Puuhhh. That’s me blowing the dust off the blog. Rather than wallow in self incriminations, or even your incriminations, Dear Reader, let’s get to the point. The World Fantasy Awards are just around the corner. Lots of great fiction has been nominated, and we have looked closely at the finalists for best short fiction.
Nominees for the 2017 World Fantasy Awards are out and the list doesn’t hold many surprises though it seems Tor.com has cornered the long fiction category. The anthology category is missing Nightscript II, which was my favorite this year, but I look forward to checking out the ones listed. Below are the short fiction nominees, including a couple of favorites already reviewed here for other awards — Brooke Bolander’s wild Harpy ride and Amal El-Mohtar’s sweetly rebuilt fairytale.
- “Das Steingeschöpf,” G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16)
- “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16)
- “Seasons of Glass and Iron,” Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
- “Little Widow,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Nightmare 9/16)
- “The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me,” Rachael K. Jones (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
Note: this is review number four of the nominees for the Nebula Award for short fiction this year. You can see all the nominees listed here.
Amal El-Mohtar is no stranger to accolades for her writing. She’s been a Nebula finalist before and won the Locus Award as well as several Rhysling Awards for poetry. I, however, have not been particularly thrilled with some of her more recent stories. So when I saw that she was nominated for the Nebula again this year, I worried that I would be handing out another tough review of an author whose work I want to like.
I am happy to report that my worries were misplaced. This is the story I’ve been waiting for from El-Mohtar. It’s both simpler in form and far, far, better in execution than earlier ones recently nominated for awards.
“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, published in Uncanny Magazine, is a sweet fantasy told from the perspectives of two characters who have painful lives involving curses and shame. One of the main characters is Tabitha who is crossing the world wearing iron shoes that must be worn out before they can be removed. And she is on the fourth of seven pairs. Despite her mangled feet and the pain, she sees beauty in the world all around her. Still, she cannot stop to make a new home. The other character, Amira, sits atop a glass mountain where she feels safe on her glass throne as long as she doesn’t move. Amira appreciates the peace that comes from keeping the world at bay far below her perch, yet she is lonely. Continue reading
Note: This is the second review of a nominee for the 2016 World Fantasy Awards. You can see my review of Alyssa Wong’s nominated story “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” here. (Wong’s story also won the Nebula Award this year.) The Spanish translation following this post is by Daniela Toulemonde.
Nominated for the World Fantasy Award for short fiction published in 2015, Amal El-Mohtar’s story “Pockets” is indeed very short. Unfortunately the story’s substance is also very thin. Now, before you dear readers skewer me for this opinion, let me concede that I may not be the best reader for El-Mohtar’s work. I’ve enjoyed several of her earlier stories, but I admit that her recent Nebula-nominated story “Madeleine” also did not completely satisfy my taste in fantasy short stories.
“Pockets” is primarily communicated through dialogue among three characters, and this is not the story’s problem. El-Mohtar is incredibly gifted at writing dialogue that is well-paced and illustrative of scenes without excessive stage direction. The story focuses on the exchange between three women who are trying to understand the reason why multiple odd things are somehow materializing in one woman’s pockets. It is sweet and very thoughtful. And that’s it. It’s got no umpf. Continue reading