www.british-history.ac.uk

July 6, 2014

While cat-vacuuming^W^W researching country house floor plans yesterday, I stumbled into this site: http://www.british-history.ac.uk

It appears to be run by the University of London, and has a large number of digitised historical documents. Some of the content is subscriber-only, but most of it’s free. Just the collection of Ordnance Survey maps will be of interest to a number of you, but there’s a lot of other lovely research material as well, including gazetteers.


Hugo novels on special in the UK

July 5, 2014

As pointed out by Charlie Stross, his UK publisher has reduced the ebook of his Hugo-nominated novel to £1.99 for this month. I wandered off to check Orbit’s other two nominees in the Hugo novel category, and they too are reduced to £1.99. Or at least they are on Kobo and Amazon; Waterstones doesn’t seem to have got the message yet. Note that these prices are available in the UK only.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/neptune-s-brood-1

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/ancillary-justice

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/parasite-3

Neptune’s Brood
Ancillary Justice
Parasite (Parasitology)

Yes, I have bought all three. They are DRMed, but that is the price point at which I’m willing to treat a book as disposable. (As in, if I saw the print version in The Works I’d be willing to buy it with the intention of recycling to Oxfam after reading to make space.)

ETA: http://readingsff.wordpress.com/ notes in comments:

Actually, the price is down for all three to 2,99 € on amazon.de. That’s a good deal, too. So it might be a good idea for fellow Europeans to check out their respective amazon sites.

I’ve just checked amazon.co.au, as it normally falls under UK & Commonwealth rights, and thus would be in Orbit’s territory. Alas, no — still standard price. :-(


book log: June 2014 part 1

June 29, 2014

As previously noted, the book log is woefully out of date. However, I want to try and write up this year’s Hugo Voting Packet while it is still of some use to other people (and indeed me, for purposes of doing my ballot), so I’m skipping straight to this month instead of trying to keep it in order. Here are the three short story nominations I’ve read so far (if it wasn’t in epub, it didn’t go on the Kobo):

35) “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

Hugo short story finalist. The water of the title falls on anyone who lies — the less truthful what is said, the harder and colder the water falls. It’s possible to avoid the water by being careful with your phrasing, but that just makes it obvious that you’re being economical with the truth. What does it do to relationships, for both good and ill, when it becomes impossible to lie convincingly? Beautifully written character-driven short.

http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/02/the-water-that-falls-on-you-from-nowhere

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-water-that-falls-on-you-from-nowhere

Amazon uk
Amazon US

(DRM-free)

36) “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)

Hugo short story finalist. Wishes for the year are sent floating down a Thai river, and it’s one village’s duty and privilege to gather the wishes up and grant them, in exchange for the money and gifts attached to the wishes. It’s a situation that’s ripe for exploitation, but all the lives around the river are connected, and wishes can be granted in surprising ways. It’s a fun concept and there’s some nice writing in it, but the story didn’t quite gel for me.

http://www.tor.com/stories/2013/04/the-ink-readers-of-doi-saket

(DRM-free)

37) “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”, Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)

Hugo short story finalist. First person narrative by a young woman who has good reason to believe that selkie stories are for losers. It’s difficult to say much about it without spoilers. I liked it but thought it took time to get going.

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2013/20130107/selkie-f.shtml


Erotic romance short story now out – Bread and Butter Pudding

June 2, 2014

I have a new short story out today. :-)

Not Quite Shakespeare cover art Bread and Butter Pudding. Erotic romance short story, 3,600 words, contemporary, m/m. First published in the Dreamspinner Press anthology Not Quite Shakespeare, which is now available at Dreamspinner’s website in both ebook format (ISBN-13 978-1-63216-020-1) and trade paperback (ISBN-13 978-1-63216-019-5).

(It’s not showing up on Amazon yet, but give it a day or two and it should be.)


Jay Lake 1964-2014

June 1, 2014

Jay’s gone. http://www.jlake.com/2014/06/01/cancer-the-end-has-come/

I didn’t really know him, as such. I just remember a big, amiable man I saw around Baycon and Worldcon, and bought a couple of books from. I liked him a lot, even so. Liked him, and admired him these last few years for his grace and courage in the face of cancer. He undertook experimental treatment in the last stages, treatment that he knew was last ditch and which ultimately did nothing for him. But his participation in the trial will help others in the future; his last kick back at the disease that killed him, an achievement that will long outlive his body.

Fuck cancer. And if Jay’s got anything to do with it, it’ll be with a novelty condom.


book log July 2013 – part 3

May 31, 2014

More Hugo Voting Packet, plus an audiobook.

47) John Joseph Adams (editor) — Armored (anthology)

This anthology was included in the Hugo Voting Packet as the sample of Adam’s work for the short form editor category. As one might expect from the title, the stories are all about powered armour. However, it’s not just military powered armor. There are plenty of civilian uses, and some of them get an airing in this book.

Most of the stories are at least readable, and some are excellent. The anthology does suffer a little from the stories starting to seem too much the same after a while, but I think that could be dealt with by not reading the whole thing in a couple of sittings. If sf shorts about powered armour are your thing, this is a nice solid anthology.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/armored-1

48) Clarkesworld

Sample issue of the zine, included in the Hugo Voting Packet as the sample of Neil Clarke’s work for the short form editor category. I enjoyed this a lot, and if I had more reading time I’d be very tempted to get a subscription.

http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/

49) Ngaio Marsh — Surfeit of Lampreys (audiobook)

The tenth Inspector Alleyn novel, abridged on 3 CDs and ably read by Anton Lesser. The Lampreys of the title are in fact titled, being of a spendthrift aristocratic family, eccentric beyond belief, broke as usual, and depending upon a handout from an extremely wealthy uncle. Who won’t play along, and of course is found murdered. An amusing listen. The novel also available as a full cast dramatisation from BBC Radio 4.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

50) Analog

Sample issue of the zine, included in the Hugo Voting Packet as the sample of Stanley Schmidt’s work for the short form editor category. Some excellent fiction in this issue.


Book log July 2013 Part 2 – Hugo novellas

May 31, 2014

I read four of the novellas on the 2013 Hugo ballot. Two of them in particular I think are worth explicitly recommending: Aliette de Bodard”s “On a Red Station, Drifting”, and Brandon Sanderson’s “The Emperor’s Soul”.

43) Aliette de Bodard – On a Red Station, Drifting

Blurb: For generations Prosper Station has thrived under the guidance of its Honoured Ancestress: born of a human womb, the station’s artificial intelligence has offered guidance and protection to its human relatives.

But war has come to the Dai Viet Empire. Prosper’s brightest minds have been called away to defend the Emperor; and a flood of disorientated refugees strain the station’s resources. As deprivations cause the station’s ordinary life to unravel, uncovering old grudges and tearing apart the decimated family, Station Mistress Quyen and the Honoured Ancestress struggle to keep their relatives united and safe. What Quyen does not know is that the Honoured Ancestress herself is faltering, her mind eaten away by a disease that seems to have no cure; and that the future of the station itself might hang in the balance…

A consequences-of-war story set on a space station that’s part of a large interstellar empire, one that’s descended from an ancient Asian empire back here on Earth. Not an uncommon theme, but what makes this story different is that although it’s inspired by a Chinese story, the empire’s ancestor is Ancient Vietnam, and it’s written by a Franco-Vietnamese.

de Bodard has built a world full of rich detail, and peopled it with strongly drawn characters, most of whom are coping with being the ones left tending the home front. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

More information on the author’s own website: http://aliettedebodard.com/bibliography/novels/on-a-red-station-drifting/

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/on-a-red-station-drifting

Amazon UK
Amazon US

44) Jay Lake — The Stars Do Not Lie

I finished it, but I found it hard going for personal reasons, and did not like it. Which is a shame, because I like Jay, and I’ve liked other work of his.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-stars-do-not-lie

45) Nancy Kress – After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

While I enjoyed this one and could see why it made the ballot, I find that a year on I don’t remember much about it and don’t feel any urge to re-read it, unlike the de Bodard and Sanderson novellas.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/after-the-fall-before-the-fall-during-the-fall-a-novel

46) Brandon Sanderson — The Emperor’s Soul

Blurb: When Shai is caught replacing the Moon Scepter with her nearly flawless forgery, she must bargain for her life. An assassin has left the Emperor Ashravan without consciousness, a circumstance concealed only by the death of his wife. If the emperor does not emerge after his hundred-day mourning period, the rule of the Heritage Faction will be forfeit and the empire will fall into chaos.

Shai is given an impossible task: to create—to Forge—a new soul for the emperor in less than one hundred days while trapped behind a door sealed in her own blood.

This was absolutely stunning, one of the best things I read all year. I’ve never read any of Sanderson’s work before, but going from this I need to find some more. It’s a beautifully constructed story which demonstrates the strength of novella length. The soulstamp magic system is fascinating, and Sanderson’s exploration of the philosophical implications about identity makes for a complex story with a great deal of depth. It deservedly won the Hugo. If you like fantasy and you haven’t read this yet, check out the excerpt posted at Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/10/the-emperors-soul-excerpt

More information with buy links for various formats in various countries at the author’s website:

http://brandonsanderson.com/books/elantris/the-emperors-soul/

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-emperor-s-soul-1

Amazon UK
Amazon US


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