2020 has been kicked out the door, but wanted to look back at some of the silver linings: the wonderful books, stories, and projects I took part in last year.
I also want to add (admittedly, I hesitated on this point, but in the end, it matters very deeply to me and I don’t want to waste my shot, as they say): this may be the last opportunity I have to be eligible for Best Editor, Long-Form for the Hugo Awards. Many of the authors I worked with in 2020 had been wrapping their multi-book projects, and I was in the midst of acquiring new books when the layoff happened. In 2021, there *will* be books I’ve edited that will be published — and I’m super proud of them — including P. Djèlí Clark’s long-awaited debut novel A Master of Djinn, and the amazing lightning-rod sequel to A Song Below Water, A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow, and the lyrical and gorgeous debut We Shall Sing a Song into the Deep by Andrew Kelly Stewart. I also have great shows coming out from Realm.fm in 2021, but unsure if they’d qualify me for the category (maybe I’ll be proven wrong and they would!) Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll land another job or write something that will qualify me for a Hugo in this category or another category.
But for now, I’ll be upfront and ask if you ever wanted to support my work in the field more in the coming year, I’d deeply appreciate your consideration, and show support for these marvelous authors, details below.
Note: Nov 1, 2021: slight edits to update info about Realm.fm, above.
Books I Edited (in author alphabetical order)
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror
“A fantastical, brutal and thrilling triumph of the imagination…Clark’s combination of historical and political reimagining is cathartic, exhilarating and fresh.” —The New York Times
Nebula Award Winner
Locus Award Winner
Hugo Award Finalist
World Fantasy Award Finalist
Ignyte Award Finalist
Shirley Jackson Award Finalist
AAMBC Literary Award Finalist
British Fantasy Award Finalist
A New York Times Editor’s Choice Pick
A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist
Named a Best of 2020 Pick for NPR | Library Journal | Book Riot | LitReactor | Bustle
IN AMERICA, DEMONS WEAR WHITE HOODS.
In 1915, The Birth of a Nation cast a spell across America, swelling the Klan’s ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring Hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die.
Standing in their way is Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klan’s demons straight to Hell. But something awful’s brewing in Macon, and the war on Hell is about to heat up.
Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?
The Unconquered City by K. A. Doore
Book 3 in The Chronicles of Ghadid
The final volume in K. A. Doore’s critically-acclaimed assassin fantasy series, praised by Publishers Weekly as “a hit with fans of Sarah J. Maas and George R.R. Martin” (starred review)
Seven years have passed since the Siege—a time when the hungry dead had risen—but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Though she was trained to be an elite assassin, now the Basbowen clan act as Ghadid’s militia force protecting the resurrected city against a growing tide of monstrous guul that travel across the dunes.
Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Hathage, also faces this mounting danger. In her search for the source of the guul, the general exposes a catastrophic secret hidden on the outskirts of Ghadid.
To protect her city and the realm, Illi must travel to Hathage and confront her inner demons in order to defeat a greater one—but how much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?
I Come with Knives by S. A. Hunt
Book 2 in the Malus Domestica series
“S.A. Hunt is a kickass storyteller conquering the zone between fantasy and horror. Keep an eye on this one, because they’re just getting started.” —New York Times bestselling author Chuck Wendig
Robin – now armed with new knowledge about mysterious demon terrorizing her around town, the support of her friends, and the assistance of her old witch-hunter mentor – plots to confront the Lazenbury coven and destroy them once and for all.
Meanwhile, a dangerous serial killer only known as The Serpent is abducting and killing Blackfield residents. An elusive order of magicians known as the Dogs of Odysseus also show up with Robin in their sights.
Robin must handle these new threats on top of the menace from the Lazenbury coven, but a secret about Robin’s past may throw all of her plans into jeopardy.
The Hellion by S. A. Hunt
Book 3 in the Malus Domestica series
“Snappy dialogue and a Southern Gothic setting evocative of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. Robin is a distinctly modern new heroine….Likely to delight readers looking for a new twist in their horror picks.”—Booklist
Robin Martine has destroyed witches all across the country, but since her confrontation with the demon Andras, Robin has had to deal with her toughest adversary yet: herself. While coming to grips with new abilities, she and her boyfriend Kenway make their way to the deserts of rural Texas, where new opportunities await.
Something lurks in this isolated town of Keystone Hills: a dangerous gang ruled by a husband who wields an iron fist over his wife and daughter. Robin vows to protect these Latina women from harm, but may be underestimating how powerful Santiago Valenzuela is… and how his shapeshifting powers may pose a threat to everyone Robin holds dear.
“The Perfection of Theresa Watkins” by Justin C. Key
Justin C. Key’s “The Perfection of Theresa Watkins” is a skillful speculative exploration of the intersection of race, mental illness, and the American prison system.
Darius and Theresa Watkins confronted death once as fellow cancer survivors. Their lives are full and productive, their love a shield against Darius’s bouts of anxiety and Theresa’s occasional flare-ups. Yet when tragedy strikes, Darius will try everything to save his wife…even against his fears that she may have transformed into an entirely different person—literally.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water is the story for today’s readers — a captivating modern fantasy about Black sirens, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.
“Delving into misogynoir, mythology, and the importance of friendship, this remarkable work cements Morrow’s status as a literary master.”―Buzzfeed, Best YA Speculative Fiction of 2020
NPR Best Book of the Year Selection
Locus Awards Finalist
Ignyte Award Finalist
Junior Library Guild Selection
Nautilus Book Award – Gold
In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers.
Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment.
Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all.
“It’s beautiful and it’s brilliant.”–Jason Reynolds, #1 New York Times bestselling author and National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature
“An enthralling tale of Black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” — Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles
The Poet King by Ilana C. Myer
Book Three in The Harp and Ring Sequence
Best SF/F Novel Selection in 2020 by Kirkus Reviews
Prophecies unfold, legends turn real, and a war of mythical proportions endangers the realm in Ilana C. Myer’s epic fantasy The Poet King, the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed Fire Dance, continuing The Harp and Ring Sequence.
After a surprising upheaval, the nation of Tamryllin has a new ruler: Elissan Diar, who proclaims himself the first Poet King. Not all in court is happy with this regime change, as Rianna secretly schemes against him while she investigates a mysterious weapon he hides in the bowels of the palace.
Meanwhile, a civil war rages in a distant land, and former Court Poet Lin Amaristoth gathers allies old and new to return to Tamryllin in time to stop the coronation. For the Poet King’s ascension is connected with a darker, more sinister prophecy which threatens to unleash a battle out of legend unless Lin and her friends can stop it.
Automatic Reload by Ferrett Steinmetz
“Shadowrun with a conscience.”—Hugo Award-winning author Jim C. Hines
“Luxuriates in the intricate beauty that is technology, exults in the mechanics of cyberpunk. And it does all this while being a rom-com with a lot of explosions.”—Cassandra Khaw, finalist for the British Fantasy and Locus Awards for Hammers on Bone
Ferrett Steinmetz’s high-octane cyberpunk romance Automatic Reload is about a tortured mercenary and the genetically engineered assassin he loves.
Meet Mat, a tortured mercenary who has become the perfect shot, and Silvia, an idealistic woman genetically engineered to murder you to death.
Together they run for the shadiest corporation in the world…and realize their messed-up brain chemistry cannot overpower their very real chemistry.
Automatic Reload is the genre’s most unexpectedly heartfelt romantic comedy with explosions, perfect for fans of both Altered Carbon and Atomic Blonde.
The Last Uncharted Sky by Curtis Craddock
Book 3 in The Risen Kingdoms series
“A gripping tale of a woman who refuses to be defined by her physical and magical limitations, thwarting both assassins and all who see her as a pawn. A great read!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson, on An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors
Isabelle and Jean-Claude undertake an airship expedition to recover a fabled treasure and claim a hitherto undiscovered craton for l’Empire Celeste. But Isabelle, as a result from a previous attack that tried to subsume her body and soul, suffers from increasingly disturbing and disruptive hallucinations. Disasters are compounded when the ship is sabotaged by an enemy agent, and Jean-Claude is separated from the expedition.
In a race against time, Isabelle must figure out how to ward off her ailment before it destroys her and reunite with Jean-Claude to seek the fabled treasure as ancient secrets and a royal conspiracy threaten to undo the entire realm.
Wild Cards Universe
Edited by George R. R. Martin; Assisted by Melinda M. Snodgrass
Note, I served as in-house editor, overseeing these projects through publication after GRRM edited the text.
American Hero – A Wild Cards ebook anthology, Edited by George R. R. Martin & Assisted by Melinda Snodgrass & Carrie Vaughn
In this bitingly satirical companion novel to the Wild Cards title Inside Straight, American Hero combines two quintessentially pop culture phenomena: superheroes and reality TV.
American Hero, the nation’s most highly anticipated competition show, kicks off its first season! People with incredible powers – from possessing death-defying healing to transforming into an insect swarm to shifting the earth itself – have been selected from all walks of life. Their goal: to win one million dollars and the admiration of millions more viewers by answering one question,
“Do you have what it takes to be the next American Hero?”
Contains week-by-week action-packed recaps and no-holds-bars contestant confessionals, all edited by New York Times #1 bestselling author George R. R. Martin. Features writing by Martin as well as Carrie Vaughn, Melinda M. Snodgrass, Walter Jon Williams, Victor Milan, Daniel Abraham, Stephen Leigh, and many more of the genre’s most innovative writers.
“The Visitor: Kill or Cure” – A Wild Cards short story by Mark Lawrence
The visitor comes… but she needs to be invited in.
Ever since she woke up in the hospital with the ability to generate heat, Ruby Johnson, a.k.a the Dragon, has built a reputation as an unstoppable force of nature. She makes her living as an assassin for hire, but one day she comes across a benevolent ace whose powers she vastly underestimates.
“Berlin is Not Berlin” – A Wild Cards short story by Marko Kloos
“Losing the man’s daughter on the job would be a fatal black mark on his professional resume. Khan had never lost a client, and he wasn’t about to start a habit.”
Khan only had one job: chauffeur and guard an American wealthy socialite and her friends. When his client Natalie Scuderi gets nabbed by the Georgian mafia, this joker-ace has no choice but to go underground and rescue her.
Wild Cards XI: Dealer’s Choice Edited by George R. R. Martin
The Wild Cards series explodes into apocalyptic battle action, edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and Melinda M. Snodgrass, featuring the writing talents of Edward W. Bryant, Stephen Leigh, John Jos. Miller, George R. R. Martin and Walter Jon Williams.
After too many disastrous raids and military embarrassments, the Nats order a full-out, no-holds-barred blitzkrieg against Bloat and his genetic outcasts. The mission is clear: destroy Ellis Island, no survivors. As the final battle rages, the Turtle throws in the towel, Modular Man switches sides, Reflector faces defeat, Legion “dies”—and assassins reach Bloat’s chamber. This is it, folks. The final days of the Rox.
Other editorial and writing projects in 2020
The Edits4BlackSFF Project
Over the summer of 2020, I worked in collaboration with several supportive people in the industry who wanted to invest in my freelance editorial work to find more talented Black writers who have been lost in the noise.
Curator & Introduction for “6 Sci-Fi Writers Imagine the Beguiling, Troubling Future of Work” at Wired Magazine
Today, we work with each other, with apps, with the occasional robot—but what will collaboration look like tomorrow? I asked six talented writers for short stories on these subjects: some focused on individual industries, like medicine and advertising; others explored themes of memory and consciousness.
“Work Ethics” by Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
“Remembrance” by Lexi Pandell
“The Long Tail” by Aliette de Bodard
“Collaborative Configurations of Minds” by Lettie Prell
“Beyond These Stars Other Tribulations of Love” by Usman T. Malik
“ars longa” by Tade Thompson