Thank you, SFFW and HWA, for replenishing my list of great short fiction to read and for saving my blog

Drowned in my WIP writing and editing I have once again seriously neglected the blog, but the dearth of new posts is over for now. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFFW) has announced the nominees for the 51st Annual Nebula Awards, to be held in Pittsburgh May 18-21. The full list of nominees published in 2016 can be found here, but in keeping with tradition, my reviews over the next several weeks will focus on the nominees in the short story category, with occasional reviews of some of the novelettes and novellas.

2016 Short Story Nominees

But wait, this is not the only good news for readers like me who have precious little time and want to invest in really good speculative fiction that kind of, sort of fits in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. The Horror Writers Association (HWA) also recently announced the Preliminary Ballots for the 2016 Bram Stoker Awards. The awards will be presented aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California on April 29th. Continue reading

Flakey with a nice crust: The Fireman by Joe Hill

joehillHarper Willowes, a nicey nice nurse who fantasizes that Julie Andrews should play her onscreen, is the protagonist of this story of terror and struggle in New England. A strange new plague threatens the entire country in The Fireman by Joe Hill, and people are spontaneously combusting as a result of infection by a spore commonly called Dragonscale. There’s tremendous destruction and fear, and people immediately separate into four non-mutually exclusive groups: those infected, those not infected, the decent and the assholes.

I was a bit leery of Nurse Willowes in the beginning. She’s too good and too silly, what with her “spit spot” and love of musicals and Disney films. But she recovered credibility when, after being pushed to the wall, she nearly takes her husband’s face off with a broken bottle. After being rescued by a mysterious fireman whose path she’s crossed before, as well as a couple of kids in Halloween masks, Harper escapes her murderous husband to join a bunch of infected people hiding in an old church camp near the New Hampshire coast. Harper, by the way, is infected and pregnant–two facts that turn her husband into a raving madman bent on killing her and every other infected person he finds. Continue reading