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Posts tagged ‘Lauren Beukes’

Recent Reviewage

Shining GirlsDeep in the final stages of the second draft of my new novel, so no time to post, but thought I might link to a few recent reviews. First up I’ve got a long piece on Patrick Ness’ The Crane Wife in the Sydney Review of Books, in which I talk a little bit about about folk tales and the way contemporary writers tend to (mis)read them. It was a fun piece to write and I’m really pleased to be a part of the SRB, which – much to the credit of its editor, James Ley – seems to have come into the world pretty much fully formed, delivering one fantastic piece after another.

Over in today’s Weekend Australian I’ve got a piece on Lauren Beukes’ science fiction-inflected riff on the serial killer novel, The Shining Girls, and going back a few weeks, a longish piece on Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins and Michael Kimball’s Big Ray, both of which feature obese characters. And if you’re interested you can also check out my reviews of Ron Rash’s Nothing Gold Can Stay and Sean Howe’s excellent and extremely entertaining history of Marvel Comics, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story.

I’ve got several more pieces due out over the next few weeks, as well as a story I’m really pleased with, so will link to them as they appear.

World Fantasy Convention 2011

I’m just back from a whistlestop tour of the West Coast of the US, one of the highlights of which was a long and fascinating weekend at the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego. In the way of these things it wasn’t an experience that’s really amenable to description, but I met a lot of great people, caught a couple of terrific panels (the conversation between Connie Willis and Neil Gaiman was a real highlight) and learned a lot.

As usual it was the conversations that mattered, not least the chance to catch up with old friends like Garth Nix, Sean Williams and (although we don’t go back as far) Jonathan Strahan and Liza Trombi (of Locus), but also the opportunity to meet new people such as Sean E. Williams (or Evil Sean as we came to know him) and Damien Walter.

But in an odd way the real highlight was meeting the Australian contingent, which included people like Alison Goodman, Alisa Krasnostein and Deborah Biancotti.

The Convention was also the occasion for the announcement of the 2011 World Fantasy Awards, which saw the prize for Best Novel go to Nnedi Okorafor for Who Fears Death, the prize for Best Short Story Collection go to Karen Joy Fowler’s fabulous What I Didn’t See and Other Stories (which is still easily one of the best things I’ve read this year), and the prize for Best Novella go to Elizabeth Bear’s Hand’s strange, sad and entirely lovely The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon.

I’ve not read the Okorafor, but I’m interested to, not least because it edged out both Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City (a book I’ve raved about before) and Guy Gavriel Kay’s lapidary Under Heaven.

But in a way the award I was most pleased by was the Special Award Non-Professional, which went to Australia’s own Alisa Krasnostein for her work with Twelfth Planet Press. If you’d like to know more about Alisa and her work you might want to check out the profile that ran recently in Locus.

The Awards Banquet was also distinguished by a very, very funny speech by Toastmaster Connie Willis, the video of which is below. The quality’s not great, but the good stuff begins around 19:10 (or if you’d like to hear Neil Gaiman and Peter S. Beagle you can play it from the beginning).

The Dervish House

A couple of posts ago I was talking big about returning to regular posting, something I managed for all of about a week before everything fell in a hole again. I’m not going to make any more rash promises for the moment, simply because I’m still caught in the perfect storm of work and external commitments that has made blogging difficult since the end of last year. But I will try and make sure I do a bit better than I have in recent weeks.

In the meantime, I’ve got a few things happening around the traps. Over at The Spectator’s Book Blog I’ve got a long piece on Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House, which despite being passed over for the Arthur C. Clarke Award in favour of Lauren Beukes’ rather fab Zoo City won the BSFA Award for Best Novel last week and is shortlisted for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. As I say in the piece it’s a travesty a writer of McDonald’s talents isn’t better known outside SF circles, especially given how little separates his work from that of writers such as Richard Powers and David Mitchell, so if you don’t know him I really do recommend checking the book (and indeed the review) out.

Elsewhere I’ve posted my review of Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife to the Writing page, something I promised to do weeks ago. Obreht is in Sydney for Sydney Writers’ Festival in a few weeks, and the book is both good and interesting, so take a moment to check it out if you get a chance.

And finally if you’re in Sydney you’ve got two chances to hear me gasbagging on in the next couple of weeks (and then about a thousand once the Festival begins, but I’ll do a separate post about that soon).

The first is on this week’s episode of TVS Channel 44’s Shelf Life, which features an interview with me about reviewing and writing online. I’ve not seen it, and the first screening was actually last night, but the show is on air three more times this week: today (Wednesday) at 1:30pm, Friday at 8:00am and Saturday at 12:30pm. If you don’t get Channel 44 or you’re outside Sydney you can stream the show from the TVS website.

And if that’s not enough I’ll be appearing alongside P.M. Newton, Kirsten Tranter and Sophie Hamley as part of When Genres Attack at Shearer’s Bookshop in Leichhardt at 7:30pm on Friday 13 May, a session devoted to exploring what it is that fascinates each of us about genre television and fiction, and to asking some questions about how we think and talk about genre, and how that’s changing as the cultural landscape changes.

And yes, I’ll be back later this week. At least I hope I will.

Castaways, Menageries and Horses

Apologies for the extended break in transmission, which is attributable to too much travel, too much work and a week in bed with some kind of virus. Since I’m still trying to get the edits on Black Friday done and finish a story for a collection that will be out later this year, as well as trying to catch up on all the work that didn’t get done while I was away and sick, things might stay a little quiet around here for a few weeks. But I’ll definitely be getting a few things up, in particular a piece on Wayne Levin’s gorgeous new book, Akule, which I reread over the weekend, and is simply amazing.

In the meantime, you might want to check out my review of Carol Birch’s Jamrach’s Menagerie, which appeared in The Weekend Australian on Saturday. I have to confess to not having read Birch before, but there’s a lot to like in this one (not surprisingly it’s recently turned up on the longlist for this year’s Orange Prize), not least the way it manages to eschew the fairly prosaic mode of much historical fiction in favour of something much more vivid and particular. Spookily it’s also a riff on the wreck of the Whaleship Essex, a story I was complaining was following me around just the other day.

Further afield Faber have uploaded a terrific recording of Willy Vlautin reading a new story based on the characters from Lean on Pete, which comes complete with music by Richmond Fontaine. And if you’re looking for reading matter I can thoroughly recommend both Lauren Beukes’ Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlisted Zoo City (urban fantasy, set in South Africa, with gangsters, guns and muti), which is both very stylish and a lot of fun (you can read the first chapter online) and China Mieville’s new one, Embassytown, which is out soon (I’m reviewing it, so I can’t say much beyond it’s one of the best things I’ve read in quite a while). Again the first chapter is available online.

And finally, I know it’s been out for a while, but this track from The Duke and the King’s new one, Long Live the Duke and the King, still rocks my world.

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