I usually wait until January 1st to post this, but it all seems to be happening a little early this year, so I will bump up my Annual Obligatory Awards Eligibility Post.

As a note, no matter the nonsense tossed about like the world’s worst and slimiest beach ball by the Puppies last year, I believe in the value of authors posting what they have that’s eligible and will keep doing it. I am so often reminded of a story or book that I had forgotten about by such posts. There’s simply too much out there to keep up with on one’s own. So without further throat-clearing, here’s what I did in 2015.



The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (eligible for the Andre Norton Award as well as Best Novel in Nebula World)


Speak Easy


The Long Goodnight of Violet Wild

Short Story

Planet Lion

Posted in Blog Posts Comment

You may have heard a distant rumor that I have a book coming out today–well, it is rumor no longer, but gorgeous, tentacled, decopunk TRUTH.

Radiance is wild and woolly and brand new and in the world today!

I’m so excited and biting my nails and can’t believe it’s really out–a book seven years in the making, that began with a Clarkesworld short story and somehow turned into a big fat novel full of everything that lives in my heart. I’ve been saying for years that Radiance is a decopunk alt-history Hollywood space opera mystery thriller with space whales–well, now you can find out what the hell all that means.

If you are the kind of blessed, beautiful soul who is inclined to help out authors with novels in swaddling clothes, there’s lots you can do. Obviously, you know, buy the book so that I can continue to heat my house which is full of cantankerous carnivorous animals. Online or in bookstores, ebook or in print. Leave reviews on Amazon or Goodreads or what have you–people often think these don’t matter but they do, enormously. Come to my readings over the next couple of weeks for I am touring the nation (each stop is themed after a different planet!) and may come somewhat near you! (Big splashy flapper launch party at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn tonight, Seattle at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on Thursday, Powell’s at Cedar Hills Crossing in Portland, OR Friday, The Last Bookstore in LA on Saturday!) And spread the word.

In fact, if you do spread the word, I have something pretty cool waiting in the wings.

Any time over the next week (ending Wednesday October 28th), if you post, tweet, Instagram, or leave a review (positive or negative! You can hate the thing, it’s okay!) about Radiance, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win Mr. Bergamot and his stack of books. Who is Mr. Bergamot? Well, he’s this fine fellow:

FullSizeRender (1)


IMG_7526In the world of Radiance, Mr. Bergamot, the gentleman octopus, was the star of Percival Unck’s first series of children’s films, beginning with The Majestic Mystery of Mr. Bergamot in 1924. Unck is the most powerful filmmaker on the Moon, and he made the Bergamot movies for his mostly unimpressed daughter, Severin, who would one day grow up and disappear on Venus. Mr. Bergamot is in black and white, naturally, as he never made the transition to color. He is also quite a beefy fellow, coming in at 24 inches tall, including tentacles and top hat. He enjoys long slithers on the beach, horrors from beyond the depths of space, comforting lost children, and signed limited editions–along with Mr. Bergamot you’ll get signed and personalized copies of Radiance, Speak Easy, The Boy Who Lost Fairyland, and the rare hardcover of The Bread We Eat in Dreams.

How do you let me know you’ve entered the drawing? Use @catvalente or #Radiancenovel on Twitter, tag me on Facebook or Instagram, or leave a link in the comments to this entry.

Also, you can listen to the INCREDIBLE audiobook, read by Heath Miller, who has turned the book into a veritable radio play of voices, songs, and assorted pyrotechnics. (It’ll be out on Audible in a day or two.)

And that’s all! Here are excerpts, an interview or two, and here are places where you can get a copy of my funny intimate little tale about silent films, space whales, and the end of the universe for yourself.

Posted in Blog Posts Comment

Here are the places where I will be doing things at Sasquan over the weekend. Come to some of them! Also I will have a copy of Radiance and a copy of Speak Easy to give away to lucky attenders of my first reading on Thursday. (Yes, I have two readings! One is for kids and one is for grown-ups but you can come/bring either to either.)

Improv Acting for Kids

Thursday 15:00 – 15:45, 207 (CC)

Improv with the best

Reading – Catherynne Valente

Thursday 16:30 – 17:00, 301 (CC)

Exploring Orientation and Gender in Fiction

Thursday 20:00 – 20:45, Bays 111B (CC)

Fiction has evolved from presenting all characters born with a specific gender and sexual orientation to presenting a broad spectrum of genders and sexual orientations.  What are some of the early works to explore these areas? Who are some of the best authors exploring them now?  Does the gender/orientation of the author matter?

Stroll with the Stars

Friday 09:00 – 09:45, Breezeway/Statue (CC)


Friday 14:00-14:45 Exhibit Hall B

The Future of Video Games

Saturday 13:00 – 13:45, 401C (CC)

Video games continue to evolve in many ways: sophistication, emersion of the player, story telling, graphics, and platforms, to name just a few.  What’s next in the evolution of video games.

Fantasy Tales

Saturday 14:00 – 14:45, 206BCD (CC)

A special reading for children and children in big bodies–bring cookies and stuffed animals and curl up for an afternoon story!

Kaffee Klatche – Catherynne M. Valente

Saturday 17:00 – 17:45, 202A-KK1 (CC)

Fanwriting from Twiltone to Facebook: Zines, Blogs, Social Media — What’s the Diff?

Sunday 14:00 – 14:45, Bays 111C (CC)

From fandom’s earliest days, fen have written to one other. We write about our favorite sf, chronicle the cons we go to, gossip about clubs and the fans we know and detail what’s happening in our lives. Fanwriting began with letters to prozines and then evolved into styles suitable for fanzines and apas. Now, we have blogs and social media. Is there any real difference in the fanwriting? Does one medium require more discipline or skill? Is one more revealing or more relevant? Which generates the most egoboo (positive feedback)?

Posted in Blog Posts Comment

Hello, everyone! It is summer in Maine, which means sticky air, sticky food, and sticky brains. I’m getting ready to go to Worldcon in Spokane next week and working on a million and four projects, as well as hiding from the heat, watching The Wire in an improbably short amount of time, and chasing my German Shepherd with a furminator brush because apparently she thinks gently plucking a single loose hair from her constantly shedding body is tantamount to murder.

I’m also Guest of Honor at Bubonicon in New Mexico the week after Worldcon, so I hope to see lots of you in the very near future!

Lastly, should you be into the whole pre-ordering thing, you should know that at this very moment you can pre-order my new novella, Speak Easy, which is a very loose retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses involving Zelda Fitzgerald, prohibition, the Ansonia Building, a giant pelican, and Al Capone as the King of the Fairies. AND you can pre-order my newest adult novel, Radiance, which has been pushed back to October 20th. That would be my decopunk alt-history Hollywood pulp SF space opera mystery with space whales and silent movies. It also has a totally amazing cover.

ALSO, Saga Press is reprinting Six-Gun Snow White in a beautiful illustrated edition in November! Good lord, this year is gonna break my bookshelf.

I’ll be touring for Radiance in the fall, and again in the spring for the final book in the Fairyland series, The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (which, coincidentally, is also available for pre-order). It is a busy time for this sleepy creature.


Posted in Blog Posts Comment

The Hugo nominees were announced on Saturday. It is now Wednesday. In internet days, that’s about a decade. Enough for me to read through several 1000-comment threads about What Happened, to laugh, to cry, to be disgusted, to be angry, for my face to get stuck in permanent dropped-jaw mode. And to move from information gathering to a little analysis. Everything that can be said about how incredibly unpleasant this whole situation is has been said, so I won’t add my two WTFs to it. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, there are lots of places to read about it. I’ll sum up quickly. The following facts are not, as far as I know, in doubt:

1. A group of writers led by, but not limited to, Brad Torgerson, Larry Correia, and Vox Day, pulled a swell little 1919 and told their followers to vote a straight ticket–a slate devised and approved by these writers. There were two slates with many works in common, the “Sad Puppies” led by Torgerson and the “Rabid Puppies” led by Vox Day. This is the third year this group(s) have done this, but the first that it has been so overwhelmingly successful. Due to many factors in the Hugo nomination process, this resulted in a nearly-swept ballot of approved authors and works.

2. These writers are politically conservative, mostly deeply religious, and profoundly homophobic, sexist, racist, the whole nine. This is indeed the Vox Day who got kicked out of SFWA for using the official channel to harass N.K. Jemisin and call her subhuman. Though there are some exceptions, many of the works on the slate are also by writers of this political persuasion.

3. The group is of the opinion that their work was being overlooked because of their politics, and that the Hugo ballots and winners of the last several years were only awarded due to leftist politics and the racial/sexual/gender identities of their authors, not quality. The tenor of the call to arms was explicitly and often resoundingly political–“this is your chance to hurt SJWs.” If you don’t know what an SJW is, I hope you’re enjoying your new computer. It stands for Social Justice Warrior, which to a normal person sounds like someone who fights for justice and cares about all human beings, and to conservatives like the devil himself. The implication that they then must support injustice seems to be lost.

4. None of this is strictly speaking against the rules. It’s unethical. It’s almost laughably petty and mean-spirited. It’s most certainly against the spirit of the awards, which is why no one else has done it.And to an author of integrity, it’s a pointless act of bullying, because if you don’t compete against the best, an award is meaningless. But there is no bylaw that says not to cheat in this particular way.

Two more which are being hotly debated:

5. Whether or not it was successful, there is no doubt that SP and RP attempted to reach out to GamerGate to drum up support for their plan, and that “hurting SJWs” was the rallying cry, not “support great science fiction.” When questioned on this, they have refused to respond. The extent to which they found comrades among that crowd isn’t clear. A slate is so inherently unfair that it doesn’t take many people to fix the outcome, so despite the crowd of GGers on my Twitter feed telling me I’m an idiot for thinking they were involved, only a handful had to jump on board to make a difference, and they absolutely went looking in the halls of GamerGate for that handful. Which is maybe isn’t that surprising, given GG’s history of harassment and horrific examples of human behavior.

6. I will probably get some heat for this. But the emperor is butt damn naked. This is not, and has never been, about getting quality science fiction with a conservative slant on the Hugo ballot. The ballot looks ridiculous. John C. Wright has three nominations in the novella category and six overall, a record. The vast majority of the works are published by Castalia House, a Finnish micropublisher barely a year old and owned, I’m sure coincidentally, by Vox Day. Wisdom From My Internet, nominated in the Best Related Work category, is neither science fiction, nor, strictly speaking, a book, (Edit: many things not books have been nominated in the category, let’s say it’s not an original work) but a collection of right-wing chain emails and one liners–which, among other works, edged the biography of Daddy Heinlein off the ballot. This is not what an organic ballot looks like. Big publishers can only dream of dominating awards in this way. No one can argue Wisdom From My Internet is the best SFF has to offer. It’s absurd on the face of it to say there was nothing better than this small clique of authors in 2014. That John C. Wright is, essentially, the greatest science fiction writer of all time. These are works by the friends, employees, and, perceived or actual, allies of Brad Torgerson, Larry Correia, and Vox Day. That is their chief, and in some cases only, virtue. (There are some works of some merit. But their merit seems to have been secondary to their ideological purity, especially with regards to someone like Jim Butcher, whose books feature sexist attitudes meant to indicate a flawed character, not a mission statement.)

7. Some of the benefitting authors knew and approved of the slate, some did not, Torgerson claims to have sought consent from everyone, some say this is untrue. Some nominated authors have said nothing either way. Not all the information is in.

I think that’s about it.

I’ve been accused, as have many at this point, of only caring because of personal reasons. After all, I’m not on the ballot, so I must be crying tears of selfishness. Well, I barely had anything eligible this year and did not for a moment expect to be on the ballot, so that’s not even a little personal.

But on the other hand, when these men talk about how horrible recent ballots have been, how they have no literary merit, how they are simply leftists voting for leftists regardless of quality, how the nominated works have been terrible, how they have ruined both science fiction and the Hugos for the Real Fans…well, I’m included in that. Since my first nomination in 2010 I’ve been nominated seven times, only missing one year. They are talking about stories I’ve loved and voted for as well as stories I’ve written. I’m part of the shit they want to clean up. I guess I should have been collecting chain emails all this time if I wanted to make real art. So it does take me aback on that level, because here I thought I was spending years working hard at my craft, when I was actually part of a leftist conspiracy to get nominations. (Which, if leftists could work together long enough to conspiracy? We’ d probably aim higher.)

What’s shocked me, through all of this, and disturbed me even more than the fixing of the Hugos itself, is that the Sad and Rabid and Otherwise Emotionally Overwrought Puppies seem to have wholly lost their grip on the English language. It’s deeply unsettling to watch writers denying that words have meanings. YOU GUYS, WORDS MEAN THINGS. IT IS YOUR JOB TO KNOW WHAT THEY MEAN.

For example, one of the new acronyms for “people we don’t like” is, apparently, CHORF, which stands for Cliquish, Holier-Than-Thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary Fanatics. It truly floors me that people who are busy gathering their friends into a group that believes it is on the right side of God, calling names and yelling about how we need to go back to the old way of doing science fiction and colluding to fix an award can use that acronym for anyone other than themselves. The DICTIONARY DEFINITION of reactionary is: of, pertaining to, marked by, or favoring reaction, especially extreme conservatism or rightism in politics; opposing political or social change. How can this possibly describe the Evil Leftists such Brave Puppies must fight against? You keep telling us you’re the best writers in the genre, and yet basic words and their meanings seem to elude you! And while I’ve been told over and over that the Wicked Lefty Clique I am apparently a part of does “the same thing,” all that ever seems to mean is a link to John Scalzi or Charlie Stross’s blogs, as though John telling people what he has eligible and then opening his comments for others to do the same, or Charlie saying his editor is eligible, is some kind of evidence. The word “slate” means something. You know it does. It’s monstrously disingenuous to pretend any kind of “Hi, I have a book eligible” is identical to blatant vote-fixing and ballot-stuffing. There is no “both sides do it” or rules would have been changed a long time ago, as they may be changed now. No one would be shocked if this had been going on all along. The last people who tried this were Scientologists. The very fact that the Puppies are accusing others of having conspired–admitting by implication that this is wrong–while absolutely having conspired themselves–but insisting this was right–gives me a migraine.

I’ve repeatedly seen Brad Torgerson and Ken Burnside (a nominee but not an organizer) refer to the ballot as a “more inclusive” and “more diverse” ballot than recent years have offered. That…is not what inclusive means. It’s definitely not what diverse means. This ballot features one man in three out of five novella slots and six in total, one publisher in nine slots, and an overwhelming majority of white straight men. Even if you think all this is appropriate and excellent, you cannot call it inclusive or diverse without assaulting the English language. Let’s go to the dictionary! Inclusive: including a great deal, or including everything concerned; comprehensive! Diverse: of varying kinds, multiform, including representatives from more than one social, cultural, or economic group, especially members of ethnic or religious minority groups!

I suppose you could say “this list is more inclusive of myself and my friends, and more diverse in that myself and my friends are on it when we were not before” but that’s not what any of it actually means. It’s grotesque to defend oneself by claiming inclusivity and diversity when that is exactly what the unaltered ballots of recent years, the ones they hate so much, have given us.

It’s a near intolerable amount of cognitive dissonance, and it betrays a deep confusion. The Puppies hate SJWs–those awful people who keep prattling on about inclusivity and diversity. So why in the world would they claim to support those things? Why not use some other word to describe the ballot they’ve made–strong, perhaps, or exciting?

I suspect it’s because they know inclusivity and diversity are considered positive attributes by most people. Exclusivity and uniformity don’t sell. Despite their conviction that they are the persecuted majority, they know that no one wants to hear: we made a club so that we could be sure only people we approved politically and personally would be nominated. No one wants to hear: isn’t it nice how we’ve scrubbed the ballot of all those undesirables? Now it’s just us! What they did is unpalatable, and they know it. But now that they’ve gotten what they want, they need people to be happy about it in order for the award to have any meaning, and so they’ve grabbed the language of the enemy to praise themselves. Only it doesn’t work, because words have meanings. It’s a pretty classic conservative technique (see the fact that Social Justice Warrior now means a bad person), but it’s depressing–or perhaps hilarious–to see it used by individuals because they can’t face the consequences of what they’ve done. You guys spent ages telling us diversity was bullshit and inclusivity was a creeping evil. Why are you now telling us, with a sneer and a smirk, that you are their champions? What is wrong with you? It’s all so unfathomably dishonest and intellectually bankrupt I have a hard time believing any of these people put together a coherent novel at any point.

Puppies: if you truly believe that what you did was right and good and honest, if you believe you have struck a blow for virtue and excellence–be straight with us. Tell us that. Don’t try to paint over the mess you made by insisting you’ve done it all for the sake of inclusive, diverse happy kittens and rainbows. Conservative politics are supposed to be all about straight-shooting real talk. So just say you used your clique (and probably some others) to do something you believed in, no matter what the cost. You do not get to have your ballot and eat it, too. You did this. You have to face the consequences. You cannot tell the world that they should vote for you to strike back at women, liberal, people of color, and queer writers (and even worse–literary science fiction authors, the horror!) and then call yourselves diverse and inclusive.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to the Hugos. I haven’t yet seen a suggestion for rule changes that would fix much of anything. I suspect that even the Puppies are embarrassed that their tampering is so obvious, but they won’t break ranks now. I suspect this will be the most awkward award ceremony in history. It seems strangely small potatoes, to pick a science fiction award as your battlefield to die on when it can have so little effect on the political world at large. Surely there are larger stakes when you see the world as one huge Us vs. Them. I suppose you have to start somewhere. Even Darth Vader did data entry for awhile. I don’t even know what I’m going to do–whether I’ll go to Worldcon, whether I’ll vote No Award.

But I would like to ask, for the sake of a language I love: however you vote this summer, when you see people using words to mean their opposite, when you see these attempts at kidnapping and rehabilitating language, if nothing else, call them out on that. If they want the ballot, that’s one thing, but they can’t just take English. The rest of us are still using it.


Posted in Blog Posts Comment