2020 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / olegd

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2020 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story Synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 50 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • 38 of the novellas published in 2018,
  • 57 of the 2019 novellas,
  • and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas from my library, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 59!

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and I do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas are listed in two sections below. The first section, those with cover art, are the ones I have read, and they include mini-reviews by me. These are in approximate order from most-favorite to least-favorite (but bear in mind that after around the first dozen listed, there was not a large degree of difference in preference among most of the remainder, with the exception of a handful at the bottom). The second section is those novellas I haven’t read, in alphabetical order by title.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Some short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included, and in a couple of cases, novelettes which were long enough to be in the Hugo Novella tolerance were also included.

Please feel free to post comments about 2020 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your File 770 comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

If you see something that looks like gibberish, it is text that has been ROT-13’ed to avoid spoilers. (Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)
Continue reading

2020 Horror Writers Association Awards Diversity Grants

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) has announced the recipients of the 2020 HWA Diversity Grants.

The grants were created because “The Horror Writers Association believes barriers—often unseen but very real—exist which limit the amount of horror fiction being published by diverse voices. The goal of these Grants is to help remove some of the barriers and let those voices be heard.” They are open to “underrepresented, diverse people who have an interest in the horror writing genre, including, but not limited to writers, editors, reviewers, and library workers. Like the Diverse Works Inclusion Committee, the Diversity Grants have adopted the broadest definition of the word diversity to include, but not limited to, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disabled, and neurodiverse.”

Supported by NoveListLibraryReadsARRT, and RA for All, each 2020 Grant is worth $500 and may be spent on approved expenses for a period of two years following the awarding of the Grant.

The 2020 grant recipients are —

Jacqueline Dyre (they/them) is the editor and publisher of Novel Noctule. You can find them in the sunshine state, drinking poorly-made coffee and consuming psychological horror in lieu of meals.

Jacqueline Dyre 

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (he/him) is a Nigerian speculative fiction writer, slush reader and editor. He has been awarded an honourable mention in the L Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, twice and won the Nommo award for best short story by an African with his short story The Witching Hour. He has been published in the Selene QuarterlyStrange HorizonsTorOmenana Magazine and other venues, and has works forthcoming in several anthologies and magazines. He has co-edited several publications, including the Dominion Anthology (2020), the Best of African Speculative Fiction Anthology and the Bridging Worlds non-fiction anthology, forthcoming in 2021. He is a first reader in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and a member of the African Speculative Fiction Society, Horror Writers Association, Codex, BSFA, BFA, and the SFWA.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Sumiko Saulson (they/them) is an award-winning author of Afrosurrealist and multicultural sci-fi and horror. Ze is the editor of the anthologies and collections Black Magic WomenScry of LustBlack Celebration, and Wickedly Abled. Ze is the winner of the 2016 HWA StokerCon “Scholarship from Hell”, 2017 BCC Voice “Reframing the Other” contest, and 2018 AWW “Afrosurrealist Writer Award.”

Ze has an AA in English from Berkeley City College, and writes a column called “Writing While Black” for a national Black Newspaper, the San Francisco BayView. Ze is the host of the SOMA Leather and LGBT Cultural District’s “Erotic Storytelling Hour.”

Sumiko Saulson

Nicole Givens Kurtz (she/her) is an author, editor, and educator. She’s a member of Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, and Science Fiction Writers of America. She’s the editor of the groundbreaking Slay: Stories of the Vampire Noire. She’s written for White Wolf, Bram Stoker Finalist in Horror Anthology: Sycorax’s Daughters, and Serial Box’s The Vela: Salvation series. Nicole has over 40 short stories published as well as 11 novels and three active speculative mystery series. You can support her work via Patreon and find more about her at http://www.nicolegivenskurtz.net.

Nicole Givens Kurtz (

Tejaswi Priyadarshi (he/him) is a dreamer in the horror/thriller genre. He derives inspiration from Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, Takashi Miike, Alexandre Aja, Eli Roth, Quentin Tarantino, and the Ramsay Brothers.

His first book The Psychopath, The Cannibal, The Lover was India’s first splatterpunk novel. It was released in July 2020, and has since remained on multiple bestselling charts, scaling its way up to be Amazon India’s highest rated Horror Thriller with 175+ ratings.

He is currently working on his second novel, trying to amalgamate Horror, Crime, Thriller, and Social Satire. You can often find him writing fiction at a bar counter, appreciating Independent Pop music gigs, and holding screenings of all sub-genres of horror/thrillers. However, nobody knows why he adamantly screens Purani Haveli so often. Email him at tejaswi.priyadarshi@gmail.com if you want to discuss anything under the sun; “How to Prep for a Zombie Apocalypse” is his favorite topic, because, what if!

Tejaswi Priyadarshi 

Gabino Iglesias (he/him) is a writer, editor, professor, and book critic living in Austin, TX. He is the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs and the editor of Both Sides. His work has been nominated to the Bram Stoker and Locus awards and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel. His nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. His fiction has been published in five languages and optioned for film. His reviews appear in places like NPRPublishers Weekly, the San Francisco ChronicleCriminal Element, Mystery Tribune, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other venues. He’s been a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards twice and has judged the PANK Big Book Contest, the Splatterpunk Awards, the horror category of the British Fantasy Awards, and the Newfound Prose Prize. He teaches creative writing at Southern New Hampshire University’s online MFA program and runs a series of low-cost online writing workshops. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.

Gabino Iglesias