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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

posted by Jonathan Strahan @ 2:35 AM 

This year we lost our friend and Locus founder, Charles N. Brown. There were many wonderful works of science fiction and fantasy published, which will no doubt be discussed in our traditional year-in-review issue in February, but this is what rocked me the most in 2009.

I hope that in 2010 everyone's year is peaceful, happy and filled with success, and that the darker side of life doesn't cast its shadow on your door. Oh, and Happy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RAH heirs?

posted by Adrienne Martini @ 12:55 PM 

Since Heinlein's death -- actually, well before he died but the situation became more acute post-mortem -- the genre has been trying to find the writer who will replace the Grand Master. Various names have been bandied about. Spider Robinson has long been a contender and was tapped to finish, Variable Star, a partial manuscript Heinlein left behind. Charlie Stross's Saturn's Children was an homage/pastiche/tribute of Heinlein's Friday. John Scalzi's Old Man's War books get dropped in the Heinlein hopper as well, if only because they capture RAH's clear prose and smart heroes.

Admittedly, it's a silly task, this trying to find someone who will give readers the same experience as one of the field's icons. Writing in another person's style is akin to wearing another person's underpants. It's unsettling and uncomfortable on a number of levels.*

But if I had to anoint one current writer as the one who captures that feeling I get when I read Heinlein, I would drip the oil on John Varley's forehead.

I have read Steel Beach more times than I can count, frankly, and love it more each time. Ditto The Golden Globe. My abiding affection for these books comes not from their Heinlein-ness but from their Varley-ness, whose work has a singular voice that hits all of the best notes of Heinlein's work while investing it with a greater sense of human failings and modern panache.

This carries into Varley's last three titles -- the Red Thunder, Red Lightening, Rolling Thunder series -- that are clear hat-tips to Heinlein's juveniles without ever attempting to imitate them. Varley knows that a wide number of his readers will get all of the Heinlein references** but doesn't let them stand in the way of spinning his adventure stories that rely both on the moxie of his young heroes and on the reader's knowledge of the last 30 years.

So while I wait for Varley to publish his next book, whose work do you think captures the Heinlein voice and ethos while still maintaining their own voice and ethos? And do you think it is fair to label any given writer "the next Heinlein?"

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* Some of those titles succeed because the writers in question never tried to bend their voice into a strange shape. And some of those titles, imo, fail because the writers tried too hard to make it work.

** Two of my favorites are from Rolling Thunder:
1) "Somebody once said that teenagers should be raised in a barrel and fed through the bunghole, then decanted when they're twenty. I should know; I admit it, I was a prime candidate for encooperage...until recently."
2) SPOILERISH: "I'm going to miss my home, the Red Planet. But now I'm between planets. Now it's time for the stars."

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday links

posted by Graham Sleight @ 5:52 AM 

Light posting round here because I'm still getting back on my feet. Some links:

- The Robert Holdstock memorial fund
- Short fiction from non-anglophone authors in the big three magazines: a comprehensive survey. (ETA: Updated here.)
- In case you hadn't seen it: John Scalzi takes Black Matrix publishing to task for breathtakingly low fiction payment rates (1, 2); SF signal publishes attempted rebuttal; epic comment thread ensues.
- Today's (London) Times had a banner headline "First review of Avatar"; as Emily Bell tweeted, "presumably for people without internet access"
- Helpful summary of New Moon.
- Whither fantasy? from Hal Duncan (at length) and M John Harrison (not at length).
- Matte vs Gloss, the eternal debate.
- Gorgeous (but currently sold out) mix of 20th and 21st century audio tech.
- The UK may be drowning in government debt, but we're getting our own space agency! I do hope they employ Stephen Baxter.

And finally, not particularly sf-nal, but an impossibly addictive Flash game.

ETA: And happy 80th birthday, sf fandom!
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