The Writer and the Critic: Episode 11

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from the website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

Here are the show notes:

This month on The Writer and the Critic your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, briefly discuss the results of the 2011 Hugo Awards — Ian was right! — as well as the heartening increase in diversity of the nominated works in response to some listener feedback. Buoyed by his success in predicting that Connie Willis would take home the Hugo for best novel, Ian makes another silly startling prediction about the future of books and awards. Mention is also made of Jo Walton’s excellent retrospective series in which she revisits the results of past Hugo Awards over at Tor.com.

They then turn their attention to this episode’s featured books, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor. Kirstyn mentions this thoughtful essay about Jackson and her work by Joyce Carol Oates. This lengthy review of the Okorafor novel by Paul Di Filippo is taken to task for being just a little bit patronising and somewhat missing of the point. The rather harrowing Washington Post article that inspired Okorafor can be found here. For those wishing to avoid spoilers and skip ahead, discussion of We Have Always Lived in the Castle begins at 14:30, while Who Fears Death starts around 52:50.

Ian and Kirstyn would like to warn listeners that Who Fears Death deals explicitly with rape, female genital mutilation and sexual violence. Their review of the novel in this episode naturally involves frank discussion of those same subjects.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle and Who Fears Death

Some very brief final remarks can be found at 01:29:30.

Oh, and look, the episode of the Outer Alliance podcast is now live! OA host Julia Rios invited Ian and Kirstyn along to have a Writer and the Critic style discussion, with the recommended texts being Horn and Bleed by Peter M. Ball (chosen by Ian), “Nightship” by Kim Westwood (chosen by Kirstyn) and “The Behold of the Eye” by Hal Duncan (chosen by Julia). They talked for over three billion hours. Thankfully, Julia managed to edit the conversation down into a very succinct podcast of around two hours. She is a genius!

Next episode will focus on two short story collections: Bluegrass Symphony by Lisa L. Hannett (chosen by Kirstyn) and Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman (Ian’s recommendation). As both of these collections are fairly new releases, Ian and Kirstyn intend to go light on the spoilerage, but still encourage you to grab yourself copies of these fine volumes and read ahead.

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The Writer and the Critic: Episode 10

The latest episode of our podcast is now available for direct download and streaming from our brand new Podbean website or via subscription from iTunes. Feedback is most welcome!

Here are the show notes:

The winners of the 2011 Hugo Awards will be announced on 20 August, so this month on The Writer and the Critic your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, are looking at the books which have been nominated for Best Novel. Two of the nominees have already been featured books on this podcast: Feed by Mira Grant was discussed in Episode 2 and Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis in Episode 7. While you will need to go back and listen to those episodes for detailed reviews, Kirstyn and Ian do take the opportunity to finally read and respond to listener feedback from Cat Sparks in regards to Blackout/All Clear. The difference between a primary and a retrospective reading experience is examined and the duo muse on why Connie Willis is too often the subject of unfair personal attacks. The name of the beautifully horrific Willis short story that Kirstyn couldn’t remember is “All My Darling Daughters”.

Hugo Award Nominations 2011

Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold is also a Hugo nominee, but Ian and Kirstyn have decided not to read this book themselves, as it’s part of the Vorkosigan saga with which they have not been keeping up. Tut. Tut. Tut. However,  Tehani Wessely of Fablecroft Publishing, one of their wonderful listeners, has provided a passionate and spoiler-free summary of why she believes Cryoburn should take home the gong. Thanks, Tehani!

Ian and Kirstyn then move onto an in depth discussion of the remaining two nominated titles: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin and The Dervish House by Ian McDonald. Further information about the fascinating legend of Mellified Men, as featured in McDonald’s novel, can be found here. If you wish to skip ahead avoid the many, many spoilers — including the endings of both books! — discussion of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms begins at 26:30 while The Dervish House starts around 53:30.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Dervish House

But listen in again at the 1:21:10 mark for some final remarks about the Hugo Awards and which book(s) should win — and also for a shock! horror! confession from Ian! Seriously, you will be aghast.

Finally, the Department of Cross-Podcastination is pleased to announce that Kirstyn and Ian were recently interviewed at length by Julia Rios from the Outer Alliance podcast. Julia adopted the format of The Writer and the Critic, with the recommended texts being Horn and Bleed by Peter M. Ball (chosen by Ian), “Nightship” by Kim Westwood (chosen by Kirstyn) and “The Behold of the Eye” by Hal Duncan (chosen by Julia). The Outer Alliance episode should be up on the site by the end of August, so catch up on your reading and add the podcast to your feed.

Next episode, The Writer and the Critic returns to its roots, with a discussion of just two recommended books. Ian has picked the recently published Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor while Kirstyn has chosen a beloved classic, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

Read ahead and join in the spoilerific fun!

Not so much breaking news . . .

. . . as a handful of notable events that have happened over the past month. Old news, most likely, but I still like to keep a record of such things here if only for my own edification.

The 2010 Ditmar Awards for Australian SF were announced at the Australian National Science Fiction Convention, NatCon-Dudcon III, on 3rd September (the Friday night of WorldCon). It was a pleasure to see a whole bunch of very deserving people take home a shiny trophy. The full list of winners and nominees are on the Locus Website. It makes for a very fine reading/viewing list indeed!

The 2010 Hugo Awards were also announced at WorldCon, with the ceremony taking place on Sunday, 5th September.  Australian author and gentleman Garth Nix did a superb job as Master of Ceremonies, and the entire event was streamed live and now can be viewed online. The full list of winners and nominees are on the AussieCon4 website — congratulations to everyone!

Ticonderoga Publications have announced the first in an ongoing annual series of Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, to be edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene. Hopefully, this series will fill a void left by the untimely end of the Brimstone Press “best of” collection, Australian Dark Fantasy and Horror, while expanding the boundaries into other areas of the fantasy genre. The first volume will cover stories published in 2010, and will be published in June 2011. Full submission guidelines can be found here.

Finally, I’m extremely excited to learn that Ticonderoga will also be publishing Adelaide author Lisa Hannett’s debut short story collection in July 2011. Bluegrass Symphony promises us cowboys and fallow fields, shapeshifters and rednecks, superstitions and realities in harsh prairie country — and a whole bunch of other things thrown in the mix. Lisa is a brilliant writer and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!