“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.

“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.

Martian: Year One

Martian: Year One is an anthology collecting all the drabbles from Martian Magazine‘s first year. I’m pleased that two of my stories—“Honey and Apples” and “Tethered, In Darkness”—are included.

Cover spread for the print edition of Martian: Year One

Buying the anthology is a great way to support the magazine, so if you like very short stories (and a robust short fiction market), please consider picking up a copy.

Available today: Martian Issue 4

Not a joke! The fourth issue of Martian: A Magazine of Science Fiction Drabbles is available from Amazon. This is the first chronological appearance of my 100 word story “Tethered, In Darkness,” which will also be in the annual anthology and on the Martian website in May.

Cover of Martian Issue 4

I’m a big fan of the cover images chosen by editor Eric Fomley—to say nothing of the stories within. It makes for a very slick package I’m pleased to join.

Underland Arcana: Deck One

This reprint anthology was a December release, but it’s still worth crowing about. The book collects all the stories published in the first year of Underland Arcana. My contributions—the short story “Wayfinding” and the flash “Family Dinner”—are in excellent company.

Book opened to "Wayfinding" and the Three of Wands from the Murder of Crows Tarot
Three of Wands, Murder of Crows Tarot, Corrado Roi and Charles Harrington
Book opened to "Family Dinner" with the Five of Cups from the Tarot of the Divine
Five of Cups, Tarot of the Divine, Yoshi Yoshitani

Tarot cards were included with the contributors’ copies, as a special treat. Mark Teppo is having fun with Underland’s Tarot-themed publications, and I’m glad I came along for the ride.

The anthology is available as a trade paperback or ebook (or as a paperback/ebook bundle if you order from the publisher) and can be found at the usual vendors.

Deck One cover

“Ruminants” in Los Suelos, CA

Surface Dweller Studios just released the multimedia anthology Los Suelos, CA. My story “Ruminants” is part of the line up. It’s about a weird goat in a weirder town.

I’m stoked about this project for a few reasons. My story’s a personal first: it was pitched (rather than written and then submitted) and it’s a work-for-hire in a shared world. This is the most literal appearance of an archival artifact I’ve actually worked with (albeit as a throw-away line). It’s also one in a string of Good Editorial Experiences (thanks go to Barton Aikman).

The sprawling TOC is impressive, but I love that the project is (much) more than prose. There’s artwork; the debut album of the Fluppies, a nonexistent punk band; and a game that lets you explore the town. It’s a cool, weird creation and I’m very pleased to be part of it.

The project supports an excellent cause: the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. The organization provides legal aid and advocacy for farmworkers, undocumented and mixed-status families, and other marginalized communities in California. If you are so inclined, you can donate via the Los Suelos site. The Fluppies would approve. So would the goat. (I guess? Maybe? I dunno, it’s a goat, but it doesn’t seem like the sort of goat who approves of exploitation.)

Release day for In Somnio

Okay, it’s been a bit of a staged release. I know some folks have already received physical copies and ebooks were available last week, but now the anthology is available for everyone in every format. The publisher, Tenebrous Press, has trade paperbacks; Godless and Amazon have ebooks. If you’re in the mood for Gothic feels, check it out, and I hope you enjoy my story “Always an After.”

In Somnio cover
Cover art by Sally Contirino

“Wayfinding”: Underland Arcana

My short story “Wayfinding” appears in Issue 4 of Underland Arcana. It’s a sort-of ghost story about cities, people, history, and memory. The story is free to read on the website, or you can click over to Amazon to buy the .mobi or paperback.

Underland Arcana Issue 4 cover

Publication was actually at the beginning of the month. Let’s all just say that I intentionally held off on posting until it was almost Halloween, rather than because I have dropped a number of balls over the past few weeks.