Up for the 2020 shinies! Jinni, trapeze master, devadasi, printer’s devil, tiger-man & assorted bestitudes!

The hoary winds of winter are here, as are the reminders for all the wonderful and numerous works great science fiction and fantasy that were published round the year. As always, I would love for you to read my two most recent stories, always mainly for your entertainment and also if you’re voting for the awards.

As always, especially if you’re a new and/or international SFF reader (hi, my friends from India!), I would love for you to consider voting for the awards if you’re able. You don’t need to have an expert’s opinion on all the award categories; not all voters do, and the awards benefit from the opinions of a wider range of readers. The Locus Awards which open for voting in February are a free online vote, and the Hugo Awards can be voted for online with the purchase of a Supporting Membership to the award year’s WorldCon (which is different every year, but for 2020 it’s ConZealand). I’ll be really glad if you take some time to familiarize yourself with these processes and participate in them, because your presence in the fandom makes me feel more visible. Voting for my works is absolutely optional to this. If you’d like a handy and frankly awesome list of the books by other authors that I enjoyed this year, don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of this post.

And now for these two:

His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light (7521 words, Tor.com)

Eligible for: Novelette at the Hugo, Nebula, Locus Awards; Short story (no separate novelette category) for the World Fantasy Awards

binu, shezhad
If you’ve only ever read one story by me, you’ve probably read “His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light.” I received my first ever royalty statement for this novelette! A professor in Pakistan is teaching it in her graduate class! Someone very kindly put it on the Nebula suggested reading list months before I even wrote an award eligibility post! More cool news that’s currently TBA but soon, very soon!

And, uh, look, we all know that drawing isn’t my strongest suit but I love these boys, ok? Both Binu and Shehzad were characters in my other stories before. They’ve come a long way, grown up in ways I didn’t expect and taken me by surprise.

Karen Burnham’s review in Locus Magazine

Continue reading “Up for the 2020 shinies! Jinni, trapeze master, devadasi, printer’s devil, tiger-man & assorted bestitudes!”

The Berlin schedule is out!!! (September 13, 14, 15)

ilb 2019The program book for the Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin is finally out. The tickets are booked. The Schengen is cooling fresh off the press. A new story on Artificial Intelligence, possibly called “Twenty-Nine Days Before Remaking The World,” is getting its finishing touches even as we type. Outfits and sightseeing will be planned soon.

It’s a long festival of eleven days, with full-day programming on the weekends and only evening programming during the weekdays. You can search for my name on the program, or you can scroll right down to p. 51 and 52, in the Science and the Humanities section. Or better, I can write them out here.

13 September 2019, Friday, 8 pm

A Science Fiction Tribute to AI, with Catherine Dufour, Simon Ings, Mimi Mondal and Malka Older, moderated by Maya Indira Ganesh

14 September 2019, Saturday, 5 pm

Of Talkative Bots and AI Gods, with Catherine Dufour, Mimi Mondal and Sacha Alanoca; moderated by Maya Indira Ganesh (This is where you can hear the new story!!!)

15 September 2019, Sunday, 12 pm 

Bionic Labs, Robot Bees and Cyborgs, with Karen Lord, Mimi Mondal, Tim Landgraf and Jan Müggenburg, moderated by Michelle Christensen

All three of my events are free to attend, though some of the other programs at the festival have tickets. All three are held at HAU2  at the Hebbel am Ufer in Kreuzberg, with the address Hallesches Ufer 32, 10963 Berlin. Yes, I know, I’m writing all this down in detail so that I can quickly copy-paste them into my GPS in case I get lost in the city. The only time I’ve been to Berlin before was an all-night layover five years ago. This is going to be fun!

DC! New York! Berlin! ChengDu! (Is it a bird? Is it a plane?)

I’m never sure how these things happen, but it turns out I have a few events in the upcoming days, if you want to come and see me read a story or try (and often fail, tbh) to say clever things. I should’ve written this post a month ago and included Readercon in Quincy, MA, but that’s going to be for the next year now.

So if you’re in any of the abovementioned excellent cities, I’ll really love it if you came over and said hello and partook of the tomfoolery. Besides New York I’ve never been to any of those places, so dining recommendations afterwards are also welcome. Here are the rest of the deets:

Artboard-1-copy-1August 3 in Washington, DC! 

7:30 pm to 8 pm at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Eaton DC Crystal Room (Second Floor), you can listen to a new story by me and an open mic/music by the artist collective POstb1nary, if you get tired of listening to me. This is curated by Maya Acharya as a part of the 2019 Asian American Literature Festival (August 2–4), and the full festival schedule is here.

August 8 in New York, NY!

7 pm to 9 pm at the Erewhon Literary Salon, I’ll be reading a new story along with fellow SFF writer and Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers organizer Rob Cameron. Curated by Liz Gorinsky for Erewhon Books. RSVP on their Facebook/Twitter event closer to the date for the door address, although it’s in midtown.

September 13–15 in Berlin, Germany!

Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin, at which I have three events. Exact times and co-panelists TBA, but it’s a 10-day-long festival (September 11 to 21), and if you’re in Berlin it may be fun to attend the rest of the day as well!

September 13: Tribute to classic SFF writers
September 14: Reading from a new story
September 15: Panel discussion on Artificial Intelligence

November 22–24 in ChengDu, China!

International Science Fiction Conference. Everything else about this one is so far TBA, but if I happen to know anyone in ChengDu (or you happen to know who I am!) you may as well come over for the entire convention. I will also appreciate company for panda-spotting and amazing-but-non-spicy-food-spotting, and everyone who knows more Mandarin than I do, which is approximately 8 billion people in the world.

My 2017 Award Eligibility Post ._.

I have put off writing this post for months. That doesn’t make me special — I am not the only writer, by far, who cringes at the notion of having to beat their own drum. But others have already written theirs, and prioritizing my cringe over everyone else’s is nothing but complacence.

2017 has been a year of many disappointments and personal struggles for me, but it has also been a year of exemplary kindness from quarters I did not expect, and working with a lot of wonderful, talented people. It was the first year I was solicited to write anything at all, and the “What? Me? Really? Are you sure?” sensation of that hasn’t yet subsided. I worked with editors and teams from India, the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, which is… not quite an achievement on the literary scale, and yet is for me, for where I come from and who my people are. I am writing this post in the spirit of celebrating all these amazing people who have given me opportunities and love. I feel very blessed.

1. Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler

Eligible for: Best Related Work at the Hugo Awards; Best Non-fiction at the Locus Awards

2017-12-03 13.33.00.jpgThis book was a labour of love. That’s a hackneyed phrase, but no publisher (or editors) expect to get rich from a nonfiction anthology that presumes the knowledge (and love) of another author’s work. I came into this project only halfway through, and I accepted it because it was a book I believed should exist, a vision that gave me strength and hope at a time little else did. That is the same reason Alisa Krasnostein and Alexandra Pierce of Twelfth Planet Press started it. Every contributor in this book – well-known or not – has written out of love; and I hope everyone who has read has imbibed it from their words.

This is the entry I am campaigning the hardest for. I believe 100% in its capability to win All the Awards. If you really like me and for some reason want to spend a vote on me, vote Luminescent Threads up, please.

2017-12-03 13.32.40.jpg
An excerpt from Gary K. Wolfe’s review in Locus Magazine:

[B]y far the most moving section consists of contribu­tions by recipients of the Octavia Butler Scholar­ships to Clarion, not only because some of them have begun auspicious careers of their own (such as Rachel Swirsky and Indra Das), but because their own accounts are often powerful tales of self-discovery, even when they repeat the same points: no one expected to get in, no one certainly expected a scholarship, no one thinks Octavia would remem­ber them. Maybe not, but the point now is that they remember her, and they do it beautifully. She’d be cool with that, if a little embarrassed.

2. Missive from a Woman in a Room in a City in a Country in a World Not Her Own

Eligible for: Best Related Work at the Hugo Awards

I’ll be honest – this is a very long shot. This is more of political/identity/intersectionality article than an SFF article. But it is one of the first things I wrote in 2017. It loosened up an awful knot in my chest; brought me back from a very dark, unproductive place. I would love for some of you to read it again.

An excerpt from Charles Payseur’s review in Quick Sip Reviews (which I’ve posted before; my apologies for repetition):

This is an essay about erasure and about place. About feeling like you belong to a parallel dimension. Or that you’ve passed through some portal and instead of the fantasy realm where things were going to be magical and just, you find a banal and ruthless place that is actively seeking to create a past that never existed.

3. On Translating the Stories Yet Unwritten: A Dalit Perspective from India

Another political/identity/intersectionality article I wrote last year, touching only very slightly on SFF. It’s eligible for the same as above, and an even longer shot. Once again, I would mostly love for you to read it. I had never published this kind of nonfiction before these two articles. They are probably a new direction in my life, both as a writer and a human.

I have received heartwarming feedback about this essay, but I don’t think I can point to a review.

4. Learning to Swim

Eligible for: Best Short Story at the Nebula, Hugo, Locus Awards

Anathema_CoverIssue3_ver2.jpg

Honestly, the above line took me five minutes — and a lot of facial-muscle-and-diaphragm exertion — to write. I don’t believe yet that I’m ready to win any awards for my fiction. (I will tell you about the many, many really great stories I read last year that are. Let me do that on Twitter, since I’m rarely ever here, and so are you.) But this is the only story I published in 2017, and once again, it reflects all the thoughts and anxieties I was going through last year. I’ll be very glad if you read it. It somehow happens to be in the Nebula Reading List.

An excerpt from A. C. Wise’s review in Apex Magazine:

“Learning to Swim” is a beautiful story, even as it touches on the painful subjects of xenophobia, prejudice, and the way marginalized groups such as immigrants and religious minorities are too often treated in Western countries. However, it’s also a story of hope, found family, and community building, reminding us there is kindness in the world. Samantha and Raon’s refusal to give up on Uma, and the way they see her truly even when she cannot see herself shows that sometimes reaching out to someone in pain can make all the difference in the world.

Okay, that would be all. Hope all of you are having a very lovely 2018 so far, filled with beautiful stories and other things.

176

I have finally finished responding to all the poetry submissions from the October submission period of Uncanny. It took longer than I’d imagined. Since this was my first round as poetry editor, I had intended to read every submission myself (I did), but I hadn’t imagined just how many submissions a magazine like Uncanny receives in each submission period (400+, as it turned out), or how long it takes to read all of them.

Both ends of a set of submissions can be time-consuming for different reasons. On one hand, there are submissions that are so odd that you can’t merely hit the reject button — you stare and marvel at the henceforth unacquainted dimensions of the human mind. On the other, by the time you have narrowed down to a second tier of submissions, nearly every poem is strong, vibrant, important, deserving of publication space. I had spent many years of my early youth trying to learn to critique poetry, then shelved away that training in an unused section of my brain, since I moved on to editing and writing fiction. Never before has that training been so strongly called into application. It was exhilarating.

I have been trying to return to writing poetry myself, but moving back into that home is a slower process. Going back home is never the same as never leaving, anyway.

I have not gone back to my physical home in a long time. It occurs to me that 2017 is the first year I will have spent entirely away from home. It’s a year of no passport stamps. A first, ever since I acquired the passport.

I am waiting for many things, but solstice, and longer days, will be the easiest achieved and welcome. For the new year, I wish for more quietude of the heart, music, stories, writing, hope.