Hello! This is one of those posts where we look back at the year and all of the things we did to consider for award eligibility and hey just to look back at the year and what happened. This last year was the first year that anything from Diabolical Plots was nominated, so it doesn’t feel as far-fetched as it has in the past.
Diabolical Plots itself is eligible for the Hugo Award For Best Semiprozine.
David Steffen is eligible for Hugo Award For Best Editor (Short Form) for editing Diabolical Plots.
Locus Awards have a category for Publisher, which would be Diabolical Plots, L.L.C. for Diabolical Plots, as well as being the entity responsible for The Submission Grinder.
Related Work and Fan Writer
We’ve dialed back on nonfiction articles, but published one nonfiction piece: “UTH #2: The Story of Valkyrie and Zen” finding connections between the roles of Tessa Thompson in several films, for related work, and David Steffen as fan writer.
Websites are eligible for related work, so The Submission Grinder is also eligible.
Of course, most of the award eligible work that we are involved in is the original short stories we publish on the site! All of the following stories are eligible for Short Story categories in various awards (they are all under 7500 words, so the Short Story category is the one to go with. If you would like short excerpts of each of the stories check out the Recent Stories page.
On top of those stories which will be published together in a themed monthly issue, we also accepted 4 more stories, which we are announcing right here, right now! As Kel said there were enough stories we loved to fill an anthology and then some, but we did get a few extra acceptances in. These additional stories will not be published in the themed monthly issue, but will rather be published among the general non-themed stories.
“Estelle and the Cabbage’s First Last Night Together” by Amy Johnson is a story about a woman who can speak to plants and her goal to ethically source her food.
“Beneath the Crust” by Phil Dyer tells a story about a dangerous expedition into The Bake, a constantly changing edible landscape. (you might remember Phil Dyer from “Everyone You Know Is a Raven”)
“Food of the Turtle Gods” by Josh Strnad. All hail the might Turtles, awesome in their divinity. Pugiles in media testa.
“When There is Sugar” by Leonard Richardson, about a period of hopeful but uneven post-war recovery, as a baker is given a military surplus baking robot.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any real people in the world. The ravens are very real, and indisputably people. I’m not saying you’re the only human, either. There are definitely a few of you about. How many, I couldn’t say. More than fifty? Less than a thousand, that’s for sure.
Ravens are accomplished
mimics. If you’ve ever seen one, well, that’s basically accurate, except the
real thing is a little smaller and plainer and generally one metre to the left,
just as a precaution. If you’ve never seen a raven, you’re wrong.
Everyone you know and love
is definitely a raven. A gathering of humans is an unkindness. We space them
out, for everyone’s safety. I haven’t asked your ravens where you think you
are, but this was Siberian taiga. Aren’t these good trees? They’re recovering
There’s not another of you
for weeks in any direction. The nearest I know of is in what used to be China.
She thinks she’s a scientist in Wales. Her ravens love to make the sounds of
Don’t look at me like that.
She’s quite happy. Ravens are very social creatures.
Everyone thinks acoustic
mimicry is basically a party trick, fun and a little bit creepy but when you
get down to it, what’s the most you can do with that? Give someone the shivers,
maybe. Your alarm goes off in the morning and you find your phone but it’s not
turning off and you’re fumbling around in the dark and you hit the lights and
there’s this huge black bird on top of your wardrobe going beep beep beep. That
sort of thing happened a lot in the early days. Hilarious, but not the stuff
of revolution. And heaven knows we needed one.
The apes thought it would
be them, because of their hands. Poor apes. The dolphins were less hopeful, but
at least assumed they would survive. Poor dolphins.
A lot of humans actually
thought it would be them, some of them, someday, somehow, but it wasn’t.
Talons aren’t what you want
for touch-typing, but ninety percent of hacking is calling about forgotten
passwords. Major General Human Man, a word about the missiles, sir. Boy, did
you lot fall for that one. How’s that for a party trick?
We got better at it, too. A
No-one spins a story like a
raven. They live for drama. They can’t help it. Even when they’re doing their
thing, even when they’re playing themselves as big dumb birds who cuss for
crumbs, they still can’t stop. You’ll see them sitting on a fence, head cocked,
a little bit glossier, a little bit fancier than any raven ever was.
“Hello” says the human
watching them. “Hello! Aren’t you a pretty boy then? Aren’t you a clever one?
“Hello”, obliges the raven.
“Hello. Hello! Hi. Hi. Hi.” And then some funny throat-clearing noises, water
splashing, maybe some rude words. The human laughs and looks around for someone
to hold their camera.
“You should kiss him, you
know.” says the raven. The human spins back.
“Hello?” says the raven.
And the real raven, sitting
one metre to the left, makes the exact note-perfect soundscape of wind in the
trees, and clouds across a summer sky, and a friend coming to look at the funny
bird and throwing a warm, welcome arm around the poor bewildered human, a
mimicry so profound and absolute that the eyes no longer have a say in
reality. The good friend’s eyes are beady, unless the raven is really concentrating.
Their hair is black and glossy.
And all around, if the
story is any good, more unseen birds come whirling down. .
Main characters are
jealously guarded, a privilege for the proven virtuoso. The dark-haired boss,
the dark-haired wife, the dark-haired dark-eyed long-nosed stranger on the
train. Ravens are vain. Newcomers take up the song as scenery; the moon in
winter, maybe, or bees. Remember bees? They were kind of a last straw for us,
actually. There are none now; only the ones you hear. Lucky you.
But ravens need a lot of
stimulation, and sometimes they get bored. Here you are, you poor brave
soul. Have you been lost for long?
This world is not the one
for you. Your world is a place of plastic and glass, a nest of fans and pizza
and signposted roads and easy friendships with lovely people who sometimes flap
when startled. This is a hard world, a green world. A world where forests grow
from craters, and flowers spring from skulls. Don’t look at those.
The life you remember is
here, just over the nearest hill. Let me tell you about it. Your friends are
there, do you remember your friends? Tell me about them. I will fly ahead and
help you look.
Listen. This is where you belong. This is a story for you.
Author’s Note: I think most people know that ravens are mimics, but talking parrots and budgies have them completely eclipsed in the public consciousness. My theory is that this is because parrots are funny, and therefore safe. A talking parrot sounds like a friendly little goblin. A talking raven sounds like YOU. If they feel like it.
Phil Dyer does science and writes spec fic in Liverpool. His stories have lately appeared in BFS Horizons, 101 Fiction and Black Hare Press. He has recently begun to study for a PhD, against a lot of good advice. Retweets animal gifs @ez_ozel.