Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Uncanny Magazine Wins the 2019 Best Semiprozine Hugo Award!

We have wonderful news! Uncanny Magazine won its fourth Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine (Publishers/Editors-in-Chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, Managing Editor Michi Trota, Podcast Producers Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue Editors-in-Chief Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien)! We are deeply honored by this Hugo Award. It was a stellar group of finalists. We are especially excited because this Hugo Award includes the landmark Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction Special Issue.

A magazine is the work of numerous people, so we want to thank our 2018 regular staff of Michi Trota, Mimi Mondal, Erika Ensign, Steven Schapansky, Stephanie Malia Morris, Chimedum Ohaegbu, and Caroline M. Yoachim; our Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction guest editors-in-chief Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and Dominik Parisien and guest editors Nicolette Barischoff, S. Qiouyi Lu, and Judith Tarr; all of our submissions editors; and, of course, our ombudsman and world’s greatest daughter, Caitlin. Thank you to every single member of the Space Unicorn Ranger Corps and all of the Hugo voters. We couldn’t do this without the support of this community.

Once again, congratulations to the three Uncanny Magazine stories which were finalists for the Hugo Awards: “The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer for Best Novelette, “The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society” by T. Kingfisher for Best Short Story, and “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander for Best Short Story

Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas didn’t win the Best Editor- Short Form Hugo Award. A bittersweet congratulations to the winner, the late and legendary Gardner Dozois.

Congratulations to all the Hugo Awards winners and finalists. What an absolutely amazing night, ballot, and community to be part of!

Two Uncanny Magazine Stories Are 2019 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists!

Fabulous news, Space Unicorns! “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” by Brooke Bolander and “The Hydraulic Emperor” by Arkady Martine are 2019 WSFA Small Press Award Finalists! Congratulations to Brooke, Arkady, and all of the finalists!

From the WSFA website:

The award honors the efforts of small press publishers in providing a critical venue for short fiction in the area of speculative fiction. The award showcases the best original short fiction published by small presses in the previous year (2018). An unusual feature of the selection process is that all voting is done with the identity of the author (and publisher) hidden so that the final choice is based solely on the quality of the story. The winner is chosen by the members of the Washington Science Fiction Association (www.wsfa.org) and will be presented at their annual convention, Capclave (www.capclave.org), held this year on October 18-20, 2019 at the Rockville Hilton, 1750 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD.

Best of Uncanny Has a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly!

Fabulous news, Space Unicorns! The forthcoming Best of Uncanny (edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas) from Subterranean Press received a coveted STARRED REVIEW from Publishers Weekly!

“Hugo-winning editors Thomas and Thomas have assembled some of the most well known, internationally respected, and utterly evocative pieces from Uncanny’s five-year history into this substantial and impressive collection. With a wealth of diverse voices, topics, and themes, these pieces attest to the limitless creativity of Uncanny’s writers…”

Read the entire review here!

You can pre-order this GIGANTIC BOOK from Subterranean Press or from most places that sell books!

The Thomases and Törzs’s Story Are World Fantasy Award Finalists!

More excellent award news, Space Unicorns!

The World Fantasy Award Finalists have been announced! Once again, Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are Finalists for the Special Award–Non-Professional World Fantasy Award for Uncanny Magazine! Also, “Like a River Loves the Sky” by Emma Törzs is a Finalist for the Best Short Story World Fantasy Award! We are thrilled and honored! Congratulations to Emma and all of the finalists!

Uncanny Magazine Issue 29 Cover and Table of Contents!

Coming July 2, THE TWENTY-NINTH ISSUE OF THE 2016, 2017, & 2018 HUGO AWARD-WINNING UNCANNY MAGAZINE!!!

All of the content will be available in the eBook version on the day of release.

The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half on August 6.

Don’t forget eBook Subscriptions to Uncanny Magazine are available from Weightless Books and Amazon Kindle, and you can support us on our Patreon!

Uncanny Magazine Issue 29 Table of Contents

Cover:
Skyward Bound by Julie Dillon

Editorial:
“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas

Fiction:
“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (7/2)
“Big Box” by Greg van Eekhout (7/2)
“Compassionate Simulation” by Rachel Swirsky and P. H. Lee (7/2)

“On the Impurity of Dragon-kind” by Marie Brennan (8/6)
“How the Trick is Done” by A.C. Wise (8/6)
“The Migration Suite: A Study in C Sharp Minor” by Maurice Broaddus (8/6)

Reprint:
“A Champion of Nigh-Space” by Tim Pratt (8/6)

Essays:
“Was Trials of Mana Worth Growing Up For?” by Aidan Moher (7/2)
“The Gang’s All Here: Writing Lessons from The Good Place” By Tansy Rayner Roberts (7/2)
“The Better Place” by Karlyn Ruth Meyer (7/2)

“Beware the Lifeboat” by Marissa Lingen (8/6)
“Sir Elsa of Tortall, Knight of the Realm” by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry (8/6)

Poetry:
“capturing the mood” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires (7/2)
“Sing” by Alexandra Seidel (7/2)

“If Love Is Real, So Are Fairies” by Cynthia So (8/6)
“Buruburu” by Betsy Aoki (8/6)

Interviews:
Caroline M. Yoachim Interviews Greg van Eekhout (7/2)

Caroline M. Yoachim Interviews Maurice Broaddus (8/6)

Podcasts:
Uncanny Magazine Podcast 29A (7/2)
“The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker, as read by Erika Ensign
“capturing the mood” by D.A. Xiaolin Spires, as read by Joy Piedmont
Sarah Pinsker Interviewed by Lynne M. Thomas

Uncanny Magazine Podcast 29B (8/6)
“How the Trick is Done” by A.C. Wise, as read by Erika Ensign
“If Love Is Real, So Are Fairies” by Cynthia So, as read by Joy Piedmont
A.C. Wise Interviewed by Lynne M. Thomas

The Thomases Unbox the Best of Uncanny ARCs!

EXCITING DAY, SPACE UNICORNS!

As you may remember, the phenomenal Subterranean Press will be releasing massive hardcover and prestige editions of  The Best of Uncanny in December 2019The Best of Uncanny is a collection edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas bringing together some of their favorite Uncanny Magazine stories and poems from the first few years of the magazine, including many works which were nominated for or won awards. Over 40 authors!

Last Friday, we received a box of Advance Reading Copies (ARCs)!!! THEY ARE SO GORGEOUS!!! Look at how beautiful that Tran Nguyen cover is!!!

The prestige edition SOLD OUT in 24 hours, but you can still pre-order the regular hardcover edition at the Subterranean Press website!

Once again, check out the spectacular Table of Contents!

Table of Contents

  • “The Uncanny Valley- An Introduction” by Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas
  • “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies” by Brooke Bolander
  • “Blessings” by Naomi Novik
  • “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu (translator signing, not the author)
  • “The New Ways” by Amal El-Mohtar (Poem)
  • “Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad
  • “Catcall” by Delilah S. Dawson
  • “Wooden Feathers” by Ursula Vernon
  • “The Long Run” by Neil Gaiman (Poem)
  • “Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” by Sam J. Miller
  • “Ghost Champagne” by Charlie Jane Anders
  • “Translatio Corporis” by Kat Howard
  • “Rose Child” by Theodora Goss (Poem)
  • “The Witch of the Orion Waste and the Boy Knight” by E. Lily Yu
  • “Monster Girls Don’t Cry” by A. Merc Rustad
  • “Midnight Hour” by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • “Henosis” by N.K. Jemisin
  • “The Persecution of Witches” by Ali Trotta (Poem)
  • “Restore the Heart into Love” by John Chu
  • “I Frequently Hear Music in the Very Heart of Noise” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” by Alyssa Wong
  • “肉骨茶 (Meat Bone Tea)” by S. Qiouyi Lu (Poem)
  • “She Still Loves the Dragon” by Elizabeth Bear
  • “If You Were a Tiger, I’d Have to Wear White” by Maria Dahvana Headley
  • “archival testimony fragments / minersong” by Rose Lemberg (Poem)
  • “Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon
  • “Planet Lion” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • The Hydraulic Emperor” by Arkady Martine
  • “Starskin, Sealskin” by Shveta Thakrar & Sara Cleto (Poem)
  • “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara
  • “god-date” by Brandon O’Brien (Poem)
  • “Auspicium Melioris Aevi” by JY Yang
  • “Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde
  • “An Ocean the Color of Bruises” by Isabel Yap
  • “Dancing Princesses” by Roshani Chokshi (Poem)
  • “Those” by Sofia Samatar
  • “Though She Be But Little” by C. S. E. Cooney
  • “Children of Thorns, Children of Water” by Aliette de Bodard
  • “Protestations Against the Idea of Anglicization” by Cassandra Khaw (Poem)
  • “My Body, Herself” by Carmen Maria Machado
  • “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands” by Seanan McGuire
  • “The Words on My Skin” by Caroline M. Yoachim
  • “And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker
  • “The Sea Never Says It Loves You” by Fran Wilde (Poem)
  • “Pockets” by Amal El-Mohtar

The Sense of Wonderful- A Guest Post by Tracy Townsend

(Author Tracy Townsend’s novel, The Fall, was released by Pyr on June 11, 2019, and can be found at all major booksellers.)

Every summer of my childhood, my brother and I traveled to northern Michigan to visit our grandparents, often staying there for weeks before finally coming home. It was part vacation, part childcare arrangement for a family with two working parents and a long, hot Chicago summer to plan around. The lakes and woods and tiny towns dotted around the Alpena area became as familiar to me as a second home. I loved them with a complicated ferocity: close, and familiar, and also, deep down, a little regretful.

Other kids’ families went different places during the summer, whether on long weekends or weeks-long treks. The Grand Canyon. Disney World. California. Even overseas. But my summers were mapped along the same, roughly 500 mile route, always bound for the same familiar spaces.

I loved my extended family. I loved knowing a place well enough to never get lost there. And I still longed, with the bitter, self-righteous passion of the young, to go anywhere, just for once. I would lie in bed during my summers up north, listening to the lap of water on the dock a few yards away, and read National Geographic, dreaming of Other Places. In the glossy pictures of magazines, I saw an enormous world loom before me, wondrous and new.

Someday, I vowed, I would find my way there.

When the characters in my novel The Fall had to travel away from their home city overseas, my writer’s  mind returned to what I dreamed of doing during those summer trips. Whole new settings to explore! New textures, tastes, and spaces! Ten-year-old me would have seen it all as so very exciting: adventures in different lands with a different languages, different food, different clothes and customs.

Fortunately, ten-year-old me wasn’t in charge of writing this book.

The phrase “sense of wonder” has a certain baggage in SF/F. What we can “wonder” at without treating as alien, though, is both broad and deep. I want my readers to feel a sense of wonder in what the protagonist of my series, Rowena Downshire, experiences not because the world surrounding her is some oddity for their titillation, something that proves “other people” and “other places” are strange. I want the sense of wonder to come from her realizing how much bigger the world is: how full of things that make their own kind of sense and have their own just place.

At the start of The Fall, Rowena is fourteen; she’s never left her home city of Corma. It’s a rough, crowded, industrial metropolis that smacks more of Cardiff or London than Kyoto, with some of the Dickensian flourishes you might expect of a Gaslamp fantasy. Her experience of leaving Corma for Kyo-Tokai, the mega-city setting of much of The Fall, probably resembles what mine would have looked like, had I boarded an airship bound for the east at her age, instead of a Chevy Trailblazer pointed toward the Canadian border.

The key to keeping Rowena’s journey honest – true to her character and to my desire not to render the unknown into the exotic – was to focus her gaze on more than the high-gloss newness of her surroundings. She had to ask questions, yes. Why are there clockwork animals working the airship docking yards? How shall I tie this robe? Where do the canals that make up the city’s transportation system drain off to? (And where, you might wonder, will this figure into the plot?) But she also had to see the people in this new place as individuals, not tour guides. Rowena had to meet a girl like herself and appreciate what her life in Nippon looked like, to learn what her counterpart valued, feared, and desired. The people she would meet would be distinct, yes, but not strange. If anything, Rowena herself would be the source of strangeness: the one who dressed or spoke or ate differently from a cultural norm that wasn’t defined by her. And she would learn to navigate those differences thoughtfully, just as I’d always wanted to.

The world beyond what we know deserves more than our tourism. It deserves our lived-in attention. Our admiration. It deserves to be welcomed into our stories as we would hope to be welcomed into it.

One of these days, I’ll take a trip to some of the places I dreamed of visiting as a child. When I do, I hope to be the kind of traveler Rowena becomes.

Tracy Townsend is the author of The Nine and The Fall (books 1 and 2 in the Thieves of Fate series), a monthly columnist for the feminist sf magazine Luna Station Quarterly, and an essayist for Uncanny Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in writing and rhetoric from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from DePauw University, a source of regular consternation when proofreading her credentials. She is the former chair of the English department at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, an elite public boarding school, where she teaches creative writing and science fiction and fantasy literature. She has been a martial arts instructor, a stage combat and accent coach, and a short-order cook for houses full of tired gamers. Now she lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois with two bumptious hounds, two remarkable children, and one very patient husband. You can find her at Twitter @TracyATownsend, and online at www.tracytownsend.net.

Buy The Fall: Indiebound / Barnes & Noble / Powells / Amazon / Audible

Theology in AI Fiction- A Guest Post by Ada Hoffmann

(Author Ada Hoffmann’s debut novel, The Outside, was released by Angry Robot Books on June 11, 2019, and can be found at all major booksellers.)

As an AI researcher, I find myself continually correcting people who joke that my programs will one day take over the world.

It is literally impossible for my programs to take over the world.

My programs write poetry. It’s not even very good poetry. They write by shuffling words around, comparing them to human sources, and then trying to measure their properties. After five years of PhD-level research, they still can’t write anything coherent. This is because they don’t “understand” – as a typical human defines that word – what they’re saying.

AI these days does some very impressive things, granted. It drives cars. It builds cars. It also suggests polite replies to your Gmail messages and guesses what you might want to buy on Amazon. And it does these things by being very, very good at recognizing patterns. Sometimes creepily good.

It’s no surprise that humans, confronted with this creepy accuracy, start to worry. We have lots of books and movies about AI rising up against humans, destroying us accidentally or developing their own consciousness and becoming a new, hyper-logical class of person that are functionally, Gods. (Heck, I’ve even written that story – The Outside, available 11th June from Angry Robot Books.)

But any AI researcher will tell you that these stories are still a very long way off, and in many cases they are functionally impossible.

Pattern recognition is very successful right now, but the other traits of “strong AI” that we see in science fiction – consciousness, understanding, thoughts, feelings, opinions – are problems that computers haven’t even begun to crack.

When an ad service can guess what product you’ll want, it’s not because the service is particularly intelligent. Rather, the “creepy” feeling comes from the fact that the service is recognizing straightforward patterns in private information about you. This comes from all the stuff that the apps and websites you use have access to, as detailed in their long, complex privacy policies that nobody really reads, which is all information that you wouldn’t likely divulge to a human.

That doesn’t mean that the service understands what it’s seeing from you, let alone develop a plan to break free and destroy the world. Really, it doesn’t even know what a “world” is.

This is not to say that AI is always safe. But the real dangers posed by AI are way less sexy than a robot uprising. They include things like racism being inadvertently encoded in systems that are supposed to make “unbiased” decisions about humans. Military robots being used to absolve humans of decisions about killing. And a shrinking job market in Western countries thanks to increasing automation.

There is certainly a science fiction aspect about these more realistic problems, but we are culturally and emotionally attached to the other more apocalytpic ideas. You can blame SF books and cinema for that (myself included, I guess!). But these stories exist for a reason. They are necessary. And, at their heart, they have nothing to do with computers. They are actually much, much older than technology.

They’re the same stories we’ve been telling for thousands of years, as a way of exploring our feelings about what it means to be human. They ask the tough questions to help us examine our own way of living.

For example: The story of an innocent AI who becomes conscious and interacts with her creator is the story of Pygmalion and it asks: What does it mean to create? In what sense are our creations “real”? In what sense do they have a life outside us? The story of a runaway AI that turns the whole world into paper clips is the story of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It asks: What happens when we are given power, without the wisdom to understand the consequences?

The questions go on and on. Stories about sentient sex robots discuss the idea of sex work, sex slavery, and the messy ways that human sexuality intersects with power. The story of mistreated robots who turn on their masters is the story of the Slave Revolt, which is both literature and literal history. It asks: Who do you have power over? How are they affected by that power? Do they deserve the power? Do you? (The very word “robot,” was first used in SF by Karel and Josef Čapek, and it originally meant “slave.”)

And Technological Singularity stories – the ones in which AI systems exponentially improve until their thinking ability has vastly surpassed anything a human can do – are stories about gods. They pose the questions we’ve long since asked: What does it mean for a being to be greater than we are? What would such a being look like? What would it think of us? Would it serve us, reward us, or punish us? Would it help us ascend to its level? Would it think of us at all? What do we deserve from such a being? Who are we ultimately beholden to?

The technical plausibility matters less than the questions it raises, and humans have been asking these questions since religion existed. If we cannot trust our traditional gods, then we simply turn to science tropes instead. We take our concerns about gods and consciousness and justice, and we dress them up in a robot (or alien) costume to make them palatable.

Whether they are benevolently guiding and improving humanity, meddling and manipulating, distant and uncaring, or in the process of judging whether we deserve to exist at all, super-intelligent AI are put into the roles that ancient humans would have assigned to powerful spirits, angels, demons, and gods. And the responses that we have as humans to these roles – from adoring obedience to violent rebellion – are as diverse as the authors who write them.

It doesn’t matter that these stories aren’t scientifically likely. They’re stories we have a need to tell. And they’re stories we will keep telling, with whatever symbols and characters make sense at the time, long after AI in the real world has its day.

 

Ada Hoffmann’s debut novel, The Outside, was released by Angry Robot Books in June 2019. She is also the author of the collection Monsters in My Mind and of dozens of speculative short stories and poems, as well as the Autistic Book Party #ownvoices review series. Her work has been long-listed for the BSFA Award for Shorter Fiction, the Rhysling Award, and the D Franklin Defying Doomsday Award.

Ada is a computer scientist at a university in southern Ontario, Canada, where she teaches computers to be creative and undergraduates to think computationally about the human mind. She has also worked professionally as a church soprano, free food distributor, and token autistic person. Ada is bisexual, genderfluid, polyamorous, and mentally ill. She lives with her primary partner Dave, her black cat Ninja, and various other animals and people.

You can find Ada online at http://ada-hoffmann.com/, on Twitter at @xasymptote, or support her work on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ada_hoffmann.

Uncanny Magazine Podcast Reader Changes

Another bittersweet news, wonderful news post, Space Unicorns.

Uncanny Magazine Podcast reader Stephanie Malia Morris is moving on after podcast episode #28B. Stephanie has been with us since episode #18A and has done a spectacular job. We know she will continue to do brilliant things, and will be greatly missed.

And now for the wonderful news! Our new podcast reader joining reader Erika Ensign will be Joy Piedmont! We are thrilled to have Joy joining the Uncanny team, and know she is going to be fantastic!

Joy’s a librarian and high school technology integrator in Manhattan. She’s lead workshops at conferences on topics such as digital ethics, media literacy, and identity development for transracial adoptees. As a freelance writer, she’s covered pop culture for Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch and reviewed Young Adult literature for School Library Journal. She co-hosts/co-produces Reality Bomb, a Doctor Who podcast, and in 2018 she was the creator and co-executive producer of #WhoAgainstGuns, a series of podcast commentaries that raised over $20K to help end gun violence. Joy is the co-creator and co-chair of Gallifrey One‘s TARDIS Talks, a special track of programming giving space to big ideas and theories about Doctor Who and fandom. Follow her on Twitter @InquiringJoy.