Posts Tagged ‘For Solo Cello op. 12’

A free fiction sampler

My Campbell clock started January 30, 2006 when Strange Horizons published my story, Portrait of Ari. That story is still on the web, but much of my other short fiction is hard to find. I’ve pulled five stories out of my sales that reflect a range of the kinds of fiction I write.

If you are a voting member of WorldCon and would like to read more, visit the bibliography on my website. See a story that isn’t available? Drop me a line and I’ll send it to you.

You can download the .zip directory of stories. This collection includes
For Solo Cello, op. 12 — Originally published in Cosmos
Bound Man — Originally published in Twenty Epics
Death Comes But Twice — Originally published in Talebones
This Little Pig — originally published in Cicada
Cerbo en Vitra ujo — originally published in Apex Digest [Warning: explicit sex and violence]

The British Science Fiction Association long list

Good heavens. For Solo Cello, op. 12 apparently made the British Science Fiction Association long list for Best Short Story 2007. It did not make it to the short list, but I’m stunned to find my story near the list at all.

Several friends also make an appearance: Ted Kosmatka (who pointed the list out to me), Aliette de Bodard, John Scalzi… Best of all, they link to a lot of the fiction, which means it’s a treasure trove of really good stuff.

Blurbs and context

When we get reviewed in the theater, there’s always a moment of scanning the review looking for the pull quote. We’ve got to have something we can plaster on brochure’s and flyers. It is always tempting to pull something out of context like pulling, “Amazing!” out of “It’s amazing that anyone came back after intermission.” (Completely fictional example.)

In the writing arena, I quote reviews and mentions here, and yeah, usually focus on the juicy stuff. For instance,

Gardner Dozois talked about his picks for the Nebula short story categories, saying:

My vote would go to Andy Duncan’s “Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse,” … My next choice, I guess, would be “For Solo Cello, op. 12,” by Mary Robinette Kowal … followed by “Titanium Mike Saves the Day,” by David D. Levine…

Woot! Gardner Dozois puts me in the number two position! Except… if you read the whole quote.

This is the weakest of the categories.

My vote would go to Andy Duncan’s “Unique Chicken Goes in Reverse,” although it’s not even really a fantasy let alone SF–what it is is an Andy Duncan story, who’s a genre to himself, much like Howard Waldrop. Since Duncan is popular with the membership, it might have a chance, although it did appear in an expensive hardcover anthology from a small press.

Not much else here I’m really enthusiastic about. My next choice, I guess, would be “For Solo Cello, op. 12,” by Mary Robinette Kowal, which is SF (but which is probably unlikely to win), followed by …

Ow. Gardner Dozois says, “Not really enthusiastic!” and “Unlikely to win!”

Ah, context… Think I can put that on a poster?

Rich Horton comments on the Nebula Prelim Ballot

Rich Horton has commented on the preliminary Nebula ballot. Including this, about the short story selection.

Given the stories listed, my choices come down to “Always” and “For Solo Cello, Op. 12”, both of which are in my SF Best of the Year. I think those two stories are outstanding (and I’m delighted to see Kowal’s story on the ballot — I had thought myself pretty brilliant for plucking it from an Australian magazine myself!) The other stories are all OK, but none strike me as really award-worthy.

Excuse me, but I need to go lie down. Smelling salts, anyone?

Official Preliminary Nebula Ballot

Here it is folks, the official preliminary Nebula Ballot. Next step. The members of SFWA will pick their top five favorites in each category.

Short Stories — 7
Unique Chicken Goes In Reverse – Duncan, Andy (Eclipse 1: New Science Fiction And Fantasy, Jonathan Strahan, Ed., Night Shade Books, Oct07)
Titanium Mike Saves the Day – Levine, David D. (F&SF, Apr07)
Captive Girl – Pelland, Jennifer (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue — #2))
Always – Fowler, Karen Joy (Asimov’s, May07 (apr/may07 issue))
For Solo Cello, op. 12 – Kowal, Mary Robinette (Cosmos, Mar07 (Feb/Mar07))
The Padre, the Rabbi, and the Devil His Own Self – Fletcher, Melanie (Helix: A Speculative Fiction Quarterly, WS & LWE, Ed., Oct06 (Fall06 issue — #2))
The Story of Love – Nazarian, Vera (Salt of the Air, Prime Books, Sep06)

Continue reading ›

The Campbell Award

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.

  • For Solo Cello Op. 12 – Cosmos Magazine
  • Horizontal Rain – Apex Online
  • This Little Pig – Cicada, January 2007
  • Locked In – Apex Digest #9
  • Death Comes But Twice – Talebones #35

And, in my last bit of shameless plugging… Shimmer for the Hugo semiprozine. Add Talebones, Sybil’s Garage or Apex Digest to the mix too, if you don’t mind.

And fan artist? Since Frank Wu doesn’t want to be in the running, consider Chrissy Ellsworth, Stephen Stanley, or Sandro Castelli.

Thank you for indulging my urge to just be blunt.

Preliminary good news

A draft of the preliminary Nebula ballot is up for review in the SFWA members area. For Solo Cello, op. 12 is on there with six other stories. I literally squealed. Not just a squee, a full-out squeal of delight.

Once they post the official preliminary ballot, I’ll share it here, because a couple of my favorites have made it as well. I’m tremendously excited for the authors and want to see them make it to the final ballot.

I am so, very, very excited and pleased today.

Nebulas: Almost a meme

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.

Short Stories:
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: “Men find it hard to fall in love with a dead girl. They tell her it’s a turn-off that they take her hand at the movies and a finger lands in the popcorn.”

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!)

In which I receive good news and swoon.

I suppose that I should be reporting that we made it safely to Chattanooga, which we did.


This email was much more exciting.

I’m contacting you to inform you that Rich Horton has selected one of your stories, “For Solo Cello, Op. 12,” for Science Fiction: The Best of the Year, scheduled for February release.

To which I can only say, “Merry Christmas!” and then laugh and dance.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rob and I, despite invitations to spend the day with friends, are staying at home today. What am I thankful for? That the nation comes to a halt today, which gives me time and license to spend the day with my husband.

I also sent off an email to a man I’ve been meaning to thank for a while now. My college writing teacher, William Hallberg, had just had his first novel come out the semester I took a class with him. Much like my experience with puppetry, until meeting him it hadn’t occurred to me that publishing a novel was something that was attainable. Now, I haven’t spent the ensuing twenty years in desperate pursuit of getting a novel published — in fact I only really started writing seriously about five years ago — but the early lessons from Mr. Hallberg stuck with me. Among other things, that it is possible to write a novel and hold down another job.

So, besides spending time with Rob, I’m going to treat myself to a writing day today. Meanwhile, may I recommend that you pick up a copy of Rub of the Green, by William Hallberg?

Edited to add: Mr. Hallberg wrote back to say that he remembers me. Wonders never cease. He asked me to send him something I’d written, so I’ve sent him a link to For Solo Cello, op. 12.

Free Online Fiction: For Solo Cello, op. 12

Art for I’m delighted to announce that Cosmos has posted my story “For Solo Cello, op. 12” live and free on their website. This originally appeared in Issue 13 of COSMOS back in March 2007.

His keys dropped, rattling on the parquet floor. Julius stared at them, unwilling to look at the bandaged stump where two weeks ago his left hand had been. He should be used to it by now. He should not still be trying to pass things from his right hand to his left. But it still felt as if his hand were there.

Cosmos contributor copy arrives!

CosmosI got my contributor copy of Cosmos in the mail and it’s lovely. This marks two firsts for me; first full-size magazine and the first time my name appears on the cover. (It’s in the lower right corner) As promised in their guidelines, there’s a two page spread of art to go with my story, “For Solo Cello, op. 12.” Mmmm… art. In color! Ooo. That’s also a first. My heavens, this issue is full of so much excitement I can’t stand it. Not only that, but the rest of the magazine is really good.

The title of the story comes from a piece of music called, The Cellist of Sarajevo, A Lament for Solo Cello, op. 12 by David Wilde. In my story, I don’t touch on the creation of this piece of music, but it is a fascinating story in its own right.

“On May 27th, 1992, a grenade was thrown into a bread queue at the bakery in the pedestrian precinct Vase Miskina in Sarajevo. Twenty-two people were killed. Every day after this tragedy, the cellist Vedran Smailovi?, until recently with the Sarajevo Opera, went to the spot, in full evening dress, at four o’clock precisely, and risked his own life by playing in memory of the dead, regardless of mortar and machine gun fire and the risk of further grenade attacks. The report by John Burns the New York Times of this heroic musical declaration made an impact more immediate than any political statement up to that time. I first read about it on a train from Nürnberg to Hannover. As I sat in the train, deeply moved, I listened; and somewhere deep within me a cello began to play a circular melody like a lament without end…”

“A circular melody, like a lament without end,” is exactly the right piece of music for my story. Here are the first few lines; please pick up a copy of the magazine and read the rest.

For Solo Cello, op. 12

His keys dropped, rattling on the parquet floor. Julius stared at them, unwilling to look at the bandaged stump where his left hand had been two weeks ago. He should be used to it by now. He should not still be trying to pass things from his right hand to his left.

But it still felt like his hand was there.

The shaking began again, a tremelo building in his hand and knees. Julius pressed his right hand–his only hand–against his mouth so he did not vomit on the floor. Reaching for calm, he imagined playing through Belparda’s Étude No. 1. It focused on bowing, on the right hand. Forget the left. When he was eight, Julius had learned it on a cello as big as he had been. The remembered bounce of the bow against the strings pulsed in his right hand.

Don’t think about the fingering.