Congratulations to Aliette de Bodard for winning a Nebula Award for her novelette The Waiting Stars - this is her 2nd win in consecutive years (2013 she won with her short story Immersion).
You can read the winning novelette in full on Aliette's blog - The Waiting Stars is another of her Shipminds/Xuya stories, set in a fascinating universe with a strong dichotomy between two very different cultures, each of which considering themselves to be the right, the good, the high culture.
And, as such (and as frequently in her work) the story plays on topics of identity, of changing identity if immersed in a different culture, and of the risk of losing one's identity as well as oneself in the process. Great stuff, I can thoroughly recommend that you go and read the story for yourself. It is told in two very separate, but cleverly linked threads playing on either side of the divide - it's slightly emotional/sentimental, but nothing like the Mary Robinette Kowal currently nominated for a Hugo... (and I like that one, too - link to come!)
It's about games, or, to be precise, about a world where all the Universe's games are mined from, and access to which is guarded by a tower and its warden (or is it the other way round?), who you have to pass to go and mine a game. Which can, and usually does, mean a challenge, and a game, and potentially consequences of losing said game.
I will not spill (and spoil) more of the story - go and ready it for yourself, it's available for free on Lightspeed Magazine. Yes, it has echoes of Ian M. Banks' Player of Games, but in a good and, in my opinion, non-derivative way.
It's also eligible for the 2014 Hugos, and has been recommended for such by Aliette de Bodard - I can heartily second that endorsement. Good stuff!
A disorienting story, set in a disorienting world - not just to you, the reader, but to its remaining occupants, too. something has passed by Earth, and nothing is the same anymore - and the changes keep happening, like a spring winding down to its inevitable conclusion. Which might not be the end, but merely the end of everthing as we've known it.
Great stuff, and much recommended reading.
The picture on the right is by a (Korean?) artist called 非 (hi), of whom very little appears to be known.
Clarkesworld #88 contains, among works by Ken Liu, Cheng Jingbo, Yoo Ha Lee, and Robert Charles Wilson (and doesn't that line-up just make you want to buy it), a story by Aliette de Bodard called Ship's Brother.
What's more, all of those are accessible for you to read online (thanks!), and you can find them either via the links below, or by moving on from Aliette's story once you have read it (yes, I have to insist).
The story plays in a society which has FTL ships - which require a human, or human-born post-human at their centre; and it's the duty of a women to birth one of those after their 'normal' child. And it can be the end of the mother, at lest mentally. (any flashbacks to Sucharitkul's Inquestor series are entirely mine, I know). We witness the birth of such a shipmind, and the impact this has on her family, and especially her brother. On the one hand a classic family tale; and on the other heart-wrenchingly heavy and sad, but also full of beauty.
But enough hyping already - go and ready it. And I guess, having birth and family relations on her mind a while back would have been rather close to home for Aliette, which might explain some of the emotional impact in the story...