Hugo Nominations

So apparently listing all the things one nominated for awards is the in thing.

I have a leftover Hugo membership from last year, meaning I can’t vote, but can nominate (and frankly, nominating means more to me anyway). I skipped some categories, like novels, for instance. (I am SO BEHIND on actually reading novels that were published in the same year that I read them. It is frankly EMBARRASSING. And don’t even get me started on movies. Movies are worse.)

Here is the nominating I did do:


  • Aliette de Bodard, “The Waiting Stars”
  • Tori Truslow, “Boat in Shadows, Crossing”

Short Stories

  • Meda Kahn, “Difference of Opinion”
  • Sunny Moraine, “I Tell Thee All, I Can No More”
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia, “Them Ships”
  • Sofia Samatar, “Selkie Stories are for Losers”
  • Carrie Vaughn, “The Best We Can”

It was tough picking just five short stories. All of them are from my earlier favorites post except Carrie Vaughn’s story, which I found on someone else’s favorites list after the fact. Stories by Kenneth Schneyer, Linda Nagata, and Nghi Vo only barely missed the top five, and of course, everything on my fairly lengthy favorites list is awesome.


Apex, Goblin Fruit, Shimmer, Stone Telling, and Strange Horizons.

Fan Artist

I’m not really an art person, but I couldn’t help but nominate Ashley Ellen Frary because I am so thrilled by her bright and colorful illustrations for Issue #1 of Plunge Magazine.

Campbell Award

This was so hard. Harder than picking just five short stories. There are so many fascinating and amazing new writers this year. I would have been much happier if there had been TEN places on the ballot, not five.

Also, I did not manage to finish reading the friggin’ enormous Campbellian Anthology in time. This is because I am a bad reader who manages reading time badly, and I should feel bad.

Finally I settled on:

  • Meda Kahn
  • Helen Marshall
  • Sofia Samatar
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Then I took a long, hard, conflicted look at that fifth spot on the ballot, and at my short list of other eligible people whose writing I really liked. And I thought about it. And then I wrote in my own name.

I don’t have any delusions of getting onto the final ballot with competition like this. But I’m genuinely proud of how much I accomplished for the first time in 2013. And if I don’t believe in myself, who will?

So that’s that, then.

It occurs to me after the fact that there are no men on my ballot ANYWHERE. (Well, I guess the managing editor of Strange Horizons is a man, and some folks here are genderqueer, but still.) This was totally not on purpose; I wasn’t even thinking about gender when I made these selections. Huh.

Ad Astra Convention Schedule

I’ve been keeping quiet about this, but it’s official: I’m going to be a Professional Panelist at Ad Astra, in Toronto, April 4-6.

I’ve been to conventions before, but usually as a regular person. (Actually, no, that’s a lie. Usually I’m a dealer’s assistant. Long story.) This is the first time I’ve been invited to actually, y’know, do stuff. The con staff were very good about putting me on a few, widely spaced panels so I don’t get overloaded, but I’m hoping it will work out well and I’ll be able to do more at conventions in the future. Here’s my schedule:

Writing When You Have A Day Job: Friday, 9 pm. (In which I talk about writing and grad school.)
The Writing Life: Saturday, 10 am (In which I talk about writing EVEN MORE, lol)
What Makes a Great Villain? Saturday, 9 pm (In which I geek out about Darth Vader, Disney villains, Loki*, and whoever else I am feeling excited about at that point)
Ada Hoffmann reading: Sunday, 2 pm (30 min. In which probably no one shows up except my family and then I read bits of my stories or possibly other stuff, and everyone just kinda hangs out. That’s my prediction, anyway. :D)

I doubt there are a lot of folks in the Toronto area who read this blog, but if I know you even vaguely in any capacity, I’d love to see you there!


*Since our last discussion of characters/villains on here, I’ve actually, y’know, watched both the Thor movies. So now I can have intense discussions about Loki and why he has so many fangirls without sounding like a total doofus, YAY! 😛 😛 😛

Autism News, 2014/03/23

Boycott Autism Speaks organized a #StopCombatingMe flash blog in response to the proposed renewal of the Combating Autism Act in the US. Lots of interesting posts came out of this one. The most valuable, IMO, is Emily Morson’s “Changing The Paradigm from Treatment to Education“. I’ve read a lot of posts talking about how some autism therapies can be harmful, but this is by far the most comprehensive and cogent one I’ve seen in terms of explaining why some of them are harmful and what needs to change. [TW abuse, not detailed]

More on social issues:

  • Darryl Cunningham has an informative comic about the MMR vaccine controversy (This isn’t new, but it is the first time I saw the comic, so I’m linking to it now.)
  • Did you know that some doctors refuse to give organ transplants to disabled people because they would rather give them to able-bodied people instead? Yep. Fortunately, the busy bees at ASAN have created a toolkit to help advocates with this issue!
  • Judy Endow on passing
  • Lydia Brown on what it’s like to have violence as a special interest [TW violence, obviously]
  • Real Social Skills on representation and being a “real” disabled person
  • Anonymous on whether or not it’s good to tell your employer when your child has special needs (Spoiler alert: it’s a double bind, like every other disclosure issue. *sigh*)

More on the “what to do (and what not to do)” front:


  • Ron Suskind on how his autistic son used Disney movies to learn to navigate the world. (Warning: There is some language / framing near the beginning of the article that I am not entirely comfortable with, but if you can manage to read through that part, the middle and end are well worth it.)
  • Cynthia Kim on pronoun reversal

On Failing

These things are all different from each other:

  • Trying to do a good thing and succeeding
  • Trying to do a good thing and mostly succeeding, but with significant flaws that need to be talked about
  • Trying to do a good thing and failing badly
  • Doing something genuinely controversial (that is, a thing that some people think is really good, and some people think is really bad, for reasons that cannot be reduced to privilege/ignorance)
  • Pretending to try to do a good thing, but putting in so little effort that a fail is inevitable
  • Refusing to try at all

Not all fails are the same kind of fail. Small fails matter and need to be talked about, too. But sometimes there is a temptation to treat all fails as equally awful (I feel tempted towards this in some of my reviews, at least – maybe it’s just me) and I think we lose something important when we do that.

I want to talk about this, but I’m having trouble articulating the reasons why I want to talk about it, or even what my thoughts are.


Activism can be very complicated, in spite of people occasionally insisting that it’s simple. Especially if your understanding of human interaction is a little vague to start with.

In light of this, I really appreciate Real Social Skills’ post about how to do activism.

Autism News, 2014/03/09

Great news! Last news post, ASAN and other disability rights organizations were campaigning for President Obama to include disabled workers working on 14(c) certificates in his increase to the federal contractor minimum wage. Those efforts paid off, and “sheltered workshops” employed by the U.S. federal government will now have to pay their workers the same wages as everyone else.

Obama’s minimum wage increase was only for a specific sector of the U.S. economy, though. Sheltered workshops in the private sector are still allowed to pay disabled workers less than a dollar per hour. ASAN and the other groups who achieved this are now hoping to have section 14(c) repealed altogether, so that the minimum wage throughout the U.S. will apply to everyone, abled and disabled.

In other news, the US’s Combating Autism Act is up for re-authorization. This act is more or less what the name implies: a research funding bill in which the vast majority of funded research aims to create a world without autistic people, not to help existing autistic people with the services they actually need. More details from ASAN here. You can also check out the hashtag #StopCombatingMe on Twitter.

Life issues:

  • S.E. Smith on why disability rights and caregivers’ rights should not be in opposition to each other. (The article is mostly about people who work professionally as caregivers, but a great deal of this also applies to disability parents and other family member caregivers.)
  • Saintgloria on social networks
  • Joeymom on parenting a child who is known to wander


Sad Things:

  • March 1 was an official day of remembrance for disabled people who are murdered by their caregivers. (Yes, there are that many.) If you forgot to mark the date on March 1, you might like to take a moment to look at Autism Memorial.
  • Avonte Oquendo, the autistic boy from my last news post who died after wandering away from school, is still in the news. People are talking about ways to prevent further deaths through the use of tracking bracelets and other forms of control; Lisa Daxer explains why it’s not that simple.
  • Also, here is a very interesting conversation from Tumblr about self-diagnosis and substance abuse.

Short Story Spotlight: “Twelve Seconds”

The Story: Tina Gower, “Twelve Seconds”, Writers of the Future 2013 (read in this year’s Campbellian anthology, which is free until Hugo voting closes)

Like “Touch of Tides,” this is a short story that I need to go on at length about in order to explain why it’s cool. It’s a clever subversion of the cure decision story, though one doesn’t find that out until a good ways in.

(Yes, there are going to be moderate spoilers here; I can’t figure out how to avoid it. I will try to avoid spoiling the ending.)

Before I read “Twelve Seconds,” I didn’t think the cure decision story could be subverted. Whether or not the protagonist decides to be cured, a cure decision story still revolves around handwringing over whether or not autistic people should be allowed to exist. How do you subvert all the problems with that, short of avoiding it altogether?

“Twelve Seconds” has an autistic protagonist, an older man named Howard working at a police station, who is conflicted about his autism sometimes wishes he could be NT. Meanwhile, some doctors elsewhere in the storyworld are working on a cure for autism which will soon be available.

However, the story does not revolve around Howard deciding whether or not to be cured. The cure isn’t even mentioned until partway through the story, when Howard is already working on some apparently-unrelated problems; so when someone mentions it to him, he brushes them off and goes back to what he was doing. Even though Howard fits the “typical cure decision story protagonist” profile, he does not find the idea of a cure interesting, and does not spend nearly as much time thinking about it as the NTs in his life seem to think.
This in itself is an important subversion, but there is more.

The cure doctors do, of course, become relevant to the plot – but not in the usual way. Howard’s main problem, throughout the story, is to investigate a problem with some of the data he has received in his job at the police station. The more Howard finds out about this problem, the more closely these doctors appear to be embroiled in it. They’re relevant, not because Howard is autistic and needs them, but because they’re part of the plot.

The cure in question doesn’t only work for autism. It involves radical neurological rewriting, so it is also touted as a cure for several other conditions – including PTSD. It is a traumatized co-worker, not Howard, who is most interested in these doctors and in being cured. (Which is understandable to me; I’m fairly sure that, unlike autism, most people with PTSD would like to be cured.)

Also, the cure technology is situated within a larger landscape of interventions available to people like Howard. These interventions have benefits and drawbacks, just as therapies for autistic people can have benefits and drawbacks in real life. Howard, for example, uses Augmented Reality goggles to mediate his sensory input. These goggles help with overload and prevent meltdowns, but they also provide intrusive commentary on Howard’s actions, shaming him for harmless behaviours which happen not to be what NTs expect, and they dampen the pattern-matching abilities which make Howard so good at his job in the first place. Moreover, Howard’s use of the goggles is sometimes coerced; wearing them in certain situations, for instance, is a condition of his employment.

Gower is not Meda Kahn, and her story is not polemic. She does not spell out how the problems with Howard’s goggles relate to ableism and social power. However, she shows the problems quite clearly, shows us how Howard’s insecurities develop around them, and allows us to draw our own conclusions. The result is a story which is sometimes uncomfortable to read, especially when one doesn’t know if it will turn out all right in the end, but worth reading.

And I said I wouldn’t spoil the ending, but just so we’re clear: in the end, Howard is not cured. The doctors with the cures are very definitely not good guys, and they don’t win. And the brief characterization given to the doctors, though they do not get much direct screen time, will have many autistic readers wincing and nodding in recognition.

The Verdict: Recommended

The Parable of the Supervillain

Annnnnd before I even catch my breath from that last poem, I have a new one up in the March issue of Apex Magazine! Wheeee!

(I’ve wanted to publish a poem in Apex ever since Catherynne M. Valente was the editor. *crosses things off bucket list*)

The Parable of the Supervillain

Fun fact about this poem: The first draft was written in February 2013. The line in which the narrator discovers her ex-husband “lazing in the U.S. Virgin Islands” originally said “lazing in Tahiti”… But then Agents of SHIELD came out, and using the word “Tahiti” in a superhero poem means something entirely different now. I’m used to revising poems in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons, but that was a new one. 😀

Now I’m imagining all sorts of crossover fiction, of course.

*spins in circles*

How To Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps, by Merc Rustad

In case you missed it on Twitter yesterday, I have to gush and squee right now about this story by my writing friend Merc Rustad.

I have a conflict of interest here because Merc and I beta (and alpha) read each other’s stories a lot, and are generally fans of each other, but this is my favorite story of everything I’ve ever seen from em, published or otherwise. I am glad Scigentasy picked it up, because it IS very much about gender identity, and about finding the people whose friendship and support will keep you alive.

There’s some other stuff in there. (Which is why it needs a Trigger Warning not just for gender/species dysphoria, but for suicidal ideation and a brief scene of psychological abuse.) If anyone is in a reviewing/discussing mood, I would love to see someone analyze the story from a mental health / social impairment / disability perspective, because I think there’s a lot about that hidden in the story, too. Due to my conflict of interest & general lack of distance, I don’t think that person should be me this time around.