To define the world of The Hobbit is, of course, impossible, because it is new. - C.S. Lewis reviews The Hobbit. Why Smaug Sill Matters. Tolkien, Alignment, Non-Violence, and Why Hobbits are Required for Middle-earth to Survive. "‘Smaug’ is about almost absolutely nothing". Scientist maps climate of Lord of the Rings.
They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea. N-Words - a science fiction short story by Ted Kosmatka. Audio version.
"If Shirley Jackson’s intent was to symbolize into complete mystification, and at the same time be gratuitously disagreeable, she certainly succeeded" - The New Yorker takes a look at the over 300 letters in reaction to The Lottery
The LA Times Hero Complex looks at diversity in SF and Fantasy fiction.
Down to a Sunless Sea - a new short story by Neil Gaiman published by The Guardian as part of their series of Water stories.
The Ghosts of Christmas - A spooky SF story for Christmas by Paul Cornell.
Jonathan Strahan’s acclaimed Eclipse series of anthologies is coming to the web as Eclipse Online. The first story is The Contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe, from Eclipse One.
What I wrote was unquestionably fiction — was fantasy. Among Others has magic and fairies. But I was writing fantasy about a science fiction reader who had a lot of the same things happen to her that happened to me. It’s set at the end of 1979 and the beginning of 1980, and it’s about a fifteen year old just when I was fifteen, and from a family like mine and in the time and place and context where I was. I was using a lot of my own experience and memories. But this is Mori, not me, and she lives in a world where magic is real. Jo Walton, who as editor for tor.com revisisted the Hugos 1953-2000, now has one of her own, taking home the 2012 Best Novel Award for Among Others. Other winners include Kij Johnson for her Novella The Man who Bridged the Mist (excerpt) and io9 regular Charlie Jane Anders for her novellete Six Months, Three Days. The Best Graphic Story award went to the webcomic Digger by Ursula Vernon. E Lily Yu took home the Bets New Writer award (technically not a Hugo) and was also nominated for her short story The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees. A couple of TV shows you have heard of also got awards. Links to many of the nominated stories here.
Four Micro-Essays on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009 (contains spoilers), a look at the concluding part of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's 3 part LoEG: Century series in which the league face off against a headline grabbing villain (extreme spoiler warning) and which spookily presaged some of last nights Olympic opening. Previous Moore and O'Neill. Obligatory annotations from Jess Nevins.
Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen trilogy is to be concluded with Boneland, over 50 years after it started.
‘Tough, Cold, Terse, Taciturn and Prone to Not Saying Goodbye When They Hang Up the Phone’ - Is the fabled "Strong Female Characters" a bad thing? Counterpoints from Mur Lafferty and Charlie Jane Anders. Obligatory Kate Beaton link.
"Bob Shuter, suburban vigilante. Driven by rage to wage a one-man war on the underworld of Kent, Bob Shuter is... The Reprisalizer."
"You're going nowhere, son. Just you, me ad the walls. So wipe that bloody grin off before it's shot off, and don't slouch. You toe rag. You bin. Pay attention when I break you. And break you I will, boy. You're in my manor, now." Buck up! It's Terry Finch's THE REPRISALIZER! Follow Bob Shuter, whose mission of reprisal against his brother's killers, their families, associates, progeny and property takes him across the desolate wasteland of 70s Britain, primarily Kent AKA FINCHLAND. Finch, writer of The Reprisalizer and DRAW!, the cowboy whose name means death, is soon to be the subject of a major motion picture from Matthew Holness, creator of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.
In other words, months before The War Games, The Mind Robber has quietly given us an origin story for the Doctor that is almost, but not quite, what we eventually get from the later "official" version. - Philip Sandifer discusses an alternate origin for Doctor Who.
Kim Newman discusses the novels that inspired Anno Dracula, his epic pop-culture mashup of all things vampire, set in a Victorian London ruled by Dracula. Newman's long fascination with Dracula led to two more novels in the setting and several short stories, several of which can be found online.
The King's Speech is an extremely well-made film with a seductive human interest plot, very prettily calculated to appeal to the smarter filmgoer and the latent Anglophile. But it perpetrates a gross falsification of history. - Christopher Hitchens on the historical revisionism of The King's Speech. The LA times suggests that this, along with the History Channel digging up footage of King George VI not really stuttering all that badly at all, might be the beginning of a backlash against the film, which has been gaining Oscar momentum since it's SAG Award wins. With The Social Network, 127 Hours and The Fighter also having a basis in reality, is today's film making too hung up on the "true" story?
Cold Reading - A rationalist ghost story by Alan Moore.
This is all rooted in a vision I had, of William S. Burroughs as a CIA agent, and Philip K. Dick as his young henchman, going head-to-head with notorious gangster and pervert Adolf Hitler somewhere in Hamburg to find out where Hitler is shipping all the computers he can get his hands on. - In another world Charles Stross wrote this sprawling work of Alternate History instead of the Merchant Princes books. Fictional books are of course themselves a common them in Alternative History stories, from The Grasshopper Lies Heavy in The Man in the High Castle to Adolf Hitlers pulp novel Lord of the Swastika in The Iron Dream. Stanisław Lem was particularly enamoured with the idea of the fictional book, and wrote two volumes of reviews and introductions for them, lovingly described here by Bruce Sterling.
The Island by Peter Watts (previously), winner of this years Hugo Award for Best Novelette. An audio version is available over at StarShipSofa (previously), itself a Hugo recipient.
Lightspeed, a new online Science Fiction magazine featuring fiction and nonfiction, launches today.
Following Steve Eley stepping down as editor of Escape Pod, the first and probably most popular science fiction podcast magazine, Mur Laffety has taken up the reins. Probably best known for I Should Be Writing, a podcast for wanna-be fiction writers, Mur also currently hosts Tor.com's fiction podcast.
China Miéville has won his third Arthur C Clarke award for his crime/weird fiction novel The City and The City - making him the first person to win the prize three times. Somewhat emotional video of him accepting the prize, where he thanks one special crime reader in particular, his mum, who passed away before it's publication. 10 Questions about China Miéville. An A-Z of China Miéville - 1, 2. An extract from his next novel, Kraken. A Bas Lag Wiki. A discussion of the best genre crossovers. An out of season Christmas tale.
Due to a rewording of the rules Science Fiction podcast StarShipSofa (previously, previously, previously) could be eligible for a Hugo award. Meanwhile the current episode features The Gambler (text version here), a story by Paolo Bacigalupi - best known as the author of The Windup Girl, one of TIME Magazine's ten books of the year ("Not just science fiction, mind, but fiction, generally") and almost certainly a favorite for the Hugo's best novel category.
Although it's commonplace nowadays to assume that J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was the primary source of inspiration for Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax when they created the world's first tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons, a careful examination of the game suggests otherwise... James Maliszewski on The Books That Founded D&D. Some disagreement.
"Seed" - an anthology of short fiction published on a USB flash drive shaped like a penis. Sample story. More on the concept without pictures of plastic penises. (Safe for workness may vary)
For Graham Greene he was "unquestionably our best thriller writer". John le Carré once called him "the source on which we all draw". With the six novels he wrote in the years leading up to the second world war - five of which have just been reissued by Penguin Modern Classics - Eric Ambler revitalised the British thriller, rescuing the genre from the jingoistic clutches of third-rate imitators of John Buchan, and recasting it in a more realist, nuanced and leftishly intelligent - not to mention exciting - mould. - The writing of Eric Ambler
The SF Signal Mind Meld feature poses science fiction related questions to a number of SF luminaries and the scientist, science writer or blogger. Subjects have included the best women writers in SF, taboo topics in SF, underated authors and the most controversial SF novels of the past and present. The also cover lighter topics, such the role of media tie-ins, how Battlestar Galactica could have ended better (bonus Geoff Ryman) and the realistic (or otherwise) use of science on TV SF shows.
StarshipSofa has podcasted all of the Nebula Best Short Story Nominees for 2008, following on from podcasting all but one of the 2008 BSFA short story nominees. Previous StarshipSofa.
New Scientist kicks off it's science fiction special by asking "Is science fiction dying?", with answers by Margaret Atwood, William Gibson and Ursula K Le Guin amongst others. Meanwhile on the Nebula Awards site Geoff Ryman talks about Mundane SF, and how it was a reaction to a phenomenon he noticed in new SF coming through the Clarion workshop: A lot of it doesn't have much science fiction in it.
Edinburgh author Iain M. Banks, creator of the post capitalist space faring society The Culture and it's oddly named ships, has long been the UKs top science fiction writer, but has never had more than a toehold in the US (in part through lack of availability, in part due to lack of promotion and in part due to some pretty awful covers. That could change: Matter, his latest, has been heavily promoted in the US and sports a cover nearly identical to the UK edition. This week Orbit are releasing US editions of the two earliest Culture novels, with the third following in July, which could mean a complete release of all the novels in the US in order. [more inside]