Book Review: Uprooted by Naomi Novik

UprootedUprooted by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very solid fairy tale riff. I enjoyed the characters and the plot of the killer Wood, but I found myself a little frustrated with the main character–Agniezka’s impulsiveness didn’t seem to get much better through the course of the book after things went wrong from her acting on it. She had a full emotional life, and it very much drove pretty much all of her choice making.

Her romance with Sarkan was very much backgrounded rather than foregrounded, which was fine.

Enjoyable if you have strong feelings about themes of hearth and home, and how they impact our choices, or like fairy tale retellings that riff on Baba Yaga and country vs. court life.

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My WorldCon Schedule!

BEHOLD! I have a schedule for WorldCon now!

Thursday Aug 18, 2016

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  • Doctor Who and the Changing Show Runners
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2502A
  • Panel  1 hour
    TV Doctor Who Genre
  • Russell T. Davies and Stephen Moffatt had very different approaches to the classic British timey-wimey drama. Each have their fans and detractors. How will the show change under Chris Chibnall? What is the impact of show runners on Doctor Who, and are they more important in the Internet era and the reign of the geek?
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  • Editing and Crafting the Short Story
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2206
  • Panel  1 hour
  • Any writer or editor can tell you that writing a short story and writing a novel require different skills in the writer’s wheelhouse. Writing on the small scale requires precision of detail from concept to completion. What do you need to know about openings, character development, narrative arcs, endings, and more that will make your short fiction pop? How does the process differ from putting the initial draft on paper to editing the text to better reflect the vision in your head? When do you know when that short story is finally ready to go?
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  • Science Fiction at Universities: Creating the Canon
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2204
  • Panel  1 hour
  • Different universities including Dundee, Liverpool and the local Kansas City University run science fiction courses. The reading material they cite as foundational varies considerably, with some including very few women, PoC or otherwise diverse SF while others start from a basis that SF began with Mary Shelley and includes works such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland (1915) and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s, We (1921). What influence do university courses have on canon formation and what responsibilities do they have in representing and encouraging awareness of the diversity of material that is published?
  • Campbell & Sturgeon Awards
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2501D
  • Awards  1 hour 50 minutes
  • Join us as we honor the winners of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best science fiction novel of the year and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for the best science fiction short story of the year. These awards are unique in that they are selected by incredibly well read authors and scholars in the field. This process side-steps the politics of other award methods. Tonight we will announce the winners and honor their talent with a brief reception.

    The John W. Campbell Memorial Award is one of the three major annual awards for science fiction. The first Campbell Award was presented at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1973.

    The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award was established in 1987 as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.

    Awards Events

Friday Aug 19, 2016

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 There are a number of research institutions throughout the world holding collections dedicated to documenting and preserving the history of the science fiction and fantasy genres. This history is expressed through the published and broadcast works themselves, the secondary literature devoted to them, the primary materials (i.e. authors’ manuscripts) that are their building blocks, and the products lovingly created by fans in response to those works.  Together these types of materials chart the birth, development, and evolution of the SF&F genres, and without them, researchers and scholars, as well as fans, will be unable to get a sense of where the genres came from and where they might be headed in the future. Several SF&F librarians and archivists will discuss their collections (with images of some of the more important or interesting materials), the uses to which they are or can be put, and the importance placed upon SF&F creators to preserve their work for future scholars. The panel will focus heavily on discussion between and amongst the three panelists and the audience in order to foster interesting and proactive conversations.

Lynne M. Thomas, Curator, Rare Books and Special Collections, Northern Illinois University, specializing in embedded curatorship, the SFWA Archives, digital preservation, and fundraising.

Elspeth Healey, Special Collections Librarian, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas. Elspeth’s curatorial responsibilities include KU’s SF collections, which have particular strength for the Golden Age of science fiction.

Jeremy Brett, Processing Archivist and Curator, Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection, Texas A&M University.

Saturday Aug 20, 2016

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Sunday Aug 21, 2016

You’re assigned to this item as: Speaker
  • Hybridity in Comics
  • Kansas City Convention Center – 2503B
  • Panel  1 hour
    History Genre Comics
  •  “The hybrid constantly betrays the reader as it switches from one formula to the other, shocking and surprising us and breathing new vividness into the familiar” (Ada Palmer). As with any evolving genre, comics borrow elements from elsewhere, cross genres, and learn from their peers, both historical and contemporary. Our panel discuss some of the ways that hybridity benefits the genre, and helps it grow.
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Verity 115 – Father’s Day of the Dead

New Verity!

VerityEpisode115Our new-Who rewatch has reached Deb’s personal tipping point into super-fandom. Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy as we discuss feelings and poor choices and schmaltz and glorious 80s hair.

How do you like “Father’s Day”? Did it reach into your heart, give you the feels, and make you a devout fangirl? Or did it confuse you to have all these strange emotions in your Doctor Who? If the latter, has that changed? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus link:

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Verity Extra! – Build-Your-Own Who

In which I determine that Doctor Who requires additional wet Colin Firth. Because reasons.

VerityExtraPitchIt’s a fantasy-casting Verity! Extra! Join Deb, Katrina, and Lynne as they let their imaginations run wild and try to pitch fantastical (or actually, historical) ideas for future Doctor Who episodes, complete with mismatched Doctors and companions, historical figures, guest cast members, and a healthy dose of wet Colin Firth.

This Extra! is lovingly dedicated to the Time Scoop Podcast, in which panelists compete in a fantasy draft choosing a Doctor, a companion, a monster or villain, a writer, and two wild card elements that best exemplify what they love about Who.

What would you like to see in a future DW ep? Let us know in the comments!


Download or listen now (runtime 38:39)  

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In Which I Have An Article on The Mary Sue

I wrote a thing over on The Mary Sue about inclusive SF/F, the Uncanny Magazine Kickstarter and accidentally sparking a culture war.

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Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Cover of The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

{cross posted and slightly expanded from my goodreads review}

This book.

This was amazing.

This is a feat of science fantasy and storytelling. To explain exactly :why: it is a feat would, fundamentally spoil major elements of this work. Plot, characterization, and worldbuilding work together here to just… make magic.


But this is completely, utterly in the “holy shit, this was good” category.


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New Verity! Ep 114–Aztec Savvy


It’s a sangria-fueled classic-Who-episode of Verity! Join Deb, Erika, and Katrina as we cover a pure historical, “The Aztecs”. As usual, we don’t all fall in line with received fan wisdom, but for a change, the majority of us do.

Are you a fan of “The Aztecs”? Or are you bored by the lack of sci-fi elements? Let us know in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Lazy Doctor Who covers “The Aztecs”
Doctor Who: The Writers’ Room

Download or listen now (runtime 1:12:29) Audio Player

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Book review: Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Crossposted from my goodreads review.

Cover of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

Cover of Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

This novel is set in an alternate universe where space travel and colonization happened faster, and the early (silent) days of cinema were shot on the moon. Filmpunk, if you will.

The plot focuses on the mysterious disappearance of Severin Unck, a second-generation filmmaker. Valente has structured the novel like a shooting script, with other documents interspersed, including snippets of other films and correspondence.
The characters are compelling, deeply flawed, interesting people, all doing interesting things for their own motivations.

Radiance is about parents and children, and point of view before and behind the lens, and storytelling, and how the people who tell stories on film would like another take in life quite often, please. What is true? What is not? How does that change based upon your quantum position in the universe? What happens when the center of your universe goes missing?

This is, of course, a vastly oversimplified description. The setting and the structure matter utterly to this novel. The worldbuilding is epic, whimsical, and utterly alien while still being quite relatable to human foibles and perspectives. Valente’s authorial narrative voice keeps coming up with a sentence I’d like to frame and hang on the wall to stare at for a bit about every three paragraphs, on average. It’s not overwritten–the prose style is quite penetrable, but there’s a whole lot of depth in those short sentences.

This novel was not a breathless, quick read– you’ll want to chew on it a bit. But it is absolutely a meal worth savoring.

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Verity! Extra! (Not) Fake Fanbooking

New Verity! About the very first New Adventures novel…

VerityExtra1stNAIt’s a book Extra! Join Deb, Erika, Liz, and Tansy as they discuss the very first Virgin New Adventures novel, Timewyrm: Genesys. It was the first time through for half of us, the other half of the Verities were revisiting it. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and may have a seriously high “ick factor”, we’re all pleased with the existence of the whole novel range. And we spend a good amount of time chatting about that as well.

Are you a fan of the NAs? Have you revisited them and discovered issues you didn’t see the first time through? Or did you never get into them in the first place? Let us know in the comments! We’re intensely curious about this!


Related links:

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In Response: (more) anthologies worth setting aside a novel for…

Hey look, it’s me! I have been kindly included (as part of the Glitter & Mayhem team) in a list of anthologies with diverse editors.😀

A conversational life

*sigh* It’s really not that hard to read outside the box you live in and try to look beyond the big name male editors that pop up all the time attached to anthologies. I won’t deny some of them are good, but when you make a list (like this one), why do six out of seven of the editors named have to be men (and two of them twice!!)? In response, I offer you some alternatives…

  1. After edited by Ellen Datlow (because Ellen IS a great editor and SHOULD be on a list like this – she just shouldn’t have to be the only woman!) – seriously, I could have picked any number of Datlow anthologies, or any one of the many she’s edited with Terri Windling (oh look, another female editor…)
  2. The AGOG! anthologies edited by Cat Sparks – for many years, the AGOG! books were a staple in the…

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