Locus Online (and many other places) have a complete list of the finalists for this year’s Nebula awards.

The finalists for the novel category are as follows:

  • The Accidental Time Machine, Joe Haldeman (Ace)
  • The New Moon’s Arms, Nalo Hopkinson (Warner)
  • Odyssey, Jack McDevitt (Ace 2006)
  • Ragamuffin, Tobias S. Buckell (Tor)
  • The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)

I have yet to read any of these, although I really want to read Buckell’s Crystal Rain and the follow-up Ragamuffin (if I like Crystal Rain anyway).

Random House has released the cover art for the U.S. edition of the fifth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. A large version of the cover can be viewed on the Random House website here.

Bantam Dell’s website lists this book with their forthcoming fall releases as available in October 2008. It is also now available for preorder on Amazon with a release date of September 30. Both of those dates are purely speculation since Martin has said many times on his Not a Blog not to believe the news about a release date until he has posted the announcement on his website after being pestered by hordes of angry fans who did believe the release dates.

It sounds as though there is at least hope that this book will be out by the end of the year, although I don’t dare hope too much since the cover for A Feast for Crows was on Amazon for quite a while before the book actually came out (and when it finally did, it had a completely different cover). Usually I prefer the more generic covers to cover art with the characters because it usually looks as though the cover artist never actually read the book, but in this case, I miss the old covers depicting characters and scenes from the book. I loved the old cover on A Clash of Kings in particular.

I read in this post on Brandon Sanderson’s blog today that he has signed and personalized hardback (at least I assume that’s what “harback” is supposed to mean) copies of his first published novel Elantris for sale here. Elantris is harder to find in hardcover now than any of his newer books in the Mistborn series. I’d love to get one but I already promised not to buy any more books until The Born Queen comes out toward the end of next month (having already ordered Joe Abercrombie’s Before They Are Hanged from Amazon the moment I heard it was in stock already – and added Sanderson’s The Well of Ascension to the order because one must get free shipping when ordering from Amazon).

Sanderson also mentioned several items of interest on his previous blog post. He put up artwork for the new paperback copy of Mistborn: The Final Empire (which is supposed to come out in September with a coupon for the third and final book in the series). The cover image says it’s only $4.99 in the U.S. and $5.99 in Canada so that’s not bad at all. I like the picture of Vin, but I still think the cover on the hardcover copy of Mistborn: The Final Empire is much nicer. He also wrote that Hero of Ages, the final book in the trilogy, is up on Amazon for pre-order now (the release date is October 14), and he shared some thoughts on the fifth Wheel of Time book since he has been rereading the series.

So much exciting news! I really want one of those copies of Elantris now… but must be good!

Amazon’s Omnivoracious blog has an interview with J.M. McDermott, the author of Last Dragon, one of the first books to be published under the Wizards of the Coast’s Discoveries imprint. I have yet to read this book, but I have heard good things about it and would really like to read it. Plus I am curious about Discoveries, which is supposed to be very different from the usual Wizards of the Coast fare, including all types of speculative fiction, not just fantasy.

Simon Owens from bloggasm wrote to inform me that free ebooks are only the first of many offerings Tor will soon have available online. Two anonymous sources divulged that Tor plans to build an online community for science fiction and fantasy fans, including social networking, original short fiction, and nonfiction.

The rest of the details on Tor’s new web-based science fiction and fantasy community can be found here.

In case you missed this earlier post about Tor’s free ebooks, here is the place to go to register for their newsletter and free ebooks.


by William Gibson
288pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 2/10
Amazon Rating: 4/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.06/5
Good Reads Rating: 4.06/5

William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the first book in the Sprawl trilogy, is the novel that began the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. When it was published in 1984, it was a very revolutionary work, and it was certainly influential in modern day terminology since it made the term “cyberspace” popular (it was originally coined in one of Gibson’s earlier works, the short story “Burning Chrome”). The frequent comparison to the body and “meat” is probably also responsible for the use of “meatspace” in reference to the real world. Undoubtedly, Neuromancer was a very important novel; however, it is not a very good book when considered purely on its own merits as a story.

Case was a talented cowboy, a data thief who worked for wealthier data thieves, until he stole from one of them. Instead of outright killing him, his employer damaged his nervous system badly enough to prevent Case from working in his profession. Case becomes a suicidal drug addict until a man named Armitage finds him and offers to repair his nervous system in return for the use of Case’s abilities as a cowboy. He undergoes surgery, and awakens to find that the same substance that destroyed his nervous system before was put inside of him and will be released if he does not finish his job quickly enough. Case is partnered with Molly, a street samurai, and ordered to steal the construct containing the consciousness of one of his former mentors. Soon Case and Molly find themselves trying to put together the mystery of Armitage’s past and figuring out how the AI entity Wintermute is involved.

Neuromancer is a relatively short book, only 271 pages long in mass market paperback. The first 100 pages are excruciatingly boring and the next 171 are often still fairly boring, making this the longest short book I have ever read. The plot develops at a glacial pace, and the prose is filled with fictional technical jargon. The meaning of some of these terms can be inferred from context at times, but normally not immediately, and Gibson has a tendency to throw out a lot of these words at once. At first, this is fun since it gives the book a certain high-tech, future feel, but it is overdone to the point where it is just confusing and tedious.

Some of the ideas in the story were probably very interesting in 1984, but anyone with a passing familiarity with science fiction today has probably seen these same concepts explored many times in a more interesting fashion. Artificial intelligence and its autonomy, virtual reality, and engineering the body to use technology are all common story elements within the science fiction genre today. This book does not delve in to these concepts, but shows them as a part of everyday life without examining the implications in depth.

The characters in Neuromancer are shallow and two-dimensional. Very little can be gleaned about their personalities from their actions and none of the characters ever feel real. More is revealed about the technology that is wired into their bodies than their hopes and dreams and motivations. The dialogue is often poor, and whenever a character talks about his or her past, it lacks emotion, feeling more like a big info dump.

Neuromancer contains a world that was imaginative when it was written in the early 1980s, but it does not hold up well over 20 years later. Because the strength of the book was exploring a world that is now common, the other obvious flaws–the lack of a strong plot, well-written prose, and deep or interesting characters–become fatal once that strength has been removed. I would not recommend reading it to others unless they really want to be able to say they read the first cyberpunk novel.