Hawk, the 14th book in Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, is a moving, funny and tantalizing end-game glimpse of the assassin, reluctant revolutionary and epic wisecracker. Cory Doctorow explains why he’s been reading this generation-spanning series of Hungarian mythology, revolutionary politics, and gastronomy for more than 30 years.Read the rest
It's Banned Books Week, and what better way to celebrate than with a review of the first James Tiptree Award Anthology, published in 2004 by the committee who award the Tiptree each year for excellence in science fiction and fantasy that celebrates, explores and expands gender roles?
Lastly, I’d also like to give special “related to short-fiction” mention to the inclusion of “Everything But the Signature is Me” by Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr.—the letter that was written after the person behind the Tiptree persona came to light. It’s friendly, jovial, and almost polished to a shine in its style of conversational discourse; it makes the whole situation of masks, gender, and outing seem gentle or trivial. Read in context with the biography of Sheldon and with other primary materials about how strongly she felt about her gender, her sexuality, and her experience with occupying the persona of a man, though… It’s an interesting counterpoint to all of that, a fascinating way of looking at how one person frames their difficult and complex relationships to the world as a gendered subject. And, more significantly, how that frame can differ depending on audience and intimacy. It’s an interesting piece, one I’d recommend giving a look alongside further reading about the enigmatic Sheldon/Tiptree.
As for the first half of this anthology: judging by my reactions, I’d say that the judges for this award and the editors of this volume are correct in noting that the pieces they’ve chosen are designed to provoke thought and conversation more than to be comfortable and easy to take in. I appreciate stories that give me a complex response, and stories that are trying to do hard work with narrative and gender. I do find myself often struck by a desire for them to go further, do more—but there’s room for all the types of stories on the narrative spectrum.
Short Fiction Spotlight: The James Tiptree Award Anthology (Part 1) [Brit Mandelo/Tor.com]
14-year-old Naomi Horn says the heroine of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series remains a depressingly rare example of a fictional female respected for her education and intelligence. In Hermione’s world, being smart is what makes her important.Read the rest
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This long-running series of essays by Australian fantasy author Tansy Rayner Roberts combine real affection for Pratchett's marvellous Discworld books with sharp critical insights on the portrayal of women in fantasy; historically, one of the more problematic genres for the portrayal of women.
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Award-winning horror writer David Nickle has been repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to have a frank and serious discussion of HP Lovecraft's undeniable racism; people want to hand-wave it as being a product of Lovecraft's times, but it is inseparable from Lovecraft's fiction.
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Andy Ihnatko’s golden rule about photographing cosplayers: You must never do anything that makes the cosplayer wish you hadn’t taken that photo. Read the rest
Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land concludes his genre-bending, brilliant, acerbic rethinking of the entire high fantasy genre, and does so with enormous style and skill. It’s easy to take cheap shots at the thrice-brewed tea of Tolkien, but Grossman’s moves are subtle, filled with understanding and affection, and offer no mercy to cherished illusions.Read the rest
Seven years after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Caroline Siede looks back on the book series that defined a generation.Read the rest
With the completion of Season 4 of HBO’s Game of Thrones, Ivan and Red dig back into the Boars, Gore, And Swords book club, where they cover the chapters of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series that correspond to the previous television season. No book spoilers past the TV show!Read the rest