Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Locus reviews

My copy of the February '08 Locus Magazine arrived the other day, and I was surprised to find myself all over it.

First, there was Nick Gevers on my contribution to Interzone's December 2007 issue:
"Interzone has a good December issue led by the latest of Chris Roberson's Celestial Empire stories, "Metal Dragon Year." The setting is, again, an alternate Earth where Imperial China, buoyed by the great voyages of Zheng He, has become the dominant technological power, its only rival the Aztec kingdom. As the Chinese begin to develop their space programme, testing rockets under the direction of a gifted chief engineer who is also a devout Muslim, mysterious patterns of sabotage emerge, and someone has clearly been leaking information to the wrong people. Roberson quite movingly depicts his dutiful hero's struggles of vision and faith."
Then in the book reviews there was Russell Letson on The Dragon's Nine Sons, who after a fairly detailed summary of the plot summarizes thusly:
"The narrative voice and emotional stance of this book remind me strongly of L. Sprague de Camp--discursive, explanatory, and rather cool, even in the face of considerable unpleasantness (the Mexic weapons of choice are the liquid-magnesium-spitting "fire lance" and the obsidian-studded club, so close combat is anything but pretty). This removes much of the edginess of the dirty-dozen template, replacing it with the ironies of the ways in which the crewmembers' flaws contribute to their heroism. Here, as in The Voyage of Night Shining White, character, character relationships, and cultural background are at least as compelling as the melodramatic action in the foreground. In fact, those are the qualities that would have me return to this charming and oddly-retro-feeling alternate future."
And in his overview of The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two, Rich Horton lists my "The Line of Dichotomy," noting in a fairly value-neutral way that is is one of "the longest stories" in the anthology.

Finally, in his piece on Philip José Farmer, Gary K. Wolfe was kind enough to list me in the number of "writers who now cheerfully acknowledge their debt to Farmer", alongside Neil Gaiman, Allen Steel, Garth Nix, Mike Resnick, Joe R. Lansdale, and other such luminaries. Fine company to be in!

And if that wasn't enough, Gardner Dozois cited Sean Williams's Cenotaxis as one of the notable novellas of the year in his "2007 in Review" column, and Gevers also reviewed Kim Newman's Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, summing up by saying:
The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club is a strong collection, illuminating many fascinating corners of just one of Newman's several timelines. Densely spun, knowingly and knowledgeably narrated, its stories are among the better secret histories of recent years.
Both Cenotaxis and Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, likewise, end up in the New & Notable listings (as does Philip José Farmer and Danny Adams's The City Beyond Play, to which I supplied an introduction).

Add to that my goofy mug leering drunkenly out from the sidebar on the table of contents, and the half-page ad for Dragon's Nine Sons and Three Unbroken on page fourteen, and I am quite literally all over this issue.

How shallow does it make me, then, that I searched in vain for mentions of my writing in the "2007 Recommended Reading" essays? It's not enough that a story of mine is included in the list, but I have to be namechecked in someone's column, as well? Yeesh. You think I'd learn to be satisfied, once in a while...


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