The latest issue of On Spec is out, featuring my very short story ‘The Opportunity Costs of Adventure: Unsent Emails from Stephen Greenwood’s Drafts Folder’. Did you ever wonder what it does to your career when you keep running off to save the world? Dr Greenwood (last seen in The Journal of Unlikely Academia‘s ‘Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood’) would really like to tell you! However, he’s not going to, because nothing ruins a reputation faster than emailing a professional mailing list about apocalypse and ancient prophecy. Maybe he’ll just save that email to Drafts.
The “Magics” issue of Lackington’s is now free to read, including my little Roman ghost story, Prima Fuit, Finis Erit.
First Cynthia caught me with her fulminating eyes. O me miserum! Captive and collared, a fool never before touched. Now she, trailing charred Coan silk, her curls breathing cold perfume, leans over my bed: We shall lie together, you and I…
… but of course you should check out the whole amazing issue. I have said this before, but Propertius is my favourite of the Augustan lyric poets, partly just because of all the Augustan lyric girlfriends only Cynthia gets to speak for herself. And what she says is almost never flattering to Propertius.
Detail of Pear Nuallak’s gorgeous illustration!
In 2014 I had a secondary world adventure story called ‘Bitter Water’ published in the anthology Triangulation: Parched (ed. Stephen V. Ramey), featuring sand, bandits, extremely aggrieved merchants, alarming spirit-haunted mountains and some rather unkind practical jokers. Now it’s been reprinted by Digital Fantasy Fiction as an e-book, which I am delighted about, because the characters in it remain among my personal favourites. You can get it both on its own and as part of an anthology of ten awesome fantasy stories. So, you know. Why not?
I have a new short story in 3LBE #28: Delia’s Door, a piece about music, escapism and the power of inertia. It’s a little melancholic, but on the plus side: no body horror.
The first time I saw the summer country was when the first fugue of Vivaldi’s Dixit came together, finally, for a single perfect moment one wintry night. The rain beat against the drafty windows and fifty voices sang out together, split into two choirs, which means eight different harmony lines, which is quite hard when you’ve only got six tenors and seven basses to start with, and for once, for once it sounded as if we were really singing what Vivaldi had written.
I saw it then. A wash of blue and gold lit up the old school hall turned community centre, splashing raggedly across the choir notice boards and institutional paint and hundred-year-old prize lists full of familiar names, and through a hole as evanescent as a soap bubble I saw a new horizon: green hills, summer sunset skies, a long perspective onto light and color and a different country, far away — yet one I could reach if I could just step through the door our singing had opened up…
I may as well admit now that the quickest way to get my attention is to have a really good singing voice, preferably bass. For this reason, my favourite dragon is Fafner. (Sorry, Glaurung; sorry, Smaug.) Anyway, you should certainly check out the issue! The full table of contents is:
Afterwards I heard it said that lightning struck the soldiers disembarking at Dyrrachium and wolves came into the City that stayed. This was not true, however. The only tracks I saw doubled back on themselves after pissing on the boundary stones…
I have a short piece of Roman weird in LampLight vol. 4 issue 4, alongside work by Jonathan Janz, Kevin Lucia, Kate Dollarhyde and Emily Vakos. You can get the issue on Amazon and Smashwords right now and should be able to get it for Nook, Kobo and iBooks in due course. I love the LampLight covers; as someone who obsessively photographs street lights, they get me on a subliminal level.
The serious title is ‘City of Wolves and Lightning’; the alternative title is ‘Sorry Caesar But Our City Is In Another Country!’ Reference notes: (1) it was a Bad Omen for Gaius Gracchus when the wolves ran off with the boundary-markers from his colony at Carthage; (2) Cicero, Letters to Atticus 7.11.3, on Pompey’s plan. The actual entity not within house walls is res publica, but I chose to render this ‘city’ throughout to spare myself having to decide how to translate res publica and everyone else a long dissertation on whatever my reasoning would have been.
Issue 2 of the new Grendelsong is out and I have a piece of flash fiction in it: The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps, involving unsatisfactory relationships and maps of a non-geographical nature. The issue’s gone out to Patreon subscribers and will be available for Kindle/Nook shortly; in due course the content should appear on the website too. I’ll post again then.
Table of contents:
Editorial – Paul Jessup
The White Snake Part 1 – Humberto Maggi
We Ride the Stillness – Deborah Walker
Sisters – Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
The Tale that Wrote Itself – Berit Ellingsen
On the Acquisition of a Very Fine Steed – Virginia Mohlere
Verses on St. Andrews – Berrien C Henderson
Carnival Microbial – Octavia Cade
Eat Me, Drink Me, Set Me Free – Julie Reeser
What the Hoffenphaafs Know – Samantha Henderson
Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps – Julia August
A Lover’s Discourse: Five Fragments and a Memory of War – Fábio Fernandes
Lunching with the Sphinxes – Richard Bowes
(It’s all great. I love Octavia Cade’s ‘Carnival Microbial’ especially, though. It’s so inventively icky.)
To all intents and purposes, I took October off to watch Person of Interest. Whoops. John Reese: sucker for a pretty woman who knows how to frame an inconvenient witness with a brick of cocaine. Anyway, I had two stories out this month: (1) Soteriology and Stephen Greenwood in The Journal of Unlikely Academia, featuring textual criticism, academic passive-aggression, Latin puns and quite a lot of links. If you don’t feel like following all of them, maybe just start here. I love the issue as a whole, so do check out the other stories. (2) A piece of drowned-town flash, The Girl who Talked to the Sea in Unsung Stories. This one is really about the drowned towns along the Norfolk coastline.
Unearthly Landscape by A Lady by Rebecca Campbell (dresses, painting, filigree cosmic horror)
Directions by Fred Coppersmith (underworld, quest, instructions, whoops sorry no revenge for you)
Witches and Wardrobes by Anna Anthropy (interactive, clothes, anxiety)
And Other Definitions of Family by Abra Staffin-Wiebe (pregnancy, self-sacrifice, humour)
Minotaur: An Analysis of the Species by Sean Robinson (ethnography, analysis, minotaur)
Follow Me Down by Nicolette Barischoff (orphan, incubus, heartwarming)
Alviss the Dwarf by David A. Hewitt (Loki, courtship, trickery)
To Claim a Piece of Sky by Crystal Lynn Hilbert (shapeshifter, weapon, freedom)
There are Rules by William Stiteler (ritual, food, savants)
Dance of the Splintered Hands by Henry Szabranski (gods, hands, adventure)
What Happened to Lord Elomar During the Revolution by Kelly Jennings (three wishes, revolution, victory)
Mother Made a Lovely Feast! by Laura DeHaan (Tam Lin, hallucinations, R’lyeh)
Nice start to a Monday morning: the autumn issue of Kaleidotrope is out, and with it my desert adventure Rites of Passage, featuring amber, dragons and Ann, among other things.
Ugh, January. I hate January: unfailingly a black pit of misery and disappointment, without even Christmas to look forward to. Speaking of black pits, in case you missed it I have an end-of-the-month fairytale in Lackington’s Issue 5! Note: does not in fact feature black pits, as such, although it is pretty dark.
Other things seen and read in January:
Scarecrow by Alyssa Wong (crows, transformation, guilt, horror)
Unconventional Advice for the Discerning Reader by Sophie Wereley (advice, helpful or otherwise; in theory you can read the whole story at the DSF site, although I’ve never been able to, but I did like this when it turned up in my inbox).
Floaters by Robert Lowell Russell (brutal sci-fi, PTSD space marines)
Animal Magnetism by Shannon Peavey (ghost, snail, communication issues)
Anarchic Hand by Andy Dudak (demon puppet, dystopian future, downsides of cryogenesis)
Podcastle 344: Other Worlds Than These, with flash fiction by Nick Scorza, Tina Conolly, Peter Wood (podcast, flash, alternate universes, portals, wizards, books).
Go to the Dead Rabbi’s House by Louis Rakovich (golem, subtle creep)
Necessary Evil by Stephen J. Barringer (clans, curses)
Editorial changes at PodCastle to go with reorganisation at Escape Artists generally. For selfish reasons, I went “awww” at the PodCastle news, but wish Dave and Anna all the best and the same to their successors, Kitty NicIaian and Dawn Phynix. And PodCastle is open to subs for the theme Dirty Jobs (deadline March 15).
My prayers are answered! Possibly everyone else’s prayers too, going by immediate reaction on Twitter. C.C. Finlay has taken over as the forever editor at F&SF, which means e-subs stay open. At least until I submit All The Things and he changes his mind hurriedly.
Interfictions is open from 1–15 Feb for poetry, non-fiction and art subs only.
Tor.com is closing to subs from 1 Feb to 1 March. (Given their wait times, if they felt like switching to a non-email-based submission system where you could check they’d actually received and were still holding onto subs, I should be very grateful. What? It worked with the F&SF thing.)
New Scottish semi-pro SF zine, Shoreline of Infinity, is calling for subs. The guidelines aren’t too clear, but the “Why us?” page suggests future SF is the way to go here (if only I wrote any of that).
Amazing news from that tomb in Amphipolis: the bones belong to 5 different people! (Plus, I gather, although it doesn’t say so in that link, a horse. Fun speculation over at Dorothy Lobel King’s site. Less speculative overview at The History Blog.)