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 Feather Wall

I’ve a new story out! “The Feather Wall” is in Reckoning 3, which is free to read on their website. You can also buy the full anthology rather than waiting to read all the rest of their wonderful 2019 stories as they come out if you would prefer!

Anyway, “The Feather Wall” is about kakapo conservation after the apocalypse. Kakapo, if you don’t know of them, are an extremely endangered flightless parrot from New Zealand. They were getting along fine until humans came, but they’re a bit dopey and hopeless and were easily caught and eaten – not just by humans, but by the cats and ferrets and dogs and so on that humans brought with them. There are only a couple of hundred kakapo remaining, at time of writing, in their predator-free island sanctuaries. Fortunately their numbers are actually going up, thanks to the kakapo conservation programme run by NZ’s Department of Conservation (DOC). If you think about it, the world we live in today is actually post-apocalyptic from the perspective of the kakapo!

Be that as it may, “The Feather Wall” takes place in a time where plague has killed off most people on the planet. Martin, a DOC ranger on Resolution Island, is left trying to preserve his tiny population of kakapo, knowing as he does that when he dies they’ll likely be overrun by the predators he keeps away. It’s a hopeless task, he thinks, but he can’t make himself stop.

I love post-apocalyptic stories, but I’m really fed up with a) their insistence on humans falling into horrible brutish violent behaviour, and b) the rate of sexual assault that’s supposedly justified in the name of preserving the species. Here, the obsession with breeding after apocalypse is directed in a wholly positive way, in ensuring the continuation of the kakapo, and the people who survive the plague have no time for viciousness when there’s conservation to be done! Anyway, here’s a short taster, and please consider buying the antho. It’s full of environmentally-flavoured fiction, and is well worth reading.

“No, I’ll not leave you,” he said, stroking one of the big soft heads. “Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.” They were as good as quarantine, were kakapo. It was as if Resolution had a wall around it of feathers and expectation, a thin wall and a flexible one but one that kept him in regardless. And there was nowhere else for him to be, really. His biology had been ecology and conservation more than anything, his university experience a series of field trips punctuated by lectures, and if there was anyone left out there looking for a cure for plague he’d be pretty bloody useless. Better to stay with the birds and hope that Resolution was isolated enough to keep him healthy, hope that if he caught sick anyway the species barrier would protect them.

They were still, he thought, the more precious population.