Ken Marable's Blog

General updates about my life and family

Richard Anderson – Best Professional Artist


When reviewing covers and other works for best pro artist, a couple jumped right to the top of my list (Empire Ascendant cover and Dinosaur Lords – especially interior art) and I quickly realized, they were by the same artist. Richard Anderson has a very distinctive, sketchy kind of style to his art that is actually extremely difficult to pull off. Making something look rough, loose, and active can very easily wind up looking rough, unfinished, and confusing. Anderson’s work does not do that.

His use of color with Kameron Hurley’s Worldbreaker series has drawn my attention even stronger than the reviews and blurbs I have read for the books (not discounting those, just the covers are SO striking!). Plus his work with Dinosaur Lords from the cover to the interior illustrations (just a few sampled below) capture the “knights riding dinosaurs” vibe so well when it could have gone so very, very wrong.

Looking over his work to see what works of his are eligible this year, I also noticed that he did the cover for Wesley Chu (Is Not Ken Liu 2016!!)’s Time Salvager. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but, as with all of Anderson’s covers, it uses light and dark as well as the color scheme to force your eye to go where he wants it to go, and conveys the kinetic action and rough settings these stories occur in. I’m now a definite fan.

On his site, Anderson has a gallery of a wide range of professional and non-professional work, but (as with many artists) not organized by year for easy award consideration. (Also, remember for Best Pro Artist – only work included in a professional work are to be considered.) At the very least, I know these 3 books have his work and are all 2015 published.


Empire Ascendant
(links to article about the cover reveal with comments by Hurley and Anderson)


Dinosaur Lords 
(links to article about Anderson’s artwork for the book)





Time Salvager



Unlikely Story – Best Semiprozine Recommendation

I have been trying to read through some of the magazines in preparation for this week, and one stood for me that I hadn’t heard of before. Unlikely Story is the sort publication that hits my sweet spot – sci fi and fantasy mixed in with quirky pseudo-academics. They publish online 3 issues a year, plus often a bonus April Fools issue of shorter flash fiction. Each issue is based around a theme of an academic journal.

So far this year they have published:

The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography (a regular annual theme) that focuses on short stories related to technology. To quote from the opening editorial:

“In these digital pages, you’ll find stories exploring the limits and possibilities of technology and the various ways it defines, enhances, and intersects with humanity. An unorthodox application of a 3D printer; the creation of private worlds; hacking the human brain with extreme video sequences; parents customizing ideal children through knitted code; a self-aware AI taking up the pirating life; and a cult seeking transcendence through transformation — all of these stories explore coding, hacking, cracking, and our relationship with technology in most unlikely ways.”

Journal of Unlikely Coulrophobia – Their flash fiction issue, this time with a focus on clowns – and all the terrible and wonderful things that implies. Apparently, it was a popular enough topic, they are publishing an anthology for it as well.

“In the exaggerated greasepaint features of the clown we find reflected none other than ourselves, the internal made external, both our internal beauty and our hidden evils.”

The most recent issue is The Journal of Unlikely Academia – Which the opening editorial explains as thus:

“This time around, rather than offering you a specialized subject, we are exploring the pursuit of knowledge itself. From the hallowed halls of venerable supernatural institutions, to fieldwork on an alien space station, and the shelves of your university library and beyond, the authors in this issue are celebrating learning in all its forms.”

This issue is the one that most caught my eye since it includes a story by Eric Schwitzgebel, a leading philosopher of mind. He often discusses the connections between science fiction and philosophy and how they can inform each other. In my spare time, I am pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy with a focus on mind as well as medical ethics, and have taught a class in Metaphysics and Science Fiction. So our interests overlap quite a bit. His story “The Dauphin’s Metaphysics” fits well into that. It takes a classic philosophical thought experiment and posits it in a reality that may or may not be fantasy, exploring questions of identity and memory, with an interesting question of whether we can make a better, happier version of ourselves.

Another aspect of Unlikely Story that I enjoy is that they also include interviews with all of their authors on their blog. It offers an interesting look at the thoughts behind the stories as well as at the authors themselves and their other interests.

Overall, I am really impressed with Unlikely Story and it’s quirky focus issues and ideas that set it apart from many other publications out there. I am looking forward to the last issue of the year, which should be The Journal of Unlikely Entomology – their other annual topic (this time insect related), and the one odd idea that started the whole publication.

Shifting focus

I haven’t updated this in almost 3 years, but I am looking to start posting some new stuff. I have been following the Hugo Awards for best science fiction and fantasy the past couple years and whatever people’s opinions of this past year’s Hugo Awards, it’s clear that the nomination phase is pretty important. I’m someone who has been perennially behind in reading and consequently never really nominated anything, but I have been doing better about reading current stuff. Therefore I want to talk about some works I recommend as part of the Hugo Recommendation Season.

The old blog posts are mostly updates to my family especially as we went through a period of part-time employment and unemployment (and all ugly that entails), as well as a weight loss program we did (speaking about it publicly helped keep me accountable). Those blog posts still exist, but for now I just turned them all to Private to make a clear shift in focus. Might turn them back to Public sometime, and they are all still available at, I think.

So to my family that is still email subscribed to these from years ago – I’m going to start talking about sci fi stuff I’ve read and watched. If I actually complete some stuff, might even post some writing. Don’t feel obligated to read or stay following, but up to you. Thankfully, things aren’t as topsy-turvy for us as they were 3-5 years ago, so not a lot to update with the family. Besides,  I try to call and see you all more often than I did back then. :)


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