Category: plugs

2019 awards consideration post


It’s that time of year again! I’ve had a 2019 and a half to say the least, so I’m afraid this is going to be a brief list, but I did want to highlight a few really really nice things I read last year, so without further ado.

For your consideration

My novel The House of Sundering Flames came out last year from Gollancz/JABberwocky, and wrapped up the Dominion of the Fallen series, a tale of a Gothic devastated Paris, Fallen angels, dragons, politics, colonialism and how to rebuild in the wake of huge devastation (also the cutest dragon toddler, the best murderbirds husbands aka the combination of a totally amoral Fallen and his increasingly distraught dragon partner, and the best Vietnamese aunties that you DO NOT want to cross)

It was long listed for the BSFA Award and is on the Locus Recommended list for Best Fantasy Novel, and here’s what people have said about it:

“A dark saga of ruined cities, fallen angels, and awakening dragons… a must read… an intoxicating blend of gothic mystery, apocalyptic fantasy, and Vietnamese myth—meaty, singular, and satisfying.”

Joel Cunningham, Barnes and Noble

“Incredible… one of the most original, fantasy settings I’ve seen”

Adrian Tchaikovsky, Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author of Children of Ruin

You can get a copy here:

Buy Now
And you can read here:

Read chapter one online!

I’ve had the question, so yes, the “birthday goes wrong” comedy of manners “Of Birthdays, and Fungus, and Kindness” in my short story collection Of Wars, and Memories and Starlight is eligible for Best Novella if you so enjoyed it. The short story collection as a whole is eligible for Best Collection in awards like the World Fantasy Award.

EDIT: Farah Mendlesohn kindly reminded me that Dominion of the Fallen, as a whole, is eligible for Best Series if you happen to have a spot in your Hugo Awards ballot.

And here’s my list of things I loved this year! (I will, as usual, amend as I catch up on 2019, though I do have to be fair and warn that I’m not committing to this as this continues to be a bit of a wild year).


Elizabeth Bear, “Deriving Life” 

A story about grief and alien symbiotes and a relationship torn apart by death. The characters in this are so strong, fair warning it’s a tear-jerker.

Short story

John Chu, “Probabilitea”

A sweet story about the daughter of a god-like figure who must learn to manipulate the future. Also, tea and maths!

Fran Wilde, “A Catalog of Storms”

Storms, winds’ names and a family–and what it means to be sister to a heroine.

Nghi Vo, “Boiled Bones and Black Eggs”

Hauntings at an inn, and how to banish a ghost. The food descriptions are mouth-watering, but beneath it is quite a sharp story about power and memory.

Eugenia Triantafyllou, “We are Here to Be Held”

A story of motherhood and monsters. I read this one at the beginning of the year and it’s kept sticking with me, it’s haunting and strange and just the right length.

Marie Brennan, “This is How”

Myths, ravens and dead children. Poetic and packs a punch.

Morgan Al-Moor, “The Beast Weeps with One Eye”

Dark bargains, survivals and the hunger of gods. I really loved the worldbuilding and the voice in this.


Tade Thompson, The Rosewater Redemption

Tade had two books out this year, but the finale of the Rosewater series (an alien invasion tale set in the eponymous city in Nigeria) is to me the most memorable, dealing with complex politics, colonialism as alien invasion, and how people from disparate walks of life can rise and fight to make something better.

Arkady Martine, A Memory Called Empire

Arkady’s book follows an ambassador from a space station in an alien and all-encroaching empire, and deals with her fascination and repulsion for her massive neighbour. The world building is amazing, and so is the storyline, which deals with the politics of encroachment and hegemony.

Kacen Callender, Queen of the Conquered

I wasn’t expecting this book to stab me in the chest and tear it apart, but that’s what it did. It’s a raw, unflinching look at slavery and its consequences in a re-imagined Carribean world where people have a  magic called kraft (which is forbidden to slaves), and one woman’s quest to get revenge at any cost and what it does to her.

Tasha Suri, Realm of Ash

Tasha’s strong followup to Empire of Sand follows a young widow who must learn to make her own life and find her own happiness–and, in the process, fight the darkness that has spread over the Ambhan empire. It’s strongly paced, imaginative, and has a delightful set of main characters with great chemistry.

Zen Cho, The True Queen

This was super sweet! The follow-up to the Sorcerer Royal follows a queer Muslim woman looking for her missing sister and dragged into the politics of Faerie. It’s a fun and fluffy English regency, with sharp digs at the reality of Regency for non-white colonial subjects. And also the sweetest dragon and his husband (Pogo is back!!). Can be read standalone from the book that precedes it (but you really should get both).


Fran Wilde, Riverland

This is an unflinching and much needed book about abuse and what it means for children. Sisters Mike and Eleanor hide under the bed at their home to find a safe place, and trade monster stories. But when the bed becomes the opening to a magical land, Eleanor must find a way to heal the land–and help Mike and herself finally find true safety.

Astounding Awards

I believe Tasha Suri is eligible for this one and it’s her last year of eligibility!

Awards consideration/recommendation post


Awards consideration/recommendation post

Belatedly posting this because it’s been a busy year, but here goes…

For your consideration

In 2017 I published a bunch of things, but here’s one I was particularly happy with: “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” is basically my homage to the Great Bake Off. With dragons in human form, a Gothic devastated Paris, and creepier magic than my main characters had originally bargained for…

It’s on the Locus 2017 Recommended Reading List, which means I’m not the only one thinking it’s decent 🙂

You can read it online at Uncanny Magazine (it’s listed as a reprint in the July 2017 issue, but the original publication date was April 2017, which makes it eligible for awards! The original publication was as a pre-order reward for my novel The House of Binding Thorns: it’s a standalone set in the universe, though you’ll get some Easter eggs if you’ve read the books.).

And now for the stories & things from other people I absolutely loved this year:

Short story

Fran Wilde’s “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” is an amazing gut-punch of a read–about the people we see and the ones we don’t, and how quick we are to deny people their humanity.

Rebecca Roanhorse’s “Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience ™” is a strong read about Native American culture, appropriation and all the ways in which it hurts.

Elaine Cuyegkeng’s “House that Creaks” is the sort of horror story that just sticks in the mind long after reading it–about a haunted house and how it became that way, and political dissidents, and the force of memory and sorrow and anger.

ETA: oops, this is from 2016!

Nghi Vo’s  “Twelve Pictures from a Second World War” manages to use its very brief amount of words to picture something haunting with sense of loss–and to show us a side of WWII in non-Western countries that often gets set aside in SFF.
Rose Lemberg’s amazing novella, “A Portrait of the Desert in Personages of Power” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies) is a masterpiece of worldbuilding that brings together two very different characters with vastly different histories, and tracks the consequences of their meeting–effortlessly rich and romantic, laden with worldbuilding that both feels familiar and strange, this definitely stuck with me long after I’d read it.
Tade Thompon’s The Murders of Molly Southbourne takes a wild premise (every time Molly bleeds, her blood creates a double who turns murderous on her, and whom she then has to kill), amps it up to eleven, and turns it into a detailed, twisty thriller that follows Molly from childhood to adult, asking questions about free will, identity and the price of survival on the way. A gruesome and neat little horror book.
Martha Wells’s All Systems Red is a fast paced SF romp with an unforgettable protagonist, the misanthropic Murderbot, whose only dream is to watch TV series—except that those pesky humans keep getting into trouble…


I don’t always do poetry, but Brandon O’Brien’s “Birth, Place” is amazing–beautifully evocative, with an ending that lingered in my mind. I want to frame entire pieces of it on my wall, as a reminder for hard times.

Best Fan Artist
And Likhain’s art continues to be amazing: she was up for a Hugo this year for Best Fan Artist. Below are two of the pieces she did as promo art for The House of Binding Thorns–she’s still eligible this year in Best Fan Artist, if you’re so minded to nominate her.
Ken Liu’s Wall of Storms took everything I loved about The Grace of Kings and made it better. If I had one criticism of Grace of Kings, it was that the book was scarce on women until the very end. Wall of Storms has them in abundance, and shifts from a war to control a kingdom to my favourite trope: court intrigue and manoeuvring of different factions who all try to pretend it’s for the good of the country. It deals with loss and legacy, and it also has the best engineering in fantasy sequence I’ve read in a long long time.
ETA: apparently this is a 2016 book! °_°
Stephanie Burgis’s Snowspelled is the perfect book to curl up with if you need a pick-me-up. It’s fun and fluffy but also quite effortlessly deep. Set in an alternate England in a fragile peace with the neighbouring elves, the novella follows Cassandra, once a star magician but now a broken woman who lost her powers. Expecting nothing but obscurity, Cassandra finds herself stuck in a mansion in the middle of the snowstorm—with a rogue magician to track, a powerful and haughty elf to placate, and worst of all, a persistent ex-fiancé who refuses to take no for an answer. It’s sweet and beautiful and just left me ready for the sequel. (ETA: it’s 42k, which might make it fall under the Hugo Awards 10% rule)
Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Stratagem is also a sequel (to his great Ninefox Gambit, which I recommended last year to everyone who would listen to me). It expands the fascinating universe of Hexarchate by showing us characters from outside the assault section trying to take over a fortres: the hexarchs themselves (Mikodez ftw)), the civilians, the soldiers on space stations, and more factions beyond the ones we saw in Ninefox Gambit. And the ending left me hungering for more (book 3 is out next year!!).
Elizabeth Bear’s The Stone in the Skull reminded of me of why I love big fat epic fantasies: it’s got everything from creepy threats, lush worldbuilding and a great big cast of characters, but without the casual misogyny, gender essentialism and racism that throws me out of texts. The cast is diverse (yay toddlers in SFF!), and I felt like I’d barely read enough when the book ended.
Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun is a creepy Gothic fairytale that takes as a premise the sending of two Victorian missionaries to Fairyland. I hadn’t thought the finer points of theology could be this gripping, but the claustrophobic meditation on the nature of faith and stories that follows is a treat. And I’ll never forget the banquet at the midpoint of the book: Jeannette has a gift for the genuinely unsettling images and twists.
Foz Meadows’s A Tyranny of Queens is superlative portal fantasy: an epic cast of characters, wonderfully drawn societies and a thoughtful, nuanced treatment of abuse and PTSD. Only drawback is you’ll have to read the first book, An Accident of Stars, but trust me, it’s totally worth it.
ADDED: KJ Charles Spectred Isle  is queer historical fantasy and so much fun–set just after WWI and featuring an arrogant occultist and a jaded archeologist, it deals with London, ghosts, fen-monsters and growing and inevitable attraction!
Best YA novel
Cindy Pon’s Want is a fast-paced look at a dystopian Taiwan where the gulf between haves and have-nots is counted in years of good health.
Kate Elliott’s Buried Heart brought her Court of Fives trilogy to an awesome end, and tackled colonialism, revolutions, history and the way people have to make hard and impossible choices. I loved that Jess continued to have a relationship with her entire family, and all the different roles for characters from domestic to military.
Victor Fernando R Ocampo’s The Infinite Library and Other Stories is a breathtaking short story collection of loosely linked stories that run the gamut from whimsical to dark, but always infused with a sharp perception of what makes people. It’s a mite hard to find in the West as the publisher is based in Singapore but it’s well worth a read if you can track it down.
Best Related Work
Dimas Ilaw’s “The Shape of the Darkness as It Overtakes Us” is a gut-wrenching and utterly necessary read.
Best Fan Writer
I feel like Liz Bourke, D Franklin , Bogi Takács and Charles Payseur have been doing excellent work of reviewing and writing about genre this year, with an eye to boosting stuff that often gets missed, so do check out their work!
Also check out: JY Yang’s Red Threads of Fortune and Black Threads of Heaven (novellas), Corey White’s Killing Gravity (novella), Malka Older’s Null States (novel), Karin Tidbeck’s Amatka (novel), Fonda Lee’s Jade City (novel).

Awards consideration & recommendation post


I usually put this up way sooner but this was a bit of an overwhelming year for me, for several reasons, apologies…

I feel like I should start with the usual call to action/disclaimer: if you’re eligible to vote for any of the awards (Nebulas/Hugos/etc.), then please do so, even if you felt you haven’t read enough. It’s a big field and few people can claim to have read everything that came out last year–and generally the people who recuse themselves from voting tend to be marginalised folks, which skews ballots. So please please vote?

With that in mind…

Continue reading →

Brazilian Science Fiction in English


Courtesy of Christopher Kastensmidt (whose Elephant and Macaw banner stories you should be reading if you’re not already! Swords and muskets in colonial Brazil!), I’m reposting the entire list of Brazilian SF in English that he posted to Facebook, cleaned up and linked.

All text is Chris’s, not mine 😀 (the original post is here).

Continue reading →

Fundraiser for Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (Xuya stories!)


Writer & friend Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is currently going through a tough patch–I can’t go into specifics because it’s not my story to tell, but right now she and her family could really use some financial help.

We’ve set up a fundraiser here:

And, hum, I know people have been asking about hard-to-obtain Xuya stories? If you donate to this, you’ll have access to an exclusive ebook which features three Xuya stories which aren’t online: namely, “Fleeing Tezcatlipoca”, “Two Sisters in Exile”, and “Memorials”.

(Apologies for the generic cover, I put that together in ~1h yesterday evening. I can guarantee you that the text content is prettier!)

And also to printable colouring sheets by Likhain. And you’ll be entered into a draw for more prizes including signed books, ebooks, and magazine subscriptions.

RT review, and PW’s Top Ten


The RT review of The House of Shattered Wings is online here. I’m just going to excerpt the relevant bits: the book is a Top Pick for August, and the review contains, among many awesome things, this, “It’s a whirlwind, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s one of the best fantasy novels of 2015.”


Also, it’s subscriber-only, but I’m reliably told that Publisher’s Weekly lists The House of Shattered Wings as one of the top ten books for Fall (alongside Laura Anne Gilman’s Silver on the Road, a book that sounds fantastic, Fran Wilde’s Updraft which I have on my ereader and am looking forward to, and Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, which is a delight).

Here’s what they say: “This intense novel depicts warring factions in a magical alternate version of 20th-century Paris, where decadence mingles with fear.”
Intense. With Decadence and fear. Yeah, sounds about right 🙂

Your hemi-semi-weekly reminder RE Joyce Chng


Your hemi-semi-weekly reminder RE Joyce Chng

I’m going to sound like a broken record on this, but it’s for a good cause 🙂 A quick reminder that Joyce Chng is undergoing medical treatment for breast disease, and that this obviously doesn’t come cheap. She’s hoping to fund some of it via Patreon: if you support her, you can access chapters of “Dragon Physician”, a YA with racing dragons.

The link is here. Please help and/or signal boost?



Couple of plugs:
-Fundraiser for Accessing the Future, an anthology of disability-themed SF. Co-edited by Kathryn Allan and Djibril al-Ayad, to be published by Publishing. Djibril already brought the wonderful (and under appreciated) We See a Different Frontier into being, this looks also awesome.
-In a rather different vein, a wonderful short story by Alter S. Reiss, over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies: racial tensions, immigration and murder in the kitchen of a large restaurant: “By Appointment to the Throne”

The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection now out


The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection now out

Gardner Dozois’s annual Years Best Science Fiction has now been released: it contains my Hugo and Locus finalist and Nebula Award winner “The Waiting Stars”, as well as stories by the likes of Nancy Kress, Alastair Reynolds, Lavie Tidhar, Elizabeth Bear, Ian McDonald and Ken Liu… I always find those collections worth reading, especially since I no longer keep up with short fiction markets quite as much, and Dozois’s summation of the state of the field always makes for fascinating reading.

Buy here on amazon US|amazon UK.