Monday, January 26, 2009

End of January hot spots: Four reviews

Jan. 26, Eileen Gunn at Richard Hugo House — Gunn lived up to Michael Upchurch's "zany" declaration in this blurb in The Seattle Times prior to her reading and did in fact read the piece about Spock and Captain Kirk having a baby (written to fulfill a friend's 40th birthday request), but the second work Gunn read was about physical and emotional pain and loss, inspired by her late father's life. He lost his leg serving in World War II and experienced fading memories as he died. Up next in the Fantastic Fiction series, Molly Gloss 7 p.m., Mon., Feb. 23 at Hugo House, another author whose works show fantastic versatility.

Jan. 24, The Can Can Castaways show Aerobotron
— think aerobics, robots, and even Tron — this experimental dance show/underground cabaret managed to fit in the frenzied, the mechanized, and the strange. Reminiscent of Liquid Sky, the feel was far more modern and edgy than burlesque, but sexy? Oh, yes! The Castaways — head choreographer Rainbow, Jonny Boy, Faggedy Randy, and Fiona Minx — go all in showing artistry, energy, and expression. Plus, the venue at Pike Place has a great Steampunk-esque atmosphere with a view of the streets through the Seattle underground amethyst-tinted glass cubes.

Jan. 24-26, Nicola Griffith at
— Griffith's blog is smokin' on the science news with recent posts about research into a cure for racism, a new genetic theory of inheritance, and invisible RFID dust, ID-dust — and she also won an award. The Alice B. Reader's Appreciation Medal recognizes a writer's outstanding contribution to lesbian fiction. Don't read about it here. Go to AskNicola.

Jan. 23, Jonathan Coulton at The Moore
— Coulton, Paul and Storm, and Molly were awesome in Seattle. The audience was freakin' awesome too. Great companionable geekdom. These are the good to have around, might actually help each other out in the apocalypse, people never mentioned in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's good to know there are still songs we all know the words to and can — Arrrgh! Brains! — sing together round the campfire. Along with science and fictional favorites like "Nugget Man" (Paul and Storm), "Skullcrusher Mountain" and "It's Gonna Be the Future Soon," and some amazing covers of Destiny's Child and Britney Spears (Molly cleaned up on "Toxic") , there were some songs minions requested on Twitter. At least at the beginning of the show, Coulton said he loved us so much he'd be back soon. Next stop for the show was The Aladdin Theater in Portland. How was that?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Potlatch 18: The Books of Honor, Part II

Growing up Weightless by John M. Ford and Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin are the books of honor at this year's Potlatch, the non-profit literary convention, for readers and writers of speculative fiction, Feb. 27-March 1, in Silicon Valley. This is the first time the Potlatch organizers have selected two books of honor for the event.

Here's the Publisher's Weekly line on Growing up Weightless, simply: "A young man's coming-of-age story set on the Moon at the end of the 21st century." American author John M. Ford (1957-2006) was an active member of the science fiction and fantasy community. The novel is his fifth of six published novels between 1980 and 2000. It was nominated for a Phillip K. Dick award in 1993. Ford also published several short stories.

"Mike (John M.) Ford is/was a brilliant science fiction writer whose work is not as well known and well read as we feel it should be," says Potlatch organizer Lenn
y Bailes. Read the rest of Bailes' introduction to the book and Liz Henry's "Middle of the Night Reaction to Growing Up Weightless" on the Potlatch Books of Honor page.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Escape the ravages of oxygen Feb. 3

Oxygen is killing us, but Dana L. Miller and others at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center think they may have the antidote: hydrogen sulfide. It made animal cells live longer and now they're testing it on humans. Age less, live longer with hydrogen sulfide?

Get the scoop at the first Science on Tap in February when Miller presents "Buying Time with Suspended Animation," 7:30 p.m., Tues. Feb 3 at T.S. McHughs, 21 Mercer Street, Seattle. Free. Go early because Seattleites like their science.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nicola Griffith reads from Ammonite online

An English novelist living in Seattle, Nicola Griffith reads from her Tiptree and Lambda award-winning novel Ammonite (1993) on her blog Ask Nicola. It's part of her Friday audio series, which sometimes includes songs(she used to front a band). She takes requests!

Ammonite tells the story of anthropologist Marghe Angelica Taishan sent by her employer, the Company, to the planet Jeep where a virus has killed all men and sickened most women.
She seeks to test a vaccine and discover how the native women reproduce without men. Marghe arrives as an observer reacting to the alien environment of Jeep, but by the end of her journey across the planet has "gone native" and plays a pivotal role in the population's destiny.

It's a lovely reading. Listening to authors read their own works, there's really nothing nicer.

Three new books by local authors

Keeping us in the center of the known universe of science fiction and fantasy three local authors came out with books early in 2009. Sci-fi, fantasy dominate new offerings, ran the head over Michael Upchurch's new books listing in The Seattle Times.

Regenesis by C.J. Cherryh, writing out of Spokane, is the sequel to Cyteen, the 1989 Hugo Award winner. The former links are to information at Cherryh, author of more than 40 novels, keeps her own Web site here. It's rather out of date though. Find the most recent content at The Progress Report. Scroll all the way down!

Airs of Night and Sea, by Toby Bishop (who also writes as Louise Marley), out of Redmond, finishes a fantasy trilogy begun with Airs Beneath the Moon. These novel create The Horsemistress Universe, filled with
women flying on winged horses. Find some of character Larkyn Hamley's recipes online. Bishop sometimes brings Crooks to her book signings.

The Third Death of the Little Clay Dog, a novella by Kat Richardson, of Seattle, published in a collection, Mean Streets, continues the story of Seattle detective Harper Blaine's investigation of the supernatural. Greywalker (2006) is Richardson's first novel. Richardson's blog My Own Personal Grey includes links to some other writers and writing resources.

If you hear of any upcoming local readings for any of these books, let us know!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lois McMaster Bujold: Horizon book tour

Lois McMaster Bujold's book tour with Horizon (2009), the fourth novel in The Sharing Knife Series brings her to the Northwest for two appearances.

She reads:
7 p.m., Jan. 28 at the University Bookstore, 4326 University Way NE
Seattle. Call 206.634.3400.
6 p.m., (note a time change) Feb. 1 at Powell's, 3415 Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, Oregon. Call 1.800.878.7323.

McMaster Bujold is the author of a slew of oft reviewed novels including The Vorkosigan Series. Her Nebula award-winning books are Falling Free and Paladin of Souls. Paladin of Souls, The Vor Game, Barrayar, and Mirror Dance won Hugos. And her novella, The Mountains of Mourning, garnered both awards.

Read reviews of The Sharing Knife, Vol. 1: Beguilement (2006), The Sharing Knife, Vol. 2: Legacy (2007), The Sharing Knife, Vol. 3: Passage (2008) in Strange Horizons.

If you read Horizon or if attend one of these readings stop by and say how it was.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Molly Gloss readings and workshops

Oregon writer Molly Gloss reads from her most recent novel The Hearts of Horses, 6:30-7:45 p.m., Tues., Jan. 13 at the University Branch of the Seattle Public Library, 5009 Roosevelt Way N.E. Call 206.684.4063. The novel, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award, tells the story of a young woman breaking horses for ranchers in Oregon in winter 1917.

Science fictional? Well, see Gloss' reading included on io9's Guide to Everything Science Fictional in January — so there you have it. Nisi Shawl had this to say in her 2007 review of
The Hearts of Horses, A strong woman in a fragile Oregon frontier in The Seattle Times, "...Gloss ignores boundaries instead of defying them. The mythic and the mundane are one."

Other works by Gloss include: the short story “Lambing Season,” (Asimov's Science Fiction, July, 2002), a finalist for the Hugo and the Nebula awards and chosen for The Best of the Best: Twenty Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction; the novel Jump-Off Creek (1989) winner of both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the Oregon Book Award; and her novel Wild Life (2001) winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Award for feminist science fiction.

See more of Gloss in February. She's teaching a writing workshop focusing on setting, The Ground Beneath Their Feet, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sun., Feb. 22 as part of the Fantastic Fiction writers workshop at Richard Hugo House and giving a reading there 7 p.m., Mon., Feb. 23.

In March, look for a Fantastic fiction workshop and reading with Nancy Kress.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Save the date: Science Fiction Hall of Fame

Latest check of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame Web site now includes a date for the 2009 induction ceremony: Sat., June 27. Shouldn't this be Seattle's hottest ticket? The 2008 event honoring Betty and Ian Ballantine, William Gibson, Richard M. Powers, and Rod Serling was a blast plus the fun of wandering around the museum with some of the people responsible for the works behind the glass cases. In retrospect, when stuck for a topic of conversation with a new hall of famer, try, "Congratulations!".

Potlatch 18: The Books of Honor, Part I

Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin and Growing up Weightless by John M. Ford are the books of honor at this year's Potlatch, the non-profit literary convention, for readers and writers of speculative fiction, Feb. 27-March 1, in Silicon Valley.

To get ready, here's a little nitty-gritty on Always Coming Home and links to some discussion. Some 17 novels into her career, — after the Earthsea trilogy, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Lathe of Heaven (1971), and The Dispossessed (1974) — Northwest writer Le Guin wrote Always Coming Home (1985). Le Guin's most recent novel is Lavina (2008).

Always Coming Home, a creative anthropology, chronicles the culture of the Kesh people drawing from elements of Native American cultures (for details be sure to see Liz Henry's post, Thoughts on Always Coming Home, on Feminist SF: The Blog!, which sparked some great discussion). A recording of Kesh poetry and music accompanied some editions (really curious to hear this-—have you?). The novel was shortlisted for a National Book Award.

For more Always Coming Home prep, check out Paradoxa No. 21: Ursula K. Le Guin, the latest issue of the journal of scholarly articles on genre literature published on Vashon Island. Richard D. Erlich discusses the book in his essay, "Always Coming Home: Ethnography, unBible and Utopian Satire" and online in the Science Fiction Research Association Digital Book: Coyote's Song: The Teaching Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin.

Next up, a bit on Growing Up Weightless. Please point the way if you already have good intel.