Spent Father’s Day with the boys and wife, tootling around Oxford in the afternoon. Unfortunately tickets weren’t available for the new Tolkien Exhibition at the Bodleian Library, but instead we browsed around the Ashmolean Museum and rummaged through the nearby city centre bookstores, followed by pizza and cheesecake. To cap it off, came back home to find the 2018 Spring edition of Mythic magazine landed on the doorstep. So all in all — for me — a pretty good day.
52 stories from the first year of Metaphorosis magazine have been collected in this handy (and chunky!) tome, available from your favourite online book retailer now. Always a thrill and a privilege to see one of my stories in print, and this will make a very handsome addition to the trophy shelf.
…edited by David Steffen, is now available to pre-order at Amazon and other retailers coming soon. This collection includes all 25 stories published in the first two years of fiction on Diabolical Plots, with absolutely fantastic cover art by Galen Dara and the layout by Pat Steiner.
The contents are:
- Foreword • David Steffen
- The Osteomancer’s Husband • Henry Szabranski
- Bloody Therapy • Suzan Palumbo
- The Banshee Behind Beamon’s Bakery • Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
- The Blood Tree War • Daniel Ausema
- Giraffe Cyborg Cleans House! • Matthew Sanborn Smith
- May Dreams Shelter Us • Kate O’Connor
- Not a Bird • H.E. Roulo
- In Memoriam • Rachel Reddick
- Virtual Blues • Lee Budar-Danoff
- The Princess in the Basement • Hope Erica Schultz
- The Superhero Registry • Adam Gaylord
- The Grave Can Wait • Thomas Berubeg
- The Weight of Kanzashi • Joshua Gage
- One’s Company • Davian Aw
- The Avatar In Us All • J.D. Carelli
- Do Not Question the University • PC Keeler
- Curl Up and Dye • Tina Gower
- October’s Wedding of the Month • Emma McDonald
- The Schismatic Element Aboard Continental Drift • Lee Budar-Danoff
- A Room For Lost Things • Chloe N. Clark
- Further Arguments in Support of Yudah Cohen’s Proposal to Bluma Zilberman • Rebecca Fraimow
- Future Fragments, Six Seconds Long • Alex Shvartsman
- Taste the Whip • Andy Dudak
- Sustaining Memory • Coral Moore
- St. Roomba’s Gospel • Rachael K. Jones
David Steffen is one of the genuine good guys of the genre. Check out his Long List anthologies of Hugo-nominated stories and look out for further Diabolical Plots collections coming out in the near future.
My story The Dreaming Forest is out in the first issue of dark speculative magazine The Wyrd. Download it now: it’s free, and there’s a bunch of great stories in it.
Forest is sort of a sequel to Starfish and Apples and also to Survivors, the result of a spontaneous story-in-a-day duel with RJ Barker. If the setting, of a world dominated by carnivorous trees, appeals, then here’s a taste:
On our second night in the forest, exhausted after a day spent skulking in a fern-shrouded hollow as the trees roused into terrifying activity around us, I stumble over a raised, slime-covered root. Without thinking, I grab hold of a nearby branch. The claw-tree’s thorns pierce my padded glove and my cry of pain echoes through the moonlit wood.
Good luck to the team at The Wyrd. I hope their magazine goes from strength to strength.
The Wyrd Magazine, Issue 1, art by Jonny Lindner.
“Mermaids” by Gustav Klimt
My story “Against the Venom Tide” is now up at the summer edition of Mirror Dance.
At first Osami drifted alone in the cold and the dark, the ache in her chest unbearable, the weight of the seawater above crushing the air from her lungs. But what terrified her most was the dim light far below. Growing brighter. Growing closer.
Because this was a memory as well as a dream.
As mentioned previously, it’s set in the novel-verse of the Heptatheon, with its orbiting god moons and societies dominated by them. Ueldu is just a little more briny than some of the other deities.
Please let me know what you think, either here or on the Mirror Dance site.
My story “The Velna Valsis” is now up at issue #11 of Fantasy Scroll Magazine.
Herr Doktor Ostermann drops the needle. A scratchy hiss fills the decayed splendor of Charlotte’s Viennese apartment. Outside, night is falling and a crowd gathers in the plaza. There are angry shouts — “Murderers! Juden!” — the sound of dogs barking. Charlotte does not know the reason for the commotion, nor does she care; her world has shrunk to the parlor, to Ostermann’s blood-smeared smile as he turns from the gramophone and says, “Shall we dance, meine Liebe?”
“The Velna Valsis” is a dark story. Possibly the darkest I’ve written. All the more dark since it’s obvious the Velna Valsis is still being played and eagerly listened to across the world right now. Its victims and players vary and swap sides, fluid like flame, but the damage left in its wake is unmistakeable.
Someone should really lift the needle.
Inspiration came from a writing prompt featuring a photograph by the talented Robin Cristofari, together with a piece of music by Carlos D’Alessio, his Valse De L’Eden. I paired them up, put D’Alessio’s piano waltz on loop, and a little while later “The Velna Valsis” popped out. The photo is obviously not of late 1930s Vienna, and the music didn’t urge me to indulge in wanton violence, so I’m not quite sure from which strange corner of my mind this story emerged, but that’s often just how it works. At least a couple of readers have mentioned Mikhail Bulgakov. I think one said they were reminded of The Master and Margarita. I’ve not read any Bulgakov so I can’t say whether I agree, but I’ll gladly take it as a compliment.
PS. In case you’re wondering, “Velna Valsis” is Latvian for “Devil’s Waltz”. Why Latvian? No reason other than I liked the sound of it.
My story “In the Belly of the Angel” is now up at new e-zine Metaphorosis. Albino Angel Apes versus Vegan Super Powers, wheee!
It was Full Night, the climax of the two-week Festival of Threll, and the narrow streets of Thranrak heaved with the devout, the curious, and the avaricious. Freya Adinyan plunged past the torch-lit processions and the bustling market stalls, her heart pounding in time to the drums. Tonight she was determined to leave Thranrak and the world of man behind.
“Angel” began as a 17,000 word novelette, a spin-off idea from a novel in progress. Over time the story was topped and tailed, tightened and revised, until it shrank to less than half its original length. Became much better for it. Became the story you can read today.
(And in case you’re wondering: yes, the type of angel and the world described here are the same as featured in my other recently published story, “Dance of the Splintered Hands“.)