Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth


with 4 comments

The Hugo awards were announced last night. Boing Boing has the list, including Ted Chiang’s characteristically excellent novella “The Lifecycle of Software Objects.” I haven’t read the winning Connie Willis novels but I did just impulse-buy both for my Kindle.

I’m also glad to see Lev Grossman won Best New Writer for his very good (especially the first two-thirds) The Magicians; I got the chance to interview Lev recently about his excellent followup, The Magician King, which should be in this week’s Independent Weekly. We mostly talked about fan fiction, building off his defense of the genre in Time here. Look for that soon.

4 Responses

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  1. You’ve probably heard me say this, but when you get halfway through Blackout and you want to quit because it’s so frustrating, it really does pick up and make the journey worth it by midway through All Clear.

    Bill Simmon

    August 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm

  2. I hated Grossman’s book. Especially the first two thirds, which felt like a weak riff on Harry Potter — with detestable and, worse, boring characters — and not on the Narnia-esque fantasy that (to hear Grossman talk and read him write) are clearly what interested him as a child and as an adult reader. I already went into great detail about why I disliked the book so much here, but, suffice it to say, I was a little disappointed by his win for Best New Writer, and I won’t be reading the sequel any time soon.

    His brother Austin’s book, Soon I Will Be Invincible, though, is rather good.

    I’ve heard some pretty mixed things about Willis’ novels, but I enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog and picked up Blackout. My main issue with that is…well, it’s not really a novel. Say what you will about Willis as a writer, giving the award to two books and pretending it’s one does feel a bit like a cheat.


    August 23, 2011 at 10:25 am

    • I remember your tweets about this. For what it’s worth, the sequel is essentially all Narnia and is genuinely much better than the first one.

      He and I talked about the “ripoff” issue a bit in our interview, actually, and I guess I take his side on this: you can’t really say it’s a ripoff when he’s making absolutely no bones about what he’s plagiarizing/parodying. The whole point is that it’s “Harry Potter, but…” Even the detestable/boring characters are part of that “but”…


      August 23, 2011 at 10:31 am

      • No, “ripoff” (which I’ll admit I suggested in my blog review) is almost certainly unfair. His book doesn’t feel indebted to Harry Potter so much as an attempt to parody, contemporize, and riff on it. I just think it’s a wholly unsuccessful attempt. My problem with the book wasn’t that it was a bad version of Harry Potter, as lord knows J.K. Rowling has her flaws as a writer too. It’s that I hated each of the characters but felt like I was being asked to not only sympathize with them but accept them as the heroes. Quentin is a self-centered, spoiled, sometimes downright sexist jerk who’s no fun whatsoever to be around. And he’s continually rewarded for that.

        Grossman seems like an intelligent and likable guy. I heard him read from The Magician King a few months ago at the NY Public Library and have read some of his articles in Time. I admit, I haven’t yet read the interview, mostly because I’m genuinely tired of thinking about the book. Lots of people have loved it. I’m just absolutely not one of them.


        August 23, 2011 at 10:43 am

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