“Semiosis” is on some year’s best SF lists

Cover_WebSizedI am gratified (and relieved!) by how many people have enjoyed my novel Semiosis. Readers send me notes, booksellers are glad to see me, and the novel has made some year’s best lists for 2018. This is an unexpected and wonderful holiday gift.

New York Public Library
“Our librarians — through their experience recommending books to patrons and as readers themselves — have highlighted their picks for 100 best books written for adults and published this year.”

New York Magazine’s Vulture
“This first-contact story is up there with the best of Le Guin in terms of beautiful, engrossing, brilliantly imagined sci-fi.”

The Verge
“Alien life likely won’t take the form of a bumpy-headed alien, but something that we might not recognize as intelligent at first blush.”

Chicago Review of Books
“The 10 Best Science Fiction Books of 2018: From arctic metropolises to killer plants.”

Powell’s Books
“The only thing wrong with this spectacular debut is that it isn’t long enough.”

The Best Sci Fi Books
“25 Best Science Fiction Books of 2018: A lot of science fiction writers got weird. Good stuff.”

A Goodreads Listopia of Hugo 2019 Eligible Novels
“It’s hard to keep track of all the science fiction and fantasy books published in one year.”

Four words of the year for 2018: “toxic” “throw-away” “misinformation” and “justice”

In December, online dictionaries and usage sites start announcing their words of the year. They base their selection on user interest and, as Oxford Dictionaries puts it, the “word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance.”

I can only conclude that we live in troubled times.

Oxford’s word is toxic. It doesn’t get much worse than that: toxic chemical, masculinity, substance, gas, environment, relationship, culture, waste, algae, and air. Oxford explained its choice this way:

“In 2018, toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow, becoming an intoxicating descriptor for the year’s most talked about topics. It is the sheer scope of its application, as found by our research, that made toxic the stand-out choice for the Word of the Year title.”

Dictionary.com’s choice, misinformation, doesn’t bring holiday cheer, either. Why choose it? It’s editors said:

“The rampant spread of misinformation poses new challenges for navigating life in 2018. As a dictionary, we believe understanding the concept is vital to identifying misinformation in the wild and ultimately curbing its impact.”

CNN noticed Dictionary.com’s choice of misinformation and its previous words of the year for the last ten years. CNN news editor Brandon Griggs was moved to comment: “Sure, it’s impossible to sum up a year in a single word. But taken together, these nine words paint a pretty dark picture of the past decade.”

Collins Dictionary chose single-use, a term that also brings tidings of a great gloom, as Collins noted:

“Single-use refers to products — often plastic — that are ‘made to be used once only’ before disposal. Images of plastic adrift in the most distant oceans, such as straws, bottles, and bags, have led to a global campaign to reduce their use.”

Merriam-Webster’s word also reflects our preoccupations: justice. “It was a top lookup throughout the year, with the entry being consulted 74% more than in 2017,” the dictionary’s editors said.

“The concept of justice has been at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice. In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant, and part of the discussion.”

The Merriam-Webster runners-up for 2018 included nationalism, feckless, and the “sometimes vulgar” noun pissant.

A few more dictionaries and word usage experts have yet to offer their choices for 2018. Brace yourself.

Axion ‘zine goes live

A new e-zine is available for your pleasure: Axion, “where words, worlds, and wormholes collide. So annihilation, real or imaginary, is a real possibility.” It’s not professional (it’s not after your stinkin’ money), so it can focus on being fun and quirky.

Its editors warn: “We are three college students who have created this site for a course in online publishing. We have come to your planet in peace. We mean you and your species no harm.”

Their inaugural posts include interview I translated the novel Prodigies and Amalia translated Trafalgar. (Ursula K. Le Guin translated Kalpa Imperial.)

Axion was also kind enough to publish my poem “First Colony’s Fate.”

And you’ll find much more: fiction, art, commentary, interviews, music, poetry, and news. Axion invites your submissions and comments in multiple languages. You can be part of real or imaginary annihilation.

You can also read the other e-zines from the class: Doomwave; Tell Tale Heart; Ventanas; Twisted; The Bitch Has Issues; and House of Horror, Glitter, and Words.

Authors and astronomers at the Adler Planetarium Book Club

On Saturday, December 1, from 1 to 3:30 p.m., three Chicago authors will be talking with astronomers at the Adler Planetarium about our inspiration from the stars. I’m one of the authors.

I’ll be discussing life on other planets and how huge the universe is with Mark SubbaRao, president-elect of the International Planetarium Society and director of Adler’s Space Visualization Program. Asteroid 170009 Subbarao is named after him for his work on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Astronomer Mark Hammergren will talk with Michael Moreci, author of the science fiction novel Black Star Renegades. Astronomer Maria Weber will talk with Lori Rader-Day, author of the murder mystery Under a Dark Sky.

Admission to the book club talk is free with general admission, and if you’re an Illinois resident, you get free admission to the entire planetarium on Saturday with a valid Illinois ID as part of Illinois Resident Discount Day.

Books will be available for purchase, and we’ll be signing books and chatting with the audience after the talk. You can get full information about the event and books here.

Science informs fiction! Come find out how.