Hugo Nominations (for 2018 published works)

It’s time to vote on the Hugo finalists again, which means I have a lot of material to read and watch this month since voting ends June 30. A majority of the movies and TV series are available for free streaming if you have an Amazon Prime membership. If you don’t have a membership and are thinking about it, click here to find out more. All images link to the corresponding DVD or eBook in the Amazon store except the TV series, which I wound up linking to the Prime streaming page.

All the nominated works are listed below, but since I’m filling out the reviews as I go, they’ll jump around a bit. The order is in no way representative of how I’m going to vote.

Dramatic Presentation – Long (Movies)

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Aliens invade Earth. They are blind but they have great ear organs. This movie is about a family trying to survive.

The good: I really enjoyed the acting, which is good because there’s not a lot of spoken dialog. The background music does a good job of driving the tension and there are plenty of tense moments when a person accidentally makes a sound and the aliens come running.

The not so good: You have to swallow a whole lot of disbelief to get past the premise. There are so many plot holes you could drive a semi through them. I kept eye rolling throughout the movie which took away from the otherwise good quality of the drama going on. Even once you get past the premise, it relies on plot holes to create the scary scenarios. One even vanished once it served its purpose and I’m like what happened to that?

Summary: If you can park your brain somewhere else, this is a good popcorn flick. But don’t let common sense take a peek.

The Black Panther

When young King T’Challa is drawn into conflict with an old foe that puts his homeland Wakanda and the entire world at risk, he must release Black Panther’s full power to save them.

The great: Shuri stole the movie for me. She’s an awesome female version of Bond’s Q with a whole lot of kick ass and intelligence. Shuri for queen instead of that bro of hers! I’m totally a fan girl!

The good: I really liked T’Challa’s character arc as he went from not wanting the throne to accepting it and going full blown panther to save his people. I loved the costumes and rituals. It’s always a pleasure to see other cultures and they went full out in making Wakanda feel real. And what about the women of Wakana? Holy cow! As a woman, I really appreciate the strong women in this film. They totally rocked it! I also loved Killmonger as a ‘villain’ because we got to see where he’s coming from and empathize with him. So many times films resort to the cartoon cutout. Not this guy!

The not so good: I think the whole ‘let this stranger have a chance even though I know it’s bad for Wakanda’ was a weak plot device. I would have much rather seen Killmonger win the right to combat by gaining more support over time instead of relying on a reluctant to be king T’Challa to say ok, sure, let’s do this. It felt like male ego/pride got in the way of a king’s first duty to protect his people. It also diminished Killmonger’s role in the film as a very charismatic leader with his own vision of the future and an uncanny ability to sway people to see his way of thinking. I was also disappointed with the trial by combat to become king. Protector, I could understand, but not for king where you’d want the best leader, who may not necessarily be the best at personal combat. However, I don’t read comics, so I might be missing something here. If you can accept these two points, the rest of the plot is pretty solid.

This is one of the strongest entries in my opinion and will be hard to beat.

As a side note: If you enjoy comics and Shuri, then check out the Shuri comic series written by Nnedi Okorafor and other authors.

Sorry to Bother You

An outrageously surreal look at capitalism, corporate greed, and fractured workplace dynamics. In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, California, struggling telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success, which propels him into a macabre universe.

The good: I thought this was an odd choice to be in the Hugo nominations at first, thinking it was only a satire about the workplace. It started off normal enough. Cassius needs a job and over the top lies in his telemarketing job interview. In pure satire fashion, the boss calls him on the lying but is impressed because it’s exactly the spark he’s looking for in an employee. At this point there still wasn’t any scifi or fantasy, but I was enjoying the story. Aha, I thought when they showed him literally dropping in on people during calls. Perhaps this was fantasy. But nope, turns out it’s science fiction, which we don’t find out until after he gets promoted. Then it gets super wacky, but in a fun way. I was really impressed at how it touched on racism, police brutality, corporate greed, and how people can change when money is involved, but remained witty and funny. It makes you think. I definitely liked it.

The not so good: It is a slow builder, so you have to give it time to unfurl. But I think it’s well worth the time to watch.

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

When Brooklyn teen Miles Morales gets bit by a radioactive spider, he has to find his inner hero to save his city and his newfound Spidey friends from Kingpin’s multidimensional portal generator.

The good: This story was awesome. I loved the kid. He’s having a hard time with his new school, struggling to fit in, does awkward teen stuff, gets some girl ‘advice’ from his uncle and is very hilariously bad at implementing it. Then he gets bit by a spider and has to deal with the weird in that. So far, it’s a fairly typical Spider-Man origin story. But when a multidimensional portal brings many different Spider-people together, it gets really fun. A very original plot, super entertaining, all the while sending the positive message that anyone can be a hero or a Spider-Man, even brown skinned people, Asian people, or girls. I was thoroughly entertained throughout the story and even shed a tear at times when it got serious.

The not so good: The only bad part was it ended! No, seriously, I didn’t see any weaknesses at all in plot or character development. They even gave a brief glimpse into Kingpin’s personal pain and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Just an overall awesome movie. I laughed a lot in this one and it left me feeling all good and cheerful.

Annihilation

A biologist and former soldier (Natalie Portman) must lead a mission into a mysterious quarantine zone known as The Shimmer, a beautiful but deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures that threatens all life on Earth. Also starring Oscar Isaac.

The good: I liked it overall. The premise was reasonable and the science made sense. It gave off a weird, creepy, horror vibe and presented an interesting alien encounter with something definitely not human and beyond our full comprehension. As the characters progress into the Shimmer, they begin to feel the effects which manifested in bizarre ways. I liked the ending and was left speculating about the future.

The not so good: This appears to be the most polarizing of the movies nominated based on the reviews. People either enjoyed it or thought it was a waste of time. It jumped around between different timelines, showing the lead’s future debriefing/interrogation, and also flashed back into her past memories. If you like a more linear story, this might not be your thing, after all, there was already a plethora of weird going on. Though while there was weird, the visuals didn’t get as weird as I would have preferred. They simply put a few flowering plants here and there. It felt underwhelming compared to other recent alien films. Also, there wasn’t any character development. This was strictly a science fiction mystery adventure thriller.

Avengers: Infinity War

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

The Hugo is going to make me watch this finally. Yep, I’ve been avoiding this one. After all, if I don’t watch it, nobody dies, right?

The good: I loved the glimpse into why Thanos felt so strongly about doing what he’s doing. Bad guys are always better if you can half believe in what they are doing. The special effects are stellar, as usual, and they covered several different worlds and some pretty bad arse fights.

The not so good: This really needs the next movie to feel complete, since it ends on one heck of a cliffhanger. It’s the Empire Strikes Back of the Avengers series. Also, while I enjoyed some of the character interactions, the ones between my two favorite characters, Tony Stark and Dr. Strange, felt forced in order to make the final choice more dramatic. And while it’s great seeing all the Avengers in one movie, it diluted each person’s moment to where I didn’t feel much of anything when it all went south, except for Spiderman. The first movie made me sob because of one single unexpected death. This one went too far the other way and I was left feeling like it wasn’t real and would be reversed in the next movie. So just meh. 🙁

That’s the end of my brief movie reviews. I must say, it will be tough to figure out what order to put them in when voting because each entry is pretty decent. I love that we are getting such solid science fiction and fantasy movies.

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short (TV Episodes)

Doctor Who: “Rosa”

Montgomery, Alabama. 1955. The Doctor and her friends find themselves in the Deep South of America. As they encounter a seamstress by the name of Rosa Parks, they begin to wonder: is someone attempting to change history?

The good: They finally tackle a more realistic treatment of minorities traveling with the Doctor. Always before it was rather a light touch. Perhaps Martha had to clean floors and endure a couple of comments, but this was more in your face about how this period would feel. I liked seeing more about Rosa Parks and enjoyed the dilemma in the end. I was left feeling very good about this episode and its impact.

The not so good: I didn’t really find anything wanting. I thought this was one of the most solid episodes of the season.

Doctor Who: “Demons of the Punjab”

India, 1947. The Doctor and her friends arrive in the Punjab, as the country is being torn apart. While Yaz attempts to discover her grandmother’s hidden history, the Doctor discovers demons haunting the land. Who are they and what do they want?

The good: I never studied this event in history, so it was interesting to learn about. Also, as you might expect, this is loaded with emotion and mystery. Who are these ‘demons’ and what do they want? I think this is the strongest episode of the season, even better than “Rosa”, and I was left very satisfied after watching it.

The not so good: You might want to bring tissues!

The Good Place: “Jeremy Bearimy”

The group explores the three main branches of ethical thought.

I really enjoyed the first two seasons of The Good Place and it’s certainly no hardship to binge watch this season to get to the Hugo finalists! The show is coming to an end after another season which is sad because I really love it, but good because it will end on its own terms before turning stale like so many series do.

The good: I laughed when I found out what the title, “Jeremy Bearimy” means. I’m still giggling. The group gets a bit stressed out which always leads to humorous antics and maybe some eye candy. And I love the ‘OOPS’ look on peoples’ faces at the end. LOL!

The not so good: My autoplay didn’t take me to the next episode which is the only reason why I’m writing this review before chain watching the rest. There hasn’t been a not so good element to any of these episodes so far.

The Good Place: “Janet(s)”

With Janet’s help, Michael hatches a plan.

The title makes me giggle with anticipation to see what that’s all about…

The good: Hilarity ensues as Janet comes up with an idea to save the team that involves going into her void. Things are really heating up in the season as the team discovers trouble and tries to fix it while being fugitives with demons on their tails. The highlight was seeing all the Janets. A great bit of acting and definitely a fun episode.

The not so good: Realizing that the end of the awesome season is coming and not wanting it to end and only having one more season left to go. In other words, there was nothing bad about this episode!

The Expanse: “Abaddon’s Gate”

Holden and his allies must stop Ashford and his team from destroying the Ring, and perhaps all of humanity.

I remember last Hugo when I said I’d just watch a few episodes of The Expanse before jumping to the Hugo nomination. That led to a psychotic bing-fest where I barely ate as I clicked the next episode greedily, like a druggie needing their next fix. The writing on this series is very excellent and the way they leave you burning with intense need for the next episode is something else.

I haven’t watched this season yet, and I’m very glad they are all released so I can binge watch, because trying to wait a week between these would probably kill me!

Dirty Computer

A visually stunning story of a young woman named Jane 57821, who is living in a totalitarian near-future society where citizens are referred to as “computers”. A timely and poignant Emotion Picture, Dirty Computer explores humanity and what truly happens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when mind and machines merge, and when the government chooses fear over freedom.

The good: Janelle Monáe, who also starred in Hidden Figures, has a good voice and tells a very interesting post-apocalyptic story by tying several music videos together showing how the establishment is trying to erase the identity of people who don’t conform to what’s ‘normal’. This is a very poignant commentary on today’s political environment and I laughed at one jab in particular relating to ‘grabbing’. I found the story interesting, the songs good, and the video visually pleasing. I happen to enjoy music set to story, like Queensrÿche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” or Metallica’s “Through the Never” and while this isn’t the music I typically listen to, I still enjoyed it.

The not so good: Well, if you aren’t expecting music videos, you may not enjoy this. If you don’t like pop music with some rap sprinkled here and there, you might not like this. If you turn off the movie at what you think is the ending, you might miss the real ending and be left unsatisfied. 😉

If I thought the movies would be hard to arrange in an order, these are worse. Each has something I really enjoyed and each deserves to win.

Best Series

The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older

It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

The good:

The not so good:

The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross

From Book 1: The first novel in Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross’s witty Laundry Files series.

Bob Howard is a low-level techie working for a super-secret government agency. While his colleagues are out saving the world, Bob’s under a desk restoring lost data. His world was dull and safe – but then he went and got Noticed.

Now, Bob is up to his neck in spycraft, parallel universes, dimension-hopping terrorists, monstrous elder gods and the end of the world. Only one thing is certain: it will take more than a full system reboot to sort this mess out . . .

Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee

From Book 1: NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR – WINNER OF THE 2016 LOCUS AWARD – NOMINATED FOR THE HUGO, NEBULA AND ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARDS.

When Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for her unconventional tactics, Kel Command gives her a chance to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles from the heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake: if the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress. The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own.

As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao – because she might be his next victim.

The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire

From Book 1: New York Times-bestselling October Daye faerie series • Hugo Award-winning author Seanan McGuire • “Top of my urban-paranormal series list!” —Felicia Day

The world of Faerie never disappeared; it merely went into hiding, continuing to exist parallel to our own. Secrecy is the key to Faerie’s survival—but no secret can be kept forever, and when the fae and mortal worlds collide, changelings are born.

Outsiders from birth, these half-human, half-fae children spend their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Or, in the case of October “Toby” Daye, rejecting it completely. After getting burned by both sides of her heritage, Toby has denied the fae world, retreating into a “normal” life. Unfortunately for her, Faerie has other ideas…

The murder of Countess Evening Winterrose, one of the secret regents of the San Francisco Bay Area, pulls Toby back into the fae world. Unable to resist Evening’s dying curse, Toby must resume her former position as knight errant to the Duke of Shadowed Hills and begin renewing old alliances that may prove her only hope of solving the mystery…before the curse catches up with her.

The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard

Xuya is a series of novellas and short stories set in a timeline where Asia became dominant, and where the space age has Confucian galactic empires of Vietnamese and Chinese inspiration: scholars administrate planets, and sentient spaceships are part of familial lineages.

Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers

From Book 1:
The acclaimed modern science fiction masterpiece, included on Library Journal’s Best SFF of 2016, the Barnes & Nobles Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog Best Books of 2015, the Tor.com Best Books of 2015, Reader’s Choice, as well as nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Kitschie, and the Bailey’s Women’s Prize.

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

Best Novel

The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal

On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.

Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.


Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.

Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers

Return to the sprawling universe of the Galactic Commons, as humans, artificial intelligence, aliens, and some beings yet undiscovered explore what it means to be a community in this exciting third adventure in the acclaimed and multi-award-nominated science fiction Wayfarers series, brimming with heartwarming characters and dazzling space adventure.

Hundreds of years ago, the last humans on Earth boarded the Exodus Fleet in search of a new home among the stars. After centuries spent wandering empty space, their descendants were eventually accepted by the well-established species that govern the Milky Way.

But that was long ago. Today, the Exodus Fleet is a living relic, the birthplace of many, yet a place few outsiders have ever visited. While the Exodans take great pride in their original community and traditions, their culture has been influenced by others beyond their bulkheads. As many Exodans leave for alien cities or terrestrial colonies, those who remain are left to ponder their own lives and futures: What is the purpose of a ship that has reached its destination? Why remain in space when there are habitable worlds available to live? What is the price of sustaining their carefully balanced way of life—and is it worth saving at all?

A young apprentice, a lifelong spacer with young children, a planet-raised traveler, an alien academic, a caretaker for the dead, and an Archivist whose mission is to ensure no one’s story is forgotten, wrestle with these profound universal questions. The answers may seem small on the galactic scale, but to these individuals, it could mean everything.

Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee

THE STUNNING CONCLUSION TO THE MIND-BENDING SERIES.

DEATH AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Shuos Jedao is awake…. and nothing is as he remembers. In his mind he’s a teenager, a cadet—a nobody. But he finds himself in the body of an old man, a general controlling the elite forces of the hexarchate, and the most feared—and reviled—man in the galaxy.

Jedao carries orders from Hexarch Nirai Kujen to re-conquer the fractured pieces of the hexarchate on his behalf. But he has no memory of ever being a soldier, let alone a general, and the Kel soldiers under his command hate him for a massacre he can’t remember committing.

Kujen’s friendliness can’t hide the fact that he’s a tyrant. And what’s worse, Jedao and Kujen are being hunted by an enemy who knows more about Jedao and his crimes than he does himself…

OoOoOOoooo! I really enjoyed the previous books and can’t wait to dig into the finale!

Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.

A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.

Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik

With the Nebula Award–winning Uprooted, Naomi Novik opened a brilliant new chapter in an already acclaimed career, delving into the magic of fairy tales to craft a love story that was both timeless and utterly of the now. Spinning Silver draws readers deeper into this glittering realm of fantasy, where the boundary between wonder and terror is thinner than a breath, and safety can be stolen as quickly as a kiss.

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father’s inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem’s fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. She will face an impossible challenge and, along with two unlikely allies, uncover a secret that threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike.

Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unraveling clues from ancient legends, trading favors with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the killings, she will have to confront her past if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.

Best Novella

Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition is the follow-up to Martha Wells’s Hugo, Nebula, Alex, and Locus Award-winning, New York Times bestselling All Systems Red

It has a dark past—one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot”. But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

Teaming up with a Research Transport vessel named ART (you don’t want to know what the “A” stands for), Murderbot heads to the mining facility where it went rogue.

What it discovers will forever change the way it thinks…

Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire

A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s Alex-award winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor

The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene–though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives–and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don’t miss this essential concluding volume in the Binti trilogy.

The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark

Rising science fiction and fantasy star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God’s Drums.

Alex Award Winner!

In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson

Experience this far-reaching, mind-bending science fiction adventure that uses time travel to merge climate fiction with historical fantasy. From Nebula Award winning author Kelly Robson

Discover a shifting history of adventure as humanity clashes over whether to repair their ruined planet or luxuriate in a less tainted past.


In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity’s ancestral habitat. She’s spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

The Tea Monster and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard

Aliette de Bodard brings us a new novella set in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Xuya universe!

Welcome to the Scattered Pearls Belt, a collection of ring habitats and orbitals ruled by exiled human scholars and powerful families, and held together by living mindships who carry people and freight between the stars. In this fluid society, human and mindship avatars mingle in corridors and in function rooms, and physical and virtual realities overlap, the appearance of environments easily modified and adapted to interlocutors or current mood.

A transport ship discharged from military service after a traumatic injury, The Shadow’s Child now ekes out a precarious living as a brewer of mind-altering drugs for the comfort of space-travellers. Meanwhile, abrasive and eccentric scholar Long Chau wants to find a corpse for a scientific study. When Long Chau walks into her office, The Shadow’s Child expects an unpleasant but easy assignment. When the corpse turns out to have been murdered, Long Chau feels compelled to investigate, dragging The Shadow’s Child with her.

As they dig deep into the victim’s past, The Shadow’s Child realises that the investigation points to Long Chau’s own murky past—and, ultimately, to the dark and unbearable void that lies between the stars…

Best Novelette

“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again” by Zen Cho

A hapless imugi is determined to attain the form of a full-fledged dragon and gain entry to the gates of heaven. For a long time, things don’t go well. Then, it meets a girl.

The B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog presents an original short story by Campbell Award-nominated author Zen Cho.

This is a free story, just follow the image link.

“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly

A young food taster to the Traitor King must make a difficult choice in this story of pastries, magic, and revenge. The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections is a Tor.com Original from fantasy author Tina Connolly.

“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth” by Daryl Gregory

When the seeds rained down from deep space, it may have been the first stage of an alien invasion–or something else entirely. How much time do we have left, and do we even understand what timescale to use? As a slow apocalypse blooms across the Earth, planets and plants, animals and microbes, all live and die and evolve at different scales. Is one human life long enough to unravel the mystery?

Nine Last Days on Planet Earth is a Tor.com Original from the award-winning science fiction author Daryl Gregory.

The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander

The Only Harmless Great Thing is a heart-wrenching alternative history by Brooke Bolander that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants.

In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island.

These are the facts.

Now these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.

“The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer

Naomi Kritzer delves into what ghost stories mean to her.

This is another free story, just click the link to read it.

“When We Were Starless” by Simone Heller

Simone Heller wrote this for Clarkesworld and you can read it for free by clicking on the image link.

Best Short Story

The good news is that all of these are available to read for free. I’ve linked each title to the magazine page with the story. Enjoy!

“The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinkser

“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher

“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington” by P. Djèlí Clark

“STET” by Sarah Gailey

“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies” by Alix E. Harrow