Friday, 7 June 2019

Short Story News May 2019

As usual these days, the short story news isn't exactly coming thick and fast.  Apparently it's been six months since I had anything to say on that front!  But I figure I've gathered enough to more than justify a post, especially when there are a couple of seriously exciting bits of news to share.

If we're being honest, the two stories I had out over the Christmas period don't fall into that category.  It was nice to have new work released, but not so much so when both suffered from some rather wonky editing.  In the case of new UK-based cyberpunk magazine Write Ahead, I'm happy to put that down to teething troubles, since my story Glamorous Corpses appeared in the very first issue, and the general quality of the fiction and some lovely design work made the editorial slip-ups easier to ignore - though it was tough not to feel sorry for the author whose story appeared with line breaks inserted after every few words!  But these things happen, right?  And I sincerely hope this little 'zine sticks around, because the presentation is terrific.  There have been a couple more issues since, and I'd tentatively recommend picking them up; I get the impression that the folks behind it were keen to learn from what they hadn't got quite right.

I can't be quite so positive about the Bubble Off Plumb collection that Feral Cat Publishers put out.  Honestly, my hopes for this one were muted after some not-so-great experiences in the run up to its release, and the end result is pretty much what I was expecting - though I hadn't guessed how many of the stories would be by the editorial team, so I guess I can still be surprised!  As with any anthology, there are a few good pieces in there, though most would fare better with less typos.  At any rate, I'm hoping my story Cat and Mouse wasn't a low point, and there's a bit of evidence on that front because - and here we finally get to the legitimately good news portion of this post! - it wasn't long before it got picked up for my first ever best-of.  That would be NewCon Press's Best of British Science-Fiction anthology, which should be out pretty soon, and has one heck of a line-up: you can see the wonderful company I'm in here.

Speaking of great company, a bit of news I think I nodded toward last time but couldn't yet come out with was that I've another story in one of those gorgeous anthologies that Flame Tree Publishing keep creating.  This time it's Step Light, which originally appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.  And as ever, the lineup is a mix of newer and classic fiction, which means that, along with numerous fantastic contemporary authors, I've now been published alongside Oscar Wilde and Fyodor Dostoevsky.  I mean, Fyodor goddamn Dostoevsky!  When you talk about wanting to appear alongside your personal favourite writers, you sort of don't expect it to include your actual literary heroes, but thanks to this series I've done awfully well on that front.  You can find the full lineup here, and if you're curious as to where we contributors that aren't long dead got our ideas from you can learn about that here, or if you'd like to discover a bit about influences and writing practices then that would be here.  Since my author copies are apparently in the post, I'm pretty certain this one's already out to buy, and I can't stress enough how fantastic and beautifully made these books are.

Speaking of classic authors, in a post that's lending itself well to neat links between paragraphs, I have managed to sell at least one original piece in recent months, rare as that's becoming, and if Dostoevsky is one of my all time literary heroes then H. G. Wells absolutely tops that list.  Want to learn how to write short genre fiction?  Then read Wells, because no one has ever done a better job of it.  There aren't many authors I'd write what amounts to fan fiction for, let alone dream of creating an unofficial sequel to one of their best known works, but I love the hell out of Wells and The War of the Worlds is one of my all time favourite novels, and somehow that led to my coming up with The Last of the Martians, a follow-up that also has the temerity to challenge some of the basic assumptions in the one of the great SF novels of all time.  Basically, if you're looking for a pacifist epilogue to a novel that literally has the word "war" right there in the title then I've got you covered.  And it'll be appearing in the A Tribute to H. G. Wells anthology from Belanger Books, somewhere toward the back end of the year, with a Kickstarter campaign coming in the meantime.

Weirdly though, given how exciting all of the above is, the sales I was most thrilled for weren't even in English.  I've had a couple of pieces out in translation - I learned recently that my story Stockholm Syndrome has made it into multiple languages, including Spanish and Korean, courtesy of John Joseph Adams and his terrific The Living Dead anthology - but it was only last year that I actually got directly approached by an overseas publisher.  So for the same to happen twice in rapid succession was definitely a shock.

First came The Only Way Out Lies Farther In, in what I take to be an Italian version of the 'zine in which the story first appeared, The Dark, appropriately named Il Buio.  And that was certainly cool, though they did change the title without asking ... I mean, Il Labirinto is fine and all, but it's not half so wordy and pretentious!  But I can't read Italian, and there's a reasonable chance I won't ever be able to read Italian, whereas I've been learning Japanese for the last year and change and I genuinely do hope that one day I'll be able to work my way through the May 2019 issue of Japanese weird fiction venue Nightland Quarterly, as published by Atelier Third.  I got a request from them out of the blue to use The Way of the Leaves, as featured in my collection The Sign in the Moonlight and Other Stories, and I was hardly about to say no, was I?  I've yet to see a copy, but the cover is cool, and I've already learned that my name in katakana comes out as David Terraman, which is a useful thing to know.

And that's it for the moment, though I've vague hopes of devoting a bit more time to short fiction in the second half of the year, and I'm steadily plugging away at a second collection of horror and dark fantasy, which may or may not eventually see the light of day!  I mean, it will, one way or another, I'm just not sure how I get to that point quite yet...

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