SFF, Short stories

Border Run

I have a new story out! It came out last month, actually, but I’m still playing catch-up with the blog, so better late than never. “Border Run” is free to read in the September issue of Clarkesworld.

It’s one of a very loosely linked set of stories of mine about life in a world after the ocean ecosystem has almost entirely collapsed. Consequently New Zealand, down at the bottom of the world, has reinvented itself as a place where conservation, particularly marine conservation, is the primary national ethos, and the stories go from there. It’s technically post-apocalypse, I suppose, in that the world these stories take place in is solidly set after global environmental disaster has taken place on an apocalyptic scale, but I wanted it to be an optimistic, cooperative response to apocalypse more than anything else.

That’s less evident in this story, admittedly, as it deals with overfishing. Even now, foreign fishing vessels occasionally turn up in our waters when they shouldn’t, but in a hypothetical world that’s starving due to ecological collapse, such incursions may well be more common. This isn’t a happy story, particularly, but I’m going for thoughtful and nuanced (alongside the killer mermaids) so hopefully that’s worked out to some extent.

SFF, Short stories

Pollen and Salt

I have a new story out! Well, it came out a couple of months back, but I’m playing catch-up here. “Pollen and Salt” is available in the July/August issue of Asimov’s. I’ve had a few people contact me to say nice things about it, which is lovely, as it’s something of an experiment on my part.

The story, you see, doesn’t have much of a plot. It’s more a mood piece, set in the near-distant future, where a scientist is studying pollen at the edge of a rising ocean – pollen in salt marshes, mud flats, littoral spaces and so forth. The pollen is a record of past vegetation, and as they work the scientist is mourning their partner, who has recently died. It’s a meditation on change, more than anything else, and I was trying to create a story that was sad and quiet and still very aware of the beauty and potential of that new world, even when the parts of it that were loved are gone. Also, there’s a goose.

So, something of an experiment on my part! I don’t know that I’ll write a lot more stories like this in the future, but I worked on this one for several years, and I’m genuinely pleased with the result. If you can, please take a look!

 

 

Articles, SFF

To Bear Witness

I have a new article out! To be honest, it came out a couple of months ago but I’m behind on updating this site, so better late than never. “To Bear Witness: The Polar Bear as Refugee in Speculative Fiction” came out in the August issue of Clarkesworld.

I am fascinated by polar bears, mostly because I live on the other side of the world from them and so that fascination is not modified by their actual presence, which must surely be terrifying. And because that fascination is accompanied by a love of dreadful horror films, a fairly wide reading habit, and an awareness of climate change, I’d quietly noted to myself several speculative texts which presented the polar bear in a very specific way. As the climate changes, polar bears migrate, and when that migration puts them in conflict with human activity… well, let’s just say I’m expecting to see more polar bear horror films in the future. And not just horror films: polar bears are a charismatic species, and seeing them and their possible futures popping up in literary fiction and poetry as well as film is likely to be increasingly common.

Anyway, it was a fun little article to write, albeit on something fairly obscure as literary observations go, and it’s free to read so if you like polar bears too it might be worth checking out.

Papers, Poetry

The Ghosts of Coastlines Past

I have a new paper out! “The Ghosts of Coastlines Past: Eco-Poetry and the Oceanic Ecological Gothic” has been published in volume three of Gothic Nature, which was themed around “Haunted Shores.”

There’s a lot of ways for shores to be haunted. Shipwrecks, for example, and drownings. But I’d been reading a lot of poetry around about the time I sent in an abstract for this, and I was interested in the idea of hauntings that hadn’t yet happened… the hauntings we’re in the process of creating now. That haunting is rather more scientific than spectral. It came out of a news article, too – down in Wellington, where I used to live, are little blue penguins, and they’re lovely wee things. But in a recent breeding season, a third of the chicks died. The cause of death was starvation. The warming waters of the harbour had affected their food supply, and the penguins died. Awful, isn’t it? Climate change is affecting our oceans, so what are our future coastlines going to look like? What absences are we creating, what potential for ghosts?

Some of the poetry collections I was reading addressed this in one or more of their poems, such as Jorie Graham’s Sea Change. Some, like Gabriel Ojeda-Sagué‘s Losing Miami, took a cultural approach, addressing the future loss of entire cities.

The possibilities of future ghosts, I thought, were immense. So I wrote the paper, and the entire issue is free to read online here, should you be so inclined. Thank you to the editors and the poets for their incredible work!

SFF, Short stories

Resist: The Stone Wētā

I have another reprint out! My short story “The Stone Wētā,” which originally appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, has appeared in an anthology from Lonely Cryptid Media. That anthology is Resist with Every Inch and Every Breath, and it’s edited by Dan Michael Fielding. There’s twelve different stories and poems in the book, or so I understand, and given the theme it’s sure to be an interesting read.

The call for submissions went out a year or two back, when we were all in the beginning stages of pandemic, and one of the potential ways to explore the theme was the impact of politics on science. I’m sure we can all remember (or are even still being exposed to) the anti-science lunacy of certain people, many of whom were in positions of power that their intelligence frankly did not merit. I’ve been interested in the intersection between science and politics for a while now, and so, although it wasn’t about the pandemic itself, I was reminded of this story, which had come out a couple of years earlier.

“The Stone Wētā” was influenced by news stories about scientists preserving climate data across borders, in the face of hostility from anti-science governments. The fear was that the data would be destroyed, or access to it limited, and I’m sorry to say that fears of this type of censorship were not wholly unfounded. Anyway, I sent in the story, and Dan was kind enough to take it, and now you can read it (and eleven others!) in Resist with Every Inch and Every Breath.