It’s that time of the year again, and this time a great responsibility comes with it: I won’t summarize just my own genre awards-eligible work published in 2023, but most importantly others’ contributions I only helped bring into the world. Life Beyond Us (published on April 22, 2023, by Laksa Media), which I co-edited with Lucas K. Law and Susan Forest, contains 27 original science fiction stories (out of which 26 are short stories, 1 novelette) and 27 essays. [Since I’m not aware of any award category that would need wordcounts for essays, I’m only listing story wordcounts (I’ll amend that if you let me know that essay wordcounts are needed). For practical reasons, I’m listing fiction and essays separately, though each story-essay combination in the book creates a unique pairing.]
All the stories (including the novelette) are eligible for the WSFA Small Press Award, the Eugie Award, the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award and Best Short Fiction category in the BSFA Awards. Some should be eligible for national awards as well (e.g. Ditmar, Aurora, Aurealis, and others), as the contributors hail from all over the world.
Life Beyond Us-related online resources for educators and outreach professionals would be eligible as Best Related work. The first one is here, more are coming soon!
Before we dive into the story and essay lists, let me just point you to this wonderful review of Life Beyond Us in Voice Magazine (reviewed by Mystaya Brémaud) and this amazing booktube review by M. L. Clark on her channel M L Clark: Better Worlds Theory. Both M. L. Clark and Mystaya Brémaud pinpointed the connective tissue of the stories and essays brilliantly, and I hope it’s exactly these topics going through the whole anthology that will inspire readers the most.
Given the importance of its nonfiction pieces, Life Beyond Us as a whole (as well as the individual essays, in principle) is most likely eligible in the Best Related work category of the Hugos. (I’ll check and confirm.) In the Locus Awards, it is of course eligible for Best Anthology.
The wonderful JWST- and Ernst Haeckel-inspired cover art of Life Beyond Us was created by Dan O’Driscoll (and Veronica Annis, the graphic designer, created the final cover design).
Finally, one practical sidenote: I have two stories of my own eligible for awards (in Rosalind’s Siblings and The Digital Aesthete anthologies). I’m listing them below the Life Beyond Us contributions, so please scroll all the way down to see those + related work and assorted musings.
LIFE BEYOND US SHORT STORIES (numbers = wordcounts)
“Hemlock on Mars”, Eric Choi: 5998
“The Dog Star Killer”, Renan Bernardo: 6045
“Titan of Chaos”, G. David Nordley: 5945
“Cloudskimmer”, Geoffrey A. Landis: 4856
“The Lament of Kivu Lacus”, B. Zelkovich: 4180
“Heavy Lies”, Rich Larson: 2971
“The World of Silver”, Tomáš Petrásek: 5343
“Spider Plant”, Tessa Fisher: 6037
“This is How We Save Them”, Deji Bryce Olukotun: 5794
“The Far Side of the Door”, Premee Mohamed: 5189
“Ranya’s Crash”, Lisa Jenny Krieg (translated by Simone Heller): 5773
“Spiral”, Arula Ratnakar: 3997
“The Last Cathedral of Earth, in Flight”, Tobias S. Buckell: 6033
“The Secret History of the Greatest Discovery”, Valentin D. Ivanov: 5624
“Human Beans”, Eugen Bacon: 5220
“The Mirrored Symphony”, D.A. Xiaolin Spires: 5486
“Lumenfabulator”, Liu Yang (translated by Ladon Gao): 850
“Cyclic Amplification, Meaning Family”, Bogi Takács: 5467
“The Diaphanous”, Gregory Benford: 5998
“The Sphinx of Adzhimushkaj”, Brian Rappatta: 4843
“The Dangers We Choose”, Malka Older: 5343
“Third Life”, Julie E. Czerneda: 2515
“Forever the Forest”, Simone Heller: 5035
“Still as Bright”, Mary Robinette Kowal: 4115
“Devil in the Deep”, Lucie Lukačovičová: 5629
“Deep Blue Neon”, Jana Bianchi: 3965
LIFE BEYOND US NOVELETTES
“Defective”, Peter Watts: 8369
LIFE BEYOND US ESSAYS
“Introduction”, Stephen Baxter
“Planetary Protection”, Giovanni Poggiali
“That Cold Black Cloud”, Stefano Sandrelli
“Flying Instead of Diving”, Fabian Klenner
“Earth’s Sister Planet”, Dennis Höning
“Robots in Space are Great”, Ania Losiak
“Major Transitions”, Stephen Francis Mann
“Wet Wet Wet”, William Bains
“Signs of Life (and How to Find Them)”, Tessa Fisher
“Valuing Life”, Erik Persson
“Space Agriculture”, Raymond M. Wheeler
“You are not Alone!”, Jacques Arnould
“Spiraling into the Unknown”, Tomáš Petrásek
“The Latest Black Hole Planet, in Formation”, Amedeo Romagnolo
“Cooperation without Communication”, Valentin D. Ivanov
“Microbial Life and Belonging”, Tony Milligan
“Mirror Images”, Dimitra Demertzi
“Crystal Green Persuasion”, Nina Kopacz
“The Science of Xenolinguistics”, Sheri Wells-Jensen
“Life 2.0”, Geoffrey A. Landis
“Finding Common Ground”, Philippe Nauny
“How did They Know it was Agni?”, Joanna Piotrowska
“The Habitability of Water Worlds”, Floris van der Tak
“The Unveiled Possibilities of Biomaterials in Space”, Martina Dimoska
“Astra Narrans”, Connor Martini
“—And the Moon be Still as Bright”, José A. Caballero
“Some Like It Hot”, Natuschka Lee & Julie Nováková
“Destined for Symbiosis”, Jan Toman
I introduced each story-essay pair on Twitter (yeah, I know… but it will always remain Twitter to me, and most of the posts appeared before the catastrophic buyout of the platform), and you can find them using the hashtag #LifeBeyondUs.
MY STORIES, RELATED WORK, EDITING
I published two of my own original short stories in 2023: “Cavern of Dreams” (6630 words) in Rosalind’s Siblings (ed. Bogi Takács), and “The Forms of Things Unknown” (7213 words) in The Digital Aesthete (ed. Alex Shvartsman; coming in just two days from now!).
In addition, my co-editors Lucas K. Law and Susan Forest, as well as myself, are eligible for Best Editor (Short Form). Each of us edited or co-edited at least four genre anthologies (in my case, not all of them in English, but that’s not against the rules). I’m still very junior and more active as an author than an editor, though Life Beyond Us is my dream project.
Lucas is the main force behind Laksa Media, which published a number of amazing anthologies such as Where The Stars Rise or Shades Within Us (and helped an important cause with each of the books, making them even more amazing), so I suggest you vote for him if you liked the books! All the hard work behind them – editorial and publishing and marketing – makes him a perfect candidate.
It was my honor to work with so many wonderful contributors (in all capacities) of Life Beyond Us, as well as to contribute to other anthologies. I’m looking forward to what 2024 brings!