A List of the Short Fiction I Read Before Nominating for the Hugos

Immediately after making my post about Hugo nominations on Friday, I realised what I was doing was dumb. If I read and enjoyed all these stories, why was I avoiding naming them? I should be pointing them out and telling people to read them. But as I read a lot more good stories than could fit on the ballot – and I’m still not sure I was able to pick the best 5 of each – here’s my list of all the eligible work I read, with the nominated stories highlighted. As far as I know everything on this list is freely available to read online, except for the Gregory and Sriduangkaew novellas.

Everything listed here is at least worth checking out, if you’re interested in good short fiction.

Novella

We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon Publications)
What There Was to See, Maria Dahvana Headley (Subterranean)
Scale-Bright, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Immersion Press)

(I would usually hold off on nominating if I hadn’t read enough to feel like I was giving a category a fair chance, but for some reason this time I decided to just go ahead and nominate all three of the eligible novellas I read.)

Novellette

Prayers of Forges and Furnaces, Aliette de Bodard (Lightspeed Magazine)
The Litany of Earth, Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com)
Nine Instances of Rain, Huw Evans (GigaNotoSaurus)
Between Sea and Shore, Vanessa Fogg (GigaNotoSaurus)
“A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon a Star”, Kathleen Ann Goonan (Tor.com)
Stone Hunger, N K Jemisin (Clarkesworld)
The Rose Witch, James Patrick Kelly (Clarkesworld)
The Bonedrake’s Penance, Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
I Can See Right Through You, Kelly Link (McSweeney’s)
Reborn, Ken Liu (Tor.com)
Women in Sandstone, Alex Dally MacFarlane (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Among the Thorns, Veronica Schanoes (Tor.com)
Golden Daughter, Stone Wife, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Sixty Years in the Women’s Province, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (GigaNotoSaurus)
The Colonel, Peter Watts (Tor.com)
The Devil in America, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com)

Short Story

As Good As New, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)
Covenant, Elizabeth Bear (Hieroglyph/Slate.com)
When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami, Kendare Blake (Tor.com)
Daughter of Necessity, Marie Brennan (Tor.com)
The Breath of War, Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
The Moon Over Red Trees – Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

Loving Armageddon, Amanda C. Davis (Crossed Genres)
The Color of Paradox, A M Dellamonica (Tor.com)
Anna Saves Them All, Seth Dickinson (Shimmer)
A Tank Only Fears Four Things, Seth Dickinson (Lightspeed Magazine)
Chopin’s Eyes, Lara Elena Donelly (Strange Horizons)
Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land, Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com)
When it Ends, He Catches Her, Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction)
The Tallest Doll in New York City, Maria Dahvana Headley (Tor.com)
A Meaningful Exchange, Kat Howard (Lightspeed Magazine)
The Saint of the Sidewalks, Kat Howard (Clarkesworld)
Makeisha in Time, Rachael K Jones (Crossed Genres)
Seeking boarder for rm w/ attached bathroom, must be willing to live with ghosts ($500 / Berkeley), Rahul Kanakia (Clarkesworld)
If God is Watching, Mikki Kendall (The Revelator) *
Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead, Carmen Maria Machado (Lightspeed Magazine)
The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family, Usman T Malik (Qualia Nous/Medium.com)
Ten Days Grace, Foz Meadows (Apex Magazine)
Polynia, China Miéville (Tor UK)
Animal, Daniel Jose Older (Nightmare Magazine)
Anyway: Angie, Daniel José Older (Tor.com)
Undermarket Data, An Owomayela (Lightspeed Magazine)
The Hymn of Ordeal, No. 23, Rhiannon Rasmussen (Lightspeed Magazine)
Autodidact, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Clarkesworld)
That Tear Problem, Natalia Theodoridou (Escape Pod)
Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points, JY Yang (Clarkesworld)
A Cup of Salt Tears, Isabel Yap (Tor.com)

*Unfortunately I forgot to note down this story after reading it, and was not reminded of it until the day after nominations closed, so it wasn’t considered while filling out my ballot.

No doubt there are good works I’ve completely missed, and no doubt there are people who will think I’m a fool for picking certain stories over others on my ballot. It’s all subjective, and it’s hard as hell to narrow down to 5 choices. All too late to change now. If you’ve not read these stories, check them out, and enjoy.

In Which I Ramble On About Hugo Nominations

The nominating period for the Hugo Awards ended on Tuesday. Last year I made a point of posting my initial and final nominating ballots, but this year I’ve been silent here, although I tweeted about the process plenty. It’s too late now to offer recommendations, and I doubt posting my ballot would be all that interesting now. Instead I thought I’d just talk about it generally.

The big difference between this and last year is that I was making nominations in the short fiction categories – novella, novelette, short story. I’ve never read a whole lot of short fiction, but this year I tried to save anything I saw recommended, and I read something like 50 stories in those categories. There were a whole lot more I didn’t get to.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t always have a lot of awareness of what venues have published the stories I’m reading. I save everything to the Pocket app, and read them in there. So Sunday, when I started on my ballot, involved a lot of googling the story titles and a little cut and pasting into Word to find out wordcount. As it turns out, a lot of good stories came from Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a couple of which ended up on my ballot.

Picking 5 to go on a ballot is not easy. I had only read 3 novellas, it turned out, so there wasn’t much to do there. I’m mainly wondering if Benjanun Sriduangkaew will make the Novella cut, and what kind of drama will ensue. The rest of my reading was split evenly between short stories and novelettes. There’s a reason these categories have a hard time getting enough nominations on the ballot: there are way too many good stories for everyone to have read, and the choice of what to nominate is very subjective. My ballot changed several times in the last few days of nominations, including the addition of stories I only read on the last day. There are a few I wish I’d found time to read.

I don’t know if it’s possible to predict what will make it onto the short story or novelette ballot. I saw Aliette de Bodard’s The Breath of War mentioned in a few places (one of two Bodard stories on my ballot), and Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Devil in America seemed popular – but who knows what will have come to voters’ attention, and what will fall afoul of the 5% rule. Votes get spread very thin in short fiction. Kelly Link published a story last year, I Can See Right Through You, and that perhaps is the only thing I’d be willing to place a bet on.

Best Novel was a little unusual this time. I did something some people don’t like, and nominated two complete trilogies on my ballot (Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach and Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky). It’s within the rules, and precedent was set by Wheel of Time last year, but I’m still not sure if it was the right choice. Ancillary Sword got on there too, and I’m expecting it’ll make the final ballot. Like last year, I wasn’t entirely confident in my last picks, but everything I put on was good enough. Again, I failed to read everything I’d hoped to in time: I haven’t read Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven, or Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem, both seemingly strong contenders.

Beyond the writing categories, my ballot wound up a little thin. Dramatic Presentation: Long Form is too predictable this year. Short Form I failed to really come up with anything for – Legend of Korra is getting buzz, but they haven’t even released season 3 on DVD over here yet, so I’m two seasons behind. I’m sure Doctor Who will be on the ballot as always (“Listen” will be the top pick, and maybe the Christmas special), Game of Thrones will have “The Mountain and the Viper”, and who knows, maybe Agents of SHIELD will make the cut. I couldn’t pick anything, so the only thing I nominated was an episode of Orphan Black.

Graphic Story is the only other category I made a full set of nominations for. Saga is all but guaranteed a spot on the ballot at this point; the rest will be interesting to see, as this was a very good year for comics. Ms Marvel is a title I’d be happy to see make it. Some posts elsewhere have me wondering if Sex Criminals will appear on the shortlist. I don’t know if any Doctor Who related comics were published that could steal a spot. Who fans are nothing if not committed to the cause, and they managed it last year.

Whatever the results, we’ll find out in a few weeks. All I know for certain is that there’ll be drama on social media come Easter weekend.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine

Inspired by Grimm fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses”, Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club tells the story of twelve sisters in prohibition-era New York. Kept hidden away at home by their father – who worries that his inability to produce a male heir will affect his social standing – the girls find their outlet in sneaking out at night to go dancing. Life becomes more complicated for the girls, however, when their father becomes suspicious, and decides it’s time he started to marry them off.

Told from the perspective of the eldest sister, Jo, much of the novel is about the balance she tries to strike in keeping her sisters together and helping them cope with their closed in lives. Jo knows that they are better off together even if it means they have no true freedom, and keeping them together like this has resulted in her sisters seeing her as cold, and a proxy for their distant father (whom several of the girls have never met). Her sisters call her the General, and she doesn’t allow them to see how she sacrifices her own happiness to keep her family together.

Valentine does a good job in giving each of the twelve girls distinct personalities, so that I never got confused about who was who. The older girls get more attention – they were the first around, the first to go out to the clubs, and the first for whom their father tries to make matches – but all but perhaps the youngest are given enough to feel rounded, individuals stuck living closely with so many others.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is a story about family, about the sacrifices one makes for those you love, and about keeping your strength and your independence when it would otherwise be taken from you. It’s also an entertaining look at the culture of the illegal dance halls, and how they managed to function despite prohibition.

It’s quite possibly my favourite of the 2014-published books I’ve read. I’d urge anyone to get a copy and read it. I’m only disappointed it isn’t SFF, so I can’t stick it on my Hugo ballot.

What’s in the Box?

Back in December, I made a donation to Worldbuilders – a charity started by Patrick Rothfuss that raises money for Heifer International, and gives out donated items as prizes to lucky donors. A few weeks later, I got an email telling me I was one of the lucky ones and asking for my address. And today, I got home and found this waiting for me:

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I had no idea what to expect, as I’d checked most of the boxes on what kind of prizes I’d be interested in. I decided to livetweet the unboxing, which ended with this:

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That’s a copy of board game Journey to the Center of the Earth, and a signed copy of graphic novel Porcelain. I’m eager now to try out the game next time I’m at Newcastle Gamers.

So this post is just to say thank you to Worldbuilders, and congratulations on raising $882,156(!).

Reading Statistics 2014

I was thinking of skipping my annual look at the stats of my reading in 2014, but today I read this article from Book Riot on reading diversely, and decided to go ahead and post some stats again.

This is based on the books in this post, and includes The Godless, which I began in 2014 but only finished yesterday. I’m not posting Excel graphs this time, just dropping the numbers.

Total books read: 25
Year of Publication: 2011 (1), 2012 (1), 2013 (10), 2014 (13)
Most common genre: Epic Fantasy
Most common author nationality: USA (20, 80%)
Books by non-male authors: 17 (68%)
Books by non-white authors: 4 (16%)
Books with non-male PoV characters*: 22 (88%)
Books with non-white PoV characters: 17 (68%)

*I have included one book in this count in which the gender of the protagonist is never specified.

It is interesting to note that this is the first year of tracking these numbers where the number of books I read by female authors was higher than the number by male authors. In the past it has been very much skewed in the other direction. I feel like the sample size is too small to really read much from these numbers, but I can say that I think representation in terms of race and gender within the books I read this year was pretty good. Obviously there was a strong lean toward white authors, however, which is something to think about.

I would have included sexuality of characters in this post, however I have not tracked those details and found I couldn’t decide where to place things from memory alone. Sexuality of authors seemed like it might be a little too personal to dig into.

Read in 2014: Comics & Graphic Novels

In contrast to the book list, I read a lot of comics this year. I’m actually thinking about cutting down, because it’s an expensive habit. As usual I generally only read in trade collections and not issues.

Rachel Rising vol. 3-4 – Terry Moore
Irredeemable vol. 3-6 – Mark Waid, Peter Krause, et al
Saga of the Swamp Thing books 2-6 – Alan Moore, John Totleben, Stephen Bissette, et al
Hyperbole and a Half – Allie Brosh
Amelia Cole and the Unknown World – Adam P. Knave, D. J. Kirkbride, Nick Brokenshire, et al
Wonder Woman vol. 1-4 – Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chang, et al
Batgirl vol. 1-3 – Gail Simone, Ardian Siaf, et al
Ten Grand vol. 1 – J Michael Straczynski, Ben Templesmith, C F Smith
The Unwritten vol. 8-10 – Mike Carey, Peter Gross, et al
Dial H vol. 2 – China Miéville, Albert Ponticelli, Dan Green
Prophet vol. 3 – Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis, et al
Red Sonja vol. 1-2 – Gail Simone, Walter Geovani, et al
Saga vol. 3-4 – Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Rat Queens vol. 1 – Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
Batwoman vol. 4 – J. H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman, et al
Sex Criminals vol. 1 – Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
Pretty Deadly vol. 1 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, et al
The Movement vol. 1-2 – Gail Simone, Freddie Williams II, et al
By Chance or Providence – Becky Cloonan
All You Need is Kill – Nick Mamatas, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Lee Ferguson
Young Avengers vol. 1 – Kireon Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, et al
Velvet vol. 1 – Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser, et al
Lazarus vol. 1-2 – Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Santi Arcas, et al
Avengers: The Enemy Within – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Scott Hepburn, et al
This One Summer – Jillian & Tamiko Tamaki
New X-Men Omnibus – Grant Morrison et al
Mara – Brian Wood, Ming Doyle, et al
Black Widow vol. 1 – Nathan Edmondson & Phil Noto
The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, Becky Cloonan, et al
Rocket Girl vol. 1 – Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder
Fantastic Four Ultimate Collection Books 1-4 – Mark Waid, Mike Wieringo, et al
Runaways Complete Collection vol. 1 – Brian K Vaughan, Adrian Alphona, et al
Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley
Afterlife with Archie vol. 1 – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla
Wraith – Joe Hill & Charles Paul Wilson III
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man vol. 1-2 – Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, et al
Blue is the Warmest Colour – Julie Maroh
Superior Spider-Man vol. 1-6 – Dan Slott, Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, et al
Leaving Megalopolis – Gail Simone, Jim Galafiore, et al
Moon Knight vol. 1 – Warren Ellis, Declan Shelvey, et al
Through the Woods – Emily Carroll
Hawkeye vol. 3 – Matt Fraction, Javier Pulido, Annie Wu, et al
Captain Marvel vol. 1 – Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez, et al
She-Hulk vol. 1 – Charles Soule, Javier Pulido, et al
Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega – Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
Ms Marvel vol. 1 – G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, et al
Blacksad: Amarillo – Juan Diaz Canales & Juanjo Guardino
Captain America: Winter Soldier – Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, et al
The New Avengers – Brian Michael Bendis, et al
Chew, Omnivore Edition vol. 4 – John Layman & Rob Guillory
Newt – Nicholas Mahler & Hans Wolf
The Suitcase – Dan Berry
The Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath – H P Lovecraft & I N J Culbard
The Wicked + The Divine vol. 1 – Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
Three – Kieron Gillen, Ryan Kelly, et al
Strong Female Protagonist book 1 – Brennan Lee Mulligan & Molly Ostertag

And I’m glossing over a hell of a lot of people with “et al” there – Jordie Bellaire stands out on particular as a colorist on a lot of those titles – but there are often too many contributors to list them all.

Read in 2014: Books

A short list this year, only 26 books. I really stalled and stopped reading much after about August. I did however read a lot more new books this year – starting off by reading 2013 releases for my Hugo nominations, then reading a bunch of new 2014 books during the year. There’s a lot of very good fiction on this list.

Ancillary Justice – Ann Leckie
Rupetta – N A Sulway
Vicious – V E Schwab
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
The Shambling Guide to New York City – Mur Lafferty
Parasite – Mira Grant
The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson
A Stranger in Olondria – Sofia Samatar
Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer
The Last Weekend – Nick Mamatas
Authority – Jeff VanderMeer
The Name of the Star – Maureen Johnson
Neptune’s Brood – Charles Stross*
Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes
Range of Ghosts – Elizabeth Bear
Shattered Pillars – Elizabeth Bear
Steles of the Sky – Elizabeth Bear
Acceptance – Jeff VanderMeer
Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor
The Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley
Scale-Bright – Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Lock In – John Scalzi
The Republic of Thieves – Scott Lynch
Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie
City of Stairs – Robert Jackson Bennett
The Godless – Ben Peek*

* I’m still only about halfway through The Godless, and Charles Stross’ Neptune’s Brood is one of the only books I’ve ever abandoned without finishing.