Tue 28 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Lovely news came in late last week for Sofia Samatar and her debut novel, A Stranger in Olondriawhich has been honored with the Crawford Award. We are immensely happy for Sofia! Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors: Yoon Ha Lee for Conservation of Shadows (Prime Books), Helene Wecker for The Golem and the Jinni (Harper), and N.A. Sulway for Rupetta (Tartarus Press).

Sofia will be at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida, where the award will be presented on March 22.

And in an amazingly graceful segue, I can reveal that Eileen Gunn will also be at that conference and will be celebrating the publication of her second collection of stories, Questionable Practiceswhich just received its first review, and it’s a star from Publishers Weekly!

“Nebula-winner Gunn combines humor and compassion in 17 short, intricate gems that showcase her many talents. Of particular note among these outstanding works are the poem “To the Moon Alice,” in which a bombastic threat provides escape from comedic domestic violence, and “Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, March 2005,” an affectionate fable-like tribute to two legendary authors. “Up the Fire Road” provides dueling accounts of triadic romance and problematic parentage. “Phantom Pain” is a kaleidoscopic examination of a wounded soldier’s life. Though Gunn first saw print in the 1970s, this short collection contains a surprisingly large portion of her stories; her rate of publication has recently been increasing, giving fans reason to hope for many more delights to come.”


And since all posts should have 3 items, we’re raising up a glass of champagne to toast Holly Black whose novel Doll Bones is one of this year’s Newbery Honor books!

“In this distinctive coming-of-age tale, best friends Zach, Poppy and Alice set out on a life-altering quest driven by the presence of a sinister bone china doll who haunts their dreams and waking hours. Black explores complex questions of storytelling, imagination and changing friendships in this superbly haunting narrative.”

It’s a great book for kids or adults and we are just beside ourselves with joy that Holly’s book was recognized by the ALA. Props to the ALA for running a fabulous awards organization: it’s not even the end of January and they fired off a couple of dozen fab awards in under an hour. Wow!

Bookslinger: Understand

Fri 17 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

New this week on Consortium’s Bookslinger app is Ted Chiang’s Asimov and Hayakawa award winning story “Understand.”

Previous Small Beer stories on Bookslinger:

Kelly Link, “The Specialist’s Hat”

Bernardo Fernandez, “Lions” (translated by Chris N. Brown)

John Kessel, “Pride and Prometheus”

Kij Johnson’s “At the Mouth of the River of Bees”

Georges-Olivier Chateaureynaud’s “Delauney the Broker” (translated by Edward Gauvin)

Ray Vukcevich, “Whisper

Maureen F. McHugh, “The Naturalist

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Pelican Bar

Kelly Link, “The Faery Handbag

Benjamin Rosenbaum, “Start the Clock

Maureen F. McHugh, “Ancestor Money

Download the app in the iTunes store.

And watch a video on it here:

Small Beer Podcast 19: Nathan Ballingrud’s “You Go Where It Takes You”

Tue 14 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Julie

North American Lake Monsters cover - click to view full sizeNathan Ballingrud is one of those authors who should be far better known. Hopefully, this collection will do something to bridge that particular gap.

I don’t write fan letters and I don’t read stories that sometimes fall across the border into grotesque, but then Nathan Ballingrud’s North American Lake Monsters came along. Immediately after I finished the collection, before I even knew I was going to record this podcast, I had messaged Nathan directly to tell how how I felt. The thing is—I don’t do things like that.

Even as I type this blog entry, I am holding back my over-eager fangirl. Ballingrud’s stories are that good. They are dark and unique and beautifully written. The prose is Ballingrud’s alone, but it reminds me of Raymond Carver after Gordon Lish had cleaned up his work. (Here’s a link for those of you who don’t know that particular story. It is a psychological horror story all its own.)

Ballingrud’s stories blur that artificial line between psychological, supernatural, and physical horror. But they do more than that. These are stories about people who make hard and, often morally uncomfortable choices, and yet remain emphatically human. We may not approve of what they do, but we damn well understand it. In the end, after traveling through Ballingrud’s world, I didn’t feel anxious or scared, I felt lighter, as though his stories had carried off some darkness within myself. Best of all, I felt entertained.

Episode 19: In which Julie C. Day reads Nathan Ballingrud’s “You Go Where It Takes You” from North American Lake Monsters.

Subscribe to the Small Beer podcast using  iTunes or the service of your choice:

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Jeff Ford says

Mon 13 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

“Eileen Gunn’s terrific new story collection, Questionable Practices, is a unique amalgam of big ideas and versatile styles packed into short pieces devoid of loose threads and excess baggage. Gunn manages to perfectly balance themes of thought paradox, gender politics, corporate culture, time travel, steampunk, with a storyteller’s ability to immediately draw the reader in through character and drama. Real science fiction, great humor, and some cool collaboration with Michael Swanwick make this a good choice for SF short fiction fans.”

Sounds about right to us!

Unreal and the Real: Oregon Book Award finalist

Fri 10 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Unreal and the Real: Where on Earth cover - click to view full sizeLovely news this week, Ursula K. Le Guin’s selected stories, The Unreal and the Real, is one of 2014 Oregon Book Award Finalists for the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction. All of the finalists for the various categories are here and the award ceremony (hosted by the excellent Luis Alberto Urrea!) is on March 17 at 7:30 pm. Tickets are $10 – $50.

And here is the list of fiction finalists: congrats one and all!

Ursula K. Le Guin of Portland, The Unreal and The Real: Collected Stories: Volume 1 and 2 (Small Beer Press)
Whitney Otto of Portland, Eight Girls Taking Pictures (Scribner)
Amanda Coplin of Portland, The Orchardist (Harper Perennial)
Roger Hobbs of Portland, Ghostman (Knopf)

27th Annual Oregon Book Awards Ceremony
Gerding Theater at The Armory (View)
128 NW Eleventh Avenue
Portland, OR 97209

The Freedom Maze publication day, again!

Tue 7 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

The Freedom MazeHey, we are very proud and happy to note that Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze comes out in paperback today from Candlewick Press and before you click off somewhere else I want to note it is only $6.99! How can you resist! Buy it for all the kids you know, and two for yourself (one to giveaway!).

Remember this book? It is the one that took 18 years to write and is a curl-up-and-read-right-through.

How did it do?


Norton Award winner
Prometheus Award winner
Mythopoeic Award winner
ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults
Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011
Tiptree Award Honor List
Audiobook available from Listening Library.
French rights sold.


Delia did a Big Idea: “Eighteen years ago, I was stuck.”
and wrote a guest post on Diversity in YA: “When I began writing The Freedom Maze, back in 1987, I didn’t intend to write a book about race.”
You can listen to an interview with Delia Sherman and a reading from The Freedom Maze or download the first chapter. [PDF link]

I love this book. So happy it is off into paperbackland with such wonderful folks. May every school and library in the land order it. May cities choose it for One City One Book. May colleges make their incoming classes read it. May it outlive us all!

Travel Light — and free

Sat 4 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Travel Light cover - click to view full is running a giveaway sweepstakes for five copies of Naomi Mitchison’s Travel LightLeave a comment to enter — and/or get the ebook on sale this week for only $2.99  on Weightless.

The giveaway was inspired by Amal El-Mohtar’s incredible You Must Read This which was published by NPR this week which includes these lovely lines about the book:

Travel Light is the story of Halla, a girl born to a king but cast out onto the hills to die. She lives among bears; she lives among dragons. But the time of dragons is passing, and Odin All-Father offers Halla a choice: Will she stay dragonish and hoard wealth and possessions, or will she travel light?

Amal wove many personal and literary threads together in an enthralling and thought-provoking way. Her love for the book shines through so fully it has sent hundreds, thousands of readers to find the book for themselves. And Travel Light is such a short, beautiful book that many readers have already read it and recommended it to others. It’s amazing to see. Annalee’s io9 headline about Amal’s essay, The book we all wish we could have read as children, hits the nail on the head for many of us reading it for the first time. I’d have loved to read Travel Light when I was a kid deep in John Christopher’s Beyond the Burning Lands and Tripods series, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea, Richard Cowper’s White Bird of Kinship books, Joan Aiken, Alan Garnar’s The Weird Stone of Brisingamin, Megan Lindholm’s Wizard of the Pigeons, John Wyndham’s Chrysalids, etc., etc.

I’ve loved Travel Light for years. I had the Virago UK edition with the green cover and kept giving copies of it away. At some point I got a hardcover—Kelly used to give me Mitchison books for my birthday, now I have to catch up!—and when we were doing Peapod Classic reprints it was a natural fit. Kevin Huizenga’s  cover illustration is still a treat: there are so many things going on in that cover.

To see a book I love as much as this suddenly rocket up and off in the world is so exciting I’ve occasionally had to step away from it all and take a deep breath. (Which has been made very easy by our 4-year-old daughter—often bearish, sometimes dragonish—who has been wearing a princess dress under her new jaguar costume and has been running around terrorizing everyone and everything in the house.)

I’ve spent years at book fairs chatting to people about the book and some of those people were caught by in the same way. One reader I know, Karen Meisner, was caught because Amal writes that Karen gave it her  for her birthday. If we are lucky, if the work is done and everything is in place, this is the way the world works: a good book is written (be it now or in “Marseilles — Peshawar, 1951”), a reader finds it, loves it, and passes that love on. And on and on and on . . . .

. . . and should you be tempted like me to look for more MitchisonThe Corn King and the Spring Queen is a huge immersive historical novel, Memoirs of a Spacewoman is a sometimes slow, sometimes hilarious taboo-crushing novel about “communication,” but the books I really recommend are her autobiographies (Small Talk: Memories of an Edwardian ChildhoodAll Change Here: Girlhood and Marriage, and You May Well Ask: A Memoir) and her World War II diaries, Among You Taking Notes: The Wartime Diary of Naomi Mitchison, 1939-1945.

Many of her books are available here.

1st and last 2013, 2014

Wed 1 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Happy New Year!

Later this week we’ll get the last Bookscan report for 2013 and we’ll be able to replicate our 2012 bestsellers post.

In the meantime, here’s the first and last orders from our website in 2013 and the first from 2014. Greer’s excellent chapbook—for which there is a followup coming!—was no doubt helped by Henry Wessells choosing as his best book of 2013!


First: Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet 28
Last: Greer Gillman, Cry Murder! in a Small Voice


First: Greer Gillman, Cry Murder! in a Small Voice
Last: who knows?

Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 28 cover - click to view full size Cry Murder! in a Small Voice cover - click to view full size