Apr 22

Book Review: The Peripheral by William Gibson

What’s It About

The novel alternates between two future time periods.  The first is the mid 21st Century where 3D printing is all the rage and so is virtual reality gaming.  The second time-line is set 70 years later (the early 22nd Century), where an apocalyptic event called the Jackpot has seen 80% of humanity wiped out.  Society has since been rebuilt through nanotechnology and those who survive live, for the most part, a life of indulgence and luxury.

Through a form of quantum tunneling a server in the 22nd Century connects with a server in the 21st Century allowing communication between the two timelines.  Flynne, who lives in the small American rural town of Coldiron with her sick mother and brother (a veteran of the US Marine Corps), discovers that the game she thought she was playing is actually a slice of London in the 22nd Century.  When she observes a murder take place while connected to her “game” she finds herself embroiled in a conspiracy that spans both timelines.

Should I Read It?

Yes.  But it’s a reserved yes.

There’s some fantastic ideas on display here, the best of which is setting your novel in the future – with all its cultural change and neologisms – and then having that near future communicate with a distant future – with all its cultural changes and neologisms.  It means that for 15 or so chapters (there’s over 120 in the book), The Peripheral is a wonderful wallop to the brain.

However, as the novel progresses Gibson appears to lose confidence in his story.  He seems concerned that the audience won’t understands the concepts he’s introducing unless he keeps explaining them.  And so a good chunk of the book is given over to exposition, and while some of it is genuinely interesting, the constant repetition is annoying.

Representative Paragraph

IT’S NOT A TIME TRAVEL NOVEL PEOPLE!!!!!

“No,” said Ash. “That’s time travel. This is real. When we sent our first e-mail to their Panama, we entered into a fixed ratio of duration with their continuum: one to one. A given interval in the stub is the same interval here, from first instant of contact. We can no more know their future than we can know our own, except to assume that it ultimately isn’t going to be history as we know it. And, no, we don’t know why. It’s simply the way the server works, as far as we know.”

Commentary

Up until this year, Neuromancer was the first and only William Gibson novel I’d read.  I have vague recollections of picking up the book in the early 90s, when I was 16 or 17, captivated by the cover art on the mass market paperback.  I was in the midst of a major horror / splatter-punk kick – meat and potatoes fiction with a splash of gore – and so I found Gibson’s strange world and hip prose packed with neologisms and portmanteaus to be off-putting.  I couldn’t get my head around it.  And while I finished the book I decided that Gibson wasn’t my type of writer.

It’s fascinating how the prejudices we form when we are in our teenage years, and well before our tastes have had a proper chance to develop, can leave an indelible  mark well into our adult years.  Not reading William Gibson until now, and only because his book has been hoovered up in this shortlist insanity I’m currently embarking on, has, in my humble, resulted in a significant hole in my own personal canon.  And while I thought The Peripheral  was a flawed novel, I’m still compelled to go back – at some point – and read through Gibson’s oeuvre.

And the thing is, the opening of this novel is just fantastic.  As with Neuromancer, I found myself caught totally off guard.  But unlike my earlier-self I was excited precisely because I wasn’t entirely sure what was going or where the novel was headed. Was this seriously going to be a book set between two future timelines, each as alien to each other as they are to the reader?  And were they really going to be linked together via a Chinese computer server?  And was this adamantly not a time travel novel because the moment the link between the timelines occurred, the past diverged from the future it was connected to?  And best of all, could you visit this possible future through the aid of a Peripheral, i.e. a flesh and blood avatar that users connect to from another location such as, you know, the freaking past!?

It’s enormously cool stuff, underpinned by two well conceived future histories.  Flynne, our first point of view character, lives in the small American town of Coldiron in what is essentially a trailer park.  In this not too distant future, 3D printing has gone from a hobby to the way most things are made and those who join the army, like Flynne’s brother, are augmented so they can link directly to drones and other weapons of mass destruction.  Flynne hasn’t been augmented but as a gamer she has the equipment to connect with security drones. As a favour to her brother, who has made money on the side using drones to run security operations for VIP clients, Flynne enters a virtual London and spends a few hours shooing paparazzi drones away from a couple of famous people.  It’s in this VR world that she sees a murder take place.

Except we discover that it’s not a virtual world at all but actually 22nd Century London.  And what Flynne has seen is an actual murder.  It’s a couple of decades after the Jackpot, an apocalyptic event that saw the death of 80% of the world’s population and the survivors have used nanotechnology to rebuild society.   Enter Wilf Netherton, our second point of view character (the chapters alternate between Wilf and Flynne).  He’s a publicist who after being sacked from his previous job is now slumming it with his extremely rich Russian mate Lev Zubov:

Netherton knew there was a house of love as well, in Kensington Gore, several houses of business, plus the family home in Richmond Hill. The Notting Hill house had been Lev’s grandfather’s first London real estate, acquired midcentury, just as the jackpot really got going. It reeked of the connections allowing it to quietly decay. There were no cleaners here, no assemblers, no cams, nothing controlled from outside. You couldn’t buy permission for that. Lev’s father simply had it, and likely Lev would too, though his two brothers, whom Netherton avoided if at all possible, seemed better suited to exercise the muscular connectedness needed to retain it.

It just so happens that the girl that Flynne saw murdered – Aelita West – is known to both Wilf and Lev.  And with Flynne’s assistance, and the help of the enigmatic Inspector Ainsley Lowbeer, they hope to discover who and why Aelita was killed.

As you can see the set-up for this novel is monumental.  Not only does Gibson have to create two very different future scenarios, he also needs to set a plot in motion and provide us with a cast of characters we can engage with.  And for at least the first third of the novel it looks like he’s going to pull it off.  The ideas and the plot move at a clip (Flynne’s first journey into the future as a Peripheral is a genuine “wow” moment) and both our protagonists are characters worth spending time with, even if they’re not the nicest people.

But suddenly the novel comes to an abrupt halt as Gibson seems to lose confidence in the world he has created.  Every idea and concept the novel has introduced is explained, and then explained again.  And the exposition runs between the timelines as once Wilf becomes aware of something he passes it onto Flynne who then feels the need to explain it to someone else.  An example of this is the economic situation – or more importantly how two factions from the 22nd Century are gaming the financial markets in the 21st Century.  While this does lead to the hilarious realisation that a small American town is essentially controlling the world economy – it suddenly becomes overrun with lawyers, economists and PR people – Gibson’s and the character’s need to explain the economic situation again and again becomes increasingly annoying.

And then there’s the repeated explanation of (a) how the link between the two timelines has occurred and (b) how the connection has created a divergent past and future.  In Chapter 24 this is explained to us by Ash (see the representative quote above) and then it’s explained again in Chapter 26 by Lev:

“It’s actually quite simple. The act of connection produces a fork in causality, the new branch causally unique. A stub, as we call them.”

Then again in Chapter 42 when Netherton is describing it to Flynne and once again in Chapter 45 when Flynne is explaining it to her mates in the mid 21st Century.  This constant compulsion to explain made me wonder whether Gibson wasn’t sure whether his readers – who might have become accustomed to his near future thrillers – would understand the crazy-arse transtemporal and financial concepts he was playing with.  And because there’s so much explaining going on the middle of the novel, there’s very little room for the plot to develop.  It means that one of the key moments, a party that Flynne is to attend in the future so she can point out Aelita’s murderers, happens so late in the novel (10 short chapters before the end) that the climax and resolution is abrupt and unsatisfying.

But as much as the novel’s flaws irritated me, it’s the crazy concepts, and some wicked humour especially concerning lawyers and PR people, that kept me engaged.  Even with the constant need to over-explain, The Peripheral is still one of the smartest science fiction novels published in 2014.

Apr 21

And the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction is…

Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See.

I reviewed the novel back in October last year, and while I thought the prose was beautiful I found Doerr’s almost deliberate avoidance of all things Nazi in relation to Werner and his actions to be disingenuous.  It’s a popular novel – my review of the book is, by a large margin, the most read post on this site – and given the decision last year to award the Pulitzer to The Goldfinch this might be starting a trend of handing the prize to the blockbuster book of that year.  (I say this with very little idea of the history of the award.  It’s possible that this is not a new trend at all).

I do note that the fiction prize is “for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.”  That “preferably” must be disguising a very loose guideline as All The Light We Cannot See has bugger all to do with America.  It also makes me wonder why Lila by Marilynne Robinson wasn’t considered (it doesn’t even feature on the list of finalists).

Still, congratulations to Anthony Doerr on the win.

Apr 14

Nominees announced for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction

Announced yesterday (or earlier this morning my time) were the six nominees for the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction.  You can check out the very schmick website here or, you know, lower your eyes and check out my faithful and mostly accurate reproduction of the list:

Ali Smith’s How To Be Both has to be the most nominated novel of the past twelve months.  According to Goodreads, it has appeared on 7 shortlists since the Man Booker Prize in September last year.  You all know how much I love this book, or at least you should if you read this blog and listen to the Writer and The Critic podcast, so to say anymore would be just  mindless repetition.  Still, why haven’t more of you read this book!  WHY?!

And then there’s Outline by Rachel Cusk.  It’s a book I liked, but it’s aloof narrator (a version of Rachel Cusk) and the fact that the novel essentially has no plot but is a series of conversations and anecdotes, makes its repeated appearance in shortlists a little surprising.  It’s obviously a book that has resonated with people, which is makes me very happy.

I remember reading Anne Tyler at school (it was Dinner at The Homesick Restaurant) and vaguely remember the family drama and dry sense of humour.  Reading her new novel is likely to be a nostalgic experience.  I’ve heard good things about the Waters and Paull and know nothing at all about the Shamsie.  So all in all this appears to be an exciting shortlist.

Apr 10

Who Should Have Won This Year’s Folio Prize

Here is a reminder of the eight finalists of the Folio Prize, with a link to my reviews:

And as I reported in an earlier post, the winner was Family Life by Akhil Sharma.

On the face of it, the Folio Prize shortlist for 2015 is impressive.  Of the 8 novels nominated I thought 6 of them ranged from very good to excellent, with the dial definitely favouring the excellent.  The only two novels I wasn’t that keen on were Ben Lerner’s 10:04 and Colm Toibin’s Nora Webster.

However, if you look a little closer, look at the type of books that were nominated, a pattern emerges – one, that as Dan Hartland points out, has “a fairly narrow sense of what the novel might be and do.”  In his review of All My Puny Sorrows and Dept. of Speculation he begins by quoting the Folio Prize’s mission statement, “to show the novel ‘refreshing itself, reaching for new shapes and strategies, still discovering what it might  be, what it might do.'” and then he illustrates that a number of the books on the shortlist seem to be plowing the same field:

Both [the Toews and Offill] feature a middle-aged female novelist struggling with life at the expense of her art; the narrator is self-recriminating and -critical, placing goodness and kindness and worth in people other than herself, and reflexively wondering why she falls short. Both are also written in that arch, wry, self-conscious sort of tone which I associate with much contemporary North American fiction (and, in all honesty, with the creative writing courses Offill teaches, an occupation she shares with her nameless narrator). Not only that, but Rachel Cusk’s Outline and Ben Lerner’s 10:04 also feature (though I haven’t read them) struggling novelists, and according to reviewers both also tackle this venerable literary conceit in ways designed to nod and wink towards the reader in order to re-fashion what has long been a stock literary situation.

In fact it’s a little worse than what Hartland has described.  There are five books on the list where the main point of view character is a writer.  In each case, the subject matter of the novel is semi-autobiographical verging on memoir and they all have a distinct middle class vibe.

While I agree with Hartland that the judges have probably failed in meeting the mission statement they set for themselves, I don’t think we need to start bemoaning the state of literature or the Folio Prize just yet. Yes, I can draw a tight thematic and story link between All My Puny Sorrows and Family Life but both authors are dealing with the issue of family tragedy through very different lenses, meaning that any sameness between the two books is surface level only.

Also, if I look at three recent literary shortlists, the National Book Critics Circle, the Man Booker and the National Book Award, we don’t see the same echo chamber – semi-autobiographical novels with a writer protagonist.  In other words, if a trend is emerging, at the moment it’s a trend that’s specific to the Folio Prize.  (Not that this was Dan’s argument, but it is something I think is worth noting).

And finally, I find it hard to castigate or wag my finger at any shortlist that has exposed me to such wonderful authors as Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Miriam Toews, Jenny Offill and Akhil Sharma.  In the case Owuor’s Dust, my thoughts on who should have won the Folio Prize was between it and Ali Smith’s How To Be Both.  In the end I feel compelled to go with How To Be Both, but Dust is an astonishing novel and it’s come closest to all the other literary works I’ve read over the past twelve months to toppling How To Be Both from its lofty and deserved perch.  And so if I’m disappointed, it’s that the judges went with a novel, albeit very good indeed, that feels safer and more crowd pleasing.  Dust, in particular, would have been a more courageous, more provocative and far more interesting winner.

So while this year’s Folio Prize might have been failure in delivering us with books that keep stretching the boundaries of what the novel can do, I still find myself landing on my initial position that this is one impressive shortlist.  So I urge you all to drop what you’re reading and start moving your way through the novels above.  It will be worth your while.

Apr 09

Book Review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

What’s It About

The unnamed narrator – a woman, a wife, a mother – ruminates in fragments and vignettes about the breaking down of her marriage, the rearing of her child and ghost writing a novel.

Should I Read It?

Yes.

At 25,000 words, this book would barely scrape in as a novella if it were ever submitted for a Science Fiction Award.  But in actuality, while it might be short in length, the Dept. of Speculation has a depth that puts lie to the fact that a book needs to be of a certain size to be considered a novel.

Through observation, recollection and some very funny anecdotes, Offill’s unnamed character explores the challenges of marriage and of bringing up a child, while also trying to find space to be creative.  Although that might sound all first world problems and middle class anxieties, the frank, almost matter of fact prose is devoid of melodrama and angst.  And yet it’s a novel that resonated with me – especially the early sections where the unnamed narrator is caring for her infant daughter.

The Dept. of Speculation is a restrained, tightly written and superb novel.  It might only be 25,000 words but those are some well-chosen words.

Representative Paragraph

So there’s this neat little reminiscence…

The first time I traveled alone, I went to a restaurant and ordered a steak. But when it came I saw it was just a piece of raw meat cut into pieces. I tried to eat it, but it was too bloody. My throat refused to swallow. Finally, I spit it out into a napkin. There was still a great deal of meat on my plate. I was afraid the waiter would notice I wasn’t eating and laugh or yell at me. For a long time, I sat there, looking at it. Then I took a roll, hollowed it out, and secreted the meat inside it. I had a very small purse but I thought I could fit the roll in without being seen. I paid the bill, and walked out, expecting to be stopped, but no one stopped me.

… which reminded me of this episode of Mr Bean:

You know, the one where he goes to the expensive restaurant to celebrate his birthday and gets served steak tartare…  Am I the only one who see’s this connection!?

Commentary

There’s a moment, early in the novel, when looking into the eyes of her infant daughter, the unnamed narrator observes that “she’d stare at me with a stunned, shipwrecked look as if my body were the island she’d washed up on.”  And immediately I was taken back to a time when I was comforting my newborn son and he would look at me with exactly the expression Offill was so perfectly describing.  It’s rare for a novel to have that effect on me, to trigger such a clear and intimate memory.   But for the first half of Dept. of Speculation, I found this happening again and again.

Nuggets, such as this one —

I have a chunk of vomit in my hair, I realize right before class. Chunk is maybe overstating it, but yes, something. I wash my hair in the sink.

— which reminded me of that time when Sophie puked into my open mouth and hair while I was holding her in the air.  And even if the event described by Offill wasn’t something I’d experienced —

Then one day I discovered something that surprised me. The baby was calm at Rite Aid. She seemed to like the harsh light of it, the shelves of plenty. For fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, she’d suspend her fierce judgment of the world and fall silent there. And when she did, a tiny space would clear in my head and I could think again.

— the moment still resonated.

However, this isn’t a novel solely about the challenges and difficulties of raising a child.  Rather it’s about a woman who had other dreams —

My plan was to never get married.  I was going to be an art monster instead.  Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things.  Nabokov didn’t even fold his own umbrella.  Vera licked his stamps for him.

— but instead gets “trapped” in the cycle of marriage and child rearing that many of us gravitate too.  And while she spends a portion of the novel trying to find a creative space for herself, even if that means ghost writing a novel of science-y facts for an “almost astronaut” and writing fortune cookies that would really relate to Americans (though she’s a little less serious by that endeavor) the future her younger self envisaged never eventuates.   There’s this telling moment when she meets an old friend who used to edit a literary magazine.  Both are married.  Both have children.

“I think I must have missed your second book,” he says.

“No,” I say.  “There isn’t one”

He looks uncomfortable; both of us are calculating the years or maybe only I am.

“Did something happen?” he says kindly after a moment.

“Yes,” I explain.

Her husband caps this anecdote off by noting that her life as the art monster was the “road not taken”.

While I don’t want to reduce this beautiful novel down to a single theme or message, Offill is able to capture the paradoxical complexity of mundane life.  The overwhelming sense of love, the sadness and anger when things fall apart.  The sheer joy of raising a child, the anxiety and sadness when that child no longer wants her mummy to put an “I Love You” note in her lunch box.  And the slow but inevitable break-up of a relationship.  All of it summed up in the following way:

My love for [my daughter] seemed doomed, hopelessly unrequited.  There should be songs for this, I thought, but if there were I didn’t known them.

Apr 08

Because one awards shortlist isn’t enough – here is The Believer Book Award!

Also announced today (or yesterday) were the nominees for The Believer Magazine Book and Poetry awards.  I’ll be focussing on the five novel nominees:

Like the Goldsmith Prize, the Believer Book Awards generally nominates novels and collections that are outside the mainstream, that most people will not be aware of.  If you were being cynical you could say they’re the sort of books that a hipster might recommend at a party just to show how in touch they were with their literary soul.  As it happens I’m only aware of the McCracken which was longlisted for the National Book Award.

I expect the novels above to be challenging and fascinating and very short.  I think the longest is the Cook at about 270 pages.

Also worth noting is that two translations have been nominated (always a good thing) and that a woman has either authored or translated every nominee.

 

Apr 08

And the Clarke Award Shortlist has been announced

If you’re looking to wash the sour taste of the Hugo Awards out of your mouth, you might want to consider these six novels that were just announced as the nominees for the Arthur C Clarke Awards:

  • The Girl With All The Gifts – M.R. Carey (Orbit)
  • The Book Of Strange New Things – Michel Faber (Canongate)
  • Europe In Autumn – Dave Hutchinson (Solaris)
  • Memory Of Water – Emmi Itäranta (Harper Voyager)
  • The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August – Claire North (Orbit)
  • Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel (Picador)

As you can see from the links I’ve already read three of the six novels.  I wasn’t at all keen on the Carey and am surprised to see it nominated.  I just don’t see what the attraction is to a book that once the surprise is revealed is utterly predictable.  I would have rather seen it replaced by Nina Allan’s The Race (review forthcoming) or even The Peripheral by William Gibson, which is a novel that has major flaws (in my humble) but is far more inventive than The Girl With All The Gifts.

The good news is that both Station Eleven and the Memory of Water have been nominated.  I’ve gone on at length about my love for Station Eleven both on this blog and the Writer and the Critic podcast.  I know it’s not loved by all and its inclusion will probably elicit the odd groan, but those people are all wrong.  Yes, even Kirstyn.

And then there’s Memory of Water which is now appearing on its third 2015 award ballot (by my reckoning).  It’s a wonderful novel and I really hope that the increased exposure will mean more people will read it.

I haven’t read the other three novels but both Hutchinson and the North were both nominated for the BSFA.  As a result I’ve had those two books lined up to read for more than a month.  I’m excited to see the Faber also shortlisted.  While the reviews I’ve skimmed have been mixed, it’s a novel I’ve wanted to read.

The other surprise for me is the non-appearance of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.  It’s not a book I’ve read and like the Faber the novel has collected its fair share of mixed and negative reviews, but there’s been enough praise that I thought it might get a guernsey.  I’m now wondering whether the Mitchell will be nominated at all for a genre award this year.

Overall, I think this is a solid shortlist.  My instincts tell me that when compared to last year’s wildly inconsistent group of nominees, this year’s bunch will be stronger.  But time will tell.

Apr 06

Hugo Award Novel Shortlist

If you regularly read this blog and have no idea that the Hugo Award nominees were announced to some controversy then you’re a unique sort of person.  Well done!

The full list of the nominees can be found here.  If you’re interested in commentary on the Sad and Rabid Puppy shenanigans then check out this excellent blog post from Abigail Nussbaum (which itself has links to other stuff).

Now that you’ve wearily trudged your way back after reading all that stuff, here are the finalists for best novel:

Best Novel (1827 nominating ballots)

  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos (47North)
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Roc Books)

Putting aside the source of three of these nominations, my first observation is that four of the five are part of a series.  It’s not so bad with Ancillary Sword and Lines of Departure because both of these are Book Two and I’m sure it won’t be too difficult to figure out what’s going on.  The Dark Between the Stars is the beginning of a new trilogy set in an established Universe.  Again, not a huge problem because it’s set twenty years after the events of the previous series and Kevin Anderson goes at lengths to explain who is who in the zoo (I’m about 60 pages into the book).  And you could even argue that the 15th book in a series – I’m looking at you Jim Butcher – is not a deal breaker because if you’ve read Butcher before you’ll know that he makes a point of filling readers in when important stuff from previous books is mentioned.

But still, for these books to work as novels that you can judge on their own merit they require info-dumping.  There is a way of expositing that doesn’t stop a novel dead, and I’ll be interested to see if any of the four authors above can pull it off.  (So far Kevin J. Anderson would get a fail mark).  But still, if the award is meant to consider the best novels in a given year, these should be books that can stand on their own without the need for the reader to be aware of the 14 books that have come before.  (A friend did mention that I should read Changes and Cold Days before I read Skin Game.  But seriously who has the time to expose themselves to 1,500 pages of Jim Butcher?).

So, I do intend to read all five novels.  I’m not going to boycott this award because of the odious politics behind some of the entries.  But fuck me, three of these books better be bloody entertaining.  Because that’s what I was promised.  No message fic.  No SFW outrage politics.  But just sheer, unalloyed, possibly libertarian ENTERTAINMENT!

Finally, as I said on Facebook, big props to Katherine Addison for getting on the Best Novel list.  Even though the book has been well received, I didn’t expect it to have the grassroots popularity that would lead to a nomination.  Especially in place of other novels that, arguably, have had more buzz like John Scalzi’s Lock In and William Gibson’s The Peripheral.   While I haven’t read the novel… yet… if there’s one potential silver lining that’s come out of this shit-show, it’s Addison’s (AKA Sarah Monette’s) emergence as a critically acclaimed and popular author.

Apr 06

And the winner of the BSFA Award for Best Novel is…

Ancilliary Sword by Ann Leckie.

This is unlikely to be the last time we see Ann Leckie win the best novel award.  I’ve yet to read it, but I’ve started (for my sins) on the Hugo Award finalists so expect a review in the next four weeks.

Congrats to Ann and the other BSFA winner (who can be found if you click on the link above – thank to Mike Glyer).

Apr 05

And the winner of the Tiptree Award is…

… two books – Monica Byrne’s The Girl in the Road, which has already been nominated for a Kitschie, and Jo Walton’s My Real Children which I’ve heard much about and expect to see pop it’s head up in a couple of other awards (maybe a Locus nom?).  I’ve not read either, but expect reviews at some point in 2015.  I hope.

And here’s the Honour List (a big YAY to Alisa and Julia):

  • Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium 
  • Seth Chambers, “In Her Eyes” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2014)
  • Kim Curran, “A Woman Out of Time” (Irregularity, edited by Jared Shurin, Jurassic London 2014)
  • Emmi Itäranta, Memory of Water (Harper Voyager 2014) (published in Finnish as Teemestarin kirja, Teos 2012)
  • Jacqueline Koyanagi, Ascension (Masque Books 2013)\
  • Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, editors, Kaleidoscope (Twelfth Planet Press 2014) \
  • Pat MacEwen, “The Lightness of the Movement” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, April/May 2014)
  • Nnedi Okorafor, Lagoon (Hodder & Stoughton, 2014)
  • Nghi Vo, “Neither Witch nor Fairy” (Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older, Crossed Genres, 2014)
  • Aliya Whiteley, The Beauty (Unsung Stories 2014)

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