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In early January, Amal El-Mohtar reposted an excellent rant about eligibility lists, why they're important, and why authors shouldn't be embarrassed to post them.  And I thought, "Well, that makes sense.  I should do that thing."  But I had a 2-week-old baby and a new writing deadline, and so "eligibility post, no really," has been on my to-do list for nearly a month.

And, but, so.  I'm going to do some of the dithering El-Mohtar talks about, because most of the reasons in her rant don't so much actually apply to me.  My stories this year have gotten plenty of attention (some of which I'll mention below, because this is my living room and I get to boast here occasionally).  I'm also not ashamed to admit that I think they're pretty good, not that my opinion is particularly the one that matters.

I also don't think eligibility posts get anyone to change their minds about how good works were--I think they 1) remind people what came out in a given year, and by process of elimination what didn't, and 2) remind people what category works fall into.  As someone with a lousy memory and an iffy feel for word count, I appreciate this, and consider it a useful service when other people provide it.

What I published:

The Litany of Earth, a novelette, came out in May.  It's made Best of 2014 lists from Sabrina Vourvoulias, Charlotte Ashley at Apex Magazine, Aliette de Bodard, and Cecily Kane.  It's on the recommended reading lists for Tangent Online--and just this morning, the Locus Recommended Reading List. Patrick Nielsen Hayden called it out in the first comment to his own eligibility list.

Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land, a short story, came out in August.  Cat Faber filked it.  It was recommended in Tangent Online along with Litany, and Cecily Kane not only mentions it on her best-of list but seems to have been running a one-women Seven Commentaries Awareness Program.  She featured it, along with Alex Dally MacFarlane's Because I Prayed This Word, in an online discussion inaugurating the #ShortSFF tag on Twitter.

What I liked:

My own recommendations are where I get a bit whiffly and apologetic.  I got through my dissertation without complaining about a lack of fiction reading time, but last year managed to turn my normal reading habits upside down.  I did not read widely--let alone watch widely--in 2014.  Much of my reading was either very long--you can bring a hard copy novel into a hospital and not worry about running out of charge--or short enough to fit into brief moments of leisure.  There are entire award categories in which I did little or no reading, and two shelves of last year's novels and anthologies that I am extremely unlikely to get through before the Nebula nomination deadline and probably the Hugo deadline too.

I am, it turns out, female-socialized enough to feel guilty that amid writing a novel, holding down a demanding day job, seeing my wife through a difficult pregnancy, taking on a good portion of her seneschal duties for the household, co-parenting a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old, and parenting a newborn, my novella reading was kind of sparse.

All that said:

Novels: I loved Jo Walton's My Real Children, which does things with alternate history that I've never seen anywhere else, and which also fits into the all-too-rare sub-genre of domestic science fiction.  Ann Leckie's Ancilary Sword was even better than Ancilary Justice--the worldbuilding continues extremely shiny, while the protagonist has let down her shields enough to feel much more approachable and sympathetic, and the plot focuses on multi-scale nested politics rather than a quest for revenge. Katherine Addison's The Goblin Emperor is full of crunchy politics, with a smart protagonist scrambling to keep on top of them and do the right thing in spite of it all.  It is not the least bit grimdark, and it has steampunk bridges and court intrigue and successful political marriages and competent people doing their best.  Max Gladstone's Full Fathom Five is the latest stand-alone entry in the awesome Craft Sequence, and possibly my favorite so far.  I get extremely flaily when trying to talk about this series, and usually just end up saying, "Necromantic lawyers!" because if you find that appealing you'll probably like them.  But Gladstone does the best combination of shiny worldbuilding and deep-yet-unobtrusive thematic work I've ever seen, so the whole thing is also an ongoing exploration of the costs and benefits of capitalism and of loyalty to sacred things... via undead CEOs who literally kill gods to gain immortality, and then struggle (sometimes successfully) to take over the functions that those gods have been carrying out for millennia.

Flaily, like I said.

I just finished Stranger, Sherwood Smith and Rachel Mangia Brown's new YA--not one I've seen on a lot of slates, but definitely deserving. It's a Steampunk western in a far-post-apocalyptic LA--the doubtful-but-fun sort of apocalypse that breaks modern technology and possibly replaces some of it with magic.  LA has kept its current diversity but long ago lost much of its current population, so you get the rich syncretic mixture of cultures distilled down to small town size, and also mutant powers and teleporting squirrels and worrisomely intelligent trees.

Short stories: I'm very grateful to Cecily Kane for introducing me to Because I Prayed This Word, a portal fantasy response to Christine de Pizan's Book of the City of Ladies, with Sappho and medieval nuns and buildings made of poetry.  Ursula Vernon's Toad Words is a wonderfully sensible story about how to handle the curse that causes frogs to come out of your mouth when you talk--it's an awesome story in it's own right, but particularly meant a lot to me when our 2-year-old (whose favorite thing is frogs) had just started treatment for a speech delay.  (She's up to age level now!  Spring peepers all over the place!)  I was also particularly fond of Charlie Jane Anders's As Good as New, Seanan McGuire's Each to Each, Max Gladstone's A Kiss With Teeth, and Xia Jia's Spring Festival: Happiness, Anger, Love, Sorrow, Joy. (ETA: Ack! I have become that which I fear, the person who loves a story but does not count the words.  Spring Festival is a novelette.)

Best Editor, short form: This almost goes back up under my own eligible stuff, but I want to point out that Carl Engle-Laird, my editor at Tor.com, does awesome work.  Last year was his first for acquiring fiction there--he had 6 stories out, and several of the others have made several best-of lists as well.  From the author's side of the editing experience, I can report that he gives book-quality feedback on his stories--the published version of Litany is significantly stronger than the version that he originally accepted--and that he cares deeply and enthusiastically about connecting stories with people who will love them.

Other things: Shadow Unit, my favorite not-a-tv-show ever, "aired" its final "episode" in 2014.  My favorite story of the year was "Dark Leader" (ETA: novella), but following the Wheel of Time rule, WTF fans should probably nominate the final episode (Something's Gotta Eat T Rexes, technically a novelette) as a stand-in for the whole series.  Also, IO9 reminds us that radio plays are eligible as dramatic presentations.  Which means that I have to figure out what my favorite Welcome to Night Vale episode of the year was and whether it was long form (which it will be if it was Old Oak Doors) or short form (if it was any of the other episodes).  Wait, I could nominate Old Oak Doors as best long form and another episode for short form.  The sense of the room (consisting of my wife, sister, and non-verbal daughter) is that the short form nomination should go to Parade Day.  No, wait again--Old Oak Doors turns out to be short form by 57 seconds.  Okay, both episodes for short form, then. (ETA: How did I not remember this earlier? Sundown, performed at the 2014 Worldcon, is also eligible for dramatic presentation.)(ETA ETA: No it isn't. Wrong year, damn it. Go buy the album and nominate it next year, then.)

Date: 2015-02-01 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heron61.livejournal.com
Ann Leckie's Ancilary Sword was even better than Ancilary Justice

I loved Sword, but both agree & disagree - the worldbuilding is first rate and so is the characterization, but down on Athoek, Breq seemed to have almost mary sue levels of competence, despite not have the advantages of the unique sort of connectivity that she has on the station or especially with her crew. That's pretty much my only criticism of that book, but to me it's a notable one.

I entirely agree with you about Vernon's "Toad Words", and while I'd been uncertain about buying and reading Gladstone's Craft sequence, I was sufficiently impressed and pleased with "A Kiss With Teeth" and immediately after finishing it tried Three Parts Dead and loved it.

Date: 2015-02-06 11:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashnistrike.livejournal.com
My thought on the competence was: she's a couple thousand years old and has gotten to watch lots of leaders be competent at lots of different things. I enjoy hypercompetent characters, and I have a very narrow definition of Mary Suedom--as long as someone's special-ness doesn't warp characterization and continuity around them, I'm good. (Choosing an example at random from a recent conversation, I can't get through the first couple of Dresden Files novels because smart characters suddenly turn stupid to make things harder for him early in the book, and then to make things turn out well for him at the end. Complete Mary Sue, and book meets wall.)

I just had it pointed out that Vernon's "Boars and Apples" (available in the same anthology as Toad Words) is a novella, and have added it to my slate. Apparently I tend to underestimate word count for stories I like.

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