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The Things by Peter Watts is a 2011 Hugo Award Nominee, 2010 BSFA Award Finalist, 2010 Shirley Jackson Award Winner, 2011 Finalist: the Locus Award for Best Short Story, 2011 Theodore Sturgeon Award Nominee. I’ve not seen John Carpenter’s The Thing, the movie Watts’ story is based on, but I found Watts’ story captivating nonetheless. It’s available for free over at Clarkesworld Magazine.

Something else that’s currently available: an excerpt from The Siren Depths, the third book in Martha WellsRaksura series. I read and enjoyed the first two books, The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea earlier this year. The Siren Depths is one book I’ll be looking forward to this December!

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I noticed a number of awesome-sounding conventions and workshops happening in my neck of the woods (Northern California-ish) in the near future. I thought I’d share, even though I’ll be out of the state for most of them.

  • EFA NorCal Chapter Meeting: Editor’s POV book discussion: The Hunger Games, May 21, Sacramento, CA. They’ll be discussing the book from a writer/editor point of view, not a literary point of view. Questions that may be considered: Why is this book so successful? What techniques does the writer use that have created such emotional responses from readers? Does the writer break writing “rules,” and if so how does it work for her?

    I’m actually quite interested in this topic, especially since I’m still in Sacramento! Whether I can go depends on if my apartment is 85% packed by 6pm. Let’s just say I have a lot of stuff. ;)

  • Bay Con 2012, May 25-28, Santa Clara, CA. The San Francisco Bay Area’s Science Fiction & Fantasy Convention since 1982. Guests of honor include Brandon Sanderson, Stephan Martiniere, Scott and Cathy Beckstead, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin.

    Conventions are a great place to meet authors, editors, and fans of the genre. The panels offer a range of topics, from writing to the business of writing to topics of related interest (like Dr. Who and Joss Whedon). BayCon also offers regency dances and a Magic: The Gathering tournament with Brandon Sanderson! Check out the programming.

  • Cascade Writers Workshop, July 26-29, Vancouver, WA. This is a Milford-style workshop, meaning you read and critique each person’s story in your workshop group. Workshop leaders include Beth Meacham (Tor Executive Editor), Michael Carr (literary agent), Ken Scholes (author), Tina Connolly (author), Jay Lake (author), and Barb & JC Hendee (authors). Guest speakers include Sheryn Hara (topic: self-publishing), Spencer Ellsworth (topic: pitches), Karen Weatherall Davis (topic: copyright and contracts), Mark Teppo (topic: outlining your novel), Shelly Beber (topic: taxes for writers).

    Looks like a great line-up of very knowledgeable and friendly people! Registration is open until June 15th, or the last 8 spots are filled.

  • Westercon 65, July 5-8, Seattle, WA. Guests of honor include Robin Hobb(!), Art Bozlee, Frank Wu, Chaz Boston Baden, and the filk duo Vixy & Tony.

    Not only is Seattle a gorgeous city, but Robin Hobb is one of my favorite fantasy authors. I’m pretty bummed I won’t be able to attend, but I’ll be in the middle of my summer publishing program. There are too many interesting things happening all at once!

  • Mythcon 43, August 3-6, Berkeley, CA.The conference discusses myths and legends from Europe and Asia. Guests of honor include Professor G. Ronald Murphy, SJ, and YA author Malindo Lo.

    If you’re interested in European and Asian mythologies, take a look!

  • Westercon 66, July 4-7, 2013, Sacramento, CA. It looks like they haven’t yet settled on guests of honor or programming, but given that it’s more than a year away, that’s not surprising.

  • Congratulations to the winners, and all the nominees!

    Best Novel: Among Others by Jo Walton

    Best Novella: “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson

    Best Novelette: “What We Found” by Geoff Ryman

    Best Short Story: “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu

    Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Winner: Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife” by Neil Gaiman (writer) and Richard Clark (director)

    Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Winner: The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman

    2011 Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Connie Willis

    To see all of the nominees, complete with links to the works in question, check out the SFWA Nebula Awards site.

    Links to articles that have caught my interest from the past few days. Most of them are about books.

    The Hugo Awards nominees have been announced! The winners will be announced this year at Chicon 7: the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), held in Chicago this year, August 30-September 3, 2012.

    Congratulations to all of the nominees!

    Best Novel

    • Among Others by Jo Walton (Tor)
    • A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin (Bantam Spectra)
    • Deadline by Mira Grant (Orbit)
    • Embassytown by China Miéville (Macmillan / Del Rey)
    • Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (Orbit)

    Best Novella

    • Countdown by Mira Grant (Orbit)
    • “The Ice Owl” by Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 11-12/11)
    • “Kiss Me Twice” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, 6/11)
    • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” by Kij Johnson (Asimov’s, 9-10/11)
    • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary” by Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
    • Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld)

    Best Novelette

    • “The Copenhagen Interpretation” by Paul Cornell (Asimov’s, 7/11)
    • “Fields of Gold” by Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
    • “Ray of Light” by Brad R. Torgersen (Analog, 12/11)
    • “Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com)
    • “What We Found” by Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 9-10/11)

    Best Short Story

    • “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” by E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld, 4/11)
    • “The Homecoming” by Mike Resnick (Asimov’s, 4-5/11)
    • “Movement” by Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s, 3/11)
    • “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 3-4/11)
    • “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” by John Scalzi (Tor.com)

    Best Related Work

    • The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition edited by John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight (Gollancz)
    • Jar Jar Binks Must Die… and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M. Kimmel (Fantastic Books)
    • The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature by Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers (Abrams Image)
    • Wicked Girls by Seanan McGuire
    • Writing Excuses, Season 6 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson

    Best Graphic Story (339 ballots)

    • Digger by Ursula Vernon (Sofawolf Press)
    • Fables Vol 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham (Vertigo)
    • Locke & Key Volume 4, Keys to the Kingdom written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
    • Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication written and illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (The Tayler Corporation)
    • The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan created by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Written by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross (Vertigo)

    Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

    • Captain America: The First Avenger, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely, directed by Joe Johnston (Marvel)
    • Game of Thrones (Season 1), created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss; written by David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, Jane Espenson, and George R. R. Martin; directed by Brian Kirk, Daniel
    • Minahan, Tim van Patten, and Alan Taylor (HBO)
    • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, screenplay by Steve Kloves; directed by David Yates (Warner Bros.)
    • Hugo, screenplay by John Logan; directed by Martin Scorsese (Paramount)
    • Source Code, screenplay by Ben Ripley; directed by Duncan Jones (Vendome Pictures)

    Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

    • “The Doctor’s Wife” (Doctor Who), written by Neil Gaiman; directed by Richard Clark (BBC Wales)
    • “The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech,” Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (Renovation)
    • “The Girl Who Waited” (Doctor Who), written by Tom MacRae; directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
    • “A Good Man Goes to War” (Doctor Who), written by Steven Moffat; directed by Peter Hoar (BBC Wales)
    • “Remedial Chaos Theory” (Community), written by Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna; directed by Jeff Melman (NBC)

    Best Editor (Short Form)

    • John Joseph Adams
    • Neil Clarke
    • Stanley Schmidt
    • Jonathan Strahan
    • Sheila Williams

    Best Editor (Long Form)

    • Lou Anders
    • Liz Gorinsky
    • Anne Lesley Groell
    • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    • Betsy Wollheim

    Best Professional Artist

    • Dan dos Santos
    • Bob Eggleton
    • Michael Komarck
    • Stephan Martiniere
    • John Picacio

    Best Semiprozine

    • Apex Magazine edited by Catherynne M. Valente, Lynne M. Thomas, and Jason Sizemore
    • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
    • Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams
    • Locus edited by Liza Groen Trombi, Kirsten Gong-Wong, et al.
    • New York Review of Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell, Kevin J. Maroney, Kris Dikeman, and Avram Grumer

    Best Fanzine

    • Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
    • The Drink Tank edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
    • File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
    • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al.
    • SF Signal edited by John DeNardo

    Best Fan Writer

    • James Bacon
    • Claire Brialey
    • Christopher J Garcia
    • Jim C. Hines
    • Steven H Silver

    Best Fan Artist

    • Brad W. Foster
    • Randall Munroe
    • Spring Schoenhuth
    • Maurine Starkey
    • Steve Stiles
    • Taral Wayne

    Best Fancast

    • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
    • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch (producer)
    • SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz, produced by Patrick Hester
    • SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
    • StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

    John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

    Note: This is not a Hugo Award. It’s for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2010 or 2011 (2-year eligibility), sponsored by Dell Magazines

    • Mur Lafferty
    • Stina Leicht
    • Karen Lord *
    • Brad R. Torgersen *
    • E. Lily Yu
    • *2nd year of eligibility

    Attending FOGconearlier this month was a surprisingly different experience than when I went to Worldcon in Reno last summer. When I stop to think about it, I really shouldn’t have been surprised at the difference.

    Worldcon is arguably the biggest convention of the science fiction/fantasy community. It also hosts the Hugo Awards, which are like the Oscars for the genre. It’s a giant convention, with multiple panels happening concurrently, all day long. There are so many attendees, you almost feel anonymous. At least, I certainly did. I fortunately attended Worldcon with my sister, so while I felt anonymous, I never felt lonely.

    FOGcon, on the other hand, is a brand-new (as of last year) convention in the San Francisco Bay Area and is relatively lightly attended. This meant when I met someone at a panel, I invariably saw them throughout the weekend. It created a much more intimate convention experience than Worldcon had.

    In addition, because there were fewer panels, I spent more time meeting and socializing with other writers, editors, and fans of the genre. I met some incredibly wonderful and interesting people there, and put faces to some of my twitter friends.

    I also attended my first reading. At Worldcon, my sister and I had eschewed readings for two reasons. One, there were so many panels we wanted to attend! We had a difficult enough time choosing merely between panels without adding readings to the mix. Two, we felt fully capable of reading stories on our own and didn’t feel the need to have them read to us. I’m really glad I decided to go to the reading Friday night. In addition to hearing three fabulous stories (one of which I’d already read), I got to provide moral support to three writers. The three stories I heard were: Vylar Kaftan’s “The Sighted Watchmaker” (Lightspeed Magazine), Christie Yant’s “Transfer of Ownership” (Armored), and and the first half of Liz Argall’s “Blunt Force Trauma Delivered by Spouse” (Machine of Death 2; unlike the other two, I don’t believe it’s yet available online).

    I had a great time meeting new people and exchanging ideas. I hope FOGcon has a third convention and that I’ll be in a position to attend.

    Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announced the 2011 Nebula Award Nominees (presented in 2012), as well as the nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation and the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy Book. The winners will be announced at the SFWA 47th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend, May 17-May 20, 2012, in Arlington, VA.

    The nominees are:

    Novel

    • God’s War, Kameron Hurley (Night Shade)
    • The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
    • Firebird, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
    • Embassytown, China Miéville (Del Rey)
    • Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine (Prime)
    • Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)

    Novella

    • “With Unclean Hands,” Adam-Troy Castro (Analog, 11/11)
    • “The Ice Owl,” Carolyn Ives Gilman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 11-12/11)
    • “The Man Who Bridged the Mist,” Kij Johnson (Asimov’s, 10-11/11)
    • “Kiss Me Twice,” Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, 6/11)
    • “The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary,” Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
    • “Silently and Very Fast,” Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld Magazine, 10/11)

    Novelette

    • “Fields of Gold,” Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse 4, Night Shade Books)
    • “Ray of Light,” Brad R. Torgersen (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, 12/11)
    • “Sauerkraut Station,” Ferrett Steinmetz (Giganotosaurus, 11/11)
    • “Six Months, Three Days,” Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com, June 2011)
    • “The Migratory Pattern of Dancers,” Katherine Sparrow (Giganotosaurus, July 2011)
    • “The Old Equations,” Jake Kerr (Lightspeed Magazine, July 2011)
    • “What We Found,” Geoff Ryman (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2011)

    Short Story

    • “Her Husband’s Hands,” Adam-Troy Castro (Lightspeed Magazine, October 2011)
    • “Mama, We are Zhenya, Your Son,” Tom Crosshill (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2011)
    • “Movement,” Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 2011)
    • “Shipbirth,” Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s Science Fiction, February 2011)
    • “The Axiom of Choice,” David W. Goldman (New Haven Review, Winter 2011)
    • “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees,” E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2011)
    • “The Paper Menagerie,” Ken Liu (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2011)

    Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

    • Attack the Block, Joe Cornish (writer/director) (Optimum Releasing; Screen Gems)
    • Captain America: The First Avenger, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (writers), Joe Johnston (director) (Paramount)
    • Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife,” Neil Gaiman (writer), Richard Clark (director) (BBC Wales)
    • Hugo, John Logan (writer), Martin Scorsese (director) (Paramount)
    • Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen (writer/director) (Sony)
    • Source Code, Ben Ripley (writer), Duncan Jones (director) (Summit)
    • The Adjustment Bureau, George Nolfi (writer/director) (Universal)

    Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction andFantasy Book

    • Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor (Viking Juvenile)
    • Chime, Franny Billingsley (Dial Books; Bloomsbury)
    • Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Laini Taylor (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Hodder & Stoughton)
    • Everybody Sees the Ants, A.S. King (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
    • The Boy at the End of the World, Greg van Eekhout (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
    • The Freedom Maze, Delia Sherman (Big Mouth House)
    • The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson (Greenwillow Books)
    • Ultraviolet, R.J. Anderson (Orchard Books; Carolrhoda Lab)

    About a month ago, I was catching up with a friend, chatting about books (as you do). I mentioned that I’ve been rather disappointed with the young adult novels I’ve read, at which point she whipped out her phone, pulled up the photo of the blurb of Hex Hall, and told me we couldn’t be friends anymore if I didn’t like it.

    I’m happy to report that she and I are still friends. Hex Hall is a quick, fun read that has understandable amounts teenage angst. The relationship-angst doesn’t take over the rest of the plot, either. It’s a nice compliment to the story.

    I loved that the author included references to literary classics like Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, Edgar Allen Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado,” as well as poking fun at the current pop culture vampire/werewolf fascination. Neither the werewolves or vampire(s) in Hex Hall are evil — they’re just people, some of whom may have made bad decisions in their lives. Hawkins also brings into focus the horrors of high school cliques and hierarchies, and how being popular or pretty doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a good person.

    I’ve been a busy little reader! Here’s a quick run-down of the stories I’ve read in the last week or two:

    • Talyn and Hawkspar by Holly Lisle
    • I really liked Talyn. It had a unique take on magic use with an interesting plot twist. Hawkspar, while interesting, was average in comparison to Talyn. The “dream style” foreshadowing she used with great success in Talyn appeared overused and tired in Hawkspar. You don’t have to read them in order, as they do stand on their own, but Talyn sets up some fairly major background concepts for the universe of Korre.

      Synopses: Talyn, a military mage, is ultimately the only person who can protect her country from a peace gone wrong, negotiated by deceitful diplomats. 15 years later, Hawkspar continues to set right the wrongs committed by those same diplomats.

    • The Furies of Caulderon, Academ’s Fury, Cursor’s Fury, Captain’s Fury by Jim Butcher (Codex Alera series)
    • I read and loved Jim Butcher’s other series, The Dresden Files. When I noticed that he had other books, I immediately picked them up. The Codex Alera series is completely different in writing style and tone than The Dresden Files. It’s refreshing to see an author who is that flexible with his writing styles. One negative about the series, though I ultimately liked it, is that the story didn’t really become compelling for me until book two.

      Synopsis: In a world where everyone has a personal elemental to perform magic, Tavi has none. Through cunning and intelligence (and not magic), he helps save the kingdom from ruin, invasion, and rebellion.

    • The Shadow Queen by Anne Bishop
    • As much as I hate to say it, The Shadow Queen is a cookie-cutter Black Jewels universe novel. I loved the original trilogy (Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of Darkness) and the first stand-alone novel (The Invisible Ring), but The Shadow Queen left me unsatisfied. It felt like it would have been better suited as a short story. The novel focused on (kind-of-mostly) the main characters Cassidy, Gray, and Theran, who are trying to find a Queen who isn’t a torturing crazy-person to heal the country from the torturing crazy-person Queens’ abuses. I expected to learn more about the universe and what made this specific country and conflict unique within the context of the other novels. Unfortunately, the main plot combined elements Bishop has used in the universe’s other novels; the main characters’ plot is mostly window dressing for Daemon to make a reappearance.

      The Shadow Queen also focused on the heroes from the original trilogy: Daemon, whose fragile sanity is threatened when his wife kinda-sorta-not-even-a-little-bit acts like the torturing crazy-person Queens who tortured him for most of his life; Saetan (his father), whose sanity is threatened when he is reminded of when he was denied paternity rights to his son because the mother was a torturing crazy-person Queen; and Lucivar (Daemon’s brother) brings them all through it with insubordination and shocking language. But this story was supposed to be about Cassidy-Gray-Theran, right? In my opinion, Bishop should have written two separate stories to properly do each one justice. I think each story has merit, but the way they were published was not kind to either of them.