RIP, Gene Wolfe

Gene Wolfe

Tor is report­ing the sad news that Gene Wolfe has died.

The sci­ence fic­tion and fan­ta­sy com­mu­ni­ty has lost a beloved icon. We are extreme­ly sad to report that author and SFWA Grand Mas­ter Gene Wolfe passed away on April 14th at age 87.

I came to Mr. Wolfe’s writ­ing late in life. My dad had a copy of Urth of the New Sun but, as a teenag­er, I could nev­er get into it (not real­iz­ing, then, that it was essen­tial­ly book 5 of a 4‑volume series). I decid­ed he was too high­brow, too high­fa­lutin for my tastes.

Over the years, though, writ­ers I very much enjoyed, writ­ers whose opin­ions I respect­ed, con­tin­ued to tout the virtues of Wolfe. Neil Gaiman wrote on how to read Wolfe. Michael Swan­wick was effu­sive with his praise. Wolfe, they insist­ed, is the writer’s writer.

So I checked the Wiz­ard Knight duol­o­gy out of my local library, and I found myself hooked. I chanced upon a copy of The Fifth Head of Cer­berus at a local used book­store, and was entranced. Lat­er, I read The Book of the New Sun and its coda, Urth of the New Sun. This past sum­mer I read, and loved, Pirate Free­dom.

Gene Wolfe’s prose deserves to be read, and more, it begs to be re-read. Time, I think, for a re-read.

It is always a temp­ta­tion to say that such feel­ings are inde­scrib­able, though they sel­dom are.

Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lic­tor

Rest in peace.

Pho­to cour­tesy of Mark’s Post­cards from Beloit, via a Cre­ative Com­mons Attri­bu­tion-Non­Com­mer­cial-NoDerivs license.

2019 Hugo Award Finalists

Hugo Award logo — a stylized rocketship

The 2019 Hugo awards, to pre­sent­ed at World­Con, rec­og­nize excel­lence in spec­u­la­tive fic­tion. Con­grat­u­la­tions and good luck to all the final­ists. I’ve only read a few of the works on the list, and I’m read­ing a cou­ple more.

2019 Hugo and Retro Hugo award final­ists announced

(The Retro Hugos this year are for works that would have been eli­gi­ble 75 years ago, in 1944, but no World­Con was held that year.)

Hugo Award” and The Hugo Award Logo are ser­vice marks of the World Sci­ence Fic­tion Soci­ety, an unin­cor­po­rat­ed lit­er­ary soci­ety.

The Tao of Pratchett

Over on Tor.com, a dis­cus­sion of Sir Ter­ry Pratch­et­t’s works, and how there’s more to them—far more—than just sil­ly puns and goofy char­ac­ters.

Ter­ry Pratch­ett is best known for his incom­pe­tent wiz­ards, drag­on-wield­ing police­men, and anthro­po­mor­phic per­son­i­fi­ca­tions who SPEAK LIKE THIS. And we love him for it. Once we’re done chuck­ling at Nan­ny Ogg’s not-so-sub­tle innu­en­dos and the song about the knob on the end of the wizard’s staff, how­ev­er, there’s so much more going on beneath the sur­face of a Pratch­ett nov­el.

Read the whole arti­cle; it’s worth it.

Aurora Awards

Aurora Borealis at Minnedosa, MB

This one’s for the Cana­di­ans in the crowd. Writ­ers, SF/F fans, help­ful fam­i­ly mem­bers…

The Auro­ra Awards nom­i­na­tions have opened, and will be open till the 18th of May. My short sto­ry “Vin­cent and Char­lie” is eli­gi­ble for nom­i­na­tion, as are a myr­i­ad of oth­er great sto­ries both long and short. You can check out the eli­gi­bil­i­ty lists at the Prix Auro­ra Awards site (you’ll need to be a mem­ber of the site to nom­i­nate any­one; it’s $10.00 Cana­di­an for the year).

For those that haven’t read “Vin­cent and Char­lie”, it’s avail­able in the anthol­o­gy Par­al­lel Prairies, which is avail­able from McNal­ly Robin­son, Indigo/Chapters/Coles, or (if you must) Ama­zon.

The sto­ry, in a nut­shell, is about a retired farmer, afflict­ed with demen­tia, who hap­pens across a crashed alien craft and res­cues the pilot. This attracts the atten­tion of some peo­ple whose atten­tion you’d pre­fer not to attract.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Auro­ra Awards”

Arabian Stars & Constellations

A fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cle on the Plan­e­tary Soci­ety web­site: Whose Stars? Our her­itage of Ara­bi­an astron­o­my:

Gre­co-Mesopotami­an con­stel­la­tion fig­ures bear Latin names. Their bright­est stars are des­ig­nat­ed with let­ters of the Greek alpha­bet, yet most of them bear prop­er names that derive from Ara­bic. Even so, many of these star names are Ara­bic descrip­tions of Greek con­stel­la­tion fig­ures, not Ara­bi­an ones.

Learn more about the Ara­bi­an star and con­stel­la­tion names, like, for instance, ath-Thu­raya (aka the Pleiades) and her Hands (one ampu­tat­ed, one hen­na-dyed), Alde­baran (the Fol­low­er), al-Jawza’ and the Shi’ra sis­ters, and more.

It’s fas­ci­nat­ing, and at least part of the rea­son I’m post­ing this is to book­mark the arti­cle for lat­er re-read­ing. I think it might be a use­ful thing for a sci­ence-fic­tion writer to know about.

Head­er image: Pleiades (or I guess ath-Thu­raya), tak­en by me in 2015.

Parallel Prairies review

Parallel Prairies cover

This is the first review I’ve come across for the new made-in-Man­i­to­ba anthol­o­gy Par­al­lel Prairies, and I’m glad to say the review­er appears to have enjoyed my short sto­ry “Vin­cent and Char­lie”.

Anoth­er rur­al close encounter of note in the col­lec­tion is Bran­don-based Patrick Johanneson’s Vin­cent and Char­lie. The sto­ry explores the con­cept of alien telepa­thy and mem­o­ry manip­u­la­tion from inside a mind descend­ing into demen­tia. Johan­neson finds an art­ful bal­ance between sus­pense and sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty and adds a soupçon of Men in Black for good mea­sure.

Sarah Jo Kirsch, The Uniter

Read the full review here.

Par­al­lel Prairies launch­es Oct. 11, 2018, at McNal­ly Robin­son Book­sellers in Win­nipeg, and Oct. 13, 2018, at Bran­don Uni­ver­si­ty’s John E. Rob­bins Library.

You can order the book from McNal­ly Robin­son, too, if you’d like (there will be copies avail­able at the launch­es, of course).