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August 2008
 
Book Reviews
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Michelle West
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Chris Moriarty
 
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Editorial - August 2008
by Gordon Van Gelder

IN MY copious free time, when I'm not steering the good ship F&SF or trying to keep up with our two-year-old assistant editor (she already wields her red crayon like an old pro), I serve as an administrator for the Philip K. Dick Award.

The PKD Award pays tribute to Phil Dick's memory every year by honoring the best science fiction book published originally in paperback format. I've been one of the administrators since 1994 or thereabouts. In addition to presenting the winners their checks, the gig also encompasses fundraising, procuring books for the judges, and overseeing the whole judging process.

That judging process varies from year to year and one of these days I really ought to offer up some thoughts on the whole question of juried awards vs. popular awards. But right now, I want to tell you a bit about the judging process in 2007.

Our five judges used an online message board (private and password-protected…and no, the password wasn't "VALIS") to discuss the eligible titles as they read 'em. As usual, the judges agreed about some books, disagreed on others, and debated the meaning of the award. Business as usual. But as the year progressed, I found myself tuning in regularly just to read one of the judges' comments. They were articulate, well-reasoned, engaging, and backed by extensive knowledge of the field. Sometimes I agreed with 'em, sometimes I didn't, but they were always interesting,

In short, they were everything I look for in a book reviewer, so I spent six months biding my time so as not to affect the judging process. As soon as the judges had settled on giving the award (this year it went to to M. John Harrison for Nova Swing), I jumped in and asked Chris Moriarty to sign on as one of our reviewers.

The name might not be familiar to you, since Chris hasn't published much short fiction, but both of Chris's novels—Spin State and Spin Control—were finalists for the PKD Award and the latter won. The former was also a finalist for the Spectrum and Prometheus Awards and earned Chris a nomination for the John W. Campbell Award as well. (Hmm, maybe I should use this editorial to discuss the various awards, if only to explain the difference between the John W. Campbell Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. On second thought, we'd be here all day if I started on 'em.)

So anyway, you'll find Chris's first column in this issue. Feel free to use our message board at www.fandsf.com to sound off about it…or anything else in the magazine.

A couple of notes about our reviewing process: our columnists are basically free to review whatever books they choose, so long as the books are appropriate for F&SF. (Much as I like Robert Sapolsky's science books and biographies of world leaders, I don't think F&SF is the venue for reviewing them.) Publishers and authors can always send books directly to our reviewers—and Charles de Lint's mailing address is always printed at the end of his column—but if you're thinking of sending a book to us for review consideration, your best bet is to send them here to us in Hoboken. We divvy up the titles every month and send them out to the reviewers so they won't all wind up covering the same two or three titles. Last month we received 134 different books.

—GVG

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