2019 eligibility post

Better late than never: Here’s what I published this year (in English or Anglophone-relevant; not counting my Czech publications), so that you can read it and decide if it’s award-worthy.

Short stories

Novelettes

  • “Martian Fever” (Analog 11/12 2019)

Editing

While my short story “All The Smells in The World” appeared in the Jan/Feb 2019 issue of Analog, it came out in December, so it was eligible in 2018. In addition, two of my stories were reprinted this year (“The Gift” in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2019, and “Becoming” in Strange Constellations), but as you are surely aware, reprints are also not eligible.

You can see there’s notably fewer stories than last year, and that has two reasons. The smaller one is, lots of my new stuff appeared in Czech: essays for magazines such as Respekt and Proč ne?, new anthologized short stories, two new Aeronautilus awards to add to my collection (for the best Czech SFFH book and short story published in 2018), radio interviews… However, I also did a TEDx talk on the role of SF in inspiring real-world science and tech, a Europlanet webinar on the search for life in the solar system, and an interview for the Gernsback Machine podcast. Plus I participated in three panels at this year’s Worldcon in Dublin.

The bigger (and growing bigger still) reason is the one-year-old at home, who is amazing, smart and beautiful, but leaves me precious little time for getting any work done, and squeezing writing, translation, editing, working on my grant and PhD thesis, and the occasional essays, talks and such into some two to at best four hours a day proved even more difficult than previously imagined (not speaking of trying to attend a convention with a baby who only wanted to feed directly from the source, but was already old enough to need lots of activity, so in need of an indoor baby/toddler-suitable playground – not really close to the convention center). Nonetheless, there are going to be new publications in 2020, both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully more translations and editing work as well!

2018 eligibility post

So it’s this time of year again: Nebula nominations are now open. Everyone’s making eligibility posts, so, without further ado, here’s mine:

Short stories

Deep Down in The Cloud” (Clarkesworld Feb 2018) – SF

Under The Spinodal Curve” by Hanuš Seiner, in my translation (Tor.com, March 2018) – SF

“Frankenstein Sonata” (Broad Knowledge, Upper Rubber Boot, 2018) – F/SF/horror

“All The Smells in The World” (Analog Jan/Feb 2019; published Dec 18, upcoming) – SF

“Reset in Peace” (Amazing Stories, upcoming) – SF

Novelettes

“Screen in Silver, Love in Colour, Mirror in Black-and-White” (Shades Within Us, Laksa Media, 2018) – fantasy

“The Gift” (Asimov’s Nov/Dec 2018) + accompanying blogpost – SF

“The Iconoclasma” by Hanuš Seiner, in my translation (F&SF Nov/Dec 2018) – SF

 

More stories of mine, and hopefully some translations too, are upcoming next year. Plus there’s an anthology of European SF in Filipino translation I’ve co-edited with His Excellency Jaroslav Olša, Jr., the Czech ambassador in the Philippines – but more about that later!

The Final Frontier is here

The Final Frontier, an anthology of SF stories pushing the limits of (insofar) fictional space exploration, is available now! It includes my story “The Symphony of Ice and Dust” (orig. published in Clarkesworld). More about the anthology and its table of contents here.

In other news, I’ll be at two Czech events in the foreseeable future: Melting Pot (moderating debates with Peter S. Beagle and Thomas Olde Heuvelt), and Parcon (focused on translation this year). In December, I’ll deliver a contribution on worldbuilding in Czech SF at the Worlding SF conference. No Worldcon or Eurocon this year, but I hope to be both in Dublin and Belfast for them in 2019!

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Sofia Science Festival

The Sofia Science Festival, organized chiefly by the British Council in Bulgaria, is approaching, so here is a list of the program items I’ll be participating in (plus two Monday events organized by the university):

Sat. May 12

Sun. May 13

Mon. May 14

  • “Where to seek life in the solar system?” (16:15-17:30, Faculty of Physics)
  • Grace&Gravity event (19:30-21:00, Observatory, Department of Astronomy)

I’m looking forward to my stay in Sofia, meeting local scientists and writers, enjoying the festival and seeing a bit of Bulgaria – it’s going to be my first time in the country, which has a rich history and many natural wonders, too.

In other news, my newest book, Czech short story collection titled Světy za obzorem (Worlds Beyond The Horizon), is out! It contains seventeen short stories. There was a question about translation. Luckily, English-speaking readers already had a chance to read some of the stories – e.g. “Becoming”, “Dancing An Elegy, His Own”, “Étude for An Extraordinary Mind”, and “The Symphony of Ice and Dust”.

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Big thanks to the British Council for inviting me to the festival, and to the Czech Centres for arranging my journey! My program can be accessed also here.

2017: What a year!

It’s finally here: 2018. Many people seemed very eager for 2017 to end, and I’m not surprised, though you can’t cheat a calendar (unless you’re a pope some centuries before our time), and besides, the number doesn’t really change much apart from our perceptions and dates in history books. I could write a lot of the same as I’ve written a year before (calling 2016 a “split personality year”), and if anything, 2017 only continued the same trends. I’m happy about how we continue battling poverty, increasing access to education, medical care, clean water and more, and I’m also very worried about the behavior of many world leaders, big talks of nuclear weapons… Things are getting better and worse at the same time, as I suspect it’s been in one or another way for most of our history.

So I’ll, perhaps cowardly, skip the rest of this and focus on a more personal take on 2017. Most of all, it was a very successful year for translations. “Terra Nullius” and “Hexagrammaton”, two wonderful stories by Czech author Hanuš Seiner in my translation, were published in Strange Horizons and Tor.com, respectively. My anthology Dreams From Beyond appeared in a print edition to be launched at the Manila International Book Fair last September. That means I visited the Philippines – and I loved it very much; more on traveling later.

2017-pubs

In overall, translations from various languages came up a lot in more and more Anglophone magazines throughout 2017, and I’m very pleased about that! It’s all thanks to the effort of editors, translators, reviewers and bloggers who care about bringing more world SFF on the English-speaking world. I want to thank them all for that! If you want to follow translated SFF, a good place to start is Rachel Cordasco’s blog and social media. She provides an excellent overview of new SF in translation!

I published one short story (“Étude for An Extraordinary Mind”, in Futuristica Vol. 2) and two novelettes (“To See The Elephant” in Analog 5-6/2017, and “The Wagner Trouble” in GigaNotoSaurus 4/2017) last year, and sold some more to be published in 2018. Together with Tomas Petrasek, I also wrote a nonfiction article on the Fermi Paradox for Clarkesworld, and my article about Venus (“Hell Is Other Planets”) was published just before Christmas in the latest issue of Analog. I also had several short publications in my native Czech.

But – traveling! An astrobiology meeting followed by a popular science festival in Sweden. Eurocon in Dortmund, Germany. Worldcon in Helsinki, Finland. And then, in September, the Philippines, Latvia and the Azores. Prague-Beijing-Manila-Shanghai-St. Petersburg-Riga-London-Ponta Delgada-Lisbon-Prague within one month. I’m a bit behind with sorting through the pictures, and I wanted to write a special blogpost about that, so please be a tiny bit more patient with me. It’s coming (in the meantime, see the travel and work collages below!).

The reason for this delay is that I’ve been very busy for the last few months with two new part-time jobs, co-organizing an exhibition and many educational activities (effectively making it a third part-time job), all the while trying to keep up my PhD studies, writing, editing and translating. I rarely seek jobs (I only applied for one of these), but they seem to have an uncanny ability to find me and persuade me that there’s still time for one more… 2017 was a busy year, a bit too busy to my taste. I’ve recently limited my activities in several ways and I want to focus more on writing, translation and my scientific work (plus popular science writing), while having one not so demanding but interesting part-time job. I really have to ignore the vacancy at the Czech Space Office to stay sane!

So, fast forward to this year…

  • I want to finish a novel I did not finish last year.
  • Write at least 12 short stories/novelettes, same as last year.
  • Finish at least two scientific papers (one last year).
  • Exercise regularly (right?).
  • Otherwise, keep up the good work.

I hope you enjoy 2018. I certainly plan to!

philippines

space

azores

travels

Julie does eligibility post

Hey, you know what’s very different on the Anglophone SFF market as compared to the Czech one, beside what I’ve highlighted in my older Clarkesworld article?

We don’t do eligibility posts on the Czech market. It’s logical; it’s so small that you can expect everyone to at least vaguely hear about nearly everything that’s published. On the Anglo-American market, you’re supposed to shout, because few others will shout for you.

So here’s my shout. Let me first of all highlight two stories by Hanuš Seiner in my translation: short story “Terra Nullius”, published in Strange Horizons, and novelette “Hexagrammaton”, published at Tor.com. I’ve loved both stories in the original and couldn’t resist translating them. I can heartily recommend both.

Then there’s my own fiction, of course. I particularly enjoyed writing “Étude for An Extraordinary Mind” (in Futuristica Vol. II), a short story about music, multiple personalities, autism, and a bit of synesthesia. Those who prefer delving into animal minds will love novelette “To See The Elephant” (in Analog, 5-6/2017). Finally, if you prefer fantasy, and especially if you love music, there’s novelette “The Wagner Trouble” (in GigaNotoSaurus) for you.

Oh, and before you go, please consider supporting me on Patreon if you want to see more translations of brilliant Czech fiction, and more of my own fiction and nonfiction.

2017-el

Reality catches up with SF faster than SF proceeds

Many science fiction authors have probably experienced the feeling when something you wrote about in SF just a few years ago becomes reality. Hells, I even asked that question in my interview with Peter Watts.

But less frequently, reality catches up with you before you can even write the damn story. In early 2015, I started writing a piece about a mission to an interstellar comet. It progressed a bit during the year, but I abandoned it temporarily, meaning to get back to it later.

Rewind to 2017. We’ve spotted an interstellar comet, and there is already a bold mission proposal (though, unlike in my story, it’s unclear who would provide the funds to actually run it).

I can’t feel grumpy about it, since I love the discovery and definitively approve of interesting mission proposals, though I try not to grow attached to them (spoiler alert: too few ever get implemented, even if sound in all aspects, but that can hardly be changed anytime soon). Moreover, it doesn’t make the story obsolete. It makes it much less original, but than happens all the time for various reasons. It’s not like we’re anywhere near a crewed mission to a comet, which happens in the story.

The whole thing also serves as a reminder that I shouldn’t take so much damn time with some stories. And if you’re too curious about it before it finally gets finished, I have good news for you: I’ve released an excerpt for my Patreon subscribers!

Could we learn more about pulsar planets?

This is a question that has baffled me for some time. The first confirmed exoplanets were discovered around a pulsar, we know now of three – vastly different – pulsar planetary systems and some disks, there are several formation scenarios around, but isn’t it time we found out more about their possible composition to constrain the scenarios a bit and learn more about the range of exoplanetary conditions? Would it be too far-fetched even in the coming decades to e.g. try to see whether they have atmospheres, and if so, attempt to characterize them?

And since I couldn’t find any answer in scientific literature, I thought I’d try to calculate some basic estimates myself. After all, how hard can it be to come up with something beyond effective temperature – perhaps planet-star flux ratios to say whether future direct detections are possible and whether we might get some spectral lines, or to at least review the possibility of auroral observations? To give myself some motivation and deadline, I submitted an abstract to the EPSC this spring. Fast forward to now… and the poster was presented there, I got some feedback, and hopefully the first draft of the paper will become available on arxiv within weeks.

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The next time I think “how hard can it be”, I’ll kick myself. It wasn’t easy, and I’m just hoping I didn’t make some blatant mistake a professional astronomer would never make. After all, I’m a biologist by study, though interested in planetary science for quite a time. By all means, I shouldn’t be trying to stick my nose into other fields, especially with questions that in the ideal case require someone who knows a bit about neutron stars and exoplanetary spectroscopy at least. Who could have known that neutron stars’ temperatures vary so vastly? Someone who knew more about them at the beginning. But the trouble is, no one like that actually produced any paper or conference presentation on the topic of pulsar planets’ direct characterization, as far as I know. After I delved into the search a bit, I resurfaced bearing great papers on formation scenarios – but the best way how to test these would be to know more about the planets than just their masses and orbits, and there was nothing about achieving that.

So I attempted to provide some very, very basic estimates as an amateur and I sincerely hope that someone more capable will be inspired and will produce a more rigorous work. The EPSC is a great means how to get the topic noticed and it’s frequented by professionals from a number of planetary science and astronomy-related fields, so there is a chance someone thought: “Wow, this is interesting – but it has to be done right!”

(And yes, I hope exactly that had happened.)

Not that this is wrong. I hope it isn’t! If it is, let me know ASAP as soon as the draft is out, and I’ll try to remedy it. But even if I avoided making a dumb-ass mistake, it’s still laden with assumptions that could be determined better, and it’s – I must repeat – very basic. No nice curves for the flux ratios, or simulated phase curves; just ugly tables with a few numbers. No more complex calculations that could be done. Let’s call the upcoming version a “green paper” for lack of better terms. I hope it won’t rest with that.

And why pulsar planets, you may ask? Am I not a biologist, who should be interested especially in planetary habitability? Though these planets certainly don’t seem like great targets for search for life, they are just extremely interesting. Theoretically, some planets could survive a supernova explosion, though none of the known ones seem to have come from this scenario based on their orbits and their host stars’ properties (millisecond pulsars were spun-up afterwards by accreting material from another star or a stellar merger – though some papers suggest it may be more complicated than that). Some might come from the supernova fallback, creating a disk around the newly born neutron star. Some might form in accretion disks or leftover merger material. Some may be remnants of stars themselves – very strange planets indeed. Some may be gravitationally captured. And that’s just a short summary… While a lot can be derived from the planets’ masses and orbits, knowing their composition – or at least temperature, albedo, size – would be awesome. That would also tell us much more about planetary formation and evolution in general – which is in turn needed for any search for life beyond our solar system. (But I’m mostly in for the pure awesomeness of pulsar planets. They are just so intriguing!)

Fun fact: It seems like pulsar planets are riding on the zeitgeist, since there was an interesting paper on pulsar planets’ potential habitability and atmospheric retention (Patruno and Kama 2017) uploaded to arxiv just about a month after I submitted my EPSC abstract. It’s nice, since they perform much different calculations with different aims – and unlike me, they are professionals who went into the details. So if you’re interested in whether the relativistic pulsar wind would erode any atmospheres or not, check it out. I’ll add a link here as soon as it’s online. Or just write me an e-mail and I’ll send you what I’ve got.

In the meantime, I can report that the Philippines were amazing, Riga was very nice, and the Azores seem wonderful too. The EGU/Galileo conference “Geosciences for understanding planetary habitability” started today and so far it was very interesting.

#Worldcon75, Helsinki and everything

Life, universe… I mean Worldcon, Helsinki and everything is here! I’ll update this post regularly as the con continues, so watch out for more news and pictures!

Helsinki's City Hall is beautiful, and they held a very nice reception for us. Thank you!
Helsinki’s City Hall is beautiful, and they held a very nice reception for us. Thank you!

Day 0

We arrived to Helsinki and enjoyed the nice reception the city held for many of the program participants in the City Hall. We met a German author Claudia Rapp there, and since she recommended us a “prohibition bar” called Trillby & Chadwick, which was just around the corner, we all went there. I can recommend the place: very small and stylish, with a variety of interesting cocktails. I had the Flower of Mare (meaning sea, not horse…), which was full, slightly salty and in overall very good. I’d love to share some pictures, but I don’t have any – it’s forbidden to photograph in there. You’ll just have to go try it personally!

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