Award Eligibility 2018

written by David Steffen

It’s time for that January tradition, the Award Eligibility post for Diabolical Plots.

This has been a year of change, as we’ve been trying a new publishing strategy; instead of publishing stories only on the Diabolical Plots website, we’ve been shifting toward publishing them in ebook.  Since there was a backlog of several years of stories already published, this resulted in three anthologies of stories that were first published on Diabolical Plots:

  1.  Diabolical Plots: The First Years in March 2018
  2. Diabolical Plots: Year Three in June 2018
  3. Diabolical Plots: Year Four in September 2018

Diabolical Plots: Year Four was particularly momentous, because it marked the point where the ebook publications have overtaken the website publications.  And because of this change, as well as this being the first full calendar year with 2 stories per month, more DP stories are eligible than have ever been eligible before, because all of the stories that were scheduled on the site from January 2018 to March 2019 are eligible (January 2019 to March 2019 stories were all in Diabolical Plots: Year Four).

As ever, I’m not saying you should nominate these, but I do get questions about what is eligible, so here is a list of what is eligible, if nothing else it’s nice to look back at what was new this year.

Here are the stories, alphabetically by author, which are all eligible under the Short Story category (by Hugo or Nebula rules)

Short Story

“Brooklyn Fantasia” by Marcy Arlin

“The Fisher in the Yellow Afternoon” by Michael Anthony Ashley

“How Rigel Gained a Rabbi (Briefly)” by Benjamin Blattberg

“Giant Robot and the Infinite Sunset” by Derrick Boden

“Soft Clay” by Seth Chambers

“Local Senior Celebrates Milestone” by Matthew Claxton

“Withholding Judgment Day” by Ryan Dull

“Medium Matters” by R.K. Duncan

“Artful Intelligence” by G.H. Finn

“The Divided Island” by Rhys Hughes

“The Hammer’s Prayer” by Benjamin C. Kinney

“For the Last Time, It’s Not a Ray Gun” by Anaea Lay

“The Memory Cookbook” by Aaron Fox-Lerner

“The Vegan Apocalypse: 50 Years Later” by Benjamin A. Friedman

“The Last Death” by Sahara Frost

“The Coal Remembers What It Was” by Paul R. Hardy

“The Efficacy of Tyromancy Over Reflective Scrying Methods in Divining Colleagues’ Coming Misfortunes, A Study by Cresivar Ibraxson, Associate Magus, Wintervale University” by Amanda Helms

“Glass in Frozen Time” by M.K. Hutchins

“What Monsters Prowl Above the Waves” by Jo Miles

“Still Life With Grave Juice” by Jim Moss

“9 Things the Mainstream Media Got Wrong About the Ansaj Incident” by Willem Myra

“Six Hundred Universes of Jenny Zars” by Wendy Nikel

“Heaven For Everyone” by Aimee Ogden

“Graduation in the Time of Yog-Sothoth” by James Van Pelt

“Pumpkin and Glass” by Sean R. Robinson

“Jesus and Dave” by Jennifer Lee Rossman

“The Man Whose Left Arm Was a Cat” by Jennifer Lee Rossman

“The Dictionary For Dreamers” by Cislyn Smith

“Crimson Hour” by Jesse Sprague

“Tank!” by John Wiswell

“Her February Face” by Christie Yant

Semiprozine

Diabolical Plots is eligible for the Hugo Award for the Best Semiprozine.

Editor, Short Form

I am eligible for the Hugo Award for the Best Editor, Short Form, for both Diabolical Plots and the Long List Anthology.

Other

Around this time of year people occasionally ask what The Long List Anthology and The Submission Grinder are eligible for, award-wise, since these lists are always Diabolical Plots short stories.

The answer is: not really any categories for the Hugo or Nebula, but possibly for other awards which I don’t keep up with as much.

The Long List Anthology is fiction, but by its nature it is entirely reprinted fiction from previous years, so all of the stories within it are already past their period of eligibility by Hugo and Nebula rules, and there are no categories for anthologies specifically.

The Submission Grinder is an online tool, which there isn’t a particularly suitable category for in the Hugo and Nebulas.

In both of these cases there might be categories in other awards, such as anthology categories in the Locus awards for the Long List Anthology, or categories in Preditors and Editors poll about writing tools.

If one felt very determined and maybe more than a little bit silly, I suppose one could nominate the Mighty Samurai cross-stitch photo series on the DP twitter account for Best Related Work.

Ray Bradbury Finalists Review 2017

written by David Steffen

The Ray Bradbury Award is given out every year with the Nebula Awards but is not a Nebula Award in itself.  Like the Nebula Awards, the final ballot and the eventual winner are decided by votes from members of SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (which despite the name has an international membership).

I like to use the award every year as a sampler of well-loved science fiction and fantasy movies from the previous year.  I have been very happy with this tactic, and this year is no exception.

Not included in this review is a nominated episode of The Good Place, because I don’t seek out individual episodes of TV shows for these reviews.  Also not included is Get Out because I haven’t managed to get hold of rentals yet (I’m hoping to rent it this week before the voting deadline, but I’m not sure if I’ll write up a review in time).

 

1. The Shape of Water (Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor)

Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, lonely woman working as a janitor in a top secret government facility in Baltimore in the 1960s.  Generally ignored by the scientists and military men doing their work there, she witnesses the arrival of a strange man-shaped fish-like creature that was captured in South America.  She witnesses atrocities committed upon it in the name of science and in the name of the Cold War to get ahead of Russia, and she risks everything to be kind to the creature, offering it food and teaching it sign language in secret.  The connection becomes friendship becomes love, and she must make very hard decisions.

This was a superb film and I can see why it won the Oscar.  I was skeptical from the early discussion of it that they would be able to sell a romance with a fish-man without it turning out corny or unbelievable, but they did a great job expressing the appeal between the two characters, and selling us on why Elisa is willing to risk everything for him.  It’s certainly not romance-only, there is a lot of drama and action in there as well, and between everything there were moments where I caught myself holding my breath, or gasping aloud.  Excellent film, well done.  Guillermo del Toro continues do make incredible movies, and I always look forward to seeing his next.

 

2.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Written by Rian Johnson)

The latest in the Star Wars series, the second since Lucas handed the rights over to Disney, Episode VIII continues where The Force Awakens left off, with Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) to seek her Jedi training.  Rey finds the The rest of the weakening New Republic led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is trying to hold itself together against the rising force of the First Order led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) as the young Darth Vader wannabe.  Finn (John Boyega), carrying the beacon that Rey will track to return, tries to leave the threatened Republic fleet, but is brought back by Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), a loyal maintenance worker.  Together they concoct a crazy plan, something which is in no short supply with hotshot pilot Dameron (Oscar Isaac) Poe also trying to save the New Republic.

Opinions on this movie seem to be very polarized–either loved it or hated.  I loved it.  I thought there was more humor in this one than on average in the series, and the humor was played off well.  Much of the series was built on making some really stupid one in a million strategies and having everything work out perfectly, I felt like this movie made a nod to that tradition but made it so that the results of hare-brained strategies weren’t guaranteed, which I thought raised the tension as well as being a good basis for humor.  The diverse cast continues to be exciting and wonderful–as a woman Jedi main character, Finn continues to be likable and impressive, and the introduction of Rose Tico as a competent likeable maintenance worker contributing just as much as any of the rest of the cast.  The interaction between Rey and Luke was a great source of tension and humor in the movie, and we find out about the history between Luke and Kylo Ren.  Lots of great visual moments, great tension, fun movie.  I look forward to seeing Episode IX to round out the trilogy of trilogies.

 

3. Logan (Screenplay by Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green)

In 2020, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is in hiding in Mexico with an ailing Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and the albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant) who can track the whereabouts of other mutants.  Something is wrong with Logan–his healing factor should allow him to live basically forever without aging, but he is aging, and he cannot bounce back like he used to.  He drives a limo to make ends meet, and spends much of his time in a drunken haze.  Charles has been having seizures that, combined with his psychic abilities, are paralyzing not just for him but for everyone within hundreds of feet from him, but the medication makes him confused and agitated.  As if they don’t have enough problems, they soon end up having a rebellious girl (Dafne Keen) without a name dumped on their doorstep, pursued by a militant group tasked with capturing her however they can.  The girl reminds Logan of himself in more ways than one–she has the healing factor, adamantium-plated skeleton, and arm-claws, and when cornered she fights like an animal, a formidable fighter despite her small size.  Logan, Charles, and the girl flee their refuge, following the scant rumors of a safe place for mutants in Canada.

Many of the other movies in the X-Men universe would be easily described as “fun” even when the consequences of the conflicts therein are catastrophic.  This movie is much more of a dark post-apocalyptic feeling film.  Everything starts out badly and only gets worse.  Logan, who we’re used to being the picture of health, and too stubborn to die, is ailing and has clearly had suicidal thoughts.  It’s hard to see him that way, and it’s hard to see Charles in such a sad condition as well, and that’s all before the mysterious girl brings a world of trouble into their lives.  The fight scenes in the movie are fast and brutal and don’t cut away from the killing like they have in previous movies–you see the consequences of those adamantium claws.  The ending was satisfying, and fit with the rest of the movie, but given the stakes and the desperate always fighting for that last grip on life tone of the whole film, it gets very dark, very quickly, and rarely surfaces from that.  It’s not a movie to watch if you’re looking for a feel-good light film, but I thought it was a solid entry in the X-Men series, most notable for how different it is from the rest of the series.

 

 

4. Wonder Woman (Screenplay by Allan Heinberg)

Diana (Gal Godot) is raised as the only girl among women on the secret isle of (apparently immortal?) Amazons, formed from clay by her mother and given life by Zeus.  They have been tasked with protecting the world from Ares who has long been determined to corrupt and destroy humanity, but their island is so masked from the outside world that they know nothing of the world outside until an American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) crashes his plane near the island and she saves him from drowning.  He tells the Amazons of the raging globe-spanning war going on, and Diana sets out with him into the world to find Ares and stop him from destroying the world with his war.

They’ve been talking about making a Wonder Woman movie for quite a while, and it always seemed to crumble before getting much of anywhere, so it’s great to see this finally hit the big screen, and looking great.  Wonder Woman is an old enough comic that it does run the risk of looking corny, but the writers and actors did a great job of making it fit the modern aesthetic without losing its roots.  I loved Gal Godot in this, as one who is both formidable but often naive because she’s never been out in the world, she doesn’t know the world’s current customs, and she has literally never met a man before.  She makes allies through her tough and straightforward nature, and heads straight into a war zone to meet her destiny, and you can’t get much more big hero than that.  It was a great movie, great to see an action movie with a woman as lead, and I look forward to future Wonder Woman movies.

Hugo/Nebula Award Recommendations!

written by David Steffen

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, but a few of these categories overlap with the Nebulas as well.

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.

Note that I have skipped any categories that I didn’t think that I was sufficiently knowledgeable enough about during the year of 2016.

Also, in any given category, the ordering does not mean anything–the order is not rank-order, so the first is not any different than the last, etc.

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!).

 

Best Novel

FIX by Ferrett Steinmetz

United States of Japan by Peter Tieryas

Best Novella

“Everybody Loves Charles” by Bao Shu, translated by Ken Liu (Clarkesworld)

“Chimera” by Gu Shi, translated by S. Qiouyi Lu and Ken Liu (Clarkesworld)

“The Snow of Jinyang” by Zhang Ran, translated by Ken Liu and Carmen Yiling Yan (Clarkesworld)

Best Novelette

“Fifty Shades of Grays” by Steven Barnes (Lightspeed)

“The Calculations of Artificials” by Chi Hui, translated by John Chu (Clarkesworld)

“The Venus Effect” by Joseph Allen Hill (Lightspeed)

Best Short Story

“Archibald Defeats the Churlish Shark-Gods” by Benjamin Blattberg (Podcastle)

“Beat Softly, My Wings of Steel” by Beth Cato (Podcastle)

“The Bee-Tamer’s Final Performance” by Aidan Doyle (Podcastle)

“The Night Bazaar For Women Becoming Reptiles” by Rachael K. Jones (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

“The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R.” by Benjamin C. Kinney (Strange Horizons)

“The Modern Ladies’ Letter-Writer” by Sandra McDonald (Nightmare)

“A Partial List of Lists I Have Lost Over Time” by Sunil Patel (Asimov’s)

“The Sweetest Skill” by Tony Pi (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)

“Thundergod in Therapy” by Effie Seiberg (originally published in Galaxy’s Edge, but the link is to free reprint in Podcastle)

“In Their Image” by Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Escape Pod)

Best Graphic Story

Gravity Falls: Journal 3 by Alex Hirsch and Rob Renzetti

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

Finding Dory

The Secret Life of Pets

Sing

Zootopia

Best Editor (Short Form)

Jen Albert (Podcastle)

Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld)

Graeme Dunlop (Podcastle)

Rachael K. Jones (Podcastle)

Norm Sherman (Escape Pod)

Best Professional Artist

Galen Dara

Best Semiprozine

Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Drabblecast

Escape Pod

Podcastle

Strange Horizons

Best Fanzine

File770

Quick Sip Reviews

Best Fan Writer

Mike Glyer (File770)

Charles Payseur (Quick Sip Reviews)