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A Hugo for Korra

I’ve done my own award eligibility post, talking about Invisible. Now I want to push something else, because I believe this past season of Legend of Korra deserves to be on the Hugo ballot.

I wasn’t familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender when the first season of Legend of Korra came out, but I watched a few episodes of Korra, and I was hooked. Then I went back to watch Avatar. By the time I finished, I was a hardcore fanboy for life.

The Legend of Korra has had its ups and downs. I wasn’t as happy with season two, but season three started to turn things around.

And then the fourth and final season came out last year, despite some bumps and troubles from the network, and holy crap! This season was amazing. The artwork and animation was gorgeous, showing the blend of our world with the spirit world. The story took on PTSD and empire-building and compassion and redemption and family and war and so much more, and it avoided going for easy answers or resolutions. And then there was that final episode, where the writers finally Did the Thing!

Tenzin - Woohoo

I want Korra to win a rocket. I suspect the odds are against it, but I firmly believe this show and its creators have earned a spot on that ballot.

The Hugo Award Categories address serialized TV works:

Works such as TV series, comics and sometimes even whole novels are sometimes published in multiple parts making up a complete story arc. The individual elements of such a story arc are always eligible for their year of publication. However, voters may want to nominate a complete story arc. In such cases it is the publication date of the final installment of the series that counts for eligibility purposes.

Season four aired between October and December of 2014, so both the full season and all individual season four episodes are eligible for the Hugo.

I believe the entire season deserves to be nominated:

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Legend of Korra, Season Four. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko

I would also encourage people to nominate individual episodes for the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category, if you have a favorite. To be honest, I’m still struggling to try to pick one. I’m leaning toward the final two episodes. And since you can nominate up to five things in each category, why not both?

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “Day of the Colossus.” Written by Tim Hedrick.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “The Last Stand.” Written by Michael Dante DiMartino.

ETA: A number of people are also recommending the second episode, which directly addresses Korra’s trauma and PTSD. I agree that this was one of the strongest episodes of a very strong season.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “Korra Alone.” Written by Michael Dante DiMartino.

I think Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the best shows to ever go on television, and in it’s final season, I think Korra finally matched the quality, the artistry, the thoughtfulness, the storytelling, and the power of its predecessor.

If you’re eligible to nominate, I’d encourage you to check the show out (if you haven’t already), and to add it to your ballot.

Please feel free to link and share this post.

ConFusion Schedule

ConFusion is one of my favorite conventions. I missed it last year, since I was busy being Guest of Honor at Marscon. (Which is, you know, pretty darn cool too.) But I’m very excited about getting back to ‘Fusion this weekend.

Friday, 1/16

  • 5 pm: Dumb Questions 2015. Michigan – Big Top. A panel where the sillier the question, the better. Please show up ready to try to stump the panel with goofball queries, or just set up a good joke to see what is done with – or to – it.
  • 6 pm: Whose Cartoon Is It Anyways? Allen Park. I’m MCing a cartoonist face-off — the audience gives the panel of cartoonists a situation to draw. Cartoonist #1 draws half of it – Cartoonist #2 finishes it and adds a punchline!

Saturday, 1/17

  • 9 am – Noon: Author D&D. Great Room. Come watch as some of your favorite authors join together in a rousing game of Dungeons & Dragons. During the game we ask that you refrain from interjecting or disrupting the players.
  • Noon: I Suck. Erie. A panel of authors play “dueling suck” with their own works, trying to see who can best generate a vacuum.
  • 1 – 3 pm: Galaxy Game/Unbound Book Launch. Michigan – Big Top. A shared book launch with me and author guest of honor Karen Lord.
  • 3 pm: Mass Autographing Session. Huron—Ontario—Erie.
  • 7 pm: Writers as Fans, Fans as Critics, Critics as Writers and Fans. Southfield. Reviews are not for authors, they’re for fans. But many authors are engaged, critical fans. How can authors engage with fans without creating a chilling effect on criticism?

Sunday, 1/18

  • Sleeping in, hanging out, and whatever else I feel like doing.

ConFusion has turned into a very author-friendly convention, with a lot of author guests. I’m already bummed because I know I won’t have enough time to see and talk to and hang out with everyone, but I’m really looking forward to the chance to catch up with so many amazing people.

Hoping to see some of you there!

Unbound, Week One

UnboundUnbound [Amazon | B&N | Indiebound] has been out for one week now, and I’m starting to finally come down from the adrenaline rush.

My thanks, as always, to everyone who bought, borrowed, read, reviewed, and/or signal-boosted. It’s very much appreciated.

Reaction so far seems to be positive, including some great reviews:

  • “The joys of the first two volumes of the possibilities of Libriomancy are transformed and changed here into something very different, and in many ways, greater.”-Paul Weimer, SF Signal
  • “This is a great series with a lot of great components, but more than anything else it’s a love-letter to imagination.”-Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
  • “I had tears in my eyes when I recognized so much of what was going on with Isaac and saw how well it was woven into the story. I have to draw a distinction here: Isaac was depressed, and the depiction is necessarily a bit dark, but it never crosses over the line into the sort of darkness that makes reading it depressing … The fact that Hines could ride that line so beautifully without ever stepping over it in the wrong direction is really kick-ass!”-Errant Dreams

I have no idea what the sales look like, and probably won’t know a lot for a while yet. To be honest, I’m nervous. Book #4, Revisionary, is already under contract and being written. But how well Unbound does is going to be a significant factor in whether or not Revisionary is the last book. On the other hand, Four books will allow me to tell the story I wanted to tell, and to end the series in a good place if necessary. Given how many series get cut short after only one or two books, I’m very happy with how Magic ex Libris has done.

Other nifty stuff:

I’ll be doing a booksigning tonight at Schuler Books in Okemos at 7 p.m. I’ve also got a joint book launch at ConFusion with author guest of honor Karen Lord. That’s on Saturday from 1-3.

We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Legend of Korra, Season 4, Episodes 8-10

Season four of Legend of Korra is kicking serious ass. The humor, the writing, the characterization and development, everything has leveled up for this final season, and I’m really enjoying it.

Episode 8: Remembrances. This was the Legend of Korra clip show. Creator Bryan Konietzko explained that as a result of serious budget cuts, “We had two options: 1) let go a significant number of crew members several weeks early, or 2) make a clips episode. We never considered the first option. We weren’t going to do that to our crew, and even if we were callous enough to do so, we never would have been able to finish the season without them.”

Well, this was one of the most entertaining clip shows I’ve ever seen. I loved the pop-up chibi-style heads interrupting with questions and snide commentary in the first part. The second segment with Korra and Asami was great for another piece of character growth. But it was the final segment, where Varrick rewrites the entire first three seasons into a mover-style show with Bolin as the star, that was truly brilliant.

Also, I would totally watch Varrick’s mover about these four. (Click for full size.)

Korra 4x8

Episode 9: Beyond the Wilds. Any episode that opens with angry spirit vines and a tourist announcing, “I’m gonna poke it with a stick!” is a winner for me. But there were so many great moments and lines in this one.

  • Korra using earthbending like a laser pointer to play with Naga.
  • Varrick’s explanation of the superweapon. “Like a regular weapon. Only super!”
  • The fire nation’s refusal to go to war. I love the way you see them acknowledging their history, and being so cautious about never going down that road again.
  • Bolin’s line, “I love you guys … and I really want a hug again.”
  • Opal’s refusal to take any of Bolin’s romantinc scheming BS. Go, opal!
  • Asami and Varrick. Much as I like Varrick’s development this season, it was great to see that the show and the characters aren’t just forgetting everything he’s done until now. Asami wrist-locking the weasel and driving that point home was perfect.
  • And I loved Korra’s confrontation with Zahir. They’ve done such a great job of showing her struggle with PTSD. She’s fighting so hard, making real progress, but then every time her trauma resurfaces, you see her getting more despondent and frustrated. It feels so honest — there’s no quick fix. She thought facing Zahir would get her over her fear, but he showed her it wasn’t that easy.
  • But we also see Zahir’s regret for what happened in the wake of him murdering the Earth Kingdom queen last season. Korra’s victory wasn’t just in going to face Zahir, it was in choosing to let him help her.

Episode 10: Operation Beifong. Beifong reunion! Zhu Li being badass! Yes, please!

  • “What’s up with him?” To which Lin Beifong responds, “He’s an actor.”
  • I don’t know if we’d met Juicy the Bison before, but this was the first time I’d really registered him. He reminds me of a pathetic cat we used to have named Smoosh, a flat-faced beast with skin fungus and other problems who was constantly sneezing and snotting. So I’m loving Juicy the bison, as well as Opal’s commentary about the airbender-bison bond being permanent. You can’t change bisons. She checked. (But you know they love each other.)
  • I’m so glad that after three and a half seasons, Zhu Li is finally developing into her own character. I’ve hated the relationship between her and Varrick from day one. But she was clever enough to ingratiate herself to Kuvira and sabotage the progress of the atom bomb spirit vine weapon. And when caught, she all but spat in Kuvira’s face. Sweet!!!
  • And then we get Team Beifong, with Toph eventually joining in (as we all knew she would) to kick ass. Not even Kuvira wants to chase after that crew. Kuvira keeps her cool on the outside, but you know deep down she’s saying, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Please don’t make me fight the woman who invented metalbending.”

I’m really enjoying this season. My only dilemma now is whether to race through the final few episodes, or to space them out and prolong the enjoyment.

Reddit AMA Today & Comet Hunting

I have an Ask Me Anything (AMA) at Reddit today. The AMA post went up a half hour ago, and there’s already a question asking about why I changed my mind about Reddit. Which I pretty much expected, though I didn’t know it would be the very first question, or that it would pop up so quickly.

I talked about this back in September. I’m sure there will be more questions and conversation about it tonight at the AMA. I hope it won’t be the only thing people ask and talk about, but we’ll see what happens.

In the meantime, please feel free to stop by and ask whatever you’d like.

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A few weeks back, The Mary Sue posted about Comet Lovejoy coming closest to Earth on January 7. Given Michigan weather, I figured the skies would probably be overcast, but lo and behold, yesterday was actually pretty clear.

It was also about 2 degrees Fahrenheit…before you factor in the windchill.

I bundled up and dragged out the telescope. This proved to be an hour of failure and futility. My spotting scope’s battery had died, and the scope’s lens was messed up, making it useless. There’s also enough light pollution in my neighborhood that there was no way for me to see the comet so I knew where to aim the thing. I had pulled the star charts and had an approximate idea where Lovejoy should be hiding, but I never managed to find it with the scope.

So after going inside to thaw out, I switched to Plan B. I brought out the digital camera, which has a much wider field than the telescope. I set up the tripod, aimed the camera at the patch of sky where I thought Lovejoy should be, and snapped a long-exposure shot.

It wasn’t spectacular, but there was a distinct green dot among the stars. I zoomed in, adjusted shutter speed and ISO, and eventually managed to get a decent photo. It’s nowhere near as spectacular as the professional comet pics, but it’s the first time I’ve ever managed to photograph one.

Comet Lovejoy

Comet Lovejoy is the green dot just above and to the right of the center. To be honest, I wasn’t even 100% sure it was the comet at first, but after talking to others on Twitter and Facebook last night and getting confirmation from at least one astronomer, as well as comparing my photo to better ones, I think it’s safe to say I have officially shot my first comet.

I may have also frostbitten my brain in the process, but ah well.

Sky and Telescope has some much cooler pictures, as well as information on how to spot the comet yourself, if you’re so inclined.

Awards Eligibility Post

Yep, it’s that time of year again. Here’s what came out from me in 2014:

Two short stories:

InvisibleThen there was The Prosekiller Chronicles: Rise of the Spider Goddess: An Annotated Novel. Technically, this would probably qualify for Best Novel or Best Related Work categories, but let’s get real. Is there a “Worst Novel” category I should be campaigning for? :-)

Finally, there’s Invisible, a collection I edited of 14 essays about representation in science fiction and fantasy.

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While I’m proud of all of these things — yes, even Spider Goddess — it’s Invisible that I’d most like to share with folks. I was blown away by the powerful, personal, and important stories people shared. The anthology has also raised $500 for the Carl Brandon Society.

Almost all of the essays are available online:

Invisible is eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Related Work.

I’d be happy to send a review copy to eligible voters (i.e., members of the 2014 or 2015 Worldcons). Email me, and I can send it along in .epub or .mobi format. If neither of those work for you, let me know and we’ll figure something out.

If you’ll be nominating and would like to consider something else I did in 2014, I can hook you up with the short stories and/or even Spider Goddess, too. But if you only have time to check out one thing, I’d love it if you’d give Invisible a try.

Unbound is Out Today!!!

UnboundIt’s been seventeen months since Codex Born was released, but Unbound is finally out today!

This is the third book in the Magic ex Libris series. There will be at least one more (Revisionary, tentatively scheduled for February 2016), but this one wraps up a lot of the plotlines I’ve been playing with over the course of the series. As Carrie at Smart Bitches Trashy Books said in her review:

I liked how the book wrapped up a lot of major character arcs. If there’s no more to this series, I’ll feel that the story reached a satisfying conclusion. On the other hand, the series is potentially poised to take off in completely new directions that could be incredibly interesting. So I’m down with that, too … I’m in an odd state of one hand feeling like, “OK, we’re cool, you may move on to other projects, thank you for this satisfying conclusion” and on the other hand I’m all, “More, please, nomnomnom”. It’s Schrodinger’s Series.

Summary:

For five hundred years, the Porters have concealed the existence of magic from the world. Now, old enemies have revealed the Porters’ secrets, and an even greater threat lurks in the shadows. The would-be queen Meridiana, banished for a thousand years, has returned in the body of a girl named Jeneta Aboderin. She seeks an artifact created by Pope Sylvester II, a bronze prison that would grant her the power to command an army of the dead.

Michigan librarian Isaac Vainio is determined to rescue his former student Jeneta. With no magic of his own, Isaac must delve into the darker side of black-market magic, where he will confront beings better left undisturbed, including the sorcerer Juan Ponce de Leon.

With his loyal fire-spider Smudge, dryad warrior Lena Greenwood, and psychiatrist Nidhi Shah, Isaac races to unravel a mystery more than a thousand years old as competing magical powers battle to shape the future of the world. He will be hunted by enemies and former allies alike, and it will take all his knowledge and resourcefulness to survive as magical war threatens to spread across the globe.

Isaac’s choices will determine the fate of his friends, the Porters, the students of Bi Sheng, and the world. Only one thing is certain: even if he finds a way to restore his magic, he can’t save them all…

Purchase Links: If you’re interested in picking up a copy, I’ve gathered up some convenient links. Because I’m considerate that way, you know?

Reviewers: If you’re a reviewer and would like a copy of Unbound, please contact my publicist at anixon -at- penguinrandomhouse.com.

Guest Posts: I’ve also done some guest blogging for the release, and will be linking those here as they go live. My thanks to everyone who hosted me!

Other Releases: Wait, there’s more! Today isn’t just Unbound day, it’s also book day for other awesome people like Karen Lord, Daniel José Older, Steven Harper, David B. Coe, and Irene Radford.

 

But my favorite thing about this particular release date is that author Sara Humphreys has a new novella out today … called Unbound. I feel like this calls for some sort of epic showdown, Unbound vs. Unbound. Sexy man-back vs. Smoldering librarian. Lion vs. Fire-spider.

vs.

So, yeah. Not only does Unbound come out today, so does Unbound. Mind … blown!

Anyway, where was I?

Events: I’ve got three things going on for this one.

My thanks to everyone who’s supported the series so far. Tweets, reviews, links, and other word-of-mouth are always appreciated, but mostly, I just hope you enjoy the story. I’ve been waiting years to get to some of the events in this one, and I can’t wait to share it.