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Nom nom nom

For the past six years, whenever the Hugo award shortlists have been published, I've had a book on the shortlist for "best novel".

(I'm told that's an all-time record for consecutive best novel nominations. None of them won; but who cares? A record is a record, and just being on that list is an honour.)

Well, not this year. Book #5 of a series was always unlikely to be shortlisted for an award, and my other book of 2009 was a short story collection.

However, I'm very pleased to say that my novella Palimpsest has made the shortlist for best novella, and Overtime has been shortlisted for best novelette! And you can read them via those links (in the case of Palimpsest for the duration of Hugo voting; Overtime is on Tor.com permanently).

29 Comments

1:

Funny that there are two different stories by two authors with the title "Palimpsest" nominated this year.

2:

In different genres, no less!

My collection was originally going to be titled "Palimpsest", but when Cathrynne's book came out a few months ahead of it we decided to change it to avoid confusion.

(If my novella ever gets extended into a novel, however, it'll be free to use the same name -- it can't possibly be in print before 2012, by which time the current novel of that name will probably have faded from the easily-confused memory of sales clerks.)

3:

Congratulations! "Palimpsest" is (IMHO) probably your strongest piece in the last two years.

4:

Congratulations! I'm off to read "Palimpsest" now.

5:

Congratulations! Palimpsest is my favorite time travel (among other themes) story in ages. Made me go re-read All You Zombies, as well.

6:

Grats!

And thanks for putting Palimpsest online! I am reading it right now and enjoying myself immensely.

By the way, I noticed a typo in it: "Occulting" should be "Occluding".

7:

Further congratulations! I look forward to re-reading your novella, and to reading the novel with the same title for the first time.

(Now I wonder if some enterprising publisher will take advantage of the "two-Hugo-nominees/one-title" hoopla by reprinting Carter Scholz and Glenn Harcourt's novel Palimpsests from 1984. Anyone here read that one?)

8:

Nice one Charlie, and it'll make a nice bit of bank-holiday reading!

9:

Frenetic: that's not a typo. (To occlude is to shut up or block something; to occult -- second meaning, usually -- is to block the view of something.)

10:

Charlie -
Congratulations on your nominations. You continue to garner them because you are the most insightful and innovative SciFi author on the market today. Many thanks again for the wonderful hours I have spent reading your work. I eagerly await the inevitable recognition one of your novels will receive.

11:

I just finished Trade of Queens, and enjoyed it greatly... (as I have all your other books) I do hope that after a good rest, you'll be able to come back to the Clan universe with fresh ideas!
I just hope I don't have nightmares of WARBUCKS or his successor popping up in our universe! We already had 8 years of nightmares with government like that!

12:

I agree with Scott that Trade of Queens was pretty good...

... Charlie, if it's not rude, can I slip in here with a question? WARBUCKS was referred to as such in the verbatim broadcast at the end of TOQ. Up till then, I'd assumed whenever the word came up that it was literal speech ie someone actually said the word "WARBUCKS".

Generally these were characters who would be familiar a codewords so that made sense. But that doesn't work with a statement broadcast to the nation - it would be just plain weird So now I assume that what is going on in the books is that you were using the word as a code for - a certain somebody - and we are supposed to infer that where is occurs the speaking character would generally use that person's real name?

Am I right - or barking mad?

Hope you're having a good time in Japan.

13:

Anyone, including the host, who can recommend stuff from the nominations? Obviously, most is good to be on the list in the first place, but in my experience the eventual winners aren't always the best reads, as the people voting are a select and biased sample.

Are there any must-reads on this year's list (beyond Stross-authored stuff)?

14:

I found "The City and The City" really good. It's hard to say too much about it without spoilering, but it has an intriguing premise, realised very well.

15:

'Palimpsest' is also notable for its Front 242 lyric quote.

16:

No sign of an Ivor Novello award?

17:

"Palimpsest" was quite good: sort of an "The End of Eternity" for the 21st century...

18:

Congratulations!

19:

Really? That's not the comparison I'd make.

"Palimpsest" is a "time travel opera," much in the same vein as a space opera. It reminds me a lot of Down in Flames (in terms of scope and feel -- yes, I realize DiF wasn't an actual story). Also reminds me of a couple of unpublished works by Dan Moran.

20:

Probably not what you expect, but James Nicoll is up for Best Fan Writer and he's certainly that. He writes on his LiveJournal.

21:

It's dead simple: my editor and I didn't want to get sued -- or worse, investigated by the Secret Service -- during books 4 and 5. So, as referring to POTUS and VPOTUS by their codeword isn't that uncommon in US governmental services, I did that.

Once Cheney was out of office and the alternate-time-line clearly established, then I could use his name. ("What? You're suing me for libel for saying you did something evil in a parallel universe?")

22:

Matt: also, you might want to play spot the Gary Numan reference ...

23:

Anyone, including the host, who can recommend stuff from the nominations?

I've only read three of the nominated novels.

The City & The City is very good. It's a detective story set between two cities that are mentally rather than physically divided - the residents are trained from birth to think of themselves as living in one city or the other and to ignore the very existence of the other, overlapping city. I'd say it's closer in style to his first novel, King Rat, than his later and more self-indulgent works. That being said, it relies on a gimmick that didn't altogether persuade me. Maybe I'll fall for it more when I re-read it.

Catherynne Valente's notatallconfusinglynamed novel Palimpsest is very, very, powerful. It is also very sexual. A select group of people acquire skin markings like tattoos, which are actually parts of the map of an amazing, lyrically beautiful city. They visit the city in their dreams and they yearn to be among the few who can make the transition there in real life. It's not a comfortable read but it blew my socks off.

The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi would be my pick for the winner if it weren't for Palimpsest. It's set in a future Thailand that is a small haven after the world's crops have succumbed to a series of plagues inflicted by agronomic corporations. I think that the book really needs support from the short stories that preceded it. Also, I found the titular character to be the least interesting of the viewpoint characters.

I very much regret that Charles Stross's alsonotconfusinglynamed novella Palimpsest wasn't fleshed out to novel length. There are more ideas within that one story than some authors use in an entire teratology. I really liked it, but it feels cramped. I haven't read most of the other novellas so I won't comment on them.

24:

Just (re-)read the whole MP series; not so much a cliff-hanger ending as a whole series of proto-avalanches poised overhead! I enjoyed much better the second time around, oddly, taking them as a whole; perhaps just easier to keep the plot threads straight.

I would quibble with the (small and minor) neuroscience elements, but that would be (i) esoteric and (ii) petty; thanks for the great enjoyment.

26:

I'm a little confused by when Overtime occurs - is that after The Fuller Memorandum?

28:

Like Bruce, I was also wondering about the relationship between Asimov's "The End of Eternity" and Palimpsest. Deliberate rewrite in a more modern style? Accidental similarity? something else?

29:

"The End of Eternity" is widely cited as one of the classic time travel pieces, but I last read it when I was about ten years old. I determined to re-read it when I began "Palimpsest", and found a copy -- but only managed to get about two pages in; Asimov's prose style was execrable in those days. So, apart from a name-check, "Palimpsest" is the product of parallel evolution -- if you have a single time travel resource and an organization that runs it, certain structural similarities in the background are inevitable.

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