Award Eligibility 2020

I was lucky enough to have six (6) short stories published in 2020—a big chunk of my output from the last few years. I also joined the SFWA about a year ago, voted in the Nebulas for the first time, and attended a solid handful of (Zoom-bound) SFF conventions. So it seems about time that I also made an eligibility post. I would be honored if others in the SFF community read any of these stories and considered nominating them for the Hugos, the Nebulas, or any other annual award.

Short Stories

Voice of Their Generation” — in Lightspeed Magazine #119. Audio versionAuthor spotlight.

On their ninth rewrite of the third act of Detective Pikachu vs. Predator, it occurred to Thicket that they might just be the voice of their generation.

In a fever, they swiped together the final epic speech where Detective Pikachu refutes Predator’s cynical attempts to turn him against his human partner, arguing that the Pokémon relationship with humanity was one not of servitude but of guardianship, for every Pokémon can see within each human the potential to rise above their flawed nature to embody something the world truly needs: hope.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you space jerks try to knock humanity down,” Detective Pikachu said, voiced by John Stamos. “Because when they fall, we Pokémon will be there to catch them. We’ll catch them all.”

Franchise mashups, DeepMake instant-movies, the creative process under cultural fracking. Can Thicket complete a script that pleases the algo before Starbucks kicks them out?

“Black Ice City” — Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters (paperbackKindleebookiTunesNook). Blog postNominated for the Pushcart Prize.

The blue harvest is good this year, kelp growing in straight ropes as thick as my head, dulse bushes meat-red in the angel light of the balmy Barents Sea. We keep waiting for storm waves to rip our crops away, to carry the ripest fronds down to carbon trenches—but they never come. So day after day Zhi Ruo and I pull up seaweed and full racks of mussels and scallops, plumped on the fat plankton of the New North Gyre. It’s a fine season, watching Zhi Ruo’s long legs slide in and out of the water, her shoulders taut and strong from lifting what we’ve grown. Shells clatter on the deck, a bounty, and I feel a greedy excitement at the luxe adventures they’ll earn me at autumn’s end.

Zhi Ruo pouts when I tell her I’m drifting north for the party this year. “Come where the sun is, Gillam, you masochist,” she says. But I’m set. Four years since I last made Black Ice City, and in that lifetime I’ve become, I fancy, the type of strapping, worldly man I’d once seen turn heads skating across the floe. I take Zhi Ruo to bed every night for a week, and then slip out one lightless morning, untie my boat from hers, raise sail and set course for the white-specked horizon, against the tide of migrating birds.

Nautical adventure, Arctic ice palaces, hothouse climate politics, lots of sex!

“In the Storm, a Fire” (with Jay Springett) — And Lately, The Sun (Kindle), 2020. Longlisted for the BSFA Short Fiction Award.

“Chani! I was worried I wasn’t going to see you today,” Kayla said. She was a middle-aged millennial, but, with dyed black hair and meticulous makeup, she passed for 30. This wasn’t vanity, Chani knew, but self-preservation. Asperity was unkind to the elderly.

“Hectic morning, you know how it is,” Chani said. She opened her pack of jars, pulled out a stack of pickled plums hiding drugs that kept Alzheimer’s at bay. Kayla’s face lit up with gratitude.

“Folks are really going to appreciate these,” Kayla said. “My mother especially. I know she’s been running low.”

“Kayla, listen. I have extra today, of some, uh, different varieties,” Chani said carefully. Around them the market bustled. “Would you want to take them off my hands? Free of charge, of course.”

Kayla’s eyes flickered.

Bootleg healthcare, religious schisms, technomilitarized policing, fascism with American characteristics, solarpunk communities of resistance.

Your Mind is the Superfund Site” (with C. Y. Ballard) — Lightspeed Magazine #127. Audio versionAuthor spotlight.

“Ever consider killing yourself?” the gecko said. “It’ll save you one hundred percent on your car insurance.”

I was alone, but not. I tried to step on the creature, but my foot wasn’t there. I clenched my teeth, which felt like water. Alleyah’s Southie accent crackled a reminder of radio.

“Tracey, are you paralucid yet? Need another poke of DMT?”

I was back in high school—or somebody’s high school. The classrooms were vintage Sears catalogs and a spruce tree that grew sideways—not in a directional sense but just with a profound association with the concept of sideways. I climbed the tree and then fell. I fell for a long time, the gecko taunting me, before Alleyah got me moving with another call on the radio.”

A festive brawl through the advertising-infested dreamscape of future socialist Boston. Will Tracey and Alleyah be able to find and defeat the King of Brands before the solstice ends?

Zooming” — MIT Technology ReviewAudio version via Curio.

I’m sitting in my parents’ basement, in a cracked pleather gaming chair, smelling my own funk, or maybe the damp of black mold, and 400 miles below me the whole world is laid out like some vast Tibetan tapestry, full of little demons and beasts and believers.

I tap, zoom, look, unzoom, slide, tap, zoom, look. Sometimes at familiar spots, but mostly just at random, searching for something happening somewhere that’s interesting enough to stream or gif or sell or just linger over. I watch Berliners mob a music festival. I watch mining equipment drag rocks out of an Australian quarry. I watch Pakistani dogs fighting over a chicken and hurricane clouds slamming into Cuba and an exhibitionist couple fucking on a bright red blanket on a Californian rooftop. I lose myself for a few minutes in the ripples of swaying Amazon jungle leaves, wondering how the wind feels to all those trees. And then I get bored, and I’m just zooming through my rounds again, not thinking much, and I see it.

Some kid is dragging a tasteful brown coffin out of the back of a pickup truck parked at the edge of a pile of trash in the junkyard just outside of town, my town. Silent thunk when the box hits the trashdirt, and the kid loses his grip, rolls it, and out comes a body. Denny’s body.

A twisted crime story—from a satellite-eye-view.

The Lizard and the Rat” — StarShipSofa podcast.

Delhi was silent but for the dripping of her suit. Kala felt at home in the empty place. She wove through maze-like slum-husks, shuffled across melting highways. She was a ghost, spectral in the silvery shedsuit. Even though the dehumidifier on her back left a trail of water, for once she didn’t fear being followed. She was protected—by superstition, the bright sun, and the “60C” glowing in the corner of her faceplate.

A professional burglar and an orphan street kid find themselves on the run from trillionaires, cults, and geoengineering spooks.