May 9th, 2014



BullettimeBullettime by Nick Mamatas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Early on, a character in BULLETTIME describes Wong Kar-wai’s film 2046 this way: “[T]here are different timelines and stuff. There’s a sci-fi story wrapped up in the other stuff. And it’s non-chronological.” The same could be said of this complex and compelling novel of fractured timelines, diverse fates, and the awfulness of high school. But for all its talk of different choices leading to different outcomes, of a multitude of possible futures, the novel really seems to be about inevitability. We know where it’s going from page one. Mamatas isn’t concerned about suspense here, just the exploration of the decisions made by an average high school outsider, Dave Holbrook, under pressure from unyielding cosmic manipulation. (Now that I think of it, “under pressure from unyielding cosmic manipulation” might be a great way to describe how many of us, myself included, felt during high school.) It’s well written, the science-fictional elements are a lot of fun, and Dave never feels inauthentic, but the novel ends too abruptly. It’s already a short novel, even just a few more paragraphs to bring the narrative to a satisfying close would have been welcome. Instead, it feels as if we are abandoned in the middle of what ought to be a very interesting and important scene, one that could ultimately lead to narrative closure. This, plus an off-putting fascination with oral sex and the sexualization of pretty much every female character except Dave’s mom and the school nurse, unfortunately diminish what is otherwise a fascinating and cogent tale.

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Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.


The 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees

The nominees for the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced, and I must say, the list looks fantastic! Longtime readers know I’ve been a strong proponent of the Shirley Jackson Awards since its inception. I even edited a special fundraiser anthology for them. Because they are a fully juried award, and the jurors tend to be respected authors and editors in the field, the Shirley Jackson Awards tend to display a lot more sophistication and taste — and a lot less cronyism — in their choice of nominees and winners than some other horror-based literary awards do. Such an approach leads to selections of real quality, and this year’s list of nominees is no exception. Behold!


  • The Accursed, Joyce Carol Oates (Ecco)
  • American Elsewhere, Robert Jackson Bennett (Orbit)
  • The Demonologist, Andrew Pyper (Orion-UK/ Simon & Schuster-US)
  • The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo (William Morrow)
  • Night Film, Marisha Pessl (Random House)
  • Wild Fell, Michael Rowe (ChiZine Publications)


  • Burning Girls, Veronica Schanoes (
  • Children of No One, Nicole Cushing (DarkFuse)
  • Helen’s Story, Rosanne Rabinowitz (PS Publishing)
  • It Sustains, Mark Morris (Earthling Publications)
  • “The Gateway,” Nina Allan (Stardust, PS Publishing)
  • The Last Revelation of Gla’aki, Ramsey Campbell (PS Publishing)
  • Whom the Gods Would Destroy, Brian Hodge (DarkFuse)


  • Cry Murder! In a Small Voice, Greer Gilman (Small Beer Press)
  • “A Little of the Night,” Tanith Lee (Clockwork Phoenix 4, Mythic Delirium Books)
  • “My Heart is Either Broken,” Megan Abbott (Dangerous Women, Tor Books)
  • “Phosphorus,” Veronica Schanoes (Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, Tor Books)
  • “Raptors,” Conrad Williams (Subterranean Press Magazine, Winter 2013)


  • “57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” Sam J. Miller (Nightmare Magazine, December 2013)
  • “Furnace,” Livia Llewellyn (Grimscribe’s Puppets, Miskatonic River Press)
  • “The Memory Book,” Maureen McHugh (Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, Tor Books)
  • “The Statue in the Garden,” Paul Park (Exotic Gothic 5, PS Publishing)
  • “That Tiny Flutter of the Heart,” Robert Shearman (Psycho-Mania!, Constable & Robinson)
  • “The Traditional,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Lightspeed, May 2013)


  • Before and Afterlives, Christopher Barzak (Lethe Press)
  • Everything You Need, Michael Marshall Smith (Earthling Publications)
  • In Search of and Others, Will Ludwigsen (Lethe Press)
  • North American Lake Monsters, Nathan Ballingrud (Small Beer Press)
  • The Story Until Now, Kit Reed (Wesleyan)


  • The Book of the Dead, edited by Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
  • End of the Road, Jonathan Oliver (Solaris)
  • Grimscribe’s Puppets, edited by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. (Miskatonic River Press)
  • Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor Books)
  • Where thy Dark Eye Glances: Queering Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

The 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented at a ceremony on Sunday, July 13th at Readercon 25. Congrats and good luck to all the nominees! (But especially to my good friends Robert Jackson Bennett, Veronica Schanoes [twice over!], Livia Llewellyn, Robert Shearman, and Nathan Ballingrud!)

Originally published at Nicholas Kaufmann. You can comment here or there.