July 22nd, 2008

puzzle

books of honor

OK, I'll talk about it. Potlatch 18 has announced its Books of Honor. Yes, books, plural.

Both Always Coming Home and Growing Up Weightless came up in conversation among the committee, floating together above other possible choices, but dang if we could come to a definitive choice between them. So we thought, there's room for more than one panel focused on a specific book, so why not choose both?

Always Coming Home has come up as a possible choice before. It has a strongly-imagined Northern California setting, it is (in my opinion, anyway) the masterwork by SF's greatest author, and it's a good discussion topic because it's surprisingly controversial.
*Is it a utopia? Are the Kesh too sweetness-and-light to be true?
*Is it even a novel? Norman Spinrad once described it as an underweight novella surrounded by the equivalent of the Dune Encyclopedia; is he right?
I say no to both criticisms, and am ready to defend it on all counts. And I'd better stop here or I'll go on all day.

Growing Up Weightless came up in the intersection of two conversations. Though we don't want Potlatch BoH-hood to become the Required Memorial Panel for Recently Dead Authors, we couldn't help thinking of John M. Ford and his bristlingly intelligent work. The other conversation was back when we were apportioning committee jobs. We were chatting about what kind of panels we'd have if Alice were in charge of programming, and a couple of us found a serious side to this. Why not talk about children's and Young Adult SF? There's good work in that area that doesn't get discussed, and Growing Up Weightless is a masterpiece of recent decades' work. Someone suggested a smackdown (a la Wiscon's Narnia vs. Philip Pullman): Ford vs. Robert A. Heinlein's Citizen of the Galaxy.

And that's our choices.