Jun 21st, 2012 by writerandcritic
This episode of The Writer and the Critic is recorded LIVE in front of an actual audience at Continuum 8, the National SF Convention, with two very, very special guests: authors extraordinaire Alison Goodman and Kelly Link. Your hosts, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond, talk with Alison about her new project, a dark supernatural Regency trilogy which may or may not involve gowns, bonnets and a large bloody knife. Kelly reaffirms her love of short fiction -- recommending "The New Mother" by Lucy Clifford along the way -- while reluctantly confessing that she might be considering writing a novel of her own. Certainly, if Holly Black has anything to do with it!
Because reviewing four books in a single podcast would be an act of no small madness, Kirstyn and Ian wisely decide to leave the recommendations for this month to their guests. Alison has chosen The Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey (discussion begins at 17:50) while Kelly has brought along The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (48:20).
Inspired by the online exploits of Jim C. Hines, Ian attempts to reconstruct the pose illustrated on the cover of The Crystal Singer. He does rather a marvellous job:
If you've skipped ahead to avoid spoilers, please tune back in around 1:16:50 for final remarks. Kelly would also like to make two additional recommendations that listeners might enjoy, The Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss and the Flora Segunda series of books by Ysabeau Wilce.
Ian has picked Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor while Kirstyn has chosen The Drowning Girl by Caitlin R. Kiernan. It will possibly be their longest podcast ever. Okay, okay, it's already been recorded and, yes, it is definitely their longest podcast ever. Make sure you bring along a comfy chair!
You are now listening to a multi-award-winning podcast -- a fact which Kirstyn and Ian did not yet know while recording this episode. Because this episode was in fact recorded before the awards were announced. We're not living that much in the future! But Ian would explode if he had to wait until the next recording to announce that The Writer and the Critic has won both Chronos and Ditmar Awards for Best Fan Publication. Ian and Kirstyn are ever so chuffed, and would like to thank all their listeners as well as everyone who voted for them. (They would also like to apologise to Galactic Suburbia for being so shocked and overwhelmed that they failed to notice the GS standing ovation in the back row. They promise to ovate in an upright posture the next time GS wins an award so they too can be blissfully ignored. It's only fair.)
But yes, awards! Look! Proof! Plus a random monkey!
I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast, as usual. Generally your discussions are so thorough and comprehensive that they leave me with nothing to say (beyond “wow!”), but this time I find I have a couple of comments.
I kept waiting for one of you to suggest that the unbearable aspect of Crystal Singer for an adult reader in 2012 was its motive force: the book is driven entirely by a wish-fulfullment engine. You lose your chosen career because you are imperfect. In exchange, you acquire a more exotic, more dangerous, more highly remunerated career that allows (indeed, requires) you to eat lots and lots of exotic food without ever gaining an ounce. And you experience trance-like, orgasmic states during the performance of your work function. And your enemies die horribly!
An adult is all too aware that things simply don’t happen that way.
However, events that seem dire do often lead to opportunities we might not have imagined. McCaffrey delivers that message with more subtlety in the Ship Who Sang and (some of) the Pern novels. But if you want a good wallow in wish-fulfillment, Crystal Singer may be the best instance of that kind. (Oh, wait. That exotic career causes you to lose your memory. But it doesn’t happen until later. We can forget about that.) In short, all the things Kirsten objects to in the book may be features rather than bugs, but if I ever reread the book, it will definitely be in a bubble bath after a thoroughly demoralizing day.
I’m so glad that you like Scorpio Races, which I thought received far too little genre attention last year. (I wrote it in on my Locus ballot, but that’s fairly useless.) Ian, you might want to try Shiver. While I’d agree with Kelly Link that it isn’t my ideal take on werewolves, it’s one I find interesting. (The change is related not to the moon but to the change of seasons. Werewolves change involuntarily when it’s cold. It really puts a whole new spin on “summer job.” Also “home schooling.”) However, if the mysterious male love-interest bothers you, these books may not be your cup of tea, even without butter and salt. They are definitely romance-driven. I thoroughly enjoyed the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, and read Lament on the strength of that. It was her debut novel, and I found it somewhat weaker.
Congratulations on your many, well-deserved awards. Do we really have to wait a whole month for the next podcast? (Begs prettily.) (You should ignore the begging. You deserve a vacation.)