Every episode starts with a blank slate, even when perhaps it should not. This week we start with the recent announcement that William Gibson has been named as this year’s Damon Knight Grand Master by SFWA, which is well-deserved. Gibson's most famous novel, Neuromancer, won the Philip K. Dick Award back in 1985 (along with a slew of other awards). 

This, in turn, takes us to the just-announced nominees for the 2019 Philip K. Dick Award:

  • Time Was, Ian McDonald (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Body Library, Jeff Noon (Angry Robot)
  • 84K, Claire North (Orbit)
  • Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories, Abbey Mei Otis (Small Beer Press)
  • Theory of Bastards, Audrey Schulman (Europa Editions)
  • Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories, Vandana Singh (Small Beer Press)

and this leads into a discussion of the history of the award and of the evolving role of original paperbacks in science fiction. We then venture on to the hoary old question of whether our field has too many awards, and what actually constitutes progress or excellence in a field with so many familiar themes and ideas.  

We’re not sure where we ended up but did manage to mention some exciting books that we’re reading right now.

At the beginning of the new year, Jonathan and Gary compare lists of books they’re looking forward to in the new year, beginning with some novels appearing within the next few weeks (Charlie Jane Anders’s The City in the Middle of the Night, Marlon James’s Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Alastair Reynolds’s Shadow Captain), and venturing further into the year with debut novels, sophomore novels sequels, fantasy, SF, collections, anthologies, and whatever else comes to mind, including some of our own forthcoming efforts.  

We cover a lot of titles, but no doubt missed some and probably gave too little attention to others.  We’d be glad to hear about what we might have missed.

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Here's a partial list of some of the books mentioned during the episode:

ALASTAIR REYNOLDS • Shadow Captain • Orion/Gollancz, Jan 2019 (eb, hc)
ALIETTE DE BODARD • The House of Sundering Flames • Orion/Gollancz, Jul 2019 (eb, tp)
ALIX E. HARROW • The Ten Thousand Doors of January •
AMAL EL-MOHTAR & MAX GLADSTONE • This Is How You Lose the Time War • Simon & Schuster/Saga Press, Jul 2019 (hc, eb)
ANN LECKIE • The Raven Tower • Orbit US, Feb 2019 (hc, eb)
ANNALEE NEWITZ • The Future of Another Timeline • Tor, Sep 2019 (hc, eb)
ARKADY MARTINE • A Memory Called Empire • Tor, Mar 2019 (hc, eb)
CHARLIE JANE ANDERS • The City in the Middle of the Night • Titan, Feb 2019 (tp)
CHEN QUIFAN • Waste Tide • Tor, Apr 2019 (hc, eb)
DAVE HUTCHINSON • Return of the Exploding Man • Rebellion/Solaris US, Sep 2019 (tp, eb)
ELIZABETH BEAR • Ancestral Night • Orion/Gollancz, Mar 2019 (tp)
FONDA LEE • Jade War • Orbit US, Jul 2019 (hc, eb)
G. WILLOW WILSON • The Bird King • Grove Atlantic/Grove, Mar 2019 (hc, eb)
GUY GAVRIEL KAY • A Brightness Long Ago • Penguin Random House/Berkley, May 2019 (hc, eb)
JO WALTON • Lent • Tor, May 2019 (f, hc, eb)
KAMERON HURLEY • Meet Me in the Future • Tachyon Publications, Jul 2019 (c, tp, eb)
KAREN LORD • Unravelling • DAW, Jun 2019 (hc, eb)
MAHVESH MURAD, ED. • The Outcast Hours (with Jared Shurin) • Rebellion/Solaris, Feb 2019 (tp)
MARLON JAMES • Black Leopard, Red Wolf • Penguin Random House/Riverhead, Feb 2019 (hc, eb)
N.K. JEMISIN • The City We Became • Little, Brown UK/Orbit, Sep 2019 (hc)
NEAL STEPHENSON • Fall, Or Dodge in Hell • HarperCollins/Morrow, Jun 2019 (hc, eb)
NINA ALLAN • The Silver Wind • Titan US, Sep 2019 (tp)
RIVERS SOLOMON • The Deep • Simon & Schuster/Saga Press, Jun 2019 (hc, eb)
SAM J. MILLER • Destroy All Monsters
SARAH GAILEY • Magic for Liars • Tor, Jun 2019 (hc, eb)
SARAH PINSKER • A Song for a New Day • Ace, Sep 2019 (tp, eb)
SARAH PINSKER • Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea • Small Beer Press, Mar 2019 (c, tp, eb)
SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA • Gods of Jade and Shadow • Del Rey, Aug 2019 (hc, eb)
T. KINGFISHER • The Twisted Ones • Simon & Schuster/Saga Press, Sep 2019 (h, tp, hc, eb)
TADE THOMPSON • The Rosewater Insurrection • Orbit US, Mar 2019 (tp, eb)
TAMSYN MUIR • GIDEON THE NINTH • Tor, Oct 2019 (hc, eb)
THEODORA GOSS • The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl • Simon & Schuster/Saga Press, Sep 2019 (hc, eb)
VICTOR LAVALLE & JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS, EDS. • A People’s Future of the United States • Penguin Random House/One World, Feb 2019 (oa, tp, eb)
WILLIAM GIBSON • Agency • Penguin Random House/Berkley, Apr 2019 (hc, eb)
YOON HA LEE • Dragon Pearl • Disney/Hyperion, Jan 2019 (ya, hc, eb)
YOON HA LEE • Hexarchate Stories • Rebellion/Solaris, Jun 2019 (c, tp)
ZEN CHO • The True Queen • Ace, Mar 2019 (tp, eb)

 

Picture of books

As always, we hope you enjoy the podcast and that you consider pre-ordering any of the books listed above, or any that you're looking forward to.

The Coode Street Book of the Year

After another long hiatus, Jonathan and Gary return with a ramble saying farewell to 2018 (actually recorded when it was still 2018 in Chicago and already 2019 in Perth).

This time we look back on some of our favourite novels, novellas, collections, anthologies, and nonfiction from the past year, agreeing enthusiastically about Sam J. Miller’s Blackfish City, Kelly Robson’s Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Gardner Dozois’s The Book of Magic, Alec Nevala-Lee’s Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction (diverting into a side discussion of whether “golden ages” actually mean anything), and several other books and stories which one or both of us liked. We also name Blackfish City as our official Coode Street Book of Year!

Did we draw any insightful conclusions about the overall health of the field last year, or what the field seems to be becoming? Of course not, but we have our opinions, and we had some fun. And who knows? We should be back sooner than you'd think.

The 2018 World Fantasy Convention was held in Baltimore, Maryland over the first weekend of November. People from all over the globe gathered, including Gary and Jonathan, to engage in discussion, appreciate art, and generally share their love of the fantasy genre. 

Somewhere in there, Gary and Jonathan found time to sit down with Andy Duncan to discuss his brand new short story collection, Agent of Utopia. The book is a fine one and the conversation was wonderful.  As always, we'd like to thank Andy for making the time to talk to the podcast, and we'd like to thank you for listening.

A partial copy of this went out yesterday. Here's a full repost. Apologies to anyone downloading this one twice.

With the 2018 World Fantasy Convention just weeks away, Gary and Jonathan sit down to discuss the upcoming convention, the life achievement recipients, nominees and much more.

This episode is a bit of ramble and includes digressions on questions like whether this really is an outstanding year for story collections (with new collections from N.K. Jemisin, Michael Bishop, and others) or if great collections coming out regularly is the new norm and whether we should devote any time at all on the podcast to such things as movies and TV (hint: Jonathan is sceptical).

We hope to see many of you in Baltimore. Until then, though, we hope you enjoy the podcast.

Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California this past August was a busy time. Thousands of science fiction and fantasy writers, readers, artists, publishers, and fans of every stripe travelled across the country and, in some cases, around the world to celebrate the best in SF.

We (Gary and Jonathan) had a wonderful time while we were there and managed to record four special episodes. Our final conversation is one of our favourites. Alec Nevala-Lee's Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction is a fascinating and probably definitive examination of Astounding, John W. Campbell and the writers who made up that time.  Andy Duncan, a long-time friend of the podcast, also just published "New Frontiers of the Mind", his first story for Analog (successor to Astounding) which examines the connection between Campbell and Rhine. Both Alec and Andy sat down with us in San Jose to discuss Campbell, Astounding, and their own work. 

As always, we'd like to thank Alec and Andy for making time to talk to us and we hope you enjoy the conversation!

 

 

Cover to Annex by Rich Larson

Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California this past August was a busy time. Thousands of science fiction and fantasy writers, readers, artists, publishers, and fans of every stripe travelled across the country and, in some cases, around the world to celebrate the best in SF.

We (Gary and Jonathan) had a wonderful time while we were there and managed to record four special episodes. This third episode sees us sit down with exciting new writer Rich Larson to discuss his love of short fiction, his forthcoming collection Tomorrow Factory, and his debut novel Annex.

As always, we'd like to thank Rich for making the time to record the podcast, and we hope you all enjoy the episode!

Blackfish CityReaders talk to other readers. They share information about the books and stories they love. They recommend. It's as natural as breathing. Those recommendations lead to a broader commentary, to lists and canons and all sorts of other things. This week Jonathan and Gary discuss the way we talk about books, the nature of recommending, and much more.

As promised, this episode contains recommendations for books published during 2018 that Jonathan and Gary thought were of interest and might make for rewarding reads for Coode Streeters. As always, these are personal recommendations and not a whole lot more. There's some fine reading on the lists below, which we both hope you'll seek out. Also, let us know what we missed in the comments!

 

JONATHAN’S LIST

  • Frankenstein in Baghdad, Saadawi Ahmed
  • Europe at Dawn, Dave Hutchinson
  • Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel
  • Revenant Gun, Yoon Ha Lee
  • Blackfish City, Sam Miller
  • Summerland, Hannu Rajaniemi
  • Elysium Fire, Alastair Reynolds
  • Space Opera, Catherynne Valente
  • The Accidental War, Walter Jon Williams

GARY’S LIST

  • Red Moon, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Terra Nullius, Claire G. Coleman
  • Ahab's Return, Jeffrey Ford
  • Annex, Rich Larson
  • Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik
  • European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss
  • Summerland, Hannu Rajaniemi
  • The Smoke, Simon Ings
  • Space Opera, Catherynne M. Valente
  • Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller
  • Pride and Prometheus, John Kessel
  • Unholy Land, Lavie Tidhar

A re-release of episode 335. This should be 53 minutes long.

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Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California this past August was a busy time. Thousands of science fiction and fantasy writers, readers, artists, publishers, and fans of every stripe travelled across the country and, in some cases, around the world to celebrate the best in SF.

We had a fine time while we were there and managed to record four special episodes. This second one sees us sit down with award-winning writers and long-time friends of Coode Street, Karen Joy Fowler and James Patrick Kelly, to discuss Clarion, Clarion West, and what it was like to be a student and an instructor at one of the most important writing workshops in the SF/F field.

As always, our thanks to Karen and Jim, and we hope you enjoy the episode!

Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California this past August was a busy time. Thousands of science fiction and fantasy writers, readers, artists, publishers, and fans of every stripe travelled across the country and, in some cases, around the world to celebrate the best in SF.

We had a fine time while we were there and managed to record four special episodes. This second one sees us sit down with award-winning writers and long-time friends of Coode Street, Karen Joy Fowler and James Patrick Kelly, to discuss Clarion, Clarion West, and what it was like to be a student and an instructor at one of the most important writing workshops in the SF/F field.

As always, our thanks to Karen and Jim, and we hope you enjoy the episode!

We (Gary and Jonathan) went to WorldCon 76 in San Jose a week or so ago, or at least we were around while the convention was on and engaged in activities that overlapped with the convention. It seemed like a great convention. We had a great time. All the people we know who were there had a great time.

We'd like to thank all of the organisers, the programmers, and the people who ran a great Hugo Awards.  Our congratulations to all of the winners and especially to the team at Ditch Diggers who picked up the Best Fancast award. A shout out too to the people who came to our Kaffee Klatch, which went surprisingly well.

This week a quick-ish episode, our first back together in a month or two. We talk Hugo winners, cannon, and other stuff. If you love a ramble, this ones for you. And we will work on that list for you. Promise!

Screen_Shot_2018-08-24_at_4_17_40_pm.pngWe've been away for a long time. A very long time. We're sorry and we'll try not to do that again. While we were away, we went to San Jose, California for the 76th World Science Fiction Convention. During the convention, we recorded four new episodes that we will be sending out over the coming weeks.

The first is a discussion with Hugo Award winner and friend of the podcast, Jo Walton. Jo has a new book out, An Informal History of the Hugo Awards, which expands on a series of posts on Tor.com looking at the Hugos from 1953-2000. The book is wonderful and the conversation is interesting. As always, our thanks to Jo and we hope you enjoy the episode.

Oh, we recorded this in Jonathan's hotel room in San Jose. Every effort has been made to filter out the damned airconditioning unit that was rumbling away outside.

With our customary meticulous planning, we manage this week to veer from the topic of what causes you to bounce off a particular book—or to keep reading—to the Clarke Awards, which will be announced in a few weeks (Gary volunteered to be on the Shadow Jury this year), to the question of how mainstream writers handle science fiction or fantasy elements in their fiction, and then to the issue of why many excellent British or Australian writers have either failed to gain much traction in the U.S., or in some cases seem to have lost the traction they once enjoyed.  In other words, we had no idea where we were going until we got there. 

Gardner Dozois

This week Gary and Jonathan spend some time discussing the work and legacy of Gardner Dozois (1947-2018), who died recently. A friend and colleague, Gardner was also a brilliant writer, a perceptive critic, a skilled story doctor and possibly the most influential editor in the history of science fiction. His three novels, several short story collections, and well over a hundred anthologies will stand the test of time, with the 35 volume The Year's Best Science Fiction and his nearly 20 years as editor of Asimov's Science Fiction standing at the heart of his legacy. He was also kind, supportive, and enormously good fun. He'll be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

This week’s episode ranges from a discussion about the growing importance of novellas and their advantages both for readers and writers, the difficult question of which story you might pick to introduce a new reader to a favourite author, the importance of distinctive voices in both short fictions and novels, the upcoming 87th birthday of the great Gene Wolfe, and James Cameron's new TV documentary on SF, which features appearance from several SF writers and critics, including Gary.

Then Jonathan springs on Gary the question of what his favourite book is, so Gary tossed it right back to Jonathan. We both came up with answers that date back to our respective childhoods. In addition to Gene Wolfe, some of the authors mentioned include R.A. Lafferty, Ted Chiang, Margo Lanagan, Kelly Link, Robert A. Heinlein, T.H. White, Sam J. Miller, Kate Wilhelm, Ursula Le Guin, Andy Duncan, Howard Waldrop, Catherynne Valente, Jeffrey Ford, Lavie Tidhar, John Varley, James Patrick Kelly, Alec Nevala-Lee, and Joseph Heller. In other words, another ramble.

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This week, the always bustling Coode Street Motel battles technical difficulties, sound dropouts, and other gremlins of the Skypesphere to welcome Sam J. Miller, whose Blackfish City is just out, and whose young adult novel The Art of Starving received great notices last year.

We discuss balancing his day job as a community organizer with his fiction, the genesis of his new novel in a couple of earlier short stories, the writers who made him want to become one, the arbitrary nature of classifying stories as SF, horror, fantasy, YA, etc., and even the choice of pronouns in describing particular characters.

As always, our thanks to Sam and we hope you enjoy the episode.

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Gary was looking through the books that seem to tumble endlessly through his front door for review and came across a new edition of David R. Bunch's classic story collection, Moderan, which is set to be re-released by New York Review Books this coming August with an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer. 

It led to a conversation about to whether there's an art to re-reading books, how you should go about republishing classic books, and much more.  We also snuck in an apology or two at the very end of the episode. As always, we hope you enjoy the episode. See you next week (in all of our lo-fi glory).

This week, Jonathan and Gary discuss the parameters of climate-influenced SF, the usefulness or not of the term 'cli-fi' (with increasing numbers of SF works set all or partly in the Arctic or Antarctic) and, inevitably, the beginning of the awards season, with the Aurealis and Ditmar awards, the BSFA awards,  and the nominees announced this past weekend for the 2018 Hugos. Who is being celebrated on the ballot, and which works were we surprised to see omitted?

As always, we hope you enjoy the episode!

Correction and apology

During this episode we use the incorrect gender pronouns for Yoon Ha Lee. We used she/her when we should have used he/him. We apologise unreservedly for this, and will be sure to correct it in future episodes.

Gary is back from the International Conference on the Fantastic in Orlando, where he chatted quite a bit with guests of honour John Kessel and Nike Sulway while managing to not attend some very interesting talks and panels. We touch upon the problems of identifying an SF audience in today’s fluid environment, and the feeling of some older writers that their books may be no longer part of the overall discussion. But is there an overall discussion anymore? Has the SF readership atomized into so many different readerships, some more vertical than horizontal, that even when senior writers are still being read widely, it’s difficult to find out who those readers are.  Have we gotten to the point of “everyone their own canon,” where only a handful of books each year make it into the general discussion of where SF is headed?

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