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,

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

A new adventure for URB

To everybody who donated to our kickstarter, thank you so very much for your support! I’m very grateful. I’m not sure how to express how much hard work goes into making a book, and having concrete proof that people appreciate my efforts is tremendously heartening.

However, after looking carefully at the project, it was pretty clear that we weren’t going to reach our goal, and that I needed to do more to showcase how amazing our writers are and what great books these will be. I’ve been brainstorming with some of my more marketing-savvy friends, and have a ton of new ideas for ways to bring the attention to my writers that they deserve.

We’re going to retool a few things and relaunch the kickstarter on June 1st.


I’m also retooling Upper Rubber Boot somewhat. TL;DR: we’re becoming a not-for-profit. (This won’t affect my current writers, whose contracts will simply be assigned to the new entity.)

When I started Upper Rubber Boot in 2011, I thought that it would grow over time until it became a full-time job. I put some money out of every paycheck into the URB bank account to keep it afloat (and I’m still doing that), and I started small. I built up the business to what it is today—a small press that puts out a few good books every year, but, let’s be real, is not appreciably closer to supporting me than it was seven years ago. It has never turned a profit (the closest it came was 2015, the year we published Choose Wisely and How to Live on Other Planets, when we basically broke even). I’ve had all of the challenges of running what it turns out is a non-profit business, without any of the benefits of non-profit status.

      It’s become clear that turning URB into the kind of going concern that could replace my income as an administrative assistant would involve a level of investment of both time and money that I don’t have available to me, and would also require me to make more profitable decisions in terms of what I publish, instead of focusing on the short fiction and poetry that I love, but which is never going to sell bazillions of copies.

I’m lucky to have a fulfilling day job (at a hospital, where I run a clinical fellowship and the lives of four surgeons, and a bunch of other projects including the medical humanitarian work in East Africa and Haiti that I feel so privileged to get to be involved with) where I hope to stay for a long time, so the desire to write and publish full-time that I felt so keenly seven years ago has faded.

I’m finding that my priorities in life are shifting. Over a year ago, my best friend and one of the best humans I’ve ever known was diagnosed with cancer. I went back home to Nova Scotia to see her several times, and was able to say goodbye before she died in December. That experience, common as it is, has made me re-evaluate my life in view of what suddenly seems a more realistic mortality. I want to spend my limited time on work that matters. One of the amazing things about micropress publishing is that, because it’s not our main hustle, we can create a space where capitalism is incidental (though not, sadly, entirely escapable) and bring lovely, thoughtful, insightful, and/or challenging writing into the world, without much reference to how well it’ll sell. Doing that is going to be a little easier with not-for-profit status.

Thanks for being here with me. I’m so grateful for all of you.

1 comment 19 April 2018

#SolarpunkChat is back!

Phoebe Wagner and Brontë Christopher Wieland (the co-editors of Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation) will lead a twitter chat on “Kinship & Collective Action In Solarpunk” on Saturday, April 21st (Earth Day Eve!) at noon Eastern. Click the image to the right to enlarge and get times across the globe!     


Use the hashtag #SolarpunkChat and follow this month’s hosts @pheebs_w and @BeezyAl, plus moderator @upperrubberboot.

And remember, we’re still kickstarting Women Up To No Good! At a time when publishers still release all-male and nearly-all-male anthologies of short fiction, much to our (forgive the pun) horror, we’re providing a counterbalance with short, dark, feminist fiction by some of the best writers out there. Pledge now to pre-order and make these books a reality!

14 April 2018

Kickstarting Women Up To No Good!


Projects like the VIDA Count have demonstrated that women account for startlingly less than half of those published, and writers of marginalized sex and gender identities account for much less than their presence in the general population.

To help counteract that—and also because we thought it would be fun—we started the Women Up To No Good series, which focuses on “bad” women, and “good” women who just haven’t been caught yet.

There are other imbalances too, most notably race, and while we have no formal requirement for inclusion of writers of color, we strive for diversity in all of our anthologies.

Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up To No Good and Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good are anthologies of writing by women and authors of marginalized sex and gender identities, about female protagonists whose knowledge or appetites are critical to their stories.

We’re raising money to be able to pay our authors professional rates, and to properly promote the anthologies so they get the attention they deserve. Our hope is to get the Women Up To No Good series on a solid enough footing that sales of the books will support all future anthologies.


Broad Knowledge authors

Sharp & Sugar Tooth authors

Check out our Kickstarter here.

1 April 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 Hugo Finalists

Congratulations to the 2018 Hugo finalists, especially URB authors Sarah Pinsker (Best Novella and Best Novelette finalist and contributor to the anthology How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens), Caroline M. Yoachim (Best Short Story finalist and contributor to the anthology Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good), and Bogi Takács (Best Fan Writer finalist and contributor to the anthologies How to Live on Other Planets and Sunvault: Stories of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation), and URB artist Likhain (Best Fan Artist finalist and cover artist of Sunvault)!

1 April 2018


Announcing a Monthly #SolarpunkChat:
3rd Saturday of Every Month


We’re delighted to announce that we’re co-organizing a new monthly Twitter chat with Reckoning Press! In broad strokes, a monthly conversation will consider the ideas of solarpunk, hopepunk, ecopunk, eco-futurism, eco-fiction, and climate fiction. Collectively, these terms refer to environmental science fiction, art, and activism that to varying degrees combine the green movement, renewable energy sources, intersectional social justice, and global climate justice movements, and the anti-capitalism and do-it-yourself ethic of the punk movement.

While critics, audiences, and creators have not yet settled on a single label for these works, and disagree on whether a label is even helpful when imagining better ways of being, we needed to choose a chat hashtag so people could find the conversation. Thus #SolarpunkChat was born!


First #SolarpunkChat:
Saturday, March 17th
Noon Eastern Standard Time


For the first #SolarpunkChat, on Saturday, March 17th (St. Patrick’s Day), Reckoning Magazine‘s Michael J. DeLuca and Sunvault contributor Brandon Crilly will lead a conversation on “Hopepunk And Resistance.” We’ll focus on speculative fiction and art as tools for imagining optimistic futures, and then discuss practical actions to help us get there.

Join us on Twitter at noon EST on March 17th by using the hashtag #SolarpunkChat and following this month’s hosts @michaeljdeluca and @B_Crilly, plus moderators from @upperrubberboot.

(The time conversions for that are 11am CST, 10am MST, 9am PST; 5pm GMT, 6pm CET & WAT, 7pm CAT, 9:30pm IST, 11pm WIB, midnight HKT, 1am JST, and 3am AEDT.)



In later months, we’ll continue to chat on the third Saturday of each month with other eco-focused special guests, like World Weaver Press, who are absorbed this month with planning for Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers (which includes Sunvault‘s Jaymee Goh, as well as Wendy Nikel, Julia K. Patt, Holly Schofield, and many others).

1 comment 5 March 2018

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About URB

“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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