Awards & Anthologies

Announcements about nominations, awards, and inclusion in anthologies.

“Things With Beards” is a Theodore Sturgeon Award Finalist

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 awards will be presented during the Campbell Conference Awards Banquet on Friday, June 16, as part of the annual Campbell Conference.

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 Shirley Jackson Award Nominations!

The Shirley Jackson Award nominations were just announced, and I am up in NOT ONE BUT TWO different categories!!

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!

2016 Nebula Ballot Includes “Things With Beards”

This year’s Nebula ballot is out, and I am super proud and happy to see that my short story “Things With Beards” is on there!

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)!!!

Three Spots on the Locus Recommended Reading List

The Locus Recommended Reading List for 2016 is out, and I’m excited to see I’m on there three different times!!

So much incredible science fiction and fantasy and horror was published in 2016, and this whole list is full of magnificence.

“Things With Beards” will appear in FOUR best-of-the-year anthologies!

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!

…. madness.

Life in Fiction 2016: Highlights as a Reader & a Writer

wp-1480451168053.jpg2016 was a rough year personally, and, uh, also, existentially. Prince died! And David Bowie! and… racist misogynist fascists took over the US government.

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:

Short Story: Clarkesworld, Issue 117, June 2016

“Things With Beards”

Semi-sequel to The Thingusing John Carpenter’s gnarly monster to tell a story of AIDS, gay liberation, police brutality, & passing.  Locus said “The story is a tangle of metaphors that knot perfectly together. …joins others of Miller’s, such as last year’s ‘‘The Heat of Us’’, as a startling and intelligent engagement with queer history through a science fictional lens.” And Peter Watts, author of “The Things,” said “It’s fucking amazing… TWB can’t seem to go for a single paragraph without making some new, visceral, political observation/metaphor.” 

Novelette: Nightmare Magazine, Issue 40, January 2016

Angel, Monster, Man

sketch5220376-1.jpgIt’s the height of the AIDS crisis. Three friends, gay men overwhelmed with rage and sadness, who’ve inherited suitcases and boxes and garbage bags full of unpublished work from fellow writers killed by the virus, invent Tom Minniq: a collective pseudonym under which to publish all that orphaned work. Tom becomes a literary superstar, but he doesn’t stay on the page. And he starts acting out their anger in ways that they couldn’t anticipate, and can’t control.

And here are my favorite stories from the past year [list in formation]:

“Things With Beards” in YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY, 2017 Ed

yearsbest2017The 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
    Clark, Analog
  • “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

“Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016” is out now

wp-1475614535356.jpgThe second edition of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s fantastic “Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy” has been released, and for the second year in a row I am in it!

My story “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History,” originally published in Uncanny Magazine and subsequently nominated for a World Fantasy Award, is in there alongside magnificent work by Rachel Swirsky, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kelly Link, Ted Chiang, Sofia Samatar, Kij Johnson, Charlie Jane Anders, Seth Dickinson, and so many more. And while the series as a whole is edited by the unfailingly brilliant John Joseph Adams, the final choice on stories in this particular edition was made by my hero Karen Joy Fowler.

tl;dr BUY IT NOW 

 

Here is the “story note” about the origins of my contribution:

The seed of “The Heat of Us” was planted on the night Donna Summer died. I was walking home from work, feeling pretty blue – I think “Bad Girls” is probably the second-best album of all time – looking across at the sad lonely lights of the city coming on, all those people by themselves, all the separate sadness that a certain group of people would be feeling. And I remembered that the Stonewall Uprising happened on the night that Judy Garland died. And I thought “revolutions are born on nights like this.” But that seed didn’t break into blossom until I attended the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Workshop and I saw how exponentially my writing improved through being part of a community of writers and readers, how I could share their strengths and (hopefully) lend them mine. So this is a story about community – about how people are stronger together than separate, and how when we work together we can achieve things so incredible they’re indistinguishable from magic. 

“The Heat Of Us” is a World Fantasy Award nominee!

This week the ballot for the 2016 World Fantasy Award was released, and I was totally magnificently flabbergasted to see that my story “The Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” is a finalist!

The seed of “The Heat of Us” was planted on the night Donna Summer died. I was walking home from work, feeling pretty blue – I think “Bad Girls” is probably the second-best album of all time – looking across at the sad lonely lights of the city coming on, all those people by themselves, all the separate sadness that a certain group of people would be feeling. And I remembered that the Stonewall Uprising happened on the night that Judy Garland died. And I thought “revolutions are born on nights like this.” But that seed didn’t break into blossom until I attended the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Workshop and I saw how exponentially my writing improved through being part of a community of writers and readers, how I could share their strengths and (hopefully) lend them mine. So this is a story about community – about how people are stronger together than separate, and how when we work together we can achieve things so incredible they’re indistinguishable from magic.

wp-1468421725380.jpgAnd lest we think of Stonewall as ancient history, the Bad Old Days when Homophobia Ruled the Earth, the recent massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando only serves to underscore the extent to which hatred and patriarchy still rule our world. The day after the mass murder, some people posted and tweeted that my story was helping them process the horror, which is probably the highest compliment I’ve received as an author. I can think of no more important role for an artist than to help people imagine a world where the tables get turned on the monsters who would roll up with guns on a crowd of people just trying to have fun.

Just as exciting as the nomination itself is the fact that I’m up against two of my favorite writers and people, Alyssa Wong and Amal El-Mohtar, both of whom I was up against for the Nebula this year as well, and against whom I FOUGHT AN EPIC SERIES OF MESSY, BLOODY, FIERY MAGICAL BATTLES, captured here for posterity.

wp-1468421875908.jpgHuge love to: Uncanny Magazine for publishing it, and for publishing so many other amazing stories – Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas & Michi Trota are truly doing magnificent work; C.S.E. Cooney for doing such a phenomenal job reading my story for the Uncanny Podcast; Holly Black & Cassandra Clare for critiquing the shit out of this in workshop at Clarion; my fellow Clarion 2012 Awkward Robots, who this story is ACTUALLY ABOUT;  all the people who read and reviewed and blogged and tweeted and talked about it, including, but not limited to, A.C. Wise, John Joseph Adams, Sarah Pinsker, Amal El-Mohtar, Charles Payseur, Sunil Patel, Rachel Swirsky, Jose Iriarte, Liz Argall, Wole Talabi, Emma Osborne, K.M. Szpara, Fran Wilde, Deborah Stanish, Shelley Streeby, Joshua Johnson, Bo Bolander, Fred Coppersmith, Tony Quick, K. Tempest Bradford, Magaly Guerrero, Deanna Knippling, Lara Donnelly, Didi Chanoch, Anthony Cardno, @genrebending, Brian at Nerdbrarian.com… [APOLOGIES to anyone I forgot/left off! contact me and I’ll add you]

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2015 Nebula Ballot Includes My Story “When Your Child Strays From God”

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America released the ballot for this year’s Nebulas, and I was so pleased that my story “When Your Child Strays From God” is a nominee in the Short Story category! Because wow, what a lineup of wonderful writers who I’m honored to be able to call colleagues. And as the fabulous K. Tempest Bradford points out in this excellent video, it’s a big victory for marginalized voices – 79% of the nominees are NOT straight cis- white men!!

But this nomination is such sweet agony, because while the whole ballot is fantastic, the Short Story category is especially magnificent. As I’ve said elsewhere, Amal El-Mohtar’s “Madeleine” is one of the two best stories of the year (tied with Sadie Bruce’s “Little Girls in Bone Museums”), and Alyssa Wong’s “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” like everything Alyssa does, has a gorgeous ability to flay the flesh from the human heart.

You can read my story here:

When Your Child Strays From God”

Here are what some reviewers had to say:

cw_106_700

“… an evangelical Christian pastor’s wife dealing with the sinful rebelliousness of her teenage son… a really cool made up drug that sounds absolutely transformative and I want to try it (along with a few close friends… very close)… Miller excels at blending cool speculative ideas with characters and situations very much grounded in our world.” – i09 Newstand

“It’s kind of unnerving how well the story explores the intricacies of the woman’s relationship with her son, the woman’s own self-image and outlook on life. It would have been easy to make her something of a monster. Or, I guess, it does make her something of a monster, but a very human one, one that is easily recognizable… It’s an amazing story, people, and you need to go out and read it now. Go, go and read and I will find a tissue and probably something to drink. Because damn.” – Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews

“The story hooks us with its humor and then moves into vulnerable territory in order to make its point… moving and lovely.” – Tangent 

 

 

First-Ever “Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy” Contains My Story “We Are The Cloud” (!!)

The “Best American” series is justifiably revered, consistently gathering up the best of the best in different fields of American writing and serving it up on a best-selling platter. Like most writers I’ve always dreamed of seeing myself in its pages – and I sort of did, a couple years ago, when my short memoir piece “The Luke Letters” was an “Honorable Mention” in Best American Essays 2013

So when I heard that there was going to be a Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, my first thought was incredible excitement that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt would be bringing the same series magic to my favorite fiction genres. And when I heard that John Joseph Adams was going to be the series editor, well, then I knew that the series would live up to its name.

AND YET, in spite of that, SOMEHOW, my Nebula-nominated novelette “We Are The Cloud” was included in the inaugural edition! A fact that is even more unbelievable when you see that the other authors in there include incredible folks like Carmen Maria Machado, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Kelly Link, Sofia Samatar, Karen Russell, Theodora Goss, and T.C. Boyle!

Tor.com highlighted my story in their review of the anthology, saying:

“Sam Miller’s Nebula-nominated short story, “We Are The Cloud,” is a painful look at disenfranchisement, technology, power, and fleeting human connection in a world that only wants to use and hurt you, and how to fight systems and institutions designed to keep you under a heel.”

So did the fab blog SF Signal, saying:

“One of my personal favorites in the entire collection. Filled with the type of fantastically simple prose that lets you sink deep into a robust world, complex character relationships, and a heartbreaking story about what it means to be alone in the digital age.”

You can buy this book in LITERALLY EVERY BOOKSTORE PRACTICALLY. And online. But you should buy it in a bookstore. Because bookstores are awesome.

And so is this book.

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“We Are the Cloud” is a Finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award

Last week I learned that my novelette “We Are the Cloud,” originally published in Lightspeed, is a finalist for the incredible Theodore Sturgeon Award… alongside amazing work by writers I adore, like Tananarive Due, Eugie Foster, Daryl Gregory, Ken Liu… and Octavia Butler.

This story owes a profound debt to Octavia Butler’s Mind of My Mind, my favorite science fiction novel ever, so for it to be nominated up against a story by her for a prestigious award is totally messing with my emotions. I’m honored, and humbled.

“We Are The Cloud” is a Nebula Nominee!

In a truly amazing and wonderful surprise, my novelette “We Are The Cloud” is a nominee for the Nebula Award! Scrolling through the list of past nominees is like a guide to [almost] everyone who’s even remotely awesome in science fiction and fantasy, including idols of mine like Ted Chiang, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, Jorge Luis Borges, William Gibson…. and I’m just stunned to be in that number.

I worked on this story from 2008 to 2013, and am more proud of it than almost anything else I’ve ever written. So I was beyond ecstatic when it was published by Lightspeed in September…

… and not entirely surprised when it turned out to be the most controversial thing I’ve done… [this from the same guy who once write a story called “Auschwitz Blowjob,” which was accepted into – and then nixed by the publisher of – an anthology series that billed itself as America’s “most provocative gay writing”].
SPOILER ALERT: homophobes hated “We Are The Cloud.” Tangent complained of its “offensive imagery of underage homosexuality in gratuitous proportions,” said it “needs to come with a warning.”

But it wasn’t just homophobes!

A bunch of people said it wasn’t really genre fiction, that “Science fiction elements are all but missing,” or called out its “inattentive world-building,” or said that it “doesn’t really work as a piece of traditional genre fiction as its future is dated, derivative and poorly realised”

In the end, though, the story found its audience, and I was blessed with some truly incredible reviews.

Over at Apex, Charlotte Ashley wrote that “Miller has a nearly unparallelled knack for writing heart-wrenching characters and painful personal attachments… By vesting Sauro with all this power and then showing both why he doesn’t use it and what might make him use it, Miller is telling the story of all power, regardless of how “speculative” it is. Power dynamics are forged by class, money, personality, hate, and love. Technology is the last factor on the list.”

Amal El-Mohtar wrote a crushingly kind and weep-inducing review, and said, among other wonderful things: “I loved this story unabashedly: Sauro’s voice and vulnerability, the generosity of his character, and the integrity of his engagement with the unflinching awfulness of the premise are tremendously effective. It’s a heart-breaking, harrowing piece, made all the more so by that near-future vision’s many intersections with the present: in his Author Spotlight, Miller expands on the realities of foster kids’ prospects and the gross systemic injustices they face. It’s also a desperately elegant story, combining a careful structure with a depth and intensity of emotion that puts me in mind of ivy bursting from a brick wall; the very controlled, deliberate punctuation of Sauro’s present with moments from his past is a mixing of mechanical and organic reminiscent of the cloud-ports themselves.”

I’d love to win, but my category is PACKED with truly brilliant stories.

If you’re a SFWA member, I hope you’ll consider voting for it. But you can’t really go wrong, with a roster of nominees this incredible, and I’d be honored to lose to any of these fine folks.


AND HERE’S A PICTURE I DREW TO ILLUSTRATE THE STORY.

“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” Wins the Shirley Jackson Award!!

Last weekend was ReaderCon, the annual conference dedicated to “imaginative” literature, which includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, slipstream, and everything in between. Essentially it’s an opportunity to spend four days having wonderful conversations with wonderful people who like lots of the same things you do. Meaning it’s amazing. Except for the fact that it’s in a horrible hotel in the middle of nowhere where they charge you for wifi and there are no restaurants within walking distance and rrrrrrrrrrr it just generally sucks but that’s the subject of another blog post. ReaderCon is also where they give out the Shirley Jackson Awards, and I was nominated in the short fiction category for “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.”

I won.

This was my second ReaderCon. When I went last year I was in a pretty miserable state of mind. I had one pro sale under my belt, but it hadn’t been published yet, and anyway the story was super weird and super gay and I didn’t think people would like it. I spent the whole con in a haze of inferiority complex and hunger (literal hunger… then, as now, the hotel restaurant sported a grand total of ONE vegetarian item… and it wasn’t worth the paper it was fashioned out of). I had lots of wonderful friends at the con, including my Clarion and Altered Fluid families, but it’s hard not to feel like a nobody when surrounded by so many amazing writers—some of whom I’d been reading my whole adult life. On top of all that,  I had a novel out on submission, racking up rejections.

This year felt better. It wasn’t just the nomination, although that did put a spring in my step (but also fill me with a lot of anxiety). I’d had a good year, with awesome sales to awesome places, some of which got highly spoken of in excellent places. One of them, “The Beasts We Want to Be,” got listed as an “Honorable Mention” in two separate “Best of the Year” anthologies, and will be included in the star-studded forthcoming collection Best of Electric Velocipede.

Also, this year I had a lot more friends. We did a lot of fun stuff. Room parties, pool parties. We even had a SHHHHHHHHHHHHH FORBIDDEN CLANDESTINE MIDNIGHT SPEAKEASY READING, MC’d by Marco Palmieri, in which I got to share a stage with great writers Greg Bechtel, Brooke Bolander, Ruby Katigbak, Valya Lupescu, Stephen H. Segal, Brian Staveley, and Shveta Thankar, It was tons of fun, in front of a packed house, and my story got a lot of love in the real world and on Twitter. Someone also said my nipples looked cute. Thanks, air conditioning!

So the award was icing on the cake of what a wonderful con it was.

Community organizer that I am, I spent much of the con begging people to come to the ceremony. Halfway through I realized that had been a terrible idea, because if I lost then they’d know I was a loser. By then it was too late, and I couldn’t stop inviting people.

By the morning of the ceremony, my nervousness had gotten so pronounced that I half-hoped I wouldn’t win, so I wouldn’t have to get up and give a speech. Luckily, my category was first, which meant I didn’t have to sit there smiling politely while trying not to puke while other people got their awards.

Here is a photo of me and fellow nervous nominee Maria Dahvana Headley, before the ceremony started.
Here is a photo of me and fellow nervous nominee Maria Dahvana Headley, before the ceremony started.

Possibly the best part was hearing the whoop that went up, when my story won. A bunch of the people in that room were happy for me. And then to stand between Kit Reed and Andrea Hairston, two writers I admire the hell out of, and accept my award, felt phenomenal.

Here is a video of my acceptance speech. I mostly kept my shit together on stage (you can’t see my legs shaking…. trust me when I say they were), but as soon as I sat down I started tearing up.

My thank-yous are on the video, but let me put them in print (padded with a tiny bit more eloquence now that I’m not stammering up on stage):

“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” is the bastard love child of Ken Liu’s “The Man Who Ended History” and Carmen Maria Machado’s “Inventory,” two stories that showed me how a wacky formal conceit can help you reach a profound emotional truth. This was my audition story for the New York City-based writer’s group Altered Fluid, and they obviously made the story awesome, otherwise I wouldn’t be standing here today. Alaya Dawn Johnson and K. Tempest Bradford made especially crucial critique points that grasped where I was going with the story and really helped me get there. Lashawn Wanak fished it out of the slushpile at Lightspeed/Nightmare, and John Joseph Adams made the crazy call to publish it, and Wendy Wagner polished down the rough edges and made it shine. I want to thank the Shirley Jackson Award jury, who are all people I hugely admire, although obviously their taste in short stories is a little questionable, and my fellow nominees are all people I’m honored to be listed alongside – especially Maria Dahvana Headley, one of the best writers in the game these days. The Clarion class of 2012 is my everything in life, especially my roommates Lisa Bolekaja and Ruby Katigbak, who traveled really far to be here this weekend with me. Most of all I want to thank my family, my mom and dad and my sister Sarah and my husband Juancy, without whom living and writing wouldn’t be worth the trouble.

The Good Kind of Anxiety

I’m beyond excited that my story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides” has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award in the Short Story category!


Excited…. and anxious. Extremely anxious…
Shirley Jackson was one of the very first writers I read who opened my eyes to the true depth of what genre fiction can accomplish – when I graduated from the Stephen King/Dean Koontz school of horror into the idea that complex human characters are more bizarre than any space alien, and human emotions are more frightening than any monster. Things that go bump in the night are scary, but human loneliness is scarier.

Oh yeah, and Joyce Carol Oates is up for the award as well. In a different category, luckily. Although the competition in my category is pretty steep too, with amazing work from two of the best folks working, Maria Dahvana Headley and Maureen McHugh, and stories from new-to-me writers Livia Llewellyn, Paul Park, and Robert Shearman.

The awards will be given out this weekend, at Readercon. Sunday morning at 11. In the meantime, I’m a tangled ball of nerves and sleeplessness. In a good way! I’m fine if one of these other excellent writers wins, but being a nominee is itself very exciting. Which is its own source of stress, especially when its 2AM and I can’t sleep because my mind won’t stop racing, but this can definitely be filed under VERY VERY VERY GOOD PROBLEMS TO HAVE.

If you’re going to be at Readercon, please consider coming to the awards ceremony to cheer me on/pray for me/offer a crying shoulder if I don’t win…

I’m “Recommended Reading” in The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014!

I bought the new edition of Rich Horton’s consistently-excellent “Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy” anthology because (1) it’s consistently excellent, and (2) it had a story by my hero/ine Alaya Dawn Johnson that I hadn’t read before. So imagine my surprise when I finished the story and dried my tears and browsed through the “Recommended Reading” at the back of the book, and found my story “The Beasts We Want To Be,” from the final issue of Electric Velocipede!

Now, of course it would have been awesome to have my story ACTUALLY be in the anthology, but this recommended reading list is some pretty exquisite company to be in! Especially considering that two of the very best stories I read all year – Ted Chiang’s “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling,” and Vylar Kaftan’s “The Weight of the Sunrise” – are also there. Other phenomenal writers that I’m honored to be listed alongside include Charlie Jane Anders, Indrapramit Das, Aliette de Bodard, Jeffrey Ford, Theodora Goss, Maria Dhavana Headley, Matthew Kressel, Ken Liu, Sofia Samatar, Ken Schneyer, Michael Swanwick, Rachel Swirsky, Genevieve Valentine, and Carrie Vaughn.

In two weeks, it will be two years since I went away to the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Workshop in San Diego. To find myself listed in a best-of anthology alongside TWO of my Clarion teachers (Jeff and Ted) is the kind of bizarre wonderful surprise that almost kinda sorta soothes the lifelong-sadness-burn of returning to the real world when Clarion ends.

A new Clarion class is about to embark on the same adventure. I can’t wait to see their names in the best-of anthologies of years to come!