Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Poor Things: on eating life with a big spoon

When an unstoppable id meets an immovable world

A brain extirpated from an unborn fetus and transplanted onto a dead adult's head sounds like the farthest thing from comedy. And yet Poor Things finds a way to turn this gruesome premise into an unapologetic exploration of the bodily experience, mishaps and all. Deliberately oblivious to the constraints of "polite society" (it's no coincidence that in her former life she had the same name as the famously horny Queen Victoria), this newly formed creature meets the world with inexhaustible wonder. Every sensation is new, every place is a delight, every new friend is interesting. Not only is it uncommon to see a Bildungsroman about a female protagonist; this protagonist is, in a twisted way, already a grown-up whose brutal honesty makes up for the maturity she supposedly lacks. The milestone life experiences that usually crush a part of us, leaving us slightly more jaded each time, only make her open up even more. She has nothing to disguise, so she can't be humiliated, and the unwise few who try to manipulate her with fear or shame end up swallowed, digested and excreted by her continuous hunger for more life, more learning, more freedom. The story places her in the well-trodden plot of finding herself, except she's never been lost. She's already comfortable in her own being; the only thing she's missing is a taste of everything.

There are, however, problematic sides to this characterization that aren't acknowledged in the story. With a baby's mind and an adult's appearance, she quickly falls into the trope of Born Sexy Yesterday, which is exactly what Victorian patriarchs want her to be: available, pliant, undemanding. This is what moves them to prey on her in the first place, although it's the same trait that allows her to more easily get rid of possessive lovers, because her sexual needs aren't tied to one specific person. She's happy to be taken, but not owned. The problem is the alteration to her humanity that it took to get her to that carefree state. It's hard to cheer for her erotic experimentation when one remembers that she's mentally a child who doesn't know she's a child. Poor Things wants to answer the question of what a woman's life could be if men's attempts to control her bounced off her without effect, but the device it chooses to employ for approaching that question results from extensive, violent male manipulation of a female body. A woman shouldn't have to literally lose her mind and identity in order to become her own person.

I'm not a woman, so I'm unqualified to declare whether Poor Things is feminist. Women who have reviewed this film have already delved into that topic, both mildly approvingly and very much not, and it's probably a good sign that varying answers are possible. Liberation shouldn't take only one form, and some flavors of liberation will be more appealing to some people, and others more to others. It may be too much to expect this single brain-transplanted creature to fix Victorian inequalities, but in each of her personal interactions, one can notice a growing desire to share her joy for life. The lover who kidnaps her thinks he's using her, he thinks he's a hedonist, he thinks he's free from social conventions, but he's unable to appreciate what she could teach him. She's the real hedonist, the real user, the really free, so of course she leaves him when he refuses to be as free as she is. The friend who teaches her about the pains of the world thinks he's breaking her, he thinks she needs a dose of reality, but she's the one who lives in reality. It doesn't even occur to him to do what he can to alleviate the suffering around him. She does try, and it doesn't matter that others predictably take advantage of her good intentions. This is not a character at whom you can yell "you ought to know better." She exists in a broken world, but the story is not about that broken world. The function of this plot point is to mirror Buddha's path toward enlightenment, which started when he left his pampered palace life and saw suffering for the first time.

You may have valid reasons to criticize this hypernarrow focus on one individual's personal progress, but it's a choice the film does consciously. Several shots are filmed literally with this extreme focus: the protagonist's singular perception dominates the angle from which you're allowed to see the story. We're shown a world with multicolor skies and air railways and impossibly tall towers, and it's an open question whether that's what the world is like or that's how it appears to her. Meeting the outside world for the first time is such a surreal experience for her that even the background landscape shines to the point of warping around her.

The structure of the film is similarly affected by the way she inhabits life. The plot is interrupted by big digressions that she takes to with natural ease, existing purely in the moment. She makes impulsive yet significant choices with no care for narrative momentum, sometimes forcing a scene to snap into an unrelated trajectory. What she wants and what she does is not interested in our expectations of how life should proceed, so it can be jarring to have to adjust to her journey's irregular pace, and that's the point. When we feel like Poor Things is failing to follow the established rules of filmmaking, it's the character seizing her fate in her hands and playing with it.

For all that she discovers and grows and moves past, she's still a child at heart, still motivated primarily by fun, still untainted by learned cruelty. And when she deals with a broken world by exposing her entire, unbreakable self, we may react with shock, or amusement, or pity, or concern, but in the end, we can't help harboring a little nagging bit of envy.

Nerd Coefficient: 7/10.

POSTED BY: Arturo Serrano, multiclass Trekkie/Whovian/Moonie/Miraculer, accumulating experience points for still more obsessions.

2024 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Award Recommend Reading, Part 3: Individual Categories

Welcome to the third part of our presentation of the Nerds of a Feather 2024 Hugo Award Longlist. Today we take a look at the categories recognizing individuals for their body of work during 2023:  Editor (Short and Long Form), Professional Artist, Fan Artist, Fan Writer, and the Astounding Award for Best New Writer.

As before, we here at 'nerds of a feather, flock together' are presenting a collective longlist of potential Hugo nominees that we think are worthy of your consideration. These selections represent the spectrum of tastes, tendencies, and predilections found among our group of 16 writers.

As a reminder, this list should not at all be considered comprehensive. There are some truly outstanding editors, writers, and artists who will not make our longlist because we couldn't confirm they produced enough qualifying work, because the work they do is not genre-focused, or for the very simple reason that we are not just familiar with what they did during 2023. We as a collective each have our own spheres of interest, and of course spheres of lack of awareness, and so a shorter category may simply represent an area where, for works put out in 2023, we are just not as knowledgeable as other people recommending may be. It is certainly not a reflection on the strength or weakness of it as a category more broadly.

We encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider alongside works with which you are already familiar, nothing more and nothing less. In addition, while we have done our best to check the eligibility of everything here, some of these categories have eligibility requirements that can be hard to triangulate from an outside perspective. If you think we've made any errors in our categorisation, please get in touch.

Finally, in the interests of being transparent, while it may worth noting that we, the writers of Nerds of a Feather, are individually eligible for the Fan Writer category; because it is a conflict of interest, it would not be appropriate to include any of us on our formal longlist (feel free to check out our upcoming Awards Eligibility post, though).

Nerds of a Feather 2024 Recommendation List Series:

Part 1: Fiction Categories (Novel, novella, novelette, short story, series, Lodestar Award for best Young Adult)

Part 2: Visual Work Categories (graphic story, dramatic presentation, video game)

Part 3: Individual Categories (editor, fan writer, professional artist, fan artist, Astounding Award for Best New Writer)

Part 4: Institutional Categories (related work, semiprozine, fanzine, fancast)

Editor, Long Form
As a general rule, we do not have a range of specific names for this section, but we recommend that when you put together your final nominating ballot that you also look at who the editors were for your Best Novel selections and consider them for Editor, Long Form. If you would like some suggestions of novels, do feel free to look at Part 1 of our Recommended Reading, which includes many of our favourites from 2023.

With that said, we do want to recognize Francesca Barbini from Luna Press Publishing, who is doing some fantastic work local to this year's Worldcon.

Editor, Short Form
dave ring

Professional Artist
Tommy Arnold (Luca's Legs / cover art, The Faithless by C.L. Clark)
Anna and Elena Balbusso (cover art, Menewood by Nicola Griffith)
Dan Dos Santos (cover art, Warrior of the Wind by Suyi Davies Okungbowa)
Taras Kopansky (cover art, Embroidered Worlds)
Paul Lewin (cover art, Uncanny 55)
Cathy Kwan (cover art, A Necessary Chaos by Brent Lambert)
Radiante Mozzarelle (cover art, Mortal Follies by Alexis Hall)
Feifei Ruan (cover art, The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang)
Sparth (cover art, The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport by Samit Basu)
Jim Tierney (cover art, Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon by Wole Talabi)
Alyssa Winans (cover art, Mammoths at the gates by Nghi Vo)

Fan Artist
Carly A-F 

Fan Writer
Emmet Asher-Perrin
Doug Berry
Gautam Bhatia
Alex Brown
Elias Eells
Ersatz Culture (John Smith) [editor's note: crossed off as requested by writer]
Camestros Felapton
Sarah Gailey
Jenny Hamilton
Maria Haskins
Aidan Moher
Abigail Nussbaum
Runalong Womble
Alasdair Stuart
A.C. Wise

Best New Writer (Astounding Award)
H.B. Asari

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Microreview: Ethera Grave by Essa Hansen

The conclusion of a multiversal space opera series with a final conflict simultaneously personal and epic.

Caiden Winn has come far. From being left as food for creatures that produce one of the most important substances in the multiverse, through slowly uncovering his true nature and perhaps his destiny as embodying in part the ancient progenitors and creators of the multiverse as people know it, through confrontation with forces trying to rule that multiverse, Caiden is now a hero. He denies it, but he is a hero, a a rallying point, a center of resistance and change. The universe needs this. Caiden's foe, the dynast Abriss Centre, armed with the spirit of one of those Graven progenitors, the titular Ethera, from her position at the center of the multiverse, has a plan to remake the entire multiverse into one universe, no matter the cost. But it is the conflict and relationship Ethera has to her ancient companions that may decide the fate of all.

All this is the story of Ethera Grave, the third and final of the Nophek Gloss trilogy by Essa Hansen.

The multiversal space opera of Essa Hansen has provided a gigantic canvas to tell a story with the largest of stakes--the fate of the multiverse, and at the same time narrow and focus it down to the individual level.  Let's start at the top and work our way down. For readers who it's been a while since reading either of the previous two volumes, the canvas on which Essa Hansen draws her story is a multiverse divided into individual smaller universes, each with their own physical laws, properties, and uniqueness. The individual universes are, in the context of things, relatively small (and by small, I mean they aren't each the size of our own universe, maybe each a sector of a galaxy, relatively speaking). Still, a plethora of universes, that, together, form a huge conglomeration of worlds and peoples. At the center of this constellation of multiverses is the universe known as Unity. Is it the OG universe? It seems so, the properties of this universe seem to most align with the power and abilities of the Graven, the ancient species who broke the universe into the multiverse in the first place. 

Now we can narrow in. Three individuals from that ancient species, the Graven, now exist in various forms in the modern day. First, there is Azura. We met Azura in the first book, Nophek Gloss, as she was embodied in a ship that Caiden found and found he could manipulate (a first clue as to his real potential). Azura represents choice, freedom, autonomy (which again was embodied in her as ship, she could create her own universe inside the ship). Vaith, representing a compromise between autonomy and ultimate order, and then there is the titular Ethera. Ethera is for a single universe, a single purpose, a single set of rules. The breaking of the universe into the multiverse was a terrible mistake to be rolled back. 

Hansen weaves the story of these three Graven (complete with flashback like narrative devices to show them interacting) into our main three protagonists in the modern day. Caiden, you already have met. It would be reductive to say he is the hero of the trilogy, he certainly has his doubts, but he is our primary point of view character here, and in the entire series as a whole. He met Azura in the first book, and here in the third book, aligns himself with Vaith to try and stop Ethera. Ethera is working with Abriss Cetre, and the two of them have the same plan (or is it Ethera's plan?). Abriss' plan is grandiose even in its simplicity: collapse all the diversity and difference of the multiverses back into a single universe. A single unity. A perfect, single order.  And then there is Threi. Threi has been Caiden's antagonist for much of th previous two books, but, now, Threi is working with Caiden, however vitriolically, to stop his sister, Abriss, from her plan. So the mappings of Threi==Azura, Caiden==Vaith, Abriss==Ethera sets up a double exposure of a conflict played out at large scales.

Through it all, Caiden has his relationship with the rest of this found family that he has accumulated over the last two books. Threi is torn between trying to save his sister, oppose his sister and find meaning for himself. (He also has a sweet and tortured love affair that will break and heal your heart). As far as Abriss, Hansen very carefully shows that her, and Ethera for that matter, are not mustache twirling villains, but that their goals, hopes and wants are simply antithetical to what Caiden and his friends and family want and need. Who is right about what is best for the universe, Abriss/Ethera or those who oppose them?

This makes Ethera Grave and the entire series a case study in having antagonists with understandable and meaningful goals that make sense to them, and to the reader. Through all the other virtues of the novel, I could see Abriss (and Ethera's) point and their desire for a single, unified universe, polity, set of rules in order to bring a sense of order to what they saw is a dangerous verse. A unified verse would prevent things like Caiden's community being sacrificed to feed the gloss producing Nophek. And yet, Hansen doesn't equivocate what the costs of such an order are, as we met species and see worlds who flourish under their own laws of physics, their own rules of their universe, and how being absorbed into Unity not only destroys that uniqueness, that diversity, those special characteristics, but is inimical to those species' very survival.  

Through all of these grand stakes, Hansen provides conflicts on scales intimate and epic. Caiden coming to terms with Vaith is literally all in his head, the most intimate of thorny subjects to navigate. And then we have titanic individual battles, as Threi and Caiden try to stop the seemingly unstoppable Abriss Cetre and her companions, devastating entire cities and regions of planets in their fights. And even greater than that is Abriss and Ethera's forced unification of multiversal verses into Unity, grand epic descriptions as the rind of a multiverse gives way and becomes the part of the center whole. Hansen's descriptions of all of these conflicts are evocative, invoke multiple senses, and have an epic feel. While we have had excellent descriptions of conflicts and clashes in the previous two books, Hansen has saved for her capstone book all of her heavy weaponry. 

There is sacrifice, heartbreak, loss, and ultimately costs to Caiden, Threi and their efforts to oppose Ethera and Abriss. The novel, the series, makes it clear that to fight for what you believe in, at the grandest of scales, is a freighted endeavor. Not only on a universe level, but also on a personal level, there are, ultimately, prices to be paid. Hansen concludes her trilogy with a bang, but in the end, confirms that for the survivors, the journey, the struggle, the opposition, was in fact, worth it. And, for readers who have followed the series, I can say the same for Ethera Grave and the entire series. It will be going on my Hugo ballot for Best Series for the 2023 Hugos.



  • Epic battles, personal, emotional, multiversal
  • Strong throughline of triple conflict between the Graven and current protagonists
  • Complex and interesting antagonists.

Reference: Hansen, Essa, Ethera Grave, [Orbit, 2023]

POSTED BY: Paul Weimer. Ubiquitous in Shadow, but I’m just this guy, you know? @princejvstin.

2024 Nerds of a Feather Hugo Awards Recommended Reading, Part 2: Visual Work Categories

Welcome to our continuing presentation of the Nerds of a Feather 2024 Hugo Award Recommendation List. Today will look at Graphic Story, the two Dramatic Presentation categories, and the new permanent Best Interactive Game category.

As before, we here at 'nerds of a feather, flock together' are presenting a collective longlist of potential Hugo nominees that we think are worthy of your consideration. These selections represent the spectrum of tastes, tendencies, and predilections found among our group of writers.

As a reminder, this list should not at all be considered comprehensive. Some outstanding works will not make our longlist for the simple reason that we have not seen, read, or played it. We encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider alongside works which you are already familiar, nothing more and nothing less.

Nerds of a Feather 2024 Recommendation List Series:

Graphic Story

Batman: One Bad Day: Catwoman, by G Willow Wilson and Jamie McKelvie
Earthdivers, by Stephen Graham Jones and Davide Gianfelice
Love Everlasting, by Tom King and Elsa Charretier
Peculiar Woods: The Ancient Underwater City by Andrés J. Colmenares
Witches of World War II, by Paul Cornell and Valeria Burzo

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons, Book 4, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gene Ha, and Phil Jiminez

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

American Born Chinese: Season 1

The Ark: Season 1

Asteroid City


The Big Door Prize: Season 1

Command Z: Season 1

Futurama: Season 11

Godzilla Minus One

Hello Tomorrow! Season 1


Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir: Season 5

Mrs Davis: Season 1


Pluto: Season 1

Poker Face: Season 1

Poor Things

Scavengers Reign: Season 1

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

The Super Mario Bros Movie

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

They Cloned Tyrone

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

*please see individual episodes of Dramatic Presentation Long Form

Game or Interactive Experience

Alan Wake 2

Baldur’s Gate 3

Chants of Sennaar

Coffee Talk 2

Dave the Diver


Final Fantasy XVI

Fire Emblem: Engage
Horizon Forbidden West: Burning Shores
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Oxenfree: Lost Signals

Pikmin 4
Sea of Stars
Sleeping Gods: Distant Skies
A Space for the Unbound
Star Wars: Jedi Survivor

Stray Gods
Super Mario Bros. Wonder


Monday, January 29, 2024

Microreview: Aftermarket Afterlife, by Seanan McGuire

Where previous novels were (mostly) focused on a single character and a relative discrete story that gradually expands the scope of this Incryptid world (which is our world, only there are magical creatures living around us and with us and hiding from us), Aftermarket Afterlife starts to blow up that formula. The novel is focused on Mary Dunlavy, a sometimes corporeal ghost and family babysitter (with a somewhat complicated backstory that is really changed by the Antimony novels).

Here’s what you need to know: There has been an ongoing and building fallout over the last few novels with The Covenant of St George (an organization of humans dedicated to eradicating the aforementioned supernatural creatures) after Antimony really pissed them off. This is after her older sister Verity let the Covenant know there were still Prices still around. Aftermarket Afterlife is an explosive novel - and that’s not even counting the return of Alice and Thomas to the family (see Backpacking Through Bedlam) after decades of Thomas being presumed dead. McGuire seldom lets her characters just sit in a moment without blowing something up. Or maybe it’s the readers who want more - but Seanan McGuire is a propulsive writer.

Seanan McGuire has been building to the Price family finally going to war with the Covenant. Or, more specifically, the Covenant is going to war with the cryptids of North America and with the Price family. Aftermarket Afterlife is for the long time readers (this is book thirteen in the series) who have been wondering when all of that mess is going to come to a head.

The choice of Mary as the focus is an interesting one as it continues the trend of the last four novels of allowing a small sense of distance from the core family while, at the same time, allowing for a wider breadth of family interaction. From Discount Armageddon through That Ain’t Witchcraft each novel has focused on one of the siblings of the youngest generation of Price children and their interaction with this world. That narrow focus would, perhaps, only mention the actions or existence of that character’s siblings. So - if this is an Antimony novel, there would be limited mention of Verity or Alex. Same with Verity or Alex’s novels, respectively. Even the Sarah Zellaby or Alice novels were limited in scope to the perspective of that character in that particular place.

Mary Dunlavy is necessarily different because she can ghost-travel to whichever family member calls for her (and sometimes if they don’t) - so even with a slight emotional distance, which is a statement that isn’t entirely accurate but is the best that I have to work with, we get so much more of the Price family than we have at any other time in the series. Mary can and does bounce between Verity in New York, Alex in Ohio. and Antimony in Oregon. The scope of the war with the Covenant can be shown beyond phone calls of an action that we don’t get to see because it’s somewhere else. Functionally, Mary can be everywhere and McGuire makes good use of Mary as plot device.

If most of this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, that is because McGuire is pulling a LOT of threads together and really assumes that readers are well familiar with the first twelve books of the series. I have no idea what it looks like jumping into this fresh to the Incryptid series and even though Seanan McGuire is frequently very good at introducing and reintroducing characters and story beats and dropping exposition, Aftermarket Afterlife truly requires the emotional equity of having been on this Price Family Journey.

With all of that said, for those readers who have been on this Price Family Journey, Aftermarket Afterlife absolutely delivers the goods. The awkward and painful reunions are earned, the desire to take the fight to the Covenant is earned, and the ultimate resolution of the novel is absolutely earned. Seanan McGuire has been building to all of this and she truly pays it off - and there is certainly going to be more, which makes me incredibly anxious and I cannot wait to read what’s next.

Joe Sherry - Senior Editor of Nerds of a Feather. Hugo and Ignyte Winner. Minnesotan.

Nerds of a Feather 2024 Hugo Award Recommendation List: Part 1

Welcome to the Nerds of a Feather 2024 Hugo Award Recommendation List.

As in previous years, this is a 4-part list covering things our writers have loved, admired and gone "oh
damn" over published in 2023. Part 1, today's list, covers the written fiction categories: Novel, novella, novelette, short story, series and Lodestar.

We're not going to lie: posting this list now, less than two weeks after the release of compromised and untrustworthy longlist data from the Chengdu Hugos, feels... uncomfortable. The 2024 Glasgow Worldcon has announced measures for transparency in the way they will handle this year's process, and this is a welcome step. Unfortunately, the loss of trust which the 2023 Hugo committee's actions have caused, and the ongoing lack of explanation or explicit consequences for those who made the decisions, makes it difficult to get as enthusiastic as usual about a new cycle of Hugos.

HOWEVER. None of this changes the fact that, once again, SFF creatives collectively knocked it out of the park in every area in 2023, and our flock collectively
need to tell you our favourites, so they can be your favourites too. We're not going to pretend this isn't a Hugo-aligned recommendation post: our work on the lists starts months in advance, and pivoting to "here's all the categories in many possible SFF awards" with a week's notice was beyond our capacity in several ways. But we think that regardless of your inclination to engage with the Hugos, this recommendation list provides plenty to be getting on with: whether you're using it to read for other awards or just looking for great stuff from 2023, we aim to please.

As in previous years, we also emphasise that this list is - intentionally! - subjective and far from comprehensive. Some stories that are undoubtedly "award worthy" are absent because our flock of humble and finite humans haven't read them yet. Additionally, we collectively read/watch less in some categories than others, so shorter lists shouldn't be taken as an absence of quality in the category as a whole - we simply haven't got as much to say. Thus we encourage you to think of this as a list of candidates to consider and discover, alongside others you may be already familiar with and other recommendation sources.

We have also excluded works written and edited by NoaF contributors. Particular apologies to the contributors to Fighting for the Future, edited by our Phoebe Wagner: we think you're great! Look out for links to the work our flock did in our upcoming eligibility post.

Finally, while we've done what we can to ensure the recommendations are Hugo-eligible in their respective categories, it is possible we've made a couple of errors. If you spot something on the list that isn't eligible in a particular category, please let us know and we'll correct it. Nobody wants any ineligibility shenanigans in 2024.

Best Novel

Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame. Chain Gang All-Stars [Pantheon (US)/Harvill Secker (UK)]
Aryan, Stephen. The Judas Blossom [Angry Robot]
Austin, Blair. Dioramas [Dzanc Books]
Basu, Samit. The Jinn-Bot of Shantiport [Tordotcom]
Carey, M.R. Infinity Gate [Orbit]
Carlson, Brenden. Dark All Day [Dundurn Press]
Carrick, M.A. Labyrinth’s Heart [Orbit]
Candon, Emma Mieko. The Archive Undying [Tordotcom]
Chakraborty, Shannon. The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi [Harper Voyager]
Chan, Kylie. Minds of Sand and Light [Voyager]
Chandrasekera, Vajra. The Saint of Bright Doors [Tordotcom]
Clark, C.L. The Faithless [Orbit]
Clothier, Meg. The Book of Eve [Wildfire]
Deb, Siddhartha. The Light at the End of the World [Soho Press]
Elliott, Kate. Furious Heaven [Tor Books (UK)/Head of Zeus (US)]
Galey, Trip. A Market of Dreams and Destiny [Titan]
Graham, Jo. A Blackened Mirror [Candlelight and Gleam]
Graham, Jo. Fortune’s Favor [Candlelight and Gleam]
Griffith, Nicola. Menewood [MCD]
Guanzon, Thea. The Hurricane Wars [Harper Voyager]
Harrow, Alix E. Starling House [Tor]
Holmberg, Charlie N. The Hanging City [47North]
Huang, S.L. The Water Outlaws [Tordotcom/Solaris]
James, Tania. Loot [Knopf]
Jones, Howard Andrew. Lord of a Shattered Land [Baen]
Kalfar, Jaroslav. A Brief History of Living Forever [Little, Brown and Company (US)/Hodder & Staughton (UK)]
Kaner, Hannah. Godkiller [Harper Voyager]
Kelly, Greta. The Queen of Days [Harper Voyager]
King, Owen. The Curator [Scribner/Hodder & Staughton]
Klune, T.J. In the Lives of Puppets [Tor]

Lakghomi, Babak. South [Rare Machines]
Lansdell, C.B. Far Removed [Coe Books]
Lares, Mariely. Sun of Blood and Ruin [Harper Voyager]
Leckie, Ann. Translation State [Orbit]
McGill, C.E. Our Hideous Progeny [Doubleday]
Moore, Scotto. Wild Massive [Tordotcom]
Mudzingwa, Farai. Avenues by Train [Cassava Republic Press]
Newitz, Annalee. The Terraformers [Tor (US)/Orbit (UK)]
Parker-Chan, Shelley. He Who Drowned the World [Tor (US)/Pan Macmillan (UK)]
Parris, E.W. Doc. The Dent in the Universe [Magic Genius Books]
Rao, Kritika H. The Surviving Sky [Titan]
Rushdie, Salman. Victory City [Random House]
Ryman, Geoff. Him [Angry Robot]
Saintcrow, Lilith. Spring’s Arcana [Tor]
Shah, Bina. The Monsoon War [Delphinium]
Spufford, Francis. Cahokia Jazz [Faber & Faber]
Stegall, D.H. The Smell of Satellites [Independently Published]
Stross, Charles. Season of Skulls [Tordotcom (US)/Orbit (UK)]
Talabi, Wole. Shigidi and the Brass Head of Obalufon [Daw (US)/Gollancz (UK)]
Tesh, Emily. Some Desperate Glory [Tordotcom (US)/Orbit (UK)]
Therin, Allie. Liar City [Carina Adores]
Tidhar, Lavie. The Circumference of the World [Tachyon Publications]
Törzs, Emma. Ink, Blood, Sister, Scribe [William Morrow]
Tshuma, Novuyo Rosa. Digging Stars [W.W. Norton and Company]
Valdes, Valerie. Where Peace is Lost [Harper Voyager]
Verghese, Abraham. The Covenant of Water [Grove Press]
Wangtechawat, Pim. The Moon Represents My Heart [Blackstone Publishing]
Wells, Martha. Witch King [Tordotcom]
Wharton, Thomas. The Book of Rain [Random House]

Best Novella

Barnhill, Kelly. The Crane Husband [Tordotcom]
Das, Indra. The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar [Subterranean Press]
DeNiro, Anya Johanna. OKPsyche [Small Beer Press] Note: technically a novel but within the "extra" wordcount for novella in the Hugo Awards
Donohoo, A.M. The Past Trader [Ambuscade House]
Drnovšek Zorko, Filip Hajdar. "Between Blades" (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue 392)
Fraimow, Rebecca. The Iron Children [Solaris]
Hyslop, Jess. Miasma [Luna Press]
Kitney, L.K. The Lies We Tell Ourselves [Luna Press]
Knighton, Andrew. Ashes of the Ancestors [Luna Press]
Kusano, Iori. Hybrid Heart [Neon Hemlock]
Lagor, Kelly. Ghosting” (GigaNotoSaurus)
Lambert, Brent C. A Necessary Chaos [Neon Hemlock]
Lee, Fonda. Untethered Sky [Tordotcom]
Martine, Arkady. Rose / House [Subterranean Press]
Monette, Sarah. "The Kingdom of Darkness" (Uncanny Magazine Issue 54)
Ogden, Aimee. "A Half-Remembered World" (Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2023)
Ogden, Aimee. Emergent Properties [Tordotcom]
Older, Malka. The Mimicking of Known Successes [Tordotcom]
Rather, Lina. A Season of Monstrous Conceptions [Tordotcom]
Rowe, Christopher. The Navigating Fox [Tordotcom]
Salman, Naomi. Nothing but the Rain [Tordotcom]
Saxey, E. "On the English Approach to the Study of History" (GigaNotoSaurus)
Scherzinger, Claire. "Sea Wolf" (GigaNotoSaurus)
Taylor, Abigail F. The Night Begins [Luna Press]
Utomi, Moses Ose. The Lies of the Ajungo [Tordotcom]
Vo, Nghi. Mammoths at the Gate [Tordotcom]
Wilde, Fran. The Book of Gems [Tordotcom]


Andelsmith, Leah. “We Grew Tall and Strong by the Water” (FIYAH Issue 25)
Beagle, Peter S. "The Very Nasty Aquarium" (Fantasy & Science Fiction July/August 2023)
Chan, L. "Dragonsworn" (khōréō 3.3)
Croal, Lyndsey. Have you Decided On Your Question [Shortwave Publishing]
Dellamonica, A.M. "Horsewoman" (Uncanny Magazine 50)
Duckworth, Jonathan Louis.Little Red Hands,” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 390)
Dunbar, Eboni J. “Spell for Grief and Longing” (FIYAH Issue 26)
Echiverri Rivera, Michael. "Valis Seeker Fierefiz" (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 395)
El Mohtar, Amal. "John Hollowback and the Witch" (The Book of Witches ed. Jonathan Strahan)
Fisher, Tessa. “Morning Star Blues” (Rosalind’s Siblings ed. Bogi Takács)
Gómez, Cynthia. "The Ones Who Come Back to Heal" (Strange Horizons July 2023)
Hopkinson, Nalo. "The Most Strongest Obeah Woman of the World" (Out There Screaming ed. Jordan Peele and John Joseph Adams)
Jemisin, N.K. "Reckless Eyeballing" (Out There Screaming)
Jiang, Ai. I AM AI [Shortwave Publishing]
Kabza, KJ. "Five Encounters with the Color God" (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 393)
Kidruk, Max tr. Tetiana Savchynska. “Closest to the Pole” (Embroidered Worlds ed. Dudycz Lupescu, Olha Brylova, and Iryna Pasko)
Kritzer, Naomi. “The Year Without Sunshine” (Uncanny Magazine Issue 55)
Liu, Ken and Caroline M. Yoachim. "Collaboration?" (Uncanny Magazine 50)
Macario, Maricar. "Bayanihan" (Fantasy &Science Fiction September/October 2023)
Niyonsenga, Aline-Mwezi.Fell Our Selves” (GigaNotoSaurus)
Nogle, Christi. "A Chronicle of the Mole-Year" (Strange Horizons Fund Drive Issue)
Norja, Sara. Reconciliation Dumplings and Other Recipes” (GigaNotoSaurus)
Palumbo, Suzan. “Kill Jar” (Skin Thief)
Pinsker, Sarah. "One Man's Treasure" (Uncanny Magazine 50)
Pinsker, Sarah. Science Facts! (Lost Places)
Polk, C.L. "Ivy, Angelica, Bay" (
Rose, Christopher Mark. Three Sisters Syzygy (Fantasy & Science Fiction September/October 2023)
Srivatsa, Prashanth. Floating on the Stream that Brings from the Fount (Fantasy & Science Fiction January/February 2023)
Taqvi, Fatima. A Truth So Loyal and Vicious (Fantasy & Science Fiction May/June 2023)
Tzeng, Ten. "Black are the Waters" (Strange Horizons, September 2023)
Thompson, Tade. “The Luck Thief” (The Book of Witches)
Vaughn, Carrie. "The Tyrant’s Heir’s Tale" (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 392)
Willrich, Chris. "Hausferatu" (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 384)
Yang, Tessa. Upstairs (Fantasy & Science Fiction September/October 2023)

Short Story

Abraham, Z.K. “Vardøger” (FIYAH Issue 28)
Allen, Violet. “The Rainbow Ghosts” (Luminescent Machinations ed. Rhiannon Rasmussen and dave ring)
Asari, H.B. "Bury Me In the Water" (Strange Horizons December 2023)
Ayinde, M.H. “Our Grandmother’s Words” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 376)
Balatska, Vira, tr. Michael M. Naydan and Alla Perminova. “Revenge in Pursuit” (Embroidered Worlds)
Bangs, Elly. “Being Quicksilver” (Luminescent Machinations)
Barker, Laura. “The Plaster” (FIYAH 25)
Brown, Erin. “Knoxmarion Burning” (FIYAH 28)
Buckell, Tobias S. “By Throat and Void” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Cahill, Martin. An Inheritance of Scars”. (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 379)
Cameron, Jess.missed connections - Central square today around 930” (Strange Horizons January 2023
Capetta, A.R.Resurrection Highway” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Case, Stephen. “Daughters of the Lattice” (Asimov’s July/August 2023)
Chase, Robert R. “Neptune’s Acres” (Asimov’s November/December 2023)
Chen, Ruoxi. Fandom for Witches” (Fantasy Magazine October 2023)
Chung, Samantha H. “The Pigeon Wife” (Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2023)
Coutinho Teixeira, Fernanda.Hers” (Strange Horizons February 2023)
Datt Sharma, Iona. "Always and Forever, Only You" (Strange Horizons March 2023)
Day, Naomi. “A Small Bloody Gift” (FIYAH Literary Magazine Issue 25)
Donohue, Jennifer R. "Purity" (The Future Fire 64) (editor's note: not eligible for this year - originally published on Patreon in 2019)
Drnovšek Zorko, Filip Hajdar.The Cuckoo of Vrezna Mountain” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
Duncan, R.K. “Meeting in Greenwood” (Fantasy & Science Fiction November/December 2023)
Dyer, Thoraiya. “Beirut Robot Hyenadrome” (Shoreline of Infinity 36)
El Sayed, Mahmud. "Memories of Memories Lost" (khōréō 3.2)
Francisco, Ben. "Brincando Charcos (Jumping Puddles)" (Strange Horizons Caribbean SFF Special, October 2023)
Gailey, Sarah. Such an Honor” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Garcia, R.S.A. "Mid-Earth Removals Ltd" (Sunday Morning Transport)
Grist, Rhiannon A. “A Change of Direction” (Shoreline of Infinity 36)
Ha, Thomas. "For However Long" (khōréō 3.1)
Harlen, Leigh. "Singing Goblin Songs" (Rosalind’s Siblings)
Harry, Gabrielle Emem. “A Name is a Plea and a Prophecy” (Strange Horizons August 2023)
Hartman, Rachel.Ghost Story” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Hinson, Brian D.Disposable Gabriel” (Cast of Wonders 567)
Hudson, Andrew Dana. “The Uncool Hunters" (Escape Pod 894)
Ize-Iyamu, Osahon. “Great Things of Which to Speak of” (Rosalind’s Siblings)
Jayachandra, Abhilash. "The Sing-Along Killing and Silent Death of Malakine, the Horse Whisperer" (Strange Horizons, March 2023)
Jennings, Kathleen. "The Five Lazy Sisters" (Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2023)
Joffre, Ruth. Icediver”. (Reckoning 7)
Katz, Gwen C. Glass Flies” (Cast of Wonders 548)
Kilgore, Davida.My Dear, My Love” (Fantasy Magazine August 2023)
Kuttler, Dane. “Off the Map” (Fantasy & Science Fiction January/February 2023)
Lang, Amanda Cecelia.The Woods in the House” (Cast of Wonders 568/569)
Leveret, Hesper. “Our Lady of the Void” (Interzone 296)
Lee, Yoon Ha.The Ethnomusicology of the Last Dreadnought” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Lingen, Marissa. “Exiled to Gravity” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Little Badger, Darcie. “The Liar” (The Book of Witches)
Marken Jack, Ariel. What Is Owed and What Can Never Be” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 372)
Mariz, Rae. "The Field Guide for Next Time" (khōréō 3.1)
Marlow, Gregory. A Jar of Malice” (Podcastle 797)
Marlys, Malda.A Princess with a Nose Three Ells Long” (Fantasy Magazine February 2023)
Mohamed, Premee. “Quietus” (No One Will Come Back For Us)
Morris, Stephanie Malia. Discreet Services Offered for Women Ridden By Hags” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 377)
Moté, Rajiv. “Interlude: Shelter from the Storm” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 389)
Mugaa, Dennis. “Nairuko” (Fantasy Magazine May 2023)
Neri, Celia. “The Tightrope Walker” (Rosalind’s Siblings)
Nikel, Wendy.Driftwood in the Sea of Time” (Escape Pod 911)
Ning, Leah.The Consequences of Microwaving Styrofoam” (PodCastle 768)
Ntumy, Cheryl S. The Way of Baa’gh (Mothersound: The Sauútiverse Anthology ed. Wole Talabi)
Nwaka, Uchechukwu. Challenges to Becoming a Pro Dragonracer in Apapa-Downtown” (Escape Pod 917)
Ogden, Aimee.Long Enough for a Cup of Tea” (Strange Horizons)
Ogundiran, Tobi. “Midnight in Moscow” (Jackal, Jackal)
Poletti, Lowry. "The Dead Return in Strange Shapes" (Fantasy Magazine February 2023)
Pueyo, H. “Glory Hounds” (Interzone 295)
Rocklyn, Zin E. “Tet Fe Mal” (FIYAH Issue 25)
Schumann, Tascha. “Homo Minimalensis” (FIYAH Issue 26)
Seiberg, Effie. There’s Magic in Bread” (Fantasy Magazine March 2023)
Tabing, Nadine Aurora.The Bright in the Gyre” (Reckoning 7)
Tao, Riley. Both Hope and Breath” (Cast of Wonders 527)
Taylor, Terence. "Your Happy Place" (Out There Screaming)
Tehnuka. Why We Bury Our Dead at Sea” (Reckoning 7)
Ten, Kristina. “Approved Methods of Love Divination in the First-Rate City of Dushagorod” (Fantasy & Science Fiction Jul/Aug)
Teng, Emily. "The Cost of Doing Business" (The Book of Witches)
Terasaki, Kimberly. "The World is Ending Tomorrow" (Fantasy Magazine July 2023)
Triantafyllou, Eugenia. Always Be Returning” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Umeh, J. “Kalabashing” (Mothersound: The Sauútiverse Anthology)
Ukrainets, Ostap, translated by Oksana Katsanivska. "Neptune’s Day" (Embroidered Worlds)
Valdes, Valerie. "In Time, a Weed may Break Stone" (Uncanny Magazine 51)
Vibbert, Marie. "The Subway Algorithm is Half-Constructed" (Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April)
Wang, Laura. "The Land of Happiness" (khōréō 3.1)
Watkins, Melissa A. Eat” (Fantasy Magazine June 2023)
Watkins, Melissa A. “Knotty Girl” (F&SF May/June)
What, Leslie. “The Inventor We May Learn is More of a Conceptual Artist in Part Seven” (Sunday Morning Transport)
Whitcher, Ursula. Closer Than Your Kidneys” (Frivolous Comma)
Wilson, Aigner Loren. “Building Blocks” (Interzone 295)
Turnbull, Cadwell. "Wandering Devil" (Out There Screaming)
Yoo, Sam Kyung. Set Yourself on Fire” (Fantasy Magazine September 2023)

Best Series (Qualifiying Work)

Anders, Charlie Jane.
Unstoppable (Promises Stronger than Darkness)
Briggs, Patricia. Mercy Thompson (Soul Taken)
Carlson, Brenden. The Walking Shadows (Dark All Day)
Carrick, M.A. Rook & Rose (Labyrinth’s Heart)
Cherryh, C.J. with Jane S. Fancher. Foreigner (Defiance)
de Bodard, Aliette. Xuya (A Fire Born of Exile)
Gladstone, Max. The Craft Sequence (Dead Country)
Hansen, Essa. Azura’s Ghost (Ethera Grave)
Hoffman, Ada. The Outside (The Infinite)
Huchu, T.L. Edinburgh Nights (The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle)
Marske, Freya. The Last Binding (A Power Unbound)
McGuire, Seanan. Incryptid (Backpacking Through Bedlam)
McGuire, Seanan. October Daye (Sleep No More / The Innocent Sleep)
Modesitt, Jr, L.E. The Grand Illusion (Contrarian)
Stewart, Andrea. The Drowning Empire (The Bone Shard War)
Stross, Charles. The Laundry Files (Season of Skulls)
Wallace, Matt. Savage Rebellion (Savage Crowns)
Yee, F.C. Chronicles of the Avatar (The Legacy of Yangchen)

Best YA Book (Lodestar)
(Note, as in previous years, we've included some Middle Grade in our recommendations here.)

Aldridge, Ethan M. Deephaven [Quill Tree Books]
Alexander, Kwame. The Door of No Return [Little, Brown Books for Young Readers]
Anders, Charlie Jane. Promises Stronger than Darkness [Tor Teen (US)/Titan (UK)]
Bakewell, Catherine. Flowerheart [HarperTeen]
Bates, Laura. Sisters of Sword and Shadow [Simon & Schuster Ltd]
Black, Holly. The Stolen Heir [Little, Brown Books for Young Readers]
Blackgoose, Moniquill. To Shape A Dragon’s Breath [Del Rey]
Clark, P. Djéli. Abeni's Song [Starscape]
Dotson, J. Dianne. The Inn at the Amethyst Lantern [Android Press]
Dunn, Kat. Bitterthorn [Andersen Press]
Gratton, Tessa and Justina Ireland. Chaos and Flame [Razorbill]
Hardinge, Frances. Unraveller [Harry N. Abrams, 2023 (US)/Macmillan Children's, 2022 (UK)] (Note: eligible due to first US publication in 2023)
Kaufman, Amie. The Isles of the Gods [Knopf]
Lim, Elizabeth. Her Radiant Curse [Knopf (US)/Hodder & Staughton (UK)]
McLemore, Anna-Marie and Elliott McLemore. Venom and Vow [Feiwel and Friends]
McNicoll, Elle. Like a Curse [Knights of]
Older, Daniel José. Last Canto of the Dead [Rick Riordan Presents]
Owen, Margaret. Painted Devils [Henry Holt and Co.]
Reid, Ava. A Study in Drowning [HarperTeen]
Rosen, L.C. Lion's Legacy [Union Square Co.]
Ross, Rebecca. Divine Rivals [Wednesday Books]
Tran, Trang Thanh. She is a Haunting [Bloomsbury YA]

Friday, January 26, 2024

Novella Project: Tiffany Morris Interview

Today for the novella project we're speaking to Tiffany Morris:

Tiffany Morris is an L'nu'skw (Mi'kmaw) writer from Nova Scotia. She is the author of the swampcore horror novella Green Fuse Burning (Stelliform Books, 2023) and the Elgin-nominated horror poetry collection Elegies of Rotting Stars (Nictitating Books, 2022). Her work has appeared in the Indigenous horror anthology Never Whistle At Night (Vintage Books), as well as in Nightmare Magazine, Uncanny Magazine, and Apex Magazine, among others. She has an MA in English from Acadia University with a focus on Indigenous Futurisms and apocalyptic literature. She can be found at or on twitter/bluesky @tiffmorris.

Green Fuse Burning was reviewed earlier this week by Phoebe, which you can read here.

For your recent book Green Fuse Burning, what made you decide to write it as a novella? Was it a particular attraction of the form, or something about this story that suited it?

While I explore a lot of the themes that are present in Green Fuse Burning in my poetry, I really wanted a more expansive form to express some of the interwoven complexities of grief - having an interior glimpse into the mind of a character and how they respond to the things that happen to them felt like the most immediate way for me to do it. But the brutality of how this character experiences grief wasn't something I wanted to expand into a novel, because it's already emotionally difficult subject matter.

That makes a lot of sense - and certainly seems true of a lot of novellas I've read. They're a great way to explore a particular theme without overburdening the reader, and occupy a useful transition point between short fiction and a full novel.

Picking up from that - do you find generally that the form you choose ends up being dictated by the content, or do you ever go in thinking "I am going to write a poem/short story/novella/etc." and then shape the content to mould to the form?

It's funny, my writing process always forms from fragments and seeds - my Notes app is full of images, random sentences, or story idea - and sometimes things jotted down devoid of context that I can't really turn into anything. Ideas that I intend to be novellas or novels will inevitably end up being short stories - or even poems, because my tendency is to pack everything down into dense sentences. I suppose what it becomes really depends on if I think a character needs to think through and experience the idea. 

Do you think that density in your writing comes from being a poet, as well as prose author?

Sort of - I think I have a tendency toward maximalism in pretty much everything, haha. Even when I was writing my master's thesis, my advisor would recommend I expand and simplify my ideas for greater clarity. It's part of why I love the revision process so much - looking at what needs to be pared down, and what needs to be left as-is.

How did you come to be working with Stelliform?

I've been a fan of Stelliform since the very beginning - I won a copy of Michael J Deluca's Night Roll through a twitter giveaway and have been hooked ever since. I'm behind on my reading now, but I think I've read about 75% of their catalog, so I'm thrilled to now have a book of my own in the mix. Selena and I were fans of each other's work, and she reached out to me about submitting; I'd had a few ideas that I pitched rolling around but kept coming back to the pond.

Are there any particular novellas in Stelliform's catalogue you'd recommend or think more people should read?

I think Stelliform has something for everybody! I'm partial to Night Roll by Michael J. DeLuca, Arboreality by Rebecca Campbell, The Impossible Resurrection of Grief by Octavia Cade, and House of Drought by Dennis Mombauer. I haven't had a chance to dive into Sordidez [Roseanna's note: Phoebe has a great review of this up here] by E.G. Condé yet, but I'm looking forward to it!

Do you have any thoughts about working with a small press generally? Things that work better, or are just different than you were expecting, or advice you'd give your past self about the process?

I love working with small presses! Both Elegies of Rotting Stars and Green Fuse Burning have been released through small press, and while each experience was unique to the press, both were great. Having a small editorial team focused on your work is such an honor - you get the sense that there is a deep investment in your work, and also in making it the best that it can be. 

Picking up on the focus on your work, did this include you having any input into the cover design at all? And was that something important to you and how you felt your book was presented to the world?

I did! Selena was very considerate of what I might like for the cover - we both wanted to prioritize having Indigenous art, or work from an artist of color, or a queer artist, in showing reflection and solidarity with my own work. We're both huge fans of Chippewa and Potawatomi artist Chief Lady Bird's work, so we were thrilled when we were given approval to use her piece for the cover. It resonated so well with the spooky, swampy themes of Green Fuse Burning.

It’s striking and haunting and I think it looks great!

After your experiences writing Green Fuse Burning, would you write another novella? And if yes, do you think there’s anything you’ve learnt from this one that you’d take forward in a future project?

Thanks so much! 

Yes, I'd love to do another novella - the form is so interesting to me because it's a great way to delve deeply into an idea while still having some focus, or a thesis. There isn't the need to be as expansive as with something like a novel, and that constraint opens up a lot of room for experimentation. 

Final question: can you tell us a little more about your book?

Green Fuse Burning is about an L’nu’skw (Mi’kmaw) landscape painter who is tricked into a residency at a remote pond by her girlfriend with whom she’s having issues. As she works through her residency she experiences increasingly strange and supernatural sights and sounds - is it a manifestation of her grief or something more sinister?

Thank you Tiffany!

POSTED BY: Roseanna Pendlebury, the humble servant of a very loud cat. @chloroform_tea