S.E.G.O. — Science Fiction You Should Be Reading

by Devilstower at Daily Kos
There’s an old saying about the golden age of science fiction — it’s twelve. That is, twelve is the age where readers seem most willing to take the Door into Summer, to try and visualize a tesseract, to boldly split infinitives like no one has split them before. Not too long after that, even those who continue to read fiction not handed to them by a teacher find that they’re no longer able or willing to follow along on a trip at a galactic scale.

Even on the bookshelves some of the works regarded as science fiction’s best had a hard time finding a general audience, not only because of a bad media image, but because they seemed to be written to an audience more interested in the nuts and bolts than the people on the other end of the wrench. I suspect that many of the people who were hard SF fans in the 1970s turned to Clancyesque military fare in the 1980s, a place where they could satisfy their thirst to know the serial number on the bottom of the gadgets that were at the center of the plots.

Read More here


Anna Gregson at Orbit
Translated from the original German by the very talented Sally-Ann Spencer, this is the eagerly anticipated sequel to The Dwarves (UK/ US/ ANZ), described by SFRevu as: ‘The kind of solid fantasy that the market thrives upon’, and by The Bookbag as ‘A fabulous addition to the fantasy genre’.

The War of the Dwarves, from international bestseller Markus Heitz, will be released this month.

Read More, plus an extract here

Neil Gaiman: Ghost Writer

Serena Altschul at CBS News
“What do you think your attraction to the dark side of things is?” Altschul asked.

“I think the thing that crystallized it for me, the moment that I actually understood it for myself, was a quote from Ogden Nash, the great American poet and humorist, where he said, ‘Where there’s a monster, there’s a miracle.’

“And I realized that that, for me, is the joy of the monstrous. It’s the joy of ghosts, fiction, joy of vampires. It’s the miraculous.”

The monstrous and the miraculous have been kind to Neil Gaiman. He’s sold millions of novels, comics and kids’ books, from “Sandman” to Batman to Coraline. None other than horror master Stephen King has called him a “treasure trove of story.”

Read More here

Schools’ Nonfiction Problem (True Story)

By Tom Kuntz at the New York Times
The “Harry Potter” phenomenon brought parental sighs of relief over a revival of reading among the young (perhaps overly optimistic sighs). And the revival has morphed lately into the wild popularity of the “Twilight” series of hormonally charged teenage vampire novels.

But on his Washington Post blog Class Struggle, Jay Mathews, a veteran education writer, highlights longstanding concerns among some educators that youthful reading is weighted too much toward fiction — a view seconded on other blogs.

Mr. Mathews explains why nonfiction books get short shrift in schools and draws on the educational theorist E.D. Hirsch Jr. to argue why they shouldn’t:

Educators say nonfiction is more difficult than fiction for students to comprehend. It requires more factual knowledge, beyond fiction’s simple truths of love, hate, passion and remorse. So we have a pathetic cycle. Students don’t know enough about the real world because they don’t read nonfiction, and they can’t read nonfiction because they don’t know enough about the real world.

Read More here

Read the First Chapter of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

via io9
Seth Grahame-Smith, whose debut novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies became an overnight sensation and New York Times-bestseller in 2009, stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years.

Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true-life story of our greatest president for the first time—all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

Read the first chapter here

“Blameless”, or “How To Design A Cover in 1:55 seconds”

Lauren Panepinto at Orbit

As you guys know, your friendly neighborhood Creative Director has been slaving away at the Fall 2010/Winter 2011 Orbit covers (yes, we work that far in advance) and now that the covers are (mostly) done I’ve started to launch them on the blog for your viewing pleasure, and general online critique. Well, I have a special treat above for devoted Orbit fans, cover design aficionados, and especially admirers of Ms. Alexia Tarabotti, heroine of Soulless. Timed to celebrate this month’s release of Changeless, Alexia Tarabotti’s second adventure, I have a special Making of the Cover Video for the next book, due out in September 2010, Blameless.

Over 6 hours of my onscreen compositing, retouching, color correction, type obsessing, all condensed down to a slim sexy one minute 55 seconds of cover design. Trust me, no one wants to watch it in real-time…

Read More here

I love seeing behind the scenes stuff for making books. It’s a pretty cool video. And I like the series too. And I wish we had read more non-fiction in school, I read a lot of it now. I think they’re much more interesting than the texts books, and if you pick the right one they can give you the basic info that you’d get from textbooks, but in a much more interesting manner. And I hate when people say that they need to make it easier for kids in high school. My high school curriculum didn’t prepare me for college in the slightest (except my senior English class). Teenagers are smart-stop dumbing stuff down for them.I know part of the problem is some people don’t like to read, and novels are more likely to get them hooked, but once you get to high school there should be a mix.

What did you think of the Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter excerpt? Do you read Neil Gaiman’s books? What about Soulless?