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madness
A couple of brief updates:

I. Mind Meld in the Tardis

Even though I was late turning it in (due to finding a four-day-old kitten in our backyard and trying to figure out how to take care of it!), Mind Meld has kindly published my entry on Where I Would Take the Tardis.

I want to go on a between-TV-episodes trip. I want to go on a boring trip.


II. Dark Matter Interview

I was also recently interviewed by Dark Matter zine about my participation as the reprint editor for the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed magazzine. The interview was a lot of fun and included other people who'd been working on the issue, Galen Dara and Wendy N. Wagner.

I said I'd put together a list of reference materials for the interview, and I still will, although it's of course massively late now. ;)

III. Little Reprinted Faces

Earlier this year, Strange Horizons asked me to choose a story for their quarterly reprint slot. I picked Vonda McIntyre's completely awesome "Little Faces."

I wrote an intro about it, which couldn't do the story justice:

Vonda N. McIntyre is a sophisticated feminist science fiction writer and “Little Faces” is a sophisticated feminist science fiction story, operating on many levels, including attention-grabbing science, an interesting plot, and political and social critique that blends into the character’s emotional arc.

The story does more than treat readers to flashy visuals and awesome far-future stuff. For instance, it analyzes serious issues, like female-on-female violence and the meaning of consent. It plays with the audience’s expectations by defaulting female instead of male.

If I were a better person, I might write about that.

Instead, I’m going to write about alien sex.


And I'm very pleased that the story is now online (again, since it was originally published online) for people to enjoy:

The blood woke Yalnis. It ran between her thighs, warm and slick, cooling, sticky. She pushed back from the stain on the silk, bleary with sleep and love, rousing to shock and stabbing pain.

She flung off the covers and scrambled out of bed. She cried out as the web of nerves tore apart. Her companions shrieked a chaotic chorus.


It's also in audio.

Annie Oakley, Historical Cranky Lady

madness
When I originally wrote this, the crowd-funding campaign for funding this book was still ongoing. It's over now---but yay, it succeeded! Here's what I wrote about it.

Cranky Ladies of History: Annie Oakley

Several months ago, Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner Roberts contacted me and asked if I would consider writing a story for their anthology, Cranky Ladies of History. “That sounds awesome,” I said, and also, “I so don’t have time.” But I agreed to do it anyway, partially because I (and all SFWAns, but especially me) owe Tansy Rayner Roberts a huge debt for her work on the interim issue of the Bulletin, which she co-edited brilliantly and in a ridiculously short amount of time. But also because this was an easy favor to grant—because come on, Cranky Ladies of History, how cool is that?

Cranky Ladies of History had met its crowd funding goal. They also had a blog tour where the anthology’s writers blogged about the cranky ladies they chose to crank about.

I spent some time in IM talking to Tansy about which Cranky Lady I should pick. Tzu Shi? Agrippina? Mary Anning? Ada Lovelace? Eventually, we decided on Annie Oakley.

You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun

If you don’t know who she is, Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. She grew up in poverty which necessitated that she learn to shoot so that she could help feed the family. After joining the Wild West Show, Annie became a hugely successful performer, especially groundbreaking as a woman.

She had a complicated relationship with feminism: she taught women to shoot, and she advocated for women to be allowed in the army. On other important women’s rights issues of the day, she wasn’t in synch with the feminist position. For instance, she opposed women’s suffrage.

Although the musical that was made about her life story, Annie Get Your Gun, includes the song, “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” she sort of did. She married Frank Butler after beating him in a shooting competition.

I Can Do Anything You Can Do Better

With her gun, Annie Oakley could:

Shoot distant targets by sighting through a mirror

Shoot holes in thrown playing cards before they landed

Snuff a candle

Shoot a cigarette out of a man’s mouth

Shoot the cork off of a bottle

There’s No Business Like Show Business

Annie Oakley was an extremely highly paid performer, and she’s been called America’s first female superstar. One interesting aspect of her show biz persona was her conservative dress style. Pictures show a stiff, strong-featured woman with long brown hair, wearing loose blouses and calf-length skirts with boots. She often wears fringe, bolo ties, and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat.

In the photographs that don’t look posed, she stands in a masculine style, displaying no submissiveness or apology.

Doin’ What Comes Nat’rally

I first learned about Annie Oakley as a kid from the musical, Annie Get Your Gun, which is a fictionalized version of her life. I wonder whether the real Annie Oakley might be annoyed by the way it’s shaped around her relationship with a man. The plot begins when she meets Frank Butler and ends when they go to the altar.

The music is by Irving Berlin and the book is by Dorothy and Herbert Fields. It’s an old-fashioned musical with racist moments such as the song “I An Injun, Too.” Songs like “Doin’ What Comes Nat’rally” also romanticize the poverty she grew up in while maintaining a condescending attitude toward the rural poor.

The musical also features a lot of hits, including “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

My father had an abbreviated medley of songs from Annie Get Your Gun on a piano roll for his 88-key upright player piano. While he pumped, I used to sit on the rug behind the piano bench, and sing along.

In college, I saw the show on Broadway with Bernadette Peters as the lead. I have a soft spot in my heart for “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.”

The greatest woman rifle shot the world has ever produced

There’s a lot of research ahead of me as I decide what to write about Annie, her gun, and all those shot up playing cards. I don’t yet know what story I have to tell about her, but I look forward to the books and documentaries that will help me find it.
madness
I am so excited that Ellen Klages is going to be the Toastmaster for this year’s Nebula Award weekend!

The announcement went up on SFWA’s website a bit ago, but I just wanted to repeat it for people who missed it. And also because it’s so awesome.

I’m a big fan of Ellen Klages’s writing. One of my favorites young adult fantasy story “The House of the Seven Librarians” which first appeared in Firebirds Rising and which I got to narrate for PodCastle, and which you can get a kindle single version of, too. But by no means is this the only wonderful thing Ellen has written: you’ve got to check out her collection, Portable Childhoods. I mean that. Check it out. It’s got a number of really smart stories, including her first ever published story, “Time Gypsy,” which I love for its description of a particular moment in lesbian history (and its invocation of early women scientists). I also really like the titular story, “Portable Childhoods,” which isn’t genre at all, but instead an interesting set of vignettes which together create an emotionally affecting arc about mother and daughter.

There are also fantastic stories by Ellen that don’t appear in her collection. Probably my favorite of those is “The Education of a Witch” which first appeared in Under My Hat, edited by Jonathan Strahan. It’s about a young girl who identifies with the evil queen character in Snow White instead of the princess.

I say “probably my favorite” because it’s hard to decide between that and “Wakulla Springs”, which you can find on Tor.com. She cowrote this novella with Andy Duncan who is also brilliant, and it’s on this year’s Nebula ballot.

Ellen is a keen observer of setting and dialogue, but particularly skilled at creating realistic, non-sentimental writing about children and the experience of childhood. More than almost any other writer, she captures the details and disjunctions of childhood in a way that is both strongly tied to time and place (she often writes about the fifties) but also emotionally recognizable to me as a child of the eighties. She doesn’t get bogged down in adult ideas of what “childhood is like,” but looks at it with a sharp, clear eye.

Ellen is also very funny. She’s been working the Tiptree auction at Wiscon for many years where she stirs the audience with improvisation. She’s an animated delight in conversation. Annually at FogCon, she appears on the Liar’s Panel, which as you might imagine involves lying wildly. She told me that last year, she accidentally told a bunch of true stories, and no one noticed because they were so funny and strange. Just talking to her is like that: she has a well of funny, true anecdotes and observations. I’m excited to see that energy and storytelling ability translate to the Nebula podium.

There aren’t very many women toastmasters on the convention circuit. Connie Willis does her amusing duty from time to time, which is awesome, but I’d love to see more ladies taking the stage. In addition to Ellen Klages, I hope conventions will consider Charlie Jane Anders, Mary Robinette Kowal, and other talented women performers for future ceremonies.

This is going to be a great Nebulas. With Ellen Klages there as toastmaster, and Samuel Delany coming in as our new Grandmaster (squee!)… I’m really excited to get to be there and to hear such talented people speak.

This year’s Nebula Awards Weekend is May 15th to 18th, 2014, at the Marriott in San Jose. There are more details on the SFWA website.
madness
There are two weeks left until the end of the Hugo nomination period, and I wanted to blog about some of the awesome writers I’ve found this year or last year who are eligible for the Campbell Award.

For those who don't know, the Campbell Award is given to notable new writers of science fiction and fantasy. Whether or not you’re nominating for the Campbell, you should check these writers out because they’re repositories of new, exciting energy and ideas.

At the end of the post, I’ll also include a few brief lines about some of the other Campbell candidates I’m considering nominating, who are also worth checking out.

As always, I’m sure there are many, many very fine authors that I’m missing out on. I focus on short stories instead of novels (and I feel justified in doing that because so many people do the opposite) so I am automatically biased that way. But more than that, I just don’t get to all the stories I should! And there are also the problems of memory.

The metric I’m using for pulling people out is that they either have to have had one work that I found overwhelmingly wonderful, or else a body of work that includes quite strong stories. If people have only come out with one thing that I consider quite strong (but not “OMG so great I can’t even handle it!”) then I’m leaving them off this particular list.

I note that I’m also trying to correct for bias toward people I know well, such as Emily Jiang and Chris Reynaga. They both published things I respected last year, but I can’t report the experience of coming to the work cold, and neither has a substantial enough published body of work for me to feel like I can double check myself.

For a partial list of people who are eligible for the Campbell, you can check here. Not everyone who is eligible knows to put in their name, but it’s a place to start.

I’ll also note here that I have reservations about the Campbell Award. Not the concept of it (yay new writers!), so much as the fact that it’s very, very hard for an award with such tight restrictions to be comprehensively judged by popular vote. By the nature of the thing, many new writers, no matter how exciting, don’t have the time to build a significant public profile while they’re eligible, even if they are producing exciting work. That’s not to say that the nominees and winners aren’t often awesome, but it’s hard for the award to be really comprehensive. So, you can take this as my attempt to get a few more names out there for the award, or just as an attempt to get some awesome new writers read independently of the Campbell. Either way.

In alphabetical order:

Brooke Bolander
Brooke Bolander is in her second year of eligibility.

Work you should read immediately: Tornado’ s Siren” on Strange Horizons

Brooke Bolander has published a number of short stories, the bulk of them in Lightspeed. The first story of hers that I read was “Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring.” Also notable is “Sun Dogs,” a story about Laika, the first dog sent into space.

Brooke has an unusual voice that takes advantage of disjunctive leaps of imagery to create a series of dense and surreal impressions. Sometimes they are whimsical; sometimes dark. I find her writing very grounded in the body—hot, cold, lonely—she evokes physical sensations in me.

I like the charming whimsy of “Tornado’s Siren,” but in many ways it’s a less ambitious story than the more complex and unresolved concepts of “Her Words Like Hunting Vixens Spring” and “Sun Dogs;” I consider those stories to not have totally realized their potential, but in a wonderful, interesting way, full of unusual and striking material.

I find it hard to think of a writer to compare her work to. There may be a touch of Aimee Bender in the texture of the unusual imagery that she uses to evoke emotion.


Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado is in her first year of eligibility.

Work you should read immediately: “Inventory” on Strange Horizons

Carmen and I both went to the Iowa Writers Workshop but for some reason we failed to intersect through that channel. I missed her story “Inventory” when it came out in Strange Horizons due to my rushed reading this year, but luckily, Carmen submitted it as a potential reprint to Women Destroy Science Fiction. It didn’t work out for that purpose, but it’s a strong story that put Carmen on my radar, and which may nudge its way onto my Hugo ballot.

Carmen has also published a number of other short stories appearing in a wide scatter of venues, some of which are familiar to speculative fiction readers (like Lightspeed and Shimmer) and some of which aren’t. In particular, I’m looking forward to reading her story from issue #2 of Unstuck (it's out of print, but you can still get electronic editions), a journal which publishes work that lies on the boundary of speculative and literary fiction. It’s a neat journal and more people should check it out.

About “Inventory,” I wrote in a recent blog post, “Exquisite telling detail transforms this list story (a format that I have a weakness for) into something emotional and poignant. Machado has experience writing in the lit world and brings those chops to the development of this sad, post-apocalyptic tale, told on a very personal level. By detailing moments of togetherness, Machado creates in the reader the sensation of loneliness that her character feels, isolation that persists despite touch and intimacy. Read for character, language, and emotion.


Sofia Samatar
Sofia Samatar is in her second year of eligibility.

Work you should read immediately: A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA (Small Beer Press)

Sofia Samatar’s novel is on the Nebula ballot this year, as is her Strange Horizons short story, “Selkie Stories are for Losers.”

I particularly loved her short story in Glitter and Mayhem, “Bess, the Landlord’s Daughter, Goes to Drinks with the Green Girl.” It’s an amazing story. I wrote about it in my short story recommendations for 2013: “This surreal story is about two ghost girls who are known by their ghost stories, and how they navigate their unlives in the wake of that endless, unavoidable trauma. I thought it discussed living with violence really intelligently as well as being beautifully written.”

Sofia’s prose and imagery are really beautiful, and her observation of character and detail sharp. Her body of work thus far is impressive, and it’s clear she’s a major talent.


Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Benjanun Sriduangkaew is in her first year of eligibility.

Work you should read immediately: “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” (Clarkesworld)

I first read Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s work last year in Giganotosaurus. In the novella,”

She also writes short stories based in a space operatic world. Two from this year include “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” (linked above) and “Annex,” both in Clarkesworld. Her space opera world is an intricate weave of interesting technology and eye-kicks, dealing explicitly with the territories of colonialism, gender, and identity. In this year’s short story recommendations, I wrote about her space opera world: “Like much far future work, [the world] loops away from the comfortable details of the present into very strange imagery, wrapping around toward the oddness of surrealism or high fantasy.”

Benjanun’s work is really interesting with a distinct, strong point of view. Her space opera overlaps thematically with Ann Leckie’s novel, Ancillary Justice, but style-wise, she’s on her own. Her ability to write epic storylines over the course of short stories is particularly impressive and unusual. I look forward to seeing what she does with a novel if she’s writing one; her stories suggest she’d be a natural at it, but they are also wonderful in themselves and shouldn’t be underestimated on account of their form.




Some other folks I’d like to chat about:

Henry Lien
Henry Lien is in his first year of eligibility.

His first ever published piece, the novelette “Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters,” which appeared in Asimovs Magazine, is on this year’s Nebula ballot. Although many people clearly loved this novelette, I’m lukewarm about it. The basic concepts are neat (it’s about young girls practicing a martial art based on something similar to ice skating), but I found the voice of the teenage main character unconvincing—to me, it seemed like a stereotype drawn from adult ideas of what teenage girls are like, rather than drawing from actual teenage girls.

If I were looking at this story alone, I’d think he was an interesting writer with some space to grow. Which, as a new writer, he is. However, I’m also in a writing group with him, and I’ve had the privilege of reading some of his unpublished work, especially the beginning of his young adult novel. From that, I know that he’s a powerhouse.

I probably won’t nominate him for the Campbell because I don’t feel comfortable doing so on the basis of what I’ve read privately, but I know that I’m really excited to see what he keeps producing, and I do recommend him as a name to look out for.

Also, check out his website to see the beautiful, surreal work by the artists he works with. He has amazing taste in art.


Joy Kennedy O’Neill
Joy Kennedy O’Neill is in her second year of eligibility.

Aftermath” from Strange Horizons (link goes to the first of two parts) was one of my favorite novelettes from last year.

I wrote about it, “This is one of the few zombie stories that I’ve really liked. It’s about the process of reconciliation that occurs after the zombies recover and how they reintegrate into society. The novelette intelligently references and builds on real-world situations like the post-apartheid recovery in South Africa. Mending the sociological rifts left by genocide and other atrocities requires a sort of willful social blindness, a denial of what’s happened. In the novelette’s case, the zombies did not have control over their actions, so the story necessarily removes the question of responsibility for the atrocities, which does make the reconciliation process less intense than it is in real life. Nevertheless, I think O’Neill intelligently explores the ways in which people act to protect themselves psychologically: denying what has happened, denying what they did, the ways in which the socially mandated silence creaks and cracks.”

This really smart and well-developed story makes me excited to see what else Joy Kennedy O’Neill will do in the future.
madness
I knew I was missing some great short stories in my rush to read as much as I could (and failing to get to anywhere near what I wanted). I have since found two more gorgeous pieces that I wish I'd seen sooner and that you should absolutely read.

The first is "Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw" by Shira Lipkin.

The Vampire
Agony Jones is less than five feet tall. She compensates with screaming red hair cut short and choppy, tall boots, and an aggressive stomp. She cases the joint as she walks in; she notes all of the exits. She’s freshly fed and looks nearly human, if a bit out of date. She claims a table in the corner and watches the crowd; she winces when the beginning of karaoke night is announced.

The Werewolf
Mary Magdalene Kendall, all worn denim and soft black tee and long black hair, goes by Maggie or Mags. Too many Marys in her family. She walks in with a few women from her pack, laughing; she nods at Jack when she passes him, and he nods back. Mags and her pack aren’t trouble. Or, well, they are, but they keep the trouble outside. Here they are model citizens whose only crime is that they hog the pool table sometimes.


A witch who can bend reality flits through different dimensions--magical, science fictional--tweaking the lives of the people she meets and sometimes loves.

This story is written in an experimental format which some will see as gimmicky, but I suggest you give it a moment to adjust. It starts to read smoothly, and the structure has a significant purpose that makes it inherent to the story rather than just being an add-on. Shira Lipkin is a poet and you can see that in the way that the writing, though usually simple, provides little, intriguing hooks that work with the story and also outside it. I liked the way that the splashiness of the setting and conceits contrasted with development of emotion.

I could have wished for slightly better development of one of the plot lines, and the title is terrible for the piece as it sets altogether a different (and lesser) mood and expectation, but overall this was unusual and interesting, and the strange texture of the writing and format created that mood.

The second is "Inventory" by Carmen Maria Machado.

One girl. We lay down next to each other on the musty rug in her basement. Her parents were upstairs; we told them we were watching Jurassic Park. "I'm the dad, and you're the mom," she said. I pulled up my shirt, she pulled up hers, and we just stared at each other. My heart fluttered below my belly button, but I worried about daddy longlegs and her parents finding us. I still have never seen Jurassic Park. I suppose I never will.



Exquisite telling detail transforms this list story (a format that I have a weakness for) into something emotional and poignant. Machado has experience writing in the lit world and brings those chops to the development of this sad, post-apocalyptic tale, told on a very personal level. By detailing moments of togetherness, Machado creates in the reader the sensation of loneliness that her character feels, isolation that persists despite touch and intimacy. Read for character, language, and emotion.

Interview with Eileen Gunn

madness
Short story writer Eileen Gunn (author of the collection Stable Strategies and Others which you should read) was recently kind enough to do an interview with me for the SFWA Bulletin.

We didn't end up using anywhere near enough of her intelligent commentary in my article which had a specific focus as a compare/contrast between the SFWA experiences of brand-new SFWA member Adam Rakunas and established member Eileen Gunn.

Luckily for readers everywhere, Eileen consented to having the interview published in Q&A form on the SFWA website.

Eileen is a Nebula Award winner and a fantastic writer. She has supported the science fiction and fantasy community in numerous, important ways, including her hard work with the Clarion West Writers Workshop. I've been lucky enough to know her since I started out and benefit from her knowledge and general awesomeness.

Here's an excerpt from the interview that I found particularly useful/interesting/exciting:

I’ve never been a huge fan of the “mentoring” concept, as it describes itself – it seems patronizing and self-aggrandizing. We’re all adults here: let’s treat one another as equals. However, I’ve benefitted enormously over my writing life, including in my advertising/marketing career, from people who have shared their knowledge with me when I needed it. In offering advice, there’s a fine line between being descriptive and being prescriptive, and a not-so-fine line between advising from one’s experience, and simply nattering on. I try to return the favors I’ve received without crossing those lines.

My father was a successful graphic designer in Boston, and he always made time to see students and new graduates of design schools. He’d meet with them, review their work, tell them who was hiring, and generally encourage them. I worked for my father for eight years, during high school and college, and scheduled those appointments for him, usually during his lunch hour. He set me a very good example, as did Kate and Damon, Joe and Gay Haldeman, and editors such as David Hartwell, Gardner Dozois, and Sheila Williams.

There are certain kinds of writers I’m particularly concerned about: writers who write slowly, or who deal with difficult subjects or subjects outside the mainstream – writers who deliberately choose, for whatever reasons, to write outside the marketplace trends. These writers are the potential heirs to Octavia E. Butler, Ted Chiang, Howard Waldrop, and, strange as it may seem, William Gibson and George R. R. Martin. I think SFWA and the Clarion and Clarion West workshops, indeed speculative literature in general, have historically supported those kinds of writers by providing community, feedback, and role models. SFWA has honored those writers with Nebula awards and nominations. I hope that, as it widens its reach and relevance, SFWA will continue to attract and support the wildly original writers, the writers with limited patience for advance marketing, and the brilliant but stubbornly self-effacing writers. They give energy to the entire field, and we need to save them some seats at the awards banquet.
madness
I am thrilled to announce that my short story, "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love," has been nominated for the Nebula Award for short story.

I am particularly pleased because I love my category. I'll be thrilled to see anyone win.

Here's the SFWA press release which includes a list of other recognized works.

2013 Nebula Awards Nominees Announced

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the 2013 Nebula Awards nominees (presented 2014), the nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and the nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Best Novel
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Marian Wood)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
Fire with Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Hild, Nicola Griffith (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata (Mythic Island)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker (Harper)

Best Novella
‘‘Wakulla Springs,’’ Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (Tor.com 10/2/13)
‘‘The Weight of the Sunrise,’’ Vylar Kaftan (Asimov’s 2/13)
‘‘Annabel Lee,” Nancy Kress (New Under the Sun)
‘‘Burning Girls,’’ Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com 6/19/13)
‘‘Trial of the Century,’’ Lawrence M. Schoen (lawrencemschoen.com, 8/13; World Jumping)
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean)

Best Novelette
‘‘Paranormal Romance,’’ Christopher Barzak (Lightspeed 6/13)
‘‘The Waiting Stars,’’ Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky)
‘‘They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass,’’ Alaya Dawn Johnson (Asimov’s 1/13)
‘‘Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters,’’ Henry Lien (Asimov’s 12/13)
‘‘The Litigation Master and the Monkey King,’’ Ken Liu (Lightspeed 8/13)
‘‘In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,’’ Sarah Pinsker (Strange Horizons 7/1 – 7/8/13)

Best Short Story
‘‘The Sounds of Old Earth,’’ Matthew Kressel (Lightspeed 1/13)
‘‘Selkie Stories Are for Losers,’’ Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons 1/7/13)
‘‘Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer,’’ Kenneth Schneyer (Clockwork Phoenix 4)
‘‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love,’’ Rachel Swirsky (Apex 3/13)
‘‘Alive, Alive Oh,’’ Sylvia Spruck Wrigley (Lightspeed 6/13)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Doctor Who: ‘‘The Day of the Doctor’’ (Nick Hurran, director; Steven Moffat, writer) (BBC Wales)
Europa Report (Sebastián Cordero, director; Philip Gelatt, writer) (Start Motion Pictures)
Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, director; Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, writers) (Warner Bros.)
Her (Spike Jonze, director; Spike Jonze, writer) (Warner Bros.)
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence, director; Simon Beaufoy & Michael deBruyn, writers) (Lionsgate)
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro, director; Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, writers) (Warner Bros.)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
When We Wake, Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin; Little, Brown)
Sister Mine, Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central)
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Hero, Alethea Kontis (Harcourt)
September Girls, Bennett Madison (Harper Teen)
A Corner of White, Jaclyn Moriarty (Levine)

Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Samuel R. Delany
Special Guest: Frank M. Robinson

About the Nebula Awards
The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. Voting will open to SFWA Active members on March 1, and close on March 30. More information is available from http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/how-to-vote/.

About the Nebula Awards Weekend
The 49th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend will be held May 15-18th, 2014, in San Jose at the San Jose Marriott. The Awards Ceremony will be hosted by Toastmaster Ellen Klages. Borderland Books will host the mass autograph session from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 16th at the San Jose Marriott. This autograph session is open to the public and books by the authors in attendance will be available for purchase. Attending memberships, and more information about the Nebula Awards Weekend, are available at http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-awards/nebula-weekend/. Membership rates increase on March 1. The Weekend is open to non-SFWA members.

About SFWA
Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world.

Since its inception, SFWA® has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers' organizations in existence, boasting a membership of approximately 2,000 science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals. Each year the organization presents the prestigious Nebula Awards® for the year’s best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.

Media: For information on obtaining press passes, interviews with nominees, or questions about the event itself, please contact SFWA's Communications Manager, Jaym Gates, at communications@sfwa.org.

Additional Information
Website: http://www.sfwa.org/
madness
I have two pieces of publication news that I wanted to put out through the blog! Of course, they're both a couple of weeks late. ;)

Detours on the Way to Nothing

First, I am really pleased to say that one of my older stories, "Detours on the Way to Nothing," has been reprinted in Lightspeed Magazine. It originally appeared in Weird Tales which was being edited by Ann Vandermeer at the time and I am *so glad* that I got to be part of her run. It was one of my first five or ten acceptances, and I was over the moon. I'm glad that the story is out there for more people to look at now.

Here's a link and a taste:

It’s midnight when you and your girlfriend, Elka, have your first fight since you moved in together. Words wound, tears flow, doors slam. You storm out of the apartment, not caring where you go as long as it’s far away from her. When you step off the front stoop onto the sidewalk, that’s the moment when the newest version of me is born.


Jude Griffin also interviewed me about the story. Another
excerpt:

What was the genesis for “Detours On The Way To Nothing”?

I usually start writing stories with an idea, instead of an image, but for this one, it just started with an image.


How the World Became Quiet

Also, my short story, "How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth," is going to be reprinted in John Joseph Adams' anthology, WASTELANDS 2. You can see the cover here and the table of contents includes super cool people like Junot Diaz, Paolo Bacigalupi, Genevieve Valentine, Keffy Kehrli, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Nancy Kress.

"How the World Became Quiet" is the titular story from my Subterranean collection which came out this fall, HOW THE WORLD BECAME QUIET: MYTHS OF THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE, which is sold out from the press but still available from some vendors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Here's a brief excerpt from the story:

During the first million years of its existence, mankind survived five apocalypses without succumbing to extinction. It endured the Apocalypse of Steel, the Apocalypse of Hydrogen, the Apocalypse of Serotonin, and both Apocalypses of Water, the second of which occurred despite certain contracts to the contrary. Mankind also survived the Apocalypse of Grease, which wasn’t a true apocalypse, although it wiped out nearly half of humanity by clogging the gears that ran the densely-packed underwater cities of Lor, but that’s a tale for another time.

Humans laid the foundation for the sixth apocalypse in much the same way they’d triggered the previous ones.
madness
Methodology same as short story. Guilt identical as well. ;)

MY FAVORITE NOVELETTES:

Paranormal Romance” by Chris Barzak - This rang really true to a lot of my experiences which I'm sure is part of why I like it. Also, my father is named Lyle, which is significant for reasons. The short pitch--a witch who can cast love spells contemplates her own love life--sounds mildly cutesy. The story is, indeed, very gentle, and has a sense of humor with itself. I like the warmth it has for its characters. I felt like this was a great example of how to do light-hearted well with candor and intelligent observation.

Painted Birds and Shivered Bones” by Kat Howard - I feel like Kat Howard and I are circling the same images and obsessions, writing-wise, which creates this interesting web of reactions for me, both positive and negative, this deep intrigue often mixed with a yearning for the story to be slightly different (where I'm sensing the difference between her artistic obsessions and mine?). Anyway, we're clearly in the same wheelhouse here with painters, feathers, transformation, fairy tales, which are the building blocks of this story. I think I'd vaguely like something a bit more from the plot, but of course I would. ;) Rich imagery, interesting read.

“Monday’s Monk” by Jason Sanford (downloadable versions at link) - A Buddhist monk works to preserve nanotechnology. A sense of humor, warmth to the characters, interesting plot and imagery.

Boat in Shadows, Crossing” by Tori Truslow - Really funky writing style, cool setting, awesome weird gender stuff, neat images like wicker basket fish. I now want an aquarium full of wicker basket fish. Please make that so, Tori Truslow. Second-world fantasy, an unusual fairy-tale-like piece about a farmer's child who goes off to the city to make a fortune and meet a haunted bride. But a lot weirder than that and more unexpected.

ALSO QUITE GOOD:

The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu - In historical China, a clever man can manipulate the court system, and enjoys playing tricks on the wealthy that can't come back to harm him. He is forced to evaluate his choices when a court case threatens his own skin. I liked the light, funny style of this, in particular with the way that it contrasted with the material as it veered darker.

A Rumor of Angels” by Dale Bailey - I don't know whether or not this is fair, but in my head, this kind of became Biblical Dust Bowl. Closely observed, strong detail, and strongly well-woven language. Also reminds me of Chiang's "Hell Is the Absence of God."

I SHOULD MENTION:

"Say Goodbye to the Little Girl Tree" by Chris Reynaga - I haven't read this story in a couple of years so I can't be specific in my recommendation. I'm pretty sure it needs a trigger warning. It's a deeply dark story, boundlessly disturbing in ways that exceed the actual text. It's a tangle that I didn't feel totally capable of deciphering, though I've discussed it a bit with the author. Read at your own risk because it is so disturbing, but I also found it odd and unique.

"They Shall Salt the Earth with Seeds of Glass" by Alaya Dawn Johnson - I wanted to like this more than I did and I fear that the fault may be with my reading and not with the text. In a post-apocalyptic world where aliens (or as good as aliens) have taken over, an older sister helps her younger search for an illegal abortion in order to spare her the pain of raising a child in the unstable and dangerous world. I liked a lot about it including the writing and the characters, but somehow it never "sang" for me, and I wonder if that was just because I was tired when I read it. Alaya's work is always worth reading. (And I'll mention here, again, that her young adult novel THE SUMMER PRINCE is excellent and the best piece of her work I've read so far.)


EDIT: It was just pointed out to me that "A Hollow Play" is a novelette, not a short story. Slot it in with "also quite good."

"A Hollow Play" by Amal El Mohtar - A sweet story, but not in a saccharine way--more sort of an odd, unexpected sweetness, the kind that comes from unusual character observation.
madness
Again, due to my time pinch, I did not have a chance to read everything that I wanted to. I'm going to try to cram in a few more stories before the end of the reading period but since that's nigh, I wanted to blog what I had now. I had outlined about 250 pieces of short fiction that I wanted to read, and I expect I'll hit about half that. I feel enormously guilty about it. :P

I'm doing my write-up quickly so I won't be hitting all the stories I enjoyed and won't be writing as much in depth as I have in other years.

Methodology was to gather recommendations from editors and other curators of the field (including authors whose taste I respect) where I could and start my reading with those, followed by reading things based on the author. Some other methods including year's best lists (such as Tor's) crept in as a proxy for contacting editors personally. I didn't reach everything I outlined as something I wanted to read.

MY FAVORITES:


The Traditional” by Maria Dahvana Headley - A fierce, surreal story as two lovers give each other anniversary gifts that riff on the old traditionals even as they try to survive the apocalypse. Visceral, weird language and imagery in a way that felt very muscular to me, a little acid and angry. Sometimes these types of heavily surreal stories don't work for me, especially if I feel that the imagery is being included for being neat or pretty rather than having an underlying strength of being connected to the narrative emotionally in some way. In this case, the emotion strongly came through to me, although the story is one that it's very difficult to create a capsule comment on because of its oddness. I valued it for the way that it focused my sight and my emotion in a strong punch of words and images. It's a story that rides the reader.

this is a ghost story” by Keffy Kehrli - This story riffs off of Kurt Cobain's suicide of which I admit I know little; luckily, friends of mine who do know about it say that the story works well when you do. I can say that it worked well for me even though I knew I was missing large swaths of references. Like Headley's story, this one has a savageness of emotion and prose that cuts through the story itself; it's a very direct, emotional shout at and with the reader. I found it raw and real. It has some of the best prose I've read this year.

Both of these stories are very strange and almost like poetry in the way that they use language and imagery to demand the reader take them on their own terms. I think that's what I was craving this year; I see a strong thread of it in the stories that I picked.


ALSO SUPER GOOD:


The Shoot-Out at Burnt Corn Ranch over the Bride of the World” by Cathrynne M. Valente - Another strange, demanding story that I can't intellectually quantify my interest in, although I do note that it's similar to M. K. Hobson's "The Hotel Astarte" which was an influence on me early in my career and which uses many of the same tropes as this one does. The title does a good job of summarizing it, though I'll add that it takes place in a magical, post-apocalyptic America, ruled over by mythologically ordained royalty and wizards. But not in a very literal way. It's odd and slippery and heavily voiced; it demanded of me, and I followed.

Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew -- I'm rapidly learning how to spell Benjanun's last name without looking at a reference which I will have to learn to do because her work is just so interesting. All her work that I've read is very interesting, although I thought this story was her winner from the year. It's a far future about a colonial empire, in which an incarnation of an uploaded general must confront her ex-wife on behalf of her empire in order to prevent her colonized home from succeeding. Like much far future work, this story loops away from the comfortable details of the present into very strange imagery, wrapping around toward the oddness of surrealism or high fantasy. I love the many-mouthed orchid sword that the main character carries.

Selected Program Notes from the Retrospective Exhibition of Theresa Rosenberg Latimer” by Ken Schneyer -- As someone who took many years of art lessons and a very little bit of art history, I am a total sucker for stories that are told through the lens of art criticism. I thought this story did a really striking and intelligent job of it. I won't lie; the strength of the story lies in the format; it will strike people for whom it doesn't work as a gimmick story, I expect, and that's not unreasonable. But the gimmick has the strength of being one that is wholly integrated with the narrative in an intelligent way. Plus, I like it.

Bess, the Landlord's Daughter, Goes for Drinks with the Green Girl” by Sofia Samatar -- My favorite story from GLITTER & MAYHEM, although no one else seems to have recognized that it was quite as brilliant as I recognized it to be. Well, everyone else who didn't recognize that, recognize it now! This surreal story is about two ghost girls who are known by their ghost stories and how they navigate their unlives in the wake of that endless, unavoidable trauma. I thought it discussed living with violence really intelligently as well as being beautifully written.

The Master Conjurer” by Charlie Jane Anders - I'm just totally disarmed by Charlie Jane's whimsical, sarcastic, funny love stories, of which this is one. (The other is below.) In this one, a man casts a spell without any kickback, and everyone goes bananas over his "clean casting" even though he doesn't want or think he deserves the attention. He's strange, and the people he interacts with are strange, but they all feel like warmly observed people, rendered from a sharp perspective that regards the world with a bit of a sigh and calls us all silly and pats us on the head. "Oh, you," says the perspective, half-smiling. "Oh, us. Oh, life."

"Complicated and Stupid" by Charlie Jane Anders -- See above. This one is about a therapy that can revivify love.


OTHERS TO ENTHUSE ABOUT:


"Sister Twelve: Confessions of a Party Monster" by Chris Barzak - Retellling of twelve dancing princesses--I was particularly hung up on some of the images in the night club which were rendered in beautiful language.

"With Her Hundred Miles" by Kat Howard - Another gorgeously imagistic story, in Howard's trademark style, this one about dreams and Hades. Somewhat disturbing, very vivid and emotionally demanding, didn't quite all tie together for me.

"Abyssus Abyssum Invocat" by Genevieve Valentine - Works primarily for me as a mood piece with, again, striking imagery, particularly several embedded mermaid stories, and the image of a woman's wrist appearing and disappearing (into a jacket, into the waves).

"Ghost Days" by Ken Liu - The story of an artifact told in several timelines, from its creation in 1905 to its possession by a half-alien girl in the far future. I loved all the little character vignettes and the definitions of different times, places, and crises. I was prepared to love this even more than I did, but unfortunately, I felt that the end didn't stand up to the beginning, and that it became a bit sentimental. Still strong and interesting.

"Hear the Enemy, My Daughter" by Ken Schneyer - The mother of a young daughter comes to know the aliens that she's been warring against, and realizes their soldiers are mother/daughter teams. One thing I particularly liked about this was the unsentimental rendering of children and motherhood, which didn't deny strong ties between them, but also looked at moments of pain and weakness and tediousness.

"Call Girl" by Tang Fei - A young girl sells stories which she finds by looking at the code of the universe. On finishing the story, it felt a bit slight to me, perhaps because I didn't have any characters to hold onto and the idea itself wasn't interesting enough to me to hold the whole story. But it was interesting and unusual and I was absorbed while reading.

"Invisible Planets" by Hao Jingfang - A frame story underpins the descriptions of a number of planets and their cultures. I was, on the one hand, quite charmed by this, but on the other, felt that the structure was something I'd seen several times before, and wasn't quite sure it transcended it... but it was definitely a worthwhile and interesting read with some lingering details.

"Old, Dead Futures" by Tina Connolly - Strong mood piece about a young man kept in a perpetual state of anger so that he can manipulate the future. Very dark.

"In Metal, In Bone" by An Owomoyela - Rich, precise detail, and a certain emotional layering that I'm unused to associating with Owomoyela's work (although sie is usually brilliant, I was struck by the ways in which this built on but was different from earlier work). A man who can divine history from objects is set to identifying bones in a war zone.

"(R + D) / I = M" by E. Catherine Tobler - Martians and misunderstandings, spun out in a delicate kind of prose that made the story persuasive and absorbing.

"Cry of the Kharchal" by Vandana Singh - Unusual mix of science fiction and fantasy with some gorgeous language, imagery and moments, although I wasn't sure that I felt it hung together as a whole (largely because the pieces didn't match up for me when I tried to hold them against each other; why would X cause Y specifically? etc)

"The Insect and the Astronomer" by Kelly Barnhill - Two strange creatures search for love with each other. Heavy imagery, very weird and somewhat humorous, no real strong plot driver, very Kelly Barnhill.

"A Fine Show on the Abyssal Plain" by Karin Tidbeck - I'm a bit mixed on this one as the morbid ending felt a little predictable to me, I guess? Or rather, I suppose, the striking strangeness of the beginning led me to expect that the whole piece would be as cut free from prior narrative assumptions, which it wasn't. But I liked the way it unfolded, the imagery and the mood, and how I felt when I was reading it.

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