I have decided not to be embarrassed about admitting, straight out, that I want to be nominated for the Campbell Award. I mean, really, who wouldn’t? Do I think I stand any chance of winning? Ah ha! It is to laugh.
I think it is far more likely that it will go to Scott Lynch or David Louis Edelman and I am grateful that there are five nomination slots so I don’t have to pick between them yet.
But this is my second and final year of eligibility and a nomination would be nice, you know? So, to make it easy to consider me, I’ve got links to my bibliography and online fiction over in the sidebar, but since the Hugos are coming up and I’m feeling shameless at the moment, I will list only my eligible 2007 publications here.
All the good SFWA boys and girls seem to have dutifully posted about the pending close of the Nebula preliminary ballot on December 31. On the off-chance that you are a SFWA active member and haven’t recommended any fiction yet, I would like to recommend a simple strategy.
My opinion on the Nebulas is that one of the primary benefits comes from the ballot itself. Simply put, any story that makes it on the ballot will automatically get a much wider readership as people review stories for voting. So, when I’m recommending stories, I’m choosing stories that I think people ought to read, whether or not I think the story is ultimately likely to win the award.
Getting on the ballot is a boost to writer because it does raise their profile, and thus, people are more likely to notice their other work later. It might not be a conscious thing, but you see someone on the Nebula ballot and next time, by golly, you’ll see their name and think, “I’ve heard of her.”
So here are writers who I want to support and think that you should read their stories.
Andrea Kail: The Sun God at Dawn, Rising from a Lotus Blossom (Writers of the Future Volume 23) This is a brilliantly done epistolary tale told in a series of letters from Tutankahmen to Abraham Lincoln. Trust me, it makes perfect, chilling sense when you read it. Beautifully and heart-breakingly done.
It also has eight recommendations and its eligibility ends in March. Go! Recommend it! Do you really want to see it not make the ballot because you didn’t take the twenty minutes it will take to read this gorgeous story? I didn’t think so.
Ted Kosmatka: The Prophet of Flores (Asimov’s, Sep07) Holy cow! This is a freaky blend of SF and alternate history. The deep-story to this one? Intelligent design is real. The earth is only 5800 years old and carbon-dating proves it. And then someone finds a fossil that turns everything upside down. Seven recommendations thus far, but this one has eligibility until September, so I’m not quite as frantic about it making the ballot. But, you’ll be missing out if you don’t read it.
Livia Llewellyn: The Four Hundred Thousand I don’t know how to describe this one without giving away the creepy turns this chilling SF story takes. To grossly over-simplify it, this is about the right to choose. But, look, there’s a link so you can go read it. And do.
Jennifer Pelland: Mercytanks The person who pointed this one out to me said that it was the first time they’d really seen far-future done well. And how.
Richard Bowes has two I liked: A Tale for the Short Days (Coyote Road, Trickster Tale) and King of the Big Night Hours(Subterranean, Sep07). The thing that he does, particularly with the King of the Big Night Hours, is tell a story that seems so absolutely, totally grounded in reality that it makes you wonder why you haven’t noticed any magic happening in your life. I mean, these seem like they are things that actually happened.
Vylar Kaftan: Kill Me Extremely evocative SF. The story is deceptively simple. A professional masochist has a device which records her thoughts so that she can be killed and brought back. But there’s a price; there’s always a price.
Andrea Kail: Soft Like a Rabbit I read this the first time as I was typesetting Fantasy. It stopped me cold. I forgot what I was supposed to be doing and just read the story. When I finished I couldn’t understand why I’d never read anything of Andrea Kail’s before. She’s a power-house and tells economical and wrenching stories. Have tissues standing by when you read this.
Nancy Kress: End Game I listened to this one at Escape Pod. Again, SF. Have you ever wished you could just concentrate on one thing at a time? Listen to this and rethink your wish.
David D. Levine: Titanium Mike Saves the Day This is probably the first light-hearted one I’ve mentioned. People always need tall tales; why should outerspace be any different? A fine example of yarn-spinning.
Lisa Mantchev: Six Scents Six tales in one. I could sum this up as tales of famous fictional women and their favorite perfumes, but really, it would not do justice to the brutally clever writing here. For example: â€œMen find it hard to fall in love with a dead girl. They tell her itâ€™s a turn-off that they take her hand at the movies and a finger lands in the popcorn.â€
Joy Marchard: Pallas at Noon lives in the uncanny place between things that could actually happen and the magic that lies just on the other side of that. I don’t even know how to describe this story, but definitely find a copy of Interfictions and read this. It will make you weep and feel hope and despair all at the same time.
Holly Phillips: The Oracle Spoke is quite possibly my favorite story this year. It’s the one that I desperately wish I had written. Please read it.
Cat Rambo: Foam on the Water You think Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid has a chilling ending? Ha! He could have taken lessons from Cat Rambo’s story.
I’m not doing mini-reviews of the novels, because I know you won’t have time to read any between now and then. But here are some that I think you should read after the first of the year.
Chris Barzak, One for Sorrow; Tobias Buckell, Ragamuffin; Jay Lake, Mainspring; Ekaterina Sedia, The Secret History of Moscow.
And finally, I will finish with a totally shameless self-pimp.
Look! For Solo Cello, op. 12 has six whole Nebula recommendations. This is makes me squee with girlish pleasure.
All right folks, there’s still reading to do. Go forth recommend stories! (And I hereby open this up for shameless promotion. Got a story you want read? Link away!)
Still looking for that perfect Christmas gift? Look no further!
Subscribe to Shimmer by January 10, and youâ€™ll get 4 issues of terrific new speculative fiction and art for only $17.00 (plus postage). Weâ€™re going to raise our rates then, so this is your last chance to subscribe at this price.
Bonus: We asked Shimmer favorite Ken Scholes to write a special holiday story for us – and he came through with â€œWhat Child Is This I Ask the Midnight Clear,â€ a post-apocalyptic Christmas tale. Weâ€™ll be posting the story on our site soon; but as a special thank-you, anyone who subscribes (or renews!) by January 10 will get a lovely signed chapbook of the story.
A friend of mine just started a new business, AnthologyBuilder, which is the type of brilliant idea that makes you wonder why no one else had done it yet. It’s like iTunes for short fiction. You get to pick the stories you want for a custom print anthology. As a reader, I love the idea of having total control over the content.
As an writer, I’m really happy that there’s an easy venue for my published material. It’s a very simple, easy contract that lets me get my older stuff back out there.
I’m hoping, and sort of expecting, this to really take off.
Those of you who aren’t interested in the politics of Science-Fiction and Fantasy can skip this post. For the rest of you, I have some explaining to do.
I’ve volunteered to help SFWA by chairing the Service to SFWA committee, which has been revamped to recruit, retain and reward volunteers. Any service organization, like SFWA, relies on its members to be active participants in supporting its goals. More specifically, it relies on its active members to set those goals.
I have not been happy with a number of things about SFWA lately, however, when I look at the organization as a whole it has accomplished some very good things. Griefcom, the Legal Defense Fund, the Emergency Medical Fund, raising the pro-rate standard from 3 -5 cents… These are good things that volunteers accomplished. At its core, SFWA exists to promote and aid Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writers.
That’s me. I am a science-fiction and fantasy writer.
So my choice is to walk away from the good things or to try and change the things that I don’t like. I want an organization that represents me and that represents my interests. From working with other non-profits, I’ve found that quickest way to be taken seriously is to volunteer. So that’s why I’m doing this.
And that’s why, if you aren’t happy, I think you should consider volunteering. Shift the balance. Help me.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can help your fellow Science-Fiction and Fantasy authors, please fill out the following questionnaire and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave it in the comments here.
1. I am interested in volunteering for SFWA — [short-term/long-term] (ie.a quick one-time job, versus an ongoing position)
2. I can offer [x] hours per month for volunteer work.
3. I am interested in learning more about volunteering to help with
b) Writing related advice
c) Legal advice or issues (ie contracts, copyright, etc.)
d) Outreach (ie, Youth, Speaker’s bureau, Conventions, etc.)
e) Publicity (ie publications, Nebulas, PR, etc.)
f) Operations (ie audits, procedures, run for office, etc.)
g) Grunt Work (ie stuffing envelopes, sorting lists, lifting tables, etc.)
h) Other (ie I got mad skillz you don’t even know to ask about, teleportation, graphic design, an active fan base, FTL travel, etc.)
4. My SFWA membership status is: [non-member, affiliate, associate, active]
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to working with you.
Mary Robinette Kowal
Edited to add: You don’t need to be a member to volunteer for anything except those things that involve voting, such as running for office or chairing a committee. All you need is an interest in support science-fiction and fantasy writers, or concern with helping to shape the future of the organization.
If you live in a big city, chances are there is free booze to be had on any given night. Originally limited to New York, myopenbar.com is now a daily guide to free or discount drinking in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Washington, D.C., and Seattle are coming soon.
Holy cow. Free booze? Who needs to blog for beer when you can hit this website. Oh, sure, the fiction and fame, but otherwise, I mean, really. Who knew the internet could be harnessed for good in this way.
I decided to replace the “I am reading” section of my sidebar with “Recommended Reading.” Why? Well, these days, I’m reading really slowly because I almost never have time to sit down with a book. Plus, since it’s gift-giving season, I figured that I’d point out books that I’ve enjoyed. So, it’ll randomly show books that I think are worth reading.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for books for a reader in your life, may I recommend these as my top picks?
For the early reader in your life
AlphaOops: The Day Z Went First, by New-York Times Best-Selling author, Alethea Kontis. In my brother’s paraphrased words, “That was my favorite book to read to my daughter. Wow!”
For the YA reader
Strongbowby Judson Roberts. I passed this to my nephew after I finished reading it. His first question upon finishing it? “When does the next book come out?”
For the YA reader suffering through a horse fixation
Born To Trot one was one of my favorites growing up.
Good heavens. If you know a kid who likes horses, this is the right book.
Want an anthology of short fantastic fiction?
Try Prime Codex Yeah, I’m in it, but I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t think that the rest of the stories are really, really good.
How about a novel?
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch would be my pick. (I might change my mind when I finish The Secret Life of Moscow.)
Now… I’ve recommended some books for you. I want some books to add to my Christmas wishlist. Your suggestions, please?
Given the recent conversation sparked by GUD’s poll which is exploring the ratio of writers to readers of short fiction, I found this article in Wired News very interesting.
A small press, growing? How could it be?
Against market trends, Dzanc Books is a small publisher poised to succeed, hiring staff and expanding quickly. And that may be because it sprouted from a blog rather than a traditional printing press, and it is certainly web-savvy.
Naturally, with my involvement in Shimmer, I have a vested interest in the fate of small presses. In particular, I’m interested in some of the viral marketing Dzanc has been employing. A lot of the things in the article turned up in the panel on Small Press that I was on at WFC.
I’m of the opinion that one of the things that small presses need to do is to rediscover what they do that no other media can provide, in much the same way that painters had to discover what paint did that photography could not.
I believe that small presses need to really pay attention to the package that they deliver the fiction in. There are other ways to get a quick cheap fiction fix so the people to whom a printed book will appeal are those people who like a physical artifact. A savvy publisher, like Subterranean Press or Nightshade, will recognize that and cater to the people who want their fiction in a nice package. And look at the way Clarkesworld magazine or Fantasy magazine are leveraging the online presence to publicize their anthologies.
I suspect that printed pulp fiction will vanish because there are other ways of getting it. But I’m betting that as the internet allows publishers to reach niche markets more easily that small presses can ultimately thrive.
Its often posited that there are more writers of science fiction than there are readers. I presume this poll will skew that direction given our user base, but Id love to get as wide a response as possible.
â€œomg! i have a bad imagination. so i have hired a few zombies to come and take out your brains! they will be here in a hour. then they will give your brain to me so i will have a great imagination! hahahahaha!â€.
Authors Appearing in the Fall 2007 Issue:
Edward Morris – “Game Over”
David Seigler – “The Drahatzi Are Coming”
JG Faherty – “Graduation”
Rachelle Loyear-Williams – “The Last Ship”
Michelle Scott – “Prized Possession”
Geraint D’Arcy – “Day Off” Mary Robinette Kowal – “Some Other Day”
Steve Goble – “Two Kings in Zalzalla”
Kevin Shamel – “Beef”
As a teaser, here’s the first couple of lines of my story.
Josie Langdon leaned back from her microscope and rolled her neck to ease the kinks. After days spent staring at slides, her eyes strained to refocus on the university lab around her.
“How’s it going?” Stan Kozelka leaned against the lab door; his grin peeked out from his full beard. Of the other grad students, Stan was the only one who never harassed her. She was not sure he knew who her father had been.
(Tor Books — August 21, 2018) Continuing the grand sweep of alternate history laid out in The Calculating Stars, The Fated Sky looks forward to 1961, when mankind is well-established on the moon and looking forward to its next step: journeying to, and eventually colonizing, Mars. Of course, the noted Lady Astronaut Elma York would like to go, […]