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!

A Rather Belated Best Books of 2017 Post

2017 was a great year for smart, ambitious novels, and for me it was a year about reading broadly within SFF. In hindsight, I didn’t read as broadly as I would have liked (and, but I did read a good number of excellent debut novels and fresh new takes on things in addition to continuing some of the great series fiction I’ve been following over the last couple of years. Here are my favorite novel-length reads of 2017, in no particular order.

Jade City by Fonda Lee

I’ve been sad for a couple of years now that Fonda Lee (whose short fiction I have enjoyed for some time) was writing YA during a time when I’ve been, for the most part, going off YA, so I was stoked when I saw that she was releasing a novel for adults this year. I got a little skeptical when I read about Jade City’s “The Godfather, but with magic” premise, concerned that the book would be inaccessible to readers who weren’t already familiar with that genre. I shouldn’t have worried. In Jade City, Fonda Lee has crafted a fully immersive, intricately detailed, obviously well-loved and lived-in fantasy world and peopled it with characters who, while they may be inspired by some mobster-fiction tropes, are excellent stand-outs in their own right. Each member of the Kaul family is distinctive and complex, and the book’s antagonists are nicely menacing, worthy adversaries for our heroes as they fight to maintain their family’s power and position in a quickly changing world.

In structure and pacing, Jade City reminds me a bit of Ken Liu’s 2015 epic, The Grace of Kings. Though there’s little overlap in the books’ subjects, there is some similarity in their themes as both feature powerful men with competing philosophies that cause them to struggle to work together for their common goals. Jade City also shares The Grace of Kings’ relative lack of women as well as the latter’s way of capturing a moment of social change which finds women actively moving into the positions of power once held by their fathers and brothers. Like Grace, Jade City ends with its women poised to play a larger role in the series going forward; I cannot wait to read what happens next.

P.S. Fonda Lee writes some of the best martial arts action scenes I’ve ever read, and she’s created a smart and thoroughly thought-out magic system that is described with great attention to visual details. I would kill to see this book get a movie or television adaptation.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

I almost skipped this book entirely because it seemed like just the sort of testosterone-fueled fantasy I largely try to avoid these days. The concept—what if mercenary bands were treated like rock stars?—didn’t immediately appeal, seeming generally unserious and prone to a kind of ironic jokiness that I actively dislike, and the adventure—middle-aged men getting the band back together in order to rescue the daughter of one of the members—had the obvious potential to be both unoriginal and sexist. Still, it was the last week of December after a garbage year, so I thought I’d give Kings of the Wyld a chance. And thank goodness I did, because it ended up being probably the most purely enjoyable title I read in all of 2017.

As for testosterone, while Kings is certainly a novel heavily focused on men and their relationships with each other, Eames has imagined a generally gender-egalitarian world and fills it with women who are interesting and influential in their own rights. There are women of all sorts in numerous roles big and small throughout the book, and while the central quest-plot is Clay Cooper and his band getting back together to go rescue the daughter of one of the bandmembers, there are no damsels in distress here. The protagonist characters all treat the women in their lives with respect and empathy, and even female adversaries are treated with dignity by both the characters and the author. Kings of the Wyld works as a model for how a male-centered book can be inclusive of women as characters and as readers, largely because Nicholas Eames seems so intent on eschewing toxic masculinity. (Sure, toxic masculinity makes an appearance or two, but as a decidedly bad thing.)

I simply couldn’t put this book down, and I devoured it over just a couple of days at the end of December. It’s a fun, fast-paced adventure that also manages to be smart and thoughtful and occasionally poignant in just the right proportions. The somewhat silly-sounding concept works marvelously, and Eames does a great job of exploring the humorous aspects of the idea without letting absurdity run rampant throughout the text. Overall, the book benefits from a slickly contemporary sensibility and a willingness to play with and subvert (and often outright ignore) traditional medieval fantasy tropes. Though I’ve seen it compared to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, it reminds me more, in tone, of things like A Knight’s Tale (a point highlighted by the timely publication of this piece on why that movie is a great medieval film). If you like your fantasy clever and action-packed and highly readable and inclusive, you need to read Kings of the Wyld at your earliest convenience.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

It seems unlikely that N.K. Jemisin (or any modern writer, really, considering the stiff competition) could win a Hugo Award for all three books of a trilogy, but then, The Stone Sky is an almost preternaturally wonderful conclusion to The Broken Earth. There’s not too much to say about it that isn’t spoiler-y, but I can say that this series ends every bit as powerfully as it began. While neither The Obelisk Gate nor The Stone Sky matched the inventiveness of structure that characterized The Fifth Season, with it’s interweaving, time-jumping points of view, there’s something more of that in this third book than in the second. The Stone Sky interweaves the narratives of mother and daughter Essun and Nassun with flashbacks to the distant past of their world as it uncovers some of the mysteries that have haunted the trilogy and reveals a path forward for Essun and Nassun to change their world forever.

The depiction of the difficult relationship between mother and daughter was personally impactful to me, as the mother of a teenage girl myself, and the overarching questions the book asks and answers regarding how to fix a broken and unjust world are always relevant and worthwhile to think about. The contentiousness of Essun and Nassun’s dynamic and the sensitive way in which Jemisin explores the ways in which mothers fail their daughters and daughters exceed their mother’s expectations forms a strong emotional core which ties together the broader themes of community and systemic injustice and environmental devastation and provides the epic story with a deeply personal center through which it can be understood and related to.

I’ve said in the past that The Broken Earth deserves to be as popular and influential as Lord of the Rings, and The Stone Sky only confirms the series’ significance as an exemplar of the kind of post-postmodern fantasy that is reinvigorating the genre in the 21st century.

Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

Under the Pendulum Sun is the 2017 book that I’ve fallen in love with in stages and mostly in hindsight after I finished it. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, which made it a little bit not the right book for me to read when I did, but it’s the sort of novel that sticks with one long after you’ve closed the last page. It’s a brilliantly beautiful and highly ambitious novel, with lush, gorgeous prose that’s a joy to read, and the complex theology and mythology of it is fascinating enough that my thoughts have kept coming back to it months and months later.

I suppose one could correctly call Under the Pendulum Sun character-driven; Catherine Helstone is a compelling heroine. However, the novel’s real strength and power is in the Gothic atmosphere that Jeannette Ng has crafted so masterfully. Her prose is dense and descriptive, but never overwrought; the book’s fairy characters are delightfully strange and unsettlingly inhuman; and esoteric metaphysical questions and theological musings (including quotes from in-universe texts at the head of each chapter) work to heighten the psychological drama and tension that drives the novel.

Crossroads of Canopy by Thoraiya Dyer

So, I have a thing for “unlikable” female characters, and the protagonist of Thoraiya Dyer’s debut novel is an iconic one. Unar perseveres through her adventures by having a bone-deep and instinctual sense of justice along with a doggedly stubborn belief in herself and her own great destiny. She’s prickly, selfish, and ambitious, and her coming-of-age story is a compelling character study wrapped inside a fantastic adventure that takes place in one of the most unusual and original epic fantasy settings in recent years.

Perhaps what I love best about Crossroads is the way in which its form follows its function. Early chapters that depict Unar as an inquisitive child are vividly descriptive and full of details that establish the initial setting. There’s then a time-jump after which we revisit Unar as a teenager and find her self-absorbed and ultimately cut off from the world to which she wants to belong. The remaining three quarters or so of the novel, then, focus on Unar’s journey from disconnection to understanding and self-acceptance as she undergoes many trials, and the way that Dyer’s prose style mirrors that journey and cleverly highlights the plot and themes of the book makes Crossroads one of the most impressive novels of the year, just on a craft level.

31189192Null States by Malka Older

I never managed to get around to reading Infomocracy in 2016. With a contentious US election going on, I just didn’t have it in me that year to read a book that centered on election-related shenanigans, and the results of our election in November didn’t put me into any better frame of mind for reading a political thriller. So it took me until mid-2017 to do it, and then only because I’d been lucky enough to receive and ARC of Null States that gave me the push I needed to make time for it. Reader, I am so glad I finally did. Infomocracy is a great book, and Null States is even better.

Though these books have been described as dystopian, I heartily disagree with that characterization of them. Rather, I found both of them, but especially Null States to be deeply, albeit pragmatically, optimistic, in many of the ways that I aspire to be optimistic, about the future, about humanity, about our political institutions, about the environment, and so on. I don’t always manage to be optimistic—it’s difficult—but the Null States, with its story about dedicated public servants trying their best to make the world a better place in whatever ways they have within their power, is exactly the sort of thing that helps me. As I wrote in my review of the books last year, it’s my kind of optimism:

“It’s not the optimism that there’s some perfect system of government that’s the silver bullet to solve all the world’s problems or that aliens are going to show up on the eve of a technological revolution and save us all. It’s the optimism that hard work and decency never go entirely out of fashion, that they pay off and that individuals can and do make a difference. It’s the reminder that the arc of history bends towards progress and that we don’t have to have all the answers in order to do some good.”

There’s a fantastic essay by Margaret Atwood in which she talks about the ways in which dystopias are always utopian for some people while every utopia is someone else’s dystopia—that utopias hide inside dystopias and vice versa—and the characters in Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle wrestle heavily with that idea. Sure, these stories have dystopian elements, but many of them are the same dystopian elements that we are all literally living with every single day, and it’s heartening to read about characters trying to harness the power of imperfect systems in order to improve the world and the state of humanity, however incrementally.

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

Not much change, unfortunately, on the finding-a-new-job-life-writing balance front this week, but my energy levels continue to improve (more or less, anyway, since I had a little cold mid-week that didn’t do my productivity any favors). I do have about eight blog posts halfway written, but half-written isn’t completely done, obviously. Still, it puts me in the way of being likely to finish at least a couple of things this week if I can manage my time a bit better than I have been (and avoid catching any more nasty germs from the day job).

I haven’t liked most of what I’ve been reading this week, but video media has been better than books for me while I’ve been sick and stuff. I’ve been working my way through the new Queer Eye on Netflix. It’s kind and funny and generally just delightful, and I never would have thought I’d have so many feelings about it. I also made it out to see Black Panther yesterday morning, and I have thoughts but all I’m going to say right now is BELIEVE THE HYPE. It’s every bit as good as 97% of critics and approximately all of Twitter say it is. I highly recommend putting it in your eyeballs as soon as possible.

Worldweaver Press revealed the table of contents for a new solarpunk anthology, Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers. Bonus! If you sign up for their newsletter, you’ll get updates on when the book will be available AND a 40% off coupon to use in the Worldweaver Press online store.

My friend Renay (who you may know from the Hugo Award-winning blog Lady Business and from the excellent Fangirl Happy Hour podcast) is going to a badass camp for learning progressive political activism skills, but she needs a little help getting there. This lady does so much rad stuff already, and I cannot wait to see what she’ll accomplish with a few new tricks up her sleeve.

John Kessel wrote about his Favorite Bit of his new Jane Austen/Frankenstein mash-up novel, Pride and Prometheus.

At Breaking the Glass Slipper, Jasmine Gower answered five questions about her new novel, Moonshine.

At LitHub, Sofia Samatar talked about Kafka, binge-writing and the search for monsters.

The results of Uncanny Magazine’s 2017 Favorite Fiction Reader Poll are in.

Skiffy and Fanty introduced a new podcast covering Speculative Fiction in Translation.

At Tor.com, Mari Ness covered the fairy tales of Henriette Julie de Murat.

Also at Tor.com, part two in a series of posts about women SF writers of the 1970s. Part one here.

State of the Blog and Weekend Links: February 11, 2018

Once again, I’ve overestimated the amount of time and energy I would have for blogging. However, this time it’s not a matter of being exhausted from the day job; I’ve actually started getting used to the schedule and the early mornings, and my energy level has been pretty high. Instead, I just had a plain busy week, much of it taken up with getting my kid to and from final rehearsals for her first ever high school musical (which was Curtains, and it was very good). It’s been a lot, but now it’s over, which is a relief.

I’m happy to be feeling more energetic–I’ve even been cooking more again, which is excellent, as I’ve been thoroughly tired of frozen pizzas and things I can microwave for dinner–but I still feel like I’m struggling a little with adjusting to this new normal. I’m often at my most productive in mid-to-late evenings (think around 9:00 pm til midnight or so), so I’m losing a lot of ordinarily fruitful writing time any day that I have to go to bed early in order to be up at 4:30-5:00 am. I’m certain that things will get sorted, but in the meantime I’m just feeling a bit off, in addition to just being very frustrated at what still feels like a major disruption to my regular schedule and working process. It’s gonna happen, though. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Tor.com has all the new releases you should be looking forward to in February:

Asimov’s has made several Locus Award-nominated stories free-to-read online.

It’s time to vote in Clarkesworld’s Readers’ Poll (or just read the stories that have made the finalist list).

Lady Business has some great recs if you are nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards this year. (Full disclosure: Includes me, which is still never not a surreal thing to see.)

I just got my ARC of Flotsam by R.J. Theodore the other day and haven’t dug into it just yet, but I am pretty hyped for it. It had me at “steampunk first contact” and I am wild about that fabulous Julie Dillon cover art.

The Illustrated Page has an interview with Alex Wells.

At Minor Literatures, J. Moufawad-Paul writes about Benjanun Sriduangkaew’s Winterglass and Necropolitics.

Sue Burke wrote about the Big Idea in her debut novel, Semiosis.

Burke also shared her Favorite Bit of Semiosis. And popped over to the Tor/Forge blog to share some more thoughts on plants, sentient and otherwise.

Brooke Bolander shared five things she learned while writing The Only Harmless Great Thing.

Jasmine Gower’s Moonshine came out this week, and she wrote about her Big Idea over at Whatever.

Myke Cole was on Skiffy and Fanty to talk about his upcoming book from Tor.com, The Armored Saint.

S.L. Huang’s Zero Sum Game has a cover!

The Kickstarter is live for the hardcover edition of Sunspot Jungle, a two-volume anthology featuring over 100 speculative fiction writers from around the world.

At The Millions, a look at Carrie Fisher’s The Princess Diarist one year later.

At LitHub, some thoughts on the commercialization of dystopian fiction. I’m not sure I agree, but it’s something to think about.

Speculative Chic has a roundtable tribute to Ursula K. LeGuin, while four writers remember LeGuin and talk about what LeGuin meant to them over at LitHub.

io9 covered the history of supernatural pregnancies.

There’s finally a proper trailer for season two of Jessica Jones:

There’s also a trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, which I’m not sure I care about at all. It’s fine, I guess, though I’m very confused by those wine glasses with the huge silver things around the stems. Whose awful idea was that?

am interested, however, in 365 Days of Star Wars Women.

Because we are living in the worst possible timeline, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are going to write and produce some Star Wars movies.

The second half of Uncanny Magazine #20 is available online now. Must-read pieces include:

There’s a new issue of Apex Magazine out as well, #105. I’m currently digging “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow. There’s also an interview with the author.

New at Lightspeed this week: “Four Point Affective Calibration” by Bogi Takács (plus author spotlight).

Finally, I am in love with this “Judith and Holofernes” by Giorgio Vasari, which I’ve somehow managed to never see before. Those back muscles are gorgeous, and I adore the way Judith fills the whole frame. Amazing.

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

Well, the second week at the new job has turned out to be no more productive than the first one was, but I think things are getting better at last. I’ve been able to at least do a bit more reading this week–I finally finished Blood Binds the Pack, zoomed through Saga Vol. 8 and Kim & Kim Vol. 2: Love is a Battlefield, and I’m currently almost two-thirds of the way through Semiosis by Sue Burke. The good news of the week is that my partner has gotten a job offer that will let me cut back to part-time hours at my job, which should put me in a position to start achieving more of my goals for the blog in the coming months.

This coming week, I’ve got a light work schedule, but I’ve also got a lot of running around to do as it’s the final week or rehearsals and performances for my daughter’s first high school musical, so I’m not going to make any promises about what I’ll be up to here at SF Bluestocking, but it ought to be something. I’ve got several book reviews in the works, and with nominations opening up for this year’s Hugo Awards I’ll also be working hard to finally finish some belated Best of 2018 stuff. Still. I’m trying to be kind to myself by not putting too much pressure on myself to write ALL the things in a single week. We’ll see.

Nerds of a Feather has posted their long list recommendations for the Hugo Awards, and I will never stop being stoked about finding my name on there not once, but twice:

At The Millions, “The Utopias of Ursula K. LeGuin.”

Book Riot lists over 75 books Ursula K. LeGuin recommended.

Brooke Bolander was on Cooking the Books.

Skiffy & Fanty wrapped up their Month of Joy.

K.M. Alexander wrote about problematic faves.

Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf-in-the-suburbs novel, The Mere Wife, has a cover.

So does State Tectonics, the third and last volume of Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle.

Mimi Mondal kicked off a blog series on the Short History of Asian Speculative Fiction for Tor.com.

At Lady Business, Ira has a great take on Jason from The Good Place.

Strange Horizons has a Trans/Nonbinary Special Issue available now.

There’s a new Yoon Ha Lee story at Beneath Ceaseless Skies: “The Starship and the Temple Cat.”

I loved Tobias S. Buckell’s “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” when I read it last year in Cosmic Powers: The Saga Anthology of Far-Away Galaxies, and I cannot recommend it enough now.

Also in Lightspeed this week, Cassandra Khaw’s “The Quiet Like a Homecoming”–also with an author spotlight.

Sci-fi and Fantasy books, tv, films, and feminism