Archives for posts with tag: fiction

Okorafor's book is among those being considered for this year's Best Novel Nebula Award.

The Oscars and Grammys may be over, but those of us invested in seeing our favorite art and artists win the recognition they deserve can still look forward to this year’s various literary award ceremonies. Among those ceremonies is the Nebula Awards, which along with the Hugos are some of the most important to be given to works of science-fiction, fantasy and speculative literature.

The Nebulas have been awarded each year since 1965 by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, an organization of authors who’ve published genre fiction in the form of novels, short stories, screenplays and more. The first novel to receive a Nebula? Frank Herbert’s Dune.

Nominees for the 2010 Nebula Awards were announced in an official press release on Feb. 22, and voting officially closed Wednesday. While there are outstanding nominations in six different categories – short story, novelette, novella, novel, dramatic presentation and young adult – here are the novels you might want to check out before the winners are announced on May 21:

The Native Star by M.K. Hobson is a fantasy work with zombies, warlocks and steampunk technology set in Reconstruction-era America.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin is the first book in a trilogy about a young woman who must compete with her cousins’ political machinations for control of her violent homeland.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal might find fans among devoted readers of Austen. Set in an alternative Regency era, Kowal’s book involves a young woman seeking magical tutelage from a Byronic older gentleman.

Echo by Jack McDevitt is actually the fifth entry in a sci-fi series about an investigation into the truth of Earth’s past and future. Sort of Indiana Jones meets Sherlock Holmes meets spaceships.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor is truly a work of speculative fiction, with elements of fantasy and the supernatural combining to buttress a coming-of-age story set in post-apocalyptic Africa.

Blackout and All Clear are two novels by Connie Willis published back-to-back, but considered one long work. They follow three historians from 2060 Oxford who travel back in time to study World War II. Of course they are trapped there and must then find their way back home.

All six best novel nominees may be found in local book stores, on and in ebook format. And if you’re going to be in Washington, D.C. from May 19-22, you might consider dropping in on Nebula Awards Weekend to find out which novel will pick up the prize.



On Christmas, my brother handed me a pretty sizeable box. I unwrapped it to find more boxes and even more taped surfaces. “Oh no,” I said out loud, conscious of what I was in for. I tore the gift down anyway, layer by layer, one empty box after another, to finally get to a glass penguin no bigger than my thumb. I placed it upright on my palm and looked at it, and that’s when I discovered the secret to being cute:

You have to be tiny.

Everything seems more adorable miniaturized. Babies’ toes are just delightful. The adult version is, well, not so much. Ferocious creatures like lions, bears and dinosaurs are endearing when we imagine them to be just three inches high. Even the tiny robots in Transformers drew a couple of “aww”s from the audience (despite the fact that they were shooting at people).

Likewise, in writing, there seems to be a growing interest in shorter and shorter stories. We’ve always had novels, novellas, and short stories; we’re even able to compress our thoughts into pieces of flash fiction. But today, the expansion of the internet has allowed writers to have more control over their weblogs and web magazines, to make their pieces more widely read, reviving an interest in extremely short stories that would take web-surfers only a few hundred seconds to finish. Mostly known as micro-fiction (or tiny stories, tiny fiction, little stories, very short stories, and possibly even extremely-ultrally-superduperly-mega-short-stories) these pieces are usually just a couple hundred words, and they are definitely just delightful. Read the rest of this entry »

1990 WFC Program Cover

The program cover for the 1990 World Fantasy Convention in Schaumburg, Illinois.

For four days next week the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus, Ohio is going to get a little medieval. Fantasy fans, critics and authors will descend upon the city for the 36th annual World Fantasy Convention, ready to talk about the year’s best offerings in fantasy lore. Also of note is the presentation of the World Fantasy Awards, which will be given to nominated authors, artists, novels, short stories and illustrations.

One thing you probably won’t see at the convention? Costumes.

Conventions the world over — San Diego Comic-con, Wizard Con, Tokyo Game Show — have conditioned us to expect elaborate capes, swords, headdresses, and the occasional storm trooper armor anywhere that a group of more than 20 geeky individuals converge. Yet from its beginnings in 1975 the World Fantasy Convention has focused on the fantasy genre in terms of examining its literary and artistic content.

That in itself can be contentious for many outside of the science-fiction and fantasy niche. The average reading audience has been conditioned by publishers and mega book chains to believe that a book is only “literature” if it has an embossed cover and deckle edge paper, and is nigh impossible to fit in any reasonably sized bag.

Your average English major may have a slightly different opinion — after all, classes have us close read anything and everything, and while there’s certainly pulp in SF/F, the same can be said for any genre. Here at UCLA this consideration manifested in a slightly different form last year when the professors tirelessly debated about how, or even if, they should revamp the major. Budget discussions aside, what it ultimately came down to was a discussion of the canon; should professors force students into well-roundedness by obliging them to read Shakespeare, Chaucer and Milton, or can students be trusted to get a taste of everything while also selecting for themselves what they would most like to study?

Whichever side you come down on, it seems important to bring up those genres — SF/F, romance, mystery, horror — that are so often relegated to the shadows and consider a broader literature that can encompass a variety of interests and experiences.

An unprecedented thirteen of the twenty finalists for the 2010 National Book Awards are women, according to author Pat Conroy’s Wednesday, October 13 announcement for the National Book Foundation.

For Fiction, these finalists are Jaimy Gordon for Lord of Misrule, Nicole Krauss for Great House, Lionel Shriver for So Much for That, and Karen Tel Yamashita for I Hotel. Jonathan Franzen’s latest critically acclaimed and bestselling novel Freedom was not the fifth finalist in this category; that honor is instead Peter Carey’s, for Parrot and Olivier in America. Read the rest of this entry »

by Jennifer Ta


It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book and was really emotionally invested in a story. I remember when I was younger, I would always find a book that somehow made me think and feel long after I finished its story. There were times when I would pause to think about the book in the middle of doing something (either homework, shopping, or showering), wondering ‘What if? Why did this happen? Why couldn’t it be different? And always, I‘m left wanting more, just a few more pages after the ending, despite knowing that it had to end the way it did.

Maybe it’s because I’m older now that it takes more for a book to impress me. Maybe it’s school that’s making me so tired to read in general that when I do read, I want something that is quick to grab my attention. But still, there are times when I pick up a book from the past and reread it that I’m still struck by the storyline, the words, and feeling the same emotions I felt back then. I remember being completely obsessed with Sarah Dessen’s young adult novel The Truth about Forever. I just loved everything about it: the characters, the relationships, and how simple and touching everything was. I loved the emotional scenes the main character went through when it came to her father because it wasn’t anything that was melodramatic, it was just right. It ended up making me think about my dad and our relationship.

So is it really my age and new wisdom that is making me more critical of books? Could it be that maybe I only feel the same emotions when rereading a book is merely due to my soft spot for them? Or could it be that it isn’t really me that has a problem… Maybe the great books out there are slowly dwindling down and there just really isn’t that much left. Now isn’t that a scary thought?

When I’m thinking about what books are out there, I’m merely thinking of the really popular ones everyone seems to be talking about (Twilight anyone? And let’s not forget Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol). No offense to people out there who love these books, but for me, I’m just not that interested. Sure, they’ve got mass appeal and the storylines are engaging. The only problem is, once I’m done with one of those books, I’m done. I don’t want to know what happens next nor do I end up going, “Wow that was some fantastic writing!”

I’m really thinking something along the lines of Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen), Special Topics in Calamity Physics (Marisha Pessl), and Middlesex (Jeffrey Eugenides). And they don’t even have to be adult novels. I wish I could find another young adult book that rivals my all time favorite young adult book, The Only Alien on the Planet (Kristen D. Randle) or Stargirl (Jeffrey Spinelli). All of these books have original plot lines, and I always find myself so devoted to the story and characters and often thinking, “Why the hell can’t I write like that? Why the hell can’t I think of an idea like that?”

It’s just been so long since I’ve read anything like these books that I just don’t really want to read anymore. I’d just rather reread some of my old favorites and find satisfaction in them.

Of course, you kind of have to keep in mind that beauty (or in this case, a great book) is in the eye of the beholder. I remember recommending a favorite of mine to a friend and he couldn’t get past 40 pages. He believed it was too “plotty.”

Hm… Maybe it really is me after all.

by Carrie Jones


At our recent Westwind meetings, we editors have found ourselves discussing the same topic again and again. Besides noticing that writers spend too much time thinking up earth-shattering metaphors and not enough time developing the finer points of their plots, we have discovered that many female characters are disappearing from short stories right before our eyes. Well, they are present, to be sure. But our fellow student-writers spend less and less time developing their female characters outside of their functions as “The Protected One,” “The Loved One,” “The Domestic Goddess,” “The Nurturer,” or other variations on absurd female stereotypes. Read the rest of this entry »