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Year’s Best :) and other things

I haven’t been posting a lot here because of health and related mobility issues. Today I was supposed to present a poster at SRCLD, a child language conference, but I had to cancel my attendance and ask my coauthors to present the poster instead of me. I was really looking forward to meeting some of you at SRCLD, so this is a bit sad… I hope you liked the poster :) I am really grateful to Karla McGregor and Katherine R. Gordon for both their comments and additions to the poster, and also for presenting it instead of me.

I will be taking my PhD comprehensive exams soon, which is a multi-week process, so I will mostly focus on doing that and also on trying to maintain some semblance of health… but besides that, Alphabet of Embers is almost ready to print after many hitches, so that will be a thing hopefully soon, G-d willing. The next issue of Inkscrawl is also close to being finished… And I haven’t forgotten about my promised review of Bone Gap either. I have mostly written it, but I need to insert quotes from the book to substantiate my claims that it really does say the things I mentioned, some of it is really hard to believe!

Some more cheerful news:

I just had a flash story titled All Talk of Common Sense in Volume 3 of Polychrome Ink. This is a print and ebook magazine and I just received my author copy – I’m very much looking forward to reading it! If you are interested it, you can purchase it in various formats on the website of the press. If you are a writer, they pay decent semi-pro rates and are very friendly and inclusive.

I will do my best to post story notes for this one soon! It is a tie-in story to my novelette coming later this year in GigaNotoSaurus, and in this one I was experimenting with #ownvoices and how it would work in a quasi-historical fantasy setting. Autistic protagonist in a medieval-Hungary-esque world!

My contributor copy!

My contributor copy!

And here is a little teaser:

The beginning of my story

The beginning of my story


Another piece of good news – my space opera story The Need for Overwhelming Sensation, originally published in the launch issue of Capricious, will be reprinted in Transcendent – The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction, edited by K. M. Szpara.

You can do many things:

* read the story in Capricious (free!)

* read my bonus story notes (also free :)  it has content warnings for before reading and spoilery bonuses after reading)

* preorder Transcendent, with a $5 preorder discount!

I really like the cover art:

Transcendent cover

Transcendent cover

The cover artist is Noel Arthur Heimpel and they are also trans.

It’s also really cool that the person on the cover has a headcovering, not very many trans people wear headcoverings, but I am one. :) I know this is totally incidental, but awesome nonetheless.

I’m looking forward to reading the book, there are many stories in it that I haven’t read before, actually. I’ll also need to see what I can put on the #ownvoices trans SFF list from the table of contents! This is also a reminder that the list is open for further additions on Goodreads. :) If you are a trans/nb/gq author and have an #ownvoices SFF story or book, but Goodreads doesn’t let you put your own work on lists, you can comment and I can put it on for you.

Written by prezzey in: sci,sf,writing |
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#diversestories (& poems & books) roundup

My SFF recommendations are back, and the roundups are back too! I need to go back and make retroactive roundups too… somehow…

* (Short story) (Free) Remembery Day by Sarah Pinsker in Apex, May 2015 – New author in the series!

* (Novelette) (Free) And Never Mind the Watching Ones by Keffy R. M. Kehrli in Uncanny, 2015

* (Novelette) (Free) Geometries of Belonging by Rose Lemberg in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Oct 2015

* (Poem) (Free) Suzuka by Iori Kusano in Goblin Fruit, Winter 2016 + do not miss this thread by the author – New author in the series!

* (Book) (Non-free) Conversations with Octavia Butler, ed. Conseula Francis. Mississippi University Press, 2010.

Thank yous go to my wonderful supporters this week:

* Jose Jimenez who watered our plants and safeguarded our Nebula books from the elements

* Keffy R. M. Kehrli, who sent a copy of Na’amen Tilahun’s first novel The Root

* Debra Fran Baker, who sent a box of apple bars, many enthusiastically consumed by Mati already :)

Even more thank yous to:

These are all people who sent things while I was behind on roundups, so I only posted thank yous on twitter.

* D Libris, who sent a copy of Monstrous Little Voices signed by Foz Meadows for both Rose and me

* Keffy R. M. Kehrli, who sent a copy of The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar

* Anonymous Benefactor, who sent a copy of Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney

* Steve Berman, who sent literally a box of books!!

* Anonymous Benefactor, who sent a pull-up assist band

* Anonymous Benefactor, who sent a crate of sweet potato chips

* Jose Jimenez, who sent a backup mobile battery, enabling me to work while commuting

And wedding gifts (yes, I know, it’s been a while):

These are not including the gifts that we were given in person at the wedding – I don’t have a good list or pictures of those, but we are very grateful for those too!!!

* Karla McGregor sent a beautiful plant hanger with plant (thanks again JJ for watering it while we were away!)

* Debra Fran Baker sent a copy of Starglass by Phoebe North

* Lisa M. Bradley, Jose Jimenez and CeCe sent many food items and also a book for Mati, The Big Book of Families

* Anonymous Benefactor sent nice relaxing bath salts

* Anonymous Benefactor sent kosher dried meat snacks

* Anonymous Benefactor sent multiple volumes of Oishinbo by Tetsu Kariya and Akira Hanasaki (there are even more that I did not take pictures of)

* D Libris sent two books: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Squirrel Girl vol. 1 by North & Henderson

This past semester was very difficult for me healthwise and I am just catching up on various things including reading many of the above books. We also just tried some of the Carcassonne expansions we got from my brother for the wedding, and they were great fun! We tried the Tower cardholder (but not the Tower cards & rules yet) and the Ferries miniexpansion. Ferries are fun! Sadly this expansion is out of print, but he managed to find one for me in Hungary – a Nordic countries version, with rules in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish. We also have the Phantom expansion, but we haven’t played it yet.

I need to post Nebulas photos… I have even more than what I posted on Twitter. And finish my review of Bone Gap for Disability in Kidlit, which is turning very long. In the meanwhile, you can follow me on Goodreads, where I am now active again and posting shorter but also less coherent reviews. 😀

If you keep an eye on my Twitter feed, there is a giveaway coming up soon IY”H.

Written by prezzey in: sf |
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Various news + recommendations are back!

I have some reprints to announce:

* Spirit Forms of the Sea, originally published in Sword & Mythos edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, and later podcast on Podcastle (eds. Graeme Dunlop and Rachael K. Jones), will finally see an online reprint in Fantasy Scroll, edited by Iulian Ionescu.

* My essay Alien of Extraordinary Ability? Migration in SFF and in My Life, originally a guest post on Jim C. Hines’ blog and later reprinted in Invisible 2, will be reprinted in Speculative Fiction 2015, eds. Foz Meadows and Mark Oshiro.

* Speculative Fiction 2015 will also reprint a Roundtable on Diversity I participated in at Book Smugglers, alongside Aliette de Bodard, M Sereno, Zen Cho and JY Yang; it was moderated by Charles Tan.

I have one more reprint I can’t talk about yet, and an original poem sale; I also might be reading micropoetry at a local event in Iowa City in early June. Stay tuned for more information!


In other news, my weekly 12+-hr commute is over for now and I am regaining some semblance of life and health. I restarted the #diversestories / #diversepoems recommendations series, and I’m doing a set of QUILTBAG author recs right now! You can follow me on Twitter at @bogiperson, and I will try to do my best to resume posting the recommendation roundups here too.

I have also posted a bunch of really brief reviews on Goodreads just as a form of relaxation. Genre and subject matter is all over the map. I might or might not keep this up, but it has been fun.


The upcoming issue of Inkscrawl is almost finished, but I still need to send out a handful of responses. Apologies to everyone!! I will hopefully get to this soon, G-d willing.

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New poem, flash story and audiobook!

I haven’t been around much due both to the Jewish holidays and to Rose Spouseperson having had a health emergency. Rose had minor surgery (which went well, thank G-d) and is recuperating now.

In the meanwhile, many things came out that you can read online free of charge!


My literary, very non-speculative poem Periodicity was published in Little Village, the cultural and all-round newsmagazine of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids metro area. In Iowa City, you throw a rock and it hits two writers, so I am really proud of this acceptance. If you are in the area, you can get a print copy for free! I am happy to sign it for you. :) Content warnings: mentions of genocide and destruction of nature.

(I get this question a lot, so I will preempt it: No, I have nothing to do with the extremely prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I work in a psycholinguistics lab and write in my spare time.)


Also, my science fiction flash story Increasing Police Visibility that originally appeared in Lightspeed – Queers Destroy Science Fiction has just been reprinted and podcast in Glittership, edited by Keffy R.M. Kehrli. As mine was one of the QDSF stories not available online, I was especially happy! Now you can read it and/or listen to it, as is your preference. It has

* A relationship between a nonbinary trans person and a cis man. Someone (I sadly don’t remember who) was talking about the lack of this pairing in SF on Twitter, so I did my part and wrote a short story :)

* Math, real-life math that works as described

* Actual trans scientist person – I am one too!

* The Hungarian government being awful – the details ended up being scarily prescient, as I discussed in a previous post.

Now you can go read and / or listen!

And since Periodicity had no bonus notes before, here they are now…

Bonus notes for Periodicity

I wrote this poem two years ago, but I have very little idea about where to send non-genre work, and I find it confusing to this day that literary magazines seem to prefer simultaneous submissions. It had been to two places before, and one of those lost the poem, which I found out after I finally dared to query upon the one-year mark.

This poem was inspired by multiple events, among them the 2013 flooding of the Danube and its aftereffects, which I experienced back in Hungary. I also wrote a fantasy novelette inspired by this flood, which is scheduled to appear in GigaNotoSaurus later this year.

The other major source of inspiration was the rise of the extreme right in Hungary, and how it has all been reminiscent of an era we had thought bygone.

Miklós Radnóti was a Hungarian poet, Jewish by birth and Catholic by choice, who was brutally murdered in the Holocaust. He wrote quite an amount of work inspired by nature, even in the most dire conditions. I recommend his collection Foamy Sky, translated into English by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Frederick Turner.

This is one of his classic poems about Hungary, his beloved country, in English (with a few typos introduced by whoever typed it up from the book) and Hungarian. “and one day it will brighten, hid now in safety’s bark, / till peace shall write upon our land its shining mark / and answer our choked words in sentences of light. // With great wings cover us, O guardian cloud of night.”

Everything in Periodicity is about something specific and sadly factual. There was news coverage about how the floodbanks were invaded by moles because the municipality had neglected maintenance, and how this made the banks less likely to hold. Likewise, trees by the riverside were cut down en masse, claimed to have gone to rot, but I saw the remains and they looked fine. Of course I am not an expert, but at this point, I am not very inclined to believe the municipality on anything – especially considering they had also cut down several mature trees nowhere near the river, some 100+ years old, for no particular reason, or to build football fields (association football, ie. soccer). The current government’s massive investment in football has so far yielded little success, and I say this as a person who both likes to kick the ball and watch others kick it too.

This poem is especially timely in light of the first round of the Austrian presidential election results just the other day. I remember when Austrian newspapers had articles after the rise of the extreme right in Hungarian elections: “are we next?”. Now we know the answer is yes. :(

Wishing all of you a periodicity of more pleasant experiences!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , , , ,
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Suddenly Awards & Miscellaneous Announcementthings

Hi everyone! Sorry for my absence – I have been really struggling with health and just staying reasonably on top of work. I got diagnosed with a knee condition while I was in the process of being diagnosed with something completely different – but the good news is that I got referred to physical therapy, and it seems to be helping: my knees have been much less painful the past weeks, and my mobility improved. Physical therapy is really boring though, and I already have to do a different set of PT exercises for my lower back (I’ve been doing those since 2006), so once one adds up everything, it is quite time-consuming.

But! I have quite an amount of writing-related news.

I won an award:

Jakobsen Memorial Conference award

Specifically, this is the University of Iowa Jakobsen Memorial Conference’s presentation award, first place in Creative Works category. This is my university’s graduate student conference, and they have prizes for the best presentations. The award comes with $400, which I can actually accept, as it comes from my employer. Yay!

My presentation involved a reading of Skin the Creature, Shovelware and The Iterative Nature of the Magical Discovery Process, with a Q & A session afterward. Thank you to everyone who came, listened and/or provided feedback! Special thanks to Maria M, who asked a fascinating question about my writing process – I want to talk a bit about this later on, with pictures. :)


In the meanwhile, a book I contributed an essay to also won awards. Letters to Tiptree, published in Australia by Twelfth Planet Press and edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce, swept all the Australian SF awards, specifically:

* The Convenors Award for Excellence at the Aurealis Awards

* The William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review at the Ditmar Awards

* Best WA Professional Production at the Tin Duck Awards

It was also shortlisted for the BSFA award for Non-Fiction.

The American awards season is still ahead for the most part, so you can cheer for Letters to Tiptree! I am just a small part of the book, which has great contributions by many people.


I also had a tiiiiny microfiction piece published – The Merry Knives of Interspecies Communication in Angels of the Meanwhile, a benefit anthology for Pope Lizbet (Elizabeth R. McClellan) who suffered serious injuries last year. You can buy the anthology, support a good cause and enjoy many small and fascinating pieces! I especially liked Lisa Bradley’s poem, also original to the collection, but I haven’t finished reading everything yet.


I have many forthcoming things! I have been trying to place reprints for everything that’s not currently available online, and I also got some new pieces accepted.

My mathematically based flash story in Lightspeed – QDSF, Increasing Police Visibility, will be reprinted and podcast in Glittership, edited by Keffy R.M. Kehrli. I am especially happy about this given that this was one of the QDSF stories only available in the print edition.

My very short magical-realist poem Rays of Light, Stretching will appear on Iowa City public transport and in public buildings – also, on the municipality website, as part of the Poetry in Public program. (City of Iowa City, Iowa! Yes, that is the official name.) If you remember, last year I acquired the honor of being rejected by the city bus. This year I was accepted by the city bus! Huge thank yous to Lisa Bradley, who reminded me multiple times about the deadline, and to Rose Lemberg, who beta read the poem.

Periodicity, a non-genre poem about Hungarian politics and the spring flood, also found a home – I’m not sure I can announce yet (I asked), but it will appear very soon, G-d willing.

Spirit Forms of the Sea, my story in Sword & Mythos, the historical Lovecraftian fantasy anthology edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles, will also be reprinted online, but I’m not sure I can name the venue yet either. Sorry – I have been a sickly and very confused flop even more so than usual, and I haven’t been on top of communicating with editors.


And some various links about the Bogiperson in the wild:

I was interviewed by The Pack of Aces. I talked about even more upcoming stuff!

I participated in a SF Signal Mind Meld about SF/F TV Character Deaths That Had Us Shaking Our Heads.

Natalie Luhrs posted about my poems as part of her Poetry Project.

I think this is everything, but I probably forgot a few more… Thank you everyone :) Still coming: Diverse recommendations roundup & thank yous post. I am also working on a review for Disability in Kidlit!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , ,
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Hugo award recommendations #4

I’m running out of time to post the last part of the recommendations, so here they go – I might add some more later to fill in the gaps.

Previous recommendations: Best Novel, Campbell award for Best New Writer, Best Short Story & Fan Writer & Semiprozine

Links point to my recommendation threads on Twitter, where available. If you click on them, you can read my spoiler-free opinion of each story alongside a link to it for your reading pleasure, where available. My recommendations are listed in alphabetic order by the first letter.

If you enjoy these recommendations, you can surprise me with gifts from my Amazon wishlist. Food is especially appreciated!

Best Novella

* What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu (trans. Ken Liu, Anatoly Belilovsky) in F&SF

Best Novelette

* And Never Mind the Watching Ones by Keffy R. M. Kehrli in Uncanny

* Invisible City by A.C. Buchanan, self-published

Conflict-of-interest-y (I beta read these):

* Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds by Rose Lemberg in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

* Geometries of Belonging by Rose Lemberg in Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Best Related Work

Frankly not sure what is eligible and what isn’t, but I know you can nominate Letters to Tiptree ed. Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce, published by 12th Planet Press – I have a letter in this book alongside many, many people.

Best Graphic Story

* Ms. Marvel volume 2: Generation Why, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, published by Marvel

* Ms. Marvel volume 4: Last Days, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, published by Marvel

* The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, published by Marvel

* MFK by Nilah Magruder, self-published

I talked a bit about some of these comics at SF Signal in February.

Best Professional Editor (Short Form)

* Lynne and Michael Thomas (Uncanny) + I think Michi Trota is also eligible now?

* Scott Andrews (BCS)

* The Strange Horizons editorial team

* Colin Sullivan (Nature Futures)

* A.C. Wise and Bernie Mojzes (Unlikely Story)

You will probably want to list one person per line, though I am not sure. I could nominate a lot more people in this category! :) I also wish there was a separate category for editors of semi-pro venues.

Best Professional Artist

* Julie Dillon

* Goñi Montes

* Jillian Tamaki

* Galen Dara

* Kirk Benshoff (cover artist of the Ancillary series)

Best Fan Artist

* M Sereno – Likhain

Likhain is my !!!!YES!!!! nominee. I think next year she will be eligible as Best Pro Artist, but this year she is still in this category.

Best Fancast

* Glittership

Several fancasts seem to have turned pro this year, so I don’t think they are eligible any more…?

Further recommendations are very welcome!

I am not nominating in the dramatic categories because while I enjoy watching movies, I don’t like going to the movies and don’t have a TV subscription. (That’s an understatement – I’m not really able to go to the movies. But even if I were able, I wouldn’t like doing so.) So the things I watch tend to be less recent.

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Hugo award recommendations: Short Story, Fan Writer, Semiprozine

More Hugo nomination recommendations: Short Story, Fan Writer, Semiprozine.

Previous recommendations: Best Novel, Campbell award for Best New Writer

Links point to my recommendation threads on Twitter! If you click on them, you can read my spoiler-free opinion of each story alongside a link to it for your reading pleasure, where available. I have more than five nominees in some of the categories and it was still hard to pick. :) My recommendations are listed in alphabetic order by the first letter.

If you want to vote for me, or for work I was involved with, those are listed separately at the end of each section. If you enjoy these recommendations, you can surprise me with gifts from my Amazon wishlist.

Best Short Story

* Bilingual by Henry Lien in F&SF

* By Degrees and Dilatory Time by SL Huang in Strange Horizons

* Documentary by Vajra Chandrasekera in Lightspeed

* Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong in Nightmare

* Pockets by Amal El-Mohtar in Uncanny

* The Noble Torturer by Sofia Samatar in Bluestockings Magazine

* The Shape of My Name by Nino Cipri on Tor.com

Flash favorites:

* A Revolution in Four Courses by Naru Sundar in Daily SF

* Rubbing is Racing by Charles Payseur in Lightspeed – QDSF

* Sometimes Heron by Mari Ness in Lackington’s

* The Egg by S. B. Divya in Nature Futures

On Twitter I have even more 2015 recommendations! And if you want to vote for me, I recommend Forestspirit, Forestspirit in Clarkesworld.

Conflict-of-interest-y, but I would also like you to read it:

* How to Forget to Remember to Forget the Old War by Rose Lemberg in Lightspeed – QDSF

This story was dedicated to me and I was also one of the beta readers for it.

Best Fan Writer

* Charles Payseur – Wide-ranging and sensitive SFF short story reviews, his work fills a great need

* Natalie Luhrs – SFF news, essays, clueful feminism!

* Polenth Blake – Observant and thorough reviews of SFF media for all ages!

* Sandstone – She gathers a list of SFF back in print and has wonderful, obscure queer recommendations on Twitter and Goodreads.

* Shira Glassman – Reviewing intersections of queer SFF, romantic and erotic work, I find many new books this way

I am also eligible in this category. In addition to my Twitter recommendations series, I suggest some of my nonfiction: Gender, Sex and Sexuality in Speculative Fiction – A Discussion with Polenth Blake, in Strange Horizons; and Alien of Extraordinary Ability? Migration in SFF and in My Life  from Invisible 2, edited by Jim C. Hines and also available on his blog.

Best Semiprozine

* Beneath Ceaseless Skies

* GigaNotoSaurus

* Lackington’s

* Strange Horizons

* Uncanny

* Unlikely Story

And something I worked on: Stone Telling is also eligible!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: ,
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Campbell award recommendations 2015

Previous recommendation posts for your Hugo needs: Best Novel

These are my recommendations for the Campbell award. As usual, I only recommend people in their second year of eligibility, because this is their last chance.

Authors are presented in alphabetic order:

* S. B. Divya – Biblio, My recommendation

* SL Huang – Biblio, My recommendation

* Darcie Little Badger – Biblio, My recommendation

* Natalia Theodoridou – Biblio, My recommendation

* Alyssa Wong – Biblio, My recommendation

* JY Yang – Biblio, My recommendation

* Isabel Yap – Biblio, My recommendation

Every year it is harder and harder to pick – I couldn’t narrow it down to just five this year either, though I’ll have to do so for my ballot! There’s even more people whose work is in my TBR, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I read less short fiction this year than I would’ve liked to…

Some of my current favorite writers are in their first year of eligibility, so next year this exercise will be even harder. 😀 Just at first glance I see over ten people I will want to nominate next year!

Note that I am not eligible for the Campbell award, please don’t nominate me 😀 Instead, you can nominate my story Forestspirit, Forestspirit for Best Short Story in the Hugos, or you can vote for my poem The Iterative Nature of the Magical Discovery Process on the Rhysling.


In the meanwhile, I won an award and a book I’m in won three. O.o Update probably soon? IY”H. I’d like to link all the announcements, and some are not online yet.

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Published in Nature :)

I have been struggling with health so I did not get around to posting this update.

My story Shovelware has been published in the science fiction column of Nature (yes, that Nature), Nature Futures. My customary bonus notes are posted on Nature‘s website too.

If you are in Iowa this weekend, I will be reading the story and more at a reading on the Jakobsen conference at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City on Saturday. I will also be presenting a poster!

My poster is 2:30-4:45 on the IMU main lounge 1st floor. Title: “A Systematic Review of Connectionist Modeling Approaches in Autism Spectrum Conditions”

My fiction and poetry reading is in the 12:30-1:45 block of presentations, IMU Room 341 (Purdue). Title: “The Iterative Nature of the Magical Discovery Process / Shovelware”

Written by prezzey in: sci,sf,writing |
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2015 Hugo novel recommendations

My annual award recommendation series starts here. :)

This year, for the first time ever, I can do recommendations of novels too. Thank yous go to the Iowa City Public Library and everyone who bought me books through my Amazon wishlist or sent me reviewer copies!

These are some adult age range SFF books from 2015 that I enjoyed reading. (I will make a separate YA post soon IY”H.) I make no claim that they are “the best”, but I think they are all worth your time. There are still a lot of books I haven’t read or finished that came out this year and look interesting – for example Updraft by Fran Wilde, or The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard. But I’m working on catching up…

Links point to Goodreads.

Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Published by Solaris

Signal to Noise cover

Can I call it historical fantasy if it’s set in the 1980s? This short novel is set in 1980s Mexico and has awesome magic and great music alike, with well-rounded, believable characters. I was very happy to see a novel where a teenage girl main character is not sweet and innocent, but rather grumpy and moody. Bring it on!! Signal to Noise is also a smooth, fast read, and not a book I could easily put down. I am eagerly awaiting Certain Dark Things – Silvia’s second novel, out later this year.

Minor, but surprising point you should probably know before reading: Signal to Noise is also the first novel in a long while I see where someone fights off a sexual assault.

Where I got the book: Iowa City Public Library

Gene Mapper by Taiyo Fujii (translated by Jim Hubbert). Published by VIZ / Haikasoru.

Gene Mapper cover

Another quick read! Near-future hard SF with biotech and cyberpunk leanings, this book is also noteworthy for featuring a main-cast disabled character who is the opposite of one-dimensional. Sadly the rest of the cast are less memorable, and I’m frankly not sure the book passes the Bechdel test, but I still found it well worth a read. It was originally a runaway self-publishing hit in Japan, by the way.

This was a scary book for me because (spoiler ROT13) gur nhgube xrcg ba guebjvat erq ureevatf gung gur qvfnoyrq punenpgre jbhyq or gur nagntbavfg. Mercifully, the plot goes in a completely different direction; the author seems to deliberately subvert these tropes.

Where I got the book: Gift from my brother

The Mystic Marriage (Alpennia #2) by Heather Rose Jones. Published by Bella Books.

Mystic Marriage coverHistorical fantasy set in Alpennia, an imaginary Western-Central European country. (Think Austria and Switzerland.) There is a lot of intrigue among ultra-rich nobles living a life of leisure, but a lot of the plot involves alchemy, where they actually work and make something with their own hands – yes, both the characters and the author reflects on this. One of the reasons I like this series is the believable, not ‘flashy’ but still effective magic.

There are four main characters, all women. Two of them are an established couple, whereas two others end up in a relationship during the course of the novel. I was very glad to see a book with queer characters in a long-term loving, happy relationship. The author also tackled some of the problems I had with Alpennia #1, for example this time the pacing was tighter, and the cast was also not all ethnic/racial majority (though I really wish there would’ve been someone in a major role…). For my part I am really looking forward to the upcoming third novel!

My tweet series: Alpennia #1, Alpennia #2

Where I got the book: Print reviewer copy from publisher Bella Press

A Harvest of Ripe Figs (Mangoverse #3) by Shira Glassman. Published by Torquere Press.

A Harvest of Ripe Figs cover

Another series where the latest book so far has also been the best! This fun, fluffy secondary-world fantasy novel is just over novella length – this year I am again very low on novella recommendations, so I wish it could fit in there. But it’s still worth a read regardless of any award nominations; as the third part of the Mangoverse series, it has a standalone mystery plot, but it does spoil some of the events in the first two books. (The print edition has some bonus short stories to make it a bit longer.)

If you want to read something that is basically ‘cheerful and very queer fantasy Jews running around solving problems’, this is your book! One of my pet peeves is that mystery plots are usually super-focused on murder investigations; this one is about a high-profile theft instead.

My tweet series about A Harvest of Ripe Figs

Where I got the book: Bought with my to-do list reward cents (yes, that’s a lot of cents)

+1 The But…

This year I read several books which were really good in some aspects, BUT utterly fell on their face in others. This was such a trend that I opted to give out a “Well, But” award 😀 and it goes to…

The Dark Forest (Three Body Problem #2) by Liu Cixin (translated by Joel Martinsen). Published by Tor.

Dark Forest cover

Easily the most inventive science fiction novel I read this year, breathtakingly intense at times, a true genre classic. It is also hilaribadly misogynist. I warn you. It is so bad it made me laugh out loud with “I can’t believe the author just did that“. If I say that its gender roles are stuck in the 1950s, I’d be ignoring a large amount of 1950s SFF that is considerably more progressive – even Asimov’s Foundation series had Arkady Darell, an important character who’s a teenage girl. (Let’s not get into how many other problems I had with Foundation.)

I have seen people defend the misogyny with “well, it is a translated novel” or “well, Chinese author” – please don’t do that. This argument ignores the many, many Chinese authors who are not misogynist at all, including many women authors. I recommend Xia Jia!

Where I got the book: Iowa City Public Library

Runner-up to the BUT award: Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Wonderful prose, great Eastern European setting, spellbinding magic system, the most awful abusive relationship presented as charming and romantic.

Where I got the book: Iowa City Public Library

Written by prezzey in: sf |

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