So last week I couldn’t sleep—I was exhausted after 2.5 days of solo childcare (I assure you the 0.5 matters immensely), but apparently my body decided to be a jerk and I woke up at 4am. While waiting for tea to brew I idly checked my email, and found a thing marked “Confidential” in my mailbox.
I opened it and stared at it. The kettle switched itself off after boiling the water but I kept staring at the screen because it was 4am and surely it was a trick of super tired brain.
Spoilers: it was not.
Writers often get to sit on awesome things for a long long time, and this waiting was actually relatively short! It gives me great joy to say that “Children of Thorns, Children of Water”, the novelette I wrote as a preorder reward for The House of Binding Thorns, is up for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette (in a, er, very competitive category–will you look at that ballot and everyone who’s on it °_°)
To everyone who read and considered my story of Bake Off in Gothic devastated Paris: thank you so much! This is by no means the detailed speech (still have to write that hahaha) but also thanks to everyone who weighed in on Facebook when I was brainstorming what kind of competition a magical faction would run for recruiting people, to Kate Elliott, Stephanie Burgis and Fran Wilde for believing in it (and especially to Steph and Fran for support with cover art and publicizing it); to Megan Crewe for super lovely super fast cover art; to Michelle Sagara for formatting the ebooks for me; to Gillian Redfearn, Genn McMenemy, Stevie Finegan and everyone at Gollancz for running the original giveaway; to Uncanny Magazine for its second life as a reprint, and to everyone who read and signal boosted it.
I’m over the moon.
And congrats and best of luck to my fellow nominees, and a special mention to Likhain whose art is awesome and to Fran Wilde whose short story is heartbreaking.
(also spoilers: it was super hard to go back to sleep in a timely fashion after the email hahaha!)
PPS: click here to read the story! And click here if you want to read more about the book in the same universe.
If you still need ideas/stuff to read at the last minute I’ve collected my recommendations here.
The short version: please consider Likhain (sample above) for your Best Fan Artist ballot, and Tade Thompson for the Campbell. And because I’ve repeatedly had the question: insofar as I can tell, the Xuya universe series is eligible in the Best Series category (meets the total wordcount and had 3 new volumes released in 2016: take your pick between “A Salvaging of Ghosts” , “A Hundred and Seventy Storms”, and “Pearl” in the excellent anthology The Starlit Wood–you can read the first two free online, or you can check out the Cheat Starter Guide to Xuya)
I usually put this up way sooner but this was a bit of an overwhelming year for me, for several reasons, apologies…
I feel like I should start with the usual call to action/disclaimer: if you’re eligible to vote for any of the awards (Nebulas/Hugos/etc.), then please do so, even if you felt you haven’t read enough. It’s a big field and few people can claim to have read everything that came out last year–and generally the people who recuse themselves from voting tend to be marginalised folks, which skews ballots. So please please vote?
Just a quick reminder that today is the last day for Hugo nominations (you have until 11:59pm Pacific time, and you can nominate if you’re a member of Sasquan, MidamericonII or Worldcon in Helsinki). You can find the nomination form here.
Please do nominate even if you feel you haven’t read widely enough: if you loved something, just put it on your ballot. This isn’t a quiz on the state of the genre, it’s a vote for things you liked in 2015 (and experience has shown that voters who recuse themselves as “not having read/watched enough” tend to overwhelmingly be marginalised folks, thereby biasing nomination results).
If you’re still looking for stuff to put on your ballot, here is my awards consideration post with stuff by me and a lot of other great people (insofar as I could and it made sense, I’ve included a lot of stuff available online for those last minute reading binges!).
I’m told by Farah Mendlesohn that this is the first time anyone has walked away with the two fiction awards in the same year (previously Keith Roberts won both art and short fiction in 1986). The Guardian has a lovely piece here, courtesy of David Barnett (and yeah this is me going “OMG I’m in the Guardian” in case you had any doubts).
My thanks to everyone who read and voted in the awards and to everyone involved from the BSFA. I was also honoured to be part of two very strong shortlists and highly suggest you check out the other finalists.
Me with Gillian Redfearn and John Berlyne in the bar shortly afterwards.
He, what would you know, it’s January again (aka, wow, where did all the time go, and arggggggg I am so late on things!). The main thing I published in 2015 was my novel (I know, kind of hard to miss :p), The House of Shattered Wings, aka magical intrigues, deadly creatures and elusive wonders in a decadent turn-of-the-century Paris ravaged by a magical war.
It won a British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel, as well as being on the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2015. It also got starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal. It’s eligible for the Hugos.
I can’t provide a copy of the complete text, but I have put together a short sampler of the first three chapters: bits and pieces of this have appeared online, but this is the first time that you can actually read all of it (I think? The kindle sampler is shorter than this, ending mid-chapter two). You can download it here in EPUB, MOBI, or PDF (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…).
If you came here wanting whole stories (which I can understand!), I do have a Xuya short story online, “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight”, which won a British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Short Fiction, and is at Clarkesworld (and is getting reprinted in Dozois’s Year’s Best). You can also downloadEPUB or MOBI.
And if anyone is interested and a Hugo or Nebula voter, contact me and I’d be quite happy to email you a copy of my novella “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls”, which appeared in Asimov’s Oct/Nov and is now a tad hard to find.
And now for the bulk of this, aka, the stuff that I read from 2015 and want to recommend. (this list is a slightly modified and expanded version of one I wrote for the Book Smugglers. I would urge you to go read it: these recs for 2015 are more up to date, but the Book Smugglers post also has my 2016 TBR pile, and it really looks awesome. I made a slight headstart on said TBR pile thanks to friends, and so far I haven’t been disappointed!).
Short stories “Variations on an Apple”, Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, October). It’s no secret that I love Yoon Ha Lee’s stuff, and this clever retelling of the Trojan war is no exception. Tackles mathematics, desire, and the consequences of decisions that aren’t always wisely made. Also, Illium and Helen are both awesome in different ways.
“Milagroso”, Isabel Yap (Tor.com, August). In a future where food is grown in labs and always perfect, there is still room for the miracles of saints… By turns exuberant and heartbreaking, this is a story of what we take for granted, how we seek to protect our children, and the price we pay.
“The Star Maiden”, Rokshani Chokshi. Tala’s grandmother used to be a star maiden, annd tells her granddaughter stories of longing for the sky. But Tala grows up and starts questioning the veracity of the story–and becomes ashamed of her grandmother’s oddness. There’s nothing really surprising in this one, but it’s very very well done (as in I broke down and cried at the end), and encapsulates the heartache of growing up.
“The Monkey House”, Tade Thompson (Omenana, March). The narrator returns to work after a breakdown–and finds that everything is *almost* normal. I love the sense of creeping unease of this one, the feeling that everything looks almost quite right (and that 1% “not right” that is downright unsettling). I’m not usually much of a reader for horror or dark, but this is perfect.
“If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler”, by Xia Jia (Clarkesworld, Nov). I love Xia Jia’s stuff, and this short story about a poet and her legacy–and how people handle it in the age of the internet and social media–is lovely and sharp.
“City of Salt”, Arkady Martine, (Strange Horizons, March). This one has stuck around in my head since I read it: the story of a man who comes back to a deserted city, to face the woman he once knew and what she has become… Poetic and elegiac in all the best ways.
Also, congratulations to a lot of friends I see on the longlist. 2015 was a great year for fiction and the company is an honour.
(work continues apace on The House of Binding Thorns aka “that %%% sequel”. Thanks to a very sympathetic husband and a bad habit of getting up one hour ahead of everyone in the house, I hammered down a lot of words on it. Here’s hoping some of them stay in °_°)
(Picture: Fran Wilde, Navah Wolfe, Alyssa Wong and me)
Just a quick note that I’m still around but completely completely buried in explody real life (aka “not serious, but time consuming” events).
I had a lovely time at the Nebulas; and finally got to see Mad Max: Fury Road with Navah Wolfe, Fran Wilde, Alyssa Wong and her boyfriend Don (and it was great, OMG. First off, the last movie I saw was Interstellar, which a. wasn’t *very* good from my point of view, and b. was a long time ago! *sigh* toddlers). Now I feel like I’m all caught up with what everyone was saying on the internet! Also, it’s a fantastic 2-hour chase movie with a couple great leads (Charlize Theron is badass awesome, and Tom Hardy too, in a different way!).
And then there was this:
(Kat Tanaka Opoknik, Alyssa Wong, Ken Liu, Liu Cixin, and me)
Yes, there was tailcoat goodness 🙂 (for those who haven’t been following the adventures of the tailcoat: I basically got it for my book launch, aka “cosplaying my own characters”, in this case Selene, the head of House Silverspires and a dab hand with tailcoats, men’s clothes and general bad-assness. This was my first serious spin with it, and it went very well. Except I had to google how to tie a cravat because it’s been so long since I last did it ^^)
Didn’t actually win a Nebula, but had a great time at the banquet (Sheila Williams organises awesome table seating!) and was very happy for the winners.
Now I’m back in Paris, looking with apprehension at the mass of things I’m supposed to be doing (do not overcommit do not overcommit etc.), and gearing up for the summer before book release (*gulp*). More when my head is above water (hahaha who am I kidding).
Have been up to a number of things (including baking and preparing for the upcoming Nebula Awards, aka “eep, my first over-the-pond flight in 2 years! ). BTW, I don’t know how much I can publicy say about that, but there’ll be shiny book-related stuff at the Nebulas, so if brace yourself if you’re attending :p (also me in a Gothic tailcoat, looking snazzy. And jetlagged).
Not much book stuff, but I’ve been focusing on shorts: answering proofreader’s queries to the upcoming “The Citadel of Weeping Pearls” (in the Oct/Nov. issue of Asimov’s (the short version of this is that one should never put the simu-ghosts of 24 dead emperors in the same story unless one is prepared to do a lot *more* work to keep them straight and separate), and writing a couple new pieces!
Among them is this one, which is, er, mostly a retelling of this legend as a Xuya story (it’s always fascinated me. Mostly because I can’t imagine wasting away on an obsession, I guess).
In Da Trang’s nightmares, Pearl is always leaving–darting away from him, towards the inexorable maw of the Sun’s gravity, going into a tighter and tighter orbit until no trace of it remains–he’s always reaching out, sending a ship, a swarm of bots–calling upon the remoras to move, sleek and deadly and yet too agonisingly slow; to do anything, to save what they can.
Too late. Too late.
Yes, there are remoras. And crabs. And er. Angst. A lot of angst 🙂
Also, a brief reminder that today is the last day for getting a signed ARC of The House of Shattered Wings, my Gothic dark fantasy of a devastated Paris, fallen angels and political intrigues (and dead bodies, because this is a Bodard book :p): enter here!
 I think of it as prep for this summer, where I’ll be flying to Spokane on a *much* longer journey aka 3 connecting flights and 17 hours of zombie-inducing state…