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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Book Blogger Hop: Do You Read Historical Fiction?

This week’s Book Blogger Hop asks if we read historical fiction. Well... yeah. Not even “do you read historical fiction because...”

It’s too long to go into all the areas of historical fiction I’ve read over the years, since I discovered it at about eleven or twelve, so ...just a few memories. And that includes historical fantasy.

For some time I was bingeing on Richard III fiction. My very first, which I still reread occasionally, is We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman. That one was beautiful! It’s seen from the viewpoint of three characters, the Maiden, the Fool and the Man Of Keen Sight. The Maiden becomes the mother of Katherine Plantagenet, Richard’s illegitimate daughter, who married the Earl of Huntingdon. We don’t know who her mother was, so she is invented. The Fool is Patch, Edward IV’s Court fool. He turns up in a sequel, The Courts Of Illusion, which was about the Perkin Warbeck    business, and also featured the family of the Man Of Keen Sight. There was also an Elizabeth Woodville novel, The King’s Grey Mare, not as good as We Speak No Treason, but good. I believe the author eventually moved into fantasy.

If you enjoy Richard III fiction, there’s plenty to choose from, including murder mysteries and fantasy fiction, and I’ve read a whole lot of it. Here is a list on Goodreads. There are 43 there and that’s nowhere near all of them.

When I was younger, I enjoyed stuff set in the ancient world, such as Mary Renault’s The King Must Die(Theseus) and Howard Fast’s Spartacus. I actually have several copies of that one, found in secondhand shops, one of them hardcover. Another Spartacus novel I discovered back in secondary school was Arthur Koestler’s The Gladiators. However, I binged on Fast as well, all through those years - Moses Prince Of Egypt, Agrippa’s Daughter, My Glorious Brothers(which I found on the book rack in my local milk bar while buying bread and milk), his American history novels...It wasn’t until years later that I found out he was also a science fiction writer from the golden age of SF, plus writing crime fiction under a pen name.

I confess to having discovered Rosemary Sutcliff as an adult! By then, I was already a fan of Arthurian fiction, and was thrilled to discover her classic Arthurian novel The Sword At Sunset. It was, of course, only one of many about a family living through British history, beginning with Eagle Of The Ninth and ending some time in the Middle Ages. You knew the characters were descended from Marcus Flavius Aquila because of a family heirloom, a dolphin ring with a flawed emerald. That might be the only connection, but I’d read the line where whoever was the hero got it out and say, “Ohhh...” in delight.

I do have Arthurian favourites, of course, and that was my other binge reading. Apart from the Sutcliff novels, I love Mary Stewart’s Merlin novels, which had just a touch of fantasy and were based on Geoffrey of Monmouth. The first is The Crystal Cave, the only one to be dramatised. That’s worth finding if you can.

Bernard Cornwell’s Arthurian fiction is great too. His Warlord Chronicles have a touch of fantasy, but only a touch, and I have to say, any author who doesn’t like Lancelot is okay with me!

Another historical Arthur - with the tiniest bit of fantasy - is the one in Parke Godwin’s Firelord. This American author did a good job with British heroes. I just adored his Romano-British Arthur, whose mother was a sort of changeling, a daughter of a poverty stricken indigenous tribe swapped for the stillborn child of a Roman woman, to give her a chance at life. The natives are not really Faerie, but everyone is superstitious about them. It’s the only book where the Holy Grail quest begins with Arthur saying, “Oh, go look for your silly cup!”

The same author did the best Robin Hood fiction I ever read, Sherwood and Robin And The King, which we’re set, not in Richard the Lionheart’s era, but just after the conquest of William. This Robin is presented as a rebel, though he does eventually realise it’s going to cause a civil war and offers his allegiance to William. The Sheriff of Nottingham is a decent man in this duology and they become friends. The Sheriff marries Robin’s cousin.

In more recent years my historical fiction reading has been mixed with crime fiction, such as the Phryne Fisher novels and some set in Henry VIII’s England. It’s very easy to find those in your local library, and mine is particularly good.

So, do you have any historical favourites? 

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Hugo Shortlist 2019!

Oddly enough, I have actually read some of this year’s Hugo nominees, something rare for me - and also some of the classics in the retro Hugos. It will be interesting to see how those votes will turn out. I’ve bolded those I’ve read or seen and commented. 

The 2019 Hugo Awards
Best Novel
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor) - a wonderful novel set in an Alternative universe 1950s in which the space program has to be speeded up because of a natural disaster that will make Earth unliveable in a few years - and women have to be given a chance to participate, because there’s no point in setting up male-only colonies...

Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga/Corsair)
Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
Best Novella
Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells ( Publishing)
Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing)
The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark ( Publishing)
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson ( Publishing)
The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency) Reading  this now, very enjoyable so far! Aliette made one of her earliest sales to Andromeda Spaceways. 
Best Novelette
“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018) I’ve read this. To be honest, I enjoyed her Regency fantasy more. Personal preference, I guess. 
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (, 11 July 2018)
“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (, 19 September 2018)
The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander ( Publishing)
“The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)
Best Short Story
“The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
“STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)
“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
Best Series
The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older ( Publishing)
The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross (most recently Orbit/Tor and publishing)These are wonderful books about a British agency called the Laundry, which is about anything but washing clothes! More like keeping Earth safe from critters from a Lovecraftian universe. 

Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire (most recently DAW)
The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard (most recently Subterranean Press)
Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
Best Related Work
Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, by Alec Nevala-Lee (Dey Street Books)
The Hobbit Duology (documentary in three parts), written and edited by Lindsay Ellis and Angelina Meehan (YouTube)
An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000, by Jo Walton (Tor) The Mexicanx Initiative Experience at Worldcon 76 (Julia Rios, Libia Brenda, Pablo Defendini, John Picacio)
Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, by Ursula K. Le Guin with David Naimon (Tin House Books)
Best Graphic Story
Abbott, written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Sami Kivelä, colours by Jason Wordie, letters by Jim Campbell (BOOM! Studios)
Black Panther: Long Live the King, written by Nnedi Okorafor and Aaron Covington, art by André Lima Araújo, Mario Del Pennino and Tana Ford (Marvel)
Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
On a Sunbeam, by Tillie Walden (First Second)
Paper Girls, Volume 4, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang, colours by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Image Comics)
Saga, Volume 9, written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Annihilation, directed and written for the screen by Alex Garland, based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer (Paramount Pictures / Skydance)
Avengers: Infinity War, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Studios) I enjoyed this and I’m not even that familiar with the Marvel universe - I did have to ask my friend for details when we were watching. 

Black Panther, written by Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, directed by Ryan Coogler (Marvel Studios) Again - not familiar with the universe, but it worked as a stand alone film. I loved that all the women in it were strong, including the one who was the equivalent of Q in the Bond films. 

A Quiet Place, screenplay by Scott Beck, John Krasinski and Bryan Woods, directed by John Krasinski (Platinum Dunes / Sunday Night)
Sorry to Bother You, written and directed by Boots Riley (Annapurna Pictures)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman (Sony)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
The Expanse: “Abaddon’s Gate,” written by Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck and Naren Shankar, directed by Simon Cellan Jones (Penguin in a Parka / Alcon Entertainment)
Doctor Who: “Demons of the Punjab,” written by Vinay Patel, directed by Jamie Childs (BBC) One of this season’s best episodes. A nice touch to have the Doctor suddenly realise that she was invited to the women’s group the night before the wedding...

Dirty Computer, written by Janelle Monáe and Chuck Lightning, directed by Andrew Donoho and Chuck Lightning (Wondaland Arts Society / Bad Boy Records / Atlantic Records)
The Good Place: “Janet(s),” written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett (NBC)
The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy,” written by Megan Amram, directed by Trent O’Donnell (NBC)
Doctor Who: “Rosa,” written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall, directed by Mark Tonderai (BBC) Oh, yes! Loved this one! And nice to see a children’s/YA novelist writing for Dr Who! 

Best Professional Editor, Short Form
Neil Clarke
Gardner Dozois
Lee Harris
Julia Rios
Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
E. Catherine Tobler
Best Professional Editor, Long Form
Sheila E. Gilbert
Anne Lesley Groell
Beth Meacham
Diana Pho
Gillian Redfearn
Navah Wolfe
Best Professional Artist
Galen Dara
Jaime Jones
Victo Ngai
John Picacio
Yuko Shimizu
Charles Vess 
Best Semiprozine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
Fireside Magazine, edited by Julia Rios, managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, copyeditor Chelle Parker; social coordinator Meg Frank, special features editor Tanya DePass, founding editor Brian White, publisher and art director Pablo Defendini
FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction, executive editors Troy L. Wiggins and DaVaun Sanders, editors L.D. Lewis, Brandon O’Brien, Kaleb Russell, Danny Lore, and Brent Lambert
Shimmer, publisher Beth Wodzinski, senior editor E. Catherine Tobler
Strange Horizons, edited by Jane Crowley, Kate Dollarhyde, Vanessa Rose Phin, Vajra Chandrasekera, Romie Stott, Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons Staff
Uncanny Magazine, publishers/editors-in-chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, managing editor Michi Trota, podcast producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue editors-in-chief Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien
Best Fanzine
Galactic Journey, founder Gideon Marcus, editor Janice Marcus
Journey Planet, edited by Team Journey Planet
Lady Business, editors Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay & Susan
nerds of a feather, flock together, editors Joe Sherry, Vance Kotrla and The G
Quick Sip Reviews, editor Charles Payseur
Rocket Stack Rank, editors Greg Hullender and Eric Wong 
Best Fancast
Be the Serpent, presented by Alexandra Rowland, Freya Marske and Jennifer Mace
The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Fangirl Happy Hour, hosted by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams
Galactic Suburbia, hosted by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch
Our Opinions Are Correct, hosted by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders
The Skiffy and Fanty Show, produced by Jen Zink and Shaun Duke; hosted by Jen Zink, Shaun Duke, Paul Weimer, Alex Acks, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Trish Matson, and team

Best Fan Writer
Foz Meadows - an Aussie writer, who wrote some good stuff for Ford Street Publishing  before she left to live overseas for a while. I follow her on Twitter, but am not really familiar with her fan writing.

James Davis Nicoll
Charles Payseur
Elsa Sjunneson-Henry
Alasdair Stuart
Bogi Takács 

Best Fan Artist
Sara Felix
Grace P. Fong
Meg Frank
Ariela Housman
Likhain (Mia Sereno)
Spring Schoenhuth

Best Art Book

The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga Press /Gollancz)
Daydreamer’s Journey: The Art of Julie Dillon, by Julie Dillon (self-published)
Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History, by Michael Witwer, Kyle Newman, Jon Peterson, Sam Witwer (Ten Speed Press)
Spectrum 25: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, ed. John Fleskes (Flesk Publications)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – The Art of the Movie, by Ramin Zahed (Titan Books)
Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, ed. Catherine McIlwaine (Bodleian Library)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Katherine Arden (2nd year of eligibility)
S.A. Chakraborty (2nd year of eligibility)
R.F. Kuang (1st year of eligibility)
Jeannette Ng (2nd year of eligibility)
Vina Jie-Min Prasad (2nd year of eligibility)
Rivers Solomon (2nd year of eligibility) 

Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book
The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton (Freeform / Gollancz)
Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Cruel Prince, by Holly Black (Little, Brown / Hot Key Books)
Dread Nation, by Justina Ireland (Balzer + Bray)
The Invasion, by Peadar O’Guilin (David Fickling Books / Scholastic)
Tess of the Road, by Rachel Hartman (Random House / Penguin Teen)

And here are the retros! Most of those I have read were familiar to me from my early years of reading SF and fantasy. They are still worth reading, and I’m pretty sure you can get some of them free in Project Gutenberg, or cheap in the 99c SF Megapacks

1944 Retrospective Hugo Awards Finalists
The 1944 Retrospective Hugo Awards were presented on Thursday, 15 August in Dublin.  The report of the winners is here.
Best Novel
Conjure Wife, by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (Unknown Worlds, April 1943) A group of wives of university academics who are doing witchy things to support their husbands.  Good stuff! 

Earth’s Last Citadel, by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (Argosy, April 1943)

Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (Astounding Science-Fiction, May-July 1943) I’ve read this, but it has been such a long time! 

Das Glasperlenspiel [The Glass Bead Game], by Hermann Hesse (Fretz & Wasmuth)

Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis (John Lane, The Bodley Head) One of Lewis’s SF trilogy. It’s religious stuff, of course, and shows the Garden of Eden on Venus, only this time the snake fails...

The Weapon Makers, by A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, February-April 1943) 
Best Novella
“Attitude,” by Hal Clement (Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1943)
“Clash by Night,” by Lawrence O’Donnell (Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore) (Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1943)
“The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” by H.P. Lovecraft, (Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Arkham House)
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Reynal & Hitchcock)
The Magic Bed-Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons, by Mary Norton (Hyperion Press) Made into a Disney movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks

“We Print the Truth,” by Anthony Boucher (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1943)
Best Novelette
“Citadel of Lost Ships,” by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, March 1943)
“The Halfling,” by Leigh Brackett (Astonishing Stories, February 1943)

Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” by Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1943) A scientist sends some toys into the past as an experiment. They are found by kids, who make more use of them than the kids for whom they were just toys. 
The Proud Robot,” by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1943) Very funny, and easily available on line. 

“Symbiotica,” by Eric Frank Russell (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1943)
“Thieves’ House,” by Fritz Leiber, Jr (Unknown Worlds, February 1943) 
Best Short Story
“Death Sentence,” by Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1943)
“Doorway into Time,” by C.L. Moore (Famous Fantastic Mysteries, September 1943)
“Exile,” by Edmond Hamilton (Super Science Stories, May 1943)
“King of the Gray Spaces” (“R is for Rocket”), by Ray Bradbury (Famous Fantastic Mysteries, December 1943)
“Q.U.R.,” by H.H. Holmes (Anthony Boucher) (Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1943)
Yours Truly – Jack the Ripper,” by Robert Bloch (Weird Tales, July 1943) Robert Bloch did a number of Jack the Ripper stories. I think this one inspired his Star Trek episode “Wolf In The Fold”. 
Best Graphic Story
Buck Rogers: Martians Invade Jupiter, by Philip Nowlan and Dick Calkins (National Newspaper Service)
Flash Gordon: Fiery Desert of Mongo, by Alex Raymond (King Features Syndicate)
Garth, by Steve Dowling (Daily Mirror)
Plastic Man #1: The Game of Death, by Jack Cole (Vital Publications)
Le Secret de la Licorne [The Secret of the Unicorn], by Hergé (Le Soir)
Wonder Woman #5: Battle for Womanhood, written by William Moulton Marsden, art by Harry G. Peter (DC Comics) 
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Batman, written by Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker and Harry L. Fraser, directed by Lambert Hillyer (Columbia Pictures)
Cabin in the Sky, written by Joseph Schrank, directed by Vincente Minnelli and Busby Berkeley (uncredited) (MGM) A musical with Eddie Anderson. Lena Horne was the vamp. He is a man being tested by Heaven and Hell alike. I’ve only seen it on late night TV. 

A Guy Named Joe, written by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan and Dalton Trumbo, directed by Victor Fleming (MGM)
Heaven Can Wait, written by Samson Raphaelson, directed by Ernst Lubitsch (20th Century Fox)
Münchhausen, written by Erich Kästner and Rudolph Erich Raspe, directed by Josef von Báky (UFA)
Phantom of the Opera, written by Eric Taylor, Samuel Hoffenstein and Hans Jacoby, directed by Arthur Lubin (Universal Pictures) 
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
The Ape Man, written by Barney A. Sarecky, directed by William Beaudine (Banner Productions)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, written by Curt Siodmak, directed by Roy William Neill (Universal Pictures)
Der Fuehrer’s Face, story by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, directed by Jack Kinney (Disney)
I Walked With a Zombie, written by Curt Siodmak and Ardel Wray, directed by Jacques Tourneur (RKO Radio Pictures)
The Seventh Victim, written by Charles O’Neal and DeWitt Bodeen, directed by Mark Robson (RKO Radio Pictures)
Super-Rabbit, written by Tedd Pierce, directed by Charles M. Jones (Warner Bros) 
Best Professional Editor, Short Form
John W. Campbell
Oscar J. Friend
Mary Gnaedinger
Dorothy McIlwraith
Raymond A. Palmer
Donald A. Wollheim 
Best Professional Artist
Hannes Bok
Margaret Brundage
Virgil Finlay
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
J. Allen St. John
William Timmins 
Best Fanzine
Futurian War Digest, editor J. Michael Rosenblum
Guteto, editor Morojo (Myrtle R. Douglas)
The Phantagraph, editor Donald A. Wollheim
Voice of the Imagi-Nation, editors Jack Erman (Forrest J Ackerman) & Morojo (Myrtle Douglas)
YHOS, editor Art Widner
Le Zombie, editor Wilson “Bob” Tucker 
Best Fan Writer
Forrest J. Ackerman
Morojo (Myrtle Douglas)
Jack Speer
Wilson “Bob” Tucker
Art Widner
Donald A. Wollheim

Of course, I’ve heard of such folk as Forrest J. Ackerman and Donal A. Wollheim, but I’m not familiar with their fan writing. 

So, is anything on either of these lists familiar to you? And bcor3 I find out who actually won, who would you/did you vote for?