2014 was a busy year, but mostly because I spent it taking care of the infant (and running after him in the last quarter of 2014)!
It’s very appropriate that out of all the stuff I published in 2014, my favourite is “The Breath of War”, my science fantasy story with spaceships, stone people and pregnancy. It was, hum, heavily inspired by September 2013 experiences, although of course I didn’t give birth in the middle of a space war :p
(if you read this blog, you’ll already know my position on the presence of women and positive depictions of pregnancies in fiction, so I won’t belabour it here–but it is part of why I’m putting this particular story forward).
It was on Tangent Online’s Recommended Reading List for 2014, and you can read it here at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, where it was first published; there are also ebook versions [EPUB|MOBI|PDF|RTF]. And an audio version read by Tina Connolly if audio’s more your thing!
And now onto other people’s fiction: I’ll direct you to my Book Smugglers Smugglivius post for the fiction I loved this year, but here are a few additional things I forgot.
Ahead of everything (which is a lot this year), I’ll just put in a strong recommendation for Xia Jia? She’s been publishing a lot of good fiction (an excellent novelette in Clarkesworld about the festivals of the future, and another one in Upgraded on old age and technology), and I think it’s a shame she’s not getting the recognition she deserves in the West. Here’s an interview with her done by Ken Liu, too.
From my Smugglivius post:
-Zen Cho, Spirits Abroad. A series of wonderfully light and funny stories, from the troubles of getting a boyfriend when you’re a pontianak (Malaysian vampire), to the changes wrought on a family by generations of immigration.
Uh. I would appear to be the owner of a brand-new Nebula Award for Best Novelette, for my Xuya space opera “The Waiting Stars”.
Copy-pasting my acceptance speech here:
I am honoured–and vaguely shocked–that I get a repeat performance at the Nebulas this year. Many thanks to everyone who voted for me and helped spread the word, and to my co-nominees, who all made this category such a difficult one to vote in! This story wouldn’t have come to pass without the fabulous Athena Andreadis and Kay Holt and their awesome anthology project of female-dominated space opera. I am indebted, as always, to Rochita Loenen-Ruiz for the friendship, to Ken Liu for being such a great first reader; to Sylvia, who kindly accepted to deliver this speech; and, as always, to my family for the support and love. Many thanks.
Many many thanks as well to everyone working behind the scenes to make the awards possible; and in particular to Steven H. Silver (who, among many other things, bugged me for my acceptance speech and is making sure I get the award mailed home). I am sorry I didn’t make it to San José this year–I would have loved to meet everyone, but the thought of a 12-hour international flight with the snakelet in my arms was…. a little too much? :p (I’m a little miffed as well–I didn’t actually realise the time difference was so important and assumed the Nebulas were happening in the middle of the night for me; in reality, they must have been handing the award about 30 minutes before I got up this morning–though to be fair, I got up early because the snakelet didn’t want to sleep anymore…).
And many congrats to the other winners–Ann Leckie, Vylar Kaftan, Rachel Swirsky, Alfonso Cuaron and Nalo Hopkinson, and Grand Master Samuel Delany. It is an awesome slate this year, and I am very proud to be part of it (am now crossing my fingers Ancillary Justice gets a well-deserved Hugo).
Anyway, this is me in a state of shock. I will go off and see why the snakelet is screaming his head off… #proudmom
Meant to post about this earlier, but ran into a few website problems (now fixed, thank God, but had a pretty unfunny 24 hours on Thursday where I seriously contemplated complicated tech manoeuvres).
Very pleased to announce that “The Waiting Stars” is a finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards in the “Best Novelette” category. Many thanks to everyone who voted for it! (also, wow. The other people on the ballot kind of make me want to crawl up somewhere and hide).
Also, a very nice writeup of the story over at Tor.com by Niall Alexander.
The full list of finalists is as follows:
SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood (McClelland & Stewart; Bloomsbury; Talese)
Abaddon’s Gate, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Best of All Possible Worlds, Karen Lord (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher UK)
Shaman, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Neptune’s Brood, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman (Morrow; Headline Review)
NOS4A2, Joe Hill (Morrow; Gollancz as NOS4R2)
River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay (Roc; Viking Canada; HarperCollins UK)
Doctor Sleep, Stephen King (Scribner; Hodder & Stoughton)
The Republic of Thieves, Scott Lynch (Del Rey; Gollancz)
YOUNG ADULT BOOK
Zombie Baseball Beatdown, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (Little, Brown; Indigo)
Homeland, Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen; Titan)
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends)
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic, Emily Croy Barker (Dorman)
The Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney (Roc)
Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar (Small Beer)
That’s a bit of a misleading post title, I’m afraid… I’m not going to comment at length because it’s a bit churlish to comment on a ballot one is part of, and also because my brains are fried (thanks to the snakelet, whom I think is secretly a zombie–has uncontrolled gestures, drools all the time, eats Mom’s brains, what more evidence do you need?). But, more seriously–broadly, I agree with John Scalzi on the matter: you may or may not agree with the particular people on the ballot, but insofar as I know everyone has full rights to be there.
As John points out, it doesn’t mean everyone gets automatic first place votes, or even votes above No Award. ETA: Where I disagree with John is that if you don’t want to read some or all of the nominees, that’s entirely fine by me. Yup, even if said nominees are me. I don’t think being on the Hugo ballot entitles you to equal, measured and fair consideration on the sole basis of your work. See the end of the post for more details.
Also, whatever your thoughts on the ballot, please read and vote? The Hugos won’t be a huge inclusive award unless there are lots of voters reflecting all walks of fandom, and this year is already on track to have a record number of voters–which is great. FYI, if you’re not attending Worldcon it’s not too late for a supporting membership, which nets you the voter’s packet–lots of good fiction–and voting rights. Remember it’s an Australian system, i.e. ranking by preference, which, by cushioning much of the effect of a splitting of votes, allows you to express several preferences, though it’s not a panacea (do read the rules, though, because they’re not always intuitive, especially with regards to the use of the ranking system and “No Award”, which can be downright confusing. Further info here, including in the comments. I certainly wish I had known this at my first Worldcon).
Further reading, below, well worth consideration (on the Hugo ballot, but more generally on the issue of divorcing authors from their works and the old “let’s consider these solely on merit” chestnut). I don’t agree with everything, but this is stuff well worth keeping in mind.
Very very pleased to announce that “The Waiting Stars” is up for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette (though, given that other people on the ballot include Ted Chiang, I think I can safely skip the acceptance speech :p ). Particularly happy because Loncon3 is a special con: it’s the symbolic anniversary of the first Worldcon I went to (Interaction in 2005), with the H (who wasn’t the H at the time!), it’s my first con as mother of the snakelet, and it will also be my first English Worldcon as a writer rather than as a fan.
Many thanks to everyone who took time to read “The Waiting Stars” (and especially those who nominated it). And also very very pleased to see Benjanun Sriduangkaew on the ballot for the Campbell Award: I’m crossing my fingers very hard for her.
Very pleased to announce that my story “Heaven Under Earth”, published in Electric Velocipede, has made the Tiptree Honor List. The Tiptree is a great award, and the Honor list always makes for great reading, so I’m honoured to get that kind of nod, especially in the company of fine folks such as Ann Leckie, Nicola Griffith, and Alaya Dawn Johnson. And I don’t know N. Sulway, but <i>Rupetta</i> sounds fascinating. Many congrats to everyone!
I was very pleased to see this morning that Richard Wagner’s illustration for “The Angel at the Heart of the Rain”, was shortlisted for a BSFA award for Best Artwork. You can see the complete list of nominees here (lots of friends on that list, best of luck!).
Wow, it’s that time of year again (seriously, where did 2013 go?). I didn’t publish a whole lot in 2013: my favourite piece is “The Waiting Stars”, which originally appeared in Athena Andreadis’s and Kay Holt’s The Other Half of the Sky (published in April 2013). It was picked for Gardner Dozois in his Year’s Best, recommended by Ken Liu and Ada Hoffman (and singled out for praise by Rich Horton in his Locus review). It’s my Xuya space opera story, which has killer drones, signal processing and a lot of mindships
You can find it online here, and also in EPUB, MOBI (Kindle) and PDF format (if you need DOC or RTF, drop me a line via the contact form, and I’ll be quite happy to provide a copy. I just am not a big fan of putting Word formats online–too easy to modify them by mistake…). It’s eligible for the Hugos and Nebulas (in the novelette category), and for the BSFA Awards as well.
Now for the less selfish part of this post: the stuff I really liked from last year (a fair warning that a lot of the people involved are acquaintances or friends–that said, I wouldn’t recommend their stories if I didn’t genuinely like them and think them award worthy).
-“Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Clarkesworld December 2013. A woman comes back from the dead to deal with her former spouse. Awesome world building, crunchy thoughts on history and the manipulation of public and private record, and tantalising hints of a larger gender fluid society. I’m jealous.
-“Of Alternate Adventures and Memory” by Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Clarkesworld December 2013. The son of a former metal woman returns to the city of her birth, and must decide what to do with his inheritance. I was surprised this was a short story, because reading it I thought this was much longer: there’s so much packed into–thoughts on difference, on memory, on what is worth preserving. And as always, gorgeous prose.
-“The Knight of Chains, The Deuce of Stars” by Yoon Ha Lee. OK, so it’s always hard to pick a favourite Yoon Ha Lee story, but this was the one that most blew me away this year. I had the privilege of writing the introduction to the short story collection Conservation of Shadows, and regret that this wasn’t included in it. In a tower that holds all the games in the world, a woman who was once admiral in an unwinnable war comes to defy the Guardian for the ultimate game… Gorgeous prose, sharp observations and great ideas.
EDIT: -“Balik Kampung” by Zen Cho (in Solaris’s The End of the Road, available from Zen if you request it) is a beautiful tale of ghosts in modern-day Malaysia, New Year’s Eve and returning home.
-“The Litigation Master and the Monkey King” by Ken Liu, Lightspeed Magazine, August 2013. Pretty sure Ken will be on the ballot without my signal boosting, but I really liked this story of an Ancient Chinese litigation master, his relation with the legendary Monkey King, and the suppression and preservation of historical record.
-Boat in Shadows, Crossing by Tori Truslow, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, January 2013. You know that feeling you get when you read a fantasy book? That crunchy feeling that it’s a real place that happens to look nothing like our world? Truslow nails it from the get go. That it’s a story about gender and gender fluidity–and festivals, and gods–only makes it more appealing.
EDIT: -“Yseul’s Lexicon” by Yoon Ha Lee (published in her collectionConservation of Shadows): magic, language and the cost of erasure. Awesome.
-“Burning Girls” by Veronica Schanoes. Found out about this one too late for the Nebulas, so it’s fortunate it got on the final ballot without me. A great tale of immigration, family and dangerous pacts with demons, all steeped in vivid period detail.
-The Bone Flower Throne, by T.L. Morganfield, Panverse Publishing. T.L. Morganfield brilliantly brings to life Ancient Mexico in Toltec times, in a brilliant retelling of the myth of Quetzalcoatl that focuses on his sister. This reads like Mists of Avalon in Ancient Mexico: I love the focus on women and on what they have to do to survive, and the characters are very strongly drawn (TW for incest though–hardly avoidable as it’s in the original myth…).
Best Fan Artist:
-Ninni Aalto, who did the art for much of the Helsinki bid. See an example of her work here. And her blog is here.
Best Editor (Short Form)
-Jon Oliver, for his work as editor of the Solaris anthologies. For once that Worldcon is in the UK, I think it’d be awesome if more UK editors were recognised. Solaris puts out great books, and Jon is very good at putting together cutting-edge and diverse anthologies like The End of the Road.
Benjanun Sriduangkaew. She’s burst all over the SFF scene this year, with stories in BCS, Clarkesworld and various anthologies, and I really think she deserves a Campbell nomination. Her universes are intricate looks at gender fluidity and gender roles; her prose makes me ultra jealous; and I’m so looking forward to the day when she releases a longer work (I understand there’s a space opera novella in the works, so maybe I don’t have to wait quite so long!). Stories of hers worth reading: I already mentioned “Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade”, but if fantasy is more your thing, her “The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate” was absolutely awesome. And her “The Bees Her Heart, the Hives Her Belly” (not available online at the moment, you’ll have to buy Clorkwork Phoenix 4) was a reviewer favourite this year.
Just a reminder that the voting deadline for the Hugos is July 31st, 11:59 p.m. CDT.
You can find the online voting ballot here, and the packet here if you’re still trying to find nominees. This year I had to skip the novel category due to lack of time, and a bunch of others; but if you still need a candidate for your Campbell Award for Best New Writer, give Zen Cho a try? Stories here, here and here.
Also, she’ll be at Nine Worlds in London August 9-11 if you’re in the vicinity!
(and, hum, if you feel like voting for “Immersion” in the Short Story category, I’d be as pleased as punch)