LaShawn’s list of 2013 Hugo Nominations Considerations and other awards stuff (alternate title: WADDYA MEAN I SHOULD’VE DONE THIS IN JANUARY HOW WAS I TO KNOW OHCRAPOHCRAP ::FLAILFLAILFLAILFLAIL::)

Yes, yes, I know it’s way way late. I know that we only have a week left to actually turn in nominations for the Hugos this year. And yes, I completely neglected to write this post at the beginning of this year, when everyone was putting out ALL THE ELIGIBLITY POSTS. But hey, better late than never.

I don’t have best novelette or novella because, well, I never got around to reading them. There are many other sites out there who list story nominations, so go google them.

Of course, I am a complete and utter dunce, so I missed the deadline to do nominations for the Rhysling award, which is a shame, because the only works I got published last year were poetry. Actually, that’s not quite true. Both were prose poems, so maybe they can be eligible for short stories. I’ll mention them just in case:

All This Pure Light Leaking In” published in the 2012 anthology Dark Faith: Invocations, by Apex Publishing, editors Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon

and

I Will Keep the Color of Your Eyes When No Other in the World Remembers Your Name”, published by Stone Telling Magazine.

And here’s what I’m going to be nominating for the Hugo awards this year:

Best Novel:

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

The Straits of Galahesh by Bradley P. Beaulieu

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Short story:

“They Make of You a Monster” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Damien Walters Grintalis

“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” in Lightspeed — Maria Dahvana Headley

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Fan Writer

K. Tempest Bradford

N.K. Jemisen

Ferret Stimentz

Alex Bledsoe

Genevieve Valentine.

Best Semiprozine

Ideomancer

Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Apex

Electric Velocipede

Daily Science Fiction

Goblin Fruit

Stonetelling

Related Work

Writing Excuses Season Seven

Chicks Dig Comics

Best editor short form

JJA

Maurice Broaddus & Jerry Gordon

Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, Michael Damian Thomas

Graphic Stories

The Situation” by Jeff Vandermeer and Eric Orchard

New Campbell

Damien Walters Grintalis

Best Fancast

Adventures in Scifi Publishing

Good luck to everyone!

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Book Review: Shadowplay by Tad Williams

Whew…just two minutes ago, I finally read the last page of Shadowplay. I’ve been reading this book for several months now…I don’t remember the exact date when I started it. All I know is that it’s a looooooooong book, and darn it, if it wasn’t so interesting, I would’ve put it down a long time ago.

The trend of long, thick, heavy description in fantasy is changing to giving just enough detail for the reader to imagine it, focusing more on action and activity. Williams is definitely part of the old school, going laboriously over detail, not just of scenery, but mostly of the inner thoughts of his characters—so much so that I skipped many passages when it was obvious that it was all filler.

Once I learned to recognize which passages were pertinent to the story and which was just naval-gazing filler, I was able to move through it quickly.

Shadowplay is a decent follow up to Shadowmarch. It jumps right into the story as opposed to bringing readers up to speed on what occurred at the end of the last book. Unfortunately, since my book is currently boxed up in my garage, I vaguely remembered what occurred in Shadowmarch. I knew that the country Southmarch had just lost their stand-in ruler, Kendrick to a bloody assassination, and that the remaining heirs, the royal twins Barrick and Briony, had vanished, Barrick trapped between Fae lines, Briony on the run with previously accused Master of Arms, Shaso. I remembered even less of the supporting plotlines. I did remember the girl who escaped the autarch, and I remember Maxwright Tinwright the poet. I definitely remember Ferras Vansen, who had been charged by Briony to protect Barrick. But the Funderlings storyline, with Chert finding the human boy Flint, it took me a long time to remember. And as for Sister Utta and Merolanna, I couldn’t remember them being in the first book at all and found it easier to simply treat them as new characters.

Despite my sketchy memories of the supporting characters, I enjoyed their stories more than I did the main characters, Briony and Barrick. I found the twins rather whiny and immature, which was the whole purpose of their plotline, I believe. And indeed, midway through the book, Briony does show some signs of maturity, as circumstances forces her to take some matters into her own hands. Barrick’s progress is made more palatable with Ferras Vansen’s presence, along with the fairy Gyir the Storm Lantern and the talking raven Skurn. In fact, Ferras becomes a formidable character in his own right; despite the indignity of following the commands of a mad prince, the mind-numbing terror of the fae-land around him and absolutely no sign of normalcy in sight, he holds true to his promise and slowly adjusts to his circumstances.

True to form, Williams does have some fantastical settings. The fairy court, for instance, is bizarre and otherworldly, yet strangely appealing. The autarch’s court is as frightening as its insane ruler. In contrast, the Rooftoppers are charming and intricate for their minuscule size. Williams does a good job weaving all the different stories together so there is a common thread in them.

It’s towards the end, however, that Williams truly begins to shine as the story ramps into high gear. I don’t think I did any skipping then–the action grew quite intense. It built and built…and, then it stopped. Because the book ended right there.

If this had been done by a different author, I would’ve been up in an uproar. Thrown the book and vow never to read that person’s books again. Well, unless the book was so good that I wanted to know what happened next. Then, yeah, I would get the next book. Good thing Tad Williams fall in that category. Besides, Williams ending his books abruptly is pretty much par for the course, so I wasn’t all that surprised.

I can’t say I enjoyed Shadowplay on the same level as The War of the Flowers. And it doesn’t even touch his best work by far, The Otherland series. But it was decent, and I think it worked as a vehicle to move the story to where it needed to go. I think the next book Shadowrise, which comes out in hardcover March 2 2010, would be much better. Shadowplay gets three Funderlings out of five. I originally was going to put it at two 1/2 funderlings—but the fact that I can use the book as a weight when I’m working out on the Wii gives it an extra point.

And it’s been saved…apparently…

Locus Science Fiction & Fantasy News: Warren Lapine Buys Realms of Fantasy

Well, that was nice and quick. I guess me mourning over it was a bit premature after all. But what does it mean? Will it remain the same, or will it change? Time will only tell. But the “first” issue will be out in May. Life goes on.

Edit 10/19/10: And then again, maybe not. After all that ROF is closing its doors again.

http://www.rofmag.com/2010/10/18/a-note-from-the-publisher/

Well, I said my goodbyes and already moved on. Oh well.

And another one bites the dust…

Realms of Fantasy will be ending with the April 2009 issue…

I was looking forward to the day when I get published in that too.

Sigh.

Why do I get the feeling that by the time my writing gets good enough for the pro-markets, there won’t be any pro-markets around anymore?

The Passing of a Great Anthology; No more Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror

In the past, I’ve done reviews for the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror that you can find on this site. Well, today, we got the news that this great anthology is no more. You can find news about it at the Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet’s Blog, and at Terry Windling’s blog.

In a nutshell, St Martin’s Press, the anthology’s publisher, has decided not to publish a 2009 edition. That means that 21 years of the Year’s Best anthology books, displaying a broad, colorful array of fantasy and horror stories from all walks of life, is at an end.

This makes me incredibly sad.

I’ve been reading posts as of late on how the fiction world appears to be shrinking, that people read less nowadays, preferring to play video games and watch TV rather than pick up a book. For the most part, I’ve always felt that isn’t the case; if anything, people are reading more, what with networking sites like Facebook and blogs and whatnot.

But when news like this hits me, I can’t help but wonder if fiction truly is drifting away.

Maybe it’s not that the fiction world is going way. Maybe it’s just that it’s changing shape from the tangible world of the printed page to the less-substantial, more fluid media of the online document. And as gadgets like the Kindle takes off, how long will it be before all books are downloaded rather than bought?

What does that mean for book publishers? For popular writers? For writing standards?

The Year’s Best Anthology was a standard for me. Everytime I picked up a book, I read the stories and thought to myself, one day, I’ll get a story in this book. It pushed me, and still does, to write my best. I studied the stories, picked them apart, wondered what made them included in the book. But most of all, I enjoyed them. I was awed by them. While some stories I could have done without (I still think back to that one story about the Calico cat, which makes me want to curl up in a little ball), still, there were some stories that made me drop my jaw in awe.

I know, I know. There are other anthologies out there. Heck, I’ve turned most of my energies to Writer’s of the Future. But Year’s Best was the first anthology that got me daring to dream of fiction in the first place. What will be my standard now? Where would I go?

Then again, maybe it’s all the recession’s fault. Yeah, that’s it. Stupid recession.

To all the editors of Year’s Best: Ellen Datlow, Terry Windling, Kelly Link, and Gavin Grant. Thank you for inspiring this lowly writer to write. The stories you included were truly a marvel to behold. Here’s to hoping you’ll find all new ventures that will bless you greatly.

More Thoughts on the Writers of the Future Contest

So I had a little more time to ponder my Honorable Mention for the contest and wanted to get my thoughts down.

I didn’t mention anything about entering the contest because it was a last minute thing. Before, I didn’t feel that I was at that level of writing to get in it. Plus it seemed like such a hassle–instead of emailing your submission in, it had to be printed out in a special format and mailed before a deadline. It just seemed too much work. Plus, the fact that it’s sponsored by L. Ron Hubbard put me off. I’m still sore after the whole Battlefield Earth thing.

But I bided my time and did some research on the contest. I also scored a couple of the anthologies from my library and skimmed through them. The stories were pretty good, and plus it wasn’t just all science fiction as I thought–there was some good fantasy stories in there too. Then around the beginning of May, a couple of weeks before we moved to Madison, I had a short story rejected and I thought, what the hey? Send it in to Writers of the Contest. It won’t hurt.

So I did, with the expectation that the most I would get out of it would be an Honorable Mention. Now, if I understand the Honorable Mention category, those are the stories that have something going for them, but are lacking something that would push them over the top into the Semi-Finalist category. I don’t know what would’ve happened if I got nothing. I’d probably feel pretty bad and get all dramatic, saying I’m done with writing and going into full-time organic farming. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, though when they started listing the first sets of HMs, I did get a little nervous. Strangely, the fact that I was on the final list makes me feel pretty good. I don’t know what being on the final list really means–if it meant that it took them that long to decide on the entries, or if they just stuck them all in boxes and my story just so happened to be in the last box, I don’t know. I’m going to pretend it’s the former. It’s more motivational that way.

Since entering the contest, I’ve been checking out the WOTF forum and I’ve just listened to AISFP #63, where Shaun Farrell interviewed the winners of last year’s contest. Plus, the WOTF website has a 10 minute overview of the award ceremony (winners of the contest are flown out to Los Angeles where they attend a week-long workshop plus the ceremony). At one point, it had me in tears when Brittany Jackson won the Gold Award. A black female artist! How awesome! It made me want to rush out and buy the book just so I can have her illustration on my bookshelf. (Well, the book trailer made me want to get the book anyway, but her illustration would be a nice bonus.)

So my excitement for the contest has gone considerably up. I think I’ll continue sending stuff to the contest. I already have my next submission in the works–I just got to finish it up and send it out. Of course, I think every writer that enters the contest has the goal to keep submitting until they win or disqualified by a professional market printing their story. I think my little fantasy involves learning that I’m a finalist at the same time I get a notice that Realms of Fantasy has accepted another story.

A pleasant futile dream. But it’s still fun.

Here’s the WOTF Awards Ceremony from 2008.

Book Review: The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, 16th Annual Collection

Time for another Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror book review. I’ve done one for 2004 and 2006, and today’s review will focus on the 16th annual 2002 book. I’m beginning to see a theme to these anthologies. The 2004 had lots of vulgarity and warped ickiness to it that truly turned me off, while the 2006 focused on lesser known authors (at least, to me at the time–now that I’ve done a lot of reading, names like Elizabeth Hand and Nisi Shawl are quite familiar to me now). I like this idea of vaguely themed anthologies. It gives the appearance that the stories have connections to each other, even the ones that don’t.

The 2002 book has a distinct British feel to it. Many stories had British themes, British settings, British writers–including writers who spent at least six months in Britain before coming to the States. However, the story that stood out most to me is not British. It’s very American…if you can call time travel and palindromes American…

Lull by Kelly Link is the first story in the anthology, and it threw me for a loop. A time loop, if you will. I’m hard pressed to describe it because there isn’t a linear storyline. Well, there is, but it isn’t really told in a linear fashion. It starts off with a group of guys playing poker in someone’s basement while listening to a cassette tape of songs playing backwards and forwards set on an endless loop. They’re telling stories to each other about a house, then they call up a phone sex line, except the woman at the end tells stories, and she tells a story…

…about a cheerleader who lives in a world where time flows backwards. She gets locked in the closet with the Devil, and she winds up telling a story about…

…a guy named Ed (who is one of the poker players), whose wife Susan is creating green copies of herself from different times and creates her own green Susan beer…

Okay. I’m going to stop because just writing this out is so freaking weird and bizarre that you have to think, what the hell kind of story is that?! But let me tell you something: Link makes it work. Yes, it’s bizarre. Yes, it’s weird. But it’s also the most incredible piece of writing I’ve ever seen. She intertwine the stories so that they flow back and forth, much like the tape that plays forwards and backwards. And in the meantime she interweaves themes of death and life and storytelling so as not to be forgotten. And the whole world where time flows backwards thing–it’s wonderful and tragic, because in such a world there is no surprises. Everyone knows what will happen already; or rather, they know what has already happened, so they just live the events that lead up to it and…

Pure brilliance. I can’t get it out of my head. I even wrote an email to Link asking her how she did it. Haven’t heard anything back yet, but it’s okay. A story such as this needs, no, begs to be studied, so I’ll probably do that.

Now that I finished gushing over Lull, here are some other stories in the anthology that stood out to me (I’m skipping poetry because I did that in the previous post).

Details by China Mieville: an interesting spin on the phrase “The devil’s in the details…”

The Assistant to Dr. Jacob by Eric Schaller: A man learns that his gentle memories of a Doctor and his greenhouse are not what they seem.

The Pagodas of Cibourne by M. Shayne Bell: Sick kid gets healed by living broken bits of pottery. It’s actually more touching than it sounds.

Stitch by Terry Dowling: Evil lurks behind a cross-stitched nursery rhyme. Nice use of dread.

Porno in August by Carlton Mellick III: The only other surreal story in here that was just weird, but also in a strange way made me think of the emptiness of the porn industry–literally. Bunch of actors get dropped in the middle of the ocean to shoot a film. They eat jellyfish. Sharks eat them. Weirdness ensues.

Mermaid Song by Peter Dickinson: A very touching fable about a young girl who learns about mermaids.

The Green Man by Christopher Fowler: Freaky story about a couple who goes to oversee a retreat hotel in a jungle inhabited by possessive monkeys. And we all know how that turns out.

Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush by Luis Alberto Urrea: Guy runs around painting obscure messages on people. Humorous and poignant.

Thailand by Haruki Murakami: This is another story I want to study. In some ways, I’m struggling how this got included in the anthology, because on the surface of the story, there’s no apparent threads of fantasy. In fact, remove the faint hint of magic realism at the end of the story, and it would still remain as a quiet literary story of a woman who goes to Thailand to relax and swim, and her knowledgeable chauffeur/guide. But there is something about this story that really struck me; perhaps the quiet manner it is told–the woman goes to Thailand, swims at a pool by herself, talks to the chauffeur, and then flies home after several days. There’s no action other than mostly introspective, but it makes for a very beautiful story.

The Rose in Twelve Petals by Theodora Goss: Wonderful retelling of Sleeping Beauty in twelve separate parts.

Road Trip by Kathe Koja: story told in 2nd person about a guy deep in grief over the death of his daughter.

The Least Trumps by Elizabeth Hand: Tattooist finds a couple of tarot cards that hold dreams-come-true.

Actually, there were so many more stories in this one that I really liked a lot. If I find this in a used bookstore, I would probably buy it. This ranks 4-1/2 Susan beers out of 5. And watch that first sip–it’s quite a doozy.