Tag Archives: Nebula Award

Deal Alert: Humble Book Bundle: Super Nebula Author Showcase presented by SFWA

Hey, just wanted to let you guys know that, for those who enjoy good sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction, Humble Bundle is currently hosting a bundle feature Nebula Award winners and nominees, as well as a few other collections and such thrown in. Several of the stories certainly looked interesting, including The Last Temptation by  Neil Gaiman and Sister Emily’s Lightship by Jane Yolen. If you’re interested, you can find this bundle at https://www.humblebundle.com/books/super-nebula-book-bundle. As of when I’m writing this post, the deal’s good for 12 more days. Enjoy!

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Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Author: Jane Yolen

In this varied collection of short stories, esteemed author Jane Yolen takes a page from Alice, bringing us a selection of impossible, unexpected, and wonderful things. In Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast, you will actually encounter Alice, forced to face the Jabberwock herself. You’ll also meet the girl who threw Peter Pan’s smoothly-greased workforce into turmoil, the boy who saw the aliens first, a bridge seeking a resident troll, and many others.

I found this collection of short stories to be exactly what I’ve come to expect from Jane Yolen: excellent. Truly, her writing never ceases to amaze me in both its originality and in the consistent quality of the writing. The stories in this collection are hugely varied–which is nice because short stories that are all alike can get boring very quickly. Yet all of the stories ring with a sense of wonder and creativity. There’s a mix of original ideas and outtakes on traditional stories. Some of the tales feel quite dark and eerie, while others are sweet or funny. I was particularly amused by “Brandon and the Aliens” which has a strong flavor of Bruce Coville (intentionally, I think). It’s fun that she has a section at the end where she explains where the stories came from, what sparked the ideas. I would definitely recommend Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast to anyone who likes short stories full of wonder.

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The Windup Girl

Author: Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake, foreign company man seeking the secrets of Thailand’s genetic wealth. Emiko, genetically modified not-quite-human, abandoned by her Japanese patron to struggle to survive illegally in a country that scorns and fears her people. Tan Hock Seng, Malaysian evacuee striving against the odds to not only survive in an unwelcoming land but to rebuild the wealth and influence he once held in his homeland. Jaidee Rojjanasukchai, captain in the Environment Ministry and folk hero, protecting the nation from the ravages of genetic mutations, plagues, and foreign influence. As these individuals and the powers they represent are thrown together in the city of Krung Thep, Thailand, loyalties are tested, boundaries are tried, and revolution stirs on the horizon.

The Windup Girl was not at all what I expected, but it was a fascinating read. The futuristic setting is unique, dealing more with genetic manipulation and diversity than with weapons and such, but handling the genetic factor in a way I’ve never seen before. It’s thought provoking in itself. The way in which Bacigalupi intertwines various characters and perspectives is integral to the story and adds great depth–and though I can’t say I actually like any of the characters, they are all well written and full of interesting complexities. I think the author’s choice to set this is Thailand is intriguing; it brings quite a clash of various cultures and ideals into the mix and is well executed. Speaking from a literary standpoint, one of the most interesting features of The Windup Girl was Bacigalupi’s use of present tense. Usually, this is extremely awkward to read; I have set aside several otherwise-excellent books in the past simply because I could not bear the awkwardness of the tense. However, in this book, the use of present tense seems completely natural and flows almost unnoticeably. I will note that in terms of sexual content, language, and wanton violence, this book is definitely adult audience only–I would say 21+. Still, in terms of creative, original, and thought-provoking science fiction, The Windup Girl is quite excellent.

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Coraline

coralineAuthor: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Dave McKean

My rating: 5 of 5

When Coraline and her absent-minded parents move to a new flat in a big old house, nothing much changes. Her parents are still busy with work, her dad still cooks recipes which she detests, there’s still nothing to do. Until one day, a door which usually just has a bricked-off wall behind it opens, and Coraline finds that it leads, not to a blank wall, but to another world. A world quite like her own, but flashier, more exciting. A world with parents just like her real ones, but with black button eyes. And from there, it just gets creepier. . . .

Coraline is brilliantly chilling. It takes the concept of a horror story and looks at it from a child’s perspective. The result is a story that’s beautifully creepy, even for adults. Gaiman has a clear grasp of how to use our fear of the unknown to great advantage. On top of the excellent use of horror, Coraline has a vivid cast, particularly the spunky main character (and the cat!). The story also concludes well; there’s a sense of finality that I think is important in children’s books. However, on a deeper level, there is a lingering sensation of uneasiness which is also appealing. This is a highly recommended story.

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