Sneak Peeks of Before and Afterlives (Dead Letters)

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll occasionally be posting previews from the 17 stories in my new short story collection, Before and Afterlives. If you like what you read, take a hop over to your favorite online bookseller and purchase either the print book or the e-book, and leave a review when you’re finished reading. It helps other people figure out if they’d like to read the book (and strokes my ego, at least when they’re good reviews). 😉

The first preview is from a short story called “Dead Letters” that was originally published in Realms of Fantasy in 2006. I can’t say much about the story without spoiling the “reveal” it hinges upon, but I’ll say it’s the sort of story where the real and the imagined, the earthly and the supernatural, are difficult to tell apart. At least at first.

Dead Letters

Dear Sarah,

I have heard of your great misfortune to have gone and died so suddenly.  Now I find myself writing after so many years have passed between us in the hopes that perhaps this news is not true.  For a long time I believed I was dead too.  Then one day someone called my name (“Alice.  Do you remember her?  Alice Likely.  How she loved that girl.”) and I opened my eyes in a dark place, like a fairy tale princess trapped in a coffin.  Light appeared suddenly, a flash so sharp and blinding, it pricked my eyes and made them water.  Anyone passing by might have thought I was crying.  I must have looked so sad.

And someone did stop beside me.  I was still trapped in that dark place, my body bagged in a sack of unbeing, but the flash of light had ripped a hole in the darkness.  Through that opening, two hands reached in and gripped both sides of the fissure.  The hands pulled the gap wider and wider until daylight surrounded me, and trees sprang up, row after row of them.  Birds called out.  Their notes pierced my eardrums like needles.  I heard water, and then there it was too–a stone fountain next to the bench I lay upon, and the birds perched upon the fountain’s ledge staring at me, their eyes black and serious.

Whoever freed me disappeared before I could pull myself together.  A newspaper lay open across my chest, and another on my legs.  I sat up and the paper on my legs slid to the ground, rattling.  I held on to the section covering my chest and looked at it for a moment, only to see your name glaring up at me, as if your name had a life of its own, had your eyes and the looks  you could give with them, and so your name glared at me in such a way that I could not help but notice it.  It said you were dead.  Twenty-eight years old.  A promising local artist.  Survived by her mother and father.  Their names were listed as well, but it hurt to look at them.  Particularly your mother’s.  She never liked me and I still don’t know why.  What did I ever do to her?

I am writing in the hopes that there may still be a chance for us to reconcile, to come together, to answer some of the questions that have burned inside me since you said goodbye.  Why did you betray me?  Whatever happened to our promise?  And where have I been for so long, asleep and waiting for someone to wake me?  Why didn’t you do that?  I don’t even recognize my own body.  My legs are long and my feet are large.  When I peered into the fountain water, a face looked back that belonged to a stranger.  Then the fountain turned on again, displacing the water, and the face broke apart into ripples.

Now I am writing this to you.  Will you please talk to me?  Can we forgive one another?

Love,

Alice

*

     I am writing in a notebook stolen from Rexall’s drugstore, the sort of book Sarah and I used in school years ago, for doodling and note-taking.  The cover of it looks like the black and white static on a dead television channel.  “Snow,” Sarah’s father used to call that.  “Nothing but snow here,” he’d say, flipping the channel until something lively and entertaining appeared.  He favored shows about policemen and vigilantes who saved the lives of people who could not save themselves from danger.  He instructed the vigilantes and policemen on how to go about all of this saving-of-lives business, spouting advice from his reclining chair, waving the remote control like a scepter.   Sometimes the vigilantes listened to him, sometimes they didn’t.  But they always saved the helpless victims in the end.

The pharmacist and his wife didn’t recognize me.  But I didn’t recognize them at first either.  They are old and gray now.  Mrs. Hopkinsey’s face sags.  Her teeth are not her teeth any longer.  I know this because I remember they were yellow and crooked and now they are white and bright and not so narrow; they line up in her mouth like good soldiers.  She smiled at me.  “Can I help you, dear?”

Such a nice woman, just as I remember.  I told her I was browsing, and she nodded and turned back to shuffling cigarette packs into the storage bin over the checkout counter.

I walked the aisles slowly, touching candy bars, tubes of lipstick, barrettes in the shape of butterflies.  I spun the comic book rack and paged through magazines, but the women inside were strange and alien, their faces harsh, skin like plastic or velvet.  Too smooth.  Their outlines blurred into the backgrounds.  I found that a familiar feeling, though, and felt a stab of pity for the cover girl’s blurry faces.

The greeting cards stood on the same shelves that they always had; I picked through them.  One said, “I feel so lonely with you not here.”  On the cover was a picture of a little girl looking up at the moon, holding a doll at her side.  Inside it read, “But we’ll always be friends, no matter what the distance.”  I found myself crying, and stuffed the card under the waistband of my pants, covering it up with my sweater.  I looked to see if anyone had seen me take it, but Mrs. Hopkinsey still restocked cigarettes and Mr. Hopkinsey stood behind the medicine counter, measuring out pills for a customer.

If Sarah had been there, she would have been the one to take the card.  I would have been the lookout.  Those had been our positions when we were children.  I felt a little guilty changing places with her, like borrowing a friend’s sweater and not returning it, even though you know how they love it so.

I found the notebook in the next aisle over.  I hadn’t known I was going to take it either.  I needed things without knowing what I needed, so I let my hands think for me.  They reached out and took things:  the greeting card, several envelopes, the notebook, pens, a bar of chocolate, a ten dollar bill crumpled up on the black and white checkered floor.  I used the money to buy a soda and a bag of potato chips, so as not to be suspicious.  Mrs. Hopkinsey rang me up with her new smile still flashing, and when she handed me my change, I thought, I am home.

Click here to purchase the book and read the entire story (among 16 others!)

Before and Afterlives Arrives

My first full length short story collection, Before and Afterlivesreleased this week! I’m sort of over the top excited by that, because since I was a teenager, I imagined my first book being a collection of short stories, something in the vein of Ray Bradbury or Shirley Jackson, but contemporary in style and setting. They were two of my favorite authors for the longest time, and I still feel their influences on me all these years later, after publishing a novel and a novel-in-stories prior to my adolescent-imagined short story collection.

barzak-before-and-afterlives_200x300

Before and Afterlives collects the majority of what I think of as my best and better stories from the last decade, the first decade of my life as a publishing writer. They are mainly stories of the supernatural, or contemporary fantasies (the word fantasy writers and publishers used to use for what is often now called urban fantasy, which is a term I think is too limiting in terms of setting). But there are several speculative fiction/scifi-ish stories included in the collection as well. In many ways, it’s the kind of mixed genre collection I used to enjoy as a young reader: in one story you’ll encounter a beached mermaid who is taken in by a woman whose daughter has disappeared, in another you’ll witness a haunted house destroy the lives of several different families over a century, and in yet another you’ll come across a young man whose lover has been stolen away from him someone who just might be an alien. There’s a girl who can call ghosts to her, and a man trying to survive the end of the world. There’s a contagion that causes people to vanish, little by little, and there’s a young man who makes his living by allowing other people to kill him for a fee, and to let them witness his remarkable ability to resurrect.

If I hadn’t written all of these stories, I would totally be wishing that someone else would have. I think that’s the writer’s impulse really. They’re readers who have become so obsessed by story that they are eventually moved to create their own stories, the ones they can’t find written by someone else.

It’s an odd thing. When I was growing up, short story collections were read as much as novels were, but times have changed. The poor short story has lost ardent fans the same way poetry has over the decades, and while I personally can’t understand why this would be–short stories are, to me, the perfect size to contain a narrative in its most distilled form, like strong whiskey–that’s how things are, regardless.

And on top of that, a lot of story collections are now published by smaller, independent presses, which have taken up the slack of larger, corporate publishing houses who specialize in producing novels. This also means it’s harder for those presses and authors to make people aware of their collections. My publisher, Lethe Press, went out on a limb to publish this collection, and I appreciate the efforts of the publisher, Steve Berman, and the beautiful interior design work done by Alex Jeffers, along with the awesome cover art made by Steven Andrew, in the production of this book.

So, dear reader, if you’re interested in helping me spread the word about mine, you can help in a variety of ways:

1.) Buy the book, and then review it somewhere. Like Amazon.com, or Barnes and Noble.com, or on Goodreads.com, etc. 

2.) Buy the book as a gift for someone you think might like it.

3.) Buy the book for someone  who is your frenemy and that you’re sure they won’t like it.

4.) Tell other people about it.

5.) Ask your local library to purchase a copy for the shelves.

6.) Ask your local brick and mortar bookseller to order it for their shelves.

7.) Have someone drive you down the street while you lean out the window with a bullhorn, announcing the title of the book and throwing candy at the youngsters lining the sidewalk.

8.) Blog about the book.

9.) Tweet or facebook about the book. Take photos of yourself reading it.

10.) Run for political office with the book as your main platform. Be sure to reference it in all of your speeches.

I’m sure there are other ways you can help, and I welcome any additional modes of promotion that I haven’t thought up yet to be listed in the comments of this post!

But in essence: new book is out! Thank you for buying, reading, reviewing (buying even if you don’t read or review it), and for being there, reader, both the ones who know who they are and the ones who don’t know just yet, but soon will be. 😉

Kindle edition also available here.

Andre Norton Award Jury Duty

While I already announced this on Facebook and Twitter , I thought I should mention it here on my blog, too, in case someone out there doesn’t keep up with my doings in the socializing networkings of the internet.

I’ll be serving as a juror for the 2012 Andre Norton Award, which honors outstanding science fiction and fantasy Young Adult and Middle Grade books.  Feel free to contact me by email if you have recommendations!

Official announcement from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America follows:

The 2012 Andre Norton Award committee has been chosen, and will begin accepting books for consideration. Any young adult/middle grade prose or graphic novel first published in English in 2012 is eligible.

The judges are:

Victoria McManus (chair)
Christopher Barzak
Merrie Haskell
Eugene Myers
Carrie Vaughn

The committee will consider all submitted young adult and middle grade books until January 31st, 2013. The award will be presented at the 48th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in San Jose, California, on May 18.

For submission information, please contact Victoria McManus at: victoriamcmanus@yahoo.com

The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, named to honor prolific science fiction and fantasy author AndreNorton (1912–2005), is a yearly award presented by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) to the author of an outstanding young adult or middle grade science fiction or fantasy book published in the previous year. The award was established in 2005 by then SFWA president Catherine Asaro and the first SFWA Young Adult Fiction committee and announced on February 20, 2005. The first Norton Award (for the year 2006) was bestowed during the Nebula Awards ceremonies on May 11–13, 2007.

Taking Stock: 2011

Well, it’s that time again.  End of the year and all.  Every year I try to write down the various things I’ve done–written, published, won, been nominated for, sold for the future, etc–and lay it out like I might in a proper journal.  It’s been a while since I’ve kept a proper journal, but most likely those who read this can tell I pop up regularly when university is not in session, and when it is in session…well, I’m usually up to my ears with work to sit down and gather my thoughts about myself and what I’m working on (or wishing I could be working on) as easily.

Still…I am on break (even though I need to write a loooooong document narrating just why exactly I should be tenured next year–still pretending I don’t have to do that for another day or two) and will take the time instead to write this, for myself.

This past year I published four short stories, each of which presented their own challenges, some due to the genre necessary to work within, some because I did that thing where I followed a voice–one line alone that set me going–and chased it until the end.  Which is a difficult and challenging sort of story to write, because you have to trust your instincts instead of toying with your knowledge of a particular genre and its conventions–that has its own challenges, but uncertainty is generally not one of them, because you have those conventions of a particular genre there, acting as sort of guideposts to the territory those genres have conquered and the rules they’ve established for the conduct of their citizens.

The first story to be in 2011 arrived in the April/May issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction.  “Smoke City” was one of those stories I chased after, by voice alone.  Here is its first paragraph:

One night, I woke to the sound of my mother’s voice, as I did when I was a child.  The words were familiar to my ear, they matched the voice that formed them, but it was not until I had opened my eyes to the dark of my room and my husband’s snoring that I remembered the words were calling me away from my warm bed and the steady breathing of my children, both asleep in their own rooms across the hall.  “Because I could not stop for death,” my mother used to tell me, “he kindly stopped for me.”  They were Dickinson’s words, of course, not my mother’s, but she said them as if they were hers, and because of that, they were hers, and because of that, they are now mine, passed down with every other object my mother gave me before I left for what I hoped would be a better world.  “Here, take this candy dish.”  Her hands pushing the red knobbed glass into my hands.  “Here, take this sweater.”  Her hands folding it, a made thing, pulled together by her hands, so that I could lift it and lay it on the seat as my car pulled me away.  Her hand lifted into the air above her cloud of white hair behind me.  The smoke of that other city enveloping her, putting it behind me, trying to put it behind me, until I had the words in my mouth again, like a bit, and then the way opened up beneath me, a fissure through which I slipped, down through the bed sheets, no matter how I grasped at them, down through the mattress, down through the floorboards, down, down, down, through the mud and earth and gravel, leaving my snoring husband and my steadily breathing children above, in that better place, until I was floating, once more, along the swiftly flowing current of the Fourth River. 

“Smoke City” was written after I’d read a bottom-up history of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called The Point of Pittsburgh, by Charles McCollester, which began at its geological foundations and moved forward to the present.  I read all 500 pages in a couple of nights, and because I took it in so quickly, I began to dream about the history of the place, but in that typically surrealist fashion that dreams take on.  I was mostly caught up with the Guilded Age, when the steel industry had both made the place wealthy and ruined at the same time.  The depiction of the city was mostly in line with what many imagine Hell to look like.  And while I was reading it, I kept thinking, this is the same time period that Steampunk often settles in, but most steampunk stories and books I’ve read seem to revolve around the lives of movers and shakers, people in power or who have access to power, rather than those on the bottom, toiling for others.  “Smoke City” came out of meditating on our connections to that period of time.  The writer Paul Cornell (of Dr. Who fame!) called it “a furious critique of Steampunk.”  Thank you, Mr. Cornell!

The second story was “Gap Year” in the Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling edited anthology, Teeth.  This was also a voice oriented piece for me, but because the anthology was dictated by the genre of vampire stories, and vampire stories specifically in the category of YA fiction, I had a lot of those guideposts I mentioned earlier to work with.  Working within particular genres and within particular age categories does create a certain amount of things to push off from, or interact with.  You know the type of story you’re telling, and even if it’s as diverse as vampire fiction is, it’s all still there to work with:  you’re not creating out of a void, you’re not following a voice and hoping it leads you to gold instead of nowhere.  Here’s the first paragraph of “Gap Year”:

When the vampires came to town, there was an assembly in the high school gymnasium.  Retta and Lottie sat next to each other on the bleachers, like they did every day in study hall, their hands folded between their pressed-together knees.  The three vampires who stood on the stage had something to tell them.  “We’re people, too,” said the head vampire, if that’s what you call a vampire who speaks for other vampires.  He couldn’t have been more than eighteen.  A splash of freckles on his face.  Mousy brown fauxhawk.  A tight, too-short Pixies concert t-shirt showing off a strip of skin above the waistband of his boxers.  He wore jeans with a snakeskin belt hanging loose in the loops.  If you saw him in the hallway, you wouldn’t suspect him of being a vampire.  Retta and Lottie weren’t sure if they suspected him of being a vampire now, even though he said he was.

You can probably tell that the voice of this piece is just a tad bit ironic.  I think I went for the ironic voice because so much YA vampire fiction takes itself sooooo seriously, to the degree that it sometimes hurts to read it.  And also because a lot of vampires in vampire fiction have seemed to have lost their sense of danger, and can come out in the daytime nowadays, I thought they’d lost a bit of their allure (for me).  So I began writing a story where vampires are out, and fairly boring to the rest of society.  Until Retta, the heroine of the story, discovers what being a vampire can mean for herself.

That’s the fun part of working within established genre conventions:  finding ways to twist what’s already there, to write against the grain instead of with it, looking for something new.

The third story of the year appeared in Holly Black’s and Ellen Kushner’s anthology Welcome to Bordertown.  The anthology is a reintroduction to the Bordertown world created by Terri Windling in the 80s and 90s for the new generation.  I was thrilled to be invited to write in this world, as it was one I entered into with great excitement as a teen reader.  The writing process for this story is somewhat related to how I went about writing “Gap Year”.  Instead of working with a particular genre and its conventions, however, working in Bordertown provided me with the conventions of a particular world to write within.  And with any world, there are rules and regulations.  They can be broken, or twisted, of course, but you have to know them in order to break and twist them.  When it came to writing this story, I wanted to approach some of the aspects of the race and class strife that was always part of the ambient energy in Bordertown–creatures of the fae world living side by side with humans, and those born of the relationship between the fae and humans–in a fairly direct way.  So I created the character of Marius, a late teen from the human world who came to Bordertown several years before the “Way” between Bordertown and the World closed off.  So any potential for him to return to the life he fled–rejection from his family after coming out to them–was closed off as well.  When the Way reopens, all sorts of newcomers from the World arrive, and one of them is Aleksander (or “Mouse” as he comes to be called), a young man who is ready to take on Bordertown and its various social ills almost like an Occupy Wallstreeter.   Here’s the first paragraph:

I saw him again tonight, while out walking the streets of Soho: Alek or Aleksander, whatever it is he’s called now.  He’s had plenty of names since I first knew him when he arrived almost a year ago, fresh and green from the World.  One of the newcomers after the Way reopened.  Mouse.  Alek.  Aleksander.  Voice of the Nameless, voice for those who drink from the river whose waters curse them to return to it daily to forget their troubles, those who came and didn’t find what they’d been told would be a glorious place free of the World’s restrictions, where they could be themselves more than anywhere and wouldn’t have to fight for it.

Right.

Clearly, Marius is a bit jaded and cynical.  But he has a happier ending than the one he expects.

Finally, the last story of the year appeared in Apex Magazine.  “The 24 Hour Brother” is, as reviewer Lois Tilton described it, “A strange and sad fantasy of children whose lives are like mayflies.”  It’s the story of Lewis, fifteen years old, whose mother gives birth to his little brother, Joe, who grows up and goes through the various phases of life all within 24 hours.  Here’s the opening:

My little brother Joe grew up too fast for his own good.  My mom was the first to see what we were in for.  Soon after Joe’s birth, when the nurse put him in her arms, the first thing he did, still pink and slimy, was smile the gummy, wry smile of a little old man.

     “Joseph, Joe, my baby boy,” said my mother, “we’ll try our best if you will.”  She kissed his cheek and handed him back to the nurse, trying to keep herself from falling in love with someone who she realized, at their very first meeting, would only break her heart.  The first sign was in that first smile:  the old man Joe would soon become, the old man Joe would become too soon.

This is a story more in line with “Smoke City”.  A story in which I create my own world, follow the voice of the narrator, and found my way through based on the rules I was making for myself.

That’s it for publications this year.  My story “Map of Seventeen” was nominated last spring for the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, which means I’ve been nominated for a Nebula three times now.  I can no longer say “Third time’s a charm!” unless I adopt a sarcastic tone of voice. 😉

Right now, I’m looking forward to putting 2011 behind me, and working into the future.  2012 and beyond.

Happy holidays, and happy New Year.

 

Attack of the Killer Collections

Every year around this season of gift giving, I see lots of posts by writers and readers and online stores, advising people what books would make great gifts.  Usually, these lists consist entirely of novels.  I’m a big fan of novels, but I might be an even bigger fan of short story collections.  But even I can be swayed by novel-fever, and in the past (not the recent past, but back when I did blog regularly past), even I’ve recommended buying novel A and novel B, etc.  This year, I’m recommending three killer short story collections that I’ve read in 2011.  Of course they’re all published by small presses, because the large press publishing industry has this idea that people don’t want to read short story collections.  I think that’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that’s another blog post.  For now, here’s my advice:  buy these three collections.  They’re awesome, and they each have killer covers.

Collection A:  After the Apocalypse, by Maureen F. McHugh

Maureen McHugh is well known in science fiction circles, mainly in the circles that admire high quality, character centered scifi.  Back in the 90s, she debuted with a hugely awesome novel-in-stories (before that term was conceived of) called China Mountain Zhang (read that book, too!).  She went on to write a number of other novels, and one other collection (Mothers and Other Monsters, also recommended), and has been spending time writing Alternate Reality Games and is now writing film scripts.  So the scifi short story world is always very eager to read when a story of hers appears.  This collections revolves thematically around the idea of apocalypses, endings, both literal and metaphorical, both in the epic scifi sort of way, and in the ordinary individual’s self-implosion sort of way.

Cover comment:  Fantastic design that makes the book look old and battered, but isn’t in fact.  Very cool.

Collection B:  Unpossible, by Daryl Gregory

Daryl Gregory and I won the same award (the Crawford Award) for best first fantasy book.  Different years, of course!  His first novel, Pandemonium, reminded me of a newish, leaner, sometimes scarier (is that possible?  or unpossible?) Stephen King.  His follow-up novels were just as good as the first, but I’d never read any of Daryl’s short stories until this collection came out from Fairwood Press last month.  The stories range from good to great, and a couple are straight-up knockouts.  Really idea-oriented speculative fiction that doesn’t lose sight of its characters and the human drama unfolding around them.

Cover Comment:  Fantastic.  This is a wonderfully weird piece of art.  If Gregory’s previous books hadn’t already sold me on him in general, I would have bought this book for the cover alone (yes, I’m one of those sorts).

Collection C:  Sleight of Hand, by Peter S. Beagle

Does Peter S. Beagle really need an introduction?  Probably for some.  Can’t I just say, The Last Unicorn, and leave it at that? (And if you haven’t read The Last Unicorn, do yourself a favor and get it too).

Beagle has made something of a comeback in the last decade, publishing several short story collections with Tachyon Publications, and all of them bear the hallmarks of his wit, wonder, and deep sympathy for ordinary characters caught up in extraordinary fantastical events.  This particular collection seems to revolve mostly around magicians, dragons, gods and enchantresses.  There’s light and dark both in these stories, a wide range of types of fantasy stories.

Cover Comment:  Gorgeous.  That is all.

Now, go forth and buy short story collections as gifts.  For yourself, and for others.  Because, really, collections rock, and these ones are killers.

A free read of Map of Seventeen

I’ve posted my Nebula nominated story “Map of Seventeen” on my website for interested readers.  You can find it on the page tabs overhead.  I’ll take it down soon after the Nebulas, around the end of May, but here it is for a limited time for free.  If you like it, please drop me a note.  And get the anthology it was originally published in, The Beastly Bride (a theme the story centers around).  It’s a great collection of stories altogether.

Nebulated

And now it can be told:  my novelette “Map of Seventeen” has been nominated for this year’s Nebula Awards.  This is the third time for me to be nominated for the Nebula.  The first time was in 2007, when I was also in the novelette category with my story “The Language of Moths”. The second time was last year, when my novel-in-stories, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was nominated in the novel category.  Is third-time’s-a-charm for real?  I don’t know, but I’m honored as always to be included as a writer in these awards.

Here’s the press release for the awards, along with all of the other nominees.  Congratulations to everyone.  See you in D.C. at the ceremony.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America is proud to announce the nominees for the 2010 Nebula Awards.

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. The awards will be announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet (http://www.sfwa.org/nebula-weekend/) on Saturday evening, May 21, 2011 in the Washington Hilton, in Washington, D.C.. Other awards to be presented are the Andre Norton Award for Excellence in Science Fiction or Fantasy for Young Adults, the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Solstice Award for outstanding contribution to the field.

Short Story
‘‘Arvies’’, Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed Magazine 8/10)
‘‘How Interesting: A Tiny Man’’, Harlan Ellison® (Realms of Fantasy 2/10)
‘‘Ponies’’, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 1/17/10)
‘‘I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno’’, Vylar Kaftan (Lightspeed Magazine 6/10)
‘‘The Green Book’’, Amal El-Mohtar (Apex Magazine 11/1/10)
“Ghosts of New York’’, Jennifer Pelland (Dark Faith)
‘‘Conditional Love’’, Felicity Shoulders (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine1/10)

Novelette
‘‘Map of Seventeen’’, Christopher Barzak (The Beastly Bride)
‘‘The Jaguar House, in Shadow’’, Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 7/10)
‘‘The Fortuitous Meeting of Gerard van Oost and Oludara’’, Christopher Kastensmidt (Realms of Fantasy 4/10)
“Plus or Minus’’, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine12/10)
‘‘Pishaach’’, Shweta Narayan (The Beastly Bride)
‘‘That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made’’, Eric James Stone (Analog Science Fiction and Fact 9/10)
‘‘Stone Wall Truth’’, Caroline M. Yoachim (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 2/10)

Novella
The Alchemist, Paolo Bacigalupi (Audible; Subterranean)
‘‘Iron Shoes’’, J. Kathleen Cheney (Alembical 2)
The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Ted Chiang (Subterranean)
‘‘The Sultan of the Clouds’’, Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 9/10)
‘‘Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance’’, Paul Park (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1-2/10)
‘‘The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window’’, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Magazine Summer ’10)

Novel
The Native Star, M.K. Hobson (Spectra)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit UK; Orbit US)
Shades of Milk and Honey, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Echo, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Spectra)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation
Despicable Me, Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud (directors), Ken Daurio & Cinco Paul (screenplay), Sergio Pablos (story) (Illumination Entertainment)
Doctor Who: ‘‘Vincent and the Doctor’’, Richard Curtis (writer), Jonny Campbell (director)
How to Train Your Dragon, Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders (directors), William Davies, Dean DeBlois, & Chris Sanders (screenplay) (DreamWorks Animation)
Inception, Christopher Nolan (director), Christopher Nolan (screenplay) (Warner)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Edgar Wright (director), Michael Bacall & Edgar Wright (screenplay) (Universal)
Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich (director), Michael Arndt (screenplay), John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, & Lee Unkrich (story) (Pixar/Disney)

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy
Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
White Cat, Holly Black (McElderry)
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press; Scholastic UK)
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Barry Deutsch (Amulet)
The Boy from Ilysies, Pearl North (Tor Teen)
I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett (Gollancz; Harper)
A Conspiracy of Kings, Megan Whalen Turner (Greenwillow)
Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld (Simon Pulse; Simon & Schuster UK)

For more information, visit http://www.sfwa.org/

About SFWA
Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world. Since its inception, SFWA® has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers’ organizations in existence, boasting a membership of approximately 1,800 science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals. Each year the organization presents the prestigious Nebula Awards® for the year’s best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.

Nebula Awards Interview

Last year I was a nominee in the category of Best Novel for the Nebula Awards.  An interview was conducted then, and has just recently been posted on the Nebula Awards site.  Please go over and give it a read.  I can’t even remember what I said now, though!

A photo of me singing karaoke in a Japanese karaoke pub is included.  I couldn’t resist, considering the interview centered around a novel set in Japan, which I wrote while living there (singing karaoke regularly). 🙂

You can read it by clicking here.

 

This Year/New Year

Happy New Year to everyone!  I’m excited to start over, however arbitrary a choice in time to do so it is, or perhaps however traditional/stereotypical a time it is to start anew, and look forward to a year of pursuing new writing, new relationships, new growth in myriad dimensions (I’m considering a move to an alternate world, don’t you know?) and new newness.  New new new.  Now now now.

This past year I published a couple of things:  a story called “Map of Seventeen” in the Beastly Bride (eds. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) which has been selected by the editor Jonathan Strahan to be included in his annual anthology The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year (due out from Night Shade Books in March 2011).  The other thing I published was a collection of place-based vignettes I’ve been writing called Map for a Forgotten Valley, which The New Haven Review released in its most recent issue just a few weeks ago.  It’s the year of maps for me, apparently.  Hopefully next year I can begin to travel them and chart new territory.

As usual, at the beginning of the new year, I’m wondering what others have read in the past year that knocked the back of their heads off (or their socks, or whatever).  The Nebula Awards are coming up soon.  I have until February 15th to make my nominations.  So if you have any Scifi/Fantasy recommendations in short story, novelette, novella, and novel forms that you think I should look at, please leave me a comment pointing me in the right direction.  I always read as much as I can each year, but there’s always HEAPS of books and stories that I miss completely.  So recommendations, please!

Looking forward to another year of writing, reading, teaching, running, eating good food, enjoying, laughing, and looking around at the world.