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Recently I was a guest on the Breaking the Glass Slipper podcast. BtGS is a feminist SFF podcast that wanted to do more episodes on intersectional issues, so we talked about disability representation in SFF. You can give it a listen here!

(I will confess that I am terrible at listening to podcasts myself, but it can be so much fun to be on them--one gets into good conversations. So we'll see if I can't get better at this.)

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Analog magazine runs a reader's choice poll called AnLab every year. This year I had one story each place in the categories of Short Story and Novelette. You can see the full list here! Analog provides links to most of these stories (all the ones the authors consented to have on the internet), so you can read all sorts of my peers doing good things.

And! The novelette on the list was reprinted in Clarkesworld last month, but this is the first internet appearance of the short story! I hope you enjoy Finding Their Footing as much as the Analog readers did.

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New story out today! The Thing, With Feathers is live in Uncanny magazine, so if you want birds, lighthouses, you go!

And if that's not enough for you, the astute Caroline Yoachim (also known as my buddy Caroline Yoachim...) interviewed me about the story. And about other things too! So I hope you enjoy the whole combination.

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Kate Atkinson, Transcription. A literary spy story, infiltrating the British fascists of 1940 and what has happened beyond that. I thought that Red Joan was better at some of the tropes that eventually came up as events unfolded in this book, but they're actually both worth having.

Noel D. Broadbent, Lapps and Labyrinths: Saami Prehistory, Colonization, and Cultural Resistance. This is a lot of northern archaeology, which means that ski fragments and seal bones are discussed in great detail. That is in fact my jam. It may also be yours--and even if it isn't, there aren't loads of readily available sources on Saami culture before/during colonization, so if that's an interest, it's not going to be in the "yawn, another one of those" category.

Brendan Fletcher, Karl Kerschil, Becky Cloonan, Adam Archer, and Msassyk, Gotham Academy Second Semester Volume 1: Welcome Back. They've added to the title of this I guess? Presented it as a new run instead of just having, like, volume 4 of the previous? It doesn't work at all as a place to start this series--if you're interested in spoopy youngsters in the periphery of Bruce Wayne, go back to the beginning. The plot twists struck me as really obvious this time, but this may be a results of me not being a teenager and new to this.

Morgan Jerkins, This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America. The ending of this book really built to something strong and worth having. I was a little unsure of several of the chains of association earlier in the book, but I can't honestly tell whether it jumps around a lot or whether there are implicit links that I'm missing because I am not, in fact, living at the intersection of Black and anything, and y'know, not everything has to be spelled out anyway, and not everything has to be aimed at me.

Pat Parker, The Complete Works of Pat Parker. If you're looking for righteous wrath, Pat Parker brings it. She occasionally brings other emotions, but there is a lot of Black lesbian anger here, well grounded in the reality of Parker's lived experience.

Ntozake Shange, Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo. Quite often when people describe non-Latin American works as magic realism, they are neglecting elements like the post-colonial/anti-colonial thread to magic realism. Shange's story of three sisters exploring the arts, the world, and themselves is exactly the magic realism of the American South. Beautiful stuff here.

Django Wexler, Ship of Smoke and Steel. Discussed elsewhere.

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Review copy provided by Tor Books. Also I've known Django for several years, we've taught a workshop together, he's marrying a friend of mine, it's SFF generally is, there.

So. If you've liked Django's MG work, and/or you've liked his adult work, but you thought, y'know, this stuff is just too shiny and perky for me? Good news, he is writing this YA series that makes his previous series look like the teddy bears are having their picnic. It is all Django all the time, and then more stabbing with magical blades. Also giant crabs.

If you have not read Django's previous stuff and are not sure what sort of thing this might be: stabbing with magical blades! Giant crabs! Treachery and scheming and forbidden sources of magic! Self-propelled sentient ships of doom!

It's not quite as dark as I'm making it out to be. (It's pretty dark.) One of Django's common themes that crops up here too is people finding out that they're better than they thought they were, finding reserves of goodness either on their own or with a bit of inspiration or coaxing. Also this is a kissing book, and not all of it is meaningless and Machiavellian. (Some of it totally is, though.)

The ending is very open, so I'm anxious to see what comes next in this series.

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Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Reread. This is going to be a clear theme in this fortnight's reading: I was preparing for the humor panel I was doing at ConFusion, and I didn't want to talk about whether things did or did not hold up when I haven't read them in [checks notes] [hides under desk]. Seriously, that long? wow. Anyway! I am very pleased with how the humor of this book arises from a surreal sense of the universe, and I am astonished at how much the recent show managed to keep the tone and basically only the tone of the book. Each is very modish, very of-its-time--but in the same way, for different times. Weird. Good.

John Appel, Jo Miles, and Mary Agner, eds., Skies of Wonder, Skies of Danger. It would probably be the most politic, when talking of an anthology filled with friends and cordial acquaintances, to say some vague nice things and move on, but honestly I think A.J. Hackwith's "Lips of Red, Lips of Black" and Jennifer Mace's "Thou Shalt Be Free As Mountain Winds" were the stand-out stories in this volume.

Robert Aspirin, Phule's Company. Reread. I was mostly pleased with how this held up. Mostly. The message of "we need to all work together and share our highly varied strengths to succeed" and "underdogs go!" was still there...but in places it read like "we need all the stereotypes to work together and...." And what's with a happy ending that's basically "rich dude finds a loophole to get his rich family richer"? The part that has really not held up well here is "look at how much this rich guy is bypassing regs because he knows best." Uh. We see how that goes in reality, and it's way less funny.

Paul Bogard, The Ground Beneath Us: From the Oldest Cities to the Last Wilderness, What Dirt Tells Us About Who We Are. This...was not the book I was looking for. I enjoyed it! You might enjoy it too! But it's a great deal more of Paul Bogard Has Dirt-Related Emotions than In-Depth Look At Soil Science.

Aliette de Bodard, In the Vanishers' Palace. I love the worldbuilding on this. Love it so much. Oh wow. I kind of don't want to talk about any of it, because I want you to discover it for yourself. Eeeeee this worldbuilding eeeee yay.

Jonathan Drori, Around the World in 80 Trees. This was such a beautiful volume, visually as well as in prose content. It's just what I needed, like the book equivalent of walking in a green cool forest.

Esi Edugyan, Washington Black. This is a beautiful wrenching historical novel about a young enslaved man who is assigned to assist his owner's brother in scientific experiments and hot-air ballooning. I enjoyed every page of it, and there were several places where I am thrilled to announce that I had no idea where it was going next. Not science fiction but science-important fiction.

Amy L. Handy, War-Time Breads and Cakes. Kindle. Okay, so my friend Justin is a weird influence, and I will download basically anything from Gutenberg. This one is from WWI and talks a lot about stretching (but not eliminating!) yeast and flour and sugar, techniques involving potato sponges and like that. I did not come out of this wanting to do the things in it, but it's really good as worldbuilding influence, and also quite short.

Terry Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant. Reread. I feel like this is one of the mid-period books where Pratchett was finding his feet again. He did good things here with policing and diplomacy and race and relationships, but...not as good as he would do with those themes later. Still fun from start to finish. And it sets me up for my favorite of the grown-up books next.

Spider Robinson, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. Reread. I am one of the people who had a lot of social associations around the Callahan books, so I really wanted this to hold up well. It did not. Hoo boy did it not. There is gratuitous racism, both explicit and implicit. The gender politics are wretched, and are specifically enumerated so that you can't think "well but maybe he just hasn't said that..." nope. Nope! The way that the first woman to come into Callahan's is treated is simultaneously breathtakingly awful and really transparent as a primer for how I, as a young woman, was expected to behave in science fiction fandom. It was so upsetting. In fact, one of the general things I took from even the better stories in this volume is that this was never so much funny as it was fannish. Lots of not-particularly-clever puns and bonhomie, not so much humor structure beyond that. Sigh. Sorry, teen self.

John Schoffstall, Half-Witch. Generally quite charming, inventive, more medieval than the people trying to feign medieval fantasy by a long shot. I hate to call stuff out that is literally one tiny sub-scene, but...I felt like the sexual violence in this book was handled rather badly. But it was such a small sliver that it didn't make the entire book not worth having. (On the other hand, it was such a small sliver that WHY.)

E.P. Thompson, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law. I do love me some E.P. Thompson. This was more Anti-Nomianism R Us than in-depth William Blakiness, but William Blake is widely available, and I do like the infinite branches of Protestantism, at least as a field of study from a distance.

Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog. Reread. Much to my relief, I still found this entertaining. Willis skews toward farce in a direction that can be hard to pace in prose writing, but for me To Say Nothing of the Dog is still on the correct side where the "one MORE thing OMG" aspect of farce really comes through and doesn't drag into "this is just repetitious, not funny."

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Elizabeth Bear, The Chains That You Refuse. Reread. I usually have one book of short things (poems, essays, short stories) going at any given time, and this time I just needed something that would reliably not smack me in the face and would have "old friend" characters. This delivered.

Elizabeth Bear and Katherine Addison, The Cobbler's Boy. Kindle. A murder mystery featuring crypto-Papists and a 15-year-old Christopher Marlowe. Fun times, a very fast read.

Lawrence Buell, The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture. Buell is fairly satisfying about Thoreau and those who came after him, and this book is particularly good in talking about American women writers who are not as discussed as Thoreau but contributed significantly to American nature writing in their time--and are available on Gutenberg, so stay tuned.

Stephanie Burgis, Snowspelled. This is a fun and light-hearted romance-mystery-fantasy in--and here is where my buttons are thoroughly pushed--a massive snowstorm. You could hardly fit more snow in this book if you used a plow to stack it up very high and let the neighbor kids sled off it. The ending is a bit less satisfying than the rest of the book--proving things is hard--but not so much so that I'm not going to immediately seek out the other published volume in the series.

Michael J. DeLuca et al, editors, Reckoning Issue 3. Kindle. The mix of stories, poetry, and essays in this issue is excellent. The types of each vary a lot (although several stories reminded me of Hayao Miyazaki's environmental thinking; I mean that in a good way). My favorites included Octavia Cade's "The Feather Wall" and Osahon Ize-Iyamu's "More Sea Than Tar." Danika Dinsmore's poem in the editorial slot was a lovely choice for that, and Adelia MacWilliam's "Paddling in the Sound" also struck me particularly well.

George Eliot, Adam Bede. Kindle. The prospect of reading George Eliot on the airplane appealed to me mightily, so I just picked one more or less at random. It turns out that Adam Bede was Eliot's first novel, and there are some places in the ending where you can see her figuring out the form or...not quite getting there. The ending does not work as well as a portrait of humans as the rest of the book, for me. But the middle has some extremely solid excellent stuff about compassion and loving others around us for who they are and not who we wish they were. While I wouldn't start here (START WITH Middlemarch!!! You could be reading Middlemarch right now!!!), I'm very glad I read it and will probably continue to while away happy hours of travel with her oeuvre.

Emiko Jean, Empress of All Seasons. This is an interesting YA fantasy with strong worldbuilding (...sort of a theme for this fortnight...). There is an aspect of it that started to be unsatisfying to me in theme/implications halfway through the book, and then just as I was getting restless about that aspect, the ending did not go where I thought it would go and all of a sudden the theme issues were entirely resolved for me into "YAY doing its OWN THING."

Neil Kent, The Sami Peoples of the North: A Social and Cultural History. If you want a beginning book on Sami history and culture, this looks to me like a pretty solid one. If you've already got the basics, you probably don't need this book to repeat them. Unlike some histories it does extend into the present day or fairly close to it, with important yoik musicians and other figures of the last few decades discussed.

Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Warrior. I sometimes do very poorly with similar titles, and so I went most of a year without noticing that the Akata W--- book people were talking about was not the one I'd already read and enjoyed (Akata Witch). Enlightened, I went and got this book. It's a lot of fun, interesting, good worldbuilding, good characterization.

Lisa Pearl Rosenbaum, A Day of Small Beginnings. This is a multigenerational novel about the ghost of a devout Jewish woman haunting three generations of a Jewish family not her own as they move from Poland to the US and then rediscover their Polish roots. It's a beautiful example of moving writing about religion that is not attempting to proselytize. Also it's very singular; or at least I don't know of other books with this general shape of plot. I'm very glad I stumbled upon it.

Sherwood Smith, ed. It Happened at the Ball. Discussed elsewhere.

Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. Every time I get a Rebecca Solnit book, it moves to the head of the queue immediately. This one did not take many pages to make it clear why. Solnit's ideas about environment, idealism, and practical consequences are broader, deeper, and more clearly expressed than the other writers I've been reading on those themes. Such a joy.

Tasha Suri, Empire of Sand. This is intense and vivid YA fantasy with strong worldbuilding and major upheaval in the plot in just the ways I like. Definitely looking forward to whatever Suri does with the sequel.

Molly Tanzer, Creatures of Want and Ruin. This is the sequel to a book that was very special to me, Creatures of Will and Temper. It's the kind of sequel that allows for a large time gap and different characters, so the touchstones that were my own buttons to push have been replaced by a different set. I have every hope that this will be someone else's very special book, and I'm always glad to see a series where someone is doing quite different things in each book.

Sara Teasdale, Rivers to the Sea. Kindle. This book of poems felt very young to me. A lot of them were about Old Love and New Love in the sorts of ways that people who haven't loved anyone for more than about six months tend to write about, extremely breathless and full of broad pronouncements. Some of it was quite good of that type, and then there were the moments where the image part of the Imagist poetry broke free of the sweeping statements.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, and Michi Trota, eds., Uncanny Issue 26. Kindle. I have a story in this issue, and I make a policy of not reviewing things I have work in.

Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Ayme Sotuyo, et al, Lumberjanes: Parents' Day. A lot of stuff that has been foreshadowed or otherwise hinted at came to fruition in this volume, featuring bunches of family members and--of course--supernatural incursions into summer camp hijinks. And friendship to the max. Can't forget the friendship to the max.

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While I was at ConFusion, I read a story called The Deepest Notes of the Harp and Drum. Coincidentally it was published in BCS at the beginning of the con! There is also a podcast version! Enjoy! (Murder ballads....)
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This is the latest in a recurring series! For more about the series, please read the original post on Marta Randall, or subsequent posts on Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, Sherwood Smith, and Nisi Shawl. This particular post should also bear the caveat that Pamela Dean is a dear personal friend of mine--although my love of her books predates that friendship by a decade or so. (And we've been friends for...gosh, I need to go lie down now, that is a long time.)

I do love her books. Unusually, I can say that I love every single one of her books. My favorite has shifted over the years, with each book taking a turn. Right now I think it's The Dubious Hills: the contained domestic nature of it, the acutely observed human relationships--including small children as full humans but not the same full humans as teenagers and adults--the way that the worldbuilding is folded into every line of the language. The first time doubt enters into the casual conversation, every single time I reread it, I get shivers at how deftly this is done. Pamela's work is not often praised for its structure, but The Dubious Hills is structured marvelously start to finish.

It is also quietly inventive. The things Pamela thinks of are not full of bells and whistles. They are in some ways the opposite of good elevator pitch material--because they are incredibly easy to make sound less ingenious and imaginative than they are. I don't know of another book that is more deep and more thoughtful about the powers and limitations of the protections offered by someone's love than Juniper, Gentian, and Rosemary. The coming of age story I know that is truest to my own personal coming of age is Tam Lin. And I end up pressing them into people's hands: just try it, I whisper. Just give it a try. Because "it's a ballad retelling" and "it's about the devil's science experiment with a teenage girl" don't really cover it, not in the slightest.

The long wait for a new Pamela book is almost over, and I am so very excited, because I know some things about Going North, and I know it's going to be amazing. And we are so very lucky that she is present and doing these things, and I can't wait to see what next.

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Hurrah, the schedule is available! Here's your closer look at where you can find me:

An Author's Guide to Newsletters. Friday, 2:00, Erie. Angus Watson (M), Lawrence M. Schoen, Marissa Lingen, Patrick S. Tomlinson, Natalie Luhrs. Keeping up with the shifting landscape of social media can be a tall order for busy writers. E-mail newsletters are a simple, effective way to let your most engaged fans know where to find you and your work. Our panelists have tips on how to set up and maintain an effective newsletter.

The Trouble With Susan (and Donna and...). Saturday, 10:00, Ontario. Marissa Lingen (M), Navah Wolfe, Karen Osborne, K. Lynne O'Connor, Cat Rambo. Many beloved genre stories don't treat their female characters well. Our genre is full of stories that punish female heroes with debasement and tragedy and unhappy endings, either implying or stating outright that the heroines with whom we identify were too ambitious for their own good. How do we reconcile our love for these stories and characters with the poison pills that come with them? Can we keep loving stories that don't love us back?

Reading. Saturday, 11:00, Rotunda. A. Merc Rustad, Marissa Lingen, Annalee Flower Horne. I will probably be reading from the story that will have just come out in BCS that week, but who knows. There is no way to find out but to be there. (Or to ask me nicely. often a way actually.)

New Trends in Post-Collapse Fiction. Saturday, 5:00, Dearborn. Marissa Lingen (M), Andrea Johnson, Michael J. DeLuca, Petra Kuppers, Anaea Lay. The prospect of a world where the march of social and technological progress has drastically reversed course seems a lot closer than it used to be. What has changed in the way we imagine post-collapse futures? How do post-collapse futures of the past and present exist in conversation with the social and political worlds in which they were written?

Writing Humor in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Saturday, 4:00, Southfield. Steve Buchheit (M), Tim Boerger, Marissa Lingen, Clif Flynt, Joe R. Lansdale. The Princess Bride is a classic of fantasy humor. What makes humor in speculative fiction work? What "funny books" really aren't? Let's look at American vs. British humor, which topics have aged well (or not so well!), short form vs. novels, and all the other things that make speculative humor more than pies in the face for elves.

Murder, Meanness, and Other Solutions from Deep in the Edit Mines: How to Help Fix Each Other's Work Without Taking Over. Saturday, 8:00, Allen Park. Marissa Lingen (M), Jennifer Mace, K.A. Doore. How can we best use creative teamwork in solo projects? When your writing friends are stuck, where's the line between helpful and pushy? Is murder really the answer to every problem--and is it sometimes helpful to have a friend come through the door of your manuscript with a gun in hand when you don't know what to do next? (Spoiler: yes.) (Spoiler: that friend is Kai.) (This is an Armada extravaganza and by my fifth programming item of the day I expect to be at least a little goofy. Which of course Macey and Kai and I would never be otherwise....)

This has been edited since I first posted it because of times changing. I have no idea whether they will change again. If there's something you want to see particularly, please check the schedule when you get there to make sure it's all where and when you thought.
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The Glow-in-the-Dark Girls, by Senaa Ahmad (Strange Horizons)

The House on the Moon, by William Alexander (Uncanny)

The Oracle and the Sea, by Megan Arkenberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Psychopomps of Central London, by Julia August (The Dark)

The Velvet Castles of the Night, by Claire Eliza Bartlett (Daily Science Fiction)

She Still Loves the Dragon, by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny)

Mountaineering, by Leah Bobet (Strange Horizons)

The Feather Wall, by Octavia Cade (Reckoning)

To This You Cling, With Jagged Fingernails, by Beth Cato (Fireside)

The Mansion of Endless Rooms, by L. Chan (Syntax and Salt)

By the Hand That Casts It, by Stephanie Charette (Shimmer)

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho (B&N SF&F)

Odontogenesis, by Nino Cipri (Fireside)

Octopus, by Martha Darr (Fiyah)

Court of Birth, Court of Strength, by Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Forest Spirits, by Michael J. DeLuca (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Bondye Bon, by Monique Desir (Fiyah)

Contingency Plans for the Apocalypse, by S. B. Divya (Uncanny)

Rapture, by Meg Elison (Shimmer)

Thunderstorm in Glasgow, July 25, 2013, by Amal El-Mohtar (Fireside)

Time, Like Water, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Rubin)

The Word of Flesh and Soul, by Ruthanna Emrys (

Carboundum > /Dev/Null, by Annalee Flower Horne (Fireside)

The Things That We Will Never Say, by Vanessa Fogg (Daily Science Fiction)

Stet, by Sarah Gailey (Fireside)

Furious Girls, by Juliana Goodman (Fiyah)

A Witch's Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies, by Alix E. Harrow (Apex)

The Guitar Hero, by Maria Haskins (Kaleidotrope)

Ten Things I Didn't Do, by Maria Haskins (Pseudopod)

Periling Hand, by Justin Howe (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

More Sea Than Tar, by Osahon Ize-Iyamu (Reckoning)

Five Functions of Your Bionosaur, by Rachael K. Jones (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

Midnight Burritos With Zozrozir, by Rachael K. Jones (Daily Science Fiction)

When I Was Made, by Kathryn Kania (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying, by Alice Sola Kim (Tin House)

The Thing About Ghost Stories, by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny)

A House by the Sea, by P.H. Lee (Uncanny)

The Coin of Heart's Desire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Lightspeed)

Robo-Liopleurodon!, by Darcie Little Badger (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

A Complex Filament of Light, by S. Qiouyi Lu (Anathema)

The Foodie Federation's Dinosaur Farm, by Luo Longxiang (translated by Andy Dudak) (Clarkesworld)

A Cradle of Vines, by Jennifer Mace (Cast of Wonders)

Object-Oriented, by Arkady Martine (Fireside)

Ava Paints the Horses, by Ville Meriläinen (Cast of Wonders)

More Tomorrow, by Premee Mohamed (Automata Review)

The Thing in the Walls Wants Your Small Change, by Virginia Mohlere (Luna Station Quarterly)

The Chariots, the Horsemen, by Stephanie Malia Morris (Apex)

Cerise Sky Memories, by Wendy Nikel (Nature)

Birch Daughter, by Sara Norja (Fireside)

Blessings, by Naomi Novik (Uncanny)

drop some amens, by Brandon O'Brien (Uncanny)

Don't Pack Hope, by Emma Osborne (Nightmare)

Even to the Teeth, by Karen Osborne (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

The Bodice, the Hem, the Woman, Death, by Karen Osborne (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

50 Ways to Leave Your Fairy Lover, by Aimee Picchi (Fireside)

I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise, by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny)

The Court Magician, by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed)

Canada Girl Vs. The Thing Inside Pluto, by Lina Rather (Flash Fiction Online)

it me, ur smol, by A. Merc Rustad

The Sweetness of Honey and Rot, by A. Merc Rustad (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Tamales in Space, and Other Phrases for the Beginning Speaker, by Gabriela Santiago (Strange Horizons)

An Aria for the Bloodlords, by Hannah Strom-Martin (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Sonya Taaffe's די ירושה (Uncanny)

Four-Point Affective Calibration, by Bogi Takács (Lightspeed)

Spatiotemporal Discontinuity, by Bogi Takács (Uncanny)

Yard Dog, by Tade Thompson (Fiyah)

My Name Is Cybernetic Model XR389F, and I Am Beautiful, by Monica Valentinelli (Uncanny)

Dear David, by Yael van der Wouden (Long Leaf Review)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Memphis Minnie Sing the Stumps Down Good, by LaShawn M. Wanak (Fiyah)

Unplaces: An Atlas of Non-existence, by Izzy Wasserstein (Clarkesworld)

Small Things Pieced Together, by Ginger Weil (Robot Dinosaur Fiction)

Abigail Dreams of Weather, by Stu West (Uncanny)

Disconnect, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny)

Ruby, Singing, by Fran Wilde (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

The Sea Never Says It Loves You, by Fran Wilde (Uncanny)

In the End, It Always Turns Out the Same, by A.C. Wise (The Dark)

Fascism and Facsimiles, by John Wiswell (Fireside)

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Years are too big a thing for me to fit in one post, so expect the post about other people's work later this week. This is just the stuff I published and how I feel about it.

Because the reprint of one of the print stories went live today, you have an internet copy available for you to read, hurrah! That's Left to Take the Lead, originally in Analog and now appearing in Clarkesworld. Other Analog stories in 2018 included "The Jagged Bones of Sea-Saw Town," "Finding Their Footing," and "Two Point Three Children." Of those, "Left to Take the Lead" and "Finding Their Footing" take place in the same universe, which they also share with several previous stories.

"The Jagged Bones of Sea-Saw Town" was one of the stories inspired by my 2016 trip to Sweden. Another was Objects in the Nobel Museum, 2075, which appeared in Daily Science Fiction. The stories inspired by this summer's travel are just starting to come clear in my head, so it'll be interesting to see where those go in the next few years.

The next cluster of stories was in Nature. They published Say It With Mastodons, Seven Point Two, and My Favorite Sentience. Usually Nature-length stories are my way of working out science fictional ideas without letting myself get sidetracked, and that was true here, but "Say It With Mastodons" was also an example of my recent musings about collaborative partnership/collaborative romance, and I'm very proud of it.

Uncanny Magazine was also a good home for my writing this year. I did more essays this year than I have in ages, and I liked doing it. Developing that nonfiction voice is definitely on my radar for next year. Work in Uncanny included the essays Hard Enough, The Seduction of Numbers, the Measure of Progress, and Malfunctioning Space Stations. They also published two of my short stories, Lines of Growth, Lines of Passage and This Will Not Happen to You.

"This Will Not Happen to You" was in their special Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction issue, and it was the second of my stories in 2018 that dealt with disability more directly and more personally than I've ever done before. The first was Flow, which found its home in Fireside Magazine. I am so grateful to them for every detail of that, for understanding that story and wanting to give it an outlet and for its beautiful commissioned illustration and all of it. "Flow" was personal. It was terrifying. And it was so very much worth doing.

What else has been going on with my writing in 2018? Well, I finished a novel whose provisional title is The Broken Compass, although I have a whole page of alternate titles in my notebook. (I'm pretty sure that's a good title, but it remains to be seen whether it's a good title for this book.) My astute and energetic beta readers and agent will help me continue to revise this thing, and meanwhile I've made a start on a new novel project as well.

I finished nine short stories--this is why I don't write year-end posts in November, because two of those were in the last week of the year. I've also got several stories waiting in the wings to come out in the early months of 2019, and I'm writing more essays, as I said I would.

To tell the truth, I'm not that great at looking back on things I've done with pride. I'm working on that. This year has helped. But I'm much, much better at looking forward to things I'm going to learn to do better, and this year has helped with that even more. Excelsior.

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Here's my novelette from last summer's issue of Analog, available in Clarkesworld: Left to Take the Lead. I'm so excited for this story to gain new readers, and I hope you enjoy. This is the one with tornadoes, family, trees, outer space...and a lot about how Earth people are so weird, because they are.
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Just under the wire but before the year-end posts--because the year is not yet ended--here's December's Present Writers post. For context on this blog series, see the first post, Marta Randall, or subsequent posts about Dorothy Heydt, Barbara Hambly, Jane Yolen, Suzy McKee Charnas, or Sherwood Smith.

Nisi Shawl is a great example of a writer who has grown, changed, and expanded her horizons--and other people's--long past her debut. If I'd been writing this post a few years ago I could have talked about her impressive short story career, or about her crucial work in teaching writers to think kindly and accurately beyond their own experiences with works like Writing the Other  (co-authored with Cynthia Ward) and workshops on the same topic. I could have talked about her work as an anthologist, particularly in anthologies that focus on various specific marginalized voices or on tributes to greats of the field like Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany. Shawl has been quite ground-breaking enough in those areas.

But two years ago she gave us her first novel to appreciate, Everfair. A steampunk alternate history focused on central Africa (specifically the Congo), Everfair uses multiple points of view to bring balance and nuance to the possibilities she shows us. Everfair helps point out the choices we make every day to improve the world for all people--or not--and the ways that our views of history shape those choices. It is profoundly hopeful and just plain fun to read. I'm excited to see where Shawl will go next, and how it will teach those who want to learn and illuminate more of the world for those who want to see.

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Review copy provided by the editor, who is also a personal friend.

This anthology was conceived as a light antidote to current moods--an escape, a lovely frothy escape. Where it succeeds at that, it succeeds brilliantly. Stand-out stories for me included Marie Brennan's "The Şiret Mask" (reprinted from Beneath Ceaseless Skies and no less excellent in this venue), Francesca Forrest's "Gown of Harmonies," and Layla Lawlor's "Gilt and Glamor." These were extremely different stories--one urban fantasy/contemporary--and each hit its marks very well indeed, as one would hope from a themed anthology (but as one often doesn't find). Though I often look askance at editors including their own work in an anthology, Sherwood Smith's own "Lily and Crown" was a very strong element of this volume, which wouldn't have been half as good without it--I'm a sucker for stories of revolution and independence, and this was one.

Some of the stories that were not as much for me were more a matter of personal inclination--nothing wrong with them, just not my sort of thing. A few more were on a weird line--acknowledging the reality of slave ownership for slaves but continuing to focus on the slave owners' fancy parties is not really going to work for me, and I feel that while it's entirely period that people were insensitive about terms for Roma people, we need to be careful about how and when we think it's necessary to do that in stories written now. I had some larger issues with Marissa Doyle's "Just Another Quiet Evening at Almack's," though. It had assault as a central event but not, in some senses, a central theme; the way it was handled was simultaneously light-hearted (which is far better for the anthology topic than for this story element) and victim-blaming. Young girls cast attraction charms on themselves, the silly things! and then get assaulted by men of all ages, with a strong attitude of "they should have known better, this is what they get." This is the razor blade in this particular dish of sherbet. I wish there wasn't one. I wish we could have an entire anthology of light-hearted stories about dancing without this particular element. Maybe in the next try. There's a lot else that's good in this book; I just could do without this one element.

Please consider using our link to buy It Happened at the Ball from Amazon.

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Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black: Stories. This is a gripping and beautiful collection that wanders in and out of speculative tropes and social discussion. I think it's not marketed as SFF but rather as literary, but he plays beautifully on the beach that belongs to both (rather than walled-off sandboxes for each) and I think writers from that entire continuum could enjoy and learn here. Recommended.

Paul Alpers, What Is Pastoral?. This did not do what I hoped, which was talk about modern forms of the pastoral. He did start to form a model of pastoral that goes beyond Shepherd Poems, spotting commonality in some interesting 19th century works, so it wasn't worthless, it just...didn't go as far as I wanted it to.

Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls. Briseis's part of the Iliad retold from her perspective. This book does an amazing job of pointing out the horrors of war in a way that doesn't prioritize one gender or another, but be warned, it is sexual violence front to back, that is the thing it's doing. Also there are bizarre, gross, ahistorical moments of fatphobia, just thrown in for spice I guess, with care.

Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic. Sometimes you really want the YA trope of "we have just figured out that the system is rigged and what are we going to do about it," because, welp, here we are. In this case that trope is set among magic trials, and the ending is satifsyingly un-pat. Relationships--not just smooching, friendships, family relationships--take a very high priority here. I raced through it and am looking forward to the sequel.

Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States. I picked up this book on the theory that I was interested in anything Jill Lepore wrote, and now I am interested in nothing Jill Lepore writes ever again. That is how bad this book was. It had bizarre inclusions and maddening exclusions. Lepore's choices reinforce a lot of standard "large overview" models that reinforce all sorts of misconceptions, with major movements often treated as mysterious forces of nature because she hasn't bothered to discuss what led to them. The labor movement, the conquest of Native territories, most things west of the Mississippi...okay, let's be honest, most things west of Syracuse...not present. A complete misreading of Desk Set, and honestly, I love Desk Set, but why is it here? A sure-footed and substantially wrong-headed focus on the last 15 years at the expense of the entire second half of the nineteenth century AND the entire second half of the twentieth century. Supposedly parallel constructions with drastically slanted language. I startled the dog several times with my out-loud reactions to this book ("NO--not you, not you Ista, good dog"). Assertions that would take another 800-page book to actually support went in blithely, unchallenged and unfootnoted. And almost all of this is directly relevant to modern political interactions. What a terrible book. So incredibly disappointing. I only finished it so that I could be authoritative about how bad it was, and it just kept getting worse.

Anna-Marie McLemore, Blanca and Roja. Modern Latina version of Snow White and Rose Red, with swan shifters and tree affinities and a diversity of gender and sexuality. Charming and lovely.

Nuala O'Faolain, Are You Somebody: The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman. This is substantially about digging herself out of the hole that the mid-twentieth century left Irish women in, and surveying the wreckage upon her family. There was a lot of unpleasantness here that somehow didn't add up to a bad book, but I spent most of the time reading it sad for O'Faolain.

Daniel Jose Older, Dactyl Hill Squad. Alternate history Civil War-era New York with dinosaurs, orphan kids of color having dino-related adventures against racist miscreants. Great fun, especially if you have someone in its target age range to share with.

Mary Beth Pfieffer, Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change. Do you want to scream endlessly? Because the stuff this book covers will do that for you. Not the book itself; Pfieffer is level-headed and thorough. But tick-based diseases are NO JOKE, friends, and worth knowing about in horrifying detail. (Horrifying. Really, really bad.)

Dominic Smith, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. This literary novel weaves together the lives of two women who work as painters, one in the seventeenth century and another, who is also a scholar and critic, in the middle of the twentieth (going on to her later life in the early twenty-first). I liked each and both, the way that they were finding their way in their work around various life obstacles, quite different in different eras and yet with a thread of commonality. The ending fell a bit flat for me, so I can't jump up and down and recommend this as thoroughly as I'd like, but it was still worth reading.

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Bonnie S. Anderson, Joyous Greetings: The First International Women's Movement, 1830-1860. This was lovely, an examination of how and why women were coming together to demand rights in that period, what their focus was, where they fell short of making their movement work for everyone. It's too early a volume for the word "intersectional" to come up, but Anderson is both clear and blunt about racism when she sees it and attempts to discuss class issues and other intersectionalities quite thoroughly. I got a few more ideas for people to download from Project Gutenberg, and more to sigh over since the translations aren't there.

Fatimah Asghar, If They Come For Us. Searing amazing lovely poems about the Partition and modern experiences of immigration that mirror some of its effects. Both personal and political. I'm so glad I read this.

Christelle Dabos, A Winter's Promise. This YA fantasy has many prose hallmarks of being translated from the French, but I don't mind that. It started out with the magic system feeling potentially enchanting and captivating, but I ended up frustrated with the ponderous length of it and the politics of it--both internal to the book and the way it sits with actual politics. Among other things, this is one of those books where He Won't Tell You Anything--And Will Be A Controlling Jerk All The Time--But He Has His Reasons And Really He Loves You And Also What About His Tragic Past. And I am getting less and less patient with books that recapitulate abusers' narratives with romantic trimmings.

Anne de Courcy, The Husband Hunters: American Heiresses Who Married Into the British Aristocracy. I would not usually have picked this book up at all, but de Courcy generally knows her stuff and can be counted on to get into some social analysis like: was this successful, why did it happen beyond the simplistic explanations etc. Also it was not terribly long.

Anya Johanna DeNiro writing as Alan DeNiro, Tyrannia. These were fine enough stories for most of the volume but were not really grabbing me...until I got to the last one, that makes it a keeper. It's a weird metafictional meditation that completely works for me.

Seth Dickinson, The Monster Baru Cormorant. Discussed elsewhere.

N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky. There's a reason these have won so many awards. They are so very brilliantly done, and their planetary/geomagic is amazing, and the relationships are wrenching and loving and horrible and great. I'm glad I finished this series.

Porochista Khakpour, Sick: A Memoir. Khakpour gives us a tour of her life through the lens of figuring out her health problems. If you have chronic health issues yourself, the difficulty with diagnosis and treatment will feel so familiar, as she hits setback after setback and finally arrives approximation. A regimen that sort of works unless it doesn't. Which is pretty familiar too. She doesn't have to pretend that she is a perfect person who did everything--or even everything health-related--right. There are no Good Cripple narratives here. And what a blessing that is.

Naomi Mitchison, When We Become Men. So what an odd thing this is. Mitchison apparently got very involved with Botswanan independence, to the point of getting herself in trouble with the colonial authorities. When We Become Men is a coming of age story for young African men (and a bit for women) struggling toward self-rule. I think that if you only read one book about the struggle of various African nations toward independence, it shouldn't be this one (it should be written African person), and if you only read one Naomi Mitchison novel, it shouldn't be this one either (at the moment I'm going for Travel Light, but stay tuned). But. As another piece in a couple of larger puzzles, it's very interesting indeed. Caveat: rape is a topic throughout this book and while reasonably important to the book, it is...I am not entirely comfortable with the handling of it, particularly with my own ignorance of how emotionally accurate it is to the cultures it was representing at the time.

Danez Smith, Don't Call Us Dead: Poems. I had already read the title poem of this collection, and it was brilliant and searing and amazing. Then the rest of it made me sob out loud and run around DMing links to poems and putting them up in various chat spaces. It was apparently a great month for me to read poetry, because I highly recommend this as well.

Rebecca Sugar et al, Steven Universe: Punching Up, Steven Universe: Too Cool for School, and Steven Universe: Anti-Gravity. These were a bit of a mixed bag, and frankly even the first of them (which was the best in my estimation) would have been a weak and minor episode of SU. However, as SU methadone they did fine. Do you want a side story about Steven going to school, or one about Pearl taking on a wrestler persona to team wrestle with Amethyst? That's what's here--but because it's definitively side material, they can't put anything of ongoing resonance in the way they do with the episodes that sometimes seem on the surface to be side issues. Oh Well.

Howard Waldrop, Horse of a Different Color: Stories. I just could not be arsed to care about these stories. I could see that they were well done in their way, and I read them, I didn't skip past them, but...this is very much not for me, I'm afraid.

Laura Weymouth, The Light Between Worlds. Okay, so. If you are a person who, for example, knows what year rationing ended after WWII, you should go into this knowing that there are a few moments where that kind of historical-cultural detail will have slipped. However. Depending on your reaction to that sort of thing--or to these particular instances of that sort of thing--it may not matter. It didn't really matter for me, but I mention it because I know several of my readers will be unable to not see those details. For me, the heart of the story was spot on. And that's the story of two sisters trying to build lives in a world that isn't quite what they expected it to be. The two and their brother had a very Narnia-like portal fantasy adventure, and there are bits of that in here in flashback, but mostly it's about how they adjust--or fail to adjust--to coming back again. To having to go through puberty a second time, to the ideas and possibilities and priorities that come with postwar Britain instead of a magical forest land. And to having been through not just one war but two--having met war wherever they went. And there are so very very many emotionally true moments about that kind of trauma and about dealing with other people you love whose reactions to trauma are different from yours. (Also the stag imagery omg.)

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Toward the end of the last several years, I heard a lot of people talking about how glad they would be to see the year go, how the next one had to be better. I'm not hearing that this year, and I don't think it's because 2018 has been all lollipops and rainbows, or even candles and saffron buns. No. I think it's that there has been a slow realization that we are living in a dark time. That positive change is not going to come all at once with the turning of the year. We all knew that, I think, but...there's knowing, and there's knowing.

When you know something is wrong, identifying it can be such a relief. A lot of my friends with disabilities and other health issues have talked about this--how happy they were to get a diagnosis, how others didn't always understand that and would be upset on their behalves. But upset is a reaction for if you thought nothing was wrong and suddenly got the news that something was. When you know something is wrong and now you know what...well. You can find coping mechanisms. You can begin to plan. Maybe you can even fix it--which is much harder when you don't know something is wrong in the first place.

And here we are in the dark of the year. Santa Lucia Day has come around again. And the reason I started doing these posts twelve years ago (!!!) is that Santa Lucia Day is a holiday that comes before the solstice. Firmly and canonically before. We light the candles, we make the lussekatter, knowing that there is more and deeper darkness to come.

And we do it anyway. Because this is what we do. Because this is who we choose to be for each other.

There's often a song in my head for Santa Lucia Day, other than the traditional one, and this year it's Case/Lang/Veirs "I want to be here" ( "Not bracing for what comes next" sounds good to me...especially because I feel like being present with each other, just that, gives us the strength to deal with what's next without having to flinch from it. And don't we all need to hear that the hungry fools who rule the world can't ruin everything? They can't. There is bread, there is hope, there is work to make things better. Even when all we can do for a minute is be here together.

I kept the idea of making lemon curd from last year. That strand of caring for someone else that helped with caring for myself ended up working very well for me, and I'm looking forward to continuing with it. This year I'm about to try the result of kneading the dried blueberries into the saffron bread instead of placing them on top. I'm hopeful. But I'm also willing to keep iterating. I'm willing to keep trying to make things better, acknowledging setbacks along the way, acknowledging that the path to better is not always smooth.

The other thing I tried this year: last week there was a different saffron bread. This one was savory, stuffed with olives and tomatoes and cheese and prosciutto. It worked on the first try, not perfect but good, and I now have another means of sharing with others, another bread of light in a dark time. Not a replacement. Just another angle to try, and we need all of those we can get. And...maybe having the blueberries protected in some dough will keep them from falling away. It's worth a try.

Sometimes the people we love are faltering in the dark, and there's not that much we can do to help except be there and bear witness. Sometimes there's more. We can stumble on wanting so badly to help. Sorting out which situations are which takes practice.

We're getting a lot of practice, these dark days. We are here. We reach for each other. We learn how to do it better, and sometimes we fail, but even when we don't, we have more darkness to get through.

But we do it together. And that makes all the difference in the world.

I bake too much for myself every Christmas, and I do it on purpose, knowing that these cookies will go to that dear one, that this bread is for another, that the experimental fudge (...stay tuned...) for yet a third. Because we don't light the candles for just ourselves, we don't sing to just ourselves. That's not how any of this works.

Thank you for being the lights in my darkness, this year, next year, all the years. Happy Santa Lucia Day.

2007: and
2006: -- the post that started it all! Lots more about the process and my own personal lussekatt philosophy here!


Dec. 12th, 2018 06:34 am
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New story out this morning! Daily SF has published Objects in the Nobel Museum, 2075. Go, read, enjoy!

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