New Books in SF and Fantasy

by Henry Farrell on September 6, 2012

My Georgetown colleague and friend, Dan Nexon, has started doing interviews with sf/f authors for the New Science Fiction and Fantasy channel of the New Books Network. The first one up is Ken MacLeod, talking about _The Night Sessions_; Alastair Reynolds will be up soon, as will others. This is probably also a good moment for me to announce that we hope to do a Crooked Timber seminar on Ken’s work sometime around the middle of next year. We hope to have a good bunch of respondents – feel free to suggest others (especially women, given our consistent problems with gender ratio) in comments.



MPAVictoria 09.06.12 at 3:37 pm

Simon R. Greene!


Mark Eli Kalderon 09.06.12 at 3:42 pm

Lauren Beukes


Matt F 09.06.12 at 3:49 pm

Elizabeth Bear and Jo Walton


David Moles 09.06.12 at 4:29 pm

Maureen McHugh, Kameron Hurley, Nnedi Okorafor.


Mandos 09.06.12 at 4:49 pm

Without a doubt C. J. Cherryh.


Alasdair 09.06.12 at 5:04 pm

Respondents suggestion: Abigail Nussbaum (blog here:


Theophylact 09.06.12 at 5:29 pm

How about Chip Delany?


clew 09.06.12 at 5:44 pm

Cherryh and Beukes, yes. And Greer Ilene Gilman. And Nick Harkaway.


Mandos 09.06.12 at 6:07 pm

Elizabeth Bear. Don’t forget her.


Mandos 09.06.12 at 6:08 pm

And see if you can bring Joan Slonczewski out of authorly quasi-retirement.


Rob Slater 09.06.12 at 7:32 pm

Catherynne Valente, Kelly Link, Nancy Kress, Connie Willis, Peter Watts.


Jonathan 09.06.12 at 7:58 pm

I dislike it when people refer to a writer by a name other than the one published under. What is to be gained? A demonstration of personal acquaintance? Insider knowledge?


Peter Hovde 09.06.12 at 8:01 pm

Ursula LeGuin.


Theophylact 09.06.12 at 8:03 pm

Sorry if I got up your nose, Jonathan, but I see lots of mention here of one Charlie Stross.


clew 09.06.12 at 8:26 pm

Rosemary Kirstein. (More Steerswoman! More!)

How about an Elizabeth Moon/Elizabeth Bear/Tanya Huff comparative?


NBarnes 09.06.12 at 11:24 pm

Lois McMaster Bujold. Peter Watts. Charlie Stross and Joan Slonczewski seconded.


clew 09.07.12 at 12:52 am

Jenn Manley Lee, Ursula Vernon, the Foglios, and Shaenon K. Garrity. Mad scientists and one sensible engineer, they writez they them.


chris 09.07.12 at 1:18 am

Cherryh and Bujold are great, but they’re not all that new, are they? And of course that goes double for LeGuin.

Or maybe I’m misunderstanding and anyone who’s currently publishing is eligible, even if they’ve been published for 10+ years? In that case, add Elliott, Lindskold, Friedman, and Novik.

I think Jemisin would qualify under either the “new authors” or “new books” interpretation.


Angelmaker 09.07.12 at 2:30 am

Nick Harkaway. Not obviously a woman, but that’s not his fault. Probably.


Watson Ladd 09.07.12 at 3:22 am

Are we suggesting respondents or authors? Asimov’s chief editor is Sheila Williams and may very well agree to talk about recent novels, although commercial interests may inhibit that.


Dave C 09.07.12 at 4:05 am

I second Jo Walton, and I’d like to add Karl Schroeder as a consideration.


Rob Slater 09.07.12 at 5:26 am

Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire


Phil 09.07.12 at 7:04 am

I see lots of mention here of one Charlie Stross

Yes, but a lot of us *know* Charlie.


x.trapnel 09.07.12 at 7:16 am

I’ve long been impressed with L. Timmel Duchamp’s work as both an author of politically radical SF and a critic; maybe she’d be interested.


Ann 09.07.12 at 7:41 am



Mandos 09.07.12 at 8:43 am

I thought we were talking respondents. In which case well-known writers would be eligible no matter how long they’ve been around.


Maria 09.07.12 at 9:24 am

Yep, Mandos.

I think the idea is to scour up suggested women respondents for the MacLeod seminar, rather than people who should have seminars about their work. (not that that’s a bad idea, either)


ajay 09.07.12 at 10:08 am

Adam Roberts – given that he’s dabbled in future-war (“New Model Army”) it’d be interesting to read his take on Ken MacLeod’s version in the Fall Revolution books.

Paul Krugman! (he’s a known fan and, hey, aim high)


Francis Spufford 09.07.12 at 10:18 am

Farah Mendlesohn, who as well as being a Good Thing also edited (co-edited?) a critical book about Ken Macleod. Which may mean she feels all Macleod-ed out; or may not.


ajay 09.07.12 at 10:24 am

Oh, and who was that guy who wrote the book about 1960s Soviet economics?


Dan Nexon 09.07.12 at 1:10 pm

Thanks for the plug, Henry. I too am confused about whether many of the suggestions here are for (1) people we should interview on the podcast, (2) participants in the upcoming MacLeod seminar at CT, or (3) subjects for future CT seminars.

To the extent that people are talking about (1), the “New Book” mandate is simply that a recent-ish book anchor the interview. Reprints count (so, for example, one of our podcasts has David Herter discussing his excellent Ceres Storm, which was just republished in e-book format). I suspect that we’ll be violating this injunction as the podcast matures.


Adam Roberts 09.07.12 at 1:21 pm

I second that guy who wrote the book about 1960s Soviet economics, whatever his name was.


Frowner 09.07.12 at 1:21 pm

You might want to check out the many women writers – some of whom are also writers of color – published by Aqueduct Press, which is run by L. Timmel DuChamp – I second x. trapnel’s recommendation to interview her too.

One could do worse than a seminar about Vellum and Ink, by Hal Duncan. Or wait, wait – a seminar about one of Andrea Hairston’s books – she has a recent one, Redwood and Wildfire, which won the Tiptree.


Frowner 09.07.12 at 1:31 pm

Also, if you were open to running some kind of event about a non-new (but recently reprinted) book, I think Terry Bisson’s Fire On The Mountain would be enjoyed by a lot of people in this part of the blogosphere. To me, it’s one of the greatest US science fiction novels – an alternate history in which John Brown and Harriet Tubman lead a successful raid on Harper’s Ferry, an anti-slavery guerilla insurgency begins and the whole history of the US is changed. It’s told from various perspectives – a black woman scientist in the utopian 20th century US, a young white abolitionist during the war and a young boy who is a slave in Harper’s Ferry and who becomes involved in the uprising. Terry Bisson is a very smart and principled person with awesome politics and a very interesting radical background. I feel like Fire On The Mountain is that unusual thing, a novel by a white writer which centers characters of color and a novel by a man which centers women.

(Although honestly, I think it would be even more awesome to do some kind of seminar on either Mindscape by Hairston or maybe Dawn by Octavia Butler – both incredibly accomplished books by women writers of color which have a lot to say about social change, economics and embodiment. Bisson’s book is also amazing, but I feel like more folks read white men SF writers than read women writers of color, even when they are as dazzling as Hairston and Butler.)


Henry 09.07.12 at 3:02 pm

bq. Farah Mendlesohn, who as well as being a Good Thing also edited (co-edited?) a critical book about Ken Macleod. Which may mean she feels all Macleod-ed out; or may not.

And is also a frequent (and excellent) CT commenter. Many thanks for all of these suggestions.


Henry 09.07.12 at 3:04 pm

And the guy who wrote that Soviet book (what _was_ his name?) is already spoken for for another, yet-to-be-announced event …


bianca steele 09.07.12 at 4:28 pm

I think Walton and Nussbaum would be good contributors if they were interested.


Mandos 09.07.12 at 6:26 pm

How about, for a unique perspective, Sally Miller Gearhart?


Mandos 09.07.12 at 6:26 pm

Or going in that direction, come to think of it, Suzy Charnas?


common reader 09.07.12 at 6:52 pm

Whether as subject or respondent, Ursula LeGuin would be a worthy candidate. She has written pungently, or perhaps pithily, on the issue of this field of literary work never getting its due props.


between4walls 09.07.12 at 7:09 pm

N’thing Jo Walton, who has written about The Sky Road and Cosmonaut Keep for


Henry 09.07.12 at 7:14 pm

Some of these people would be on my dream list, but I have _no idea_ e.g. of how to get an invitation to the attention of Ursula Le Guin (if any readers have leads or contacts … )


Peter Hovde 09.07.12 at 8:40 pm

From LeGuin’s website:

Reaching Me Personally:

ALL REQUESTS — to interview, to visit, to propose a project, etc. — should go through my agents, the Virginia Kidd Agency, agents (at) vk-agency (dot) com, telephone 570 296 6205, P.O. Box 278, Milford PA 18337.
An interesting question from a reader is a pleasure, and a kind letter can cheer a whole day. I love hearing from readers, and wish I could respond to every question, every letter. But I don’t have a secretary; I do all my own correspondence, business and personal. It takes time and energy to answer letters, and in my eighties, I often run short of both. So, you’re very welcome to write to me personally at P.O. Box 10541, Portland, OR, 97296-0541, but please don’t expect an answer.


shah8 09.08.12 at 12:01 am

E. Sedia…

Tricia Sullivan…

MK Hobson…

Helen Oyeyemi…

Hiroshi Yamamoto

G Willow Wilson

D.D. Barant (maybe pen name)

Joel Shepherd

Aliette de Bodard

Kit Witfield

Isuan Hasekura

Madeline Rosca

Svetlana Chmakova

Wendy Doniger (I think it’s warranted to include her, even though her work is nonfiction)

Sarah Zettel

Jes Battis

Karen Lord

Charles Yu

Ted Chiang

Sheree Thomas

Alisa Sheckley

All right, you’ve got a nice long list of people from quite a wide variety of traditions and formats. Knock yourself out.


Nigel 09.08.12 at 6:25 pm

Gwyneth Jones.


clew 09.08.12 at 8:45 pm

I have been thinking of authors rather than respondents, but on the other hand many authors write very well about other books — Kit Whitfield, as above. A round-robin of people doing similar work would interest me.


parsimon 09.09.12 at 1:29 am

42: I have no idea e.g. of how to get an invitation to the attention of Ursula Le Guin (if any readers have leads or contacts … )

Regarding LeGuin herself, a bookdealer friend knows her, but I think Peter Hovde’s response covers it. Said friend has never heard of Crooked Timber anyway, so his recommendation would be worthless.

An interesting project, though!


jim 09.09.12 at 10:59 pm

LeGuin, certainly. The Left Hand Of Darkness is one of the best novels I’ve ever read. It towers above the SF genre almost as thoroughly as LOTR towers above the fantasy genre. All honor to Therem Harth rem ir Estraven, one of the most striking heroes in literature. Newer writers don’t seem to engage me, and often succeed in alienating me. Reynolds (the trickery in Chasm City infuriated me), Brin (the last novel of the second Uplift trilogy was an insult, and became the last novel I ever read by him), Simmons (Flashback – beyond execrable. Heinlein and Niven at their most fascistic would blush.) I do like Nancy Kress and Charlie Stross. When is Stross going to write a sequel to Iron Sunrise?


ajay 09.10.12 at 10:29 am

When is Stross going to write a sequel to Iron Sunrise?

He isn’t going to. In fact, he’s said he isn’t going to so many times that whenever he has an ask-the-host post at his blog, he pre-emptively answers that one first.

And you’re classing Alastair Reynolds and David Brin as “newer writers”? They’re newer than Ursula Le Guin, I suppose.


Shashank 09.10.12 at 3:18 pm

I second Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear and Nancy Kress.

Why has no one mentioned China Mieville yet?

(I propose China Mieville.)


Hidden Heart 09.10.12 at 5:01 pm

I get the feeling a lot of respondents have no idea who’s published recently, or aren’t bothering to consider that.

In addition to some fine authors already suggested…

Malinda Lo. It seems like her work’s being marketed as young adult, but it works just fine for adult readers. She brings a graceful style and really careful thought to fairy-tale-inspired themes in her fantasy; I haven’t read her newest one yet, but look forward to it.

Wendy Pini. Boing Boing is running her and husband Richard’s new, final storyline for Elfquest, the ur-self publishing success in comics and an engaging fantasy for a lot of readers. I suspect she or they would have interesting things to say about evolving visions, changing business angles, coordinating and sometimes failing to coordinate the work of divers hands, and like that.

Diane Duane. She’s doing interesting things with e-book publishing, and an updated edition of her classic So You Want to Be a Wizard, so she’d likely have smart things to say about various aspects of contemporary publishing.

Tananarive Due. An established and successful African-American author, probably better known in horror than sf/f circles, and married to fellow African-American sf writer Steve Barnes (who’d also be a great guest – I’ve heard him at cons, and he’s a hilarious raconteur).

Jenna Moran, astonishingly inventive fabulist and (if memory serves) commenter here from time to time.


Hidden Heart 09.10.12 at 5:02 pm

I have a comment in moderation; I included a lot of links to authors’ sites.


Jim Parrish 09.10.12 at 7:34 pm

Enjoyed audio but video would be a nice addition.


jim 09.11.12 at 2:52 am

We could get a little more military perspective into this academic project by inviting Jack MacDevitt and Joe Haldeman. Their best novels: “Deep Six” “Engines of God” “Chindi” and “Forever War” “Camouflage” are as good frankly, as anything Charlie Stross ever wrote that I ever read.


Theophylact 09.11.12 at 3:15 pm

Felix Gilman and Lev Grossman.

Comments on this entry are closed.