I haven’t posted the good news here because it’s been a week and I’m still walking around in a daze. I’ve been nominated for a World Fantasy Award! (I just reread that sentence and I still can’t quite get my head around it.) I was in Bethany Beach, Delaware last Thursday lounging on a beach when I received a text message from Raj Khanna and an email from Genevieve Valentine congratulating me. This was followed by a tidal wave of congratulatory emails. When I checked the actual nominations online, I saw that my fellow nominees in the short fiction category included Karen Joy Fowler, Christopher Fowler, Kij Johnson and Joyce Carol Oates(!). And li’l old me. For my short story, “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us.” (A complete list of the nominees appear below).
Making the news even more sweet was that two of other nominees included members of my writing group, Altered Fluid. Nora Jemisin was nominated for her much-heralded fantasy novel The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. This completes the trifecta for that amazing novel: nominations for the Hugo, the Nebula and the World Fantasy Award! (And also winner of the Locus Award for Best New Novel, ho-hum.) And my friend, the multi-talented Matt Kressel, was nominated in the Special Award, Non-Professional Category for his tireless work with Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press. (Way to go, Matt!)
My nominated story, “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” appeared in Black Static #18, another slick issue put together by the incomparable Andy Cox. Needless to say, I owe my writing career in great part to Andy, who also puts out Interzone where I’ve published a slew of stories since 2006. I really don’t know where I’d be without Andy’s support throughout the years. Thanks, Andy!
In “Tu Sufrimiento ” I used a radically different voice than I’ve ever tried before in my fiction. My Dominican protagonist, Edgar, speaks in “Spanglish” and he lives in a bleak and frightening near future New York under the constant threat of terroristas. Another source of terror are the “justice gangs” that roam the streets hunting down what they deem to be potential threats. Edgar is settling into his new high-security apartment when he’s starts to hear a moaning in his head, the painful cries of a voice seemingly coming from the building’s basement — a basement that doesn’t exist. Despite the near future setting, “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” is most definitely horror, with a political bent. (But I’ll let others discuss the politics of the story).
There have been several in-depth reviews of the story, which do get into the politics. In what is just a small excerpt of his thorough review over at Trumpetville, Pete Tennant makes the following observations:
“[W]hile the story might take side swipes at the legacy of the Bush administration and the moral contortions of the so called “War on Terror”, it also does something far more basic, by turning the mirror on the reader and asking exactly what we would be prepared to do to protect ourselves, our loved ones. What do we do when such questions aren’t simply intellectual conundrums but as here, as for Edgar, vital concerns that require us to steep our own hands in blood, to rend and tear the flesh of another, to sacrifice our own innocence on the altar of pragmatism so that others will be spared. The last line of the story is, “‘We’re safe,’ he says.”, and it’s left for the reader to wonder at the terrible cost of that security, whether life at any price is a bargain well made.
Rivera doesn’t have any answers to give, and perhaps there aren’t any, but he poses the question in powerful terms, with no turning away from the savage and appalling consequences of the story’s dialectic, and for that he is to be commended.”
[A] brilliant meditation upon the role of magical thinking in our political culture. “Tu Sufrimento Shall Protect Us” explores the idea that, in times of stress, humans retreat into atavistic beliefs about the need for pain and purification. …. Rivera asks: Is the acceptance of torture a result of ignorance or the product of superstition? Do we send people to be tortured because we genuinely believe that this is a reliable means of extracting intelligence or is it because we think that as long as someone out there is suffering for us, we will be safe? Rivera asks this question through the lens of South American culture, the story is elegantly written, beautifully atmospheric and filled with some wonderful local colour. “Tu Sufrimento Shall Protect Us” is not only the strongest story in the issue, it is also one of the most atmospheric, disturbing and thought-provoking short stories I have ever encountered.
Also, Sharon Campbell at Tangent Online provided a thorough review of the story. (“Mercurio D. Rivera jumps nimbly between bystander, torturer, and victim in [a] fast-paced tale [where]…the wars and terrorists of this not-so-distant future have left everyone a victim in some way…. Tight, fast, dramatic, and tortuous.”).
Andy Cox has posted a copy of “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us” over at the TTA Press website. You can read it HERE.
Someone pinch me.
World Fantasy Nominees and Lifetime Achievement Winners
The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011 are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer. The awards are presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the fantasy field.
The World Fantasy Awards nomination ballot has also been announced. Winners will be announced at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30, in San Diego CA. (Lifetime Achievement winners are announced in advance of the event).
Zoo City, Lauren Beukes (Jacana South Africa; Angry Robot)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
The Silent Land, Graham Joyce (Gollancz; Doubleday)
Under Heaven, Guy Gavriel Kay (Viking Canada; Roc; Harper Voyager UK)
Redemption In Indigo, Karen Lord (Small Beer)
Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
“The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine)
“The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
“The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)
Best Short Fiction
“Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
“Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
“Ponies”, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
“Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
“Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)
The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)
What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)
Kinuko Y. Craft
Richard A. Kirk
Special Award, Professional
John Joseph Adams, for editing and anthologies
Lou Anders, for editing at Pyr
Marc Gascoigne, for Angry Robot
Stéphane Marsan & Alain Névant, for Bragelonne
Brett Alexander Savory & Sandra Kasturi, for ChiZine
Special Award, Non-Professional
Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog