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Viewing Blog: Asking the Wrong Questions, Most Recent at Top
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Abigail Nussbaum is a writer based in Israel.
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1. Review: The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

Even as we reel from yesterday's Hugo nominees and impatiently await tonight's Clarke nominees, Strange Horizons has published my review of Sofia Samatar's second novel The Winged Histories.  I wrote about Samatar's first novel, A Stranger in Olondria, a few years ago, and was blown away by the beauty of its language, the complexity of its worldbuilding, and the nuanced view it took of the epic

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2. The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees

Some people must really enjoy losing to No Award. — Abigail Nussbaum (@NussbaumAbigail) April 26, 2016 I have to be honest, my first reaction to this year's Hugo ballot (and even before that, to the rumors of what was going to be on it), was to sigh at the thought of going through this whole thing all over again.  I'm tempted to just link you to last year's reaction post, because pretty much

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3. Ex Machina

The summer before last, at LonCon, I participated in a panel about "The Gendered AI"--those characters, either robots or disembodied artificial intelligences, who are seen as possessing a gender (where gender almost always means female, since maleness is still considered an unmarked category, and genre fiction rarely distinguishes between a robot that is genderless and one that is male-identified

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4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

To get the obvious stuff out of the way, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a terrible movie.  I mean, you didn't need me to tell you that, right?  It's been out for three weeks, and the reviews have been so uniformly terrible that its 28% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes actually seems a bit high.  And before that consensus formed, there were the pre-release reviews, which were if anything

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5. Recent Reading Roundup 39

After a couple of lean years, 2016 is shaping up to be a great reading year.  If things continue at their current pace, I will have read more books in the first four months of the year than I did in all of 2015, and while there's a bit of cheating involved in that--my numbers this year have been padded by a lot of quick reads, such as comics or standalone novellas--it's also good to be back in

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6. The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Best Novel and Campbell Award

There are three whole days left before the Hugo nominating deadline, but I'm traveling starting tomorrow, so the final post in the series listing my Hugo nominees goes up today.  As tends to be the case, the best novel category is the one I put the least effort into.  I don't tend to read most books in the year of their publication, so I'm only rarely sufficiently up to date that I have a full

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7. The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Media Categories

We are now five days away from the Hugo nominating deadline, and moving on to a group of categories that can be a lot of fun, but also a bit frustrating.  Fun, because these are the categories where the Hugo steps away from the somewhat insular focus of its fiction and publishing categories and engages with the larger world of pop culture, and frustrating, because we're still so resistant to

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8. The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories

With ten days left before the Hugo nominating deadline, it's time to move swiftly forward to the publishing and fan categories.  What binds these categories together is that they are consistently the ones that I have the most trouble picking nominees in.  I don't even bother with the best editor categories, for reasons that have been enumerated too many times for me to repeat, and the two best

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9. The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Short Fiction Categories

Here we are again with the Hugo nominating season rushing towards its close (on March 31st, in case you'd forgotten), and once again my fine intentions of coming to this point having read every story I could get my hands on have proven over-ambitious.  The number of online magazines publishing genre fiction grows every year, and though I truly intended to go through every story published by every

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10. Recent Movie Roundup 21, Part 2

In a few hours, this year's Oscars will be handed out, concluding a season that has been interesting more for the conversation surrounding the nominated movies than for the movies themselves.  Nevertheless, here are some more thoughts about nominated movies (plus a recent one) with my ranking of the best picture nominees at the end. Room - A few years ago, when Emma Donoghue's novel was the

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11. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

About a year ago, in preparation for the BBC miniseries adaptation, I reread Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.  This was the first time I'd revisited Clarke's novel since I first read it about ten years ago, and what struck me in this rereading--aside, that is, from its reminder that this is a special, unusual, and exceptional novel--was how very political Jonathan Strange & Mr.

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12. Recent Movie Roundup 21, Part 1

Every year I promise myself that this is the year I'll start watching more grown-up movies, instead of just flocking to the same action and superhero movies.  And every year I remember why that's a difficult promise to keep--because unlike TV, the Israeli movie market is still stuck in the 80s, with screens devoted almost exclusively to either blockbusters or middle-of-the-road pablum aimed at

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13. The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

The Lie Tree begins with a gloomy, wet boat journey to a gloomy, wet island in the English Channel.  Fourteen-year-old Faith Sunderly, our protagonist, is moving with her family to the Isle of Vane, so that her father, the Reverend Erasmus Sunderly, can consult on an archaeological dig.  It's the 1860s, and amateur natural scientists like Erasmus are grappling with the new, controversial theory

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14. E-Books Galore

When I promised to start making ebooks of some of the posts in this blog's (gulp) ten-year-old archives, I thought I'd get on that in a few weeks.  Six months later, I've finally done it!  the E-Books tab has been updated with three new collections: the series Back Through the Wormhole and Let's See What's Out There, in which I reflected on the Star Trek series Deep Space Nine and The Next

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15. Review: The Liminal War and The Entropy of Bones by Ayize Jama-Everett

Over at Strange Horizons, I review the second and third books in Ayize Jama-Everett's Liminal People series.  This was one of those cases where a book comes to you just when you need it the most.  As they've slowly taken over popular culture, I've found myself growing increasingly impatient with superhero stories, and with how the ones that show up on our screens choose to handle politics (see,

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16. The 2016 Hugo Awards: A Few Thoughts as Nominations Open

On Wednesday, the good folks at MidAmericon II announced the beginning of the nominating period for the 2016 Hugo awards, and will run until March 31st.  If you're like me, you've maybe been treasuring the period of relative peace and quiet since last year's Hugos were announced at the end of August, and are a little hesitant to launch yourself back into the conversation that surrounds these

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17. Gathered Round a Roaring Television, Part 2

It took ten days (all year!) but I'm finally done with the backlog of TV that I let build up over December while I was busy with other things.  And once again, all of these shows, good and bad, are infinitely more interesting than what the networks were cranking out in the fall.  Though it must be said that along with these miniseries and SyFy series, I also watched several network pilots--such

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18. Gathered Round a Roaring Television, Part 1

I didn't write anything about the fall TV season this (last) year, because frankly, it was too dismal and boring to write anything about, and anything I could have said would have just joined the chorus of thinkpieces lamenting the networks' inability to produce anything resembling worthwhile new shows.  But here we are in winter, with the network shows on break or just coming out of it, and

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19. The Martian

When coming to write about The Martian, Ridley Scott's space/disaster/survival movie about an astronaut stranded on Mars, it's hard to resist the impulse to draw comparisons.  The Martian is perhaps best-described as a cross between Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity and Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away.  Its focus on the engineering challenges that survival on Mars poses for hero Mark Watney, and on the

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20. Crimson Peak

The first thing you notice about Crimson Peak is how deliberately, consciously old-fashioned it is.  This is a movie that starts with the camera zooming in on the cloth-bound cover of a book bearing the film's title, and whose scene breaks (chapter breaks, we should say) are signaled by irising in on a prop or a character's face, as if we were watching an old-timey silent film.  The second thing

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21. Five Comments on Hamilton

If you're like me, you probably spent some portion of the last six months watching your online acquaintance slowly become consumed with (or by) something called Hamilton.  And then when you looked it up it turned to be a musical playing halfway around the world that you will probably never see.  But something strange and surprising is happening around Hamilton--a race-swapped, hip-hop musical

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22. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

When coming so late to a novel that has been as rapturously received as Ann Leckie's debut (it is the winner of--deep breath, now--the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, BSFA, Locus, and Kitschie awards, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, and noted in the Tiptree award honor roll) there's a temptation to focus one's critical thoughts on the obvious question: why this book?  What is it about Ancillary

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23. Show Me a Hero: Thoughts on Jessica Jones

2015 has been an interesting year for Marvel Studios and the MCU.  The ever-expanding franchise's movie wing struggled this year, closing out the otherwise excellent Phase II with the overstuffed Avengers: Age of Ultron and the underbaked Ant-Man, two very different movies whose single shared trait is how definitively they demonstrate that Marvel isn't interested in--is, in fact, terrified of-

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24. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A few weeks ago, someone on my twitter feed joked that soon, we'd be inundated with a million reviews and thinkpieces about The Force Awakens all starting the same way--with a recitation of the author's personal connection to Star Wars, how they first encountered the movies, what their emotional reaction to the prequels was, and what place the franchise holds in their heart.  This threw me,

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25. 2015, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year

I read 44 books in 2015, about the same as last year and still not where I'd like to be (I'm still working on what might yet be number 45, but I doubt I'll make it in the three hours and change I have left).  About a third of the books I read were science fiction, a much higher proportion than usual due to Hugo reading and some other writing projects I'm working on.  Though I've found some great

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