Fiction

Upcoming

‘Ningyo’ in Phantasm Japan, edited by Nick Mamatas (Haikasoru).

‘The Governess and We’ in Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans.

‘Sixty Years in the Women’s Province’ in GigaNotoSaurus.

‘When We Harvested the Nacre-Rice’ in Solaris Rising 3, edited by Ian Whates (Solaris Books).

‘Five Hundred and Ninety-Nine’ in The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures, edited by Sean Wallace.

‘Elision’ in La Femme, edited by Ian Whates (NewCon Press).

2014

‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (April 2014). An immigrant sorcerer, her lost golem, and a compromise of winter. Podcast read by Folly Blaine. 7,500 words. Subscriptions.

‘Autodidact’ in Clarkesworld Magazine (April 2014). A sentient starship, a psychologist, a soldier and the battlefield they make of one another. Podcast read by Kate Baker. 5,800 words. Subscriptions | Patreon.

‘Zeraquesh in Absentia’ in The Dark (Feb 2014). Weightless Books. A police officer and a private eye seek a missing person in the haunted city. 2,800 words.

2013

Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade in Clarkesworld Magazine (Dec 2013). Amazon | Weightless Books. A general is brought back from the dead to conquer the world of her birth. 5,200 words. Podcast read by Kate Baker.

  • Reprinted in Space Opera, edited by Rich Horton (Prime Books).

‘Fade to Gold’ in End of the Road, edited by Jonathan Oliver (Solaris Books). Amazon | Amazon UK. Desire, monstrosity, and a journey home. 4,800 words.

‘Paya-Nak’ in Scigentasy. Love after death. 4,900 words.

‘Vector‘ in We See a Different Frontieredited by Djibril al-Ayad and Fabio Fernandes. Amazon | Amazon UK | Wizard’s Tower.

‘The Bees Her Heart, The Hive Her Belly’ in Clockwork Phoenix 4edited by Mike Allen. A woman with bees instead of a heart. Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Barnes and Noble.

‘Annex’ in Clarkesworld Magazine (April 2013). Memory and music. 3,800 words. Podcast read by Kate Baker.

‘The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate’ in Beneath Ceaseless Skies (April 2013). A sun goddess finds herself. 8,500 words.

Continue reading

New stories on Clarkesworld and Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Story week! ゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚

‘Autodidact’ on Clarkesworld Magazine (Subscriptions | Patreon). A sentient starship, a psychologist, and a soldier: the battlefield they make of each other.

On Srisunthorn Station, the corpses of conquered stars are nurtured into ships.

They may become shelters from solar winds, orbitals giving company to lonely planets, mausoleums for the sainted. But long ago an admiral came, bringing a toll of dead and trailing carcasses of worlds. Her armor was hammered out of battle formations and broken alliances, welded by secret plans and sudden annihilation. She cast it down before the engineers, piece by piece making known to them the essentials of war.

“That is what you must make them for,” she said as her trappings shuddered with the pressure of lethal feints and shattered pacts. “War is a pustule that must be lanced for the laws of the universe to continue, and I am in need of a scalpel.”

‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ on Beneath Ceaseless Skies (Subscriptions). An immigrant sorcerer, her lost golem, and a compromise of winter. Podcast read by Folly Blaine.

I watch her through the bright, clear eyes of a fox. You see the world differently this way, closer to the ground, sight plaited from smells, nose to soil and snow. A fox’s mind is so wide, made of simple geometry and immediate needs.

The fox sniffs and tosses its head. She comes.

‘Golden Daughter’ shares the issue with ‘At the Edge of the Sea’ by Raphael Ordonez, which I found lovely, evocative and wonderfully unsettling.

I’m extra pleased in that – though these two stories were written months apart – their publication dates tidily coincide: both being stories with immigrant main characters, artificial life, a desire for parenthood, *and* they both take place in a small, contained setting (a space station and a house respectively). Apart from those common details though, they end up being very different stories, with hugely unlike conclusions.

I’ve been *incredibly* happy with the reception for ‘Autodidact’! The first day this was up my mentions didn’t completely explode but definitely filled up a lot, which I didn’t think was a thing that happens when you’re a little baby writer. Carl V. Anderson liked it at SFSignal, and Lois Tilton called the final moment subtle and effective, Charlotte Ashby reviewing for Apex Magazine had kind things to say about it, and a reader of Clarkesworld kindly said it was one of the standout stories. Not to be outdone, ‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ has already been selected for a reprint in The Mammoth Book of Warriors and Wizardry edited by Sean Wallace, out late this year. I think that’s the fastest reprint I’ve ever had!

While I’m proud of and believe in my stories, it’s still a surprise when people let me know they liked my writing; I couldn’t have asked for more. I took a few risks with ‘Autodidact’ (one of them being to use three different pronouns for a single character), but they seem to have worked out all right. I wrote this story with Ancillary Justice on my brain (because of course!), as I otherwise never thought of writing sentient AIs before, though my approach to it is probably very different from Ann’s.

If you want to read more stories with sentient spaceships in them, I loved Aliette de Bodard’s ‘The Breath of War’ and ‘Ship’s Brother’, Kameron Hurley’s ‘Enyo-Enyo’, though I’d be happy to read more. For golem stories – erm, please suggest?

Let’s support Clarkesworld!

Neil Clarke has put together a helpful bit of linkage for subscription options for Clarkesworld and individual issue purchases, as well as Clarkesworld on Patreon. (Patreon is a newish way for people to give to projects and creators they love. There are options, I believe, for subscriptions though you can just give to support and the platform ‘takes’ your tip and transfers it to the creator each time a new issue comes out, so for Clarkesworld that’s every month! They’re at around $250 so far, and at $1000 they will add a fourth original story to every issue – eee!) They pay artists *and* writers very fairly.

It seems a little biased of me – I’ve been published in Clarkesworld twice and will be again soon, full disclosure! – to say that everyone ought to support them, but I do honestly think that they bring us some of the best writers. Many of my favorite stories (and authors) have been in their issues: ‘The Weight of a Blessing’ by Aliette de Bodard, ‘Effigy Nights’ and ‘Ghostweight’ by Yoon Ha Lee, ‘Never Dreaming (In Four Burns)’ and ‘Morrigan in the Sunglare’ by Seth J. Dickinson, ‘You Were She Who Abode’ by E. Catherine Tobler. They’ve fantastic, fascinating content that’s not stories too, like this article on translation by Ken Liu. This early in 2014 they have already brought us a huge, fantastic range of voices, styles and perspectives – new or seasoned – like Natalia Theodoridou, An Owomoyela, Cheng Jingbo and Thoraiya Dyer. I think it’s fair to say that they publish some of the greatest variety. Hard SF! Space opera! Slice of life with SF in! Fantasy! Anarchist bees! Everything in between! From just about every corner of the world. The 2013 reader poll results reflect this – out of the top five stories four were by E. Lily Yu, Yoon Ha Lee, Vandana Singh, and me.

I’ve seen a lot of people on twitter name Clarkesworld one of their favorite things to listen to, as well. Kate Baker does gorgeous narration. You must listen to her at least once (and almost definitely you’ll follow her voice religiously ever after).

From a writer’s viewpoint, working with Clarkesworld is an absolute joy. I adore that they don’t hesitate to take a chance on new authors (to which I’m ever so grateful) – I go by the loose definition of Campbell eligibility, and in 2013 that was Vajra Chandrasekera, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, Sofia Samatar (her CW story was in 2012, but yes) and myself. Being published in CW is a wonderful, joyous thing deserving of grand celebrations; for a new writer I can think of few things more stunning. (I was definitely stunned the first, second, and third time – I don’t think it’ll ever *stop* being stunning!)

So altogether I hope you’ll support Clarkesworld in some way. Fantastic fiction *and* podcast! Neat articles! Awesome to work with for writers! Adorable robot mascot! All good things to stand for.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies science-fantasy months

The Beneath Ceaseless Skies science-fantasy month is thoroughly solid – Scott H. Andrews curated a stunning double issue – and makes me hugely happy; science fantasy looks like a very fun thing to do! I haven’t read all of them yet, but for the moment…

Behold Sekhmet! Blood and brawn, fang and claw, shoulders caked in salt. Risen from the anaerobic sea, the ancient broth, to hunt and kill her foe.

‘Sekhmet Hunts the Dying Gnosis: a Computation’ by Seth J. Dickinson (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). I think most would be hard-pressed not to read on after the first three gorgeous sentences. Seth calls this the sort of fable a tiger raised on science might tell and that seems a fitting description! It’s an incredibly accomplished story, where every sentence sings out in perfection, visceral poetry. I adore it.

‘The Breath of War’ by Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). On a planet where people carve stone into ‘breath-siblings’ a pregnant woman seeks her stone-companion: a warship. Of all Aliette’s stories I’ve read recently I think this is easily the strongest – it’s rather different from her non-fantasy SF, but tensely told and striking. In a lot of ways it shares resemblances with her Subterranean story, but I do love this one more. I’m not sure if this is part of the Xuya universe, but it shares many themes with her Xuya stories. Seth had a lot more to say about this story, and his insights as usual are thoroughly smart.

Beneath a high pale sun, Doormaker follows the broken road into the demon’s kingdom.

She is clad in an armor wrought of primordial isotopes, imbued with mathematics of sufficient strength to reinforce its stability against the demon’s fallout. Beneath it, she hides her war-given wounds, which burn and twist at certain hours of the day or beneath the shadows of certain trees.

‘The River Does Not Run’ by Rachel Sobel (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). A wizard sets out to defeat a demon in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s a relatively brief story, tightly focused, and the imagery is evocative. Science fantasy with maths magic! My favorite kind of main character!

‘The Bonedrake’s Penance’ by Yoon Ha Lee (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mar 2014). This is very different! But beautifully written, of course. I’m always faintly puzzled by stories where dragons (or other fantasy creatures) raise children, but that may be due to me not reading a lot of fantasy outside of short fiction. (You would think it’d be common in YA, of which I read a lot, but I actually can’t think of any title that fits the bill…)

‘The Mote-Dancer and the Firelife’ by Chris Wilrich (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2012). An older story but also from a science-fantasy month at BCS, reprinted in Rich Horton’s Space Opera. An interesting look at a telepathic-digital afterlife and grieving!

And relevantly…

Editors Scott H. Andrews (Beneath Ceaseless Skies), Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld), Jonathan Landen (Daily Science Fiction), Bill Campbell (Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism), Norm Sherman (Drabblecast, EscapePod) and writer Erica Satifka (Clarkesworld, Ideomancer) discuss the state of short genre fiction at the BSFS on Saturday, March 22nd, 8PM. Moderated by Sarah Pinsker.

This is a thoroughly fantastic panel that I think is essential to watch for anyone interested in short fiction in the genre, whether to read, write, or edit. They cover the rise of online zines and how that opens doors and access to international audiences and writers. Some podcasts were recommended, The Synthetic Voices and Tina Connolly’s Toasted Cake.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear my name brought up, along with Seth J. Dickinson and Yoon Ha Lee. Many thanks to Sarah Pinsker, Neil Clarke and Scott H. Andrews for that kindness. All editors talked in depth about the nitty-gritty of running, editing and maintaining zines. Funding! Story selection! And things. It’s fairly long a clip, but really quite worth checking out.

Dr. Lipp Balm, LUSH lip scrub, and a Paula’s Choice Ultra-Sheer Daily Defense

paulaschoice

I’ve been using the Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Ultra-Sheer Daily Defense for a few months. It does very odd things to my face – it makes my skin indefinably but visibly worse, with the occasional breakouts and dryness. I’m not alone in the breakouts, to judge by Makeup Alley reviews! It contains silica particles and you can really feel them, like grit, and I think that was one of the things my skin *hugely* did not like. The silica is meant to help with shine control but I don’t find it effective at that, and the product is so light and thin in consistency I don’t think it does much to hydrate the skin either. Because it is so very thin and comes in a squeezey tube I tend to get far more product than I need. Alas. (The amount in the tube isn’t huge). Erm. I like the smell.

After a few days switching to another SPF moisturizer (a sample size of Shiseido Ibuki Protective Moisturizer SPF 15; so much more agreeable! Less SPF than the Paula’s Choice, which has 30 SPF, however) my skin improved right away. I think I’ll have to downgrade this one to use on hands and possibly neck, and for the price tag on it that is a less than ideal solution. (✖╭╮✖) I think I’d have done much better with the Hydralight formula but for the moment I’ll be switching to other brands.

lipproducts

These two are my current favorite combination to keep my lips smooth, hydrated and not full of icky dead skin flakes when I put on lipstick! I know that technically I could make my own lip scrub from jojoba oil and sugar but I’m a little too klutzy – so LUSH it is. This is in the popcorn flavor, though I’d have to say it tastes nothing like popcorn – rather like a combination of salt and sugar. Not unpleasant but I usually prefer to wipe it away rather than lick it off. It’s not too rough but gritty enough to get rid of dead skin from the lips.

The Dr. Lipp Balm (I try to pretend the ‘nipple’ part isn’t there; it is a little embarrassing!) was a real find for me – I know it’s ‘only’ Lanolin and I could buy a huge tub of Lanolin, but I did get this on a sale and it’s convenient to carry around, so that’s all right for me! The consistency is incredibly thick and I find it’s best to let it sit on my fingertip for a minute or two before applying it so it can warm up and become meltier. After it’s on it *stays* on – I can go to bed with this and wake up still feeling it on my lips. It absolutely locks in moisture. I tend to apply immediately after exfoliating with the scrub at night, though I’ve worn this under lipstick in the day time before, to great effect. Sticky but no stickier than some glosses (much less sticky and more comfortable than MAC Dazzleglass formula!). I love it. (*^ワ^*) I’ve seen some reviewers complain it tastes or smells foul or both, but to me it seems both tasteless and odorless?

Reading log March 2014 and some news

The tables of contents for The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 and Space Opera, both edited by Rich Horton, have been announced! The company is fabulous. I also incidentally have an interview up at Sense of Wonder, where Odo was very kind to host me and ask me fun, insightful questions *and* let me talk makeup as metaphor for writing. Whee!

Brit Mandelo reviewed ‘Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade’ in a Tor.com short fiction spotlight (along with a story from Apex) and was incredibly kind about it.

“Silent Bridge, Pale Cascade” is well-equipped in the ambition department—but, seriously, give me an ambitious gender-conscious queer story any day over a piece that’s perfectly constituted in all of its facets but is also terribly dull. Personally, I look forward to reading more of Sriduangkaew’s work—after this story and the previous one I discussed here, I think that she has quite a lot of provocative, quality work in her future.

!!

Lois Tilton on my weird detective story ‘Zeraquesh in Absentia’ in the third issue of The Dark – and she recommends it! I think that’s a first for me. \(*0*)/

A highly mannered tale with striking descriptions, it reminds me of the work of Yoon Ha Lee, which is no bad thing at all. This one is more dream-like, however, as hard to pin down as smoke.

The story is me poking (ever so gently!) at detective fiction conventions; I want to say it is a bit noir but I am not sure it has the required grit for that. It was a challenge to myself to write under a strict limitation (which I can’t name because to say it would be to give the story away). It does feature a private eye, a police officer, and a missing person case in a strange city. I need to write more strange, haunted cities!

I share this issue with Steve Berman, Helena Bell and Douglas Smith and while I haven’t read all their stories yet I found Helena Bell’s ‘The Burial’ delightfully macabre and startling.

And then, reading things!

‘Coma Kings’ by Jessica Barber (Lightspeed, Feb 2014). A sibling relationship story – so as you can imagine, I liked it immediately!

‘Morrigan in the Sunglare’ by Seth J. Dickinson (Clarkesworld, Mar 2014). Hooray, a new Seth story! This is gritty military SF, sharp and terribly real. Seth has a gift for visceral detail and relationships that feel true, like breathing.

‘Child of Sunlight, Woman of Blood’ by Tina Connolly (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, 2009). This is inspiring in its rhythm of language and has the kind of main character I really love, duty-bound and stoic and determined, situated in a rich setting with immediate, sensory descriptions. The ending is a little off for me – Ifit hoping she’ll taste like chocolate on a god’s tongue does go well with the recurring food images but it felt slightly odd – but that’s a tiny blemish. I’m off to root through the rest of the author’s bibliography!

‘The Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile’ by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean, Mar 2014).  A new Xuya story! Mindships and sticky family and war. I think this is one of her bleaker endings and it reminds me a little of Ha Lee’s ‘Ghostweight’.

I haven’t gotten started on this yet but I picked up a copy and am *hugely* looking forward to reading it. *_* It’s the sequel to Code Name Verity, which I went through with unprecedented speed and loved a whole huge lot.

Reading log Feb 2014 and a sale

I’m really thrilled to say that I’ve sold another story to Clarkesworld, forthcoming in April. ‘Autodidact’ is about a sentient starship (made of star!), parenthood and dysfunctional relationships. I’m especially happy since my ‘Golden Daughter, Stone Wife’ from Beneath Ceaseless Skies will also be out in April, making this another double story April for me two years running – this time, both stories have immigrants as main characters, so there’s thematic synergy going as well! Both will be podcast, too, so there will be formats for both readers who prefer text and readers who prefer audio. ゜゚・*\O/*・゜゚

And I’ve been puttering along with short fiction reading, so here are some of my favorite recent reads. I expect I’ll be gleefully recommending some of these by year’s end to people who want to fill their short fiction ballots.

Wine by Yoon Ha Lee (Clarkesworld, Jan 2014). Ahh this is *so* good. It’s Yoon Ha Lee, which is plenty to recommend it! Beautiful, brutal science fantasy with a military slant. It’s only February and I think I have already found one of my favorite stories of 2014.

Grave of the Fireflies by Cheng Jingbo (translated by Ken Liu) (Clarkesworld, Jan 2014). This one is hard to classify; it has bits of science fiction but comes over more as fabulist. The set-up is absolutely fairytale-y, pretty and imaginative.

Invisible Planets by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) (Lightspeed, 2013). Ken Liu is doing such wondrous work translating all these wondrous things! This one is science fiction told through descriptions of various planets with their particular cultures. Really fascinating.

Saga’s Children by E.J. Swift (Lowest Heaven, 2013). It’s about modern myth-making, grief, complex parent-child relationship. I already read it as part of the anthology but now this story is online – yay! (So is Enyo-Enyo by Kameron Hurley, which is delightfully creepy and visceral).

The Year of Silent Birds by Siobhan Carroll (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Jan 2014). It’s intense, though not usually the type of fantasy I read (and now that I think of it, I’ve been reading more science fiction lately… hm!).

Haul! Illamasqua, Chantecaille, Dior, Bare Minerals

haulish

Not to be alarmed! This is actually several purchases over the last few months, not one single haul. Nevertheless if my wallet were a sentient thing it’d have been cringing and crying in terror. (I cringed and cried in terror. In private! Not at the counters, that would’ve been – erm – very bad and possibly quite worrying). But I told myself they are rewards for selling stories, so that is more motivation to write and submit more!

That lovely purple box contains the *priciest* single item I’ve ever purchased. While on one hand I *know* it’s ‘just’ a powder foundation…. I’ve always wanted a nice powder foundation – not too light, not too cakey, and supposedly this one has moisturizing properties? I’m sure that is impossible for powder products, but we will see! The coverage is just about right for me. I picked this up in the deepest shade they have, Maple, and layer it on top of a darker tinted moisturizer. (I’m still debating whether I should have a primer under all that, but we’ll see – it’s getting warmer!)

illamasquasale

I got these during Illamasqua’s most recent sale – I really heart their cream pigment (I’ve got a few already, in lilac Dab and neutral brown Hollow, the latter of which I use daily as a base – I much prefer them to MAC’s paint pots and find Hollow a better match than some of the darker neutral paint pot shades). They’re all matte – too many of MAC’s paint pots have shimmer – and Emerge looks like it’ll be lots of fun to play with, worn on its own or as a base for warm eyeshadows!

The Precision Inks I like a little less. I’ve so far tried Havoc, which is this lovely wine color described as ‘Aubergine’ but which pulls somewhat blood red, with lots of brown in it, so it’s not as scary a shade on the eye as anyone might think. Unfortunately this is a formula that – when met with makeup remover – *flakes* off rather than melts. I may have to give the other one I bought at the same time away. It is sad-making as I was looking forward to trying out Wisdom, a complex antique gold.

The bareMinerals palette is Ready Eyeshadow 2.0 in The Last Call. Temptalia reviewed it here. Having used it a few times I can say it’s just as good as Christine makes it sound – it’s so superbly stunningly stupendously *pigmented* even though it’s a shade that most other brands tend to have trouble getting right: it’s close to MAC Heroine eyeshadow but with more shimmer (barely; this is mostly a matte finish) and color pay off that makes MAC Heroine look like the worst of drugstore shadows! I can hardly believe any eyeshadow formula can be this lovely, at this price point – bareMinerals being decidedly mid- rather than high-end. I prefer it over Le Metier de Beaute’s formula, as much as I hate to admit it! Brightest Bulb in the Box says this about the bM formula.

This is a magical and spiritual experience that will enrich your life with its pure smoothness and pigmentation. In terms of raw eyeshadow quality, this is definitely one of the best eyeshadows that I have ever used.

And it is true! It is! I am magically and spiritually enriched and my eyelids are so pretty.

The Diorific lipstick was an impulse buy! I have a growing love affair with high-end luxury lipsticks (and am now a proud owner of three YSL Rouge Volupte Shine shades – Corail Incandescent, Rouge in Danger and my still-favorite Fuchsia in Rage). There’s something so compelling about how over the top their tubes tend to be. As much as I like Burberry’s more understated lipstick tubes the (fingerprint magnet, true) gold tubes from Dior and YSL are just so fun to have on your vanity! They make my face do this ->