The Mysterious Frontiers of Can Xue - 'The author, whom the American novelist and editor Bradford Morrow has described as one of the most “innovative and important” in contemporary world literature, revels in such mysteries and entanglements. Can Xue is the genderless pen name of Deng Xiaohua, who was born in 1953, in Changsha City, in Hunan Province. In Chinese, the name means “residual snow,” a phrase, Deng has explained, that is used to describe both “the dirty snow that refuses to melt” and “the purest snow at the top of a high mountain.” [more inside]
Science fiction author Julian May has passed away at age 86: "In Memoriam: Julian May" from the SFWA; "May the Force Be With Her," a profile related to her First Fandom Hall of Fame Award; Chicon II / TASFIC entry at Fancyclopedia 3 ("Julian May was the first female chairman of a Worldcon"); "Julian May," her entry in The Encyclopedia of SF; her ISFDB entry; interviews with May from 1982 and 2015. Perhaps best known for her Saga of Pliocene Exile (a brief appreciation; B&N retrospective; TVTropes entry), May's first SF story sales are available online ("Dune Roller" Astounding, Dec. 1951, with illustrations by May; "Star of Wonder," Thrilling Wonder Stories, Feb. 1953) along with several letters to Astounding: 1, 2, and 3.
"Never Quiet Again" (Catapult, May 12, 2017): "It's not that we don't remember what it was like before the sound. If you asked us, we could tell you." "All the Ways He Won't Die" (Catapult, Feb. 17, 2017): "Someday he'll meet a fate I didn't think of, and that will be my fault, too." Jess Zimmerman has several notable previouslies, e.g 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
"The Primordial Gound" by Justin E. H. Smith (The Public Domain Review, October 2017; but reworked from earlier articles): "Klopp records that in May of 1777 Kant's ship suffered heavy damages in a storm in the South China Sea." "From The New Ecyclopedia" by Byron Landry (Conjunctions, April 2017): "Little is known about the pre-Socratic philosopher Polycyathus, and that little unlikeable: ... he believed that, of all the forms of governance, tyranny was best, because 'it breeds monuments.'" "The Doctor is Who?" by Heavy (alternatehistory.com, July 2017): "Several actors were considered to play the Second Doctor ... Peter Jeffrey, Valentine Dyall and Patrick Troughton were all approached but each declined the role."
"Taiya" by Vanessa Fogg (The Future Fire, 2017): "Surprisingly, Patrick doesn't seem annoyed when he hears about the ghost. He's washing dishes, his sleeves rolled up and a dishtowel draped over one shoulder. 'A taiya you said?' He doesn't look up from the suds. 'Those things don't cause any harm.'" [more inside]
Xia Jia's story "The Psychology Game" (Clarkesworld, 10/17) contemplates a familiar sort of Turing test in a new venue: "This is a globally popular reality TV show ... The patient and the therapist are not in the same room." But she mentions Hector Levesque's "On Our Best Behaviour" / "The Winograd Schema Challenge" [PDFs] as a greater hurdle for AI. Recent news from Apple and Google suggests more near-term realities for automation. Meanwhile, David Burr Gerrard's "The Epiphany Machine" (Guernica, 2017; standalone excerpt from the novel) imagines machine-based insight from a magical realist perspective: "1. The epiphany machine will not discover anything about you that you do not, in some way, already know." [Siri, previously.]
"The View from the Top of the Stair" by E. Lily Yu (Hazlitt, 2017): "Upon hearing of the death of my father ... my second thought, I am sorry to say, was that at long last I could gratify my passion for stairs." "Blue Funk" by Rikki Ducornet (Fairy Tale Review, 2006; recently posted online): "People love my city for its brasseries like hothouses, ardent and perverse, its breezes that smell of coffee and of the sea. But when I am in my blue funk I see nothing of all this."
"When the Received Wisdom is Wrong" by Mike Glyer: "This month fanhistorians were turned on their ears when a previously unknown shortlist of 1956 Hugo nominees came to light ... As the official Hugo Award site explained when they updated the entry for 1956 – 'We thank Olav Rokne for bringing to our attention an article on page 15 of the 1956 Worldcon Progress Report 3 ...'" Several previously unacknowledged fiction nominees are available online. [more inside]
"The Drone King" is a newly discovered short story by Kurt Vonnegut: While reading through Kurt Vonnegut’s papers in the Lilly Library, at Indiana University, as they worked on the first comprehensive edition of his short fiction, Vonnegut’s friend Dan Wakefield and Jerome Klinkowitz, a scholar of Vonnegut’s work, came across five previously unpublished stories. Klinkowitz dates “The Drone King,” one of those five, to the early 1950s, when Vonnegut hadn’t yet written a novel and was only beginning to publish short fiction. Complete Stories will be published this month by Seven Stories Press. Soundcloud audio version of "The Drone King" and "The Drone King:" An Animated Excerpt.
Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation is the first English language anthology* to broadly collect solarpunk, "a fundamentally hopeful new genre" that "envisions a future of green, sustainable energy used by societies that value inclusiveness, cooperation, and personal freedom." The included short stories, poems and artwork are almost entirely exclusive works that were submitted by authors and artists from around the world, depicting various glimmers and glows of hope for the near-to-far future. You can find snippets of art and text in this collection of promo material, and links to other works below the break. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
"Leg" by Shaenon K. Garrity (Kaleidotrope, Spring 2017): "'Why don't you look for a job as ...' the HR director searched for the right euphemism, realized none existed. 'As a leg?' Deep in its central processor, Tony's leg sighed. It had been dreading the question. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, as it were ..." The creator of Narbonic, Skin Horse, and more, Garrity has appeared on the blue for many, many reasons in the past, not least for her short fiction. More previouslies. More short fiction.
"Remote Presence" by Susan Palwick (Lightspeed, April 2017) is an SF/F novelette that draws heavily on the : "Every three years, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations conducted a weeklong on-site accreditation survey of each hospital in the country. The survey was thorough, merciless, and struck apocalyptic terror into hospital administrators ... Roxanne blew out a sharp breath. 'We can't have revenants in the building. That's one of the requirements.'" Spiritual Care Volunteers: A Training Resource [PDF] is a manual produced by NHS Wales that offers more practical insight into healthcare chaplaincy.
"The Critic of Tombs" by Ethan Davison: "Emilia came to Tombs in the twelfth year of the interregnum. It was the first time in history a critic had been assigned to the city. A chilly place split over the St. Laurent, it is very small as cities go, even in the north, and not much accustomed to visits by anyone important." "The Refugee" by Kristen Gleason (winning story for the US & Canada): "Brian Ed waited outside the ration house. Merlijn took his time coming to the door, and opened it slowly. Brian Ed raised his hand and waved. Merlijn smiled an embarrassed smile and held up four fingers. 'No rations until four o'clock, Brian Ed.'" The full list.
"Upgrades" by Barry Charman (Daily Science Fiction, 2/14/2017): "The robots kept their rendezvous, and held hands beneath the bridge. This wasn't supposed to happen, they knew, but only the moon could see them, and it wouldn't tell." [more inside]
"The X Prize Is Now Backing Sci-Fi Like It Backs IRL Science" [Wired]: "Starting [6/28/2017], 22 new science fiction stories go live on the Seat14C website, courtesy of genre luminaries like Margaret Atwood and Charlie Jane Anders. Each story details the future from the perspective of a different passenger on a plane that traveled through a wormhole 20 years into the future." [more inside]
and Waxy are short stories by the Canadian writer Camilla Grudova (tumblr), whose debut collection The Doll's Alphabet has been likened to David Lynch, Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter.
Flash fiction for International Womens Day: Inspired by the phrase "Nevertheless, she persisted", Tor books is presenting some short stories by women authors throughout the day today. [more inside]
Tables of contents have been published for upcoming best SF, fantasy, and horror collections edited by Neil Clarke, Gardner Dozois, Paula Guran, Rich Horton, and Jonathan Strahan. The Nebula Award suggested reading lists (previously) for novella, novelette, and short story are well-populated. BestSF.net has selected its shortlist. At Strange Horizons, Rachel Swirsky has comments on her favorite short fiction of the year. And at r/Fantasy, the Stabby Award winners have been announced. Many stories suggested by these sources can be read for free. [more inside]
William Trevor, Watchful Master of the Short Story, Dies Aged 88. [The Guardian] “The Irish author William Trevor [wiki], one of the greatest short story writers of the last century, has died at the age of 88. Trevor, the author of more than 15 novels and many more short stories, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize four times, most recently for The Story of Lucy Gault in 2002, the same year he was awarded an honorary knighthood for his services to literature. He also won the Whitbread prize three times and frequently contributed short stories to The New Yorker magazine.” [more inside]
One hundred years ago, a soldier named Hector Hugh Munro was shot in the head as he crossed no-man’s-land. The night had been dark. Some of the soldiers accompanying him had lit up when they stopped to rest, and the glowing cigarettes attracted a German sniper’s attention. His last words were reported to be: ‘Put that bloody cigarette out!’ The soldier was perhaps the wittiest writer Britain had; his other name was Saki.–Ferrets can be gods, a short essay by Katherine Rundell on the Edwardian short story writer Saki. His stories are available online.
A letter of thanks for an unusual gift, a poem about a dying queen (with audio of the poet reading it), and a short story about a devoted couple with a shocking secret (with an introduction by Edith Pearlman): all are from the pen of the English novelist, short-story writer, poet, musicologist, translator & biographer; feminist, lesbian & communist Sylvia Townsend Warner (1893-1978). [more inside]
The Forbidden Words Of Margaret A. is a science fiction story by L. Timmel Duchamp, first published in 1990, describing a journalist's heavily-vetted meeting with a woman whose words have been declared illegal by the American government. [more inside]
The Westminster Detective Library plans to "to catalog and make available online all the short fiction dealing with detectives and detection published in the United States before Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 'A Scandal in Bohemia' (1891)." (This includes fiction originally published in the UK and Europe but reprinted in the USA.) Title, author, date, and full-text searches are all available. At present, the earliest tale available is from 1824. [more inside]
A short story by Shrilal Shukla, translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell. Wherein a politician enters the real world of his constituents.
Chad W. Post at Three Percent recently linked to World Literature Today's 75 Notable Translations of 2015 and went on a list-making tear to provide more structure and commentary: 7 books by women, 6 water-cooler fiction books, 6 university press books, 3 'funny' books, 4 books from underrepresented countries, and the best poetry I should read. The commentary often leads to further matters of interest, e.g. the Women in Translation Tumblr or Marianne Fritz and the translation challenges (scroll down) in her work.
Martin L. Shoemaker's "Today I Am Paul" and Rich Larson's "Meshed" explore the emotional impact of technological developments within relatively familiar futures, and Caroline M. Yoachim's "Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World" draws on a wide variety of SF motifs to make the future a strange and sometimes poignant allegory for wonders of the past. Each story has been selected for an upcoming year's best SF anthology—either Rich Horton's or Neil Clarke's—and two received mention earlier this year from the unverified @gardnerdozois.
Health of Hard Science Fiction in 2015 (Short Fiction) - Greg Hullender of Rocket Stack Rank looks at whether this years stories support claims of doom for Hard SF.
Nigerian AfroSFF writer Wole Talabi shares links to his favourite 10 short stories of 2015 with a short intro.
A Passion for the Void: Understanding Clarice Lispector’s Strange and Surreal Fiction. [The New Republic]
Plenty of writers inspire fierce devotion in their readers—the David Foster Wallace acolytes, with their duct-taped copies of Infinite Jest, come to mind, as do the smug objectivists dressed in tech-world casual who owe their entire world view to Ayn Rand. But no one converts the uninitiated into devout believers as suddenly and as vertiginously as Clarice Lispector, the Latin-American visionary, Ukranian-Jewish mystic, and middle-class housewife and mother so revered by her Brazilian fans that she's known by a single name: "Clarice."[more inside]
The New Yorker has recently put online three short essays on writing by novelist and short story writer Shirley Jackson, author of The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House. They are Memory and Delusion, On Fans and Fan Mail and Garlic in Fiction, where she sets out her methodology of writing fiction. You can read one of Jackson's short stories on The New Yorker's website, Paranoia, and an interview she did with her son.
100 thoughts on Kafka's "Metamorphosis" to mark the 100th anniversary of its publication. (via) [more inside]
"Unconventional Advice for the Discerning Reader" by Sophie Wereley and "The Practical Witch's Guide to Acquiring Real Estate" by A. C. Wise are recent fantasy short stories that offer handy tips from similar perspectives. "Pockets" by Amal El-Mohtar and "The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary" by Kij Johnson (who adds one beast in a comment) are recent stories that blend strangeness into everyday life with poignant results. All via @SpiralGalaxy and @SFFMicroReviews. [more inside]
Locus Magazine has published its 2014 Recommended Reading List. BestSF.net has given its Best SF Short Story Award for 2014. Tables of contents have been announced for The Year's Best Science Fiction, Thirty-Second Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois, edited by Kathe Koja and Michael Kelly, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Nine edited by Jonathan Strahan. And several writers have called out their favorite stories of the year too, e.g. Ken Liu, Carmen Maria Machado and Sofia Samatar, Usman Malik, and Fran Wilde, Michael R. Underwood, Tina Connolly, and Beth Cato. Quite a few of these short fiction selections from 2014 have been published online in full. [more inside]
It was Christmas Eve. I begin this way because it is the proper, orthodox, respectable way to begin, and I have been brought up in a proper, orthodox, respectable way, and taught to always do the proper, orthodox, respectable thing; and the habit clings to me. Of course, as a mere matter of information it is quite unnecessary to mention the date at all. The experienced reader knows it was Christmas Eve ... It always is Christmas Eve, in a ghost story.In Told After Supper (1891), Jerome K. Jerome parodied the tradition of telling Christmas ghost stories, but it's plain to see that he had fun writing them. And horror writer Ramsey Campbell, himself the author of a number of Christmas stories, recently dropped by /r/WeirdLit to list off a few places to find more. [more inside]
“I‘ve realized that the perfect length for what I do is 100 pages. In my brevity there may be an element of insecurity. I wouldn‘t dare give a 1,000-page novel to a reader […] My novels became shorter as I became more renowned. People now allow me to do whatever I want. At any rate, publishers prefer thick books. But with books, the thicker they are, the less literature they have.””—César Aira [more inside]
The Boy Who Grew Up by Christopher Barzak is a Peter Pan story featured in the first issue of Uncanny Magazine, a kickstarter funded SF/F magazine co-edited by Hugo Award-winner Lynne M. Thomas and Hugo Award-nominee Michael Damian Thomas. Issue One contains fiction by Kat Howard and Max Gladstone (Gladstone previously) as well as non-fiction essays including "The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Films On The Web".
Steven Millhauser is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction author known for his erudite, witty and surreal writing style that blends the magical and the real. Enjoy the full text of Eisenheim The Illusionist (pdf, 20 pages), the story that inspired the 2006 film The Illusionist. [more inside]
Why We Terraformed a New Home for Future Fiction: "Science fiction is an extremely powerful tool. Not for predicting the future, but for clarifying our present. We want to see that happening not just in monthly magazines, but on Reddit, Digg, and Facebook. We want fiction to be part of your feed." Vice has launched its new site for short-form science fiction, Terraform, with new stories by Bruce Sterling, Cory Doctorow, and "exciting newcomers."
What does the future hold? Is there life beyond the stars? Will artificial intelligence take over the world? Is time travel possible? All of these questions and more are addressed every week in Futures, Nature's science-fiction column. Featuring short stories from established authors and those just beginning their writing career, Futures presents an eclectic view of what may come to pass.... Prepare to be amazed, amused, stimulated and even outraged … That's the blurb from , with almost 400 short stories (under 1,000 words) to browse, and one new story added each week. If that is a daunting list to face, you can check out SF2 Concatenation's selection of the very best of the SF short stories from the journal Nature, with about 30 top picks as PDFs, instead of the web pages on Nature.com
I try to do two things with my style. The first is to pay attention to how the words sound together ... The other thing is to juxtapose odd images.Sometimes ornate, sometimes economical, and always striking, Yoon Ha Lee's short fiction combines motifs from fantasy and science fiction with remarkable fruitfulness: "There are soldiers and scientists, space travel and dragons, leather-bound books, locked doors, and genocidal rampages. Each tale strains at the edges of possibility. No two of Lee's stories are alike, except for a similar pulse powering each word, each juxtaposition, each startling turn of events." Much of Lee's output is available online, including dozens of flash fiction fairy tales and two works of interactive fiction. [more inside]
Pseudopod 401: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Wife Be careful what you wish for, and be careful of things with labels you can't read. [more inside]
Halloween is almost here which to me means one thing: overanalyzing horror flicks for any feminist undertones! ... [N]o season has better metaphors for misogynistic fears and powerful female sexuality than the scary movies that permeate almost every channel and film festival throughout October.At Autostraddle, Nina suggests nine horror films she likes in the "Blossoming-Teenage-Girl-Becoming-A-Woman" sub-genre. She is far from alone in her search for interesting feminist themes in horror cinema and literature. [more inside]
Six short stories by Edwardian humorist and short-form master H. H Munro (Saki) that do not appear in any yet-published collection of Saki’s “complete” short stories, taken from an appendix in A.J. Langguth’s A Life of H.H. Munro (1982).
PodCastle 328: The Old Woman With No Teeth
When The Old Woman With No Teeth decided to have children, she didn’t go about it in the usual way. Well, really, what else could you expect from The Old Woman With No Teeth? If she ever did anything the usual way, even boiling a pot of water, the world might start spinning widdershins on its axis.[more inside]
"Now you just stop that. I can read perfectly well, you impudent ragger. Set down what I told you, and don’t believe all the stories you’ve heard about me."
There are many stories about The Old Woman With No Teeth, but people should not believe all of them. The most popular one is that she wore away her teeth by chewing a tunnel to the six-sided world. Nobody knows if this story is true. Many people have looked for the passageway she is supposed to have gnawed through reality, but none of the venturers have managed to pinpoint it.
"None of the ones who’ve come back, you mean. Silly bastards."
Kenya's Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story, "My Father's Head." Many stories by other winners and nominees are available online. [more inside]
SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]