This Week in Mormon Literature, May 28, 2011

Eric James Stone wins a Nebula Award, a new biography of Lost Generation author Maureen Whipple, and a first novel by filmmaker and spellcheck nemesis Kieth Merrill.  Please send any suggestions or announcements to mormonlit AT gmail DOT com.

News and Columns

Eric James Stone won the Nebula Award for his novelette ‘‘That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made’’ It is the first LDS winner since David Howard won best script for Galaxy Quest in 2001. It is the first fiction winner since Orson Scott Card won best novel in 1986 for Speaker for the DeadRead Stone talking about the experience, and posting his acceptance speech.  Next up for Stone is the Hugo Awards. Stone has a new story at Daily Science Fiction (subscription required), “They Do It With Robots.”

Review: Veda Tebbs Hale, “Swell Suffering: A Biography of Maureen Whipple” (Blair Hodges, Life on Gold Plates).  A fascinating, detailed review of the new biography of Maureen Whipple, who wrote what is often considered the first great Mormon novel, The Giant Joshua, which was published  in 1941. Whipple had many troubles throughout her life, romantically, financially, and creatively.  She only finished the one novel, and that was largely because her editor promised $50 for each completed chapter.  She traveled down many dead ends, including an extended attempt to write about a method of overcoming alcoholism that came to be discredited.   Hale discovered outlines and pieces of the sequel to The Giant Joshua, which takes up 20 pages of the biography.  Hale was closely involved in Whipple’s life during her last years,  giving an insider’s, if not quite an academic, insight on this fascinating author’s life.  Published by Greg Kofford Books.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports poet and BYU Professor Kimberly Johnson was recently awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.  Johnson’s fellowship was awarded on the basis of her “prior achievement and exceptional promise.” The article mentions that Johnson is married to another award-winning poet, Jay Hopler, who  teaches at the University of South Florida, and is currently in Rome on a fellowship.  Here is a St. Petersburg Times profile of Hopler.

A Darkly Sentimental Alley: Rethinking Nephi Anderson and the Home Literature Endeavor (Scott Hales, The Low-Tech World). Hales comments on the modern critical reception of Nephi Anderson’s work, including  Karl Keller’s 1974 essay, which disparaged Added Upon as  “a tract-like novel”, and Richard Cracroft’s more positive 1985 essay.

Steven L. Peck, an Associate Professor of Biology at BYU, had his poem “The Five Known Sutras of Mechanical Man” nominated for the 2011 Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award for best Long Science Fiction Poem. It is one of 37 nominees. It first appeared in magazine Tales of the Talisman, vol. 6, no. 2, and will appear in the 2011 Rhysling Anthology published next month. The award is considered the Hugo of science fiction poetry.  A reader said of the title character of the poem, “He is a piece of equipment with a purpose and an awareness who moves from assembly line to death, always wondering.”

Sunstone has a new iPod/iPad app, by which you can download issues.  The 99 cent app comes with a free download of the latest issue, and all other issues are only $1.99.  Issues get even cheaper when bought as part of a subscription. I felt bad about letting my Sunstone subscription lapse, but this was an easy and way to get it going again.  The latest issue has lots of literature, including a play by Eric Samuelsen, a short story by Jack Harrell, Phillys Barber on writing memoirs, and a piece of literary criticism of Orson Scott Card.

William Morris speculates about Evolution, useful fictions and eternal progression at A Motley Vision.

The Appendix is a weekly podcast for authors, hosted by Sarah Eden, Robison Wells, and Marion Jensen.  In Episode #17 the hosts are joined by Cedar Fort author and bookstore manager Frank Cole. They talk about the future of bookstores and the differences between middle grade and young adult fiction.  In Episode #16 the hosts are joined by soon-to-be-published national YA author Elana Johnson.   They discuss authors building a platform (name recognition) and how to build a successful blog.

Events and contests

Many LDS authors will be in Salt Lake City for CONduit on May 27-29, a Utah science fiction and fantasy convention.

The Utah Festival of Books will be held Saturday, June 4th, from 10 am to 6 pm on Brigham Square adjacent to the Wilkinson Center at BYU. The free event includes author signings, performances, booths, literacy activities, guest speakers, and food.  Among the guest speakers are Obert Skye, James Dashner, Ally Condie, Kiersten White, and Brandon Mull.

The Irreantum Fiction Contest deadline is May 31.

New Books

The Evolution of Thomas Hall, by Kieth Merrill. Shadow Mountain, General/Inspirational.  A gifted, atheist artist takes two commissions, one in honor of Charles Darwin, the other a mural of Christ in a children’s hospital. The experience sets up a conflict between evolution and religion that changes his life. This is the first novel by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker.  Here are Deseret News and KSL feature stories on Merrill and the book.  Here is a Salt Lake Tribune interview with Merrill, where they ask him specifically about his stand on evolution.  Apparently the novel has is not specifically LDS.

River Whispers, by Kathi Oram Peterson. Covenant,  Romantic suspense/murder mystery. Idaho rural setting, fishing, murder, and suspense.  Peterson’s fourth novel, and the first in this genre.  This actually came out a month ago, but I just noticed it.


Attack the Lusitania! by Jerry Borrowman. (Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine). Generally positive. “Though there are chapters that are tense and keep the reader glued to the pages, overall, Borrowman isn’t really a high action writer and his characters are not as multi-dimensional as some might like.  . . .  History buffs will enjoy this book more than will thrill readers. It’s a wonderful glimpse of history . . . I found Attack the Lusitania! a rich and rewarding journey back through time.”

Captive Heart, by Michele Paige Holmes. (Shanda at LDSWBR). 4.5 stars, very positive.

Honeymoon Heist, by Anna Jones Buttimore. Deseret News. “Though the story is a bit unbelievable at times, and the “bad guys” aren’t really explored or explained in detail, “Honeymoon Heist” resembles a fast-paced adventure movie with bits of humor.”

The Wings of Light, by Laura Bingham. (Karen Hamilton for AML).  Positive.

The Tomb Builder, by E. James Harrison. (Russell Y. Anderson for AML). Positive.

Wasatch Summer, by Anola Pickett. (Gabi Kupitz for AML). Positive.


Another Mormon themed musical, “Mormons, Mothers and Monsters”,  runs July 14-31 at the Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, Mass.  One of the authors, Sam Salmond, said he based the musical on his “turbulent life as the son of a thrice-married British mother who raised him in the Mormon faith.” Among the main character’s difficulties is the struggle growing up as a homosexual artist.  Here is a Boston Globe feature about the play and its authors.

The Sistas in Zion have a funny post about some hypothetical Mormon Musicals.

BYU-Idaho student-written ghostly folk opera Deep Love will be performed at the Rexburg tabernacle on March 29th.


New York Times Bestseller lists, May 29th

Hardcover Fiction

MILES TO GO, by Richard Paul Evans drops off the list after 5 weeks.

Trade Fiction Paperback

#10. HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, by Jamie Ford (51st week) ↔. Stayed pat, again. Reappeared on the Combined Print Fiction list, at the bottom #35 position.

Mass Market Paperback

#12. SAVAGE NATURE, by Christine Feehan (3rd week)  ↓.  Down from #10.  Fell off the Combined Print Fiction and Combined Print and E-book lists.

#27 ONE MAGIC MOMENT, by Lynn Kurland (2nd week) ↓. Down from #16.

Children’s Chapter Books

#5 THE TWILIGHT SAGA: THE OFFICIAL ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, by Stephanie Meyer (5th week). ↓ Down from #2.

A WORLD WITHOUT HEROES, by Brandon Mull fell off the list after 8 weeks.

Children’s Series

WINGS, by Aprilynne Pike fell off the list after one week.

Deseret Book LDS Fiction Bestsellers this week

1 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 2: A Far Horizon, by Anita Stansfield

2 Shades of Gray by Rachel Ann Nunes

3 Shadows of Brierley, Vol. 1: The Wanderer by Anita Stansfield

4 Blackberry Crumbleby Josi S. Kilpack

5. The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill  ↑

6. Foggy with a Chance of Murder by G. G. Vandagriff  ↔

7. The Great and Terrible Six-Volume Set by Chris Stewart

8. The Silence of God by Gale Sears

9. The Butterfly Box, Vol. 3: The Perfect Fit by Michele Ashman Bell

10. The List by Melanie Jacobson

11  Attack the Lusitania! by Jerry Borrowman

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2 Responses to This Week in Mormon Literature, May 28, 2011

  1. Thanks for spreading the news about the Nebula win. I’m still a bit flabbergasted.

    Incidentally, there’s no subscription required to read the Daily Science Fiction stories on the website. (A free subscription gets you the stories via email one week before they are posted on the website.)

  2. Lisa Torcasso Downing says:

    Eric, congrats. I took a moment to read “They Do Iit With Robots” — and that’s about all the time it took. A very successful piece of flash fiction. Looking forward to reading more, including getting my hands on “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made.”

    Andrew, I appreciate this weekly window more and more each week. Kudos to you and all who help keep him abreast.

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