One more actually

That is, I have one more 2017 publication, according to the cover date on this magazine that just arrived. The Winter 2017 issue of On Spec is available for purchase, and in it is “A Lab of One’s Own,” a story I co-wrote with Alec Austin. This one was a long time coming and is related to an even older story of ours, “The Young Necromancer’s Guide to Re-Capitation,” so if you enjoyed that one, here you go!

ConFusion programming schedule

Here’s my schedule for programming items at ConFusion convention in Novi, Michigan, January 18-21:

12pm Friday Isle Royale
The Care and Feeding of Your Subject Expert

Writing science fiction and fantasy requires a ton of research. Having the internet at our fingertips makes it easier than it used to be, but sometimes we need to ask an expert. Many folks are delighted to geek out about their specialties, but we still need to do due diligence, respect their time, and make sure we’re asking the right questions. How do you find qualified experts? Do you approach them with prepared questions? When is it ethical to pick someone’s brain for free, and when should you insist on compensating your expert?

5pm Friday Isle Royale
Disaster Response in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Many SFF stories feature cataclysmic events, both natural and man-made, that rain destruction on civilian populations. We’re accustomed to seeing the camera spend a few moments “looking for the helpers” as our heroes crash through occupied buildings or drop mines on the Klingon fleet, but what about the hours and days that follow? What opportunities do science fiction and fantasy present to educate and reflect on disaster response processes in the real world?

10am Saturday Charlevoix
Pacifism in Speculative Fiction

Representations of pacifism in speculative fiction are often unsympathetic and/or unrealistic. It seems that the only way a character can be a pacifist and a hero is if they’re not a pacifist at all. Shephard Book’s pacifism in Firefly dissolves into kneecapping bad guys as soon as the plot requires it, and Charles Xavier gets called a pacifist when he funds and trains a private army. Who are our favorite real pacifists in speculative fiction, and how can speculative fiction contend with the conflict of being a pacifist in a violent world without running for the easy conclusion that pacifism is naive, selfish, and unsustainable?

4pm Saturday Charlevoix
Reading: A. T. Greenblatt, Marissa Lingen, Izzy Wasserstein

I am still taking suggestions for what to read here, but so far my favorite ideas are unpublished flash or the first chapter of one of my novels. Fitting it into a time slot with two other people means sharing well, so getting the entirety of a non-flash short story read is pretty much a non-starter.

The email I got listed me as doing autographs after that, but I find that short story writers don’t have a fabulous time at autographings, so I intend to…not. So if there’s anything you want me to sign at ConFusion, by all means accost me and I will sign it, but not in the time slot provided.

Short stories I read and liked in 2017

Well. Here it is, all of them together. I make no pretense of reading everything. I make no pretense of giving you a Top Ten; I am not David Letterman, and why should I be. What I do is like the things I like, and point at them. This is a lot, and I thought about just pointing at the composite posts from over the year, but you know what? No. Stand as you are able and be counted, stories I like. Other people can worry about their awards ballot. Everyone on this list has just won the Marissa Award of I Read That and Liked It, and when I went to put the link in I thought of it again and went ooh, oh, that one yesssss.

I am mortally certain that there were wondrous things I didn’t get to. Things that will be collected and I will say that was 2017? I didn’t read it then, how did I miss that? And that makes me so happy, knowing there is more still out there. I was perpetually book-short as a child. This feeling of abundance: it is so satisfying.

There were things by people I have known over a decade, friends who have sat in my chairs and eaten my food and drunk my drink. And that pleases me, I like it when my friends do things I like. And there were things by new friends, people I’d just met, people I met after I liked their things and said so, even. People I could greet with, oh yes, you had that thing about topic, I liked that. But what makes me even happier, in this tiny world that is folded funny that is speculative fiction publishing, is that I still don’t know all of these people. I still had not heard all of these names, not by a long shot. And that means there are all sorts of wondrous people out there making wondrous things I can’t even make a stab at anticipating yet.

Yay. Do that, wondrous people. Do that more.

What to Expect from the Large Hadron Collider as a college roommate, Betsy Aoki, Uncanny
The Old Woman Who Hands You An Apple, Betsy Aoki, Uncanny
“Lanny Boykin Rises Up Singing,” Jess Barber, Reckoning 2
The Last of the Minotaur Wives, Brooke Bolander, Tor.com
Feeding Mr. Whiskers, Dawn Bonanno, Fireside
2067 Transcript of Found Audio Interview, Adrienne Maree Brown, Riverwise
Her Hands Like Ice, KT Bryski, Bracken
Search History, K. T. Bryski, Daily Science Fiction
Crown of Thorns, Octavia Cade, Clarkesworld
The Atomic Hallows and the Body of Science, Octavia Cade, Shimmer
And the Village Breathes, Emily Cataneo, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
With Cardamom I’ll Bind Their Lips, Beth Cato, Uncanny
“The Bull Who Bars the Gate to Heaven,” Zella Christensen, Reckoning 2
Pipecleaner Sculptures and Other Necessary Work, Tina Connolly, Uncanny
Dire Wolf, Michael J. DeLuca, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
The Lies I’ve Told to Keep You Safe, Matt Dovey, Daily Science Fiction
Junebug’s Magical Magnificent Mercurial Barbershop, Malon Edwards, Fireside
“Rumplestiltskin,” Jane Elliott, Reckoning 2
The Robot Who Liked to Tell Tall Tales, Fei Dao, Clarkesworld
Man-Size, Gwynne Garfinkle, The Sockdolager
The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom, Max Gladstone, Tor.com
The Last Cheng Beng Gift, Jaymee Goh, Lightspeed
“Excavate,” Melody Gordon, Fiyah Issue 4
“Barbara in the Frame,” Emmalia Harrington, Fiyah Issue 4
Prosthetic Daughter, Nin Harris, Clarkesworld
We Came Here to Make Friends, Martha Hood, The Sockdolager
A Late Quintessence, Justin Howe, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Le Lundi de la Matraque, Claire Humphrey, Strange Horizons
Regarding the Robot Raccoons Attached to the Hull of My Ship, Rachael K. Jones and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, Diabolical Plots
Packing, T. Kingfisher
“Earthspun,” Krista Hoeppner Leahy, Reckoning 2
elemental haiku by Mary Soon Lee
The Compassion of the Pheasant Lord, Leena Likitalo, Lackington’s
“The Last Exorcist,” Danny Lore, Fiyah Issue 3
Red Bark and Ambergris, Kate Marshall, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Ruin Marble, Arkady Martine, Mithila Review
Flare, Kathryn McMahon, Ellipsis
Making Us Monsters, Sam J. Miller and Lara Elena Donnelly, Uncanny
If a Bird Can Be a Ghost, Allison Mills, Apex
And Sneer of Cold Command, Premee Mohamed, The Sockdolager
The Water and the World, Premee Mohamed, Mythic Delirium
Learning to See Dragons, Sarah Monette
National Geographic on Assignment: the Unicorn Enclosure, Sarah Monette, PodCastle
The Stars That Fall, Samantha Murray, Flash Fiction Online
Stealing Tales, Mari Ness, Daily Science Fiction
Plain Jane Learns to Knit Wormholes, Wendy Nikel, Flash Fiction Online
Birth, Place, Brandon O’Brien, Uncanny
They Will Take You From You, Brandon O’Brien, Strange Horizons
The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, Finbarr O’Reilly, Clarkesworld
The Cold, Lonely Waters, Aimee Ogden, Shimmer
That Lingering Sweetness, Tony Pi, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM, Rebecca Roanhorse, Apex
“Riley and Robot,” Arnica Ross, Fiyah Issue 4
For Now, Sideways, A. Merc Rustad, Diabolical Plots
Suddenwall, Sara Saab, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Stories We Carry on the Back of the Night, Jasper Sanchez, Mithila Review
Elemental Love, Rachel Swirsky, Uncanny
Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategy of the Common Octopus, Bogi Takacs, Clarkesworld
A Lovesong from Frankenstein’s Monster, Ali Trotta, Uncanny
Sun, Moon, Dust, Ursula Vernon, Uncanny
“Fourth-Dimensional Tessellations of the American College Graduate,” Marie Vibbert, Reckoning 2
Twelve Pictures from a Second World War, Nghi Vo, Strange Horizons
A Burden Shared, Jo Walton, Tor.com
Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand, Fran Wilde, Uncanny
The First Stop is Always the Last, John Wiswell, Flash Fiction Online
You Can Adapt to Anything, John Wiswell, Daily Science Fiction
“Cracks,” Xen, Fiyah Issue 3
Auspicium Melioris Aevi, JY Yang, Uncanny
Texts from the Ghost War, Alex Yuschik, Escape Pod

Short stories I’ve enjoyed: the end of 2017

This is not my year-end post! This is just the stuff I read and liked toward the end of the year. Year-end is still coming! Brace yourselves, kids. There’s…a lot. It’s been a good time to read short fiction.

The Old Woman Who Hands You An Apple, Betsy Aoki, Uncanny
“Lanny Boykin Rises Up Singing,” Jess Barber, Reckoning 2
The Atomic Hallows and the Body of Science, Octavia Cade, Shimmer
And the Village Breathes, Emily Cataneo, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
“The Bull Who Bars the Gate to Heaven,” Zella Christensen, Reckoning 2
Pipecleaner Sculptures and Other Necessary Work, Tina Connolly, Uncanny
The Lies I’ve Told to Keep You Safe, Matt Dovey, Daily Science Fiction
“Rumplestiltskin,” Jane Elliott, Reckoning 2
“Excavate,” Melody Gordon, Fiyah Issue 4
“Barbara in the Frame,” Emmalia Harrington, Fiyah Issue 4
Le Lundi de la Matraque, Claire Humphrey, Strange Horizons
“Earthspun,” Krista Hoeppner Leahy, Reckoning 2
“The Last Exorcist,” Danny Lore, Fiyah Issue 3
Ruin Marble, Arkady Martine, Mithila Review
Flare, Kathryn McMahon, Ellipsis
Making Us Monsters, Sam J. Miller and Lara Elena Donnelly, Uncanny
The Water and the World, Premee Mohamed, Mythic Delirium
Learning to See Dragons, Sarah Monette
National Geographic on Assignment: the Unicorn Enclosure, Sarah Monette, PodCastle
Stealing Tales, Mari Ness, Daily Science Fiction
The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, Finbarr O’Reilly, Clarkesworld
“Riley and Robot,” Arnica Ross, Fiyah Issue 4
Elemental Love, Rachel Swirsky, Uncanny
A Lovesong from Frankenstein’s Monster, Ali Trotta, Uncanny
“Fourth-Dimensional Tessellations of the American College Graduate,” Marie Vibbert, Reckoning 2
Twelve Pictures from a Second World War, Nghi Vo, Strange Horizons
The First Stop is Always the Last, John Wiswell, Flash Fiction Online
“Cracks,” Xen, Fiyah Issue 3
Texts from the Ghost War, Alex Yuschik, Escape Pod

Books read, late December

Sarah Gailey, The Fisher of Bones. A grim and affecting fantasy novella about the leader of a group of people on a trek across a wasted landscape. Gailey’s previous novella, with the hippos, was not exactly pure joy, but was a lot of fun. This is a different tone completely, displaying her range. It’s very dark. Very, very dark. Well done, but…brace yourself.

Tessa Gratton and Karen Lord, Tremontaine Season 3, Episodes 10 and 11. Discussed elsewhere.

Rodney Hilton, Bond Men Made Free. The first half of this book is a history of peasant uprisings in medieval Europe, the second specifically a history of the British peasants’ revolt of 1381. As it is not a long book, both halves were interesting, but I could have done with twice as much of each. There is not a sufficiency of peasant uprising history running around, though, so we take what we can get I guess. There’s a lot of discussion of what worked and what didn’t, in which ways peasants got which rights when, how they conceived of what they were asking for and when they just flailed angrily and why, etc.

Justina Ireland, Troy L. Wiggins, et al, Fiyah Issues 3 and 4. One of the lovely things about Fiyah is that I can read it purely as a fan, not being eligible to submit. That being the case, I have no idea how their issue themes hit their authors, whether they feel inspiring or frustrating from the author side. From the reader side, I think they’re succeeding admirably at picking things that are broad enough and deep enough to give a body of work that feels united without feeling samey. The specific stories I loved best will show up in my short story recommendations post, but I’m definitely glad to have a subscription here for the next year.

Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties. Oh, these stories. I had read some of them, most I had not. And they just…unfolded beautifully, relentlessly. The title is perfect. I think the one that hit me the most, the best, started out feeling like a catalog of lovers, like a mimetic story, and…went from there into something far more speculative. But there’s so much here. This is another example of the hype I heard being absolutely worth it. I was entranced.

Peter Marshall, The Magic Circle of Rudolf II: Alchemy and Astrology in Renaissance Prague. Weird book about a weird man. A lot of this was background and biography, trying to put Rudolf II in his context in his place and time with the Habsburg family and Austria and Spain and…hoo. That era. They were in that “we are figuring stuff out!…we really don’t have stuff figured out!” era, when “maybe pour mercury on it!” was as good an idea as anybody had. “It might be a comet who knows!” Yes sure give that a look. This is not an outstanding book on the topic, but if you’re really enthusiastic about the topic, well, here we are.

Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia. This is a history of the concept of human rights, and a discussion of a) why people associate it with the 1940s, b) why the 1970s were actually an even stronger time for its rise, c) other aspects of human rights as a global concept/focus. Interesting, far more focused on those two decades than I expected, not too long and not too abstruse. Made a good case for human rights as a social minimum rather than a social maximum when figuring out a society.

Jeannette Ng, Under the Pendulum Sun. Oh, this one was lovely. It’s about missionaries to fairyland, a missionary and his sister more accurately, and it has all sorts of grounding in what missionaries actually were like and did, and also all sorts of grounding in what old fairy stories were actually like before they got prettified, and as a result there are strange and dark and terrifying things going on here, many of them human. Captivating, thoroughly recommended.

Ada Palmer, The Will to Battle. Discussed elsewhere.

Milorad Pavic, Dictionary of the Khazars. This is a Serbian novel in translation, a somewhat Ruritanian novel in encyclopedia entries. It would be another mildly interesting entry alongside the others I like of that type–I am a sucker for Ruritanian novels–except that being Serbian ends up distinguishing it extremely, because when Anglophones try to set a Ruritanian novel in that part of the world, they quite often attempt to leave out religion, or at least dash past it with a glancing blow. Pavic has no interest in that. Dictionary of the Khazars is in three sections for the three largest religions of that area, and quite often each section will have different things to say in its encyclopedia entry about a person or element of “Khazar” life. The shape of thing comes out distinctive and interesting, coming together at the end with a bang.

Molly Tanzer, Creatures of Will and Temper. I critiqued this book in draft and loved it then, so I saved the polished version for when I knew I would want something I would enjoy. This, it turns out, was prescient; nothing gets you through a six hour airline delay while recovering from multiple illnesses like a book you already know you like but haven’t gotten in quite its final form yet. This is a book of fin de siecle art world, family relationships, fencing, and diabolism. It’s fun. It’s got significance and depth and the ending goes straight to me–in ways that I can claim no credit for, because Molly had nailed it the very first time I saw it. I’ve been wanting to be able to rec this book for two years now, and here it is. Yay.

Lynne Thomas, Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trotta, et al, Uncanny Magazine Issues 18 and 19. These were two very strong issues, and I had notes on which stories I really loved from them, and…those notes went wandering when I was in the process of recommending stories on Twitter. I have them for my big short story recommendation post! So it’ll be in there! Short version is: enjoyed them, glad I subscribe so I don’t miss things in passing, but it does mean that I’m less likely to read things in passing because I know I’ll get there eventually.

Deborah Weisgall, The World Before Her. This is a novel with two parallel time streams, one of which is about George Eliot adjusting to her late life marriage, the other about a sculptor in the ’80s whose marriage is not really working. The details of her art work are delightful, and both timelines actually end up working fairly well for me, although I have to confess that since I have recently read Middlemarch the main effect of this book is to make me want to read Daniel Deronda. There are worse effects for a book to have.

Emily Wilson translating Homer, The Odyssey. Yes, this is counter to my usual policy of listing the author first. But come on, we all know that it’s Homer’s Odyssey…and we all know that this translation being by Emily Wilson is immensely important and immensely specific. This just feels so clear on the page. I didn’t struggle with the Fitzgerald Homer I read in college–I don’t ever recall feeling like this was hard material–so the clarity I mean is aesthetic, like sparkly water. The focus on hospitality, the characters getting to be characters, even the slaves. This is just a joy to read. I’m so glad of it.