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Back at the lab

Every year Analog magazine runs AnLab, its readers’ choice poll that allows readers to select their five favorites in each of its departments. (Except I think the cover, the cover may be three? If this was relevant to me, if I was doing magazine covers, regular readers would know it already, I promise.) This year, my nerd grief poem “Object Permanence” has made their list! You can read it here along with the other finalists.

If you’re paying close attention, that’s the second magazine for which I’ve been in the “reader favorites” poll this year. I find this incredibly gratifying. I think most of all what any of writers wants is to be read and to touch readers–but particularly in speculative poetry. No one imagines fame, fortune, and glory will accrue from writing speculative poetry. We’re just trying to say something that will be meaningful to someone else. Analog’s readers, like Uncanny’s before them on the fiction side, have said that I did that this year. Thank you so much, readers.

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The (not very) old and the new

Earlier this year Sunday Morning Transport published my story Exiled to Gravity. Now as part of their Storyflod event, it’s free for everyone to read! I hope you do, and I hope you enjoy it! It’s got a young woman discovering that the truth about her relationship with her mother–and herself–is not what she thought it might be. (What’s a storyflod? It’s like the Icelandic Christmas tradition of Julabokaflod, where we all wallow in words for the dark of the year. What a great tradition! Yay!)

And speaking of wallowing in words–I’ve got my first 2024 byline available for order! “Lost on a World Tree” is in the January Issue of Not One of Us, officially issue #77. You can order a copy here!

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2023: year in review

Whew, another year? are we sure? yeah, I guess that’s what that adds up to, and it sure adds up to a lot. I signed contracts on another story sale today, I’m putting the finishing touches on a revision to send to my agent, and there’s a lot more stuff in the pipeline, so once again it’s probably good for me to take a moment to stop and breathe and review what I did this year.

I had the following stories come out, and they were a very mixed group in terms of theme and genre. There’s cranky dolphins, reluctant revolutionaries, aliens doing improv, :

Exiled to Gravity, Sunday Morning Transport (February)

Tourist Season, Nature Futures (April)

Monster of the Month Club, Haven Spec (August)

Spark of Change, Translunar Travelers Lounge (August)

Yes And, Nature Futures (August)

A Piece of the Continent, Uncanny (December)

I kept going with poetry, too, with a small clutch of poems. They’re just as varied as the fiction, ranging from a response to a beloved childhood series to science fictional feelings about the world we’re in right now to grief for nerds to fairy tale commentary:

Elegy for Another Hollow Girl, Not One of Us (April)

The Plural of Apocalypse, Strange Horizons (April)

Object Permanence, Analog (Sept/Oct)

Like Other Girls, F&SF (Nov/Dec)

Just the one essay this year, and I hope it encourages you to do things you enjoy:

Failing the Marshmallow Test: On Not Saving Books for Later, Uncanny (December)

I also had some fun reprints! “A Worm to the Wise” came out in Afterglow, and The Deadlands Year One featured both my poem “Oppenheimer in Valhalla” and my short story “Roots of Lamentation.”

That’s the year in publishing, though, which is not exactly the same as the year in writing. In the later part of the year I was more focused than usual on longer-form work, so taking a moment to write some poems and a short story in the last month has been a bit of a breath of fresh air, and I’ll want to do a bit more of that again early in the year. On the other hand I’ve liked doing two novellas and some novel work. Balance in all things? We know that’s not my strong suit. But looking for where balance might hypothetically be if I was another person completely? Sure, let’s go for that. Stranger things have happened at sea. And probably will happen on land in 2024, if the work I have coming out so far is any indication.

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A view from on land

I have a poem out in the current (Nov/Dec) issue of F&SF, “Like Other Girls.” This one is a Little Mermaid poem, inspired by my thoughts about the original story’s sense of the main character as one of a group of sisters.

F&SF is not available online, but you can buy it from bookstores/newsstands or from their website, although that has not been updated with the current issue yet.

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Rosebuds, I’m pretty sure I told you to gather ’em

New essay today in Uncanny! Failing the Marshmallow Test: On Not Saving Books for Later. I know that some amount of book hoarding is inevitable because nobody, not even me, reads instantaneously. But this is about deliberately putting off something you know you want to read for “later”–and why I think it’s maybe better not to.

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Short stories of summer

Here are some short stories (and maybe a few poems, and some longer short works) I’ve enjoyed this quarter! Please feel free to recommend more in the comments, I make no pretense that I’ve gotten to everything good that’s come out this year.

Yours, Wickedly: A Story in Thirteen Letters, Stephanie Burgis (Sunday Morning Transport)

The Naming of Knots, M. A. Carrick (BCS)

The Sand Knows Its Way Home, L. Chan (Reckoning)

Merciful Even to Scorpions, Kay Chronister (BCS)

“Equal Forces Opposed in Exquisite Tension,” John Chu (New Suns 2)

“Between Truth and Death on the Murmansk-Saint Petersburg Line,” Zohar Jacobs (Sunday Morning Transport)

“Juan,” Darcie Little Badger (New Suns 2)

“Dragons of Yuta,” Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (New Suns 2)

“Bayanihan,” Maricar Macario (F&SF Sept/Oct 23)

The Kingdom of Darkness, Sarah Monette (Uncanny)

To Dust Returned, Rita Oakes (BCS)

“The Plant and the Purist,” Malka Older (New Suns 2)


Till the Greenteeth Draw Us Down, Josh Rountree (The Deadlands)

“Approved Methods of Love Divination in the First-Rate City of Dushagorod,” Kristina Ten (F&SF Jul/Aug 23)

What It Means to Love a City, Mo Usavage (Reckoning)

“Silk and Cotton and Linen and Blood,” Nghi Vo (New Suns 2)

The Three O’Clock Dragon, John Wiswell (

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Nerd grief

My poem Object Permanence is in Analog magazine’s Sept/Oct issue, and also featured on their website for the next two months.

A lot of writing about grief, including my writing about grief, is inspired by the loss of our nearest and dearest. This is not that, this is the next circle out–my dear little old great-aunt Bets, my ex-boyfriend’s delightful father Marc, all those whose pathways through the world were joys just one notch more distant from mine…until the day they weren’t, and I miss them still, in their own way.

Which is, of course, still a very nerdy way.

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You Are My Sunshine and Other Stories, by Octavia Cade

Review copy provided by the publisher.

I’ve heard a lot of discussion of climate horror in recent years. While the stories in this volume are plenty horrified, the dominant emotion is not mostly horror. It’s what I’d describe as anguish. There are so many animals, so many plants, so many habitats in decline or obliterated, and Cade is not looking away from it, she’s showing not just the devastated futures but the devastation from them. There are a few stories that are more upbeat, more whimsical, more of the places people are pulling up their socks and going on. But in order to get there we’re going to have to go through the hard years, and Cade is not flinching away from that part, not for a moment.

I think one of my favorite things about Cade’s writing has always been her grounding in both poetry and science. This is a work of prose, but the poetic language and the science grounding both inform it, both give it different kinds of precision, and I love that. I love that even when it’s ripping me to pieces. I love it perhaps especially then.