Showing posts from 2022

Quote: Sofia Samatar from her memoir/history, The White Mosque

"Today there's a swath of darkness over the sky. Above it, a layer of cold silver. As the child goes down the dormitory steps, a startled crow springs from a wire, rising with a snap of wings that makes the whole day vibrate like a bell." --Sofia Samatar, from her newest book, The White Mosque

Award Eligibility Post for 2022

  The year is drawing to its close, and it’s that time when writers make posts about their award eligibilities for the year. I had four stories published in 2022, and my first poetry publication as well. I would be honored if you took a look at any of them.   Eligible Stories “An Address to the Newest Disciples of the Lost Words” in Lightspeed Magazine, January 2022 (3357 words).   A story about a magical language that can say all things. About the power and limits of words. And it’s also almost all I want to say about writing. Stefan Rudnicki gives a marvelous narration (his voice is an exact match for my character’s!) on the accompanying podcast, so give that a listen if you can.   “Before We Drown” in The Future Fire, January 2022 (flash fiction, ~1000 words). A little flash piece about memory and the light between storms.  “Once on a Midsummer’s Night” In GigaNotoSaurus, February 2022 (~7500 words). An epic fairy tale fantasy about a dead garden that comes to lif

Short fiction recs! September-October 2022

    As I write this, snow is piled thick outside my window, a gift from the first real snowstorm of the season. Winter is here early.   It’s time for blankets and hot tea. For curling up on the couch with a good read. Perhaps a story of humor and hope, something bright and warm against the chill? Or perhaps you’d like to lean into the dark with something unsettling and strange. Here are thirteen to consider.   “Girl, Cat, Wolf, Moon” by Rati Mehrotra in Uncanny Lila found the cat market when she was seven. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say the cat market found her. Lila is the youngest of three daughters, growing up in a rural village in India in a family that does not value girls. She is alternately ignored and berated by her family, seen as the least of her sisters. But when still a child, she makes a wonderful discovery: a night market staffed by cats selling magical wares, a market visited only by cats. And there she meets a cat prince. . . This is an exquisite story

Quote: Basho on his life in poetry

  “Within this temporal body composed of a hundred bones and nine holes there resides a spirit which, for lack of an adequate name, I think of as windblown. Like delicate drapery, it may be torn away and blown off by the least breeze. It brought me to writing poetry many years ago, initially for its own gratification, but eventually as a way of life. True, frustration and rejection were almost enough to bring this spirit to silence, and sometimes pride brought it to the brink of vanity. From the writing of the very first line, it has found no contentment as it was torn by one doubt after another. This windblown spirit considered the security of court life at one point; at another, it considered risking a display of tis ignorance by becoming a scholar. But its passion for poetry would not permit either. Since it knows no other way than the way of poetry, it has clung to it tenaciously.”         --Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) from his travelogue, T he Knapsack Notebook , translated by Sam Ha

Quote: The October Country

“The October Country …that country where it is always turning late in the year. That country where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and midnights stay. That country composed in the main of cellars, sub-cellars, coal-bins, closets, attics, and pantries faced away from the sun. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain…” --Ray Bradbury, The October Country

Short fiction recs! July and August 2022

  I find myself finishing this bimonthly round-up of fiction late, slipping it in just hours before September ends. It’s alternately gray and drizzly or bright and crisp here where I write in the Midwest. Both perfect types of weather for curling up with a good story.   “You, Me, Her, You, Her, I” by Isabel J. Kim in Strange Horizons You are wearing Valentine’s clothes. You are wearing her body. You are everything that makes Valentine Manning herself, except for the throbbing electric lump that should sit in her cranial cavity. Her new brain is currently stored in a little closet in the Resurrection Clinic, bathed in goo and bombarded with targeted electrons. It will take two months to rearrange the freshly printed organ into the shape that she left it in before she died, all memories restored.   Valentine Manning is an art student who died. She can be “resurrected”—her memories and mind downloaded into a newly grown brain. Her new body is ready before her brain, however, and he

Quote: from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion

  Fëanor was a master of words, and his tongue had great power over hearts when he would use it; and that night he made a speech before the Noldor which they ever remembered. Fierce and few were his words, and filled with anger and pride; and hearing them the Noldor were stirred to madness. --from The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Quote: Banana Yoshimoto, from her short story "Lizard"

  "Lizard remained silent, her face still pressed against my chest. Through the quiet, I could hear her heart beating wildly and feel the tension in her body. I was reminded of her separateness, a being with different organs, bundled in a different sheath of skin, who has dreams at night that are nothing like my own." --Banana Yoshimoto, from her short story, "Lizard." Translated by Ann Sherif.

Short fiction recs! May-June 2022

A selection of short stories I’ve loved from May and June: stories that are dark and brutal, funny and light, and warm and moving and lovely.    “The Eternal Cocktail Party of the Damned” by Fonda Lee in Uncanny Magazine As the demons move unhurriedly through the crowd, dozens of giant screens suspended from the ceiling flicker in a rapid-fire onslaught of sound and images. Everything that’s happening in every corner of the boundless and constant underworld party is being recorded and replayed, far too fast for humans to keep up with, which is why infernal caretakers manipulate the screens, keeping the party mood going like DJs spinning dance tracks.   An utterly brilliant story. As the title says, it’s a depiction of the eternal cocktail party of the damned, overseen by the demons Bayzoth and Asphos. And it’s a party that’s all too familiar with anyone who’s spent much time online. The party of the damned is Twitter. It’s social media. It’s all of us online seeking attention, dog

New story! "The Bones Beneath" is now out at Podcastle

  I have a new story out this week!  “The Bones Beneath” is now up at the wonderful Podcastle , and you can either read it there or listen to Tatiana Grey’s beautiful narration. It's perhaps the darkest thing I’ve published yet. I also think it’s one of my best. This story grew out of a lot of things. A slushy, dreary Midwestern spring, and a sudden image of glowing bones. A cloud of swirling thoughts and ideas from the last several years, struggling to find form. There are a number of real-world historical inspirations for the fictional world and history in my story. The Chinese Cultural Revolution is the heaviest and most obvious inspiration. But there are a number of others, from different countries and societies, and from different time periods stretching up to the modern day. And from all sides of the political spectrum.   For me, one of the key passages in my own story is this one, where the young protagonist is struggling to make sense of her world:   She didn’t un

Book review: Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste

 (Note: This book is based on an advance reader's copy provided by the author) Gwendolyn Kiste’s work has been characterized by its focus on women characters and women’s rage in a world that would seek to constrain them; by depictions of strong female friendships; by audacious and sometimes surreal premises; and by absolutely gorgeous prose, strong emotion, and narrators with intimate voices that pull you in and grip you until the end. Her newest novel, Reluctant Immortals , fulfils every expectation set up by her previous work, and then some.   This is the story of two often disregarded characters from classic literature: Lucy Westnera (from Bram Stoker’s Dracula ) and Bertha Mason, the so-called “mad woman” in the attic imprisoned by Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre . In Kiste’s re-imagining, Lucy survives Dracula’s bite and becomes immortal herself.* Bertha (called “Bee” in this book) survives the fire she set and also becomes immortal. Now they’re living togeth