’Tis the season to drink over-whiskey’d egg nog, humble brag about our work, and rave about others. So, away we go:
My Eligible Work
These are the items I published this year. My non-fiction makes me eligible for “Best Fan Writer,” and my short fiction makes me eligible for “Best Short Story” and “Best Novelette.” I am also in my second and final year of eligibility for the “John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.”
“On the Phone with Goblins” (Medium — Novelette, 9.4k words)
It’s Harry Potter meets The Golden Girls!
“On the Phone with Goblins” is a fun-hearted caper about two retired wizards who solve crimes from their retirement home. It’s about getting older, refusing to grow up, and discovering that it’s never too late to go on an adventure.
“Through Cold Winter” (Medium — Short Story, 1.2k words)
Stolen from their home by gremlins, a child fights back against red-suited taskmasters in this dark Christmas tale.
2016 Stories (for Campbell Award Eligibility)
Note: In addition to my 2017 work, I also published two stories in 2016. These stories are not individually eligible for 2017 awards, but I’ve included them due to being in my second year of John W. Campbell Award eligibility.
Growing up in small town British Columbia, Ivan doesn’t know much more than fighting off bullies and dreaming of a larger world. But when Penelope Qing moves in next door, she introduces him to a rich and vast magical kingdom in her basement. Soon, he assumes the mantle of Sir Ivan Wandsworth, Cleric of the Wending Wind, and his adventures alongside King Penelope become a thing of legend.
For fans of Stranger Things, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie,” “The Penelope Qingdom” is a love letter to growing up, ’80s Saturday morning cartoons, Dungeons & Dragons, and falling in love for the first time.
It’s an interesting tale and one that captures a nice feel of youth and young relationships and offers a story with a great and lingering magic that looks at how the stories people build together, the fantasies they share, can be foundational to their relationship. Indeed!
To save his friend, Farid Sulayk, the Patchwork Priest, needs to get to O’oa Tsetse before the next full moon. But between here and a range of sky-scraping mountains riddled with danger. Ethereal Tóu Mǎ offers Farid passage, but at a cost: defeat the warlock that holds Tóu Mǎ’s village in her blood-soaked fist. As secrets are revealed and blood is spilled, will Farid’s battle-hardened mechanical arm and djinn magic be enough to see them through alive?
Fast-paced and entertaining, this story draws you in to another world right from the start. There’s a quest, there’s magic, there’s a warlock, and a curse…and an almighty magical battle as well! I devoured this story and it left me wanting more.
Tonya P. Liburd:
“The Red Rimmed Eyes Of Tou Ma” is wonderfully vivid, detailed, descriptive, and brings to mind the diversity and intricacy of the world of P. Djeli Clark’s “A Dead Djinn In Cairo”. Highly recommended.
In 2017, I published several essays, interviews, and reviews that I consider my finest work as a critic. If you were to read one, I’d encourage you to choose “Why We Still Read The Lord of the Rings,” which I’ve been thinking about and wanting to write for years. Below is a collection of my favourites:
- A Newbie’s Guide to Brandon Sanderson, the Cosmere, and the Stormlight Archive (Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — November, 2017)
- Brandon Sanderson Discusses the Past and Future of the Stormlight Archive(Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — November, 2017)
- “Why We Still Read The Lord of the Rings” (Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — July, 2017)
- Art of SFF: Galen Dara (Tor.com — June, 2017)
- The Witchwood Crown Is a Triumphant Return to a Beloved Fantasy World(Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — June, 2017)
- The Lasting Legacy of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — June, 2017)
- War Never Ends: Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com — June, 2017)
- Vintage Shannara: The Black Elfstone by Terry Brooks (Tor.com — June, 2017)
- Pearly White: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com — May, 2017)
- Aboriginal Sci-Fi: Take Us To Your Chief by Drew Hayden Taylor (Tor.com — April, 2017)
Here is the stuff I *loved* this year. (List is non-exclusive, and I’m certain I’ve missed or forgotten some seriously great stuff.)
- The Wanderers by Meg Howrey—A melancholy exploration of love, loss, and humanity’s never-ending search for something more to life. An under-appreciated gem that will appeal to anyone who loved Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. (Full review)
- The Witchwood Crown by Tad Williams—Williams returns to Osten Ard for the first time in nearly three decades, and manages to write a sequel that very nearly matches its legendary predecessor. My favourite novel of 2017. (Full review)
- Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson—The third volume in Sanderson’s mega-popular Stormlight Archive continues to prove that its author is the heir to Robert Jordan’s throne. (Full review)
- The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear—Nobody writes fun and layered Sword & Sorcery-inspired epic fantasy as well as Bear. This might be even better than her Eternal Sky trilogy, which is saying a lot. (Full review)
- Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee—Rounding out my list (and another sequel), Lee’s Raven Stratagem takes all the blood, guts, heart, and mathematics that made Ninefox Gambit one of 2016’s best SF novels, and cranks every knob to 11—all the while becoming a bit more accessible than its predecessor. (Full review)
Bonus: Favourite non-2017 Novels
- Company Town by Madeline Ashby—A prescient, near-future SF thriller that does it all. Ashby’s a rising star, and it’s no surprise that Company Town was a huge critical success. Gut-punching, intelligent, fierce, funny, and riveting.
- The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell—This is a modern classic for a reason. It’s thoughtful, full of heart, harrowing, and interrogative all at once. A perfect SF novel.
- A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan—Unlike anything else I’ve read all year, this takes a great idea and executes it almost perfectly.
- Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone—Gladstone’s debut novel reminded me of SFF’s unfettered access to human imagination.
Favourite Short Fiction
- River of Teeth / Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey
- Take Us To Your Chief and Other Stories by Drew Hayden Taylor
- “The Scholast in the Low Waters Kingdom” by Max Gladstone
- Quick Sip Reviews — For my money, the best SFF-focused site going. Nobody does more to shine light on wonderful short fiction than its editor, Charles Payseur.
- Uncanny Magazine — Lynne, Michael, and Michi are a tour de force and continue to publish some of SFF’s finest fiction and non-fiction.
- The Book Smugglers—From incisive reviews to incredible short fiction, Ana and Thea do it all. An SFF institution at this point.
- Nerds of a Feather — This group effort from editors The G., Vance Kortla, and Joe Sherry remains as impressive as ever. They have a strong stable of writers and cover a wide range of SFF topics, ensuring there’s something for every type of reader.
- Lady Business — Reigning Hugo winners for a reason. Another strong year from Renay, Jodie, Clare and the rest of the editorial team. Smart, challenging, unmissable.
- The Wertzone — Adam has been doing his thing for years, and deserves recognition not only for his prolific news coverage, but also for his extensive and admirable Cities of Fantasy series.
- Fireside—A clear, impassioned voice that regularly challenges SFF to be better, more inclusive, and more imaginative.
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies — Still the best place on the Internet to get sword & sorcery and epic fantasy short stories.
- Fiyah—An aptly-named SFF magazine that pushes the boundaries of SFF, and tells stories by and about SFF’s PoC community. It’s 🔥.
Favourite Fan Writers
- Charles Payseur—See Quick Sip Reviews above. Whenever one of my stories is published, it’s Charles who I’m most excited to hear from.
- Brandon O’Brien—Not only an accomplished fiction writer (like Charles above), Brandon’s Twitter stream is a must-read for SFF fans.
- Sarah Gailey—Gailey continues to do her thang, and it’s great.
What were your favourite things from 2017?