Articles, Poetry, SFF, Short stories

Reckoning 7

I have a new book out! Or, more honestly, I am one of a number of people who have contributed to a new book being out. Reckoning, which published creative work on environmental justice, was kind enough to let me sign on as fiction editor for their issue 7, along with Priya Chand (nonfiction editor) and Tim Fab-Eme (poetry editor). Together the three of us, with the help of a number of excellent editorial readers, put together this year’s issue of Reckoning, which we themed around oceans and the global water system.

Each of the several dozen pieces that we picked will be available to read for free online throughout the year. You can see the menu and the publication schedule here. If you’d like to purchase the entire wonderful issue, however, the ebook is available now, and the print release is scheduled for July; details are at the link. There’s over 250 pages of excellent writing there! And that cover, Drua, by Elsie Andrewes, is gorgeous.

Speaking of the fiction writers included in this issue… their work is incredible. From the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the local swimming hole, from dolphins and sharks and burials at sea, these are hopeful stories of people working to make our watery world a more just and sustainable place. Please take a look.

Horror, SFF, Short stories


I have a new story out! It actually came out a couple of months back, but I’m still playing catch-up here. “Chickenfoot” is available to read in the anthology Into the Forest: Tales of the Baba Yaga, edited by Lindy Ryan from Black Spot Books.

When I saw the call for stories for this I knew I had to send something in. Not, I have to admit, because I’ve got any great love for Baba Yaga. But her house… that’s different. I’ve always found the house fascinating! The way it stalks about on its chicken legs. Any why a chicken? Let’s face it, hens have many marvelous qualities, but if I’m going to stick bird legs on a house a chicken is not the animal that immediately comes to mind. (What does come to mind? I’m not even sure. I suppose it depends what kind of environment the house is traveling through. If it’s swampy you’d want a water bird, and so on.)

That’s what inspired the story. The chicken in “Chickenfoot” is dead, and Baba Yaga’s looking for a replacement. She keeps a diary of her experiments, and they do not go well.

“Chickenfoot” isn’t a very long story; it’s not that much bigger than a flash, I think. I’m tempted to keep going with it, however… add more birds, and more creepiness, and bring out the backstory of the chicken. A project for the future, maybe.

Papers, SFF

Image and the Tree in Middle-Earth

I have a new paper out! “Image and the Tree in Middle-Earth” came out in issue 23 of the BFS Journal. Technically it came out a couple of months ago, but it doesn’t quite feel real as the issue, while posted, hasn’t arrived here yet. It takes an age to send things to New Zealand! (When my most recent book came out, and my Canadian publisher sent me copies, they took five months to get here.) I don’t know why the postal system’s so very slow, but I’d like to post this in the same year the paper was published, so here we are.

I actually wrote the paper over a decade ago, I think, in a class on fantasy literature. It stayed, in its school-draft form, on my hard drive for ages before I decided to pull it out and see if I could make it publishable. I sent it off to the good people at BFS Journal, who have published some of my academic work before, and happily they took it – but they also took it before the new Tolkien tv series came out, so if you’re expecting any mention of that in there, don’t.

It was a fun paper to write, in that my primary research was reading Tolkien over and over again (such a chore!) and I do that anyway, so it was killing two birds with one stone. How tree imagery reflects throughout Middle-Earth, and how it reflects historical tree imagery in Europe, is a particularly interesting topic, at least it is for me, so I’m glad to be able to share it.

SFF, Short stories


I have a new story out! “Older” is free to read in issue 17 of The Deadlands. It’s my first time appearing in that market, but hopefully not the last.

It’s only a very short story, barely more than a flash, but it was still interesting to write (and, I hope, to read). As can probably be guessed from the title, The Deadlands is particularly interested in stories about death, which gives a lot of narrative possibilities. “Older” interprets this theme through ghosts and extinction, as the narrator is confronted with her own Neanderthal ancestry. How do you engage with the dead, when they exist, still, in your own body? Admittedly, we see this every day, as people lose their parents or grandparents, and look into the mirror and see the pieces of themselves that they shared with them.

I suppose it’s not really that different: having your mother’s eyes, having your great-how-ever-many-mother’s DNA. Because the Neanderthals are not entirely gone… they interbred with early modern humans and that genetic inheritance can still be found in many of us.

It seemed like a fascinating idea for a story!

Papers, SFF

SA After Apocalypse

I have a new paper out! It’s only the second time I’ve co-written a paper, but this was a particularly easy experience, writing it as I was with Ryn Yee, who is currently a grad student at the Centre for Science Communication at Otago University, which is where I got my PhD. Ryn and I are both big speculative fiction fans, and when we saw that the SFRA Review had a call for papers for a special symposium on sexual violence and science fiction… well, to be honest, I noped out of that one pretty quickly. It’s not a subject matter I was particularly interested in exploring.

But then Ryn and I got chatting, which quickly became ranting, about a shared hatred of that worst of science fiction tropes: repopulating the world after apocalypse. Rarely have I seen this trope handled in an appealing way. More often, it’s used as a narrative “justification” (and I use the term very loosely) to excuse a constant assault on women and girls.

I hate these storylines. Ryn hates them too. If the subject matter didn’t initially inspire us, spite and the opportunity to rip this stupid trope to shreds had us writing a paper that was, I’m happy to say, accepted. The paper, “Sexual Assault After Apocalypse: The Limited Logic of Natural Selection” is free to read with the rest of the symposium articles here. Please read with care, as it’s a horrible topic.

I shall probably never write about it again. Once was enough. I’d happily co-author another paper with Ryn, though, because they were excellent to work with. Thanks, Ryn!