Awards Eligibility 2018

It’s awards season, y’all, and that means the annual eligibility posts are out and about.

I’m thrilled to look back on this last year of my professional life; I taught my first classes for adults, heard LeVar Burton read my short story to a packed live audience, hosted another successful Art & Words Show, and published five works of short fiction.

Here’s the two that I’m holding up for your awards consideration:

Novelette

“The Crow Knight”Beneath Ceaseless Skies (October 2018)

Synopsis: When an invincible black crow whose presence causes emotional and physical pain haunts the Lady Loreen, her knight and best friend Ser Wynn goes beyond the kingdom to find the only weapon that can destroy it.

Short Story

“The Men Who Come From Flowers”–F&SF (September 2018)

Synopsis: Susan raises a garden of boy flowers who will one day become men; when she rescues an injured flower and takes the man as her lover, she is forced to choose between the man’s love or his life.

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Nebula Nominations: Part Two

Last week, in honor of the upcoming Nebula Awards weekend on May 16 – 19th, I reviewed four of the nominated short stories for this year. Now, I review the remaining three:

“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard
Clarkesworld 69
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/debodard_06_12/

Told in alternating second and third person, “Immersion” tells the intertwined stories of you – a woman addicted to the immerser suit that streamlines your appearance and your culture to that of the immerser’s creators, the Galactic – and Quy, whose family owns the restaurant in which you and your husband have come to discuss the pricing for a banquet. The you character is experiencing cognitive issues related to not having taken the immerser suit off for a long while. Quy is not keen on the suits, believing them to be, as they are, a tool for Galactic cultural domineering, and when she recognizes the you character as an immerser junkie, she seeks to help her. The two stories are woven together brilliantly, and the ending is goosebump good. Raises some deep, intriguing questions about cultural identity.

 

“Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess
Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2012
Free read: http://www.leahcypess.com/short-stories/free-story/

The story of a future in which a great number of children are raised by nannies. Some of the nannies, believing themselves to be better parents than the biological parents, have sued in the past for custody and won. When Margaret’s son tells her that he wants to live with his nanny instead of her, Margaret becomes worried that this will happen to her; a new clause has been entered into nannies’ contracts forbidding them to sue for custody, but Margaret comes to believe that they want to use her to test the clause in court.

“Nanny’s Day” feels, above all else, plausible, and its plausibility is part of what is most appealing to me. It is also an optimistic story, in which there are no bad guys, only people trying to do what they think is best. That Cypess doesn’t resort to the obvious is commendable, and there is an emotional core to “Nanny’s Day” that makes one feel for the main character; that being said, I do feel that this story would have a deeper impact if I were a parent. In fact, I intend to come back and reread this story once I am, in the far future. I empathize with the main character, and with the nannies, absolutely, but I can just sense, beneath the surface, an even deeper layer of meaning for those with children of their own.

“The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” by Ken Liu
Lightspeed
Free read: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/the-bookmaking-habits-of-select-species/

Told in five clever segments, “The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species” tells of five alien species and, well, their bookmaking habits; the title is pretty self-explanatory. One species reads and writes using a proboscis on their body. Another reads the world around them. One of the smartest stories I have ever read.

Nebula Nominations: Part One

The Nebula Awards are coming up – Awards weekend will take place May 16 – 19th – and though the voting ended March 30th, I thought I’d go ahead offer and offer reviews of the nominated short stories for this year in anticipation of the winning announcement (and to give myself even more of an excuse to read seven high-quality stories).

“Fragmentation, or Ten Thousand Goodbyes” by Tom Crosshill
Clarkesworld 67
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/crosshill_04_12/

A man worries that he’s losing the two people he loves most: his mother, who will soon die and who has already begun to expect death to come any moment, and his wife, who is constantly altering herself with new technologies. He and his wife own a business, having created the first immersers in which to contain the dead, and he hopes to create one for his mother. A surprisingly straight-forward, simple story of loss, though populated with complicated technologies in a future setting. Gives the impression that, no matter how technologically advanced out society becomes, we will still worry about the same things, will still feel as though the people we love are not the same as they once were.

“Robot” by Helena Bell
Clarkesworld 72
Free read: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/bell_09_12/

Written in a similar style as Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” – and sharing some themes with that story – “Robot” is a rich, multi-layered story. Bell has packed a whole hell of a lot into a short space, and this story is one that left me thinking about it long after I had read it. “Robot” is written as a set of instructions to a life form from another planet that is used to help heal skin diseases; the “robot” forms a symbiotic relationship with its owner, consuming the flesh and evolving as it does so. The narrator is a grump whose children are not close to her; in this way, the parent-child relationship of “Girl” is referenced, somewhat slightly, in that the woman has taken to verbally abusing the robot instead of, perhaps, her absent children.

“Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” by Cat Rambo
Near + Far
Free read: http://www.kittywumpus.net/blog/2012/12/24/five-ways-to-fall-in-love-on-planet-porcelain/

A multi-verse story that takes place on a world populated by porcelain people. A porcelain woman falls in love with a human tourist. The woman is a propagandist whose job is to make lists to increase tourism, and much of her rationalization of events takes place through the crafting of these lists. As a fellow list-maker, I found her easy to relate to. The idea is original and the reveal of what occurred between the two lovers is a beautiful heart-break.  Another reader pointed out this story’s plot-line similarity to Flannery O’Connor’s “Good Country People,” which I think is an interesting point.
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley
Lightspeed
Free read: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/give-her-honey-when-you-hear-her-scream/
Beautiful, strange story that modernizes old myths: the labyrinth, the tragic lovers, the jilted husband and wife. The wife of a magician and the husband of a witch fall in love. Their partners conspire together to take revenge. What’s great about this story is that it’s built on a foundation of archetypal magic and subverts and embraces those archetypes in equal measure. The narrator is very much aware of this and makes reference to the story as a story, which I found a refreshing and interesting meshing of classic and meta.