Sunday recs: Hopeful fiction

The world’s been an awful place lately, so I think it’s a good time to read some hopeful fiction. So here are three such stories:

Songbird by Shveta Thakrar (in Flash Fiction Online): a gorgeous tale about music and identity, about the freedom to be who you are.

Prudence and the Dragon by Zen Cho (in The World SF Blog) this is just so ridic charming! I love Zen Cho’s writing (I highly recommend her short story collection Spirits Abroad!), and this story is no exception. I love the London-ness of this tale too: so very very London in atmosphere. “Prudence and the Dragon” made me laugh out loud several times and is just so warm-hearted. And has a female friendship at its core.

Iron Aria by A. Merc Rustad (in Fireside Fiction): what a wonderful, hopeful secondary-world fantasy story! I love how well Merc handles all the intersections of identity in this. The worldbuilding is fascinating (and so rich for a short story) and the characters really come alive.

Advertisements

An Alphabet of Embers is out!

An Alphabet of Embers cover art by Galen Dara

An Alphabet of Embers cover art by Galen Dara

An Alphabet of Embers is now out in print form! Yaaay!

I’ve read AoE as an e-ARC, and while I am obviously biased, I’m also just stunned by how awesome this anthology is. The wonderful Rose Lemberg and the editorial team have done such a great job in arranging these strange tales, like a variety of luminous beads on a string.

And the art! The cover art, by Galen Dara, really captures the tone of the anthology with its eerieness and luminosity. And the interior art by Likhain! Aaah, I can’t wait to get my print contributor copy so that I can savour Likhain’s art bigger than it was on my ereader screen. She is one of my favourite contemporary artists.

From my dream diary

From my dream diary

I’m very proud of my contribution to the anthology, “The City Beneath the Sea”. This small story has a rather unusual origin (for me): it was actually a dream I had. Not all of it, of course – but I did dream the basic form of the story on 19 January 2013 (the pic above is from my dream diary). I added characters, an ending and made things more grounded – but it’s rather remarkable that the core elements were all there in the dream. Thanks, subconscious! I ended up writing the story in one day, in autumn 2014, inspired to check out my dream diary by the call for submissions for AoE. “The City Beneath the Sea” is one of those rare stories that flowed quick and easy from start to finish.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have other pro fiction sales since, but AoE was my first, and what a wonderful place for a first sale! I highly recommend this anthology – the quality and breadth of stories is wonderful.

Story sale to Strange Horizons

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve sold a story to Strange Horizons: “Water, Birch, and Blood” will be appearing in SH’s special issue Our Queer Planet.

“Water, Birch, and Blood” is about family, memory, and loss; it’s got echoes of my own memories in it, through the setting (a Finnish summer cabin). I can’t wait for you to get to read it.

Alphabet of Embers review

An Alphabet of Embers launches this week, at the Nebula Awards! And here’s a lovely review of it, in which the reviewer Christina lists my story “The City Beneath the Sea” among those they particularly appreciated:

“Embers maintains a consistent and cohesive feel throughout: it stories are literary and poetic, with a fluidity of style and theme that borders on slipstream and the surreal”

Also, what a wonderful site: befitting its name, Books and Tea reviews both books and tea. Now that is totally my kind of thing!

Sunday recs: Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers

Long time no rec on the blog – I’ve been posting occasional recs on Twitter, but this blog has been quiet.

But now — it’s Mothers’ Day in Finland, and how better to celebrate than by recommending a creepy story?

Alyssa Wong’s Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers (in Nightmare Magazine, originally published in the Queers Destroy Horror! special issue) is an amazing, disturbing story. I don’t usually go for horror, but this story just really works, gave me the chills. The interpersonal relationships (including a mother-daughter relationship) are essential in this. And what a great ending!

“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” is also a Nebula, Shirley Jackson, Bram Stoker and Locus Award finalist, so go and read it now if you haven’t already! Alyssa is also (well-deservedly) a finalist for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Sunday recs

Three powerful stories this Sunday:

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers, by Alyssa Wong (on Tor.com). This story about weather-bending sisters and apocalypses is quite personally painful for me. But good, so good! Not an easy story, but very much worth the read.

Makeisha in Time, by Rachael K. Jones (in Crossed Genres). Such a fantastic story! It packs a lot of plot and character into a short space. I’m not the biggest fan of time travel stories, but this one does very interesting things with the notion.

And last, something far happier in tone: This is Not a Wardrobe Door, by A. Merc Rustad (in Fireside). This delightful tale about travelling between worlds, loss, and friendship is a great riff on Narnia-esque world-travel.

An Alphabet of Embers update!

Aaasdgjhsdg I got my pre-release contributor ebook copy of Alphabet of Embers (ed. by Rose Lemberg)! The official print and ebook launch will be on the Nebula awards weekend, 12-15 May. The book has a Goodreads page already!

I just. Incoherence and happiness, right now. I reread my story (it’s in an actual book! along with contributions from some amazing authors who I really look up to! and the art is so amazing!) and felt a bit astonished that I’d written something that beautiful.

An Alphabet of Embers was my first professional fiction sale (and so far, my only; but I certainly hope it won’t remain my last!). And what a first! I feel so awed to be part of something this cool. This book jumped up to the top of my TBR pile – I can’t wait to get to read everyone else’s stories.

I’ll tell you more about my story once the anthology is officially out.

Sunday recs: Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse

Rose Lemberg is a wonderful writer (and editor! but I’m concentrating on her writing here). I’ve recced many things by her in the past too: she writes beautiful poetry full of word-magic, for instance.

But today, I want to highlight two stories from Rose that I’ve recently read and loved. These are both set in the same world, Birdverse: a world where magic is based on language and geometry in fascinating ways.

First, Geometries of Belonging, in the October 2015 issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I read this story yesterday, and was blown away by it. It’s a long novelette – so, there’s plenty of time to get immersed. And oh my heart, how immersed I was. The narrator, Parét, is struggling with his own issues within the broader context of the story, and he felt so delicate and fully realised. I ached for him. So many complex characters in this novelette, and complex cultural and political situations that act as a background to the events. It was great to read about an autistic character who is portrayed with such sensitivity and nuance, too. The story also features polyamory, a complex dom/sub relationship, trans and nonbinary characters… wonderful to see such a variety of sexual expressions and gender in a story! This wasn’t the lightest of tales to read – the various societal oppressions and people’s own locks and problems do not make for a happy-go-lucky atmosphere. But Geometries of Belonging is a hopeful story, definitely. And an important one.

Then for something different, to show how varied Rose Lemberg’s Birdverse tales are: The Desert Glassmaker and the Jeweler of Berevyar, published in the newest issue of Uncanny Magazine. This is a happy story – ah, marvellously joyful and hopeful, though not without conflict. It’s written in an epistolary format, which is something that I really enjoy. Two artists meet and share their art, and more. Rose always writes exquisitely, but the language here is really something special. The words in these particular arrangements sparkle like jewels, like shimmering shards of coloured glass.

Sunday recs: strange bees

The smallest of recs but an utterly gorgeous one — a tiny story that I just read on Strange Horizons:

Telling the Bees by T. Kingfisher. Poetic, strange and utterly wonderful. Such a short read that you’ve no excuse not to feast on its juicy word-goodness right away!