The nominations for the World Fantasy Awards have been posted in the last few days and I was bowled over to see that our own Ariel and The Alien Online have been nominated in the special category which recognises non professional contributions to the SF&F community. Its well deserved as Ariel, Sandy and the rest of the TAO crew have made a great site over the last few years.

I’ve loved writing for TAO (it’s very rewarding when you see quotes from reviews and interviews from the site being used on book covers) and it is also great to see a major award recognising how much of the worldwide SF&F community is held together by folks giving up their time to run fanzines, websites, newsletters, cons and clubs – hopefully more awards will follow suit in the future. Actually I was so delighted I blogged it twice – it just had to go on the FPI blog!

I also heard from one of my colleagues behind the new FPI magazine who said he’d been receiving some great feedback from readers. He was also kind enough to pass on a generous comment from a reader who enjoyed my article on 6 books you should have on your shelves and felt they wanted to read them (which is a very rewarding feeling for a booklover). For this first article I chose a theme of books with a dream-like (or nightmare-like) quality to them; the sort of tales that not only have an ephemeral quality to them but also linger in your mind long after, the imagery weaving in and out of your dreams. For anyone interested the books were:

American Gods, Neil Gaiman
White Apples, Jonathan Carroll
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Prospero’s Children, Jan Seigel
Lanark, Alisdair Gray
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

If you haven’t read any of these they are all quite wonderful books. I’m just polishing off the article for the second issue (6 books again) and I’ll talk about those after the publication. On teh book front I was sent a finished copy of Nova Scotia by the nice people at Edinburgh’s Mercat Press. Its a rather tasy anthology of Scottish Speculative Fiction and includes tales from many writers I admire, including Ken MacLeod, Charlie Stross, Debbie Miller, Matthew Fitt, Willie Miekle and Jack Deighton (who wrote a fantastic SF novel a few years back, A Son of the Rock, which criminally didn’t sell – I thought it was superb, but maybe it was too serious for popular taste. Jack, if you read this I’d love to see another full-lenght novel from you).

Hal Duncan is also in there; his incredible debut novel, Vellum, out at the Worldcon in Glasgow this weekend. Like Nova Scotia it’s one of my Book Picks for the FPI mag’s new books section and honestly it’s one of the most amazing books I’ve read; incredibly lush prose, descriptions so well articulated you feel you’re there and layer upon layer of interlocking characters and stories and myth. A word of warning though, Vellum demands of its readers that they think; so if you’re the type of reader who actually wants to engage your cognitive faculties and your imagination then I can’t recommend it enough. Gee, anyone looking at this blog might get the impression I like books!