Reading the 2018 Hugos: Best Novelette Noms

Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017) — Thuan and Kim Cuc disguise themselves as houseless in order infiltrate and spy on House Hawthorn, a mission that is complicated when a magic curse begins to attack the house in which they are being tested. That’s the simple description anyway, since there are many layers to this story, which hints at a wide, well-detailed world — not surprising as this story fits into the Dominion of the Fallen series. It’s excellent on its own, and definitely has me itching to read more of this world.

Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, February 15, 2017) — Jedao is an operative in the Kel military, with a long list of successes in his mostly classified battle record, who is assigned a mission to investigate the disappearance of another operative and his ship that have disappeared. The story is as much about how Jedao relates to the crew of the ship he’s assigned to as it is about the investigation. He’s clever and capable in his work, which is always fun to read, and the story comes together in a thoroughly satisfying ending.

The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017) — A group of humans are on a mission to save Sol using an old derelict starship — problems abound with all available bots working to repair the ship. In this midst of this Bot 9, the oldest on the ship, is brought online to hunt down an biological entity, which is all well and good except Bot 9 has some its own ideas of how things should be handled. As the story continues we get insight into the inner lives of the bots’ existence when they’re not working. This story is charming and I am so in love with Bot 9.

A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017) — Helena is a forger of beef, with a careful artistic attention to detail. Her work is going smoothly until an anonymous caller places a demanding order for 200 T-bone steaks — a job she might have refused, if the caller didn’t insist on blackmailing her into the work. This story is great fun and I loved the unique idea of using 3D-printing to forge meat. It also has great characters in the form of Helena and Lily, both of whom are smart, capable women, and an ending that made me smile with glee.

Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time,” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny, May/June 2017) — Finley, a young transgender man, gets bitten by a vampire while having a night on the town. Facing death, he elects to become a vampire himself. Exploring what it means to transition from a number of angles — emotionally and biologically (with a look at how vampirism might specifically affect someone who is transgender and taking hormones) — this story is compelling. It’s also rather sexy, with the relationship between Finley and Andreas (the vampire who bit him).

Wind Will Rove,” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017) — A history teacher and fiddler on a generation starship comes into conflict with one of her students who believes learning the history and stories of the world they left behind is pointless when he will never visit that world. This is an incredibly beautiful  story of fiddlers, music, and the value of memory keeping. I love this story and was so absorbed that when I finished, I found myself blinking in surprise that the real world was still here.


My personal and entirely subjective ranking:

  1. “Wind Will Rove,” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017)
  2. “A Series of Steaks,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017)
  3. “The Secret Life of Bots,” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)
  4. “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time,” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny, May/June 2017)
  5. “Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017)
  6. “Extracurricular Activities,” by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, February 15, 2017)

All my Hugo related posts are under the 2018 Hugos tag and you can check out the complete list of nominated creators and works here.

Reading the 2018 Hugos: Best Short Story Noms

WorldCon is coming to my hometown, giving me the opportunity to attend for the first time. I’m super excited to check out the event

As a result of this development, I get to have the added benefit of being able to vote for the 2018 Hugo Awards (of course, I could have done this by just purchasing a supporting membership (or even just reading the list without voting), but now I have added incentive because nothing inspires me more than a deadline (and lists (and yes I’m nesting parenthesis within parenthesis (because I can)))).  This is sparking a flurry of reading, as I’m trying to read as many of the books and stories and journals nominated, so that I can be a fully informed voter.

A few of the nominated works I’ve already read (one of my favorite books from last year was N.K. Jemisin’s The Stone Sky), and I haven’t decided if I’m going to write about them further.

At any rate and without further adieu, here’s my first batch of Hugo reads:

Nominated Short Stories

Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017) — Zee is a clockwork girl who has been granted more turns of her spring than most, and as a result has more energy to consider the possibility of adventure. Her extra energy leaves her to abandon Closet City for the oddities of the carnival train, where she grows to understand love and the burdens of caring for family. The construct of a story in which characters are granted a limited number of turns per day provides a beautiful metaphorical basis to explore how the energetic enthusiasm of youth can be ground down by the burdens of adulthood. Such a moving tale.

Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)  — A strange guide (the narrator) leads a visitor through a museum of curiosities, strange objects abundant in their many cases. The experience changing the visitor in odd and fundamental ways as they journey through. Written in second person, the narrative draws the reader directly into the unsettling experience of exploring the museum. It’s richly detailed with darkly surreal undertones. I’ve read it several times and have noticed new details every time.

Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017) — When an archaic robot existing as an exhibit in a museum learns of the anime Hyperdimension Warp Record, it begins to take a dive into fandom, eventually creating its own fanfic and forming a creative partnership. This is a delightful fun story of creativity and fandom.

The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata (Tor.com, July 19, 2017) —  In the face of an Earth growing steadily worse and in hopes of leaving something lasting in the universe, Susannah is constructing a giant obelisk on the planet of Mars using the left over refuse from a failed planetary mission. But while in the midst of her work, she discovers a secret on Mars that could change everything. This story questions the value of creativity in the world (does building an obelisk matter, if no one will ever witness it?), while providing a beautiful exploration of loss, grief, and a fraction of hope.

Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon (Uncanny, May/June 2017) — Allpa inherits a magic sword from his grandmother, a sword with three warrior spirits ready to train him from adventure on conquest. But Allpa only wishes to cultivate his farm and grow his crops for the community. I adore this story and the way it twists fantasy adventure tales on their head, presenting a hero who believes serving the community with good food is enough of heroism for him. It’s clever and humorous and delightful.

Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017) — Trueblood works in a a tourist trap that sells simulated experiences, such as vision quests and the like, to white tourists. These experiences require a bending of historical accuracy toward the stereotypical Indian in order to be salable and Trueblood (a name he selected to be more “authentic”) is good at his job. But he begins to find his own life bend around him when he befriends one of his tourist clients. Written in second person, this story draws the reader in deep, using the idea of digital simulations to question what is “real” or “authentic” about the world that is presented to us.


My entirely subjective ranking (based as much on what emotionally moves me as it is on technical craft):

1. “The Martian Obelisk,” by Linda Nagata
2. “Carnival Nine,” by Caroline M. Yoachim
3. “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon
4. “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™,” by Rebecca Roanhorse
5. “Fandom for Robots,” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
6. “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand,” by Fran Wilde

What are your favorite stories on the list? Or alternatively, what’s a story from 2017 that you feel should have made the list but didn’t?

Newly Published Work – the Nasty Women Poets Anthology and more

Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive VerseNasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane, is now available from Lost Horse Press and I’m honored to have a collaborative poem, “The Red Inside of Girls,” written with Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Nasty Women Poets presents a “timely collection of poems speaks not just to the current political climate and the man who is responsible for its title, but to the stereotypes and expectations women have faced dating back to Eve, and to the long history of women resisting those limitations. The nasty women poets included here talk back to the men who created those limitations, honor foremothers who offered models of resistance and survival, rewrite myths, celebrate their own sexuality and bodies, and the girlhoods they survived. They sing, swear, swagger, and celebrate, and stake claim to life and art on their own terms.”

Honored to have have a collaborative poem with Laura Madeline Wiseman included in the Nasty Women Poets anthology from Lost Horse Press.


Drunk Monkeys published my short story, “Missed Connections / Red Head at the House of Needles,” in their August issue. This is (I believe), the second actual short story that I’ve evern published, and I’m so happy to have it appear in a great publication like Drunk Monkeys. Here’s the story opening:

i am normally not the kind of dog who whistles at women on the street or stalks them with my eyes. i figure ladies have enough to worry about without some creeper giving them a hard time

You can read the rest online.


 NonBinary Review #14: The Tales of Hans Christian AndersenAs a member of the Zoetic press team, I’m stoked to note that NonBinary Review has released Issue #14: The Tales of Hans Christian Andersen — it’s the largest issue the publication has released to date with 53 artists and authors from around the world presenting re-imaginings of Andersen’s classic fairy tales.

Cover art is by the always amazing MANDEM.


Other Good Reads from Around the Web

“We need to stop thinking of poems as poems, but as art pieces that weave together different techniques from other disciplines, in a way to expand the line, the beat, the image,” writes Joanna C. Valente.

Sona Charaipotra and Zoraida Córdova on How YA Twitter Is Trying To Dismantle White Supremacy, One Book At A Time

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Stories You Can Read Online For Free


#ShortReads Days 20-21

Both stories are by James Tiptree, Jr., published in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, because I can’t seem to get enough.

“The Girl Who Was Plugged In”

Dark and complicated, this story is about a young woman who yearns to touch the beauty of the starlets she worships like gods. So, when a corporation offers her the chance, she agrees to be the mental controller of a waldo, a beautiful puppet-girl who dazzles audiences and sells product. But everything comes at a price.

One of the many fascinating things about this story is the voice of the narrator, a voice I associated at first with the girl, but is clearly separate and slightly omniscient. It’s not clear who this narrator is, nor is it clear who she is speaking to — maybe us, but maybe someone else specific from the past.

“The Man Who Walked Home”

I can’t really talk about this story without giving too much away, but I can say it’s apocalyptic and portrays an array or humanity after the fall. About halfway through the story, I started thinking I wasn’t that into it and then the ending. Oh, my, the ending. And, yeah, it’s just as fantastic as all the rest of the Tiptree stories I’ve read.

#ShortReads Day 19: "12:02 P.M." by Richard A. Lupoff

Published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2011

A man is caught in a time loop, the same hour repeating over and over again which no one else seems to notice. A basic fun adventure, time travel story. 

Tell me your short story suggestions in the comments.