Just Deserts

by Sheila Williams


Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll find the ballot for Asimov’s 33rd Readers’ Award. We hope to get ballots and thoughts from as many of you as possible. It’s always elucidating to learn which stories, poems, and works of art connect with various readers and why.

I believe every story that appears in the pages of this magazine is special. Last year, I wrote a highly opinionated and spoiler-filled essay, “Our Year in Review,” in which I attempted to convey what appealed to me about each 2017 tale. The essay was posted online at our website. I intend to write a similar piece about our 2018 fiction. By the time this editorial is published, the essay should be available at www. asimovs.com/more-stuff/readers-award-year-review. Please take a look at it if you’d like to refresh your memory about the works that appeared in the magazine over the past year.

We hope you will consider nominating your favorite stories for other awards as well. In recent years, it’s become harder for print magazines to reach as wide a nominating audience as the free online fiction sites. With compelling voices like Suzanne Palmer, Sean Monaghan, and Connie Willis (all winners of the 2017 Readers’ Awards), I believe our fiction is just as innovative and intriguing as it was in previous decades. Remember, if you have attending memberships to the 2018, 2019, and 2020 Worldcons, you can nominate 2018 stories for the Hugos.

We were thrilled to see Sarah Pinsker’s September/October 2017 novelette, “Wind Will Rove,” on last year’s Hugo ballot. In our Readers’ Award Poll, Sarah had finished as a tight second to Suzanne Palmer’s “Books of the Risen Sea,” which appeared in the same issue. While Suzanne’s Asimov’s story didn’t make it onto the ballot, she edged out Sarah again for the Hugo with her Clarkesworld novelette, “The Secret Life of Bots.”

“Wind Will Rove” was the only Hugo finalist from a print magazine. Nothing else appeared on the ballot from Asimov’s, and there was nothing from Analog or F&SF. I thought all the 2018 Hugo winning works were terrific, but would have been happier to see more print representation among the runners up.

Despite this cavil, I had a lovely time at Worldcon76, which was held in San José, California, this past August. I was thrilled to see Suzanne get recognition for her creative and immensely entertaining work. I was pleased to see Martha Wells and Rebecca Roanhorse win respectively for best novella and short story. Perhaps the most exciting triumph of the night was N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo for best novel. This was Nora’s third best-novel Hugo in three years. She’s won for every volume of her Broken Earth trilogy. It’s an unparalleled accomplishment. I was moved by her speech and glad to have the chance to congratulate her as soon as the ceremony ended. Pictured above is a photo of Nora, not from that evening, but from a night a month later when she won the Brooklyn Book Festival’s prestigious BoBi award. We are joined in the photo by novelist and Asimov’s author Tochi Onyebuchi.

In addition to the ceremony, there were many other fun events over the course of the Worldcon. Walter Day honored me with my very own trading card, and I was gratified that Harry Turtledove won the Sidewise Award for “Zigeuner” (which was also published in the September/October 2017 issue!). I got to have lunch with a bunch of talented 2015 Clarion West students and breakfast with my own equally promising students from Clarion West’s Class of 2016.

It was delightful to have the chance to introduce Asimov’s associate editor, Emily Hockaday, to her first World SF Convention. In addition to meeting lots of authors, attending the programing, and perusing the art show and dealers’ room, Emily organized our annual party.

Guests at the party included Jim Kelly, Lisa Goldstein, Rich Larson, Rick Wilber, Derek Künsken, Ann Leckie, Alan Smale, Cory Doctorow, Nancy Kress, and Jack Skillingstead. It was a pleasure to reconnect with William F. Wu, another attendee. I hadn’t seen Bill in years, but have a new story, “Written in Mud,” appearing in this issue. Emily also got to meet G.O. Clark and other Asimov’s poets in person. At the gala we celebrated Analog’s Anlab and Asimov’s Readers’ Award winners.

Suzanne graciously put up with the dubious honor of getting to serve all the other party attendees cake.

Suzanne Palmer cutting the Asimov's cake

G.O. Clark and Emily Hockaday
Sheila Williams and William F. Wu

Ed_2_Tochi-and-NoraN. K. Jemisin, Tochi Onyebuchi, and Sheila Williams


Copyright © 2018 Sheila Williams