Saturday, February 21, 2015

Nominees for best science fiction of 2014 -- plus announcements!

See the Nebula nominees for best science fiction of 2014, below. Plus other cool, sci-fi related news. But first, a few announcements...

In the Year 2525: Big Science, Big History and the Far Future of Humanity. Join me for this Skeptics Society Conference, May 29 to 31 in Pasadena, CA – I'll be speaking along with Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Gregory Benford, Michael Shermer, and Esther Dyson. Registration is now open.

Can't travel to a Sci Fi Convention? I’ll be a guest at SofaCON2: An Online Science Fiction Con, March 14 & 15, along with Kim Stanley Robinson, Joe Haldeman, Paul Di Filippo and Bruce Bethke. Register and tune in for two days of fascinating video panel discussions. 

My graphic novel, The Life Eaters has just been re-released by IDW. Imagine a world in which the Axis forces of World War II suddenly were propelled to victory over the Allies… prompted by aid from the ancient gods of Norse mythology. Welcome to the alternate reality of The Life Eaters, with lush painted art by Scott Hampton. See this vivid trailer for the book. 

(Note: the first third of this award-nominated Graphic Novel -- Thor Meets Captain America -- came in 2nd for a Hugo, way back in the 20th Century.)

A new anthology Old Venus will be published in March.  Sixteen all-new stories about the sister world of jungles, swamps and wondrous beasts that filled our dreams… till 1962… now about to reappear out of the mists of imagination! 

"Tales by science fiction’s top talents" (Joe Haldeman, Elizabeth Bear, Mike Resnick, including, ahem me) collected by bestselling author George R. R. Martin and editor Gardner Dozois -- following up on their successful Old Mars anthology.

The Museum of Science Fiction, "the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum," is showcasing the winners of its Architectural Design Competition for the first time outside of Washington, DC, from February 12, 2015 - May 15, 2015 at the Brooklyn Public Library. I am on the board of advisors for what may become one of the most fascinating museum projects in North America, right in the national capital.

Kewl first chapter to an Indie sci fi series called “Tether.”

Another workshop site - Inkitt -- for new writers to share stories and offer mutual crit, online. They also run contests.

Oh, by all means rent the film PREDESTINATION. It's a wonderful expansion upon Robert Heinlein's uber-classic story "All You Zombies."  The entire story is there, every single scene... though of course there are added layers and layers, to make it a movie.  None of those layers detract.  The compounded ironies are preserved and enhanced. The writing is solid. Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook are terrific. It is simply criminal that she was not nominated for Best Actress in the Academy Awards. Criminal. 

Here's a terrific interview with Sarah Snook... with tons of spoilers. 

== The 2014 Nebula List ==

The Science Fiction Writers of America has announced the nominees for this year’s Nebula Awards. Members get special access to these stories but you are welcome to hunt them down, yourselves. (Many of the authors post their tales on their own sites.) A good way to gauge current trends and keep up to date.  

Congratulations to the nominees!

  •  The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
     Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
     Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
     The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (), translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
     Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
     Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate;

     We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
     Yesterday's Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
     The Regular," Ken Liu (Upgraded)
     "The Mothers of Voorhisville," Mary Rickert ( 4/30/14)
     Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)
     "Grand Jeté (The Great Leap)," Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean

    "Sleep Walking Now and Then," Richard Bowes ( 7/9/14)
     "The Magician and Laplace's Demon," Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)
     "A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai'i," Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)
     "The Husband Stitch," Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)
     "We Are the Cloud," Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)
     "The Devil in America," Kai Ashante Wilson ( 4/2/14)

Short Story
     "The Breath of War," Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)
      "When It Ends, He Catches Her," Eugie Foster (Daily SciFiction 9/26/14)
     "The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye," Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)
      "The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family," Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
     "A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide," Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)
     "Jackalope Wives," Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)
     "The Fisher Queen," Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)

For additional information, see the SFWA Website.

== Brin-Audio tales! ==

Speaking of SofaCon -- where you can join me for an online Sci Fi Convention -- you might enjoy the audio sci fi magazine Starship Sofa.  Here are some of the very well narrated versions they have run for some of my tales (after some introduction.)


Part 1 of my novella “Temptation” makes up the second half of this radio broadcast

Oh, and listen soon for announcement of my entire first collection, The River of Time – already available again in paper and e-book – will have a lovely audio edition of its very own.

== Final note... ==

Can one nominate a brief blog posting for a Hugo Award?  Here’s a way cool one by Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary.


Alex Tolley said...

Not sure what one can forecast for the year 2525, but it reminded me of this song:

In The Year 2525 Lyrics
"In The Year 2525" was written by Evans, Richard Lee.

In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535

Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
You ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube

In the year 7510
If God's a-coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He'll look around Himself and say
"Guess it's time for the Judgement Day"

In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He'll either say, "I'm pleased where man has been"
Or tear it down, and start again

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

Now it's been ten thousand years, man has cried a billion tears
For what, he never knew, now man's reign is through
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday

Tim H. said...

By that time there may be a definitive answer on Bussard's polywell fusion.

Paul451 said...

"Again, it depends how you define 'small business'."

No, Locumranch, it doesn't. Because the cliche you regurgitated was:

"9 out of 10 new business FAIL in their first year."

...which notably lacks the word "small".

You cliche is wrong. 9 out of 10 new businesses do not fail in their first year.

And yes, 9 out of 10 small businesses do not fail in their first year.

9 out of 10 sole operator small businesses do not fail in their first year.

9 out of 10 restaurants do not fail in their first year.

9 out of 10 tech startups do not fail in their first year.

It's a stupid cliche that made you feel good because it fits your mindset. You don't actually care whether it's true or not, you only care that it felt true, that it fits your narrative. And, as I predicted, showing that it's wrong wouldn't make any difference to you. Your cynicism is not "realism", it's a comfortable place. "Can't make things better, so don't try."

Laurent Weppe said...

"Imagine a world in which the Axis forces of World War II suddenly were propelled to victory over the Allies…"

Why that never-ending fascination with the Axis powers coming from grown men?

Tony Fisk said...

I suppose the Norse Gods *could* have been invoked by Napoleon...

or Harold Godwinson.

Jumper said...

"A Professor From Harvard" got me thinking about realistic butterfly effects when positing alternate history perturbations. I'm an extremist; that is, in this context, i think the butterfly effects of either one baby surviving or even one horse dying would change 50% of the population within a century. Enough micro-changes in seconds of the existence of someone halfway across the world, would suffice to cause a different sperm or ovum to unite at any given moment. History changes verry rapidly. The least extreme change of history would be to introduce one neutrino when it otherwise didn't exist in our history.

Alex Tolley said...

"Imagine a world in which the Axis forces of World War II suddenly were propelled to victory over the Allies…"

I think one fascination is that this was a war, still within memory, that could have resulted in am axis win, especially in Europe. There is a sense of horror at what could have been, had Germany not tried to fight on 2 fronts, and if the US had not fought in Europe.

For Europeans, we avoided what would have been the equivalent of a communist takeover in Asia.

Alex Tolley said...

@paul451, @locumranch
I see the example of business failures not as an example of optimism vs pessimism, but rather how one deals with facts. I thought the 8/10, 9/10 failure for new businesses was correct, possibly going back to my MBA education in the 1980s. Certainly the 9/10 restaurant failures was well embedded in my mind. This last was so strong that I did a quick search, but found the anecdotal facts completely different.

As a result, I have adjusted my thinking to the new data. Locum, in contrast, just dug himself in, trying and failing to debunk the facts as presented. To some extent this defense of a position is natural, but at some point one has to deal with facts, and if contrary to an view, the view must be adjusted. The most graceful exit would have been a "Looks like I was incorrect".
To my mind, this is very much the difference between "liberal" and "conservative" thinking, although I hesitate to characterize minds with these labels.

LarryHart said...

Alex Tolley:

To my mind, this is very much the difference between "liberal" and "conservative" thinking, although I hesitate to characterize minds with these labels.

But there does seem to be something to that distinction, in much the same sense that Paul Krugman talks about reality having a liberal bias. Liberals hear that phrase as "we allign with actual facts"--a vindication of liberalism. Conservatives hear the same phrase as a condemnation of reality. If actual facts don't allign with conservative dogma, then actual facts are biased and wrong.

Or...I believe it was Grover Norqust who once claimed that the difference between liberal and conservative journalists was that the former were journalists first and liberals second, while the latter were conservatives first and journalists second. And he spoke as a conservative, and he didn't mean it as a condemnation of his own side. He was proud of it.

Laurent Weppe said...

"I believe it was Grover Norqust who once claimed that the difference between liberal and conservative journalists was that the former were journalists first and liberals second, while the latter were conservatives first and journalists second"

One reason Roger Ailes built Fox News in the first place is because he realized after his first venture in news media (Television News Inc.) that conservative reporters were too professional to obediently toe the GOP party line and ignore newsworthy data that clashed with republican talking points: so he created a network dominated by propagandists where journalists were kept in a strictly subservient place.

Alex Tolley said...

@LarrtHart - I just dislike political labels being attached to what is a likely a real phenomenon. I would rather call it something else that aligns with the phenomenon, which can then be attached to a political mindset if desired.

Interestingly Republicans were more common working in universities in the past. They couldn't have been particularly "conservative" in their thinking mode, as this would be antithetical to working as a scientist. So while we might associate democratic->liberal, Republican->conservative, I don't see that it is particularly useful to label cognitive styles to these labels.

Paul Shen-Brown said...

Larry & Alex,
It looks to me like both of you are correct to a certain extent, and I share Alex's tendency to avoid attaching cognitive styles to political parties. While it is generally the case that "conservatives" as they are defined in the US have a very strong tendency toward blind obedience and adjusting facts to fit their pre-conceived notions, I have seen this very same behavior in those who label themselves "liberals" in this country. Try having a rational discussion about genetically modified organisms with a liberal and what you usually meet with is the same stubborn pigheadedness that makes all conversation futile.

As a general rule, it seems that the conservatives and liberals of today (which is not what they were half a century ago) tend to split over who they distrust. Liberals distrust big business while conservatives distrust government. However, the willingness to be persuaded verses pigheaded dogmatism seems to be more common in the conservative camp these days. However, this may be more perceived than real, given who tends to become the vocal champions of each side. Liberals seem more willing to trust an educated expert to speak for them, whereas conservatives tend to distrust the educated and prefer champions who appear more salt-of-the-earth, common-as-dirt. That does not mean that either side has a monopoly on either expert testimony or populist propaganda (both sides try to appear populist because that garners more votes, and both sides claim to have their experts because that persuades), but when your spokesmen are more educated, more educated people tend to be more flexible thinkers. A certain amount of flexibility is necessary for many fields of higher education (though not all - theology, for instance, tends to frown on flexible thinking).

In either case essentialism interferes with deeply understanding anything.

Paul451 said...

Conservatism != Reactionary

Society needs conservatives. They are a healthy stabilising influence. As David has written, liberals are the energetic often overenthusiastic changers. A healthy society has both.

I picture an engineering company (or alternatively, Alex's university research department), where the best of the younger workers constantly try to reinvent the wheel, while a few older heads lean in occasionally and say, from long experience, "Try it like this, son". Those older heads generally don't try to stop those younger, because the world sometimes needs new wheels, they just know more about what worked before and are able to cast a critical eye over the ideas of the overenthusiastic youngsters. Often they are the very thing that allows those new ideas to actually work. A good engineering company, or research dept, has both.

Reactionaries, otoh, just refuse change, good or bad. It's not how I learnt it, therefore it is wrong. Indeed, they want to undo whatever changes they've had to adopt, regardless of whether the change actually improved things. Engineering firms where the old heads are reactionaries... are bad.

I think what's often called "conservatism" in the US is just reactionary. Refusal to accept reality better fits the reactionary mind than the conservative one, IMO.

[Pointedly refusing to say "reactionarism/reactionism/reactism", they just sound silly. Appologies to any grammarianistas who cringed every time I nouned the advective.]

-- Paul
(who is looking at the world through literal rose-tinted glasses. Well, red 532nm-laser safety goggles... Sleep entrainment experiment. Free Mars.)

Cesar Sam said...

@ Laurent Weppe
Why grown men specifically?

Do all kids in your 'hood wear swastikas till they are 21?

Laurent Weppe said...

@ Cesar Sam

Kids have less knowledge than adults: when I was a kid, my opinion of Hitler was more informed by Hollywood and french movies than actual historical knowledge, and as a result I viewed Hitler as some sort of supreme conman, a hyper-competent teutonic Fu Manchu who had masterfully manipulated an educated population into a murderous self-destructive frenzy.

Then I learned stuff and came to realize that he was an inept wanker with a lucky streak: any earlier fascination i had had toward the character and his regime deflated a lot after that.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Wanker on a lucky streak. You might want to ready Hayek's perspective on what happened in The Road to Serfdom. The collapse of sense in Germany was a long, slow one.

As for why adult males look back at WWII for alternate endings, I think it isn't hard to figure out. Here in the US it was the last good war we fought where the vast majority of us agree. The romantic/feudal urge within us seeks such opportunities to be respected warriors.

As for the Axis almost winning... not a chance. The US was playing it's usual game of working through proxies to avoid land wars in Eurasia. Until the conflict between Germany and the Soviets looked like it could be resolved through hegemony or through one side defeating the other, we had every motivation to hold our forces in reserve. A single power across the northern plains of Europe is an existential threat to the US and only then would we have to intervene. That's what we did in both world wars. Germany had no chance in either one unless it could consolidate power before having to face us. Good luck with that. None of their neighbors would have made it easy for them as the Soviets demonstrated by bleeding them white.

Alfred Differ said...

I have the 2525 song on my iPod. Every time it comes around on the shuffle, I cringe at how easy it is to miss the Singularity evidence. Sure... there are lots of ways to fail, but those lyrics sound so quaint now. 8)

A. E. Oglesby said...

I absolutely LOVED 'The Goblin' Emperor'.I'm talking sat up until 4am reading just to see what happened love.I adored Maia right from the off and was truly drawn into his saga and needed to see what happened.Yes,there were parts where I felt the story itself stalled a bit,yet for me it was just about a reflection of the tedium of what it was REALLY like to be the Emperor.