Happy new year to one and all! It’s 2017! Fucking finally.
I don’t normally do an award eligibility post for, well, some of the same reasons a lot of writers feel uncomfortable doing them: I’m of the opinion that other people’s work deserves recognition before my own, promoting my own work ventures deep into imposter syndrome territory and prompts various flirtations with anxiety, and I’d rather be talking about and promoting other people’s work much of the time.
Most years I package up the discussion of work published in the prior year with the “[X] Year in Writing” post. And I will be including the work I had published this year, along with wider discussions, in the 2016 Year in Writing post I’ll be putting up this month. But, you know … fuck it. I’m proud of last year’s published work.
Yes, one of the three stories I had published last year (the flash piece) was written entirely for the sake of pitching something to a ridiculous (and ridiculously fun) anthology. But I’m happy with everything I had published last year. That’s not something I can say every year.
Do I think those three stories are award worthy? I don’t know. I’d rather people nominated the wide host of absolutely fucking amazing writers working in the field before my work — sometime this month (aiming for the 15th) my 2016 Recommended Reading post will be highlighting a number of things I think you should have a look at in that regard.
Quick notes: If you do for some reason nominate my work for awards instead of the wealth of other things available to you (and hey, thank you, that’s perfectly lovely of you) — please refrain from nominating my work for the Aurora awards. Long story; happy to celebrate many of the nominees, but don’t want anything of mine up for it in any category.
So what did I have published last year? See below, with excerpts (because they were all published in anthologies and aren’t available to read for free online):
“Change as Seen Through an Orrery of Celestial Fire”
(March 2016, Superhero Universe; Short Story, 3,800 Words)
Shurui peels long strips of burnt skin off her shoulders in front of the bathroom mirror. She grits her teeth as they tear away down her back. The days between immolations are always painful; the moments in which she burns down to ash blinding, but nothing compared to the waiting – to the slow build of days before the fire frees. Her body a cage, too-narrow knit with bird-hollow bones.
The rest – the rebirth and what comes after—
—The rest is agony.
Has been since she first rose, broken, garbed in lank, slick flesh. Since she tumbled to Earth in a scatter of pinions, remiges, and retrices; her sun-bright feathers ripped away in the heat of her descent. Since she spotted the first Xifeng bathing in a moonlit lake. And fell.
“All Them Empty Alleys”
(October 2016; Pac’n Heat; Short Story, 850 Words)
Ain’t no ghosts in a dead city.
They got no truck with burgs colour-leached and shiny. Haints haunt the living. Haunt the lost. Inner cities, downtown cores, drowntowns with sewers flooded and floaters galore. Down where the bodies lie thick as leaves in gutters, and the streets are another kind of sky, rain falling up and up and up from sweat-slick pools.
They haunt my city. Gridded streets black as asphalt, sepia-bleeding two-tone sunsets. The works.
You’ve seen my story. It’s been round the block. Been in all the papers. You’ve seen the gutters I was dragged out of, half-dead and so full of holes there wasn’t enough left to patch. City’s got my name on it, writ fancy in blood and faded ribbons.
“Until There is Only Hunger”
(December 2016; Upside Down; Short Story, 4,000 Words)
Bones come undone at the Magician’s touch. Wind themselves up like silver and dance into the air. Strung like copper wire. Their fire a shimmering, living thing.
She’s all smiles for the crowd.
And, of course, they are never her bones. That’s not the trick.
The trick is to keep the audience from noticing how much lighter they all feel. They’ll notice a twinge, an emptiness later, deep in the night, when the carnival is done and home and the softness of white-sheeted beds have called. When sweet-souled revenants beckon, and the witching hour is but a memory.
Everyone gives something for the magic. That’s how it works. You are not spectator. You are participant. Always.
Thought about doing just a paragraph from each or so, but I like long-ish excerpts. More fun getting to have a sense of the rhythm of a piece.
And now back to working on the 2016 Year in Writing post and reading for the 2016 Recommended Reading post. Going to be a very full month, and you’ll be hearing from me in it at least twice more. We’ll see how the timing on that shakes out.