30 March 2018 ~ 0 Comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Get Out (Ray Bradbury Award Finalist)

Just a few days ago I reviewed most of the Ray Bradbury Award finalists (an award that is held alongside the Nebula Awards for movies), but I didn’t review Get Out because I hadn’t quite gotten a rental of it yet.  Just before the Nebula voting deadline, I’ve watched it and slipped in the review–the voting deadline is tonight!

Get Out is a thriller/horror film written by Jordan Peele and distributed by Universal.  It won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and was on the final ballot for Best Film of 2017.

Photographer Chris Washington reluctantly agrees to accompany his girlfriend Rose Armitage to her parent’s isolated rural estate.  Chris worries that her parents won’t be welcoming of a black man dating their white daughter.  He meets her neurosurgeon father Dean and hypnotherapist mother Missy and brother Jeremy, who all (unsurprisingly to Chris) make discomfiting comments about Black people.  There are a lot of things that are… off about the Armitages and what goes on on their property.  Their servants (both Black) (Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel) are oddly intense and hostile toward him, and Missy repeatedly pushes Chris to let her hypnotize him out of his cigarette habit.  One night, when he comes back into the house after sneaking a smoke, Missy catches him alone and seems to hypnotize him, but he wakes up sure it was a dream.  The next day the Armitages have company, a yearly gathering of all their friends, and things only get weirder.

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12 February 2018 ~ 0 Comments

2017 Hugo/Nebula Award Recommendations!

Having previously listing out award-eligible works that were written or published by me, here is my list of works that I think you might want to consider for Hugo and Nebula awards that were not written or published by me.

I’m working mostly from the Hugo Award categories, with a focus on fiction categories.

The Short Story category is the one that means the most to me, so to help suggest more reading for anyone interested, I’ve listed 10 stories instead of 5.

I left out the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, because I know a lot of amazing people on that list and I don’t want to make people feel bad they got left out (but I’m still going to have to pick 5 for my actual ballot!).

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02 January 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Award Eligibility Post 2014

And now the gratuitous award eligibility post–feel free to skip over it if you’re not interested, but figured there might be someone out there who might want to see it. This post covers works by Diabolical Plots and by me personally.

From time to time people ask me if they can nominate the Submission Grinder. In the past, I thought the answer was “no” because most of the awards seemed to be very publisher focused–so the best way I thought to try to recognize the Submission Grinder would be to nominate Diabolical Plots. But there ARE a couple categories the Submission Grinder qualifies for in some awards, so I’ve listed those two first.

And just to be clear, no I don’t really think we have a shot at anything, but I see no reason why I can’t mention what we’re eligible for.

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20 October 2014 ~ 2 Comments

Movie Review: Her

Back in April I reviewed the Ray Bradbury Award nominees for the years as their deadline for nomination approached–I reviewed all the ones I could get my hands on, but there was one movie that wasn’t yet released on DVD–titled “Her” written and directed by Spike Jonze.

The movie takes place in 2025 in a world that’s very recognizable, but with some differences–holograms being commonplace and artificial intelligence has advanced to stages we haven’t reached yet. The protagonist is Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) who writes heartfelt letters on behalf of complete strangers for hire. He has just upgraded his personal operating system–which is more than just an OS in the way that we use the phrase and more of a personal assistant. He chooses for the OS to have a female voice (voiced by Scarlett Johanssen) and she names herself Samantha. He hits it off with Samantha and soon their relationship becomes more than just user-computer. Theodore is lonely, having little personal contact with anyone and clinging to the threads of an estranged marriage which he has been stalling on signing the divorce papers to end. He does have one friend Amy (Amy Adams) who is also struggling with her relationship.

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26 March 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Review: Nebula Novelette Nominees

written by David Steffen

And the next category up in Nebula nominees, voted by professional SF and fantasy authors, stories from 7500-17,500 words. As I work my way up in the category lengths I generally enjoy less of the stories because the longer categories could often do with significant trimming.

So I was surprised and pleased after only really digging one of the stories in the Short Story category, that this category did much better.

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23 September 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Interview: Ken Liu

ken_liu_smallIf you’ve kept up with science fiction publications in the last few years, you’ve probably at least heard the name Ken Liu. Dozens of his stories have been published just in the last couple of years in the biggest and best SF publications out there today, including F&SF, Analog, Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Daily Science Fiction… The list goes on and on. He won the Hugo for “Mono No Aware” this year. He won the Hugo and the Nebula for “The Paper Menagerie” last year, one of my personal favorite stories I’ve read in years. I just read a fun story by him on the Drabblecast titled ” Call of the Pancake Factory”, about a representative of a certain supercorporation amusement park happening to cross paths with a cult of Cthulhu–great story. He’s on a roll, and showing no signs of stopping. He’s a great writer and you should check out his work if you ever get a chance to read it.

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13 May 2013 ~ 1 Comment

The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies Podcast 2012+

Beneath Ceaseless Skies continues to be a great source of fiction set in a secondary world. This list encompasses all of their podcasted stories since my last list in March of 2011, about 38 episodes. Keep in mind that they only podcast about half of their stories, so check out their text if you want to get the full backlog.

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08 April 2013 ~ 0 Comments

Review: Nebula Novelette Nominees 2012

On to the next category of the Nebula awards, the Best Novelette, which covers fiction between the word counts of 7,500 and 17,500 words. Generally I’m not a big fan of novelettes because to me they feel like short stories that have overstayed their welcome. Even though they can be more than twice as long as a short story I rarely feel like they have more meaningful content than a short story and so the story is just diluted in a larger space. It’s an awkward length, I think, not enough room to spread into more plot arcs like a novel would do but too long for the appealing conciseness of a short story.

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18 March 2013 ~ 2 Comments

Review: Nebula Short Story Nominees 2012

This is the first, and quite possibly the only, year that I’ve been eligible to vote for the Nebula Awards. The Nebula Awards, for those who don’t know, are one of the biggest awards of science fiction fandom. This is the one voted by members of Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America, as opposed to the fan-voted Hugo awards.

So to make the most of it, I’m reading as many of the nominees as I can find to do before the voting period ends. Here are my rankings of the Short Story category in order of preference from favorite to least (for the voting I pick only one, but to flesh it out as a full review I found this helpful). The Short Story category covers all speculative fiction stories of 7500 words or less.

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11 January 2013 ~ 0 Comments

My Hugo/Nebula Picks 2012

I’m a bit of an odd duck in my reading habits, in that I ready only a small niche of the types of stuff out there, but I read that very deeply. Almost all of my fiction intake comes from fiction podcasts, which are all Short Story categories, but are often reprints from previous years which are not eligible. I do read novels, but have not read any written in 2012 yet, because I am a slow read and because I re-read the entire Wheel of Time series that pretty much took all year, in preparation for the 2013 release of the final book.

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