Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for January, 2015

Awards Eligibility Post

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

My views on people posting lists of their award-eligible work have evolved. I used to think it was a little gauche, and advocated instead posting lists of works you loved, and urging people to nominate those.

Then some people very gently (more gently than I deserved) pointed out that I expressed that view from a position that was actually a locus of several overlapping forms of privilege. Particularly for new writers (who don’t get as much attention), and women writers (who are culturally pressured not to crow about how great they are, no matter how great they are), and writers of color (who can suffer from both issues and then some), it’s a way to raise the visibility of their work, and that’s something that needs to be done. Plus, a year is a long time, readers forget stuff, so there’s a utility to these lists.

For me, though, I dunno, I like getting awards, but I’m a nearly 40-year-old white guy who’s got his Hugo already, so here are some 2014 SF/fantasy works by women/people of color/new writers/all of the above you should nominate instead. (It’s not a very long list. I don’t read as much work in my genre as I used to, since most of my pleasure reading is crime/mystery.)

One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear. A triumphant return to the Promethean Age universe and one of the weirdest contemporary fantasies I’ve read all year. (Bear has won a few awards, too, but not for my favorite series, so give her some more.)

“Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters, Because They Are Terrifying,” Alice Sola Kim. A powerful story by one of my favorite short fiction writers.

“The Mothers of Voorhisville” by Mary Rickert. Genius work by a genius writer. She has a novel, too, The Memory Garden, which I haven’t read, but come on: It’s Mary Rickert. It’s gonna be great. 

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King, a weird and warm and heart-wrenching YA about petrified bats and difficult friendships and how to live now in the face of the onrushing future.

Phantasm Japan, edited by Nick Mamatas and Masumi Washington, which didn’t seem to get as much attention as the SF volume The Future Is Japanese from 2012, despite being similarly great. (Disclosure: I have a story in this one. Probably the best story I published last year.)

All the stories in Flytrap #11. (Yes, I co-edited it, but I didn’t edit the fiction; Heather Shaw did.) “The Philiad” by Domenica Phetteplace is probably my favorite, but Jessica May Lin’s “Pickup Artist at the End of the World, Plus Stuffed Bunny” is also particularly great.

Go forth, read good art, and make good art, too, if that’s your deal.

2014 Year in Review

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

I feel bad saying so, because I know this year was a psychotic uplifted grizzly bear armed with neurotoxin-coated machetes for a lot of people, but — 2014 was one of the best years I’ve had, personally.

The rest of this is mostly for my benefit, because I enjoy looking back on the past year, so forgive the self-indulgence, and feel even freer than usual to skip reading it.

I have continued the changes I made in 2013, which are mostly related to being less of a misanthropic hermit and more of a social animal, and as a result, I can’t remember when I’ve ever felt happier, more balanced, or more personally fulfilled. (For a long time I resisted the notion that I needed anybody, believing I was such a natural introvert that if I had books and whiskey I could happily forget the existence of the rest of humanity, but it turns out: nope. Ah well, it only took until I was in my mid-thirties to figure that out, could’ve been worse.)

I continued the habit I began partway through 2013 of writing down three good things that happened every day (with occasional notes on less-happy things, when they have sufficient mass to seem unavoidable). It’s got the same pleasures as the daily journaling I used to do two decades ago, but with rather less comprehensiveness, so it’s easy to keep up, and it does actually seem to make me happier.

Exercise and eating better also continued (funny how it’s easier once it becomes a habit), and while I could still stand to drop a stone or two, I’ve been maintaining pretty well, holiday excesses notwithstanding.

2014 highlights include:

The establishment of WhiskeyHorror, wherein my friend Katrina comes over and we drink assorted whiskey things and watch horror movies two or three times a month, always a high point of my week.

My wife getting a new job she didn’t like and then getting a new new job that she LOVES which includes vast quantities of free beer.

Many trips to Golden Gate Park, where my wife does dancing and me and the kid wander and frolic on the playground.

Road trips to Santa Cruz to hang out on the boardwalk, including one day with our friends Scott and Lynne and their son, while they were down from the frozen North.

A trip to North Carolina/South Carolina for my college sweetheart Adrienne’s wedding. Basically being buzzed the whole time with my boy D, drinking on patios. Hanging out with my high school sweetheart Amily. Sometimes you can go home again, for a little while, even when it’s not home anymore.

Lots of afternoon coffeehouse writing dates with my friend Erin. A few fine afternoons drinking beer on patios or bourbon in bars or cider in living rooms with people I adore.

Our friend Daryl came into town on book tour and we went out to dinner with a bunch of people including Aussies Garth and Sean, with much sangria vanquished, and some karaoke bourbon funtimes after.

Hosted a couple of barbecues and a rather epic birthday party.

Seeing my kid play a wolf in a school play. Rawr! And doing gymnastics at his gymnastic camp’s show.

The usual street festivals, notably Eat Real!

Playing ten million games with my kid, and also hosting some grown-up game nights too. Running a D&D game again!

Going to a few shows, notably the Three Drink Circus show at the Hotel Burlington in lovely Port Costa and our friend Jeff’s first art show at a gallery that had a big slide so my kid was even entertained.

Wonderful houseguests, including D and Jenn, who were gone too soon, alas, but such joy while they were here.

Writing stuff:

We published an issue of Flytrap!

Did a successful kickstarter for Lady of Misrule (and a failed one for Flytrap, ah well)

Did many writerly events: read at InsideStory Time, and at FreeMade SF (with my friend Ais playing ukulele in a Catwoman costume while I read my Batman fanfic “Batman and Wife”), our Flytrap launch, two book signings/readings at Endgame, Litquake, Litcrawl, talked to a writing class at Stanford.

Wrote a bit under a quarter of a million words, actually my least-productive year in terms of word count since I began keeping track in 2011. But I did some stories: “That Time Hell Froze Over”, “Mother of the Bride”, “Larping the Apocalypse 2: The Nano-Plague”, “Sorcerer’s Honeymoon”, “Manic Nixie Dream Girl”, “A Wedding Night’s Dream”, “The Maiden’s Kiss”, “The Real and the Really Real”, and “Hunters in the Wood”.  All sold (though a few were Kickstarter-related chapbook stories), some published, some forthcoming.

Wrote a few books: Liar’s Island, The Tesla Protocol (sequel to The Stormglass Protocol), and Lady of Misrule. The first two are done and delivered; the last one still needs some heavy lifting on revision but should be done in a couple weeks. Also did a ton of revisions and copyedits and so on, which is part of why my word count is low for the year. (The other reason is laziness, of course.)

There were bad things. The IRS hounded us for money we didn’t owe for most of the year. We lost my friend Jay to cancer. In general I wrote too many obituaries last year. I could come up with others. But here at the beginning of the year I am trying to focus on the positive: the good that went before, the good yet to come.

I hope there is goodness ahead for all of you.