Author: Sam J. M.
Kill your darlings, they say – and it’s true – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Editing makes books better, but the process of cutting down a novel means some things you love MUST DIE.
In early drafts of my novel Blackfish City, there were several chapters that were “one-offs,” meaning they were written in the voice of a character who only narrates one chapter – as opposed to the four POV characters who narrate most chapters. My genius editor felt like four narrators was already asking a lot of readers, and these additional voices risked losing some folks. I agreed, and we cut a couple chapters, while some others were incorporated into other chapters. Only one ‘one-off’ remains in the finished text – a chapter at the center of the book, by the character who stands at the center of the story: the mysterious orcamancer.
But the chapter I was saddest to lose was actually narrated by the orcamancer’s killer whale companion. It was the right call, but I was sad to lose it.
So I’m super excited to share that this deleted chapter has been published in its entirety, over at Tor.com!!!
Most peopled places turn the sea sour, foul, toxic. You can smell them from a day’s swim away, the filth they put in the water. The stink of their suffering. This place is not so bad. They have huge machines for processing their waste. The cold keeps them out of the sea. A giant metal cone warms the deep water. We’ve been to seventy-three peopled places, and I think I like this one best. Which isn’t to say I actually like it.
It’s overwhelming, that my story of lesbian warrior grandmas and oversexed gay boys and gender-non-binary revolutionaries AND KILLER WHALES AND POLAR BEARS has received such a positive response. And now, to have gotten this kind of nod from my peers in the science fiction & fantasy community, is beyond incredible.
The whole ballot is full of magnificence. Rebecca Roanhorse, R.F. Kuang, Tomi Adeyemi, Justina Ireland, Roshani Chokshi, BLACK PANTHER (!!!!!), Janelle Monae’s DIRTY COMPUTER (!!!!!!), Henry Lien, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, A.T. Greenblatt, Phenderson Djèlí Clark, Sarah Pinsker, Andy Duncan, Brooke Bolander, Jose Pablo Iriarte, Martha Wells, Kelly Robson, Aliette de Bodard, Mary Robinette Kowal, and tons of other artists whose work I adore.
Last week, I was honored to participate in a powerful conversation at the New York Public Library with fellow contributors to the amazing new anthology A People’s History of the United States (Penguin/Random House/One World). Editor Victor LaValle moderated the discussion with N.K. Jemisin, Alice Sola Kim, Maria Dahvana Headley, and me! The event was sold out, the crowd was incredible – my fellow authors were MAGNIFICENT – and the signing line was around the corner!
But if you missed it, never fear.
Tor.com did a terrific write-up about the event, and they quote me: “he constantly swings between “ecstatic joy” and “profound despair” which leads to his fiction “trying to come to terms with how the world can be both so fucked up and so full of wonderful things how people can do such horrible things and participate, often unwittingly, in such horrible systems, but also do wonderful things as well. I don’t know why that became a story of a future where Prince is illegal and Big Brother Is Listening…but that’s what happened.”
And the library put up video of the full event:
Charlie Jane Anders, one of my very favorite contemporary science fiction writers, was kind enough to include me in an awesome new article over at Tor.com, talking about why serious sci-fi needs to grapple with climate change.
It’s a great article, and discusses some of my favorite books of the past few years, by writers I adore like Cindy Pon and N.K. Jemisin.
Here’s some of what I had to say:
“With Blackfish City, I wanted to paint a realistically terrifying picture about how the world will change in the next hundred years, according to scientists,” says Miller—a picture which includes the evacuation of coastal cities, wars over resources, famines, plague, and infrastructure collapse. “But I also wanted to have hope, and imagine the magnificent stuff we’ll continue to create. The technology we’ll develop. The solutions we’ll find. The music we’ll make.”
“The Road/Walking Dead-style abject hopelessness is not entertaining or stimulating to me,” adds Miller. “Humans are the fucking worst, yes, but they’re also the fucking best.”
To whet the appetites of French audiences, they’ve released a translation of my short story “Calved,” originally published in 2015 by Asimov’s – the first time I explored the floating city of Qaanaaq, which would later become the setting for my novel.
Francophones can download a PDF of the translated story, by clicking here!!
I don’t read French, so I can’t speak to the quality of the translation. BUT, it’s translated by the magnificent Anne-Sylvie Salzman, who also translated the full novel, and she’s been amazing to work with, so I have full faith in her ability to grasp and communicate the heart of the story.
BLACKFISH CITY appeared on Publishers Weekly’s list of the Best Books of 2018!! Here’s what they had to say:
“Miller’s ambitious and driven first novel for adults is a smashing story of everyday life on a floating city after a climate apocalypse. While tackling class, technology, politics, and more, Miller never loses sight of the human beings at the heart of his story, producing a deeply empathic and lovely work of science fiction.”
In addition – an eerie six months after the book’s release, when one has long despaired of seeing any further reviews – Kirkus gave a coveted starred review to BLACKFISH CITY! And said lots of nice things about the book. “Harsh and lovely” is the kinda thing I’d gladly put on my tombstone:
…Populated by the refugees and descendants of refugees from nations destroyed by social upheaval and environmental disasters, Qaanaaq is run by software while political and economic power rests in the hands of landlords, crime gangs, and the ultrawealthy, never-seen shareholders. But what was once a relatively stable system is headed for a shakeup as the gulf between the haves and have-nots widens. Someone is transmitting subversive broadcasts about life in Qaanaaq; a gang lord is planning her ascent to the ranks of shareholders; a woman seeks to help her mother, who’s imprisoned, perhaps unjustly, in an ultrasecure mental hospital; a brain-damaged fighter is pressured into becoming an enforcer; an ambitious courier becomes a spy; and the grandson of a shareholder contracts a sexually transmitted disease that fatally afflicts its carriers with the memories of the previously infected. But true chaos only enters the city with Masaaraq, a tough warrior woman who travels with her psychically bonded orca and a chained polar bear. She has a very specific reason for coming to Qaanaaq, and she does not care whom she harms or what plans she disrupts in the course of fulfilling her purpose. Although it has its bleak and very violent moments, there’s also a certain amount of optimism in this story, which ultimately proves to be about family and the hard-won strength of those who survive against all odds. Author and professional activist Miller (The Art of Starving, 2017) allows his passion for advocacy—for people desperately clinging to their hope for a home, exploited minorities, and those outside the cishet dichotomy—to inform and structure his fiction but in such an integral and yet casual way that it never feels preachy.
Harsh and lovely.
My third novel, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS will be published by HarperTeen in the summer of 2019, and the cover dropped this week, and over at the Barnes & Noble Teen Blog there’s an exclusive reveal of the first two chapters!!
Sam J. Miller swept us off our feet with The Art of Starving, which went on to win the Nebula Award for best YA. After a brief detour in adult sci-fi (Blackfish City), he’s returning to YA with a book that’s every bit as unique, nuanced, and full of depth as his first in the category. We’re thrilled to reveal the first two chapters of Destroy All Monsters, which is, to borrow from the author’s own words, half gritty contemporary and half epic fantasy, with both main characters’ stories centering on the question of how we fight the monsters in our world.
This excerpt shows both narrating characters in their dual-genre glory. Read on and get to know Ash, a teen photographer investigating hate crimes in her small town while tending to the mental health crisis of her best friend, Solomon, and Solomon, a street kid battling monsters and a growing conspiracy against his best friend, Ash.
Feast your eyes on this magnificent cover, designed by Nathan Burton:
I had an amazing time last weekend at New York Comic Con.
I have attended before as a fan, but never as part of the programming. I still got to be a fan, of course, exploring the floor and fighting my way through beautiful crowds and seeing some amazing cosplay, and running into awesome friends, and meeting heroes like Bob Camp, co-creator of Ren & Stimpy, who my husband and I got to thank personally for all the joy and trauma he brought into our lives.
But I was there to work. And they didn’t ease me into it, for my first panel – I was honored and terrified to be part of a panel with brilliant writers Marlon James, Julie Kagawa, Tochi Onyebuchi, Maura Milan, and moderator Ali T. Kokmen, discussing #OwnVoices: How Writers Build Authenticity Into Diverse Worlds. We were in a very big room, that was very very crowded.
Luckily, my terror was unnecessary. I had a great time, and it was an incredibly stimulating conversation. With a lot of laughter, and a lot of wisdom.
BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. Unbound Worlds included it in this awesome listing of “Best SFF Panels You Might Have Missed at New York Comic Con 2018,” and Tor.com did a fantastic write-up of the panel, which you can read here. They even mentioned me a couple times! Here’s my favorite part:
Asked what it was like to see their book covers come to life, the authors absolutely lit up. Maura, having already spoken about her desire to see herself on the cover of a book, talked about how excited her publisher was to work with her, and how they cast Maura’s friend Jessica in the role of the character. Seeing her friend at the photo shoot, dressed in the armor Maura described was an incredible experience. Tochi and Marlon both mentioned that there are standard fonts and images that are usually used for “African books” and how pleased they were that their publishers didn’t try to take that tack with them, but instead listened to the authors’ vision and brought that to life. Julie agreed, talking of how pleased she was with the silver fox mask and the authentic Japanese architecture on her book. And Sam? Well, Sam’s book cover glows in the dark. He also gave out temporary tattoos his publicist had made that matched the tattoo Sam himself got in honor of the book coming out.
Also, video of the full panel exists! And you can watch it! Right here:
My new story “Conspicuous Plumage” appears in the very special 100th issue of Lightspeed Magazine!!
This is super exciting for me. My first pro sale was to Lightspeed. My first Nebula-nominated story was in Lightspeed. They’ve published so many of my favorite stories by all the writers I admire most in the genre. So I am super honored to be able to celebrate this huge milestone with them.
Here’s what one reviewer said about “Conspicuous Plumage”:
LIGHTSPEED #1 was launched in June 2010, and now eight years later, we’ve reached a milestone: Issue 100. To celebrate, we’re publishing a super-sized issue, with ten original stories–more than twice the amount of original fiction than usual–plus ten reprints and some special nonfiction to boot. And to make things even more commemorative, the vast majority of our fiction in this issue, both original and reprint, comes from our most frequently published fiction contributors: the LIGHTSPEEDiest writers to ever LIGHTSPEED. It’s a distillation of what we’re made of, and we’re beyond excited to share it with all of you.
Our cover art this month comes from Hugo award-winning artist (and fifty-three-time LIGHTSPEED illustrator) Galen Dara, illustrating new science fiction from Vylar Kaftan: “Her Monster, Whom She Loved.” We also have new SF from Carrie Vaughn (“Harry and Marlowe and the Secret of Ahomana”), Adam-Troy Castro (“The Last to Matter”), Ken Liu (“The Explainer”), and Sofia Samatar (“Hard Mary”), plus reprints from A. Merc Rustad (“How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps”), Charles Yu (“NPC”), Caroline M. Yoachim (“Stone Wall Truth”), An Owomoyela (“Travelling Into Nothing”), Seanan McGuire (“Frontier ABCs: The Life and Times of Charity Smith, Schoolteacher”), and David Barr Kirtley (“They Go Bump”).
On the fantasy side of the ledger, we’re featuring new work from Maria Dahvana Headley (“You Pretend Like You Never Met Me, and I’ll Pretend Like I Never Met You”), Cadwell Turnbull (“Jump”), Genevieve Valentine (“Abandonware”), Sam J. Miller (“Conspicuous Plumage”), and Kat Howard (“A Brief Guide to the Seeking of Ghosts”), plus we have reprints from Yoon Ha Lee (“The Coin of Heart’s Desire”), Theodora Goss (“Elena’s Egg”), Charlie Jane Anders (“The Super Ultra Duchess of Fedora Forest”), and Jeremiah Tolbert (“The Girl with Sun in Her Head”).
My story “Red Lizard Brigade” kicks off the special shared-universe dinosaur issue of Uncanny Magazine!
The issue was born from a conversation on Twitter a year ago, between a bunch of awesome SF/F/H writers – many but not all of them queer – geeking out about how awesome dinosaurs are…. and then the magnificent folks at Uncanny Magazine had decided to put together a special issue with a bunch of gnarly dinosaur stories all set in the same universe!
Here are some reviews of the story:
“Soviet scientists discover a way to reach through space and time. This technology brings dinosaurs tot he present day as weapons. The main characters are two soldiers in the Red Army trained to work with the animals. They become lovers, but come into conflict when one wishes to change how the dinosaurs are used. The result is treason and tragedy… a powerful tale about the tension between love and duty.” – Tangent
“… An emotionally devastating piece about loyalty and the desire for freedom, and the fear that comes from having survived something very difficult and not knowing where loyalty should be given.” – Quick Sip Reviews
“First, I loved this story’s setup and the worldbuilding… Second, this story is simply a well-crafted delight… the story is perfectly ordered, hooking readers with a brilliant setup, pausing briefly to flesh out the worldbuilding and character relationships, and then bringing it all together for a heart-wrenching and darkly gorgeous climax.” – The Skiffy and Fanty Show
Lastly, “Red Lizard Brigade” is an interesting examination of relationships, betrayal, loyalty, and love. There
At the 2018 Nebula Award ceremony, I was super flabbergasted that my debut The Art of Starving won the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Science Fiction Novel!!!
This was my fourth time at the Nebula Awards as a nominee, and my first win, and it was a truly humbling honor for my book to have been chosen by my fellow members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
ALSO!!! My mother and my husband were there. And WE GOT TO MEET TELLY!!!!!!! The toastmaster for the ceremony was Martin P. Robinson, who has worked for Sesame Street for 37 years as the puppeteer and voice for Telly, Snuffleupagus, and the Yup-Yup Martians. Afterwards we got to take pictures with him, which was pretty incredible… especially for my husband, who learned English (in part!) from Sesame Street.
Over on YouTube, you can watch my kinda frantic Heart-Beating-So-Fast-I-Thought-I-Would-Die / OMG-I-Am-Standing-In-Front-of-All-My-Favorite-Writers acceptance speech:
It’s up on their website, so I guess it’s cool to share that I’ll be traveling to London for MCM Comic Con to talk BLACKFISH CITY!!!!
… along with a ton of other excellent writers… and artists… and movie stars… (OMG HICKS FROM ALIENS)
“Sam why are you hiding in the green room the entire con?”
“Shut up I’m hoping Hicks from Aliens needs a soda.”
MY FIRST INTERNATIONAL BOOK TRAVEL YALL
Programming details are still being finalized, but I am going to be on four fantastic-sounding panels – if you’re gonna be there, look me up in the program and COME THROOOOOOOOOUGH
I was super-honored to be interviewed by living legend Scott Simon for NPR’s Weekend Edition – and the interview is now up live on their site!! Check it out if you’ve got 6.25 minutes to spare to hear me talk about BLACKFISH CITY, being a small-town butcher, the hypocrisy of American anti-immigrant sentiment, and how awesome my dad was.
MILLER: … people will still find a way to come together and live together, and that it’ll be really hard and really beautiful.
SIMON: The really-hard-and-really-beautiful part sometimes made me wonder if – are we talking about something that’s dystopian or, in a way, utopian?
MILLER: That’s a great question. And I’m not entirely sure I have an answer and probably because I actually believe that both things exist simultaneously in books and in the world around us. There are so many things in our world that are amazing and wonderful and that people a hundred years ago would be shocked and overwhelmed to find that we have the kind of technology and medical care and food abundance that we do now. And so in many ways for many people, this current moment is very utopian. But it is also deeply dystopian, and many people are living really, really hard lives that other people are sort of perfectly happy to ignore.
THE ART OF STARVING is a nominee for the first-ever World Science Fiction Society award for Best Young Adult novel, to be given out at the Hugo Awards!
After several years of shenanigans from far-right factions messing with the ballot to keep marginalized writers from making the list – including one year where I missed being on the ballot by one vote – not that I’m bitter about it or anything – it’s so so wonderful to see such an incredibly diverse list of amazing writers!!
So much love to all the folks who supported me and this weird messy book. I am so so grateful to have such an incredible crew of friends and family and teachers and colleagues and writers and comrades standing alongside me. THANK YOU.
I’m excited to be part of two fantastic panels at this year’s New York City Teen Author Festival, organized by the brilliant David Levithan, as well as a high school visit and a signing! I’ll be talking about THE ART OF STARVING, my writing process, and lots of other fun stuff… but more importantly, I’ll be surrounded by tons of other awesome writers with lots of great stuff to say! See below for my public schedule, including the fab folks I’ll be sharing a stage with – all events are free to the public, though book purchases are STRONGLY encouraged. Seating is first come, first served.
Monday, March 19
Mulberry Street NYPL (10 Jersey Street, Manhattan), 6PM-8PM:
Areas of Expertise: YA Writers on YA Writing
Sarah Darer Littman
Sam J. Miller
Friday March 23,
42nd Street NYPL, South Court (476 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan) 2PM-2:50PM
Queer Voices in YA — The 2018 Edition
Sam J. Miller
Moderator: David Levithan
On Tuesday, April 24th, we’ll celebrate the launch of BLACKFISH CITY at the phenomenal powerHouse bookstore in Brooklyn – and I’m over the moon to announce that I’ll be in conversation with my hero and friend N.K. Jemisin!! Winner of multiple Hugo Awards, including Best Novel for The Fifth Season, possibly my favorite fantasy novel of the past five years, N.K. Jemisin is a genius and I am so so excited to be chatting with her about my book.
DO NOT MISS THIS AWESOME EVENT.
Tuesday Apr 24, 2018
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
POWERHOUSE @ the Archway
28 Adams Street (Corner of Adams & Water Street @ the Archway)
Brooklyn , NY 11201
Today, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America released the ballot for the 2018 Nebula Awards, and I’m thrilled to report that THE ART OF STARVING is a nominee for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel.
Named after the brilliant, prolific author of The Beast Master (who wrote or co-wrote over 250 novels; also the first woman to be SFWA Grand Master!), the award has gone to some of my favorite YA writers – starting with my hero & teacher Holly Black!
I had doubts as to whether this weird, edgy, risky book full of cursing and gay sex would ever get published, let alone get so much love, and I am kvelling A LOT right now.
In just over two months, my novel BLACKFISH CITY will be published by Ecco Press in the US, and Orbit Books in the UK! It’s my first non-YA book, and it’s set in a floating city in the Arctic after rising sea levels have transformed the globe… and a woman arrives one day with an orca and a polar bear, on a mission that could be bloody or beautiful, or both.
As if that wasn’t exciting enough, it’s already getting some awesome buzz.
“Miller made waves with his YA debut, The Art of Starving, and will make more with this rich and intense dystopian ensemble story set in a harsh near future.”
and Barnes & Noble listed it under “25 Sci-Fi and Fantasy Debuts to Watch For in 2018“:
“Set in the floating city of Qaanaaq, built in the arctic circle in the wake of the terrible climate wars that saw ground-level cities burned and razed, Miller’s adult debut (his lightly fantastical YA The Art of Starving was one of the most acclaimed books of last year) looks to be a complex jewel of ideas… This is the kind of swirling, original sci-fi we live for.”
It’s been a rough year.
A lot of protests. A lot of phone calls to Senators. A lot of crying over awful things I can’t control.
Also, I had a book come out. That, and the fascist takeover of the government really kept me from doing as much reading as I wanted to do, even though good storytelling is more important than ever, in times like this.
But I did read some great fiction this year. And it helped me a lot. I even published some stuff I’m proud of. So if you’re in an award-nominating kind of mood, or are desperate to escape this disappointing reality, or are just looking for something awesome to read, here’s my round-up of the best stuff written by other people, as well as the work of my own that I think is halfway decent.
And here are my favorite stories by other writers, from the past year [list in formation]:
- A Place to Grow, by A.T. Greenblatt (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
- Afiya’s Song, by Justin Key (F&SF)
- Auspicium Melioris Aevi, by JY Yang (Uncanny)
- Bear Language, by Martin Cahill (Fireside Fiction)
- Microbiota & the Masses: A Love Story, by S.B. Divya (Tor.com)
- Mix Tapes from Dead Boys, by E. Catherine Tobler (Lightspeed)
- Monster Girls Don’t Cry, by A. Merc Rustad (Uncanny)
- Never Yawn Under a Banyan Tree, by Nibedita Sen (Anathema)
- Nine Tenths of the Law, by Molly Tanzer (Lightspeed)
- Police Magic, by Brent Lambert (Fiyah)
Queen of Dirt, by Nisi Shawl (Apex)
- Red Threads of Fortune, by JY Yang (Tor)
Say, She Toy, by Chesya Burke (Apex)
Skins Smooth as Plantain, Hearts Soft as Mango, by Ian Muneshwar (The Dark)
- Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time, by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny)
- Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategy of the Common Octopus, by Bogi Takács (Clarkesworld)
- Suddenwall, by Sara Saab (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
- The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, by Margaret Killjoy (Tor)
- Wendy, Darling, by A.C. Wise (Daily Science Fiction)
Tor.com consistently publishes some of the most excellent short fiction, and I am so excited to finally have a story there!! Edited by Jonathan Strahan, “The Future of Hunger in the Age of Programmable Matter,” is described by Tor.com as follows:
“A group of friends, a pair of lovers, and the tussle between love, addiction, and what comes next. Otto, a former addict, grateful and indebted to his lover Trevor, is faced with temptation and the threat of disaster, but he’s fighting it. Fighting it in a future where matter can be reprogrammed and anything could happen, good or bad.”
Perhaps most excitingly, Tor.com always includes an original illustration – mine is by Goñi Montes, and I’m in love with it:
First review for BLACKFISH CITY is in, and it’s a hell of a thing – a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly!! Here it is in its entirety:
“Miller, fresh from his YA debut (The Art of Starving), makes the jump to adult SF with an ambitious, imaginative, and big-hearted dystopian ensemble story that’s by turns elegiac and angry. The floating city of Qaanaaq was constructed after many mainland cities burned or sank. The arrival of a woman with two unusual companions—an orca and a polar bear—draws a disparate group together. Ankit, a political aide, wants to free her institutionalized birth mother; her brother, Kaev, is a brain-damaged fighter at the end of his career; Fill, a rich playboy, has the breaks, an illness that throws sufferers into strangers’ memories; and Soq, an ambitious nonbinary street messenger, is trying to hustle their way into a better life. Together, they uncover a dramatic series of secrets, connections, and political plots. Miller has crafted a thriller that unflinchingly examines the ills of urban capitalism. Qaanaaq is a beautiful and brutal character in its own right, rendered in poetic interludes. The novel stumbles only at the very end, in a denouement that feels just a little too hurried for the characters’ twisting journey.” Agent: Seth Fishman, Gernert Company. (Apr.)
I’ll be doing readings from The Art of Starving in San Diego and San Francisco this month! If you’re in one of those places, stop by!
5943 Balboa Ave, Suite 100
San Diego, CA 92111
San Francisco Bay Area:
2349 Shattuck Avenue
The End of the World Literary Cabaret
The Green Arcade Books
1680 Market Street
San Francisco CA
Super proud and excited to share that I’ve been translated into Russian for the first time!
I majored in Russian Lit in college, so this is a particularly moving milestone. I don’t remember enough of the language to be able to read this translation, but I am sure it’s amazing.
СЭМ ДЖ. МИЛЛЕР «ПЯТЬДЕСЯТ СЕМЬ ПРИЧИН ГРУППОВОГО САМОУБИЙСТВА В СЛАНЦЕВОМ КАРЬЕРЕ»
Feast your eyes on this beauty:
The Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper, recently ran a fantastic article on the evolution of YA literature, called “Young Adult Writers Are Changing the Face of Blockbusters,” and I was honored to be interviewed for the piece!
Here’s the opener:
Before Sam J. Miller sold his debut novel The Art of Starving, structured into the 53 commandments that anorexic teen Matt follows to restrict what he eats and — just maybe — nurture mystical superpowers, he was nervous about how, well, adult his young adult novel was. “You’re cool with all the f-bombs and gay sex?” he asked Kristen Pettit, his editor at HarperTeen. “I think it has exactly the right amount of f-bombs and gay sex,” she reassured him.
“She supported me to take it to the limit of where it needed to go,” he says today of the subversive memoir based on Miller’s own experience with an adolescent eating disorder. “If you are going to tell a story about someone’s journey towards self-destruction you have to make it real for people.”
Matt is a painfully relatable underdog for teens and adults alike, even as his questionable decisions make him anything but a role model. But crafting teachable moments is hardly a prerequisite in today’s Young Adult sphere, where diverse, nuanced narratives have emerged as today’s blockbusters — see, for example, the breakout success of this year’s The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, about an African-American girl whose best friend is shot by a white police officer, or YA giant John Green’s novels, which will be joined this fall with the upcoming Turtles All The Way Down, about a 16-year-old whose character was inspired by Green’s own struggles with mental health…
On July 18th, we launched THE ART OF STARVING with an incredible event at Parlor NYC!
I read from the book, had a great conversation with Asimov’s editor Sheila Williams, and answered some excellent questions from the audience. Then I signed a whole lot of books, sold by The Lit Bar, a magnificent pop-up shop currently raising funds to address the horrible injustice that the Bronx currently doesn’t have a single bookstore!!!
See below for just a few of the magnificent images. And my magnificent husband livestreamed the event, and you can watch it here!!!
I’m excited to be traveling to Washington D.C. this weekend, for the OutWrite LGBTQ literary conference!
Held at the DC Center (2000 14th St NW, # 105, Washington D.C.), it’s a celebration of LGBT literature, authors, writers, and poets. On Saturday, August 5th, there will be a full day of readings, panels, book sales, and exhibitors. To finish the weekend, a number of writing workshops will be held on Sunday, August 6th.
On Saturday, at 2PM, I’ll be part of All the Feels: A Queer YA Reading, with M-E Girard, Jaye Robin Brown, Sam J. Miller, & Amanda Gernentz Hanson. Moderated by Rahul Kanakia.
And then at 5PM I will be on a panel called Dignified: On Writing Thoughtful Depictions of Disability & Mental Health, with Sunny Moraine, Marlena Chertock, and Amanda Gernentz Hanson.
If you’re in the DC area, please come through to check it out – seems like it’ll be a fantastic couple of days.
THE ART OF STARVING got some fantastic blurbs from some magnificent folks, and some very good reviews – and got put on a bunch of awesome lists – so here’s a round-up of all of them!!
“Matt’s sarcastic, biting wit keeps readers rooting for him and hoping for his recovery. In his acknowledgments, Miller reveals the story’s roots in his own teen experiences. A dark and lovely tale of supernatural vengeance and self-destruction.” – Kirkus (starred review)
16 SF/F/H Books to Read this July – the Verge
Most-Anticipated LGBT Novels of 2017– Barnes & Noble Teen Blog
7 Essential Fantasy Novels for July – Inverse
Best New Young Adult Books, July 2017 – The Children’s Book Review
“Miller’s heartfelt debut novel tackles difficult subjects with a bold mix of magical realism, tender empathy and candor. Matt is delusional and anorexic, but he’s also an admirably strong character who is out and proud, brilliant, creative, and determined to survive. It’s not always easy to find novels with troubled gay male protagonists who aren’t doomed, and Miller’s creative portrait of a complex and sympathetic individual will provide a welcome mirror for kindred spirits.” – Booklist (starred review)
“There is nothing romantic about debut novelist Miller’s portrayal of anorexia; his descriptions are often graphic and disturbing, and discussion of Matt’s future is brutally honest.” – Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“Sam J. Miller’s debut novel, The Art of Starving, is, perhaps, one of the most important books of the year… a novel with the power to change the world… If you have teenagers, know teenagers, or ever were a teenager, you should read it. If you’ve ever been an outsider, or you’ve ever been lonely, you should read this book. If you’ve ever felt love and heartache, this book is for you. And if you want to teach someone about empathy, friendship, and self-acceptance, buy. Them. This. Book.” – Barnes & Noble Science Fiction Blog
“Damn near perfect… A deeply tragic, if also deeply magical and hopeful story that breaks with expectations to subvert and challenge… perhaps the highest praise that I can give to this novel is to say I wish desperately I had read it when I was young myself.” – Book Smugglers
“His narration is biting, sharply witty and possibly delusional; keeping readers in the moment with Matt and showing only his perspective is a brilliant choice by Sam J. Miller to allow readers full insight into Matt’s mind but keep the mysteries of Maya and Matt’s possible powers at bay. Miller’s powerful, provocative and daring work forces readers to question reality and how much of our world is shaped by what we see.” – Shelf Awareness
“If this debut sounds suspiciously like it will wreak havoc on your feelings, there’s a good reason for that: it totally will. But it’s so worth it, especially with the dearth of eating disorder books in YA starring boys.” – Barnes & Noble Teen Blog
“An extraordinarily vital and necessary book that deals with underrepresented characters, discussions of toxic masculinity, and the effects of bullying in raw and effective ways… the overall message of devotion and self-acceptance is beautifully told.” – RT Reviews
“Behind Matt is a vivid slice of struggling small-town family in a struggling small-town life, and it’s heartbreaking and credible to see how vulnerable on all sides this makes him and why any kind of power, even a self-destroying one, is something to be seized.” – The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This blend of reality and magical realism is sure to be one of the most talked about books of the season.” – Bookish (“Must-Read YA Books of Summer 2017”)
“Sam J. Miller’s first novel, The Art of Starving, is a gut-wrenching and powerful read about a high school boy clamoring for acceptance… Matt’s journey will feel familiar and hopeful to any reader who’s experienced the precarious scramble for self-acceptance.” – Bookpages
“Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless and powerful, The Art of Starving is a classic in the making.” — Book Riot
“THE ART OF STARVING is a gorgeous and heartbreaking book that had me saying “what the…?” while flipping pages so fast I barely cared about the answer to my own question… This is a book that I’ll want to read and re-read in order to glean those beautiful and sometimes painful truths that the author has hidden in Matt’s story.” – YA Books Central
“Exactly as wounding as its synopsis implies, but twice as profound. Framed as a rule book for aspiring superhumans like Matt, the novel is too tongue-in-cheek and bizarre to veer into the realm of the Morality Tale… a bruising and incisive story about a boy at war with himself.” – Tor.com
“It may sound like this story romanticizes eating disorders, but Miller doesn’t shy away from showing the brutality and relentlessness of Matt’s illness. The result is a powerful, often beautiful, and believe it or not, sharply funny novel from Miller.” – Bustle
“The novel’s most distinctive and appealing aspect… is Matt’s own cynical, sarcastic, desperate, and thoroughly believable voice… Miller has by now earned the right to go a bit off the rails, and the novel ends up going exactly where he wants it to go, and where we do as well.” – Locus
“In this touching, harrowing, and self-aware story, Sam J. Miller deftly subverts expectations and blends conventions: the coming-out narrative, the superhero origin tale, Stephen King–esque horror. The result is a moving, original novel for anyone fascinated by the limits of self-control.” – iBooks
“This unique and well-written book is a dark, upsetting, and moving look at one boy’s experience with an eating disorder that will leave readers hopeful that he’s on the path to recovery, but maybe still doubting what has happened to Matt and what his future will hold.” – Teen Librarian Toolbox
“Miller’s novel is a stylistic tour-de-force in the way it creates a completely naturalistic, quirky, unique voice for Matt, never pandering or distractingly meta. Matt himself is made wholly believable by dint of what he chooses to share and what he chooses to gloss over. The Art of Starving is a deeply intelligent and sensitive novel peopled by unforgettable characters. Despite its title, it’s an embarrassment of riches.” – Intergalactic Medicine Show
“Beautifully rendered. This novel will break your heart and heal it again.” — Coretta Scott-King Award/ Newbery Honor/ National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson
“Completely mesmerized by this gorgeous gut punch of a novel… my fav book in recent memory.” – Mackenzi Lee, NYT-bestselling author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue
“This book is an ache, a bruise, a slaughterhouse of a love story; every word is a blow, but every blow is an anthem. This is what truth feels and smells and tastes like, and it’s one magnificent monster.” — Margaret Stohl, bestselling author of the Beautiful Creatures series
“The Art of Starving is as mind-bending as it is heart-rending. Sam Miller has written a searing, daring, and unflinching story that I will not soon forget.” — Alex London, author of Proxy
“Brutal and brilliant, The Art of Starving seizes you and refuses to let you go. Matt is a complicated, compelling protagonist, and his raw emotional vulnerability is devastating. Hands down, The Art of Starving is the best book I’ve read this year.” — Alyssa Wong, winner of the World Fantasy and Nebula Awards
“The Art of Starving is a humane, deeply felt, heartbreaking novel, observed with an edge as sharp as broken glass. A supervillain coming-of-age novel that made me cry—my god, I loved this book.” — Alaya Dawn Johnson, Nebula and Norton Award winning author of The Summer Prince
“Sam J. Miller’s voice rings through his fiction, both short and long form, bearing important witness to pain and beauty in equal measure. (I refuse, in point of fact, to imagine a world without his voice.) With The Art of Starving — a wrenching look at a young man’s world turned inside out — Miller has given superpowers to a modern-day Holden Caufield and set the result loose upon the world. Haunting.” ~ Fran Wilde, Award-winning author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and Horizon
“As gritty with salted wounds as are all great fairytales, The Art of Starving is The Outsiders with superpowers. A quest to avenge his missing sister turns Matt into a self-perceived starvation saint. His journey from from addicted boy to recovering man should be shelved alongside the classic stories of unexpected salvation.” – Maria Dahvana Headley
“A biting debut, full of whiplash dark humor and heart.” – Roshani Chokshi, author of the Norton-Award-nominated THE STAR-CROSSED QUEEN.
Two phenomenal launch events are coming up for THE ART OF STARVING – one in New York City, and one in my home town of Hudson, NY, where the novel is set. I’ll be reading from the book, and answering questions, and signing copies!! AND THERE WILL BE SNACKS. This event is free and open to the public and is wheelchair accessible. Copies of the books will be available for purchase, thanks to The Lit. Bar!!!
NEW YORK CITY LAUNCH EVENT
Parlor NYC – 286 Spring Street, NYC
Tuesday, July 18th, 7PM
HUDSON LAUNCH EVENT
Hudson Area Library – 51 North Fifth Street, Hudson NY 12534
Saturday, July 29th, 2PM
The FAA is a very cool Beijing-based incubator for sci-fi talent, and they have recently launched an ambitious translation project to bring global SF to a Chinese audience. I’m honored that my story is part of that effort!!
It’s called “The Ways Out,” and it’s about a government agent tailing a ten-year-old skateboarder girl who has potentially dangerous psionic abilities.
Rocket Stack Rank said the end reveal is “delicious.”
Here’s a clip from the middle of the story:
Surveillance Clip S643/R57.D018 [File Uploaded]
Human Agent Summary
The girl is good.
S1 is a fast learner, seeming to suck up skill through osmosis. When S2 does jump tricks, he has this slight upward tilt to his hands. Utterly idiosyncratic; no one else does this. But S1 does. S2’s eyebrows unite in perplexed happiness.
They are hard to track, now. They move fast from spot to spot. Like they are looking for someone, or several someones. Difficult to follow unobtrusively. They say little. Mic jumps yield nothing but background noise and skateboard wheels spinning. Cross reference of their geocache tracks to known routes of illegal activity among variant individuals shows minimal overlap.
There are no files on her mother. This is unusual enough to be a cause of some concern. Cooperation requests submitted to partner agencies in several allied nations tasked with tracking variant individuals.
Finalists for this year’s Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award for best short science fiction have been announced, and I am deeply honored to see that “Things With Beards” is on that list!
Finalists for the 2017
Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award
Nina Allan, “The Art of Space Travel,” Tor.com, 27 July 2016.
Amal El-Mohtar, “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, eds. Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe, Saga Press, 2016.
Carolyn Ives Gilman, “Touring with the Alien,” Clarkesworld, April 2016.
Victor LaValle, The Ballad of Black Tom, Tor.com, February 2016.
Ian R. MacLeod, “The Visitor From Taured,” Asimov’s, September 2016.
Sam J. Miller, “Things with Beards,” Clarkesworld, June 2016.
Dominica Phetteplace, “Project Empathy,” Asimov’s, March 2016.
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Future is Blue,” Drowned Worlds, ed. Jonathan Strahan, Solaris Books, 2016.
Kai Ashante Wilson, A Taste of Honey, Tor.com, 13 October 2016.
This makes three award nominations for my story, joining previous nominations for the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. But it’s an incredible line-up of amazing stories, and I’d be honored to lose to any of them.
From their website:
The Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award recognizes the best science fiction short story of each year. It was established in 1987 by James Gunn, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at KU, and the heirs of Theodore Sturgeon, including his partner Jayne Engelhart Tannehill and Sturgeon’s children, as an appropriate memorial to one of the great short-story writers in a field distinguished by its short fiction.
Two more starred reviews for THE ART OF STARVING – from Publisher’s Weekly & from Booklist!!
In their review, Booklist said:
“Miller’s heartfelt debut novel tackles difficult subjects with a bold mix of magical realism, tender empathy, and candor… Matt is delusional and anorexic, but he’s also an admirably strong character who is out and proud, brilliant, creative, and determined to survive. It’s not always easy to find novels with troubled gay male protagonists who aren’t doomed, and Miller’s creative portrait of a complex and sympathetic individual will provide a welcome mirror for kindred spirits.”
“Matt is a master at suppressing his urges, but there is nothing romantic about debut novelist Miller’s portrayal of anorexia; his descriptions are often graphic and disturbing, and discussion of Matt’s future is brutally honest. As Matt’s body deteriorates and his “powers” reach new levels, readers must decide for themselves what is and isn’t real.”
Go read the full reviews! THEY ARE AMAZING.
The Shirley Jackson Award nominations were just announced, and I am up in NOT ONE BUT TWO different categories!!
- “Angel, Monster, Man,” from Nightmare Magazine, for Best Novelette
- “Things With Beards,” from Clarkesworld, for Best Short Story!
I’m honored to be included on this incredible roster of fantastic writers. Many of them are familiar faces, friends and idols of mine, but others are new to me, and I can’t wait to read their awesome work.
The awards are given out at Readercon, in Boston, in July. Gonna try my damnedest to make it!
In 2012, as a newly-hatched Clarion graduate, I saw my teacher Jeffrey Ford read at KGB Fantastic Fiction, and since then I’ve dreamed of one day being part of the series. Matt Kressel and Ellen Datlow have done such a phenomenal job of curating a monthly event where super huge stars and all-around goddamn geniuses and rising lights of the genre perform for a small, intimate, enthusiastic crowd.
You know you want to come:
Wednesday, May 17th, at 7pm
KGB Bar (website):
85 East 4th Street (just off 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003 (map)
Incredible news: THE ART OF STARVING just got a starred review from Kirkus!! They say fantastically awesome stuff like:
“In first-person journal format, Matt schools readers on the art of starving as he toes the line between expiration and enlightenment, sparing no detail of his twisted, antagonistic relationship with his body. Matt’s sarcastic, biting wit keeps readers rooting for him and hoping for his recovery. In his acknowledgments, Miller reveals the story’s roots in his own teen experiences. A dark and lovely tale of supernatural vengeance and self-destruction.”
Go read the whole thing RIGHT NOW
in his truck
My short story “Calved” has been published in the Polish science fiction/fantasy magazine “Fantastyka”! Marking my debut in the language of about 30% of my family tree.
Alas, I do not know Polish, so I can’t say how good or bad the translation is. But the magazine itself looks fantastic, and the original art they did for my story is wonderful:
The magnificent, crucial Uncanny Magazine has given me a column called #Resistance101, to talk about community organizing for science fiction & fantasy creators & consumers, and my first one is out now! Just another reason for you to support, subscribe, and spread the word about their excellence.
For starters, I wanted to keep it super simple, and give some easy & important protest tips I wish someone had told me when I first started going to a ton of actions. Here’s a teaser!
Bring water, and snacks. Don’t go overboard—you gotta carry all this stuff around, after all—but it’s good to have a Go Bag at the ready. Oreos are excellent because you can share.
Talk to people. Make friends. Possibly with Oreos! Protest is less about convincing enemies than about building power and relationships with friends, and bringing new people into the work.
Charge your devices before leaving. Bring an external battery if possible. Turn off your phone when the battery falls to 10 percent, so you save something for emergencies.
Check the weather beforehand. Prepare for temperature extremes.
Also! My so-called credentials:
I’ve been a community organizer for fifteen years. I’ve helped organize hundreds of direct actions, ranging from tame sidewalk rallies to occupations of government office building lobbies to tent cities on vacant bank-owned properties. I’ve gotten arrested in Central Park at a midnight protest; I’ve been illegally barred from public legislative hearings; I was detained by the Secret Service while protesting outside the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m not some badass fearless radical fuck-the-man kinda dude. I am the exact opposite. Abusive cop encounters as a kid scarred me for life. I started out just making signs for protests, because I like to draw. I was scared shitless the first time I stared down a line of police officers. But that only lasted a minute. Because there were a lot of us, and we were fighting something evil. That’s the first lesson: you don’t need to be brave on your own, because you will be brave together.
The rest of the ballot is pretty incredible, with tons of friends and heroes on there. I would be super excited to lose to my BFF Alyssa Wong AGAIN this year, or to anyone else in my category, because they are all fucking fantastic writers.
I wrote this story after the thousandth time I watched John Carpenter’s The Thing, and started debating with some friends about whether or not the people killed and replaced by the alien actually knew that they were aliens. I think the general assumption is that the Things know what they are, and are consciously acting like humans in order to better isolate and then assimilate other humans – but what if they didn’t? What if, as Blair says in the film, “here is an organism that imitates other life-forms, and it imitates ’em perfectly,” to the point that every memory and aspect of identity is intact? How would such a creature behave? And if you were one, how would you know the difference? And if you couldn’t tell… does that mean there is no difference? Besides the fact that maybe you were killing lots of people?
The result is a piece of gay fanfic that used an 80’s horror film to tell a story of AIDS, passing, masculinity, and Black resistance to police brutality! This nominations is ON TOP OF being included FOUR different best-of-the-year anthologies! Specifically: THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, V.34 (edited by Gardner Dozois); THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR VOL.11 (edited by Jonathan Strahan); YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY, 2017 Ed. (edited by Rich Horton); and BEST SCIENCE FICTION OF THE YEAR – VOL. 2 (edited by Neil Clarke)!!!
The Locus Recommended Reading List for 2016 is out, and I’m excited to see I’m on there three different times!!
“Things With Beards” originally in Clarkesworld [Short Story]
“Last Gods,” originally in Drowned Worlds [Short Story]
“Angel, Monster, Man” originally in Nightmare [Novelette]
So much incredible science fiction and fantasy and horror was published in 2016, and this whole list is full of magnificence.
THIS IS MADNESS!
My short story “Things With Beards,” originally published in Clarkesworld, has been selected for inclusion in FOUR different best-of-the-year anthologies! Specifically: THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION, V.34 (edited by Gardner Dozois); THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY OF THE YEAR VOL.11 (edited by Jonathan Strahan); YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY, 2017 Ed. (edited by Rich Horton); and BEST SCIENCE FICTION OF THE YEAR – VOL. 2 (edited by Neil Clarke).
Not bad for a piece of gay fanfic that used an 80’s horror film to tell a story of AIDS, passing, masculinity, police brutality, and resistance!
Book Riot ran this incredible review of ART OF STARVING, the very first one to come out. And I love it so much.
HERE IS MY FAVORITE PART! Emphasis mine.
“Shirley Jackson Award winner Sam J. Miller’s YA contemporary debut novel is unlike anything I have ever read before, and combines magical realism, dark humor, evocative imagery and prose, and a deep, huge heart to tell a story of loneliness, addiction, body image, first loves, coming out, and self-acceptance. Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless, and powerful, The Art of Starving is a classic in the making, and Matt’s journey will resonate with many, teens and adults alike, for years to come. It’s not out until early July, but I wanted to put this on your radars now; I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be big. Verdict: Buy it because maybe you were lost and lonely once, and then maybe buy one for someone lost and lonely, too.”
My debut novel THE ART OF STARVING got its first blurb, and it’s a mind-blowing one. The incredible Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award & the Coretta Scott King Award & the Newbery Honor Medal AND A BILLION OTHER AWARDS said:
“Beautifully rendered. This novel will break your heart and heal it again. I found myself leaning forward as I read it, barely aware of myself turning pages. So excited for Sam’s voice in the world.”
I’m a huge admirer of Jackie’s work [for real, go read Another Brooklyn, which was robbed for the National Book Award this year – Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad was wonderful, but Another Brooklyn is on some next level special], and so honored that she liked my book.
On Scott Edelman’s fab podcast “Eating the Fantastic,” he interviews science fiction & fantasy & horror writers over an awesome meal… and I’m the guest on the latest issue, out now!! It was the first vegetarian episode, recorded at Baltimore’s One World Cafe during the Baltimore Book Festival.
Here’s what Scott has to say about the episode:
My guest who stole away from the Inner Harbor to join me this episode is Sam J. Miller, a writer who’s been nominated for the Nebula, World Fantasy, and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, and who won the Shirley Jackson Award for his short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.” And who last shared a meal with me during the 2015 Nebula Awards weekend at Alinea, considered to be one of the Top 10 restaurants in the world. His debut novel, The Art of Starving, will appear from HarperCollins in 2017.
We discussed the value of community within the science fiction field, the transformative piece of advice he received from Ted Chiang while attending the Clarion Writers Workshop, how one deals with reviews that are more politically than artistically motivated, the way 9/11 changed horror movies, the importance of the life and works of the great Thomas M. Disch, and more.
- Click through to the iTunes store and subscribe—where you can also find the previous 23 episodes.
- Download episodes onto whatever device you’d like by using the show’s RSS feed of http://eatingthefantastic.libsyn.com/rss.
And Subscribe to Eating the Fantastic now so you never miss an episode!
So I read a lot of fiction, this year. And it helped me a lot. And I believe that in the coming years, we’ll need fiction more and more.
If you’re in an award-nominating kind of mood, or are desperate to escape this disappointing reality, or are just looking for something awesome to read, here’s my round-up of the best stories written by other people that I read in 2016. I’ve also included the two pieces I’m proudest of, from 2016 – conveniently located in two separate award categories:
And here are my favorite stories from the past year [list in formation]:
- “Sabbath Wine,” by Barbara Krasnoff, in Clockwork Phoenix 5 [NUMBER ONE FAVORITE OF 2016]
- “You’ll Surely Drown Here if you Stay” by Alyssa Wong, in Uncanny
- “Michael Doesn’t Hate His Mother,” by Marie Vibbert, in Lightspeed
- “The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe,” by Kij Johnson, from Tor Books
- “She Hides Sometimes,” by Nino Cipri, in Interfictions
- “El Cantar of Rising Sun,” by Sabrina Vourvoulias, in Uncanny
- “Ariadne, Abandoned on Naxos,” by Sarah Mack, in Fireside Fiction
- “Successor, Usurper, Replacement,” by Alice Sola Kim, in Buzzfeed
- “An Offertory to Our Drowned Gods,” by Teresa Naval in Lightspeed
- “A Hundred and Seventy Storms,” by Aliette de Bodard, in Uncanny
- “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” by Brooke Bolander, in Uncanny
I’m proud to have a guest editorial in the current issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact!
“Someone Else’s Apocalypse” is about what twelve years as a community organizer working with homeless folks has taught me about how we’ll all deal with the coming collapse of civilization. I wrote it back in May, when I was imagining that rising seas and global conflict over water would render us post-apocalyptic in a couple decades… and now, for some strange reason possibly having to do with the US presidential election, I am feeling like the apocalypse is significantly more imminent now…
Huge thank-you to Analog editor Trevor Quachri for soliciting this piece!
Here’s a taste. For the full thing, pick up the December 2016 issue of Analog!
William Gibson famously remarked that “the future is here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.” This is commonly understood to describe the juxtaposition between one part of the earth’s population existing in a “future” where technological and social advances have made many of science fiction’s most beloved dreams come true, and another part of the earth’s population existing in a “past” to which technological and medical advances have not yet trickled down, subject to hardships and sicknesses and that the developed world left behind long ago. Cell phone assemblers in China, for example, endure sweatshop conditions as bad as anything during the Industrial Revolution, in workshops so bad that some workers are driven to suicide, while the Silicon Valley executives whose products they put together work from lavish, high-tech fortress homes.
I suspect, however, that the William Gibson comment contains a certain degree of ominous prophecy. The “future“ that has already arrived, that snuck in without anyone noticing it, is not the tech-enabled utopia we spent the latter half of the twentieth century waiting for, the one we mostly see outside our windows, lacking only jetpacks and hoverboards and interstellar travel. The future is not the tech utopia where we carry computers in our pockets capable of accessing the sum total of human knowledge at any moment.
That world, alas, is the past. The future that’s here, unevenly distributed, is the post-apocalyptic wasteland. The future is dystopia, and its population is growing.
Turn on the nightly news and you’re likely to see refugees. Displaced masses from Syria and Yemen and Afghanistan and more. People who’ve survived dangerous passages, and lost loved ones in that same process. Hungry, frightened, traumatized. Standing outside the gates of safe places they’re barred form entering.
But refugees from foreign countries aren’t the only ones living in their own personal post-apocalypse….
The complete table of contents for Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2017 Edition has been released – and it includes my short story “Things With Beards,” originally published in Clarkesworld.
Here’s the full list of incredible stories contained in this year’s edition. I’m so honored to see my story alongside so many other fab folks.
On a very narcissistic side-note, this is the first time that my name has appeared on the cover! Usually I’m just subsumed into the AND MORE down at the bottom….
- “Seven Ways of Looking at the Sun-Worshippers of Yul-Katan” by Maggie
- “All that Robot Shit” by Rich Larson, Asimov’s
- “Project Empathy” by Dominica Phetteplace, Asimov’s
- “Lazy Dog Out” by Suzanne Palmer, Asimov’s
- “The Visitor from Taured” by Ian R. MacLeod, Asimov’s
- “Openness” by Alexander Weinstein, Beloit Fiction Journal
- “In Skander, for a Boy” by Chaz Brenchley, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- “Laws of Night and Silk” by Seth Dickinson, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- “Blood Grains Speak Through Memories” by Jason Sanford, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- “Rager in Space” by Charlie Jane Anders, Bridging Infinity
- “Ozymandias” by Karin Lowachee, Bridging Infinity
- “The Bridge of Dreams” by Gregory Feeley, Clarkesworld
- “Everybody from Themis Sends Letters Home” by Genevieve Valentine, Clarkesworld
- “Things with Beards” by Sam J. Miller, Clarkesworld
- “Innumerable Glimmering Lights” by Rich Larson, Clockwork Phoenix 5
- “Between Nine and Eleven” by Adam Roberts, Crises and Conflicts
- “Red of Tooth and Cog” by Cat Rambo, F&SF
- “The Vanishing Kind” by Lavie Tidhar, F&SF
- “A Fine Balance” by Charlotte Ashley, F&SF
- “Empty Planets” by Rahul Kanakia, Interzone
- “Fifty Shades of Grays” by Steven Barnes, Lightspeed
- “I’ve Come to Marry the Princess” by Helena Bell, Lightspeed
- “RedKing” by Craig deLancey, Lightspeed
- “A Non-Hero’s Guide to The Road of Monsters” by A.T. Greenblatt, Mothershipship Zeta
- “Dress Rehearsal” by Adrian Tchaikovsky, Now We Are Ten
- “The Plague Givers” by Kameron Hurley, Patreon
- “Gorse Daughter, Sparrow Son” by Alena Indigo Anne Sullivan, Strange Horizons
- “The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory” by Carlos Hernandez, The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria
- “Something Happened Here, But We’re Not Quite Sure What It Was” by Paul McAuley, Tor.com
- “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn, Tor.com
Over at Inverse, Ryan Britt asks the question: what is the future of science fiction in Trump’s America? And he was good enough to ask my opinion, and to give me the last word in his article!
The short version: the future looks terrifying, for so many of the communities who Trump and his allies have targeted, and we’re going to need outlandish stories even more in the outlandish times ahead.
I gave Ryan more to work with than he was able to include in the finished article, but here’s the full quote:
“Trump’s election hasn’t told us anything we didn’t already know. For many of the most important and powerful voices in the genre, now as in the past, profound racism and misogyny and xenophobia and homophobia are far too real already. Think of The Handmaid’s Tale, about a far-right anti-woman Christian fundamentalist takeover of the US government, or Octavia Butler’s Parable books – a trilogy that she couldn’t complete because it was too traumatic to dig any deeper into a dystopia that Reagan’s America had come to resemble far too closely. Today, writers like Alyssa Wong and N.K. Jemisin and Usman Tanveer Malik and many others are singing terrifying brilliant songs of our not-so-brave not-so-new world of drone bombings, hate crimes, and genocide.
“What will change, I think, is how people respond to science fiction. The future of science fiction in Trump’s America is that people will need it more. As the world grows darker and stranger, we will need dark and strange stories. That has always been a function of the genre. To help us hope and imagine better worlds and wondrous technologies, yes, but also to help us grieve, and understand, and grow stronger, and fight back.”
Incredible news: my novel BLACKFISH CITY has sold to Ecco Press, for release in April 2018!
Unlike my debut THE ART OF STARVING, forthcoming in 2017, this one isn’t young adult. A mysterious woman arrives in the floating Arctic city of Qaanaaq, in a future where rising seas have caused dramatic geopolitical changes. She’s accompanied by an orca and a polar bear, on a mission that might be bloody and might be beautiful and might be both. Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly had to say about it [under its working title THE BREAKS]:
They incorrectly identify me as a Hugo nominee (I was long-listed last year, but not a finalist!) but otherwise IT IS ALL TRUE. I adore Ecco Press and am so excited to be part of their family, and I love Zack’s work as an editor. Big love and gratitude, as always, to my magnificent agent Seth Fishman.
PS here’s a bad sketch I did, of the main character:
The latest issue of Interfictions is out now, the second and final one for which Carmen Maria Machado and I served as guest fiction editors. We had space for two stories, and we chose a pair of magnificent ones.
“She Hides Sometimes” by Nino Cipri
The linen closet disappeared first. Or maybe it was just the first thing that Anjana noticed, the morning her parents moved into the nursing home.
I was sitting on the edge of the drain outside the school fence, doobying on my Samsung, trying to make it show me the time even when it went idle, when I got the text message from an ex-colleague telling me Pelangi Hussein had passed away.
Go. Read them now. Don’t wait for awards season when everyone else is talking about them and you feel like a bandwagon late-comer.
And then read the rest of the issue. Because, as always with Interfictions, there is so much to startle and delight and confuse you, in the best possible ways. I’m so proud to have been a part of it, even if only as a guest.
HUGE THANKS, once again, to Carmen, for asking me to serve as her co-editor. And a second shout-out to the real heroes of both our issues, the fearless insightful wise and tolerant slush readers! Christian Coleman, Eugene Fischer, Val Howlett, Susana Marcelo, Patrick Ropp, Gabriela Santiago, and Isabel Yap read the 500+ stories that arrived during our two-week submissions window last time around, and identified enough solid stories that we had some overflow into this issue.