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!

 

 

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.

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.