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#diversestories roundup! (Oct 10)

I am dragging myself out of the rather bad health situation in September (and also before that…) and finally catching up on things! This is the latest #diversestories recommendations roundup.

A reminder that if you like my recs, now you can back my Patreon to support me! I have also transformed from a nonresident alien to a resident alien.

I haven’t been able to read a lot of the free online stories this year so far, because I was keeling over most of the time, but I do intend to catch up. There are still quite a few print things I want to recommend that I’ve already read, but I’ll do my best to intersperse them with free stuff. 🙂

Written by prezzey in: sf |
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Worldcon Panel writeups: SFF in Translation

I am so sorry this took me so long to post! September was a really awful month for me healthwise, and I also wanted to put together some resources I could link.

I made Goodreads lists of current & upcoming SFF translations, for award nomination purposes:

Rachel S. Cordasco has been immensely helpful in assembling these – you can follow her on Twitter at @Rcordas and she also has a hashtag #SFinTranslation. Do not miss her website Speculative Fiction in Translation either!

So the writeup:

First, Nick Wood had to be absent because his plane left earlier, so he asked me to mention the launch of the African Speculative Fiction Society. There is also a pdf leaflet you might like to have.

What would be my first recommendations from Eastern Europe in general:

  • The Strugatsky brothers (whatever you can find – some of their work is being rereleased in English)
  • Stanisław Lem’s Cyberiad

Hungarian authors translated into English:

There is very little in science fiction & fantasy:

  • Raana Raas (Etelka Görgey) recently ran a translation fundraiser for the first book in her Csodaidők (Wonder Times) series. I really enjoyed this series – the future of Christianity and Judaism, in space, with telepathy. (The author is a Calvinist pastor.) A great range of protagonists, I especially appreciated seeing an older, more experienced character.
  • Csilla Kleinheincz has some translated stories too!

There is more in magical realism:

  • The Sinistra Zone by Ádám Bodor – Just as ominous as it sounds
  • György Dragomán’s work, especially The White King and the upcoming Bone Fire. The Bone Fire is about a young girl growing up in Romania (where the author is from) and there is plenty of witchcraft.

Alex Shvartsman mentioned Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko among recent work from his region and I seconded this. This is a magical-school book and kind of an anti-Harry Potter, with a rather abusive magical learning environment. It is a cruel book, but it made me think quite a bit about fantasy tropes.

I did not manage to mention some of my favorite translated Japanese SFF work in the Japanese section, so I thought it might be useful to put them here:

Both Haikasoru and Kurodahan Publishing have a variety of great titles in translation.

I don’t have the lists of other panelists, sadly, but if I receive them, I will be able to put them here too.

If I missed something that I mentioned during the panel, do please ask! I don’t think I made note of everything.

Written by prezzey in: sf | Tags:
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I have a Patreon now!

My application for permanent residency has been approved, so I have been able to launch my Patreon earlier today.

Visit my Patreon to find out more; there is going to be a new webserial, a new site specifically for my reviews, and all manner of good things! Some of these I’ve teased previously, and some have been well-kept secrets… 🙂

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
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Come see us at the Examined Life conference in Iowa City!

I will be presenting jointly with Rose Lemberg at the 10th Examined Life conference at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. As I am spending this academic year in Kansas, this is a good opportunity to meet me if you are usually in Iowa City!

The conference focuses on the intersection of the health sciences and the creative arts. We will read from our speculative fiction work related to disability and illness, and then lead an audience discussion. Our presentation is scheduled on Oct 7, 8:30-9:45 in 2126 MERF.

This is our abstract:

Speculative Literature, Disability and Health

Bogi Takács & Rose Lemberg

Authors of speculative literature have often attempted to tackle health-related and medical topics, frequently through an outsider perspective of researchers and doctors. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on storytelling from the margins, encouraging insiders to tell stories of their own experience. Disability, neurodiversity and chronic illness advocacy are coming into focus in the field of speculative writing, as a part of this wider movement. The two of us have been involved in these currents as authors, as chronically ill and disabled people, and as researchers. We will read from our short-form fiction and poetry relevant to health and disability experience, followed by a discussion with audience participation. Participants will be able to discuss how diverse influences can converge in depictions of disability and illness, and to examine how both personal experience and a research background can enrich genre writing and inform readers about the human condition.

Written by prezzey in: sci,sf,writing |
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Bonus story notes: Toward the Luminous Towers

My SF story Toward the Luminous Towers is coming out in Clarkesworld tomorrow! I thought I would preempt it with the bonus notes which usually come the day after publication, because I would really like to forewarn you this time. This story is probably one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever written.

Edited to add: Toward the Luminous Towers is now online!


Specific content warnings for the story: warfare and combat injuries described in detail, medical abuse specifically directed at a disabled person, oppressive political regimes, detailed discussion of suicide.


Spoilery notes:

This story is a prequel to a series of stories I’m working on, Iwunen Interstellar Investigations (I3) – about two queer, nonbinary trans people who are a couple, and who fight crime! with magic! in space!

The series is going to be much more cheerful in tone, but I wanted to show separately that the characters have rebuilt their lives starting from very difficult places; something that I think resonates with many trans people, immigrants, and so on – people like me. The protagonist of this story is going to be one of the two investigators in I3. And yes, e is going to remain disabled, though differently than at the end of this story (in some aspects more disabled, in others less) – the teleport jump will also affect em permanently. I just want to write about the facts that disability is not a singular, unchanging thing, and that even in the amazing magical space future, there will be disabled people.


The protagonist is gender-unspecified here simply because it is a first-person story and it is not so relevant to the plot, but in I3 we will see that e is agender. (There will be multiple sets of nonbinary pronouns in I3, similarly to my story in Capricious last year, and similarly to… um… real life? 🙂 )

Eir former teacher is also a nonbinary person and this is mentioned only so that I can use the appropriate pronouns – specifically, they pronouns -, but this fact is not in focus. There will be Many Genderthings in I3, though, and all the trans feels 🙂


The old song about the night sky quoted several times is not an actual song; I had people ask me if it were. I made it up from scratch – I wanted it to sound a bit Soviet-style, but the setting is not based on the Soviet Union or even the Eastern Bloc in general. (Beyond the fact that I am from a former Eastern Bloc country, which no doubt influences my storytelling.) I simply wanted the lyrics to have a flavor that reminded me of my childhood.


Character names are not meant to evoke a specific culture. I spent a lot of time fussing over this and even changing a name in the proofing stage (sorry!!). The names do not have a canonical pronunciation; for the podcast reader, I recorded them with my rather haphazard pronunciation that ended up being a mix of Hebrew, Hungarian, and maybe even German??

*I wrote the story while being very unwell. I have an inflammatory disorder that occurs in waves, and at that point I had trouble just moving around at home in our apartment. This probably accounts for the very cynical and bitter voice.I do have all my limbs, though, unlike the protagonist; I’m just not always able to use them very well. I also have motor dyspraxia, which means I can’t use them very well even when I have no inflammation flareups; but that is an entirely different issue and I do not want to claim similarity. Losing limbs is different and is not something I am writing from experience. If you want to read an #ownvoices story about motor dyspraxia by me, I have one in the recently released anthology Defying Doomsday. This one is #ownvoices on different axes :)*As mentioned in-text, the protagonist is neuroatypical, like me; I do not get into the details in this story (this is why I am planning on having a very sprawling series of stories!), but e is autistic, specifically. This will be plot-relevant later, but is not plot-relevant here.*

The drugs are futuristic and all-powerful, but they were vaguely inspired by real-world drugs: GS-10 by modafinil and VPR-56 by valproic acid. I haven’t taken either, I just know about them related to work. Valproic acid is an anti-seizure medication, but it also has an effect of promoting neuroplasticity, as it has been recently described in a human study involving the acquisition of absolute pitch. (Hungarian first author!)

Disclaimer: do not take any drugs based on my story; I do not recommend this.


The story was beta read by Rose Lemberg. Thank you Spouseperson!!


The neuroplasticity theme was inspired by a doctoral seminar I was taking on developmental trajectories, led by Karla McGregor. She bears absolutely no responsibility for this story and hasn’t seen it before publication.

The bits about the logistic function, etc. are likewise based on actual science, and I was talking quite a lot about this the previous semester, when I was teaching labs for Psychology of Language.

…I guess this is a hard SF space fantasy story. *throws up hands*


I think many people do not really think about how librarians specialize in managing large amounts of data. It seems like such an innocuous occupation. I had this realization quite recently, and it stopped me in my tracks.


The very prima facie meaning of the ending is that the protagonist does not die but instead escapes, but I am sure there will be many people who read it as a suicide scene; it is kind of inevitable. What I was trying to express was that there are situations from which the only potential escape might as well look like suicide; both from an inside and an outside point of view. This point is very personal to me in ways that are probably not readily apparent from the story itself.


For people who like to keep track of such things (I know there are many of you!): this story found a market on the second try.


Finally, thank you everyone who came to my Worldcon reading to listen to this story! It meant a lot to me that I had an audience despite the fact that my reading was rescheduled multiple times and the wrong time was printed in the schedule. Thanks again!!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing | Tags: , , ,
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Inkscrawl #10: Living Bodies in Motion!

The new issue of the speculative micropoetry magazine inkscrawl, guest-edited by me, is here! Inkscrawl #10: Living Bodies in Motion – 18 poems, each 10 lines or fewer. Section headings are quotes from the poems in each section.

A few words about the issue:

I was so happy to see a diversity of authors and approaches and emotions and voice. This is probably the longest issue of inkscrawl, but I hope it will be worth it for you. Poems range from the cheerful to the sublime to the defiant to the terrifying. The beginning even ties into the theme of my previous guest-edited issue of inkscrawl, #9: Atypical Weather… and from there we move through a kaleidoscope of flora, fauna, dancers and killers and toddlers and sportspeople, until we reach the absolutely bloodcurdling conclusion. (I mean it!)

Stylistically, I prioritized heterogeneity over cohesion – I didn’t want to end up with “Inkscrawl: The Bloody Murder Issue” (it could have happened!) and did not want to pass on my favorite cheerful or happy poems just because there were a lot of strong, grim poems; this was very much a conscious decision. I think in the end, an arc to the issue emerged, and there will be hopefully something for everyone. 🙂

The next issue’s theme and guest-editor will be announced in late 2016!


Since last time people asked for subject warnings, here they are. I will not list allusions, only direct mentions, because allusions are less straightforward to interpret, and I do not want to forcibly impose my reading on the poems.

Mentions of death: Shuttlecock, A Gun and a Boy (Le Cercle Rouge), Plate 24, The Dancer, the commute

Mentions of self-injury: marsyas

Mentions of medical abuse: quiet hands

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
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#diversestories / #diversepoems weekly roundup Aug 28

The roundups of awesome SFF by diverse authors are back! Links point to my recommendation threads on Twitter.

(Reminder that these are 1. my recommendations, i.e., I read a lot more than I recommend; 2. my recommendations, which only reflect my own taste and nothing else.)

  • (Non-free) (Novel) Infomocracy by Malka Older, published by Tor.com in 2016
  • (Free) (Poem) To My Shyaam by Shweta Narayan in Strange Horizons, Aug 2016
  • (Non-free) (Novel) Bereft by Craig Laurance Gidney, published by Tiny Satchel Press in 2013
  • (Free) (Poem) Children of the Geese by S. Qiouyi Lu in Zetetic Record, Aug 2016
  • (Free) (Short story) Pimp My Airship by Maurice Broaddus in Apex, Aug 2009

I also had some related threads:

  • How (not) to get non-native speakers of English to submit to your magazine – reflecting on some of the side threads in the current conversation wrt anti-Blackness in SFF
  • Goodreads lists of 2016-17 adult SFF by authors of color – I didn’t start these, but I added a lot and the lists are a great resource to me. Please add books; if you can’t, let me know and I can add them. Tell me about your own books, too!
  • My recs of awesome Black SFF writers
    I actually have a lot more, so if you just follow my #diversestories & #diversepoems hashtags, you can find more. But I was very upset by the suggestion in my Twitter feed that Black SFF writers did not exist beyond a few popular names, so I did this thread for an hour and a half, before my arm started to really hurt. (Literally, the bottleneck was not the number of absolutely awesome authors I could mention, it was the amount of very rapid typing I could accomplish.)
  • Diversity and free books
  • Reviewer copies, library copies, Little Free Libraries… Many things about who has the money/resources for marketing their book (it’s usually not marginalized people)

Worldcon-specific threads will go into a big Worldcon post after I am done with the panel writeups.

How to support me:

If you enjoy my roundups and threads and things, you can surprise me with food from my Amazon wishlist! …or books, books are always cool. But, food. 🙂

Next up (G-d willing): Worldcon translation panel writeup!

Written by prezzey in: sf |
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Many announcements!

Sorry, no panel writeup or story recommendation today – I spent a lot of time just sleeping, and the remaining time reading work-related stuff and having minor epiphanies connected to it (I suppose that’s a good thing?).

I have many announcements to make, though!


The new issue of inkscrawl, guest-edited by me, is coming just in a few days, G-d willing – almost all poets have responded to their proofs by now, and everyone signed their contracts. Behold the amazing table of contents! All credit is due to the great poets who sent their work to me. I am truly honored!


I will have a story in next month’s Clarkesworld, titled Toward the Luminous Towers. If you met me at Worldcon, you’ve probably already heard about it! This will be my second appearance in Clarkesworld, and probably one of the most upsetting things I’ve ever written. (Yes, I am planning on having story notes, with copious warnings.) Toward the Luminous Towers also serves as the first prologue to the Iwunen stories, about which more later as I actually end up writing them… They will be very different in tone and much more cheerful (though also depicting many difficulties), but it is important for me to establish where the main characters will be coming from.


I will have a poem in the upcoming next issue of Bracken Magazine, Marginalia to Eiruvin 45b – it is a very brief magical-realist poem about the riverside, and a Talmudic reflection at the same time.


My story This Secular Technology will be reprinted in the anthology “Menschen and Minyanim” featuring Jewish-themed SFF.


I will have both a science-fantasy poem and a full-page line art drawing in a… something whose table of contents hasn’t been released yet. 🙂 I ACTUALLY DREW A THING I HAVEN’T DRAWN ANYTHING IN SUCH A LONG TIME. And it found a venue!


Also, I’ve found a home for my fantasy story To Rebalance the Body in another something whose table of contents… etc. You will see, G-d willing! This is the story I mentioned several times that forms a pair with my story in Capricious, The Need for Overwhelming Sensation. Both feature similar characters and dynamics, but a diametrically opposite setting.

You might also remember this as the story which led the chief editor of a “trans-friendly” “QUILTBAG-inclusive” venue to publicly, repeatedly misgender me, while attempting to summarize my story in rather confusingly misleading ways… AKA, the vampire story which features no vampires. So, if you wanted to read that one, it is coming! It took a bit, because after that fiasco, I was determined to see it published in an explicitly trans context and not as much in general SFF markets.


I am also almost completely out of things to send out, so if you told me at Worldcon that you’d like to see more work from me, you’ll unfortunately have to wait for me to write it first…

I did manage to settle in in Kansas, and my visiting year at the University of Kansas started relatively smoothly after the two weeks of utter paperwork chaos. So things might happen… In the meanwhile, the #diversestories and #diversepoems (and even #diversebooks and #diversecomics) recommendations have resumed on Twitter – the first roundup is coming this weekend, IY”H. Enjoy the ride!

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |
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Worldcon panels: Board games

These are various notes for the panels I was on. I am starting with the board game panel!

I was a bit apprehensive about this one – I asked to be put on at least one non-diversity-related panel, which meant that I was put on exactly one such panel 🙂 and this was it. It was a fun experience and I am glad I did not run away in fear self-reject myself from it. Special thanks to Miles Tugman for the encouragement and the board games! 🙂

These were the recommendations I mentioned, I hope I did not leave anything out:

Where to go to learn more about board games:

  • BoardGameGeek is probably the best place. Links will point to BoardGameGeek 🙂

If you are looking for a fun, short game (max. 30 mins):

  • for computer gamers: Race for the Galaxy. Many similarities to computer-based 4x strategy games. Plays especially fast in the online version.
  • for non-computer gamers: Dominion. Like a collectible card game, without the collecting part. It does have 84329 million expansions though.

Games that play well with 3 players:

  • Yggdrasil – cooperative game where the number of players also varies the difficulty a bit, 3 players seems quite good in my experience.

If you are looking for a good introductory game:

  • Carcassonne. Has both chance and strategy elements, simple rules, relaxing art, fun tactile experience of assembling the board from tiles. Also good in mixed age groups. Currently has a reissue with new graphics – compare the old and the new and make sure you get the version you like better! (I prefer the old one.)

One interesting current trend in boardgaming:

  • Games with overarching storylines structured similarly to TV series, like Pandemic: Legacy (I haven’t played it yet, but I really want to 🙂 )

Fun games few people know:

  • Jäger und Sammler – very popular in Hungary as Mamutvadász, won the local Game of the Year award (similar to Spiel des Jahres). Stone age theme with beautiful art! Simple rules that lend themselves to house variants really well in our experience. Zombiegeddon is an American version with really ugly art (I warned you). There is no text on the game elements themselves – you can order a European version and download the rules online.
  • CIA vs KGB – simple, fun, very cheesy Cold War theme 😀

And now for literature:

How can board games inspire my own SF writing?

In two ways:

  • Player interactions – the ways behavior can be manipulated by the use of explicit rules, what interactions emerge from this, etc. Not so much specific games and settings, but more of this meta-approach that stems from my experiences as both a board gamer and a video gamer. Thus it can be hard to see exactly where the influence appears in my work, but it is certainly there.
  • Depictions of gameplaying in a fictional setting – this is much easier to notice.

Books I mentioned (mostly related to the second point):

  • The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks – note the explicitly acknowledged influence of Civilization, which started off as a computer game, but then became a board game too.
  • Burning Bright by Melissa Scott – also RPG-related.

The quiz question I prepared for the audience:

I hope people enjoyed the panel and I’m also wishing much enjoyment to the winners of the quiz – have fun with your new games!

Written by prezzey in: sf |
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Inkscrawl: Living Bodies in Motion issue table of contents!

I survived Worldcon! It was fun! More updates including panel notes coming later, G-d willing. This is a pre-made announcement…

Everyone signed their contracts, so I can announce the lineup of the next issue of Inkscrawl! I guest-edited this issue of the speculative micropoetry magazine (10 lines or shorter) with the theme Living Bodies in Motion.

The issue will be online hopefully over the next week. In the meanwhile, the table of contents is here – the section headings feature words from each poem. I am very much looking forward to sharing these poems with you!

inkscrawl #10: living bodies in motion

guest-edited by Bogi Takács

shout / gnaw / skitter / thrash / fly

Hurricane by Sheree Renée Thomas

verdigris by A Watson

Plastic Hour by M.J. Cunniff

Roar by Ada Hoffmann

Theretra by May Chong

grasp / shovel / turn / dive

Parallax by S. Qiouyi Lu

Still Snow(ing) by Mary Alexandra Agner

The Map, the World, the Dancer by Toby MacNutt

The Holiness of Your Turns by Mitchell Hart

sleep-dance / slap / plan / cut / scatter

Alien Baby by Malka Older

Shuttlecock by Naru Dames Sundar

A Gun and a Boy (Le Cercle Rouge) by Sonya Taaffe

marsyas by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

quiet hands by Kythryne Aisling

deny / fall / emerge / continue

Plate 24 by Holly Day

The Dancer by Lynette Mejía

Full Blown Magnolia by Sheree Renée Thomas

the commute by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Written by prezzey in: sf,writing |

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