Honorable Mention in Year’s Best SF!

By way of fellow Fluidian Mercurio Rivera, good news: my short story “Playing Nice With God’s Bowling Ball” (Baen’s Universe, 2008) received an Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction!

I write a lot more SF than I ever manage to sell — which tells me that maybe I don’t write it very well. -_- I’m hoping to partially remedy that by attending Launch Pad in a few weeks, and by continuing to plug away at it. But as I joked to Mercurio, I clearly have no objective ability to measure the quality of my own SF stories, because “Playing Nice” was actually a trunk story — for those who don’t speak Writer, a story I’d given up on trying to publish because I no longer felt it was worthwhile. But then I heard about the Baen’s Universe “slush bar” submissions process. With the Slush Bar, you submit a story to an online forum populated by Baen’s readers, and they read it and decide whether it’s worthy of publication in the magazine. On a whim, I decided to submit “Playing Nice”, since I did think it was well-written, and because I wanted to figure out why it hadn’t sold (see aforementioned inability to objectively assess my own SF). Going through the Slush Bar is a humbling, exhilarating process — kind of like going through an online writing group like Critters, but with a more concrete reward at the end, if you’re lucky. I was lucky. The readers suggested a few changes — nothing too major; they were much nicer than any writing group I’ve ever been in — and then a Baen’s editor contacted me; the response had been positive enough that they wanted it. So the story sold.

I have to admit; I kind of thought it was a fluke. Sure, the story — a police procedural about a hardboiled detective who encounters a very weird murder mystery involving a cute little boy, a Yu-Gi-Oh-like card game, and a black hole in a coffee can — was fun. I had fun writing it. But it didn’t have the weight of most SF stories I’ve read; it didn’t Say Anything important or try to blow its readers’ minds with goshwow science or gadgets. Basically I read Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, watched a few episodes of Law and Order, and did a mashup. I never, ever, would’ve expected it to get an Honorable anything, least of all in such a prestigious Year’s Best.

So, cool. =)

1 thought on “Honorable Mention in Year’s Best SF!”

  1. Woo, congrats! I remember reading that one a while back, and it really was a fun story.

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