All posts by SF Bluestocking

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:

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: March 18, 2018

I never did get around to writing up last week’s weekend links, though I did save the actual links to share this week. Working at 5:30 am on Sundays is really making it difficult for me to get these posts written, and I’m starting to think I ought to move them to Saturdays going forward (no doubt to find myself scheduled on Saturdays as soon as I settle into a new routine, because that’s how retail jobs work). In any case, the day job is still a major impediment to reading, writing, cooking, cleaning, and anything else fun that I might want to be spending my time doing. Booo.

That said, I’m hoping to have a more reasonable work schedule in another week or two, and I have some ideas for addressing my creative block and reorganizing my time to be more productive in the near future. Encouragingly, I think (fingers crossed) that I’m done being actually physically ill for a while, having recovered from the nasty cold I had the last two weeks, and that always bodes well for productivity.

If you’re looking for something to read in March, as always Tor.com has you covered, with comprehensive lists of this month’s new releases:

Virginia Bergen has won this year’s Tiptree Award, but there’s also a fantastic long list that’s been published for all of our edification.

A.C. Wise shares some non-binary authors to read in March.

If you want something to look forward to later in the year, be sure to check out the Book Smugglers’ announcement of their summer 2018 short fiction series: Awakenings.

If you want to support excellent short fiction, make sure you check out the Kickstarter for the next two years of The Dark Magazine:

Paolo Bacigalupi wrote about his Favorite Bit of The Tangled Lands, the new book he co-authored with Tobias S. Buckell.

Kelly Robson shares her Favorite Bit of her new Tor.com novella, Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach.

P. Djeli Clark’s upcoming Tor.com novella, The Black God’s Drum, is one of the books I’m most looking forward to this year, and it has a (gorgeous) cover.

Margaret Atwood’s Angel Catbird is now also an audio play.

Lady Business celebrated mothers in SFF.

There’s a proper trailer for season 3 of The Expanse:

Ada Palmer wrote about Treating the Divine in Science Fiction.

nerds of a feather’s Horror 101 series continued with a look at enclosed versus exposed horror.

Mythcreants opined on why the term “Mary Sue” should be retired.

The Fandomentals covered Redemption Arcs of many kinds.

The Wertzone took a look at some of the dogs of science fiction and fantasy.

Speaking of dogs:

Hugo Ballot Time!

Listen. I have been super flaky the last couple months, what with starting a new day job and being exhausted and busy with that (plus a nasty cold over the last couple of weeks that has only exacerbated the situation), but I finally managed to get my Hugo Awards ballot filled out and submitted today. Here it is, with thoughts on the categories.

Best Novel

  • Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng
  • Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee
  • The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
  • Null States by Malka Older

I always feel like I read far more Hugo-worthy novels than there are slots on the ballot, and that was true again in 2017. My nominations this year are definitely fantasy-heavy, and Jade City and Kings of the Wyld are pretty far and away my favorites. The Stone Sky is an obvious choice, but it really is that good a book, the author has expressed a preference for folks to nominate the book rather than the series (for the Best Series Hugo), and I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing Jemisin win a third Hugo in a row. Under the Pendulum Sun is likely a (very) long shot for the Hugo, which tends to skew towards the more populist side of literary SFF, but it’s a fantastic and ambitious book that deserves to be recognized for its ambitious creativity. Null States is the only science fiction novel I’m nominating this year, but there were several others that I considered (Ann Leckie’s Provenance and Mur Lafferty’s Six Wakes in particular). Ultimately, however, the best books I read in 2017 were mostly fantasy.

Of my picks here, I’m guessing only one or two are likely to make the finalist list–probably Jade City and The Stone Sky. Last year, I had read all of the nominated novels, which was kind of neat, but this year I’m seeing a good deal of buzz about a couple of books that I didn’t get around to (most notably Annalee Newitz’s Autonomous), so I expect to have some reading to do before this year’s final round of voting.

Best Novella

  • Gluttony Bay by Matt Wallace
  • And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker
  • The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang
  • Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente

I read an awful lot of novellas, so this category was the hardest for me to pare down to just five nominees. I said very early last year that I though Sarah Pinsker’s murder mystery novella (and the first novella ever published in Uncanny) about a convention of Sarahs from multiple universes was going to be my favorite novella of the year, and that might still be true. I adore it. However, it was an incredible year for novellas, and there are several very worthy titles (All Systems Red by Martha Wells, The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson, Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Winterglass, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s self-published Prime Meridian) that I simply didn’t have room for here (though I fully expect to see one or two of those on the finalist list).

What I’m most excited about this year, RE: Novellas, is the likely end to Tor.com’s absolute dominance of the category. Sure, they’re still publishing great work that benefits from a formidable marketing apparatus, but I’m very happy to see so many other publishers (and self-publishers!) getting in on the novella game.

Best Novelette

  • “Cracks” by Xen
  • “Chesirah” by L.D. Lewis
  • “Down and Out in R’lyeh” by Catherynne M. Valente

Sadly, there weren’t many novelettes I was particularly passionate about this year. I found these two stories from FIYAH Literary Magazine‘s first year to be impressive, though, and Catherynne M. Valente’s Lovecraftian story is a delight. If only the novelette length could get the sort of renaissance that we’re seeing in the novella these days (hint, hint, publishers).

Best Short Story

  • “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” by Tobias S. Buckell
  • “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse
  • “Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  • “The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant” by Rachael K. Jones
  • “Home is Where My Mother’s Heart is Buried” by Wole Talabi

The obvious standouts here are “Fandom for Robots” and “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience,” both of which have been widely shared and buzzed about. “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” is my favorite story from my favorite anthology of the year, the John Joseph Adams-edited Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies.

Best Series

  • Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya
  • The Crimson Empire Trilogy by Alex Marshall

I’m still not sold on the whole idea of a Best Series award, to be honest, but I have been following Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya work for some years now and think it deserves to be recognized. I also have really enjoyed Alex Marshall’s grimdark pastiche trilogy; it’s smart, funny and queer as heck.

Best Related Work

I suspect that this year’s Best Related Work will go to Ursula Le Guin’s final collection of essays, which I haven’t actually gotten around to reading yet.

Best Graphic Story

  • Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood
  • Victor LaValle’s Destroyer

I’m not a great reader of comic books, but these were the ones I read and liked most last year. I don’t expect Destroyer to make the cut, however, since the trade of it only just came out this week.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • The Shape of Water
  • The Good Place (Season 1)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • The Expanse (Season 2)
  • Get Out

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • “USS Callister” Black Mirror
  • “Twenty-Sided, Die” iZombie
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘ Opening Credits Sequence
  • “Rocket Man” music video by Majid Adin

I predict that the only overlap between my nominations and the actual finalist list is going to be the Black Mirror episode, but I am telling you, “Twenty-Sided, Die” is an amazing bit of television. Also, I want every single person who is still nominating episodes of Game of Thrones to explain to me what exactly they think is Hugo-worthy about that garbage show at this point.

Best Professional Editor, Long Form

  • Navah Wolfe
  • Diana Pho

Best Professional Editor, Short Form

  • Lee Harris
  • Brian White
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

I’d like to see Brian White’s work at Fireside get recognized. Lee Harris edits almost all my favorite Tor.com novellas. John Joseph Adams is probably the individual editor of short fiction whose tastes most often overlap with my own, and he edited a near-perfect anthology in 2017 (Cosmic Powers! Read it!). And the Thomases are consistently responsible for great content in Uncanny.

Best Professional Artist

  • Richard Anderson

Best Fan Artist

Skipped, because I don’t actually follow fan art enough to know anything about it.

Best Semiprozine

  • FIYAH Literary Magazine
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • The Book Smugglers
  • Uncanny
  • Fireside Fiction

Personally, I think FIYAH is doing some of the most important work in the genre right now, debuting over 20 black authors just in their first year of publication, but this is a really competitive category.

Best Fanzine/Best Fan Writer

These are the categories that SF Bluestocking (the blog) and I (the writer) are eligible in, so I feel weird talking about my nominations and speculating publicly about how the categories will go. Let’s just say that I did nominate myself as well as some other great folks.

Best Fancast

  • Fangirl Happy Hour

Because, let’s be real, I only regularly listen to this one podcast. Renay and Ana are great.

Best Young Adult Book

  • The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

I didn’t read much YA in 2017, but this book was wonderful.

The John W. Campbell Award 

  • Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Vina Jie-Min Prasad

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: March 4, 2018

So, last week there wasn’t much going on in terms of links OR interesting updates on my life, and I was absolutely worn out by the time Sunday rolled around, so I decided to just take a break from weekend links. I’d love to say that doing so let me accomplish a bunch of other stuff, but that’s not actually the case. I just went to bed really early, to be honest. The truth is, I am still struggling, heavily, with just how much of my time is now taken up by the day job, and it turns out that I SUCK at adapting to a new routine.

There’s no particular bright side here; I’m just still worn out, constantly, and even just reading is exhausting. I think things are still getting better, re: energy levels and so on, but I’m still resentful about having to go to bed so early in the evenings (I turn into a pumpkin at about 9:30 these days) and how much the early bedtime cuts into what has, historically, been productive time for me. I’ve made some minor changes to my availability that should help in the coming weeks, but that’s still like two weeks away. In the meantime, my goal for this week is to carve out at least an hour each day for dedicated writing time (I’ll be setting timers and everything to make sure I stay on task); I’m hoping that this will help me finish some of the many things I have started working on recently.

After years of being increasingly apathetic about Doctor Who, I have to admit I’m getting hyped for the new season with a new showrunner and a new Doctor:

Sad news: Pornokitsch is closing up shop at the end of March.

This year’s Nebula Awards finalists were announced last week.

Last week, Myke Cole shared the Big Idea of his new Tor.com novella, The Armored Saint.

This week, Tobias Buckell talked about the Big Idea of The Tangled Lands, his collaboration with Paolo Bacigalupi.

There’s a new interview with Fonda Lee over at Fantasy Faction.

Spencer Ellsworth popped in at Skiffy and Fanty with “That Thing You Love Doesn’t Always Love You Back.”

Lightspeed has an interview with Carmen Maria Machado.

This chat between Jeff VanderMeer and Alton Brown is interesting.

Weird Al and Lin Manuel Miranda are friends, and that makes me indescribably happy.

Speaking of indescribably happy, “The Hamilton Polka” dropped this week:

I preordered Catherynne M. Valente’s Space Opera this week, but if you’re still not sure if it’s a book for you, you can read the first chapter of it right now.

Tor.com’s Short History of South Asian Speculative Fiction has a Part II.

Emily Asher-Perrin says that all robot love stories are conversations about consent.

Mari Ness covers “Bearskin.”

As soon as I can find lamb shoulder at a reasonable price, I’ll be trying this delicious-sounding recipe for Wakandan Jeweled Vegetable Pilau with Berbere Braised Lamb.

The Expanse returns on April 11!