Dragons are cool. Giant scaly (or feathered) winged beasties, hovering in the skies or lurking in deep, dark caverns. Some are bearers of luck, some wreak havoc with a belly filled with fire. And many seem to be really into sitting around on a giant gold pile (though why is murky—are they hoping to bring back the gold standard?). So, yeah, dragons in fantasy literature are the coolest creatures out there (yes, I know, they can also be extremely hot), and their presence lends a grandeur and majesty to any story. Depending on the story, they may be metaphor for the human condition, they may be aliens we live among, or they may be an existential threat unlike any you’ve ever encountered before.
…Except that not all dragons are like that. In fact, some of the most memorable creatures in fiction stick with us because they are the exact opposite of all of those things we’ve come to expect.
The list continues to grow of Australian sf and fantasy novels published over recent months and eligible for the 2022 Ditmar, although I didn’t see Vanessa Len’s Only a Monster in there. Maybe a keen eye needs to be cast over it?
“The shortlist for the 2022 Arthur C. Clarke Award science fiction book of the year is:
Deep Wheel Orcadia – Harry Josephine Giles (Picador) Klara and the Sun – Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber) A Desolation Called Peace – Arkady Martine (Tor UK) A River Called Time – Courttia Newland (Canongate) Wergen: The Alien Love War – Mercurio D. Rivera (NewCon Press) Skyward Inn – Aliya Whiteley (Solaris) This year’s winner will be announced on 26th Oct 2022 at an award ceremony hosted by the Science Museum, London, in partnership with their exhibitionScience Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination.
The winner will receive a trophy in the form of a commemorative engraved bookend and prize money to the value of £2022.00; a tradition that sees the annual prize money rise incrementally by year from the year 2001 in memory of Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
💥 💥 💥
Chris Flynn new collection
1st September release. We’re getting a review copy. Interested?
Chris really enjoyed meeting us and felt at home with the Mob when he discussed his novel Mammoth. Do you want to read his new book?
“A grizzly bear goes on the run after eating a teenager. A hotel room participates in an unlikely conception. A genetically altered platypus colony puts on an art show. A sabretooth tiger falls for the new addition to his theme park. An airline seat laments its last useful day. A Shakespearean monkey test pilot launches into space.
The stories in Here Be Leviathans take us from the storm drains under Las Vegas to the Alaskan wilderness; the rainforests of Queensland to the Chilean coastline. Narrated in Chris Flynn’s unique and hilarious style by animals, places, objects and even the (very) odd human, these short fictions push the boundaries of the form by examining human behaviour from the perspective of the outsider. Chris Flynn is the author of three novels, the most recent of which, Mammoth, was shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards and Russell Prize for Humour.
His work has appeared in The Age, The Australian, The Guardian, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review and many other publications. He is Editor-in-Residence at Museums Victoria and the author of the Horridus the Triceratops series of picture books for children. Chris lives on Millowl (Phillip Island).”
💥 💥 💥
Longlist for the Booker Prize
Announced recently. Alan Garner – we can’t think of a better guizer to win
“The list is light on big names … with [Alan] Garner among the most famous authors to make the cut. He is best known for his award-winning 1967 novel The Owl Service.
“Garner is longlisted for Treacle Walker, about a young boy called Joe who is visited by a wanderer and healer, sparking an unlikely friendship. If he goes on to win, Garner would be the oldest winner ever, turning 88 on the day of this year’s award ceremony.
“Mortimer’s Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies … tells the story of a woman with cancer trying to come to terms with her illness, and is partially narrated by the cancer cells in her body, recently won the Desmond Elliot prize.
“Bulawayo [has] been nominated for the award before. Bulawayo is listed for Glory, which is narrated by a chorus of animals and inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm. A response to the fall of Robert Mugabe, it describes a coup that ousts Old Horse as leader after 40 years in power, alongside his despised wife, a donkey named Marvellous.”
Also with thanks to The Guardian.
💥 💥 💥
MSFC 70th Birthday celebration a success
The night was a genuine success! About 25 people attended including representatives from six other Clubs and groups to offer their congratulations to the MSFC. Warm and hospitable, even on a cold rainy July night. Congratulations to the Club!
Friends, out-of-town guests, and new arrivals – you are always welcome and have an open invitation to the Mob’s face-to-face and Zoom meetings.
Please forward this email or the invitation to like-minded people
Face to face, the Kensington Town Hall is a friendly venue, including excellent disability access and ample parking especially to the south side of the building in the car park. Newmarket Railway Station is 15 minutes travel from Flinders St Station on the Craigieburn line. By tram it’s via the Route 57 and by bus it’s the #83. Other bus routes via Metlink Journey Planner.
Attendees are asked to donate $5 towards the Zoom subscription, rent, tea, coffee, biscuits. Gold coin is fine as appropriate for your circumstances. On site donations of home-made snacks and goodies are welcome. First time arrivals are free.
Donations can be made electronically using firstname.lastname@example.org on Paypal. The first person to donate this way before the end of July will get a packet of Tim-Tams. Pitch in, in between story bundles and meteor showers!
Please don’t attend if you have symptoms that could be SARS-2 COVID 19, or you are not double-vaccinated, or you are unwilling to provide contact details or evidence of your vaccination status. Our COVID-safe Plan is available, please email me for a copy.
Sarah Endacott on the phenomenon at Nova Mob meeting 3 August 2022
Face to face at Kensington Town Hall on 6 July, or join by Zoom, invitations below
“I’m looking at all the movies, the TV series and briefly mention the animated series. The themes I will be exploring are: war, violence, evolution, science vs military, human intelligence, race, slaves/workers.”
Screening at the Mercury, Tuesday, Aug 30th Directors: Robert B. Weide & Don Argott Stars: Linda Bates, Jerome Klinkowitz, Sidney Offit Recounting the extraordinary life of author Kurt Vonnegut, and the 25-year friendship with the filmmaker who set out to document it. A gorgeously rendered, unexpectedly moving appraisal of the life and craft of one of the best-loved literary voices of the late 20th century.
“She Who Became the Sun is a 2021 fantasy novel by Shelley Parker-Chan. Parker-Chan’s debut novel, the novels tells a re-imagining of the rise to power of the Hongwu Emperor in the 14th century. “
“The book is a finalist for the 2022 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction and the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Novel.”
“Zhu Chongba, the son of a family in an impoverished village, is foretold in a prophecy to achieve greatness. However, after a bandit attack leaves the village devastated and most of the family dead, he dies of heartbreak. His sister then assumes his identity to go study at a Buddhist monastery, and begins plotting her own survival and her own path to greatness.
“ The novel has been noted to touch on themes of gender, sexuality, and diasporic identity. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Parker-Chan described the novel as “a queer reimagining of the rise to power of the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty. It’s also a fun story about gender,” adding that mainstream white Australian culture had “a particular type of Australian masculinity that is held as the ideal. This excludes every other kind of masculinity, especially queer masculinity and Asian masculinity.”
Some reviews of the books in the bundle: The Dragon Business by Kevin J. Anderson
“Love this story. Bulldozed through it the first time so taking it slowly second time around to appreciate it more.”– Persis Gretna
Mythology 101 by Jody Lynn Nye
“A great sense of humor.”– Piers Anthony
Mis Spelled by TH Leatherman
“This was an extremely enjoyable book. The hero and the supporting cast were all likable, and I especially appreciated that the hero was able to succeed without violence most of the time. The humor and the world-building were both first rate, and the story ended in a satisfying manner while still leaving room for a sequel.”– Amazon Review
Kradak the Champion by Shawn Inmon
“Well, here I go again down one of Shawn Inmon’s rabbit holes. No one digs them better. Steve, Rista, and Grint are something else. This quest is just the right mix of adventure, drama, darkness, and humor.”– Michelle Gwynn, author
The Thing from HR by Roy M. Griffis
“I laughed far too much as this crossover of office politics and eldritch horrors.”– Reader review
The Night Sheriff by Phil Foglio
“The Night Sheriff is Phil’s first solo-authored prose work, and he brings every bit of genius to it that he normally devotes to the comic-book and graphic novel medium. Know that with The Night Sheriff you’re in for an adventure at the hands of a master storyteller.”– Marion G Harmon, Bestselling author of the Wear The Cape Series
Fools’ Day by Patrick Thomas
“Slick… Entertaining.”– Paul Di Filippo, Asimov’s
His Angelic Keeper by Melinda Kucsera
“…it didn’t take long for things to get interesting and exciting. This book leaves you with wanting to read more. I love these books, they have the fantasy, action, adventure and world building that I enjoy, but they also are “nice” in a way where they are[n’t] as dark or steamy as some books are. I do recommend these, they are a nice change.”– Roberta, Amazon
Magic and Misrule by KM Merritt
“The setting was just immersive enough to complement the fun and brisk plot such that I happily started and finished this story in one sitting! I genuinely laughed out loud multiple times. Lastly, I can’t stress enough how skillfully the author represented some very underrepresented people/characters while completely succeeding in making that representation a nonissue to the plot. I can’t wait to read the next installment of this saga!”– Goodreads Review
Og-Grim-Dog by Jamie Edmundson
“a marathon of craziness that will tickle your sense of humor. Loved all the gritty characters and enjoyed the fast-paced action plot.”– Reader review
Hatched – Dragon Farmer Book One by Caren Hahn
•”The writing is eloquent. The story feels new and different from others I’ve read. Dragon farmers! Genius!”– Reader review
The Simple Delivery by Andrew Claydon
The story has wit and style, is full of great characters, heroes and villians, conspiracies and alliances and a great ending. Loved it and look forward to more of these.– Amazon Review
Quest by A.J. Ponder
“The writing is magnificent. This book is made for reading aloud, it fair rollicks along, a huge vocabulary with marvellous character drawings, funny dialogue and conversations. The best parts though, to encourage fully engaged adult interaction with child, are the footnotes the author has made which are really for adult eyes only. Funny, wicked and sometimes a bit naughty. There is no happy living after in this story either! No handsome prince, no evil witch. So the traditional fairy tale is turned on its head, and I hope to see more of Syvalla’s adventures, because she is well set up to take on more baddies.”– Felicity Murray, The Read
Chicon’s Hugo shortlist announced for Best Related Work. Congratulations Lucy! Congratulations Iain and Andrew!
On Wednesday 6 April Iain McIntyre spoke to the Nova Mob in a blend of COVID-imposed isolation prepared talk and live-action Zoom Q & A about Dangerous Visions and New Worlds – Radical Science Fiction 1950 – 1985 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.
On Friday 8 April opened an email from Mob member and former WorldCon Chair & Co-chair Perry Middlemiss:
“Congrats Lucy, and well done Murray for getting the timing of Wednesday’s Nova Mob meeting exactly right.”
Chicon have announced the Hugo shortlists and Dangerous Visions and New Worlds – Radical Science Fiction 1950 – 1985 is on the ballot for Best Related Work! Iain said:
“thanks for the call. We were told a few weeks back but sworn to secrecy so I couldn’t mention anything the other night. It is very exciting.”
We can’t really claim credit for the timing because various circumstances did prevent Iain speaking at the Mob sooner. What wonderful recognition for the book, its editors, and its contributors, including Mob member Lucy Sussex! Here’s hoping it wins its category – the scholarship is certainly worthy of a Hugo.
Each february, the writers/reviewers from Locus magazine publish their recommended reading list.
A Blessing of Unicorns, Elizabeth Bear (Audible Originals 10/20; Asimov’s 9-10/21) A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers (Tordotcom) “Arisudan”, Rimi B. Chatterjee (Mithila Review 3/22/21) Defekt, Nino Cipri (Tordotcom) Fireheart Tiger, Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom) “Sleep and the Soul“, Greg Egan (Asimov’s 9-10/21) Lagoonfire, Francesca Forrest (Annorlunda) “Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma”, R.S.A Garcia (Clarkesworld 1/21) The Album of Dr. Moreau, Daryl Gregory (Tordotcom) A Spindle Splintered, Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom) & This is How to Stay Alive, Shingai Njeri Kagunda (Neon Hemlock) “The Dark Ride”, John Kessel (F&SF 1-2/21) In the Watchful City, S. Qiouyi Lu (Tordotcom) And What Can We Offer You Tonight, Premee Mohamed (Neon Hemlock) The Annual Migration of Clouds, Premee Mohamed (ECW) The Return of the Sorceress, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Subterranean) “A Rocket for Dimitrios“, Ray Nayler (Asimov’s 1-2/21) Remote Control, Nnedi Okorafor (Tordotcom) “The Abomination”, Nuzo Onoh (F&SF 9-10/21) “Submergence”, Arula Ratnakar (Clarkesworld 3/21) Flowers for the Sea, Zin E. Rocklyn (Tordotcom) The Necessity of Stars, E. Catherine Tobler (Neon Hemlock) “The Giants of the Violet Sea”, Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 9-10/21) Comfort Me With Apples, Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom) The Past is Red, Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom) The Secret Skin, Wendy N. Wagner (Neon Hemlock) Fugitive Telemetry, Martha Wells (Tordotcom) “A Canticle for Lost Girls”, Isabel Yap (Never Have I Ever)
LynC suggested the recent Garth Nix, The Left-handed Booksellers of London, or if we were looking for an interesting mystery series, The Vinyl Detective by Andrew Cartmel: Written in Dead Wax (2016); The Run-Out Groove (2017); Victory Disc (2018); Flip Back (2019); Low Action (2020) & Attack and Decay (2022)
Jane Routley noted she was really enjoying P Djèlí Clark’s A Master of Djinn, the novel set in an alternative Cairo, following on from the novellas Dead Djinn in Cairo and The Haunting of Tram Car 015.
Kate Treloar picked a classic: E M Forster’s The Machine Stops
Ruth Jenkins suggested The Apollo Murders by Chris Hadfield and the alternate history collection Sideways in Crime edited by Lou Anders
Adam Jenkins mentioned The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, but chose the manga ōsō no Furīren, “Frieren of the Funeral” as consistent good storytelling.
Beata Sznajder considered Space Opera by Catherynne M Valente, but recommended Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes.
Andrew Vincent considered graphic novels: he mentioned Saga, but thought the story overly long, and preferred Rat Queens.
Jocko suggested Hail Mary by Andy Weir.
Jeff Harris talked about time travel invasions: Invasion from 2500 by Norman Edwards (a pseudonym for Ted White and Terry Carr) from 1964, and Clifford Simak’s Our Children’s Children (1974), but settled enthusiastically on Ken MacLeod’s Selkie Summer (2020).
Roman suggested the second of the Johannes Cabal novels by Jonathan L Forward, Johannes Cabal — The Detective, from 2010. He was reminded of the series about a necromancer when he listened to an audio-book (Blustery Day) of short stories about Cabal. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, 2009 Johannes Cabal the Detective, 2010 Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute, 2011 The Brothers Cabal, 2014 Johannes Cabal and the Blustery Day: And Other Tales of the Necromancer, 2015 (collection) The Fall of The House of Cabal, 2016