Underland Arcana: Deck Two

This month, Underland Press released Underland Arcana: Deck Two, collecting the Underland Arcana stories from the past year. “Bones Placed in Apposition” is among them.

I am very pleased to have this dapper hammerhead sitting on my bookshelf. If you would also like this dapper hammerhead sitting on your bookshelf or swimming on your e-reader, copies can be acquired from the publisher and a range of retailers.

Cover of Underland Arcana Deck Two

The Brave New Weird shortlist

The awesome folks at Tenebrous Press are kicking off a new award anthology showcasing new weird horror. (What is “new weird horror”? Matt and Alex call it “a Horror subgenre focused on progress, creatively capturing themes and questions that bleed into fiction straight from the modern reader’s life and future. It acts as a challenge to break new ground in terms of form and content and to engage with the unknown.”)

I am incredibly stoked that “Used Armor Smell” made the nomination cut. My little story is in some truly excellent company.

Winners will be announced in a few days, and the anthology drops in February.

Award eligibility post, 2022 edition

It’s that time of year again. 2022 is winding down and it’s time to flog award-eligible work—or at least make a note of it in one handy place. So if you’re reading with an eye to nominating for the Hugos, Nebulas, Stokers, Locus, etc., etc., here is a list of my published stories in order from most to least chonky.

“The Relative Positions of Dead Things in the Dark” (approx. 6,900 words) features a family outing on a derelict spacecraft used for crime. It appears in ParSec Issue 4 (July 2022) edited by Ian Whates. You can buy the e-book (or a subscription) from PS Publishing.

“Bones Placed in Apposition” (approx. 2,300 words) is about fossils and scientists with dueling visions of the past. It appears in Underland Arcana Issue 7 (June 2022) edited by Mark Teppo. You can read the story for free online, buy the issue, or buy the anthology that collects this year’s stories.

“Ruminants” (approx. 1,300 words) is about a weird goat roaming around an even weirder California town. It appears as part of the multimedia shared world anthology Los Suelos, CA, a project conceived by Lauren LavĂ­n, Joshua Duke, Ian Kappos, Karter Mycroft, and Barton Aikman, and released upon an unsuspecting world in February 2022. You can read my story online.

“Harriers” (approx. 1,000 words) is about a pair of werewolves on a violent mission. It appears in the flash fiction anthology The Dire Dark (November 2022) edited by Eric Fomley. You can buy the anthology as an ebook or paperback.

“Used Armor Smell” (approx. 1,000 words) is a science fiction story about a squishy human soldier and eir less vulnerable armor. It appears in the flash fiction anthology Dread Space (June 2022) edited by Eric Fomley. You can buy the anthology as an ebook or paperback.

“On the Beach” (approx. 900 words) is a selkie’s experience of love, loss, and climate change. It appears in Wyld Flash (June 2022) edited by Mark Bilsborough. You can read the story for free online.

“In Transit, Beautiful” (approx. 600 words) is a SF-adjacent tale of space junk and determining your place in the universe. It appears in The Antihumanist Issue 3 (January 2022) edited by Tim Dubber. You can read or download the story for free online.

“Detox” (100 words) is about what happens when you’re locked out of your virtual reality. It appears in Martian (August 2022) edited by Eric Fomley. You can read the story for free online later this month or buy the issue.

“Tethered, in Darkness” (100 words) is about a generation starship’s passenger facing the end of the voyage. It appears in Martian (April 2022) edited by Eric Fomley. You can read the story for free online or buy the issue or annual anthology.

I did have other publications in Martian Year One, Underland Arcana Deck Two, and the forthcoming Holiday Leftovers, but those are reprints. I’m no longer eligible for the Astrounding Award (in the nearish future, I will be posting some of the authors who are). For purposes of citizenship and geography, I’m a USian living in Pennsylvania.

Whatever stories and authors you end up nominating, happy reading!

Kickstart Bicycles & Broomsticks

Bicycles & Broomsticks is the latest entry in Microcosm’s Bikes in Space series of anthologies. As in the previous volumes, these stories share the themes of bikes and feminism; but this time, the secret ingredient is witchcraft.

My story is set in 1890s London at the intersection of middle-class bicycling, Egyptology, occult societies, solitary magical practice, and gendered power dynamics. I had a lot of fun researching and writing it (and editing it—no, really!) and I can’t wait to hold the book.

The Kickstarter funds the publication and adds to base author payment (so buying through the Kickstarter rather than other bookstores will toss a bit extra our way). Aside from me wanting more filthy lucre to buy more books for myself, I’d like to see it succeed for the sake of a quirky small press. As I’m typing, the project’s approaching halfway funded and the campaign continues until October 27th. So if you like bikes, feminism, and witches, please consider backing.

“Detox”

I have a little tale of addiction recovery or living with a disability in Martian Issue 6. (One of the fun things about drabbles is that they’re so short they really highlight how the reader is an active participant in creating the story. There’s just not space to spell everything out.) You can buy the ebook from Amazon or, if you’d rather read online, check out the website on November 21st.

Cover of Martian Issue 6

“The Relative Positions of Dead Things in the Dark”

Last week, ParSec released Issue 4. Individual issues and subscriptions are for sale from PS Publishing. I’m very pleased that my short story, “The Relative Positions of Dead Things in the Dark,” is part of the lineup.

Cover of ParSec Issue 4
Cover art by Vincent Sammy

The main character’s first published appearance was in Wyld Flash a couple years ago; we’ll see if I can pry some additional stories off the hard drive. (It’s…been a bit of a year.)

“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.