- Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link
- Fiasco, the game by Jason Morningstar
- Stranger Things Happen Fiasco playset by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Bonus content: The Ant King and Other Stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum
- Clockwork Phoenix 5
- Black Static #52
- Interzone #264
- LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction – Issue 6
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #200
- Uncanny Magazine
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Mothership Zeta
- New York Review of Science Fiction
- Galaxy’s Edge
- At 25 new/renewing subscribers, BCS will raise our submissions word-count limit to 11,000 words.
- At 50 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll raise our word-count limit to 12,000 words.
- At 100 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll raise it to 13,000 words.
- At 200 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll raise it to 15,000 words!
To celebrate the eighth anniversary of BCS and our new ebook anthology The Best of BCS, Year Seven, we’re having an Eighth Anniversary Ebook Sale!
Best of BCS Year Seven has eighteen great BCS stories by authors such as K.J. Parker, Carrie Vaughn, Yoon Ha Lee, and Aliette de Bodard, including “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds” by Rose Lemberg, a finalist for the Nebula Awards.
BCS Ebook Subscriptions are still only $15.99 for a whole year/26 issues (that’s less than 30 cents a story). Subscribers can get issues delivered directly to their Kindle or smart phone (any device with an email address), and they get new issues early, a week before the website. You can renew at any time, no matter when your subscription expires.
A free BCS anthology is a $3.99 value. Choose any of ourBest of BCS anthologies (which include stories by Aliette de Bodard, Yoon Ha Lee, Marie Brennan, Richard Parks, Gemma Files, Seth Dickinson, E. Catherine Tobler, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Gregory Norman Bossert and more) or our theme anthologies Ceaseless West and Ceaseless Steam.
PORTRAITS AT AN EXHIBITION, published by Lethe Press, has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Art in Literature Award, co-sponsored by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The award goes to “an outstanding book published in the previous year that is written primarily in response to a work (or works) of art while also showing the highest literary quality as a creative or scholarly work.
The Art in Literature Award is named in honor of author and journalist Mary Lynn Kotz, a longtime contributing editor for ARTnews magazine, whobuilt a career interviewing, researching, writing, and lecturing about art and artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe and John Cage. Her critically acclaimed book Rauschenberg/Art and Life (Abrams) balances deft observations of craft with a biographer’s chronicle of the American artist. Through her service to cultural institutions and initiatives, including many in Virginia, Kotz has shown a lifelong commitment to making the arts a vital presence in society.
It was double good news for Uncanny as “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang (translated by Ken Liu) from the second issue received the Hugo for Best Novellete.
You can see the full list of nominees and winners on Locus.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation just sent a great letter to the FTC in the US asking them to get retailers to label electronic products that are DRM’d. Why does this matter? Have you ever bought a book, song, or video (or even a cat litter box!) and tried to play it 5 years later only to find the software is no longer supported and the manufacturer does not exist? It happens surprisingly often. If your book/song/movie is free of Digital Rights Management
software guff then you’re home free. But if it’s locked into some long dead system: good luck.
We are proud to cosign the letter. You can read more about it here, “EFF to FTC: Online Retailers Must Label Products Sold with Digital Locks” and read the letter below,
Gavin J. Grant
Michael J. DeLuca
When I taught English, there was only one Rule of Literature I wanted undergrads to take away from my classes: different readers want different things, and different writers want to write things in different ways, and good literature comes in all shapes and vowel sounds — don’t let Aristotle tell you otherwise. To illustrate this, I coined the “Hemingway/Wilde fallacy,” inspired by arguments about whether prose should be clear and simple vs. poetic and textured and complex. Hemingway fans tend to hate Wilde and any other writer they accuse of “florid” style, finding little to enjoy in Woolf, say, or Garcia Marquez. That preference is just that, of course, and has no bearing on the degree of Wilde’s skill or the value of his work, and yet that preference has edged perilously close to universal ruledom — a vestige of twentieth-century taste that emerged in a particular but hardly timeless aesthetic context.
As someone who appreciates Hemingway and Wilde, I’ve always been mystified by this skirmish. So I drew up a lesson based on the two names that most frequently came up as benchmarks of — or anathema to — Good Literature in these Eurocentric diatribes, using names most students on a Eurocentric campus would recognize. I pulled a passage out of The Sun Also Rises and another from The Picture of Dorian Gray and demonstrated just how precise both authors were with their words, and how poetic both results. Put simply, the Hemingway/Wilde fallacy operates under the misapprehension that there’s only one way to ink a cat.
You’d think post-modernism would have jolted us out of aesthetic philosophy cum moral certainty, but no. The Hemingway/Wilde fallacy is embraced by editors, not just scholars, and it confuses even seasoned writers, who are nervous about writing fiction in the present tense, writing from second-person or even first-person POV, using frame stories, using long paragraphs, using adverbs, or daring to tell rather than show (is the folktale completely verboten, then? a pity). It’s fair for editors to post, on Submission pages, that certain styles will be hard sells for their press (as someone who dislikes second-person POV, I get it); an editor’s own preferences shape each publication, and that’s a good and inevitable thing. From where I sit as scholar, writer, and editor, however, I contend that it’s not fair to tout our preferences as Universal Ruledom for Good Literature, to the point where writers feel corralled within a single tense, a single POV, and a single more conventional prose style for fear of being labelled “bad” writers. It’s heartbreaking to see exciting and capable authors Twitter-worry that the novel they long to write in present tense “isn’t allowed”; and it’s liberating to read commentary by Raya Wolfsun and Matt Moore (to name the two I read just today) that defends heterogeneity in writing and publishing.
Maybe these laments and defences are signals that the twentieth-century template isn’t as valued or authoritative as it used to be. It may be true that writers must honour the wider taste if they wish to sell their work — but taste is partly a product of what we’re used to seeing, so let’s expose ourselves to contrast before we doom ourselves even further to sameness. It may also be true that editors see a lot of bad fiction written in present tense, or second-person, or florid language — but let’s acknowledge our selective perception and admit we see even more bad fiction written in past tense and third-person POV, full of “masculine” nouns and verbs, and short on “feminine” adjectives and adverbs. Weak writers also write weakly in the common template, and I’ve accepted second-person POV stories for Lackington’s despite my bias because they were well done. Popular fiction continues to be published in first-person or present tense or both, so why this reluctance, this anxiety? Why this haste to “vilify,” as Wolfsun puts it, non-template writing features when these features are skillfully used? Advice that may be of use for rookie writers shouldn’t guide all writers and shouldn’t shape the bulk of our literature, for pity’s sake. I’m grateful to writers who create off-template, and to the editors who appreciate variety. Every time I see a well-written story that refuses to toe the line, I smile a satisfied smile and grow a little as a reader. More of that, please.
Lackington’s publishes speculative fiction and art four times a year and is looking for:
Stylized prose can be sparse and simple, diamond-cut like the writing of Ursula K. Le Guin. It can be sumptuous like the writing of Oscar Wilde. It can be epic, archaic, experimental, mythic, rhythmic, and it can be quiet and subtle, too. Story and character are indispensable, but so is wordcraft. We trade in aesthetics, so make us gasp with unexpected words and give us inventive voices, structures, and narratives. Many editors reject heavily stylized prose out of hand. We welcome it.
I’m very excited to announce a completely new thing today: the Stranger Things Happen + Fiasco Bundle!
A couple of years ago Benjamin Rosenbaum proposed a Fiasco playset based on Kelly’s collection Stranger Things Happen. Fiasco is a storytelling game where players make up and tell each other stories with different playsets that allow them to bring in different elements, tropes, and tones to the stories. Ben wrote the playset and Steve Segedy of Bully Pulpit Games put the bundle together.
Get the Bundle.
“Fiasco is one of the greatest storytelling RPGs I’ve ever played. I highly recommend it.”
— Wil Wheaton
About Stranger Things Happen
Stories from Stranger Things Happen have won the Nebula, Tiptree, and World Fantasy Award. Stranger Things Happen was a Salon Book of the Year, one of the Village Voice’s 25 Favorite Books of 2001, and was nominated for the Firecracker Alternative Book Award.
“Pity the poor librarians who have to slap a sticker on Kelly Link’s genre-bending, mind-blowing masterpiece of the imagination, Stranger Things Happen.”—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia, for NPR’s You Must Read This
“My favorite fantasy writer, Miss Kelly Link.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR, All Things Considered
About The Ant King and Other Stories
* “Give him some prizes, like, perhaps, “best first collection” for this book.”
—Booklist (Starred review)
“A terrific range of tales, showcasing an active, playful mind and a gleeful genre-blender.”
“Ben Rosenbaum is one of the freshest and finest voices to appear in science fiction in many years. The stories collected in The Ant King demonstrate his astonishing versatility, his marvelous imagination, and his ready wit.”
Today we’re very pleased to welcome the powerhouse of Book Smugglers Publishing to Weightless. They are launching here with two novels by Susan Jane Bigelow in her Extrahuman Union series, Broken and Sky Ranger, the Book Smugglers’ Quarterly Almanac, and a subscription to same.
To introduce the series and celebrate today’s publication of the second book, Sky Ranger, here’s a post Susan Jane Bigelow wrote about where her series comes from when Broken first came out:
by Susan Jane Bigelow
Broken started the way a lot of these things do: with a post on LiveJournal.
A long time ago I got involved in a comment thread about superhero names, and I came up with a few that I liked: Broken, Sky Ranger, and Crimson Cadet. From that, the germ of a story began to grow. How could I not want to write about super-powered people with these names?
And so I did. I entered NaNoWriMo that year and managed to produce a very rough draft of Broken.
I love superheroes, and I always have. I grew up watching the old Batman TV show and Superfriends; later I devoured the Batman animated series, Superman, Justice League, and the 1990s cartoon version of X-Men. Superheroes are a mess of questions, most of the time. Why did they take separate “hero” names, and where did those come from? How did they deal with feeling different? How do they relate to one another?
Superhero teams are something that especially fascinated me. How do all these incredibly powerful people get along? What could possibly bring them together? How might they break apart?
Broken’s Extrahuman Union is a deliberate echo of these old superhero teams. It’s sort of like a mandatory version of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters that no one can ever leave!
Much as I loved traditional superhero stories like Batman and Peter David’s run on the Supergirl comic book, I started to seek out alternative ways of looking at them. The Authority, The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen, and The Maxx are comics that looked at superheroes through a darker, stranger lens.
And so Broken herself is descended from Supergirl, Jenny Sparks, The Maxx, and even Alita from the manga Battle Angel Alita.
The rest of the world of Broken owes a lot to 90s science fiction TV like Babylon 5 and to all the fantastic space opera I’ve read, like Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan saga.
The book also owes a debt to George W. Bush. If he hadn’t beaten John Kerry in 2004, I wouldn’t have been grouchy enough to spend an entire month writing about super-powered people living under an emergent fascist regime. Thanks, George!
But maybe the biggest and weirdest influence on the book is a line from the Butthole Surfers song “Pepper,” which is all about teens who go courting death. It goes “Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain / That is pouring like an avalanche, coming down the mountain.”
This story—this whole series—is about Broken falling in love with life.
Sorry for the completely misleading title. It’s not meant to be clickbaity or edumactional, rather it’s a celebration of us adding two new ebook formats to Hal Duncan’s lovely chapbook, An A-Z of the Fantastic City.
Originally only available as a pdf, today we have added both epub and mobi formats thanks to ebook maker Frédéric Hugot of French science fiction publisher Éditions Critic.
Given the (dis)United Kingdom’s Brexit vote and the ongoing international upheaval I am very happy to have Scot’s author Hal Duncan’s book of international and fantastical cities remade and more widely available thanks to a French volunteer.
Here’s one of the 26 entries from the book:
The firm of Ackroyd, Moorcock and Sinclair, Solicitors, is the oldest existing company on record, dating back to the dawn of Albion in the foundation of Trynovantium, or New Troy, the settlement which was to go through a few more names—Caerlundein, Londinium—before settling on its present day nomenclature of London. From a small enterprise set up by three merchants to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on the treaty signed between Brutus and the autochthonous inhabitants of a tiny village on the river Thames, this legal firm slowly established itself as an integral aspect of the growing city’s mercantile existence. Its history is, in many ways, the history of the city itself.
Joseph of Arimathea, on his arrival with the Magdalene and her son, arranged the loan with which he purchased land for his new home through Ackroyd, Moorcock and Sinclair, using the Holy Grail as collateral. Where the Anglo-Saxon chronicles provide only the sketchiest accounts of comets and catastrophes, the records of this firm provide exhaustive detail on trade arrangements with the Norse, land disputes between the Normans, jurisdictional challenges from the North. It was this firm whose clerks drafted the Magna Carta, this firm who arranged Henry VIII’s divorce, this firm who took care of the British East India Trading Company’s most confidential colonial affairs. Even today most mortgages, leases, compulsory purchase orders and debt reclamations in London are arranged through Ackroyd, Moorcock and Sinclair, Solicitors, a situation which has led to all manner of conspiracy theories regarding the supposedly mystical alignment of various key buildings—Hawksmoor’s churches, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral. One merely has to enter these three names into an internet search engine to find website after website devoted to the secret truths to be found in a study of London’s streets. This firm was instrumental in the rebuilding of the city after the Great Sinking of London, when most of the city was swallowed up by its underlying swamplands, as recorded in the diaries of Richard Jefferies, published as After London (1885).
Personally, I have only respect for this long-established firm, having first-hand experience of their efficiency in ironing out the contractual legalities between my publishers and myself. I have found them most amicable to deal with, highly professional but also understanding enough of a writer’s persona to conduct business over an endless lunch rather than in an interminable meeting. And if they have imposed some grand occult design over the city of London, well, the resultant mystery is a majestic one.
I remember thinking this, as I flew down from Kentigern to Heathrow for that first meeting, looking out of the window of the plane, at a city between Halloween and Guy Fawkes’ Night, a city brilliant in the nine o’clock dark of autumn.
The city at night, at this time of year, seen from the sky, looks like a field of moss the colour of candlelight, a carpeting of broken glass, crushed underfoot and glowing orange. Tiny little bursts of sparkle flash here and there like sequins catching ballroom lights: fireworks going off all over the city. As the plane descends the blossoming is close enough to take shape, instances of anemones. We fly down into the shatterings of light until they’re all around us, the city so vast that they stretch back as far as the eye can see.
A little mystery in a city is no bad thing.
Laura Argiri’s novel The God in Flight was first published in 1996. The story of a Yale student’s romance with his art professor was one of the few gay historical romances at the time and was very well received:
“Argiri provides an enchanting menagerie of bullies and villains, friends and mentors. And her pair of lovers are as memorable as Mary Renault’s Alexander and Bagoas. Many readers should be delighted by this haunting blend of melodrama and fancy.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Argiri understands the way intellectual gay men in the late 19th century thought and felt.”—David Leavitt for the Los Angeles Times
“Art professor Doriskos Klionarios looks and sculpts like a Greek god. His teenage student, Simion Satterwhite, has a faunlike beauty and a genius for math. Their true love triumphs over child abuse, anorexia, homophobia, censorship, and the violence of bigots. This lush, effusive work [has] some satiric bite.”—Entertainment Weekly
“If a novel’s worth can be measured by the power and verity of the emotions it instills in the reader, then Argiri’s approaches the divine. It transforms and moves the spirit as modern fiction should and so seldom does, describing a love story with such true emotion that the heart aches reading it.”—Booklist
Over time the book fell out-of-print; Argiri had been too early in writing a novel in a genre that now has captivated many thousands of readers, regardless of their gender or sexuality, readers who simply enjoy a top-quality love story between two people at a time when that love is considered forbidden.
Happily for us, our friends at preeminent queer publisher Lethe Press are proudly reprinting this book and finally providing devotees of ebooks the chance to read this touching story. Here in Pride Month 2016, the book’s message is a timely affirmation: Love is stronger than violence. Joy is within reach, even if we have to work for it. We are strong enough!
We just added bestselling author Patricia A. McKillip’s latest book, a collection of stories Dreams of Distant Shores and I see that Tor.com has a sweepstakes running until June 17th.
Either way, buy it or enter the sweepstakes, it’s not a book to miss!
Apparently not everyone is playing Neko Atsume on their phones, some people are also reading a lot. We had a great month kickstarted along by two star magazines, Uncanny and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, who both ran very successful subscription drives.
These magazines, like Weightless, run on subscriptions and readers choosing DRM-free independence over globespanning humorless megacorporations. We appreciate the business, we’d like to stay in business, so we will keep working to make the site faster and easier to navigate and we hope readers will keep spreading the word, especially internationally as about half of our readers are from beyond these shores. Hello world!
Someone slipped us a piece of good news this month that we will get to share with you later. Will it mean more good reading for you? Possibly!
May 2016 Bestsellers
We’re very happy to announce that today we have the first issue of Molly Tanzer’s new project, Congress Magazine, and to celebrate it we have Molly’s first Editorial. Technically we aren’t adding any new publishers this year to Weightless but since we’d already worked with Molly and Jeremiah on The Big Click this was an easy addition:
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Congress Magazine. Here, you will find what we like to call thoughtful erotica: stories that excite the mind and bewitch the senses as they draw the reader in with strong plots and unforgettable characters. Good smut can be good literature, as connoisseurs know, and we seek to insert ourselves into that grand tradition.
This month we present three original stories and a reprint for your pleasure. First, Livia Llewellyn, that mistress of the sinister and seductive, treats us to “Bohemian Grove, 1916.” Ms. Llewellyn’s story is imminently suitable for our summer debut, being full of sweat-dampened dresses, tanned thighs, rumpled suits, and private jaunts to private islands. And owls. Then, we have Robert Levy’s “My Heart’s Own Desire,” a transgressive triple threat of love, sex, violence, and drugs. Oh—wait, that’s four things. It’s hard to count when one’s fingers are so busy.
Following Mr. Levy we have the mysterious Matthew Addison’s “Wish Girls,” about a man who’s grown tired of his matched set of magical sexy cheerleaders. If it sounds like a good problem to have, imagine having two immortal, lithe, long-limbed, stacked cheerleaders always hanging around your apartment, eager and ready to please no matter what the request (or command). If it still sounds like a good problem to have… you’ll just have to read Mr. Addison’s story.
And finally, we have David Nickle’s “The Bicameral Twist.” When I approached Mr. Nickle about writing for Congress, he suggested the title “Bicameral” as a tease. Well, we love teasing here at Congress, especially when it’s followed by something more substantial… and Mr. Nickle certainly provided that. “Bicameral Twist” is as cerebral as it gets, but keep an open mind. You might learn something about yourself… from yourself.
Future issues of Congress may feature nonfiction, or comics, or essays, but we’re all fiction this month. Come August, expect more; we’ll deliver the goods right to your computer or e-reader.
While our content will always be free online, an issue costs just $2.99 here on Weightless. You can also subscribe to our full six-issue run through Weightless Books for just $17.94. A small operation, we appreciate your support, as it means we can keep purchasing great fiction and luscious covers, like this month’s, by Gerard Vlaz.
A magazine is only as good as its writers and its staff. I feel so lucky to have four such talented authors ushering us into existence. I’m also l lucky to have support from Jeremiah Tolbert, our publisher—and such a killer name, courtesy Nick Mamatas.
So, welcome. I sincerely hope you enjoy your time with us… and that we leave you craving more.
Editrix, Congress Magazine
There are less than two days left on the Small Beer Humble Bundle — get 21 ebooks for $15 or more . . . And please consider adding Franciscan Children’s under the Choose Your Own Charity, we thank you very much!
To celebrate the 200th issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, we’re having a Subscription Drive!
UPDATE: our first goal is unlocked! BCS has raised our word-count limit to 11,000 words.
Subscribe now, and help us raise it to 12,000 or even 15,000!
BCS #1 debuted in October 2008. Since then we’ve published 200 issues, 419 stories, and 201 audio podcasts. We’ve been a finalist for four Hugo Awards, five World Fantasy Awards, two Nebula Awards, one BSFA Award, numerous Aurora, Aurealis, Ditmar, and Parsec Awards, and won a World Fantasy Award. We’ve become the field’s go-to home for character-driven fantasy in secondary-world settings. Locus online said BCS “revived secondary-world fantasy as a respectable subgenre of short fiction… Not a trivial accomplishment.”
And there’s more to come! BCS this year will feature new stories by returning BCS authors Marie Brennan, Gregory Norman Bossert (whose first BCS story “The Telling” won the World Fantasy Award), Mishell Baker, Raphael Ordoñez, KJ Kabza, Grace Seybold, Stephanie Burgis, Walter Dinjos, and Tony Pi, plus Catherynne M. Valente, Kameron Hurley, A.M. Dellamonica, Claude Lalumière, and many more.
Ebook subscriptions to BCS are only $15.99 for a full year/26 issues. (That’s less than 30 cents a story!) Subscribers can get issues delivered directly to their Kindle or smart phone, and they get new issues early, a week before the website.
From now until June 3, if you buy a BCS ebook subscription or renew your existing subscription, you can help unlock our drive goals.
Since BCS #1 in 2008, over a third of our fiction has been novelette-length or longer. Longer stories work great to show awe-inspiring fantasy worlds, like you’ll find in every issue of BCS. Our word-count limit for submissions, 10,000 words, has always been among the longest if not the longest in pro-rate online magazines.
With your help, we’d like to make it even longer!
Every subscription makes a difference in helping us pay our authors, for their great stories of all lengths. With your support, we look forward to another 200 issues of BCS and great literary adventure fantasy!
Wearing my Small Beer Press hat (or T-shirt), we’re running a Kickstarter for what John Crowley calls the first science fiction novel. We’re offering the DRM-free ebook as one of the rewards which can also be acquired with a 1/2 price LCRW ebook subscription: 8 issues for the price of 4. Subscriptions will be fulfilled here on Weightless and current subscribers who choose this option will have their subscriptions extended.