2017 was an exciting year for me as a writer–after attending the Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UCSD the previous summer, I scored my first three professional sales. With the new year rolling around, I was caught unaware when someone pointed out to me that being a new writer means I’m eligible for the Campbell Award.
For those who are unfamiliar, the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer is a long-standing and highly prestigious nod given to new voices in science fiction and fantasy literature. Anybody whose work has appeared in a professional venue for the first time in the last two years is eligible for consideration.
Possibly the most famous winner in recent memory was Andy Weir, who wrote The Martian. The circumstances leading to his victory were kind of a perfect storm–the book was self-published in 2011, but didn’t become eligible for award consideration until 2014 when it got a professional publication by Crown Books. Even that might not have pushed him over the top, but the 2015 movie starring Mat Damon, appearing within the 2016 awards eligibility window, was surely what clinched the prize. There’s no better advertisement for a book than a Big Hollywood Production, as George RR Martin surely knows.
(The fact that the Martian is really good probably helped, too.)
I’m afraid my characters won’t be appearing on screens silver or otherwise just yet, but even to be considered is good fun. So without further ado, here are the stories of my debut year:
The Blue Widow
Grand Prize Winner of the Baen 2017 Fantasy Adventure Contest
If you read any of my stories from last year, make it this one! Inspired by Slavic folklore and classic adventure fantasy of the Zelazny style, this story follows a sophisticated, hard-bitten monster hunter as she tracks down the source of a curse… A curse troubling her old hometown, a place where not everyone is happy to see her return. Baen advertised it as steampunk (there’s a train in it), but I think there’s a lot to like for fans of any subgenre, especially those who enjoy their swashbuckling leavened with dry humor and emotional punch.
Appearing in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, August 2017
This story follows a man who has the power to bring the dead back to life–a power that not everybody is entirely pleased with. Resurrection, as it turns out, is a dreadfully more complicated business than it would initially appear. I’d kicked the idea for this one around for ages, but I really need to tip my hat to author Ted Chiang, who taught at Clarion 2016; his advice was instrumental in getting this into publishable shape. This one’s a bit darker than my usual fare, and OSC’S Intergalactic surprised me by making it their featured full-color illustration story in August.
Appearing in Galaxy’s Edge magazine, July 2017
A humorous flash piece, this story follows the tribulations of the sole human studies professor in an alien university’s human studies department. They’re really worried that he’s just not quite human enough. This was another Clarion piece, written while Victor LaValle was teaching. You might know him for his Lovecraft-inspired novella, The Ballad of Black Tom, published by Tor.com, but I think the story of his that you should really check out is The Changeling, a genre-defying horror/thriller tale set in modern New York.
Here’s to an even bigger slate of stories in 2018!