All posts by SF Bluestocking

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: April 22, 2018

Welp, last week was exhausting, and this week–and today, specifically, in which I worked a bit over ten hours at the day job–hasn’t been much better, though it has been slightly more productive. Only slightly, though, and most of that productivity was expended on selecting blog material for the Hugo Award voter’s packet and putting it together in ebook form. Plus reading Space Opera, which is the first perfect book I’ve read this year. Now I’ve moved on to A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole, and it is delightful and exactly the sort of light read I needed after Space Opera.

This coming week is probably still going to be busy and tiring, so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to accomplish. In spite of my desire to work more like 25 hours a week, I’ve been working pretty much full time the last few weeks, which is a huge barrier to blogging. Even just consuming media has been more than I’m up for most days, and the sort of active critical engagement necessary for writing is mostly completely beyond me right now. I’ve also got a lot going on, just in general. This week, on top of work, I’ll be busy planning and executing my daughter’s birthday party (she just turned 15, which makes me feel a little old), taking her to a doctor appointment, and trying to squeeze in an appointment for me to get my hair cut and colored (thinking of going platinum). Tomorrow, I think we’re going to see The Cat Returns, and Wednesday my daughter’s a cappella group has a performance.

Fortunately, even if I’m not being productive, plenty of other people are, so I’ve got two weeks’ worth of links to share.

I still haven’t read Ilana C. Myer’s first novel, Last Song Before Night, but the more I read about her new book, Fire Dance, the more I think I ought to carve some time out for it.

Breaking the Glass Slipper has Five Questions with Martha Wells. The next book in Wells’ Murderbot Diaries, Artificial Condition, comes out May 1.

Catherynne M. Valente shared her Big Idea last week as well as five things she learned writing Space Opera.

Did you know there is a collection of short fiction inspired by Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation?

Fantasy Faction interviewed Ruthanna Emrys about her upcoming Lovecraftian novel, Deep Roots, the sequel to last year’s Winter Tide.

Catch 6 Books with Emma Newman over at nerds of a feather.

You can also find Emma Newman this week being interviewed at The Illustrated Page.

Also at The Illustrated Page, an interview with R.F. Kuang, whose debut novel, The Poppy War, just keeps creeping up towards to the top of my TBR even though it sounds much darker than I’ve had much taste for lately.

At the Book Smugglers, Michael R. Underwood talks inspirations and influences for Born to the Blade.

Matt Wallace talks about finishing up his fantastic Sin Du Jour series.

Jeanette Ng writes about reclaiming classics for today.

L.D. Lewis’s novella, A Ruin of Shadows, comes out this week. Preorder it! I did! If you aren’t convinced yet, be sure to read this Q&A with the author over at Dancing Star Press.

Ann Leckie’s 2019 fantasy novel, The Raven Tower, has a cover.

So does Ana Mardoll’s first short fiction collection, No Man of Woman Born.

Read an excerpt from Micah Yongo’s Lost Gods.

Bogi Takács kicked off a new series on QUILTBAG speculative classics over at Tor.com. FIrst up: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez.

Also at Tor.com, an appreciation of Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

Emily Asher-Perrin breaks down the myth of Robin Hood.

Chloe N. Clark’s Horror 101 series continues with a look at Private vs. Global horror.

Atlas Obscura asks (and answers), why do fantasy novels have so much food?

It’s time for Fantasy Book Cafe’s annual Women in SFF Month again!

  • Renay from Lady Business started things off with a post about reading challenges and reading diversely.
  • Cass Morris wrote about historical fantasy.
  • Kim Wilkins shared her memories of falling in love with Princess Leia.
  • Peng Shepherd shared the book that served as her gateway to the genre.
  • Rowenna Miller wrote about women and the authenticity falsehood in fantasy.
  • R.F. Kuang shared a Chinese legend and what it means to her and how it influences her work.
  • Melissa Caruso talks fighting in ballgowns.
  • Ausma Zehanat Khan expounded upon the main theme of her Khorasan Archives series (which, incidentally, led to me finally ordering the first book).
  • Jeannette Ng offered a taxonomy of fairies.
  • Claire North had some thoughts about strong women.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: April 8, 2018

Well, today has been a Day, and it comes at the end of a Week. Readers, I am worn out. I’m also disappointed that I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished this week as I’d hoped to, but mostly I’m just ready to go to bed, even though it’s only 9:30. Fortunately, this coming week finally sees my availability change go into effect at the day job, which means far fewer too-early nights and hopefully much more productive time in the afternoons and evenings.

did manage to read a couple of books this week–Justina Ireland’s Dread Nation (it’s great, and you should be reading it right now instead of this) and The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg (also good)–and I watched Jesus Christ Superstar Live, which was excellent. I also managed to get out my Spring Reading List, and I’m doing some Gormenghast re-reading as well so that I can get back to work on that project this week. It was also my partner’s birthday on Thursday, as well as my day off work, so we had a nice day together and a good dinner at a good local pizza place. Mostly, though, I’ve been working and tired from work, which seems to be the story of my life so far this year, and even I’m getting bored of it.

That said, I’m stoked to be getting back to work on Gormenghast, and I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll be able to write about The Expanse, season three of which starts this Wednesday, and Into the Badlands, which is back on in two weeks.

Speaking of Into the Badlands, I’m still kind of pissed about Veil being fridged at the end of season two, but season three looks pretty good:

And speaking of Gormenghast, it looks like it may be getting another television adaptation.

Meanwhile, Orientalism is Alive and Well in American Cinema.

Molly Ringwald looked back on the movies she made with John Hughes and how her feelings about them have changed in the era of #MeToo.

It makes sense that current criticisms of Ready Player One would be part of a cultural shift in response to Gamergate.

Tor.com is giving away the ebook of All Systems Red by Martha Wells for FREE through April 10. It’s fab, and you definitely want it if you don’t already have it.

Pre-orders are open for L.D. Lewis’s A Ruin of Shadows, a novella set in the same world as her 2017 novelette, “Chesirah.”

Check out this World Sci-Fi Storybundle. It’s fantastic.

Justina Ireland was profiled at Vulture.

Catherynne M. Valente shared her Favorite Bit of Space Opera.

Tor.com has lists of this month’s new releases:

Mythcreants points out 6 illogical genre aesthetics.

This is something I struggle with, to be honest, but it’s okay to give up on mediocre books (because we’re all going to die).

Mary Berry is going to be on a new cooking show on BBC One!

On the one hand, I don’t super care about Lost in Space, like, at all, but on the other hand, Parker Posey is playing a gender-swapped Dr. Smith:

I am very slowly starting to get hyped for this Han Solo movie, in spite of myself. Tonight, for the first time, I admitted to my partner that I want to go see it at the theater.

The SF Bluestocking 2018 Spring Reading List

I’ve still got a couple of titles from my Winter Reading List that I’m hoping to squeeze in before moving on entirely to the next season of books, but there is so much that I’m excited about this spring, you guys. With the new day job, I have somewhat more disposable income, which means I’ve been buying more books, and I’m now subscribed to more magazines than I can reasonably read (not that I don’t read them, obv, but there are an unreasonable number of them).

On that note, reading more short fiction continues to be a focus of mine this year. I’m especially on the lookout for novelette length work, which I always feel is in short supply. I’m actually starting to cut back on the number of novellas I read; as much as I love Tor.com’s offerings, they release them at such a pace that I simply cannot keep up with all of them any longer, what with the day job and a couple of recent major disappointments in novella-reading, so I expect that I will be prioritizing the most promising ones from now on rather than basically reading them all. Still, a lot of them are very promising, so we’ll see.

I’m somewhat on the lookout for new and interesting YA novels. After having gone off YA for a couple of years, I’ve now gotten to a point where I feel like I’m actually missing out on things. I’m thinking of reading the Not-A-Hugo YA award finalist list over the next few months if I have time, but I’m also open to suggestions. What’s good in YA SFF these days? What are you most excited about that’s coming out this spring? Let me know in the comments if you have any must-read recs for me.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve got on my actual TBR for April, May and June.

Tor.com Novellas

The only real must-reads on this list for me are Taste of Wrath, which will finish off Matt Wallace’s delightful Sin du Jour series, Artificial Condition, which brings back Murderboy, and C.L. Polk’s debut novel, Witchmark. I liked Margaret Killjoy’s first novella well enough, so I may try to make time for the new one, but I can’t get excited about Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Lovecraftian horror and I’m pretty sure it’s time to give up on Melissa F. Olson’s vaguely noir-ish vampires. The Shipp and McDonald titles don’t sound bad, but my absolute loathing for The Armored Saint has kind of put me off of giving any more chances to books by white dudes for a while.

  • The Barrow Will Send What it May by Margaret Killjoy – 4/3
  • Taste of Wrath by Matt Wallace – 4/10
  • The Atrocities by Jeremy C. Shipp – 4/17
  • Time Was by Ian McDonald – 4/24
  • Black Helicopters by Caitlin R. Kiernan – 5/1
  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells – 5/8
  • Outbreak by Melissa F. Olson – 6/5
  • Witchmark by C.L. Polk – 6/19

Magazines

I have so/too many magazines to read. I am already loving getting the print edition of Apex, which I highly recommend; every issue is a little more polished than the one before, and they look nice on a shelf together. FIYAH is always excellent, and they are doing some of the most important work in the industry right now: In their first year alone, FIYAH debuted work by over twenty black writers of speculative fiction. I’ve been subscribing to Uncanny for two years now, and it continues to be one of the most consistently excellent publications available, especially when it comes to their non-fiction selections. Finally, now that I have a little more disposable income, I’ve started subscribing to both Clarkesworld and Fireside via Patreon. I’m still deciding if I want to keep reading both of those–there are only so many hours in a day, after all–but I figure I will give it a good six months or so to see if I can make all this into a manageable amount of reading. I’d like to be reading a good selection of short fiction and supporting a variety of publications, but I also don’t want to be stressing myself out by over-buying content that I don’t have time or energy to properly enjoy.

  • Apex Magazine Issues #107, #108, #109
  • FIYAH Literary Magazine #6, Big Mama Nature
  • Uncanny Magazine #22
  • Clarkesworld #139, #140, #141
  • Fireside #54, #55, #56

Anthologies/Collections

  • The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg – 3/13
    This is actually my current read and a holdover from the Winter Reading List, and it’s delightful.
  • Not So Stories edited by David Thomas Moore – 4/10
    There is no universe where I’m not going to read a collection of anti-colonialist stories in reaction to Rudyard Kipling’s work, and I have this on pre-order.
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman – 6/26
    Reimagined folklore and mythology from East and South Asia with a fantastic table of contents.

Novels

  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland – 4/3
    This was a title I pre-ordered, and I’ve already sped through it in just a couple of days, blowing past bedtime a couple of times to finish it. Dread Nation is excellent, and you need to be reading it right now.
  • Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente – 4/10
    Cat Valente is pretty much my favorite author, and Eurovision in space is an A+ concept for a sci-fi novel.
  • Fire Dance by Ilana C. Myer – 4/10
    I still have never gotten around to reading Last Song Before Night, but I’m thinking of reading this one, which is apparently another standalone in the same universe.
  • Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller – 4/17
  • Before Mars by Emma Newman – 4/17
    I enjoyed Planetfall but skipped 2016’s After Atlas, so I wasn’t sure about this book, but the closer it gets to its release date, the more in the mood for it I find myself.
  • A Ruin of Shadows by L.D. Lewis – 4/24
    L.D. Lewis’s novelette, “Chesirah,” was on my Hugo nomination ballot this year, so I am very excited to read this short novella set in the same world. It’s currently available for pre-order from the publisher, Dancing Star Press.
  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang – 5/1
    I have a feeling that The Poppy War is going to lean a little more grimdark than I’ve been interested in reading lately, but I can’t bring myself to take it off my TBR just yet.
  • Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope – 5/1
    I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this, and I loved it.
  • Medusa Uploaded by Emily Davenport – 5/1
  • By Fire Above by Robyn Bennis – 5/15
    I adored Robyn Bennis’s debut, The Guns Above, so I’m very much looking forward to this sequel.
  • Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly – 5/15
    The sequel to last year’s remarkable Amberlough.
  • Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro – 5/22
  • 84K by Claire North – 5/22
    I’m not sure I’m up to reading a dystopian novel this year, but if I am it’ll be this one.
  • Free Chocolate by Amber Royer – 6/5
    This is the first of a couple of very fun-sounding releases coming from Angry Robot this year (the other is Space Unicorn Blues), and I’m very much looking forward to it.
  • Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee – 6/12
    So excited for the finale of this trilogy but also sad that it’s soon to be over.
  • Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse – 6/26
    Rebecca Roanhorse’s short story, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” was among last year’s best (and earned her Hugo and Nebula nominations), so her first novel is rightly among my most-anticipated reads of 2018.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: April 1, 2018

The big news this week, obviously, is that SF Bluestocking is now a TWO TIME Hugo Finalist in the Best Fanzine category. The novelty of typing those words has still not worn off yet, though from now on I’ll probably keep it to myself. Thanks so, so much to everyone who nominated me; you are all The Best, and I love you.

After a shaky start to this year, what with life things happening and so on, I’m finally starting to feel like I’m being somewhat productive. I’ve gotten together an ebook version of my 2017 Let’s Read! Gormenghast posts, so watch for that this week, with new Gormenghast content to come, if not this week as well, then next. I’m also putting the finishing touches on my Spring Reading List as well as a look at my favorite reads from the first three months of 2018. This week is my final week of 5-sh in the morning start times at my day job, so I’m not making any set-in-stone promises about content, but after this my schedule will be much more reasonable and conducive to sleeping and writing and having some work/life balance, so while I don’t think we’ll see a return to my days of covering three or four television shows (plus books and the occasional movie) each week, I am hopeful that I’ll be back to some kind of regular blogging schedule. I’m even tentatively planning to cover The Expanse and Into the Badlands when they start back up in the coming weeks; I think I can handle one Wednesday show and one Sunday show, even if my posts end up being later than I’d prefer.

My favorite thing this week has to be this absolutely perfect tweet:

My second favorite thing this week is that one of my favorite books of 2017, Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Girl Reporter, won TWO Aurealis Awards and a Ditmar Award.

R.J. Theodore shares her Favorite Bit of her steampunk first contact novel, Flotsam.

Theodore also wrote about five things she learned while writing Flotsam.

And here at SF Bluestocking, I’ve got a guest post from R.J. Theodore where we’re also giving away a copy of the book.

The Nerdist has an interesting guide to the film references and influences of The Last Jedi.

At McSweeney’s, “Excerpts from My Upcoming Novel, Ready Player Two: Girl Stuff.”

Good news: Matt Wallace is writing an epic fantasy trilogy! The bad news is that we won’t get the first book until Spring 2020.

Jane Yolen’s story in verse, Finding Baba Yaga, has a cover.

S.B. Divya’s novella, Runtime, has been optioned for film and television. Yes, please.

You owe it to yourself to listen to Christopher Walken reading “The Raven.”

Apparently Ursula K. LeGuin did a folk/electronica album.

The Fandomentals continue their indepth analysis of Game of Thrones season seven with a look at events in King’s Landing: Part 1 (Recap) | Part 2 (Analysis).

There are violent rabbits in the margins of some medieval manuscripts, and you can click this link to find out why.

“The Male Glance” is a must-read essay.

 

 

Many Thank Yous and Rad Vibes (Plus Some Hugo Finalist List Reactions)

So, first off, SF Bluestocking is now a TWO TIME Hugo Award Finalist in the Best Fanzine category, and I am over the moon, you guys. It truly is an honor just to be nominated, and once again I find myself in good company. John Scalzi insists that being a finalist never gets old, and it’s early for me (hopefully!), but I’m inclined to agree. So many, many thank yous to everyone who put my name on their ballot during the nomination process, and all the rad vibes and very best wishes to my fellow finalists.

And now for some commentary on the rest of the list (excluding the Retro Hugos because I have no opinion of those one way or the other).

2018 Hugo Awards Finalists
Best Novel
  • The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi (Tor)
  • New York 2140, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
  • Provenance, by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • Raven Stratagem, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
  • Six Wakes, by Mur Lafferty (Orbit)
  • The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

Only one of these titles (The Stone Sky) was on my own nominating ballot, but I have actually read all of them but Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140. As usual, in spite of an overall exciting group of finalists on the total list, the Best Novel category is a little ho-hum, skewing towards the mainstream and popular rather than celebrating what’s fresh and original in the genre. Which, whatevs. That’s fine. The mainstream-ness of Best Novel is somewhat made up for in the short fiction categories. Perhaps what’s most interesting to me about this category this year is how dominated it is by science fiction. Only The Stone Sky is fantasy, and even that has strong sci-fi elements and themes. This isn’t the list of books I thought were best last year (which was fantasy-heavy), but it’s a solid selection. Of the books that made the cut, I’d most like to see N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky win. The Broken Earth is a superb trilogy, and this was a strong finale to the series.

Best Novella
  • All Systems Red, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
  • “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017)
  • Binti: Home, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Black Tides of Heaven, by JY Yang (Tor.com Publishing)
  • Down Among the Sticks and Bones, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
  • River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com Publishing)

I thought for sure that this year would be the year that we’d start to see Tor.com’s stranglehold on the Best Novella category start to loosen, but I see it is not to be. I’m very disappointed that none of the Book Smugglers’ novellas made the list–not even the excellent (and, as of today, Aurealis Award-winning) Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts–but I am happy to see that “And Then There Were (N-One)” is on here. It’s the first novella published in Uncanny; I said early last year, when I first read it, that it would be among the year’s best; and I still stand by that, although I expect All Systems Red and The Black Tides of Heaven to give it a run for its money when it comes to the final round of voting.

Best Novelette

Personally, I would love to see the novelette length get the kind of renaissance that novellas have been enjoying in recent years. I always feel like there just aren’t that many of them, and very few of them ever manage to make it into my eyeballs (for whatever reason). That said, I have read four of this year’s six finalists, even though none of them were among my favorites of 2017. “Extracurricular Activities” is a fun, if slight, story set in Lee’s Hexarchate universe and featuring a popular character from the series, so I’m not surprised to see it on the list. Likewise, Aliette de Bodard’s “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” is in the same setting as her current book series. Vina Jie-Min Prasad is nominated for the Campbell, so it makes sense to see her show up here as well, though “A Series of Steaks” isn’t as superb as her nominated short story. If I had to guess at the outcome of this category, my money would be on “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” for the win. Uncanny knocked it out of the park all last year with their short fiction selections, and I expect to see multiple winners from that publication come August.

Best Short Story

“Fandom for Robots” and “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™” are the obvious standouts in this category, and both were on my own nominating ballot, so of course those are the stories I’m most pulling for to win. “Sun, Moon, Dust” was a fine, exemplary piece of Ursula Vernon work, but I’m honestly a little surprised to see it on here; Vernon herself has written better stories, and this one is definitely not up to the quality level of the rest of the finalists here and its inclusion seems more a testament to Vernon’s general popularity than to any particular virtue of the story itself. I haven’t read the Yoachim or Nagata stories, and I don’t recall much of the Fran Wilde one, though I know it was much buzzed about when it came out. I’ll be rereading all of these stories before making my voting decision, and there are enough excellent options here that I hesitate to predict what will win.

Best Related Work
  • Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, by Zoe Quinn (PublicAffairs)
  • Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction), by Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press)
  • A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison, by Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press)
  • Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler, edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal (Twelfth Planet Press)
  • No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy, by Liz Bourke (Aqueduct Press)

Luminescent Threads is what probably ought to win here, but with Ursula K. Le Guin’s recent death it seems likely (and, let’s be real, not inappropriate) that her final collection of essays is what will win.

Best Graphic Story
  • Black Bolt, Volume 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Marvel)
  • Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles (Image Comics)
  • Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
  • My Favorite Thing is Monsters, written and illustrated by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
  • Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image Comics)
  • Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

I’m not a great reader of comic books, but I do love Monstress. I like Saga, though I don’t think Volume 7 is the best of the series, and I haven’t caught up on Bitch Planet yet. I kind of despise Paper Girls and never got into the book after it kicked off its first issue with a rape threat against a child, so I couldn’t care less about its appearance on this list (except for a mild sense of annoyance that it seems to be popping up on here every year now). This is another category I hesitate to predict, but I’d say Monstress has a good chance at a second win.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form
  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Alcon Entertainment / Bud Yorkin Productions / Torridon Films / Columbia Pictures)
  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Blumhouse Productions / Monkeypaw Productions / QC Entertainment)
  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro (TSG Entertainment / Double Dare You / Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi (Marvel Studios)
  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers)

I’m so happy to see Get Out on here, and disappointed to see that the full first season of The Good Place didn’t make it. Let’s be real, though; it’ll be Blade Runner 2049 or The Last Jedi for the win.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form
  • Black Mirror: “USS Callister,” written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, directed by Toby Haynes (House of Tomorrow)
  • “The Deep” [song], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
  • Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit,” written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • Star Trek: Discovery: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” written by Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander, directed by David M. Barrett (CBS Television Studios)

What the Long Form list lacked in The Good Place is almost made up for by the inclusion of two episodes here, but the most exciting thing about this list, for me, is the lack of Game of Thrones episodes. Thank fuck for that. It’s also cool to see Clipping nominated again, this time for a song, but I’m thinking “USS Callister” or “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” (both hands down the best episodes of their respective seasons of Black Mirror and Star Trek: Discovery) will win in the end.

Best Editor – Short Form
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Lee Harris
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
  • Sheila Williams

In the absence of Brian White, Tor.com’s excellent Lee Harris has my vote here, but it’s honestly anyone’s game. All of these editors have distinctive editorial aesthetics and publish excellent work.

Best Editor – Long Form
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Joe Monti
  • Diana M. Pho
  • Devi Pillai
  • Miriam Weinberg
  • Navah Wolfe

Diana M. Pho and Navah Wolfe were my picks here, and I stand by them, but as with the Short Form Editor category, these are all good options.

Best Professional Artist
  • Galen Dara
  • Kathleen Jennings
  • Bastien Lecouffe Deharme
  • Victo Ngai
  • John Picacio
  • Sana Takeda

It seems safe to say that Bastien Lecouffe Deharme made the list following his public tiff with well-known garbage person Terry Goodkind, but Deharme’s oeuvre (outside of the Goodkind cover art he’s done) is quite good. It’s actually refreshing to see a finalist list without Julie Dillon (wonderful as she is) on it, and my personal favorites here are Galen Dara and Victo Ngai.

Best Semiprozine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies, editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews
  • The Book Smugglers, edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • Escape Pod, edited by Mur Lafferty, S.B. Divya, and Norm Sherman, with assistant editor Benjamin C. Kinney
  • Fireside Magazine, edited by Brian White and Julia Rios; managing editor Elsa Sjunneson-Henry; special feature editor Mikki Kendall; publisher & art director Pablo Defendini
  • Strange Horizons, edited by Kate Dollarhyde, Gautam Bhatia, A.J. Odasso, Lila Garrott, Heather McDougal, Ciro Faienza, Tahlia Day, Vanessa Rose Phin, and the Strange Horizons staff
  • Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Julia Rios; podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

The Book Smugglers deserves the win. Probably it will be Uncanny again, though.

Best Fanzine
  • File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
  • Galactic Journey, edited by Gideon Marcus
  • Journey Planet, edited by Team Journey Planet
  • 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

Hey! This is my category!

I wish I could say that I’m surprised to see Rocket Stack Rank on here after their well-documented cissexist bias was publicly called out, but I feel like there’s never not going to be people willing to defend and stand up for the right of people to have the worst sort of garbage opinions regardless of who those opinions hurt.

Best Fancast
  • The Coode Street Podcast, presented by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • 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
  • Sword and Laser, presented by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
  • Verity!, presented by Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts

Fangirl Happy Hour is the only fandom podcast I regularly listen to, and Renay and Ana are the best. That is all.

Best Fan Writer
  • Camestros Felapton
  • Sarah Gailey
  • Mike Glyer
  • Foz Meadows
  • Charles Payseur
  • Bogi Takács

Bogi Takács and Foz Meadows both provide valuable perspectives, but Sarah Gailey continues to be a rising star in genre-related writing. The dark horse on this list, however, might be Camestros Felapton, who pays attention to Vox Day et al. so the rest of us don’t have to, which is surely Good Work for which he deserves to be rewarded.

Best Fan Artist
  • Geneva Benton
  • Grace P. Fong
  • Maya Hahto
  • Likhain (M. Sereno)
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles

I’m so disappointed that FIYAH Literary Magazine didn’t make the list for Best Semiprozine, and I’m genuinely surprised that none of their stories made the short fiction categories (although they’re admittedly at a disadvantage versus the free-to-read publications), but I am super excited that FIYAH‘s Year One cover artist, Geneva Benton, is nominated here.

Best Series
  • The Books of the Raksura, by Martha Wells (Night Shade)
  • The Divine Cities, by Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway)
  • InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire (DAW)
  • The Memoirs of Lady Trent, by Marie Brennan (Tor US / Titan UK)
  • The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson (Tor US / Gollancz UK)
  • World of the Five Gods, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Harper Voyager / Spectrum Literary Agency)

The only one of these series I’ve read any of at all is Marie Brennan’s Lady Trent books, of which I’ve read and enjoyed the first two or three. There’s no universe in which I’ll read even a representative sample of all the rest before voting time, but this has definitely bumped Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities a little farther up my TBR.

2018 Associated Awards (not Hugos) Finalists
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
  • Katherine Arden
  • Sarah Kuhn
  • Jeannette Ng
  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  • Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Rivers Solomon

I won’t even speculate about this list because I’m so excited about it. Vina Jie-Min Prasad and Rebecca Roanhorse were my nominees, but Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun was on my Best Novel list, and Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine books were some of the most fun books I read in 2017. Katherine Arden is fine, and I haven’t read Rivers Solomon yet, but I wouldn’t be mad about any of these writers winning, and it’s great to see such a diverse list representing the future of the genre.

The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) Award for Best Young Adult Book
  • Akata Warrior, by Nnedi Okorafor (Viking)
  • The Art of Starving, by Sam J. Miller (HarperTeen)
  • The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman (Knopf)
  • In Other Lands, by Sarah Rees Brennan (Big Mouth House)
  • A Skinful of Shadows, by Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK / Harry N. Abrams US)
  • Summer in Orcus, written by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon), illustrated by Lauren Henderson (Sofawolf Press)

This list is just a reminder of how completely out of the loop I am when it comes to YA fiction. I haven’t read a single one of these. Let me know in the comments if there’s one that you think I definitely need to make time for, though.

Guest Post: “How Dare We Escape” by R.J. Theodore, Author of FLOTSAM

Lately I have read heated discussions about whether Science Fiction should be political. The comment that it should not – I’m not certain of its origin – drew backlash on an epic scale.

I can understand where the complaint came from. Understanding is not agreement, mind you. Born from the almost pervasive presence of the deep humanities and call for progress which speculative fiction writers weave into our storytelling, the plaintiff recommended authors stick to pure entertainment. You can practically hear writers’ eyes rolling, right?

Political and humanitarian commentary is powerful when well-handled and I have the utmost respect for penmasters, John Scalzi and others, who can write about a near-future Earth condemning – on a shifting gradient of subtlety – the wrongs undermining our present one. I have the utmost respect, a slathering of awe, and a heaping of envy for writers who take a stand and a scalpel to these issues.

I have always felt unworthy of that task, clumsy and half-informed about issues. I have my personal stories, yes, but my personal stories are not the strong bones upon which I can stretch the muscle fibers of speculative fiction. I am far more comfortable to write my secondary world steampunk escapist tales, aware my work is less tectonic than Clarion-bred spec fic masterpieces with their biting wit and wry optimism. Aware that I run from my problems instead of wrestling them to the ground until they submit.

But hold. Avast. Just, stop it.

No, not you.

I’m talking to myself to cease this negative talk.

If this is survival, and you better believe it is, I have two options: fight or flight.

It’s programmed into me, right there along my vagus nerve, controlling the twitches in my muscles and the tattoo of my heart. I’m going to do one of two things. And I’m probably only going to do one of them with aplomb. It sounds, even to me, more noble to be the one that fights. Sounds like it accomplishes more. Society respects those who stand and fight.

Yes, the traditional hero stands their ground, and that’s important. But that others run away is important, too.

Part of the population must run to guarantee survival into the next generation. Some stand and fight to try and make the world – this world, right here, and now – better for those to come. But the rest have to retreat to safety so they can build that future world. We have to nurture the fragile beings coming forth into the sunlight. We have to hold up an ideal of a future and say, “This is what we’re working toward.”

How dare I write escapist fiction? How dare I envision a distant-future world as though disposing callously of this one with so much work yet to be done? Society would call me a dreamer and a coward.

There was a time I tried not to be a coward and didn’t run. Without getting into it, let’s say I should have, and that I learned the lesson painfully. Looking back, I wish I had acted in the most urgent, self-preservative manner and gotten the.fuck.out. The years following the resulting trauma were a blur, but I know there were books. My life was a series of dark moments of reality sprinkled with the many-hued optimism of other planets. Of portal fantasy that promised me a way out. Of improbable rockets that carried me to other places. Stories that imagined me as other people who knew when to run and when finally, to fight (because eventually we must). That escapist fiction saved me. Saved me from myself. Saved me from the alternatives I imagined for myself. The promise of somewhere else to be saved everything about me. I didn’t discover this style of science fiction after the trauma; it was already a familiar friend. But without it, I don’t think I’d be here today.

And now I write it. I create the distant worlds into which other fragile beings can escape.

Meanwhile, I hold my work up for comparison with those writing pieces that put up their dukes and sink their weight into the knees. I know how to fight. I’ve taken my punches. I’ve been bruised and betrayed and knocked down, and I’ve gotten back up. I put in my time. I took my hits, earned the permanent badges of proof across my skin, and I can do it again if I need to. But it’s not in my nature. If I accept myself, I’ve got to accept that. I have my natural talents, my quiet methods. The signals running up and down my spine give me the burst of momentum I need to leave the atmosphere and break orbit. Though I envy the others who comment on current events and political climates in a way that feels to me as though they are shifting the conversation in powerful ways, my own work has power, too.

Deer freeze in headlights. Young girls freeze when assaulted. With pen in hand, I am neither of those. I have broad, graceful wings for flight, the fuel and boost to escape orbit, shields to withstand barrage, and a ship big enough to take all of you with me if you want to come.

Regardless of which survival instinct a writer is influenced by, we pen stories for hope. We know there is work to be done, and the future we dream of may only be founded by us, and come about too late to be experienced by us. We provide stories that offer catharsis or salve to those who need to experience something other than life as it’s given to them now.

There are those writers who will stand and fight. Who will hold the line, and push back. Who will shine a light into the dark corners of society and reveal our villains for who they are. And there are others who construct the warp-drives that get the survivors to safety and the well-guarded towers within which to wait for the day when it will be safe to emerge.

There are writers who will fight for me, I know. Who keep the necessary battles engaged, here and now. And for them, I run. Guide others to safety, nurture their hope, and wait for that brighter future all writers build together.

R J THEODORE is hellbent on keeping herself busy. Seriously folks, if she has two spare minutes to rub together at the end of the day, she invents a new project with which to occupy them. She lives in New England with her family, enjoys design, illustration, podcasting, binging on many forms of visual and written media, napping with her cats, and cooking. She is passionate about art and coffee.

FLOTSAM, Theodore’s debut novel, releases on March 27, 2018 in print, digital, and audio from Parvus Press.

A fantastical steampunk first contact novel that ties together high magic, high technology, and bold characters to create a story you won’t soon forget.

Captain Talis just wants to keep her airship crew from starving, and maybe scrape up enough cash for some badly needed repairs. When an anonymous client offers a small fortune to root through a pile of atmospheric wreckage, it seems like an easy payday. The job yields an ancient ring, a forbidden secret, and a host of deadly enemies.

Now on the run from cultists with powerful allies, Talis needs to unload the ring as quickly as possible. Her desperate search for a buyer and the fallout from her discovery leads to a planetary battle between a secret society, alien forces, and even the gods themselves.

Talis and her crew have just one desperate chance to make things right before their potential big score destroys them all.

It’s not too late to preorder the book on Amazon or buy from other retailers, but you can also
ENTER HERE to win a copy of the book.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: March 25, 2018

Well, this has been another week in the life. While I haven’t posted here, I did actually have a productive three days in a row off work (potentially the last such lucky even for a while to come) during which I have actually been writing some stuff and reorganizing my schedule and trying out a new reward/incentive program for myself in order to encourage productivity so that I can get back to writing and posting more soon.

While this new system of doing things hasn’t paid off in any big way just yet, I’m already feeling encouraged. If nothing else, my mood has immediately improved, and I’ve been steadily checking things off my to-do lists, which I’m now doing daily and limiting to just a handful of good, reasonably accomplishable tasks. I’m hoping that this is going to be the long term motivational time-management and accountability tool I’ve been so desperately in need of.

My first big project under the new system is actually the resurrection of an old project. Last year, I began a detailed read-along of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books, but I only made it about halfway through Titus Groan before getting derailed by life stuff and a nasty bout of depression, but it’s actually the 2017 work that I’m most proud of and I think it’s worth returning to and finishing. Plus, I figure it will be good for me to work for a while on something that’s really not time-sensitive. The other most-rewarding work I do is television recaps and reviews, but I foresee it being a challenge to keep up with those while working full time.

That said, new seasons of both The Expanse and Into the Badlands are starting in April, so we’ll see how things go. In the meantime, however, GORMENGHAST. If you haven’t read my previous Gormenghast posts, I should have a convenient (and free) ebook of them out by the end of this week, and I’m hoping to have new posts starting next week.

Finally, be sure to check back here at SF Bluestocking tomorrow, where there will be a guest post by R.J. Theodore, author of the steampunk first contact novel Flotsam (out Tuesday from Parvus Press) as well as a giveaway of a copy of the book.

The finalists for this year’s Kitschies were announced.

Heroine’s Journey, the third book in Sarah Kuhn’s excellent superheroine series, has a cover, and it’s fab, but the somewhat bigger news is that there are going to be more books in the series: three more, to be precise, plus a novella.

L.D. Lewis revealed the cover for her upcoming short story, A Ruin of Shadows, set in the same world as her much-praised “Chesirah” (in the first issue of FIYAH Literary Magazine).

Margot Robbie is going to be producing a female-led Shakespearean drama series.

Last week, I shared a link to an Ada Palmer piece on Treating the Divine in Science Fiction, only to realize after posting it that I ought to have shared the other posts in that series as well because they are all interesting and worthwhile reads. Here they are:

And here’s a trailer for season three of Into the Badlands, which already looks fantastic: