Tag Archives: short stories

omg heart eyes

I’ve posted this in a few other places, but here, take a gander at the cover art for “Shape Without Form, Shade Without Color”, coming at the end of this month from Tor.com:

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RIGHT???

This is one of those stories that’s incredibly personal in some ways – I’ve never been assaulted by evil starlings, but I wrote it during a very difficult period in my life, and it was an attempt to work some of that baggage out on paper.

Not that the same isn’t true of most of my stuff.

Anyway, watch for that on the 31st. And watch for “eyes I dare not meet in dreams”, also at Tor.com, on June 14th.

 

Old story makes new cool appearance!

Ohhhhhhh my God it’s been A Month.

cw_116_700News is piling up and I’ll try to convey some of it soon. For now, want to note that my short story “A Heap of Broken Images” is reprinted in this month’s issue of Clarkesworld, which is neat because a) Clarkesworld, and b) it’s one of my faves of my own stuff.

I do not know if this is dishonor or a fulfilling of my raising. I am pulled between what I have been taught and what I have been taught; again I think I could fall to pieces, and then I think that maybe I have always been in pieces, broken apart from myself, and so there is no more damage to be done.

I look into the flowing black water and I think of empty eyes and outstretched hands reaching up from those depths and beckoning me. There were many bodies that were swept away by the river in the growing-season flood that year and many were never found. They are all still there in the life of the river. There are other people strolling, idling along the bank in the cool of the evening; I could call, Don’t you see them? Don’t you hear? How can we deny our own spilled blood, whatever price has been paid?

My mouth is full of ghosts. I place my hand against it and hold them in until they are silent again, and the ones in the water fall silent as well.

I am in pieces but I am alive. Tell me how this is a reasonable thing.

I wrote it after thinking a lot about genocide and guilt and memory. I don’t recall exactly why I was thinking so much about those things, but I know that’s where the story came from.

By the way, fun fact that’s also possibly useful: This story got a bunch of rejections (including Clarkesworld, actually) until a slightly tweaked version of it ended up in We See a Different Frontier. After which it ended up in The Year’s Best Science Fiction 31.

So don’t give up on stories, basically. At least some of the time.

here are my stories what are award-eligible

If you care; I always feel weird about making these, but here we go.

I had a pretty good year, short-story wise. Had a pretty good year novel-wise, in swordandstar_1200x1800hrthat I had one come out – the (VERY LONG AWAITED, AT LEAST BY ME) follow-up to my debut Line and Orbit, Fall and Rising. Publisher’s Weekly called it “a satisfying and provocative hybrid”, and said the relationships were “honest and engaging”, which is very nice.

There’s also the final book in the trilogy, Sword and Star, coming December 21 (and available now for presale) – juuuuuuust in time for Christmas.

In short storydom:

  • “Love Letters to Things Lost and Gained” in Uncanny Magazine kicked things off for me this year. Story about a woman who finds herself fitted with a prosthetic limb after an accident, and the limb doesn’t fit well – psychologically and emotionally, not physically. I wanted to write a story about human relationship with intimate forms of technology, and where the line between “real” and “artifical” lies, as well as the value judgments we make when we draw those distinctions.
  • “A Shadow on the Sky” in Mythic Delirium. This is in many ways yet another installment in what’s becoming a series of what I’ll call “drone fiction” on my part – explorations of the relationship between humans and unmanned aeriel vehicles. A woman suffers tragedy when her home is destroyed and becomes a kind of goddess of vengeance, capturing enemy combat drones and making them into an army of which she’s the queen. Some people make a pilgrimage into the desert to find her and hijinks ensue. Bad, dark hijinks.
  • “Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale” in Shimmer. Probably one of the most relentlessly dark things I’ve ever written (a huge amount of what I write at present is very dark, in fact). A slow-burn and somewhat chaotic second-person narrative set in an unspecified post-disaster world, desperately yearning for the world that was while being forced to confront the world that is and the unimaginably terrible thing the character is contemplating doing in order to survive.
  • “eyes I dare not meet in dreams” in Cyborgology. This one… Guys, this one is weird, and I’m not talking about the story itself – though it is also weird. Cyborgology is not a traditional short story market at all; it’s a group sociology blog run by some friends of mine to which I sometimes contribute. It does do fiction, and I wrote this in a fit of annoyance about the treatment of female characters in fiction and posted it. And it took off a bit on Twitter. I’m immensely proud of it, and in fact I think it’s my favorite thing I published this year, as well as the best. Given its publication place and circumstances, however, I’m a bit nervous about it being overlooked. So if you read and like it, please please spread the word about it. Normally I really get uncomfy with overt campaigning, but I think it might be warranted in this case.
  • “It is Healing, it is Never Whole” in Apex Magazine. Written after a family member committed suicide, and I think part of an attempt to process. In a strange and vaguely industrial afterlife, spirits collect the souls of suicides and transfer them to a train that takes them on to points unknown. But one worker finds a soul that connects with them on an entirely new level, and wonders what it all means.
  • And finally: “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” in the Queers Destory Horror! edition of Nightmare. This is the other story I’m most in love with, and it rivals “eyes I dare not” in terms of my Nightmare_37_October_2015estimation of quality. I think it might be one of the best things I ever wrote, in fact. It’s certainly incredibly personal. It’s about graduate school, mental illness, connection and disconnection, technology, and hope battling hopelessness. It’s incredibly dark, and very triggery for anyone who has issues with graphic depictions of suicide. Really it’s kind of a snapshot of a particular mental state. A graduate student finds themselves being consumed by their dissertation in ways that go far beyond the norm, as they immerse themselves in the history of a year of an epidemic of documented suicides – a year they lived through.

So yeah. Them’s my stuff. If you read, if you consider for any awards, if you just like the damn things, thanking you kindly. Again, I think this was a pretty good year in this respect. A hugely difficult one, but good. Hope the next one is also good sans at least some of the difficulty.

I get to destroy horror, AND I get a short story collection

So yeah, two pieces of delightful news.nightmare-cover_OCT2015

  • My story “Dispatches From a Hole in the World” will appear in Queers Destroy Horror!, the special issue of Nightmare coming this October. You can check out a partial ToC here, and it is just fantastic, LOOKIT
  • After years of getting stuff written and published, I’m going to release a short story collection with Undertow Publications. Singing With All My Skin and Bone will rip its bloody way into the world next August with some of my own favorite stuff to date, as well as some new things. I am just so super excited about this, you don’t even know; Undertow’s Shadows and Tall Trees bought one of my earliest stories and they are fantastic.
  • Re: Fall & Rising, a reminder that it’s hitting figurative shelves at the end of August, and I’ll be doing a blog tour and a giveaway and all kinds of tasty stuff. So stay tuned.

I didn’t mean to become a horror/dark fiction writer but it does seem like that’s happened a bit. Ain’t complainin’.

Part of a Thing I Love: “Kaleidoscope”

image courtesy of Ashley Dace

image courtesy of Ashley Dace

Let’s have some nice things. Let’s have some nice “classic” SF, in fact.

Ray Bradbury is one of those writers who first made me want to write. The Illustrated Man blew my mind at a very young age. “The Smile”. “The Veldt” (which utterly terrified me; Bradbury was as good a writer of horror as he was science fiction). “A Sound of Thunder”. And then The Martian Chronicles, which changed the way I thought about SF and what it could do. “There Will Come Soft Rains” remains one of the most wrenchingly, unbearably sad and yet beautiful things I’ve ever read, and probably one of my favorite short stories of all time. It’s a perfect story. I literally can’t think of anything wrong with it. And I still can’t read it without crying.

Bradbury’s work is gentle, even when it’s also cruel. It’s frequently elegiac, even when it’s not overtly sad. It’s beautiful, even when he’s writing about ugly things. He has his weaknessness, and like many authors writing when he was, his stuff deals uncomfortably with race and gender, but I think there’s a humility to how he approaches things that’s missing from a lot of his contemporaries. He was profoundly skeptical of technology, of people, of the future, and yet he wrote about humanity with tremendous affection. He wanted good things for the world. He believed that we could do well.

His short story “Kaleidoscope” is among my favorites of his stuff. It’s one of those that’s quietly, gently cruel, but also deeply reflective. It’s meditation on death and what we make of it. It ended up unconsciously – at the time I was writing it – inspiring a story of mine (“What Glistens Back”) that will appear in Lightspeed at some point soon, a story I’ve been trying to write for the better part of a year and finally found a way to tell.

What Bradbury is saying, what he says in most of his stuff, is that horror and pain and beauty and love aren’t all that different in the end, that they’re ultimately not comprehensible without each other, and that – in extremis – all we have is each other.

The many good-bys. The short farewells. And now the great loose brain was disintegrating. The components of the brain which had worked so beautifully and efficiently in the skull case of the rocket ship firing through space were dying one by one; the meaning of their life together was falling apart. And as a body dies when the brain ceases functioning, so the spirit of the ship and their long time together and what they meant to one another was dying. Applegate was now no more than a finger blown from the parent body, no longer to be despised and worked against. The brain was exploded, and the senseless, useless fragments of it were far scattered. The voices faded and now all of space was silent. Hollis was alone, falling.

They were all alone. Their voices had died like echoes of the words of God spoken and vibrating in the starred deep. There went the captain to the Moon; there Stone with the meteor swarm; there Stimson; there Applegate toward Pluto; there Smith and Turner and Underwood and all the rest, the shards of the kaleidoscope that had formed a thinking pattern for so long, hurled apart.

And I? thought Hollis. What can I do? Is there anything I can do now to make up for a terrible and empty life? If only I could do one good thing to make up for the meanness I collected all these years and didn’t even know was in me! But there’s no one here but myself, and how can you do good all alone? You can’t. Tomorrow night I’ll hit Earth’s atmosphere.

I’ll burn, he thought, and be scattered in ashes all over the continental lands. I’ll be put to use. Just a little bit, but ashes are ashes and they’ll add to the land.

He fell swiftly, like a bullet, like a pebble, like an iron weight, objective, objective all of the time now, not sad or happy or anything, but only wishing he could do a good thing now that everything was gone, a good thing for just himself to know about.

When I hit the atmosphere, I’ll burn like a meteor.

“I wonder,” he said, “if anyone’ll see me?”

~

The small boy on the country road looked up and screamed. “Look, Mom, look! A falling star!”

The blazing white star fell down the sky of dusk in Illinois. “Make a wish,” said his mother. “Make a wish.”

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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