Tachyon tidbits featuring Peter Watts, Peter S. Beagle, Jacob Weisman, Jo Walton, and Jeff VanderMeer
The latest reviews and mentions of Tachyon titles and authors from around the web.
Peter Watts, Jacob Wesiman & Peter S. Beagle (photo: Jill Roberts), Jo Walton
(Ada Palmer), and Jeff VanderMeer (Kyle Cassidy)
So, this is pretty brilliant. I see the book advertised as hard SF, and it does have that feel. In the acknowledgements, Watts notes that anything this far in the future is basically “handwavium,” but that he made serious efforts at research to make it sound like it was real science. He’s made that rare effort, real projection of what humanity might be up to millions of years into the future, and actually managed to produce the traditionalist’s sense of wonder about the vastness of Spacetime. The characters and setting here are well-developed, and the plot has a lot of depth. Item of note, Eri is an Africa group of the Igbo people, and their founder was supposed to come to earth in a spacecraft to teach civilization to the people.
All of this brings me to Weisman and Beagle’s respective introductions. Weisman’s comes first. He writes that all of the works in the collection are published after 2010 and reveals that Beagle’s last anthology, THE SECRET HISTORY OF FANTASY, published in 2010, “explored the merging of genre fantasy and so called mainstream markets into a new form of literary fantasy. This anthology constitutes something of a sequel, leaping ahead to examine the work of a brand-new generation of writers working along similar lines.” It is, and I am paraphrasing loosely here, unabashed signal boosting of a new cadre of writers, most of them racking up awards as the collection was being compiled.
In all of this, I am leaving out Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch,” playing on campfire tales and tellings of casual horror between men and women; Brooke Bolander’s lovelorn tornado seeking to impress and love a human woman who’s struggles to be normal and fit in only leave her disappointed; Max Galdstone’s modern Dracula story, an oddly charming Dracula story—as opposed to a charming Dracula, thank God; and Amal El-Mohtar’s mysterious, mystical story of love as it is when written out for us; plus so many more.
In the end, I appreciate this new fantasy a great deal—I even write it sometimes. It is made up of different cultural norms that are still real even if I am a stranger to them. It is queer. It’s peopled with women. It is told by individuals with names I have known how to pronounce since preschool and ones I suspect get flagged unjustly by TSA for extra harassment when flying. It is interesting and different and exciting, whether it is being published in “literary” lit mags or “genre” lit mags. I’m here for it.
In fact I might have said, very solemnly, that it would be my honor, and that Jo Walton is one of the scions of our genre.
Yes, I said “scion” to the casting director. I don’t know what came over me. JO WALTON!
So, come the end of December 2018–the 26th to be exact–I commuted my usual three hours to the studio in Old Saybrook, and spent three intensely delicious days mouth-deep in Walton’s prose.
One of my favorite things about STARLINGS is that it is less like your typical single-author short story collection and more like a writer’s workshop–tool box, wood shavings, concept art and all–spread out in front of you for your pleasure and perusal. Structure experiments, POV experiments, form poetry, a play, short stories that were more like extended jokes, short stories that might have been the seeds of novels, and some stories that cut so deep they are with me still.
I felt like the collection was an act of generosity on the author’s part, as if Walton were telling us: “Here are some things I made. Here’s a bit about how I made them. Hey, isn’t this poem fun? And yes, Cooney, I’m afraid you DO have to narrate a 90 minute play with GREAT DOZENS of mythic characters ALL by yourself, just as if you were Mel Blanc in a Looney Toons cartoon–have FUN!”
Okay, maybe she didn’t say that last bit. Maybe that was more what my brain said to me. Maybe a little TOO gleefully, truth be told.
The National Book Foundation announced that Jeff VanderMeer is one of the judges for their 2019 award.
On March 13, the National Book Foundation announced the opening of submissions for the 70th National Book Awards. The Foundation also announces its 25 judges for this year’s Awards, in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People’s Literature, and Translated Literature, a category added in 2018, to be awarded for the second time in 2019.
“Serving on the judging panels for the National Book Awards is no small undertaking, and one that must be approached with the utmost care and enthusiasm,” said David Steinberger, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Book Foundation. “We have full confidence that these 25 exceptional readers all bring the necessary expertise and acuity to a tradition of excellence as the National Book Awards enters its 70th year.”
This year’s judges include writers, booksellers, academics, editors, critics, and translators from across the country. Panelists include National Book Awards Finalists and Longlisted authors; a winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence; recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, a Windham-Campbell Prize, a Whiting Award, a Michael A. Printz Award, and a National Magazine Award; directors of literary organizations; professors, bookstore owners, and librarians.
Fiction panel: Dorothy Allison, Ruth Dickey, Javier Ramirez, Danzy Senna (Chair), Jeff VanderMeer
For more info on THE FREEZE-FRAME REVOLUTION, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover by Elizabeth Story
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Camille André
Cover design by Elizabeth Story
For more info on STARLINGS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story