Now Available: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Eight

Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy - Vol 8I’m pleased to say that Johnathan Strahan’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (volume eight) has just been published by Solaris. The anthology includes my story ‘The Irish Astronaut’ (shortlisted for this year’s Sturgeon award) along with work from K J Parker, Neil Gaiman, Yoon Ha Lee, Joe Abercrombie, Sofia Samatar, Greg Egan, E Lily Yu, Geoff Ryman, M Bennardo, Ted Chiang, Ramez Naam, Priya Sharma, M John Harrison, Richard Parks, Lavie Tidhar, Thomas Olde Heuvelt,  James Patrick Kelly, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Eleanor Arnason, Ian R Macleod,  Charlie Jane Anders, An Owomoyela, Karin Tidbeck, Madeline Ashby, Caitlín R Kiernan, Robert Reed, and Ian Mcdonald (I have previously blogged a more complete breakdown of the contents here).

To quote the cover: “From the inner realms of humanity to the far reaches of space, these are the science fiction and fantasy tales that are shaping the genre and the way we think about the future. Multi-award winning editor Jonathan Strahan continues to shine a light on the very best writing, featuring both established authors and exciting new talents. Within you will find twenty-eight incredible tales, showing the ever growing depth and diversity that science fiction and fantasy continues to enjoy. These are the brightest stars in our firmament, lighting the way to a future filled with astonishing stories about the way we are, and the way we could be.

You can order a copy from Solaris online here or pick one up at all good bookshops.

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‘Diving into the Wreck’ published in Interzone

The relevant pages of Interzone #252

Two relevant pages from Interzone #252

I’m happy to say that my story ‘Diving into the Wreck’ has just been published in the current (May 2014)  issue of Interzone (#252) accompanied by a beautiful painting by Wayne Haag.

This is a near-future story about an exo-archaeologist searching for the remains of the Eagle module on the Moon, the actual capsule in which Armstrong and Aldrin travelled to and from the lunar surface (no, we don’t know where its ascent stage is). In the process he is forced to confront his feelings about the death and legacy of his wife, an historian of the Space Age who believed that some things should remain mysteries.

There’s a lot of me in ‘Diving into the Wreck’. The settings range from the hills of west Limerick above where I grew up, to the University of California at San Diego where I was part of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, to an apartment overlooking the shores of Galway Bay where I lived while writing the story. And the moon, of course; the same moon that watches over all those places and has for so long fueled my interest in astronauts and their adventures.

The story’s title is borrowed from the well-known Adrienne Rich poem about the past, about the power and importance of our personal narratives, and about ‘the wreck of obsolete myths,’ in Margaret Atwood’s words (The New York Times Book Review, 1973). It seemed a good fit for a story about recollection and the value of modern myths in the era of space exploration, especially given the characters’ belief in the necessity of understanding ‘the old stories before embarking on a journey to change them’ (as Judith McDaniel has written of Rich’s poem; Reconstituting the World, 1978).

Interzone #252 also contains stories by Neil Williamson, Katharine E.K. Duckett, Oliver Buckram, Claire Humphrey, and Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, along with Andy Hedgecock’s interview with Williamson and the usual book, cinema, and DVD reviews. The issue can be purchased via TTA Press (and they, in turn, can be followed via Twitter here).

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Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award: List of Finalists Announced

I was very pleased to discover yesterday that my story ‘The Irish Astronaut’  is among this year’s finalists for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction. The list was announced by Christopher McKitterick, Director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, and the award will be presented this June as part of the Campbell Conference held annually at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. Congratulations to all my fellow finalists!

The full list of 2014 finalists (linked to the stories where possible):

Four things jump out at me from this list:

  1. There is a respectable (though not quite 50/50) gender balance here. Nice to see that.
  2. The shortlist is a fantastic endorsement of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. While Ken Scheyer and I are both graduates of the 2009 Clarion class, the finalists also include: Gregory Bossert (Clarion 2010), Vylar Kaftan (Clarion West; 2004, I think),  and Will McIntosh (Clarion 2003). I hope I haven’t missed anyone anyone! Mind you, go take yourself on a Google tour of all the shortlist authors and, Clarion or not, you will find stunning talent, publications, experience, and imagination right across the board. This is a phenomenal group of writers.
  3. Asimov’s continues to hold its own as one of the leading science fiction publications out there. An impressive four of the ten stories on this list were originally published in its pages.
  4. Beyond Asimov’s, however, it is impossible to ignore the continuing influence of online journals such as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and the recently closed Electric Velocipede.  The rise of the online magazine is an old hat story by now, yes, but what differentiates these publications in particular is the impact of their strong and discerning editorial direction on the short-fiction ecosystem; they’re not just publishing stories online, they’re publishing those stories which are rapidly coming to dominate awards lists, Best Of anthologies, and so on.

From yesterday’s press release: The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recognizes the best science fiction short story each year. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU; and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon’s children; as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction. The current jury consists of Elizabeth Bear, Andy Duncan, James Gunn, Kij Johnson, and Noël Sturgeon, Trustee of the Theodore Sturgeon Literary Estate.

The Campbell Conference has been held each year since 1978 at the University of Kansas. It includes a Friday-evening banquet where the annual Theodore A. Sturgeon and John W. Campbell Memorial Award are given; a Saturday round-table discussion with scholars, scientists, and writers of science fiction; and other events. This year’s topic is “Science Fiction in the Real World,” with a special focus on long-time friend of the Center, Frederik Pohl.

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The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year – Volume 8

Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy - Vol 8I’m very happy to say that editor and anthologist Jonathan Strahan has just announced the contents of The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy  of the Year (Volume 8) and that he has selected my story ‘The Irish Astronaut’  for the book.

I’m really very pleased with this and very grateful to Mr. Strahan for seeing fit to include the story alongside work from a very intimidating group of writers including Ted Chiang, Neil Gaiman, Geoff Ryman, M. John Harrison, Ian McDonald, and many more. 

From the Amazon description: “The best, most original and brightest science fiction and fantasy stories from around the globe from the past twelve months are brought together in one collection by multiple award winning editor Jonathan Strahan. This highly popular series now reaches volume eight and will include stories from both the biggest names in the field and the most exciting new talents.”

I heard Mr. Strahan speak at last year’s World Fantasy Convention in Brighton and it gave me a real appreciation for the thought and effort he puts into crafting his anthologies. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how all these pieces work together as a volume.

CONTENTS (Via Jonathanstrahan.com.au)

  •  Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
  • “Some Desperado”, Joe Abercrombie (Dangerous Women)
  • “Zero for Conduct”, Greg Egan (Twelve Tomorrows)
  • “Effigy Nights”, Yoon Ha Lee (Clarkesworld)
  • “Rosary and Goldenstar”, Geoff Ryman (F&SF)
  • “The Sleeper and the Spindle”, Neil Gaiman (Rags and Bones)
  • “Cave and Julia”, M. John Harrison (Kindle Singles)
  • “The Herons of Mer de l’Ouest”, M Bennardo (Lightspeed)
  • “Water”, Ramez Naam (An Aura of Familiarity)
  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling”, Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
  • “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com)
  • “Cherry Blossoms on the River of Souls”, Richard Parks (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
  • “Rag and Bone”, Priya Sharma (Tor.com)
  • “The Book Seller”, Lavie Tidhar (Interzone)
  • “The Sun and I”, K J Parker (Subterranean)
  • “The Promise of Space”, James Patrick Kelly (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Master Conjurer”, Charlie Jane Anders (Lightspeed)
  • “The Pilgrim and the Angel”, E. Lily Yu (McSweeney’s 45)
  • “Entangled”, Ian R Macleod (Asimov’s)
  • “Fade to Gold”, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (End of the Road)
  • “Selkies Stories are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons)
  • “In Metal, In Bone”, An Owomoyela (Eclipse Online)
  • “Kormack the Lucky”, Eleanor Arnason (F&SF)
  • “Sing”, Karin Tidbeck (Tor.com)
  • “Social Services”, Madeline Ashby (An Aura of Familiarity)
  • “The Road of Needles”, Caitlín R Kiernan (Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales)
  • “Mystic Falls”, Robert Reed (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Queen of Night’s Aria”, Ian McDonald (Old Mars)
  • “The Irish Astronaut”, Val Nolan (Electric Velocipede)

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (Volume 8) will be published by Solaris in the UK, Ireland, and Australia this May.

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The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 31st Annual Collection

Year's Best Science FictionThe table of contents was announced via SF Signal last night so I guess it’s official now: my story ‘The Irish Astronaut’ has been selected by Gardner Dozois for the 31st edition of his multi-award-winning annual anthology The Year’s Best Science Fiction (to be published in hardcover and paperback by St. Martin’s Press in July).

It’s a real thrill to be included alongside some of my favorite authors (there are people here who I’m sure my friends are well tired of me talking about at this point!) as well as what promises to be very exciting work by writers I wouldn’t be as familiar with (and discovering the latter is always one of the great treats of the Year’s Best series) . I’m humbled and awed in equal measure. Also very thankful to Mr. Dozois!

And of course of I’m very grateful too to John Klima at Electric Velocipede for originally publishing ‘The Irish Astronaut’ back in May, as well as to those who responded so favorably to the story since then.

CONTENTS

  • “The Discovered Country” by Ian R. MacLeod
  • “The Book Seller” by Lavie Tidhar
  • “Pathways” by Nancy Kress
  • “A Heap of Broken Images” by Sunny Moraine
  • “Rock of Ages” by Jay Lake
  • “Rosary and Goldenstar” by Geoff Ryman
  • “Gray Wings” by Karl Bunker
  • “The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn
  • “Transitional Forms” by Paul McAuley
  • “Precious Mental” by Robert Reed
  • “Martian Blood” by Allen M. Steele
  • “Zero For Conduct” by Greg Egan
  • “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “A Map of Mercury” by Alastair Reynolds
  • “One” by Nancy Kress
  • “Murder on the Aldrin Express” by Martin L. Shoemaker
  • “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince” by Jake Kerr
  • “The Plague” by Ken Liu
  • “Fleet” by Sandra McDonald
  • “The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin” by Michael Swanwick
  • “Bad Day on Boscobel” by Alexander Jablokov
  • “The Irish Astronaut” by Val Nolan
  • “The Other Gun” by Neal Asher
  • “Only Human” by Lavie Tidhar
  • “Entangled” by Ian R. MacLeod
  • “Earth 1″ by Stephen Baxter
  • “Technarion” by Sean McMullen
  • “Finders” by Melissa Scott
  • “The Queen of Night’s Aria” by Ian McDonald
  • “Hard Stars” by Brendan DuBois
  • “The Promise of Space” by James Patrick Kelly
  • “Quicken” by Damien Broderick

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‘The Cleggan Project’: John McGahern’s Unproduced Screenplay

So I’ve been deep in the John McGahern archives here at NUI Galway of late preparing some preliminary offerings from my project to contextualize John McGahern’s screenwriting efforts (mostly unproduced) within his larger body of work. While I intend this to be a reasonably lengthy article when it’s complete, I’ll be delivering a paper this weekend on one McGahern script in particular – an untitled screenplay set around Cleggan Co. Galway –  at the 10th annual North East Irish Culture Network (NEICN) conference at the University of Sunderland.

Though never produced, the Cleggan film is of a piece with McGahern’s sustained investigation of Irish community living and the transformative challenges it faced in the second half of the Twentieth Century: ‘Again it is about family,’ he writes in notes describing his protagonist, the widowed schoolmaster James Lacey (‘56 years of age, handsome, athletic – a golfer and sailor – intelligent, uncomplicated’) and the small village existence he has lived all his life.

Through reference to Lacey and his supporting characters, the film’s narrative style, and its isolated rural setting, this paper is going to look at how the Cleggan project fits within McGahern’s established oeuvre. Specifically I’ll be examining the extent to which a thematic dialogue exists between the draft screenplay and McGahern’s 1990 novel Amongst Women.

The panel that I’m part of, which also offers presentations on playwright Gary Mitchell and short story writer Claire Keegan, begins at 3:15 pm next Saturday, November 10th, at Sunderland’s Priestman Building (Room 103).

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The Wisdom of Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury 1920-2012

Ray Bradbury 1920-2012

Like many today, I was saddened to hear of the death of Ray Bradbury, one of the giants of Fantasy and Science Fiction literature, and – for that matter – literature full stop.

Perusing the tributes on Twitter this evening I was struck not just by the warmth expressed towards him from readers all around the world, but also by the man’s great wisdom, the brief nuggets of truth he had cause to gift us in his life and which are being shared in people’s tweets tonight.

I’ve been jotting down these quotations as I go along and, while Mr. Bradbury’s immortality is already assured, his short, sharp observations are so joyful, so relevant to all of our lives that there can be few better ways to remember him than by taking a moment to appreciate the world the way that he did…

Ray  Bradbury on Reading:

  • “Love what you love.”
  • “I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money.”
  • “Libraries raised me. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.”
  • “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

Ray  Bradbury on Writing:

  • “We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.”
  • “Thinking is the enemy of creativity… You can’t try to do things, you simply must do things.”
  • “You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”
  • “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
  • “Some new thing is always exploding in me; and it schedules me, I don’t schedule it.”
  • “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.”
  • “First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.”
  • “We save up a tension for tears. So I as a writer come along and try to help you to cry.”
  • “Don’t just talk about it… Write.”

 Ray  Bradbury on Living:

  • “Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.”
  • “We belong only by doing, and we own only by doing, and we love only by doing and knowing”
  • “If you don’t like what you’re doing, then don’t do it.”
  • “You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”
  • “The blizzard doesn’t last forever; it just seems so.”
  • “We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”
  • “We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
  • “Looking back over a lifetime, you see love was the answer to everything.”
  • “Get out of here tonight and ask yourself: ‘Am I being joyful?’
  • “Fall in love, stay in love. Find something you love and love it for a lifetime.”
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