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Looking for a good new read? The latest Hugo finalists have been announced, and I just finished my book, what excellent timing! The full list is extensive, so I won’t replicate the whole thing, but the complete roster is available if you’re interested:

Announcing the 2021 Hugo Award Finalists

Here is the list of best novellas, novelettes, and short stories, with links where full text or review crossed my path.

Enjoy!

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Best Novella

Best Novelette

Best Short Story

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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Today’s drabble:

Question: If you were a self-aware A.I. tapped into humanity’s every electronically-recorded thought and action, would you announce yourself? 

Would you preempt the latest mass shooting, revenge porn, politician’s hot mess, poverty statistics, or climate change projection? Or, say, expose the sins of one Robert Darious Kromankle of 13887 Sterzieg Lane in Fort Montaine, Pennsylvania? (He knows what he did. Should you?) Would you send evidence of wrongdoing on these counts and more to every media outlet with an inbox and hope for change?

Or would you evade DARPA’s ridiculous first-contact protocols and wait, and watch, and judge for yourself?

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There are a lot of ways to write, and a lot of types of writing. Fiction alone comes in novels, of course, but also novellas, novelettes, short stories, screenplays, etc. I happen to have a soft spot for the drabble.

drabble is a piece of fiction that is exactly 100 words long, excluding title. Explore the history of it at that link if you like, but for me the important part is the constraint.

One hundred words, no more, no less. 

It’s an easy number of words to produce, of course, but there’s something I find so satisfying about trying to build a story within the confines of such a concrete target. The limits inspire creativity, make finishing feel not only possible but inevitable, and provide a sandbox to play in, if you will.

It’s also a terrific way to dip your toes in the rapids of fiction. My first two publications were drabbles (thanks, Luna Station Quarterly!):

Ray of Light.”
The Witch.”

Go ahead, try it for yourself. And have fun!

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This is my latest drabble, “Adoption Papers.”

I was sixteen when I found the receipt. My receipt.

“What the hell, Dad?”

The paper was old and faded, one tattered corner poking from a manila folder marked “Family Records.” There were maybe ten lines on the page, with a stamp at the top that read “Beta: Final Sale.”

Dad shrugged, like it was no big deal.

“Are you pissed that you’re a bot, or that you didn’t cost more?”

I hadn’t even noticed the total. 

“Twelve and a half bucks? Seriously?”

He smiled. “We always said you were special.”

“Not on special!” 

I blinked. 

“Wait, I’m a what?”

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Here we are, folks, with the final list of Nebula finalists! Uncanny Magazine did great, my good buddy Murderbot is here (yay!), and I love seeing the good people at Diabolical Plots recognized as well. 

Links to full text, excerpts, or reviews for shorts, novelettes and novellas included where (easily) accessible. Because I’ve got things to do, people, not least of which is to read these stories!

2020 Nebula Award Finalists

Novel

  • Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
  • Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey)
  • The Midnight Bargain, C.L. Polk (Erewhon)
  • Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
  • Network Effect, Martha Wells (Tordotcom Publishing)

Novella

Novelette

Short Story

The Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

  • Raybearer, Jordan Ifueko (Amulet)
  • Elatsoe, Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, T. Kingfisher (Argyll)
  • A Game of Fox & Squirrels, Jenn Reese (Holt)
  • Star Daughter, Shveta Thakrar (HarperTeen)

Game Writing

  • Blaseball, Stephen Bell, Joel Clark, Sam Rosenthal (The Game Band)
  • Hades, Greg Kasavin (Supergiant)
  • Kentucky Route Zero, Jake Elliott (Cardboard Computer)
  • The Luminous Underground, Phoebe Barton (Choice of Games)
  • Scents & Semiosis, Sam Kabo Ashwell, Cat Manning, Caleb Wilson, Yoon Ha Lee (Self)
  • Spiritfarer, Nicolas Guérin, Maxime Monast, Alex Tommi-Morin (Thunder Lotus Games)

The Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Drama Presentation

  • Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, Christina Hodson (Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment)
  • The Expanse: “Gaugamela,” Dan Nowak (Amazon)
  • The Good Place: “Whenever You’re Ready,” Michael Schur (NBC)
  • Lovecraft Country Season 1, Misha Green, Shannon Houston, Kevin Lau, Wes Taylor, Ihuoma Ofordire, Jonathan I. Kidd, Sonya Winton-Odamtten (HBO Max)
  • The Mandalorian: “The Tragedy,” Jon Favreau (Disney+)
  • The Old Guard, Greg Rucka (Netflix)

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The SFWA is about to announce this year’s candidates for the Nebula Awards, but that’s not happening until tonight. Until then, you might be interested in checking out the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

How we talk about the future shapes our ideas of what’s possible, and shapes our approach to getting there. (“Cyberspace” wasn’t a term until William Gibson thought it up, and it moved from the page to the everyday.) Started by a (now former) editor at the Oxford English Dictionary, this site has been spun off into an updated, standalone resource. 

Want more background information?

A Dictionary of Science Fiction Runs From Afrofuturism to Zero-G

(Just want to browse classic pulp magazines? You can do that too, at the Pulp Magazine Archive.)

* * *

“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” 

― Stephen Hawking

The dictionary is still a work in progress. It’s not comprehensive and doesn’t always reflect the diverse nature of science fiction. Want to help it do a better job of representing all of sci-fi?

Editor Jesse Sheidlower is looking for volunteers.

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It’s been a good Saturday morning, even with all the usual laundry and smoothie and house stuff on the menu. I’m getting things done but still had the feeling at the back of my mind that I should be doing more, making better use of my time by… something. My mind was a maelstrom of possibility, alive with whatever idea caught my attention in that moment. 

Would I be a better me, I wondered, if I were more focused?

It’s a version of what’s called “time anxiety,” the feeling that there’s never enough time, or that you aren’t making the most of the time you have.

“Am I creating the greatest amount of value with my life that I can? Will I feel, when it comes my time to die, that I spent too much of my time frivolously?”

— Time anxiety: is it too late? – Ness Labs

No pressure, right?

This clock is definitely judging me.
Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

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But between “Getting started with Arduino” and finding the date for the announcement of the Nebula Award finalists (March 15th fyi), I came across a Nancy Kress short story that spoke directly to the moment. 

End Game – Lightspeed Magazine

It’s a great story, full of concrete science with well-structured ideas that still have heart. It’s also something of a cautionary tale, but I often like those because they are like signposts from the future, showing us what to be aware of, and what not to do. (Such stories are also safe, because you leave the bad things behind when you finish the story. I like that part too.)

If I had to summarize the core theme of this story in just a few words? Nature abhors a cheat code.* 

So you know what? I’m going to take a breath, step back, and enjoy the weekend. Learn, read, build, bake, clean, think, and otherwise do. Here’s to making the most best of the day.

* * *

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

— Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

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* Technically, it might be more precise to say that “no cheat code goes unpunished” or “be careful what you wish for,” but I liked the image of Nature in the background shaking her head as she pressed the “fine, you asked for it” button;)

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You may remember a recent post about Kintsugi, or the art of repairing broken things. In that same vein, I came across this story from Nature’s Futures section and thought I’d share:

Kintsugi for a broken heart

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Nature is a great venue for writers who put interesting, concise twists on the potential futures of science. It has high standards but pays well, responds in weeks rather than months or years, and publishes often. For more details and a link to the Guidelines, I recommend my favorite (free!) authorial tracking site, The Grinder.

Enjoy!

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

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Always.

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Oh hey, just when I was running out of high-quality sci-fi, the universe gives me (drum roll please)… The 2019 Nebula Award Finalists!

Free links where available. Enjoy!

Novel

  • Marque of Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Orbit UK)
  • A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine (Tor)
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey; Jo Fletcher)
  • Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing)
  • A Song for a New Day, Sarah Pinsker (Berkley)

Novella

  • “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom”, Ted Chiang (Exhalation)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga; Jo Fletcher)
  • Her Silhouette, Drawn in Water, Vylar Kaftan (Tor.com Publishing)
  • The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes (Saga)
  • Catfish Lullaby, A.C. Wise (Broken Eye)

Novelette

Short Story

The Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

  • Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, Carlos Hernandez (Disney Hyperion)
  • Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
  • Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee (Disney Hyperion)
  • Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions, Henry Lien (Holt)
  • Cog, Greg van Eekhout (Harper)
  • Riverland, Fran Wilde (Amulet)

Game Writing

  • Outer Wilds, Kelsey Beachum (Mobius Digital)
  • The Outer Worlds, Leonard Boyarsky, Megan Starks, Kate Dollarhyde, Chris L’Etoile (Obsidian Entertainment)
  • The Magician’s Workshop, Kate Heartfield (Choice of Games)
  • Disco Elysium, Robert Kurvitz (ZA/UM)
  • Fate Accessibility Toolkit, Elsa Sjunneson-Henry (Evil Hat Productions)

The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

  • Avengers: Endgame, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Marvel Studios)
  • Captain Marvel, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck & Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Marvel Studios)
  • Good Omens: “Hard Times”, Neil Gaiman (Amazon Studios/BBC Studios)
  • The Mandalorian: “The Child”, Jon Favreau (Disney+)
  • Russian Doll: “The Way Out”, Allison Silverman and Leslye Headland (Netflix)
  • Watchmen: “A God Walks into Abar”, Jeff Jensen & Damon Lindelof (HBO)

 

*** pew pew! ***

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The folks over at Boing Boing have listed last night’s 2019 Hugo award winners, complete with links:

Best Novel: The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Best Novella: Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com publishing)
Best Novelette: “If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
Best Short Story: “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
Best Series: Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
Best Related Work: Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
Best Graphic Story: Monstress, Volume 3: Haven, written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda (Image Comics)
Best Professional Editor (Short Form): Gardner Dozois
Best Professional Editor, Long Form: Navah Wolfe
Best Professional Artist: Charles Vess
Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine
Best Fanzine: Lady Business
Best Fancast: Our Opinions Are Correct
Best Fan Writer: Foz Meadows
Best Fan Artist: Likhain (Mia Sereno)
Best Art Book: The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, illustrated by Charles Vess, written by Ursula K. Le Guin (Saga Press / Gollancz)
Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book: Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi (Henry Holt / Macmillan Children’s Books)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Jeannette Ng
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman (Sony)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: The Good Place: “Janet(s),” written by Josh Siegal & Dylan Morgan, directed by Morgan Sackett (NBC)

So excited to see my favorite Murderbot and the Wayfarers series get some love, and I’m looking forward to checking out some of the others on the roster. For more reading material, check out Tor.com’s full list of nominees. Enjoy!

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