It is nomination season for the Hugo, Nebula, and Norton Awards. My book Nomad is eligible for such things. But self-promotion makes me squirm, so I’m going to talk about Nomad all the way down at the bottom of this post.
First I will present, for your award-nominating consideration, other Latin@ speculative fiction–most of it written by fellow Cuban-Americans.
The year 2015 was oddly bereft of stories by Carlos Hernandez. But his debut collection, The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria, just came out. Read it. Trust me. You will be nominating these stories for next year’s awards.
Meanwhile, feast on the following by Carmen Maria Machado: “Descent” at Nightmare Magazine, “Horror Story” at Granta, and “I Bury Myself” at Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Here’s the first paragraph of “Horror Story”:
It started so small: a mysteriously clogged drain; a crack in the bedroom window. We’d just moved into the place, but the drain had been working and the glass had been intact, and then one morning they weren’t. My wife tapped her fingernail lightly on the crack in the pane and it sounded like something was knocking, asking to be let in.
Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is “one of the most important fantasy debuts” according to Locus, and you’ll find it on practically every “best of the year” list–including the one Locus just posted today. Silvia also wrote this in “The Amazingly Authentically Authentic Latina Author” for Lightspeed Magazine’s latest project: “Maybe you went to Acapulco once, but bato, don’t come tell me my science fiction doesn’t ring true. It’s my future.”
Joe Iriarte put out a whole swack of stories in 2015, recapped here. He says “Weight of the World” is his personal favorite. Joe also wrote this about the similarly alliterative “Ways of Walls and Words,” last year’s solo short story from Sabrina Vourvoulias:
Sweet and bitter and beautiful and unflinching. It’s a story of friendship, of self-sacrifice, of honoring your traditions, of honoring your loved ones, of finding commonality in your differences. It’s a story of surviving in the face of oppression, of bending but not breaking.
David Bowles is a marvelous folklorist and translator as well as a fiction writer. Last year he gave us The Smoking Mirror and the short story “Wildcat.” Note that Smoking Mirror is for Middle Grade audiences, and therefore eligible for the Norton Award.
Daniel José Older had a wildly prolific year, so I’ll defer to his own post for the full list of eligible things. But here’s what I had to say about his gorgeous (and Norton-eligable) YA novel Shadowshaper when it first came out:
Daniel José Older sings out the secrets of the dead, and he does it so well that the dead don’t mind. Trust him. Trust this book, even when it terrifies you.
Okay. Time to put on my self-promotion hat and talk about my own work.
Both books are about Gabe Fuentes, an eleven-year-old kid who becomes an intergalactic diplomat. Gabe is also a 2nd-gen Latino immigrant to the United States. (So am I.) This is an essential part of his story, which explores the dangers and possibilities of belonging to more than one world at once.
Should escapist SF kidlit also tackle contemporary political matters? Hell yes. This is something science fiction does best. (And SF can’t avoid doing it, consciously or otherwise.) When I insist on this I stand in good company:
The very fact that we’ve spent so much time lately debating whether science fiction should include “message fic” about real-world issues proves that, yes, science fiction does have an opportunity to talk about real-world issues… I reject the idea that science fiction cannot talk about anything real.
– Charlie Jane Anders, “What It Means To Be a Science Fiction Writer in the Early 21st Century”
By writing about the actual world from fantastical, sideways directions, we also strengthen our ability to transform it.
The literature of imagination, even when tragic, is reassuring–not necessarily in the sense of offering nostalgic comfort, but because it offers a world large enough to contain alternatives and therefore offers hope. – Ursula K. Le Guin, Cheek by Jowl
Does Nomad strike a decent balance between space hi-jinx and the real-world stuff? That’s not for me to judge. But critics do seem to think so:
The superb conclusion to this two-part tale of space diplomacy restarts Gabriel’s tale at the very moment Ambassador concluded… Alexander is clearly passionate about science, space exploration, and social justice, but he never allows that passion to shortchange the crackerjack adventure.
Filled with a Heinleinesque sense of wonder, National Book Award–winner Alexander’s depictions of life in space pave the way for unlimited possibilities in this sequel to Ambassador.
– Publisher’s Weekly
Thanks for your consideration, and for reading this post all the way down to the end.
*takes off self-promotion hat*