidered movement. Rather disconcertingly for anyone who’s ever seen a photograph of China Mieville, Jyrki turns out to think about Heidi like this – She was small and nicely proportioned. Black hair flowed evenly down past her shoulders. There was just enough blue in the colour that you could tell some of the tint had come from a bottle. A bit too much sirloin around the rump. A nice pair of apples bobbed on the upper shelf. (20) – which sets the structure for the rest of the novel, being largely short segments, alternating between Heidi and Jyrki not quite connecting with each other, and neatly establish the basis of their admittedly intense relationship. An additional layer of structure alternates between two time frames: the one quoted above, which starts in 2006, and one starting in March 2007, with the pair setting out to hike Tasmania’s little-used South Coast Track. It transpires that a few months into their affair, Jyrki, who is pretty much as arrogant as you might have guessed, informed Heidi that he’s finally in a position to go on a long dreamed-of holiday; Heidi, caught somewhat off guard, volunteers to go with him for complicated reasons. It turns out that for her the trip – though not without its rewards – is primarily an ordeal, while for Jyrki – though not without

its frustrations – it’s primarily an ideal, a chance to lose himself, and perhaps find himself, in the wilderness. The novel unwinds both timelines and characters over the course of a compact 217 pages, with the South Coast Track the grand finale. Neither character, you sense, quite has the full measure of the landscape that surrounds them. Heidi feels exposed, unnaturally separated from human community and shelter, and convinced that Tasmania is not just alien but a palpable presence that seems to stalk them: “both age-old and fresh as the day it was born [...] invisible, smart enough constantly to devise little pranks and childish enough to carry them out” (41). It’s Heidi for whom the raw conditions are most wearing; it’s Heidi who picked up a copy of Heart of Darkness at

one of the hostels they stayed in near the start of their journey, and read it half a dozen times, to the point that it seems to inescapably frame her experience.Yet Heidi also sees the trip as a chance to escape the stultifying patronage of her family, to do something “By myself. For myself” (50); and she learns fast, and pretty well. As her experience grows, so too does a much longed-for sense of freedom. Jyrki, meanwhile, finds freedom less in his self than in the absence of others. He is continually frustrated by the difficulty of leaving civilisation behind, by the indulgent lodges, or distant planes, or traces of other travellers, or other impurities of experience. (“Conveniences,” he feels, “are only convenient if you actually want them”, 67.) His arrogance, we come to understand, is rooted in both experience and skill – he is an utterly scrupulous hiker, dedicated to leaving on the land untouched — and in an abiding anger at the violence humans inflict on the world around them, through simple thoughtlessness as much as deliberate rapaciousness. For Jyrki Tasmania is other because humans are pollutants: “No animal in this world,” he argues, “is as unpleasant as one forcing its way outside its natural environment, feeding itself off human was like a parasite” (188).

I have been interested in bird intelligence for long, and one of the basic ideas of the novel came to me in a flash when I visited New Zealand and encountered a kea for the first time. When one reads about the behaviour and social habits of keas, it’s pure sense of wonder. Johanna Sinisalo in SF Signal
Jyrki’s passion is energising and necessary, and seems to have the novel’s weight behind it. In addition to the two Finns, and Conrad, there are other voices in the novel that shape our understanding of what is happening. The most prominent is nameless (although it may be Heidi’s brother; or there may be more than one nameless), and offers a series of snapshots of urban alienation, each depicting a new vandalism: freezers unplugged in supermarkets; keyed cars; stolen pets; stones dropped from motorway bridges; arson. Almost all we know about nameless is that they’re depressed, sour, callous, and seemingly the embodiment of the

worst Jyrki believes about humanity, thoughtless. “It’s not about envy,” nameless says, when trying to explain their actions, they “just want to leave their mark on the world” (98). And what of the world? It is as distinctive a presence in the novel as any of the humans, and it seems to validate Heidi’s viewpoint. As one of the people Heidi and Jyrki meet puts it, sometimes it seems that humans are “just swarming parasites on Mother Earth’s skin, tickling and teasing, irritating and provoking her until the only thing she can do is disinfect herself” (121-2). And as the pair travel into increasingly remote areas, inconveniences become problems, including a series of disturbances that can’t be accounted for, as when Heidi’s water bottle disappears, then reappears several days and a couple of hundred kilometres later. The implied explanation, which is much more obvious to us than to the Finns, not least because it’s more or less given away on the back cover, has to do with a previously undiscovered species of parrot that may be related to the New Zealand Kea, of which a scholarly article notes: “... can solve even complicated problems with relative ease. [...] This behavioural pattern becomes more common when food is in greater supply” (109). This sounds cartoonish but is not: and in fact the novel’s sharp climax gains, the final epiphanic revelation of its own heart of darkness, gains part of its potency from the thoroughness with which cartoonishness is disavowed. And the rest of the novel is grounded by Sinisalo’s crisp descriptions. Birdbrain is very obviously and forcefully an environmentalist novel; but it is also simply a brilliant piece of writing about the environment. From the fire-scorched Grampians national park in Australia (“the clumps of grass stood out so vividly against the pitch-black ground that they looked as though they had been lit up from the inside”, 120) to the magisterial Ironbound range (“A primordial forest hanging on the edge of bottomless gorges, set right in the middle of a giants’ game of skittles”, 115), the landscape seems always confidently distinctive; as Heidi puts it early on, perfectly aware of its own qualities and without the need to please anyone. That the corruption of humanity may have produce a corruption in the ecology of this land, even a counteracting one, is a deeply felt tragedy – one that springs from a bleak and partial view of humanity, but one that provides a rich seam for this elegant, severe novel to mine.

What Was Forgotten By Ch ristopher j Garcia
There are only five slots. Well, six if there’s a tie for fifth. Well, seven, if there’s a three-way tie for fifth like in the Best Editor set. That’s a limited number and every year some of the best novels get left off the list of Best Novels. Every year, I froth over what makes it on and what doesn’t, and in a way there are specific gaps that are apparent and people talk about. Often, it’s the woman’s gap, where there are only men on the ballot and folks get all indignant. This year, that’s not the case. Sometimes it’s the fantasy gap, where people cry that it’s under-/Over-represented on the ballot. This is not one of those years. Sometimes it’s the YA gap, the Vampire Gap, the “Actual Good Book” gap. So let’s look at what’s there and what’s missing. Cryoburn Satisfies – Women, SF, Space Opera, Series, Fan Favorites, Lame I’ve made no secret that I’m not a fan of Bujold, and I tried to read Cryoburn, against my better judgment, and got no further than a couple of pages before I was annoyed enough to throw it across the room. It’s one of those things that just has to be on the ballot because of who she is, what she represents and how much people love her. To fill the various gaps, there’s not a lot this year. Iain M. Banks (or is it just Iain Banks?) did Surface Detail, which was much-loved. Banks fills the series gap, the Space Opera gap, and the Scottish Dude gap (which this year is filled by Ian McDonald, so it’s not that critical). Ark by Stephen Baxter is another great space novel, though it’s near-future in substance, it takes a look at space-faring and makes some very nice turns. I haven’t been able to get into Flood yet, but Ark had me going from page one. Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds (who is up for Best Novela and is an AWESOME Human!) also would have filled many of the gaps. I think that he’s due a nom at the top of the ballot, and he’s got a lot going for him. He also fills the Welsh hole. Elizabeth Bear is a favorite of Hugo voters, and her novel Chill might have been the biggest missing Space Opera piece. Her work is so good and everyone I know who read it loved Dust. I haven’t broken into it yet, but there are enough folks who have described it as one of their top ten that I have no qualms about putting it up here. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms Satisfies – Woman, Minority Authors, Fantasy I really enjoy Jemisin’s work and this was one of the better novels I read last year and one that has grown on me as time has gone by since I read it. In some ways, it’s the novel that I would have the hardest time replacing. Not that it couldn’t be replaced. The first one that comes to mind is Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’ve just started it and I’m already in love with it. It’s a good piece of writing and one that is certainly Hugo-worthy. The proof that this is the kind of novel that is exceptional comes from the fact that if you said “Pride & Prejudice with Magic” to me, I’d almost instantly checkout. Mary makes me not only enjoy it, but love the way she goes with it! Kraken was my favorite book of 2010. I am aware it’s not China’s best work, but I loved it, thought that Collingwood was one of the greatest characters I’ve ever read and is much darker than anything on the ballot this year. China fills the Fantasy gap, as well as the English gap and the Weird gap, which is seriously missing this year. One book that I haven’t read but I got folks who were raving about it was Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. A retelling of a Senegalese traditional tale,

Feed by Mira Grant Satisfies – Woman, ZOMBIES!!!!!, BArea, Campbell winner, horror I haven’t been able to read FEED all the way through, but there’s some good stuff and some lumpy sections that take a lot for me to get through. Not that it’s not deserving, it’s just not my kind of thing. As far as the whole Zombie/Vampire gap thing goes, there are several others that could fill that gap. For my money, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was the best of the monster books/mash-ups out there. Written by Emerson College’s own Seth Grahame-Smith, I really got into it and was amazed at just how not reliant on the gimmick it was.That’s a rarity in these mash-ups. I really enjoyed it (I thought it blew Pride, Prejudice & Zombies out of the water) and thought that it should have made the ballot. Speaking specifically of Zombies, Cherie Priest’s Dreadnought should have gotten strong consideration, especially as the zombies in it were far more frightening than in Boneshaker. I’m not sure why, but I have felt like The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer has been over-looked by readers, unlike critics who seriously seemed to take to it. I Blackout/All Clear thought it was a lot of fun, just naughty enough to beg Satisfies – Woman, Connie Willis, Time Travel, Connie for a re-reading. It shares a lot in common with FEED, Willis, World War II, Connie Willis including location as it’s set in the BArea as well. Amelia I’ve tried and failed to read it again, but here and Seanan/Mira seem to be authors with similar trathere’s a lot to be said. I think that voters love Connie jectories. so much that they’re willing to nominate anything she does. I get that, it’s much like me and Stephen Baxter or The Dervish House by Ian McDonald China or Cherie Priest or Ian McDonald. I get that. Satisfies – Scots, Near-Future, Nano, multi-cultural, For this one, I have to say that the voters missed Honey-enthusiasts Expiration Date by Duane Swierczynsk, which I bought I’ve made no secret that this is my favorite on ages ago and only recently turned to. It’s an awesome the ballot and if I had a personalized ballot made up story of time-travel and funkiness. It reminded me of of all my favorites of the year, it would be third behind Life on Mars and Time Travel for Amateurs, in a way. It only Kraken and The Half Made World. Still, there’s a would satisfy the History gap and the Fun gap. lot of stuff that could have filled it’s gaps and still been How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Uni- very worthy. verse by Charles Yu is meta-fiction and a ton of fun I’ll start with Ken MacLeod’s The Restoration and probably the best entertainment as far as science Game, which is a book I haven’t read but two friends fiction goes for the decade so far. I knew a lot of folks have given me copies saying that I’m missing out if I who read it and couldn’t believe it didn’t make the bal- don’t read it. It’s not out in the US yet, though. lot.Yu’s not a huge name yet, but another novel or two Adam Roberts’ had a controversial hit with Yellike How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe low Blue Tibia (which I thought was really good readand he’ll be there. ing) and last year his novel New Model Army was a The biggest thing Blackout/All Clear has going much more lively book, I thought and I’d have liked to for it is the name Connie Willis. The winningest author have seen it on the ballot because I think Roberts is a at the top of the ballot, she’s a star and her name is real talent of the type that we seldom see recognized enough to get a nom, and potentially a win. in the Hugos. it’s supposed to be one of the best re-imaginings of it’s kind in ages. I just ordered my copy a few days ago and am interested to give it a read. Horns by Joe Hill is another fantasy book that I’ve recently discovered and have to say is very enjoyable and certainly Hugo-worthwhile. The Passage I’ve not read, but I hear nothing but good things about. Maybe all of Steampunk should go in this one as well. There’s Gail Carriger’s Blameless, Cherie Priest’s Dreadnaught (which I loved) and a few others. I wish I could say that the Affinity Bridge or Osiris Ritual belonged, but really, they fall a little short. Perhaps the biggest missing piece is Felix Gilman’s The Half-Made World, which was easily the best Steampunk novel of the year and one of the best of all novels I’ve read in the last five years. Powerful, smart, well-constructed with a world that is as rich as Jemisin’s but for my money more relatable because it’s a world steeped in a sort of mystery that reminds me of the stories my Grandparents would tell me when I was a kid. There’s a certain dreaminess to much of the book that I enjoy and that reminds me of something bigger than the novel itself.

By It’s Cover: A Su rvey of the Covers for the Best Novel Nominees
I, for one, hold book covers as one of the highest forms of art. It’s a difficult thing to do a good book cover, something that is evidenced by the wide variety of book cover failures. I’ll confess, I’ve often chosen a book by simply looking at its cover, and I’ve discovered that’s one of the tter ways to decide what I should be reading. WHAT?!?!?! I hear you cry. It’s seldom let me down. I’m not a big Historical Romance fan, so when I see a bodice-ripping with an England of 400 years back on the cover, I know I’m OK to skip. I am not a huge Military SF fan, so if I see a Space Marine on the cover, I know I can move along. If I see a pair of goggles of an airship, I’m pretty sure I’ll be enjoying some Steampunk-y goodness. So, with that in mind, I wrote to a variety of good people and asked them a simple series of questions. Some answered them directly, others went a little more free-form. Who am I to stifle them? Flick - UK Blackout / All Clear 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? That it’s a matching pair 2) What does the cover make you think? That the books are about London in WW2 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Probably not, if it didn’t have the author name on it 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? No idea! It’s a good cover, I think. 5) Does the cover fit the book? Yes 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? Only that it’s a Connie Willis set in London in WW2, which tells you a fair bit about what the book will be about / like. Cryoburn 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? This Is Big Dramatic SF Blockbuster! 2) What does the cover make you think? That it’s about a city 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Again, I probably wouldn’t if I didn’t know the author 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? I don’t really understand this question, sorry. It’s not really my style of art, but it seems technically competent? 5) Does the cover fit the book? Not really 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? No Feed 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? “That’s an RSS logo... in blood...” 2) What does the cover make you think? That it’s probably about zombies and geeks 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Kinda, although I’d be worried it was too horrorish for me 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? I think it’s a very clever cover 5) Does the cover fit the book? Yes 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? No

Dervish House 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Doesn’t look like SF. Looks like a something literary about a holiday to A Third World City 2) What does the cover make you think? That it’s about a city 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Not really 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? It’s a good cover, just not for the kind of book I like to read 5) Does the cover fit the book? Mostly 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? No The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Floating city! 2) What does the cover make you think? Tedious fantasy!

3) Does this make you want to read the book? Not really 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Again, it looks like it’s a technically good piece of art 5) Does the cover fit the book? Yes (it was tedious. I don’t think I finished it.) 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? Not that I can remember. Which is your favorite of the covers? Probably Feed. I thought that was very clever, and it brings out the pun of the title. Steven H Silver – Chicago, USA Blackout / All Clear, by Connie Willis Cover by Charles Brock The palindromic symmetry of the covers is interesting, with the “Reverse S” on Blackout and the “S” on All Clear, shapes which summon to mind the

Thames flowing through London. Similarly, the repeated image of St. Paul’s Cathedral on the right side of both is a nice touch and the images form a nice triptych of planes, St. Paul’s, ground level crowd, where the two (admittedly different) images of St. Paul’s layered over each other.

although with an ambiguity as to whether the watcher is malevolent or protective. That ambiguity may make the cover of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the most effective of all the covers with regard to a cover’s purpose of drawing a reader in.

Based strictly on the cover art (and with the idea that Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold, the author’s names, and perhaps even the titles have Cover by David Seeley been removed), I’d pick up the Willis books, the British The human figures on the cover are rather McDonald book, and the Jemisin. dwarfed by the image of the city, providing the feeling Whether or not the pictures highlight the talents of of people who are lost in a massive bureaucracy or an the artist is a little difficult to say since the art is miniuncaring society malistic on the Grant novel. To a large extent, the Willis novels are the work of Photoshopping/layout. And Feed, by Mira Grant / Seanan McGuire not being particularly familiar with the overall work of Cover by Lauren Panepinto Charles Brock or the artists who did Feed or the Brit`I’m not a huge fan of horror novels, and this ish edition of Dervish House, it is difficult to say if the cover definitely gives off a horror novel vibe to it. The work highlights their talents. stark background, reminiscent of a concrete wall with the blood red letters, mysterious symbol, and random blood spatters and drips. It is effective, but given my Glenn Glazer – Santa Cruz Mountains, HUSA own proclivities, not likely to make we want to pick up Blackout/All Clear: the book. 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Lack of color. The Dervish House, by Ian McDonald 2) What does the cover make you think? Cover by Steven Martinière That this is some sort of mainstream political The first thing I notice about the American cov- book, like a historical analysis or a LeCarre nover for The Dervish House is that it is by Steven Mar- el. tinière, or at least done in his style. Of all the covers, 3) Does this make you want to read the book? No. this is the artist with the most identifiable style. There 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the is a classicalness to the style and the vertical lines in artist? the upper half carry the busy-ness of the lower half Only if you count layout skills as art skills - there throughout the cover. doesn’t really seem to be original art here, just The British cover gives a completely different photomontage and some graphic design. feel for the book. Instead of expecting a story set in a bustling metropolis (with cable cars, cooler than blimps, Cryoburn by the way), I’m now expecting a mystical novel with an 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Eastern background, highlighted not just by the glow The extreme depth of view from the viewer to from the window, but also by the vaguely Arabic font the building. (and based on the author, you can’t tell what you’ll be 2) What does the cover make you think? getting). Reminds me of classic cyberpunk - Burning Chrome and that sort thing. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Cover by Cliff Nielsen Partially. The fact that it is a new XYZ novel and The warm color scheme is inviting and the gold I haven’t read any XYZ novels makes me wonnicely draws attention to the alienness of the city as der if I would understand what was going on. the primary feature of the book’s cover. The silhouette 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the behind the city could easily be dismissed as clouds or artist? trees until the realization that the single eye is indica- Yes, though the screechingly loud typography tive of an entity of some sort watching over the city, masks it and ruins it. The colors of the building,

for example, are subtle and blown away by the red & orange fire of the title. Feed 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Blood. On the wall and in the typography. 2) What does the cover make you think? That it is a horror novel, probably a zombie book. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Not even slightly. I dislike virtually all horror except Lovecraft, Poe and if you categorize it as horror, Alien(s). 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? ? The Dervish House 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? The reddish tinge on everything. 2) What does the cover make you think? Cueing off the C* logo on the flag and the name of the book, a congested city street somewhere in Turkey. The air definitely hints at smog and the reddish tint implies danger behind the scenes. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Possibly. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Yes, it shows both the capacity to depict a scene *and* the capacity to be artistic - to render the scene without slavish photographic literalism, but instead in a painterly mode. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? That it seems to have a Yggdrasil motif - roots through the bottom to the middle city and then to the sky which is a face. 2) What does the cover make you think? That the book is a high fantasy novel. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Yes. As it happens, this is a genre I like. 4) Do you think the cover showcases

the talent of the artist? Yes, very much so. There is a picture of a city done literally where I’m guessing most of the action takes place, but the motif mentioned above and the face behind the city *imply* things that the mere depiction cannot. This is my favorite cover. Side note: I ran a number of con art shows for a number of years. During that time I got very tired of certain trends or memes in SF art: simple portraits of the media star du jour, cats, naked people and so on. So, my bar is pretty high for SF&F art. Best, Glenn Lucy Huntzinger – San Mateo, CA Blackout/All Clear: 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? It’s ugly. 2) What does the cover make you think? Another World War II story? If I didn’t know her work I’d pass. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? No. It’s tacky-looking. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? I’m not convinced the artist is talented. I liked this, but I don’t think these covers did her any favors at all. Cryoburn: 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? It’s got comicbook outlining of the font. What is this, US Weekly? 2) What does the cover make you think? Old school SF inside, no doubt. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Neutral. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? The typeface detracts from it. The art is barely noticeable. I read the book. I thought it was

same old, same old. Perfectly readable, perfectly forgettable. Surprised it’s up for a Hugo.

the same time as putting the viewer in the mindset for WWII. The same can not be said for Cryoburn. The Feed: painting, which I’m pretty sure is a good one, is almost 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? entirely obscured by the typography. I get it, they have Strong graphic sensibility, attractive. only one thing to sell the book on, the author’s name, 2) What does the cover make you think? but this was a disservice to the artist and the book Maybe urban fantasy, maybe straight horror. itself. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? I was happy to see that layout was all there was Not particularly, but it doesn’t repel me, either. to Mira Grant’s Feed. It was a simple cover that told 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the the story it had to tell. Anyone who thinks that a book artist? cover isn’t supposed to tell a story doesn’t understand Not that impressed, so no. how important a cover can be toward influencing a buyer and reader. Simple, blood and RSS, what else The Dervish House: would the reader need? 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? I never go for the floating kingdom. It’s a tradiLiterary-looking. Reminds me of Penguin Clas- tion that just screams typical fantasy. I picked up the sics. book and it’s slightly better than the cover would indi2) What does the cover make you think? cate, but I could see fantasy types being drawn to the This will be dense and full of cool world build- cover. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms might be the ing. best traditional coverl. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? The Dervish House and the Martinierre cover. Yes. Brilliant painting, simple layout. Typical of all the Pyr 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the covers. I’m voting for Stephen based almost entirely on artist? this cover. It’s gorgeous and if I came across it, I’d know Very much so. what I was in for, yet I would still be surprised when I I didn’t actually like it, but it met my ex- got to it. pectations based on the cover! The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Complexity and nice color scheme. 2) What does the cover make you think? Fantasy novel ahoy. Like the font choice. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Yes, very much so. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Yes indeed. I really like the layout. Didn’t read it. And there you go! Jay Crasdan – Simo, Finland I’ve done cover work, and there are three great covers, one good and one that don’t work. The layout on the Willis pieces is superb. The title is obvious, the Stella-esque lines on Blackout defining the image boundaries, which are then echoed in the white cover of All Clear. The photo evoke the era perfectly, and there is a sense of style to it. It feels very modern at Mike Perschon - Edmonton, Canada Blackout/All Clear – Connie Willis 1.What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? The use of stark contrast , is obviously very eye grabbing. 2. What does the cover make you think? The use of archival/historical photos gives me the impression this is a very serious work.There’s nothing here that says ‘speculative work,’ per se. I like that. The cover begs to be taken seriously, and from my very limited knowledge of Connie Willis’ work, she’s a writer who should be taken seriously, even when she’s writing satire of H.G. Wells and Emily Dickinson. 3.Does this make you want to read the book? Definitely.The cover of Blackout grabbed me instore. Sadly, I haven’t had time to read it yet. 4.Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? I’d say it showcases the talent of the artist as a master of design and “less is more.”

Feed – Mira Grant 1.What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? Is that blood or red paint? 2.What does the cover make you think? The conflation of bloody graffiti style font plus the title says someone’s getting eaten.The catch phrase implies zombie apocalypse in a way that begs Don LaFontaine to come back from the grave to read it. 3. Does this make you want to read the book? Any zombie dystopia nominated for a Hugo is a must-read, especially because I’ve been looking for a zombie book to use in my intro English Lit courses. 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? It’s difficult to say, but a cover like this is going to get more respect than some over-the-top grossout cover involving intestinal tracts falling out, so as with Blackout, I’d say it shows some design savvy. Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold 1.What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? HOLY SHIT, IT’S IMPACT FONT PHOTOSHOP PORN! Oh hey, there’s a cool painting in the background of the GRADIENTS! OUTER GLOW! 2. What does the cover make you think? This book better involve shit blowing up on every page, or the use of HOT LAVA GRADIENT on the cover is false advertising. That, and how pissed off the cover artist must be to have been covered up by IMPACT FONT WITH OUTER GLOW! It’s a wonder there’s nothing embossed here. 3. Does this make you want to read the book? Not on your life. I’d rather carry a torrid bodice ripper on a bus full of red neck Albertan males. 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? It showcases the designer’s ability to use tacky font effects to completely overshadow the talent of the artist. That cover is beautiful, and in stark contrast to all that visual screaming the text is do-

ing. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald 1.What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? The way the title and author are featured, which is reminiscent of a number of classic lines of books. 2. What does the cover make you think? What the hell is this literary classic I’ve never heard of doing in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section? 3. Does this make you want to read the book? Yes. The classic looking cover would make me wonder if the content matched the mood of the art. This is another cover I’ve already been tempted by in-store. 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Yes. The title and author fonts and borders, are so understated; those hanging banners draw the eye down so you can’t help but take a look at the art, which is gorgeous. Evocative, without giving anything away. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemsin 1.What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? The wonderful use of colour and contrast to draw the eye to the center of the image. 2. What does the cover make you think? I’m thinking this isn’t your standard High Fantasy, but it’s still filled with wonder and magic, not necessarily seeking to distance itself from Tolkien by being dark and “edgy.” 3. Does this make you want to read the book? Despite being a fan of this style of fantasy art, the cover blurb is too standard to catch my interest. It would take reading the back cover, or a positive review to consider reading. 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Yes.This cover is all about showcasing the artist. With both title and author at the bottom of the cover, your eye has already traveled across the image before you know what it’s called. It’s lovely. Which is your favorite of the covers? That depends on what you

mean by “favorite.” If you mean,“if all you had to go on was the cover, which book would you pick up first?” it would be Feed by Mira Grant. But if you’re asking “which would you pick to have framed and hung on your wall?” it would be The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. That artwork feels the most painterly to me. It doesn’t feel like it was constructed for a cover.

That there are flying cars. Not really much else. It’s a rather generic semi-futuristic city. It feels very retro/pulpy. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? The typeset does more for me along those lines. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Again, it’ s not a piece I’d hang on a wall, but it Robert Hole – BArea, CA is well executed. The Dervish House 5) Does the cover fit the book? 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? It looks to be, roughly, from a scene in the book, The title block is the most noticable thing about yes, though the location as described (at least in this cover. It is well set off with strong contrast my interpretation) has some important differand simplicity compared to the busyness of the ences with the cover. artwork. 2) What does the cover make you think? 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? Nope Makes me think of an islamic takeover of San Francisco. I’m not sure it’s science fictional at Blackout/All Clear all. Looks quite like a “straight” novel. 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? 3) Does this make you want to read the book? This cover is the strongest in design elements. Not particularly. It does not show excitement or 2) What does the cover make you think? movement. While there’s seeming jumble and The cover makes me think it has something to noise, it looks very static, like everyone’s waiting do with WWII. Which it does. for the trams. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the This is the most “pick me up and take a look” of artist? the covers among the nominees. The artwork is good, though I’m not sure I’d 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the want it hanging on my wall.. artist? 5) Does the cover fit the book? Graphic designwise, perhaps, but not “art” wise. It’s a strong cover, and I fully I read only a short bit of this understand the difficulties in book. The jumble seems apgetting this type of image topropriate to the part I read. gether, but the skills are some6) Do you think the cover gave one different than a typical anything away? Nope. “artist” cover. 5) Does the cover fit the book? Cryoburn In as much as the story (most1) What’s the firsr thing you noly) takes place during WWII, tice about the cover? The typogyes. raphy. Well set off and loud. 6) Do you think the cover gave The artwork seems mostly a anything away? Nope. platform on which to put the typography. Being both an esFeed tablished author and well into 1) What’s the first thing you notice an established series, that’s all about the that the publishers probably cover? Title. felt they needed to get out 2) What does the cover make you there. think? 2) What does the cover (ART) That the publisher had no art make you think?

budget. I had to look several times before realizing it wasn’t a crumpled brown paper bag. 3) Does this make you want to read the book? Nope. Though consistent, the cover to the sequel isn’t any better. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Nope. 5) Does the cover fit the book? Um. 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? Nope

setting, with the possible exception of the War Between the States. 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? Not really. This feels more like rudimentary graphic design with some old photographs.

Cryoburn 1. What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? The flying car above the well-lit government building. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms 1) What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? 2. What does the cover make you think? The castle. Staring at it long enough brings out Given the extreme angles, I’m thinking there’s gonna be political intrigue, maybe along the the other elements. 2) What does the cover make you think? lines of espionage, in a sci-fi setting. 3. Does this make you want to read the book? That it’s a medieval related fantasy. Yes. I’m being promised action, probably some3) Does this make you want to read the book? what intelligent action, by these images. Looks rather generic fantasy to me. 4) Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the artist? artist? Of them all, this one shows the artist to best ad- Yes. There’s a lot going on in this cover, and I vantage. This is one that I might consider hang- think it’s a good style for the artist. 5. Does the cover fit the book? ing on my wall. I’m a few chapters in, but 5) Does the cover fit the so far, it seems to fit. book? 6. Do you think the cover Reasonably well, though gave anything away? it does not (again in my Nothing so far -- I think mind) closely match the the cover only conveys description of the locathe general elements of tion pictured. the plot. 6) Do you think the cover gave anything away? Nope. Feed 1. What’s the first thing you Warren Buff – The notice about the cover? South That the title is styled to Blackout/All Clear look like blood. 1. What’s the first thing you 2.What does the cover make notice about the cover? you think? The pairing of the govThe couple of lines of ernmental dome with text, combined with the war imagery. blood, make me think 2. What does the cover zombies. make you think? 3. Does this make you want Given the planes in the to read the book? first cover, WWII. Kinda. Were it not for the 3. Does this make you want nomination, it wouldn’t to read the book? have jumped to the top Not particularly -- WWII of my pile, though. is about the most over4. Do you think the cover done alternate history

showcases the talent of the artist? 5. Does the cover fit the book? No. Again, it’s pretty much graphic design work, Yes. Looking back, I can see a lot of elements with very little imagery. of the setting and themes in this cover, and the plot did a good job of fulfilling the promises set The Dervish House out in the text. 1. What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? 6. Do you think the cover gave anything away? The tones in this cover are incredibly striking No. While some general plot elements are 2. What does the cover make you think? promised, the how and why are left mysterious. I honestly don’t know what to expect, other than a setting in a Turkish city. When I really Overall: scrutinize this, I get that it’s supposed to be fu- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms -- while I turistic. love the cover to The Dervish House, I think as 3. Does this make you want to read the book? a book cover, the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms A little. I’ve been to Turkey, so I’ve got a little did the best job of honestly selling the book. interest in reading a story set there. 4. Do you think the cover showcases the talent of the Christopher J Garcia - Santa Clara, CA artist? I am torn by these covers, hence why I asked Yes. I’d hang this on my wall. folks about these covers. For me,The Dervish House is 5. Does the cover fit the book ? one of those covers that you just can’t beat for sheer Absolutely. The novel is indeed set in Istanbul, gorgeous factor, but the impact of The Hundred Thouand the tones of the cover capture its initial sand Kingdoms is pretty darn high. The way that the moods very well. head seems to be sprouting a tree from the back and 6. Do you think the cover gave anything away? is looming over what I guess is supposed to be Sky; the Nope. If the cover is any particular scene from palace complex where the novel takes place.It’s a very the book, it’s the opening scene, which seems nice cover. like completely fair game to me. But The Dervish House. Man... The Dervish House. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms I am a fan of Stephan Martiniere. He’s a helluva 1. What’s the first thing you notice about the cover? artist with a difficult to spell name. His covers for BraI’m really drawn to the face behind the castle. syl and River of Gods were both spectacular, and this is no different. I totally dig it, and 2. What does the cover make you when I meet him, and I’m hoping I think? get a chance at Fencon in SeptemThe images give me the idea that this will be high fantasy ber, I’ll tell him I think this is the one that I want on my wall. with a female protagonist. The text backs that up, and promThe others? Feed was very simple, but effective. I wasn’t ises some politics in the mix as overly-impressed, but it looked like well. what it was: a techno-geek novel. I 3. Does this make you want to read thought that Cryoburn was a total the book? I have to honestly say no. I’m waste of a nice little Sci-Fi painting. That HUGE name at the top intensely skeptical of fantasy, as the books don’t tend to conjust burned all of it. It’s a shame, because I like the painting. tain a complete story. I doubt I’m torn on Blackout, I’d ever buy fantasy off the shelf without having heard somethough it’s certainly better than All Clear. I think it’s striking in that thing about it first. 4. Do you think the cover showgroovy 60s sort-of way, but it’s also just sorta there. It’s not my thing, I cases the talent of the artist? Yes, this is a wonderful cover. l guess, but what it, really?

On the 2011 Nominees for Best Novel
Reviewed by Ana of The Book Smugglers Originally appeared at

Blackout / All Clear by Connie Willis

Publisher: Spectra Publication date: February / October 2010 Hardcover: 1168 pages altogether Blackout and All Clear are a two-volume novel published a few months apart in 2010. They are part of an ongoing series of standalone novels that involve time travelling historians who travel back from Oxford University of the mid 21st century to several points in time to observe History as it happens. The series started in 1984 with the novella Fire Watch1 and was followed by Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. It is not essential to have read the previous books since they stand alone really well but unlike their predecessors, Blackout and All Clear mention previous events in the series and even at some point rely on and intersect with those storylines plus two of the main characters from Doomsday Book, Dr. Dunworthy and Colin, have Really Important Roles to play here. I believe those who had read the previous books will inevitably enjoy the experience to a greater extent. The story starts in 2060 as three historians are getting ready to take on their different assignments at different points in the past. All 3 are getting increasingly frustrated as their team leader, Dr Dunworthy keeps changing where and when they are supposed to go, without any advance notice. Their assignments are shifted around and the three end up being sent to different months in 1940: Mike Davis, who is studying Heroes is sent to observe the evacuation of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, the youngest and the most inexperienced of the trio is sent to Warwickshire to observe children evacuated from London; Polly Churchill is to go to London to observe the Blitz and how people in

the underground shelters reacted to the Blackout and bombings. An aside: Doomsday Book’s Colin, is 17 now and completely in love with 25 year old Polly and asks her to wait for him to “catch up” which he plans to do by doing assignments that would last years and then going back to the same point where she is. He also promises her that he WILL get her out if something happens to her. This is your first clue that Something Bad Is About To Happen. Parallel to those three storylines, we also get to see a few other historians a few years later, also observing the World War II (the relevance of those parallel stories only becomes clear in the second volume). It is part of the internal logic of these books that in theory, the continuum will always, ALWAYS prevent the past to be altered by the historians and it save-guards itself typically with what is called slippage: a shift in the time target. For example, all three historians experience a certain slippage of a few hours off when travelling to the point in time they were supposed to go (this is your clue #2 that DOOM is coming). The three proceed to do what they are supposed to do, with some success but then some of them find themselves in situations time travellers are not supposed to: Mike, for example takes a far too active role in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Everything gets worse when their drops do not open AT ALL and it seems that the three are trapped in the past, in one of the darkest hours of history. To make matters worse, one of them has a deadline: because this person has already visited England in that period in a different assignment a few years ahead, which means that at that point, there will be two versions of that person at the same time.This is something that cannot happen and will probably cause the continuum to expurgate (reads: kill) that person before the two versions can collide. The clock is now ticking. What is going on? Why are the drops not working? Can they try and find

each other in the chaos of World War II? What will happen if they can’t go back to the future? Only one thing becomes more and more clear to the Historians: everything they knew, of thought they knew about time travelling and its laws might be totally and completely WRONG. The stakes are therefore, high and the tension builds and builds but the historians’ particular crisis is nothing compared to what the contemps are going through in England and Europe and this is what makes Willis’ books so awesome. I love how her books can be taken in as an examination of what is History and what is the role of a Historian. The idea, the premise, is that these historians depart the future armed with a lot of facts and a few notions based on these facts only to have them proved wrong. Because as much as historians can offer interpretation based on facts and/or documents, it can never be possible to understand the past completely by merely reading dry documents. I am a Historian by formation and this is something that became really clear to me when I was studying at uni. The point is: the past is not a homogenous block and these books explore those ideas really well. It is easy for example to think about Hitler and Churchill when one thinks about WWII but the war effort went of course, far beyond the roles the two played. As small as their contributions might have been the War is about the soldier in the front lines, the canteen lady in the tube stations shelters, the volunteers of the fire watch. In that sense, the main concern and question that each time traveller in the books have to ask themselves is, since the War Effort was made by some many different

lives can ONE person change the course of history? It is an interesting question that keeps popping up in these books and are part of the narrative as well: as with the previous books, the historians have impressive spiralling thought-processes where they examine every single detail of what they do and what it can engender. The point is: their mission is to observe events but they are also observing people, how they deal with the horrible things happening to them, how they survive in face of adversity. It is about love and loss and hope and death. It is about ordinary people – and good people for the most part – doing their small bits to help. This is another incredible, beautiful book by Connie Willis, and you must pardon me for the use of such a clichéd review-word, but it is an incredible tour de force. It is full of interesting facts which are vividly incorporated into the narrative and not to mention the appealing, sympathetic characters that range from the three main characters to the secondary ones (including the two impossible street urchins Alf and Binnie; a Shakespearean actor and even Agatha Christie).And Colin. Ah Colin: the romantic in me cannot repress a sigh of contentment at how fine a young man you turned out to be. If you already love Connie Willis, I don’t see how you can’t love this book (at least to one extent or another). But do yourself a favour, you must – and I can’t stress this enough – have All Clear on stand-by. You will need it as soon as you finish Blackout. Notable Quotes/ Parts: Oh, I don’t know...everything? Rating: 9 – Damn Near Perfection

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

Reviewed by Laura Taylor Originally appeared at http://www.cncbooks. com/blog/2010/11/18/book-review-cryoburnby-lois-mcmaster-bujold/ Baen Books, November 2010 9781439133941 New hardcover “Within the last few months,” [Miles went on,] “as the flagship facility we saw in Wing’s vid was nearing completion,WhiteChrys began collecting contracts on future customers. Not unnaturally, they targeted Solstice upper-class elderly women’s clubs. At the same time, another sales team made some limited strategic stock offerings to certain wealthy and influential Komarrans, to give the local powers-that-be a stake in the future success of their operations. I expect the two sales teams didn’t compare hit lists, nor realize that some wealthy old ladies are retired Komarran traders who can read a balance sheet to a gnat’s eyebrow. “And one of those little old ladies looked at the two proposals before her and said, ‘This smells, but I don’t see how,’ so she took it to her beloved great-niece, who said,‘You’re right,Auntie, this smells, but I don’t see how,’ who took the problem in turn to her devoted husband, better known as Emperor Gregor Vorbarra. Who handed it to his loyal Imperial Auditor, saying, and I quote here, ‘Here, Miles, you’re better at diving into the privy and coming up with the gold ring than anyone I know. Have a go.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Sire,’ and took ship for Kibou-daini.” Cryoburn, the latest installment in Lois McMaster Bujold’s brilliant Vorkosigan saga, has Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan investigating possible shady dealings in the cryonics industry on Kibou-daini, a world heretofore unexplored in the series. The story, which opens with a drugged and hallucinating Miles wandering through a warren of underground cryocombs – a storage facility holding thousands of cryonically frozen bodies – after es-

caping a botched kidnapping attempt, unfolds through the eyes of three narrators: Miles, his bodyguard Roic, and Jin Sato, a young Kibou boy with a personal stake in cryonics. When I heard that Bujold was working on a new Vorkosigan novel, it was like Christmas and birthday rolled into one. It’s been a long dry spell for Vorkosigan fans; the previous installment, Diplomatic Immunity, came out in 2002, with the short story “Winterfair Gifts” in 2004. Cryoburn was thus, for me, easily the most eagerly-anticipated book of the year. It doesn’t disappoint (not that I ever had any doubts). As is the case with several of the later installments in the Vorkosigan series, Cryoburn is essentially a mystery novel, with Miles playing the part of the intrepid detective. In some ways it’s like Komarr, in which unraveling one mystery only leads to another, more complex one – I suspect it’s not by chance that the cryocorps’ efforts to establish a foothold on Komarr are what lands the case in Miles’ lap in the first place. Pursuing a tip from Barrayar’s Komarran-born empress, Miles travels to Kibou-daini purportedly to attend a conference on cryonics. Because adventure is drawn to Miles like a moth to a flame, it’s not long before he’s the recipient of an intriguing bribe and then nearly kidnapped by the New Hope Legacy Liberators, a grassroots organization hoping to break the stranglehold the cryocorps have on Kibou society. Throw in the cover-up of botched cryo-preservations, a growing underclass forced to resort to black-market cryonics, the silencing of dissenting voices, and an extremely far-sighted attempt to conquer Komarr, and stir. One of the aspects I enjoy most about the Vorkosigan series is the way Bujold explores advances in science that have potentially real impact on the way we live our lives – in fact, much of the science in the Vorkosigan novels deals with the nature of life itself. Uterine

replicators are probably the advanced tech fans of the series are most familiar with, particularly their critical role in Miles’ early life and their effect on Barrayaran society. Bujold has also used the series to explore end-of-life issues, first in Mirror Dance with clone-brain transplants on Jackson’s Whole and Miles’ traumatic encounter with cryo-preservation, and in Cryoburn she return to that theme, even bringing back Raven Durona (a minor character in Mirror Dance) to provide an update on the Durona Group’s life-extension research in addition to his expertise as a cryo-revival surgeon. Not the best of the Vorkosigan Saga, but I’ve got to say that Bujold at her worst is better than any of the other nominees at their best. She’s the Heinlein of our times. Judith Morel With Bujold, fortunately, scientific advances are not ends in themselves, but rather tools for an examination of humanity and relationships. In the case of Cryoburn, the possibility of extending life beyond current limitations or putting death on the back burner sets the stage for a couple of very poignant conversations between Miles and his clone-twin Mark about their aging father. (It occurred to me while reading Cryoburn that it kind of tweaks the zombie trope that’s so popular these days. I don’t know if that was deliberate on Bujold’s part, but it still made me chuckle.) As any Vorkosigan devotee knows, however, it’s not the plot that matters so much – except perhaps as it impinges directly on Barrayar – but rather the lives of the characters inhabiting the Vorkosiverse. While Cryoburn does not allow for many familiar faces to make an appearance, their presence is nonetheless

felt. Bujold knows how much we care about people like Ivan and Mark and Ekaterin, and so she goes to the trouble to update us on events of the past seven years, since those in Diplomatic Immunity. We learn, for example, that Miles and Ekaterin now have four children, and that Miles’ nickname for his eldest daughter is “Hellion” (yes, I laughed – out loud); that Gregor and Laisa have several children of their own; that Roic is courting Armsman Pym’s daughter (I’d just like to say that I called this one while reading Diplomatic Immunity; I couldn’t help thinking that those long months spent on Miles and Ekaterin’s honeymoon trip to Earth, with a side trip to the Betan Orb, might have been conducive to sparking a little romance between their respective attendants); that Ekaterin’s garden design business is doing well and that she’s in charge of terraforming projects in Vorkosigan’s District. We also learn of the final days of the brave and beautiful Taura and that – a detail that made me cry – Roic was able to be with her at the end. Mark and Kareen make an appearance (memorably, of course), and while we don’t learn the fate of the infamous bug-butter business from A Civil Campaign it is clear that Mark is a successful entrepreneur and venture capitalist. Alas, there’s little mention of Ivan, his mother, or Simon Illyan, but reports coming out from Bujold’s West Coast book tour indicate there’s a new book on the horizon, and that it will be Ivan-centric. And then, finally, there is the revelation at the end of the book. Rather than spoil anyone, I’ll say only that those were probably the most dreaded and anticipated three words in the entire series, and the fact that they still came as a bombshell attests to Bujold’s extraordinary skill in creating a universe and characters I care so deeply about. This review was originally written for Buried Under Books.

FEED by Mira Grant
Reviewed by Thea of The Book Smugglers Genre: Horror, Thriller, Zombies Publisher: Orbit (US & UK) Publication Date: April 2010 (US) / May 2010 (UK) Paperback: 608 pages EVERYONE HAS SOMEONE ON THE WALL Shaun and Georgia are orphans of the Rising, the cataclysmic event which left the world reeling in the aftermath of the zombie uprising. Adopted by the Masons and raised in the strange world of the post-Rising media, they’ve spent their lives chasing the next big story, the one that will allow them to break into the big leagues once and for all. Now, in Senator Peter Ryman’s run for the Presidency of the United States, they’ve finally found it. All they have to do is survive until the election. In a world filled with the constant threat of both the living and the living dead, it will be all that Shaun and Georgia can do to keep themselves in one piece. Accompanied by the rest of their blogging team, Senator Ryman’s staff, and a whole lot of caffeine, they might succeed...or they might finally answer the big question of their post-Rising world:When will you rise? Stand alone or series: Book 1 in the Newsflesh Trilogy How did I get this book: Bought my copy (at the LA Times Festival of Books!) Why did I read this book: It’s no surprise that I am a fan of Seanan McGuire’s – her October Daye series is one of my current favorites in the Urban Fantasy (sub)genre. SO, when I heard that the lovely Ms. McGuire would be writing an entirely new, totally different series – featuring politics, blogs and zombies – I was

ecstatic. Writing under the name Mira Grant, Feed was as irresistible to me as brains are to zombies. Review: Kellis-Amberlee – such a pretty name for such a deadly, combined virus. In the year 2014, a young girl, Amberlee, was cured of her terminal Leukemia. In the same year, one Dr. Kellis created a bold new rhinovirus strain that would cure the common cold. In an unfortunate confluence of events, the two viruses combined, creating an airborne hybrid that quickly replicated and swept across the face of the planet. Sickness was invariably cured – cancer and the sniffles became things of the past. But the new virus, Kellis-Amberlee, also had a peculiar side effect – namely, raising the dead. Those with weaker immune systems, those with direct, fluid contact with high quantities of the virus were the first to reanimate. The virus infected animals (with sufficiently large bodymass) and humans alike, causing a worldwide panic, and an all out war with the undead. Twenty years later, Kellis-Amberlee is still humanity’s largest threat though it has been beaten back and contained through strict testing and regulatory procedures. In addition to wiping out a large portion of the population and reanimating the dead, KA also caused a shift in power. In the media, traditional outlets were sluggish to respond to “the rising,” bound by their myriad ties to governments and companies hesitant to give heed to crazy accounts. The new media – that is, news bloggers – were faster, more accurate, and helped inform the public how to defend itself in a time when defense and knowledge were sparse – and ever since the summer of the Rising of KA, bloggers have remained the highest rated source for the truth. Feed follows Georgia “George” Mason (a by the book “newsie”), her foster brother Shaun

Mason (a daredevil “Irwin”) and Georgette “Buffy” Mesonnier (a dreamy creative) – a team of successful, highly rated news bloggers who are selected to follow Republican Presidential candidate Senator Peter Ryman on his run for the highest office in the nation. As members of Ryman’s press corp, George and her team have the break of a lifetime. Their ratings skyrocket, and the ever-skeptical and pessimistic George finds herself believing in Senator Ryman’s message. But things are never so simple, and when the Senator’s campaign, his well-being, and his family come under brutal attack, George and her crew will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the matter and to bring out the truth – even if it means their own lives are at risk. After all, everyone is already infected with Kellis-Amberlee. It’s only a matter of time before it takes over each and every host on the planet. When I started Feed, I was under the impression that it was more of a horror novel – which isn’t really true. Feed is more of a thriller – a political thriller, a medical thriller, all wrapped up in one delightful undead package. Instead of copious amounts of gore, flesheating, decapitation, etc, the dominant theme in Feed is that of uncovering truth, at any cost. It is undoubtedly a zombie novel, but it’s not a book about killing zombies. It has action in spades, but the true carnage is on the human – not the undead – level. It’s a horror novel, but the terror lies in the actions of human nature, much more so than the supernatural fear of the walking dead. Like the most memorable works in the zombie canon, Feed uses its zombies (those reanimated corpses teeming with KellisAmberlee) to examine humanity. And this, dear readers, is really goddamn cool. More than anything else, I loved the amount of thought Ms. Grant put into writing this book. Feed is INCREDIBLY detailed; George’s world is fleshed out, from the genesis of the deadly pathogen to the constant vigi-

lance required living with this airborne virus. Ms. Grant’s vision of a future American ravaged by KA is grimly complete. Nothing occurs in a vacuum in Feed, and rather than glossing over any details (or creating some stupid hokey explanation for the emergence of the virus *cough*28DaysLater*cough*), Ms. Grant uses George to fully explore all social, scientific and historical aspects of KA. The benefit of having such an intelligent and well-tuned in narrator is the fact that George knows everything that has happened and can explain it all. Historical context, the political game (i.e. tobacco companies’ unabashed rise to power since cigarettes no longer cause cancer), laws concerning animals...Ms. Grant covers it all. I loved the actual detail level of the disease itself, too – for example, mutations are present, and some characters like George suffer different forms of Kellis-Amberlee. In Geroge’s case, she suffers from retinal KA, rendering her pupils permanently dilated (meaning she cannot go anywhere without strong, filtered sunglasses to preserve her retinas; it also means that she cannot pass any retinal scan for KA, as her test results will always come out positive – think of it like living with a positive TB test). I loved the idea that news bloggers would end up taking over traditional media outlets when the world falls apart (hey, as a blogger, this feels really cool). *As an aside, the whole ‘bloggers being the harbingers for the zombie apocalypse’ thing felt very reminiscent of Romero’s Diary of the Dead – which, while self-indulgent and not a very good movie, is an intriguing concept, and one I think Ms. Grant delivers on exceptionally well.* Plot-wise, Feed also shines. Though it’s pretty easy to guess, ultimately, who is behind the sabotage and attacks on Senator Ryman and the End of Times crew, the pacing is brisk, and the various clues/revelations flow unimpeded to a dramatic – shocking, heartbreaking! – conclusion.

I loved the characters, too – George, her foster brother Shaun and the (odd combination) tech-savant/poet Buffy make a wonderful team that balances each other out perfectly. Note their names too – George for Romero (and in my heart, the beloved George of my Nancy Drew days!), Shaun (of the Dead), and Buffy (the Vampire Slayer). Each balances the other, creating not only a winsome news team, but a cast that readers genuinely care about. I loved the close relationship between George and Shaun, even if it did feel a little bit weird at times (sharing a room together, voluntarily), but it makes sense given all they have been through together. While there was a lot to love with Feed, one of its greatest strengths also was its greatest hinderance, in this reader’s opinion. Feed is very, very wordy. Very exposition-y. George is knowledgeable and explains everything in her inner narrative – there are literally pages and pages where heroine George is relating details of her world, from Kellis-Amberlee, anecdotes about the Rising, political info, etc – and she does it all without really “talking” to anyone (i.e. this running narrative is completely, solely for the reader’s benefit and understanding). It is cool to see this kind of detail, but these passages could also be a bit wearying, not to mention unrealistic (no one, not even George, recalls all these details to themselves!). The level of detail is really, really awesome, but it comes at a price. That said, this is a minor flaw in a solid book. I truly enjoyed Feed, and eagerly await the release of Deadline. Additional Thoughts: Speaking of awesome, check out the wicked cool website for Feed, courtesy of Orbit.The site has some truly great bonus material related to the book (campaign trail tidbits, Irwin info, etc). Check it out www.

If Danielle Steel wrote horror, it might come out like Feed by Adrienne Foster
Pros: Well justifies the outbreak of zombies, has a cat Cons: Tells too much without showing, superficial characters who need goals, shifts viewpoint The bottom line: Not only does this novel take 360 pages before the story grabs some interest, but it shifts viewpoints at the end. For two years in a row nominators put a zombie novel on the final Hugo ballot. Since Boneshaker was my favorite to win last year, it was predictable that Feed, by Mira Grant, would be my first to read and judge for voting on the novel nominees for the 2011 Hugo Awards. Sadly, it was a disappointment. It took over 360 pages for something to happen before it grabbed interest because it had to explain everything in painstaking detail along the way—sometimes two or three times—and it shifted viewpoints at the end. As with most science fiction stories—and Feed does definitely qualify as science fiction, with some goth elements—some explanation of the setup is required. The Kellis-Amberlee virus was a halftested man-made virus to cure the common cold, but it went horribly wrong. In the summer of 2014, people suddenly reanimated on death. When zombies chomped on living people, they also became infected with the Kellis-Amberlee virus and became zombies too. Before anyone understood what was going on, the virus soon spread throughout the world, decimating 32 percent of the world’s population. As a result, the face of journalism has irrevocably changed within 30 years. Whereas traditional news outlets remained skeptical about the reports of zombies, bloggers seized the moment without waiting for three reliable sources. News hungry readers looking for information on this international crisis put more faith into bloggers’ advice than the usual trustworthiness of anchormen and newspapers. Blogging journalism eventually grew into three different branches: the newsies, who concentrated on the facts; the Irwins, who constantly pushed the limits of danger by their close encounters with the zombies; and the fictionals, who liked to create fiction and poetry around the news of the day. The story opens in late 2039 with Georgia Mason in Santa Cruz, California, as she coaxes her

brother, Shaun, away from a zombie he’s taunting. They’re a sister and brother journalism team looking to earn some more hits while Shaun risks his life prodding a zombie with a stick. They escape and flee back to their home in Berkeley, where they soon learn they’ve been offered the opportunity to officially follow the campaign of Senator Peter Ryman (Rep, WI) as his personal bloggers. Georgia is a newsie, Shaun an Irwin, and their additional partner, Buffy, is the fictional of the trio, as well as being a brilliant techie. As the Ryman campaign gains momentum, a rash of zombie outbreaks follow them and it appears to be more than a coincidence.

Wow, Bloggers as the Kings of Media. I, for one, can’t wait for the day when a kitteh wearing a sweater is the lead news item of the day. Christopher J Garcia
On the plus side, this 2010 novel has a full explanation for how these people turned into zombies. Unlike most of the zombie movies where they just magically rise for no apparent reason, it makes it easier for readers to suspend their disbelief on that level. The virus has no affect on cats and small dogs, but larger animals can become infected as well. (Lois the cat was a nice addition to the story.) However, the criticism that this story refers to other fictional zombies, particular George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead movies, has been bandied about with some merit. These references make the suspension of disbelief more difficult, especially since the zombies in this novel behave so similarly. At least the one that appeared in the UK version of Being Human was able to think and communicate. In Feed, Romero is considered a prophet and his movies are lessons on how to dispose of the infected. It dulls the atmosphere this story is trying to build. Mira Grant is the pen name for Author Seanan McGuire, who won the Campbell Award for best new writer to the genre last year. Her style is very similar to that used by another San Francisco Bay Area author, Danielle Steel. The biggest weakness in this

book is the frequent digressions in explaining how this society works. If that isn’t enough, it will even repeat in a different way what it has already said once. The narrative tends provide its readers information instead of passing it on stage through conflict while the more engrossing scenes occur off stage. Compared to Boneshaker, which constantly had readers gasping as Briar Wilkes searched for her son, Georgia Mason simply is not challenged enough. At least 200 pages could have been cut from the deadwood for a much tighter story. The relationship between Georgia and Shaun feels more like one of a married couple than brother and sister. This story loses some great opportunities for humor and could have been enhanced by some sibling bickering. It’s hard to accept that Shaun would be so thoughtful to his sister’s needs without making some comment about them. (Loving brothers can criticize their sisters all they want, but no one else around them should try.)

For the most part, the characters lack depth. They love their jobs. Georgia has retinal KA (a form of Kellis-Amberlee that leaves the eyes permanently dilated) and likes Coca-Cola, but what really makes her tick? She has no goals outside of reporting news with integrity. What made Boneshaker so engrossing were the goals both Briar and Zeke had. In Feed, Shaun feels like a peripheral character until the story shifts to his viewpoint. What character growth there is makes this Shaun’s story, so this novel would have been better done in the third person allowing it to shift as necessary. More on Shaun and his Irwin reporting would have been much more exciting. Once the jeopardy ignites towards the last 200 pages or so, this 571-page novel keeps attention, but it hardly seems worth slogging through all of the exposition of the first part. With four more nominees to read, it is likely one of those will be preferred. This is actually a 2.5-star rating for this book, but since Epinions lacks that capability, it’s rounded up to three.

The Dervish House by Ian McDonald

Reviewed by The Boston Book Bums
Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House can be described as Turkish cyberpunk; mashed together with Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, little bits of authors Jason Goodwin and Orhan Pamuk, and a healthy dose of Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell. Yet it is so much more! McDonald fully immerses the reader into 2027 Istanbul, as much of a hybrid tomorrow as today, a complex political-commercial-religious cybernetic Colossus astride Europe and Asia. Smartly, McDonald finds Istanbul’s core authenticity and layers on just the right amount of near-future wizardry to make the city breath with life. Whether McDonald’s technologically swamped Istanbul hypothesis is correct matters little as he strongly wields humanity and faith as the double edged sword, with technology serving as its hilt, important but not vital. The Dervish House is chock-a-block with nano technology (all the rage nearly a decade ago but freshly tilled by McDonald as functionary replacement for narcotics, caffeine pills or steroids) and its addition to the story give characters advantages that they wouldn’t otherwise have. And yet these technological boosters are just devices, at the end of the day human connections and the desire to do what is right propel the novel. McDonald wrestles a number of characters into the plot stream, eventually settling into a fairly fast moving pace which is no small feat considering there

are so many characters forming the core. If anything, Dervish House‘s additional characters are not quite superfluous, but more like rudimentary cogs in the story machine. His puzzle pieces are an antiquities dealer, ambitious commodities speculator, idealistic marketing novice; as well as the three most compelling characters, Can the Boy Detective, Georgios an experimental economist and Necdet, a laggard fellow who becomes the center of the story when he witnesses a surrealist terrorist bombing of a commuter tram. It is the three men, in various stages of life and luck, that bind the story together. Can, you see, is confined to a sound proof bubble world due to a defect that could kill him with the slightest of sound. A boy adventurer at heart Can monitors the world through his leaping and slithering nano-bots. And his accidental witnessing the very same tram bombing sets the inquisitive young boy on a path that could endanger his life. Georgios, ethnically Greek and an interesting lineage for those familiar mostly icy and occasionally hot TurkoGreek relations, is a smart man haunted by regrets of a misshaped idealistic past. His sharpness, not forced or convenient, push smart concepts forward to logical conclusions. His relationship with Can bears emotionally engrossing fruit towards climax. But it is poor old Necdet who watches a woman’s head fly off in the terrorist bombing that becomes the most interesting character. He begins to hallucinate, or so we think, beings from Islamic lore. And it is right then and there where McDonald goes to A+ territory. McDonald, well informed of Islamic faith and mysticism, brilliantly incorporates religious themes into Dervish House without it becoming a spiritual fantasy. He inches forward with Necdet’s strange visions, using the Islamic concept of the djinn (beings created by God of smokeless fire which the West cartoonishly converted to ‘genie’) and Al-Khidr (or the Green Man of pre-Islamic lore, considered a prophet, spiritually a fresh and lively being) to blur the lines of spiritual ecstasy, madness and technology’s impact on man. As readers with backgrounds in Middle Eastern history, we’re wary of potentially offensive or grossly overplayed Islamic stereotypes that Western writers typically fall into. Also, we were on alert for perpetuating the myth of Turkish culture as Arabic culture (completely different ethnologically.) Mc-

Donald does not walk into any cultural tiger traps with The Dervish House. In fact we found ourselves nodding approvingly at his keen use and appreciation for cultural threads and religious devices particular to Turkey. It’s McDonald’s take on science and faith coming together in a strange, almost hallucinogenic reality, that injects a deeper more fulfilling nitro into the engine of Dervish House. Even the name, conjuring up the dervish traditions of the Bektashi Sufi order, infuses the story with a spiritual potential that is accentuated by the revelatory twists and turns of technology driven science fiction. McDonald, unlike many science fiction or fantasy authors, doesn’t try to reinvent the world as ego exercise, instead Dervish House becomes a speculative Turkish tomorrow complete with yali, Grey Wolves, djinn and above all else, much more heart than technology. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald from Pyr Books was purchased for review by the Boston Book Bums.

Review by Juan Sanmiguel

In April 2027, nanotechnology is being used and Turkey is a member of the European Union. In a span of 5 days, six individuals’ lives will change forever in Istanbul, Turkey. A woman’s head explodes on a tram. Necedet, a slacker living with his activist brother Ismet, witnesses the explosion. After the explosion, he starts seeing djinn. Can Durukan, a nine year old boy with a heart defect which requires him to wear sound suppression, sends his BitBots (a group of several small robots which rearrange themselves into a snake, bird, monkey and rat) to get a closer look. He sees a robot surveying the scene. This robots chases Can’s BitBots and gets destroyed in the process. Can tells this to his friend and neighbor Georgios Fenrentiou, a retired Greek economist. Georgios is recruited by a government think tank to analyze the bombing. Can, Necedet, and Georgios live in the dervish house of Adem Dede Square in the Eskikoy district of Istanbul. The dervish house also has an art gallery run by Ayşe Ekroc. She is asked to find a Mellified Man, a mummy encased in honey, and a legendary artifact. The search will take her to heart of ancient Istanbul. Ayşe’s husband, Adnan Sori�lu, a gas trader, is working on a deal which will bring him and his partners incredible wealth. Leyla Gültaşli, a marketing graduate, misses a big interview due to the tram explosion. She is asked by her family to help her cousin get his technology business off the ground. Her cousin and his colleague plan to write code on the unused DNA in the cells of the human body. This will make it possible to build computers inside the human body. The only problem is that due to an early business deal, whoever holds one half of a miniature Koran, holds half the company. Leyla goes to search for the second half of the Koran in order to prevent future problems. Istanbul is a character in this work. It is a place which is at the crossroads. Istanbul faces Europe in the west, the Arab world in the east and Russia in the north. Here is a place where the ancient and the modern live side by side. It is a center

of world trade and scientific development. McDonald shows this co-mingling between ancient and the modern. McDonald immerses the reader into the culture. He uses the Turkish alphabet in the text and uses many Turkish words. The book demands careful attention and readers may have to look up several words and terms. The characters all have gripping storylines. Ayşe goes after the Mellfied Man because of the challenge of the find. This takes to her to ancient and mystic underbelly of the city. We see she has a passion for the artifacts themselves, rather than their monetary value. Adnan is able to put together a complex business deal and is able to come up with a new plan when the situation changes. He is also fanboy of old animated shows and Turkish football (aka soccer). Can wants to show he is not limited by his heart condition and finds the connection with the robot that chased his robots and the tram suicide. He lives his dream being a boy detective. Georgios has to face his past while trying to figure out the nature of the tram incident. Leyla wants her own independence and to get her career started. Necedet wants to understand what he experienced after the attack and what to do with himself. McDonald is able to tie in all these stories. Each one of the characters’ stories interact with each other some way. The characters are in the right place at the right time and history is made in big and small ways. A terrorist plot is halted not by guns, knives or fists but by the unrelated actions of one of the characters. There are some great ideas in the novel. The concept of the BitBots is great. It is fun when Can guides the Bots through the streets of Istanbul, changing their form when needed. Adnan’s plans are intricate, and I feel they were inspired by the economic news of the last few years. There are new ideas involving nanotechnology in this novel, some of which are scary. The idea of a biological encoder is awe-inspiring. McDonald does a great job of bringing a sense of wonder to an exotic part of our world.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (N.K. Jemisin, 2010) Reviewed by Christopher Hensley keeps the plot moving and forces her to make hard decisions. The world’s premise revolves around the Enefadeh, deific beings bound to serve the empire’s ruling house after losing a civil war to the god Bright Itempas. Yeine’s change through the novel is illustratThese days I avoid high fantasy novels that ed by her relationship with the Enefadeh. She starts don’t come with a personal recommendation. I’ve off fearing Nahadoth, knowing him as the boogey man, just been burned one too many times. Even with the Hugo nomination I was leery going into The Hundred the monster in dark places while Sieh is the lovable trickster. As the story progresses she realizes NaThousand Kingdoms. I was pleasantly surprised. N.K. hadoth is indeed all of the boogey men, but that he Jemisin uses the fantasy elements that emphasize the thematic elements and as a structure to build the plot is also the creative force of the universe. Even as she gets closer to Nahadoth she tears away from Sieh, rearound, rather than as the plot. alizing that he possesses the easy cruelness and naïve (Cue Rod Sterling Voice) For your considerevil only found in children. Her relationship with Naation: One Yeine Darr, Queen of the most backwards barbarian corner of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. hadoth concludes in passionate sex as she embraces him as the force of primal chaos, while she starts to She has been summoned to the capital of Sky, where she is about to learn a terrible secret. She is an heir to understand Sieh the ever disobedient child. This plays into a parallel plot which illustrates the same characthe throne and secretly harboring the soul of one of ter development.Yeine’s mother was the daughter of the three gods that formed the universe. That bridge the current ruler of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, up ahead doesn’t lead to a flying city. It crosses into and dies under mysterious circumstances. As the inthe Twilight Zone. On its basest level this is a retelling of generic vestigation unravels she finds that her mother was all too human, and that it was human pettiness that led fantasy plot number two.Yeine comes from bland to her death, not the monolithic system. background, and has inherited a secret destiny. The A story that depends on the relationship betwist is that her great destiny is more the Sword of tween its characters is only as good as the secondary Damocles than training in a swamp with Yoda. The story is really about Yeine’s coming of age. Her destiny characters. Hundred Thousand’s secondary characters

are excellent. Each of the deities is well fleshed out, and typifies the ideas they represent without pulling punches. While many of the human characters are less filled out they are still masterfully written. The various schemers, be they god or Man, each have very human personalities which influence their goals. This is a major theme in Hundred Thousand. Ultimately the plot of the book, and life itself, is not driven by the

grand conspiracies involving the love children of Thufir Hawat and Niccolò Machiavelli but individual people, driven by human motivations. That is ultimate lesson that Yeine, and the reader, must come to grips with. Against Stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vein. (With apologies to Friedrich Schiller and Dr. Isaac Asimov).

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: I’m Looking for the Man Who Shot My Ma... by Christopher J Garcia
I am far less of a fan of High Fantasy than almost any other genre. I’d rather sit mired neck-deep in Katie McAlister Romances than read most Fantasy fiction. It’s a good thing then that The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin isn’t so much a Fantasy as a Western. What?! Hear you cry, unable to figure out how a book with that cover could really be a western. If you look at how the Western was structured, particularly those of the Silent Film Era, you’ll understand. Yeine = Tom Mix Yeine is a Princess, but at the same time, she’s an outcast. She is called to town to be the decider: two cousins are at odds and one will be chosen to be the Heir to Yeine’s aging grandfather and the other... well, they’re dead. So is Yeine once she chooses. There can be only one, it seems. There is a long tradition of Cowboys being called in to make choices, to clean-up a town. Tom Mix often had to do just that. He was the first King of the Cowboys in the Media, a silent film star from 1910 to 1935. His turn as the Sheriff who rode into town to set everything right helped establish what a cowboy was. He was stoic in the face of mad men, Indians, and immoral preachers, Mix was always the stone-faced master of the situation. There is no better example of Mix acting as the sheriff than Hell’s Hinges. In it, he plays a hard-livin’ guy who comes into the town of Hell’s Hinges and raises hell cleanin’ it up, settin’ things right. In a way, this is what Yeine is called in to do. She is of a similar temperament, somewhat wild and tempestuous, who then comes to the knowledge of what she must do. She is on something of a quest to find out what really happened to her mother. Her thinking is that she was murdered by the King, her own father,The King who has brought Yeine in to choose the next ruler of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. If there is any Western trope older than the hunt for the killer of one’s parents, I don’t know what it is. Look at True Grit. The way that Yeine goes about it is very much like that of a cowboy. She investigates, but seldom lets it drive her mission. She has other matters that she must attend to. It is the way of the cowboy to let nothing stand in the way of duty, though it is also the way to the cowboy to always notice, to always be hunting for the bigger goal. The cowboy is less a detective than he is a observer. He is a character of repose, but when needed to, the cowboy can become the bulldog. The funny thing is that the setting would seem to be the antithesis of a Western setting. A Western setting is, most typically, an outpost of city in the middle of the wild. The central setting is Sky, the main palace complex for the main ruling house of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It is an almost inpenatrable to the outside world. It is surrounded by an incredible city, but for all the inhabitants of Sky the city, it is untouchable. This is an outpost in a sea of humanity. It is as isolated as any of the outposts in the middle of New Mexico where the westerns of old were set. It is this isolation that makes this a Western. There is the law within, in this case the law imposed in part by the gods of the story and in part by Yeine herself as she makes her motions to decide the fate of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and it isn’t attached to the law without. The gods themselves are a serious matter. They are a kind of law, but they are a corrupt, arrogant, powerful law. This is often how the law in Westerns are portrayed before The New One comes into town.They have old scores that need to be settled, and the Sheriff is often tied to one side, seeing the other as the enemy, only to find out they are on the wrong side. Or the sorta-right side, if you’re in an Italian Western. It is only when the New One goes on to take control, such as Tom Mix burning down Hell’s Hinges, that things are cleared up.

My Hugo Win ning Novel By Jay Crasda n
If I were going to write a novel that would win the Best Novel Hugo, I’d start by writing Science Fiction. The Hugos are the Oscars of Science Fiction after all. Second, I’d write a world that is fully constructed, measured and thought-out, like Dune or Ringworld or Riverworld or Mars. I’d make sure that the world was built and complex and either so distant that the imagination required just to conceive of it would make Locus and The Mumpsimus trumpet it, or that it was nearterm in the Third World enough that it would make the cover of The Journal of Popular Culture and then provide the basis for bitter-tinged threads on Racialicious. I’d make it Alternate History as well, perhaps the Japanese won WWII, only to be beaten by the Germans who just trampled through Moscow and Stalingrad and just kept going until they got to the Sea of Japan. The story would be set, perhaps, in the American Internment Camps on Hawaii. The book would be a part of a long-running series, every book more brilliant than the last. It’ll be a novel of limited resources where man has been scattered to the winds of spaces.There will be superhuman intelligences and a race with a name with at least one ‘. There will be alien words scattered throughout, and a helpful appendix to held make it intelligible. My novel will introduce time travel of a kind you’d have never thought of, accidental and dropping the character adjacent to an important moment in time. It will see the main character, an uplifted Squid with delusions of grandeur. All her ancestors will have died tragically and she will have been sent to a school to learn the traditional ways that have been kept from her for so long. She will have her heart set on something, only to be forced to make a choice between it or saving her friends. Oh, and she will have friends... three of them. The book will bring together plucky characters who are endlessly relatable. There’ll be a doctor who can invoke the powers of the gods for his own purposes. A Conman who is endlessly cynical but with a good heart. The last will be a wandering Nova-Jesuit monk whose dark history is revealed one improbable encounter at a time. My tome will be massive. It will make George R. R. Martin look like he’s been writing Haiku. They will start multiple adventures and we will visit different worlds: a hollowed-out meteor, a post-oil planet of social commentators, a Jerusalem mingled with Damascus, a Heaven for the gods of old. The sidekicks will have to fight for their lives with cunning, guile and deep problem-solving, while the main character will just ‘know’ what they have to do. Our Squidoine will bear a mark of some trauma that is only revealed to her as the story progresses page by innumerable page. The story of her trip to a planet of extensive nanotechnology will retell a classic fairy tale, only with an ending that is much darker. It will be published by Tor and featured on Fresh Air. Terry Gross will happily exclaim that it is the first novel to ever deal with traveling in time. It would be written up in The New York Times Book Reviews alongside the latest Jonathan Franzen. It will be mentioned in the As Others See Us section of Ansible when Publishing Weekly says ‘It’s just too good to be science fiction.’ It will first be published serially in Analog, then extensively revised and published by Night Shade Books. It will be hailed as a win for the little guy, it’s nomination alone enough to start every blog-reading SFundamentalist posting >pumps fist<. Its sales will be dwarved by the other nominees, but it will be called a masterpiece and pull out a win after two redistributions. The movie that will be made of it will suck.

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