2017 Audie Awards Nominees

SF and fantasy are heavily represented across the entire spectrum of 2017 Audie Awards categories. The shortlist of the best audiobooks of the year was announced February 8.

The audiobooks in the Science Fiction and Fantasy categories are shown below. In addition —

  • Neil Gaiman is a finalist in the Narration by Author category for his work on The View from the Cheap Seats.
  • Original Work is dominated by familiar sf/f names and series — The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia, narrated by Adam Baldwin, Alien: Out of the Shadows: An Audible Original Drama by Tim Lebbon and Dirk Maggs, with seven voice talents, and The Dispatcher by John Scalzi, narrated by Zachary Quinto.
  • The Alien and Doctor Who franchises claimed three of the five Audio Drama finalist spots
  • One finalist in Short Stories/Collections is The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke by Arthur C. Clarke, narrated by Ray Porter, Jonathan Davis and Ralph Lister.
  • And there is some kind of yin/yang dynamic at work in having a Best Female Narrator nominee for The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (narrated by Bahni Turpin) and a Best Male Narrator nominee for Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (narrated by William DeMeritt).  Also recognized as Best Narrators are the men who voiced End of Watch by Stephen King and Jerusalem by Alan Moore. And The Underground Railroad received a second nomination, in the Literary & Classic Fiction category.
  • There is even a genre entry for the best Business Book — Trekonomics: The Economics of Star Trek by Manu Saadia, narrated by Oliver Wyman

Winners will be revealed at the Audie Awards® Gala on June 1, 2017. A roll-call of all the nominees, many with samples you can listen to, appears here.

The Audie Awards generated extra attention this year by having guest presenters tweet each set of finalists — genre participants included Brandon Sanderson, John Scalzi, Marissa Mayer, Neil Gaiman, Colson Whitehead, and Locus Magazine.




























Ben Winters’ Underground Airlines


Ben H.Winters

By Carl Slaughter:


by Ben Winters
genre: alternate history

It is the present-day, and the world is as we know it: smartphones, social networking and Happy Meals. Save for one thing: the Civil War never occurred.

A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He’s got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called “the Hard Four.” On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn’t right–with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself.

A mystery to himself, Victor suppresses his memories of his childhood on a plantation, and works to infiltrate the local cell of a abolitionist movement called the Underground Airlines. Tracking Jackdaw through the back rooms of churches, empty parking garages, hotels, and medical offices, Victor believes he’s hot on the trail. But his strange, increasingly uncanny pursuit is complicated by a boss who won’t reveal the extraordinary stakes of Jackdaw’s case, as well as by a heartbreaking young woman and her child who may be Victor’s salvation. Victor himself may be the biggest obstacle of all–though his true self remains buried, it threatens to surface.

Victor believes himself to be a good man doing bad work, unwilling to give up the freedom he has worked so hard to earn. But in pursuing Jackdaw, Victor discovers secrets at the core of the country’s arrangement with the Hard Four, secrets the government will preserve at any cost.

Underground Airlines is a ground-breaking novel, a wickedly imaginative thriller, and a story of an America that is more like our own than we’d like to believe.

Ben H. Winters is the author of Underground Airlines (July, 2016) and The Last Policeman trilogy — The Last Policeman (2012), Countdown City (2013), and World of Trouble (2014) — for which he received the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, the Philip K. Dick Award for Distinguished Science Fiction, a Macavity Award nomination and an Anthony Award Nomination, along with placement in numerous “Best Of” lists, including on Amazon, Slate, and NPR. The trilogy has been published in 14 languages. Ben’s other books include Bedbugs, Android Karenina, the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, and the middle-grade novels The Mystery of the Everything and The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, a Bank Street Best Book of 2011 and an Edgar Award nominee.


  • “The novel succeeds so well in part because its fiction is disturbingly close to our present reality… Winters has written a book that will make you see the world in a new light.”  ?The Washington Post
  • “Like Victor, Winters, who is white, has a wonderful ability to inhabit different characters…[and] creates a believable world out of telling details…The voices he conjures can be rough, but they ring true…As the book twists and turns to its conclusion, only one thing is clear. This is not a problem that will be easily solved, in Victor’s world or in ours.”  ?- The Boston Globe
  • “Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller. . . . The novel’s closing section contains several breathtaking reversals, a genuinely disturbing revelation, and an exhilarating final course of action for Victor.”?Publishers Weekly
  • “Explosive, well plotted, and impossible to put down, this alt-hist by the Edgar Award-winning author of the “Last Policeman” trilogy will attract readers of all genres. . . . Fast paced and filled with menace, the story has an ambience that makes it special.”?Library Journal (starred)
  • “A daring and very well constructed novel”?Booklist
  • “Astonishing . . . A timely novel focusing on race and equality . . . Winters handles the controversial topic with sensitivity, yet isn’t afraid to ask some bold questions along the way.”?BookPage
  • “[Underground Airlines] is powerful, suspenseful, and devastating-hard to put down, even harder to forget.”?Family Circle
  • “Strange, modern . . . [A] genre-bending detective yarn”?Oprah.com
  • “This is a smart and compelling thriller, set in an alternate reality that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to our own.”  ?Vox.com
  • “Underground Airlines is a masterwork of world-building…[the book] gives you an incredibly complex character to explore it with, ensuring that your attention is well-spent down to the last page.” ?- LitReactor

Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

Radio SFWA(1) RADIO SFWA OFFICIAL VIDEO. Henry Lien has released the video of Radio SFWA as performed on stage at the Nebula Banquet in May.

Lien, who wrote the song as a recruiting anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, sang as Emperor Stardust backed by the brilliantly-choreographed Eunuchs of the Forbidden City doing SFWA spellouts and other routines. They received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Click CC (Closed Captioning) to view the lyrics.

Click Settings to watch it in 1080 HD.

Emperor Stardust

  • Henry Lien (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

The Eunuchs of the Forbidden City

  • Liz Argall (SFWA Member)
  • Tina Connolly (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Alyx Dellamonica (SFWA Member)
  • Patrice Fitzgerald (SFWA Member)
  • Fonda Lee (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Reggie Lutz (Future SFWA Member)
  • Kelly Robson (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

(2) MIDWESTERN MIGHTINESS. “Marvel reveals New Great Lakes Avengers Series”Nerdist has the story.

They’re not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re not even the West Coast Avengers. At one point, they received a cease-and-desist order to prevent them from using the Avengers name. But their tenacity could not be stopped and their inherent silliness endeared them to readers all around the world. And that is precisely why Marvel is announcing today, exclusively on Nerdist, that they are bringing back the Great Lakes Avengers in an all-new monthly ongoing comic book series….

Let’s begin with the obvious question: why is now the right time to revive the Great Lakes Avengers?

“Now is the time for Great Lakes Avengers to return, one, because I simply want to do it,” [editor Tom] Brevoort joked. “They need to give me perks to keep doing the comics that people like and that sell really well,” he added with a laugh.


(3) SALTIRE. At another spot on the map, BBC reports a “Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics”.

Glaswegian [John] Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland’s past and folklore also feature.

He said: “The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

“Saltire’s origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel’s Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes.”

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been “meticulously inked, coloured and lettered” to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

(4) WHO NEEDS A DEGREE? Recently, David Tennant and Steven Moffat each received honorary degrees from different schools in Scotland.

Dr Who star David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree.

The Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The 46-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow.

Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen.

He said: “I’m honoured and rather humbled to be here – it’s all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories.

“It was a very important time for me. I don’t think I would have survived without my time here – for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment.

“I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.”

Dr Who writer Steven Moffat also received an honorary degree from the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley.

(5) TRUDEAU. In Yanan Wang’s story for the Washington Post, “How Canada’s prime minister became a superhero”, about Justin Trudeau’s appearance in the Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides  she explains that writer Chip Zdarsky (who writes as “Steve Murray”) put Justin Trudeau in the comic book because his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an earlier appearance with the Alpha Flight team (who are Canadian superheroes) in the 1980s.

She also unleashes this quote from Peter C. Newman, a prominent Canadian business journalist:

“If God had meant for us to be heroic, he wouldn’t have made us Canadians.  This is the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman.” To regard themselves as heroes would be “boastful,” Newman observed, which Canadians were decidedly not.

(6) CONTROVERSY. “In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi”, a New York Times article, covers a lot of ground about a book whose reception is all over the spectrum.

In Ben H. Winters’s chilling new thriller, “Underground Airlines,” a bounty hunter named Victor tracks fugitives for the United States Marshals Service. But his mission, like his past, is complicated: The people he’s chasing are escaped slaves. Their main crime is rejecting a life of forced servitude. And Victor himself was once one of them.

From the moment he started writing it, Mr. Winters knew that “Underground Airlines” was creatively and professionally risky. The novel tackles the thorny subject of racial injustice in America. It takes place in a contemporary United States where the Civil War never happened, and slavery remains legal in four states, and it’s narrated by a former slave who has paid a steep moral price for his freedom.

“I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so,” Mr. Winters said. “It isn’t as if this is ancient history in this country.”

Mr. Winters, 40, has pulled off high-wire acts before. As one of the early literary mash-up artists, he churned out zany best sellers like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.” His best-selling trilogy, “The Last Policeman,” is a genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction, starring a stoic police officer trying to solve crimes as the world braces for a catastrophic asteroid collision….

“He’s taking a direct whack at one of the main critical things that’s happening in this country right now,” said Lev Grossman, a book critic and author of the fantasy series “The Magicians.” “This is a white writer going after questions of what it’s like to be black in America. It’s a fearless thing to do.”

(7) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver announced that the deadline for getting names onto the In Memoriam list for the MidAmeriCon II program book is Friday, July 8.  Names currently under consideration can be found at http://www.midamericon2.org/home/general-information/memoriam-page/. Suggestions for additional names can be made there as well.  Any names suggested after July 8 will make it into the Hugo scroll, but not the program book.


  • July 5, 1935 — Hormel Foods introduced the canned meat product SPAM.

(9) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Den of Geek put the Back to the Future movies under a microscope and came up with “The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed”. The most I can say is that I hadn’t missed all of them. Take number one, for example:

  1. The Doc’s clocks (I)

As the first film opens and we pan across Doc Brown’s incredible assortment of clocks – all previously synchronized to be exactly 25 minutes slow – the eagle-eyed may notice that one of the clocks features a man hanging from its hands. It’s actually silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, dangling from a clock in perhaps his most famous turn in 1923’s Safety Last. Aside from being a cool little nod to a past movie, it also prefigures the later scene in which Doc hangs from the Hill Valley clock in near-identical fashion.

(10) FUTURE WARFARE. Jeb Kinnison will be on the “Weaponized AI and Future Warfare” panel at LibertyCon, and is preparing by organizing his thoughts in a series of highly detailed blog posts.

In Part I of Weaponized AI: My Experience in AI, Kinnison shares details of his professional background in technology, which informs the rest of his discussion.

Autonomous control of deadly weaponry is controversial, though no different in principle than cruise missiles or smart bombs, which while launched at human command make decisions on-the-fly about exactly where and whether to explode. The Phalanx CIWS automated air defense system (see photo above) identifies and fires on enemy missiles automatically to defend Navy ships at a speed far beyond human abilities. Such systems are uncontroversial since no civilian human lives are likely to be at risk.

DARPA is actively researching Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Such systems might be like Neal Asher’s (identity) reader guns, fixed or slow-moving sentries equipped to recognize unauthorized presences and cut them to pieces with automatic weapons fire. More mobile platforms might cruise the skies and attack any recognized enemy at will, robotically scouring terrain of enemy forces:…

Many of the readers of Mil SF have had experience in the military themselves, which makes platoon-level fighting stories especially involving for them. The interpersonal aspects are critical for emotional investment in the story — so a tale featuring a skinny, bespectacled systems operators fighting each other by running AI battle mechs from a remote location doesn’t satisfy. Space marines a la Starship Troopers are the model for much Mil SF — in these stories new technology extends and reinforces mobile infantry without greatly changing troop dynamics, leaving room for stories of individual combat, valorous rescue of fellow soldiers in trouble, spur-of-the-moment risks taken and battles won by clever tactics. Thousands of books on this model have been written, and they still sell well, even when they lack any rationale for sending valuable human beings down to fight bugs when the technology for remote or AI control appears to be present in their world.

One interesting escape route for Mil SF writers is seen in Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now, where the surrounding frame is not space travel but time travel — a troop from today’s Afghanistan war find themselves transported back to paleolithic central Asia with other similarly-displaced military personnel from other eras and has to survive and build with limited knowledge of their environment.

(11) KRUSHING IT. At secritkrush, Chance Morrison has launched a review series about Hugo-nominated short fiction. Still looking for one that Morrison liked…

Novella it a tough length. Most of the time Novellas feel like they are either bloated short stories which could benefit from an edit or a story which really ought to be expanded into a novel to do it justice. Binti is one of the latter….

Why, given this setup, was the book not a comedy, even a dark one because I really cannot take it seriously but it is really not funny?

One day Google (the search engine) develops consciousness and decides that it doesn’t want to be evil, unlike Google the company….

Writing stories under 1000 words is exceedingly difficult. Writing one of the five best (allegedly) SF short stories of the year in less than a thousand words? Highly unlikely.

Data and River Tam/Jessica Jones together at last! They fight crime commit crimes….

(12) ON THE TRAIL. Lisa Goldstein feels a little more warmly about “’And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’” – at least room temperature.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander is the only novelette on the Hugo ballot that was not also on the Rabid Puppies’ slate.  To get that far, against all the Puppies voting in lockstep, means that it’s probably a very popular story.  I liked it as well, but I had some reservations.  Which puts me in a minority, so you should definitely read it and make up your own mind.  Hey, I don’t claim to be infallible here.

(13) WORLDCON ANNOUNCES FILM FESTIVAL. The 2016 Worldcon will host the MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival.

The Festival will showcase the best film shorts, features and documentaries from around the world, spanning the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic genres. Many film makers will also be in attendance and taking part in Q&A sessions to provide a unique behind the scenes perspective on their work.

The MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival is being led by Nat Saenz, whose extensive track record in the field includes the Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival (www.trifi.org) as well as events at the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 World Science Fiction Conventions. Nat continues to bring a truly global perspective to his audience, with the 2016 programme including films from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as the USA and Canada.

The Film Festival will run through all five days of the convention, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 and concluding at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.  All films are open to full and day attending convention members (subject to relevant age restrictions in line with film classifications). All screenings will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center.

A full screening schedule can be found at www.midamericon2.org/home/whats-happening/programming/film-festival/.

[Thanks to Henry Lien, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]