SFF, Short stories

Aftermath: Portobello Blind

There’s a new anthology out that I’ve got a story in. Not a new story, but a reprint. “Portobello Blind” originally appeared in Defying Doomsday from Twelfth Planet Press, an anthology about how disabled people navigate the apocalypse. After the past few years, disaster is on everyone’s mind, and so when Speculative Fiction New Zealand, one of the organisations for speculative writers that exists down here, decided to do an anthology about what happens after a disaster, I thought my story would be a good fit. So it proved to be, and Aftermath: Stories of Survival in Aotearoa New Zealand has recently been published.

As you can probably tell by the title, there’s a lot of Kiwi authors here, and a large portion of the stories are cautiously optimistic. This was by design, I think – there’s enough doom and gloom anthologies out there, but this one is more along the lines of “bad things have happened, let’s see how we can get through it,” which I’ve always thought was a valuable perspective.

In “Portobello Blind,” the heroine is a fourteen year old blind girl who’s left alone at a marine biology lab – her dad went for medicine and never came back. Anna, proving competent at obtaining a diet of shellfish and seaweed, has to contend with something else: a lack of purpose. So, while she waits for other people to turn up and let her know that she’s not the only survivor left, she starts doing science experiments… because when disaster strikes, refusing to curl up and sink into uselessness is an act of simple self-respect.

Horror, SFF, Short stories

Breathless in the Green

I have a new story out! “Breathless in the Green” is available to read in the latest issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It’s the second story I’ve sold to them, and very pleased I was to do it.

“Breathless in the Green” came about because I was looking to write a story about a water monster, possibly using folk tales to do so. And I came across the figure of Ginny Greenteeth, a sort of water hag that hangs round the ponds and stagnant waters of England, pulling kids into the water and drowning them. Now, I’d heard about Ginny before, in the very vaguest sort of way, but what I didn’t realise – and what caught my attention, and made me want to write a story about her – is that “Ginny Greenteeth” is also used to describe duckweed, which is that small, scummy-looking green plant that covers over ponds. You can see where the connection came from. Duckweed could hide how dangerous a body of water is, and a curious child might not take enough care and drown. Over time, such a thing is attributed to the water hag, which is interesting in itself, but duckweed has one particularly stellar property. It’s great for bioremediation, which means it can filter pollutants out of the environment around it.

It’s a very environmentally friendly weed, is what I’m saying… which leads to a very environmentally friendly monster. Oh, the Ginny Greenteeth of my story still wants to drown things, but this time she’s found a friend… a little girl who is sick of going on climate marches because they don’t achieve anything.

There’s a water hag who just might be able to remedy that inaction.

SFF, Short stories

You’re Not the Only One

I have a new short story out! “You’re Not the Only One” is free to read in this month’s issue of Clarkesworld. This is the third story I’ve had out with them, and as always I’m very happy to be there.

“You’re Not the Only One” is a quiet little story about picking yourself back up after disappointment and grief. I saw one review of it which said it was barely science fiction at all, and honestly I think that’s a fair assessment. There’s a science fiction veneer, in that one of the disappointments is from an astronaut whose mission has been postponed, but otherwise it’s two friends trying to cope with their own very different challenges, while doing their best to support the other.

I think one of the things that really interests me about it is the sense of collective responsibility. This is particularly evident when it comes to space travel. It’s exciting, and exploration is a valid goal – a necessary goal, even – but how do you justify the use of resources that could arguably be much better spent? How do you get perspective on the relative levels of importance? My astronaut character would be the first to say that his friend, who is dealing with the loss of a child, is undergoing greater challenges. I won’t say it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself when others have it worse, because that’s not exactly true, but then I also think that compassion is not limited to one grief at a time, and it’s possible to navigate one loss while respecting another’s, and to do it with a bit of dignity. So, it’s a very quiet story. There’s a lot of gardening in it. And a lot of kindness too, I hope.

SFF, Short stories

Reckoning 7 submission call

I’m happy to announce that I’m the guest fiction editor for the upcoming issue 7 of Reckoning. Several years back I sold a story to them – “The Feather Wall” was about kākāpō conservation after the apocalypse – and I’ve kept a close eye on them since then. For someone like me, who writes a lot of ecofiction and climate fiction, Reckoning, with its focus on environmental justice, is one of the most important markets for speculative short fiction out there. So when they invited me to join Tim Fab-Eme (the poetry editor) and Priya Chand (the non-fiction editor) for issue 7, I was delighted.

Together, Tim, Priya, and I have decided on an overarching theme for our issue: the global water system. We’re excited to read submissions for this – they’re open now, and will be until September 22nd.

As I’m reading the fiction submissions for Reckoning 7, I am particularly interested in stories about the global water system, including marine, wetland, and riparian environments. The Earth is a watery planet and the effect of climate change, for example, on sea level rise, marine ecology, and coastal communities is an invitation to explore the oceanic Gothic. I’m also interested in seeing stories that connect water systems and exploration, keeping in mind that historically, exploration has frequently resulted in exploitation. I’d like to see stories that address the many consequences of this, as well as stories about the future of sustainable marine exploration, and the interaction between human and nonhuman species in watery environments. Lastly, please note that stories not on this theme will also be considered so long as they are focused on environmental justice, so don’t self-reject!

Submission guidelines are here.