Xenocultivars, Locus Recommended List, and more...
This Story is Called ‘The Transformation of Things’ in Xenocultivars
My story This Story is Called ‘The Transformation of Things’ is available in the Xenocultivars anthology. The title, and the whole of the story, are a reference to the proto-Daoist philosopher Zhuang Zhou, also called Zhuangzi, who lived and taught during the Warring States period in pre-imperial China. (I call Zhuangzi a proto-Daoist because his writings were later assimilated into the Daoist canon but he himself rejected all schools of thought, all governments, and all labels.)
Zhuangzi is largely known in the West for his parable of the butterfly dream, where he discusses dreaming that he was a butterfly so intensely that he forgot he was ever human, and then upon waking was unable to tell which was the “real him.” But there is substantially more depth, thought, and humor to his work than that anecdote.
Zhuangzi’s writings has shaped both my life and my writing. To give one small example, a big part of the reason I learned Classical Chinese was to read Zhuangzi in the original language. I also think that his rejection of names, labels, and identity categorization might resonant with queer readers specifically. It certainly does with me.
Also, of course, this is just a story, with a plot and characters and so forth. But I hope I have managed to convey at least a little of his thought and work or, failing that, at least conveying my admiration for it.
The Honest Fox, or, a Truth Shared is Not a Truth Lost in Lightspeed
This month’s issue of Lightspeed Magazine has the fifth entry in my Tales of the Great Sweet Sea series, called The Honest Fox, or, a Truth Shared is Not a Truth Lost. Unlike the previous entries in the series, which are very much rooted in the Germanic fairy tale tradition, The Honest Fox is a moralistic talking animal fable, drawing as much on Aesop as anything else. I really appreciate the editor’s willingness to let me expand and play with the form of these stories.
The Honest Fox is also a story that I wrote for a friend, about one of their stuffed animals. This is a kind of writing that I used to do a lot of, and still do occasionally: writing stories for a very specific person or to be a part of a specific conversation. In general, commercial fiction tries to appeal to at least a somewhat wider audience, but I think that this kind of personal, focused storytelling is important and I’m happy to be able to share it with you (with the permission of the original recipient and their stuffed animal).
Currently only Lightspeed subscribers can read The Honest Fox but it will be available for free on the 24th (and I will let you know when it’s available). That said, Lightspeed is a great magazine and I recommend subscribing if you haven’t.
Frost’s Boy and The Ash-Girl and the Salmon Prince are on the Locus Recommended Reading List
Speaking of Tales of the Great Sweet Sea, my novelettes Frost’s Boy and The Ash-Girl and the Salmon Prince are both on the Locus Recommended Reading List. I am very grateful to the staff of Locus for including my stories on this list, which contains a lot of other fantastic work (it has been a good year for short science fiction and fantasy in general.) I am honored by both the selection and the company.
For those of you that don’t know, the Locus Recommended Reading list is both a longlist for the Locus Awards and also used by a lot of people as a “Year in Review.”
2021 Award Nomination Season Has Begun
Speaking of the Locus Awards, they are determined by an open online poll. So if you’re an SF/Fantasy reader, I encourage you to go vote in the poll! It only takes a minute.
Likewise, if you’re a member of SFWA, I encourage you to submit your Nebula nominations.
Divine Endurance and Discovering Older Books
A lot of times the science fiction and fantasy world can be focused on new things, books that just came out, etc. But my natural reading habits, acquired from a childhood living two blocks from a used bookstore, are to read things that were published a few decades ago. Consequentially, this year my favorite novel was Divine Endurance, by Gwyneth Jones, an absolutely stellar story about a robot girl and her cat trying to find her brother on the post-post-apocalyptic Malay Peninsula. It has just amazing things to say about gender, sexuality, governance, colonialism, revolution, and cats. I highly recommend it.
I am currently reading my way through Jones’ back catalog, which has a number of other excellent books. Falling in love with a book only to discover that the author has written a dozen more has to be one of the best feelings in the world.
What are some of your favorite authors and books from past decades? Who have you been reading recently that really got you excited?