Brum Radio Book Club – me on the radio again

So I was on the Brum Radio Book Club again, which was cool. You can listen here:

Or the transcript of my bit is here:

ArcadiaHowdy, this is the forgotten geek, otherwise known as ianjsimpson, back to report once more from the world of speculative and science fiction. The last few months have seen most of the major science fiction book awards announce their shortlists and in most cases, the winners too.

There was the usual who-ha regarding the Hugo’s in the US. For those who don’t know, these are what might be called the Oscars for science fiction. There’s always some controversy surrounding these awards, as some old fashioned, right wing fans and writers known as the rabid puppies try to dominate the shortlisting slates, much to the chagrin of regular fans. If you have a look on my blog – the – there are links to some interesting analysis.

In the UK, the Kitschies announced their winners over Easter. Margaret Atwood won for best novel with The Heart Goes Last. In this wickedly clever novel, Atwood considers a social experiment, where desperate members of society are offered a stable job and decent housing. The payoff, however, is they have to spend every second month in prison. The protagonists house share with others who are in prison when they are ‘out’. We are in a near future dystopia here, and Atwood’s satire is biting. Featuring groups of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley impersonators, not only does Atwood comment on the commercialisation of the penal system, but on the dangers of role play and the nature of love. A worthy winner. Back to the Kitschies, and the debut novel award went to Making Wolf, by Tade Thompson. Set in a fictional African nation, the protagonist lies to impress old friends when returning home for his Aunt’s funeral. Investigating corruption, sexual identity and cultural mythologies, Thompson’s book is something a little different for those who like their fiction just on the speculative side.

The winner of the British Science Fiction Association award went to Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings. Which is odd, because it isn’t science fiction but a blend of religious and far-eastern mythology set in a future Paris. Dragons from the east and fallen angels conspire and plot in a post-apocalyptic Notre Dame. Ah, that’ll be the sci-fi element. The prose is a tad overwrought at times, but the plot is intriguing and the characters are interestingly complex. The delight, however, lies in how de Bodard weaves the various fantasies into a coherent and satisfying story.

The Clarke Award winner will be announced in August. Check out my blog for the full short list. Having read half of them thus far, and currently ploughing my way through Iain Pears beautifully written Arcadia, I wouldn’t like to call this, although I’d love it to go to The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Beckie Chambers. Never has a story about a diverse bunch of characters on a space ship been so joyful!

Outside of the shortlists, and perhaps the most eagerly awaited book of the summer is Joe Hill’s The Fireman. Despite being a doorstop, this is a less epic, more intimate study of life in a cult during the apocalypse. The book I’m most intrigued by in the coming weeks, however, is The sudden appearance of hope. This is the third book – cough – by Claire North. It is the story of a girl who no-one ever remembers. Which makes her dangerous. If North’s previous – Touch and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – are anything to go by, this will be an imaginative and brilliantly written page turner.”


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