The State of SFF – June 2022

Welcome to June and a catch-up State of SFF!

Due to pregancy stuff (buying things for the baby, doctor’s appointments, and so on), I was too preoccupied to keep up with reading or revieweing or even posting anything at all. The good news is that everything is perfectly fine, we’re all healthy and happy, and we now know that our little baby is a boy. 🙂

As you can imagine, reading and blogging have simply not been my highest priority, but I hope to catch up on all those unwritten reviews and new TBR additions soon. “News” this months may be a little older as I’ve collected things that interested me from both April and May.

Quickie News

  • The Locus Award Finalists are out! The list isn’t surprising but it has all the most talked about and well liked books from 2021. I find it notable that Naomi Novik’s novel The Last Graduate is not listed as YA but as Fantasy Novel (as well it should be). You can find all the finalists here.

  • And so is the shortlist for the Nommo Awards. Here we see familiar names such as Tade Thompson, Nnedi Okorafor, and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, but also newer ones with books still on my TBR (looking especially hard at you, T.L. Huchu’s Library of the Dead!). The list is well worth checking out if you’re looking for interesting books to read.

  • In sadder news, Award-winning author Patricia McKillip died in early May. I have only read one of her books so far (The Forgotten Beasts of Eld), but it was a deeply touching one that made me look forward to exploring the rest of her work all the more.


The Nebula Award Winners Have Been Announced

Congratulations to all the finalists and of course the winners!

Best Novel went to P. DjèlĂ­ Clark for his novel A Master of Djinn and although it’s not my favorite work of his, I am thrilled that Clark won the Nebula. I hope he writes many more novels and novellas, whether they are set in his alternate version of Cairo or elsewhere. Congratulations!

Best Novella was a happy surprise in that a Neon Hemlock book won rather than a Tordotcom or Uncanny finalists (I love both of them dearly but variety is important!). Premee Mohamed’s And What Can We Offer You Tonight took home the award.

The Andre Norton Award for YA/Middle Grade Fiction went to Darcie Little Badger’s A Snake Falls to Earth which is also nominated for a Hugo (and I have yet to read it).

Best Novelette went to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki for O2 Arena, and Best Short Story was taken by Sarah Pinsker for “Where Oaken Hearts do Gather”, another Hugo finalists that I haven’t read yet but am incredibly excited for. Ekpeki’s acceptance speech came last during the ceremony, due to connection issues (live from Nigeria), but otherwise, the ceremony went smoothly without any real technical mishaps.
And for another completely virtual event, it was quite lovely. Connie Willis is a treasure, with or without a live audience, and Neil Gaiman’s appearances were stellar as well.

You can find the list of all finalists and winners here.


Nimona is coming to Netflix

I picked up the Graphic Novel by ND Stevenson years ago but didn’t expect to fall in love with it as hard as I did. The story of a teenage shapeshifter who desperately wants to become a villain’s sidekick offers some twists and turns that make it not just funny, but heartwarming and even romantic. After some delays and ultimately a cancellation by Disney, Netflix is now taking on the job and bringing us the animated movie version of the beloved comic.

The movie is set to release in 2023, so we have some time to wait yet. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all be collectively excited, right?


The Mythopoeic Award Finalists 2022 Are Out (link opens PDF)

Of particular interest to me, because I just like this award, are the finalists for the 2022 Mythopoeic Award. Among them, you will recognize Hugo/Nebula/Locus finalists (or winners) but there’s also always some titles that other awards have overlooked or that simply do something particularly interesting with fairy tales, mythology, magical realism, and that kind of subgenre.

  • Katherine Addison – The Witness for the Dead (Tor, 2021)
  • Ryka Aoki – Light from Uncommon Stars (Tor Books, 2021)
  • P. DjèlĂ­ Clark – A Master of Djinn (Tordotcom, 2021)
  • Susanna Clarke – Piranesi (Bloomsbury, 2020)
  • Garth Nix – Terciel and Elinor (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021)
  • Jo Walton – Or What You Will (Tor 2020)

Congratulations to the finalists. I’m particularly happy to see Piranesi on here and I am now highyl interested in Jo Walton’s Or What You Will.


Books From the Future (or: Feed Your Wishlist)

It’s great to know what books we can buy very soon (like the ones in the section below) but I also find it really nice to have something to look forward to that’s still far in the future. Such as these three books I’ve chosen for this month’s section of “I’ll be giddily awaiting you for about a year and staring at your covers longingly until then”:

  • T. J. Klune is bringing us In the Lives of Puppets, a Pinocchio inspired and probably heartwarming tale that I cannot miss. Set to come out at in March 2023. Sidenote: I love the covers for his books so much!
  • Margaret Owen revealed the cover for Painted Devils, the May 2023 sequel to her amazing Little Thieves. I cannot get over how good that book was and how perfectly the cover for the new one fits the series (the author does them herself, as well as the inside illustrations so I shouldn’t be surprised).
  • Lastly, Kelly Barnhill’s The Crane Husband was announced and it not only sounds up my alley but also has a lovely cover to offer. A gender-flipped fairy tale with a recommendation from Cat Valente is an auto-buy if I’ve ever seen one. We’ll have to wait for February 2023, though.

Exciting June Publications

I’m a little said I missed the May edition fo this blog feature, so I’ll just casually drop some titles you may have missed last month: Maggie Stiefvater’s Bravely, Holly Black’s adult debut Book of Night, Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen, Guy Gavriel Kay’s All the Seas of the World,

J. M. MIRO – ORDINARY MONSTERS (June 7th)

“Labyrinthine” is a buzzword I just can’t resist. Add to that orphans, gaslit streets of London, crime, and superpowers, and I’m all yours.

A STUNNING NEW WORK OF HISTORICAL FANTASY, J. M. MIRO’S ORDINARY MONSTERS INTRODUCES READERS TO THE DARK, LABYRINTHINE WORLD OF THE TALENTS

England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness—a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a brutal childhood in Mississippi, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When a jaded female detective is recruited to escort them to safety, all three begin a journey into the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a story of wonder and betrayal, from the gaslit streets of London, and the wooden theatres of Meiji-era Tokyo, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh where other children with gifts – the Talents – have been gathered. There, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of what is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

Riveting in its scope, exquisitely written, Ordinary Monsters presents a catastrophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it.


ROSE SZABO – WE ALL FALL DOWN (June 7th)

I’m approachign this one with caution as early reviews had a lot to say about the representation of the Black character in this story. But I’m also still interested enough to want ot make up my own mind.

The first book in a dark fantasy YA duology by Rose Szabo, the author of What Big Teeth, about the power and danger of stories and the untold costs of keeping magic alive, perfect for fans of Aiden Thomas and Marie Rutkoski.

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life—work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists—not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other—and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.


KATHERINE ADDISON – THE GRIEF OF STONES (June 14th)

More Goblin Emperor world is always a win. In this case, we get a direct sequel to Witness for the Dead which follows Celehar. I love this world and its characters, so this is a must-buy.

In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a direct sequel to The Witness For The Dead

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses. The love of his friends will lead him out again.


ALIX E. HARROW – A MIRROR MENDED (June 14th)

Look, until Harrow somehow writes a truly terrible book, I’ll be reading all her stuff. Her fractured fairy tales are especially nice. Bite-sized twists on the stories I’ve loved since childhood with social commentary and lots of references. I guess you have to like that sort of thing but if you do you’ll be very happy with this series. ETA: Aaaand I just got an ARC of this which I will be devouring during my holiday in Southern Italy. 🙂

A Mirror Mended is the next installment in USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s Fractured Fables series.

Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?


A. G. SLATTER – THE PATH OF THORNS (June 14th)

Angela Slatter’s spiritual successor to All the Murmuring Bones (which, btw, you should all check out and here’s why) is another tale with gothic vibes. It sounds like part Jane Eyre, part Jekyll and Hyde, part fairy tale and if that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what to say.

Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby. It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensible to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora. Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.


AVA REID – JUNIPER & THORN (June 21st)

I enjoyed Reid’s debut novel, even though it had its flaws, but it also offered enough really good stuff for me to look forward to her newest book. Fairy tales, pitched as “for fans of Cat Valente” (we’ll see… we’ll see), and gothic horror all sounds excellent.

From highly acclaimed bestselling author Ava Reid comes a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree, set in another time and place within the world of The Wolf and the Woodsman, where a young witch seeks to discover her identity and escape the domination of her wizard father, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Catherynne M. Valente.

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


SAARA EL-ARIFI – THE FINAL STRIFE (June 23rd)

This was on my wishlist before that cover was revealed, but I’ll be honest, this cover would have been enough for me to want that book. The story doesn’t sound all that original but it has a trial of combat and skill and I always enjoy reading about competitions of some kind, especially when in a fantasy seetting.

In the first book of a visionary African and Arabian-inspired fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel Empire that divides people by blood.

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.

Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.

Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.

As the Empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.


SAM J. MILLER – BOYS, BEASTS & MEN (June 14th)

I have an ARC of this, teehee. Sam J. Miller always comes up with the most interesting characters and ideas that are somehow unlike anything I’ve read before. So I can’t wait to dive into a whole collection of his short stories.

In Nebula Award-winning author Sam J. Miller’s devastating debut short-fiction collection, featuring an introduction by Amal El-Mohtar, queer infatuation, inevitable heartbreak, and brutal revenge seamlessly intertwine. Whether innocent, guilty, or not even human, the boys, beasts, and men roaming through Miller’s gorgeously crafted worlds can destroy readers, yet leave them wanting more.

“Miller’s sheer talent shines through in abundance . . . Boys, Beasts & Men is an outrageous journey which skillfully blends genres and will haunt you with its original, poetic voices as much as its victims, villains, and treasure trove of leading actors.”

—Grimdark Magazine

Despite his ability to control the ambient digital cloud, a foster teen falls for a clever con-man. Luring bullies to a quarry, a boy takes clearly enumerated revenge through unnatural powers of suggestion. In the aftermath of a shapeshifting alien invasion, a survivor fears that he brought something out of the Arctic to infect the rest of the world. A rebellious group of queer artists create a new identity that transcends even the anonymity of death.

Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City, The Art of Starving) shows his savage wit, unrelenting candor, and lush imagery in this essential career retrospective collection, taking his place alongside legends of the short-fiction form such as Carmen Maria Machado, Carson McCullers, and Jeff VanderMeer.


News from the blog

April was all about the Orilium Spring Equinox which means I readathon-ed myself successfully through the month and even managed to post a few reviews on time. More are to come soon!
May was less productive, blog-wise, and I mostly read non-fiction about breastfeeding and raising a child and such. Excellent books, but not exactly fitting for this blog. Thus the hiatus.

What I read last month(s):

I also read some novelettes and short stories but I won’t review them in detail so they don’t get their own seperate posts. I do talk about them briefly in my Orilium Readathon Wrap-Up.

Currently reading:

  • C.S.C. Cooney – Saint Death’s Daughter (ARC)
  • Sarah Gailey – Just Like Home (ARC)
  • C. L. Polk – Stormsong

I basically dropped everything in favor of my readathon book picks so now it’s time to catch up on those half-read books I’ve been dragging along. And I have a new Cat Valente middle grade adventure waiting here for me, so that will probably make an appearance soon as well.

Until next month: Stay safe, stay kind, and keep reading. 🙂

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