As of March 17, Deimos is suspending submissions due to high volume. All submissions in queue will be read and responded to.
The Hugo Awards were announced this weekend at LoneStarCon 3, and we have to say, we’re quite pleased with the results (as reported by TOR):
Winner: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi (Tor)
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Orbit)
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (DAW)
Winner: The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson (Tachyon Publications)
After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress (Tachyon Publications)
On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard (Immersion Press)
San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant (Orbit)
“The Stars Do Not Lie” by Jay Lake (Asimov’s, Oct-Nov 2012)
Winner: “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi” by Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity, Solaris)
“The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Postscripts: Unfit For Eden, PS Publications)
“Fade To White” by Catherynne M. Valente (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
“In Sea-Salt Tears” by Seanan McGuire (Self-published)
“Rat-Catcher” by Seanan McGuire (A Fantasy Medley 2, Subterranean)
Best Short Story
Winner: “Mono no Aware” by Ken Liu (The Future is Japanese, VIZ Media LLC)
“Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld, June 2012)
“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, August 2012)
Note: category has 3 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.
Best Related Work
Winner: Writing Excuses Season Seven by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler and Jordan Sanderson
The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature Edited by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge UP)
Chicks Dig Comics: A Celebration of Comic Books by the Women Who Love Them Edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Sigrid Ellis (Mad Norwegian Press)
Chicks Unravel Time: Women Journey Through Every Season of Doctor Who Edited by Deborah Stanish & L.M. Myles (Mad Norwegian Press)
I Have an Idea for a Book… The Bibliography of Martin H. Greenberg Compiled by Martin H. Greenberg, edited by John Helfers (The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box)
Best Graphic Story
Winner: Saga, Volume One written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
Grandville Bête Noire written and illustrated by Bryan Talbot (Dark Horse Comics, Jonathan Cape)
Locke & Key Volume 5: Clockworks written by Joe Hill, illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
Schlock Mercenary: Random Access Memorabilia by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton (Hypernode Media)
Saucer Country, Volume 1: Run written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Ryan Kelly, Jimmy Broxton and Goran Sudžuka (Vertigo)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Winner: The Avengers Screenplay & Directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios, Disney, Paramount)
The Cabin in the Woods Screenplay by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon; Directed by Drew Goddard (Mutant Enemy, Lionsgate)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro, Directed by Peter Jackson (WingNut Films, New Line Cinema, MGM, Warner Bros)
The Hunger Games Screenplay by Gary Ross & Suzanne Collins, Directed by Gary Ross (Lionsgate, Color Force)
Looper Screenplay and Directed by Rian Johnson (FilmDistrict, EndGame Entertainment)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
Winner: Game of Thrones: “Blackwater” Written by George R.R. Martin, Directed by Neil Marshall. Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (HBO)
Doctor Who: “The Angels Take Manhattan” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “Asylum of the Daleks” Written by Steven Moffat; Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Wales)
Doctor Who: “The Snowmen” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Wales)
Fringe: “Letters of Transit” Written by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Akiva Goldsman, J.H.Wyman, Jeff Pinkner. Directed by Joe Chappelle (Fox)
Best Editor, Short Form
Winner: Stanley Schmidt
John Joseph Adams
Best Editor, Long Form
Winner: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Best Professional Artist
Winner: John Picacio
Dan Dos Santos
Winner: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Jason Heller, Sean Wallace and Kate Baker
Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore and Michael Damian Thomas
Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
Lightspeed edited by John Joseph Adams and Stefan Rudnicki
Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Jed Hartman, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Abigail Nussbaum, Sonya Taaffe, Dave Nagdeman and Rebecca Cross
Winner: SF Signal edited by John DeNardo, JP Frantz, and Patrick Hester
Banana Wings edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
The Drink Tank edited by Chris Garcia and James Bacon
Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Emma J. King, Helen J. Montgomery and Pete Young
Best Fan Writer
Winner: Tansy Rayner Roberts
Christopher J Garcia
Steven H Silver
Best Fan Artist
Winner: Galen Dara
Brad W. Foster
Winner: SF Squeecast, Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente (Presenters) and David McHone-Chase (Technical Producer)
The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester, John DeNardo, and JP Frantz
StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Winner: Mur Lafferty
Writers and creative people talk about tone all the time. But what does it mean? Is it just the difference between a comedy and a drama? Is it just light versus dark? When you write a story, how do you figure out your “tone,” and keep it from lurching from one thing to another? Here are some ideas.
Seriously, I feel as though I hear the term “tone” used all the time, and it actually seems to mean about 10 different things. Hollywood people use the adjective “tonal” a lot — like when I was at the press event for Pacific Rim, Legendary Pictures head Thomas Tull told us that his upcoming film Godzilla is “tonally” very different than Pacific Rim. Did he mean that one is funnier than the other, or darker? More grown up? More action-oriented?
Oftentimes, we hear people discuss the “tone” of a movie or book, and we sort of know what they mean — without necessarily being able to articulate it in detail. You’ll hear critics call out particular works for having jarring shifts in tone — most recently the Lone Ranger movie — as though your tone should be the same throughout. But what is all of this fuss about?
What is tone?
After thinking about it a whole bunch, I’ve decided that “tone” is a term that refers to a lot of different stuff. The “tone” of a work sets up the audience’s expectations of what sort of things are likely to happen next, partly because it establishes the parameters of the story, and reminds us of stuff we’ve seen before. It’s also a function of “style,” because a lot of a creator’s style goes into establishing a particular tone. It’s also related to “voice” — the voice of the narrator in a prose work does a lot to set the tone.
What does it mean when people say your story’s “tone” is wrong?
Stephen King probably never has to stop and think, “What sort of tone am I going for in this story?” Because he’s spent years developing his own personal writing style, and there’s a particular tone that goes with that.
But “tone” can be more complicated than just “funny” versus “not funny,” or “more childish” versus “grown-up.”
Think about Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, two writers who were frequently compared in the 1980s. When you just think about their work without having it in front of you, you might think they’re very similar writers. It’s only when you look at a page of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy side-by-side with a page from Breakfast of Champions that you realize how different the two of them actually are: link to article
What does it mean when people say your story’s “tone” is wrong?Expand
They’re both doing oddball, absurdist, nihilistic, sprawling narratives, but you’d never mistake one for the other. It’s not just that Adams is a good deal funnier than Vonnegut, but that Adams’ voice is a good deal warmer and more wry than Vonnegut’s. There are more barbs in Vonnegut’s irony, and you can see the icepick he’s preparing to plunge into your brain.
You could describe Vonnegut’s tone as “darker” than Adams’, but you could also say that his tone sets up a somewhat different sort of story than Adams’. Perhaps a colder one, since Vonnegut seems less concerned with making us sympathize with Kilgore Trout than Adams does with Arthur Dent.
So maybe “tone” is like the difference between these two authors, who are doing sort of similar things in very different ways.
The relationship between tone and genre
If your tone sets the audience’s expectations for the sort of things that will be happening, or how they’ll happen, then maybe it’s also a function of genre. People know what sort of things are likely to happen in a paranormal romance, versus the sort of events they expect from a gritty noir urban fantasy.
What does it mean when people say your story’s “tone” is wrong?
And indeed, a lot of genres have a particular tone associated with them. An epic fantasy is partly epic because of the tone of the writing — and the sense that you hear, from the very first page, the thundering hooves of the approaching armies and maybe the massive wingbeats of dragons. A literary post-apocalypse novel will, of necessity, have a grim, bleak tone from the get-go. Your “office temp goes to work for faeries” book will probably be pretty goofy, with lots of short choppy sentences to convey that “OMG Oberon is a mean boss!”
And that’s one reason why people often recommend reading a ton of stuff in the (sub)genre you want to write in — not just so you can be familiar with what’s been done before, but so you can nail the tone.
At the same time, of course, if you’re actually reasonably deft, you can play around with reader/audience expectations, giving them a zany Sex and the City-style urban fantasy that turns unexpectedly dark or weird, or a post-apocalyptic novel that’s actually kind of jaunty. In fact, probably one of the main things that sets apart great works in a particular genre from merely adequate ones is how much they manage to surprise your instead of being a slave to your expectations.
But yeah, if you’re writing or creating in a particular genre, there’s probably a “tone” that goes along with it — and if you aim to be the next George R.R. Martin, you should study how Martin establishes tone in his work.
Do you actually have to worry about your tone?
What does it mean when people say your story’s “tone” is wrong?
Maybe. Part of why so many experts say you have to write a million words of fiction before you’re ready for the big leagues is because it takes a long time to establish your style. And once you’ve got your style nailed down, then you may well be in the same boat as Stephen King in one respect, anyway: you’ll have a consistent tone that goes with the style you’re doing.
On the other hand, a lot of the time when people complain about your work, part of what they’re complaining about is tone. If they say they “couldn’t get into it,” or it was “too slow,” or they “didn’t like the characters,” then that may well be a tone issue.
You may not be establishing a tone that resonates with people — or maybe your tone sort of sucks. Maybe your tone is all over the place, or you’re lurching from “not quite funny enough” to “dark and forboding” in the same paragraph. Maybe your rhythm is just off, and you’re not giving the reader or viewer enough to latch onto.
Are tonal shifts always a problem?
Only if you believe that a story should never surprise people. Some of my favorite creators are the ones who can go from screamingly funny to achingly sad, or scary to happy, on a dime. Joss Whedon is probably the master of tonal shifts, in TV and movies — the fact that Dr. Horrible goes from silly to tragic on a dime is pretty amazing, and yet it works.
What does it mean when people say your story’s “tone” is wrong?
One of the greatest things you can accomplish as a writer or artist is to pull the rug out of from under people — preferably without having people issue death threats or chase after you with meat cleavers. Some of my favorite moments, in any media, are the ones that go from funny to sad, or sad to funny.
It’s worth mentioning that there’s no such thing as “tone” in real life — you can be in the middle of a romantic comedy and then be hit by a bus, and it’s not a “tonal shift,” it’s just a manifestation of the fact that we live in a random and horrible world where shit happens.
Obviously, art isn’t reality, and your goal as an artist shouldn’t necessarily be to reflect the real world — that’s one worthy goal, just not the only goal. But being able to go from one tone to another is probably one of the attributes of a real master. My favorite bit of John Scalzi’s Redshirts is how this silly meta novel turns sad and wistful in the codas, for example. George R.R. Martin is amazing at going from hilarious to bleak to sick to stirring and optimistic — people talk about him being a “dark” writer, but he actually does this chiaroscuro shit really well.
In fact, if your tone is too consistent, then you’re probably a one-note writer, which is probably not to be desired.
So how do you manage your tone?
To some extent, see above — it’s about developing your own style as a writer, and finding a color palette that works for you, to use a painting metaphor.
What does it mean when people say your story’s “tone” is wrong?
But to the extent that there’s a magic bullet for tone, it’s this: Think of your story as a piece of music. When I get stuck on trying to figure out what sort of tone I’m establishing in a particular section, and how fast and how wild things should be, I try to think of it as a piece of music that I’m writing in my head, which I’m hoping you’ll play in your head. Unlike sheet music, which everybody tries to play more or less the same way, each reader will “hear” the story in his or head differently — but if you’re good at what you’re doing, you can still create a particular feel with rhythm, tempo, key, and so on.
There are a million decisions that go into this stuff — when you’re starting a short story or a chapter in a novel, do you start by dropping the reader into the action? Do you write five long paragraphs of scene-setting, and try to create a wistful, slow, introspective mood? Do you start with two people arguing, or with a funny digression? Ditto for stuff like the length of scenes, the ratio of description to dialogue, the pacing of the action, the amount of foreshadowing versus quips, etc.
And for various reasons, thinking of this in terms of music is really helpful — is this “piece” starting with a long orchestral section? Is the singer coming in right in the first bar? Is it minor or major key? Fast or slow? Jazz or bluegrass? In particular, this can be helpful when you think about “tonal shifts” — music is great at changing key and style, but you absolutely know when a piece of music has gone out of rhythm or changed key in a way that feels jolting rather than awesome. The transitions between one piece of music and another can be sudden or gradual, but they hopefully always feel deliberate.
I’ve actually gotten feedback from editors that was phrased in terms of music — like, one time, an editor told me, and I quote, “I feel like it’s missing a final paragraph, like a catchy tune that ends on the subdominant instead of the dominant.” And I knew exactly what he meant, and wrote a final paragraph that kind of took the reader out of the story more gently.
Music can convey a mood really effectively, in a way that prose fiction often strives to emulate. When I was interviewing Bear McCreary, he talked about the fact that — for example — the Simpsons theme plays with the same intervals as the Star Trek: The Next Generation theme, but does it in a way that sounds zany and deliberately “wrong.” A piece of music can sound stirring and heroic, or comical and wacky — and it can go from one to the other, with a deft switch in tone.
So even though you don’t necessarily have to think about tone — especially when you’re writing a first draft of something — it’s something to think about when you’re doing rewrites and trying to think about what works and what doesn’t work. You’re trying to draw your reader into a particular mood, and if the reader isn’t getting into it or feels like it’s all over the map, then it’s probably a good time to think about whether you’re in control of your tone.
You’ve seen the blood spray through the air, you’ve felt the crash judder through your arm as the enemy hits your lines, but have you ever thought about the big picture? Have you ever thought about the mechanics of a battle, the interplay of different units that determines the outcome, whether the cavalry should ride around for a flank attack or charge to support the infantry engaged with pikemen? The more you know about military tactics and the way an army works, the better your battle writing will be. And in case you were wondering – the cavalry should flank them, obviously.
For starters, let’s look at the basic elements of an army, the soldiers. Most fantasy novels feature armies from anywhere up to the Middle Ages; they’re usually composed of three elements including infantry, cavalry, and ranged fighters. Now as anyone familiar with Real Time Strategy (RTS) games knows, there’s something of a rock/paper/scissors relationship here, depending on the range you’re working at. Archers beat infantry, but cavalry beat archers. When it comes to cavalry vs. infantry it gets tricky, yes a charge of heavy horse can ride men down like wheat, but remember what happened in Braveheart? That’s why you don’t charge pikemen – that’s tactics!
Now things can get a lot more complicated than that. The elements I’ve mentioned can be broken down further into things like light and heavy cavalry, swordsmen and spearmen, and they have different functions in a battle. As we’ve established, men with spears can be effective against cavalry, but against swordsmen they’ll be less useful. The writer must think through events and create realistic responses to the actions on the field; it will give the writing a much more logical and coherent feel and make for a better battle scene.
One need only look at the epic battles throughout history to study a range of different strategies and methods of waging war. Look at records of clashes in the real world to see how armies respond. Read up on the great generals of the past to see how they defeated their foes, learn what techniques they used and how they planned and fought their battles. You could follow the Carthaginian general Hannibal’s string of successes that almost defeated the Roman Empire, or learn from the tactics of the Normans at the battle of Hastings where they broke Harold’s shield wall.
As your knowledge grows, you can bring it into your writing to give it a sense of proficiency. When you set up your fantasy general’s battle line, you’ll know that the archers are on the flanks to give them the best line of sight and lessen the chance of hitting their allies. That kind of background knowledge will give the writing more confidence and the reader will find it easier to immerse themselves in the story.
When thinking about the kind of armies you can field, the author may want to look back at the world they’ve established in order to keep things plausible. An army can only be so large, and it’s based on factors like the population density of a country, the organisational structure and the culture of the civilisation. When thinking about the arms and armament of the soldiers, you must consider whether the industrial capacity of the world you’ve created could support such things. To produce swords and armour in large quantities required considerable manufacturing capabilities. The majority of soldiers in medieval times were recruited form peasant villages and armed with cheap polearms, axes and clubs, rather than the expensive swords that are popular in fantasy fiction – which actually require a lot more training to use effectively.
It’s also important to note the technology level of your world and the way that military inventions changed warfare. The armour penetration of the medieval crossbow virtually rendered knights obsolete, as a peasant with a few hours training could kill an armoured knight who’d spent his whole life at war. The advent of gunpowder and cannons brought an end to the age when you could just hide in your castle and laugh after war broke out. The author needs to think about what kind of world and state of warfare they want when deciding how advanced to make the weaponry.
The terrain an army fights on can mean the difference between victory and defeat. There’s a reason generals rushed to march their men to battle – so they could pick the best ground to fight from. Now provided you’ve given sufficient detail about the surroundings, you can use terrain to firmly ground your world into the reader’s mind and make it easier for them to understand the events that take place. The circumstances will change depending on the setting, but some general rules will apply across any battle situation. For example, an army will want to take the high ground whenever possible, it will mean the archers will have the best view, the enemy will have a tougher time closing in, and make it harder for someone to surprise them.
Tactics for terrain can be as varied as the land itself, if your battleground has a bog or marshy area, then a general might place a unit of archers on the outskirts to fire on the enemy as they’re slowed down. It’s difficult to use cavalry effectively in dense forests, the same goes for archers as they can’t target effectively. Light infantry are most useful as they can move through the undergrowth and fight in small units. Or if you’re in desert terrain, think about the ground underfoot. It’s actually very difficult to run or ride on pure sand that slides underfoot, unless there’s a rocky surface it’s hard to pick up speed. And then there’s the heat to consider, desert battles typically don’t last long, and it’s not likely they’ll be a lot of long charges over wide distances. The author must think about the practical concerns, visualising the soldiers and their situation in realistic terms in order to keep the writing accurate.
The Chain of Dogs story arc in Steven Erikson’s Deadhouse Gates has some excellent examples of tactics and terrain as the 7th army protects a convoy of refugees and desperately fends off attacks using a variety of cunning stratagems. Admittedly Erikson adds some magic and munitions to the tactical mix, so it’s not pure strategy, though it does bring me to my next point.
The fantasy genre may introduce a number of new elements that can tip the balance of war, powerful monsters, horrific weapons and devastating spells can turn the tide of a battle. If a writer introduces any new element to the battle, they must think about the logical consequences, how will it affect the way wars are waged in a world where your support units might have to fend off an assault by javelin throwers mounted on giant eagles. Battles can be complicated enough without adding in new elements, but as necessity is the mother of invention, don’t think the generals won’t have thought about how to combat that scenario.
Each writer will ultimately have to develop their own strategies based on the unique elements in their novels. It may be useful to look at other fantasy works for inspiration – again, Erikson is a good bet, he skilfully weaves his fantasy elements and military aspects together. The important thing is to ensure a balance, otherwise the battle may fall into the trap of Deus ex Machina where a fantasy element suddenly saves the day and ruins the coherency of the piece.
The scope of military strategy is so vast that this article can barely scratch the surface. Hopefully it will have provided a glimpse into the world of tactics, and prompt the author to think more about their battles and improve the quality of their conflicts. So grab your copy of The Art of War and when it comes to writing battles you’ll be able to say veni, vidi, vici.
Deimos eZine nominated for the eBook Festival of Words Best Digital Magazine, Journal, or ezine alongside Clarksworkd, Kasma, and eFiction. Vote for Deimos here:
The eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards is a peer-nomination program designed to recognize the wonderful talent in the independent publishing community. We processed over five hundred ballots for the 2013 program. Ballots were submitted by authors, editors, designers, librarians, book reviewers, and small press publishers. All individuals completing ballots were prohibited from self-nomination. The full list of nominees was announced in May, 2013.
Our volunteer staff then went through the hundreds of nominations to narrow down the lists to the finalists. In most cases, we attempted to narrow the results to five to seven per category, but in some cases tie votes required that we expand the finalists for certain categories that had dozens of nominees.
Because there are simply not enough speculative fiction novellas around, Deimos eZine sponsors a yearly novella contest for a work of literary speculative fiction. Manuscripts should be 15,000-35,000 words and formatted in standard manuscript format. The winner of the contest will be published in a single issue edition of Deimos eZine (online) in December, and the writer will have the title of novella contest winner and a cash prize of $50.00. The writer retains all rights to his/her work and after three months, is free to publish it elsewhere with Deimos eZine listed for first print.
The Winners of the 2013 Locus Awards have been announced!
SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL
- Winner: Redshirts, John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)
- The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
- Caliban’s War, James S.A. Corey (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- Winner: The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross (Ace; Orbit UK)
- The Killing Moon, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
- The Drowning Girl, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Roc)
- Glamour in Glass, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
- Hide Me Among the Graves, Tim Powers (Morrow; Corvus)
YOUNG ADULT BOOK
- Winner: Railsea, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan)
- The Drowned Cities, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown; Atom)
- Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen)
- Dodger, Terry Pratchett (Harper; Doubleday UK)
- The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente (Feiwel and Friends; Much-in-Little ’13)
- Winner: Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed (DAW; Gollancz ’13)
- vN, Madeline Ashby (Angry Robot US; Angry Robot UK)
- Seraphina, Rachel Hartman (Random House; Doubleday UK)
- The Games, Ted Kosmatka (Del Rey; Titan)
- Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson (Grove; Corvus)
- Winner: “After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall,” Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
- “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns,” Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s 1/12)
- “On a Red Station, Drifting,” Aliette de Bodard (Immersion)
- “The Stars Do Not Lie,” Jay Lake (Asimov’s 10-11/12)
- “The Boolean Gate,” Walter Jon Williams (Subterranean)
- Winner: “The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi,” Pat Cadigan (Edge of Infinity)
- “Faster Gun,” Elizabeth Bear (Tor.com 8/12)
- “Close Encounters,” Andy Duncan (The Pottawatomie Giant & Other Stories)
- “Fake Plastic Trees,” Caitlín R. Kiernan (After)
- “The Lady Astronaut of Mars,” Mary Robinette Kowal (Rip-Off!)
- Winner:“Immersion,” Aliette de Bodard (Clarkesworld 6/12)
- “The Deeps of the Sky,” Elizabeth Bear (Edge of Infinity)
- “Mantis Wives,” Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld 8/12)
- “Elementals,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Tin House Fall ’12)
- “Mono No Aware,” Ken Liu (The Future Is Japanese)
- Winner: Edge of Infinity, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
- After, Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds. (Hyperion)
- The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twenty-ninth Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Griffin; Robinson as The Mammoth Book of Best New SF 25)
- The Future Is Japanese, Nick Mamatas & Masumi Washington, eds. (Haikasoru)
- The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Six, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Night Shade)
- Winner: Shoggoths in Bloom, Elizabeth Bear (Prime)
- The Best of Kage Baker, Kage Baker (Subterranean)
- At the Mouth of the River of Bees, Kij Johnson (Small Beer)
- The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories Volume One: Where on Earth and Volume Two: Outer Space, Inner Lands, Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
- The Dragon Griaule, Lucius Shepard (Subterranean)
- Winner: Asimov’s
- Winner: Tor Books
- Subterranean Press
- Angry Robot
- Winner: Ellen Datlow
- John Joseph Adams
- Gardner Dozois
- Jonathan Strahan
- Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
- Winner: Michael Whelan
- Donato Giancola
- Stephan Martiniere
- John Picacio
- Shaun Tan
- Winner: Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson (Putnam)
- An Exile on Planet Earth, Brian Aldiss (Bodleian Library)
- Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010, Damien Broderick & Paul Di Filippo, eds. (NonStop)
- The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn, eds. (Cambridge University Press)
- Some Remarks, Neal Stephenson (Morrow)
- Winner: Spectrum 19: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, eds. (Underwood)
- Trolls, Brian Froud & Wendy Froud (Abrams)
- Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration, Scott Tracy Griffin (Titan)
- J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull, eds. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
- Steampunk: An Illustrated History, Brian J. Robb (Aurum)
From the British Fantasy Society:
These are the nominees for the British Fantasy Awards 2013. Four nominees in each category were decided by a vote of the members of the British Fantasy Society and the attendees of FantasyCon 2012, with up to two further nominees in each category being added by the juries as “egregious omissions”. The exception is the Best Newcomer category, in which all authors under consideration were put forward by voters.
Best Fantasy Novel (the Robert Holdstock Award)
Blood and Feathers, Lou Morgan (Solaris)
The Brides of Rollrock Island, Margo Lanagan (David Fickling Books)
Railsea, China Miéville (Macmillan)
Red Country, Joe Abercrombie (Gollancz)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Best Horror Novel (the August Derleth Award)
The Drowning Girl, Caitlin R. Kiernan (Roc)
The Kind Folk, Ramsey Campbell (PS Publishing)
Last Days, Adam Nevill (Macmillan)
Silent Voices, Gary McMahon (Solaris)
Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce (Gollancz)
Curaré, Michael Moorcock (Zenith Lives!) (Obverse Books)
Eyepennies, Mike O’Driscoll (TTA Press)
The Nine Deaths of Dr Valentine, John Llewellyn Probert (Spectral Press)
The Respectable Face of Tyranny, Gary Fry (Spectral Press)
Best Short Story
Our Island, Ralph Robert Moore (Where Are We Going?) (Eibonvale Press)
Shark! Shark! Ray Cluley (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)
Sunshine, Nina Allan (Black Static #29) (TTA Press)
Wish for a Gun, Sam Sykes (A Town Called Pandemonium) (Jurassic London)
From Hell to Eternity, Thana Niveau (Gray Friar Press)
Remember Why You Fear Me, Robert Shearman (ChiZine Publications)
Where Furnaces Burn, Joel Lane (PS Publishing)
The Woman Who Married a Cloud, Jonathan Carroll (Subterannean Press)
A Town Called Pandemonium, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds) (Jurassic London)
Magic: an Anthology of the Esoteric and Arcane, Jonathan Oliver (ed.) (Solaris)
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, Marie O’Regan (ed.) (Robinson)
Terror Tales of the Cotswolds, Paul Finch (ed.) (Gray Friar Press)
Best Small Press (the PS Publishing Independent Press Award)
ChiZine Publications (Brett Alexander Savory and Sandra Kasturi)
Gray Friar Press (Gary Fry)
Spectral Press (Simon Marshall-Jones)
TTA Press (Andy Cox)
Ansible, David Langford
The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn (eds) (Cambridge University Press)
Coffinmaker’s Blues, Stephen Volk (Black Static) (TTA Press)
Fantasy Faction, Marc Aplin (ed.)
Pornokitsch, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin (eds)
Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, Diana Wynne Jones (David Fickling Books)
Black Static, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
Interzone, Andy Cox (ed.) (TTA Press)
SFX, David Bradley (ed.) (Future Publishing)
Shadows and Tall Trees, Michael Kelly (ed.) (Undertow Publications)
Best Comic/Graphic Novel
Dial H, China Miéville, Mateus Santolouco, David Lapham and Riccardo Burchielli (DC Comics)
Saga, Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image Comics)
The Unwritten, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, Gary Erskine, Gabriel Hernández Walta, M.K. Perker, Vince Locke and Rufus Dayglo (DC Comics/Vertigo)
The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (Skybound Entertainment/Image Comics)
Avengers Assemble, Joss Whedon
Sightseers, Alice Lowe, Steve Oram and Amy Jump
The Cabin in the Woods, Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro
Best Newcomer (the Sydney J. Bounds Award)
Alison Moore, for The Lighthouse (Salt Publishing)
Anne Lyle, for The Alchemist of Souls (Angry Robot)
E.C. Myers, for Fair Coin (Pyr)
Helen Marshall, for Hair Side, Flesh Side (ChiZine Publications)
Kim Curran, for Shift (Strange Chemistry)
Lou Morgan, for Blood and Feathers (Solaris)
Molly Tanzer, for A Pretty Mouth (Lazy Fascist Press)
Saladin Ahmed, for Throne of the Crescent Moon (Gollancz)
Stephen Bacon, for Peel Back the Sky (Gray Friar Press)
Stephen Blackmoore, for City of the Lost (Daw Books)
The winners of these categories will now be decided by the following juries. Main jury, deciding the categories of fantasy novel, horror novel, novella, short story, collection, anthology, magazine/periodical, comic/graphic novel and screenplay: Esther Sherman, Matthew Hughes, Neil Williamson, Pauline Morgan and Ros Jackson. Best non-fiction: Djibril al-Ayad, Jason Arnopp and Roz Kaveney. Best artist: Daniele Serra, P.M. Buchan and Rachel Kendall. Best small press: Elaine Hillson, Elloise Hopkins, Dave Brzeski, Rachel Kendall and Rhian Bowley. Best newcomer: Adele Wearing, Alison Littlewood, Jim Steel, Lizzie Barrett and Peter Tennant.
The winners of each of these awards, as well as the winner of the Karl Edward Wagner Award (a special award decided by a vote of the British Fantasy Society committee) and the World Fantasy Awards, will be announced at the Fantasy Awards banquet at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton on Sunday, November 3, 2013.
We love short short fiction at Deimos. We especially love good flash fiction. Check out this great article from Nano Fiction:
Let us begin with this: flash fiction is an excellent genre for the writer and reader. For the writer, flash provides unique techniques, opportunities for bursts of inspiration, varied markets, new methods of reading aloud their work, inventive varieties of form, a fresh way to think about words, lack of words, compression, space.
Flash also benefits the reader of fiction. When I begin a public reading I tell a little joke; it isn’t really a joke at all (the best jokes are serious). I say, “Look, I’m about to read some flash fiction. The great thing is if you don’t like what I’m reading, just wait a minute. I’ll read something else.” Flash gives the reader a chance to change, to look over here, over there, then waaaayyyyy over here…The genre leaps. It glitters and gleams.
But it offers the teacher of creative writing even more.
Flash is a practical tool. That text will be read, right there in class, out loud if need be. The first draft can be written in class. As for showing artistry and conventions of fiction writing, the sheer variety of flash makes it a precise instrument for teaching individual techniques. Need to focus on description? Rising action? Characterization? Setting? Scene and summary? Dialogue? Narrative and/or lyricism? Point of View? Methods of realism, minimalism, conceptualism, magical realism, surrealism, etc. There’s a flash for that.
Here’s one lesson, critical to the genre: writing off the page. All of the glorious white space that surrounds a flash—all that isn’t shown, paradoxically leading to an even further telling. The reader has to meet the writer, to shake hands and bang foreheads. To create together. How do we explore this in the classroom? Any number of ways, but here’s one: Six famous words. Followed by Hint Fiction examples. Group work. And then naturally a writing assignment.
Let’s begin with Hemingway. As a flash advocate (and I’m sure you are), you should educate your class on this author’s relationship to flash fiction. Not only did Hemingway later use flash as transitions between longer stories, but also published his first book (basically a chapbook), In our Time, as a flash (published in Paris and called vignettes) collection.
But let’s focus on Hemingway’s famous (and famously apocryphal) six word fiction.
For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
Since we don’t really have a title here, ask your class (or writing group) to place the words in a potential context (a classified ad, most likely). Context gives meaning: a concept important to any minimalist form. Once the reader has some sense of context, he or she can now meet the writer half way. The class will talk, filling in, fleshing out, reaching several conclusions (the best off-the-page work never reductively reaches a singular idea). The reader is active. The flash is alive. Now move to Hint Fiction. Hinting to something more complex. Put your class into three groups and give each group a Hint Fiction. Have each group read and discuss the text as a team. Then each group discusses the hint with the entire class. Have them read the Hint Fiction out loud. Second, have them discuss what they believe exists off the page. Finally, and most importantly, have them show techniques that allowed for this connotative reading.
For an exploration of Hint Fiction, see Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, edited by Robert Swartwood.
These examples, from the anthology:
“Children” by Jake Thomas
He took her out to a picnic to discuss what they wanted to do about it. “You want Bud Light or O’Doul’s?” he asked her.
This Hint Fiction will engage a lively classroom discussion. Students will have no trouble pondering off the page; they will arrive at several different conclusions (as they should). One or two of them will even point out this text as homage to Hemingway’s “Hills like White Elephants.” As an instructor, lead the students away from “What happened?” Flash fiction isn’t some clever puzzle to solve. Lead the students to the techniques that allowed us to read off the page: title (always essential in a flash; we only have so many words), “He” as the only active character, and then the wonderfully effective use of objects, two beverages, one alcoholic, and one critically not.
Technique, technique, technique. Remember, we’re teaching the nuts and bolts. As instructors, we need to peel away “the fictional dream,” and show the wiring, the plumbing. We’re not interested in the aesthetical architecture of the story—but rather how to build the thing ourselves, from floor to ceiling. To wit: We’re not reading as readers. We are reading as writers.
Next let’s examine “Visiting Hours” by Katrina Robinson.
She placed her hand over his and pressed the pen to paper. The signature looked shaky,but it should be enough.
Again, discuss. Again, prod the discussion in the direction of technique. Here, the title works to provide necessary context (among others things—a good title should be multifunctional). Note the careful sentence construction: how her hand presses the pen, not his. Watch the word choice, its connotations. Shaky signature indeed.
And one more, “Through Tiny Windows” by Barry Napier.
When they opened the cadaver, they found a house. A couple argued inside. There was a rhythm to their words, like the beating of a heart.
Everything a poet does, the flash writer needs to observe. And steal. Metaphor, for example. Conceptualism: taking an abstract idea and giving it concrete form. Figurative language does many, many things in flash fiction, but you must emphasize to beginning writers it does one thing very significant—it lets you use fewer words! Technique, always technique. Cadaver, not dead body. Objective tone when writing about a universal. And so on…
This lesson ends with homework: write an effective Hint Fiction. I would also make them write a short reflection on their Hint Fiction. What techniques did they use to allow us—the reader—to become active?
1. This lesson is an excellent one to transition into a lesson of minimalist flash fiction, those writers who often ask the reader to meet them halfway. Anton Chekhov, Diane Williams, Kim Chinquee, and so on.
2. Once this lesson is complete, you have something to note about every flash fiction in the future. Sure, you’ll discuss language, structure, theme, all varieties of creative writing perspectives on every flash example, but now you have something new to ask: “Can we read this flash off the page?” And if so, what techniques did the writer use to create such magic? What your students will find is that most flash fiction does allow for connotative depth. That’s the beauty of using fewer words for greater impact. That’s the brilliance, the precise artistry, and one reason we know it as flash.