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At about 5:30 this morning Melbourne, while I slumbered innocently, the Hugo Award nominations for 2014 were announced.  The full list is here.  I could sleep because, as Jonathan Strahan pointed out on an episode of Coode Street a few weeks back, Hugo nominees are made aware of their nomination (so they can confirm and approve) a week before.  So I’ve been yaaaaaying and giggling for a good seven days.  The only thing that has tempered my excitement is the fact that Joshi, Sophie and Jules have all been sick.  And I’m sure I’m next on the list.

Anywho, as I said on Facebook I’m extremely proud about the nomination.  Well, of course I am.  Since I became aware of fandom and the Hugos more than twenty years ago I’ve wanted to be on the ballot.  In those dreams I saw myself winning Best Novel for a multi-book series about the Victorian public service.  And magic.  The fact that I’ve come to be nominated with my BFF Kirstyn for a project that we both dearly love puts those wild, impossible fantasies to shame.  (Though I’m still convinced that stories about an enchanted Victorian public service are a winner!)

So yeah.  I know have a Hugo PIN.  I’ll be wearing the shit out that little rocket.  Even if my co-workers do think it looks like a penis.

As for the rest of the ballot.  Some thoughts:

  1. The Best Fan Writer category shines a bright piercing light on the rest of the ballot.  After so many years of complaining and grizzling about the lack of representation of women and online fan writers, the day has finally arrived.  Four women on the ballot and all five are online writers.  I personally nominated Foz and Abigail, but also love Liz and Kameron’s work.  I’m not as aware of Oshiro’s output, but I hear good things.  It’s a shame that only one person can win this category.  Unless they all tie!  Yes!  Let’s engineer that!
  2. Talking about engineering results, while I don’t believe that Correia or Day cheated the system by getting their dead granny to nominate them, they certainly engineered their fanbase to by whipping up their support in a pre Hugo frenzy.  But as Nick Mamatas foreshadowed, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  Correia and Day are not the only writers who’ve spent months mobilising their fanbase to nominate them.  And they won’t be the last.
  3. I am genuinely shocked that Neil Gaiman did not appear on the Best Novel ballot.  I thought he was a monty to feature and win.  Could this be a residual effect from the Jonathan Ross debacle?
  4. Of the best novel category – I’m with those who think it’s ridiculous to have The Wheel of Time on the ballot.  Yes, I know it’s within the rules.  But come on!  If the rules can be perverted in this way, where a category has four apples compared to one massive pear, then there’s something fundamentally broken with those rules.  That said, I still think that Ancillary Justice will win the Hugo.  Or maybe that’s just hope on my part – because it’s not the most inspiring Best Novel ballot.
  5. On Fancast, lovely to see that Australian rule!  Coode Street and Galactic Suburbia continue to produce top quality work.  Coode Street’s recent interviews have been marvelous (the one with Nnedi is a highlight) and the recent Galactic Suburbia podcast on Veronica Mars is an example of the passion and love those guys bring to their podcast.  Also very happy to see Verity and the Skiffy and Fanty show make an appearance on the ballot.  I was on an episode of S/F and I can say that Shaun, Jen and Julia are a blast to podcast with.  I’ve never heard of Tea and Jeopardy (more shame me) but I shall check it out.
  6. Best Fanzine is also an example of Hugo’s finally reflecting the transition from old skool fanzines to the online variety.  The Book Smugglers, A Dribble of Ink and Pornokitsch are must read sites.
  7. If I don’t read Larry Correia’s Best Novel nomination it’s not because of what I think of his online presence.  It’s because it’s the third book in a series.
  8. I do intend to read Day’s novelette (if it’s in the Hugo pack).  Assuming I read any of the short fiction categories.  It will depend on time.
  9. On short fiction, congrats to Cat Valente who is simply brilliant.  And to Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages who also very much deserve their nom.
  10. I’ll be cheering on Jonathan Strahan for best editor short form.  The same goes for Sofia Samatar who I’m so happy to see get a John W Campbell nom.  (I should read Max Gladstone though.  And I’ll be reading Wesley Chu in the next couple of months).
  11. Oh and Strange Horizons for best Semi-Prozine.  Coz it’s an indispensable resource.
  12. Also, Fiona Staples.  YAY!

I’ve run out of puff.  It’s only 9:30 in the morning and I have to dress the kids and wipe my daughter’s snotty nose (where does that stuff come from?).  But I am so very happy. THANK YOU to everyone who nominated Kirstyn and I.

Mirrored from The Hysterical Hamster.

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I have survived the fligt and am in west Islip. Tapping away on my nook in a house of few electrical outlets. Today was fun and cannolli were aqired. Posting will be light and spotty I am trying to keep a journal of sorts of the trip but not sure if I will remember to write. The brain does tend to fail.

Tomorrow ....into the city

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The GUFF ballot form is now available. Alternatively, and possibly more conveniently, there is an online form here.

Under normal circumstances I would just be encouraging you to vote. But if you look closely you will see that I actually nominated one of the candidates. So please vote for Gillian as she would be a great ambassador for down under fandom. Alternatively, just vote for whoever you want to - the important thing is to vote (and pay).

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I’m pleased to be able share three stories from our anthology Clockwork Phoenix 3: New Tales of Beauty and Strangeness.
Marie Brennan re-imagines the story of the expulsion from Eden in “The Gospel of Nachash.”
C.S.E. Cooney shares a dark and bittersweet tale of love, transgressions and vengeful spirits in her novelette “Braiding the Ghosts.”
Cat Rambo offers a hallucinatory future vision in “Surrogates.”
I hope you enjoy these. Come back for more!

Originally published at Mythic Delirium Books. You can comment here or there.

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its more than just an adventure.. heading out today for The Boys wedding and other points..


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It's official! I'm delighted to say that I'll be giving two hour-long talks at Loncon 3: The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London this summer. One will be with the Young Adult Track, "Millennials and Worlds Gone Wrong: Or, Why These Aren't Your Grandparents' YA Dystopias," and one will be with the Academic Track, "Sherlock Holmes and Science Fiction." It looks like I'll be on some terrific panels, as well. I'll post my schedule when I know it. (Special thanks to peadarog!)

I'd also like to offer my congratulations to my undergraduate and graduate students who were chosen to present their original research from this semester formally during Lenoir-Rhyne University's campus-wide SOURCE: Symposium on University Research and Creative Expression. Three cheers for Elena Margo Gould ("Black Elk's Syncretic Spirituality"), Angelia Bedford ("Native Americans and the Criminal Justice System"), Liz Goebelbecker ("Spirit for Sale"), and Leah Phillips ("A Study of How Euro-American Disease and Medicine Affected the Nebraska Winnebago Native"). Well done!

Some Kickstarters of interest:
- Edgar Allan Poe illustrated "Ravings of Love & Death" (Thanks to Diane!) This one ends today!
- The Miskatonic School for Girls: Holiday Break Expansion (Thanks to sittingduck1313!)
- Geek Theater: Anthology of Science Fiction & Fantasy Plays
- Star Wars Lightsabers from Science Fiction to Science Fact
Current Music:
"You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive," Ruby Friedman Orchestra
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Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Scariest Part, a new, recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. I’m thrilled to have James Maddox and Jen Hickman as my first guests. Together, they’re the creators behind the ongoing digital comic The Dead. Currently, they’re also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a graphic novel print version of the comic. Here’s a description of the series:

When Sam opens his eyes after dying, he expects to see heavenly clouds or hellfire. What he’s faced with instead is “The House” – a surreal and often-dangerous afterlife of interconnected rooms. As Sam travels deeper into this new world, he finds the strange creators of these rooms aren’t the only residents of The House. Here there be monsters, and if he isn’t careful, Sam’s stay will take a horrible turn.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest parts were for James Maddox and Jen Hickman.

James Maddox, Story and Writing

The Dead is the story of what happens after you die. And before you ask, it’s not a zombie comic. Rather, our story drops readers into an afterlife made up of rooms that are customized by its individual residents. These rooms have the ability to encompass the entirety of any imagination, so as you may have guessed, the settings for this book can get dark and surreal at times. Some of the horror concepts that emerge in The Dead are graphic in their violence, but the scariest parts for me are more subtle and cerebral than simple gore.

In issue two, I decided to show these two particular approaches side-by-side (i.e. human versus natural horror). Here we find a gang of zealots, the Seraphim, who have banded together to kill one of our main characters, Velouria. Though V and her hatchet bloody the ground with viscera and gore at the beginning of the scene, the advantage quickly turns against her. Soon the strength of the Seraphim’s numbers overcome Velouria and the gang of bastards prepare to deliver her to a gruesome and painful death.

Just before the violence against Velouria kicks into high gear, a monster to which I allude in issue one is finally revealed. Called “the Frail”, it takes the ghostly appearance of a beautiful and gentle woman. In our story, the Frail are creatures that look inviting, but cause mental instability in the nearby population. In this example, the Seraphim begin to attack each other and themselves, allowing for Velouria’s escape from danger. One man tears out his eyes, while another is stabbed through his stomach, a victim of a crazed ally. While at first glance this may seem to be supernatural as opposed to natural, there is no real reason for the Frail’s effects. They are a natural and elemental force in this world.

Unlike a human act of violence, the Frail doesn’t cause horror because it hates or covets. As the scene unfolds, we don’t see her become angered or upset. In fact, she seems concerned for the people who are tearing each other apart thanks to her presence. It’s like a tornado: from a distance it is awe-inspiring and beautiful in its enormity; but, up close a tornado is one of the most horrific and terrifying things you could experience. And whether you are a bystander seeing it from a mile away or unfortunate enough to find yourself in the thick of its fury, the tornado doesn’t care in the slightest.

Violence inflicted on one person by another who holds different beliefs is something we can understand on some level. Wars are fought over differences in belief and (mis)understandings. Even if our understanding is that something is sick and demented, it’s still able to be put it into a framework most of us can fathom. Because I am able to wrap my mind around it, this approach to horror is made more real and visceral, but has less of an overall hold on my imagination.

Perhaps this is why I tend to lean more toward the natural force when I read horror and why the Frail are the scariest part of my own work. I get people’s reasons for violence, as dark and disturbing as they may be, but a force such as the Frail (or a tornado, or a sandworm, or a werewolf, or an earthquake,) can’t ever have reasons that can be understood by a human mind. It is the human mind that fills in the blank spots, and with our speculation we make these things more frightening. Is there anything more terrifying than the stories and details that swell in our minds to explain the things bigger and more strange than us? For me, there’s nothing scarier.

Jen Hickman, Illustrations and Colors

For me, fear in storytelling arrives at the moment when we remember just how vulnerable a character (and by proxy we ourselves) is. It’s that moment before anything happens, when your protagonist is standing in his PJs while a lumbering monstrosity chases after him, when all you can think is, “Oh god! He’s just a pile of delicate biological systems that almost anything could destroy!”

In The Dead our protagonist runs into a bunch of these situations, teetering on the edge of safety and danger. What’s fun about the story is that James doesn’t stick with just one type of peril– there’s a little bit of everything. Fear of heights, ineffable Frail, beastly Wretched, backstabbing, and good old-fashioned well-armed zealots. For me, the scariest part is that there are many, many opportunities to remember just how easy it is to die.

The Dead: Website / ComiXology / Amazon / Kickstarter (As of this writing, there are only 9 days left to support their project, so if you’re interested, hop to it!)

James Maddox
After completing titles like the critically acclaimed The Horror Show and Nightmare Unknown, Maddox has continued his comic career with stories like The DeadClown, and the wildly anticipated Blue Nemesis. A versatile and prolific writer/creator, Maddox has only just begun to find and impress his audience. He can be found online at and on Twitter as @jamescmaddox.

Jen Hickman
Jen Hickman is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Sequential Art program. Her credits in the comic industry include the successfully crowdfunded publications The Playlist Anthology and the digital sketchbook Tip Jar. She can be found online at and @umicorms.

Remember, if you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, you can read the guidelines here.


Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.

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Originally published at Ben Peek. You can comment here or there.


Today is the release of Rjurik Davidson’s Unwrapped Sky in the UK.

It’s a excellent novel, one that I think a lot of people will enjoy, and I recommend. In fact, I thought that so much that I actually gave a blurb for it, which may or may not appear on the book (it was mainly a way for me to read it before a lot of others). But I thought it was very cool, so, click click, buy buy.



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