Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nick DiChario for the Hugo

This is the third in a series of blog posts in which I'm going to discuss people and things that I think merit consideration for this year's Hugo and Aurora Awards; both sets of awards will be given at the Montreal Worldcon this year.
Respectfully submitted for your consideration for the Hugo Award for Best Novel of the Year:

Valley of Day-Glo by Nick DiChario, published by my Robert J. Sawyer Books imprint.

There's no question that Nick is an award-caliber writer: he's been nominated for the Hugo twice, for the World Fantasy Award, and for both Campbell Awards (the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer of 1993, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Novel of the Year for his previous RJS Books title, A Small and Remarkable Life.

Rather than me sing the praises of Valley of Day-Glo, I'll let Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Nancy Kress do it. Here's the introduction she wrote for Nick's book:

By Nancy Kress

Twenty pages into reading Valley of Day-Glo, I sent Nick DiChario an email: "Am reading your novel. You have a very warped mind." Nick forwarded the message to his publisher with a copy to me, saying "Look! A cover blurb!"

Does Nick really have a warped mind? Not to look at him or talk to him at a party. He's courteous, affable, a good listener. He has always displayed these qualities, and I've known him since he was twenty-one.

We met in 1982 when I was, for the first time ever, teaching a summer writing workshop. I had not yet published very much myself -- one novel and a handful of short stories -- and felt uncertain of myself as a teacher of writing. It was pretty much the blind leading the blind. I can still see Nick, a few other students, and me sitting on the broad shallow steps of the Fine Arts building on the campus where the workshop was held. We're eating potato salad off soggy paper plates and earnestly discussing the state of publishing -- as if any of us actually knew much about it.

Nick knows a lot about it now. He's owned a bookstore, published wonderful stories, collaborated extensively with the very knowledgeable Mike Resnick, been nominated for both a Hugo and World Fantasy award for his lovely story "The Winterberry," and for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for his previous novel, A Small and Remarkable Life. There is no doubt in my mind that eventually Nick will win one, or all, of these awards. Meanwhile, we have Valley of Day-Glo.

What to make of this book? In the first paragraph we have Indians named Broadway Danny Rose, The Outlaw Josey Wales, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Later on, we have a sacred Jug Dance involving "an original Igloo water cooler" and a sacred text titled Network Marketing in the New Millennium. We have a corpse that steadily rots for 100 pages but occasionally sits up to chime in with comments on the action. We have a very unorthodox cure for sexual dysfunction. Is all that warped or what?

Yes, in that the world of Day-Glo is a distorted one that is highly unlikely as a direct descendant of our own. BUT -- that all-important but! -- in another sense, this world is very much our own. One meaning of "warp," after all, is "a system of spun threads extended lengthwise on a loom." The warp is then woven with the cross-threads, the "woof."

In Day-Glo Nick is weaving a very intricate tapestry indeed. His warp may be fanciful and wildly inventive, but his cross-threads are deadly serious. They are love and the price that love exacts, violence and the grief it causes, striving and the ways that striving can be twisted by the larger world. Nick's tapestry is a life-like design of brilliant, heart-breaking colors, including that imaginative warp. You will be the richer for having viewed it, read it, pondered it. You will be the richer for having spent time with Broadway Danny Rose and shared his search for the Valley of Day-Glo.

Even if you never in your life witness a sacred Jug Dance.

  • DiChario, Nick. Valley of Day-Glo, Robert J. Sawyer Books.
Nick DiChario's website
Nancy Kress's website
The Robert J. Sawyer Books website

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site



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