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Douglas R. Hofstadter - A Person Paper on Purity in LanguageI have no idea how this short piece by Douglas R. Hofstadter, one of my heroes (as much as he does my head in at times), managed to pass me by for such a long time. I blame my friends and fellow bloggers for failing to point this out to me ...

But for all of you out there who also managed to miss this piece of pure gold, here is A Person Paper on Purity in Language.

Douglas uses an analogy which as simple as it is shocking - he talks about our uses of sexist language, and on his struggle to change his own usage, by writing an analogy in the language of racism, which for most of us (there's sadly some Neatherthals left, still) is an absolute no-no.

Of course, this being Hofstadter, this is not a straight switch, but with some clever observations of language as well as invented by very believable parables thrown in, and a brief afterword talking about his motivations for the piece as well as his own struggles with the topic.

Yes, I've spoiled your surprise, now; but not your enjoyment of Hofstadter's fine writing. Go read it, and then pass it on.

 

Karen Tidbeck - SingHere's another marvellous short story by Karin Tidbeck, published on Tor.com. Sing talks about being, about becoming, and about belonging; and about the price we pay for those. I'd strongly recommend you give it a go (and her other short stories. And her books, inasmuch as available in English. Unless you read Swedish, of course!)

Tor gives us the following blurb for Sing:

In a village on the distant colony of Kiruna, the outcast Aino has worked hard to created a life for herself. The fragile status quo is upset when the offworlder Petr arrives and insists on becoming a part of her life. But he has no idea what it will cost him, and has cost Aino, to belong to the people who sing with inhuman voices.

The story is illustrated by Greg Ruth.

 

Links: Tor.comKarin TidbeckSing - Greg Ruth

 

Ray Wood - Schrödinger’s GunHere's a splendid effort by Ray Wood, published earlier this year on Tor.com.

Schrödinger’s Gun is the story of a Detective, investigating a murder in the mob scene, in a prohibition-era Chicago. So far so default as a setting - but here, the Detective is female (unusual for the time, and even more so for the genre), and has a 'Heisen Implant' in her head, which allows here to see different probabilities, and choose to collapse the quantum waveform if she chooses to - a trick which can greatly help with her work, but which has also torn apart her family. And yes, this places the story deep in SF territory, of course.

My favourite quote was "The cat must know" (yes, this is reference to the cat from Schrödinger's thought experiment). Which, AFAIK, is not true - the cat does not know if the observer is alive or dead, which means he is both?


Either way, this is very much worth reading, in my opinion. Illustration on the right by Richie Pope.

Links: Tor.com - Ray Wood Schrödinger’s Gun - Richie Pope

 

Peter Watts - GiantsAh, joy of joys - here's a Peter Watts story, set in his Sunflowers universe (he is apparently working on a novel set in it. For Christmas, pretty please? )

This is the same universe in which the Hugo-Award-winning Novelette The Island was set in, and actually follows the same wormhole-building ship/asteroid and its dysfunctional crew and AI. Giants is both highly entertaining, and thought-provoking, and managed to surprise me repeatedly, so good going in my books! The story was originally published in Clarkesworld magazine.

But whilst I'm still waiting to get my mitts on Hotshot, his other story set in that universe (as the novel, I suspect, will take a few Christmases to arrive) - Hotshot has been published in a collection called Reach For Infinity - this here at least allow us to whet our appetite...

 

Links: - Peter Watts - Giants - The Island - Reach For Infinity - Clarkesworld

 

Thomas Olde Heuvelt - The Day the World Turned Upside DownYou might have gathered that this year's Hugo Awards have, to put it mildly, a bit of a problem. If not:

Two related groups, calling themselves Sad/Rabid Puppies, respectively, created nomination slates of what they felt should be on the final shortlist (predominantly right-wing, white, male et al) and animated a good number of people to stuff the nomination ballots with these slates. With the results that a good amount of the shortlist now indeed comprises of these artificially elevated entries.

The hubbub surrounding this is not edifying - go read about it at your own peril, regardless what your thinking is in regards to what should be considered 'Good Science Fiction' (it's a question of taste, I suspect).

But here is The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvelt - the only entry in the Novelette category which was NOT nominated by slate voting - and, given the backlash against said tactics this might well mean that the awards will equate 'only' with 'best' and will thus award Heuvelt a Hugo Award for it.

I would suggest you have a read yourself, and make up your own mind if this story, published in Lightspeed Magazine in April 2014, can be considered the best short story of the year (that one is a question of taste, too!).

Links: The Day the World Turned Upside Down - Thomas Olde Heuvelt Lightspeed Magazine - Hugo Awards

 

 

Sydney Padua - The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

 

Doris Lessing – The Sirian Experiments

 

Tricia Sullivan – Occupy Me

 

Lavie Tidhar - Central Station

 

Somtow Sucharitkul - The Throne of Madness

 

Ian Sales – Adrift on the Sea of Rains

 

Somtow Sucharitul – Starship & Haiku

 

Peter Watts – Maelstrom

 

Thomas Pynchon - Slow Learner

 

S.P. Somtow – I Wake from a Dream of a Drowned Star City

 

Iain Sinclair - Radon Daughters

 

Thomas Pynchon – Gravity’s Rainbow

 

Peter Watts - Blindsight


Andy Weir - The Martian

 

Ken MacLeod - Cosmonaut Keep

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