Nebula, Hugo, Locus (etc.) awards-eligible stories 2018

It’s that time of year, again, when Speculative fiction writers trot out our reminders of the stories that have been published during the year. Stories we’d like you to read, and if you have the ability to do so*, to consider nominating for any of the SF/F/H awards for 2018.

29345309_2061728263867601_1714965961_nAlthough my novel, Ink, was rereleased this year by Rosarium Publishing — with new content and a beautiful new cover — it’s ineligible for any award because it was originally issued in 2012. But I believe Vincent Sammy is eligible for Ink’s cover art, and I urge you to consider nominating him for a Best Professional Artist Hugo, because the artwork he created for my novel is gorgeous.

Check out his other covers here, and his interior illustrations here.

Okay, onto the stories of mine I’d love for you to read, and consider nominating.

The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox

(3,932 words – short story category)

 

I am here to tell you the truth about Johnny the Fox.

 

If you’ve heard the tale that he was born in Puerto Rico, to one human and one inhuman parent, that is true.

 

Johnny’s mother is from the western port city of Mayagüez, where she lives to this day. His father is the northeasterly trade wind that regularly sweeps in and plays along Puerto Rico’s northernmost shore and outlying islands.

 

Many years ago—but not so many that there aren’t some folks who still remember—the two met in Arecibo and fell grandly and recklessly in love. The product of their union loves this story, by the way. Johnny the Fox is fond of saying that if you dig under all the hard layers of his being, you’ll come to a core that is pure, molten romance. And, really, what could be more romantic than a wind that becomes human to woo its beloved?

 

But a cynical wink is never far from any of Johnny the Fox’s tales, so remember: love has never been enough to permanently tame, or even reroute, the wind.

 

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Published in Knaves: A Blackguards Anthology by Outland Publications, which will be available in eBook form in December, “The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox” is part trickster tale, part tall tale, and part rumination on the resilience of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican community after the devastation of Hurricane María.

The character of Johnny the Fox first made his appearance in my story Skin in the Game (Tor.com, 2014), and I knew, even back then, that I would someday have to give him a story of his own. Gratifyingly, when I read “The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox” at Readercon this year, the audience seemed to be glad I had done so sooner rather than later.

The Devil in the Details

(6,585 words – short story category)

 

1735

Deborah was a well-formed woman of twenty-six. Tall, long of leg, and wide of hip. Under the white muslin cap and black bonnet, her hair was arranged in thick, springy coils. Her dark eyes were kind but canny.

 

Like many of the women of the Pinelands, she had some wortcunning that she plied in an attempt to keep each of her twelve children alive through gripe and fever, abscessed tooth and bloody flux. That Deborah was more successful at this than most made her neighbors believe the family was especially blessed.

 

Her husband, some thirty years older than Deborah and bemused by the attention, was fairly certain they were cursed instead.

 

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Published in Kaiju Rising II: Reign of Monsters by Outland Publications and available in print and eBook form also in December, “The Devil in the Details” starts in 1735 and ends in 2018, focusing on moments that (mostly) coincide with actual sightings of the Jersey Devil in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But the Jersey Devil isn’t exactly what you’ve been led to believe…

I had a blast writing this. I hadn’t ever contemplated writing a kaiju story, and if editor Alana Joli Abbot hadn’t asked me to be part of this anthology, I probably never would have done so. But as with my stories The Ways of Walls and Words (Tor.com, 2015) and St. Simon of 9th and Oblivion (upcoming in The Latinx Archive anthology), the process of weaving speculative into historical ended up utterly engrossing me.

I’d also urge you to consider nominating Alana Joli Abbott (Kaiju II and Knaves) and Margrét Helgadóttir (see entry below) in the Best Editor categories. They richly deserve acknowledgement for their excellent work, their ultra-professional conduct, the care they take with the writer’s work, and their willingness to reach beyond “the usual suspects” when selecting authors for their anthologies.

Time’s Up, Cerotes

(7,741 words – novelette category)

 

When did I first notice she’d gone global?

 

I have to answer that question with a phrase I now understand is the lament of the middle-aged: I don’t remember.

 

After my first book was published, certainly.

 

Chapinlandia Meets Gringolandia in the Disneylandia of the 21st-century Newsroom never made me famous outside of certain journalism school circles, but it did get me on tour to different universities (and university bars). I thought I caught glimpses of her in Austin, Syracuse, L.A., Munich, Milan.

 

But I wasn’t certain until I saw her—this Guatemalan monster out of my past—in my hometown of Philadelphia.

 

It was at one of my usual joints—Cavanaugh’s in Center City—on the night Allison told me about her news director’s remote lockable door.

 

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Published in American Monsters, Part I, by Fox Spirit Books (U.K.), this is another one of my stories that won’t become available until December.

Editor Margrét Helgadóttir focuses on Central and South American monsters in this volume — part of a series that has focused attention on African, Asian and European monsters (and which will culminate with a volume on North American monsters next year) — and has gathered a really stellar roster of writers that includes Brazilian writer Fábio Fernandes, Uruguayan writer Ramiro Sanchiz, and Argentine writer Tere Mira de Echeverría, among others.

“Time’s Up, Cerotes” splits its time between Guatemala City and Philadelphia, past and present, as it follows a Guatemalan journalist’s interaction with the legendary monster —La Siguanaba — from the homeland she left, and then returns to in pursuit of a story.

But just as the reality of the country we leave behind changes and becomes more complicated than our memories, so do our monsters…

Toward a New Lexicon of Augury

(6,978 words – short story category)

 

Black stone lying on a white stone.

 

I waste a hard-earned chit for public access to chase a clue that turns out to be poetry.

 

I will die in Paris, on a rainy day … perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.

 

César Vallejo, the author of the poem “Black stone lying on a white stone,” was a Peruvian writer living in Spain in the 1930s when he succumbed to an infection turned totalitarian. The little I am able to read about him before the buzzer sounds and the next person in line nudges me out of the public access booth, indicates that the poet’s wife consulted with astrologers and wizards in an effort to cure the ailment that felled him.

 

She should have asked the brujas instead. You want to turn counsel to cunning, or wreck the world with a wyrd, ask the wizards. A massive mal puesto, on the other hand, calls for a witch.

 

Or even better, more than one.

 

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“Toward a New Lexicon of Augury,” published at Apex Magazine in November, is about climate change, informal cities, poetry, resistance and love. Oh, and there be witches. 😉

Charles Payseur, at Quick Sips Review, said: “it’s a wonderful story with a great cast of characters, a gripping dilemma, and a clever and badass solution. Go read this one!”

You can read the full story by clicking here.

 

Nebula nominations are open to SFWA active and associate members, Hugo nominations are open to supporting and attending members of last year’s, this year’s and next year’s World Cons, Locus awards are chosen by a survey of readers in an open online poll.

 

 

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Billy Penn’s article about Ink’s relaunch rocks…

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Mónica Zorrilla, one of Philly’s rising young Latinx journos, wrote about Ink’s rerelease and the launch party at Amalgam Comics tonight.

When Sabrina Vourvoulias first released her novel Inkin 2012, the dystopic magical realism drama about oppressive prejudice and violence against immigrants in the U.S. was considered by many to be “far-fetched.”

“Because the events that transpire in Ink are set in an America of the near future,” the Philadelphia-based author told Billy Penn, “I think some readers were uncomfortable with this immediate vision of the country committing human rights violations against immigrants…”

Read the rest of the article here.

BOOK LAUNCH

The book launch party takes place from 5 to 8 p.m at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, 2578 Frankford Ave. in Philly. There will be a short reading around 6 p.m., and remarks and shout-outs to Philadelphia immigration advocates and local journalists, since both immigration and journalism are key concerns of the novel. Spinning the party is DJ Awesomous Prime, and food will be available for purchase from Amalgam.

More information about the launch party here.

 

Copies of Ink will be available at the launch party, but the book doesn’t actually drop until September 25.

You can preorder it from Amazon here.

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Who’s going to be at Readercon 2018?

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Looking forward to attending Readercon July 12-15 in Quincy, Mass. If you are there, and you see me around, stop and say hello!

These are the panels I’m scheduled to be part of:

❧ Writers who edit, editors who write – Thursday, 8 p.m.

Those who edit as a full-time job rarely do much writing on the side, but many full-time writers bolster their incomes through editing. Why does this equation seem to function better in one direction than the other? How do writers who edit avoid the pitfalls experienced by editors who write? What can be done to address an ever-widening taste gap, and the tendency to self-edit into the ground?

Panelists: Julia Rios, Mimi Mondal, John Edward Lawson, Mike Allen, Scott Edelman and me.

❧ La Sagrada Chingonez: The sacred badassery of Latinx speculative fiction – Friday, 3 p.m.

David Bowles once dubbed me one of a number of “sacerdotisas de la sagrada chingonez” (priestesses of the sacred badassery). The term implies a religion of dogged persistence, of speaking up and out, of fucking with the status quo/system/hegemony, of acknowledging the vastness of Latinx badassery and reveling in it. This panel will bring together some of the practitioners of la sagrada chingonez to talk about what 2018 holds for Latinx writers and readers of speculative works.

Panelists: Julia Rios, José Pablo Iriarte, Malka Older, Pablo Defendini and me.

❧ Radical Elders – Friday, 9 p.m.

On the page, as in GOH Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and in real life, as in the careers of authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, elders are speaking their minds and upsetting the status quo. How can age intersect with radicalism and pioneering thought? How is the cognitive estrangement of aging relevant to speculative fiction and fannish communities, and what’s the best way of acknowledging that relevance?

Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff, Elizabeth Hand, James Patrick Kelly, Rosemary Kirstein and me.

❧ Reading – Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

I’ll be reading “The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox,” a short story that will appear in Outland Publication’s Knaves anthology in November. Johnny the Fox is a character readers first met in my story “Skin in the Game” published in 2014 at Tor.com. You can read that here.

Take a look at all of Readercon’s programming here.

 

Women’s History Month: 30 fantastic Latina writers you need to read

Because we can, will, and do, write the most extraordinary stories.

Check out  on Twitter to get links to the websites of the Latina writers (many of them speculative fiction writers, of course 😉) who are quoted here. Some are big names, some just starting out — but they are all really quite remarkable.

Read their work, buy their books and stories (and essays and critical theory), and amplify their voices!

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Over at Skiffy and Fanty: The Smell of Masa in the Morning (plus a recipe)

There is a particular smell to corn that has been soaked in wood ash lye, then washed and hulled and ground into a fine meal.

It is the aroma of freshly made tortillas, of tamales as they steam, of my mother’s huipiles.

Really. No matter how freshly laundered, no matter how many cedar balls or lavender sachets have been thrown in the drawer to keep the moths away, the distinctive hand-woven Guatemalan blouses my mother wore retain the smell of a grain turned more aromatic, more flavorful, more nutritious by the nixtamalation process.

Smell nixtamalizes memory.

Or maybe it is the other way around.

Read the rest of this essay at Skiffy and Fanty.

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New at PRI: What does protest sound like? For this Philadelphia activist, it’s the eight-string jarana.

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Yared Portillo, center, playing with other members of Son Revoltura at the former Taquitos de Puebla on Calle 9, South Philly’s Mexican immigrant business corridor. Photo: Son Revoltura’s facebook page.

Yared Portillo, a Philadelphia community activist, has four of them: One she built from scratch; two others were secured from renowned artisans; the final one — received broken and in pieces from a friend — she carefully repaired and made whole again.

The repaired instrument isn’t a bad metaphor for the role the jarana has played in the US immigration protest movement for the past two decades. It’s a small, eight-string instrument from Veracruz, Mexico, patterned after a 16th century baroque Spanish guitar that is often confused with a ukulele.

In the hands of Chicanos or recent Mexican immigrants, the jarana — as well as the son jarocho musical form with which it is inextricably associated — energizes rallies and undergirds the chants of those who want to repair not only a broken immigration system, but the increasingly broken relationship between two nations sharing both borders and histories.

Read the rest of the article at PRI’s The World: What does protest sound like?

2017 awards eligibility and what I’ve loved reading this year

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Guatemalan and Mexican jarras, used to make and/or serve chocolate, atole and café de olla, holding molinillos and other wooden kitchen  implements. The Guatemalan jarra, on the left, bears the inscription: “No me olvides” (“Don’t forget me”).

This is the time of year when the timelines of speculative fiction writers and reviewers fill with awards eligibility posts listing stories and novels readers might consider nominating for upcoming Nebula and Hugo awards.

It can be a humbling time for those of us who are slow to write and slow to submit. Many of my colleagues in the field have four or five eligible short stories, and at least one eligible longer piece (novelette, novella or novel); I have only one. And while it is true that I’m not a fantastically prolific fiction writer even in the best years, I know my creative output took a real hit in 2017.

From chatting with and hearing the comments of other Latinx writers, I’m not the only one. The  profound and recurring political threats to our local and national communities, as well as the catastrophic natural events that have impacted us, our friends and loved ones, have taken a toll. Understand — none of us are laying down or laying off, none of us are willingly muting our voices at a time when it becomes more and more urgent to speak out — but writing can feel like slogging through particularly thick and bitter molasses these days.

Still, you know what they say.

One. Story. At. A. Time.

My award nomination eligible short story this year — “Sin Embargo,” published in the anthology Latin@ Rising in January — is among my favorites. It plays across languages. It looks at tough issues of displacement and migration and politically motivated brutality, and still finds a way to speak of love, of hope, and of the radically transformative magic of interpersonal solidarity. It is a bear to read aloud because of all the bilingual homographs, and yet I insist on doing just that at public readings because … well, there is delight to be had in noting difference and similarity and the possibility of wholeheartedly embracing both.

 

In “Sin Embargo,” by Sabrina Vourvoulias, the psychology of immigration and asylum collides with inhuman transformation. — Kirkus Reviews

Latino-Rising-Cover-web“Sin Embargo” is not, unfortunately, available to read online for those who might want to read it for nomination consideration. But the whole anthology is top-notch and well worth purchasing in print or eBook; it deserves a a much wider SFF readership than it has had so far.

Latin@ Rising includes wonderful reprint stories from writers celebrated by the SFF community (Junot Díaz, Carlos Hernández, Daniel José Older and Carmen María Machado), along with remarkable original stories by  Latinx literary luminaries that are perhaps less known to SFF-only audiences, like the superb Kathleen Alcalá and Ana Castillo. It also includes the first English-language translation of a short story, “Accursed Lineage,” by Daína Chaviano, who is considered one of the three most important SFF authors writing in Spanish (Argentina’s Angélica Gorodischer and Spain’s Elia Barceló are the other two).

I honestly believe that if Latin@ Rising had been reviewed by SFF-focused review sites, or if it had gotten the attention other, more mainstream SFF anthologies have received this year, many of its stories would already be on people’s Nebula and Hugo nominating lists. I’m particularly fond of “Caridad” by Alex Hernández, “The Drain” by Alejandra Sánchez,”Room for Rent” by Richie Narvaez, and “Flying Under the Texas Radar With Paco and Los Freetails” by Ernest Hogan. (I wish there were an award somewhere for ingenious story titles because Hogan would be a repeat winner. “Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus” in the anthology  We See a Different Frontier is another evocative one.)

Beyond Latin@ Rising

 

 

I read a lot of other great short stories this year and no way can I remember them all, but among those that live most vividly in my memory are:

  1. The Famine King” by Darcie Little Badger (Mythic Delirium)
  2. Monster Girls Don’t Cryby A. Merc Rustad (Uncanny Magazine)
  3. Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Handby Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine)
  4. “Naranjas Inmortales” by Ezzy Guerrero Languzzi (from the anthology Strange California)
  5. “The Obsidian Codex by David Bowles (from his 2017 collection of short stories Chupacabra Vengeance). I think this story is longer than a short story, possibly novelette length? A further word about this collection (which contains my favorite Bowles story, “Wildcat,” originally published by Apex Magazine in 2015): Many of the stories in the collection are very dark and contain horrors beyond the commonplace … a number of them really should be under consideration for a Shirley Jackson award.
  6. The Corporal” by Ali Bader. All right, this short story isn’t actually eligible for nomination since it appeared (translated) in the 2016 anthology Iraq +100, but I only read it this year so, for me, it is identified with this year’s great pieces. I urge you to seek it out simply for the pleasure of reading a beautifully written fantasy with sci fi elements.

As far as 2017 novels are concerned, I haven’t yet read most of the ones that have been mentioned in the overlapping “Best of” lists are being published now. Still, I am hoping that the exceptional “American Street” by Ibi Zoboi is on lots of folks’ award-nominating lists in either the novel or YA categories. And, yes, it is good enough to deserve to be on both at once.

If I can dredge up more recommended reads from my memory banks during this nominating period, I’ll update this post. Stay tuned.

And don’t forget to nominate!

UPDATE (#1 of what I think are going to be multiple updates):

“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse
https://www.apex-magazine.com/welcome-to-your-authentic-indian-experience/

Upcoming: Philly’s Nerdtino Expo 17

Saturday, Nov. 18 at Taller Puertorriqueño:

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And, a thank you to the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia for inviting me to speak and read from my work at City Hall on Oct. 25:

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Caroline Cruz, one of the attorney’s at the Law Department of the City of Philadelphia, with Sabrina Vourvoulias at Conversation Hall of City Hall in Philadelphia, Oct. 25, 2017.

La Bloga, underground

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So apparently Facebook has something against one of the most established and important Chicano, Xicana & Latinx blogs on the internet and will not let it be shared via FB. Beyond the ridiculousness (is that a word?) of the ban, it is a huge loss for Latinx lit — many of us have discovered great poetry and fiction through Em Sedano’s reviews and Rudy Ch. Garcia’s lists; we’ve delighted in Melinda Palacio’s poetry and life posts, and let SFF writer Ernest Hogan take us on the wild ride of his Chicanonautica. Not being able to share La Bloga, in part or in whole with friends and colleagues, on Facebook is a very real loss.

So, until Facebook changes its wrongheaded ban, I’ll be linking many of La Bloga’s posts here, and posting this to my Facebook page — a kind of underground La Bloga until the venerable site can emerge from the shadows …

This week in La Bloga: La Bloga Flor y Canto: Despedida y Celebración Con Musica, Poesía, and Fabulous Comida

¡Unidos en la lucha!

At Philly.com: These Latinas are the real heroes of the fight against heroin (and to build community) in Philly

“I kept asking [the organizers of the cleanup at Second and Indiana], ‘Where, where is the place that is going to take these individuals?’”

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Jessie Alejandro-Cruz (right) hugs Erica, a 33-year-old who lives at the underpass at Emerald Street. Photo courtesy of David Cruz

Everyone from Dr. Oz to the BBC has now done a piece on the heroin camp in Kensington. Some of the pieces have been good, others are simply poverty and addiction porn. All of them have come from outside the community most impacted by both the existence of the camp and its cleanup. To get beyond one-shot sensationalism, what we need now is coverage that centers the voices of people like Jessie Alejandro-Cruz and Charito Morales — who have been grappling with not only the implications but the actuality of this for decades.

Read my full commentary here.