I’m excited to announce that my story “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” which was published in May 2014 in Clarkesworld Magazine has just been nominated for a Nebula Award in the category of Best Short Story! This is my second nomination for my fiction and it’s still just as exciting as the first time.
It’s an honor to have my story included in the same category with such talents as Aliette de Bodard, Eugie Foster, Usman T. Malik, Sarah Pinsker, Ursula Vernon, and Alyssa Wong. And what incredible stories they all are. Wow.
“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” began as some of my stories often do, with a sudden inspiration just before bed. I scrambled to write down the first sentence, which popped into my mind fully formed and remained unchanged despite several edits of the story. “As the Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye wandered the galaxy harvesting dead stars, they liked to talk.” I was struck with this vision of these two cosmic garbage truck drivers, one of them a little ignorant, overly loquacious, but ultimately sensitive, wandering around a dead galaxy and speaking about the good ol’ days when things were thriving. I also had this vision of a human, encoded in an ancient artifact, who would be discovered by these aliens eons after humanity had gone extinct. The story pretty much followed from these two premises.
Spoiler warning: plot elements follow below.
Getting Beth’s character right was important to me. I began with a strong woman, obstinate about protecting her children from the harsh truth of her impending death. Beth is also gay, and in the world that she and her wife Sloan inhabit, which might be just a few short decades from now, being gay, straight, trans — any sexual orientation — is naturally accepted. Hence why my story normalizes it. As Beth is incarnated each time, her thoughts go back to her loved ones: her children, Yrma and Bella, and her wife Sloan, and also the lovely snow-covered pines beside her glass house in Denver, Colorado. In other words, she is the root connecting back to Earth.
But Beth is also something more. She uses the All-Seeing Eye’s strength, the Eye’s insatiable curiosity, against her. The original Beth from Earth, encoded in the artifact, is discovered by a future alien civilization and used as a Trojan horse to destroy the Eye. Beth not only survives because Sloan, rather than let her wither away and die, decided to encode her wife, but Beth also saves the entire galaxy. I also hinted at the end that within the Eye’s vast knowledge lies the long-forgotten histories of many thousands of sentient races. Perhaps one day soon they might live again.
I enjoy writing about deep time, these vast cosmic timespans and speculative futures beyond humanity’s reach, and so “The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye” was one hell of a fun story to write. I’m honored and flattered that it was chosen as a Nebula Nominee, and I wish good luck to and congratulate my fellow nominees!