Congrats to the 2017 Nebula Finalists


Interestingly, more than one of the names repeat this year. Vina Jie-Min Prasad and Sarah Pinsker both appear in more than one category. This year, the Nebula Recommended Reading List did pretty much accurately predict that the top recommended stories would end up as finalists.

As is usual recently, the list leans heavily female. Here’s a quick diversity count, as well as I can figure it:
Best novel – 6 women, 1 man, 1 African American, 1 Asian, 1 LGBT
Best novella – 4 women, 1 man, 1 non-binary, 1 Asian, 1 Jewish
Best novelette – 2 women, 2 men, 1 trans, 2 LGBT, 1 Asian
Best short story – 4 women, 2 men, 2 Asian, 1 Native American/African American, 2 Jewish

Four of 7 of the Best novel finalists come from Orbit, and 4 of 6 of the Best novella category come from, plus one of the novelettes and one of the short stories.

For those who have been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know I’m happy to see a Native American writer represented this year. Many congrats to all! Reviews to follow soon.

Best Novel

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly (Tor)
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (Saga)
Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory (Knopf; riverrun)
The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty (Orbit US)
Jade City by Fonda Lee (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (Tor; Orbit UK 2018)

Best Novella

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey ( Publishing)
Passing Strange by Ellen Klages ( Publishing)
And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 3-4/17)
Barry’s Deal by Lawrence M. Schoen (NobleFusion Press)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells ( Publishing)
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ( Publishing)

Best Novelette

“Dirty Old Town” by Richard Bowes (F&SF 5-6/17)
“Weaponized Math” by Jonathan P. Brazee (The Expanding Universe, Vol. 3)
“Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 9-10/17)
“A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld 1/17)
“A Human Stain” by Kelly Robson ( 1/4/17)
“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny 5-6/17)

Best Short Story

“Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny 9-10/17)
“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex 8/17)
“Utopia, LOL?” by Jamie Wahls (Strange Horizons 6/5/17)
“Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny 9-10/17)
“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” by Matthew Kressel ( 3/15/17)
“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 5/11/17)


Rocket Stack Rank Site Predicts the 2018 Hugo Winners


For anyone who’s somehow not noticed, Rocket Stack Rank is a fairly new short fiction review site established by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong. The site posts short reviews and rankings of long and short fiction from major pro magazines and anthologies (no novels) during the year, and also compilations of how other reviewers rated the stories. The wrap-up at the end of the year shows three clear leaders for the Hugo Award, based on this system:

Best Novella – Nexus by Michael Flynn from Analog
Best Novelette – “A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad from Clarkesworld
Best Short Story – “The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata from

In comparison, here’s what the Nebula Reading List predicts, based on the number of recommendations from SFWA members:

Best Novella – And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker from Uncanny Magazine
Best Novelette – “Small Changes over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara from Uncanny Magazine
Best Short Story (tie) – “Carnival Nine” by Caroline Yoachim from Beneath Ceaseless Skies and “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (TM)” by Rebecca Roanhorse from Apex Magazine

Interestingly, Nexus rated right at the bottom of the Nebula Reading List, and “A Series of Steaks” rated fourth in its category. I don’t see “The Martian Obelisk” on the Nebula list at all. Does this suggest a bias toward hard SF among reviewers? A bias toward fantasy among SFWA members?

The Locus poll results will be available soon, so I’ll have a look at those when they come out. A quick skim of the ballot right now shows no sign of Nexus or “Small Changes over Long periods of Time.” I wouldn’t expect they’d rate as write-ins.

So how did the Rabid Puppies do in the Hugo nominations?


Am back but disorganized. While I was busy vacationing, the Hugo finalists for this year were announced, containing many of the expected works. Aside from that, I’m sure everyone is dying to know how Vox Day did against the new E Pluribus Hugo system that was installed last year to block slate voting. Day apparently analyzed the system and, in response, modified his recommendations from a full slate to (mostly) a single work in each category. This seems to have been a successful strategy, as his recommendations made the finalist list in ten categories, including the Campbell Award. If not for the declines/ineligible, he’d have made three more. Below are the 2017 finalists. I’ve marked the Rabid Puppies choices in bold.

This list of works received enough votes to be finalists, but were either ineligible or declined:

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Game of Thrones: “The Winds of Winter”

Best Professional Artist: Tomek Radziewicz

Best Professional Artist: JiHun Lee

Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine

Best Fanzine: File 770

On to the 2017 Hugo finalists:

Best Novel

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor Books / Titan Books)

A Closed and Common Orbit, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager US)

Death’s End, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor Books / Head of Zeus)

Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris Books)

The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)

Too Like the Lightning, by Ada Palmer (Tor Books)

Best Novella

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle ( publishing)

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson ( publishing)

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire ( publishing)

Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum Literary Agency)

A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson ( publishing)

This Census-Taker, by China Miéville (Del Rey / Picador)

Best Novelette

“Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex”, by Stix Hiscock (self-published)

“The Art of Space Travel”, by Nina Allan ( , July 2016)

“The Jewel and Her Lapidary”, by Fran Wilde ( publishing, May 2016)

“The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)

“Touring with the Alien”, by Carolyn Ives Gilman (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)

“You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay”, by Alyssa Wong (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

Best Short Story

“The City Born Great”, by N. K. Jemisin (, September 2016)

“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers”, by Alyssa Wong (, March 2016)

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)

“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)

“That Game We Played During the War”, by Carrie Vaughn (, March 2016)

“An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright (God, Robot, Castalia House)

Best Related Work

The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley (Tor Books)

The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (Blue Rider Press)

Traveler of Worlds: Conversations with Robert Silverberg, by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro (Fairwood)

The View From the Cheap Seats, by Neil Gaiman (William Morrow / Harper Collins)

The Women of Harry Potter posts, by Sarah Gailey (

Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

Best Graphic Story

Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel)

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)

Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel)

Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image)

Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image)

The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel)

Rabid Puppies – no recommendation in this category

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)

Deadpool, screenplay by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick, directed by Tim Miller (Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation/Marvel Entertainment/Kinberg Genre/The Donners’ Company/TSG Entertainment)

Ghostbusters, screenplay by Katie Dippold & Paul Feig, directed by Paul Feig (Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Village Roadshow Pictures/Pascal Pictures/Feigco Entertainment/Ghostcorps/The Montecito Picture Company)

Hidden Figures, screenplay by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, directed by Theodore Melfi (Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films/TSG Entertainment)

Rogue One, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, directed by Gareth Edwards (Lucasfilm/Allison Shearmur Productions/Black Hangar Studios/Stereo D/Walt Disney Pictures)

Stranger Things, Season One, created by the Duffer Brothers (21 Laps Entertainment/Monkey Massacre)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Black Mirror: “San Junipero”, written by Charlie Brooker, directed by Owen Harris (House of Tomorrow)

Doctor Who: “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, written by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette (BBC Cymru Wales)

The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)

Game of Thrones: “Battle of the Bastards”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Miguel Sapochnik (HBO)

Game of Thrones: “The Door”, written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, directed by Jack Bender (HBO)

Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)

Best Editor, Short Form

John Joseph Adams

Neil Clarke

Ellen Datlow

Jonathan Strahan

Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas

Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form

Vox Day

Sheila E. Gilbert

Liz Gorinsky

Devi Pillai

Miriam Weinberg

Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

Galen Dara

Julie Dillon

Chris McGrath

Victo Ngai

John Picacio

Sana Takeda

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews

Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by P. Alexander

GigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith

Strange Horizons, edited by Niall Harrison, Catherine Krahe, Vajra Chandrasekera, Vanessa Rose Phin, Li Chua, Aishwarya Subramanian, Tim Moore, Anaea Lay, and the Strange Horizons staff

Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James

Rabid Puppies – no recommendation in this category

Best Fanzine

Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, Helena Nash, Errick Nunnally, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Erin Underwood

Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan

nerds of a feather, flock together, edited by The G, Vance Kotrla, and Joe Sherry

Rocket Stack Rank, edited by Greg Hullender and Eric Wong

SF Bluestocking, edited by Bridget McKinney

Best Fancast

The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan

Ditch Diggers, presented by Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace

Fangirl Happy Hour, presented by Ana Grilo and Renay Williams

Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce and Tansy Rayner Roberts, produced by Andrew Finch

The Rageaholic, presented by RazörFist

Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

 Best Fan Writer

Mike Glyer

Jeffro Johnson

Natalie Luhrs

Foz Meadows

Abigail Nussbaum

Chuck Tingle

Best Fan Artist

Ninni Aalto

Alex Garner

Vesa Lehtimäki

Likhain (M. Sereno)

Spring Schoenhuth

Mansik Yang

 Best Series

The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone (Tor Books)

The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey (Orbit US / Orbit UK)

The October Daye Books, by Seanan McGuire (DAW / Corsair)

The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch (Gollancz / Del Rey / DAW / Subterranean)

The Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Harper Voyager UK)

The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)

Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)

Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)

Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)

Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)

Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)

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.

Slates and Hugo reading lists


Edward Lear
I got a comment on the last blog from Greg Hullender about the difference between a “slate” and recommendations. Greg and Eric Wong operate a website called Rocket Stack Rank that reads, reviews and ranks stories from pro magazines including, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Apex,, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Their express purpose is to make it easier for people to find stories to nominate for the Hugo Awards, and Greg notes in his comment that the Rocket Stack list only represents the authors’ tastes and not any political agenda. Because I am now a WorldCon member and faced with making a responsible effort to nominate stories next year, I really appreciate this. I also appreciate the annual Locus recommended reading list as a helpful aid, along with efforts from other well-known reviewers. However, as a writer, there is something about these lists that bothers me.

Like everyone else, the authors of the lists are swamped with the amount of material out there, which means they have to make choices. This is usually to read award-winning pro magazines and anthologies, expecting what Greg calls the top 10-15% of outstanding stories will be located there. Locus has a broader recommendation list than Rocket Stack, as presumably they have a larger staff to read. As the Sad/Rabid Puppies suggest, these listings can’t help but include the authors’ social and literary biases. The end result of using these lists to prep for nominations, of course, is that a large body of SF&F writing is totally eliminated from consideration. It also helps insure the same magazines win the award over and over again. Because some pro magazines have low scores on diversity scales, this also reduces the likely diversity of the awards and contributes to the likelihood the same winners will be nominated over and over, to the detriment of writers who may be off-beat and brilliant, but publishing on the fringes.

I don’t have any solution to this problem. It’s just bothering me.

Vicious circles

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55327_girl-writing_mdAm finally back from vacation. Besides the NFSPS conference, I attended a couple of writing workshops and actually managed to write a little bit of fiction. It’s not the most productive vacation I’ve ever had, but it ranks up there for inspiration. I’m going to pick up on the market analysis issue again here on the blog.

I’ve noted below that Connolly’s research (published in Clarkesworld) shows which magazines publish more women than men and vice versa. Checking through the data, I notice F&SF (pre-Findlay), for example, shows one of the most dramatic gaps, where 80% of stories published were by men. The data also seem to show that F&SF (pre-Findlay) took most of its publications from slush; however, there was no data provided on the number of submissions received by gender in the slush pile. That leaves us wondering if F&SF (pre-Findlay) actually received 80% of its submissions from men, or whether there was a strong gender bias at work in choosing stories for publication.

I do have personal experience that might shed light on this question. I used to hang around on the F&SF (pre-Findlay) Forum where Gordon Van Gelder checked in from time to time. When one gal asked him about the gender split (fairly obvious well before Connolly’s research), he replied that it was a matter of persistence. According to Van Gelder, women writers tended to give up quickly and stop submitting. This suggests the number of submissions from women dropped for the magazine as the gender bias in its publications of women’s stories became evident to writers.

Because F&SF (pre-Findlay) didn’t supply any submissions by gender data for Connolly’s study, this theory has to remain in the realm of speculation. The other possibility, as mentioned above, is that F&SF (pre-Findlay) actually received a reasonable percentage of well-written women’s fiction in the slush pile and the readers practiced a strong bias against women. However, Van Gelder’s statement suggests this isn’t the case.

So what conclusions can I draw from this speculation? Not much, because it is just speculation. Still, I think that markets get a particular reputation based on how they treat writers. The fact that someone asked Van Gelder about the gender split on his forum means that women writers knew they were unlikely to get a story published in the magazine. Then why take the time to even put together a submission? Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons or Apex look like much better bets.

Connolly did her research on gender. Unfortunately, data isn’t likely to be available on submissions and the diversity of writers (sexual orientation, ethnic background, etc.). Still, I suspect writers will do the same kind of rough market analysis as women on the F&SF Forum based just on the type of stories published. The decisions writers make about where to submit their stories counters the decisions editors make about what to publish, which can result in a sort of vicious circle of declining submissions for the magazine.

In a year where women writers swept the Nebula Awards (for example), pro markets are seeing the awards shift from the old guard to newer magazines more open to diversity. It leads to a situation where editors like Vox Day feel like they have to game the Hugo Awards in order to even get on the ballot. There are better ways, folks.

Gender break-downs in pro markets

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55327_girl-writing_mdHaving decided to ignore the Day/Tor flame war and vendetta, I’ll be going back for another look at complaints the Sad Puppies (as opposed to Vox Day) have raised. I’ve already pronounced these as worthy of consideration.

The most interesting question is about diversity in SF. Since I’m a female short story writer, I’ve always wondered about how gender might affect my submissions. Poking around, I’ve discovered an insightful study by Susan E. Connolly, published last year in Clarkesworld Magazine. For anyone interested in reviewing it, Clarkesworld has it posted in three parts online here along with a math supplement to further explain the author’s research design. Look for the first installment in June, then July and August.

Connolly conducted a survey of several well-known pro level markets (with many thanks to the staffs), collecting 2013 data on the number of SF submissions by women, non-binaries and men, along with data on slush, the number of publications, etc. also broken down by gender. As could be expected, both submissions and publications of non-binary authors was dismal.

Another interesting fact that emerges is how many submissions the various pro magazines get in one year. Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Daily SF and Strange Horizons got in the vicinity of 8,000-10,000 SF submissions in 2013 or roughly 667-833 subs a month. This says something noteworthy about the competition a writer is facing to even submit to these markets.

The next interesting fact that emerges is how many SF publications some of the magazines take from slush, as opposed to publications from invitation, reprints, etc. F&SF (pre-Finlay) won the prize for taking the fewest publications from slush (no surprise), and appears to come in second. Lightspeed was about half-and-half. This says something about whether it’s worthwhile to submit to magazines with this kind of record, as odds are heavily against a successful submission. 

Looking at publications, the gender breakdown of the various magazines varied considerably. F&SF (pre-Findlay), Analog and Nature seemed to have the biggest leanings to male authors while Apex, Clarksworld, Daily SF, Lightspeed and Strange Horizons published more women than men. What Connolly points out in her analysis is that fewer women submit SF stories. 

She notes that some markets have taken to posting a welcome for diverse authors in their guidelines, with the assumption that this encourages more women to submit. It may. I do always notice that kind of thing because I tend to write stories about diverse characters. However, women are likely to look at other considerations, as well. Connolly’s research puts the data up there for everyone to see, but writers develop a feel for this kind of thing without any quantitative studies. I personally try to make a judgement about the likelihood of publication before I even start to write on an idea.

It doesn’t always work out for me, though. Some stories just take over my keyboard, regardless.

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