Monday, May 15, 2023

Winners of 2022 Nebula Awards for novel, novella, novelette and short story

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) announced the winners of the 58th Annual Nebula Awards at the 2023 Nebula Conference.

Babel, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)

Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)

“If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You”, John Chu (Uncanny 7–8/22)

“Rabbit Test”, Samantha Mills (Uncanny 11–12/22)

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Finalists for 2022 Nebula Awards for novel, novella, novelette and short story

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association (SFWA) has released the final ballot for the 2022 Nebula Awards. Winners will be announced at the 58th Annual Nebula Awards ceremony and online on Sunday, May 14, 2023.

Legends & Lattes, Travis Baldree (Cryptid; Tor)
Spear, Nicola Griffith (Tordotcom)
Nettle & Bone, T. Kingfisher (Tor; Titan UK)
Babel, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
Nona the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (Tordotcom)
The Mountain in the Sea, Ray Nayler (MCD; Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
“Bishop’s Opening“, R.S.A Garcia (Clarkesworld 1/22)
I Never Liked You Anyway, Jordan Kurella (Vernacular)
Even Though I Knew the End, C.L. Polk (Tordotcom)
High Times in the Low Parliament, Kelly Robson (Tordotcom)

“If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You“, John Chu (Uncanny 7-8/22)
“Two Hands, Wrapped in Gold“, S.B. Divya (Uncanny 5-6/22)
“Murder by Pixel: Crime and Responsibility in the Digital Darkness“, S.L. Huang (Clarkesworld 12/22)
“A Dream of Electric Mothers”, Wole Talabi (Africa Risen)
“The Prince of Salt and the Ocean’s Bargain“, Natalia Theodoridou (Uncanny 9/22)
“We Built This City“, Marie Vibbert (Clarkesworld 6/22)

“Destiny Delayed“, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Asimov’s 5-6/22)
“Give Me English”, Ai Jiang (F&SF 5-6/22)
“Rabbit Test”, Samantha Mills (Uncanny 11-12/22)
“Douen”, Suzan Palumbo (The Dark 3/22)
“Dick Pig”, Ian Muneshwar (Nightmare 1/22)
“D.I.Y”, John Wiswell ( 8/24/22)

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Winners of 2021 Nebula Awards for novel, novella, novelette and short story

The 2021 Nebula Awards were presented on May 21, 2022.

A Master of Djinn, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom; Orbit UK)

And What Can We Offer You Tonight, Premee Mohamed (Neon Hemlock)

“O2 Arena”, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Galaxy’s Edge 11/21)

“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather”, Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 3–4/21)

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Finalists for 2021 Nebula Awards for novel, novella, novelette and short story

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA) announced the finalists for the 57th Annual Nebula Awards. The awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony on Saturday, May 21, 2022, that will stream live as part of the 2022 Nebula Conference Online.

The Unbroken, C.L. Clark (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
A Master of Djinn, P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom; Orbit UK)
Machinehood, S.B. Divya (Saga)
A Desolation Called Peace, Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK)
Plague Birds, Jason Sanford (Apex)

A Psalm for the Wild-Built, Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
Fireheart Tiger, Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
And What Can We Offer You Tonight, Premee Mohamed (Neon Hemlock)
Sun-Daughters, Sea-Daughters, Aimee Ogden (Tordotcom)
Flowers for the Sea, Zin E. Rocklyn (Tordotcom)
The Necessity of Stars, E. Catherine Tobler (Neon Hemlock)
“The Giants of the Violet Sea”, Eugenia Triantafyllou (Uncanny 9–10/21)

“O2 Arena”, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Galaxy’s Edge 11/21)
“Just Enough Rain”, PH Lee (Giganotosaurus 5/21)
“(emet)”, Lauren Ring (F&SF 7–8/21)
“That Story Isn’t the Story”, John Wiswell (Uncanny 11–12/21)
“Colors of the Immortal Palette”, Caroline M. Yoachim (Uncanny 3–4/21)

“Mr. Death”, Alix E. Harrow (Apex 2/21)
“Proof by Induction”, José Pablo Iriarte (Uncanny 5–6/21)
“Let All the Children Boogie”, Sam J. Miller ( 1/6/21)
“Laughter Among the Trees”, Suzan Palumbo (The Dark 2/21)
“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather”, Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 3–4/21)
“For Lack of a Bed”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 4/21)

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

2021 Hugo Awards for best novel, best novella, best novelette and best short story

The 2021 Hugo Awards were presented on the evening of Saturday, December 18, 2021 at a ceremony at DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention in Washington, DC, USA.

Network Effect, Martha Wells (

The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (

Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker (

“Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Finalists for 2021 Hugo Awards for best novel, best novella, best novellete and best short story

The finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards were announced in mid-April. The winners will be announced at DisCon III in December 2021.

Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery / Saga Press / Solaris)
The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Harrow The Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (
Network Effect, Martha Wells (
Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)
The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books / Solaris)

Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire (
The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo (
Finna, Nino Cipri (
Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark (
Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi (
Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey (

“Burn, or the Episodic Life of Sam Wells as a Super”, A.T. Greenblatt (Uncanny Magazine, May/June 2020)
“Helicopter Story”, Isabel Fall (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
“The Inaccessibility of Heaven”, Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny Magazine, July/August 2020)
“Monster”, Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2020)
“The Pill”, Meg Elison (from Big Girl, (PM Press))
Two Truths and a Lie, Sarah Pinsker (

“Badass Moms in the Zombie Apocalypse”, Rae Carson (Uncanny Magazine, January/February 2020)
“A Guide for Working Breeds”, Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Made to Order: Robots and Revolution, ed. Jonathan Strahan (Solaris))
Little Free Library, Naomi Kritzer (
“The Mermaid Astronaut”, Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, February 2020)
“Metal Like Blood in the Dark”, T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine, September/October 2020)
“Open House on Haunted Hill”, John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots – 2020, ed. David Steffen)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Phantom Effect by Michael Aronovitz vs. Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams :: Battle of the 2016 Books, Bracket One, Second Round, Battle 1 of 4

We begin the second round of Bracket One of the Battle of the 2016 Books with Phantom Effect by Michael Aronovitz going against Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams. The winner will be the book I (Aaron) most want to continue reading after 50 pages.

Phantom Effect: Night Shade, February 2016, 285 pages, cover design by Diana Kolsky. The antihero of Phantom Effect is Johnny Deseranto, who murders women who remind him of his mother. In the opening 25 pages, Johnny had a blowout on the way to dispose of his latest victim's body. When a policeman stopped to investigate, Deseranto also killed him, but then crashed his car fleeing the scene. When he got out of the car, his female victim in the trunk got out too, even though she had been dismembered. Johnny fled into a nearby half-dismantled Motel 6, as one would.

In the next 25 pages, inside the derelict motel, Johnny begins to encounter visions from the past. He sees himself as a child, with a tarantula on his head. We soon learn that Johnny's punishment as a boy for stealing a jar of his mother's homemade marmalade was to be thrown in a hamper with a live tarantula. This helps explain the fellow's mommy issues. His next flashback takes him to when his family was renting the upper floor of a house, and Johnny snuck downstairs to spy on the landlord fooling around with a lady friend. Just as he realized the lady friend was his own mother, he was caught literally with his pants down.

Asteroid Made of Dragons: Sword & Laser, 275 pages, April 2016, cover design by David Drummond. Asteroid Made of Dragons is humorous fantasy in the mode of Terry Pratchett. In the first 25 pages, we met a lady mage, Rime, and her assistant/bodyguard Jonas. Jonas rescued Rime after a robbery gone wrong -- an easily forgivable crime, since she was stealing back her own money. Rime decided to travel to Gilead, and Jonas insisted on accompanying her, even though he was exiled from Gilead for killing his last master.

In the next 25 pages, we learn that Rime is being hunted by an old knight resurrected from the dead, who takes a very dim view of magic and those who use it. Meanwhile, Rime and Jonas are on the ship to Gilead. Jonas confides in Rime about his exile from Gilead, which it turns out resulted because he killed the famous knight for whom he squired (one with a different name, but who knows?), at the exhausted knight's own request.

The Battle: This one is a case study in what it takes to advance through the Battle of the Books. To win your first battle, you need to hook me with a strong opening. Both of these books did that, Phantom Effect with an edge-of-your seat scene where Johnny is pursued by a woman he is sure he already killed, Asteroid Made of Dragons with a fun action scene featuring good humor and solid characterization.

To win your second battle, you need to add a strong new story element, or otherwise find a way to ratchet things up a notch. After 50 pages, I'm still enjoying both of these books, but only one of them met this challenge.

Asteroid Made of Dragons continued with the witty writing. For example, this is how Jonas begins the story of his exile from Gilead:
"My father was a baker. We baked bread mostly—loaves for the common folk—though every so often we'd do special things for feast days. Cupcakes, cookies, cakes, all the . . ."

"NO." Rime nearly exploded. "You cannot start the story this way. Are you going to tell me the entire story of your life? Can't you just skip to the part that matters?"
This made me smile and it tells us something about the characters. Having said that, though, this section doesn't add a great deal to the story. The new story element—someone hunting Rime—is no real surprise, and the one big revelation is a bit of a let-down: turns out Jonas doesn't really have anything to feel guilty about at all. Also, no new hints at all about that asteroid in the title of the book.

Meanwhile, I very much expected the second section of Phantom Effect to be a prolonged chase scene through the corridors of this Motel 6. Instead, Aronovitz takes the story to a different level. We learn that Johnny's victim was a psychic, and she is taking her revenge on him through his mind. She begins a trip through his past that is unpleasant (for him) and sheds some light on how he became the monster he is as an adult. And this section ends with little Johnny being discovered by his adulterous mother with little-little Johnny in hand. If she stuck him with a tarantula for stealing marmalade, what will she do for this? I kind of don't want to know, except I really really do.

In this second section, Aronovitz figured out a way to broaden his story and pull me further into the tale, making me want to keep reading.

THE WINNER: Phantom Effect by Michael Aronovitz

Phantom Effect advances to the semifinals to face either Company Town by Madeline Ashby or Borderline by Mishell Baker.

To see the whole bracket, click here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

100 Ghost Soup by Robert Chansky vs. Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke :: Battle of the 2016 Books, Bracket One, First Round, Battle 8 of 8

The eighth and final first round match in Bracket One of the Battle of the 2016 Books features 100 Ghost Soup by Robert Chansky taking on Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke. The winner will be the book I (Aaron) most want to continue reading after 25 pages.

100 Ghost Soup: Curiosity Quills trade paperback, 268 pages, September 2016, cover art by Eugene Teplitsky. Seventeen-year-old Bei Jimo has lived his whole life in a Beijing orphanage. He only recently discovered that he was never adopted because of a clerical error in his paperwork that falsely informed prospective parents that he was born without hands. Now, inexplicably, just a month shy of his majority, someone far to the north, nearly to Mongolia, has offered to adopt him. He takes the train to the ghost town of Dongxi, a modern city that was abandoned during construction, where he is greeted by a peculiar man calling himself Mr. Vulpin.

100 Ghost Soup is the first novel by Robert Chansky, whose work I will try to judge as impartially as I can even though he is a member of my writing group. (Protests may be filed with the Fantastic Reviews home office in Buenos Aires.)

Merchant of Alyss: Revell trade paperback, 354 pages, January 2016, cover design by Kirk DouPonce. Merchant of Alyss (pronounced ah-LISS) is the second volume in the Legends of the Realm series. The story begins with an enigmatic wizard appearing and casting spells toward a house, but he is defeated by the house's automatic magical defenses. Later we join our protagonist Hyam and his wife Joelle, whose house it apparently was, as they inspect a shipment of scrolls obtained through mysterious sources. It seems that Hyam has lost his magical powers because his "orb" was shattered at the end of the last book (Emissary). But these scrolls contain writings that only Hyam can see, which allow him to cast a powerful spell without any orb.

Thomas Locke writes epic fantasy and techno-thrillers, as well as historical and contemporary fiction (often with religious elements) under the name Davis Bunn.

The Battle: Through 25-pages, Merchant of Alyss is very standard, run-of-the-mill epic fantasy. Let me emphasize that I do not mean that to sound derogatory. I have 5,000 books in my home. Some are brilliant masterpieces, but sure as hell not all 5,000. I have shelves full of old pulp novels and space operas and swords-and-sorcery adventures, and many is the time I pick up one of those books and open it because I'm in the mood to read something that is just what I'm expecting. It seems to me that's what Locke is going for here: fairly light-hearted adventure with swordfights and wizards tossing about balls of light, and the reader knows just what to expect.

Perhaps I am misperceiving where Merchant of Alyss is headed. For example, early on we see that Hyam greatly misses the ability to do magic, before he stumbles across a library of spells that he can still use. Perhaps the intent here is to show Hyam's descent into darkness because the magic he is doing has addictive properties. But I don't think so. I think Locke just wants the reader to share Hyam's excitement at being able to do magic again. And that's cool. In fact, that kind of predictable adventure story is sometimes preferable to a book where the author is going for brilliant and failing.

Unfortunately for Locke, in 100 Ghost Soup, Robert Chansky is aiming for something strange and different and enchanting, and through 25 pages, he is not failing at anything. Bei Jimo is a sympathetic character whom life has dealt a crappy hand. But when someone finally is willing to adopt him at the eleventh hour, he breaks the rules to jump on the opportunity. When his journey into the far north takes him to a deserted city, the train conductor insists that the train will not stop there but, ominously and much to the conductor's surprise, it does.

The train station is utterly deserted, but for a cart busily boiling water for tea. But when Bei Jimo tries to brew tea, a hidden wire in the cart pricks him and a few drops of blood fall into the cup. At that point, Mr. Vulpin appears. He seems disappointed that Bei Jimo actually has hands, but still insists on drinking the tea as is and promptly signing the adoption papers, at which point everything instantly changes:
The sable man's smile acquires a similar warmth that I cannot pin down to tea, or to him, or—

Or this place. For now, the station is transformed.

Men and women stand around us. A crowd of fifty or more. Above their heads are red paper banners, streamers, all wishing luck, long life, happy birthday.

Some are as solid as the sable man and I; some I can see through, and some at the edges are little more than smoke. The children of smoke hold the hands of parents. All look at us. I leap to my feet, hoping to run from this scene. Sixty years of official disdain for superstition has failed to stamp out a healthy thousand-year-old fear of ghosts. For that is what they are.

"Welcome to the family," says Mr. Vulpin, with a grin as wide as his teeth.
For me, this is a compelling opening, and 100 Ghost Soup is impossible to put down after the first 25 pages.

THE WINNER: 100 Ghost Soup by Robert Chansky

100 Ghost Soup advances to the second round to face A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell.

To see the whole bracket, click here.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twin Planets by Philip E. High :: Amy's bookshelf

Title: Twin Planets
Author: Philip E. High
Publisher: Paperback Library (52-392)
Copyright: 1967
Pages: 159
Cover Price: 50¢
Genre: science fiction

Description from the first page of book:

   Earth and Firma were twin planets - mirror worlds on a single time-track. Now Firma was halted in its rotation around the sun by the Aliens. Unless Denning and Liston, twin humans, could destroy the Aliens and get Firma moving again, Earth would some day repeat Firma's tragedy and be burned to a cinder.
   The Aliens had an incredible array of weapons at their disposal. Denning and Liston had only their courage and their brains.


Philip E. High (1914 – 2006) was an English science fiction author. His full name was Philip Empson High. He became an avid reader of science fiction as a teenager. His early efforts at writing fiction were rejected. High's first short story was published in a 1955 magazine. He published 14 novels between 1964 and 1979. He also wrote numerous short stories, including a number published after 1997. For many years, from 1950 until his until his retirement in 1979, High worked as a bus driver.

This is another book from my stack of vintage books. I decided to feature Twin Planets because it has, in my opinion, an interesting science fiction cover. The cover shows a domed vehicle, oddly clothed futuristic people, and a cityscape with a tower that wouldn't look out of place in an episode of The Jetsons. From the blurb and the several reviews I read, which were generally favorable, I gather this book involves speculative dangers more common in science fiction of the 1960s than today. My copy of this book is in good condition, although the spine of the book is a bit off square. The cover graphic shown was found on the Internet. As in previous 1960s books I've featured, the pages have yellowed and the print font is small. I haven't read this science fiction book, so I can't say more. Perhaps something from my bookshelf to add to my to-be-read list?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

UFO Hunters, Book Two by William J. Birnes vs. A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell :: Battle of the 2016 Books, Bracket One, First Round, Battle 7 of 8

Our seventh and penultimate first round match of Bracket One of the Battle of the 2016 Books pits UFO Hunters, Book Two by William J. Birnes against A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell. The winner will be the book I (Aaron) most want to continue reading after 25 pages.

UFO Hunters, Book Two: Tor hardcover, 344 pages, January 2016, cover art from A&E Network. UFO Hunters was a show on the History Channel for three seasons in 2008 and 2009. (How can three seasons fit into two years? That's the magic of television, friends!) William J. Birnes was the host and consulting producer, and now he's converting the episodes into books. Book Two covers the second season of the show (but I have not yet seen a Book Three).

A Shadow All of Light: Tor hardcover, 383 pages, April 2016, cover art by Sam Weber. A Shadow All of Light is something of a fix-up novel, beginning with Fred Chappell's six published stories about his character Falco, most of which previously appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. These six stories fill a bit more than half of the novel. Falco is a young country bumpkin who has decided to make more of himself. So he presents himself to Maestro Astolfo, a famous shadow thief, and Astolfo surprisingly agrees to teach him the trade.

Fred Chappell is a former professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and poet laureate of North Carolina. His first book was a horror novel published, I shit you not, in 1968. The man is still writing strong at 82 years old, God bless him!

The Battle:  The Battle of the Books welcomes not only science fiction and fantasy, but any books that we think may be of interest to SF/F readers. We figure SF/F readers may harbor a secret interest in UFOs because, well, I confess that as a kid I was fascinated with UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, all of that. Also, the title UFO Hunters, Book Two, reminds me of this:

I loved that show!

Birnes cleverly taps into my nostalgia for mysteries like UFOs with a hat tip to Leonard Nimoy and the show In Search Of . . . on the very first page of his book. However, there is no getting around the fact that the years have not been kind to these weird phenomena. If any of them were true, with the technology we have today, there should by now be mountains of supporting evidence. I am old enough to remember when UFO enthusiasts assured us that the reason that aren't zillions of clear movies of UFOs is that we don't walk around with film cameras in our pockets. Well, guess what? Now we do! Show me zillions of clear videos.

So I come to this book with a skeptical outlook, but trying to keep an open mind. Thing is, Birnes doesn't expect me to be skeptical with an open mind. He expects me to be a true believer before I even start reading. This is the opening paragraph of the first substantive chapter of the book, on Roswell:
Don't you love it when the debunkers start to howl about UFO cases being simply delusions of a conspiratorial mind? Ask about a specific case and they demand proof, hard evidence, photographs, UFOs at the White House, and the like. And you, being a good UFO researcher, begin to mention a specific case, regardless of what it is, and the debunker responds, as if you've tripped his gag button, "Roswell." They'll tell you with the voice of empty authority that the case had been totally debunked over sixty-five years ago and any idiot who would still be talking about it should not pass Go, but head directly to an asylum for a long needed rest, multiple shock treatments, and a lobotomy to boot. But you know better. And so do we.
No, I don't know better, and Dude, do not start a book about a supposed real-world phenomenon with an appeal to faith!

Throughout the chapter on Roswell, Birnes fiercely interrogates the government's explanations for what happened—Crash dummies? Why, those weren't yet in use in 1947!—which is totally fine, except that he completely sets aside his skepticism when he looks at the UFO enthusiasts' evidence. For example, he repeatedly touts an affidavit of Walter Haut, the man who wrote the press release referring to a "flying disc" that first created the Roswell controversy. Released after his death, the affidavit Birnes emphasizes says Haut personally viewed bodies and spaceship debris from the crash site. Birnes never mentions, but it took me all of thirty seconds on Google to find, that Haut previously signed an affidavit and conducted an interview saying he saw nothing of the sort, that he just put together the press release at the time based on what others told him. Birnes ignores the change in stories and never asks uncomfortable questions such as: Could it be that the new affidavit helped generate business for the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, which Haut co-founded and which supported his daughter after his death?

Twenty-five pages in, Birnes has already blown his credibility with me, and I've lost interest in his book.

Meanwhile, A Shadow All of Light is off to a solid start. The story moves along crisply, and our earnest protagonist Falco plays off well against his flamboyant and conceited master Astolfo. In addition to his talent with shadows, Astolfo is a master of deduction, giving many of the conversations an entertaining Holmes-Watson flavor.

My only complaint is that the magical acquisition and use of shadows is the only fantastic element of the story, and through 25 pages, we really don't have much idea how that works. Apparently wearing someone else's shadow gives one certain abilities, such as to move more stealthily or to conceal the intentions of one's words. But we haven't seen any of that happen yet. The first chapter deals with a shadow stolen from a notorious pirate, and everyone is terrified the pirate will come looking for it. But shouldn't he be less formidable without his shadow? I suspect this issue arises because the story "Thief of Shadows" shows Falco and Astolfo meeting, so it had to come first in the novel, but it was actually the fifth Falco story published and Chappell may have assumed most of his readers had already seen this type of magic used. We'll wait to see more in the next chapter.

THE WINNER: A Shadow All of Light by Fred Chappell

A Shadow All of Light advances to the second round, to take on either 100 Ghost Soup by Robert Chansky or Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke.

To see the whole bracket, click here.