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F&SF March/April 2015

Newly anointed editor C. C. Finlay has released the cover and table of contents of the upcoming issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I like it, not least because I have a story in it: “The Mantis Tattoo,” 8700 words, a paleolithic fantasy in which the earliest Homo sapiens encounter a trickster god and an older race.

Here’s the cover:

F&SF March-April 2015


And here is the impressive TOC.  I’m flattered as all heck to be part of this line-up!


  • “What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear” by Bao Shu



  • “A Residence For Friendless Ladies” by Alice Sola Kim
  • “The Mantis Tattoo” by Paul M. Berger



  • “Things Worth Knowing” by Jay O’Connell
  • “La Héron” by Charlotte Ashley
  • “This Is The Way The Universe Ends: With A Bang” by Brian Dolton
  • “Last Transaction” by Nik Constantine
  • “Little Girls In Bone Museums” by Sadie Bruce
  • “A Small Diversion On The Road To Hell” by Jonathan L. Howard
  • “How To Masquerade As A Human Before The Invasion” by Jenn Reese
  • “A User’s Guide To Increments Of Time” by Kat Howard
  • “Bilingual” by Henry Lien



  • Publisher’s Note by Gordon Van Gelder
  • Editorial by C. C. Finlay
  • Books To Look For by Charles de Lint
  • Musing On Books by Michelle West
  • Films: The Faults In Our Stars And Ourselves by Kathi Maio
  • Coming Attractions
  • Curiosities by Paul Di Filippo
  • Cartoons by Bill Long and Mark Heath

Cover By David A. Hardy For “What Has Passed Shall In Kinder Light Appear”


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New York Times “Disunion”: Civil War Submarines

27disunion-blog480My latest piece has been published by the New York Times. “Civil War Submarines” delves in to (no, I’m not going to say depths!) the history of the submarines other than the famous CSS Hunley. As it turns out, the Union Navy was the first to field submersibles during the war, and several at that. In the South, dozens of other submersible craft were planned, started, and tested, with several entering combat.

You can read the article HERE on the New York Times’ website.

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My Eligible Work

As much as I hate doing this, the nominations are currently open for the Hugo Nominations. Members of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Worldcons (voting members) are eligible to nominate works published in 2014 (more details here).

I don’t have a lot of eligible works from 2014 as I was mostly working on Falling Sky but Falling Sky is eligible in the novel category.

Additionally, my short story, “Second Hand”, which appeared in the Dead Man’s Hand anthology is also eligible in the short story category. “Second Hand” can be read in its entirety (or listened to) on the Lightspeed Magazine website.

If you liked either or both of those and felt them worthy of being nominated for a Hugo (and can nominate works) please feel free to do so.


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Default Pessimism in the Nerd Press


This means Earth must have died, right?

Because nothing says “Dead Earth” like an FTL ship.

More default pessimism from the nerd media today. has an article up now titled, “After Earth Falls, Will Interstellar Space Travel Be Our Salvation?

It begins like this:

It may be just a matter of time before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. As astrophysicists and avid science fiction fans, we naturally find the prospect of interstellar colonization intriguing and exciting. But is it practical, or even possible? Or is there a better solution?

When you start an article with the premise that the Earth will fall (not if, but when) and will become uninhabitable (oh, well!), and then proceed to get really super-nerdly excited about space technology, it says to me that you are (a) inhuman, (b) immature, or (c) a fool who lacks imagination. I vote for (d) all of the above. Let me rewrite the title of the article, just so you know what the authors are really saying,:”After Billions of People Die Needlessly in Preventable Cataclysms, Won’t Space Travel Be Really Cool?” 

You can do better Seriously, you can do a hell of a lot better.

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Positive Future vs. the Singularity

Simple solutions, not cosmic ones.

Simple, real solutions, not cosmic ones.

Believing technology may be the solution to many of humankind’s problems is not the same thing as wanting the trans-human Singularity, that modern cultist, nerdist philosophy that believes in 30 years or less technology will progress so quickly that the future will be as unrecognizable to us as an iPhone is to a goldfish. Believing in the revolutionary power of technology is not an either or proposition, i.e. you believe in the Singularity or you’re a Luddite. I’ve seen it suggested that conspicuous consumption and early adoption really only serve to “fill a crushing vacuousness” in our lives. Maybe in that small case. But the vacuousness is only there if you don’t have a clearly defined long-term goal, if your path from dawn to dusk involves going through the motions, without considering the future beyond the next iteration of Star Wars or version 10 point whatever of your favorite video game.

In other words, an empty life is a choice you make, sometimes without knowing you are making a choice.

Technology can be used for good things, if we make that conscious choice. Solar power, electric cars, satellite internet access to under-served areas of the globe so that people can have greater access to educational materials, which in turn will reduce poverty, ignorance, and subsequently war. Supporting technological innovation doesn’t mean buying the latest gadget and throwing it away as soon as the next version comes out. It means understanding that technology has given us a great many good things: clean water, electricity, information, medicine, transportation, insights into the human condition, etc., etc. And technology will continue to improve the lives of many by many orders of magnitude over the next several decades. We can help both the Earth heal and a great many suffering people live better lives with technology without subscribing to a semi-spiritualist, quasi-messianic view of some post-human Singular age.

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There are few moments to an author that are more exciting than the book cover reveal, that moment when you get to show off the fabulous art and design for the book you’ve worked on for so long. Even more exciting is getting to reveal your very first book cover. As I’ve announced recently, I’ve sold a trilogy of books to Darin Bradley at Resurrection House. The first book in the series is King of Shards. The cover design, minus a few small edits, is below. Isn’t it fantastic? The background artwork is by Leon Tukker. The talented young artist is from the Netherlands and is only 22 years old! Check out his portfolio. This kid’s amazing! His artwork is perfect for the cover, really capturing the sense of the book. King of Shards will be out this Fall, 2015.

King of Shards

King of Shards

And here’s what King of Shards is all about:

Across the ineffable expanse of the Great Deep float billions of shattered universes, the Shards. Populated with vengeful demons and tormented humans, the Shards need Earth to survive just as plants need water. Earth itself is kept alive by thirty-six righteous people, thirty-six hidden saints known as the Lamed Vav. Kill but a few of the Lamed Vav and the Earth will shatter, and all the Shards that rely upon it will die in a horrible cataclysm.

When Daniel Fisher is abducted on his wedding day by the demon king, Ashmedai, he learns he is a Lamed Vav, one of the hidden righteous upholding the world. The demon Mashit has usurped the throne of demonkind from Ashmedai and has been systematically murdering the Lamed Vav. On a desert-covered Shard teeming with strange creatures, pursued by a fearsome demon army, Daniel and Ashmedai, saint and demon, must join forces to stop Mashit before she destroys all of existence. Daniel’s survival means he must ally with evil Ashmedai. Yet who but a saint – a Lamed Vav – can save the world?

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3 Authors at HHS Library

Um… Happy New Year?

Sorry for the crickets around here, but I’ve been taking time off to hang out with my new(ish) baby. The Spud  is awesome and busy and exhausting! I’m finally getting back into the writing groove though, and clearing out 2014 (and *gulp* 2013) e-mails in pursuit of Inbox Zero and a fresh start on things. I came across a link to this video from my first post-Spud author event, a panel at Haverford High School Library with Marie Lamba and Ellen Jensen Abbot. We talk a lot about writing, so I thought it would be worth sharing with all the young writers out there.


This was recorded the day after The Silence of Six was published, and shortly after the Spud arrived; I was so tired, I totally forgot to read from the book, but it’s okay, because I talked about why I love libraries instead. (If I say anything too wacky, chalk it up to sleep deprivation.) This was a fun Q&A with some terrific—and unusual—questions. Thanks again to the HHS English Depts and Monica Lalor for producing such a fine video. Enjoy!

ETA: Here’s that post on “Books vs. Babies” that I alluded to in the video.


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Alice K. Turner

Alice K. Turker (photo credit Ellen Datlow)

Alice K. Turker (photo credit Ellen Datlow)

I’m very sorry to hear that Alice K. Turner has passed away Jan 16, 2015. She was the Playboy fiction editor for many years, and before that she worked at New York Magazine and Publishers Weekly.

In 2002 I took a writing class at the New School in Manhattan taught by Alice Turner. I had no idea the class would change my life. Alice’s class was my introduction to the genre. I had always read SF&F, but this was the first time I seriously tried writing some. And I was terrible. But Alice was patient with all the students and even suggested to another writing group that I and one other “showed promise.” And because of that email I joined the Altered Fluid writers group. And later, after going to lots of Fantastic Fiction at KGB events, a reading series that Alice co-founded with Terry Bisson, I met Ellen Datlow, and a few years later was asked to co-host with Ellen. Now, almost thirteen years later, I’ve been nominated for a Nebula, published a few dozen short stories in pro markets, co-host the series that Alice founded, and have a trilogy book series coming out this fall. And all of that — ALL of it — wouldn’t have been possible without that first class I took with Alice. She was always warm and friendly and patient with everyone. When I saw her at various events, a few times at KGB or at the SFWA reception, no matter how much time had passed, she always remembered me and our class and asked how we were doing. I’m very sorry to hear of her passing, and despite not having seen her for a couple of years now, I will miss her very much. Thank you, Alice, for all that you have given.

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I’m Eligible for Awards! And stuff.

2014 was a bit of a crazy wonderful whirlwind for me, writing-wise. It was also incredibly difficult on the personal tip, with some ongoing struggles that are still taking a lot out of me, so to have some bright and shining moments in my writing life made a huge difference. I am so privileged to be part of the marvelous, magnificent community of science fiction/fantasy/horror writers and readers and editors and fanpeople.

I had five pieces of short fiction published in this year. FIVE!! I made some amazing friends, and got to spend extra time with old friends.

Also? Through some cosmic bookkeeping error, I WON THE SHIRLEY JACKSON AWARD!!!

Which brings me to… awards eligibility.

My novelette “We Are The Cloud” was published in Lightspeed in September, and it might be the piece of writing I’m most proud of. It got a bunch of great reviews (and one terrible homophobic one). Also available in an audio version! It is the thing I’m proudest of, so IF ONE WERE SO INCLINED TO VOTE FOR IT FOR ANY AWARD AT ALL, I wouldn’t try to stop you. If you’re a member of SFWA, you can nominate for the Nebulas here.

As for short stories, my award-eligible pieces for 2014 are:

In my unbiased opinion, they’re not bad.

I’m also eligible for the Campbell Award! It’s my second and final year of eligibility. My hero Usman Tanveer Malik even listed me among “excellent writers” who “have emerged on the SF/ Horror scene in the last two years,” and recommended “that you explore all their available stories before nominating your favorite candidate (s).”  In fact, if I had to make a Dream Team Campbell Finalist List, it’d be Usman, Alyssa Wong, Carmen Maria Machado, Henry Lien, Lara Elena Donnelly, Lisa Bolekaja… and, uh… me! … and a bunch of other awesome writers I am sure I am forgetting about. AND I’M SORRY.

So… there’s that. So much great short SFFFH fiction got published in 2014, and I’m excited and honored to be in that mix. And I really appreciate anyone who thinks something of mine is award-worthy!

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The Last of 2014

It’s a new year and yet I was remiss in not posting about some things that happened last year, particularly related to Falling Sky:

I love podcasts and hope to appear on more of them in the future. What’s better than talking with smart, talented, and interesting people? If you have any that you love and would recommend, leave them in the comments.

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