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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. Thoughts on the New TV Season, 2016 Edition

This week has seen the first inklings of the new TV season, as the US networks start trotting out shows in the hopes of success, legitimacy, or even the tiniest bit of attention.  And yet here I am, still talking about some of the shows of summer.  This is partly because, as we've all more or less accepted, network shows just aren't where it's at anymore, and there isn't that much to say about

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2. The Strange Horizons Fund Drive

Strange Horizons, the erstwhile speculative fiction magazine, is currently running its annual fund drive.  I've had a close relationship with Strange Horizons that has spanned most of my writing career.  They were the first magazine to publish my reviews, thus bringing my work to a wider audience.  I served as the magazine's reviews editor between 2011 and 2014 (which means that my name appeared

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3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The long opening segment of Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad is carefully, almost studiously naturalistic.  In plain, but also irresistible and affecting language, he presents the life story of his heroine, Cora, starting first with the history of her grandmother, kidnapped from Africa and finally ending up, after much circumlocution (which is to say, being sold and re-sold), on a

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4. Recent Reading Roundup 41

It's been a little quiet on this blog over the summer, mainly because I've been busy with various projects for other venues (for example the Clarke shortlist review).  But also, because I've been busy reading.  A lot.  2016 is shaping up to be one of--if not the--most prolific reading years of my life.  Quality-wise, it's also been very rewarding, and though my other writing prevented me from

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5. Review: The 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist, part 2

The second part of my review of this year's Clarke shortlist is now online at Strange Horizons, covering Arcadia by Iain Pears, Europe at Midnight by Dave Hutchinson, and The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor.  You can find it here, and in case you haven't already read part 1, that's here.  The actual winner will be announced in London in a few hours, but as I write in the conclusion to the

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6. Review: The 2016 Arthur C. Clarke Award Shortlist, part 1

The first part of my mega-review of this year's Clarke Award-nominated novels appears today at Strange Horizons.  This is the fourth time that I've reviewed the entire shortlist, a tradition begun by Adam Roberts at Infinity Plus and carried on by Strange Horizons with rotating reviewers.  I'm sad to say that this was by far the least fun I've had reviewing the Clarke shortlist, not so much

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7. The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Winners

A month ago, when I posted here to remind people that the Hugo voting deadline was coming up, it was with a bit of trepidation.  Last year, when puppies of various stripes decided to get their jollies by trying to tear down this award, we saw a huge influx of new voters who showed up to make it clear that this was unacceptable behavior.  That the Hugo belongs to the people who care about it, not

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8. The 2016 Hugo Awards: Two Weeks Out

In two weeks, voting for the 2016 Hugo Awards will close.  You could be forgiven for being taken aback by just how quickly that deadline has rolled up on us, seeing as, especially compared to last year's all-Hugos-all-the-time news extravaganza, the conversation surrounding this year's awards has been so muted that at points it's seemed that the only person even participating in it was Chuck

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9. Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream, adapted by Russell T. Davies

Today at Strange Horizons, I write about Russell T. Davies's adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream for the BBC.  It was a bit of a surprise to me that this film even existed--whatever promotion there was for it seems to have been swallowed up by the media blitz for the second season of The Hollow Crown.  And as I write in the review, this turns out to have been massively unfair,

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10. Recent Reading Roundup 40

2016's reading continues to be rewarding, and though perforce less swift now that I'm no longer on holiday, still moving along at a steady clip.  This bunch of books includes several that I can already tell will be on my list of favorite reads at the end of the year. The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie - This spring's it-litfic comes with blurbs by Ursula K. Le Guin and Karen Joy Fowler,

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11. X-Men: Apocalypse

I promise, at some point I'll go back to writing about things that aren't superheroes.  Though that would require Hollywood to stop blasting superhero stories at us in such close succession (I haven't even written anything about the second season of Daredevil, though you can get a sense of the existential despair it plunged me into from the thread starting at this tweet).  Coming at the end of

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12. Civil Links

It's been two weeks since Captain America: Civil War opened (a week in the US), and I think it's time to call it: the conversation surrounding this movie has been surprisingly, and disappointingly, muted.  Most reviews seem to have reached a consensus of good-movie-that-handles-its-politics-well, which, even notwithstanding that I only agree with the first part, feels like only scratching the

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13. Captain America: Civil War

It's a bit of a strange thing to say, but I might have liked Captain America: Civil War better if it were a less good movie.  When films like The Dark Knight Rises or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice deliver rancid political messages wrapped in equally rancid plots and characterization, the reviewer's job is made easier.  We can point to how a failure to recognize the actual complexity of a

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14. 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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15. 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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16. 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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17. 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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18. 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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19. 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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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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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24. 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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25. 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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