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I'm a day late for her birthday, it seems -- but there is no bad day to post about James Tiptree, Jr., & I only stumbled across this very informative article on Tor.com today.

What James Tiptree, Jr. Can Teach Us About the Power of the SF Community

If you aren't (yet) familiar with Tiptree's groundbreaking work -- most of it short fiction -- Tor.com also has a link for that!

Where to Start with the Works of James Tiptree, Jr.

Either way, happy belated birthday to one of the most unique voices in women's SF.

Or SF, period.

The Handmaid"s TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a reread for me, though I originally read it so long ago that little had stayed with me beyond a good dystopian chill. It still has that, of course – and, if anything, that chill has settled deeper.

What it also has, however, is marvelously lyrical prose. Atwood is also a poet, and most of the book’s descriptive passages reflect this. It’s a bit odd to find yourself stopping in the middle of a truly bleak novel to admire the beauty of the writing, but I did this time and again.

Rereading this after at least a couple of decades also gave me an entirely different view of the main character. In a society obsessed with fertility, older women have few options and little worth aside from their husbands. Younger women have a different, if equally limited, set of options. Which side of the age divide the reader is on matters a lot! To be fair, there’s an age divide for the male characters in this novel, as well. Atwood may not draw it as clearly, but it is no less real – and I suspect male readers will experience it more fully than I did.

A recommended reread (as well as a first read) for fans of literary dystopias, or still-edgy feminist spec fiction.

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Northanger AbbeyNorthanger Abbey by Jane Austen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was apparently Jane Austen’s first completed novel – a satire of the Gothic novels popular during her time. Though it lacks the subtlety of her later, longer works, this one offers a taste of Austen with her claws out. Her talent for making pithy observations about what really matters in polite society (generally, money) is already evident.

Austen also discusses her heroine as living up to -- or not living up to -- the Gothic heroine ideal in considerable detail throughout. Though it’s all part of the satire, it’s also an unusual and welcome glimpse into the writer’s thought processes.

I’ve read (and in most cases, reread ) all of Austen’s novels, finding different things to appreciate in each. This one felt a bit lightweight, but her sly observations about Gothic novels (and their readers!) plus her sharp-eyed account of society life in Bath made it well worth my time. YMMV, as ever.

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The Deed of Paksenarrion (The Deed of Paksenarrion, #1-3)The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An old-school, character-focused high / epic fantasy -- originally a trilogy (Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, (Divided Allegiance, and (Oath of Gold), now published in one volume. The trilogy originally came out in the late 1980s, which is when I think I may have encountered it. I recently reread it, over several months, as “comfort reading.”

And I’m glad that I did.

Many of the plot devices – and certainly the standard Northern European fantasy trappings – are a little dated now. Though gritty enough, the storyline would probably be considered YA. However – and it’s a big However – the notion of a Hero’s Journey for a heroine still resonates, and there are still far too few of them in modern fantasy.

Elizabeth Moon’s prose is tight and clear, her characters are fully worked out, and her knowledge of military subjects comes from actual experience. This is a well-crafted page-turner suitable for fantasy readers of any age, though younger female readers might appreciate it a bit more.

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even through time’s vacuum moonsteps

                                              ---- Ann K. Schwader
                                                    (for the 47th anniversary of Armstrong's footsteps)

It’s World Fantasy Award season again, and I’m thrilled to note that three anthologies I’m in have been nominated. (One of them was nominated for two WFAs!)

Cassilda’s Song (Chaosium) , edited by Joseph S. Pulver Sr., has been nominated for Anthology and -- thanks to Selena Chambers’ The Neurastheniac”-- Short Fiction.

Black Wings IV (PS Publishing), edited by S.T. Joshi, has been nominated for Anthology.

She Walks in Shadows (Innsmouth Free Press), edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia & Paula R. Stiles, has been nominated for Anthology.

For the full list of finalists, check here.

Best of luck to everyone in October!

I’ve been traveling, so this announcement of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2016 Rhysling Awards is more than a little belated . . .

But is there ever a bad time for good news?

Check out the complete results here. (Maybe check the results for Long Form first.)

And, if you feel so inclined, you can still order your own copy – print or PDF -- of the 2016 Rhysling Anthology here. 176 pp. of nicely produced spec poetry goodness!

(Profound apologies for the fizziness – but whenever a formal Lovecraftian sonnet sequence can get this sort of recognition, it’s time for a Grateful Happy Dance.)

OK, it’s actually spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. So what? I’m still delighted to announce that the long-awaited Autumn Cthulhu anthology (edited by Mike Davis) is available now from Lovecraft eZine Press!

This one has a killer TOC, with 18 stories and one poem celebrating the darkest and most Lovecraftian aspects of the season. It’s available in both paperback & Kindle formats. And, yes, I do have an item in it. Where did you think that poem came from?

For more information, & to order, check here.


Earth Day 3016 . . .

Posted on 2016.04.22 at 12:17
Tags: ,
Earth Day
the archived hologram

-- Ann K. Schwader

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (Vorkosigan Saga, #16)Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s almost impossible to review this one without spoilers. Suffice it to say that this is what fans of the Vorkosigan universe have been waiting for since the ending of Cryoburn.

Set three years after those events, this is a lovely, strange, and mature romantic comedy with science-fiction packaging – some of that quite thought-provoking. It is also a Secret History of the Aral / Cordelia marriage, an advanced course in Betan vs. Barrayaran thinking, and a number of other delightful things, all delivered with style and wit.

What is isn’t is the sort of space opera Bujold does very well. It took me a few chapters to realize this wasn’t forthcoming, and I was slightly confused until I did. I also suspect that this book may resonate more with readers who are parents than with those of us who aren’t. However, it’s a must for all fans of this series – and very likely to result in frantic rereading of the earlier books.

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