Reviews of Hugo Nominees

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Hugo Nominees 2008


  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)
    Chabon is a well-regarded mainstream writer who, like Jonathan Lethem has embraced the sf genre and allowed himself to be claimed by it also. His broad respectibility is the only reason I can think of why this book would be nominated for a Hugo, since while it uses alternate history as a backdrop, it's not particularly interested in diverging into alternate reality. Alternate history is one of my least-favorite forms of sf to begin with, often it's not really sf at all, just a made-up milieu in which the author can usually pit a number of historical characters and see what happens, which is typically not that interesting. Chabon dreams up the alternate universe, where the Jewish state of Israel failed and all the exiled inhabitats ended up in Sitka, Alaska, and then tells a Jewish detective story that has very little to do with any of that. The prospect of Sitka's impending re-unification with the US and what will happen to all the refugees is alluded to occasionally, but it doesn't seem to really weigh on any of the characters and certainly doesn't drive the plot. And while the story takes place in Alaska, the surroundings of that part of the world, the weather, the topography, the isolation, don't seem to be that interesting to Chabon either. It could be argued that he is purposefully avoiding these types of references, to downplay the alternate history angle as secondary to the story he is trying to tell. Meyer Landsman is a policeman who is called in to a routine investigation of the death of another tenant in his building, and is able to discern that he was in fact murdered. Various events lead him around in circles without really peeling back the mystery, and eventually he solves the case by naming a peripheral character that we don't really care about who didn't really have a very good reason for killing the guy. There's a generally gloominess to the proceedings and to just about all of the characters, which doesn't make for a page turner, and the overall lack of narrative drive hampers the effect. Chabon certainly has skill with a well-turned phrase, without being showy or too cerebral, I would be interested to read something else of his, but this book is a slog and I would think even alternate history fans would be disappointed. Maybe this belongs more with hard-boiled mystery afficianados, in that the background would give them something out of the ordinary, but for the rest of us we're left scratching our heads.
  • Brasyl, Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
    Nothing conjures up a sense of dread quite like the thought of having to read an Ian McDonald novel. His previously nominated "River of Gods" has sat in my pile of books to read for at least a year and not moved any closer to the top. But I was determined to read this latest offering, if for no other reason than it's shorter than River of Gods, and there's always the chance that a writer whose shorter fiction is consistently inpenetrable, diffuse and ultimately disappointing will find the space in the longer form to let his ideas expand more naturally, and have time to actually include a plot also. This was the case with Charles Stross, certainly. Sad to say, the extra length accorded to Brasyl does not do the reader any favors. McDonald's strength is his imagining of an utter alien near future in a less familiar culture, recently India but here the eponymous South American country, not quite sure why it's spelled differently here but never mind. In Brasyl there are actually three parallel stories being told, only one in that requisite near future. In that one a guy named Edson encounters a young woman named Fia who seems to be on the run from something in a parallel universe, and her best defense seems to be the possession of a quantum blade, whatever that is. The only interesting story takes place in the present, where a reality tv producer named Marcelina slowly realizes she has a doppelganger who is undercutting her authority and causing great consternation amongst her co-workers. This takes longer to figure out than it should, but there's a great setup for a final confrontation with her alternate universe self, which then basically fizzles out. The third story takes place in the past, where Brazil was still uncharted territory, and a priest has been charged with seeking out a renegade member of the clergy, sort of like Apocalypse Now without the Ride of the Valkyries. These three tales will obviously intertwine, but they do so in a completely unsatisfying way, not really coming together so much as crossing over each other, and circumspectly enough that it hardly matters. The only nugget of interest here is the physics principle that is underpinning the entire premise, that there are an infinite number of parallel worlds, that things that happen in one could happen slightly differently in others. This is not an original idea, but the present day story also involves a disgraced soccer star who, it is felt, cost his country the World Cup long ago and was basically never forgiven, sort of the Bill Buckner of Brazil. There's some allusion made between this parallelism and our own deterministic fates and how much free will we truly have, but it comes and goes rather quickly. McDonald conjures up a richly detailed background, too rich by some measurements, as the constant bombardment of unfamiliar foreign words makes the narrative that much harder to follow (there's a lengthy glossary in the back for the intrepid). But the book reads like a bad dream, and at the end you really have very little clue as to what just happened, and the interesting bits of conflict that were set up here and there along the way aren't resolved convincingly enough to make this a satisfying or memorable read. Looks like River of Gods could stay in the to-read pile for a while longer yet.
  • Rollback, Robert J. Sawyer (Tor; Analog Oct. 2006-Jan./Feb. 2007)
    Sawyer's output in recent years has been sub-par, thinly drawn out books that take a scientific premise as point of departure but spend most of their time mired in the personal lives of unintersting science-type characters. Rollback doesn't herald a return to form of his earlier whizbang books like Terminal Experiment or Starplex, but does move more in that direction and ends up being mildly entertaining rather than just frustrating. The title refers to an expensive procedure 40 or so years from now where people can have their genes re-made to "roll back" their age and continuing living for several more decades. This is the state that the title character Don Halifax finds himself in, not through any work on his part, but because his wife Sarah is a famous SETI astronomer who in her 40's decoded the first message from the stars, and is getting on in years when the aliens respond to her reply. The plan is to roll them both back so she can carry on the work, but the process doesn't work for her, and Don is left at age 25 while she continues to age into her late 80's. Sawyer's typical mix of two disparate plot lines seems less forced here. He does rely heavily on flashbacks to the time of the first alien message, obviously leading up to a revelation in the past that informs the present attempt to decode the new message. Interestingly, while Sawyer's backdrop is hard science, he's less interested in the details of how things work than the moral and ethical ramifications surrounding both the idea of alien contact and even more so the notion of living extended lifespans. The details of the decoding of the first alien message are taken as given, and much of the rollback process is described in a paragraph or two. A lot of time is spent explaining the idiosyncracies of Scrabble (much like Asimov's use of chess in Pebble in the Sky). There are also way too many pop culture references, and the dialog is mostly stilted and unnatural. There's very little conflict and everything wraps up perfectly, and while Sawyer brings up a lot of ethical issues he doesn't have anything particularly deep to say about them, which I think is what mainly keeps this book off the Locus list. But he gets credit for putting the basic ideas out there and still delivers an entertaining read, thought-provoking on its own terms. One of the blurbs in the inside cover compares him to Asimov, and there may be something to that, but as much in terms of style as in content or theme, and that's not necessarily a good thing when you consider Asimov wrote his most archetypal work in the 1940's.
  • The Last Colony, John Scalzi (Tor)
    Scalzi made a splash with his first novel a couple of years ago, the Heinlein uber-pastiche Old Man's War. The follow-up book, The Ghost Brigades, wasn't nominated, so I missed that one and now we have the final volume in the series. If there are references to the second book in here, there weren't enough of them or of enough importance that I felt like I had missed anything. Scalzi goes into slightly different territory here, a little more Silverberg than Heinlein, where the political subtext takes a backseat to the sociological aspects of the story. The protagonist of the first book, John Perry, is recruited out of retirement with his wife Jane to lead a multi-world expedition to establish a new colony on an uninhabited planet that has been given to them by one of Earth's few allies. In Scalzi's future, space is populated by various races, but habitable planets are at a premium, so they're always fighting each other over turf. Things start going awry for the colonists as soon as they jump out of warp drive and discover the planet they've been sent to colonize isn't the one they were told, and when colonists start turning up dead Perry comes to realize that the planet may not be as uninhabited as he'd been led to believe. Behind it all is a complicated inter-species chess match for supremacy of the cosmos, with Earth and its coalition of the willing going up against a much larger and militarily superior force that most people don't even know exists. Perry now has to more or less singlehandedly prevent interstellar war and save his own colony which has been left hung out to dry. He comes across a little too saintly to be completely believable, and Jane seems even harder to pin down, part Amazonian killing machine and part farmer's wife. Most of the other characters are interchangable, apart from some annoyingly obvious "tuckerized" names. The book is a little short on action for the premise of space opera as seen from the ground, but not to sell it too short, it's completely readable and the political maneuvering that drives the plot is complicated enough to be interesting without feeling contrived. Scalzi shows he's looking beyond just writing his first book over and over, and I would look forward to seeing him move into new territory and show us where he wants to go next.
  • Halting State, Charles Stross (Ace)
    If you read the Hugo nominees year in and year out, then you've read just about everything Stross has written, and he's managed to present some worthy entries and certainly a variety of subjects and styles over the years that shows he's still having fun with sf and hasn't sold out or resorted to phoning it in. Halting State shows some ambition in new directions, and it's not entirely successful, but you can't fault him for trying to mix it up a little. In this book, Stross crosses his police-blotter style of detective story with the computer gaming industry, exploring the reasonable idea that in the near future online computer games will become so popular that people will go to great lengths to bend them to their own ends for financial and political gain, with casualties along the way. Stross whips up a whirlwind of competing interests and, as has been true in previous books, fails to completely make sense of all the palace intrigue or adequately convey who is backstabbing who, but he tells the story with such enthusiasm and panache that it almost doesn't matter. The story is a bit bewildering at first, as Stross has chosen to tell his tale in second person present tense from the viewpoints of three different protagonists, whose plotlines don't come together until a quarter of the way in. Most interesting is the computer guy, Jack Reed, who is conscripted by the police to help hack into the offices of Hayek Associates when they report that someone has stolen a significant amount of "money" from their online game's internal bank. Stross conveys a thorough understanding of how online games work, both from the viewpoint of the players and the developers, and in a way this works to his disadvantage because he doesn't quite bridge the gap to those of us readers who don't play those kind of games and don't really empathize with those who do. The book is almost too cybergeeky for its own good, and while there are enough dead ends and red herrings in the whodunnit parts to keep you interested, and the book wraps up in a reasonable length and doesn't drag on too long, you're still left after the last page with a sense of uncertainty over what all the fuss was about. Stross might be harkening back a little past his more conventional storytelling in Glasshouse and Iron Sunrise to his early work in Accelerando, more techy than the later books but not a as inscrutable as the early ones, he doesn't quite pull it off for my taste, but still worthwhile reading and gives every reason to anticipate whatever he comes up with next. Up against some relatively weak competition, I think this is the one to beat.

  • "The Fountain of Age", Nancy Kress (Asimov's July 2007)
    Nancy Kress never fails to turn in a compelling story and this is no exception. It would seem that she and Robert Sawyer got together and resolved to each write something about longevity treatment, sort of like Lord byron and Mary Shelley, but Kress's story is far superior to Rollback. A hundred or so years from now, the viewpoint character Max Feder is an old man who made a lot of money in less than savory ways, but his biggest regret was never getting back together with a young woman he had once loved passionately, but who had since become something of a living martyr for possessing cancerous cells that could be used in treatments to make people stay young. The process is finite, lasting only 20 years, and enough fanatics considered her an abomination that she was forced to live on a space station cut off from all outside contact. Kress puts together an elaborate backstory for Max, deftly jumps around from the present story to different scenes from his past (another device also in Rollback), weaves in a lot of gypsy imagery, and creates several characters who may not be especially memorable but are distinctive with very different and realistic personality traits and inter-relationships. Max knows this quest of sorts is foolish and doomed to failure, but he does it anyway and is able to redeem himself somewhat in the end, through a series of dubious coincidences that put a few pivotal characters together for the sake of the denouement. If anything this story is more compelling as you're reading it than after it's over, when it tends to fade somewhat, maybe because the science underpinning the plot is a bit mystical, more like something form Shepard or McDonald. But you have to admire Kress's skill, and how she weaves in throwaway references to this future that aren't elaborated upon, as though its the most natural thing. No Sawyer-esque happy ending or preaching here, just a well put together and nicely layered story of loss and quest for redemption.
  • "Recovering Apollo 8", Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov's Feb. 2007)
    This story reminded a lot, more in tone than anything else, of Jerry Oltion's "Abandon in Place" from several years ago, a wistful look back at the Apollo program also, but here of a program from an alternate history where the first men to the moon on Apollo 8 never made it there and were lost to the vacuum of space after their rockets misfired. Ironically, this tragedy precipitates a much greater investment in space than happened in our timeline, such that 40 years later, we encounter Richard Johansenn, an adventurous billionaire who sets about to recover the lost capsule after it is spotted still floating in space. Rusch gives so much build up to the recovery and opening of the capsule that you know before it happens that they will find it empty. But such is Richard's resolve and the state of space technology that over the course of the next 60 years he is able one by one to recover the astronauts, who decided to meet their demise in the vastness and wonder of space rather than just suffocate inside the tiny spacecraft. What's interesting about this story is that Rusch focuses on the recovery and what drives Richard to devote so many years to finding them, rather than on the astronauts and their final days. Interestingly, she uses the real astronauts' names, too. As the memory of the Apollo program fades from history, Rusch conjures up a sense of nostalgia about what might have been, albeit taking the unusual stance that another space tragedy would have somehow strengthened the will of the nation to continue, since that didn't happen with the sudden tragedies of Challenger or Columbia, or even Apolllo 1. But Rusch provides plenty of food for thought here, and leaves the reader with a lasting impression. There's much to be considered about the original astronauts as among the greatest of heroes, and how the act of going into space could uplift people like Richard into doing things they would never otherwise been able to bring themselves to do. I think Rusch would suggest that the current generation could use a few more people like that.
  • "Stars Seen Through Stone", Lucius Shepard (F&SF July 2007)
  • "All Seated on the Ground", Connie Willis (Asimov's Dec. 2007; Subterranean Press)
  • "Memorare", Gene Wolfe (F&SF April 2007)
    Say what you will about this story, you can't deny it's an original plot. The viewpoint character is a documentary filmmaker named March, although he goes by the nickname "Windy", who hops around the asteroid belt recording memorials contained within individual asteroids, set up either by the person being remembered or their relatives or followers. Depending on the budget and the intent, they range from modest crypts to elaborate robots and simulations, and some of them are even death traps, since apparently some of the dead want to leave a lasting impression. Along the way he recruits an old flame, Kit, to help with the narration. She brings along a woman she's befriended who turns out to be March's ex, Robin, and she in turn is being pursued by her new husband, Redd, as they've had a falling out and he wants her back. Everything comes to a head on one of those dangerous memorials, known just as "Number Nineteen", where the characters, or at least March anyway, confront some past demons and gain some new perspective, and not everyone makes it out. There's a lot of disagreement between the characters over things that happened in their past, where everyone has his or her own recollection of events and doesn't see it the other person's way, thereby making individual memory an unreliable or at least inherently personal thing. Also, everyone has their own idea of "paradise" and of their own place in the world, and these memorials help to highlight the contrast between how a person wants to be remembered versus how they really will be remembered. I think that's the point, anyway, Wolfe isn't one to telegraph his message, and I can't say that in the end there's anything profound to be taken away from this story, but on its own terms he creates an interesting group of characters with a lot of baggage and depth, and certainly gives them a novel setting, so its definitely worth a look.

  • "The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics", Daniel Abraham (Logorrhea, ed. John Klima, BantamSpectra)
    First a bit of disclosure: my profession involves developing software applications for foreign exchange. A Cambist is someone who deals in foreign exchange, so this story's premise has been intriguing me long before I got a chance to read it, and I may not be able to review it with a complete lack of bias. How this story got nominated, I'll never understand, not because it's not a good story, but because it was by a lesser known writer (although not as lesser known as David Moles) in a relatively obscure anthology. But both the story and the anthology got a Locus recommendation, and the author hails from New Mexico, which in cosmic terms is just down the road from this year's Worldcon in Denver, so apparently that was enough to make the cut. But even if you're not into foreign exchange, this story is worth a look, as it doesn't get too far into the abstractness that is economics and is instead a fairly simple tale of the eponymous cambist, Olaf, who faces a series of three challenges against the larger-than-life personification of evil known as Lord Iron, in some sort of alternate England of the distant past. Only because it amuses him to do so, Lord Iron first singles out Olaf at random to exchange into pounds some currency so obscure that even the exchange trader has never heard of it, on peril of his life. Finding a source of liquidity for this in only 24 hours seems an impossible task, but Olaf finally comes up with a solution that Lord Iron doesn't expect, but is ultimately forced to admit is a sensible one. This only serves to heighten the lord's resolve to come up with an even greater challenge for Olaf a few months later. There's no element of the fantastic in the story at all, other than the implication of Lord Iron as some sort of embodiment of the devil, but Abraham doesn't take that easy way out and instead comes up with a way for everyone to live happily ever after. Since the remit of the anthology is to come up with a story that makes use of the supplied obscure word, the author satisfies that entirely, and has put together a very readable tale with two very well-drawn protagonists, although I would argue that Olaf is much more forthright and down to earth than any foreign exchange trader I've ever dealt with. I haven't read enough novelettes to say that this definitely should be considered one of the top five of the year, but it's well done and certainly different in its choice of subject matter and I suspect would appeal to a broad range of people, all good reasons to make it worthy of its nomination.
  • "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press; F&SF Sept. 2007)
    Chiang has always been more about quality than quantity, several of his previous works have been Hugo nominees and they have always been a unique take on sf by injecting a specific measure of fantasy. This story, while perfectly servicable, and after all the winner in this category, to my mind doesn't measure up to its predecessors, not because it isn't well told, but because it doesn't seem to reach forward, or even attempt to reach forward, to bring that same unusual perspective to the table. The merchant of the title encounters a shop in some historical period of Baghdad run by the alchemist, who demonstrates his invention, a gate that allows people to be transported forwards or backwards in time. The alchemist demonstrates the device, and tells a few stories about previous users of the gate and how they were able to see something from their own past or future, but without the ability to change anything. Given this authorial restriction, the alternative is that causality takes hold and they cause things to happen which have already happened or were going to happen anyway. The merchant, who is narrating this entire exchange to some unnamed king, hears these stories and decides to use the gate to go back in time and try to save his young wife, who died in an accident after they had had an argument many years ago. Up to this point the story is well told (bearing in mind also that the narrative is a couple of levels deep), but nothing special. The merchant's trip into the past takes a few twists and turns, the sort of thing you'd see in a Shyamalan movie, maybe, and clever enough, but nothing revelatory. Chiang creates an interesting juxtaposition in this story of an Arabian Nights type of setting with some time travel physics, although nothing at all technical, just the basic rules themselves and their application to cause and effect. Certainly a worthy nominee, not on the scale of "Seventy-Two Letters" or "Hell is the Absence of God", but maybe I'm just setting my expectations too high.
  • "Dark Integers", Greg Egan (Asimov's Oct./Nov. 2007)
  • "Glory", Greg Egan (The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
    Egan's double nomination includes this tale in his usual domain of mathematical sf, of which he is the undisputed master and possibly the only participant. Who else would want to come up with stories centered around cool (as opposed to cold) equations and take the added challenge of making them interesting? In this entry, Egan doesn't get too bogged down in the math, so you can just appreciate the story anyway. This concerns a pair of aliens who have come from several light years away to integrate with another planet who are the remaining species after a much older race died out thousands of years before. This extinct group, the Niah, spent millions of years of their existence pondering mathematics, and achieved a higher understanding of complex equations than anyone else, but it didn't do them any good in the end since they all died out and the remaining species, the Noudah, could care less. The aliens know there's something to be found in the Niah's archeological remains, and their willingness to come all that way to find out first hand trigger the Noudah's own renewed interest in the same information, to the point that a power struggle erupts over who controls the Niah's artifacts. Egan puts together a contrast of cultures in a short amount of space, creating a planet that isn't the same everywhere. The story's beginning misdirects by spending the first few pages describing the physics that allows the alien archeologists to travel to this unnamed planet, but after that the details of the science take a back seat to more important aspects of the story. I think Egan does well in fitting his own style to the remit of this anthology and comes up with a very accessible and original story, hampered only by the forgettable title.
  • "Finisterra", David Moles (F&SF Dec. 2007)

  • "Last Contact", Stephen Baxter (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, ed. George Mann, Solaris Books)
    Baxter provides a bittersweet end of the world story of an older woman, Maureen, and her grown daughter, Caitlin, faced with the knowledge of the impending dark energy that will destroy not only the Earth but the entire universe in a matter of months. Focusing just on those two characters, he gives an amusingly British take on the whole thing, where most everyone goes about their business planting flowers and fixing the roof even as the planet's days are numbered, a much more civil attitude than what you'd find in that "Midnight Sun" episode of Twilight Zone, for instance. As soon as the physicists have figured out what's going to happen, they start receiving messages from alien races, several per day after a while, but are unable to decode any of them. Caitlin is one of the scientists who has to tell the public what's about to happen, but from the sound of it people take it pretty well, at least in the countryside of England. They face the end together, and her mother tells Caitlin what she thinks all those messages are saying, adding a last poignancy to the story even as the Earth meets its fate. Keeping the action centered on two people allows Baxter to examine how average people simply soldier on with a "stiff upper lip", something you probably wouldn't get away with if the story were set in the U.S. A strong, well crafted entry by a reliable imaginative storyteller.
  • "Tideline", Elizabeth Bear (Asimov's June 2007)
  • "Who's Afraid of Wolf 359?", Ken MacLeod (The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
    This entry is on the shorter side for a short story but still manages to cram in a novel's worth of plot, in fact it could be mistaken for a summary of a novel. MacLeod starts off with a chase scene which seems only tangentially related to what follows, but the authorities are after the nameless narrator, who ends up either being exiled or volunteering to travel a zillion lights years to a remote colonized planet called Wolf 359, which is the end result of a failed corporation that was trying to start the colony. They've since set themselves up to model the original Earth society, he discovers, and for reasons that aren't made clear decides to uplift them in order to conquer the local planetary system and ultimately turn the tables on the Empire that spawned them. As usual with MacLeod, the plot points go by quickly and the conflict is described in the same tone as everything else, such that it's difficult on one reading to make out exactly what's going on. There's the makings of a good yarn in here, but the prose is a little too circumspect to make it work.
  • "Distant Replay", Mike Resnick (Asimov's April/May 2007)
    What is it about Resnick that keeps him getting nominated for Hugos while being perennially snubbed by the Locus best-of list? This year's entry is another sad tale of a man in his twilight years coming to terms with his lost love. This one meets a much younger woman, Deirdre, who is a near-exact duplicate of his dead wife, not just her name and appearance but her likes and dislikes, occupation, clothes, everything. Resnick avoids the obvious pitfall of making this a May-December romance, and instead has the narrator providing advice and ultimately doing his last good deed by arranging for Deirdre to meet her own soulmate. While nothing profound happens, the premise and execution are clear enough to make the story memorable. But memorable alone should not be enough to make this Hugo material, so what else can we point to? There's no explanation underpinning Deirdre's seeming reincarnation, and the narrator doesn't seem too worried about it, but the tone of the story is fairly matter-of-fact and straightforward, so it doesn't put it in a fantasy cast either. The two characters are a bit too immersed in a broad spectrum of the arts to make them seem realistic, sort of like people out of a recent Woody Allen movie. There's a lot of dialogue, but it seems natural enough. I think it comes down to either you like this sort of story or you don't, it's a nice vignette without too much of a point, maybe by virtue of avoiding the conventional ones that would most easily relate to this kind of scenario. Resnick obviously knows what he wants, I think he can dash off one of these in an afternoon without breaking a sweat, and that might be the issue. I sometimes think he gets penalized for the perception that he's capable of better and not trying that hard, that this kind of story reads too much like a treatment for a screenplay. So while the basic plot or premise stays with you, there's not enough "story" in a larger context to make it great.
  • "A Small Room in Koboldtown", Michael Swanwick (Asimov's April/May 2007; The Dog Said Bow-Wow, Tachyon Publications)
    This story puts forth an interesting premise, where the living and the dead operate on more or less equal footing, solving a murder gets to be a bit of a challenge. Told as a basic formula detective story, a body, missing its heart, found in a locked room, etc., the detectives have a ready-made suspect but immediately poke holes in the obvious theory and go looking for the real story. The victim is a professional pit boxer, which distinguishes itself from regular boxing in that the fights are always to the death, and his career record was 3-2. Once this bit of information is revealed, the idea that the dead don't necessarily stay dead makes for some interesting possibilities with whodunnit, and the detectives solve the case without much further ado. The basic setting of this story where this sort of thing can happen is alluded to but not really explained, as this is a standalone part of a novel, but the general idea is clear enough that further details probably don't matter too much. Swanwick has a plot and he knows where he's going from the beginning, a much more linear story than what you usually get from him, nothing too deep, but an entertaining read.

  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community, Diana Glyer (Kent State University Press)
  • Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium, Barry Malzberg (Baen)
  • Emshwiller: Infinity x Two, Luis Ortiz (Nonstop)
  • Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction, Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)
  • The Arrival, Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)

  • Enchanted (Screenplay by Bill Kelly Directed by Kevin Lima. Walt Disney Pictures)
  • The Golden Compass (Screenplay by Chris Weitz Based on the novel by Philip Pullman, Directed by Chris Weitz. New Line Cinema)
  • Heroes, Season 1 (Created by Tim Kring. NBC Universal Television and Tailwind Productions. Written by Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb, Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Natalie Chaidez, Jesse Alexander, Adam Armus, Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Pokaski, Christopher Zatta, Chuck Kim. Directed by David Semel, Allan Arkush, Greg Beeman, Ernest R. Dickerson, Paul Shapiro, Donna Deitch, Paul A. Edwards, John Badham, Terrence O'Hara, Jeannot Szwarc, Roxann Dawson, Kevin Bray, Adam Kane)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Screenplay by Michael Goldenberg, Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling, Directed by David Yates. Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Stardust (Screenplay by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Charles Vess Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Paramount Pictures)