Moving! Meanwhile, check out my story at Perihelion.

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Orion,_battle_spaceshipI’m having to take a week off from the blog, and maybe two. I’m moving to a sweet new house. 🙂

Well, actually it’s old, built in 1941. Very cute. Hopefully I’ll have everything put away soon and get back to work on writing.

Until then, check out my story “Only a Signal Shown” at PerihelionSF. I’ve gotten some comments and I’d love to hear more. Let me know what you think!

Also look for “The Dress” in Canines from Supposed Crimes Press.

Both are currently free to read!

Review of “Abere and the Poisoner” by Jonathan Edelstein

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FeatherPenClipArtThis story is a random read, not in contention for any awards just now. It was published this month in Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

The story opens in a swamp, where two people are waiting. The Narrator names the other Poet, and goes on to tell a story of an assassin named Folau who took a commission and came seeking poison from the swamp witch Abere. In the story, Folau finds the witch and couples with her, then realizes he’s in a battle for both body and soul. He defeats the witch by becoming invisible, but she offers him a deal. Now the Poet must make a similar decision.

This is an interesting read, with the world very lush and richly imagined. It’s written in second person and includes only one side of the conversation, which is creative and intimate without affecting the readability. The story line includes elements of making deals with the devil and the drawbacks of keeping lovers against their will. It’s not a heavyweight in the ideas department, but I enjoyed it.

Four stars.

“Only a Signal Shown” is up!

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Orion,_battle_spaceshipMy short story “Only a Signal Shown” is up now at PerihelionSF. This is (eh-hem) my take on hard SF, which will probably give you a hint about why I’m not especially popular in hard SF publications. As a result of this sale, PerihelionSF might turn out to be one of my newest, most favorite magazines. It’s clear Sam Bellotto and Eric Jones have a great sense of humor. The magazine is free–please write up a review if you like the story!

For anyone who’s interested in literary quotes, the title “Only a Signal Shown” is from the quote: “Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here’s the full table of contents:

Fiction

Breeding Season
by Sean Mulroy

Personal Artifacts Lost
by Marilyn K. Martin

Lover’s Moon
by Ronald D. Ferguson

When it Comes Around
by Auston Habershaw

Buddy
by Nolan Edrik

Shuffleboard on the Hubble Deck
by Iain Ishbel

This Perilous Brink
by JT Gill

Only a Signal Shown
by L.E. Buis

Shorter Stories

Thunder Lizard
by William Suboski

Blue Harvest
by Andrew James Woodyard

Heat of the Night
by Gareth D. Jones

Thoughts on Atlantic’s Interview with N.K. Jemisin

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In the run up to the Hugo Awards, Atlantic magazine’s writer Vann R. Newkirk II interviewed N.K. Jemisin on her finalist position for the Best Novel Hugo Award. Of course, The Fifth Season went on to win the award.

Jemisin’s nomination and win in the Best Novel category are historic, as she’s the first black writer to achieve this milestone. Newkirk notes the brilliance of the ideas in the novel, and Jemisin admits that a story of this length and scope has been somewhat difficult for her to deal with. Then they go on to politics in the SFF genre (i.e. the Sad/Rabid Puppies) and what has informed the content of what will be a trilogy with The Fifth Season as the first installment. Jemisin notes that she has read a lot of history that will go into the oppression theme of the trilogy. She also suggests she will add “hints” from the Khmer Rouge and the Holocaust to the extant slavery theme and what Newkirk calls the “racial critiques” the first book presents.

In light of current social trends, Jemisin’s comments seem confusing. One of the hot-button topics in the culture war is cultural appropriation (already featured in other blogs here). Some people might consider Jemisin already privileged because of her American birthright, and with her nomination and Hugo win, she has now joined a privileged class of SFF writers. No one questions her right to comment about slavery and oppression, as she comes from a heritage of African American slavery, but is it cultural appropriation for her to borrow from the Khmer Rouge and the Holocaust? Will it be transgressive for her to be putting words in the mouths of Asians and Jews? Also, as an American, is it transgressive for her to be making assumptions about Africa and African history?

I’ve asked these questions before just as a theoretical, but here we have an actual example. Is Jemisin planning something that will be considered cultural appropriation? Or should she not be limited by her race and heritage to writing only about certain racial groups and a certain cultural experience?

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2016

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Since the awards season is closing down, it might be a good time to look at possibles for next year. In June Joel Cunningham revealed what bookseller Barnes and Noble considered the best SFF books of the year up until then. Here’s the list:

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
City of Blades, by Robert Jackson Bennett
A Gathering of Shadows, by V.E. Schwab
Morning Star, by Pierce Brown
Borderline, by Mishell Baker
The Spider’s War, by Daniel Abraham
Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
The Summer Dragon, by Todd Lockwood
Infomocracy, by Malka Older
The Medusa Chronicles, by Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds
Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer
Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee
The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley

This looks like a nice mix of authors and styles, and it’s a fairly even split between male and female authors. Presumably because the list is made by a bookseller, book sales and reviews might have had something to do with appearance on the list. Looking a little further, five of these books have already appeared on the Nebula Reading List, that is: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders, City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett, Borderline by Mishell Baker, Infomocracy by Malka Older and Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer.

There are other lists. Here’s one from Flavorwire:

A Gathering of Shadows, V.E. Schwab
The Winged Histories, Sofia Samatar
Borderline, Mishell Baker
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, Ken Liu (collection)
Sleeping Giants, Sylvain Neuvel
Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer
Central Station, Lavie Tidhar
Infomocracy, Malka Older
Super Extra Grande, YOSS
Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

This list leans very heavily to women authors and includes more ethnic diversity. YOSS is a Cuban writer, for anyone who is unfamiliar with his work. Six of these books already appeared on the Nebula Reading List, including: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab, The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar, Borderline by Mishell Baker, Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, Infomocracy by Malka Older and Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. You can also see the correspondence with the B&N list, as five of the books appear on both lists.

It looks like the Best Novel category for 2017 is taking shape already.

Review of “The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente

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This story won the first Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction at DragonCon. Other finalists in the category included: “The Deepwater Bride” by Tamsyn Muir (F&SF, July/Aug 2015), “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong (Nightmare, Oct 2015), “Pocosin” by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, Jan 2015) and “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” by Aliette De Bodard (Clarkesworld, Jan 2015). According to the website, the Eugie Foster Award “celebrates the best in innovative fiction.”

Violet Wild lives in Purple Country. She falls in love with Orchid Harm, but he’s eaten by time squirrels. Wearing the Sparrowbone Mask of the Incarnadine Fisherwomen, riding her mammoth Sorrow and carrying her watercolor unicorn, Violet leaves her home and sets off on a journey across several colors of countries in search of the Red Country of Death. Eventually she finds it, where she is reunited with Orchid.

I see this described elsewhere as “absurdist.” I also suspect it might be surrealist. I dunno. It’s a little too innovative for me. It reads like a bad LSD trip, with confusing images and metaphors and varying nonsensical descriptions for each color of country. I do have to say it’s an accomplishment to put together something like this, and I admire the work and the technique that went into it. I gather from the award there is an audience that very much appreciates it; however, I also suspect it’s a niche work. There was nothing about it that attracted me. It’s also quite long. I was skimming by the time I got done.

Two stars.

Congrats to the Dragon Award Winners!

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The first annual Dragon Awards were presented Sunday night at DragonCon. Some of the usual suspects won in this case, including Martin’s ”Game of Thrones”, Weir’s ”The Martian”, Gaiman’s ”The Sandman” and Novik’s ”League of Dragons.”

It looks like this venue will be quite a bit more friendly to popular fiction than the Hugo or Nebula Awards. For one thing, a self-published novel won in the Best Horror genre. Also, Castalia House did well here with wins for John C. Wright and Nick Cole. Sad Puppy stalwart Larry Correia also won with Son of the Black Sword.

In other analysis, white men apparently turned out to vote their taste, as novel winners were 7 men/1 woman. Ethnic diversity was also low; out of 8 winners, only Correia is a minority writer.

Many congrats to the winners!

Best Science Fiction Novel
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm, John C. Wright (Castalia House)

Best Fantasy Novel
Son of the Black Sword, Larry Correia (Baen)

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett (Harper)

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Hell’s Foundations Quiver, David Weber (Tor)

Best Alternate History Novel
League of Dragons, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Best Apocalyptic Novel
Ctrl Alt Revolt!, Nick Cole (Castalia House)

Best Horror Novel
Souldancer, Brian Niemeier (Self-published)

Best Comic Book
Ms. Marvel

Best Graphic Novel
The Sandman: Overture, Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Game of Thrones

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
The Martian

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game
Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th Edition) by Chaosium Inc.

Eugie Foster Memorial Award for Short Fiction
” The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild” by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, Jan & Mar 2015)

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