Amatka Book Talks by Karin Tidbeck in BOS, NYC, and San Diego

Swedish fantasy and weird author Karin Tidbeck is giving book talks on her debut novel Amatka in the United States.

Karin Tidbeck Amatka

Amatka was originally released in Swedish in 2012. It was first published in English a few weeks ago, at the end of June 2017. The publisher describes the novel as follows:

“A surreal debut novel set in a world shaped by language in the tradition of Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin.

“Vanja, an information assistant, is sent from her home city of Essre to the austere, wintry colony of Amatka with an assignment to collect intelligence for the government. Immediately she feels that something strange is going on: people act oddly in Amatka, and citizens are monitored for signs of subversion.

“Intending to stay just a short while, Vanja falls in love with her housemate, Nina, and prolongs her visit. But when she stumbles on evidence of a growing threat to the colony, and a cover-up by its administration, she embarks on an investigation that puts her at tremendous risk.”

In connection with the book birthday, Tidbeck will do a short publicity tour in the U.S. First, she’ll appear at Readercon 28 in Quincy, south of Boston, on July 13-16, 2017. (No further details at this writing.)

There’ll be a second book talk at New York City’s Scandinavia House on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 7 p.m. (free entry).

Finally, Tidbeck will be at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 20-23, 2017. (No further details at this writing.)

I haven’t read Tidbeck before, but Amatka sounds intriguing. She describes the birth of the novel in a blog post like this:

“I had spent some years collecting dream notes, and I found myself wondering if they could be mapped. What did my dream country look like? I found that some places showed up again and again, although the geography, events and people shifted. I ended up ordering the notes according to an imagined compass: north, south, east and west, and finally, a central city. […]

“Vanja, a somewhat reluctant protagonist, agreed to be my guide. But what was the world? Dreams, as I thought of them, are ruled by language. What would Vanja’s life be like? What would a society be like in a world where language ruled over matter? The story of Amatka began to unfold. It broke loose from my dream continent and became a world of its own.”

On the surface it sounds a bit like LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and Emmi Itäranta’s The Weaver. The way Tidbeck talks of language ruling over matter also reminds me of the way mathematics rules over reality in Yoon Ha Lee’s The Ninefox Gambit. As a linguist, I’m doubly intrigued and excited to read Amatka!

Medieval Advice: No One on Their Right Mind Should Sleep Lying on Their Back

Advice books are nothing new. Here’s an example from late Medieval Europe:

“Those who have weak stomachs should sleep face down, for it will aid digestion and will not allow phlegm to accumulate through the increase of natural heat which stiffens the harmful humors. Moreover, it is extremely helpful to sleep at first on the right side, then on the left. No one on their right mind should sleep lying on their back.”

– Bartolomeo Platina, De honesta voluptate et valetudine (c. 1474)

(Translation by Erik Jensen)

Screencap Lancelot-Grail BLib Add MS 10293 f283r

This rather strongly worded hint is found in a Latin-language cookbook De honesta voluptate et valetudine by Bartolomeo Sacci (1421-1481; better known as Platina). Platina’s work was published c. 1474, and is often called the world’s oldest printed cookbook. It’s more than a collection of recipes, however; it also included his reflections on health, healthy habits, and physical activity, for instance.

A scanned version in Latin (with full record) is available through the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

As a side-sleeper, I (very non-seriously!) agree that sleeping on your back can’t be good for you. All of those wicked humors must then be free to wander around your body, you know… 😉

Image: Lancelot-Grail (The Prose Vulgate Cycle), Lancelot sleeping in a pavilion having killed the owner who lies outside, screencap of Add MS 10293, folio 283r via British Library (northern France; early 14th c.; illustration on parchment)

Some things are just too silly not to share!

NYC Subway Library Offers Free Reads This Summer

Subway riders in New York City are in for a treat this summer: e-books, e-shorts, and excerpts from full-length books are available in subway stations for free download.

This six-week Subway Library promotion comes from the cooperation of the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Public Library with the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Transit Wireless.

The e-books and short stories come from the NYPL’s permanent collection, while excerpts have been made available by big-name publishers (including Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Plympton, and Simon & Schuster).

Along with the free reading, there is a social media competition, and a special Library Train will alternate running along the 6th and 8th Avenue lines (E and F trains). The latter has a car decorated to look like the Rose Main Reading Room inside the 42nd Street branch of the NYPL.

Publishers Weekly Subway Library Train Interior

Read more about and browse the free selection at the Subway Library website!

Found via Tor.com and Publishers Weekly.

Image: interior of Subway Library train car by NYPL via Publishers Weekly

Out There is an occasional feature highlighting intriguing art, spaces, places, phenomena, flora, and fauna.

Quotes: Sometimes Silence Is the Greatest Wisdom

“’I think I’m supposed to say something, but I don’t know what,’ he said.

“’Then don’t say anything. Sometimes silence is the greatest wisdom.’”

– The volunteer and N’Kya in “The Volunteer” by Maurice Broaddus

Oh, so much this. Not only because I think it’s true, but because it reminds me of a cultural difference that’s highly personal to me. In my culture, silence is definitely seen differently than in the U.S. Over the years, I’ve struggled to explain it. This is the closest I’ve come so far:

For a Finn to be silent isn’t an indication of inattention or rudeness; far from it. Silently listening is a sign of interest, i.e., not interrupting before the other speaker has had a chance to finish. Silence means attention to the topic and respect towards another person’s life and space. (Finns need a larger bubble of personal space than other Europeans.) And silence can also be an indication of deep camaraderie.

In essece, then, silence means space, and space means respect.

Broaddus, Maurice. “The Volunteer.” In The Voice of Martyrs. Greenbelt, MD: Rosarium, 2017, p. 103.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

Hugo Awards 2017 Voter Packet Is out

Since last Wednesday, I’ve been like:

Twitter Adam Holisky Picard Full of Win

And:

Kermit Flail

And:

Lady Fancifull reading-film-gif

As members of Worldcon75, we are participating in this year’s Hugo Awards voting. Last week, the con released a packet of reading and visual works to help voters access materials on the finalists list. (Note to self: We have until July 15, 2017, 2:59 am EST to get our votes in.)

Apparently this year’s packet is larger than ever before in the 10 years it’s existed. While definitely not the reason for our memberships, it’s an invaluable bonus.

In addition to the official packet, JJ at File 770 did a huge favor for readers and collected a comprehensive list of finalist works published free online.

With all of this reading, I definitely will have no problems with how to fill my days in the foreseeable future!

Thank you, various creatives and rightsholders, thank you, Worldcon75 Hugo Awards staff, and thank you, JJ and Mike Glyer / File770.

Images: Kermit flail via Walker—Bait on Tumblr; Captain Picard Full of Win via Adam Holisky on Twitter; Reading film: radicktv via Lady Fancifull

Quotes: In the Hopes that They Will Be Able to Pass for One of the Glintelligentsia

“The Merita hotel chain offers rooms at a steep discount to people whose Information shows that they are interesting: as cocktail-chatter counterparts, as connections for enterpreneurs, as potential romantic partners. It’s a strategy to convince wealthier, duller clientele to pay a premium in order to share some sparkling conversation, or in the hopes that they will be able to pass for one of the glintelligentsia themselves.”

– Malka Older, Infomocracy

I just love the word glintelligentsia! It should be in mainstream use already. 🙂

Older, Malka. Infomocracy. New York, NY: Tor.com, 2016, p. 77.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.

Johanna Sinisalo Is a 2017 Prometheus Award Finalist

Author Johanna Sinisalo’s latest novel, dystopian The Core of the Sun (Auringon ydin, translated by Lola Rogers) has gained another distinction: it is a finalist for the 2017 Prometheus Award.

The Prometheus Award, sponsored by the Libertarian Futurist Society (LFS), was established in 1979, making it one of the most enduring awards after the Nebula and Hugo awards, and one of the oldest fan-based awards currently in sf. Presented annually since 1982 at the World Science Fiction Convention, the Prometheus Awards include a gold coin and plaque for the winners.

Congratulations! I hope she will give a talk on on TCotS at Worldcon 75.

A Hannu Rajaniemi Standalone to Come in August 2017

Mathematician and author Hannu Rajaniemi, known for his Jean le Flambeur series, will publish a new novel later this year.

Gollancz Summerland_revised

Called Summerland, the novel is a standalone and sounds like a mix of ghost and spy stories:

“Loss is a thing of the past. Murder is obsolete. Death is just the beginning.

“In 1938, death is no longer feared but exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased.

Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland, and the technology to build their own god.

“When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on one of the Soviet moles, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.

“But how do you catch a man who’s already dead?”

Summerland will be published at the end of August.

Having read the Jean le Flambeur trilogy, though, “ghost and spy story” is a woefully flat and utterly inadequate description. I’ve no doubt Rajaniemi will again produce something extraordinary. I’m looking forward to reading this particular fellow Finn again.

Image: Summerland cover by Jeffrey Alan Love via Gollancz

Johanna Sinisalo on the 2016 James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List

Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo’s novel The Core of the Sun (Auringon ydin, translated by Lola Rogers) made it onto the 2016 James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List.

Amazon Sinisalo The Core of the Sun

The James Tiptree Jr. Award is a juried award presented annually to works of science fiction or fantasy that explore and expand the understanding of gender and gender roles. In addition to selecting the winners, the jury chooses a Tiptree Award Honor List. The Honor List is a strong part of the award’s identity and is used by many readers as a recommended reading list.

Onnea! That’s fantastic news. Earlier, The Core of the Sun was also voted onto the BSFA Awards 2016 longlist for best novel. Sounds like a very good year for the book.

The Award announcement has several books that I’ve already read or that are on my TBR pile. I might also have to check out some of the others; several sound interesting.

Image via Amazon

Quotes: Stereotypes … Sometimes Bear Truth’s Imprint

“Stereotypes are untrue. Sometimes, though, they bear truth’s imprint. Sometimes they spring up from what truth has crushed down. As they manifest they can co-opt and mispurpose inescapable realities.”

– Nisi Shawl in the introduction to Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

I’ve been thinking of reductivism lately and, serendipitously, found more food for thought in my fiction reading.

Shawl, Nisi. “Annunciation” (introduction). In Ancient, Ancient by Salaam, Kiini Ibura. Seattle, WA: Aqueduct Press, 2012.

Serving exactly what it sounds like, the Quotes feature excerpts other people’s thoughts.