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.

SFF, Short stories

The Lending Library of Final Lines

I have a new story out! “The Lending Library of Final Lines” is free to read online at The Dark. I’ve had a few stories in The Dark now, and I always appreciate being published there – they routinely have stories that I wish I’d written myself, so I’m always excited to see what’s in their new issues.

“The Lending Library of Final Lines” is one of a short series of stories set in the same world, including “The Better Part of Drowning” and “The Ouroboros Bakery.” The setting is a fantastical street constantly threatened by magic and giant carnivorous crabs. Most of what I write is science-based climate fiction, or something along those lines, so these stories are a sort of palate cleanser for me. Just something completely different, because if I write the same thing all the time I get a bit bored. It’s a chance to play, too, with all sorts of characters.

Clytie, the protagonist of “Lending Library,” is incurious, indifferently violent, and about as far from my usual scientist-type of character as you can get. Magical streets have retail workers too, and they exploit them as well. Even so, Clytie’s better off than some. At least she’s out of reach of the crabs…

SFF, Short stories

Year’s Best Aotearoa SFF

I have a new story out! Well, an old story. “Otto Hahn Speaks to the Dead,” originally published in The Dark, has been reprinted in the Year’s Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction & Fantasy, Volume 3 from Paper Road Press. That’s a mouthful of a title, I know, but the series itself is great. I’ve been lucky enough to have a story in each of the three volumes of the past three years, and it’s fantastic to be sharing page space with so many of the other speculative writers living in New Zealand.

So much credit should go to Paper Road Press here. It’s a small publisher in Wellington, New Zealand, and it is doing more than any other NZ publisher to support speculative fiction by Kiwi writers. There was no regular speculative anthology series here (that I’m aware of, at least) before Paper Road started putting them out, and each anthology has been beautifully curated and presented. I imagine writers living in countries like the US and the UK experience this sort of thing regularly, but we’re a small country with an even smaller publishing industry, and books like this really matter to us.

So thanks, Paper Road Press! I really appreciate your work.

SFF, Short stories

Scales, Tails, and Hagfish

I have a new story out! It’s a novelette called “Scales, Tails, and Hagfish,” and it can be found in the anthology Middle Distance, edited by Craig Gamble and published by Victoria University Press. You might imagine from the book title and cover that this is a book about running, but you would be wrong. (The likelihood of my contributing to a book about running is just slightly lower than me actually running, and the chances of that are already infinitesimal.) No, the “middle distance” here is actually a reference to word count. This is an anthology of novelettes – specifically, an anthology of novelettes from New Zealand writers that are all approximately 10,000 words in length. A novelette can get up to 17,500 words, if you use the SFWA definition and I do, so you can see that it’s on the shorter side of the form, but still. Novelettes.

I love novelettes. The older I get the less patience I have for reading long form, so anything short gets extra points from me. I knew, when I saw the submission call, that I had to send something in. That something, I am almost sorry to say, was batshit lunacy.

“Scales, Tails, and Hagfish” is about an extremely unpleasant little girl who wants to be a mermaid. Loretta, in fact, is certain that she is a mermaid, and she doesn’t let technicalities like having legs instead of a fish tail stop her. Loretta’s unfortunate partner in delinquency is an otherwise well-behaved boy named Jeremy, who has severe allergies and a resulting level of snot production that convinces Loretta that he is a hagfish in disguise. They are almost friends, if only because no-one else will put up with either of them.

I actually enjoyed writing this novelette so much I’ve expanded it into a middle grade novel, Loretta and the Hagfish, which I’m currently shopping around. Fingers crossed!

Articles, Science

Strigops habroptilus

I have a new article out! “Strigops habroptilus – Kākāpō” is in Becoming Feral, a bestiary project from Object-a Creative Studio, supported by The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and the University of California, Santa Cruz. If you’ve ever met me and been foolish enough to enter into the topic of academic publishing, you’ll know that I have opinions, so when I saw this project, which is a strange (but hopefully accessible) attempt at producing specifically creative research, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.

Becoming Feral is an exploration of ferality as it relates to the interactions between humans and nonhuman animals. Participants had to pick an animal and create a bestiary entry for them that fulfilled that brief. A lot of those entries – including mine – are primarily written, but there are also some multimedia entries that you can take a look at for free online.

I chose to write a short article on the kākāpō, a flightless parrot endemic to Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s very endangered here; at the time I wrote this post there were only 201 left alive. Unfortunately, in 2019 (the year before COVID-19 came to NZ) the kākāpō had their own pandemic. Nearly five percent of the entire kākāpō population died; many had to be isolated from the disease in order to survive. Some had to undergo nebuliser treatment to support their respiration, as contagious spores were attacking their lungs, and the only nebulisers small enough were ones designed for kids. The crossover in pandemic experience, then, was something I found really interesting – what was the feral organism here? The kākāpō, who by the end were helping to weigh themselves in the quarantine facilities provided for them, or the spores that were killing them?