E. Lily Yu, Rising SF/F Star
A self-described “fiction writer, poet, playwright, and game writer,” E. Lily Yu has garnered recognition and praise that bodes well for her young writing career. While an undergraduate at Princeton, her work was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. In 2012, mere months after she completed her bachelor’s degree (in English and biophysics), she received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Although her accolades have come from the science fiction and fantasy worlds, Yu considers herself an artist without limits. “As a writer, I’ve never paid much attention to the boundaries of genre, speculative or literary, or in-between,” she told Locus Online in a 2012 interview. “I write everything: poems, plays, novels, essays, stories, songs.” Her short fiction been published in Clarkesworld Magazine, the Boston Review, Kenyon Review Online, Apex Magazine, The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, McSweeney’s, and Eclipse Online. Several examples of her work are available online.
Most recently, “Daedalum, the Devil’s Wheel” appeared in the December 2013 issue of Clarkesworld. In this story, the daedalum (the original term for the zoetrope) projects animated films, the maker of which is offered a Faustian bargain. The story is told through the words of its Mephistopheles, leaving the reader to infer the words of his interlocutor, who is appropriately minimized by this literary device. Since Yu delayed the start of her graduate studies at Cornell (where she is currently pursuing a doctorate in English) to work on a video game for Bungie, I wonder if this experience contributed to the genesis of the story (and if so, how).
Published in the June 2013 issue of Clarkesworld, “The Urashima Effect” tells the story of an intergalactic explorer who must decide between continuing his journey and his work and returning to Earth to rejoin the love of his life. There are several caveats to each option provided by Yu’s skillful use of the physics of space-time, the instability of geopolitics, and the psychology of love.
Neil Gaiman chose Yu’s “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees” (2011) — her qualifying story for the 2012 Hugo Awards — in his recently published Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman (Harper, 2013). It had been reprinted previously in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume 6 (edited by Jonathan Strahan) and The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy, 2012 Edition (edited by Rich Horton). It can also be read online on the Clarkesworld site.[this is a JusJoJan post]