Look at that gorgeous cover. This book is going to be amazing, and I’m pleased to announce it will include a new short story of mine, “My Time Among the Bridge Blowers.” I’ll have more to say about this story once it comes out, but for now I’m just thrilled to be a part of this collection with so many other writers I admire.
Category: Writing (page 1 of 7)
“The New Mother” was translated and published back in September by China’s (and the world’s) largest circulation science fiction magazine, Science Fiction World. In fact, given the circulation, it’s entirely possible that more people will have read this version of “The New Mother” than the one I originally wrote.
Now the contributor’s copies have made their way across the ocean to me. Looking through it, though I can’t read the text, I notice a lot of interesting things.
- My name, when translated into Chinese, is 尤金 费雪. I’m told this contains characters for both “gold” and “snow.”
- There are many translation footnotes, most commonly for elements of the story dealing with acronyms and initials. All acronyms and initials are rendered in English characters in the text, then contextualized below. There is one footnote that, from context, is clearly explaining why, in English, a group with a condition called HCP might name their news magazine “The Hiccup.” More common acronyms, like DNA, are still printed in English, but not footnoted.
- In the English version of the story, the journalistic passages that made up every other section were distinguished from the narrative passages by italics. In the Chinese version there is clearly a typeface distinction going on, but I don’t know how to characterize it. I want to say that the parts that were italicized in English are here rendered in sketchier, less blocky looking characters. I don’t know if that’s just same typeface’s equivalent of italics, or something more like a different font.
- There’s a fantastic, manga-style illustration to open the story; a double page splash of angry people shouting across a hospital as young girls are pulled away from their mother, while in the center a religious figure with hooded eyes reads from a book while standing beneath a sign that says “KEEP QUIET.” Here’s the best scan I was able to get:
At WorldCon in Kansas City I got the chance to join Jo Walton on the Coode Street podcast, hosted by Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe. We talked about writers that characterize different eras of science fiction, how science fiction differs rhetorically from fantasy (more detail on that here), and whether there’s a difference between the kinds of literary experimentation in the past and what is pursued today. As tends to happen, I fell a little bit into just listening to Jo be enviably clever, but I did get a chance to talk about the Iowa Writers’ Workshop’s modern support for genre writing, and contemporary writers who inspire me (going on for a bit about Carmen Maria Machado and Meghan McCarron and Carola Dibbell). You can listen to the episode on the Coode Street site, on your podcast player of choice through iTunes, or via the embedded player below.
I’m quite please to say that “The New Mother” has been selected for inclusion in Lethe Press’s Heiresses of Russ 2016: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, edited by A. M. Dellamonica and Steve Berman. This will be the first time my work appears in a reprint anthology. It looks to be a gorgeous book, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and learn who I’m sharing the TOC with. “Heiress of Russ” is an appellation I never would have claimed for myself, but couldn’t be happier to receive. You can buy the book from Lethe’s site here.
Or, as I prefer to think of it, earns first place among all stories not written by Kelly Link, who won for “Game of Smash and Recovery.” Coming in second behind Kelly feels a hell of a lot like winning. It was also completely unexpected. In her opening comments at the Campbell & Sturgeon Memorial Awards Reception, Kij Johnson said that the conversation over picking a winner was always “peppery,” but that this year it was especially so. When she announced my name I was astonished. Here’s what she said:
Second Place, “The New Mother,” Eugene Fischer, Asimov’s, Apr/May 2015.
A new disease makes women able to have babies without sexual reproduction. The story, broken by a pregnant lesbian reporter with her own worries, interestingly explores a multiplicity of legal and cultural complexities that could arise in this situation, without compromising the personal angle. The story was masterfully written and exhibited some of the best craft of anything we read this year.
After the ceremony, she and several others approached me to reiterate how much they loved the story, and what a close choice it was. I spent hours drunk on the experience. Much thanks to the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction and the Sturgeon Award jury. Here are some photos.
The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction seems to have sent out a press release today, because various editors began congratulating their authors, so I think it’s safe for me to announce that “The New Mother” is a finalist the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. SFSignal has a list of all the finalists. I found out I was a finalist on the same day I found out I had won the Tiptree Award, a surreal 24 hours in which I got a wave of wonderful news that I was unable to talk about publicly. I told my parents though, and they were perhaps even more excited that I’m a finalist for the Sturgeon Award than they were that I won the Tiptree. As I’ve mentioned before, they spent some time with Sturgeon when they were both in Lawrence, Kansas, and credit him with strengthening their then-nascent relationship. So it’s arguable that I owe Ted Sturgeon some credit for my existence, and it’s certain that I grew up reading him, often from copies of books signed with his “ask the next question” symbol memorialized on the Sturgeon Award permanent trophy. So this particular award has tremendous personal significance.
I’m overwhelmed to announce that “The New Mother” has won the 2015 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award, alongside the novel Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz. In addition, I’m sharing an honor list and long list with so many writers and artists and critics I admire that I don’t even know where to start. Just click through the link, and look at all the wonderful work that the Tiptree jury have highlighted this year. I’m sure I’ll have more to say soon, but for now I’m just gobsmacked and grateful.
I got the call a few days ago (they give you a call first in case you want to decline the nomination), but now it’s public knowledge: “The New Mother” has been nominated for best novella, on a list with some of the best fiction I read in the last year, and much more that I’m excited to discover. I’m profoundly grateful to all who nominated me, and to Sheila Williams, who believed in me enough to give me a twenty thousand word chunk of Asimov’s. That’s twenty thousand words of ink and paper, twenty thousand words she therefore didn’t give to someone else with fans and a reputation. It’s still hard to believe my imaginary people merited that. But I found out I was a finalist while I was finishing up a treatment for a television series based on the story, so you may yet get to see more of Tess and Judy.
I’m typing this from my parents’ house in San Antonio, where we’ll soon all go out for a celebratory meal. But this afternoon I’m sitting with a book from their library, one that came out when I was twelve. Two decades ago science fiction seemed a naturally occurring phenomenon, something to be admired from afar like a rainbow or mountain range. Now it’s a close, living thing, full of friends and colleagues. I’ve many goals yet unmet, but today it feels nice to turn around and look back at the path trailing into my childhood, appreciate how far I’ve come.
The nomination period for the Nebula awards closed a couple of days ago, and in the lead-up to that deadline many people said awfully nice things about my story.
- Morgan Dhu reviewed it at length on her book blog, concluding that it’s, “A profoundly thoughtful, elegantly written work.”
- John Chu included it in his “Stuff I want people to read” blog post.
- Rachel Swirsky recommended it for Nebula consideration, saying it’s, “the best riff on ‘disappearing male’ stories I’ve ever seen, a smart story that accomplishes both literary and speculative goals in a sharp, well-characterized, traditionally ‘what if?’ SF way.”
- Joseph Tomaras put it at the top of his list of tentative Nebula nominations.
- Carmen Machado tweeted that it deserved a place on the ballot.
- Aliette de Bodard helped spread the word on Twitter also.
Thanks to all of you for taking the time to read “The New Mother,” and for sharing your appreciation. I’m really touched to see that it’s connecting with so many people.
I thrilled to be able to announce today that “The New Mother” is a finalist in the 30th annual Asimov’s Readers’ Awards, a list that includes many wonderful writers, and not a few friends. I notice that the April/May issue was a particularly strong one; in addition to my novella, two other stories from that issue made the list, one more than any other installment. I also get a superficial thrill out of seeing my name next to Greg Egan’s. It’s just a quirk of alphabetization, but it makes me happy.
Asimov’s has also put up .pdf files of most of the finalist, so you can read a lovely, magazine format version of “The New Mother” if that strikes your fancy, and load it on any .pdf friendly device. As ever, continual thanks to Sheila Williams for championing this story, and thanks to all of the Asimov’s readers who voted for it.