Hey you guys. I don’t know that it will ever be easy for me to publish a ‘for-your-consideration’ post. This year, hitting send feels like hitting an oyster shell through a fog, from a moving boat, with a peashooter. I’ve been writing this post for days and days.
And yet. As I’m adding stories from others, and going back and reading them again, and seeing all of us making our voices heard in the fog, I’m strengthened by the depth and determination, the absolute clarity of word and wonder here. So I’m doing what I do and giving you a lot to pick from, as I hope it will maybe strengthen you too. There is no order to this, no rhyme or reason. Just liked ’em. Spelling may vary. Your Mileage May Vary. Don’t come cryin’ to me, I’m already there.
Much love to you all from the rainy season.
What I Wrote:
Novelette – The Jewel & Her Lapidary (Tor.com Publishing, May)
Locus Recommended, An LA Public Library 2016 Best Book
The kingdom in the Valley has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished…. An epic in miniature.
Short Stories – Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left (Shimmer, Sept; Years’ Best Dark Fantasy & Horror)
“I don’t know whether to call an arborist or the police,” the dean said.
Novel – Cloudbound (Tor, September)
“As children, we learned early that the clouds were dangerous. Turns out the city wasn’t all that much safer.” In the sky-high city of living bone, to fall beneath the clouds is to be lost forever. But Nat Densira, along with Kirit Skyshouter, finds more in the grey expanse than he ever expected. To survive, he must let go of everything he believes. (recent review/discussion on twitter).
(full bibliography here)
Also some nonfiction about Monsters for the Washington Post, some stuff for Tor.com, and two really nerdy posts for Clarkesworld. A Whole Lot of Podcasts. And I also wrote two poems by accident on instagram, but I don’t think they’re eligible for anything… just for fun.
Great Reads By Others, For Your Consideration, also some badassery and other things that should receive awards but there aren’t any categories….
- Lullaby For a Lost World – Aliette DeBodard (Tor.com)
Charlotte died to shore up her master’s house. Her bones grew into the foundation and pushed up through the walls, feeding his power and continuing the cycle. As time passes and the ones she loved fade away, the house and the master remain, and she yearns ever more deeply for vengeance.
- Fossil Heart – Amanda Downum (Nightmare)
“Nan Walker doesn’t mean to fall asleep. She never does. But tonight the creak of the ceiling fan lulls her. Evie curls warm against her side, one long leg thrown over hers. Nan’s eyes sag, her fingers relax, and her worn paperback slides onto the bed. Sleep strokes gentle hands across her eyes.”
- The City Born Great – N.K. Jemisin (Tor.com)
New York City is about to go through a few changes. Like all great metropolises before it, when a city gets big enough, old enough, it must be born; but there are ancient enemies who cannot tolerate new life. Thus New York will live or die by the efforts of a reluctant midwife… and how well he can learn to sing the city’s mighty song.
- Seasons of Glass and Iron – Amal El Mohtar (Uncanny / The Starlit Wood)
“Tabitha walks, and thinks of shoes.
She has been thinking about shoes for a very long time: the length of three and a half pairs, to be precise, though it’s hard to reckon in iron. Easier to reckon how many pairs are left: of the seven she set out with, three remain, strapped securely against the outside of the pack she carries, weighing it down.”
- Seven Cups of Coffee – A.C. Wise (Clarkesworld)
“Here, in this now, our first cup of coffee is still in your future. It’s 1941, and you’ve been married to your husband for two years, three months, and seven days. He doesn’t know about the way you look at the women in fashion magazines and clothing catalogs.”
- Between Dragons and Their Wrath – An Owomoyela and Rachel Swirsky (Clarkesworld)
“My name is Domei. I think I am fourteen. I will probably die today. If not, I will probably die tomorrow.
When it happens, I don’t think I’ll be surprised. Frightened, maybe, but not surprised.”
- The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, The Luminescence of Debauchery – Catherynne M. Valente (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“When my father, a glassblower of some modest fame, lay gasping on his deathbed, he offered, between bloody wheezings, a choice of inheritance to his three children: a chest of Greek pearls, a hectare of French land, or an iron punty. Impute no virtue to my performance in this little scene! I, being the youngest, chose last, which is to say I did not choose at all.”
- And in Our Daughters, We Find a Voice – Cassandra Khaw (The Dark)
“My prince kills my sisters before they can come to me, their deaths my bride price, the payment for an unwanted humanity. His fishing ships and his harpooners drive them into the rocks and the salt-whetted cliffs, into the maw of the coral. They chase them with nets and explosives purchased at great expense from China, until there is nowhere for my siblings to go but up, up into the searing blue air.”
- The Shadow Collector – Shveta Thakrar (Uncanny)
“In the garden where girls grew from flowers, their days washed in the distant trills of the queen’s wooden flute, a gardener toiled. His name was Rajesh, and in his spare time, he collected shadows. Shadows of nectar–loving hummingbirds, shadows of laughing fathers, shadows of hawks who preyed on squirrels.”
- The Sentry Branch Predictor Spec – A Fairy Tale – John Chu (Clarkesworld) [people, it has footnotes, how could I not love]
“Once upon a time1, one single processor filled five whole rooms, one per pipeline stage. Myriad pinballs flooded through the processor and (so I’ve been told) you could chase them from one stage to another to see its machinations in action.”
- A Spell to Retreive Your Lover from the Bottom of the Sea – Ada Hoffmann (Strange Horizons)
“Gather supplies. Check the stars; your lover is trapped very deep down indeed, and if you are to reach him, it must be done on an auspicious night. At precisely midnight, where the surf pounds against a rocky cliff, climb down and make your way in. Scribe a circle on the underwater stones at your feet, as a beacon for the powers you are about to call forth.”
- Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies – Bo Bolander (Uncanny)
“You want that kind of horseshit, you don’t have to look far; half of modern human media revolves around it, lovingly detailed descriptions of sobbing women violated, victimized, left for the loam to cradle.”
- The Abduction of Europa – E. Catharine Tobler (Clarkesworld) [note-honestly, I could listen to this on podcast all. darn. day.] “Everything blurs.
This morning, I thought it was the condensation of my breath upon the helmet’s convex interior, but it’s something else. Deep space shapes our eyes in ways unknown. Under this pressure, Europa is hazy, distant water plumes fogging the horizon, but closer too, and I think there is an undiscovered crevasse.”
- Things with Beards – Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
“MacReady has made it back to McDonald’s. He holds his coffee with both hands, breathing in the heat of it, still not 100% sure he isn’t actually asleep and dreaming in the snowdrifted rubble of McMurdo.”
- The Sound of Salt and Sea – Kat Howard (Uncanny)
“The funeral was at dawn, the cold wind off the ocean rippling coat hems and tugging at scarves. The words were said, the blessing given, the family offered one final chance to make their farewells. When they had finished, the pallbearers picked up the edges of the thin pallet the old woman was laid on, the fresh scent of green wood from pine branches woven together bright over the mineral scent of the sea.”
- Nesters – Siobhan Caroll (Children of Lovecraft)
- See the Unseeable, Know the Unknowable – Maria Dahavana Headley (Lightspeed)
“There are woods, and the woods are dark, though there are lights hung from the trees. Many of the lights no longer light up. Around the edge of the clearing, someone has strung a long chain of origami animals on barbed wire, some gilded paper and some newsprint, some pages torn out of books, some photographs, each animal snagged on its own spike. “
- A Non-Hero’s Guide to the Road of Monsters – A.T. Greenblatt (Mothership Zeta)
“There are three basic guidelines that any idiot can follow when faced with a shape-shifting Siren hell bent on drowning you. One: Plug your ears and sit tight. She’ll tire eventually. Two: If easily visually swayed, use a blindfold. Three: Don’t be a hero.
Which around here is like telling people not to breathe.”
- All the Colors You Thought Were Kings – Arkady Martine (Shimmer)
“Moonrise glitters dull on the sides of the ship that’ll take you away. She’s down by the water, her belly kissing the sand and her skinny landing-legs stuck out like a crab.”
- Braid of Days and Wake of Nights, E. Lily Yu (Fantasy and Science Fiction / Podcastle)
“With an immaculate thumbnail, Julia peeled open the ziplock bag in her lap. The coil of hair inside, wide as her thumb and nine feet long, was woven throughout with black and gold strands in equal proportion.”
- La Beauté Sans Vertu – Genevieve Valentine (Tor.com)
“These days they use arms from corpses—age fourteen, oldest, at time of death. The couture houses pay for them, of course (the days of grave-robbing are over, this is a business), but anything over fourteen isn’t worth having.”
- The Siren Son – Tristina Wright (Lightspeed)
“The day the dragons came, Neal kissed a boy.”
- Sooner or Later Everything Falls into The Sea – Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)
“The rock star washed ashore at high tide. Earlier in the day, Bay had seen something bobbing far out in the water. Remnant of a rowboat, perhaps, or something better. She waited until the tide ebbed, checked her traps and tidal pools among the rocks before walking toward the inlet where debris usually beached.”
- You’ll Surely Drown Here if You Stay – Alyssa Wong (Uncanny)
“When the desert finally lets you go, naked and stumbling, your body humming with raw power and the song of dead things coiled under your tongue, you find Marisol waiting for you at the edge of the bluffs. She’s dressed in long sleeves and a skirt over her boots, her black hair tucked under a hat and a blanket wrapped around her shoulders against the night cold. Madam Lettie’s bony horse whuffs at you in the glow of the lantern as you approach. “
- The Boy Who Would Not Be Enchanted – Alyx Dellamonica (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“The first time I stowed away on Nightjar, I was twelve.
She sailed into my beautiful city of Cindria, a swift cutter with pearly sails, dwarfed by the great ships of the trading fleet and the pleasure craft of our courtiers. Smaller, neater in aspect, without ornamentation, she slipped into port by night, like a doctor calling on a rich man who’d caught something embarrassing.”
- The Book of How to Live – Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
“The air in Artifice Department Workshop B hung still and motionless, heavy with smells of metal and parchment. Efronia tucked the heavy covers around the metalcutting machines and returned the measuring sheets into their cases for the night.”
- We Will Wake Among The Gods, Among the Stars – Caroline M. Yoachim & Tina Connolly (Analog)
“Nanne was not one to take anything on faith. She had doubted her cousin, Catherine, when she’d claimed that the Loresian Isthmus had been underwater in ancient times. But now, looking at the lake in the center of the jungle, she believed. The water was clouded with blue-purple algae, and along the muddy shoreline were thousands of strange amphibians — slimy creatures with ten legs and feeler-fronds on both sides of their bulbous heads. “
- Finnegan’s Field – Angela Slatter (tor.com)
A six year old child who mysteriously disappears for three years, only to return home just as mysteriously — but not quite the same. At least, not to her mother.
- Red in Tooth and Cog – Cat Rambo (F&SF)
“Feral appliances?” she said in disbelief. She’d heard of such things, but surely they were few and far between. Not something that lived in the same park in which she ate her lunch every once in a while.”
- Runtime – SB Divya
The Minerva Sierra Challenge is a grueling spectacle, the cyborg’s Tour de France. Rich thrill-seekers with corporate sponsorships, extensive support teams, and top-of-the-line exoskeletal and internal augmentations pit themselves against the elements in a day-long race across the Sierra Nevada.
- Hammers on Bone – Cassandra Khaw
John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable. He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.
- The Lost Child of Lychford – Paul Cornell
It’s December in the English village of Lychford—the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another.
(note: this list doesn’t include YA or Middle Grade because I’m on a jury, but please be aware there’s so much exceptional, diverse, reading to do in those categories, this year and always.)
- Certain Dark Things – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Thomas Dunne)
Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…
Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.
- Infomocracy – Malka Older (Tor.com)
It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.
- Ghost Talkers – Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.
- Breath of Earth – Beth Cato (Harper Voyager)
In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation—the Unified Pacific—in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer Wardens who have no idea of the depth of her power—or that she is the only woman to possess such skills.
- Too Like the Lightning – Ada Palmer (Tor)
Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer–a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.
- Ninefox Gambit – Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.
- Everfair – Nisi Shawl (Tor)
An alternate history / historical fantasy / steampunk novel set in the Belgian Congo, from noted short story writer Nisi Shawl.
Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier.
- The Family Plot – Cherie Priest (Tor)
Chuck Dutton built Music City Salvage with patience and expertise, stripping historic properties and reselling their bones. Inventory is running low, so he’s thrilled when Augusta Withrow appears in his office offering salvage rights to her entire property. This could be a gold mine, so he assigns his daughter Dahlia to personally oversee the project.
- Roses and Rot – Kat Howard (Saga)
Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.
What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?
- Wall of Storms – Ken Liu (Saga)
Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara—and chaos results.
- All the Birds in the Sky – Charlie Jane Anders (Tor)
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.
- Borderline – Mishell Baker (Saga)
A year ago, Millie lost her legs and her filmmaking career in a failed suicide attempt. Just when she’s sure the credits have rolled on her life story, she gets a second chance with the Arcadia Project: a secret organization that polices the traffic to and from a parallel reality filled with creatures straight out of myth and fairy tales.
- Jane Steele – Lindsay Faye (Putnam)
“Reader, I murdered him.”
Collections, Anthologies, Serials:
- The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories – A.C. Wise (Lethe Press)
The collection contains two original short stories – Juliet & Juliet(te): A Romance of Alternate Worlds, and It’s the End of the World As We Know It – and two original novelettes – The Astronaut, Her Lover, the Queen of Faerie, and Their Child, and The Kissing Booth Girl.
- Serial Box – ReMADE & The Witch Who Came in From The Cold & Book Burners especially, and also Tremontaine (I haven’t gotten to finish it!)
- An Alphabet of Embers – Rose Lemberg, ed. – an anthology of unclassifiables – lyrical, surreal, magical, experimental pieces that straddle the border between poetry and prose.
- Three Moments of an Explosion – China Mieville
- The Starlit Wood – Dominik Parisien & Navah Wolfe, eds.
- Scott Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Lynne & Michael Thomas, Uncanny
- E. Catherine Tobler, Shimmer
- Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor.com
Hey, you can’t expect anything here but Miriam Anne Weinberg, my editor for the Bone Universe series. She’s awesome.
Fan Writers / Essayists / Reviewers:
- Sarah Gailey – Women of Harry Potter Series
- Michi Trota
- Liz Bourke – Sleeps with Monsters
- Andrew Liptak – The Verge / iO9, etc.
- Charles Payseur – Quick Sip
- Paul Weimer
- The Bias – Annalee Flower Horne & Natalie Luhrs
Arrival (That’s it, done.)
whoops! Nope! Also…
Hidden Figures (it is so good you guys)
Comics / Multimedia – nonserial
- “The Auntie” – Alyssa Wong and Wendy Xu (Tor.com)
- Anything Lucy Bellwood Does, Ever
- Emily Short’s list of recommended IF games (Thank you Jedediah for the link)
K. Tempest Bradford & Nisi Shawl for Writing The Other (and just in general)
Barry Goldblatt, because seriously, the man puts up with a lot from me.
Amazing Indies, aka great places to support during the season…:
- Mysterious Galaxy (hey, MaryEllen is going to be GoH at Boskone, come see her!) – San Diego CA
- Pandemonium Books – Boston MA
- Doylestown Bookshop – Doylestown PA
- Main Point Books – Wayne PA
- The Learned Owl – Chicago IL
- The Tattered Cover – Denver CO
- University Books – Seattle WA
- Powell’s – Portland OR