Tag Archives: anthology

Long Hidden and my own uncovered story

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[Note: Initially I got a few details wrong about which actual side of my husband’s family some of this stuff is from; they’re corrected now]

Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History is out today. You should get it, so here’s where you can:

Print ($19.95) ISBN-13: 978-0-9913921-0-0

Ebook ($9.99) ISBN-13: 978-0-9913921-1-7

I just finished reading the last story this morning (Sabrina Vourvoulias’s “The Dance of the White Demons”, which totally gut-punched me in the end) and I can say with absolutely no reservations whatsoever that this is one of the finest anthologies I’ve ever read. I would be saying that even if I wasn’t in it. It’s beautiful and wrenching, it’s sad and angry and horrifying and hopeful, and above all it’s necessary. You say you want diverse speculative fiction? Here you go. Buy it. Read it. Support it. Let it transport you.

By the way, another anthology that’s gotten somewhat less attention but which I think is a perfect companion to Long Hidden is We See a Different Frontier: A Postcolonial Speculative Fiction Anthology (in which I also have a story). It takes a different but very complementary approach to marginalized peoples and forgotten histories, in part because it also turns an eye toward an imagined future. It’s fabulous. Get it.

So let me talk a little about my story, “Across the Seam”. Because how it came to be is a story in itself.

Some time ago, my husband started doing some genealogy work on both sides of his family. His maternal side has roots in Sicily. Both his maternal and paternal side have roots in the coal mines of McDowell County in West Virginia – now the most profoundly impoverished county in that state but a place of astonishing strength and endurance in spite of that, and also a place of startling, stark beauty. Here’s a post that deals with our trip there and our exploration into some of that family history.

But it yielded an even more fascinating story.

The child of working class South Philadelphians,  my husband has always been told that his paternal family was Ukrainian in origin (also “Austro-Hungarian”, which means absolutely anything), but when he started digging deeper into that history, the truth he uncovered was a good deal more complicated – and certainly fits the definition of hidden, or at least lost to displacement and trauma and time. It’s a long story and I honestly still can’t keep all of it straight – I very much hope that someday he’ll compile it into a single narrative volume – but essentially, my husband’s paternal family originally hails from a small village on the Polish-Ukrainian border. It was predominantly populated by members of an ethnic group called the Lemko, a people who have long been inhabitants of the Carpathian Mountains. They were farmers and herdsmen with deep ties to their land, and like many minority ethnic groups of that kind they were – and are – fiercely proud and protective of their culture.

Nothing remains of that village now. It was destroyed after World War II as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign called Operation Vistula that resettled – often forcibly – undesirable groups along the border into the “recovered territories” of western and northern Poland. The members of my husband’s family who had not already traveled to America were loaded into boxcars and transported to bombed-out cities in the north of Poland. The same happened almost everywhere. If you’ve never heard of the Lemko, that’s by design; they were intentionally scattered as part of a concerted effort to destroy them as a distinct ethnic group, as these things always go. Their stories were erased along with their homes, buried along with their people.

But now we know this story, my husband and I. So when I saw the call for stories of marginalized people that had been lost and hidden, it seemed imperative to tell it.

In the end it was a combination of family histories, as well as my own personal biography. From the paternal side of my husband’s family I drew the story of a Lemko immigrant in a foreign land, in many ways as hostile as the one they fled. From the more recent history of that side I drew the story of a coal miner and the fight for rights and dignity into which miners threw themselves at the turn of the century. This is not confined to West Virginia; Pennsylvania itself was flooded with immigrants from Eastern Europe seeking the plentiful but profoundly dangerous jobs that the mines offered. From myself I drew the story of someone struggling with identity and the loneliness that comes from that struggle, the desire to know oneself and the anger of being made to suffer for that self-knowledge.

I needed a final time and place to tie it all together, and that time and place was the Pennsylvania coal town of Lattimer in September of 1897, when a sheriff’s posse opened fire on a march of between three and four hundred unarmed striking miners. Nineteen were killed and scores more were wounded. In 1972 a small monument was erected on the site, which reads:

It was not a battle because they were not aggressive, nor were they defensive because they had no weapons of any kind and were simply shot down like so many worthless objects, each of the licensed life-takers trying to outdo the others in butchery.

I opened “Across the Seam” with that inscription, as well as a short verse by a Lemko poet that expresses longing for the land of his ancestors. And then the story was finished.

Through the process of telling this story, I learned this story. There was a great deal that I didn’t know when I started. There’s still a great deal that I don’t know. Part of the task of uncovering hidden history is learning how much you don’t know and how much you have left to learn. So the telling of these stories is not a final word on anything but a door that we open, through which we must have the courage to walk.

The rest of the anthology gave me other stories, each of them precious and each of them vital. I’m grateful for them, and for the fact that my own story – which is not even entirely my story – gets to stand among them.

Here’s a piece of it.

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Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2014: Cover, ToC, AWESOME

Revealed, courtesy of Paula Guran, the cover and table of contents for The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2014, which I am in:

“No matter your expectations, the dark is full of the unknown: grim futures, distorted pasts, invasions of the uncanny, paranormal fancies, weird dreams, unnerving nightmares, baffling enigmas, revelatory excursions, desperate adventures, spectral journeys, mundane terrors and supernatural visions. You may stumble into obsession or find redemption. Often disturbing, occasionally delightful, let The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror be your annual guide through the mysteries and wonders of dark fiction.”

Contents (in alphabetical order by author’s last name):

  • “Postcards from Abroad,” Peter Atkins (Rolling Darkness Revue 2013, Earthling Publications)
  • “The Creature Recants,” Dale Bailey (Clarkesworld, Issue 85, October 2013)
  • “The Good Husband,” Nathan Ballingrud (North American Lake Monsters, Small Beer Press)
  • “Termination Dust,” Laird Barron (Tales of Jack the Ripper, ed. Ross Lockhart, Word Horde)
  • “The Ghost Makers,” Elizabeth Bear (Fearsome Journeys, ed. Jonathan Strahan, Solaris)
  • “The Marginals,” Steve Duffy (The Moment of Panic, PSPublishing)
  • “A Collapse of Horses,” Brian Evenson (The American Reader, Feb/Mar 2013)
  • “A Lunar Labyrinth,” Neil Gaiman (Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe, eds. J. E. Mooney & Bill Fawcett, Tor)
  • “Pride,” Glen Hirshberg (Rolling Darkness Revue 2013, Earthling Publications)
  • “Let My Smile Be Your Umbrella,” Brian Hodge (Psycho-Mania!, ed. Stephen Jones, Robinson)
  • “The Soul in the Bell Jar,” K. J. Kabza (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nov/Dec 2013)
  • “The Prayer of Ninety Cats,” Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean Online, Spring 2013)
  • “Dark Gardens,” Greg Kurzawa (Interzone # 248)
  • “A Little of the Night,” Tanith Lee (Clockwork Phoenix 4, ed. Mike Allen, Mythic Delirium)
  • “The Gruesome Affair of the Electric Blue Lightning,” Joe R. Lansdale (Beyond Rue Morgue: Further Tales of Edgar Allan Poe’s First Detective, ed. Paul Kane & Charles Prepole, Titan)
  • “Iseul’s Lexicon,” Yoon Ha Lee (Conservation of Shadows, Prime Books)
  • “The Plague” Ken Liu (Nature, 16 May 2013)
  • “The Slipway Gray,” Helen Marshall (Chilling Tales 2, ed. Michael Kelly, Edge Publications)
  • “To Die for Moonlight,” Sarah Monette (Apex Magazine, Issue #50)
  • “Event Horizon,” Sunny Moraine (Strange Horizons, 21 Oct 2013)
  • “The Legend of Troop 13,” Kit Reed (Asimov’s Science Fiction, Jan 2013 / The Story Until Now: A Great Big Book of Stories, Wesleyan)
  • “Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell,” Brandon Sanderson (Dangerous Women, eds. George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, Tor)
  • “Phosphorous,” Veronica Schanoes, (Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells: An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, eds. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, Tor)
  • “Blue Amber,” David J. Schow (Impossible Monsters, ed. Kasey Lansdale, Subterranean Press)
  • “Rag and Bone,” Priya Sharma (Tor.com, 10 April 2013)
  • “Our Lady of Ruins”, Sarah Singleton (The Dark 2, Dec 2013)
  • “Cuckoo,” Angela Slatter (A Killer Among Demons, ed. Craig Bezant, Dark Prints Press)
  • “Wheatfield with Crows,” Steve Rasnic Tem (Dark World: Ghost Stories, ed. Timothy Parker Russell, Tartarus Press)
  • “Moonstruck,” Karin Tidbeck (Shadows and Tall Trees, Vol. 5, ed. Mike Kelly, Undertow)
  • “The Dream Detective,” Lisa Tuttle (Lightspeed, Mar 2013)
  • “Fishwife,” Carrie Vaughn (Nightmare, Jun 2013
  • “Air, Water and the Grove,” Kaaron Warren (The Lowest Heaven, eds Anne C. Perry & Jared Shurin, Jurassic London)

Writer Me from five years ago says: jesus christ look at who I’m in a book with

We See a Different Frontier – on sale now!

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Basically what the post subject line says: We See a Different Frontier, the anthology of post-colonial SF that I’m lucky enough to be a part of, is now available in ebook and paperback formats.

So far the book has gotten great buzz from critics. Publisher’s Weekly (which calls my story “haunting”):

Fernandes and al-Ayad, editors of webzine The Future Fire, have compiled an innovative and trenchant anthology of 16 postcolonial speculative fiction stories…all the stories, as Aliette de Bodard says in the incisive preface, center on the voices “of those whom others would make into aliens and blithely ignore or conquer or enlighten.” This is not just an interesting and entertaining collection, but also a necessary, convincing critique of the colonialist tropes that mark many of speculative fiction’s genre conventions.

Locus (which gave my story a “Recommended”):

[T]he anthology does not simply present a series of dreary, bitter polemics. There’s variety here, and quite a few of the stories are entertaining, a lot of fun – particularly for readers who enjoy revenge tales. There is also anger and tragedy, and looks back into history that may open the eyes of some Western readers.

It really is an awesome anthology. I also agree with PW that it’s a necessary one, especially given the conversations that are going on in the SFnal world right now. Check it out.

And an excerpt of my story “A Heap of Broken Images” is under the cut.

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