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Exercising your right to vote

If you are anything like I was for most of my reading life, you might have been a bit surprised this week to discover that you could vote for the Hugo awards. Surprise again - you can vote for the Locus awards, too. If you already know that, and know how to vote, then this isn't the post for you. 

But for everyone else, please keep reading. Voting on these awards is important - it means something, not only to the people who are nominated, and who win, but to the shape of the field in general. And it's a very easy thing to do.

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Hugo Week: Connie Willis' Blackout/All Clear

BlackoutI'm a sucker for time travel stories. Doctor Who is on my list of must-watch television, I consider the Back to the Future trilogy to be a scifi masterpiece, and the scene of the Heroes episode “Five Years Gone” showing Hiro Nakamura's plan to change the past gave me chills from its sheer awesomeness. That's why when I heard about Connie Willis' time travel novel Blackout/All Clear, I knew that I should take a look, despite the daunting total of over a thousand pages.

Blackout/All Clear tells the story of a number of history students from the University of Oxford in the year 2060 who use time travel to research key events in World War II England. Merope Ward is observing evacuated children in the English countryside. Michael Davies plans to experience the Dunkirk evacuation from the safety of the Dover docks. Polly Sebastian's dream research project involves traveling to London during the Blitz. Their advisor, Mr. Dunworthy, is concerned about the dangerous nature of their assignments, and even more worried that time travel may be more problematic than previously thought.

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Hugo Week: FEED

FeedZombies are the sort of thing that - their recent appearance in books by Jane Austen aside - tend to work better as a film horror than a written one. Except for continued putrefaction, the shambling undead don't really have much of a story arc. On film, this horror, the horror of disgust and revulsion, works in a way that it almost never does on the page. And on film, there's the added bonus of feeling superior while we watch a bunch of pretty people behave like brainless idiots who have never seen a horror movie, or even played a round of Plants vs. Zombies, and so get turned into brainless idiots of another sort. Media matters - zombies almost never work well in books.

Almost.

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Hugo Week: Ian McDonald's The Dervish House

The Dervish HouseWhile the core story of The Dervish House spans only a few days in the year 2027, the tale incorporates legend, myth, history, politics and religion spanning centuries, if not millennia. Its themes include unrequited love, betrayal, revolution, cultural sexism, terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, prejudice, fraudulent commodity trading, clashing cultures, the isolation of the individual, and the day-to-day reality facing people on the streets of Istanbul.

Ian McDonald tells his intricate story through the lives of six individuals who are linked in various ways to an ancient wooden tekke (a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood) located in Istanbul--the Dervish house of the title. This building has survived centuries and in 2027 contains several dwellings and an antique dealership.

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Midweek Fiction: Kelly Link, "Valley of the Girls"

Welcome to a new feature here at Fantasy Matters. There's a lot of wonderful short form speculative fiction being published on the internet, and we wanted to bring some of it to your attention. And who doesn't want to break up the week with an excellent short story?

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