And the winners are …

The Nebula Winners for the following awards are:

Best Novel:  The Stone Sky by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit).  My Review

Best Novella:  All Systems Red by Martha Wells ( Publishing).

Best Novelette:  A Human Stain by Kelly Robson (, January 4, 2017).

Best Short Story:  Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience TM by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex August 2017).


Tonight, the Nebula Award Winners Will Be Announced!

The finalists are listed below, with links to where you can find them to be read.  In addition, I’ve linked to my reviews for these works, and I’ve starred the ones I hope to win.

Enjoy your reading!

Best Novel

Best Novella – Reviews

Best Novelette – Reviews

Best Short Story – Reviews


My Thoughts on the Hugo and Nebula Short Stories for 2017

The following eight stories are the finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 2017, with my thoughts on each.

Science fiction/fantasy has changed a great deal since the days when I first started reading.  (I should hope so; that was over 45 years ago.)  The number of men and women has reversed, and the experiences are no longer solely those of WASP American (sometimes British) men.  It’s wonderful to know that the stories will be of a wider range, even if it does mean that there’s a good chance that they may not appeal to me.  At least they will appeal to more people ultimately.

Ultimately, that’s good news in the stories below.  I’m not a fan of horror, so there’s one of these that doesn’t appeal at all; several others wouldn’t be on my recommendation list, but all of them are worth reading.  And it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if you disagree with me on which are the best; that’s what the comments section is for.  (Good manners, however, are a must.)

I think of the eight, my favorite is “Fandom for Robots”, but there are several that I will be happy to see win awards.  Lovely selection.

Carnival Nine by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 11, 2017).  Both

The allegory in this fantasy was a little heavy-handed for my taste.  Still, a sweet and haunting story.

Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand by Fran Wilde (Uncanny September/October 2017).  Both

Creepy!  I like the stories I read to be a little clearer as to what’s going on.  Clearly, many others disagreed since it’s on both the Hugo and Nebula lists.  Brrr.

Fandom for Robots by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny September/October 2017).  Both

Delightful, and lovely to read about a robot fanficcer.  Also, this is the second story I’ve read recently about a robot enjoying entertainment viewing.  (The first is All Systems Red by Martha Wells.)

The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard) by Matthew Kressel (, March 15, 2017).  Nebula

A lovely, quiet look at death, love, storytelling, and doing things by hand.

The Martian Obelisk by Linda Nagata (, July 19, 2017).  Hugo

Set in a world devastated by many small disasters, this story offers a reminder of the horror of hope.

Sun, Moon, Dust by Ursula Vernon, (Uncanny, May/June 2017).  Hugo

Nice.  A quiet subversion about the standard story of a farmer being given a magic sword and leaving their farm to use it.  Allpa is given the sword SunMoonDust by his dying grandmother, but the only battle he has to fight is against the earth to get his harvest.

Utopia, LOL?, Jamie Wahls (Strange Horizons, June 5, 2017).  Nebula

A fascinating story about a person from the future trying to guide an old man from the past who was cryogenically frozen while dying of cancer with the help of the AI who runs their virtual universe.  The end has a lovely twist.  Wonderful.

Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience TM by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex August 2017).  Both

On the border between fantasy and science fiction, this story is a painful look at cultural appropriation.  Well done.


My Thoughts on the Hugo and Nebula Novelettes for 2017

The following are the nine finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula Award for Best Novelette of 2017.  A novelette is defined as a work of fiction between 7,500 and 17,500 words.  The works are from a variety of authors of different genders and different backgrounds, and the works themselves are diverse, from horror through to hard science fiction.  A delightful batch of reading.

My favorite of the below group, and probably my favorite finalist overall for this year, is “Wind Will Rove”.  Reading it wound me up, in all the best of ways.

I hope you do your own reading and find a story that winds you up in all the best of ways.  Enjoy!

Children of Thorns, Children of Water by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017).  Hugo

A fantasy set in an alternate war-town Paris, about love and loyalty.

Dirty Old Town by Richard Bowes (Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction May/June 2017).  Nebula

A character study, with the surrounding family, set in what I believe is a magical realism world.  Interesting.

Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee (, February 15, 2017).  Hugo

A caper story with a competent former assassin, language issues, cultural issues, and a determined sexual partner.  Fun.

A Human Stain by Kelly Robson (, January 4, 2017).  Nebula

Horror.  Not my type of story at all.

The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017).  Hugo

Artificial intelligence, and robots, is apparently on everyone’s mind these days.  There are a number of stories in this year’s finalists that address the issues of bots with more or less independent action.  This little bot, old and outdated, uses outdated logic to cause trouble.  That the trouble has other consequences is important.  I’m loving these bot stories!

A Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld January 2017).  Both

More of a science fiction caper story than anything else, this is a fun look at the world of 3D printing forgeries.  The Asian (China) setting, which would usually turn me off, was incidental to the fun.  Helena and Lily are a lovely couple and the final twist is lovely.

Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny May/June 2017).  Both

A vampire story with a twist, this is a fascinating examination of identity, choice and consent.  Disturbing.

Weaponized Math by Jonathan P. Brazee (The Expanding Universe, Vol. 3).  Nebula

Grace is a sniper from the future.  The story shows a day in her life, protecting her fellow Marines from enemies, and watching far too many day.  Not my usual cup of tea, but the story is well done.

Wind Will Rove by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s September/October 2017).  Both

As I said, this is my favorite.  A science fiction story, set in a generation ship, after the cultural databases were wiped, and the travelers have been recreating what they had.  It’s an examination of art, education, history, and copy errors, and the love necessary for all of it.  Dear to my heart and well-written.


My Thoughts on the Hugo and Nebula Novellas for 2017

The following are the eight finalists for the Hugo and/or Nebula Award for Best Novella of 2017.  A novelette is defined as a work of fiction between 17,500 and 40,00 words.  The works are from a variety of authors of different genders and different backgrounds, and the works themselves are diverse.  A lovely bunch of reading.

My personal favorite of this group is All Systems Red; I love Murderbot and their story.

I hope you do your own reading and find a story that winds you up in all the best of ways.  Enjoy!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells ( Publishing).  Both

An adventure story in which a robot, with organic components, protects the team it’s been hired to protect.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s told from Murderbot’s (the robot’s) point of view, and I found it impossible not to love them.  My favorite of the novellas, and I’m looking forward to the other stories in the series.

And Then There Were (N-One) by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny March/April 2017).  Both

About two hundred Sarah Pinskers, all from different alternate universes, are attending a SarahCon on a small island during a storm.  Although there is a murder mystery, with a bit of a twist, the real attraction of this story is the divergences between the different versions of the author.  Pretty cool!

Barry’s Deal by Lawrence M. Schoen (Noble Fusion Press).  Nebula

A science-fiction howdoneit, two in fact.  I suspect I would have had all the clues and understood the people a little bit better if I’d read the previous stories in the series.  Even without that, though, it was an enjoyable story.

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor ( Publishing).  Hugo

The second of three stores or, in my opinion, the second part of a longer story, this is the story of a young girl/woman determining who, and what, she is to be.  To be honest, I’m finding the world-building part of the story much better than the plot, in part because it isn’t a complete story yet.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang ( Publishing).  Both

A fantasy of two twins, born to the dictator of their land, who become their mother’s pawns.  I fought my way through to finish it; it didn’t leave much of an impression, or a very favorable one.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire ( Publishing).  Hugo

This dark fantasy tells the backstory of two of the characters from “Every Heart a Doorway.”  Although I don’t much care for this type of dark fantasy, it is well-written and the characters are complex and compelling.

Passing Strange by Ellen Klages ( Publishing).  Nebula

With the exception of the framing story, and a couple of stray mentions, this is “simply” a story of lesbians in love in San Francisco in 1940.  The framing story, with the foreshadowing mentions, is one of fantasy, but the story of the women is compelling all on its own.  Lovely.

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey ( Publishing).  Both

This alternate history story of an operation (it’s not a caper) is set in a world in which hippopotamuses were brought to the United States to breed for meat.  It’s an entertaining story, with a cast of wild, diverse characters who are no better than they have to be.  Fun.

Review – The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter is based on several Victorian-era horror stories, told through the five daughters, biological or otherwise, of the original main characters.  It is primarily a mystery, or several mysteries, with a good bit of the original horror mixed in.

This story is the first in a series, since the second one has been published, and as such spends much of its time setting the stage.  Largely through flashbacks, each of the “daughter’s” story is told.  In addition to the five young women, there is a housekeeper, a scullery maid, and in the epilogue, two more “daughters.”  In addition, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson also make appearances, and are two of the very few men in this book who are portrayed in a positive light.

Part of that, of course, is the time in which the novel is set, but part is the premise of the novel.  All of these women have been created and then abandoned, or escaped destruction, by their monstrous, alchemist fathers.

All of the above makes the book sound dreary and dull, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  It’s a romp!  And I’m looking forward to the second adventure of the Athena Club.


Goss, Theodora.  The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter.  New York: Saga Press, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.


Review – Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

The title of the novel, Spoonbenders, refers to two different, but related, things.  It directly refers to the family the book is about, the Telemachus family, but it indirectly refers to the art of mind over matter demonstrated by bending spoons.  This second, generally believed to be stage magic, describes the Telemachus family.  Teddy Telemachus, the father of the three main characters claimed that the entire family was psychically gifted; however, these gifts were brutally debunked on a television show when they were children.

The veracity, or fraudulence, of the gifts of the various members of the Telemachus family, and those of the next generation, are the core of the novel.  A novel which deftly moves between laugh-out-loud funny and all-too-real sad, with characters who range between youngsters losing their innocence, adults maybe getting to gain theirs back, and a paterfamilias who isn’t quite as much a flim-flam man as he appears to be.

The climax is a set-piece of prophecy, surprise, and explosions that is lovely and satisfying.  I highly recommend it.


Gregory, Daryl.  Spoonbenders.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.


Review – Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

Six Wakes is a science fiction mystery, and it’s a good one.  It’s a locked room mystery, set on the starship Dormire, in which everyone was cloned and then killed, so no one knows who did it.  Including the murderer or the victim.

Much of the novel happens in flashback, as we see how each of the characters winds up a convicted criminal on the ship, and why they might want to kill the other five characters.  Adding, or creating, the suspense is the fact that if any of them are killed again, the deaths will be final, since they don’t have the necessary supplies to reclone themselves.  Unsurprisingly, while trying to solve the murder mystery, other surprises are found, include the reason all of these people are on the ship in the first place.

I enjoyed Six Wakes, it was an interesting mystery with a satisfying explanation, engaging characters.  Well worth the time.

Lafferty, Mur.  Six Wakes.  New York:  Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – Jade City by Fonda Lee

This novel is described as The Godfather with magic and kungfu, which is an accurate description as far as I know.  It is set in an Asia-flavored city.  Since neither The Godfather nor Asian-flavored backgrounds really appeal to me, it doesn’t surprise me that this novel doesn’t either.
The basic story is that the families who control jade, which powers magic, also control the city.  The more jade a person wears, the more power they have.  In addition, there is a new drug, Shine, that allows magically weaker people to use more jade, with all of the advantages and disadvantages of any performance-enhancing drug.

Superficially, this novel about power, all kinds of power, what people will do to get, what they will do to keep it, and the ramifications of the above.  In reality, it is about family and loyalty, what members of a family will do to protect each other, what they will do for those who have given their loyalty, and what they will do to those who have betrayed it.

This isn’t a novel I enjoyed, but it was compelling and well-written.  If the description appeals to you, it is well worth your time.

Lee, Fonda.  Jade City.  New York: Orbit Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.

Review – Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

On its surface, this is a story about a woman who releases a pirated copy of a productivity drug, her attempts to help those who have been hurt by the drug, the people who are helping her, and the law enforcement people who are trying to find and stop her.  On that level, it’s a decent science fiction novel.

The world in which the story is set–Earth in the mid-twenty-second century–is one in which robots are created and then, ostensibly, earn their autonomy after providing their creators with a decade of work.  In addition, people can be indentured, with technically more safeguards than the chattel slavery that was our country’s shame in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

And there are the drugs.  Just as today, the drugs of this world are patented, so that only those with enough money can afford to extend their lives, recover from infections, treat genetic ailments, enhance their performance, and get intoxicated.  There are those who try to provide those treatments for all, but they are largely blocked by the large, for-profit corporations.

Newitz has some things to say about American health care in the early twenty-first century, but that’s not really the main theme.  Her main theme is achieving autonomy, and how much of it do we truly have.  We are all the products of our upbringing, our “programming,” and the pleasures that we seek.  Do any of us have real autonomy.

This isn’t my favorite of the finalists for Best Novel, but it’s a good solid story by an author to keep an eye on.


Newitz, Annalee.  Autonomous.  New York: Tor Books, 2017.  Kindle edition.  Amazon.