This is what the apocalypse looks like

Yesterday we had two interviews and a guest post all go live!

  • Quick Questions – Octavia Cade and Joanne Merriam of Women Up To No Good, from Charles Payseur. For me dark fiction is inextricably linked to temptation, to identification with the wrong. It’s one thing to know that poisoning is immoral in broad daylight, and quite another to be brought to feel, though fiction, that poison can be an excusable and tempting thing. It’s a temporary identification, perhaps, but I tend to think that deliberately acknowledging our own capacity for identification with evil is a form of inoculation towards it. In that way horror can be a very empowering genre – at its best, it’s all about self-knowledge and perseverance in the face of failure.
  • Interview with Joanne Merriam, editor of Broad Knowledge, from Sarena Ulibarri. When I’m selecting stories, I try to read blind by saving all of the stories under their titles and removing author identities. Of course, it’s never entirely blind because I can recognize some writers’ voices, but I make the attempt, which means that I have to address diversity in my submissions pool before I get to that largely-blind selection stage.
  • GUEST POST: How A Small Press Is Born, from Alexa at A Thousand Worlds. We’re living in interesting times in the book industry. Issues like monopoly power and predatory pricing, piracy, authors’ rights, and fair compensation are all coming to the forefront. Opportunities to interact in new ways are growing as technology matures. Writers can contact readers more directly. Readers can become book critics with tools like NetGalley. And tiny publishers like me can use tools like Kickstarter to reach readers directly and ask for pre-orders so they can pay their writers professional rates without going bankrupt.

On to our feature!

Today we feature two stories of sisters conspiring to do magic with disastrous results.

In Anahita Eftekhari’s “A Fool’s Feast,” two sisters are expected to go hungry when their brother shows up with his bride and her whole family (“I closed my eyes, counted to five, and opened them again. But they were still there. Car after car. A whole herd of them. Men and women inside. Kids too. My brother’s bride’s people.”) and their mother doesn’t have enough food—so they “help” with a little magic they inherited from their dead father.

In Vida Cruz’s “Blushing Blue,” two sisters use magic to replace their dead mother and comfort their grieving father. Vida Cruz writes:

In 2013, a Category 5 typhoon called Haiyan swept across central Philippines, leaving thousands dead in its wake. I was working as an online journalist-editor at the time, and my job required me to monitor the television for news. The torn roofs, leveled buildings, the bodies floating in filthy water, and an interview with a man who walked six hours while carrying his dead daughter made me think this, this is what the apocalypse looks like. Fast forward a few months later, at the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop in San Diego, I still couldn’t get all that destruction out of my head. Combined with a classmate’s excellent tattoo of a galleon sailing the seas, I tried to exorcise every image of that watery hell with tattoo magic during my fifth week story, which turned out to be “Blushing Blue.” I let it sit for a few years because, after all that time, Haiyan was still too fresh. When submissions for Broad Knowledge opened up, I felt that I could take a look at this story without crying up a storm myself (after all this time, that lasts for about 10 minutes). Rebuilding efforts post-Haiyan are still ongoing; if you’d like to know how to help, this charity is a good place to start.

Go to the Kickstarter to donate and pre-order now!

About the Authors

Vida Cruz is a Filipina born, bred, and based in the Philippines. A 2017 Writers of the Future winner and a 2014 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Writers of the Future vol. 34, Expanded Horizons, Lontar: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, Philippine Speculative Fiction, and the Australian fantasy anthology Phantazein. In her spare time, she draws pretty things, pets all the dogs, and claws at her towering TBR pile. Tweet her at @laviecestmoi. If you’d like to help the rebuilding or rehabilitation efforts for the Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda survivors, this charity is a good place to make inquiries.

Anahita Eftekhari is an Iranian-Canadian who often struggles with her views regarding gender and women’s role in society. She says, “Writing is where I play around with the ideas I don’t dare voice, and where I explore them in the context of the culture that quietly remains a part of me, despite my earlier attempts at abandoning it. As someone with a background in genetics and half a decade of experience teaching ESL in Asia and Europe, I’m not one to limit myself to a single path, and hope my writing displays my appetite for bringing forth overlooked POVs and openness.”

7 June 2018

Horror as the stock which flavors the whole

Today we feature three stories of mothers and children.

In Autumn Christian’s “Flowers for Dogman,” the protagonist, Effy, a senior in high school, believes herself to have ceased to be human because of her father’s emotional absence and her mother’s obsession with the dogman, a mysterious creature who lives in the woods near their house. Her relationship with her mother (“A ghost of a woman, her body gone to make more room for her shadow.”) is at the heart of this brutal tale of family dysfunction.

In sharp contrast to Christian’s story, Joyce Chng’s “Dear Son” is a short letter from a loving and generous mother to her morally upstanding son, who must let go of her after death. In her introduction to Sharp & Sugar Tooth, editor Octavia Cade writes:

In “Dear Son” by Joyce Chng [ritual and recipe are] used to pass on generosity. . . . This is worldbuilding with horror as the stock which flavors the whole, and it’s a genuine shift from the horror of consumption and control, or of consumption and addiction, or starvation, because there’s communication in it and even (especially in Chng and Horáková) a genuine underpinning of healthy love.

In Julie Nováková’s “Frankenstein Sonata,” it’s the mother who must let go of her song after death—but she can’t, with horrifying consequences.

Julie Nováková writes:

What happened in the world of Frankenstein after Dr. Frankenstein, and to what lengths could a mother go to save her child? These were the tantalizing questions at the start of “The Frankenstein Sonata”. As to the use of music in the story, I’m frankly not sure where it came from – it was just there. I use music in my stories a lot (and it shows: The Symphony of Ice and Dust, Étude for An Extraordinary Mind…), and especially classical music and opera are a great source of inspiration to me. I hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it! I don’t mind if you listen to a little Fauré or Schumann alongside it. . . .

Donate now!

About the Authors

Joyce Chng lives in Singapore. Her fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Joyce also co-edited The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Her alter-ego is J. Damask.

Autumn Christian is a fiction writer who lives in the dark woods with poisonous blue flowers in her backyard and a black deer skull on her wall. She is waiting for the day when she hits her head on the cabinet searching for the popcorn bowl and all consensus reality dissolves. She’s been a freelance writer, a game designer, a cheese producer, a haunted house actor, and a video game tester. She considers Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Katie Jane Garside, the southern gothic, and dubstep, as main sources of inspiration.

Julie Nováková is a Czech author and translator of SF, fantasy and detective stories. She has published short fiction in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, Analog, and elsewhere. Her work in Czech includes seven novels, one anthology (Terra Nullius) and over thirty short stories. Some of her works have been also translated into Chinese, Romanian and Estonian. She received the Encouragement Award of the European science fiction and fantasy society in 2013, and the Aeronautilus award for the best Czech short story of 2014 and 2015, and for the best novel of 2015. Read more at www.julienovakova.com and follow her on Twitter @Julianne_SF.

6 June 2018

a housekeeping post

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Posting this so Bloglovin’ will let us “claim” our blog there… it’s a pretty cool site but just disregard this if you don’t already use it.

5 June 2018

Eventually, she lands. Head-first, then the rest of her a split-second later.

Just as the clown from yesterday’s story (Caroline Yoachim’s “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown”) grows her own family, so does the protagonist in Charlotte Ashley’s “She Falls,” whose original nature she has forgotten. This is a story of discovering who you are, separate from what those who made you expect you to be. (It’s also where today’s title comes from.)

Estíbaliz Espinosa’s “23 commuter line chromosomes” is also about maternity and motherhood, and, in the compressed mode of flash fiction, illuminates the narratives we create to explain our lives to our children.

About the Authors

Charlotte Ashley is a writer, editor and bookseller living in Toronto, Canada. Her fantasy and science fiction short stories have appeared in F&SF, Clockwork Canada, Luna Station Quarterly, Kaleidotrope, PodCastle, and elsewhere. Her historical fantasy, “La Héron,” was nominated for both the Aurora and Sunburst Awards in 2016. You can find more about her at www.once-and-future.com or on Twitter @CharlotteAshley.

Estíbaliz Espinosa: Writer. Musician. Hispanic philologist and sociologist. Dilettante astronomer. She has published seven poetry books, short stories about scientific women, and some books of poetry translation. Her work has been translated into English, Welsh, Catalan, Hebrew, Japanese, Macedonian, and Italian. Her last poetry book is Curiosidade (Curiosity), in which “23 commuter line chromosomes” first appeared, in Galician. She is from A Coruña, Spain.

Donate to our Kickstarter to support these writers and their stories today!

5 June 2018

Sugar magic was messy magic

Another staple of horror stories are clowns, for similar reasons as dolls: childhood attachments blended with the uncanny valley. Caroline M. Yoachim turns this trope on its head in “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown,” where the clown is the hero.

Go to our Kickstarter for more.

About the Author

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Asimov’s, and Lightspeed, among other places. Her debut short story collection, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories, came out with Fairwood Press in 2016. For more about Caroline, check out her website. “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown” first appeared in Electric Velocipede and was republished at Drabblecast.

4 June 2018

Dolls that LIVE (*evil laughter here*)

Are you sure your doll is where you left it? Did it . . . move? Is it . . . looking at you?

Creepy dolls are a staple of horror fiction, triggering that part of our brain that hates the uncanny valley, as well as tapping into childhood fears of things that go thump in the night.

This classic of horror stories is featured, with a twist, in “Viva La Muñeca” by Perla Palacios, a story of the special powers of dollmakers and the strength of family.

About the Author

Perla Palacios is a Latinx writer of speculative short fiction.

Go to our Kickstarter to donate now!

3 June 2018

Women dripping from his wrists

We’re featuring three stories today for our Kickstarter, which in different ways show the dangers of objectifying women.

In Aimee Ogden’s “Matched Set,” (from which today’s title comes) that danger is to the protagonist, who finds herself trapped—literally—by her expectations that she’s the special one who will be treated differently from the women her lover objectifies.

In Chikodili Emelumadu’s “Candy Girl,” becoming an object takes the protagonist and, eventually, her ex-boyfriend, to a dark place. (The story first appeared in Apex Magazine and was nominated for the Shirley Jackson prize.)

In Jae Steinbacher’s “Blood Sausage,” the protagonist teeters between treating robot sex workers as objects and as people. Jae Steinbacher writes:

“Blood Sausage” came from processing feelings about relationships and ownership, as well as my interest in the nitty-gritty aspects of maintaining human-like non-organic bodies. It’s set in La Alberca, a real town I visited when I studied abroad in Spain during college. Despite not thinking of myself as a setting-focused writer, many of my stories are infused with setting; it becomes just as integral as character in some cases. Placing an android brothel in such a traditional town offered me space to engage with absolutes and suggest what might lie between them, how they might be tied together. As for the protagonist, there are shades of myself in Val, and she embodies certain darker impulses that I’ve both felt and witnessed in others. It’s freeing to give one of your weaker qualities to a character and see how it plays out on the page.

Find out more about our Kickstarter here.

About the Authors

Chikodili Emelumadu is a Nigerian writer currently residing in Cambridge, MA. Her work has been published in Eclectica, One Throne, Omenana and various other magazines and anthologies.

Aimee Ogden has been a science teacher and a software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, The Sockdolager, and Shimmer.

Jae Steinbacher lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where they are a freelance writer and editor. They are a graduate of North Carolina State University’s MFA in Fiction program, and of the 2014 Clarion West Writers Workshop. Their stories have been published in Terraform, Escape Pod, and PodCastle. You can find them on Twitter at @JaeSteinbacher or visit their website, julie-steinbacher.com.

2 June 2018

Relaunching our Kickstarter

Our Kickstarter for the Women Up To No Good anthologies Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good and Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good is now live!

Stuart at Always Trust In Books has kindly posted a guest post about the Kickstarter campaign. We’ll have more guest posts and interviews throughout the month of June, and daily updates with mini-features on each story!

1 June 2018

Announcing Small Press Week 2018

Small presses, the authors they’ve published, and the readers who love them, will talk about exciting new releases, classic back-catalogue titles, and what makes small press publishing so fearless, fierce, and intimate—using the hashtag #SPWeek18.

We’ll also have 7 one-day hashtags, each concentrating on a different facet of publishing:

Sunday November 18

#SPWtips: Kick off #SPWeek18 with some tips and advice for writers submitting to your press, whether new, aspiring, mid-list, or old pros!

Monday November 19

#SPWpast: How did you get started? How did you get where you are now? Talk about past titles, moments of glory and moments of despair, and anything else that has gone into making your press unique!

Tuesday November 20

#SPWpresent: Every Tuesday is #newreleasetuesday, but this Tuesday is for featuring all of your current 2018 releases, no matter when their release date.

Wednesday November 21

#SPWfuture: What’s on the horizon for your press and its authors? Share your goals and initiatives, your most creative projects, and where you want your press to be in 5, 10, or 100 years!

Thursday November 22

#SPWzoom: Zoom in to provide excerpts, close-up photos, and anecdotes about your new books.

Friday November 23

#SPWreads: Recommend some #FridayReads: what books from other presses are you loving? (Tip: when possible, tag the authors and publishers you’re praising.)

Saturday November 24

#SPWshop: Encourage holiday shoppers to support small press! Talk about what makes our books and our authors special, how you’re embedded in your local community, and how independent publishers help writers to nurture and sustain the literary conversation. And be sure to talk up your titles! (Tip: also use #shopsmall for greater visibility, since today is Small Business Saturday.)

Remember to hashtag every post with #SPWeek18 so people can find the whole sprawling discussion in one place!

Small presses and their editors can also join us on Facebook for announcements and discussion.

18 May 2018

More love for Sunvault!

Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation got mentions this month from “Solarpunk: Speculative fiction for climate optimists” (Daily Planet, 23 April 2018), “Review: Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation” (A Thousand Worlds, 27 April 2018), and “10 Recent Anthologies That Show Us What SFF Can Do” (Barnes and Noble Blog, 26 April 2018)—in the latter of which, Maria Haskins says, “this anthology is a must-read for anyone feeling beaten down by stories of our grim future.”

Maaaafuckin’ yessssss.

We’ve been having some great conversations at Twitter under the hashtag #SolarpunkChat. I don’t want to attempt to reproduce those conversations here, both because they branch and intertwine and weave and would be very confusing to try to put in order in a single post, and because the participants don’t necessarily want their off-the-cuff ruminations laid out in a more-permanent-feeling medium.

However! Here are some tweets that I want to signal-boost:

Definitely check out the hashtag archives, and join us May 19th for the next one.

28 April 2018

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“Upper Rubber Boot” is slang for a remote place. URB publishes literary and speculative poetry and fiction from (metaphorically) remote places in ebook and print format.

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