- Clockwork Phoenix 2: More Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Mike Allan, ed.
- The Devil Lancer by Astrid Amara
- Rasputin’s Bastards by David Nickel
- The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack by H. P. Lovecraft ,et al.
- The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2010, Paula Guran, ed.
- The Poison Oracle, Peter Dickinson
- Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism by David Nickel
The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau
- The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2014, Rich Horton, ed.
- A Rope of Thorns: Volume Two of the Hexslinger Series by Gemma Files
Inner City by Karen Heuler
- Bearded Woman: Stories by Teresa Milbrodt
- Lightspeed Magazine Issue 49: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue
- Bastion Science Fiction Magazine – Issue 3, July 2014
- Locus July 2014 (#642)
- New York Review of Science Fiction #309
New York Review of Science Fiction #310
- Clarkesworld Magazine – Issue 40
- New York Review of Science Fiction
- Galaxy’s Edge
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Bastion Science Fiction Magazine
- Lightspeed Magazine Issue 49: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue
- LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction – #2
- LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction – #1
- Bastion Science Fiction Magazine – Issue 3, June 2014
- Locus June 2014 (#641)
- Nick Mamatas, Sensation
- Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold, Death by Silver
- Douglas F. Warrick, Plow the Bones
- The New Hero Volume 1: Every Age Needs Its Heroes Ebook
July was a fantastic month at Weightless: thank you! DRM-free ebooks for one and all, and ftw! August has kicked off very well especially with the addition of so many Infinity Plus titles — for instance Neil Williamson’s The Ephemera, Robert Freeman Wexler Circus of the Grand Design, and Anna Tambour’s Monterra’s Deliciosa and Other Tales and. (Yes, that title is correct!)
The Weekly Sales were huge last month but there were some other big titles, too, so I made a Top 10 (actually 12) as well as magazines (Lightspeed is still destroying science fiction!) and subscriptions:
July 2014 Bestselling Magazines
On August 13th the price of the Beneath Ceaseless Skies ebook subscription is increasing. It’s currently $13.99 for 1 year/26 issues (56 stories) and will be going up to $15.99. Subscribe (or renew) now before the 13th to get the current price.
July 2014 Bestselling Subscriptions
August, see Rilo Kiley song below. Isn’t it time for a cold drink? Shouldn’t we sit under a tree, read a book? Hmm.
Since we just got bombarded with a ton of new magazines I though a quick survey of what’s new would be worth while. Looks like it’s Kat Howard‘s month!
Locus has an interview with one of the hottest new writers this year, Ann Leckie, whose debut novel Ancillary Justice has been sweeping awards as well as an interview with Ian McDonald and a column by Kameron Hurley with a great title: “People Don’t Buy Books They Don’t Know About (Even Great Ones).”
Clarkesworld Magazine: New stories from James Patrick Kelly, Caroline M. Yoachim, Kat Howard, and Joseph Tomaras, and reprints from Naomi Novik and Ian R. MacLeod.
Lightspeed: New stories by An Owomoyela, E. Catherine Tobler, Tahmeed Shafiq, and Kat Howard, along with reprints by Gardner Dozois, David I. Masson, Ken Liu, Gwyneth Jones, and a novella by Sherwood Smith.
Bastion Science Fiction Magazine brings stories from Clint Spivey, Emma Osborne, Mary Alexandra Agner, William Delman, J. Daniel Batt, Frank Smith, Jared W. Cooper, and Garrick Fincham.
Nightmare Magazine has dark fiction from Desirina Boskovich and Ben Peek, and reprints from Tia V. Travis and Simon Strantzas, and an excerpt from the novel Proud Parents, by Kristopher Rufty.
Interzone brings us James Van Pelt, Andrew Hook, Neil Williamson, D.J. Cockburn, E. Catherine Tobler, and Caren Gussuff, and much in the way of nonfiction.
Meanwhile, dropping quarterly, The Dark has stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Octavia Cade, Emily B. Cataneo, and Darja Malcolm-Clarke.
If that isn’t enough from you this week, I want to hear about it!
Nice reading list posted yesterday on Flavorwire included a few books you might know or want to know:
Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee
“Science fiction and fabulist stories with mathy, orchestral, universal tones, written in gorgeous prose.”
Jagganath by Karin Tidbeck
“Strange, haunting goodness from Sweden, with an emphasis on unbelonging. A captivating read.”
What I Didn’t See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler
“A stunning collection that mixes history, fantasy, myth, and something else altogether unknowable. Witty and powerful and totally out there.”
North American Lake Monsters: Stories by Nathan Ballingrud
“Love stories/monster stories.”
The Changeling by Joy Williams
“As Rick Moody says in its introduction: “The Changeling, which is rich with the arresting improbabilities of magic realism, with the surrealism of the folkloric revival (Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber was published about the same time), and with the modernist foreboding of Under the Volcano, would have seemed perfectly legible in 1973 when Gravity’s Rainbow was published, or Gaddis’s J.R. But the late seventies, with their punk rock nihilism and their Studio 54 fatuousness, were perhaps not properly situated to understand this variety of Joy Williams challenge. To their shame.” We’re over all that fatuousness now, though.”
The weekly sales go so well that I’ve added a special “sale” bestseller list for June. First up this month in magazines, Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction destroyed not just science fiction but all comers! (Going to Readercon this weekend? There’ll be a reading and there will be copies of the limited edition paperback on the Small Beer Press table in the book room.) The buzz on WDSF is huge, can’t wait to read my copy.
Great to see new LONTAR carry over from their big BoingBoing kick last month as well as new magazine Bastion. It’s hard to gain traction with a new magazine — it’s all about finding readers and being able to pay the writers. Here’s a quick link to all the magazines we carry.
June 2014 Bestselling Magazines
A special note should be made of the very popular Beneath Ceaseless Skies bundles, especially as this is the last day they’re just $9.99 for 25(!) back issues. We have every single past issue of BCS, from #1 to #150, including many that aren’t available anywhere else. As of tomorrow they go back to their regular price. Add some bundles to your cart:
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #1-#25
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #101-#125
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #126-#150
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #26-#50
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #51-#75
Beneath Ceaseless Skies, #76-#100.
The subscriptions category is getting really competitive! Renew yours today:
June 2014 Bestselling Subscriptions
In case you missed last month’s 1-day sales, you can still pick up these very popular books right here and right now:
ChiZine are celebrating Canada Day and Independence Day in the USA (ok, so 1 day early) with a huge blow out sale: all their books here are 99c! All these books are an incredible 90% off! Here’s a small selection — there are four pages of books here!
I don’t know how your month started, but mine started too hot. I very much appreciate the a/c machines, thank you a/c makers!
I spent some time this morning sending out new issues of lots of magazines which were delivered to us in the last couple of days. I noticed Yoon Ha Lee has a story in the new Clarkesworld so I have to read that before Readercon, where we are doing a Kaffeeklatsch together, or, at least, in proximity to one another.
I don’t know if I will read her award-winning collection Conservation of Shadows before then. I may wait to pick up the paperback from Prime in the bookroom — where I will be (when not in the swimming pool with my kid!). I still like to get some books in paper and the bookroom at Readercon is a treat. Through the magic of Michael and his technowizardry I can even sell Weightless books in person. (Ask me how!)
And the next weekend, Michael himself will be at Detcon 1 in Detroit.
And to amuse myself, here’s an alphabetical list of the magazines we sent out this morning:
This week we’re very pleased to announce that while the publishing universe becomes all the more concentrated, in our quest to become the go-to spot for indie sf&f publishing, we have just added another new and exciting publisher, Upper Rubber Boot Books.
URB have quite a few individual short stories — such as “The Widow and the Xir” by exciting up-and-comer Indrapramit Das — as well as anthologies (get your Apocalypse Now), one of which is just right for those short attention span days (140 and Counting). Check them out!
Cory has a great piece in The Guardian on how Hachette scored an own goal by asking/agreeing to Amazon’s DRMing their ebooks which leaves all those who bought Hachette ebooks tied into their Kindle.
I am no fan of Amazon’s scorched earth policies: they want to relentlessly drive everyone else out of business and convince people (we are individuals! not just customers!) to funnel all their choices through them. I can’t imagine how horrible it would be to have an Amazon phone giving me a buy button on everything. Ack. They are akin to WalMart in their negotiations: every year they go back and ask for higher discounts from suppliers, which, believe me, if pretty painful from a publisher perspective.
We welcome all readers here: those who’ve been reading online for decades and those to whom reading on a screen is a whole new frontier. Many of our readers know how to move ebooks around, convert their books into different formats if needed, and redownload them if they have a new reading device. One of the main reasons Weightless exists is that we wanted to make sure indie publishers have a DRM-free, worldwide reader-friendly option to sell their books. As Amazon gets tougher and tougher on their suppliers, it becomes more obvious how important it is to have options.
In celebration of their 150th issue, Beneath Ceaseless Skies is having an ebook sale!
We now have every single past issue of BCS, from #1 to #150, including many that aren’t available anywhere else–not in the Kindle Store or on the BCS website.
These issues include authors such as Aliette de Bodard, Yoon Ha Lee, Marie Brennan, Richard Parks, Seth Dickinson, Marissa Lingen, Chris Willrich–at least three stories by all of those authors–as well as Holly Phillips, Gemma Files, Saladin Ahmed, BSFA Award finalist Tori Truslow, World Fantasy Award finalist Emily Gilman, and World Fantasy Award winner Gregory Norman Bossert.
You can buy them as single issues, but for this sale we’re also offering them as bundles of 25 issues, for only $9.99. That’s less than 50 cents an issue!
Stock up on older issues that have never before been released on ebook, or get all the issues you missed before you started subscribing. Or buy them all, to get the full set of 150 issues and support BCS at the same time. All proceeds go to pay authors and artists for their work.
Andrea Pawley interviews writer / singer / songwriter Sarah Pinsker. Yesterday it was announced that Pinsker’s story “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind” was the winner of this year’s Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.
Q: This year you were nominated for a Nebula Award and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, plus fourteen of your stories have been accepted for publication, including one in the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed. That’s impressive! How do you decide where to submit your stories?
Pinsker: I read a lot of short fiction. I think I have a good feel for which magazines are publishing what kind of stories. I’ll try the most likely market first, and then the editors ultimately decide whether my intuition lines up with theirs. If I believe in a story, I feel an obligation to try the most suitable magazines first. I’m also a big advocate for starting at the top, however you define the top. Aim high.
Q: Why do you write science fiction?
Pinsker: I’ve been reading SF & F my whole life, starting with Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series, Le Guin’s Earthsea, Heinlein’s young reader books. I don’t remember how old I was when I discovered my father’s collection of science fiction magazines, but I would have been in the single digits. We got a computer when I was seven or so – one of the first PCs – and I started writing fiction immediately, mostly SF and horse stories. I think part of what I was doing was retelling novels I had read as short stories, but that was probably good practice for something. I love a good story regardless of genre, but if the question is why do I write SF, the adult me answers that it gives an opportunity to look at ourselves through a prism of otherness.
Q: What changes have you seen to SF&F since you started reading it?
Pinsker: I love the multitude of voices that we are finally getting to hear. Writers of all different backgrounds, telling stories of characters of all different colors and genders and nationalities and sexual orientations and ages and abilities/disabilities and economic backgrounds. SF is richer for this inclusion.
There’s also the rise of audio fiction – story podcasts, in particular – which open up a whole new range of ways to experience fiction. And eReaders, which I think can increase access to short fiction. But I’m selfishly glad that the act of reading hasn’t changed all that much. I can still pick up a book and be transported.
Pinsker: The whole thing, really. I’ve lived in Baltimore for eighteen years, but never discovered that community until two years ago. I’ve made some good friends there, gotten some great story critiques. BSFS also gave me a chance to moderate panels before I’d done that sort of thing. As it turns out, I think I’m pretty decent at it. That gave me the confidence to apply for panels at cons, and to seek out those opportunities.
Oh, and I definitely never would have expected to be hosting a reading series/quiz show, but I’m co-hosting a series there, the quarterly Dangerous Voices Variety Hour.
Q: Some of your music contains references to fantastical feelings or events. Do your songs ever think they want to be short stories or vice versa?
Pinsker: They’re usually pretty clear about which they want to be. Some of my songs definitely are stories. They have to accomplish a lot in a small number of words. The nice thing about a song is that you’re allowed to be a little more cryptic. I can paint a feeling and give the illusion of plot.
There’s a song that’s going to be on my new album, about a circus sideshow’s “living doll,” in love with the star of the show. It starts “I am just the size of a half-finished thought/and most of my thoughts are on you.” It’s full of hope and longing and the search for commonality, but I think I’d have to explain too much if it were a story.
Q: Is it true you once performed your music at a nudist colony?
Pinsker: Absolutely! It was a great gig. The Avalon Music Festival. The audience is clothing-optional, and the performers can choose. I kept my clothes on. They have a gorgeous resort, and the people were all lovely. No phones or tablets or cameras allowed, so the audience pays better attention than at other festivals, which works well for lyric-driven music like mine.
Q: What are you working on now?
Pinsker: My new album is very close to done. This one has taken me a long time, but I think it’s going to be worth it. I’m writing a lot of stories, and I’ve got a couple of novel projects I try to give love to when I get a chance.
Sarah Pinsker is a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels: two solo, one with her band, the Stalking Horses. A fourth is forthcoming. Since returning to fiction, she has made over twenty story sales to magazines, podcasts and anthologies. Her 2013 novelette, “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” was nominated for a Nebula award and won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. A DRM-free subscription to Lightspeed (including the “The Sewell Home for the Temporally Displaced” in Women Destroy Science Fiction issue) can be purchased on Weightless Books.
Quick notes: New books keep coming! Latest book: Lovecraft’s Monsters edited by Ellen Datlow. Robert Reed’s 3-book omnibus The Memory of Sky just dropped from $10 to $6.99. Vodo has a DRM-free ebook/movie/film bundle which includes Sofia Samatar’s much lauded debut novel A Stranger in Olondria. Interfictions Online is running an Indiegogo with lots of excellent rewards! Got more monies to spend? Support Metafilter!
Also, apparently Am*zon are pushing for bigger discounts from all their suppliers and playing hardball by taking away buy buttons, pre-orders, and even book pages. As a publisher, for Small Beer Press, it makes me really glad that we have this independent distribution channel. As someone who gets to distribute all these fabby ebooks DRM-free through Weightless, I’d like to offer a big thank you to all the publishers for working with us. We love indie bookstores (that link goes to a fun book) and would rather order from them, even if there’s a buck or two added to the price, because they are paying booksellers (either in our town or elsewhere) rather than working warehouse to death.
Last month BoingBoing (also big believers in keeping ebooks DRM-free!) picked up editor Jason Lundberg’s Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, LONTAR, and both issues shot to the top of the list, boom! Also, putting together this bestseller list made me realize how fast time flies: in 3 weeks 2014 will be half gone. Doh! Here’s a short list of what floated to the top, book, magazine, subscription, whatever!*
Pick up your copies of the May 2014 bestsellers and push them onto the June list, too!
* That said, I haver: I didn’t include the bestseller list skewing titles from the 1-day, 1-book Thursday ebook sales.
Greetings, Weightless Readers, and please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Stone Skin Press, a relatively new independent publisher based out of the UK. Given our commitment to delivering a wide range of voices and stories where the only constants are high quality and DRM-free delivery, you can imagine how excited we are to be teamed up with the fine folks at Weightless Books. As for what specifically we publish, that can be best summed up in like this:
Where genre meets literature, where geek culture meets the mainstream, there is Stone Skin Press. With a series of literary anthologies to challenge the boundaries between genres and creative scenes, Stone Skin gathers together writers from such disparate fields as gaming, literary fiction, F/SF, film, YA, comics, and podcasting. Its eclectic author rosters bring colliding perspectives to bear on themes that combine the classic with the surprising.
So that’s us, and we are confident that we have fulfilled that promise with our first six anthologies; there is already something for most everyone in our growing catalogue. Our New Hero series features tales of heroism—and anti-heroism—across a broad spectrum of settings and styles, whereas our Schemers anthology focuses on tales of intrigue and deception in the past, present, and future. If you like your horror as action-packed as it is atmospheric, we’ve got Shotguns v. Cthulhu, but if you prefer spinetinglers of a more classic bent then you’ll find lots to love in The New Gothic. Finally, for the reader who has everything, we’ve got just the thing to tempt your jaded appetite: a gorgeously illustrated collection of modern fables, titled The Lion and The Aardvark.
We believe short stories are one of the most important forms of art, because they allow writers to cut loose and experiment in ways that might be difficult with a longer work for whatever reason. With all of our books we strive for as diverse a range of contributors as possible, because where’s the fun in reading an anthology that keeps hitting the same notes over and over again? We set out with the philosophy that by creating projects with open, intriguing premises we would attract authors from all across the writing world, and so far our theory has been born out. A modest cross-sample of our contributors includes Ramsey Campbell, Ekaterina Sedia, Chuck Wendig, Tania Hershman, Jonathan L. Howard, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Alex Bledsoe, Molly Tanzer, Nick Mamatas, Monte Cook, Ed Greenwood, S.J. Chambers, Jesse Bullington, Robert Jackson Bennett, Matt Forbeck, Maurice Broaddus, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Natania Barron, Kenneth Hite, Julia Bond Ellingboe, Dmetri Kakmi, Tobias S. Buckell, Laura Ellen Joyce, James Wallis, Will Hindmarch, Robin D. Laws, and Kyla Ward.
If you’d like to learn more there’s plenty of information on our website, where we also post excerpts from our books, run giveaways, and blog about everything from how to make the most of your ereader to a blog series wherein our contributors suggest drinks to pair with their fiction. With two more remarkable, original anthologies in the wings, the Stone Skin Press universe is rapidly expanding, and we hope you come along for the ride!
This month sees the publication of Langley Hyde‘s debut novel, Highfell Grimoires, from our friends at Blind Eye Books (publisher of Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara, et al.). Highfell Grimoires is a steampunk adventure set in a private school (with shades of both an orphanage and a workhouse) which floats in the aetheric currents high above the city below:
Q: Your novel, Highfell Grimoires, is set in a boarding school high up in the atmosphere and riding the aether. The story is part steampunk, part fantasy, and part gay romance. Which one of those ideas came first?
Hyde: Oh my. Well, the romance and the characters. The setting developed after that, inspired by my favorite books, my own experiences, and my interests. Then the magic happened. Magic always happen when I write. : )
In college, I always tried to write contemporary short stories because writing classes were all literary. I ended up with hideous literary/fantasy hybrids. Monsters! I’d try to write a literary story about a superbly fashionable girl with a tragic past who’s walking down an alley, navel-gazing (very difficult to do this when walking, she has to be a master at multitasking not to trip) and then all of a sudden she sees a small coat shop, and it takes her to—
Well, not Manhattan. That’s for sure.
When other students encountered my work, often the response was chilly. I even had classmates refuse to read my stories because they weren’t literature (ha, what is?) and once a girl drew me aside to say, in a tone of deep concern, “Magic isn’t real. I mean, you do know that. Right?”
When she asked me that question, I couldn’t help but feel a little sketchy as I looked around, trying to judge exactly what would to relieve her concerns, and then muttered, “Um . . .”
Q: In Highfell Grimoires, your main character claims fantasy aspects like aether and bloodlocks are explained by science, but he still invokes the gods. Why did you choose this approach?
Hyde: When I created my main character, Neil, I wanted a character with a complex relationship to his society. Becoming a true adult involves negotiating what role a person wants to take in society. This is integral to identity. I think one’s society of origin plays a larger role in people’s decisions than they often want to admit.
In my main character, the young Lord Cornelius ‘Neil’ Franklin, conventional societal beliefs and rules penetrate him more than he’d like to admit.
In real life I’ve yet to meet an atheist who did not once say, “Oh my God!” or use other religiously derived curses or figures of speech like, “It’s my cross to bear,” or “an eye for an eye.” Just because an individual has chosen skepticism as a personal point of view does not instantly erase thousands of years of history or the modern religious beliefs still held by the dominant culture, right?
So I wanted to try and create this same richness of language for Higher Eidoland. And I wanted to use Neil’s invocations of deities like Loxa the Lucky to subtly show that even though he doesn’t intellectually believe in gods, he still calls on them when he’s hanging off the edge of a flying ship in the middle of the night—lol.
Q: What are you hoping your readers take away from Highfell Grimoires?
Hyde: When I was in college, I used to read aloud at open mic. Once, after I’d read a flash piece about a family mourning at a river, a girl came up to me crying. My story had reminded her of her golden retriever. He’d been a happy dog, she told me. A good dog.
For years, her reaction puzzled me. Then, about two weeks ago, I realized: Her dog must have died. At first, I felt terrible. But how she’d thanked me!
I don’t want to write stories with a specific meaning. I want to write stories that are meaningful. And also stories that are fun, sexy, and interesting. Highfell Grimoires doesn’t have a specific meaning for me. But it may for others, and that’s wonderful.
Q: What’s your favorite place to write?
Hyde: I like to migrate as I write. When I’m at home, I’ll move between my desk, the couch, the kitchen nook, the dining table, even the floor. I write at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores. I love sitting with my laptop on trains, even buses. Whenever my mind is stuck, I move my body. Motion inspires me.
Maybe if I get in a real rut, I’ll finally move to Mars like my husband’s always wanted.
Q: What was it like to attend Clarion Writer’s Workshop?
Hyde: It was incredible. Intense. For those who don’t know Clarion, it’s a six-week summer camp for writers. Participants write one story per week and critique five stories a day. So basically I critiqued from eight a.m. to one p.m., got lunch, read for a couple of hours, and then wrote until morning, when I had to do it all again.
It was like having a fever. Actually, that was because I did have a fever. For two weeks. But I’d highly recommend Clarion to anyone thinking of becoming a professional writer. The chance to meet other writers and prepare yourself for the submission as well as the editing process is invaluable.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you can share?
Hyde: Yes, I have them. No, I can’t share them. Just joking. I have a superstition where I can’t talk much about what I’m working on or it’ll die.
What I’m working on now has spies, imposters, magic, love—and betrayal.
Langley Hyde first fell in love with steampunk while studying abroad at Oxford University. There she spent most of her time reading about alchemy and heresy in Duke Humfrey’s Library or caressing manuscripts. Langley then lived in London, close enough to the Science Museum that she could regularly gawk at Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 2. Her favorite neighborhoods in London were Soho and Camden Town. She has also lived in New York, where she lurked in the Cloisters on the weekends, and Germany, near the old center of zeppelin manufacturing. Her hobbies include making wire sculptures, talking to cats, and wearing tiny hats. Hyde’s novel, Highfell Grimoires, is available for DRM-free purchase from Weightless Books.
Today’s 1-day sale is huge: 8 books, all 90% off, and three easy to grab bundles:
To celebrate the second issue of LONTAR, we have two things: we added mobi formats of both issues, and we have an exclusive interview by Jason Lundberg with E. C. Myers, whose novelette, “The Tiger in the Forest Between Two Worlds” is the lead-off story. Myers is the Andre Norton Award-winning author of the novels Fair Coin and Quantum Coin and he has published short fiction in a variety of print and online magazines and anthologies.
This is a case where the story was shaped a lot by my research and ended up far richer than I first imagined. I wanted to do a contemporary version of the Korean folk tale “The Tiger-Girl,” so I started reading up on Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers. It was rather depressing, because there are very few of them remaining in the wild, and particularly in the wilds of Korea. They can be found in the mountains of the north, but they’re absent from the southern peninsula—a shame because the tiger is such an important part of Korean culture.
The more I read about the DMZ, the more fascinated I became, and I decided that if a tiger could still exist in Korea, it would be there; because that territory is largely off-limits to humans, it essentially functions as a gigantic nature preserve. Many references in the story to the DMZ and the cameraman Lim Sun Nam are real, albeit a few years out of date. There’s a free film you can watch online called Tiger Spirit that documents Lim’s quest to find tigers in the DMZ.
Q. One of the fantastical tropes in the story is that of the weretiger, although here it’s inverted, in that the tiger takes on human form. How prevalent is this creature in Korean mythology?
When I was a kid, I loved the mascot for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea: a cartoonish tiger named Hodori. At the time, I had no idea he had a deeper meaning, as a representation of the Korean people. The culture is steeped in legends and folklore about tigers, which are considered protective spirits, so they pop up in all sorts of roles. There’s also a lot of shapeshifting! Korean mythology is incredibly interesting and hasn’t received much exposure in the Western world, so I hope to play with these stories more in the future.
Q. A theme you employ is that of interstitialism; existing between two different worlds, yet not comfortably in either one alone. Chon-ji herself is split between the human and animal realms, as well as between North Korea (Choson) and South Korea (Hanguk). To what extent do you see this type of interstitial existence in other parts of current Korean society?
As a half-Korean living in America, I still have an outsider’s view of current society in South Korea, but I think there’s a real struggle there to hold onto tradition in a contemporary world. The gaeryong hanbok that Chon-ji wears is one example of that, as a modernized version of the more elaborate traditional clothing, which some (mostly older) people do still wear daily. I also think there’s a conflict between traditional expectations from parents and the personal desires of their children, as with Bong-hwa trying to fulfill the role of a dutiful son. That’s something I can relate to even in the U.S., and many others of my generation have probably had some of the same issues—but these are universal problems no matter the place or period, aren’t they? And there’s always difficulty in balancing a national identity against a global one, especially with the immediacy and influence of the internet.
Q. Where can readers go to find other examples of Korean fantastic fiction?
I am really out of touch with any contemporary fiction being published in Korea now, particularly in translation. Some films and comics are imported, either officially or online, and there’s a growing following for Korean comedies and dramas. But fantastic fiction? The University of Hawaii Press is publishing a journal called Azalea which is much like LONTAR. Their May 2013 issue was devoted to science fiction.
If you’re looking to read some Korean fables in translation, the book I read for research is Folk Tales from Korea by In-Sob Zong. Appropriately, it has a tiger on the cover! One I haven’t read yet is Korean Myths and Folk Legends by Pae-Gang Hwang, translated by Young-Hie Han.
Q. Shameless self-promotion time: what is next on the publication horizon for E.C. Myers?
I have a book coming out in the fall of 2014 about teenage hackers, currently titled The Silence of Six, to be published by Adaptive. I also have a couple of forthcoming short stories: “Lost in Natalie,” co-written with Mercurio D. Rivera, in the summer issue of Space & Time magazine; and “Kiss and Kiss and Kiss and Tell” in Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, published by Twelfth Planet Press and coming later this year.
Hey, I just saw that Langley Hyde’s novel Highfell Grimoires (Blind Eye Books) not only received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, it’s also one of their Best Summer Books 2014 picks! You can preorder it here and download a pdf excerpt here.
A young man becomes a teacher at a most peculiar school in this gripping, beautifully written, and thoroughly enjoyable steampunk story. It’s rife with class injustice, intrigue, and mislaid identities, blending the best parts of the modern thriller and the Victorian sensation novel.