November 16, 2018

Wow, some year, huh?

I pretty much stopped submitting short stories in spring to focus on the novel I was working on, which worked out about as well as I’d expected (that is, I kept stalling out on it and yelling bad words and then when I worked out what wasn’t working out it was the end of August and my self-imposed deadline was the end of September and I still got it in). But before I stopped, I did have stories accepted to a few venues, so yay! Here they are in chronological order, plus a plug for my novella (self-pubbed, so I assume not eligible for any awards, but BUY MY BOOK, YOU MIGHT LIKE IT, A LOT OF PEOPLE DID, I AM MILDLY HORRIFIED).

ETA: Making this list, I discovered that to find anything written about any of my stories this year, I had to search at least three spellings of my last name (the correct one, Mohamad, and Mohammed). Sigh.

‘More Tomorrow’ — Automata Review, March 13, 2018. 3770 words. A paleontologist gets temporarily stuck in the early Devonian, scratches out a living with roasted trilobites, gets attacked by synapsids, bitches about funding and eggs benedict, frets about her lost coworker, and… well, you’ll just have to read it to see if she gets out of it. One of the most Premicular things I think I’ve ever written, plus by some miles the story I thought was too silly to sell! 😀

And yet, shouted out here by A. Merc Rustad

Here on Metafilter

Here by Marissa Lingen (who I actually met in October, which was thrilling!)

Here on Barnes and Noble’s SFF short story blog, by Maria Haskins

Here by Lady Business

I would be super excited to discover that a story like this could win an award, if it’s eligible for anything, so who knows. Antennae crossed! 🙂 {{}}<

‘At the Hand of Every Beast’ — Lackington’s, May 16, 2018. 3790 words. A paradoxically infernal cathedral runs amuck across the fourteenth-century French countryside; a peasant boy tries to solve the mystery and halt the beast, even if he cannot save its creator. Written in haste, submitted hours before the deadline, and accepted hours later! I’m proud of this one, and was planning to read it at the convention I attended in October (but it didn’t work out, but anyway I don’t know how to pronounce any French words so that was probably for the best). This got a wonderful reception on Twitter too, and particularly from my fellow ToCmates, so that was nice. 🙂

And associated Q&A here!

Quick Sips by Charles Payseur review here!

‘For Each of These Miseries’ — ‘Dies Infaustus’ anthology, July 19, 2018. 7400 words. In an undersea military research fortress, a young scientist works with — or is it against? — an old family friend and his paranoid and exhausted crew to figure out what keeps attacking the fortress before it’s too late. I absolutely love this story (even though it’s a bit of a trainwreck: a gender-swapped Beowulf with Lovecraftian monsters, but underwater, look, don’t ask me, I was tired) and thought that because of its length it would never be picked up. I’m so sad the
anthology didn’t get more attention, because it’s actually pretty dang good. Not very long, but nicely curated.

‘Shepherd Moon’ — Analog, August 2018. 6400 words. In the near future, a privately contracted astronaut is booted into space very much against her inclination to perform a personnel retrieval mission… but when she discovers who she’s retrieving, the mission becomes nearly impossible. A personal story and very much one of my heart, so I don’t know why it ended up getting expressed in a Ye Olde Spaceship Story (???), but whatever. I don’t think people liked it, generally, but it is also the only short story I’ve ever written that got an emailed fan letter that was so nice I teared up, and I’ll probably remember that for the rest of my life. 😀

My Q&A with Analog is here!

Short review at Reviews and Robots

Quick review at SFRevu

Ditto at Tangent

For some reason, Thea and the rest of the crew, as well as Luckett Newman from ‘The Stillness,’ are on this Wikipedia list of Fictional Astronauts

‘Below the Kirk, Below the Hill’ — ‘Broad Knowledge 2: Women Up To No Good’ anthology, November 2018. 3920 words. (OK, this isn’t chronological any more, but the pre-order link must have been up early, or… or something.) Set in the world of ‘The Evaluator’ and ‘Willing,’ a self-proclaimed crotchety lighthouse operator somewhere on the coast ends up taking in a young shipwreck victim, and becoming entangled with the local witch as well as the local gods. This is rapidly becoming my favourite universe to write in (I’m working on another short story set there now).

‘The Time Between Time’ — Shoreline of Infinity 13, September 2018. 4360 words. One hot and boring summer, a young girl’s life is enlivened by the sudden appearance of an alien window in the tree in her backyard — but at what cost? This was meant to be a small, sliceof-life sci-fi, and I’m pleased with the way it turned out. Notable also for the only time I’ve ever been published in a venue twice because generally, once I’ve been published somewhere, I’m too embarrassed (or something?) to submit again. Also, set in Edmonton, yoooooo shout-out to the aspen parkland ecoregionnnn and local treeeeees

‘Not Our Place’ — ‘The Internet Is Where the Robots Live Now’ anthology, November 2018. 1580 words. Old friends gather at a school reunion… but the school was for robot butlers, and is it a slightly weird coincidence that an awful lot of them ended up working for supervillains? I confess, I was a bit in love with my own (then-perceived) cleverness at the twist in this one, even though it’s actually kind of a sad and horrible one. We can all say ‘We were just following orders’ as much as we like, but what does it mean when it’s a robot? What responsibility do supervillains — or superheroes — have for those orders, in the end?

‘Some Solace for Thy Woes’ — Augur Magazine Issue 1.3, November 15, 2018. 5240 words. In a world where you don’t need to work to live, some still work for pleasure, and a writer takes it upon himself to write an essay on a recently-deceased acquaintance, starting by interviewing his oddly cagy widow. As I mentioned on Twitter, this is a heavy, heavy story for me. It’s loaded with things I meant to say and didn’t, with things the characters might be thinking; no one seems to know their own motivations, or if they do, they distrust them; it’s very much a grown-up sci-fi story, and a sci-fi story about grownups, and about a very, very prosaic disaster. I love it and I simultaneously think it’s the least Premicular thing I’ve ever written. I fully expect people to hate it, and I feel so serene about this it’s kind of weird. Maybe I’m developing one of those writerly thick skins or something? 😀

And, though I’m sure it doesn’t count,

‘The Apple-Tree Throne’ — self-published, August 14, 2018. 28,000 words. In the brave new world of the Greater Republic of Britannia, the monarchy has been abolished, steam-trams and carts tootle along the streets, and a young soldier has returned from war wounded, unhappy, at loose ends… oh, and haunted, of course, by a literal ghost. This has turned out to be one of those things where the people for whom it was written truly ended up loving it, which is one of the most gratifying things ever; and the people for whom it was not written ended up saying ‘But it’s too stiff! It’s too stylized! Nothing happens!’ (I know. That’s the point. The style has to fit the story, or else — well, what does Ursula tell us? ‘The story is not in the plot but the telling.’) I knew it wasn’t ‘commercial’ enough to sell; it’s not scary enough for horror, there’s not enough action for military, insufficient speculative elements for fantasy, not enough alternative tech for sci-fi, and not enough subversiveness for steampunk. Hell, with a single (1) smooch, there isn’t even enough action, arguably, for romance. It’s a little book that slid between every genre and fetched up happily in the backwaters of selfpublishing, as I had always thought it would. Later, I still want to release a paperback edition with illustrations. One day, one day!

Other exciting things, unrelated to awards!

– ‘The Adventurer’s Wife’ was featured on the Lovecraft Re-Read this year!
– ‘The Evaluator’ was chosen by Ellen Datlow as an Honorable Mention on the Best Horror of2017 list, which is truly a huge, huge honour; and it got a nice write-up here by Grey DogTales! Still one of my favourite stories of all time that I’ve ever had published; I think about it constantly and still with unalloyed delight. If anything I wrote ever won anything, I would love the most for it to be this one, I think. I know, I know — writers are supposed to hate their stuff and think it’s shit. Believe me, there’s a lot of that, too. But I also happen to think you’re allowed to love shit, especially if it’s your own, so there.

Anyway, all done! I thought I didn’t do much this year, apparently I was wrong, oy vey. But there it all is for those who might feel like nominating and/or voting

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