“Bones Placed in Apposition”

My short story “Bones Placed in Apposition” is available in the Summer issue of Underland Arcana. It’s free to read online, or you can buy it as an ebook or softcover. Issue 7 also includes stories by Scott Edelman, W. T. Paterson, Ben Curl, Mike Robinson, Eric Witchey, D. Thea Baldrick, and Mattia Ravasi.

Cover of Underland Arcana Issue 7
Cover image by thanawong

Some years ago I spent a fair amount of time with the correspondence of nineteenth century scientists. Among them was Isaac Hays, an ophthalmologist who also had a strong interest in natural science, including the study of fossils. (This was not an uncommon hobby among a group of Philadelphia physicians categorized as “extremely quarrelsome” by scholar Keith Thomson.) Hays and G. W. Featherstonehaugh, an English geologist, found themselves on opposite sides of an argument about the classification of one particular set of fossils. Battles were fought in papers and lecture halls, late friends were defended and honor assailed.

Drawing of fragments of a mastodon skull, including tusks and notes indicating dimensions.
A Titian Peale illustration of the fossil in question, from John D. Godman’s “Description of a New Genus and New Species of Extinct Mammiferous Quadruped,” posthumously published in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society in 1830.

If you appreciate passive-aggressive sniping—or, for that matter, aggressive sniping—then I really do recommend perusing the primary sources. I obviously find the entire controversy delightful; and, more seriously, it serves to illustrate some of the practical and philosophical issues involved with scientific study in the United States, as well as the country’s negotiation of its relationship with Europe. Nationalism intertwined with the interpretation of the past, invented species roaming a prehistorical landscape. The small fantastical aspect of my story is less a feat of imagination than conjuring an elephant from a few shards of bone.

“Used Armor Smell”

Today you can pick up a copy of Dread Space, an anthology of flash length dark military science fiction stories. My story “Used Armor Smell,” about armor more rugged than its wearer, is included.

Cover of Dread Space

When choosing pronouns for nonbinary characters in the past, I’ve defaulted to they/them. It’s a somewhat lazy decision: most nonbinary folks I know use they/them, and as a reader and writer I find they/them more transparent than other sets of pronouns. But in this case, I decided to use Spivak pronouns. Partially, it’s about variety in my writing; on general principles, I should be employing different pronoun sets (including this one, which has been in use for decades). But here, it also serves the story.

My point-of-view character’s gender is completely irrelevant. However, this was a case where I specifically wanted to avoid “they.” Yes, singular they is in widespread use and has a long history as part of the English language. But sentient machines are common in science fiction, as is the merging of human and machine consciousnesses. I quite enjoy those explorations of sentience, but in this case I wanted to make it very explicit that the human is a human and the machine is a machine, a tool of humans, not an artificial intelligence.

Clarion Write-a-Thon

I’m participating in this year’s write-a-thon to support the Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego.

Clarion Write-a-Thon badgeI am not a Clarion alum, nor have I ever considered applying. A weeks-long, intensive workshop has never been logistically feasible for me (never mind the financial expense). And frankly, I’m not sure if I’d find the environment anxiety-inducing or creatively inspiring. I very specifically eschewed creative writing classes in college (though that was also influenced by wanting to write SF/F and guessing that there might be an unpleasant bias against genre). So in short, I’ve never had a strong desire to figure out how to vault over the barriers to workshop participation.

But! Some people absolutely thrive in this type of workshop environment. I like it when people are creatively fulfilled! I like reading what they write! And I especially like it when marginalized people are able to participate in creatively fulfilling activities. Lowering barriers is a good thing.

This year, the Ghost Class gets to attend, after repeated delays due to the pandemic. (Which is still ongoing, though large swaths of the population choose to deny it.) People finding safe ways to get back to normalish activities is something to celebrate.

So I’m going to use the write-a-thon as a reason to get my butt in the chair and produce some words. If you want to donate or sponsor an author, me or someone else, it will help enable other authors to add an intensive workshop to their creative journey.

“On the Beach”

My short tale of grief, climate change, and selkies is live on the Wyldblood website. I’ve always liked the idea of a selkie (or similar fae creature) hitting the spousal jackpot; but it’s hard to be completely optimistic in the current (literal and figurative) climate.