China Miéville is both a proponent and practitioner of New Weird writing. Some of you are probably ready to quit reading at this point. “New Weird” is a term that can seem both vague and unnecessary. Weird writing has its canon revolving around H.P Lovecraft and company with their themes of ancient evil and cosmic terror. Defining a new variety of weirdness can come down to a long list of writers who to greater or lesser degrees produce it – whatever exactly it is. Is it just a more explicit, visceral version of what came before, or is it marked chiefly by its effort to incorporate literary ambitions that divorce it from its pulp origins?
Whatever the case, it is staking out its territory in the speculative fiction arena. Anne and Jeff VanderMeer, who in 2011 established a weird canon with the 1100 page anthology, The Weird, A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, had already in 2008 anthologized 30 stories and essays as The New Weird. This year, weirdness enters the crowded arena of annuals with Laird Barron editing The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Volume I. (If they have come out in the past year, I assume they are “New” Weird by default.)
Miéville contributed both a story to the VanderMeers’ 2011 anthology and an “Afterweird: The Efficacy of a Worm-eaten Dictionary.” He addresses the origins of The Weird without making a specific case for the new variety, but his arguments give a good picture of how his personal vision has been formed. He starts by leading us down an etymological dead end, deriving “weird” from the Anglo-Saxon “wyrd,” a word conjuring a vision of fate and doom as a “cat’s cradle, intricate and splendid as a Sutton Hoo buckle.” He proposes that the weird could be the feral child of the wyrd, but then, in Miévillian fashion, pulls the rug from his own argument. “What if etymology is fucking useless?” Late 19th and early 20th century writers did not engage their Gothic fathers in an Oedipal struggle to develop a new language. Theirs was not a new literature of fatefulness but its rebuke.
The fact of the weird is the fact that the worldweave is ripped and unfinished. Moth-eaten, ill-made. And through the little tears, from behind the ragged edges, things are looking at us.
(You may either read that last bit as a simple declarative statement, or creep it out with internal italicization: things are looking at us.)
His verdict on the VanderMeer anthology: “This is a worm farm. These stories are worms.”
The stories in Three Moments of an Explosion can get pretty wormy. The book is not announced as an exercise in New Weirdness, but the publisher drops a hint on the back cover. We are told to expect “a cast of damaged yet hopeful seekers who come face-to-face with the deep weirdness of the world – and at times the deeper weirdness in themselves.”
Miéville titles this 400-page collection after the three paragraphs of science fiction that opens it. In an unspecified future, a crowd gathers to watch the destruction of a derelict warehouse. At the moment of the explosion, three intrepid thrill seekers ingest tachyon laced MDMA and rush into the collapsing building. They experience it in a moment outside of time. The drug begins to wear off, and only two make it out alive. But two out of three’s not bad, and the thrill was worth it.
Perhaps Miéville is letting us know that he will be slipping us the tachyon/ecstasy pill for each of the upcoming tales, leaving us wide-eyed observers suspended in his visions of collapse and morbid wonders.
To lure us in he opens with “Polynia”, a crowd pleaser about giant icebergs appearing in the sky over London. It’s an offbeat coming-of-age story that progresses from boyish adventure to adult lives lived in an irrevocably changed world.
After “Polynia,” things turn darker and tend to stay there. “Rope” is another sf story, but the mood is dour. Earth has long ago perfected the technology for space elevators, but we have not been able to keep them in good operating condition. A telling moment comes when intergalactic visitors have to feign interest in our pitifully out-of-date wonders. When he leaves sf behind, Miéville cranks up the weirdness dial in stories set in dismal worlds peopled by anxiety-ridden characters performing tasks that have lost their meaning and pursuing lives that offer no safeguards against the chaos engulfing them.
“The Buzzard’s Egg” takes place in a time of religious wars where the battles involve capturing the enemy’s god. In a remote tower, an old man tends to an old god with whom he’s grown quite fond. But the tides of war are changing. Miéville’s writing here takes on the tone of a Samuel Beckett monologue. In “Estate,” a young man, now living alone in his family’s house, is kept awake nights first by birds, then foxes, then rowdy kids. An acquaintance he hasn’t seen since his schooldays returns, and soon the old neighborhood is going up in flames. In “Keep,” the world succumbs to a disease that causes circular fissures to surround the infected. These fissures eventually swallow up entire cities, leaving the sufferer on a small island of solid ground, hence the title “Keep.” (You would probably have to read that one to have any idea what I am trying to describe.)
If you have read much Miéville, you know that it is wise to keep the dictionary app open while you proceed. “The Dusty Hat” has a dense, baroque verbal style perhaps meant to serve no other purpose than to put the reader as out of his depth as is the story’s left-leaning protagonist who slides into a phantasmagoric world of politics made corporeal. (Again, just read it.)
Since I was reviewing this book, I read it through from start to finish. Normally if I were to take up a book like this I would pick may through it, skipping around and possibly never reading every story. So for full disclosure purposes, looking back over the table of contents, I see titles that no longer mean anything to me, and I question the accuracy of my memories of other stories. What I remember most clearly is Miéville’s ability to find a new voice specific to each story. His American movie critic narrator of “Junket” is fully realized and far removed from the medical student in 1930’s Glasgow who tells the tale in “The Design.” It’s true that you are often left marveling at the author’s virtuosity rather than caring about the characters, but I don’t see that as the negative quality some readers report.
I also don’t agree that Miéville’s stories are poorly plotted and tend to wind down rather than end. They don’t wind down. The bottom falls out, taking you with it. And as Miéville said in his attempt to define the essence of Weird fiction, while in free fall you dread that you are about to learn exactly what those things are that are looking back through the holes at us.
1. Since I have read only two Delany novels and would place neither on my favorite list, I could humbly remove myself from making further comment.
2. I could consider my relative lack of first hand experience of Delany’s work as a plus when it comes to considering the stories anthologized here strictly on their own merits.
Obviously I am going to go with the second option, but I need to say something more about the first.
I read Nova and The Einstein Intersection about four years ago. Nova I didn’t particularly like for reasons I no longer clearly remember. Einstein entertained and intrigued me, although I remember not quite “getting” the end. Looking at other reader reviews, I saw that I was not alone in that response. Looking recently at a range of reader reviews I see that Delany can be a polarizing author. Encomia are balanced out by disparaging comments from those who find the work opaque or over-written. This is especially true when it comes to Delany’s big books, Dahlgren and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. In one of his letters, Philip K. Dick, an author I think very highly of, reports throwing his copy of Dahlgren across the room before he was a hundred pages into it. In some cases, readers are put off by Delany’s content. These negative, sometimes angry responses, combined with what I’ve read in this new book, have actually renewed my interest in going back to Delany.
I have also read a third Delany novel. When I was in the book business, a small gay publishing house needed to remainder a few hundred copies of Hogg, one of Delany’s forays into pornography. I bought them and sold them for between $10 and $50 as their number decreased. I also read it. I can’t take the time to be shocked, but it is a variety of violent, transgressive pornography that leaves me puzzled about both its purpose and its audience. But a recent edition of the Los Angeles Review of Books ran an article on Hogg, “Uses of Displeasure: Literary Value and Affective Disgust,” by Liz Janssen. Again, the jury is split.
Stories for Chip is not a collection of pastiches. The writers have apparently been chosen because they work under Delany’s influence and address his themes. I have to say “apparently” because the book comes with essentially no editorial content, and it is badly needed. This situation was worsened by the advance ebook I received from Net Galley. The Table of Contents listed a Contributors page, but it was nowhere to be found. And the transcription was the worst I have ever encountered. Words were run together, sometimesuptotheextentofanentire sentence. A couple of stories with particularly dense or playful language were unreadable.
There is a lot of very good stuff here, and even the absence of the Contributors section worked to my advantage. I knew only a fraction of these writers, and several of those only by name. Most of the stories occasioned a trip to Google, where I found information and links I would not have in the couple of sentences the book itself might have contained.
The contributors are an international, multiethnic roster whose interest in Delany shows in their attention to race and gender and the pleasure they take in language. The book was funded by an Indiegogo campaign, and the publisher’s website had an open call for submissions. Somehow I doubt that Junot Diaz, Nalo Hopksinson, Kit Reed, Michael Swanwick and a few of the others answered an open call. And then there is Thomas Disch, who died in 2008. As I said above, more editorial content is badly needed, but finally that can’t take away from the enjoyment of the 30 stories and four critical essays included.
A few personal favorites, specifically from authors I did not know:
Claude Lalumiere: “Empathy Evolving as a Quantum of Eight-Dimensional Perception.” A misanthropic human time traveler finds himself millions of years in the future. Octopi are the dominant species, and if they don’t eat you they absorb you. This sets off a change of incarnations over the eons, in one of which the cephalopod/human entity may become God.
Anil Menon: “Clarity.” A professor of computer science in India finds himself living inside one of the theoretical models he and his co-workers consider thought experiments.
Geentajali Dighe: “The Last Dying Man.” According to Hinduism, the world destroys and recreates itself in cycles involving millions of years. And yet it has to happen sometime. A man and his daughter in Mumbai find themselves dealing with the day-to-day reality of the transition.
Weslyan University Press keeps in print around 1,500 pages of Delany’s critical and theoretical writing, and he prompts a fair amount of critical writing from others. There are several essays here, but Walida Imarisha’s very personal account of her engagement with both the man and his writing best conveys the significance Delany has had on writers of color. “So long seen as the lone Black voice in commercial science fiction Delany held that space for all the fantastical dreamers of color who came after him.” She goes on to propose that she and other writers become “walking science fiction…living, breathing embodiments of the most daring futures our ancestors were able to imagine.”
She is not asking anyone to sign onto her vision, but reading Stories for Chip you see that vision in action.
When I was five years old, previews for I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, The Blob, Attack of the Killer Shrews and their ilk flowed through the boxy, black-and-white television sets in dens and family rooms across the United States. Each of these creations looked potentially more marvelous that the one promoted the week before; and, once my parents made it clear that under no circumstances would I be allowed to attend these films, my fate was sealed. To this day, I will program the DVR to record almost any unfamiliar offering from the SyFy Channel or Chiller Network and watch it just long enough to see whatever ridiculous creature will be wreaking unconvincing CGI’d mayhem for the remainder of the two-hour time slot. Because really what I care about is that moment when the monster is revealed. I want to see the experiment gone wrong that’s kept chained in the cellar; the alien that emerges from the wrecked spacecraft; or, Godzilla’s latest sparring partner. After that first reveal, I have slowly learned over the decades to expect things to go downhill. But my enthusiasm for that first look has never waned.
My monster addiction is a visual thing. I have never cared much for monster stories. Verbal descriptions of the hideous tend to be anti-climactic and take too long. By the time I was twelve I quit expecting any of this stuff to be scary, but I want either an impressive crudeness or elegance to the creature, and I want to take it in at a glance. (And I will forestall some criticism here by saying that Clive Barker writes excellent monsters, China Mielville creates admirably alien aliens, and The Babadook recently scared the bejezzus out of me.)
By titling her new anthology The Monstrous, Ellen Datlow drew me in. She seemed to be promising “essence of the monster” rather than just the doings of the things themselves. And after editing what, something like 800 anthologies, I know that she knows her stuff. These are twenty-one stories that, while they will not duplicate the thrill of witnessing Ray Harryhausen’s Kraken lift its third arm out of the sea, can still satisfy the monster kid in all of us – and I know you are out there.
In her introduction, Datlow says she was looking for unusual monster stories, but she has not avoided such familiar creatures as vampires, serial killers, and ancient evils haunting tombs best left unopened. For the most part, her authors don’t depict creatures that depend on detailed description of their hideousness for effect. Adam-Troy Castro’s “The Totals,” features the widest array of nightmarish creatures, each tailor-made to terrify and inflict painful death on innocent victims. But his story is played for laughs. We meet them in an all-night diner where they gather to collect their weekly bonus pay. The comedy here stands out in three hundred pages of grimmer, sadder, bleaker stuff.
Datlow frontloads the anthology with literary firepower. Jeffrey Ford’s “A Natural History of Autumn” incorporates Japanese folklore into the high-stakes, globalized corporate world. Peter Straub offers a brilliant retelling of “Ashputtle,” the Grimm’s brothers version of the Cinderella story with the prince, the ball, and the happy ending replaced with a contemporary tale of life-long revenge carried out by an obese, homicidal kindergarten teacher. Caitlín Kiernan’s “The Beginning of the Year Without Summer” is a beautifully written, evocative tale, but – and I have had this experience before with Caitlín Kiernan – I am not quite sure what it’s about.
In any group of monster stories, curses will abound. In Gemma Files’ “A Wish from a Bone,” a group of archeologists who are also interested in careers on reality TV, open an ancient tomb to spectacularly dire results. One of the first of the crew to be possessed sprouts wings and spends the rest of the story flapping about overhead with her lungs dangling from her shattered chest cavity. Now that’s a cinematic image worthy of Eli Roth. The philosophical but ruthless vampire in Jack Dann’s and Gordner Dozios’ “Down Among the Dead Men” can be killed but his infection cannot. Stephen Graham Jones turns in a typically visceral tale set on a western-bound wagon train with a creature so foul that even his bleached bones pass on his monstrosity.
I have a couple of favorites: Sofia Samatar’s “How I Met the Ghoul” and John Langan’s “Corpsemouth.” In Samatar’s five-age vignette an understandably nervous reporter interviews an ancient, dangerous creature in an airport coffee shop. Both the reporter and the monster are in their way engaging characters.
Langan’s first person narrative takes a leisurely, novelistic approach and describes a family trip to visit the Scottish relatives of a young man’s recently deceased father. (Anyone who watches movies on the Chiller channel would know this is not a good idea.) The visit is a pleasant round of aunts, uncles, and cousins from several generations, all of whom offer dinners, single malt scotch, and sightseeing. One elderly great-uncle also tells the story of Corpsemouth, a creature from the days of King Arthur. It’s an ancient tale that will prove to have contemporary implications that tie the narrator to familial duties he has never imagined. This is a kind of curse, but on another level it is a monster kid’s dream come true.
(This review is based on an advanced ebook provided by Net Galley.)
Editor’s note: The Goblin Emperor has been receiving a lot of attention lately because of its inclusion on the Hugo ballot. It seems to be one of those books that polarizes readers—the elements that some love are the specific elements that others find annoying. In order to honor these divisions, this version of 3 Rs will show both sides through two reviews written especially for WWEnd.
Noclichehere’s review is generally positive while illegible _scribble’s is more lukewarm. This blog begins with illegible_scribble’s review in full and offers a closing counterpoint from Noclichehere.
An enjoyable book, but…
I hadn’t gotten around to reading this yet, partly because, based on the synopsis, I wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea. But I’ve seen so many people rave about this book on Facebook and blogs, and it managed to make it onto the Hugo ballot as a legitimate entry. So I moved it up on my to-be-read list.
This story is a mix of steampunk, murder-mystery, character-study, and royal-court-political-intrigue. It features a half-breed prince who has been scorned and locked away since childhood, but who suddenly ascends to the throne when his emperor father and three favored half-brother princes all die mysteriously in an airship accident.
I found the story interesting – even engrossing. But I fall short of raving about it. Although he’s appealing, the main character feels to me rather one-dimensional. He’s a good person who consistently behaves with honor and forbearance, who wins unlikely friends out of many of his enemies and, despite having had a pretty horrible life, almost never has bad urges – and gives into those urges even less often.
Part of the reason for my sense of lack of dimension may be due to the fact that the story starts as the prince ascends to the throne. We are told a little bit, here and there, about the bullying and abuse previously suffered by him prior to this – but we don’t experience it along with him. We aren’t given much background about how his character evolved.
With regard to the worldbuilding, I’m mystified as to the reason for having the two main races be goblins and elves. It bears no relevance to the story. These aren’t goblins and elves from fairy stories. They could just have easily been linbogs and veles, or sariths and calires. It seems like rather lazy worldbuilding to me, to have used goblins and elves.
The mystery is interesting, but the solution is not that unpredictable or mysterious. The court intrigue is engaging, but not that gripping or revelatory. When I got done reading, I felt as though I had eaten a meal, which was quite tasty at the time, but afterward left me feeling still a bit hungry and unsatisfied.
I’m glad I read it, and I enjoyed it – but I would probably not have put it on my Hugo nominee list.
Other readers’ mileage may – and obviously does – vary. I’ve seen review reactions ranging from “OMG, this is fantastic!” all the way to “I couldn’t finish this, it was just too tedious.” I’ve also seen comments from a couple of people who say that, having been bullied and abused as children, they found especially heartening the main character’s basic decency, and the fact that he survives such a background and comes into his own as a wise, beneficent ruler despite it.
I do sincerely recommend giving this novel a try – but not feeling bad, if it turns out to not be your “thing”.
As an aside, I’ve seen several people express difficulty remembering and understanding all the people and place names. There is a Name Glossary at the back of the book (at least in the printed version), which many people will likely find helpful.
Counterpoint from Noclichehere:
The Goblin Emperor is a wondrously-told, rags-to-riches story set in a vividly interesting, steampunk-ish, fantasy world. The mystery aspect to the story is very subtle to start, taking a back seat to all the other goings-on, and indeed much isn’t revealed to the reader until they’ve read more than halfway through the novel. But even with that fact aside, the pace of the story is by no means boring.
There are countless other things that demand the emperor’s attention while the investigation is being conducted, and the reader will not at all be bored in the meantime as they watch Maia grow and learn about the subtle social conventions of nobility; understand the relationships between feuding families; explore the baffling expanse of the city-sized palace; and much more. Maia is a genuinely kindhearted young man among a sea of cut-throat, two-faced officials looking to gain his favor for their own selfish reasons. His sudden promotion to emperor did nothing to smite his humble nature from living modestly all his life. Because of this he is unusually gracious and kind for an emperor who more often times offends and confounds his courtiers than it does make them like him […].
Overall, I really loved this novel and I would recommend it to anyone who’s infatuated with the idea of courts and kingdoms; lords and ladies; nobility and royalty; elves and goblins; magic and fantasy; and last, but surely not least, mystery and romance.
Last week, Worlds Without End passed 5,000 book reviews! That’s 1,000 new reviews since October of last year when we passed 4k! This is a huge milestone for WWEnd.
The biggest driver for reviews is undoubtedly the Roll-Your-Own Reading Challenge which has accounted for almost half of those new reviews. If you haven’t joined any reading challenges yet it’s not too late to do so now. Our 33 challenges have different reading levels within each which means you can jump in anytime during the year. In addition, new challenges pop up from time to time and you can always roll-your-own.
A huge thanks to all our members who have put in the time and effort to bring us so many great reviews. See our Books Reviewed on WWEnd list for all the books in our database that have been reviewed thus far.
I hope visitors to our site find these reviews helpful in finding great books to read!
Review by WWEnder:
This has been on my ‘to-read’ list for what seems like years. The novel’s reputation does precede it somewhat as I’m aware of it’s consideration of being a feminist classic.
My overwhelming impression after reading the novel is that it’s a good novel in terms of plot and story – I found it was one of the novels I couldn’t put down once I started reading it. That said, I didn’t find it a ‘great novel’. The plot is fairly linear and the characterisation limited although that’s necessary for the book – it’s not a story that will stay with me forever.
That said it is a very powerful book and I think this is why it is a necessary read for pretty much everyone! Atwood wrote this in the mid-80’s against a landscape of increased Christian Right influences in US culture. What is truly frightening is that whilst the current US does not resemble Atwood’s Gilead we do see Religious groups informing policy in much of the West and certainly in the US. Likewise, the reproductive rights of women is still a ‘debate’ in some areas of the West. We can see shades of Atwood’s Gilead today in the West. We can see it’s stark realisation in many other parts of the world.
Many areas of the world oppress women to this day. Is Gilead any different from Taliban controlled Afghanistan and Pakistan. Do ISIS resemble Gilead? In much of the Islamic world from Saudi Arabia to Iran (whether they are a ‘friend’ of the West or not) women have no political rights, must cover their faces, are owned by fathers and men and their sexual identity repressed. Is female genital mutilation or the kidnap of girls in Nigeria that different from Gilead?
It’s not confined to the Islamic world either. Consider the sex trafficking of girls and women from Eastern Europe to the West, the sexual exploitation of girls and women in South East Asia, restriction to birth control in Ireland. In the West we quite often look at feminism through the lens of work and bemoan that women struggle to break the glass ceiling to positions of power. This is a classist position and considers the rights of well educated and privileged women above the millions of working class women. Gender politics often look at the experience of women from a middle class perspective. This ignores that working class women are oppressed significantly across the world – yes they can work (in low paid part time jobs), but they are still doing the cleaning, looking after the kids and getting tea on the table.
Gilead is a dystopian future but I do not think in the 20 years or so since this novel has been written that the lives of women across the world have improved very much, indeed it could be argued that things are worse.
I found the naming of the Handmaids particularly troubling (Offred meaning ‘of Fred’s’). This did make me consider though we still have similar conventions (my wife took my surname when we were married). I guess it is the use of the first name that personalises this ownership so much. Furthermore, that we never knew Offred’s real name. I so wanted to discover it. I wanted her to have a name and an identity.
The dehumanisation and categorisation of women was powerful. One can see a limited male perspective of women – a Martha for the cleaning, a Handmaid for the breeding and a Jezebel for the entertainment. How often do men roll these characterisations into one and call it Wife?
It’s a novel of immense power and the use of power. Offred describes power relationships in the book but realistically she does not have any. It’s an indictment of societies mores and rules which everyone has to follow (except those in power). That the Commanders who wrote the rulebook are the ones that ignore it is a particularly strong message.
Well worth reading.
One of the features that I’ve been missing on WWEnd’s blog has been the featured reviews. The amazing growth of the site with the RYO challenges and all the new awards and features has made it impossible for the administrative team to keep up with the amount of reviews that the site is now generating. I have volunteered to be a “review editor” of sorts.
What I want to do is put some of Worlds Without End’s exclusive reviews center stage on the blog. Many of you have your own review blogs and generate your own readers through various means. I want to feature those of us who are only posting our reviews here on WWEnd. (I’m not just doing this to get an audience. I have very mixed feelings about adding mine at all.) What I hope this does is bring some readership and conversation to these reviews that can be quickly pushed off the rolling list on the home page as more reviews are added.
As I said, I am only me, so if you read a good review that you’d like to see on the blog, send me a message through the message system on the forum page. Also, if you want to self-promote your own WWEnd-only review, drop me a note as well. I have created a forum page as well for more conversations and general questions. This is the link. I will put up the first review tomorrow.
WWEnd Top 25 Reviewers:
Last week, Worlds Without End passed 4,000 book reviews! You may recall that at the end of January we announced 2,500 reviews which kind of puts into perspective how fast our review database is growing. We’ve had over 1,500 reviews posted in just 8 months! Our hats are off to our 331 members who have put so much time and effort into these great reviews and we want to especially recognize our top 25 reviewers who have gone above and beyond.
Click any avatar on the right to find a list of all the reviews for each of our top reviewers. See our Books Reviewed on WWEnd list for all the books in our database that have been reviewed thus far.
Of course we know how you like your stats so we broke down the data for your entertainment and edification.
|Actual Books Reviewed|
|Total Books Reviewed||1,882||1,227||663|
|SF Books Reviewed||1,019||747||274|
|Fantasy Books Reviewed||729||375||360|
|Horror Books Reviewed||172||121||51|
|Total Authors Reviewed||736||430||306|
|SF Authors Reviewed||413||270||143|
|Fantasy Authors Reviewed||362||169||193|
|Horror Authors Reviewed||104||65||39|
Please note: The male and female numbers refer to the authors’ gender not the reviewers. Some of the numbers above don’t match up exactly because some books are listed in more than one genre and some books are co-authored by male and female authors etc.
Most Reviewed SF Books:
- Ancillary Justice (26)
- The Forever War (23)
- Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (19)
- Zoo City (18)
- The Demolished Man (16)
- Doomsday Book (16)
- The Stars My Destination (16)
- The Dispossessed (15)
- Boneshaker (14)
- Childhood’s End (14)
- Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas (14)
- Rendezvous with Rama (14)
Most Reviewed Fantasy Books:
- Feed (23)
- Among Others (20)
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (18)
- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (14)
- The Drowning Girl (13)
- Souless (13)
- A Wizard of Earthsea (13)
- The Best of All Possible Worlds (11)
- The Night Circus (11)
- American Gods (10)
- Dragonflight (10)
- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (10)
- Perdido Street Station (10)
- Redemption in Indigo (10)
Most Reviewed Horror Books:
- The Graveyard Book (8)
- Gone Girl (6)
- Blackout (5)
- Coraline (4)
- A Discovery of Witches (4)
- The Girl With All The Gifts (4)
- Heart-Shaped Box (4)
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle (4)
- Abarat (3)
- The Between (3)
- A Dark Matter (3)
- Dead Until Dark (3)
- Drawing Blood (3)
- The Exorcist (3)
- Flesh Eaters (3)
- It (3)
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (3)
- Red Dragon (3)
- Salem’s Lot (3)
- Servant of the Underworld (3)
- The Strain (3)
- Those Who Hunt the Night (3)
As you can see, Science Fiction book reviews lead the way with almost 1,000 more reviews than in Fantasy while Horror, which is relatively new to WWEnd, lags far behind with fewer than 300 reviews to date. I would have guessed our Fantasy reviews would be closer to even with our SF reviews so those numbers are a little surprising. There does not seem to be a whole lot of cross-over from SF/F to Horror but 259 still seems a bit lower than expected.
There is an interesting mix of old standbys and newer works in the most reviewed books lists. Ancillary Justice tops all books with 26 member reviews which is pretty amazing considering it came out just last year. I like that The Demolished Man and The Stars My Destination, both with 16 reviews each and both personal favorites of mine, made it into the top reviewed SF list.
The most reviewed SF books list is an even break between books by men and women authors whereas the Fantasy list is all women authors aside from Neil Gaiman and China Meiville. The Horror list is more male dominated but it’s a much smaller number of reviews than the other lists. I wonder how that compares to other sites?
What do you make of these stats? What points of interest can you find in them?
Thanks again to all WWEnders for sharing their thoughts on the books they’ve read. I hope visitors to our site find these reviews helpful in finding great books to read!
Last week we reached a new milestone on WWEnd: 2,500 book reviews! You may remember we just celebrated our 2,000th review in September. Since that time we’ve been bringing in well over 100 reviews a month which is just amazing!
A good many of these reviews are the result of our reading challenges and our new Roll-Your-Own Reading Challenge promises to bring in more reviews than the 2013 Women of Genre Fiction did. After only 1 month we already have 55 reviews! The challenges have also been a driving force in bringing in new members who often bring with them a back catalog of reviews to share with us. We’ve got 88 new WWEnders for 2014, mostly for the RYO, and we expect that number to keep growing.
This is a great achievement for our community and we have to say thanks to all our members who have been contributing their time and talents to WWEnd. This is also a good time to recognize our top 10 reviewers. You can see by their numbers just how far above and beyond these folks have gone in supporting our community.
Oh, and the 2,500th review? That was submitted by none other than Charles Dee Mitchell, our number one reviewer by a long way, for Conscience of the Beagle by Patricia Anthony.
Thank you all again and here’s to the next 2,500!
For Lynn Williams (lynnsbooks) books are much more than a hobby or a pastime they’re really an obsession. If she’s not reading a book, she’s talking about books on her blog, Lynn’s Book Blog, or deciding which books to buy next. Lynn reads all sorts of books, sometimes straying into YA, but her first love is fantasy. Recently she started to cross into science fiction thanks to the suggestions of some very excellent bloggers.
Editor’s Note: This review counts for December.
Just finished reading The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – talk about getting your last challenges in right on the last minute – this book is both my 100th book of the year and also my December read for Worlds Without End, Women of Genre Fiction reading challenge – can I just say what a great challenge the WoGF has been – sincerely I hope they hold this next year, I will be all over it if they do!
Anyway, moving swiftly on and away from my gloaty back patting self (the book review being the actual purpose of the post!) I do have mixed feelings about this book – which would probably resolve themselves if I had the chance to mull it over a little longer and really establish how I feel, but – deadlines are pressing – so, mixed feelings are what I’m going with on this occasion. Although, for clarity’s sake I certainly didn’t dislike this, just not quite sure about exactly what my emotions are at this point (did I love it, maybe not. Did I hate it – definitely not.)
The story is about a young girl, Li Lan, living in Malaya. Her mother has died and her father has retreated into the world of opium. As a result, and although she certainly doesn’t seem to have suffered any hardship having been raised mainly by her very loving Amah, her future does not seem to have been taken care of in the traditional sense leaving her with no future marriage prospects. Her father’s business has deteriorated, as you would likely imagine as he spends most of his time with cloudy eyes chasing the dragon, and, on top of that, he also seems to have run up considerable debts. Then along comes a marriage proposal of a most unusual nature. A very well to do family would like Li Lan to marry their son. Yes, it’s the old ‘attractive young girl marries into a wealthy family to save her own family honour’ chestnut. Or is it? Before we all start jumping to those conclusions – there’s a snag with this marriage proposal, just a tiny one, maybe not insurmountable to some – although I think I might object – the would-be groom has already passed away. Now, tell me that you’re not intrigued!