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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Odds and Ends: 2010 Booker Prize and compiling a list of Future SF Classics written by women



Yesterday, the winner of the 2010 Man Booker prize was announced in London and to the big relief of the British bookies who were standing to lose tons of money on bets made on the big favorite "C" by Tom McCarthy, so much so that betting was closed last week by some agencies, a dark horse "The Finkler Question" by Howard Jacobson won.

Said to be the first comedic novel that has won the Booker, The Finkler Question was the only one I did not check out so far of the six shortlisted novels. I reviewed Room and will review In a Strange Room this week for its US publication, while I strongly disliked the big favorite "C". The other two I have started but not yet finished, though I read enough to have a good idea about them.

Since
The Finkler Question has also just been released here in the US, I will take a look at it especially that the online extract I looked at on Amazon read well. While I doubt the book will come close in my appreciation as the superb Room, maybe its choosing is a sign of the times - when things are less rosy even the literati prefer comedy... I will see soon.

Edit later 10/13 As expected I found a copy of the novel this evening and started reading from it and I like it; quite funny in a bittersweet way so far and not a book I will read end to end, but one to savor slowly especially when feeling down. Not the emotional Room or the stark beautiful simplicity of In a Strange Room, but neither the pretentious jargon, "look at me, I am important" of "C", The Finkler Question goes well with the uncertain mood of the times, so I am not surprised anymore that it won.
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On Niall Harrison's Torque Control there has been a heated debate with 218 comments so far about "Women and the Clarke" It is worth reading the comments especially that some well known sff authors like Richard K Morgan and Liz Williams chimed in, but here I want to talk about Mr. Harrison's initiative to compile a list of notable sf written by women between 2001-2010 under the heading Future Classics since several years ago there was a furor about a Gollancz list of Future Classics that had no women authors.

Personally I am very skeptical of any "classics", "must read" lists done by any publishers since to my mind they are a marketing ploy for attention and no more - so I never really pay attention to such, but this effort here is independent and merits all our support.

So email Mr. Harrison your list top ten sf novels by women from the last ten years (2001–2010), before 23.59 on Sunday 5 December. For more details about eligibility as publishing dates go read his post, but otherwise there are no restriction on publication country and as for what is sf - another topic that merits a length post and debate - I will just direct you to the AC Clarke award shortlists of the past several years for guidance.

So Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Retribution Falls qualify - which to my mind means that a lot of stuff does - but again that is for another day, though I am very curious to see if Kraken gets nominated and accepted for 2010 since that would automatically would add most UF on the sf lists as per all this discussion which of course would render it kind of moot...

I will present here my list which I emailed as above with links to our reviews when available and to Google books extract when not.

1.SpiritGwyneth Jones (FBc Rv LS)
2.The Year of Our War Steph Swainston (Google books extract)
3.The Etched CityK.J. Bishop (Google books extract)
4.Chaos Space - Marianne de Pierres (FBC Rv LS)
5.The Alchemy of Stone - Ekaterina Sedia (FBC Rv RT)
6.Principles of Angels - Jaine Fenn (FBC Rv LS)
7.DarklandLiz Williams (FBC Rv RT)
8.Daughters of the North aka The Carhullan Army - Sarah Hall (FBC Rv LS)
9.Spin StateChris Moriarty (Google books extract)
10.Banner of SoulsLiz Williams (Google books extract)

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