Tag: Story: The New Mother (page 1 of 3)

“The New Mother” in Science Fiction World

2016-09yiwen“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:

SFW Illustration

“The New Mother” included in Heiresses of Russ 2016


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.

“The New Mother” Places 2nd in Sturgeon Awards

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.

WisCon 40 and the Tiptree Award

Me with my parents on the night of the the Tiptree Award ceremony. Photo by John Scalzi.

This post is long overdue, having been constantly delayed by other life stuff. But WisCon 40 was special, and I want to record some of it here. WisCon is always special to me; it was my first con and the one I still attend every year. Attending as a Tiptree winner though is a unique experience, and one I’m very grateful to have had.


A warm reception at dinner

I made it to Madison on Thursday just in time to race to the hotel and change into a suit for the Tiptree Motherboard dinner at Cento. I was very nearly on time but still the last to arrive, which produced the weekend’s first moment of atypical celebration when the already assembled group applauded my arrival. I took a stunned and bashful moment, then asked them to do it again so I could snap a picture. I was sure to take time during dinner to move down that long table and introduce myself to everyone, and met many people I was to keep interacting with for the rest of the weekend.

Me and Pat Murphy, founder of the Tiptree Awards

With Pat Murphy, who founded the award in her GoH speech in 1991

The next day was the official start of the convention, with my first programming of the weekend: a reading with Meghan McCarron, Jen Volant, and Anthony Ha. My co-readers shared some great stories, and everyone laughed at the funny parts of mine and seemed interested in the philosophy bits, so I think it went fairly well. After that was dinner, and then the Opening Ceremonies. As it was the occasion of WisCon’s 40th anniversary, many people spoke of what the con and its community meant to them. Then the three guests of honor, Justine Larbalestier, Sofia Samatar, and returning GoH Nalo Hopkinson were introduced.  To close things out I was presented with the Tiptree tiara by founding mother Pat Murphy, and crowned by Eleanor Arnason, the winner of the very first Tiptree Award.

Doing my best Space Babe impression

Doing my best Space Babe impression. This was, obviously, before I got the tiara. Photo by Jeanne Gomoll.

Saturday was my day without any programming, allowing me to simply float about and marvel over how absurdly kind everyone was to me. Cath Schaff-Stump invited me to do an interview for the Unreliable Narrators podcast, which you can listen to here for a sense of how overwhelmed by it all I was. There was a cake for me to cut featuring a mashup of the cover of my Asimov’s issue and the cover of Lizard Radio, the other Tiptree winner. There were many long and pleasant talks with friends. And, for the first time, there were my parents, who showed up that evening and took me out to a steak dinner at Rare, a fancy restaurant around the corner from the hotel. After that was the Tiptree auction, where my mother won me a first edition copy of Patternmaster. The night finished, of course, with the Floomp, perennially a WisCon high point.

Sunday was the big day. I spent the morning in my room working on my acceptance speech, then went downstairs for my first ever WisCon panels: Exposition in SF/F, and Writing Near Future SF. While I was empaneled, my aunt and uncle drove up from Chicago to join my parents and myself at the dessert banquet and subsequent ceremonies. First came the three excellent Guest of Honor speeches, including Nalo Hopkinson’s establishment of the Lemonade Award for kindness in science fiction communities. Then, when those were over, the Tiptree Award presentation. This included receiving the award, a check, a box of chocolates, a commissioned artwork based on “The New Mother,” and a serenade from audience. Some pictures:

Then it was time for me to give the speech I’d spent the morning writing. Just as with the the picture of my loss of composure in the gallery above, John Scalzi managed to snap an action shot:

This is an overwhelming honor. I owe so much gratitude to so many people for the success of “The New Mother”—readers, jurors, friends old and new— that, even if I restricted myself to just people who are in this room, I would outlast any reasonable person’s patience before I could individually thank them all with the thoroughness their generosity merits. Doing so may well be less the work of an acceptance speech and more a permanent life project. Special recognition is due, though, to my parents, Jean Stein and Michael Fischer, who traveled from Texas to be here tonight, who raised me in a house full of science fiction novels and have been the most constant supporters of my own writing. Beyond that, I’d like to briefly explain how instrumental the entire WisCon community was in enabling me to write “The New Mother.” When I attended Clarion in 2008, I had already been sitting on the idea for this story for two years, certain that the concept was strong, and equally certain I didn’t have the knowledge or skill to do it justice. During the last week of the workshop I mentioned to Nalo Hopkinson that my recent, brief visit to San Diego Comicon had given me a panic attack, and that I was unsure the whole con thing was really for me. She told me that not all cons are like that, and specifically made me promise to give WisCon a try before I made up my mind. I attended for the first time in 2009, and when I got home I sent Nalo flowers in Canada to thank her for pushing me in this direction. I’ve been coming every year since, listening to all of you and your important, challenging ideas. I could not have written “The New Mother” without access to the vibrant polyphony I encounter annually in this building. So I thank you, WisCon, both for celebrating me this weekend and for educating me over the last seven years. I hope to continue learning from you for a long time to come.

After that came hugs and laughs and, as I recall, a very great deal of tequila. My hangover the next morning was pristine, the sort of hangover where anyplace you put your body feels like littering. Fortunately it began to abate by the time I had to make my way to the airport shuttle, because I ended up sharing that ride with Pat Murphy. We were on the same outbound flight, and so I got to cap my Tiptree experience by debriefing with the woman who was there from the very start. A more perfect close I couldn’t imagine.

Nebula Awards Weekend 2016 in Pictures and Words

IMG_7822I’m finally over the cold I brought home with me from Chicago, so it’s time to put up a few pictures before it’s off to the next con. Short version: didn’t win a Nebula award, but still had a fully lovely time. Met many wonderful new people with whom I hope stay friends for years to come, wore good clothing, drank tasty drinks, and gave a speech from the alternate universe in which I did win that was well-received, especially by SFWA President Cat Rambo. The programming was excellent and the environment welcoming; I’m very grateful to the officers, administrators, and volunteers for all their fine work. Here’re some photos and the text of my AU speech.

Thank you all for the bravery and optimism you’ve shown in congregating for this kind of celebration. For so many of us to risk staying so long in the same place reveals, I think, the great value stories have in lessening our burdens. To those who claim that the time we spend in fabulation would more profitably be used marshaling resources against our adversary, I answer: what is the purpose of our fight if we cease to dream of better lives? Our parents parents parents owned the surface of this world. They named this award after what they saw when they looked up. Above them was the “Sky,” and deep inside the Sky, the “Nebula.” Even then it was something lofty and aspirational. We can still dream as well as they could, and when I retire behind the fortifications tonight, I will do so with confidence that, some day, people will look with bare eyes upon the Nebula again!

Skiffy and Fanty Show Novella Roundtable

I was recently a participant on a Skiffy and Fanty Show roundtable discussion of novellas, along with Fran Wilde, C.S.E. Cooney, Malka Older, and Mike Underwood, hosted by Julia Rios. Listen to learn the anthology from which I first discovered novellas as a distinct entity, and hear me recommend some of my favorites.

“The New Mother” is a Finalist for the Sturgeon Award

Sturgeon-trophy-sThe 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.

Further Thoughts on the Occasion of Winning the Tiptree Award

It’s been a few days, I’ve celebrated with my family, and my email is starting to seem like a vaguely manageable part of life again, so it’s time to get a few of my thoughts down in writing.

  • The news was a total shock. It’s not that I hadn’t considered the award; I thought, given the content, “The New Mother” had a reasonable shot at being on the long list, and if I was really lucky might even make the honor list. But a win seemed vanishingly unlikely. The Tiptree almost always goes to novels or short story collections, and the last time an individual work of short fiction won was 13 years ago. So when Tiptree Award jury chair Heather Whipple called me, important parts of my brain overloaded and I rambled disbelief into the phone for several minutes before remembering I was taking up the time of a stranger with a life of her own, and I should maybe let her get back to it someday. She was very gracious about my award-induced inability to function.
  • The last novella to win was John Kessel’s “Stories for Men” in 2002 (coincidentally, another cover story of an Asimov’s double issue). I love “Stories for Men,” and used to teach it in my science fiction writing courses at the University of Iowa. I told John as much in 2013, chatting in the SFWA suite at LoneStarCon 3. He told me that he was working on a sequel novel (which I’m still very much looking forward to), and asked me what I was working on. I described “The New Mother” as it then existed, and he said, “Sounds to me like you’re writing a Tiptree winner.” I took that as a generous and encouraging compliment, but never suspected it would reveal itself in time as a prophetic vision. The next time I run into John Kessel at a WorldCon, I’m going to ask him about lottery numbers.
  • I bought a new suit to wear to the ceremony, and, while I’m not sure what it will entail yet, I think I’m going to have to Floomp big this year.

“The New Mother” Won the Tiptree Award


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.

“The New Mother” nominated for a Nebula Award

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.