Normally, when we announce new updates to the site, it’s something (we think is) exciting and new, like a new interactive book-tracked list, a cool reading contest, a nifty way to rank authors, or (my favorite) BookTrackr.
This time, however, we have announcement that is both exciting and mundane. Yes. That’s right. Worlds Without End has finally ditched its 1990s-style blogging/commenting engine (you know, the one that made you type twisted captcha words and blew up if you used the wrong keys from, you know, your keyboard) in favor of WordPress. Yes. We know. WordPress has been around probably longer than WWEnd has.
So…no. This news isn’t exactly cutting edge. It does, however, mean that our blog will act like every other blog you know, which means we can clip some of those dissertation length posts, and the interface won’t have those eccentricities that get in your way. So, huzzah!
BTW, relatively invisible changes (like this WordPress transition) are much much harder to do than the whiz-bang interactive stuff that people like so much. I know it seems like BookTrackr would be harder to make (from scratch) than integrating a plug in blog, but Chris (our hard working tech guru, a.k.a. Whargoul) begs to differ. So, thanks to Chris, Jonathan and Dave for ensuring that I never have to edit apostrophes out of my comments (or guess at captcha words) again!
Do bear with us as any new site feature, such as this, will require a learning curve on our part. We will be tweaking it over the coming weeks.
UPDATE: If you’re having any difficulties with your RSS feed reader, here is the link to the new feed: http://blog.worldswithoutend.com/feed/
As part of our relentless efforts to add every celebrated genre novel to our site, we have finally begun adding novels explicitly in the Horror genre to WWEnd. While many books in our database have arguably been more Horror than Science Fiction or Fantasy, our excuse was that they could still be labelled as Dark Fantasy or that they had some elements of Science Fiction. October, appropriately enough, is going to see an expansion of WWEnd into the Horror genre, and while we haven’t quite yet added enough books to fill the historical records of any Horror awards, we decided to go ahead and gather together a genre reading list, and the Horror Writers Association’s Horror Reading List fit the bill perfectly. Here’s how they describe the list:
The Horror Writers Association (HWA) was formed, in part, to foster a greater appreciation of dark fiction among members of the general public. Whether you are new to Horror, or simply want to become familiar with some of the classics and ‘bests’ of dark fiction, the following books are a wonderful place to begin.
Also be on the lookout for an upcoming series of blog posts starting this week from Rico and I about some of our favorite scary books.
We have published the controversial NPR Top 100 list of SF/F books in the WWEnd database.
From NPR: "More than 5,000 of you nominated. More than 60,000 of you voted. And now the results are in. The winners of NPR’s Top 100 Science-Fiction and Fantasy survey are an intriguing mix of classic and contemporary titles. Over on NPR’s pop culture blog, Monkey See, you can find one fan’s thoughts on how the list shaped up, get our experts’ take, and have the chance to share your own."
Where a series is involved, we show the first book in the series. You can refer to the original list to see which were nominated as series rather than single volumes. Some series are as yet incomplete in our database, but they will all be added soon.
Late last year I set out to do someting about the shortage of Military SF on WWEnd. I looked around the internets for an award or a "best of" list but could not find anything of significance. At the time I was reading the Starship: Mutiny by Mike Resnic so I wrote to him for help. He very kindly gave us permission to post his essay, Military Science Fiction: A Brief History, which contains a large number of books that I added to our database. It was a great start but I was still looking for more so Mr. Resnick suggested I ask David Drake, the Dean of Military SF, for advice. Mr. Drake sent me the Baen Reader’s List of Recommended Military SF. Huzzah! I finally had what I was looking for.
The Baen list is the result of a poll conducted by Toni Weisskopf, Editor of Baen Books, the leading publisher of Military SF in the industry. Participants of Baen’s Bar, THE forum for fans of Military SF, came up with the list after much discussion and Miss Weisskopf hammered the list into a top 100 with one additional book added at the request of David Drake. Told you he was the Dean. With the list comes an excellent introduction that goes into more detail on the selection process.
Take a look and let us know what you think. Are you a MilSF fan? There’s enough military action in this list to satisfy the hard-core fans and will provide some much needed guidance for us novices wanting to explore the sub-genre further. Many thanks to Mike Resnick and David Drake for their help and to Toni Weisskopf for putting it all together.
Back in January of 2009 The Guardian published a list of "1000 novels everyone must read," which included 149 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels. Yesterday the WWEnd team finished adding these 149 books to the database, creating our most literary-minded book list yet, Guardian: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels.
When I say that this list is literary-minded, I’m not exaggerating. Even though the list contains such genre fan favorites as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ringworld and Dune, the Guardian’s review panel also chose to include novels like The Master and Margarita, The Trial and Lord of the Flies, all of which are widely acknowledged masterpieces, but which are arguably not genre fiction.
The Guardian’s list blurs the line of division between genre fiction and "literature." It may be that The Monk doesn’t have supernatural monsters or futuristic technology, but it was certainly a formational Gothic novel, inspiring what would become Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees may not be straight-up Fantasy, but its Magical Realism is a close cousin to the more popular genre. The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse (better known for his Buddhist novel Siddhartha) is set in a post-WW2 Europe but maps the projected future of philosophy and education rather than technology, but it’s important to remember that philosophy is ignored at technology’s peril.
So give the new list a look. There’s something for just about everybody, and enough intriguing new possibilities to catch anyone’s interest. I never thought I’d be adding books like The Naked Lunch and The Castle of Otranto to my reading list, but I’m genuinely curious to see what they’re like.
What’s caught your eye from the Guardian list?
One of the most frequent requests we get here at Worlds Without End is for more Military SF. You military fans have been after us from the get go. “Why no Mil-SF?” “Where are the Davids?” (Weber, Drake and Feintuch) “You guys must hate Military SF, America and kittens too…”
No, it’s nothing like that I promise. While I freely admit we’ve been under-budget on our “Davids” we did have a decent selection of Mil-SF in the bag: The Forever War, Ender’s Game, Starship Troopers, Downbelow Station, Old Man’s War and Dorsai! to name a few. Some of those books got added to our DB as a result of the awards we cover. Others got added when we started paying attention to the Book Lists as well.
Those books weren’t enough to stop the emails though, so I went looking for a Military Science Fiction award to bolster our military cred. I wanted to add the best Mil-SF available instead of just dumping in a bunch of books from a sub-genre that I don’t know much about. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t find a single award dedicated to Mil-SF. That just blew me away. It’s a huge sub-genre with a massive following, surely there was an award…. No? Well, OK, how about a “best of” list from some fan organization or genre luminary then? Nope. Nada. What’s a guy to do?
Luckily, I came across an article by SF author Mike Resnick called Military Science Fiction: A Brief History (posted here with the author’s permission) that gave me some direction. It’s an overview of Military SF from E.E. “Doc” Smith to Mr. Resnick’s own Starship Series and I determined that I’d add all the books he mentions in his article to the WWEnd DB. So far I’ve added over 40 new books across 10 Military SF series. Not a bad start methinks.
With the Lightnings (1998)
Off Armageddon Reef (2007)
Midshipman’s Hope (1994)
Starship: Mutiny (2005)
Trading in Danger (2003)
Roger MacBride Allen
The Depths of Time (2000)
David Weber and John Ringo
March Upcountry (2001)
The Tank Lords (1997)
On Basilisk Station (1992)
A Hymn Before Battle (2000)
So, what do you think? Are you a fan of Mil-SF? What books or authors am I missing? If you know of any awards or authoritative lists let me know.
A couple weeks back I posted 20 Harlan Ellison books to WWEnd but I never got around to mentioning them in the blog. Real life can be such a hassle. Anyway, they’re here now so we’ve fixed that gaping hole in our coverage at last. Mr. Ellison is famous for his short fiction (and his short temper ; ) and we’re starting to get into shorts via collections and anthologies aroud here so Ellison was a great place to start.
I’m a relative novice when it comes to Ellison but what I’ve read so far in his collections have me wanting to read more. His stories leave me just a tad creeped out and that feeling stays with me for days. That’s not a complaint, mind you. Ellison makes you think. The titular short, I Have No Mouth & I must Scream, is a prime example of his disturbing genius as is A Boy and His Dog found in Vic and Blood. In case you missed it, Paul wrote a fun review of the film version that you should check out.
All 20 books are part of a complete set from publisher e-reads.com using the same cover art but with variations on the title colors. They look better in person but they tend to run a little bland after a dozen or so. Jynnantonnyx has added a bunch of the more colorful older cover art to some of the pages that fit the weird nature of the contents better than the cookie cutter covers in the new series. Check out the arternate images for Ellison Wonderland for some examples. Trippy.
One thing that I really like about Ellison is his flair for story titles. I Have No Mouth & I must Scream, The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman, The City on the Edge of Forever and The Whimper of Whipped Dogs are just a few examples.
Of course, not all 20 of the new books are Ellison’s story collections. We’ve also got two short story anthologies that he edited: Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions. From all accounts these are two of the best anthologies ever produced. Says, James Blish: “There has never been a collection like this before… it will entertain, infuriate, and reward you for years.” Take a look at the list of contributors and tell me you don’t want to read these.
If you’ve not tried Ellison before, now is a good time to start. Ask Pete Hamil: “Harlan Ellison is the dark prince of American letters, cutting through our corrupted midnight fog with a switchblade prose. He simply must be read.”
Barsoom has been around for many years and there are dozens of different printings available online and at your local independent bookstore. The covers shown here are the first edition hardcovers which are highly collectible and can be very expensive. More recent editions can be had for cheap and in a myriad of different cover styles including some illustrated by the late great Frank Frazetta.
The first five books in the series are out of copyright in the US and are freely available online via Project Gutenberg, johncarterofmars.ca and many other eBook outlets. Books six through ten are public domain in Australia and are available from Project Gutenberg Australia. You can also read the entire series online for free from Barsoomian.net. The final book, John Carter of Mars, is an omnibus of two shorter works, John Carter and the Giants of Mars (1941) and John Carter and The Skeleton Men of Jupiter (1943), so they can be read online for free but only as separate works. Neat little side step, that.
You can also do like I’m doing and get your Barsoom via email or RSS feed from DailyLit.com.They’ll send you the entire A Princess of Mars, one chapter at a time on your own schedule, so you can start your week off with a little classic SF waiting in your inbox. It’s the modern equivalent of the serialized original publication. That just feels right for some reason. Happy reading.
OK, now that just looks cool. I love a great cover series and these are very nice indeed even if they are a bit repetitive. Harry Dresden looks a bit more of a bad-ass on these covers than he did in the TV series but I do kind of miss the hockey stick.
Anyway, I just wanted to point out the we’ve got the entire Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher up now so all you guys that keep telling me I’ve got to read these books can go and tag ‘em. Storm Front is next on my list.
Also, for you Butcher fans, we’ve just added a ton of video clips to his author page. If you’ve never heard him speak you should check these out. He’s a very entertaining speaker and he answers a lot of questions about Dresden and his other works.
We’ve just added the complete The Year’s Best Science Fiction series to our database! In case you’re not familiar, this is considered by many to be THE anthology series for serious readers of science fiction short stories. The annual collection is edited by Gardner Dozois, multi Hugo Award winning editor and author, and each volume includes dozens of stories from a veritable who’s who of Science Fiction’s best and brightest.
The list of authors to appear in TYBSF includes Stephen Baxter, James P. Blaylock, Gwyneth Jones, Jonathan Lethem, Robert Reed, Walter Jon Williams, Gene Wolfe, Nancy Kress, Dan Simmons, Paul J. McAuley, Alastair Reynolds, Greg Egan, Ken MacLeod, Bruce McAllister and Charles Stross just to name a few. Dozois includes veterans and rising stars in each yearly edition as well as an insightful summation of the year’s events and a lengthy list of honorable mentions.
Anthologies are a bit of a departure for WWEnd. Our main focus is on award nominated novels but there is always room for a few anthologies. So what do you think? Do you want to see more? Have you read any of these? Any collectors out there got ’em all?