If you enjoyed my work, I would love if you nominated it for awards: these always help visibility, and it’s been a rough few years in terms of that (thank you not thank you divorce, pandemic and the apparent implosion of twitter, sigh).
Both The Red Scholar’s Wake and Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances are on the BSFA longlist, and voting for that closes Feb 19th; meanwhile, Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances is on the Nebula Recommended Reading list. Voting is this way for the BSFA, and this way for the Nebulas.
-The artwork by Alyssa Winans (UK cover of The Red Scholar’s Wake) is eligible for Best Artwork, and it’s notably on the BSFA longlist. Would love to see that one recognised because Alyssa has been doing stellar work. See above for the voting link.
–“Elsewhere, Elsewhere”, L. Chan (Giganotosaurus, short story): time magic, timeless love and timeless betrayals.
-The Sunday Morning Transport ed Julian Yap and Fran Wilde is eligible for Best Semiprozine. If you’d like to see what they publish: aside from my own “Sword of Bone, Hall of Thorns“, you can check this Yoon Ha Lee story they published last year which I absolutely loved.
Would also recommend checking out Sara A. Mueller’s The Bone Orchard for Best Novel which is court intrigue + Gothic decadence + whodunit!
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 Flamescame 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.”
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).
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’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.
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’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.
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).
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.
I believe Tasha Suri is eligible for this one and it’s her last year of eligibility!
The funny thing about living in Europe is that I blearily woke up this morning, made a tea to try and wake up while still rubbing my eyes, and while I was making a bottle of milk for my youngest I saw that my twitter mentions had exploded.
Below is the full text of my acceptance speech as kindly delivered for me by my good friend Fran Wilde, acceptor extraordinaire:
That was not expected.
I would like to thank Fran Wilde for accepting this award on my behalf, my editor Yanni Kuznia, Geralyn Lance, Bill Schafer, Gwenda Bond and everyone at Subterranean Press who worked on this book; my cover artists and designers Maurizio Manzieri, Gail Cross at Desert Isle Design and Dirk Berger, my agent John Berlyne as well as the JABberwocky team (Joshua Bilmes, Lisa Rodgers, Patrick Disselhorst) for the non-American edition. To my friends and supporters: Likhain, Zen Cho, Alis Rasmussen, Tade Thompson, Vida Cruz, Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, Cindy Pon, Kari Sperring, Liz Bourke, D Franklin, Zoe Johnson, Jeannette Ng, Nene Ormes, Ken Liu, Elizabeth Bear, Stephanie Burgis, Alessa Hinlo, Inksea, and Mary Robinette Kowal, as well as everyone who spread the word, nominated this and voted for it.
I wrote this book for fun: it was a story that mashed together two of my childhood idols, Sherlock Holmes and Judge Dee, one that came with no deadlines or expectations attached to it. One thing I realised was that it’s easy for writing–for any writing–to feel frivolous and self-indulgent. There are always more important things to do, especially as a mother of colour–children, family, day job, politics in an environment that feels like it’s swinging back to darker days, with people stopping me in the streets and telling me to go back home. It’s so easy to take the path of least resistance and put writing last, to always find something more important that needs to be done.
It’s so easy to choke for lack of self-care.
The truth, of course, is that writing matters. It is frivolous, it is self-indulgent, but it is also necessary. It is breathing space and act of resistance and escapism on my own terms. Stories shaped me as a child and continue to shape me as an adult. And it is a great and potent reminder of how far this particular one has gone to be accepting this award, now.
I’m shocked and delighted that my long-running space opera series, The Universe of Xuya, and its latest outing, The Tea Master and the Detective, are finalists for a Hugo Award for Best Series and Best Novella, respectively. I conceived of Xuya as a sandbox where I could tell my stories –of family, and children, and what is passed on between generations, of a galactic empire taking its cues from Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism as in the stories I grew up with–of people of Vietnamese descent who got to go into space and build their own societies and stories. The universe has been with me for a long time, growing alongside my career. It means a lot to me to see this recognised.
My deepest thanks to everyone who nominated it and spread the word. Thanks as well to everyone who made this possible by publishing the stories, and in particular the latest book, The Tea Master and the Detective–many thanks to Yanni Kuznia, Geralyn Lance, and everyone at Subterranean Press for a gorgeous and much successful book–and to John Berlyne, Joshua Bilmes, Lisa Rodgers, Patrick Disshelhorst and everyone at JABberwocky for the non-North American edition. And to my friends and to my fans, for the support that always keeps me going.
Also many congratulations to everyone on the ballot as this is a truly awesome list.
So last week I couldn’t sleep—I was exhausted after 2.5 days of solo childcare (I assure you the 0.5 matters immensely), but apparently my body decided to be a jerk and I woke up at 4am. While waiting for tea to brew I idly checked my email, and found a thing marked “Confidential” in my mailbox.
I opened it and stared at it. The kettle switched itself off after boiling the water but I kept staring at the screen because it was 4am and surely it was a trick of super tired brain.
Spoilers: it was not.
Writers often get to sit on awesome things for a long long time, and this waiting was actually relatively short! It gives me great joy to say that “Children of Thorns, Children of Water”, the novelette I wrote as a preorder reward for The House of Binding Thorns, is up for a Hugo Award for Best Novelette (in a, er, very competitive category–will you look at that ballot and everyone who’s on it °_°)
To everyone who read and considered my story of Bake Off in Gothic devastated Paris: thank you so much! This is by no means the detailed speech (still have to write that hahaha) but also thanks to everyone who weighed in on Facebook when I was brainstorming what kind of competition a magical faction would run for recruiting people, to Kate Elliott, Stephanie Burgis and Fran Wilde for believing in it (and especially to Steph and Fran for support with cover art and publicizing it); to Megan Crewe for super lovely super fast cover art; to Michelle Sagara for formatting the ebooks for me; to Gillian Redfearn, Genn McMenemy, Stevie Finegan and everyone at Gollancz for running the original giveaway; to Uncanny Magazine for its second life as a reprint, and to everyone who read and signal boosted it.
I’m over the moon.
And congrats and best of luck to my fellow nominees, and a special mention to Likhain whose art is awesome and to Fran Wilde whose short story is heartbreaking.
(also spoilers: it was super hard to go back to sleep in a timely fashion after the email hahaha!)
PPS: click here to read the story! And click here if you want to read more about the book in the same universe.
If you still need ideas/stuff to read at the last minute I’ve collected my recommendations here.
The short version: please consider Likhain (sample above) for your Best Fan Artist ballot, and Tade Thompson for the Campbell. And because I’ve repeatedly had the question: insofar as I can tell, the Xuya universe series is eligible in the Best Series category (meets the total wordcount and had 3 new volumes released in 2016: take your pick between “A Salvaging of Ghosts” , “A Hundred and Seventy Storms”, and “Pearl” in the excellent anthology The Starlit Wood–you can read the first two free online, or you can check out the Cheat Starter Guide to Xuya)
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?
Just a quick reminder that today is the last day for Hugo nominations (you have until 11:59pm Pacific time, and you can nominate if you’re a member of Sasquan, MidamericonII or Worldcon in Helsinki). You can find the nomination form here.
Please do nominate even if you feel you haven’t read widely enough: if you loved something, just put it on your ballot. This isn’t a quiz on the state of the genre, it’s a vote for things you liked in 2015 (and experience has shown that voters who recuse themselves as “not having read/watched enough” tend to overwhelmingly be marginalised folks, thereby biasing nomination results).
If you’re still looking for stuff to put on your ballot, here is my awards consideration post with stuff by me and a lot of other great people (insofar as I could and it made sense, I’ve included a lot of stuff available online for those last minute reading binges!).
I’m told by Farah Mendlesohn that this is the first time anyone has walked away with the two fiction awards in the same year (previously Keith Roberts won both art and short fiction in 1986). The Guardian has a lovely piece here, courtesy of David Barnett (and yeah this is me going “OMG I’m in the Guardian” in case you had any doubts).
My thanks to everyone who read and voted in the awards and to everyone involved from the BSFA. I was also honoured to be part of two very strong shortlists and highly suggest you check out the other finalists.
Me with Gillian Redfearn and John Berlyne in the bar shortly afterwards.