My 2016 Planetary Award Nominations

I’ve posted my thoughts about 2016 short stories, 2016 novels, and 2016 indie reading.  Many of the stories I mentioned could have been #1, but it’s time for me to quit being indecisive and pick my nominees for the Planetary Awards.

Short Story

For best short story, I’m choosing “Paper Cut” by Aeryn Rudel.  It was published in the first issue of Red Sun Magazine, which I reviewed.


“Paper Cut” is a tense, urban-fantasy story about a man, on the run from the Yakuza, fighting for his life.  Although the story wraps up with a solid ending (or I wouldn’t have chosen it), I keep envisioning ways it could spawn related stories:  other mundane objects becoming threats or weapons, more Yakuza or Chinese tong involvement, and Gulf War vets looking to set things right.


I was leaning towards Larry Correia’s “Into the Wild“, for being pure stay-up-too-late-to-read-one-more-chapter fun, but I saw that the author is declining future Dragon Award nominations after winning one last year, so I think I’ll give someone else a chance.  I’ve also heard Correia is busy with traffic control for the dump-truck drivers leaving piles of royalty money on his front lawn, so he might not have time to accept a Planetary Award.

Instead, I’m nominating The Girl with Ghost Eyes by MH Boroson.  I enjoyed the setting of late 19th / early 20th century Chinatown in San Francisco.  The portrayals of Chinese culture and Chinese mythology (this is an urban fantasy, so mythical creatures are present in the story) seemed authentic, although I’m not an expert.  The heroine is a young widow, Daoist priestess, kung-fu fighter, and monster hunter, who has to deal with Shaolin monks, tong (Chinese mafia) gangsters, and demons/ghosts/really scary things.  There are a number of surprise twists to the story, and a conclusion that wraps up the plot nicely, but leaves you with the feeling that the character has another story in her.


The only reservation I have concerns the pacing.  There are a number of instances where a tense conversation, or even an action scene, is interrupted by the heroine’s introspection.  Instead of rising and rising to a peak, the intensity levels off to a plateau.  If you’re willing to overlook this one flaw, I think you’ll enjoy the story.  I’m surprised the book hasn’t gotten more publicity.  In addition to being a good urban fantasy, it touches on some hot-button political topics, like immigration and male-female interactions (social/professional interactions, not bedroom interactions).  It presents those issues as they were seen during the story’s time period, so they make the setting more realistic, rather than injecting 21st-century opinions.  I’m planning to post a slightly longer review of the story in the future.

I’ve surprised myself by choosing two urban fantasies, as I consider myself primarily a science-fiction guy.  Leave a message psychoanalyzing me, or commenting about my story choices.


  1. It all comes back to your mother. You are obviously displacement wishing on the widow, as you wonder what your mother’s life would have been like if you had never been born. You feel that maybe she would have had an adventurous life, if it weren’t for you and your father.
    Guilt. You feel subconscious guilt at this subliminal taking away of a life even while feeling the complete lack of control that you had in the situation.

    My analysis:
    You are a mama’s boy.

    That’ll be $1500…

    1. [Sob] … It’s true … It’s all true … [Sob]

      My mother would’ve been a killer-whale rider at Sea World if it hadn’t been for me… [Sob]

  2. I’ll have to earmark these for my TBR pile.

    1. Red Sun is pretty short, just 4 short stories, although you’d probably be interested in the two interviews as well.

      I think you might like the Girl with Ghost Eyes. I’m hoping to have time to read Panama this year, and see your take on historical fiction mixed with the paranormal.

      1. Thanks, always enjoy your insights. You tell it like it is, and that’s refreshing.

  3. Hey, thank you so much for choosing “Paper Cut” as a nominee for the Planetary Awards.

    You know, I’ve never considered expanding the story, but it’s an interesting notion and one I should give more thought.

    1. I’ll definitely read it if you decide on expansion.

      I’m looking forward to your story in Red Sun #3.

  4. Thanks for these! When I grow up I want to be Correia. Meanwhile, I’ll check these two out 🙂

    1. I hope you enjoy them. I’ve read many books I might not have gotten to, or even heard of, thanks to the Planetary Awards. I hope it will be the same for others.

      With more voters allowed this year, maybe we’ll all get a few more visitors to our writing/book-related blogs as well.

  5. Ahoy there matey! I loved the girl with the ghost eyes and was also surprised it hasn’t gotten as much love on the blogosphere. Loved this post. Off to check.out yer backlog.
    x The Captain

    1. Thanks, Cap’n. Maybe a few more people will check out the novel after seeing it here.

  6. […] City is being promoted as The Godfather meets Kung Fu Theater.  I nominated Asian-themed urban fantasies last year for both short story and novel, so it seems like I should try this one out, but something has my […]

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