Not a Blog


January 31, 2012 at 10:40 am
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Today is the LAST DAY to earn the right to nominate for this year’s Hugo Awards by joining either Chicon 7 (this year’s worldcon) or LoneStarCon (next year’s). Assuming you are not already a member.

You do not actually need to submit your ballot till March, but you need to JOIN today.

So sign up now and nominate, or forfeit forever your right to grouse and whine about the lousy list of nominees!

Just sayin’

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Season Two Trailer

January 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm
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A new trailer for GAME OF THRONES, season two, debuted tonight, just before the premier of LUCK.

For those who missed it (shame on you), here ’tis.

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LOVE all the new faces. Our amazing cast just keeps getting more amazing.

I hope you’re all as jazzed as I am.

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SAG Awards

January 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm
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Well, we lost another one.

Congratulations to the cast members of BOARDWALK EMPIRE. Great show, I think. The second season was even better than the first. Love Steve Buschemi as Nucky especially.

Got to give it to us. We lose only to the best: MAD MEN, HOMELAND, BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

It’s an honor just be nominated.

(And it was nice to see so many of our cast members there. They’re partying now, I don’t doubt. Wish I was there.)

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Hugo Awards – Closing Comments

January 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm
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A few final thoughts on this year’s Hugo Awards before I move on to other topics…

Besides Best Novel (the Big One), there are three additional fiction awards, for various lengths of short fiction. Best Novella (the Not Quite So Big One), Best Short Story (the Little One), and Best Novelette (the In Between One). These awards are often the place where younger, newer writers first make their names, and tend to be dominated by stories from the magazines… ANALOG, ASIMOV’S, F&SF. That has been changing in recent years, with the rise of e-magazines. I did not read much short fiction last year, either in the magazines or on line, but LOCUS has an excellent recommended reading list for short fiction, and I’m sure the readers of this blog will have their own favorites.

Stories published in anthologies are also eligible in these categories. I would be remiss if I did not mention the anthologies I edited in 2011: FORT FREAK, the latest Wild Cards anthology, and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, the fantasy/ mystery anthology I did with Gardner Dozois. Lots of good work in both, I think. In particular, let me draw your attention to “Lord John and the Plague of Zombies,” by Diana Gabaldon, and “The Adakian Eagle,” by Bradley Denton, from STRANGE STREETS. Those two stories were recently nominated by the Mystery Writers of America for Edgar Awards. In the Hugos, they would count as novellas. Cherie Priest’s FORT FREAK interstitial, “The Rat Race,” is also eligible in novella, and the Stephen Leigh triptych from that book, “Hope We Die Before We Get Old,” is a novelette tour de force that will break your heart.

There are two awards for editing. For Best Editor, Short Form, I’d recommend my partner in crime, GARDNER DOZOIS, both for his Best of the Year and the books we edit together. And of course I am eligible myself in that same category. For Best Editor, Long Form, my strongest recommendation goes to ANNE GROELL, of Bantam Spectra. An amazing editor who has been with me every step of the way on A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, since 1996.

The Best Fanzine category is one of the oldest Hugo Awards, but is currently embroiled in controversy. Traditional print fanzines are still around, though both their numbers and their readership are dwindling, and in recent years the fans have been nominating things like e-zines, blogs, and podcasts in this category. Last year at Reno, a rules change was enacted to exclude all those new forms of fanac from this category. If that change is ratified in Chicago, Best Fanzine will once again become the exclusive property of traditional fanzines. If you don’t own a mimeograph machine, you need not apply. However, (1) the change needs to be ratified, if it is defeated at this year’s business meeting, it will not take effect, (2) it is NOT in effect this year, so this may be the last year when e-zines, blogs, and podcasts can be nominated in the category. As I think you can tell by my sarcastic tone, I am opposed to the change. I think there are some great fannish blogs and e-zines and podcasts out there, I think they are the future, and I’m going to nominate a bunch of them. Some of my own favorites include PAT’S FANTASY HOTLIST, THE WERTZONE, MAKING LIGHT, THE BLOG OF THE FALLEN (okay, he doesn’t like my stuff, but it’s still a good read), STOMPING ON YETI, CHEESE MAGNETS, HATHOR LEGACY, and PUNKADIDDLE. And for Best Fan Writer, I’d suggest you consider some of the folks who write for these blogs and e-zines, including Patrick St. Denis, Adam Whitehead, Adam Roberts, and John J. Miller.

At the other end of the spectrum, there is Best Graphic Novel, one of the newest categories, added just a couple of years ago. Actually, I am not well acquainted with the eligibility rules for this one yet. Many graphic novels are published initially as monthly comic books, with runs extending over several years; later, when the story is complete, the issues are collected and issued as trade paperbacks. My understanding is that a graphic novel becomes eligible for the Hugo the year it finishes, not the year it starts. (Or any in between years, if the comics series runs for more than two years). So it is the trade paperback that counts. (If this is wrong, no doubt some SMOF will come and correct me. Please do). If my understanding is correct, then the GAME OF THRONES comic book is NOT eligible in this category, since its run is still ongoing. However, I did have two other graphic novels published in trade paperback in 2011: FEVRE DREAM from Avatar and DOORWAYS from IDW. Both of those would be eligible, I think.

As for all the other categories… and the Campbell Award for Best New Writer… I have no suggestions… but maybe you do. Please share them. I try to recommend good work here, but I also like to hear what other people recommend.

Whatever you choose to nominate, please NOMINATE.

The nomination deadline is not till March, so we all have some time to do more reading. However, you must be a member of Renovation (last year’s worldcon), Chicon 7 (this year’s worldcon), or LoneStarCon (next year’s worldcon) by JANUARY 31 to have nomination privileges, and that deadline is almost upon us.

The ballot can be found at:

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Hugo Recommendations – BEST NOVEL

January 26, 2012 at 10:52 pm
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The Hugo Award for Best Novel is “the big one,” the last to be presented at every Hugo ceremony (well, except that one year when Lester del Rey screwed up the presentations), the category that typically draws the most nominations and the most votes (well, along with Dramatic Presentation), the most prestigious award in the field, and the oldest. Other Hugo categories have come and gone over the decades, but Best Novel has been there since the beginning. The first one was awarded in 1953, and went to Alfred Bester for THE DEMOLISHED MAN. The books and authors that have won the award in subsequent years form a virtual Hall of Fame for our genre, the best that SF and fantasy have to offer. Heinlein won it four times. Zelazny, Le Guin, Simmons, Haldeman, Leiber, Pohl, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Walter M. Miller… that’s company that any writer worth his salt would be proud to keep.

So who should be nominated for the Big One this year? Well, once again, I do have a horse in this race. A DANCE WITH DRAGONS was published in July, and is among the eligibles. I should probably leave it at that. My best chance of making the ballot would be for all those fans of mine who liked DANCE to nominate it, and nothing else.

I can’t do that, however. There are five lines on the nomination form, after all, and it wouldn’t feel right to leave four of them blank when there were so very many good books published in 2011. I am sure many of you have your own favorites. I won’t pretend to have read all the books published last year, or even just the good ones. There’s just too much. But I have read some terrific ones, so let me recommend them to your attention.

For science fiction, my favorite novel of the year was a classic old-fashioned space opera titled LEVIATHAN WAKES, by James S.A Corey.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was favorably disposed toward this one, since “Jimmy” Corey is actually a collaborative pseudonym for two of my friends, my sometime collaborator Daniel Abraham and my assistant Ty Franck. However, I have a lot of friends who published books last year, and this is the one that kicked my ass the hardest. It’s a terrific read, a page turner. If you love SF the way they used to write it, you will love this book.

Also worthy of a good look when filling out your ballot is HEAVEN’S SHADOW, another solid and engrossing hard SF novel from David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt.

In fantasy… well, damn, it was a great year for fantasy. I read at least half a dozen books so good that they made me say, “I wish I’d written that.” THE HEROES by Joe Abercrombie was an action tour de force, an entire novel built around a single battle. Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIAN KING was a worthy successor to THE MAGICIANS, and proof that last year’s Hugo voters knew what they were about when they voted Grossman the Campbell Award as the best new writer in the field. And Daniel Abraham… yes, him again, damn him… did something I would not have thought possible. He published a novel called THE DRAGON’S PATH, the first volume in the new epic fantasy series called THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, and it was just as bloody good as his Long Price Quartet.

Any of those books would be worthy nominees, but none of them were the best epic fantasy I read last year. For my money, that has to be THE WISE MAN’S FEAR, by Patrick Rothfuss.

WMF is the second volume in Rothfuss’s Kvothe series, and it took him nearly as long to write it as I took for A DANCE WITH DRAGONS (hey, I’m glad it did, he drew some of the fire). But it was worth the wait. I gulped it down in a day, staying up almost to dawn reading, and I am already itching for the next one. He’s bloody good, this Rothfuss guy. THE WISE MAN”S FEAR should rightly contend not only for the Hugo, but also for the World Fantasy Award.

Last, but far from least, is yet another huge tome of a book that kept me up reading all night, a science fiction novel by a writer best known for horror — and that’s 11/22/63, by Stephen King.

Now, I’m a major Stephen King fan, and have been for decades. King is tremendously prolific author, and when you write that many books, inevitably some of them are going to be better than others. That being said, 11/22/63 is the best King for at least a decade, a major piece of work… and it’s NOT horror. This is King working outside his usual comfort zone, stretching his considerable talent to write a pure-quill time travel novel, about an English teacher who steps through a hole in space and time to prevent the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

That’s hardly a new idea. Lots of people have done it before. Hell, we even did it on THE TWILIGHT ZONE back in the mid 80s, when I was working on the show (an episode called ‘Profile in Silver’). But no one has ever done it as well as King does here. He handles the JFK/ Oswald stuff masterfully, I think… but there’s so much more to the book than that. This is a love story as well. A wonderful period piece that brings the late 50s and early 60s to vivid life. This is a classic proof of something that I have long contended: that story is more than plot, that it’s the journey that matters, not how fast you arrive at your destination.

Stephen King has never been nominated for a Hugo, so far as I know. That’s truly absurd. Yes, he writes horror… but the Hugo Awards have always recognized horror as well as science fiction, and when you get down to it, horror is really just a subgenre of fantasy. Dark fantasy, if you will.

Anyway, those are my recommendations. I hope some of them make the final ballot. And I hope A DANCE WITH DRAGONS makes the ballot too, so I can kick their butts… winning (and losing, for that matter) is much more meaningful when you are going up against the best.

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January 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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In this category I do have a horse in the race, obviously: the first season of HBO’s series GAME OF THRONES. So it goes without saying that, if you enjoyed the show and think it worthy, I’d be most pleased if you included it amongst your nominations.

However, it is not quite that simple. So, a little background for those who are maybe new to the Hugo Awards and the nomination process.

First off, what the hell is a “dramatic presentation,” you may ask. Well, most of the time, it is a television show or a feature film. But the category is actually broader than that. It was named “dramatic presentation” rather than “best tv and film” way back when to suggest that. And indeed, over the years, radio series, albums, live theater, and even convention slide shows have been nominated. A few have even won. That’s rare, however. Nine years out of ten, the category is all about television and film.

Secondly, there are actually TWO categories. Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. For most of the long history of the award, that was not true. There was only one category, and TV shows and movies competed against one another for the Hugo. With the occasional interloper in the form of a radio series or slide show. Most of the time, a movie won, but that made some of the television folks unhappy, so they started showing up at the worldcon business meeting year after year to try to split the award. That effort was defeated a whole bunch of times, until finally one day it wasn’t. And the split was ratified the next year, so now we have the two categories.

Given the realities, it might have been simpler to call the new categories “Best Film” and “Best Television Show,” but of course that would have excluded the radio series, live theatre, etc, so instead we have the split we have. And there’s wiggle room there too. It call comes down to RUNNING TIME, not budget, means of distribution, etc. So in theory, a eighty-minute-long feature film could be nominated in Short Form, and a long television movie or miniseries… or season… can be nominated in Long Form. The break comes at ninety minutes.

And to how all of this impacts GAME OF THRONES… well, it makes it complicated.

As I understand the rules — (and I know there are SMOFs who read this Not A Blog, so if I get anything wrong, please step in and correct me) — the HBO series is eligible for nomination in both categories.

You can nominate the entire first season of GAME OF THRONES, which had a running time of ten hours, in Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Considering it as one long story. Which it was, kinda, being an adaptation of the first of my Ice & Fire novels. Should the show make the ballot in Long Form, it would most likely be competing for the award against four major motion pictures.

Or, you can nominate the show in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, the usual TV category, where it will vie against other TV shows. However, for this category, you need to nominate INDIVIDUAL EPISODES. If you just write GAME OF THRONES on your nomination form in Short Form, your nomination will not be counted. You need to list an episode title.

FYI, here are the season one episodes:
101 Winter Is Coming (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
102 The Kingroad (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
103 Lord Snow (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
104 Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things (written by Bryan Cogman)
105 The Wolf and the Lion (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
106 A Golden Crown (written by Jane Espenson and David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
107 You Win or You Die (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
108 The Pointy End (written by George R.R. Martin)
109 Baelor (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)
110 Fire and Blood (written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss)

There is nothing in the rules to prevent more than one episode from the same show from making the ballot, if they receive sufficient nominations. In theory, one series could have two, three, or four nominees, or even fill up all five slots on the ballot. I do not believe that has actually happened in recent times, though DR. WHO had three nominations just a few years ago, I recall, and way back when, I believe there was a year when the original STAR TREK monopolized the entire ballot, in a year when there were no good SF movies.

What’s less clear (to me) is whether a show can be nominated in both Long Form and Short Form. THAT has never happened,and I don’t believe it’s allowed to. I suspect that if the series as a whole gets sufficient votes to make the Long Form ballot, while one or more individual episodes place among the top five in Short Form, we’ll end up in one category or the other, but not both. However, I have no idea who actually gets to make that choice. Is it prescribed by the Hugo Rules? Is it a judgement call to be made by Chicon’s 7 Hugo administrators? Or will someone connected to the series need to make the decision? David and Dan, perhaps. Or HBO.

I do know it won’t be ME who makes the call, and for that I am grateful. It is by no means an easy choice. In Long Form, we’d be competing against some major feature films (HUGO, if it is considered fantasy, is probably the favorite, and I have to admit there’s something cool about the idea of HUGO winning a Hugo). In Short Form, any GOT episodes to make the ballot would be up against episodes of all the other SF and fantasy shows now on the air… and in particular against DR. WHO, which has been the unstoppable juggernaut in the category since Short Form was calved off, winning year after year after year.

Of course, all this could be moot. The two Dramatic Presentation categories, along with Best Novel (‘the Big One’) are the categories that get the largest number of nominations, so unless a lot of people nominate the HBO series, it may not get on the ballot at all.

That, of course, is up to you. All I can do is explain these arcane rules, and keep my fingers crossed.

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Hugo Recommendations – BEST PRO ARTIST

January 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm
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So… as I was saying back before the Golden Globes, our trip to LA, various other awards, and all the exciting football stuff distracted me… nominations for this year’s Hugo Awards are now open. The Hugos are the field’s oldest award, and to my mind the most important… not that the others aren’t swell, but the Hugos are chosen by you, the fans and readers.

To nominate, you do need to be a member of this year’s worldcon (Chicon 7), last year’s (Renovation) or next year’s (LoneStarCon). Any of the three will do. You can find the ballot here:

Lots of categories on the Hugo ballot (too many, maybe, and more being added all the time, which I think is a bad idea that cheapens the awards, but that’s a discussion for another time and place). I have work eligible in three or four of ’em, and I will mention my own stuff here where appropriate, since it now seems to have become de rigeur to plug your own writing on the internet. But I also have some great work by other folks that I would like to draw to your attention, for your consideration when filling out your ballot.

Let me start with the category BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST. I can’t draw a stick figure myself, but I have had the pleasure of working with some sensational talents this past year, and there are three of them who are more than worthy of your nomination.

To start, there’s JOHN PICACIO, who really needs no introduction to regular Hugo nominator. John has become one of the regulars who appears on the ballot every year, though he has yet to actually WIN a Hugo. Now, it’s a honor to be nominated and all, but being the annual bridesmaid does get wearisome. Maybe this should be the year when Picacio actually takes home the rocket. Along with his usual assortment of awesome book covers, this year John devoted much of his talent to the 2012 Ice & Fire calendar, and I think it contains some of his best work to date. Go ye and buy one and see for yourself.

You can see a lot more of John Picacio’s artwork on his website at

And as long as we are talking calendars, let me also suggest that it is long past time that TED NASMITH received a nomination. Nasmith has long been one of the “big three” of Tolkien artists, right up there with Alan Lee and John Howe, but he’s done a lot of other magnificent work as well, including the thirteen gorgeous fantasy landscapes he painted for the 2011 Ice & Fire calendar from Random House.

((EDITED TO ADD)) Yes, the castles below are mislabeled, but it’s the only jpeg I have that shows all of the paintings, so I’ll keep it up here.

I love Nasmith’s work, and I’m thrilled to be working with him again on the Subterranean Press limited edition of A GAME OF THRONES. He’s just started that one, but from what I have seen so far, it is going to be a feast for the eyes. To the best of my knowledge, this insanely gifted Canadian artist has never appeared on a Hugo ballot, and it is way past time we changed that.

You can see more of Ted’s work on his website at

Last, but most assuredly not least, let me once again make my annual impassioned plea on behalf of MICHAEL KOMARCK. I’ve worked with Komarck on a number of projects, and his work has always been nothing short of stunning. He painted the very FIRST Ice & Fire calendar, the ill-fated but beautiful (and now, I am told, rare and valuable) 2009 calendar from the Dabel Brothers. He has done great Ice & Fire paintings for Fantasy Flight Games, for Green Ronin, and will be doing some great variant covers for the GAME OF THRONES comic from Dynamite and Random House.

Komarck has also been the cover artist for all of Wild Cards books, both new and old, from Tor, and his work there has been eye-popping as well.

Check out Komarck’s website at

Like Nasmith, Komarck has never been nominated for a Hugo… though last year he came within shouting distance. This year, let us put him on the ballot. The guy has earned it.

There are lots and lots of great SF and fantasy artists out there, I know. Including the “usual suspects,” the small group of illustrators who seem to appear on the Hugo ballot year after year after year. I have no problem with any of them… but when it comes time to make nominations, I do sometimes fear that some voters never look beyond last year’s ballot.

Let’s not do that this year. I recommended Best Pro Artist nominations for John Picacio, Ted Nasmith, and Michael Komarck.

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Super G-Men!!!!

January 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm
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Life is magical and full of joy!


What a game. What a bloody great game. THIS is what football is supposed to be like. Real smashmouth kickass old-fashioned duel to the death. DAMN but that 49ers defense played great. I don’t think I have ever seen Eli take such a hammering, but he kept getting up and fighting on. And my man Cruz was magnificant as well… though the Niners obviously made adjustments at the half to clamp down on him, or else the win would have been much more lopsided.

The Giants D played great as well. They did not get nearly as many sacks on Alex Smith as I had expected/ hoped for, but they kept him under constant pressure, held Gore in check for the most part, and stifled the 49er receivers… well, except for those two times when Vernon Davis got loose.

But it was turnovers that won the game. Turnovers, and Big Blue’s special teams. I never could have called that. Our special teams have been a weakness all years. Weatherford’s a decent punter but not a great one. Ditto the Scottish Kicker (bad luck to say his name). And we get NOTHING on kickoff returns or punt returns. But it was the coverage teams, and the turnovers we got on those two punts, that made the difference in the end… and once again the Scottish Kicker came through! (My heart did stutter a little when we got that stupid delay-of-game penalty just before the FG attempt, adding five yards to the distance).

Who would ever have thought it? Not me, I admit. Not after that four game losing streak in mid-season and that dreadful December defeat by the Redskins. But then something funny happened. The Real Giants showed up.

So now we’re off to Indy, and a rematch of SuperBowl XLII with the Patriots and Evil Little Bill. Why, it’s like an epic fantasy… the heroes from NYC against the Dark Lord and his minions.

But that’s two weeks away. Right now, I’ll just enjoy the win. And hats off to the 49ers too. They had a great season, and Jim Harbaugh deserves all the credit in the world for turning that team around. I think they will be contenders for years to come.

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More Magic

January 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm
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And now it’s Championship Sunday in the NFL.

I meant to post about last week’s fantastic Giants win at Green Bay, but there was so much else to catch up on when Parris and I returned from LA, I never got the chance. Needless to say, it was a magical afternoon, and did help take some of the sting out of losing the Golden Globe. Parris and I watched the first half of the game while dressing for the awards banquet, right up to that last second Hail Mary TD that Eli tossed to Hakeem Nicks. I still have trouble believing that one, but it had the both of us screaming. We listened to the third quarter in the limo creeping toward the Beverly Hilton past all the security and the crowds of religious lunatics. But then it was time to go into the banquet. Fortunately, David Benioff (another Giants fan) had an app on his iPhone that allowed him to check the score, and he kept updating the table. I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming “YEAH! G-MEN” when we finally locked it up.

Hard to believe it has already been a week.

So… another tough game today against the 49ers. And the rain will not help. Here’s hoping the Giants still have some magic left. Win or lose, though, this has been an incredible run. After that dismal loss to the Redskins late in the season, I really thought they were done. I’ve never been so pleased to be proven wrong, wrong, wrong.

As for the early game, the AFC championship, I will be pulling for the Ravens, of course. Should the Giants advance to the Superbowl, I would much rather face Joe Flacco than Tom Brady… and I would prefer the “revenge factor” working on my side. Let’s give the Giants a chance to avenge 2000, instead of having Brady and Evil Little Bill trying to avenge 2007.

But that’s secondary for me. Pats or Ravens, we’ll take either one. First we need to get past the Niners.

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Two for the Edgar

January 20, 2012 at 11:20 am
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VERY cool…

The finalists for this year’s Edgar Awards have just been announced, and I was thrilled to learn that two of the stories from DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, the fantasy/ mystery anthology that Gardner Dozois and I edited for Penguin, have been nominated for Best Short Story.

The nominees are:
“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies,” by Diana Gabaldon,
“The Adakian Eagle,” by Bradley Denton.

The Edgar Awards, named after Edgar Allen Poe (that famous Baltimore Ravens fan), are the mystery equivalent of the Nebula, awarded annually by the members of the Mystery Writers of America. It’s quite a coup for a fantasy story to be nominated.

A full list of this year’s Edgar nominees can be found here:

Congratulations to Brad and Diana. If you’d like to check out their stories, you can find DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS on Amazon, or (I hope) at your favorite local bookshop. Lots of other good stuff in the book as well.

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