Sunday, 17 November 2019

Short Story News November 2019

I don't think I can honestly say anymore that it's been a bad year for short fiction, I've had a bit too much stuff out for that; a story a month since back in May, it seems, now that I bother to check!  Okay, it's certainly been among the less profitable, and that does suck when you're trying to keep the wolf from the door, but on the other hand I've had work in some exciting markets, and perhaps, with my focus now almost entirely on novels and novellas, that's the most I can ask for?

For example, it's hard to feel really bad about a year that included my first ever appearance in a best-of anthology; I've mentioned it before, but now that the book's actually out, I guess I get to be excited about NewCon Press's Best of British Science Fiction 2018 collection all over again, and how my story Cat and Mouse is sitting alongside tales by a bunch of the best UK writers working in the genre today.

Mind you, as much as I admire those folks, none of them can hold a candle to my favourite genre author of all time, the mighty H. G. Wells, an author I revere so highly that I basically wrote H. G. Wells fan-fiction in the shape of my (obviously unofficial!) War of the Worlds follow-up The Last of the Martians.  The story was a real labour of love; I only realised how much so when I went to try and sell it and realised how niche it was.  So thank goodness a two-volume anthology of Wells-inspired fiction should come along, and that volume one of A Tribute to H. G. Wells was devoted entirely to Wells's masterpiece.  I'm yet to get my contributor copy, but I had a glance over a friend's and it certainly seems well worth checking out.

Perhaps the thing I'm most excited by, though, is getting another story into Interzone, after my first appearance way back in the January 2014 issue.  I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that Interzone is one of the finest and longest-lived genre magazines on the planet, and it's almost unquestionably the most stunningly presented, so it's a joy to be inside its covers once again.  And I'm all the more glad that it's this story, Parasite Art, a piece I consider to be high among the best science-fiction I've written.  It's also the rare occasion where I use fiction to talk, even obliquely, about creativity; I've always been determined not to do that whole Stephen King "yes, all my protagonists are writers, but they're not me" thing, but I guess I also had some ideas that I really needed to work through around the forcedly collaborative nature of getting art out into the world, and wrapping them up amid crazy far-future SF seemed the most sensible way to go about it.

Speaking of crazy far-future SF - no, that's a rubbish link, my last story isn't crazy at all, it's just desperately bleak.  I've been struggling to unload Life Without Possibility for a long while now, not I don't think because it's rubbish but more likely because it's pretty damn unremitting.  I mean, the protagonist is in prison on multiple life sentences, for very deserved reasons, and they're if anything the victim of what takes place, something made worse by the fact that the society they inhabit imagines it's doing them a favour.  I've always been intrigued by notions of forgiveness and repentance and how that ties in (or totally doesn't) with how our punitive systems function, and this story digs into some of the least comfortable aspects of those themes.  It's not fun, but hopefully it's thought-provoking, and I was pleased indeed when UK 'zine Write Ahead / The Future Looms agreed to take it off my hands.  This is my second appearance there, after having a piece in their debut issue, and I'm pleased to report that the teething troubles I mentioned back then have definitely been sorted.  This time around was a good experience, the end result is beautifully presented, and I'm happy to recommend these guys as an exciting market to check out, both from a writerly and a readerly perspective.  Seriously, take a look!  Here's some links...

Write Ahead / The Future Looms
A Tribute to H. G. Wells anthology (on Amazon)
The Best of British Science Fiction 2018 (on Amazon)
Interzone 284 (on Amazon)


  1. A nice, cool little plug for your stories. And why not? They're your stories, they've been published and you *should* shout about it. 🙂
    You know I've not read Interzone for years. But I think I'll have to chase this one up.
    And also Write Ahead/Future Loons. Your story sounds really intriguing. I wonder if it will disturb me as much as the Black Mirror episode White Bear? 🤔

    1. I mean, if I don't talk about this stuff, it really will just end up being nothing but anime reviews around here! And I really am going to have to watch some Black Mirror one of these days, aren't I?