As much as we had hoped to write up a full feature for Banned Books Week, life and responsibilities got in the way. Fortunately, we were able to roll out some updates for our Banned Books List. Specifically, we have begun adding the reasons a specific book has been banned on the novel page. For instance, did you know that Fahrenheit 451 was partially censored by the publisher without Ray Bradbury’s knowledge, with the expurgated version being sold to high schools and the original sold to mainstream bookstores? Or that the “happy ending” of A Clockwork Orange was removed from the American edition because the publisher thought it was unrealistic?
You can read about these cases and more on the individual novel pages in the Synopsis section. Not every book on our list has a note about that novel’s censorship or banning, but we’re working on building that content. Which is where you, gentle reader, come in…
Many of the books on our list were gleaned from other lists that provided no specific information about the ban or censorship. Some lists, like the ALA’s, provide partial information on some books. We would like to make this list as accurate and thorough as possible, which means we need to (1) provide at least a summary reason for every book’s banning or censorship, (2) remove any books which do not really belong on this list (this might include books that were only challenged but never banned), and (3) add any genre books that are missing from our list.
We could certainly use help researching these books! Too much information about banned books comes via hearsay or unsourced Wikipedia articles, so solid information is a huge help. If you have any information that can make our Banned Books List more accurate, please share it in the comments below or hit us on Twitter.
Thanks, and expect more in the days to come!
Jack Dowden (JDowds) doesn’t review Sci-Fi/Fantasy books on his blog 100 Stories 100 Weeks. Instead, he’s set himself the unbelievably naive task of writing 100 short stories in 100 weeks. The results are often disastrous. He came to WWEnd to talk to people about Sci-Fi/Fantasy books though, and is having a wonderful time doing it!
The Curse of Chalion is something I wish I hadn’t put off until now. I decided it would be the final book in the WOGF Challenge, because all the other books I had decided upon seemed fresh and different by juxtaposition. A medieval fantasy with lords and ladies and magic?
Meh. Been there, done that. Am I right?
Wrong, okay? Wrong.
There’s something to be said for authors who stick within prescribed limits, and then obliterate them. The Curse of Chalion may be a medieval fantasy with lords, ladies and magic, but it’s also a gripping tale with great characters and world building done right.
Let’s talk about Cazaril. Cazaril is the man. He’s the strong willed hero, if the strong willed hero got sold to a slave galley and spent the better part of two years being beaten and humiliated and threatened on a daily basis. Cazaril got screwed over in a political scheme (aren’t political schemes the worst?), but managed to survive.
M. Fenn (mfennvt) has been reading speculative fiction for so long, she can’t remember what her first taste was. It could have been The Hobbit; it may have been A Wrinkle in Time. There’s been a lot more since. Recently, she’s fulfilled a lifelong dream of getting her own speculative fiction published. She blogs about what she reads and writes at M. Fenn – skinnier than it is wide.
I came to Up the Walls of the World knowing very little of James Tiptree, Jr. I knew that the author’s real name was Alice Bradley Sheldon and that her publisher kept her identity secret until 1977 (the year before Up the Walls of the World was released). The science fiction community argued over who Tiptree was (some sort of government spy perhaps) and what gender (both Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison assumed male).
But that’s all I knew. I’d never read her stuff, even though several of her books have been on our bookshelves for ages. So, it was with a lot of curiosity and excitement that I started reading what was Tiptree’s first novel for my next WOGF challenge book. It held up to that approach, I’m happy to say.
Up the Walls of the World is a complicated tale, starting in the brain of the Destroyer, an entity larger than a solar system moving through space in existential pain. It considers itself evil and a betrayer of its kind.
Tiptree introduces us next to an entity that can pick up on that evil. She is a Tyrenni, part of a race of creatures resembling manta rays who ride the winds of a large gas planet’s atmosphere and communicate telepathically and through the changing colors of their bodies. Something is destroying the Tyrenni’s planet.
Last week we officially passed 2,000 member submitted book reviews on WWEnd! This is an exciting new milestone for the site and our growing community of members but what makes this an especially sweet benchmark is that it’s not just about the volume. These are some high quality reviews we’re talkin’ ’bout. Our members have been putting in some real effort and have been pushing each other to write better and better reviews and it certainly shows.
And that quality has continued to climb as our membership has grown – in part because many of our new members are old hands in the review game. They cut their teeth writing on their own blogs and after joining our ranks very kindly added their back catalog of reviews to the site. They’re leveraging some deep content that may get overlooked on their own sites and giving those reviews some new life by introducing them to other WWEnd readers. That’s a win for everyone.
Of course, we can’t talk about reviews without talking about the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge. We laid down the gauntlet and you’ve responded with a whopping 491 reviews in under 9 months! That’s damn near a quarter of our reviews and that number is only going to go up as the challenge winds down and everyone scrambles to finish out strong. We could easily see 600+ reviews by the time it’s all over. That’s impressive, folks. And look what that’s done for our gender balance! One of the reasons we started the WoGF was to help us right the overall balance of male to female-authored books on the site. We knew if the challenge got some traction in the community the reviews would follow and boy did they!
You can see by the graph that we’ve been garnering many more reviews of books by women than by men this year. This has gone a long way to helping us achieve our goal. As it stands right now we have 1,283 reviews for male-authored books and 764 for female-authored books. Of those 764 reviews, 564 have been submitted this year including the 491 for the WoGF. That’s a significant improvement from where we were and a clear indication we’re headed in the right direction.
Those 2k+ reviews are spread out across 1,063 books and you can check out our Books Reviewed on WWEnd list to see ’em all in one place.
Thanks to our members for all the great reviews! Your work is helping to make WWEnd the genre book resource we all want it to be.
Emily Sandoval (ersandoval) is a bookaholic, whose poison of choice is fantasy and science fiction. At her day job, she’s an engineer working on satellites, and in her spare time she writes epic fantasy novels. She blogs irregularly about writing and the genre, and joined the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge to force herself to slow down between books and write the occasional review.
And I loved it. I did have one major issue with what was missing from the book, but what was there was a helluva story. Volstov and Ke-Han have been at war for over a hundred years. They’ve both got their magicians, but what really gives Volstov an edge is its dragons, made of metal and brought to life and fueled by magic.
More than the war, though, or even the magic, Havemercy is really the story of our four protagonists—a magician, Royston; a tutor, Hal; a student-cum-professor, Thom; and the dragon Havemercy’s pilot, Rook—and the relationships between them. The book opens with Royston being exiled from Thremedon, the capital of Volstov, for having an affair with a foreign prince whose culture is unaccepting of homosexuality. I admit I had a moment of doubt, especially when this was followed up by Rook’s blatant bigotry (not to mention his misogyny), but it was handled beautifully as Royston’s, and later Hal’s, viewpoints developed.
Steff S. (MMOGC), is an avid reader with an eclectic taste in books. While just about anything can catch her eye, she has a particular soft spot for fantasy and science fiction, and especially loves space operas and stories with interesting magic systems. Besides reading, she enjoys adventuring in the virtual words of MMORPGs, and first started blogging about games before branching out to contribute her book reviews at The BiblioSanctum with her friends.
Interestingly enough, well before this book came into my life, I’d happened to be browsing through the many publishing-related newsletters in my email inbox one day when a deliciously creepy animated gif banner in one of them caught my eye. In fact, it was an announcement for this very title, bearing the tag line:
“Jack the Ripper is terrorizing London. Now a new killer is stalking the streets, the victims’ bodies are dismembered and their heads are missing…the killer likes to keep them.”
It gets even more intriguing than that. The book’s blurb also describes it as a supernatural thriller, and given my penchant for historical horror novels (particularly those featuring a paranormal angle) I just couldn’t resist. So you can imagine my excitement when I received Mayhem for review from Jo Fletcher Books, and remembering that banner with its promise of a hunt for a serial killer in Victorian London, I needed little convincing to start this right away.
Still, Mayhem isn’t really a story about Jack the Ripper. Between 1888 and 1891 there were a series of murders in or around the Whitechapel area, and the modus operandi of some of these were different enough that investigators theorized that they could have been committed by another person other than Jack. The idea of a separate “Torso Killer” in these “Thames Mysteries” is what forms the basis for this book, and in Sarah Pinborough‘s version of the events, he takes his victims’ heads as trophies.
Guest Blogger and WWEnd member, Rob Weber (valashain), reviews science fiction and fantasy books on his blog Val’s Random Comments which we featured in a previous post: Five SF/F Book Blogs Worth Reading. Be sure to visit his site and let him know you found him here.
Palimpsest is my ninth read in the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge. I picked it mostly because Valente had caught my eye a few times in the last few years but I never got around to reading anything by her. I remember this novel being well received when it was published. It was nominated for the Locus Fantasy, Hugo and Mythopoeic awards and took the Lambda Literary Award home. Quite an impressive list. The novel also served as an inspiration for Valente’s crowd-funded novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (2011) and it’s sequels. In other words, more than enough reasons to have a closer look at it.
Palimpsest is a city unlike any you’ve heard of. It is a city of wonders, a mystery and a curse at the same time. Only a few people can gain access and only for a single night at a time, before being flung back into their mundane existence. Those who make the passage are marked forever but finding others to help them relive the experience isn’t easy. The city keeps pulling them in however, the lure of Palimpsest is irresistible, and for a lucky few, permanent residence in the city appears possible. If they can overcome the challenges the city sets them.
Rae McCausland (ParallelWorlds) was raised on speculative fiction and dedicated most of her teenage years to the dream of writing fantasy novels. During her college years, her interests shifted toward science fiction thanks to Star Trek and Isaac Asimov’s robot stories. She writes reviews for Parallel Worlds Magazine as a way of building connections between the perspectives of fellow sci-fi nerds and people of marginalized gender and sexual identities.
Leviticus “Levi” Blue was a genius who invented the Boneshaker, a massive drill intended for use in mining through glacial ice. Before it could ever be used, it tore beneath Seattle’s streets and released a gas called the Blight which turns all who breathe it into zombies. Fifteen years later, Briar Wilkes, Levi’s widow, works hard to support herself and her son Ezekiel, but when Zeke’s questions about his father and grandfather go unanswered, he passes into the walled-off, Blight-tainted part of town to find answers for himself. Briar leaves everything behind to rescue her foolhardy son, hoping it’s not too late to tell him the truth.
I was so excited to start this book. Seattle is my favorite city, and as I’m also fond of steampunk, I figured I was bound to like Boneshaker even if I’m not crazy about zombies. Reading the praises stamped on the cover and before the title page also built up my hopes. Unfortunately, before I’d gotten more than a few chapters in, my eyes began to glaze over with boredom and I found myself having to read paragraphs over again.
Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on SF Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of science fiction within it.
Do you know anyone who couldn’t give you a basic outline of either Star Trek or Star Wars? And I mean just a basic sentence. Star Trek: The crew of a starship out having adventures as they explore space. Star Wars: Good and Evil in a galaxy spanning milieu. Who, I wonder, can not do that in the U.S., if not most of the world where U.S. culture has touched?
Let’s take it a step further and ask if there are any Brits who can’t do the same thing for Doctor Who? The tagline: An immortal time traveler out having adventures as he explores the universe. There’s the high probability that something resembling a 60ies era British phone booth is involved.
What I’m getting at here are franchise works, cross media, which have embedded themselves into the bedrock strata of a national culture. Just like a particular food or cooking methodology is embedded in a country and culture, these SF franchises are just part of what that country is all about. When one talks about SF manga or anime, Mobile Suit Gundam, or just Gundam, is that type of work. It’s part of the bedrock cultural attributes of Japan.
Finally, after 36 years and 12 billion miles Voyager I has left the solar system! Here’s a roundup of the coverage: