The Best of 2007: My Locus Online Column

Here’s my extensive, relatively exhaustive column on the best of 2007. If I’ve missed something in the categories of novels, first novels, anthologies, graphic novels, and notable reprints, please comment here. I think all readers would love to have even more to choose from. I’ll let ya know if I disagree with you. ;) And you can let me know if you disagree with my initial article.

Claude Lalumiere also has his 2007 recommended reading, although he admits his is pretty haphazard. So it’s more like “what I happened to pick up”. Still worth checking out, though, with little overlap with my list, which is good.

Jeff

BTW–my arm is totally f–ed up from overuse typing/writing, so all I can do for the next couple of days are tiny blog entries and whatnot. Sigh. If I owe you something, that’s why you haven’t heard.

Molting Season!

Well, it’s molting season again for all fantasy writers. It should be over by the end of the first week of February. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve verbally committed my molted skin to an archive at a university library, where it will be stored in a temperature-controlled basement next to the molted skins of Jay Lake, Felix Gilman, Sarah Monette, K.J. Bishop, Jeffrey Ford, and Daniel Abraham, as every year. This is one small advantage fantasists have over SF writers and those in the literary mainstream, who have a very simplistic system of skin cell regeneration. As usual, Neil Gaiman will retire to his study, pull his so-called “leather jacket” over his head and burst forth from his moltings about ten days from now, to the accompaniment of Tori Amos on the lute. It’s painful but necessary, as our egos tend to grow too big for our current skins. But it does lead to seeing a strange image in my head of dozens of molted VanderMeers facing dozens of molted Jay Lakes in silent darkness.

Novel Collaboration–Interview with Martin, Dozois, and Abraham

I was curious about the collaboration between George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham on Hunter’s Run. Thus, this interview on the Amazon book blog.

Amazon.com: Daniel, I assume when you were growing up, you always imagined you would be collaborating on a novel with Gardner Dozois and George R.R. Martin. Am I right?

Daniel Abraham: Of course, but I always imagined it more as a regency romance with overtones of William S. Burroughs. Seriously, it never entered my mind as a possibility until George made the proposal. But I read over the draft they had and the outlined notes for how to move forward with it, and it was a good looking project. Plus it was Gardner and George. All very Marlon Brando offer-you-can’t-refuse.

Nabokov: Burn His Partials or Preserve Them?

There’s a slightly interesting discussion here about whether Vladimir Nabokov’s unfinished “The Original of Laura” novel should be destroyed as he wished or preserved and possibly published.

I’m a huge fan of Nabokov–he’s taught me more about writing than any other writer–and am conflicted by the issue. The writer in me wants to see the partial, wants to see any notes, jottings, drafts still in existence, as a way of learning more about writing. The reader in me says, destroy the partial as Nabokov wanted.

Does anyone care about this specific case, or about the general issue of preservation or destruction of papers, drafts, and partials that the writer has said should be destroyed? What is the value of keeping them? At what point do a writer’s rights end and the reading public’s, or academic’s, rights begin?

I’m asking here because the discussion at the Reading Experience has gone downhill fast.

Pred Description

Here’s the description I sent in to the publisher at their request. It’s devilishly hard to describe your own book, so I think they generally ask for this so they have something they can kind of knead and finesse and react to. So it’s rough and kinda lame, but it does describe the novel. Really, somehow, the final description’s gonna need to convey that I was trying to summon the essence of Sam Peckinpah and Joss Whedon while writing this. I’m sure Dark Horse will come up with something cool.

Jeff

[Read more…]

Locus Online–Year in Review

Oy. Just finished my comprehensive overview of the best of 2007 for Locus Online. Novels, First Novels, Anthologies, Notable Reprints, Graphic Novels, Other Books, and Sins of Omission. Just about killed me. I read more books in 2007 than ever before, and more in genre than ever before. Just parsing it all down to the best stuff was a Herculean task.

I didn’t tackle short story collections and YA because I didn’t read comprehensively in those areas. Picking year’s bests in those areas would’ve just been relaying random anecdotal evidence, which I hate to see in these kinds of overviews.

The Sins of Omission section lists those major books I didn’t get to read, since I thought it unfair to just not mention them as that’s my failing.

This took about seven hours. I am now just about dead, but the deed is done. It should go live sometime next week.

Jeff

PS Help! Between the typing and the weightlifting, I can’t lift my arms anymore.

George W. Bush and His Favorite Painting

Got this from Mike Bishop earlier today–Harpers piece on Bush’s favorite painting. The pay off?

[Bush] came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

I’ve got a ton of nonfiction deadlines, so I’ll be online all day–and probably blogging a bit.

Jeff