The nominees for this year’s Hugo Awards were announced this past weekend, and brought with them a record-breaking number of nods for author Seanan McGuire. The annual awards recognising the best in science-fiction and fantasy this year see McGuire up for four awards under both her own name and her pen name, Mira Grant, with two nominees in one of those categories. As McGuire noted on her own blog: ‘here are my firsts for this year: First woman to appear on the ballot four times in fiction categories alone. First person to appear on the ballot five times in a single year. First person to appear on the ballot with a purely self-published work.’ She added: ‘I have eaten nothing but ice cream today. I have cried a lot.’
‘It’s called How Roland Rolls, and if you wanna know about it, it’s at Roland, at howrolandrolls.com, and I’m gonna self-publish, ’cause that’s just the world right now and I think it’s cool, and it’s gonna be beautifully illustrated, and it’s a story about a wave named Roland, who’s afraid that one day when he hits the beach, his life will be over, but when he gets deep, he’s struck by the notion he’s not just the wave, he’s the great big wide ocean. So it’s a metaphysical children’s book and it deals with a lot of serious things in a really fun way, and I think kids are gonna like it and parents are gonna go to bed feeling a little safer.’
So sayeth Jim Carrey – noted metaphysicist, courter of Emma Stone and sometime arse-speaker – in an interview with HitFix, ostensibly to promote his latest cinematic exploration of the hidden chasms of the soul, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, which only seems like it should have been directed by Terrence Malick, because of all the metaphysics.
Clearly familiar with the internet’s love of all things Brian Blessed, London music teacher Matt Parry has taken to Kickstarter in a bid to source funding for his mixed media project for children, Sheherazade. Parry’s aim is to introduce children to classical music through a series of stories told as both audio plays available on CD, scored by a relevant piece of music, and as accompanying graphic novels. (Readers of a certain age who are also progeny of a certain level of aspirational parent might recall the similarly-pitched 90s magazine series The Magical Music Box, whose fortnightly issues contained a radio play on CD or tape that had some thematic or narrative ties to a particular piece of classical music, as well as the complete piece of classical music excerpted in the play and an illustrated print telling of the play in the magazine, alongside some historical context for the music. So yeah, this is like that, to bring to completion an illustrative reference an exceptionally limited number of people will recognise.)
An author who held a particularly special place in the hearts of those genre connoiseurs who came of age between the 70s and the dawn of the internet age, James Herbert has died aged 69, says his publisher Pan Macmillan. No cause of death was disclosed, but Herbert is reputed to have passed peacefully in bed. A perennial library checkout of fathers and older cousins, at least in this writer’s family, the novelist’s bibliography spans from his 1974 debut, The Rats, to what would prove to be his final work, 2012’s Ash.
Though the combination of the two hasn’t always been well received in the past, Sony’s video gaming arm has announced its latest attempt at porting the world of Harry Potter to the Playstation: the company will partner with J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore site for a social gaming initiative on Playstation Home, the online gaming hub of the PS3. Initially, the venture will see a selection of environments known to fans of the books opened up for virtual exploration – Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express are two of the first to be named – and used as locations for assorted games and other interactive experiences, including such Potter universe staples as duelling, collecting trading cards, picking out an owl or other appropriately magical animal and shopping for Hogwarts essentials.
Way back in October of 2011, we posted news of The Literature Prize, a potential rival to the Booker whose creation was implicitly a reaction to that year’s infamously ‘readable’ Booker shortlist. Spokesperson Andrew Kidd, the literary agent, suggested at the time that the prize could be up and running as soon as 2012. That estimate proved to be a little overly optimistic, as evidenced by the prize’s still not having happened (just so we’re all on the same page, it’s 2013 now), but just when everyone had forgotten it had ever been mooted, the prize has resurfaced with a new name, a sponsor and a date for its inaugural ceremony: As of March 2014, the Booker will be joined on the literary prize circuit by the Folio Prize, unexepectedly taking its title – and sponsorship – from The Folio Society.
It’s been a hot, awkwardly phrased minute since we last had anything worth reporting on the ol’ Fifty Shades of Grey front. Thankfully however, after three months, our long, hard, throbbing national nightmare is over with the news that Vintage is set to publish the excessively punctuated Fifty Shades of Grey: Inner Goddess (A Journal), which is either a canny piece of Fifty Shades merchandising or a spin-off of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.
Today, as most people reading this will be aware, is World Book Day, the self-explanatory global celebration of reading with a particular focus on encouraging children and young people to read: vouchers are distributed, books given away for free and, following the success of last year’s efforts, an event organisers are calling The Biggest Book Show On Earth will be streaming live on the World Book Day website for an hour from 11am to classrooms (and more) across the country.
In perhaps the most welcome news of a musician having written a memoir since R. Kelly unleashed Soula Coasta: The Diary of Me upon the world last year, universally beloved Roots drummer, producer, tweeter, house band anchor and all-round muso extraordinaire Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson will publish an autobiography this summer entitled Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove. Presumably seeking to right the wrong of his not being included in Barnes & Noble’s children’s hip-hop biographies section, Questlove has co-authored the book with Ben Greenman, acclaimed author of fiction in his own right and an editor at The New Yorker. The memoir will be released by Hachette imprint Grand Central Publishing on June 18 in America and a week later in the UK and, as you can see by casting an eye above, has the cover art to beat this year.
The Booksellers Association last week released its annual membership figures, and they made for grim reading for lovers of independent bookshops: for the sixth year running, the total number of indies on the UK high street remained in decline.