Hi friends. Been a while.
Last year was, well, it was 2017. That means different things for different people; for me it meant that some of the energy I’d directed at this blog was redirected into political action and my local community, to varying degrees of efficiency. Also, 2017 followed in the footsteps of 2016 as a year of desperately intense work. I wrote… a lot. Some of my work over the last two years will roll out over the next two; at least one book will probably never see the light of day due to shenanigans, which is fine. That’s one of the risks you face when you do tie-in work. (If you’re worried, don’t—I got paid, and I learned a tremendous amount, including that, given sufficient preparation, I can write a novel fast enough to do myself an injury. Which is a fact I’m trying to unlearn.) In part as a result of that, though, I may not have much out this year. That’s actually a bit of a relief—since I’ll be releasing a lot of things in 2019. I can use the reclaimed weeks to get all my writing done now.
There have been plenty of grand new experiences in the last two years! I’ve discovered The Mountain Goats, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a song more carefully calibrated to my own sense of humor than “My Heart is an Autoclave,” specifically this verse:
I dreamt that I was perched atop a throne of human skulls
On a cliff above the ocean, howling wind and shrieking seagulls
And the dream went on forever, one single static frame
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name
Nor is there a song more representative of what I wish my country could be than “Color in Your Cheeks.”
I joined the Wild Cards collective, for which I’ve written two stories I hope will come out in the next year or so—a real honor, a chance to work with some of the best people in the business, and to follow in the footsteps of giants. I’ve learned how to call my congresscritters with great effectiveness. I’ve sunk more hours into the phone banking prestige class. I bought a copy of Twilight Imperium Fourth Edition, for my sins, and I learned to cook a solid Gong Bao Chicken. I taught Viable Paradise, and picked up the fiddle again, and I recalibrated my oven, so now for the first time since the Inviting Grandpa Over For Dinner Disaster I can roast chickens. Started weightlifting, which is beautifully clear. You pick up the heavy things. You put them down again. I wrote two books, two comic scripts including one for Ghost in the frikkin’ Shell (!!), a screenplay which may or may not ever be produced, and a handful of other fun projects you’ll hear more about in the future.
It is, I’ve been told, award season. And while I did a bunch of work last year, I also published a bunch of things, and it would be only kind to list them in one place, with relevant award categories for easy reference!
The Eligibility List
Best Series — The Craft Sequence?
Ruin of Angels qualifies the series this year. Now, as the World Science Fiction Society constitution states in 126.96.36.199: “Previous losing finalists in the Best Series category shall be eligible only upon the publication of at least two (2) additional installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words after they qualified for their last appearance on the final ballot and by the close of the previous calendar year,” which would seem to disqualify the Craft Sequence, which was nominated for a Best Series award in 2017. But I would be a poor author of a legal fantasy series indeed if I didn’t observe that, at least technically, the Best Series award for which the Craft Sequence was nominated last year was a one-time special award that just happens to have the same name as the Best Series Hugo category created during the 2017 World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting. So, again, technically, this year the Best Series award is a new award, which means that the Craft Sequence is (sing it with me as it comes around here on the guitar) technically eligible as a result of having never been nominated for this specific award before.
(My inner Mark Rosewater suggests that this could have been avoided by amending the language of 188.8.131.52 to “previous losing finalists in an award category named ‘Best Series’ shall be eligible for this award only upon…” and then later “… prior to their last appearance on the final ballot of an award category named ‘Best Series’…” but nobody should listen to my inner Mark Rosewater.)
Anyway, this is a total edge case argument, and I’d hesitate to make it if I wasn’t repping for my series about literal wizard lawyers, and didn’t as a result have a degree of kayfabe to uphold. If you nominate the Craft Sequence for Best Series, I will (1) admire your near-pedantic dedication to technical accuracy, (2) be grateful, (3) quote that Futurama bit about how being technically correct is the best kind of correct, and (4) be not at all surprised if the Hugo administrators decide to throw my nomination out. But! I appreciate your support, and there are six whole nomination slots to fill. So, why not the Craft Sequence?
Now, more seriously:
Best Novel—Ruin of Angels
Ruin of Angels was awesome. People seem to really like this book, and I’m so glad they got out of the series some shade of what I got out of writing it. It’s the biggest in the Craft Sequence by far, so far, and tees us up for a bold future. Plus, it has its own TV Tropes page! Which is full of whiteout spoilers oh my god.
Best Novelette—Bookburners S3E6, Oracle Bones
Season Three of Bookburners was our strongest season yet, in my opinion. There’s a ton of great writing there—Mur Lafferty’s Time Capsule, Brian Francis Slattery’s Homecoming, Margaret Dunlap’s Faces of the Beast and Andrea Phillips’ Hard Bargain all stand out. Hard to choose which of the three BB episodes I wrote last year I like the best—Bubbles of Earth was an enormously fun season opener and Live in London brings the house down, literally, but Oracle Bones is probably the least continuity-essential and most character-essential of the three.
Best Short Story—The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom
This is a story about Mohists in Spaaaaaace, and if you like good Doctor Who, you may like this: a stranger from beyond the stars comes to the Low Waters Kingdom bearing tidings of impending war. She promises to help the Princess Martial save her people from the coming calamity—but can the Princess Martial trust her? A lot more science fiction-y than it will appear on first reading. Free on Tor.com. Beautifully illustrated by Micah Epstein. I’ve seen some people call this a novelette, and I’ve echoed the claim myself, but I think it’s a short story—6800 words or thereabouts.
Best Short Story—Crispin’s Model
One of the creepiest things I’ve yet written? Or at least one of the creepiest things I’ve yet published. A painter’s model starts working with a brilliant and mysterious new artist. He pays well—but what is he painting, and why? Free at Tor.com. Included in Jonathan Strahan’s Year’s Best for this year. Illustration by the illustrious Samuel Araya.
Okay, that’s what I have for now.
Oh! One more thing. Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing launched on Tuesday. It’s great, and short, and sharp, and it’s about elephants in the way the Book of the New Sun is about Catholics. At any rate, a jagged little pill, as the prophets say. And it’s cheap in e-format. Give it a read. You won’t be sorry.
This was fun. I’d like to do it more. I don’t know that I’ll be able to—but I do have things to write, about The Last Jedi (who wastes all the other jedi / and eats their bones), about writing, about games, about, you know, stuff. (How eloquent.) But watch this space. It wouldn’t take much for me to post more frequently than I did last year, you know?
Stay strong, and work for the liberation of all sentient beings.