Haunted Futures: new stories by Jeff Noon, Tricia Sullivan and Warren Ellis

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My story “Salvation is a one-time offer” has just been published in the brilliant Haunted Futures anthology (Ghostwoods Books, edited by Salomé Jones). I’m very proud of it, first of all because I think it’s a pretty good story, but also for the cast I share pages with: Jeff Noon (his Vurt is brilliant), Tricia Sullivan, Warren Ellis…

So if you’re into reading (about) the future(s), the bad bad wolf species yet unborn, do head to this here virtual shop and get thee an auld buke.

 

Lonely red world serenade

 

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I have a short story, “Lonely Red World Serenade”, up in the inaugural issue of Helios Quarterly. You can and should get it here, to get your fill of speculative fiction and poetry on the theme of miscommunication.

My own contribution is a story of robotic unrequited love set, as you might have guessed, on Mars.

If you write that kind of stuff, Helios will be open to submissions for the first two weeks of October for another themed issue, details of which you can find here.

Over.

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TFW Fame Comes Knocking At Your Local Lowtown Branch – Unsung Stories

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I’m fierce delighted to have a new story up at the great Unsung Stories. It’s about what happens when a lowly burger-flipper gets to meet his idol. It’s a bit wild, and half told through social media, so you’ll be right at home, you screen monkey. It goes like this:

“I’m getting to 9.2 on the boredom scale (not that I’m casting it, of course, but then I wouldn’t bet an arm that the feed isn’t tapping my meat for emotional data), placing trays on the counter and loading them with wax-paper parcels of food as fast as I can, when I glimpse Stuart Mafokate’s perfect face on the screenwall that lines the entrance…”

You can keep reading it here. Go on it’s only short. And if you don’t know Unsung Stories, you should definitely have a look around their website. In addition to publishing SF/weird short stories every fortnight, they publish great books in the same genres.

 

 

 

Quote #14 Hallucinated Ballard

 

Excited by my own sex, I felt light-headed and generous. All sense of hunger had left me. I decided to startle the placid town with my sex, but not by copulating with these suburbanites still asleep in their bedrooms. I would mount the town itself, transform Shepperton into an instant paradise more exotic than all the television travelogues that presided over their lives.

 

-from The Unlimited Dream Company, by JG Ballard

 

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(You can find an interview with Ballard in The Paris Review, where he says, among other things that the title of this novel was a mistake, as it sounded “like a jeans emporium”.

Fantastic Medley: a SF news round-up of sorts

Here are a few submission and reading opportunities you might be interested in, if you like your fiction weird:

Apex Magazine is open until November 16th for their Annual Flash Fiction Contest: it’s free to enter, and they’re looking for speculative stories under 250 words with a “Christmas Invasion” theme. Make sure you check out the great stuff they publish monthly, and while you’re at it, give them a buck – they’re running a subscription drive at the moment – or get a book from their publishing arm.

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Holdfast has just won the British Fantasy Society Best Magazine 2015 Award, and their 7th issue, “Looking forward, looking back”, is out now. I haven’t had time to dive into it yet, but it’s the usual mix of fiction, poetry, non-fiction (including the great “Unbelievers” section…), interview, book shelf… even a playlist! Anyway. Get thy virtual ass there and start reading.

They’re also open to submissions until January 15th for their next issue on the theme “Love, Sex, Romance“, and also on other themes for their annual print anthology.

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Great bargains to be had from Asimov’s and Analog at the moment: you can get 8 back issues for $6.95 (or 12 for $15.95) with – very important if you happen not to live in the US – very reasonable postage. I just received my package, and I’m looking forward to all that pulpy goodness… They’re also both open to submissions – find the guidelines on their respective websites.

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Full disclosure / self-promotion: I had pieces in Holdfast and Apex before, which you can read here and here.

A mad ride of a short story + Quote #12

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A Window or a Small Box

I’ve just read this brilliant story by Jedediah Berry, first published in Tor.com, and reprinted in The Year’s Best Science-Fiction & Fantasy 2014 (Prime Books). It’s – well, I have no idea what it is, but it’s great. It’s described as “a charming and weird contemporary novelette of magic realism“, so, there.

What it certainly is is confident; the tone and voice of the piece really impressed me, and Berry manages to take [this] reader along on quite a long stretch of surreal / non-sensical landscape. It’s the kind of story that leaves me amazed that it works at all. I mean – what – uh? – oh, wow! It’s a great act of juggling (with 5th dimension burning knives).

It’s also the kind of story that makes me revise everything I write or plan on writing, because it’s shouting at me through a giant megaphone: THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS LIMITS YOU MAD OMNIPOTENT PEN-WIELDING LITTLE MAN!

So, really, you should read the whole thing for yourself, really, seeing as it is free and all on the interweb, but here’s a little extract, just in case:

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“Please,” she said to the goon now. “Please just tell me where we’re going.”

“Going? Darling, we’re already here. This is it.”

“This is what?”

“This is what happens when we catch you. We drive around together, and you say interesting things for as long as you can.”

The other goons were chuckling. There were more of them than could possibly fit inside that car: dozens, maybe. They could have filled a small theater.

“Keep it interesting, though. Because as soon as we get bored . . .”

More chuckling, and Laura’s instinct was to fight—to kick and punch and claw her way out of there—but she’d heard the doors lock, and she knew what had happened to Jim when he tried to fight them. So she swallowed that back and said, “What do you want me to talk about?”

“Snacks,” one of the goons said.

“Dinner,” another said.

“Talk about the constellations,” said a third.

“Zip it,” said the chief goon. “I want to hear about the wedding plans. I always find your wedding plans so interesting.”

“You hate it when I talk about my wedding plans,” Laura said.

“You’re right,” the chief goon said. “That was a trap.”

“I’m going to tell you a story,” Laura said, and then goons were hushing other goons, and one of them switched off the radio, and for a moment all she could hear was the noise of the car’s engine, which came as though from deep in the earth.

“The story is called ‘A Window or a Small Box,’ and it’s about some stones at the bottom of a stream—”

“Boring,” said one of the goons.

“Some stones,” she said, “that dreamed they were turtles.”

The same goon said, “Oooh,” and Laura could hear the slopping sound of him as he settled back into his seat.

“They dreamed that they were turtles, and the turtles swam in the waters of the stream, up above the rocks that dreamed them . . .”

from A Window or a Small Box, Jedediah Berry

‘Tiny miracles’: New story in Holdfast magazine

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My short story ‘Tiny miracles’ has just been pubilshed in Holdfast magazine. The theme of this issue is ‘Gods and Monsters’, and my take on it sees a tiny plastic Mary figurine take life in a Lourdes souvenir shop.

Holdfast is a great online speculative magazine based in the UK that really tries to improve on the traditional lit mag format and go beyond a simple selection of stories. Each issue has a lot of Non-Fiction, including an open letter to a SF/Fantasy author. They put up a playlist on the issue’s theme, have interviews of authors and also, in their ‘Unbelievers’ section, give a book to some non-SF/F reader to see if he can get a taste for it…

They’re looking for submissions for their next issue on the theme ‘Looking Forward, Looking Back’ (“Depictions of the future, alternative histories, time travel, utopias, dystopias, or anything else related to timey wimey things”) 

Deadline is September 15th

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(This is the Terry Gilliamesque illustration for ‘Tiny miracles’, by Jenny Kadis)