Awards & Anthologies

Announcements about nominations, awards, and inclusion in anthologies.

A Bram Stoker Award nomination for “If Someone You Love Has Become a Vurdalak.”

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) just announced the Final Ballot for the  2023 Bram Stoker Award finalists, and my short story “If Someone You Love Has Become a Vurdalak” is a nominee!!

It’s my first time as a Stoker finalist, and it means the world to me – my love for horror and the horror community runs deep, and it’s so moving to be recognized by them for this weird dirty queer addiction tale.

Big big love to the incredible The Dark magazine, for publishing it in the first place!

Image of a vurdalak from Mario Bava's film BLACK SABBATH
A still from the segment “The Vurdalak,” in Mario Bava’s film BLACK SABBATH.

THE BIG BOOK OF CYBERPUNK includes my story “Feral Arcade Children of the American Northeast.”

THE BIG BOOK OF CYBERPUNK came out today, and it’s an incredible 1100-page compendium of genre magnificence – including my short story “Feral Arcade Children of the American Northeast,” originally published in The Southwest Review (yep, the Northeast meets the Southwest).

From the publisher:

“Award-winning anthologist Jared Shurin brings together over a hundred stories from more than twenty-five countries that both establish and subvert the classic cyberpunk tropes and aesthetic—from gritty, near-future noir to pulse-pounding action. Urban rebels undermine monolithic corporate overlords. Daring heists are conducted through back alleys and the darkest parts of the online world. There’s dangerous new technology, cybernetic enhancements, scheming AI, corporate mercenaries, improbable weapons, and roguish hackers. These tales examine the near-now, extrapolating the most provocative trends into fascinating and plausible futures.”

Editor Jared Shurin said of my story:

“Sam J. Miller’s “Feral Arcade Children of the American Northeast” (Southwest Review) weaponises nostalgia, bringing to life the misbegotten dark-side of a ‘more innocent time’. Although ultimately empowering, it punctures our myths of a 1980s childhood, far more Lost Boys than Ready Player One.”

I’m honored to be in the mix, alongside heroes like William Gibson and Janelle Monae and Samuel R. Delany and Ken Liu and and and and and…

…here’s the entire 108-story Table of Contents.

Yasser Abdellatif – “Younis in the Belly of the Whale” (2011) – translation by Robin Moger
K.C. Alexander – “Four Tons Too Late” (2014)
Madeline Ashby – “Be Seeing You” (2015)
Ryuko Azuma – “2045 Dystopia” (2018) – first translation by Marissa Skeels
Jacques Barcia – “Salvaging Gods” (2010)
Greg Bear – “Petra” (1982)
Steve Beard – “Retoxicity” (1998)
Bef – “Wonderama” (1998) – first translation by the the author
Bruce Bethke – “Cyberpunk” (1983)
Lauren Beukes – “Branded” (2003)
Russell Blackford – “Glass Reptile Breakout” (1985)
Maurice Broaddus – “I Can Transform You” (2013)
Pat Cadigan – “Pretty Boy Crossover” (1986)
Myra Çakan – “Spider’s Nest” (2004) – translation by Jim Young
Beth Cato – “Apocalypse Playlist” (2020)
Suzanne Church – “Synch Me, Kiss Me, Drop” (2012)
Samuel R. Delany – “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” (1968)
Paul Di Filippo – “A Short Course in Art Appreciation” (1988)
Philip K. Dick – “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” (1966)
Cory Doctorow – “0wnz0red” (2002)
Candas Jane Dorsey – “[Learning About] Machine Sex” (1988)
George Alec Effinger – “The World As We Know It” (1992)
Greg Egan – “Axiomatic” (1990)
Isabel Fall – “Helicopter Story” (2020)
Minister Faust – “Somatosensory Cortex Dog Mess You Up Big Time, You Sick Sack of S**T” (2021)
Fabio Fernandes – “WiFi Dreams” (2019) – translation by the author
Taiyo Fujii – “Violation of the TrueNet Security Act” (2013) – translation by Jim Hubbert
Ganzeer – “Staying Crisp” (2018)
William Gibson – “The Gernsback Continuum” (1981)
William Gibson and Michael Swanwick – “Dogfight” (1985)
Eileen Gunn – “Computer Friendly” (1989)
Omar Robert Hamilton – “Rain, Streaming” (2019)
Karen Heuler – “The Completely Rechargeable Man” (2008)
Saad Hossain – “The Endless” (2020)
Gwyneth Jones – “Red Sonja and Lessingham in Dreamland” (1996)
Richard Kadrey – “Surfing the Khumbu” (2002)
Khalid Kaki – “Operation Daniel” (2016) – translation by Adam Talib
James Patrick Kelly – “Rat” (1986)
John Kessel – “The Last American” (2007)
Cassandra Khaw – “Degrees of Beauty” (2016)
Christian Kirchev – “File: the death of Designer D” (2009)
Aleš Kot – “A Life of Its Own” (2019)
Nancy Kress – “With the Original Cast” (1982)
Naomi Kritzer – “Cat Pictures Please” (2015)
Lavanya Lakshminarayan – “Études” (2020)
David Langford – “comp.basilisk.faq” (1999)
Oliver Langmead – “Glitterati” (2017)
Fritz Leiber – “Coming Attraction” (1950)
Jean-Marc Ligny – “RealLife 3.0” (2014) – first translation by N.L.M. Roshak
Arthur Liu – “The Life Cycle of a Cyber Bar” (2021) – translation by Nathan Faries
Ken Liu – “Thoughts and Prayers” (2019)
Steven S Long – “Keeping Up with Mr Johnson” (2016)
M. Lopes da Silva – “Found Earworms” (2019)
James Lovegrove – “Britworld™” (1992)
Nick Mamatas – “Time of Day” (2002)
Phillip Mann – “An Old-Fashioned Story” (1989)
Lisa Mason – “Arachne” (1987)
Tim Maughan – “Flyover Country” (2016)
Ken MacLeod – “Earth Hour” (2011)
Paul J McAuley – “Gene Wars” (1991)
Sam J. Miller – “Feral Arcade Children of the American Northeast” (2021)
Misha – “Speed” (1988)
Janelle Monáe and Alaya Dawn Johnson – “The Memory Librarian” (2022)
Sunny Moraine – “I Tell Thee All, I Can No More” (2013)
Michael Moss – “Keep Portland Wired” (2020)
T.R. Napper – “Twelve Minutes to Vinh Quang” (2015)
Kim Newman – “SQPR” (1992)
Mandisi Nkomo – “Do Androids Dream of Capitalism and Slavery?” (2020)
Jeff Noon – “Ghost Codes of Sparkletown” (2011)
Brandon O’Brien – “fallenangel.dll” (2016)
Craig Padawer – “Hostile Takeover” (1985)
Victor Pelevin – “The Yuletide Cyberpunk Yarn, or Christmas_Eve-117.DIR.” (1996) – first translation by Alex Shvartsman
Harry Polkinhorn – “Consumimum Igni” (1990)
Gerardo Horacio Porcayo – “Ripped Images, Rusty Dreams” (1993) – first translation by the author
qntm – “Lena” (2021)
Jean Rabe – “Better Than” (2010)
Yurei Raita – “The Day a Computer Wrote a Novel” (2019) – translation by Marissa Skeels
Cat Rambo – “Memories of Moments, Bright as Falling Stars” (2006)
Paul Graham Raven – “Los Pirates del Mar de Plastico” (2014)
Justina Robson – “The Girl Hero’s Mirror Says He’s Not the One” (2007)
Pepe Rojo – “Grey Noise” (1996) – translation by Andrea Bell
Nicholas Royle – “D.GO.” (1990)
Rudy Rucker – “Juicy Ghost” (2019)
Erica Satifka – “Act of Providence” (2021)
Nisi Shawl – “I Was a Teenage Genetic Engineer” (1989)
Lewis Shiner – “The Gene Drain” (1989)
John Shirley – “Wolves of the Plateau” (1988)
Zedeck Siew – “The White Mask” (2015)
J.P. Smythe – “The Infinite Eye” (2017)
Neal Stephenson – “The Great Simoleon Caper” (1995)
Bruce Sterling – “Deep Eddy” (1993)
Bruce Sterling and Paul Di Filippo – “The Scab’s Progress” (2001)
Charles Stross – “Lobsters” (2001)
E.J. Swift – “Alligator Heap” (2016)
Wole Talabi – “Aboukela52” (2019)
Molly Tanzer – “The Real You™” (2018)
K.A. Teryna – “The Tin Pilot” (2021) – translation by Alex Shvartsman
Jeffrey Thomas – “Immolation” (2000)
Lavie Tidhar – “Choosing Faces” (2012)
James Tiptree Jr. – “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (1973)
Vauhini Vara – “Ghosts” (2021)
Marie Vibbert – “Electric Tea” (2019)
Corey J. White – “Exopunk’s Not Dead” (2019)
Yudhanjaya Wijeratne – “The State Machine” (2020)
Neon Yang – “Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points” (2014)
E. Lily Yu – “Darkout” (2016)
Yun Ko-eun – “P.” (2011) – first translation by Sean Lin-Halbert
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro – “wysiomg” (2016)

Book cover depicting a person wearing a cyberpunk headset, and the title THE BIG BOOK OF CYBERPUNK / edited by Jared Shurin

KID WOLF & KRAKEN BOY wins the Subjective Chaos Kind of Award.

Incredible news – Kid Wolf & Kraken Boy is a winner of the Subjective Chaos Kind Of Award!

According to the organizers:

“Sam J Miller’s brilliant novella is a period fantasy of New York’s 1920s boxing scene, ruthlessly controlled by Jewish gangsters and infused with tattoo magic. Betrayal, forbidden love and labour rights are key themes in a story that swept me off my feet and left me giddy with its ambitions to fight for a better world.”

More on the award itself:

The Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards are an annual celebration of science fiction, fantasy, and stories that combine speculative elements from multiple genres. A rotating panel of book lovers nominates, reads, debates and votes to award the very best – in our opinion – across a number of subgenres and formats. SKCA beats the drum for great fiction that might otherwise have passed readers by. It has been acknowledged as a significant award for stories outside the mainstream and as a lair for dangerously chaotic opinions.

Dangerously chaotic – the state to which I aspire.

And the award trophy is a painted pebble!! 😍😍😍 Profoundly grateful to the organizers and judges.

A World Fantasy Award nomination for BOYS, BEASTS & MEN.

The World Fantasy Award ballot just dropped, and I’m overjoyed to find BOYS, BEASTS & MEN on there!

The love for this weird horny gay depressive collection has just been so mind-blowing. Short stories are a weird business, because the audience for them can seem so small – they don’t rack up tons of Goodreads ratings or Amazon reviews or any of the other main metrics by which we measure our relevance audience size, so stuff like this means so much. Big big love to the jury, and to everyone who read and connected with this book.

I always say community is a superpower, and so much of my craft as a short story writer was shaped by my experience in two incredible groups of writers who I’ve got to shout out here: the Clarion Class of 2012 (Deborah Bailey, Eliza Blair, Lisa Bolekaja, Sadie Bruce, E. G. Cosh, Danica Cummins, Lara Elena Donnelly, Eric Esser, Jonathan Fortin, R. K. Kalaw, Chris Kammerud, Joseph Kim, Pierre Liebenberg, Sarah Mack, Carmen Maria Machado, Dan McMinn, Luke R. Pebler, and teachers Jeffrey Ford, Delia Sherman, Ted Chiang, Walter Jon Williams, Holly Black, Cassandra Clare, as well as guest critic Karen Joy Fowler), and the Altered Fluid writing group (Adanze Asante, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Alyssa Wong, D. T. Friedman, Devin Poore, E.C. Myers, Gay Partington Terry, Greer Woodward, K. Tempest Bradford, Kai Ashante Wilson, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Kris Dikeman, Lilah Wild, Martin Cahill, Matthew Kressel, Mercurio D. Rivera, N. K. Jemisin, Paul Berger, Rajan Khanna, Rick Bowes, Theresa DeLucci, and Tom Crosshill). I feel forever grateful and fortunate to be a part of both.

And I’m obsessed with the incredible introduction that my friend and hero Amal El-Mohtar wrote for the book, and my gratitude to Amal is endless and boundless.

Last time I was nominated for a World Fantasy Award it was in 2016, back before they changed the statue from a hideous bust of a hideous racist, so now I am EXTRA HOPEFUL that I’ll take one home! But honestly the whole ballot is so magnificent, and my category includes some of my absolute faves, so I’m super happy for WHOEVER wins.

The World Fantasy Award statuette; a tree with a bronze disc behind it.

I won the Locus Award for Best Short Story Collection!

BOYS, BEASTS & MEN won the Locus Award for Best Short Story Collection!!! 

I’m so crazy proud of this collection, which collects fifteen years’ worth of my short stories – including several that I wrote at the Clarion Science Fiction & Fantasy Writer’s Workshop, which made me the short story writer that I am, and will forever be sacred to me – and I won the award on the eleventh anniversary of the day I went to Clarion!!

Profoundly grateful to everyone who voted for me for this!! I love Locus Magazine as an institution and I’ve always coveted this award  😅

Since I couldn’t attend the Locus Award ceremony in person, and they asked all the nominees to send short acceptance videos… I recorded this ridiculous video while on vacation in Iceland, with tongue planted firmly in cheek (and pretty sure no one would ever see it 😅)… big big thanks as always to my husband Juancy for being my cinematographer!

BOYS, BEASTS & MEN is a Locus Award nominee.

The Locus Award ballot just dropped, and I was over the moon to see that BOYS, BEASTS & MEN was on the ballot in the Best Collection category! Big big love to everyone who voted for my book. And to the incredible Tachyon, for publishing the collection – along with so many other magnificent books.

It’s an incredible ballot, packed with friends and faves of mine.

Go read all the things!!

Graphic that says "Locus Award Finalist" next to the cover of the book "Boys, Beasts & Men" by Sam J. Miller

I’m judging the Shirley Jackson Awards this year.

Way back in 2014, I won the Shirley Jackson Award for my short story “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides.” A weird gay story from an unknown author – it had been my first pro story sale!

It was one of my proudest moments. And it wouldn’t have been possible without this awesome independent award, where the passions and perspectives of a handful of individual jurors could spotlight the oddball stuff that would be missed by the bigger awards, with their inevitable bias toward established names.

So I’m over-the-moon-honored to be part of the award jury this year, judging the short story and novelette categories.

And I want your recommendations! If there are horror / dark fiction stories that you loved (or wrote) (or published) in 2021, tell me all about them! Follow this thread for the dozens of amazing stories that have already been suggested, and to make recommendations of your own!

2022 Nebula Award ballot includes “Let All the Children Boogie” as a nominee for Best Short Story!

Beyond insanely proud and happy and humbled that I’m on the ballot for the 57th annual Nebula Awards!!

Let All the Children Boogie” took a long time to gestate and finalize and find its way into the world, and it’s such a tingly privilege to receive this kind of recognition for my gnarled messy story of queer teen love and the transformative power of music – and Iggy Pop and David Bowie – and the very 90’s feeling of falling in love with a song you heard on the late-night radio and had no way of learning more about, might never discover again.

The short story category – and the ballot as a whole – is filled to bursting with incredible talent and brilliant writing. GO READ IT ALLLLLLLL

“Let All the Children Boogie” is one of the best of the year. just announced the Table of Contents to its annual “Best of” anthology, for the short fiction it published in 2021, and my story “Let All the Children Boogie” is included!

It’s about a bunch of my usual obsessions – queer teenage love and mysterious late night radio broadcasts and maybe time-traveling super-intelligences? But mostly it’s about David Bowie, and Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” and the lonesome magic way music can break you out of the bubble of your body.

The eBook edition will be available for free from all your favorite vendors on January 25, 2022. But in the meantime, you can click here to read my story – or walk this way to find all the other fabulous fictions!

Announcing the Winners of the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award.

I am super proud and profoundly humbled to have served as the judge for the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

And after many months of reading incredible books and agonizing over the decision I had to make, I am delighted to join the Institute staff in congratulating the winners!

Debut Novel Category:
Cadwell TurnbullThe Lesson (Blackstone Publishing, 2019)

Open Category:
Ted ChiangExhalation (Knopf, 2019)

I am so grateful to the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College for this incredible opportunity – and to Ted and Cadwell for their incredible work.

“Few science fiction storylines are more overused than tales of alien first contact and invasion, which makes Cadwell Turnbull’s achievement in The Lesson all the more astonishing,” said Miller. “He’s managed to make it fresh and alive and painfully relevant for a moment where our histories of colonization and exploitation are poised to teach us all some terrible lessons, and we should all be paying attention. It’s the kind of debut that makes me so excited for the future of speculative fiction.”

“Ted Chiang is simply the greatest living science fiction writer, and each new story of his is cause for celebration. It’s been 17 years since his last collection, and Exhalation is exactly the kind of brain-exploding, superhuman, profoundly human work we need right now. Far and away the best speculative book of the year, and probably the decade. Ted’s stories rewrite the rules of the world and widen the scope of our dreams, and we are all in his debt,” said Miller.

Check out the full press release here.

Honestly every one of the nominated books could plausibly have been a winner, and every one of them will reward your time… and make you feel a hell of a lot better about how fucked up our world is. I refuse to believe the species that produced books like these is past saving. I took to Twitter to shout them all out individually:

“Shucked” is one of ‘the year’s best science fiction & fantasy’ stories.

My short story “Shucked,” originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, has been chosen for inclusion in THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY, an anthology edited by Richard Horton.

The whole table of contents is incredible, and packed with some of my very favorite short fiction writers. I’m super honored that my weird little story found a second home here!

Anthology drops in December, from Prime Books. Stay tuned for pre-order details…

DESTROY ALL MONSTERS is nominated for a Locus Award.

The world is a garbage fire, and I’ve felt weird celebrating any personal accomplishments while millions are suffering and dying from a global pandemic and tens of millions have lost their jobs and and police keep murdering Black people with complete impunity.

But my community of brilliant powerful writer friends and heroes has been getting me through it, with their books and stories and tweets that remind me hope is as powerful as rage and the future belongs to us, and in that spirit I am excited to celebrate all the excellence included on the Locus Awards ballot for 2020… And the fact that my novel DESTROY ALL MONSTERS has been nominated in the Best Young Adult Novel category just makes that celebration of community all the sweeter.

I wrote the book because I wanted to help young people find the toolkit I didn’t get until I was much older – how to fight the monsters that surround us, the ones that run the world or are in positions of power or respect.

We can fight. We will win.

In that spirit, I’m proud that the book is in such awesome company on this list, which includes so many fantastic books and stories by people I adore, who are making the genre and the world a better place.


Photo from the book launch for DESTROY ALL MONSTERS – in conversation with the incredible Tochi Onyebuchi, also a Locus Award nominee in the same category as me!!

I’m judging this year’s Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards.

Pretty excited to share that I am the judge for this year’s Neukom Institute Literary Award! Having been a nominee for this prestigious prize in the past, it’s fantastic to now be part of the process.

I’m also a little bit terrified. Because so many awesome books came out last year! HOW DOES ONE CHOOSE.

Here’s the full press release:

HANOVER, N.H – March 30, 2020 – Nebula Award-winning author Sam J. Miller has been announced as the judge for the 2020 Neukom Institute Literary Arts Awards. The awards are presented annually at Dartmouth College to honor and support works in speculative fiction.

Miller is the author of the Nebula-winning The Art of Starving. Miller’s second novel Blackfish City—a shortlist selection of the 2019 Neukom Awards—tells the story of life set in a floating Arctic city where rising seas have caused dramatic geopolitical changes. His most recent book, Destroy All Monsters, was published in 2019.

“The imagined futures of some of the best speculative fiction have always felt uncomfortably close,” said Dan Rockmore, director of Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute for Computational Science and creator of the award program. “We are excited to have Sam Miller, one of the most imaginative writers of our day, guide us through this year’s awards under circumstances that seem like they were pulled from the pages of a spec fic book.”

The Neukom awards program presents prizes in two book categories: one for a debut author, and another in an open author category. There is also a separate award for playwriting. Miller will serve as a judge for the book awards.

“We’re living in weird and terrifying times that rival the best speculative fiction in their outlandishness,” said Miller, a recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award. “My peers and heroes in the genre community are rising to the challenge by writing magnificent books that not only capture the true horror of how we’re destroying the world, but the hope and power we have to save it. We’ve seen some astonishing novels come out in the past year, and I’m excited to help celebrate some of them as part of the Neukom Awards.”

Each Neukom award comes with a $5,000 honorarium given as a part of Dartmouth programming. The literary awards will be presented during a panel scheduled for fall of 2020. The playwriting award also includes the opportunity to develop and perform the script, first as a part of the summer VoxFest program and then later with the local Northern Stage theatre group.

The short list of books for this year’s awards will be made public in May. The list will be decided by Rockmore, along with Dartmouth colleagues Eric SchallerTarek El-Ariss, and Peter Orner, as well as The Santa Fe Institute’s Jessica Flack. The awards will be announced in June.

Additional information on the awards may be found on the Neukom Institute website at:


BLACKFISH CITY wins the John W. Campbell Memorial Award

I’m thrilled by the news that Blackfish City is the recipient of the 2019 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel! An incredible honor that has gone to some of my favorite books and authors of the past several decades.

Big big love to the award jury – Gregory Benford, Sheila Finch, Elizabeth Anne Hull, Paul Kincaid, Christopher McKitterick, Pamela Sargent, and Lisa Yaszek – as well as my magnificent fellow finalists: Semiosis by Sue Burke, A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia, The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, Time Was by Ian McDonald, Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, Theory of Bastards by Audrey Schulman, Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar, Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts, and The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley  

Full cover of the Hungarian edition of Blackfish City – illustration by Péter Kovács

BLACKFISH CITY is a Nebula Nominee for Best Novel!!

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America released the full 2019 Nebula Award ballot today, and I am so, so moved to say that Blackfish City is a nominee in the Best Novel category!

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.

Check out the full ballot, and READ ALL THE THINGS.

“Trouble Is Our Business” – Talking A PEOPLE’S FUTURE OF THE UNITED STATES at the New York Public Library

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. 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.”

You can also listen to the full event, which is episode 252 of the NYPL’s renowned podcast!!

And the library put up video of the full event:

THE ART OF STARVING wins the Andre Norton Award

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:



Photo by Karen Yun-Lutz

THE ART OF STARVING is a nominee for the World Science Fiction Society Award for Best Young Adult Book!!

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.

Click here for the full ballot. 

THE ART OF STARVING is nominated for the Andre Norton Award!!

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.

Life in Fiction 2017: Highlights as a Reader & a Writer

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.

The Art of Starving (HarperTeen). Young adult science fiction about a bullied small-town gay boy with an eating disorder (all of which I was) who believes that starving himself awakens latent supernatural abilities (which mine did not). Starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, & Booklist; Barnes & Noble called it “a novel with the power to change the world.” A Junior Library Guild selection. 

Making Us Monsters (co-written with Lara Elena Donnelly) (who accurately described it as “the anti-fascist gay time traveling epistolary WWI novelette about dangerous medical experimentation that you’ve all been waiting for!”) – Uncanny Magazine   

 The Future of Hunger in the Age of Programmable Matter –  A group of friends, a pair of lovers, and the tussle between love, addiction, and what comes next…. “Plus there are giant kaiju that destroy New York. So it’s got a lot going on. It’s a moving piece about longing and desire and shame and abuse, and it’s very much worth checking out. Go read it!” – Quick Sip Reviews 

The Ways Out – Clarkesworld. “It’s a story reflecting on prejudice, but also a story of hope, fighting back… one of found family and people overcoming loneliness” – Apex Magazine. Rocket Stack Rank said the end reveal is “delicious.” And Tangent said: “I was rooting for the characters after seeing snippets of their conversations and hints of their inner goals, and wanted them to beat the system spying on them.”  

Bodies Stacked Like Firewood – Uncanny Magazine. “As usual with Miller, this story is about love, loss and friendship and it features queer main characters” – the Curious SFF Reader.

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



“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,”, 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,, 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,, 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!


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,
  • “That Game We Played During the War” by Carrie Vaughn,

“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… [APOLOGIES to anyone I forgot/left off! contact me and I’ll add you]


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:


“… 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! 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.


“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.


“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!