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Year’s End / Year’s Best

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Well, this has been a memorably weird and hectic year. I’m tapping out this post in an old apartment in the middle of Cambridge, Mass., US of A, having decided (for diverse reasons) that I’d rather be here with friends for the holiday season than back in Blighty, stuck out in the Sheffield badlands with the usual “let’s shut the country down for a fortnight” folderol. (A brief scan of UK news organs suggests my instincts were sound on that front; public transport chaos, quelle surprise.) Knowing a little about seasonal weather patterns on the East coast of the US, it’s strange to be sat here on the day after Boxing Day with clear blue skies outside, scrolling through Instagram images of Western Europe acquiring a thin but definite blanket of snow. (I am, however, not complaining; snow is charming for the first 48 hours, but for someone who lives a fair distance from Minimum Viable Food Retail and relies on public transport to get around, it utterly lacks any long-term appeal.)

It would have been a hectic year if I’d been up to nothing other than rattling through the first year of my PhD; the confirmation-of-candidacy process ended up being protracted and painful (due to my own foolish choices, to be clear, or at least as much as anything else), but I got through in the end, which means my research proper begins when I get back to my desk in January. After struggling hard to get over that hurdle, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it; it feels like I’ve made the grade, somehow (though the real making of the grade is yet to come, of course).

But this year also saw me reach a point where I could tell myself that I’ve (somewhat unexpectedly) passed a benchmark in my decade-old “become a writer” project. Sure, I’ve been writing and publishing for a while, fiction and non-fiction — but selling “Los Piratas…” to Twelve Tomorrows felt like some sort of non-trivial level-up, especially on the fiction side of things. And it turns out that story will be appearing in Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best SF 32 [Amazon UK pre-order; publication date July 2015]; full TOC follows, via Gareth L Powell.

The Fifth Dragon, Ian McDonald (Reach for Infinity)
The Rider, Jérôme Cigut (F&SF)
The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Online)
The Burial of Sir John Mawe at Cassini, Chaz Brenchley (Subterranean Online)
The Regular, Ken Liu (Upgraded)
The Woman from the Ocean, Karl Bunker (Asimov’s)
Shooting the Apocalypse, Paolo Bacigalupi (The End Is Nigh)
Weather, Susan Palwick (Clarkesworld)
The Hand Is Quicker, Elizabeth Bear (The Book of Robert Silverberg)
The Man Who Sold the Moon, Cory Doctorow (Hieroglyph)
Vladimir Chong Chooses To Die, Lavie Tidhar (Analog)
Beside the Damned River, D.J. Cockburn (Interzone)
The Colonel, Peter Watts (Tor.com)
Entanglement, Vandana Singh (Hieroglyph)
White Curtain, Pavel Amnuel (F&SF)
Slipping, Lauren Beukes (Twelve Tomorrows)
Passage of Earth, Michael Swanwick (Clarkesworld)
Amicae Aeternum, Ellen Klages (Reach for Infinity)
In Babelsberg, Alastair Reynolds (Reach for Infinity)
Sadness, Timons Esaias (Analog)
West to East, Jay Lake (Subterranean Online)
Grand Jeté (The Great Leap), Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Online)
Covenant, Elizabeth Bear (Hieroglyph)
Jubilee, Karl Schroeder (Tor.com)
Los Piratas del Mar de Plastico (Pirates of the Plastic Ocean), Paul Graham Raven (Twelve Tomorrows)
Red Lights, and Rain, Gareth L. Powell (Solaris Rising 3)
Coma Kings, Jessica Barber (Lightspeed)
The Prodigal Son, Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s)
God Decay, Rich Larson (Upgraded)
Blood Wedding, Robert Reed (Asimov’s)
The Long Haul, from the Annals of Transportation, The Pacific Monthly, May 2009, Ken Liu (Clarkesworld)
Shadow Flock, Greg Egan (Coming Soon Enough)
Thing and Sick, Adam Roberts (Solaris Rising 3)
Communion, Mary Anne Mohanraj (Clarkesworld)
Someday, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s)
Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)

Feels very strange to see my name alongside not just writers I’ve watched rising through the ranks around me, but writers I’d read and idolised long before I even thought getting published was a possibility. Strange, but also inspiring and humbling at once — which is surely a fitting suite of emotions for the season, and for a newly-upgraded postgrad.

So on we go, then. Happy new year, folks.

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