We wanted gods and could find none, so we built some ourselves. We should have remembered what the gods were like in the old mythologies: amoral, cruel, selfish, merciless, murderously playful.” He was silent for a long time, and then, visibly gathering his strength, as if he was almost too tired to speak, he said, “They must be destroyed.
—  Recidivist by Gardner Dozois
Reviewers, bloggers, and librarians get a copy of Ellen Datlow’s new anthology THE MONSTROUS

Review copies of award-winning, superstar editor Ellen Datlow’s new anthology THE MONSTROUS are now available via NetGalley.

These copies are only for reviewers and librarians. For more details, visit NetGalley.

And while you are there, check out the other Tachyon titles for review.

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Currently Reading - The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection

5. “Against Babylon” by Robert Silverberg

At first this reminded me lots of his story “Hot Times in Magma City” which I’d read in the first volume of Year’s Best SF from nearly a decade later.  Both follow fire-fighters in LA, albeit in the other responding to volcanic activity and in this case clumsy aliens.

Another story of culture clash within the US, the whimsy quirkicality of the Bay Area against the stolid, down-to-earth interior and the gulf of values and understanding between them.

America, America, America again, and I’m sick of it. The USA and the UK, I’d love to go a good long while without their stories, their centredness. I want an escape from having to hear about them, care about them, know about them. But I won’t have it, of course. I’d have to cut myself off from the world almost entire, nearly everyone I know. No where else to go.

But it ain’t right. That teensy little description up above about the cultural divisions represented and played out in this story? Of where else in the world would I be able to write that out, off the top of my head? Just about nowhere, that’s where, and that even includes my homeland, because I’ve never had enough stories of where I am to get that same embedded understanding of its dynamics.

How do I feel about this story? It makes me want to weep because I’m tired of hearing about the good old US of A, that’s how. (the aliens are mainly a narrative device to puncture the protagonist’s cultural complacency)

Disappointing, as Silverberg’s stories in previous anthologies have tended to be among my highlights.

I bought myself a book last Monday to celebrate the ending of our 2nd Chem L.E.*, an anthology called The Mammoth Book of Best New SF edited by Gardner Dozois.

I like Gardner Dozois’ taste in stories, so I just had to buy it, despite it almost singlehandedly freeing me of all my birthday money. But it was worth it! I’ve read the first story, “Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson, about a woman who has transcended this plane of reality going back to her younger self to tell her story. It’s awesome, and I can’t wait to have the free time** to read everything else!

*I got a relatively high but just a bit disappointing grade for this one. Ah well, on to the last!

**What with the Bio Quiz later, the Lab Practical Test tomorrow, and the short exam in Philo II on tuesday, I have a moderate lot on my plate. haha.

Book Review: Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women is a cross-genre anthology, but I’d say that most of the stories fall in the realm of speculative fiction. Like most anthologies, it has some hits and some misses, but I was, in general, disappointed that it didn’t live up to its title. While there are indeed a few dangerous women to be found here, too many of the stories were written from the point of view of male characters; several stories were not about women at all and focused on either the relationships between male characters or on how much men are freaked out by women having, you know, agency; and one story was so disgustingly and violently misogynistic that I almost didn’t continue reading because it made me so angry to find it in the middle of a story collection ostensibly focused on women.


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Editor Gardner Dozois is reporting that Nancy Kress’ acclaimed novella Yesterday’s Kin, first published as a separate book from Tachyon, will be included in the forthcoming The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection.

For the rest of the volume’s contents and and other details about The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection, visit SF Signal.

For more info on Yesterday’s Kin, visit the Tachyon page.

Yesterday’s Kin cover by Thomas Canty.

Currently Reading - The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection

24. “Down and Out in the Year 2000” by Kim Stanley Robinson

The backdrop makes this science fiction, but I don’t think it needed to be. This is a story of poverty in America as the world falls apart in war, which it feels like I’ve read five times already in this book alone. It could have been a shared world piece with Swanwick’s “Covenant of Souls”, frex.

Normally when I say something like that I mean it as some sort of savage criticism, but I liked this story. And I liked it despite its science fiction elements, not because of them. It could easily have been a work of contemporary non-genre fiction, although maybe I say that because I assume the 1980s were more similar to the 2010s in joblessness, urban decay and unrest than is justified. But I do think it’s so.

The only characters whose ethnicity is marked in this story are white. Something I see too rarely which says to me the great majority of characters in this piece are people of colour (if I had to put money on it, I’d say black, because various contextual clues).

I liked that a lot for selfish reasons - it’s a technique I’ve intended to use myself, so it’s gratifying to see it work for communicating character ethnicity while centring on their own perspective. But of course KSR is himself a white guy so it’s possible this is badly messed up [1] and I’m just failing to see it.


[1] Such as the one story in this collection centred on black Americans being also the one story that is about falling on hard times and being poor in America. Particularly in that by being so as a science fiction story it immediately stands out and captures interest, whereas as a work of ‘non-genre’ or crime(!!!)[2] fiction it might get lost in the shuffle.

[2] In this context I would count slotting in well amongst crime stories against “Down and Out in the Year 2000”[3], whereas normally I would be all over a good crime / sf hybrid. The problem is that this isn’t one of those, and reading it as crime fiction is clearly the wrong approach. But, that genre is one where it is much more normal to encounter the pattern “black guy hits hard times, takes to selling pot to get cash together for the sake of the sick woman in his life”. The only thing that’s missing is the crisis-crash-object lesson pattern that’s put me off non-detective crime fiction, and is the reason it doesn’t quite fit.

[3] Just realised that as I write this I am equidistant from the year of story setting as the story was in its year of publication.


What I’m saying, I suppose, is that in isolation I find this a pretty excellent story. Engaging, well-written, well-characterised in ways most I’ve read fall short on. But in broader context the association of blackness-poverty-failed-by-system, while reflecting the reality of the world as it is, stands out among a lack of science fiction positing alternative possibilities.


Unexpected Dangers

Written by Brandon Sanderson

What makes a woman dangerous? Well, what makes a person dangerous?

To me, the best kind of danger—which is, in a way, also the worst kind—is unexpected. It’s that twisted kind of dangerous that takes something familiar and safe and reveals it as something deadly. Wolves are frightening. To me, a loyal pet going mad and killing a child is ten times more terrifying. Continue reading on Tor/Forge blog >>

(Photo of Brandon is from Wikipedia

Recently Read - The Year's Best Science Fiction: Fourth Annual Collection

Has been a while now since I actually read this book and these stories. Long enough that my memory of them has faded somewhat. I meant to write up an index post with maybe some overall thoughts like this approximately at the time. But I’ve been busy with school and especially I’ve been lax in cross-posting these from Tumblr to elsewhere; I wanted to wait until I had locations to actually link to with this one. In retrospect I suppose I could have written this sometime in the past and held onto it, but I wouldn’t have spared the time to do so while I was so anxious about doing / not doing my assignments for school.

In retrospect, “R & R” might actually have been the finest story in the collection, or nearly so. Even though it didn’t wow me so much, neither did the collection over all impress me as much as the previous year’s did. Although The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Third Annual Collection was exceptionally good, even compared to the others I’ve read so far.

Others I especially liked according to a quick glance through my notes:

“Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes” was a refreshing change after a stretch of stories centred in North American and Anglophonic perspectives (in some ways, a very, very long stretch), and probably especially with having reached a saturation point of frustrated alienation in Robert Silverberg’s immediately preceding story. It was also a lot of fun in its own right, and this too distinguished it from the other stories.

“Into Gold” had some problems, but I rather liked it as a take on the story of Rumpelstiltskin.

“Surviving”. Difficult to say exactly was good about it, except in being intriguingly different and capturing my attention. Perhaps in having a spirited attempt to capture being both human and not-human.

“The Gate of Ghosts”. Again I struggle to describe in what way exactly, but thinking back on this collection without checking the contents “The Gate of Ghosts” stood out immediately as one to call among the best of the book.

Other stories that provoked a lot of attention from me without necessarily being my favourites: “Covenant of Souls”, “The Pure Product”, “Tangents”, “The Beautiful and the Sublime”, “Night Moves”, “Down and Out in the Year 2000”. I didn’t like all of those exactly, but I didn’t hate them either, and they all got some strong enough response from me to still be memorable a few months later.

  1. “R & R” by Lucius Shepard
  2. “Hatrack River” by Orson Scott Card
  3. “Strangers On Paradise” by Damon Knight
  4. “Pretty Boy Crossover” by Pat Cadigan
  5. “Against Babylon” by Robert Silverberg
  6. “Fiddling for Waterbuffaloes” by Somtow Sucharitkul AKA S. P. Somtow
  7. “Into Gold” by Tanith Lee
  8. “Sea Change” by Scott Baker
  9. “Covenant of Souls” by Michael Swanwick
  10. “The Pure Product” by John Kessel
  11. “Grave Angels” by Richard Kearns
  12. “Tangents” by Greg Bear
  13. “The Beautiful and the Sublime” by Bruce Sterling
  14. “Tattoos” by Jack Dann
  15. “Night Moves” by Tim Powers
  16. “The Prisoner of Chillon” by James Patrick Kelly
  17. “Chance” by Connie Willis
  18. “And So To Bed” by Harry Turtledove
  19. “Fair Game” by Howard Waldrop
  20. “Video Star” by Walter Jon Williams
  21. “Sallie C.” by Neal Barrett Jr.
  22. “Jeff Beck” by Lewis Shiner
  23. “Surviving” by Judith Moffett [bonus: “Her Furry Face” by Leigh Kennedy in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: First Annual Collection]
  24. “Down and Out in the Year 2000” by Kim Stanley Robinson
  25. “Snake Eyes” by Tom Maddox
  26. “The Gate of Ghosts” by Karen Joy Fowler
  27. “The Winter Market” by William Gibson