This has been a wild year, one that began right on the first of January with “A Catalog of Storms,” from Uncanny Magazine, through the publication of a novel and a novella within two months of one another, and continuing until the very last minute with stories for a few anthologies, and finishing a new novel.
Readingwise, it’s been equally thrilling — so many stories and thoughts out there this year that are incredibly deep and rich. I’m going to jump right in (although I am also likely to add to this post or post an addendum because the year’s not yet over). SO. Herewith, an eligibility post, of sorts, for as many people as I can stuff in a blog post. I keep reading logs on my patreon, so if you follow me there, you will have seen some of this throughout 2019 … at the end of the year, I like to share with everyone.
As always, thank you for reading, for commenting and considering, thank you for sharing what you love.
What I’ve written:
- Riverland (Middle Grade, Abrams, 4/9/19)
Starred Reviews from Booklist! and Shelf Awareness! “… a must-read for upper-middle-graders looking not just for a magical quest but also for lyrical writing and a beautiful story, too.”… “Wilde approaches… using the fantastic to symbolize and illuminate the complex emotions her characters experience. About courage and truth overcoming denial and fear, Riverland is an important book.” — Shelf Awareness… “Wilde (Updraft) skillfully blurs the lines of fantasy and reality in a haunting middle grade story of sisters connected through trauma and a shared mythology . . . Beneath the surface of Wilde’s fantastical metaphors lies the far more chilling and profound portrayal of domestic abuse and the lengths to which people can go to deny the most painful of truths.” — Publishers Weekly
- The Fire Opal Mechanism (Gemworld, Tor.com 6/4/19)
Jewels and their lapidaries and have all but passed into myth.Jorit, broke and branded a thief, just wants to escape the Far Reaches for something better. Ania, a rumpled librarian, is trying to protect her books from the Pressmen, who value knowledge but none of the humanity that generates it.When they stumble upon a mysterious clock powered by an ancient jewel, they may discover secrets in the past that will change the future forever.
- “A Catalog of Storms,” Uncanny Magazine, 1/1/19, (recommended, Rich Horton, Locus)
- “The Fall of the Bank of Usher,” His Hideous Heart, 9/15/19
- “The Society for the Reclamation of Words and Meaning,” Do Not Go Quietly, Apex Press
- SFNal Essay: “Stop Printing Unicorns,” Op-Eds from the Future, The New York Times – It shouldn’t need to be said that home bioprinters are not toys. And yet, as The New York Times reported last week, Fisher Price Waterhouse will soon offer a line of kid-friendly bioprinters in bright colors.
- 9th Step Station – (Serial Box) Lead writer: Malka Older, with Curtis Chen, & J. Koyanagi. Years of disaster and conflict have left Tokyo split between great powers. In the city of drone-enforced borders, bodymod black markets, and desperate resistance movements, US peacekeeper Emma Higashi is assigned to partner with Tokyo Metropolitan Police Detective Miyako Koreda. Together, they must race to solve a series of murders that test their relationship and threaten to overturn the balance of global power. And amid the chaos, they each need to decide what they are willing to do for peace.
- “The Unseen,” Fireside Magazine, poem – read by C.S.E. Cooney, edited by Julia Rios
What I’ve Read and Loved (so far):
Novels (Adult, kidlit, graphic novels)
- Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (MG) – Carlos Hernandez’ debut middle grade came out this year and I got to read it early and I blurbed the everloving heck out of it because it’s amazing and you should click through to that preorder link because holy cow … ok I’ll tell you one thing — if Mr. Rogers, Harry Houdini, and Stephen Hawking were to write a book together it still wouldn’t be as fun and wonderful as Sal and Gabi Break the Universe. Friends there are extradimensional chickens. Go to it.
- A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Adult SF) – glorious worldbuilding on an interstellar scale, with the politics to match, plus poetry and daring.
- Empress of Forever, Max Gladstone (Adult SF)- Places Gladstone firmly in the lineage of William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, and yet stands apart as something incredibly special.
- Sanity and Tallulah – Molly Brooks – (Graphic Novel, MG) -Gorgeously drawn and very fun. Usually I don’t love stories that depend on adults leaving expensive and highly dangerous equipment under very weak lock and key being surprised when someone gets into it, but the characters were so engaging I kept reading. Middle grade, science fiction. Kittens.
- Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (MG) – This middle grade sci-fi space-opera is populated by fox spirits, other magical beings, ghosts, and magical terraforming pearls. Min, the main character, is willful, resourceful, and determined to find her brother. Along the way, Min picks up other companions and falls deeper and deeper into trouble. It’s gorgeous and fun, in all the right ways.
- The Kingdom of Copper, S.A. Chakraborty (Crossover) (the sequel to City of Brass, which I loved)- These books keep getting better.
- Ancestral Night, Elizabeth Bear (Adult SF)- space salvage, space opera, really really fun and great and deep (I have more I want to say here but I also want to just wave and point because *so good*).
- Riot Baby – Tochi Onyebuchi. (Crossover/YA SF) A book about siblings, one able to read minds through touch and one able to shift the universe. More than that, it’s a wrenching meditation on prison culture, the lack of autonomy, and the need for change. If Jessmyn West’s Sing, Unburied, Sing met Bacigalupi’s Wind Up Girl, it would be Riot Baby.
- Finder – Suzanne Palmer (Adult SF)- a fast-paced hard-sf repo adventure set in space opera’s sweeping scale and balanced on the heart of one very finely wrought character. Palmer’s writing is delightful, and each detail is so well thought out I kept thinking: “well now that makes sense. So does that. Oh heck how did you — well, now I want one of *those* gadgets immediately.” In the fine tradition of all the best science fiction, I want to live in this world a while.
- The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (MA), A Time Traveler’s Theory of Relativity by Nicole Valentine (MG), The Lost Girl by Anne Ursu (MG)– all middle grade and all very different, featuring a secret princess, hidden time travelers and so much wonderful sciencey goodness, and two sisters who must fight for one another.
- The Raven Tower, Ann Leckie (Adult Fantasy)– Fantasy, gorgeous, epic, sweeping. I just finished it and I do not have my thoughts entirely together on this one, but wow. Yes.
- Desdemona and the Deep, C.S.E Cooney (Adult Fantasy, Novella)- glorious goblin class warfare as Hieronymous Bosch and Christina Rosetti might weave a story together.
- The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Adult Fantasy) – this is a story within a story, wrapped in a journal, hidden behind doors — you’re lost before you even know it, and you have to keep turning pages.
- With the Fire On High, Elizabeth Acevedo (YA) — a gorgeous story about food and Philadelphia, with fantastic characters.
- The Best at It, Maulik Pancholy (MG) – I did an event with Maulik this month at Doylestown Books (see goofy photos on my instagram) and the Middle Grade book is filled with Bollywood aunties, awkward conversations, fabulous multi-generational characters, and so much heart. Maulik is awesome too.
- Lore Olympus
- Catfish Lullaby, A.C. Wise (update coming)
- Song for A New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Update coming)
Winter: “Beyond the El,” John Chu – this is a little unfair because I read John’s story in beta, but it is so good. (So is Probabilitea at Uncanny – John had a great year this year!) “Beyond the El” is one of four stories brought out by Tor.com in January that I really loved, including – Karin Tidbeck’s “The Last Voyage of Skidbladnir,” Mimi Mondal’s “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light” – JY Yang’s “Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy” and Elizabeth Bear’s “Deriving Life“. In Fireside Fiction, Brandon O’Brien’s Due By The End of the Week and Jamie Goh’s “By the Storytelling Fire“ are well worth your time.
Spring: “The Brightest Lights of Heaven,” Maria Haskins, Fireside Fiction; “How the Trick is Done,” A.C. Wise, Uncanny; “The Moon is not a Battlefield,” Indapramit Das, Lightspeed; “For He Can Creep,” Siobhan Carroll, Tor.com; “Wu Ding’s Journey to the West,” Tang Fei (Andy Dundalk, transl.), Clarkesworld.
Fall: “Zeitgeiber,” by Greg Egan, “Borderland” by Olga Tokarczuk, “The Dead In Their Uncontrollable Power,” Karen Osborne.
Collections, Memoir, Essays & Anthologies:
- Snow White Learns Witchcraft – short stories by Theordora Goss. These are so much fun, and so thoughtful. With each story, Goss weaves new myths from the threads of childhood and legend. This collection does what the best songs and poems and spells do: slips gently into your consciousness, then slowly changes the way you see the world.
- His Hideous Heart (September 2019) – I have a story in this one, and the collection features so many excellent re-envisionings of Poe stories as young adult fiction… it’s delicious and dark and wonderful.
- The Dark Fantastic, Race and the Imagination – Dr. Ebony Elizabeth Thomas – A vital read — stories as portals, as windows, but ones that sometimes only open to a certain few. (nonfiction)
- … And Other Disasters, by Malka Older. Gosh it’s lovely. Short stories (most especially one called “The Divided”) intertwined with poems and a longer story about the future of the United States. I can’t wait for it to be out in the world, hopefully this year. Here’s what I had to say –
- “Imagine this collection by Malka Older as a diary from the future, filled with powerful stories of last days, and the first days after that. Imagine the dreams of robots, of people utterly divided from themselves, of nations and worlds changing drastically. There are surprises along the way: a story in pieces, stories in poems. And always, there is love: for the planet, for family, for the future and the past. In this collection of short stories, Malka Older has woven ends into new beginnings, and invited us on an epic journey about what it means to be a citizen of the universe.”
- Exhalation: Stories, Ted Chiang. Just as good as you imagine.
- Orange World and Other Stories, Karen Russell – this is the book I will be giving to friends for birthdays and holidays for some time. The stories within are master classes in wonder and craft, and, yes I’m a little envious
- On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong – To be honest, I raced to the end, then went back and read parts slowly again. There are lines that took my breath away with their beauty; there’s so much pain here, and generations of it; there are truths and memories, and sometimes they are the same thing.
“Magpies Recognize Themselves in the Mirror” by Kelly Russell Agodon & “CONTROL+ALT+DELETE” by Amit Majmudar (in the 100th and final Field Magazine). Very different poems — the Majmudar is a ghazal, and a beautiful one. The Agodon is a meditation on distance, I think, as much as anything, and I’ve gone several rounds with it. I have a standing distrust of using strangers’ most vulnerable moments as grease for the reflection gears (especially on twitter) and during one read of “Magpies” it really did feel like the author was live-tweeting another person’s breakdown through the lens of the disconnected viewer. But the poem also reflects on that act of watching and reacting, and my friend Julia proposed that processing something that happens isn’t always the same as using it for entertainment value. I am leaning towards agreeing with Julia, and I’m still feeling cautious.
“Will You” by Carrie Fountain
Raymond Antrobus’ The Perserverance, which just won the Ted Hughes award (and in which, Antrobus elegantly disassembles a Ted Hughes poem. So much about interacting with the hearing world, about gesture and symbol, about language and family and understanding and misunderstanding. Here’s one example: “Echo”.
The Boys of Bluehill, Eiléan Ni Chuilleanan; A Responsibility to Awe, Rebecca Elson
(I’m likely going to update, correct, and add to this list, so come on back. And tell me your favorites in the comments.)
[…] A lot of friends and strangers tweeted me lovely things about “His Footsteps,” I don’t think I can link to all the tweets. Because it was a Tor.com ebook it ended up on Amazon and Goodreads, so there are reviews there too. Here are a few more mentions from Marissa Lingen’s list of favourite early-2019 stories, Holly Amos’ reading list on Poetry magazine, and Fran Wilde’s list of favourite reads from 2019. […]
[…] How is it December?? I’ve been wanting to add this second post for *weeks*. The first half of the post, from November is here. […]