Friday, June 19, 2015

Episode#1: The Martian by Andy Weir

Explicit Language

Rumors and Reports:

This month. Jeff VanderMeer won the Nebula award with the first book in his Southern Reach Trilogy. Annihilation just happens to be next months scheduled showcase novel. Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson took the Andre Norton Award for best young Adult fiction in the genre.

SFWA has announced that Joanna Russ (1937-2011) and Stanley Schmidt, age 71, are the recipients of the 2015 Solstice Awards. The award, created in 2008 and given at the discretion of the SFWA president with the majority approval of the Board of Directors, is for individuals, living or dead, who have had “a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape. It is especially meant to recognize the non-authorial figures in the industry, who are all too often taken for granted in regards to lifetime achievement.” The Solstice Awards have most recently been awarded to Carl Sagan, Ginjer Buchanan, Octavia E. Butler, John Clute, Tom Doherty, Terri Windling, and  Donald A. Wollheim.
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have named Larry Niven the recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, citing his “invaluable contributions to the field of science fiction and fantasy. In addition to his contributions to the genre, Niven has influenced the fields of space exploration and technology.”

Jeffry Dwight will receive the 2015 Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service to SFWA Award for a “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.”
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel took the big British scifi award, the Arthur C. Clarke this month.
You can see a listing of prominent awards on our awards page.

John Scalzi Celebrates Multimillion $ Deal
The big author news for the month is that John Scalzi of The Old Man’s War, Redshirts and more recently Lock In, signed with Tor for a cool $3.4 million for 13 books over the next 10 years. Tor will be experimenting with a long time self publishing format by serializing the next ebook of the Old Man’s War series. Interesting that a big traditional publishing house would see a benefit to the serialized format.

After many dry years on the small screen, 2015 has been a big year for speculative fiction fans. Seems like everyone is coming out with a film or TV series in the genre. Several classics are coming to the screen. The BBC premiered their series, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell last week.

SyFy canceled Helix but kept 12 Monkeys. Why? I don’t know. I couldn’t make it through half a dozen episodes of 12 Monkeys. SyFy is working with Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Television to rework a TV series version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World after it was abandoned by Ridley Scott. “Community, Identity, Stability.”

SyFy is also doing a six part series of Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End staring Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) and Mike Vogel (Under the Dome). The miniseries is due to start in December. You can see a trailer here. Also to air in December, a TV version of The Expanse by James S. A. Corey. People raised on Harry Potter but looking for something a little more adult should be thrilled to find out SyFy is also tackling Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy.

Showcase Novel: The Martian by Andy Weir

Through a series of mishaps, Mark Watney is left behind on NASA’s third manned mission to Mars. Luckily, he is alive and well with enough air and water. He even has a souped up car and a rather nice home.

Problem–he doesn’t have enough food to last until the fourth mission to Mars is able to rescue him. Oh, and as it turns out, Mars is a homicidal maniac. That’s right, the entire planet finds increasingly clever ways to murder Mark. That keeps the tension edging up through the whole book. In fact, this would make a great, action packed movie. (I actually wrote this a few weeks ago, before the book was signed with Ridley Scott. Yep, gonna be a movie.)

A guy stuck on Mars for over a year, growing potatoes to stay alive, sounds like a stretch, but Andy Weir’s exquisite attention to detail and knowledge of physics makes the story believable. The technology and setting are done with such authenticity, I can taste the Martian dust in my mouth.

Aside from the action and the incredible detail, what makes this book special is the voice of the main character, Mark Watney. The story is largely told through his log entries. The voice Andy Weir created for his main character is a lovely mix of resilience and humor,  with a thick layer of uber-geek. When Mars nearly succeeds in killing him, Watney cracks some of his best one-liners, catching me off guard and making me laugh in the midst of the tension. The other characters are also wonderfully diverse from the obsessive-compulsive director to the foul-mouthed press secretary.

A great book and a fun read. I look forward to the movie. (See Trailer.)

Andy WeirAndy Weir is a real Cinderella story. He initially published the book a chapter at a time on his web page for a few thousand fans of his writing blog in 2011. Some of the fans asked him to consolidate the posts into a book version that could be read with an e-reader. He sold the conversion on Amazon for their lowest price of  99 cents. In four months, his novel rose to the top spot on Amazon’s Sci-Fi Best Seller list. In 2013 he signed contracts for a print version and an audio version of the novel. The novel went on to make the New York Times Bestseller list and win an Audie (Award for audible novels.)

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The post Episode#1: The Martian by Andy Weir appeared first on Speculative Fiction Picks.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Welcome to Speculative Fiction Picks Podcast

Speculative Fiction Picks is a podcast dedicated to readers and fans of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Every month (and hopefully increasing to every week) we will bring you news in the speculative fiction world and showcase a novel from the many novels awarded national acclaim this year. We select a showcased novels from the Nebula, Hugo and Bram-Stoker awards as well as prominent "Best of" lists. Links to the novels and news we discuss will be provided in the show notes. Our first broadcast will be next week so I hope to see you soon.

Listen to Podcast Prologue in a New Window.