Sunday, March 30, 2008

2008 Hugo Awards Finalists

The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) is an unincorporated society which sponsors the annual World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) and the Hugo Awards. The Hugo Awards, given annually since 1955, are science fiction’s most prestigious award. The Hugos are voted on by the thousands of members of the current Worldcon which is also responsible for administering them. Winners will be announced and trophies awarded at the Hugo Awards Ceremony at Denvention 3, the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, on Saturday, August 9.

Best Novel
  • The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins; Fourth Estate)
  • Brasyl by Ian McDonald (Gollancz; Pyr)
  • Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer (Tor; Analog 10/06-1-2/07)
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi (Tor)
  • Halting State by Charles Stross (Ace)

Best Novella
  • “The Fountain of Age” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s 7/07)
  • “Recovering Apollo 8” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov’s 2/07)
  • “Stars Seen Through Stone” by Lucius Shepard (F&SF 7/07)
  • “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s 12/07; Subterranean Press)
  • “Memorare” by Gene Wolfe (F&SF 4/07)

Best Novelette
  • “The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics” by Daniel Abraham (Logorrhea, ed. John Klima, BantamSpectra)
  • “The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press, F&SF Sept. 2007)
  • “Dark Integers” by Greg Egan (Asimov’s 10/07)
  • “Glory” by Greg Egan (The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
  • “Finisterra” by David Moles (F&SF 12/07)

Best Short Story
  • “Last Contact” by Stephen Baxter (The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, ed. George Mann, Solaris)
  • “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s 6/07)
  • “Who’s Afraid of Wolf 359?” by Ken MacLeod (The New Space Opera, ed. Gardner Dozois & Jonathan Strahan, HarperCollins/Eos)
  • “Distant Replay” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s 4/07)
  • “A Small Room in Koboldtown” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s 4/07; The Dog Said Bow-Wow, Tachyon)

Best Related Book
  • The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Diana Glyer; appendix by David Bratman (Kent State University)
  • Breakfast in the Ruins: Science Fiction in the Last Millennium by Barry Malzberg (Baen)
  • Emshwiller: Infinity x Two by Luis Ortiz, intro. by Carol Emshwiller, fwd. by Alex Eisenstein (Nonstop)
  • Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction by Jeff Prucher (Oxford University Press)
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
  • Enchanted
    Written by Bill Kelly
    Directed by Kevin Lima (Walt Disney Pictures)
  • The Golden Compass
    Written by Chris Weitz
    Based on the novel by Philip Pullman
    Directed by Chris Weitz (New Line Cinema)
  • Heroes, Season 1
    Created by Tim Kring (NBC Universal Television and Tailwind Productions)
    Written by Tim Kring, Jeph Loeb, Bryan Fuller, Michael Green, Natalie Chaidez, Jesse Alexander, Adam Armus, Aron Eli Coleite, Joe Pokaski, Christopher Zatta, Chuck Kim.
    Directed by David Semel, Allan Arkush, Greg Beeman, Ernest R. Dickerson, Paul Shapiro, Donna Deitch, Paul A. Edwards, John Badham, Terrence O'Hara, Jeannot Szwarc, Roxann Dawson, Kevin Bray, Adam Kane
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    Written by Michael Goldenberg
    Based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
    Directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
  • Stardust
    Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
    Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman
    Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Paramount Pictures)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
  • Battlestar Galactica “Razor”
    Written by Michael Taylor
    Directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá and Wayne Rose (Sci Fi Channel) (televised version, not DVD)
  • Doctor Who “Blink”
    Written by Stephen Moffat
    Directed by Hettie Macdonald (BBC)
  • Doctor Who “Human Nature” / “Family of Blood”
    Written by Paul Cornell
    Directed by Charles Palmer (BBC)
  • Star Trek New Voyages “World Enough and Time”
    Written by Michael Reaves & Marc Scott Zicree
    Directed by Marc Scott Zicree (Cawley Entertainment Co. and The Magic Time Co.)
  • Torchwood “Captain Jack Harkness”
    Written by Catherine Tregenna
    Directed by Ashley Way (BBC Wales)

Best Professional Editor, Long Form
  • Lou Anders (Pyr)
  • Ginjer Buchanan (Ace/Roc)
  • David G. Hartwell (Tor/Forge)
  • Beth Meacham (Tor)
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor)

Best Professional Editor, Short Form
  • Ellen Datlow (The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (St. Martin’s), Coyote Road (Viking), Inferno (Tor))
  • Stanley Schmidt (Analog)
  • Jonathan Strahan (The New Space Opera (HarperCollins/Eos), The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 1 (Night Shade), Eclipse One (Night Shade))
  • Gordon Van Gelder (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction)
  • Sheila Williams (Asimov’s Science Fiction)

Best Professional Artist
  • Bob Eggleton (Covers: To Outlive Eternity and Other Stories (Baen), Ivory (Pyr), and The Taint and Other Novellas (Subterranean))
  • Phil Foglio (Cover: Robert Asprin’s Myth Adventures, Vol. 2 (Meisha Merlin), What’s New (Dragon Magazine Aug. 2007, Girl Genius Vol. 6-Agatha Heterodyne & the Golden Trilobite (Airship Entertainment ))
  • John Harris (Covers: Spindrift (Ace), Old Man's War (Tor, pb), The Last Colony (Tor))
  • Stephan Martiniere (Covers: Brasyl (Pyr), Mainspring (Tor), The Dragons of Babel (Tor))
  • John Picacio (Covers: Fast Forward 1 (Pyr), Time’s Child (HarperCollins/Eos), A Thousand Deaths (Golden Gryphon))
  • Shaun Tan

Best Semiprozine
  • Ansible, edited by David Langford
  • Helix, edited by William Sanders and Lawrence Watt-Evans
  • Interzone, edited by Andy Cox
  • Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, Liza Groen Trombi
  • New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by Kathryn Cramer, Kristine Dikeman, David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney

Best Fanzine
  • Argentus, edited by Steven H Silver
  • Challenger, edited by Guy Lillian III
  • Drink Tank, edited by Chris Garcia
  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • PLOKTA, edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies, and Mike Scott

Best Fan Writer
  • Chris Garcia
  • David Langford
  • Cheryl Morgan
  • John Scalzi
  • Steven H Silver

Best Fan Artist
  • Brad Foster
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Sue Mason
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral Wayne

John W. Campbell Award (An award for the best new writer whose first work of science fiction or fantasy appeared during 2006 or 2007 in a professional publication. Sponsored by Dell Magazines.)
  • Joe Abercrombie (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Jon Armstrong (1st year of eligibility)
  • David Anthony Durham (1st year of eligibility)
  • David Louis Edelman (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Mary Robinette Kowal (2nd year of eligibility)
  • Scott Lynch (2nd year of eligibility)

From and

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Diggin' Poetry with the Rest of You

Lately several of my favorite bloggers have posted about poetry. I generally tell people I don't like poetry--I got burned out on it in my long-ago years as an English major in college. I don't read it as a leisure activity. Yet at times of high emotion or tragedy, I've found myself writing poetry. Poetry is the highest expression of the art of language, and good poets are the most skillful users of language. Perhaps at times that have intense meaning for us, we need to express ourselves within the discipline of poetry.

I recall several poems from my college years. My all-time favorite is "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold, which I reproduce here. (It's long out of copyright because Arnold died 120 years ago.) It's easy to find on the Internet; I got it from

Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold (1822–1888)

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;—on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand.
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægæan, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Zen Focus

I've been working on unitasking since my post last week, but it's a lot harder than I expected. The monkey mind jumps around from topic to topic. Turning off the TV helps for a while, until I remember I haven't listened to the evening news, etc. I turn on the 24-hour news channel, but after the half-hour go-round, I find myself switching to entertainment channels. Before long I'm back at trying to get work done while keeping an eye on the TV program. I'm back at square one.

I've been following the Zen Habits blog I mentioned in the Unitasking post. I especially liked a recent post on Focus. Here's a trenchant excerpt:

Your focus determines your reality.

It’s something we don’t think about much of the time, but give it some consideration now:

If you wake up in the morning and think about the miserable things you need to do later in the day, you’ll have a miserable day. If you wake up and focus instead on what a wonderful gift your life is, you’ll have a great day.

If we let our attention jump from one thing to another, we will have a busy, fractured and probably unproductive day. If we focus entirely on one job, we may lose ourselves in that job, and it will not only be the most productive thing we do all day, but it’ll be very enjoyable.
The essay discusses four ways to focus:
  • "Focus on a goal. ... Maintain your focus on your goal, and you’ve won half the battle in achieving it."
  • "Focus on now. ... [F]ocusing on the present can do a lot for you. It helps reduce stress, it helps you enjoy life to the fullest, and it can increase your effectiveness."
  • "Focus on the task at hand. ... People find greatest enjoyment not when they’re passively mindless, but when they’re absorbed in a mindful challenge."
  • "Focus on the positive. ... [L]earn to see the positive in just about any situation. This results in happiness, in my experience, as you don’t focus on the bad parts of your life, but on the good things."

I'm tempted to reproduce more of it here--Leo Babauta, the Zen Habits blogger, has released all his content from copyright, and freely grants permission to others to reproduce it, although he asks to be given credit. (Speaking from my lawyer side, I'm astounded...but what a very Zen thing to do, eh?) I won't copy it here, however, but rather recommend you go to the Zen Habits website and read it. The guy has a good prose style and the site is well-designed, with lots of good content.

FOCUS. Yep, that's what I need to do.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Picture from The Atlantic Monthly
Multitasking. This is a word coined originally to describe the way computers operate, but it soon spread to human behavior. (Merriam-Webster dates its first use as 1966.)

I've been hearing about, reading about, and seeing multitasking for years now. I've been doing it myself for a long time. In this technologically-driven age, I can do a bunch of things at once. I can read the newspaper, watch TV, answer e-mail, talk on the phone, file my nails, and give myself a pedicure while fending off a cat trying to nap on my computer keyboard. When my daughter was a tot, I did all those things plus try to entertain her so I could get some work done.

But just because I can do it, must I do it?

I've been longing more and more for a return to yesteryear. A return to the days when I did one, or at most two, things at a time. Maybe the reason my memory's failing and I can't concentrate isn't so much the hormone swings of menopause, or the natural aging process. Maybe I'm just trying to do too much. Maybe I need to concentrate on one thing at a time. I've lost the feeling of satisfaction I used to get from completing a task, because so often I feel that I could have done it better. Maybe I'm not performing as well because I'm doing too many things at once.

This conclusion, which I've reached more or less on my own, is supported by research.

In Is Multitasking More Efficient?, the American Psychological Association notes that "multitasking may seem more efficient on the surface, but may actually take more time in the end....[T]his insight into executive control may help people choose strategies that maximize their efficiency when multitasking. The insight may also weigh against multitasking." Those conclusions are from a study reported in "Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching," Joshua S. Rubinstein, U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Atlantic City, N.J.; David E. Meyer and Jeffrey E. Evans, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich., Journal of Experimental Psychology - Human Perception and Performance, Vol 27. No.4.

I downloaded the original article from the APA website, but discovered it was easier to read about it in "Study: Multitasking is counterproductive" on CNN .com, which summarized the findings and also had good comments from the authors.

In "The Autumn of the Multitaskers," the Atlantic Monthly (via writer Walter Kirn) posits the theory that multitasking isn't efficient and it's going to go away. (Interesting, but not likely.)

Time magazine reports in "The Multitasking Generation," "Decades of research (not to mention common sense) indicate that the quality of one's output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks. Some are concerned about the disappearance of mental downtime to relax and reflect." That article also explains that changes in the prefontal cortex make it harder from the very young and for those over, um, a certain age to multitask. (I haven't reached that certain age yet, but it's only a few years away. Apparently my prefrontal cortex has already changed.) The article also says our brains need rest and recovery time to consolidate thoughts and memories. Thus, "Teenagers who fill every quiet moment with a phone call or some kind of e-stimulation may not be getting that needed reprieve. Habitual multitasking may condition their brain to an overexcited state, making it difficult to focus even when they want to."

For the last week or so, I've been trying unitasking--trying to do one thing at a time. I don't turn on the TV while I'm on the computer. I read the newspaper without watching TV, or without sitting at the keyboard to check e-mail. When I get a phone call, I put down my book, or I put the TV on mute, and focus on the call. At the office, when I start a task, I'm trying to complete it before I switch to something else.

You know what? It's hard. I'm addicted to doing several things at once. I'm addicted to trying to "save time" by keeping all those balls in the air. And, to be realistic, I have to acknowledge that there are many areas in life--our jobs, for example--where we don't have a choice. We have to multitask sometimes.

I'm trying to have a Zen attitude about it. I even found a Zen website that gives advice on how NOT to multitask.

Unitasking: a goal to achieve. I'm working on it.

To do two things at once is to do neither.
—Publilius Syrus, Roman slave, first century B.C.