BOOK REVIEW: FIX by Ferrett Steinmetz

written by David Steffen

FIX is the third book in the ‘Mancy series by Ferrett Steinmetz.  Before I go any further, if you haven’t read the previous two books, FLEX and THE FLUX, I would recommend stopping now and consider reading the earlier books (I reviewed them here and here respectively).  There’s been enough backstory and worldbuilding in the first two books that I think starting with the 3rd book might not be the best way to read the series, and it will spoil a bunch of the major plot moments in the first books as well.

The world of the series involves private, individual magic systems based on obsessions.  If someone believes something strongly enough, the universe will change to accomodate those beliefs.  But there’s a catch–every change to the natural world comes with a rebound of equal magnitude that comes in the form of bad luck, the flux.  Small change, maybe your flux will make you stub your toe.  Big change, maybe someone you or someone you love will die in a freak accident.  Because of the unpredictable and dangerous nature of both the ‘mancy and the flux blowback, ‘mancy is illegal everywhere in the world, enforced by government controlled SMASH teams, using teams of brainwashed hivemind ‘mancers.

At the end of THE FLUX, the bureaucromancer Paul Tsabo and his family started an underground pro-mancy advocacy group.  Along with him are his friend who had trained him in ‘mancy, the videogamemancer Valentine DiGriz, his daughter Aliyah who is also a videogamemancer, his wife Imani a former corporate lawyer who handles much of the planning, and Robert Paulson (Valentine’s boyfriend and former Fight-Club-‘mancer).

Because ‘mancy is illegal, they are constantly on the run, holding secret rallies while dodging SMASH raids.  Eight years have passed since the last book, and Aliyah is 16 years old and would be in high school if she weren’t a known ‘mancer on the run.  As the book starts, Aliyah’s family is trying to carve out a bit of normalcy for her in the world, letting her join a soccer team in a small town in Kentucky.  But what starts out as a pleasant if nervous day quickly goes south and they find themselves on the run again.

This book does get quite a bit darker than the previous two.  The stakes are higher and the dark moments are darker.  It all makes sense as an escalation of the series, since the last book had ended with the group of characters secretly having ‘mancy powers to being actively hunted by SMASH.  But the stakes are raised in other ways that I don’t want to get too much into here because there are a lot of surprised in the plot.

As with the previous books, one of the big appeals for me is the videogamemancy–Valentine DiGriz is of an age where she grew up on many of the video games that I grew up on, and in these books she uses them very effectively for magic (most often offensive magic).  But Paul’s bureaucromancy has an appeal of its own–subtle and whisper-quiet where Valentine’s is loud and flashy and explosive.  And you never know what kind of ‘mancer you’re going to meet next, since each completely defines their own magic system with the only common element being the flux.

I love all three of these books.  I cannot recommend them enough.  This one is even more epic and heartbreaking and wonderful and amazing than the others.  Ferrett is one of the few authors that I’ll just buy anything they write sight unseen without any blurb or recommendation because he’s just that damned good, and this book is no exception.

 

 

Con Report: WorldCon 74 (aka MidAmericon 2)

written by David Steffen

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I am back from WorldCon 74, also known as MidAmericon 2, which was held in Kansas City, Missouri from August  17-21!  I am back into my normal swing of things and trying to work my way back into the normal everyday types of things that WorldCon wasn’t.

I had such an incredible time.  Sitting at my desk, back in the real world, my brain is still trying to process everything, it has been a very densely packed 4 days.  I am introvert.  I use the word “introvert” in the sense, not that I hate social situations or hate people or anything like that, but that social situations use energy and being by myself recharges energy–as opposed to an extrovert who recharges by being around people and uses energy when they’re alone.  I was expecting to have fun, but I was also expecting to slam into my social limits halfway through each day and then come home feeling like a wrung out washcloth.  But, it seems that in this very specific environment, I am more of an extrovert–most nights when I finally retired to my room the reason was more because of aching legs and knowing that I should try to get some sleep than being unable to cope with the social scene anymore.

I arrived at the hotel around midday Thursday and left around midday Sunday, so I had a solid 72 hours around the premises.  I hear there are a lot of really interesting things to go see in and around Kansas City.  But I didn’t go to any of them, figuring that I had such a limited time here and the people and things I came here for were all concentrated in the area by the hotel and convention center.

The biggest difference in my convention experience between this time and the last time at WorldCon in Chicago in 2012 is that I have become somewhat more notable in the speculative fiction publishing community.
Since 2012:
–The Submission Grinder was launched.
–Diabolical Plots started publishing original fiction and became a SFWA-qualifying market.
–The Long List Anthology was published.

So the biggest difference is that it wasn’t uncommon for complete strangers to actually know of what I do.  Some would recognize me from checking my name badge alone.  Others wouldn’t recognize the name, but if I mentioned the Grinder or someone else mentioned that I run the Grinder then many writers would recognize me, would often say very nice things about the site.  This was a very big difference for me–When I last attended a convention I had had some published fiction and had been running Diabolical Plots for nonfiction-only for 4 years , but those had never spurred this kind of reaction.

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David Steffen and Neil Clarke

In the past, when I was just getting started at writing, I had some miserable experiences at conventions–I just thought they weren’t for me.  I couldn’t seem to get anyone to really talk to me and whenever I tried I just felt like I was shut out by everyone there.  This time around, since I was more well-connected than I’ve been in the past, I tried my best to try to help people have a good convention who looked like they might’ve been in the same boat as I had been when I’d had miserable conventions.  First, if I was standing in a circle of people talking and I saw someone standing outside the circle looking like they wanted to join, I would try to step to one side and wave them in, make it clear they were welcome to join the conversation.  Second, if I was with some people I knew, and I saw other people that I suspected didn’t know each other, I would try to introduce the two groups to each other, maybe with a bit of bragging-up, since it is much easier to talk about another person’s accomplishments than your own.  I feel like these simple practices might’ve helped make the con a little better for some of these people, and I know that when I saw such similar behaviors directed toward me I greatly appreciated the person taking a moment to make my day much better.

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Marguerite Kenner, Alasdair Stuart, and David Steffen

I was namedropped on at least three different panels, and each one was for a different project–this was a novel experience for me.  I have heard secondhand from people who’ve gone to other conventions that the Submission Grinder is often mentioned in panels as a resource, which is great!  I hear that I was mentioned in a Kickstarter panel as an example of someone who has run a successful Kickstarter (for the Long List Anthology last year)–this was before I arrived onsite or I might’ve been there myself.    I hear that I was mentioned in a panel aimed at new writers that in part discussed the topic of how to find markets for your work, and the Submission Grinder was mentioned as a resource–I had intended to attend that panel just to see if I could witness a namedrop for the fun of it, but I ended up seeing a perfect opportunity to hang out with someone I had barely seen yet, so I took that opportunity (and didn’t regret it since my intent to visit the panel was really just a vanity novelty).  And the one namedrop I was there to witness–Finding the Right Podcast For You, in which Alasdair Stuart mentioned the Diabolical Plots “Best Of” podcast list as a good way to get samplings of fiction podcasts… and then he also commented on the shades of pink I was cycling through.  So that was all very exciting.

Aside:  This might be an appropriate time to note that being able to have an unrelentingly wonderful time does not mean that everyone was treated well–see this thread by Alyssa Wong about being targeted by harassment at this convention and a previous one she had gone to.  Alyssa had very positive things to say about how the WorldCon organizers handled it (which is good!) but it is horrible that it got as far as it did–people should know better.  This isn’t rocket science.  Read her thread and other threads that spun off of it if you aren’t aware of this kind of horrible behavior from some small subset of fans.  It’s nasty stuff. I did not see any of this kind of thing happening personally, but it did happen.  It’s not necessarily surprising that I didn’t see or experience it personally, since I am an able-bodied heterosexual white man of unremarkable appearance who is not a household name, and so it would be less usual for me to be the target of such abuse (not impossible, mind you, but less common).  It is a mark of privilege that I don’t generally need to worry about that, and I’m glad that Alyssa Wong and others are willing to talk about this kind of thing still happening, because it’s easy for people who don’t experience it to forget about it or to think it’s not a problem if the people who ARE experiencing it feel like they can’t talk.  On the other hand, since this is a post about my experience of the con, I will leave it at that for now–if you weren’t aware of that thing happening, consider taking some time to read her tweets.  There have been some other tweet streams of interest on the subject of harassment that have run since WorldCon, such as this one by Rachael K. Jones and this one by Julia Rios

My Programming

I wasn’t involved in a lot of programming.  I actually hadn’t thought that I would be on any programming at all–I had applied early in the year and received a rejection quickly after.  But I did end up being in two bits of programming.

Writer’s Workshop

I co-led a critique session with C.C. Finlay (editor of F&SF and a writer), which was a lot of fun.  We read synopses and excerpts from novels by three authors, and then all five of us gave our impressions and we discussed ways that the synopses and excerpts might be improved.  I had never met Finlay before, and it was wonderful to get a chance to not only meet with him but to interact with him for a couple hours to discuss strengths and weaknesses of fiction.  Obviously I can’t say much more than that–these were unpublished novels and the discussion in a private room, so I can only speak about it in generalities.

Fiction Reading

SteffenReadingI was very excited to find out not too long before the convention that I had been assigned a 30-minute fiction reading (Well, 25 minutes, to allow some time to let the next author get prepared).  It… wasn’t what you would call an ideal timeslot, being from 7-7:30 on the night that the Hugo Awards start at 8–so at that time most people who were at all interested in watching would be finding seats in either the auditorium or in some other group viewing area where they were streaming.

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Brian Trent, Benjamin C. Kinney, Thomas K. Carpenter, Marina J. Lostetter, Tina Gower, and Andrea G. Stewart

But to my surprise, approximately 13 people were there just to hear me recite things I made up!  This is a quite large turnout for someone like me who is not well-known for their writing.

Of all the readings by other people that I attended, most people read either one work that fit very closely into the time allotted, or maybe two things, or an excerpt from a longer work.  I flipped through upcoming stories and though I would’ve loved to read part of my upcoming story that will be in IGMS, it is a bit of a sprawling story so that it would be hard to find a representative sample.  And, well, in my opinion my best writing is very short, punchy stories of 500-1000 words.  So, I decided to buck the trend and I ended up reading 5 stories in my allotted time.

I read “My Wife is a Bear in the Morning”, written as an complaint letter to an apartment manager by a man whose wife is literally a bear in the morning (you can hear it in audio at Podcastle).

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Sunil Patel and David Steffen

I read “So You’ve Decided to Adopt a Zeptonian Baby!”, written as a brochure to help those who’ve decided to adopt those invincible alien babies that keep falling from the sky in meteor showers.  (you can hear it in audio at Podcastle)

I read “This Is Your Problem, Right Here”, which is a story about a woman who has recently purchased a  water park and finds that the plumbing doesn’t work properly when she opens in the spring, and it starts as a plumber tells her that this is because all of her trolls have died (the existence of trolls are not common knowledge in this world).  That was originally published in Daily Science Fiction, you can also hear it at Cast of Wonders.

And I read two others that are as-yet unpublished, so I won’t discuss their details here.

The reading seemed to go over well.  I got some compliments, and people said they liked the quick changeups of stories, especially at the end of a long day when everyone was getting tired.

Books

20160820_172557The one book that I knew ahead of time that I was going to buy was The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz.  I already own the book.  I already love the book.  But I only had it in ebook, and I love these books so much I felt like I should have a signed paper copy.  And, since Ferrett was onsite, it seemed best to go ahead and buy it so that I could get him to sign.

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Ferrett Steinmetz and David Steffen

I knew that Ferrett’s next book, the third in his ‘Mancy series, was coming out soon, but that the release date was not for a little while yet.  But Angry Robot Books had the book on sale at their vendor booth!  So, obviously that came home with me too.  And I am SO EXCITED to read it.

So I showed up at the Angry Robot booth to buy The Flux, and knew I had to buy Fix, a very nice man (whose name I didn’t immediately recognize and so didn’t pay all that much attention to) behind the counter told me that I could get a discount if I bought one of the larger form-factor books.  Not really intending to buy a lot of books (because I have such a stack at home, I am a slow reader) I saw that United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas was on display, and I had heard someone talking about how good that was earlier, so that was the first one I picked up.  The guy behind the counter started telling me about it and I tried my best to unrudely say “yeah yeah let me just read the back cover descriptio myselfn” (I hope I didn’t across as rude!  I like taking verbal recommendations from fans of a book but at pretty much any kind of store I would rather just look at stuff without staff discussing everything I look at–it makes me very nervous if I feel like the staff are hovering and I will be much more inclined to scurry away than to buy).  It did indeed sound really interesting, a story where Japan won World War II and ended up in control of the United States.  I glanced at some of the other books, flipped a few over to read the back, but decided that United States of Japan caught my eye much more solidly than the others.  So I decided to buy United States of Japan.  The guy behind the counter rang me up and then offered to sign my book… at which point I of course realized that I was talking to Peter Tieryas, the author of the book I’d just bought, so I laughed at the fact that I had not noticed the matching book cover and name badge and took him up on his offer.  (This concludes my telling of “The Time That I Wouldn’t Let Peter Tieryas Finish Pitching His Book To Me But Then I Bought His Book From Him Anyway Without Realizing He Was the Author of Said Book: A Tale of David Steffen’s Inattention to Detail”)

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Tina Connolly, David Steffen, and Caroline M. Yoachim

Caroline M. Yoachim and Tina Connolly both had book releases from Fairwood Press at WorldCon.  Caroline’s book is a short story collection titled Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World.  Caroline is an incredible short story writer, and consistently hits out of the park for me, so I am buying the ebook for this one.  Tina‘s short story book is a short story collection titled On the Eyeball Floor.  Tina (along with Caroline) is another writer who, when I hear they have something new out, I don’t ask for a pitch I just say “shut up and take my money”.  So, I’m buying that ebook too.  It was quite fun to watch these two launch together–they made it a friendly competition where they made a wager on it and the Fairwood Press vendor table had a running tally sheet of sales.  They ended up tying at the end, which is hilarious and perfect.

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Jon Lasser and David Steffen

I stopped by the freebie table once, at a time when it was a twenty minute wait to get to the table.  After that wait I felt like I had to grab the maximum of three books even though I don’t really need more books.  I saw a stack of Briarpatch by Tim Pratt and grabbed a copy even though I already own and love the book, so that I could give a copy of it away to the next person I talk books with.  I also picked up a copy of Fearful Symmetries, edited by Ellen Datlow, and a short story collection by Matthew Johnson titled Irregular Verbs and Other Stories.

I also had a few extra copies of the Long List Anthology left over from last year’s Kickstarter and I decided that there was no better way to use them than to bring them to WorldCon and give them out to people when I chat with them.  I saved one to give away at my fiction reading and gave three out when it felt appropriate, so that was fun!

Programming

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Kate Baker and David Steffen

I did not attend many panels this time around.  I attended a very select few that were on very specific topics that were very near and dear to my heart or to specifically try to meet some of the panelists that were on my mental list of people that I wanted to meet.

Other than that, I tended to favor readings of authors:  I went to readings by Caroline M. Yoachim, Terra LeMay, William Ledbetter, Loren Rhoads, Stefan Rudnicki, Kate Baker.  And readings of magazines:  Escape Artists, Flash Fiction Online, Asimov’s.

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S.B. Divya and David Steffen

I loved all the readings, but the highlight was the Flash Fiction Online reading, particularly “I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything.” by Laura Pearlman, which was read by a full cast of readers, including Sunil Patel as Graalnak himself, and was a riot to listen to.

As well as kaffeeklatches, which are really just organized hangouts with people of interest–you signup in time to claim one of 9 slots and then you spend 50 minutes hanging out with that person.  I did kaffeeklatches with Kate Baker, Ken Liu, and S.B. Divya.

The People

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Tina Gower and David Steffen

So.  Many.  People.  So wonderful to put faces to names for people that I have known online for years.

I am not even going to try to make a comprehensive list, because there is no way that I will remember everyone and I don’t want those that I do forget to feel left out.  But I will list out a few.

Shortly after rushing to the critique session that I was almost late for, I met up with my writing group friend Doug Engstrom–we’ve swapped critiques and discussion for years, so it was great to meet him in person and to interact with him off and on throughout the weekend.

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Sheila Williams and David Steffen

I got to meet Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir, the masterminds (and mastervoices) behind Skyboat Media.  They are most well known for producing the Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine podcasts, and for performing much of the voice-acting for those productions.  I have a direct professional connection with them in that they produced the audiobook version of the Long List Anthology last year–of which they sold out at their booth during WorldCon.  They both have voices that I have heard for so long in story narrations that it was both wonderful and very weird to meet them in person–I associate their voices so strongly with storytelling that my brain sinks into story listening mode and I kind of had to yank it out of that mode because, hey brain I’m trying to talk to people here!  It was great to meet them and talk business and chat.

Speaking of meeting people whose voices are incredibly familiar to me:  I met Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner.  They are the owners of Escape Artists, which is the parent company of most of my favorite podcasts: Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Podcastle, and Cast of Wonders, as well as the quarterly ebook zine Mothership Zeta.  Alasdair has been on the staff of Escape Artists for more than ten years, and he was the host of Pseudopod at the time that I made my very first fiction sale of all time to Pseudopod and decided that maybe I ought to try listening to the show (which has resulted in an 8 year listening binge of all the podcast fiction I could find that still continues today).  Marguerite is the editor and host of Cast of Wonders.  They are incredible, smart, nice, welcoming, helpful people, and I want to hang out with them forever.

Kate Baker, is another one of those familiar-voiced people and I was happy to get a chance to hang out with her at kaffeeklatch and elsewhere.  (And again with the barely being able to talk because I am so familiar with her voice from podcasts!)

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David Steffen and Dionne Obeso

It was wonderful to meet Sheila Williams, Neil Clarke, C.C. Finlay, Caroline M. Yoachim, Tina Connolly, Martin L. Shoemaker, Marina J. Lostetter, S.B. Divya, Ken Liu, Alyssa Wong, so so many others.

I got to meet a few writers whose short stories I have purchased: Andy Dudak, Tina Gower, Sunil Patel, Jon Lasser, Andrea G. Stewart.  (it makes a handy icebreaker to say “Hi!  I bought your story!”  🙂 )

Meeting people was easily the highlight of my convention experience.

The Hugo Awards

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Host Pat Cadigan and Jan Siegel

The Hugo Award ceremony was held Saturday evening and was hosted by Pat Cadigan.  Cadigan was a wonderful and hilarious host, and really overall the awards went as well as I could have hoped given the ballot they started with.  Lots of awesome things won.  A couple categories got No Awarded (Related Work and Fancast I believe?) but none of the fiction categories which are my main interest in the awards.

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Michi Trota of Uncanny Magazine

Uncanny won Best Semiprozine in its first year of eligibility!  Naomi Kritzer won for Best Short Story for “Cat Pictures Please”!  Hao Jingfang and Ken Liu (who was the translator in this case) won for Best Novelette for “Folding Beijing”!  Nnedi Okorafor won for Best Novella for “Binti”!  N.K. Jemisin won for Best Novel for The Fifth Season!  Neil Gaiman won for Best Graphic Story for Sandman!

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Astronaut Stan Love accepting Campbell Award for Andy Weir
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Astronaut Jeanette Epps accepting Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form for The Martian

The Martian won Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and its author Andy Weir won the Campbell Award!  For each of them an astronaut accepted his award for him and talked about how much The Martian meant to them, that it got the science and the feel of the interpersonal relationships of the astronauts right!

Yes, there are a lot of explanation points in this section, but they are all deserved.  Especially after last year with the fiction categories getting so many No Awards, it was a major relief that all the fiction categories were awarded, and to such incredible people and recipients.

I watched from the very crowded SFWA suite this year, in part because my reading was too close to the ceremony to have much chance of finding a seat.  It… was more than a little cramped, but it worked out pretty well.

The Long List

Most of you who follow me at all already know about the Long List Anthology, but I’ll give a quick rundown for anyone who might not have heard about the project.  Every year, after the Hugo Award ceremony, the Hugo administrators publish the longer list of works that were nominated in each category–approximately 15 including the 5ish that are on the final ballot.  In most years, these works don’t receive a great deal of extra attention even though that longer list makes an excellent recommended reading list.

Last year I launched the Long List Anthology, which published stories pulled from that longer nomination list.  It totalled 180,000 words, about 500 pages in print, and featured some of the most popular contemporary short story authors like Sam J. Miller, Amal El-Mohtar, Elizabeth Bear, Ken Liu, Kai Ashante Wilson, Alaya Dawn Johnson, and others.  The book continues to sell steadily even now, and has sold more than 9000 copies (which is more than the Hugo voting population has been in any year).

The project was so successful last year, that I have decided to repeat the project this year–the list is here.  I am in the process of reading stories in the different categories and sending queries to the authors.  Last year the cover art was reprinted art from Galen Dara.  This year I’m taking that to the next level and commissioning original artwork from Galen Dara.  And I’ve got a few surprise ideas to try out for stretch goals, too.

There will be a Kickstarter to fund the anthology–I look forward to sharing links and the good news with you all–I am aiming for mid-September.

WSFS Meetings

You may not know what WSFS Meetings are, but you’re probably familiar with the Hugo Awards, awards that are nominated and voted on by supporting members of WorldCon.  WSFS meetings are held every year at WorldCon, and they define rule changes to the Hugo Awards.  Anyone who has an Attending WorldCon membership can show up and debate, vote, help decide new categories or nomination rule changes and so on.  I fully intended to go to at least one meeting while I was at WorldCon, because I do value the Hugo Awards and this once-a-year batch of business meetings defines everything.  But…  I was a horrible person and didn’t attend any of them.  Nonetheless, some important rule changes went through this year, which I have been reading about after the fact, so I shall list out some of the more interesting ones (of the ones I understand) and give my reaction.  My primary source for the WSFS Meetings that last couple years has been Rachael Acks’s blog.  Rachael is a writer and editor, and is also involved in WSFS, both liveblogging updates as the meetings happen, and giving summaries and reactions afterward–which gives a very nice place to catch up on what you missed if you can’t or don’t go to the meetings.

Here is a list of the business agenda they started the weekend with, with a daily meeting scheduled from 10am to 1am.  Or for a more informal version with Rachael’s reactions to items, you can check out this page.

I am honestly just catching up on these things now, so it’s entirely possible I got something wrong typing all this up.

Best Fancast category is now a permanent category

The Best Fancast category was defined a few years ago, and has been a trial category that would have expired after this year if it hadn’t been ratified again.  I have mixed but mostly negative feelings about its permanent addition.  I do feel that the Hugo Awards have been slow to consider publications in new media–it took quite awhile for online magazines to be considered seriously and audio-only publications have been slow to start to get some recognition, even when they are publishing original fiction of excellent quality.  When the Fancast category had first come out I was excited that maybe this little niche would encourage more serious recognition.

Part of my disappointment has been that every nominee, except for StarShipSofa, has been nonfiction.  That’s… fine, I guess.  People like nonfiction podcasts, apparently.  But I really want to see fiction podcasts recognized, especially fiction podcasts that pay their contributors and which publish original fiction and don’t need to beg their listeners for votes in every episode.

The rest of my disappointment is that, for my favorite podcasts, it is quite unclear what category they actually qualify for.  They could be a Semiprozine or they could be a Fancast.  The differentiation between the two is not well-defined in the current rules.  If Fancast is supposed to actually be nonfiction, as voters have been treating it, then I would prefer that it would just be defined as such, so that this differentiation was at least clear.  And a common point of confusion is that people assume Fancast is the A/V equivalent to Fanzine, meaning that it’s defining trait is not paying its contributors.  (I have had discussions with people who advocate for the Fanzine category and they insist that this is NOT the defining feature, but according to the rules that are actually used to administer the award that is the main difference).  But the rules seem to imply that Fanzine is also the A/V equivalent to Semiprozine.  And what happens if a publication published in both audio and text?  There is some precedent in Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Clarkesworld and Lightspeed and others who both publish in both and who have gotten Semiprozine nominations, but other publications that also get both like Escape Pod came at it from the other direction and I think most voters think of them differently as a result.

I liked the Escape Artists editorial strategy last year, suggesting that if anyone wanted to vote for them, that EA would prefer they do it in the Semiprozine rather than the Fancast category.  I thought this was a good idea, to encourage the fans to pick one specific side of the equation because one issue with having an ambiguous category is that maybe you have enough fans who want to vote for you to get you on the ballot, but if they’re splitting their nominations across two categories that kind of ruins that chance.  Also, I don’t believe it’s possible to absolutely determine whether something is eligible for one category or the other unless it actually reaches the ballot level–at which point it will either be invited to be on the ballot, or it will be removed as being ineligible.  Either case you’ve learned something which can help future voting, and it may even help push through some changes that better define the rules in the future.

The Five Percent Solution

Prior to this year there has been a requirement that all but the top 3 entries in a category must have at least 5% of the overall vote, or they are simply not on the ballot.  This rule was a bit silly because it caused a reaction to larger pools of award-worthy worker and larger nominating group by REDUCING the category.  This didn’t start hitting the ballots until a few years ago–that’s why you sometimes saw the Short Story category with only three items on it instead of five.

Very glad to see this bit removed from the constitution, so now you’ll see five items no matter what.

Electronic Signatures for Site Bids

Historically WorldCon has kindof been more USA-con.  A lot of people have been trying to put the World in WorldCon and encourage it to be more internationally located.  I’m a proponent of having it be more international (even though I will probably not be able to afford to go to most non-USA located years), and this helps more people vote for it without having to be physically present, so I think this is a positive change toward that goal.

Best Series Category

The idea behind this one is that some people felt that series of books that were remarkable and awesome series may not be likely to be nominated for Best Novel for their individual books.  This category would be for those kinds of books–a series would be eligible after so many words have been published in the series, and would be eligible again after so many words have been published  again after the first nomination.

I… don’t really see the point in this category.  Individual books are already eligible, and if those individual books aren’t winning awards… it doesn’t seem like we really need to define new categories to handle that because maybe just some things are less likely to win, but we don’t need to make new categories for every little thing.

Not only that, but the eligibility would be harder to determine than any other category, since it would depend on when the last nomination for a series was, and how many words were in each book (which isn’t generally immediately obvious).

Nominee Diversity

The idea behind this change is to  prohibit the same entity from being nominated more than one time in a category (in which case I think the highest ranking item for that entity would be on the ballot).   This was probably proposed in part based on John C. Wright’s shenanigans-related 5 nominations of a couple years ago.  But more importantly, to me, this should make the Dramatic Presentation Short Form category much much more interesting, because there are many years where that is effectively the Best Doctor Who Episode category.

I am glad to see this go into the constitution, primarily for the Dramatic Presentation Short Form category.

Two Years Are Good Enough

Presently, anyone can nominate for the Hugos who was a supporting member last year, a supporting member this year, or who has registered already to be a supporting member next year.  This proposal would remove the last of those options.

I don’t have strong feelings about this one–I wonder how many people actually pre-register for next year early enough that they can nominate this year?  Maybe it’s just that my life rarely allows such pre-planning, that I find it hard to conceive this mattering one way or the other.

This passed for the first time, and would need to be ratified next year to go into effect.

YA Award

This has been proposed before as a Hugo category.  This time it was proposed as a not-a-Hugo that would nonetheless be voted for on the Hugo ballot and awarded in the  Hugo Award ceremony with the rest of the Hugos (much as the Campbell Award for Best New Writer is).

This one passed but would need to be ratified next year to become an official category the year after.

It seems positive to me.  YA is important to the genre world because it’s often the first thing that young readers pick up that transitions them into the adult fiction (and adults can love it too).  I think it’s worthwhile to give it its own award.

Three Stage Voting

This was proposed as a way to avoid future Hugo Award shenanigans by adding an extra stage between nomination and the final ballot. The nominations would result in 15 semi-finalists which would be published.  Then voters can upvote the things they think are good enough to be on the final ballot, which eventually becomes a final ballot, and then the final ballot would work now.

One concern I’d originally had was that it would increase admin workload, but it sounds like it might not be much different, especially by taking advantage of some crowdsourced effort.  The middle stage would not have had eligibility verified, so the voting group can help point out ineligible works.  And the nominated entities would only be checked for their interest in the ballot between the 2nd and 3rd stages, so that cuts down on “waiting for communication to happen” in the timeline.

I’m a little concerned that people voting against the spirit of the intent of the 2nd round might end up nuking categories, but I think it has a lot of potential.

This one passed, to be up for ratification next year.

E Pluribus Hugo

This is a new proposed nomination system which is intended to reduce the effectiveness of large numbers of voters with identical ballots for the same category (primarily to reduce the effect of slates).  Last year I was in favor of this when it passed its initial vote, because I hadn’t heard of any better ideas and I didn’t want to wait a whole nother year to see if a better idea came around.  But…  though I think the concept makes sense, but it is more complicated than the current system–the current system you can look at all the numbers and sort them out by hand given the overall voting numbers.  This one, you really can’t because it depends on the exact contents of individual ballots, and you end up having to basically count it by program given the full voting data.

And the major difference is that I think that the better solution might have come along in the form of three-stage voting.  But three-stage voting also passed and so goes into effect next year, so we’ll visit that next year again.

5 and 6

This was another measure intended to make it harder to sweep the ballot with slates.  Normally, a voter can nominate up to 5 works, and 5 works end up on the final ballot.  So voting collusion can sweep the ballot with only a little discipline–just all fill out the ballot in the same way.  This change makes it so that one still nominates 5 works, but that the top 6 end up on the ballot–so if one wanted to force 6 items onto the ballot it would require more complicated coordination.  It increases the chance that at least one item will be on the ballot that was not related to the slate.

This was ratified so this will go into effect next year.

E Pluribus Hugo +

This is a new proposal that appears to be a new alteration of E Pluribus Hugo?  But I don’t seem to be able to find any additional information–I’m sure it’s out there.  It passed, and is up for ratification next year, head to head with Three-Stage Voting.  (NOTE:  David Goldfarb explains EPH+ in his comment on this post–go read that!)

BOOK REVIEW: THE FLUX by Ferrett Steinmetz

written by David Steffen

THE FLUX is the sequel to Ferrett Steinmetz’s premier book FLEX that was published earlier this year.  If you haven’t read the first book, I recommend reading FLEX before this one–you can read my review of that book on SF Signal.  This review may contain spoilers for the first book, so if you want to avoid that, go read the FLEX review or pick up that book first.  I’ll try to give a general overview so this review won’t be incomprehensible to newcomers, but it may ruin some of the effect of the first book.

Still here?  Okay.

THE FLUX takes place a couple years after the FLEX, and mostly centers around the same three characters.  The magic (or ‘mancy) in the universe of these books is extremely personal–if you are obsessed enough with something, that obsession can bend the universe around you to suit your beliefs.  But it comes at a cost–every time a ‘mancer changes the world with their ‘mancy, the universe pushes back against the change with flux.  Flux is a load of bad luck proportional to the extremeness of your mancy.

Paul Tsabo is a bureaucromancer, whose power rests in his belief that paperowork is a powerful force for good.  His ‘mancy can be very powerful, but in a quiet way–not  usually the deciding factor in a firefight, but it is subtle enough to make things happen that would be impossible for many other kinds of ‘mancy.  Since the death of the anarchomancer Anathema at the end of FLEX, whom the public thinks was killed by Paul, he has become a bit of a celebrity for having killed two ‘mancers.   He has been appointed the head of New York’s new local anti-mancer task force to offset Anathema’s claim that she had been producing new ‘mancers in the city.  He has also been brewing FLEX for a local crime syndicate to fulfill his past obligations.

Valentine DiGriz is a videogamemancer, a powerhouse with wide-ranging abilities that she can draw from any video game she’s ever played.  Her ‘mancy is loud and conspicuous, as she herself often is.  In many ways she is the opposite of Paul, but they have forged a deep friendship through fighting to help Paul’s daughter in FLEX.

Aliyah is Paul’s daughter, also a videogamemancer, who even now is the youngest ‘mancer any of the characters in the book have heard of.  She gained her power during the fight against Anathema, and she used those powers to kill Anathema, a fact that she is still trying to cope with.  She is powerful, but young and headstrong, and tends to rush into situations.  She is very protective of her father, and struggles with lying to her mother who Aliyah feels would turn her into the authorities if she knew about Aliyah’s ‘mancy.

The book starts out two years after the end of FLEX.  After Anathema’s promise that she has seeded New York City with ‘mancers before her death, Paul and Valentine were braced to try to handle the onslaught of magic in the town, and especially Paul in his role as the new taskforce manager.  But in those two years, no new ‘mancers have risen.  What could be the cause of this unusual lull during a time when a surge was expected?  Paul and Valentine decide to find out.

Meanwhile, they are trying to help Aliyah survive her childhood ‘mancy.  Her inexperienced and headstrong use of ‘mancy threatens them with the blowback of the flux every time she uses it.  And if she’s ever caught, she will be brainwashed and recruited for the SMASH military anti-‘mancy unit like anyone else.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot because, as with the first book, Ferrett has done an astounding job of making the book unpredictable in the most satisfying and self-consistent way.  Every time I felt that I had a grasp of where the book was going next, something new would happen and the plotline would end up on a completely different course.

And, wonder of wonders, Ferrett has managed to avoid the Book Two Slump that many series of novels has difficulty slogging through–that point where the novelty of the idea or setting is no longer fresh and the story has to make up for the lack of novelty.  This book does not feel like a Book Two.  It is every bit as fresh and solid and consistently entertaining at every moment as the first book.

The biggest strength of the book is the likeable but disparate characters.  Paul, Valentine, and Aliyah are a group that it’s easy to root for, who will fight for each other just as strongly as they’ll fight for themselves, but there is interesting conflict inherent in their different personalities, as with any family.  These three together are the heroes of the book, even when they make choices that I didn’t agree with.

The stakes are ever high for ‘mancers, since apprehension by authorities  means brainwashing, overusing magic builds up flux that can vent in the most improbable and destructive coincidences, and with the head of crime syndicate as one of their few allies.  The ‘mancy in these books is flexible enough that it’s a treat to see characters find new ways to apply their magic, but everything has a cost–the flux must be accounted for.

Gamers will especially love both this book and the last, especially in fight scenes where Valentine’s and Aliyah’s videogamemancy powers often take the forefront, tapping into real games to force those gameplay features onto reality.

I felt like this book (and the one before it) was written just for me in a way that I’ve never felt about a book before.  Weird, fun, heartfelt, unpredictable, and compelling.

Ferrett has also announced the wonderful news that Angry Robot Books will be publishing book 3 in the series, THE FIX.  Bring. It. On. I can’t wait to read it.

The Best of Pseudopod 2014

written by David Steffen

Another solid year of Pseudopod after they and their sister podcasts came back from the brink of having to close due to lack of funds. The podcast is edited, as it has been for years, by Shawn Garrett. Just a few days ago there was a metacast that announced big new things coming up, including that Alasdair Stuart and J. Daniel Sawyer are now owners of the company.

On to the list!

The List

1. “The Screwfly Solution” by James Tiptree, Jr.

2. “The Wriggling Death” by Harold Gross

3. “Shadow Transit” by Ferrett Steinmetz

4. “The Metal and Its Mold” by Tim W. Burke

5. “Prince of Flowers” by Elizabeth Hand

6. “The Signalman” by Charles Dickens

 

Honorable Mentions

“Kraken Rising” by Andrew Reid

“The Violin Family” by James Douglas

“File Under” by Lisamarie Lamb

 

The Best of Drabblecast 2013

written by David Steffen

Drabblecast is as good as ever, still one of my favorite fiction sources. Still edited by Norm Sherman. Still has a stellar Lovecraft month in August when they publish one Lovecraft stories and three unpublished stories by contemporary authors in the cosmic horror subgenre. They published 48 stories in 2013.

 

The List

1. The Electric Ant by Phillip K. Dick
Of course the classic tales by big authors whose stories last the ages have an advantage on such a list. I love PKD, and I’d never come across this story about an android whose entire experience is dictated by the data stored on the paper tape fed into his system and what happens when he starts messing with the data. As with much of PKD, it is more than just straight up SF, it blurs the boundaries between genres and makes for a very surreal experience. This might be my favorite of PKD’s work, and his work is so often stellar.

2. Bloodchild by Octavia Butler
Another big story by big name. In this world, humans are not the dominant species and are mostly kept around as birthing vessels for an alien race who have babies like maggots that need to live in flesh to incubate. This story is about a boy raised to be such a birthing vessel, and his relationship with his owner.

3. Hollow as the World by Ferrett Steinmetz
One of the stories in the Lovecraft month, all based around a cosmic horror version of Lovecraft, questioning the very nature of reality.

4. Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain by Cat Rambo
This was one of my Hugo nominations for last year, out of Cat’s Near+Far short story collection. It takes place on a planet where the inhabitants are all made of sentient clay and is told from the POV of one of the cruder class clays who has taken a rare class-skipping occupation as a tourism writer. The story is written from her POV in a tourism-style writing of making lists of five.

5. The Revelation of Morgan Stern by Christie Yant
A post-end-of-the-world romance story as two lovers try to reunite after the collapse of civilization based on their pre-collapse plan for such a circumstance. If you like the story, be sure you listen to the comments afterward to hear about the origin–it casts everything in a whole new (and totally awesome) light.

 

Honorable Mentions

Flying on My Hatred of My Neighbor’s Dog by Shaenon Garrity

The Breadcrumbs Man by Frank Key

The Best of Escape Pod 2013

written by David Steffen

Escape Pod, and the other Escape Artists casts had a bit of a crisis to overcome this year–they realized that although they had a great listenership, only 1% of the listeners donated, and it wasn’t enough to keep the publications afloat. The good news is that when they revealed this there was a strong reaction to add subscriptions–if you read this and you like the cast, consider adding a subscription.

They published 54 stories in 2013, and they are better than ever. Norm Sherman’s still in the editor’s chair.

Let me tell you, trying to decide which of the top two should be #1 was grueling.

The List

1. Dead Merchandise by Ferrett Steinmetz
In a future where advertising has gone feral, driving people to suicide or ruinous self-neglect, and civilization has fallen apart, one woman tries to get to their broadcast dome and take it down for the good of the world. This story is scary as hell in its plausibility. The only thing missing is some mind-reading technology. I don’t know how Ferrett did it, but he’s done it again, so often writing just amazingly emotional stories with original neat ideas at their core. I won’t post anything spoilery in this article, but I did go on at length about why I loved the story in spoilery fashion on their forum.

2. They Go Bump by David Barr Kirtley
I could easily call this a tie for #1. We are fighting a war against aliens who can make themselves invisible. We have just developed the technology to cloak our own soldiers, and are sending a squad of cloaked soldiers across a wasteland from base to base where invisible aliens are believed to reside, to test out the tech. What I really love about this story is how many different interpretations can be taken from it, because the lack of visual confirmation of anything throws so many things into doubt. Again I went on at length in spoilery fashion on their forum.

3. The Shunned Trailer by Esther Freisner
Fair warning, I don’t think there’s a speck of science fiction in this story. It would’ve been a perfect fit for Drabblecast, a quite fun parody of Lovecraft that never takes itself seriously. It operates by the tried and true Lovecraft plot of a man being stranded and coming across a cult of Cthulhu. But it’s just over the top weird and fun, and read perfectly by Norm Sherman.

4. Nutshell by Jeffrey Wikstrom
A ship is traveling through the space between stars controlled by an AI and filled with cryogenically frozen passengers who weren’t supposed to remember anything. They do, however, and they have control over their environment. The AI comes to visit them from time to time to try to work on details of the trip and colonization planning. Up to now this all sounds like a familiar SF story, but this story took a slant on it I hadn’t seen and added some great humor and events. Great stuff.

5. The Future is Set by C.L. Perria
Why would a supervillain who can see the future try to take over the world in a way that is doomed to fail? Read and find out.

 

Honorable Mentions

The Very Pulse of the Machine by Michael Swanwick

Freia in the Sunlight by Gregory Norman Bossert

Arena by Fredric Brown

2014 Hugo Noms!

written by David Steffen

It’s award season again! If you’re eligible to vote for the Hugos, you have until the end of March to decide on your picks. I wanted to share my picks, as I always do, in plenty of time so that if anyone wants to investigate my choices to see for themselves they’ll have plenty of time.

Quite a few of the categories I don’t have anything to nominate because I don’t seek out entries in them, so I left those out. And for any category that I have eligible work I mentioned them alongside my own picks.

The entries in each category are listed in no particular order.

Best Novel

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Premier novel by Leckie. Great premise, difficult point of view, great space opera. I reviewed it here.

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
The 14th and final book of Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series.

 

Best Novelette

Monday’s Monk by Jason Sanford (Asimov’s)

Best Short Story

The Promise of Space by James Patrick Kelly (Clarkesworld)

The Murmurous Paleoscope by Dixon Chance (Three-Lobed Burning Eye)

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! by Keffy R.M. Kehrli (Lightspeed)

Hollow as the World by Ferrett Steinmetz (Drabblecast)

The Boy and the Box by Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed)

For Your Consideration:
I Will Remain in After Death Anthology
Could They But Speak at Perihelion
Reckoning at Stupefying Stories
Meat at Pseudopod
Coin Op at Daily Science Fiction
Escalation at Imaginaire

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Ender’s Game

Warm Bodies

Game of Thrones Season 3

 

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

The Rains of Castamere (Game of Thrones)

And Now His Watch Has Ended (Game of Thrones)

Walk of Punishment (Game of Thrones)

Second Sons (Game of Thrones)

Valar Doheris (Game of Thrones)

 

Best Editor (Short Form)

Neil Clarke (of Clarkesworld)

John Joseph Adams (of Lightspeed, Nightmare, and anthologies)

Tina Connolly (of Toasted Cake)

Norm Sherman (of Drabblecast and Escape Pod)

Shawn Garrett (of Pseudopod)

 

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Daily Science Fiction

Lightspeed

Escape Pod

Drabblecast

Best Fanzine

SF Signal

My work for you to consider:
Diabolical Plots
I do consider Diabolical Plots a zine. Consider, too, that this was the first year Diabolical Plots also provide the Submission Grinder. The Submission Grinder itself doesn’t fit any of the categories, I think, but Diabolical Plots does.

 

Best Fancast

Toasted Cake

Pseudopod

Dunesteef

Podcastle

Cast of Wonders

 

Best Fan Writer

Ken Liu

Ferrett Steinmetz

Juliette Wade

Cat Rambo

Anne Ivy

For your consideration:

David Steffen
Frank Dutkiewicz
Carl Slaughter

 

The Best of Escape Pod 2012

written by David Steffen

Some big changes at Escape Pod in 2012:
–They were officially added to the SFWA list of professional markets, the first audio market to do so.
–Mur Lafferty announced her resignation of the editor position, official at the end of the year, citing too many projects that she’s signed on for.

Some momentous moments for me personally with Escape Pod in 2012:
–I sold them a story for the first time, “Marley and Cratchit”, which was published in December as their Christmas episode. It’s the secret history of A Christmas Carol, with alchemy. I, of course, did not consider my story for my list.
–That sale was my third and final sale needed to qualify for SFWA.

After the new year, Alasdair Stuart took over as interim editor until Norm Sherman (of The Drabblecast) could take on the role long-term.

Escape Pod, the original speculative fiction podcast, continues on, stronger than ever! Long live Escape Pod! On to the list.

Doing these lists is always interesting to me, because I often never realize how much I like a particular author until I see him/her twice on one of these lists.

 

1. The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu
This story won the Hugo for Best Short Story in 2012, and the award was well deserved–I voted for it to win myself. It’s the story of the American son of a mail-order bride and his relationship with his mother.

2. Devour by Ferrett Steinmetz
This is one of my Hugo nominations for Best Short Story in 2013, the story of a man whose lover has been taken over by a biological weapon, a contagious personality seeded in times of war to take us over.

3. The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived by Keffy R.M. Kehrli :
In the future, technology for cloning and memory transfer is commercially available, and is often used to replace lost loved ones who’ve died suddenly, giving them a new body with their old memories. But when the memory transfer process terminates prematurely, is the person who wakes up a faulty version of the old person or are they a new person entirely?

4. “Run,” Bakri Says by Ferrett Steinmetz
A terrorist organization creates a technology that allows a single person to repeatedly start their lives from a certain point in space and time, much like a video game save point. This technology is used in this story for a woman to try to rescue her brother from a heavily armed military compound. She can repeat the attempt as many times as it takes. I’m sure this story appeals to me in large part because it’s like a real-life version of a video game.

5. Contamination by Jay Werkheiser
The story of a multi-generation expedition to study life on a planet without touching it for fear of contaminating the results, and a second expedition that arrives, in conflict with this one. I first read this in Analog, and I’d thought it a little dry at the time which is fairly often my response to Analog stories. But as time went on my mind kept wandering back to it again and again. I really like the characters in it, trying to find ways to live with themselves while operating within the limits of their societies. I listened to it again here after I’d been contemplating it off and on for months, and I like it more and more.

6. Like a Hawk in Its Gyre by Phillip Brewer
An ex government researcher with heavy mind modifications is just trying to live a normal life after he’s done serving his time, but he still has to live with the modifications they’ve made to him to ensure secrecy. Somebody is after his secrets.

Oubliette by J Kelley Anderson

Talking to the Enemy by Don Webb

Springtime for Deathtraps by Marjorie James
The third in a series of stories about an ancient trap engineer building ancient temples.

 

The Best of Podcastle 2012

written by David Steffen

In 2012 Podcastle published 51 feature stories, with 8 miniatures. This is the one of the Escape Artists podcasts that I haven’t managed to get a story into yet, but I listen on! Dave Thompson and Anna Schwind continue their tenure as editors, and there were plenty of good stories to pick from.

1. In the Stacks by Scott Lynch
A full cast recording, unusual for Podcastle. A story about magicians-in-training going into a violent magical library as a test of their abilities.

2. Recognizing Gabe: Un Cuento de Hadas by Alberto YaÃ’ ez
This one surprised me. I felt like I knew where it was going, but it surprised me in a very good way.

3. The Tonsor’s Son by Michael John Grist
“I knew from the moment I saw him that his beard was full of evil.” There’s one scene that many of the forumites found hard to take, but I think everyone who kept listening was okay with it in the long run.

4. Another Word for Map is Faith by Christopher Rowe
There are few things more frightening than religious zealotry.

5. Accompaniment by Keffy R.M. Kehrli
A kickass dark flash.

6. Destiny, With Blackberry Sauce by David J. Schwartz
I’ve seen stories before where someone tried to avoid their destiny, but never as hard as in this story.

 

Honorable Mentions

Fable From a Cage by Tim Pratt

A Window, Clear as a Mirror by Ferrett Steinmetz

Machine Washable by Keffy R.M. Kehrli

 

 

 

 

My Hugo/Nebula Picks 2012

written by David Steffen

In the previous post I suggested my own Hugo/Nebula nominated work. This post has the purpose of sharing my picks for these categories other than our own work. I welcome any and all to post in the comments with their own suggestions.

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.

Which is to say, most of the categories that I’ve voted for I am very well read in, but I just left off those categories in which I have not read at all, or haven’t read enough to have some solid picks.

Best Short Story Hugo and Nebula

This is the category I’m most interested in, covering SF/Fantasy/Horror fiction of 7500 words or less.

1. The Three Feats of Agani by Christie Yant (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

2. Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain by Cat Rambo (Near + Far)

3. All the Painted Stars by Gwendolyn Clare (Clarkesworld)

4. Devour by Ferrett Steinmetz (Escape Pod)

5. Worth of Crows by Seth Dickinson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

 

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Hugo

Best dramatic presentation of 90 minutes or longer

1. The Hunger Games

2. Game of Thrones Season 2

3. True Blood Season 5

4. The Avengers

5. Wreck-It Ralph

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) Hugo

Best dramatic presentation of less than 90 minutes.

1. “Digital Estate Planning” –episode of Community

2. Devour–Escape Pod

3. The Dead of Tetra Manna–Dunesteef

4. The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward–Drabblecast

5. The Music of Erich Zann–Drabblecast

 

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation (Not a Nebula)

Related to the Nebulas, but not a Nebula itself, this seems to combine the long and short dramatic forms used in the Hugo.

1. The Hunger Games

2. Game of Thrones Season 2

3. True Blood Season 5

4. Wreck-It Ralph

5. “Digital Estate Planning” — Community

 

Best Editor (Short Form) Hugo

Editor of short fiction.

1. Norm Sherman (Drabblecast)

2. Scott H. Andrews (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

3. Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)

4. John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed, various anthologies)

5. Bruce Bethke (Stupefying Stories)

 

Best Profession Artist Hugo

1. Michael Whelan (especially this Analog cover)

 

Best Semiprozine Hugo

This is the most complicated category to define. It is not a professional market, which means that neither of the following are true: (1) provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or, (2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner. In addition, it generally has to pay contributors in something other than copies of the magazine, or only be available for paid purchase.

I’m not totally sure that all of the ones that I’ve picked here are eligible. There might be others that I’m ruling out as not being eligible that are. This category confuses me. but these are my best shot at nominations for it.

1. Drabblecast

2. Escape Pod

3. Beneath Ceaseless Skies

4. Pseudopod

5. Stupefying Stories

 

Best Fancast Hugo

This is a new experimental Hugo that might get voted in as a permanent one. It is split off from the Best Fanzine Hugo, but must be an audio or video presentation. I’m not totally sure that Toasted Cake qualifies, since they do pay a few dollars per story, but I thought it was low enough that it might be considered as more of an honorarium and let me nominate it.

1. Journey Into…
see my Best Of Journey Into… list for examples.

2. Toasted Cake

3. Beam Me Up
A science fiction radio show and podcast–how cool is that?

 

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo)

1. Jake Kerr
I very much enjoyed his Old Equations on Lightspeed, for one.

2. Mur Lafferty