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Category: novella

2011 Nebula Award nominees announced


The nominees for the 2011 Nebula Awards for science fiction and fantasy writing were announced Monday. The winners will be chosen by active members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America; voting will run from March 1 to March 30.

The Nebula Awards pay particular attention to short fiction, with categories for novella, novelette and short story. The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Screen Presentation mixes film and television, so Martin Scorcese's 3-D "Hugo" (no relation to the Hugo science fiction awards) is going up against an episode of "Dr. Who" written by Neil Gaiman. In the running for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book is Franny Billingsley's "Chime," which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

The full list of nominees:

"Among Others," Jo Walton (Tor)
"Embassytown," China Miéville (Macmillan UK; Del Rey; Subterranean Press)
"Firebird," Jack McDevitt (Ace Books)
"God’s War," Kameron Hurley (Night Shade Books)
"Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti," Genevieve Valentine (Prime Books)
"The Kingdom of Gods," N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)

“Kiss Me Twice,” Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 2011)
“Silently and Very Fast,” Catherynne M. Valente (WFSA Press; Clarkesworld Magazine, October 2011)
“The Ice Owl,” Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November/December 2011)
“The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s Science Fiction, October/November 2011)
“The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary,” Ken Liu (Panverse Three, Panverse Publishing)
“With Unclean Hands,” Adam-Troy Castro (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2011)

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Happy 200th birthday, Charles Dickens!

Charlesdickens_200Charles Dickens was born 200 years ago today in the town of Portsmouth, England. According to Claire Tomalin's 2011 biography "Charles Dickens: A Life," his childhood home was happy and comfortable, but his father tended to live beyond his means, and the family was uprooted more than once. On the worst of these occasions, 12-year-old Charles was sent to work in a boot-black factory. He didn't like it. But it became material -- there was a boy there named Fagin, a name that will ring familiar to readers of "Oliver Twist."

Dickens was remarkable in that he created characters and stories that have become permanent fixtures in our cultural landscape. How many times has "A Christmas Carol" been adapted for stage, film, or sitcom holiday episodes? Too many for me to count. But that lasting cultural presence is paired with something else that sets Dickens the writer apart: He was stunningly prolific.

During the three years he worked full time as editor of the magazine Bentley's Miscellany, for example, he wrote and published two books -- no less than "The Adventures of Oliver Twist" and "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby." By the time of his death in 1870 at age 58, he'd written 14 hefty novels ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was published posthumously) and many other works.

To celebrate Charles Dickens' 200th birthday, then, here is a list of his published works.

Charles Dickens' novels:

The Pickwick Papers    
The Adventures of Oliver Twist        
The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby    
The Old Curiosity Shop        
Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty'
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit      
Dombey and Son     
David Copperfield    
Bleak House    
Hard Times: For These Times    
Little Dorrit
A Tale of Two Cities    
Great Expectations    
Our Mutual Friend    
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

It continues after the jump.

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An e-book conundrum around 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'

Breakfastattiffanys_hepburnSam Wesson's "Fifth Avenue, 5AM" was an LA Times bestseller both when it came out in hardcover in 2010 and in paperback last year. For readers who'd been thinking about buying the book but hadn't yet gotten around to it, the e-book edition is on sale for just $2.99.

Subtitled "Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Dawn of the Modern Woman," Wesson's book tells the story of the film's cultural impact and its production, following star Audrey Hepburn, director Blake Edwards and author Truman Capote.

Capote, of course, wrote the novella on which the movie was based. When it came out in 1958, the L.A. Times book critic called it "impressive," writing, "'Breakfast at Tiffany's" is the best novella since Saul Bellows' memorable 'Seize the Day.'"

Such praise might send fans of the film, and maybe those who'd read Wesson's book, back to the original material. But here's the rub: while you can buy an e-book about the movie based on Truman Capote's book, you can't buy an e-book of the work itself. Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is not yet available in an e-book edition.

Rights and estates are complicated, but it does seem baffling that there is no e-book of "Breakfast at Tiffany's." It's an uncommon commodity, a back-list title that might regularly draw new fans; successive generations have become fascinated by protagonist Holly Golightly through the famous film. And the book is supposed to be a little bit more salacious than the movie was. Who wouldn't want to read it?

Those who are curious won't be able to get an e-book edition. But there are still print copies available.


Video lit: Truman Capote 1966

Will Apple's January event be about e-textbooks?

Michael Chabon, royalty rates and an ebook backlist

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Credit: Christie's, Ronald Grant Archive / Associated Press

2011 Hugo Award nominees announced


Nominations for 2011 Hugo Awards, which are among the highest honors bestowed in science fiction and fantasy writing, were announced at a conference held during Easter weekend. Finalists will be announced at a ceremony in August.

More than 1,000 nominating ballots were counted, for finalists in diverse categories that include  novella, short form editor, fan writer and related work (which includes the fantastic title, "Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It," edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea). Members of Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, will vote on the winners.

2011 Hugo Award finalists in the major category of novel are Connie Willis' "Blackout/All Clear," Lois McMaster Bujold's "Cryoburn," Ian McDonald's "The Dervish House," Mira Grant's "Feed" and N.K. Jemisin's "The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms." Films that were honored with dramatic presentation, long form nominations are "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1," "How to Train your Dragon," "Inception," "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" and "Toy Story 3."

 The complete list of finalists is after the jump.

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Ann Beattie and her moment

AnnbeattieI remember my Ann Beattie moment. It was in the fall of 1984, just after I'd graduated from college. I was living in Manhattan and, while trying to get up the nerve and the funds to move to California, working the phones for the Harris Poll. Three days a week, I'd sit in a cubicle and read potential respondents a list of survey questions, my voice flat and uninflected, while supervisors monitored my calls. It felt a lot like the disaffected lives Beattie chronicled in her first novel, "Chilly Scenes of Winter," which, perhaps not coincidentally, I was reading at the time.

Coming on the heels of college -- four years as an English major, reading Kafka, Joyce and Faulkner -- Beattie seemed a revelation: direct, deceptively unnuanced, her stories elliptical, even unresolved. I could recognize myself in her characters, in their situations: rootless, post-1960s people for whom the freedom to do anything had morphed into the freedom to do nothing, possibility giving way to ennui.

And yet, that ennui came to bore me fairly quickly ... as, I suppose, ennui often does. My Beattie moment ended not long after I left the Harris Poll, just before Thanksgiving, by which time I had finished "Chilly Scenes" and "Distortions," her first collection of short work. For a few years, I dutifully bought each new Beattie book as it came out, although I knew I'd never read it; I had moved on to other things. Beattie, I felt, had nothing left to give me -- there was too much else to be interested in.

Beattie's new novella, "Walks With Men" (Scribner: 102 pp., $10 paper), is the first book of hers I've read since then, a spare, impressionistic portrait of a young woman who gets involved with a middle-aged writer (shades of Joyce Maynard?) after he reads an interview with her in the New York Times. Opening in the fall of 1980, it's a throwback in a lot of ways, a valedictory for what we might call Beattie's era. Interestingly, this is part of the lure of the book and part of its power. If -- for me, anyway -- Beattie's early work was marked by an air of diffidence, a flatness of affect and language, "Walks With Men" evokes the depth beneath those surfaces, exposing the very real loneliness of its narrator, whose sense of self is so thin, so malleable, that she is willing to be fundamentally transformed.

For Beattie, this is essential to the development of the character, but it's also endemic to the period, in which the countercultural fallout of the 1960s and 1970s yielded to collective drift. She writes:

You make the reasonable assumption that two egotistical people had found each other, shipwrecked like millions of others on the island of Manhattan. It was 1980. Carter was committing adultery in his heart and not getting the hostages freed from Iran, and everyone felt unsettled. The seventies were grinding to a halt like stripped gears. When the talk wasn't about the number of days the hostages had been held, it was about money. Being disenfranchised had about as much cachet as paying for things with cash. Bon Temps Rouler did not exist then -- or, rather, it did, though it was not yet the name of a restaurant in lower Manhattan.

That's a terrific passage -- not just for the acuity of its language but also for the depth of its insight. It is this that distinguishes "Walks With Men": a sense of perspective, of history, of where the pieces of its characters' lives may fit. Throughout the novella, we get a feeling of earned wisdom, of both the author and the narrator looking back. It's the opposite of nostalgia ... or, as Beattie puts it: "I was too naive, even if you factor in that I was young."

-- David L. Ulin

Photo: Ann Beattie. Credit: Sigrid Estrada

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June is novella month for the Emerging Writers Network



June is novella month, for the good folks at the Emerging Writers Network, at least. This means they'll be posting reviews of novellas all month; they've begun with "Circulation" by Tim Horvath, published by indie press Sunnyoutside in March 2009 as a chapbook. But some novellas are published as stand-alone books, in paperback and hardcover. Since the form varies, it raises the question: What is a novella, exactly?

Basically, a novella is shorter than a novel and longer than a short story. But this definition proves unsatisfactory because it depends on the novel (some are quite short) and the short story (some are quite long) to which your novella-thing is being compared.

On the one hand, novellas seem to come from an old tradition. Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was published in 1902; I read it with another Conrad novella, "The Secret Sharer" (1909) in high school. But high schoolers these days can read a brand-new novella from none other than Twilight megaseller Stephenie Meyer. Her newest book, "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella," hits shelves this week, a 192-page hardcover novella.

Josh Weil is one of the newer literary novella practitioners. His book "The New Valley," a collection of three novellas, has earned him the National Book Foundation's "5 Under 35" award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the National Academy of Arts and Letters. He defines the novella this way:

If a short story typically looks through a narrow lens at a precise part of the world with an intense focus and a novel looks through a wide lens at a large swath of the world, approaching it with a generosity of scope, then a novella, I think, looks through the narrow lens of a short story, and with a short story's intense focus, at a small, precise part of the world, but it treats what’s within that lens with a novel’s generosity and care. So there’s room for back-story. There’s room to sit with a character for a while, to get to know him or her – and the landscape of the life – in a way that’s not typically possible in a short story. You can fall in love with a character and not be booted away so soon.

Maybe another way to say this is that if you're too busy for Tolstoy and not craving Carver, a novella might fit just right.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

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