Books Read- 203 Books to Read-282 Percent Complete- 41.86%

Just Finished (For the third time) - 'Mirror Dance' by Lois McMaster Bujold

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I've got a new review for Lois McMaster Bujold's 'Mirror Dance' published below.  I almost feel bad when I review the Vorkosigan Saga, mostly because I don't actually get into that much criticism or analysis, I just love the series and characters so much that when I try to review it I'm like a little girl.  But the reviews down there, if anyone hasn't started reading the series yet I highly recommend it.  The first five or six books are almost the penultimate example of Space Opera, I talk about it in my review a little bit but they're just full of great old SF tropes and cliches (not necessarily a bad thing).  About the time that 'Mirror Dance' comes around Bujold really steps into her own as a writer, and soon after almost forgets about the Space Opera setting and just lets the reader hang out with all these great characters we've come to know and love.  The last four books might as well have been titled 'Meets his Wife,' 'Gregor gets Married,' 'Miles gets Married,' and 'Ivan gets Married.'  And to be honest those four are some of my favorites.

This series is extremely popular, Bujold is one of those writers whose every new book is nominated for an award.  I almost wish there was an award for an entire SF series, that way we could just get it out of the way.  I'm not one of those people who get up in arms just because an author who has already won an award gets nominated again, but there is obviously a little bias going on with the selection for both Hugo and Nebula Nominees.  It's complicated, the Hugo is an award nominated by the fans, so of course the most popular novels are going to be nominated, and new does not always mean better (of the five novels nominated for the 2013 Hugo Award there was only one author who hadn't been nominated before, and I thought Bujold's most recent was a better book).  Part of me wishes the authors would take more of a hand in it, like Neil Gaiman turning down Hugo Nominations.  As much of an honor as it is to win the award authors like John Scalzi, Kim Robinson, Robert Sawyer, and Robert Charles Wilson have to realize that all their books are getting nominated, it would be nice if they turned down a nomination or two.  But, like I said, it's complicated.  I suppose I'll write more about the nominations when that time of  year comes around again.

delany (1 of 1)
Look at this face, how was
this man not a Grandmaster?
In other SF news Samuel Dalany just became a SF Grandmaster, and like this article I have to say my first reaction was 'He wasn't already?' Delany is an amazing author, and it's tough to put into words just how great of an author he truly is.  I've written a review for 'Dhalgren' that doesn't nearly do the books justice, but his entire approach to writing is just amazing.  If I described the plot of 'Nova,' or 'Bable 13' to you it would sound like pretty standard SF storytelling, and wouldn't convey nearly how incredible both books really are.  I've read some of his essays on writing SF and just his approach to putting words on the page is mind bending.  There are authors out there who make it look simple, books you read and think, "I could have written that." With Delany you realize that you could work your entire life and never be that good.  I'm pumped that he won the Grandmaster, and a little pissed that he hadn't already.  For those who say SF can't be high literature I challenge you to read 'Dhalgren' or 'Stars in my Pocket like Grains of Sand' and say that again, Delany could single handed raise the genre to new heights.  Congratulations.

Speaking of Stars in My Pocket, that book got no love from either the Hugo or the Nebula which blows my mind.  It's not an easy book to access (and I don't just mean that metaphorically, I had to purchase my copy used from a library, it's not easy to find) but it absolutely crushes the rest of the SF published in 1984.  I'd put this on my list of all time snubs, those books that should actually embarrass the voters who left it off their list of nominees, the top three of the list are (in no particular order):

'Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand' by Samuel Delany - There has to be a reason this book wasn't nominated for a Nebula Award, I can't find any excuse in the things I've read but if I can figure it out I'll tell you.

'The Stars my Destination' by Alfred Bester - The Nebula wasn't around when this book was first published, and I believe the Hugo wasn't given out that year (it's tough to tell, this book was published in 1956, I believe making it eligible for the 1957 Hugo, and award that wasn't given out) so there's some hope that this book can be given a retro Hugo.

'Solaris' by Stanislaw Lem - This guy hated the entire award system, and looked down on American and British SF (mostly American) but due to his popularity in Europe and the rest of the world in his day he was probably the most popular SF author in the entire world.  Whatever his feelings about American SF 'Solaris' is an impressive work that should have gotten more recognition.

With these works I like to remind myself now and then that even though reading all the nominees for the Hugo and Nebula Awards might be a good way to get an overview of the SF for a given year, it's by no means perfect.  There are plenty of novels that didn't get any recognition that should have, you can't just go off what was nominated.