Brandon O’Brien’s 2018 Awards Eligibility Post

Another year brings with it another crop of radical stories worth reading from all across the speculative fiction landscape. It’s also been a kind of a hard year for all of us, one where what we read and write has become in a lot of ways the truest shape of extolling who we want to be and rebutting who we are afraid of becoming. 

A lot of that has particularly come from many of the things that I’ve read, which I want to turn into another post where I can truly talk about the length and breadth of good SFF that came out in the year 2018. 

It’s also been an intensely busy one for me creatively. Lots of things were either published or cooking this year, which I’m somewhat glad for. If I’m being honest, it’s rather ironic that I wrote so much in a state of such mental and emotional flux that today, in another one of those valleys, I find it hard to just write the blog post about the stuff I wrote so people can read them and possibly consider them worthy of a statue. But ultimately, I’m proud of my output. That I can use my work as a channel for some of those valleys, and at least work slowly through the words when the valley fills with water, is a marked improvement from just last year. And ultimately, I came out with some things that I’m really proud of, and I hope I can make more things like those next year. 

But since I should also mention the things themselves, here are some stuff that fell out of my brain this year: 

Poetry (eligible for the Rhysling Award): 

🌌 ‘The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice‘ (Arsenika Issue 2, February 2018) 
“the newly discovered academic consensus is that/ multidimensional transcendent astral travel/ is only possible through/ wining” 

🌌 ‘drop some amens‘ (Uncanny Magazine Issue Twenty-One, March/April 2018) 
“If the halo-copters hear you scream from downstairs,/ you get one from on high, and it makes/ a whistle on the way down and/ falls against your prayers—”

🌌 ‘Hunting with Zeno’s Arrows‘ (Eye to the Telescope Issue 28: Time, April 2018) 
“you cascade beyond/ your crueller versions,/ you blossom in my imagination—beautiful, sharp, with all the/ answers in your hands and/ mind.” 

🌌 ‘the one‘ (Uncanny Magazine Issue Twenty-Three, July/August 2018) 
“One whole thing or/ a collection of points in space or/ {all the fears you can have in your body | those fears < boundless joy}”

Other poetry: 

I’ve also written a lot which may or may not be the business of SFF awards season, but I’m more than glad to share them with you because I think they’re meaningful and worth reading. Here are a few:

🌈 ‘How Come You Find Yourself In All This’ (Susumba’s Book Bag Issue 10: Writing The Storm, June 2018) 
“and it was just a kiss, neither love nor/ lust nor longing nor loss, just learning, learning the water/ is fine no matter where the beach is.” 

🙄 Two poems, sx salon 28, June 2018 
“he licks his lips and says he’d like/ to just play around with me/ you ever play around with a big man before…”

👁 ‘Gretels’ (CULTUREGO Magazine #3, July-September 2018) 
“the woods are long/ the fields are cane/ dragged up from rot/ and placed in finer soil/ as punishment/ until it cries/ until it cannot cry”

🔇 ‘I’m Mad At The Mountain‘ ( 
I’m kind of tired of having/ to see the mountain’s humanity./ I saw the length, the whole/ damn thing, I have measured/ the mountain’s love in lengths of me,/ down to the cracked millimeter.

Prose (eligible for the Nebula and Hugo Award Short Story Categories): 

🌌 ‘The Cutpurse With His Trousers Down‘ (Nisaba Press, February 2018) 
A thief concocts a perfect scheme to ruin his rival, only to learn that some scores are more trouble than they’re worth. 

🌌 ‘Some Muses Are Not Gentle‘ (Welcome to Miskatonic University, March 2018) 
A university student slowly learns that his radical creative writing thesis challenging the ghosts of racism has awakened real ghosts who threaten to undo him. 

🌌 ‘The Howling Detective‘ (Uncanny Magazine Issue Twenty-One, March/April 2018) 
A young man undergoes a frightening and monstrous transformation, and uses it to punish those who hurt the vulnerable. 

🌌 ‘Gasping‘ (Apex Magazine Issue 111, August 2018) 
An Irish couple adopt a child they found on the beach and take her to Tobago to live, but the girl soon learns that her true love is the sea. 


I wrote a lot of pieces about recent black pop culture for Here are some of the pieces I wrote about the year’s superhero blockbuster, Marvel’s Black Panther

🦸🏾 ‘“Who are you?” Black Panther and the Politics of Belonging‘ (February 2018) 
“We see ourselves in Killmonger. But we don’t want to.”

🦸🏾 ‘Building Bridges: Black Panther and the Difference Between Rage and Revolution‘ (February 2018) 
“Which is more radical? To give the suffering a weapon, or to give them a home?”

I’ve also been writing a lot about some of the other black superhero media of the year: 

🦸🏾 ‘Black Lightning is a Superpowered Example of How Systems Dominate the Bodies of Black Americans‘ (March 2018) 
“After all, we watch superhero shows to see the heroes defeat evil, and there is nothing more evil than knowing that your world is under the control of people who don’t care about you, who see your body as an experiment, or worse.”

🦸🏾 ‘Black Lightning: The Family That Fights Together, Stays Together‘ (April 2018) 
“Over thirteen episodes, not a great deal about Freeland has changed—the men in black may still be ready to pounce on the town, and crime still lurks in its alleys. But Freeland is safe for another day…”

🦸🏾 ‘Luke Cage’s Queer Characters Are a Good Starting Point — But We Deserve More‘ (July 2018) 
“Many people tend to react with unease when the trope of the prison-time gay relationship, […]but this moment stands out because… both of these men admit that they did it, liked it, and still stand together as brothers […] And then by the next episode, Comanche is lying on the floor…”

🦸🏾 ‘Black Lightning Returns with a Focus on Consequences‘ (October 2018) 
“A new episode—in fact, an entire new season—of Black Lightning means confronting a lot of tension; tension that goes beyond the fictional setting of Freeland, bleeding into the realities of our current moment.”

🦸🏾 ‘The System Still Has Zero Tolerance For Young Black Recovery in Black Lightning‘ (November 2018) 
“[W]hen young black people rely on those in authority for support, and for their very survival, trust and believe that white folks of Freeland ain’t got none to spare for ‘em. Not a drop.”

I also managed to annoy some people, like when I said two-hour wrap-up movies for canceled but beloved TV shows do more harm than good for our sense of closure—

🌌 ‘Timeless, Sense8, and Firefly: The Case Against Two-Hour Wrap-Ups‘ (June 2018) 
“Why tease fans with the idea of telling a good story anxiously when you can just give it room to be told well—or, alternatively, not at all?”

—and apparently pissed people off even more with a piece about Avengers: Infinity War regarding the singular moment that was frustrating and painful to watch not just because of the villain’s cruelty, but the universe’s cruelty—

🌌 ‘It’s Time to Talk About Marvel’s Gamora Problem‘ (May 2018) 
“[W]hen you take away the Infinity Gauntlet and the extra body mass and the stone throne and the silly cosmic crusade, what you have left is a man saying that he killed a woman because he truly cared about her—and the universe rewarding him for doing so.” 

The essay I particularly want folks to read, share, and discuss is my Fireside Magazine essay, and part of Fireside’s ongoing conversation about harassment and sexual violence, the entire collection of which is worthy of your attention and constant consideration. (If it’s possible that said series is up for an award, it deserves it, if only so it never leaves our fandom’s consciousness.) 

‼ ‘Getting Men Off Ledges‘ (Fireside, June 2018) 
“[W]e need to show men with trauma actually working through it. The consequences of refusal are too dire. When men stand that high up, with such heavy burdens, and don’t come down gently, their inevitable fall is longer and more deadly for themselves and everyone around them.”

Stuff For Which I Don’t Think Any Category Exists: 

This is the part where I remind you all of my serial novel, How To Unmake It in Anglia, being published by Broken Eye Books.

The first three parts are on their Patreon page. You can read it, and many other short stories and serial fiction from other brilliant writers, as well as help them continue to tell fantastic weird stories, by supporting Broken Eye on Patreon for as little as US$1 a month. I hope you enjoy it! And I can’t wait to see them all put together and bound in the future! 

So… I think that’s all from me? I think I’m bad at this. Anyway, Brandon out. Have the best of everything.