Less Than a Week to Go

Just a reminder that The Hugo Award Ceremony Will be held in just a few days time, and Worldcon has released details about the coverage of the award ceremony which can be read here. The winners will be announced on Friday the 11th August, and the ceremony will start at 19:30 local time. Which is 02:30 on Saturday where I am (near Sydney).

I watched last year’s ceremony on Ustream, and they currently have an off air video titled Hugo Awards. This year Worldcon is live streaming the ceremony on their official Youtube channel. Live text-based coverage can also be found on the Hugo Award’s official site

After the ceremony, the results should be easy enough to find online. I’ll try to do a wrap-up post myself, though since I’ll be staying up until at least 3am to watch the ceremony, I might be too tired and lazy to do it the following day.

Magazine Rack

A few weeks ago one of my friends was throwing away a rotating magazine rack. I decided to salvage it, and have now gained a home for a small part of my SF magazine collection. It makes a wonderful display;

20170416_225122_resized

 

There’s still a lot of issues in storage under my bed. For the magazine rack I’ve mostly included issues magazines that I still need to read, that have some sort of significance to me, or that have really cool covers. The oldest magazine is the September 1962 issue of Analog. I also have issues of Asimov’s, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Interzone on the rack.

This magazine rack has also given me another platform to display my Lego on. It was fun getting my rocket out of storage, and I look forward to rotating it with other sets. Hmm… I better see what Star Wars Lego I have for May the Fourth.

I guess that’s all I really need to say here. No reviews, no essays, no stories; I just have a sweet magazine rack next to my desk that I wanted to show off.

~ Lauren

 

Book Delivery

I Got a Book in the Mail!

I get most of my books through the amazon kindle store. As much as I like physical books, I have limited space. Besides, moving house four times in recent years has made ebooks seem very appealing; I don’t have any problems carrying them.

But now that I can only access the kindle store from Amazon’s Australian site, there are some books I cannot get this way. In particular, there was a book released last year that really grabbed my interest, and when I couldn’t get it on my kindle I was rather disappointed. Fortunately, good old-fashioned online delivery combined with gift cards meant I could finally get my hands on it. Can you guess which book I’m talking about?

 

unboxing1v2
Ooooo… What Could It Possibly Be?

 

unboxing1v5
Ta-Da!

 

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff interested me for several reasons. The big one is my interest in cosmic horror, but also the premise of the story. A young army veteran named Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip across New England (USA) with his uncle George and childhood friend Letitia to find Atticus’s missing father. Before we even get to the crazy rituals and magic, this is already a terrifying and dangerous prospect for Atticus and co because they are black, and the year is 1954. To quote the New York Times Book Review;

 

“At every turn, Ruff has great fun pitting mid-twentieth-century horror and sci-fi clichés against the banal and ever-present bigotry of the era. And at every turn, it is the bigotry that hums with the greater evil.”

 

The one thing I hated about Lovecraft’s stories were the constant racist overtones, so it seems fitting to read a book that uses Lovecraftian themes to tackle the horrors of racism. I know I have a lot of other books to read, but Lovecraft Country will be jumping to the head of the queue. You can expect a review soon, and hopefully it lives up to the hype I’ve given it.

In the meantime, 10/10 on that front cover. I wasn’t sure what to make of the ‘pretend to look old and well used’ look at first, but I feel it works well. And what do you see first at the bottom? Tentacles? Or the KKK?

Lauren’s Super Speculative Fiction Book Bingo Card

This year I have made my own book bingo card, with some challenges I want to complete. I’m going to put more effort into finishing these challenges than I did for last year’s one; not that there was anything wrong with the challenges last time, I’m just more motivated to set reading goals this year.

I’m hoping to read more previous winners of the Hugo Award for Best Novel this year. I have my own checklist of Hugo and Nebula award winners that I’ve been working through for a few years, and so far I have read 12 out of 69 Hugo winners, and 8 out of 51 Nebula winners. I put a few Hugo winners on my Christmas and Birthday wishlist this year, and for Christmas I received American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, and Neuromancer by William Gibson. I’m aiming to tick off a few more Hugo winners this year, which is why this Book Bingo card has five ‘Hugo Winner’ challenges, arranged in such a way that no bingo can be made without one.

2017book-bingo

The rules for this challenge are simple: each book can only count for one challenge, and I have until the end of the year to complete it. If anyone else is interested in giving themselves a reading challenge or making themselves read more Hugo winners, then feel free to copy the card and play along with me. A list of all the winners of the Hugo Award for Best Novel can be found here. Happy reading everyone.

~ Lauren

The Mouse

For years, my Aunty has been saying how I told her this story about a mouse when I was little (7 or 8) and that she wrote it down and would one day find it and give it to me. That day was today. Or, yesterday I suppose. Anyway she dropped off the story, and after getting it translated (I can’t really read running writing that well) I typed it up and decided I may as well share it. I mean, sure, it’s only 59 words, but I thought it was pretty cute.

12992051_10154265868273816_1147556299_o

The Mouse

Space-ship with two rabbits and a mouse. They are all dressed in uniform but the mouse’s uniform doesn’t fit it is too big.

Can you help him?

He is cuddled up in his helmet and won’t come out. Why don’t you send him home to his mummy? He wants to stay here on Earth with his friends the rabbits.

THE END

I have no recollection of ever telling or thinking this story, so I cannot say how much is from me and how much was from my Aunty. To be honest, I was expecting something a bit longer. I came up with some pretty long stories back then.

Still, I really like that image of a little mouse curled up in a spacesuit helmet and wanting to stay on Earth with his friends. I just wish I knew whether his mummy was on Earth or in space.

Short and crappy as it is, I figured it might be fun to share what was probably my first science fiction story. I assure you though, I have improved. Somewhat.

~Lauren

 

 

 

Review – Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey

Review #317721039

Beacon 23

Hugh Howey

Published April 12 2015

Stars: 5

 

Last year, the Silo series blew me away. Great characters, great world building, and a really chilling looking into the human condition. Common themes in Howey’s works are – to put it in his own words – about “overcoming odds and of not allowing the cruelty of the universe to change who you are in the process.” With my high expectations of Hugh Howey, once I saw Beacon 23 was a thing I just had to read it.

I was not disappointed.

Like the first book in the Silo series, Wool, Beacon 23 is a collection of five novellas that go together to tell one story. The Novellas are called, in order; Little Noises, Pet Rocks, Bounty, Company and Visitor. All five novellas stand on their own – though I would recommend against reading Visitor without reading the others – and can be purchased separately on Amazon or as a complete novel. I will be reviewing the entire package as a complete novel.

Beacon 23 takes place entirely inside the titular beacon; a space lighthouse if you will. The Beacon Operator is a war hero who explores his own demons in the solitude of the beacon. At times, he questions his own sanity; especially in Pet Rocks. Pet Rocks was my favourite of the novellas. Maybe this has something to do with the fact that I like anthropomorphising inanimate objects like rocks, but the humour and the mood whiplash in the story were also perfect.

Despite all the action of the novel being confined to a small space with very few characters, it is still packed with great world building and character development. The beacon operator starts to feel like a very real person very early on, and in every part of the story we get the feels as he goes through some pretty intense things. The war he fought in is still going on, and even though the Beacon Operator is off the frontlines, war still dominates most of his interactions with people who visit him, and of course it’s always on his mind.

Beacon 23 is an emotional ride. You will laugh, and you get very sad, and you will enjoy a very original, thought-provoking story. My only criticism is that the end was pretty abrupt. I can understand why it was so abrupt, but I still wanted a bit more time spent on it. Also, despite being set in space, this book feels more like a psychological thriller than a space opera. It deals with emotions rather than action. This wasn’t a problem for me, but if you want big space battles and the like, you will be disappointed.

As you can tell, I am really nit-picking with my criticisms. This book was amazing.

Book Bingo 2016

As I said in my last post, I’m going to do the 2016 Bookish Bingo challenge from The Girly Geek Blog. You can find the challenge here: http://the-girlygeek.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/2016bbchallenge.html

I’m not going to make it my mission to fill the card, but I will be trying for at least one bingo. I’ve just finished All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, and that fills two squares. I’ll assume it counts since I finished it on the day I decided to do the challenge, so I’m on my way.

The challenge comes with a progress sheet, but I find that making a table in word is easier to update. Here is my card, with one mystery square filled in and my progress

Noun in the Title:

 

Features My Dream Career: A Bestseller: Book I have previously not finished:

 

Author Under 25:
Retelling of a Folk or Fairy Tale: Set Within the Entertainment Industry: Debut Novel: All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders Features a Conspiracy: Being Adapted into a Movie:
Features Strong Familial Relations:

 

Has Sleuthing and Crime-Solving: ??? Stars on the Cover: Graphic Novel, Comic Book, or Graphic Novel:
??? Features Unlikely Friendship: FREE SQUARE Has Asian or African Protagonist:

 

Third Book in a Series:
Published in the Month of my Birth: All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders Has Alternating Perspectives: Over 500 Pages Long: Set Outside Earth: ???
ebook or Audio book:

 

Number in the Title: Features Political Espionage: A Book That a Friend Loved: A Book Owned for More Than a Year:
Features Mental Illness or Disability:

 

??? Features Murder or Assassination: Short Story or Novella: Had Angels or Fairies:

I’d recommend this challenge to anyone who wants more motivation to read. Or who already reads a lot and wants to make a game of it.

What I Read Last Year

bedsidetable1.jpg

Title says it all really. To give you all a chance to know what books I’m into – and to give me a chance to talk about some awesome books – I’m making this post.

To encourage myself to read more widely, I decided to challenge myself with a book bingo card last year. I searched for a card that seemed like fun, and came across a huge card on a blog called The Girly Geek Blog (http://the-girlygeek.blogspot.com.au/). The card in question is from Maddie’s 2015 Bookish Bingo Challenge, which can be found here; http://the-girlygeek.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/bookishbingochallenge.html

I didn’t officially sign up for the challenge though. Partly because I suffer from ‘perpetual lurker’ syndrome, and also because I wanted to make some alterations to the card. I merged the “read a book by an author with your initials” tile with the “read a book by an author with your first name’ into one tile, and added a ‘read a collection of short stories’ tile to it. I had (and still do have) a lot of unread short story collections in my book cupboard. I thought it would be better to put one of them on the list than to do two name based challenges.

This year though, Maddie has released another Bookish Bingo challenge, and I do indeed intend to sign up officially. But I’ll make a post about that later. For now though, I want to talk about all the books I read last year. Of course, I don’t want to spend all this year talking about what I read last year, so I’ll do the most mini reviews ever. Book reviews in twitter format. A bit like this: https://twitter.com/books140

 

Title: Doctor Sleep

Author: Stephen King

Book Bingo Tiles: None

Stars: 3

Sequel to The Shining, but very different from it. Still good and hard to put down, but not as scary as the shining.

 

WindupGirl

Title: The Windup Girl

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Book Bingo Tiles: Book Set in the Future, Book with an Asian Main Character

Stars: 4.5

Future Thailand Water levels high no fossil fuels biotech companies control food production. Very real, very disturbing, very good.

 

Title: Gunpowder Empire

Author: Harry Turtledove

Book Bingo Tiles: Strong Sibling Relationship, Set in Parallel Universe

Stars: 3

Roman Empire never fell and has guns now. Teens from our universe live in this universe and realise how shit the past was. Lots of war.

 

Title: Maze Runner Trilogy (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure)12790214_10154113968718816_1313381047_o

Author: James Dashner

Book Bingo Tiles: Second Book in a Series

Stars: 3.5

Boys in maze working out WTF is going on. Then in ruins and labs. Page turner 3rd book loses some momentum. Movies may be better this time.

 

Title: The Seventh Miss Hatfield

Author: Anna Caltabiano

Book Bingo Tiles: Written by Someone Under 30, About Time Travel,

Stars: 3

Girl drinks from the fountain of youth. Then goes back in time on a mission and has romance. Room for improvement, but watch author.

 

2312Title: 2312

Author: Kim Stanley Robinson

Tiles: Set Somewhere I want to Visit, LGBT Main Character, Over 500 Pages

Stars: 5

Mobile city on Mercury, terrariums and orgies in asteroids, visit Saturn, Venus terraformed. The Solar System is awesome. Earth kinda sucks.

 

Title: Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe (the poems section)

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Tiles: Poetry Book

Stars: 3

“Poe’s Poems Pwn Posers”* I don’t usually like poetry, but I got most of these. The raven was really good; lives up to the hype.

*Quoted from Epic Rap Battles of History.

 

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOnWriting

Author: Stephen King

Tiles: A Memoir, Based on True Story

Stars: 4

Half writing guide, half Stephen King life story, all good book. King has had an interesting life, and his advice for writers is gold.

 

Title: On Basilisk Station

Author: David Weber

Tiles: Kickarse Female Heroine, Set Outside Earth

Stars: 3.5

Capt. Honor Harrington and the RMS Fearless patrol an outpost and must stop an invasion. Like if Star Trek was written by George R.R. Martin

 

Title: The Brick BibleBible

Author: Brendan Powell Smith

Tiles: About a Curse or Prophecy, A Retelling, Has Supernatural Powers.

Stars: 5

The Holy Bible. With Lego. Mini-figure Jesus. Buy it.

 

Title: EDGE

Author: Koji Suzuki

Tiles: Written in Different Language, One Word Title

Stars: 2.5

People disappear, the value of Pi changes, really creepy stuff happens. Good ideas, good characters, plot drags in parts. Unsatisfying end.

 

Title: Hocus Pocus

Author: Kurt Vonnegut

Tiles: Found on Goodreads, Published in the Year of my Birth

Stars: 3.5

Diary entries tell story of Gene Hartke. Disjointed, dark satire, full of trivia, but good. Surprisingly addictive.

 

Title: Fear Nothingfearnothing.jpg

Author: Dean Koontz

Tiles: Purple Cover, Non-Human Characters, Set in a Small Town

Stars: 4.5

Chris Snow can’t go out in sunlight. His Dad dies and he meets a talking cat and evil monkeys. Creepy, cool, funny thillar.

 

Title: Dragonflight

Author: Anne McCaffrey

Tiles: Main Character Same Age as Me, Has a Dragon

Stars: 3

Pern has dragons that teleport and time travel. Dragons fight space Threads. Good worldbuilding forgettable characters.

 

Title: Reader on the 6:27

Author: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Tiles: Published a Month Ago

Stars: 4.5

Guylain reads outloud on morning commute. People dont find this crazy. He finds diary of a woman and falls in love with her. Very quirky

 

Title: Flashforward

Author: Robert J. Sawyer

Tiles: Has been Turned into a TV Series

Stars: 4

The whole world blacks out for 2mins & see 20 years in the future. CERN feels responsible. Are visions true? Many questions, all answered.

 

Title: The Silver LocustsSilverLocust

Author: Ray Bradbury

Tiles: Short Story Collection, Colour in the Title, Has Robots

Stars: 5

Stories about Mars colonization. Humans still suck at going to new places inhabited places. ‘There Will Come Soft Rains’ is chilling.

 

Title: Remnants Vol. 1

Author: K. A. Applegate

Tiles: Reread a Book from Childhood

Stars: 4.5

The world is doomed due to asteroid. Some escape on a spaceship. Jobs attempts to warn his crush. Hit me harder than it did years ago.

 

Title: Mission of GravityMissionofGravity

Author: Hal Clement

Tiles: Has Water on the Cover

Stars: 3

Hard SF. Catpillar sailors travel a planet with gravity 700x Earth. Cool world, problems solved by physics lessons rather than swashbuckling

 

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Tiles: Pulitzer Prize Winner, Author Shares my Initials, Modern Classic

Stars: 5

Scout lives in Racistville & dad Atticus defends an innocent black man. Hype is deserved; nice to read while not being forced to 4 school

 

Title: Ancillary JusticeAncillaryJustice

Author: Ann Leckie

Tiles: n/a

Stars: 5

Breq is a ship, and is stuck in a single human body and on a revenge quest. Start of a fantastic series. Very different very awesome

 

Title: Into the River

Author: Ted Dawe

Tiles: Banned Book

Stars: 3

Suspected some fantasy at start but standard YA. Sad seeing kid fall into wrong crowd but interesting. Expected more drugs&Sex due to ban

 

Title: The History of Mr. PollyMrPolly

Author: H.G. Wells

Tiles: Chosen Because of the Cover

Stars: 3.5

Lifestory of Mr. Polly. Takes a while to get into cuz Mr. Polly isn’t very likable at 1st; But Wells makes you care about him. Not SF.

 

Title: Silo Series

Author: Hugh Howey

Tiles: Self Published Book

Stars: 5

Juliette live underground. She gets banished into the poisoned outside. Awesome character & so fun to watch her stay alive. Shift bit slow.

 

Title: A Doll’s House

Author: Henrik Ibsen

Tiles: A Play

Stars: 3.5

Nora lives an ideal life, until blackmailed happens. Is she really alive? Or just going through the motions? Id watch a performance of this

 

Title: Princess Bride

Author: William Goldman

Tiles: Has Pirates

Stars: 4

Start the flamethrowers I dont think it lived up to the hype. Still awesome & fun xcept for the Buttercup’s Baby part. A goodbits fairy tale

 

Title: Death Notedeathnote.jpg

Author: Tsugumi Ohba & Takashi Obata

Tiles: Comic or Graphic Novel

Stars: 4.5

Light kills by writing in notebook. Detective story where cops acknowledge supernatural stuff. Very addictive, even when you know the end.

 

Title: The Man in the High Castle

Author: Philip K. Dick

Tiles: None

Stars: 2

Nazis won WWII and split USA with Japan. Good concept; chilling mad world, but I didn’t get this books hype. Characters & plot lacking 4 me.

 

Title: The Forever Warforeverwar

Author: Joe Haldeman

Tiles: None

Stars: 4.5

Get drafted 4 interstellar war. Battle. Come back and everything has changed thanks to time relativity. Powerful metaphor for Vietnam War.

 

Title: Ancillary Sword (sequel to Ancillary Justice)

Author: Ann Leckie

Tiles: None

Stars: 4.5

Has middle book syndrome but still great. Breq is fleet commander & goes to Athoek. Cultures & characters feel real. Sets up last book well

 

There were a few more in there, but I think you get the picture. I’ll come back later and talk more in-depth about a few of the books here. The Ancillary Justice series I’m particularly eager to show more love to.

Until then, stay awesome people. Oh yeah, there are a couple of people reading this now. So nice to know I have an audience. Thanks guys.

~ Lauren

I Made a Blog

12755041_10154080689698816_1228631694_oHello. My name is Lauren Holmes, and I’ve decided to start a blog. Why? Well I have an interest in science fiction and dreams of being a writer. I thought this would be a great way to connect with other fans of the genre.

Now why should you read my blog? That I am still trying to figure out. I will be talking mostly about books and short stories, though sometimes I’ll mention TV shows and movies. This year I’m aiming to read a mixture of classics that I haven’t gotten around to yet, as well as a number of new releases, so expect this page to contain the occasional review.

I suppose the best way to start off this blog is by telling you a bit about myself. I am Lauren, and I write under the name L. Jayde Holmes. Why L. Jayde Holmes? Well, to be honest I think it sounds cooler than Lauren Holmes. Sounds like a byline from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Like L. Sprague de Camp or L. Ron Hubbard. Hopefully more L. Sprague de Camp than L. Ron Hubbard.

Of course, such a distinction is pretty meaningless at the moment, as I have yet to publish anything. I am working on a novel, but most of my efforts are with short stories aimed at magazines such as Analog and Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Lately I have been getting some promising feedback, so maybe this year things will change.

My first taste of anything with science fiction themes was probably the Commander Keen games. A series of dos shareware platform games about an eight-year-old super genius who explored Mars,keen and then other planets with a pogo stick. Commander Keen was pretty much my whole childhood until Pokémon came around.

Then as I got into books, I got into the Animorphs. Remember that series? With the kids who turned into animals to fight an alien invasion? I loved that series; secret alien war, fun characters, and some very interesting aliens. No rubber foreheads there. Later I would begin looking for more adult science fiction. With the help of a second-hand book seller who was a massive Asimov fan, I begun discovering the classics.

2016 is going to be a big year for me. For the first time, I have become a supporting member of World Con (http://midamericon2.org/). What interests me about Worldcon is the Hugo Awards. The Hugo Awards are amongst the most prestigious awards for science fiction and fantasy writers, and have been awarded every year since 1955. Membership at Worldcon allows me to nominate and vote for works that I think deserve to be awarded. Which is why I’m so interested in reading new stories this year; I want to nominate for next year’s Hugos.

I’m also interested in finding more self-published novels. I read the Silo Trilogy by Hugh Howey last year, and that was amazing. And don’t forget The Martian by Andy Weir. If you know of any good self-published SF that isn’t getting much love, please feel free to point me to it.

Whilst I’ll probably talk mostly about novels, I also love shorter fiction. Here are some of my favourite SF magazines.

Analog Science Fiction and Fact

https://www.analogdec2010analogsf.com
/2016_03/index.shtml

Analog begun life in 1930, under the name Astounding Stories. It is perhaps the most influential magazine in the genre, and has seen the start of many a great author’s careers, including Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Joe Haldeman and Harry Turtledove.

I began reading Analog in October of 2009, and the combination of sub-terrain monsters, a strange alien culture and a robot POTUS in that month’s issue got me hooked. I’ve bought a physical copy of Analog almost every month since then, and have a collection of back issues going back to 1962.

 

Daily Science Fiction

http://dailysciencefiction.com/

DSF is a free online magazine that publishes short science fiction every weekday. By short I mean 1,500 words or less, and by science fiction, I mean science fiction, fantasy, horror… there are a broad range of genres represented here. It’s nice getting home from work at night, and having a quick story waiting for me in my inbox. You don’t even have to subscribe to read stories there; go over there now and browse their fiction for free.

Those are the only two I am currently subscribed to, due to a lack of time. If anyone out there has a method to stop time so that more reading can be done, please contact me. Other monthly and bi-monthly publications I love are:

Asimov’s Science Fiction

http://www.asimovs.com/

Asimovssep2009

started getting Asimov’s in September 2009. Unfortunately, time and money restraints in 2012 led to me having to choose between Asimov’s and Analog. I chose Analog, but that’s not to say there is anything wrong with Asimov’s.

Whilst Analog focuses more on ‘hard’ SF, with the focus very much on the science. Some critics say the science comes at the expense of characters, but I disagree. Asimov’s however has a softer approach, with stories more focused on characters. The science isn’t as rigorous, and sometimes you’ll even find some fantasy in there. Now that money isn’t so tight, I’m hoping to find the time for more Asimov’s this year.

 

The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy

https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/

Whilst I love my Science Fiction, I also enjoy Fantasy. Though the I was never able to become a regular customer due to the above mentioned time and money restraints.

I do buy issues digitally from time to time, and it’s great for the fantasy and ghost stories that I’d never find in Analog. And of course, there is more science fiction to enjoy.

And with that, I think this introduction post is getting a bit long. I’ll be back later with more content.

 

~ Lauren