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Archived Discussion > January 2015, Wild Card Nominations Are Open

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message 1: by Whitney (last edited Nov 15, 2014 10:14AM) (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Nominations for the January Wild Card pick are open! For those unfamiliar with the Wild Card, here's a link to the original announcement that goes into more detail: The Wild Card

As the description says, we're looking for those books that still have literary merit, but that are more likely be found on a bookshelf devoted to a particular genre. Books that may have genre elements but that would qualify as regular Open Picks (eg. Murakami, Michael Chabon) should be nominated in the Open Pick thread instead. Obviously there's some gray area here, your fearless mods are here to help if needed.

Nominations will be open for approximately one week before the poll goes up. So, nominate away!


message 2: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
I'd like to start things off by nominating The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

Science Fiction is hugely popular in China, but we see little of it here because it doesn’t get translated. Liu Cixin has won multiple awards in China, and is one of their most popular SF writers. And this book was translated by Ken Liu, who is a fantastic writer, so there shouldn’t be any clunky translation issues.

Here’s an excerpt from the NPR review:
“Many of its major points hinge on the knowledge of Chinese history and culture — and while Ken Liu's translation is clear, tasteful, and lyrical, there's a lot of exposition to chew on. It's worth every ounce of effort. The book's well-earned suspense hinges on moral dilemmas that resonate far beyond its nationality or even its heady, abstract physics. At what point does science become dogma, and what point does that same dogma become religion?”

One of the things that most interests me about reading this book is looking at what may be familiar Golden Age science fiction themes, but from a completely different cultural perspective.

And for those unfamiliar with the translator Ken Liu, here are links to two of his most incredible stories. The Paper Menagerie rightfully swept the major science fiction and fantasy awards.

The Paper Menagerie

Mono no Aware


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments The Three-Body Problem looks very interesting (and there are excerpts available at Tor.com), but it only came out on the 11th of this month, which may not be enough time for it to have gotten into libraries. Also, there won't be a paperback edition for a while.


message 4: by Whitney (last edited Nov 15, 2014 11:49AM) (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
I checked and my local libraries have copies, as well as the Seattle libraries. And it's also available in ebook format. But that does bring up a point we've touched on before, so let's revisit the discussion: how important is it for people that a book be available in softcover? Should this be something we consider a requirement for nominated books? (I'm fine with withdrawing my nomination for a later day, if needs be.)


message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda | 69 comments Whitney wrote: "I checked and my local libraries have copies, as well as the Seattle libraries."

Just an FYI for this book, I use the King County library system and they have 14 copies on order, with holds on all of them. There are 3 e-copies with 10 holds already. By the time the polls were over, if this book won it might be difficult to get a copy if one wanted to join in the read.


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments It's an interesting question. Is there anyone out there who would like to participate, but who would have a problem getting a hold of a copy?


message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda | 69 comments I just commented as another perspective on how difficult the book might be to get. I'm probably not available to join in January's read.


message 8: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 1988 comments While we are figuring out the answer re Whitney's nomination, I'll go ahead and nominate The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly.

This is one of my all time favorite books written by one of my all time favorite authors. It is fantasy. It made me laugh and cry. It is about a 12 year old boy who read fairy tales with his mother as she was dying - but it is a book for adults. The story takes place in the UK during WWII. There are some really funny and not-so-funny takes on familiar fairy tales.

This book, published in 2006, won the ALA Alex award in 2007 (given each year to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18).


message 9: by Pip (new)

Pip | 102 comments I'd like to have a shot at Arthur & George in the new year. It's been lingering temptingly on my to-read shelf for far too long, and I love Julian Barnes - each of his novels I find quite unique.

Whether this is historical fiction, mystery or literary fiction is something for the mods to decide!

According to the Goodreads blurb, this novel about Arthur (Conan Doyle) taking on a case of miscarriage of justice on behalf of the half-Scottish half-Indian George (Edjali) is "a novel about low crime and high spirituality, guilt and innocence, identity, nationality and race; about what we think, what we believe, and what we know."


message 10: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "I just commented as another perspective on how difficult the book might be to get. I'm probably not available to join in January's read."

I was seeking input on availability of books in general, i.e. do we want to wait until books are available in soft cover before choosing them. So all opinions are welcome, whether or not people are participating in January reads. I may move this to a wider audience.


message 11: by Peter (new)

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments There are other factors than paperback vs hardcover. I've been considering nominating A Stranger in Olondria -- it's won a raft of awards and it seems likely to appeal to this crowd. But it's from a small publisher. It's available in hardcover, paperback and ebook, but because it is from a small press (Small Beer Press), it may not be available from libraries (the Phoenix and ASU libraries do not appear to have it), and I've gotten the distinct impression that we have a number of members who almost exclusively source their books from the library.


message 12: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
I would hate to disallow books because they weren't available at everyone's libraries. I think this is a big enough issue that I'll start a more general thread.


message 13: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Thread started under "Administration". I'll add that personally, I think A Stranger in Olondria would be a fine choice. It IS available at many major libraries, and isn't so small a press that people can't obtain a soft cover or ebook. Obviously, we don't want to choose a book that's only available by special order from Bangalore, but I'd hate to disallow a lesser known but promising title because it isn't available immediately at no cost to everyone in the group.


message 14: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Pip wrote: "I'd like to have a shot at Arthur & George in the new year. It's been lingering temptingly on my to-read shelf for far too long, and I love Julian Barnes - each of his no..."

Pip - this looks great, but it definitely fits easily into the broader definition of literary fiction. If you wouldn't mind, please nominate it over it on the regular "Open Pick" thread instead.

P.S. I've only read Sense of an Ending, which I loved. What would be your recommendation for other books by Barnes?


message 15: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 397 comments I love Pip's nomination, but I still want to nominate American Gods. I think it barely makes the cut as it was published in 2001. It is a Hugo and Nebula award winning novel that has garnered an international acclaim, and yes, the name of the author should also ring a bell :-) Neil Gaiman


message 16: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1689 comments Mod
American Gods is a very good book. It is out in two different versions--the original and a more recently released version marked "author's preferred text." Zulfiya has linked to the author's preferred text, and that is probably the way to go, but anyone shopping should be aware that there are two versions.


message 17: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 397 comments I might have linked to the author's preferred text, but in fact, I own the mass-market copy:-) If it wins, we will have to decide which one we will be reading :-)

Thank you, Casceil, for bringing it to my attention.


message 18: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1689 comments Mod
I've read the mass market twice, but I still have not read the "author's preferred text," so I'm a little curious about it. I've participated in discussions of it with two other groups, but I've always suspected that a discussion of it in THIS group would be more interesting.


message 19: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1689 comments Mod
In case anyone is having trouble locating the thread to discuss book availability, here is the link: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 20: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce | 763 comments I'd like to nominate Fugue State by Brian Evenson.

Fugue State by Brian Evenson

From a review by Open Letters Monthly:

"Fugue State is brimming with disaffected wanderers, paranoids, megalomaniacs, amnesiacs, frightened children, nameless ciphers, and, in one story, cannibals. In these strange stories, Evenson expertly navigates through the mind’s dark interstices, the gnarling strands of the troubled consciousness. These are stories about childhood terrors and fragmented families, about mental breakdowns and post-apocalyptic upheavals, about dissolution, devolution, and paralysis. These are disturbing stories where dissociative states are the norm, and where, as one of Evenson’s troubled characters reflects, “Anything can happen: anything. Or nothing. Who can say? The world is monstrous, is made that way, and in the end consumes us all."

Btw, in case anyone has the same confusion I initially did, it's *not* a graphic novel, it's a collection of short stories with illustrations.


message 21: by Pip (new)

Pip | 102 comments Whitney wrote: "Pip wrote: "I'd like to have a shot at Arthur & George in the new year. It's been lingering temptingly on my to-read shelf for far too long, and I love Julian Barnes - ea..."

Thanks Whitney - I've copied the nomination over.

Although they're outside the remit of this group, two of my favourite Barnes novels are still A History of the World in 10½ Chapters and Flaubert's Parrot. I know A Sense of an Ending has been hotly debated here, and I believe it's a bit of a love or hate novel. Personally, I loved it, but (or perhaps because of that) i think with Barnes you always get a really good discussion, however you feel about his books!


message 22: by Ben (new)

Ben Rowe (benwickens) | 89 comments I think small publishers are a reason to choose a nomination rather than not to. Within SF/Fantasy and horror it is often the small presses that are releasing much of the quality fiction that is not overly derivative and commercial. Small presses could do with the attention and extra sales a book being picked might cause whereas for larger presses it would matter much less. Stranger in Olondria is a lovely book well worth reading even if the plotting gets a little saggy in my view. It did just win the World Fantasy Award.

Brian Evensons The Brotherhood of Mutilation still has a powerful effect on me months after finishing it so would be up for reading him if I can get Fugue State easy enough.

Caitlin Kiernan's The Drowning Girl is a book I think would make for very interesting discussions and in my view is one of the best, most literate fantasy novels of the last decade. I have nominated it before but will nominate it again as I think it would make for interesting discussions.


message 23: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Based on discussion in the other thread, I don't think we need to put any restrictions on nominations aside from the ones already in place. The voting will sort out those books that are more difficult to obtain or too expensive for people.

That being said, I'm going to withdraw my nomination for Three Body Problem. I think Peter is correct in that it will loose votes based on availability, and with so many other great books up for the poll. I may try again when it is more readily obtainable. (But you all really should read those Ken Liu stories :-)


message 24: by Peter (new)

Peter Aronson (peteraronson) | 516 comments OK, I'll go ahead and nominate A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar. As I mentioned before, it won or was nominated for a raft of awards: World Fantasy Award winner, British Fantasy Award winner, Crawford Award winner, Nebula Award finalist, Locus Award finalist and Locus Recommended Reading. Also, Sofia Samatar just received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.


message 25: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2401 comments A book that I just found out about yesterday that I am NOT going to nominate, but am going to ask if there are opinions here about it and whether it might ever be of interest:

All We Know Three Lives by Lisa Cohen All We Know: Three Lives by Lisa Cohen


message 26: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 1988 comments Whitney wrote: "Based on discussion in the other thread, I don't think we need to put any restrictions on nominations aside from the ones already in place. The voting will sort out those books that are more diffic..."

Whitney wrote: "I'd like to start things off by nominating The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.

Science Fiction is hugely popular in China, but we see little of it here because it..."


I understand the withdrawal, but you did entice me to buy it!


message 27: by Casceil (new)

Casceil | 1689 comments Mod
I'm with Linda. I did buy a copy of the Three-Body Problem. Maybe next time.


message 28: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
I bought one, too :-)
I'll nominate it again next time, so other interested parties can put their library hold request in early. Glad there is so much interest!


message 29: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Poll is going up tomorrow. Get any last minute nominations in now. Not that it isn't already going to be an impossible choice...


message 30: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Okay, the poll is up! This selection is amazing, every nomination has been added to my TBR list. Poll found here January Wild Card or from the group homepage.

As Casceil pointed out, if American Gods wins we'll then need to decide which version to read.


message 31: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
Voting ends tomorrow, and right now we have a tie, so get those last minute votes (or vote changes) in!


message 32: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
After a very close race, The Gaiman Express pulled ahead to win the vote. So, our Wild Card read for January will be American Gods!

As came up above, there are two different versions of this book out. The original edition, and the more recent "Author's Preferred Edition". I tend to think that the Author's Preferred Edition should be chosen because, well, it's preferred by the author. I also read the original version when it came out, and see this as an opportunity to read the newer edition. I assume there are at least a few other people who read the original as well.

Would anyone else like to make a case for one version over the other?


message 33: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 1988 comments I also read the original when it came out and so agree with the suggestion that we read the author's preferred edition. Have to admit I was pulling for The Book of Lost Things - one of my all time favorite books. We've read a lot of Gaiman (and I do enjoy him) and hoped we push the envelope and give another author a shot. Maybe next quarter!


message 34: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
For those wondering about the differences, the Preferred Edition (AKA the 10th Anniversary Edition) is a reprint of a special, 750 copy edition put out by a small press shortly after the original AG came out. It contains various bits that Gaiman trimmed to make the book shorter, as requested by his publisher. (In 1991, Neil Gaiman wasn't yet Neil Gaiman , and still had to pay attention to the dictates of his publishers.) It also contains some editorial corrections that Gaiman made after the printing. My understanding is that there are no additional chapters or sections, just various bits edited out of his original manuscript.

Gaiman says in the introduction "The version of American Gods that you are holding is about twelve thousand words longer than the one that won all the awards, and it’s the version of which I’m the most proud."


message 35: by Zulfiya (new)

Zulfiya (ztrotter) | 397 comments I own the mass market copy, and I was not aware of the author's preferred version, but I checked my library, and the author's version is available there.

I hope it will be available in a month or so; otherwise, I will have to rely on a mass product :-)


message 36: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 1803 comments Mod
From what I've been reading, the differences really aren't all that extreme. I suspect there would be no problem with people reading the different editions. Although it would be interesting to see if anything came up.


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