Beneath Ceaseless Skies Author Interview: Bill Powell

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    Andrea Pawley interviews Bill Powell for Weightless Books. Powell’s play “The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto” appears in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 173.

    beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-173-cover-200x266Q: How did “The Punctuality Machine, Or, A Steampunk Libretto” come together? Especially as a supposedly authentic Victorian script for a stage comedy?

    Powell: This is one of those extremely improbable projects where you break down and just write about the weird stuff you know you’ll love yourself, even though there’s no way it’ll actually get published. For this story, those loves include:

    • Time travel disasters, including fighting with your double(s). As a kid, Back to the Future completely messed me up.
    • Crazy comedies like I’ve been writing since high school (a format editors request rather infrequently).
    • The extravagant, amazing language and satire of Gilbert and Sullivan, especially Pirates of Penzance.

    As far as I know, Gilbert and Sullivan never happened to write about time machines and alien invasions — a most regrettable omission. But I had tons of fun trying to tackle these ideas as if I were one of their (much less skillful) contemporaries.

    Q: What’s the first play you remember wanting to write?

    Powell: Alas, I hesitate to inflict any of my juvenilia on the unsuspecting reader, even in summary form. :) But my first big audience for one of my comedy skits was a gym packed for my high school talent show.

    This must have been Election Year 1996, because the title of my skit was “Waiting for Perot,” which perhaps suggests the obscure quality of much of the humor. As I mounted the stage, I had no idea whether this heartless horde in the shadows would get most of the jokes. Comedy is wonderfully and brutally testable – people either laugh, or they most emphatically do not. You face ecstasy or evisceration. In public.

    The first few jokes got modest laughs, but then came a weird, complicated joke . . . and silence.

    A seething silence – I could feel hundreds of people all straining their mental muscles in concert. The question hung high above us all, like the long, long arc of a desperate three-point shot. Would they get it? Would they?

    Then came the explosion. Whoosh!

    They got it. And they got me – I’ve never recovered from the high of making an audience laugh as one. It’s an altered state for us all.

    Q: I understand in college you turned in philosophy essays in the form of plays when your classmates were taking more traditional approaches. Are you the first person in history to do this and get away with it?

    Powell: Ha! Definitely not. The honor of “first play-writing philosophy student” goes to that chap Plato. The Socratic dialogues really are dialogues, sometimes with a whole dinner table of argumentative characters.

    Personally, I stumbled early on into this rich tradition of disputation masquerading as drama, from the zany, high-spirited philosophical “novels” of G. K. Chesterton that I devoured in high school all the way back not only to Plato, at least, but also the delectable satire of his contemporary Aristophanes.

    In fact, I think my first college success at handing in a play instead of a paper was in a class where we’d read an Aristophanes comedy. I simply asked if I could write a modern retelling.

    This was for my “Great Books” seminar, a wonderful experience across all four years where everyone could actually talk about Plato, Homer, and all those names we’d always heard but never read. I suppose the course was already so offbeat that the teacher was comfortable letting me try something cool.

    Best of all, my class did a reading.

    After that, I hustled to write comedies instead of papers whenever I could. Professors, it turned out, were also human beings, at least part-time, and almost all appeared to be even more bored reading normal papers than I was writing them…up to and including my philosophy thesis advisor.

    Besides, comedy isn’t just a blast – it’s a most sensible way to discuss philosophy. People loved seeing these crazy philosophical positions come to life as even crazier characters. It’s one thing to read Descartes nattering on for chapters about how he might not exist; it’s quite another to watch Bob the Cartesian really try to get through his day.

    Q: If you could debate any living or dead comedian, philosopher, or playwright who would it be?  

    Powell: Wow! Are you kidding? All of them! I’d put everyone in a huge school cafeteria and lock the doors until they’d figured everything out.

    Things might get dicey once the grape juice started to ferment.

    Q: You’re a graduate of the the Odyssey Writing Workshop. How has your experience at Odyssey influenced your writing?

    Powell: Every possible good way! I can’t even list them all.

    Odyssey is like you’ve spent your whole life trying to build custom dollhouses, and you think you’re pretty good at it, maybe, and then Jeanne Cavelos walks in and:

    1) Turns your workshop light on (whoa!),

    2) Explains how to use hundreds of specialized carpentry tools, as opposed to your current toolset of a rubber mallet and a crowbar,

    3) Gently deconstructs your current attempts in microscopic, systematic, eviscerating and yet loving detail, illuminating every minute opportunity for improvement,

    4) Teaches you how to analyze and learn from other people’s dollhouses at this same incredible level, and

    5) Introduces you to a network of master carpenters, all of whom are delighted to meet you (even years later) simply because Jeanne chose you as a student.

    Apply to Odyssey. Everything will change.

    Bill PowellQ: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on now that you can share?    

    Powell: Sure! I’m writing a comedy novel about a hapless college student who gets trapped in a small, rural Virginia town where everyone is delightfully crazy. This town bears no resemblance whatsoever to the small, rural Virginia town where I happen to live.

    Bill Powell lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he eats and breathes regularly. He writes fantasy, science fiction, metaphysically problematic author bios, and character-driven stories about driverless cars. His website is, and you know what’s awesome? Mutual funds. Seriously! You can retire with a million bucks! How is that not science fiction?

    Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a three-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online magazine publishing the best in literary adventure fantasy, is available for DRM-free purchase from Weightless Books.

    Apex Magazine 2015 Subscription Drive!

    Apex Magazine is having a subscription drive — subscribe now!

    Here’s more from Lesley Conner:

    Each month we release a new issue of Apex Magazine stuffed full with original fiction, poetry, nonfiction, reprints, and more! Most of the content can be read for FREE on the Apex Magazine website, but producing an amazing publication month after month that features both seasoned pros and new writers costs money.

    We want to offer our content on our website – and will continue to do – so that everyone can experience the soul of Ursula Vernon’s “Pocosin”, the haunting beauty of Damien Angelica Walter’s “Not My Monkeys, Not My Circus: The Elephant’s Tale”, the devastation of Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, and the heart-pumping action of Rich Larson’s “Going Endo” but subscriptions and individual issue sales pay our authors and artists.

    That’s why for the next two weeks (November 2nd through November 13th), we’re hosting a subscription drive to boost the number of subscribers to Apex Magazine. 2016 is quickly approaching and we want to make it another outstanding year! Reaching our subscription drive goals will help ensure this happens!

    Our goal for the 2015 Apex Magazine Subscription Drive is $5,000.

    Completely doable, but not without the support of our readers and fans. To help us reach this goal, we have set up rewards which will make the January 2016 issue of Apex Magazine off-the-charts fabulous!

    The current ToC for Issue 80 includes brand new stories from Ursula Vernon, Lettie Prell, and Jennifer Hyke, poetry by Samson Stormcrow Hayes, Zebulon Huset, Anton Rose, and Greg Leunig, and a nonfiction article by Lucy A. Snyder. The cover art is by Matt Davis.

    As we reach goals in our subscription drive we will add to the following to the ToC:

    • $500 – A 5th piece of original poetry
    • $1,000 – A new short story by Chikodili Emelumadu!
    • $2,000 – Interview with Chikodili Emelumadu
    • $2,500 – A 6th piece of original poetry
    • $3,000 – Interview with Ursula Vernon
    • $4,000 – A second reprint exclusive to the Apex Magazine eBook/subscriber edition
    • $5,000 – A new novelette by Ursula Vernon, set in the same universe as her Nebula award winning story “Jackalope Wives”!
    • $6,500 – Stretch Goal! We will open to short fiction submissions on December 1, 2015, rather than January 1, 2016.

    Wow! That is a lot and it is all amazing! Help us publish the most epic issue of Apex Magazine to date and make 2016 the best year yet!


    • Subscribe! Yearly subscriptions are only $17.95 from now until November 13.
    • Share the love of Apex by purchasing a gift subscription for the scifi lover in your life.

    Apex_2015 Sub Drive_600x400

    New Elizabeth Hand interview and ebook

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    Wow, is it spooky around here right now? Everywhere it’s argh! this and eek! that. What if you just want a great read? I have good news for you. Wait, turns out Elizabeth Hand’s Mortal Love was a finalist for the International Horror Guild Awards, oh no! Maybe it is dark and spooky after all? Although it was also a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award and longlisted for the Tiptree, so it has to be good, even if it is scary. Wait (again), I know the answer to this: it’s all of the above! Yep!

    Annnd, don’t miss this month’s Locus which has a timely interview with Elizabeth Hand — along with all the usual other goodies:

    Locus October 2015 (#657) cover - click to view full size  Mortal Love cover - click to view full size  Errantry: Strange Stories cover - click to view full size  Handsome Devil cover - click to view full size  See the Elephant, Issue One cover - click to view full sizeObsession: Tales of Irresistible Desire cover - click to view full size

    Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015

    I’ve been enjoying reading the first volume in the new Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy series. The series is edited by John Joseph Adams and a different guest editor will be brought in each year to select the final table of contents from a selection of one hundred stories that Adams sends along. This year’s guest editor is bestseller author Joe Hill (Horns, 20th Century Ghosts, etc.). You can read his introduction at

    The table of contents for the first volume is below and it is fun to see what you can and can’t get here on Weightless — New Yorker and Tor links are offsite, otherwise they’re all local — and to look at it as one of the many Year’s Best snapshots of the genre in 2014:

    • Foreword by John Joseph Adams
    • Introduction by Joe Hill

    Science Fiction

    • The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever by Daniel H. Wilson
      • from Carbide Tipped Pens—Eric Choi & Ben Bova, editors
    • Each to Each by Seanan McGuire
    • How to Get Back to the Forest by Sofia Samatar
    • Sleeper by Jo Walton
    • The Empties by Jess Row
    • The Relive Box by T.C. Boyle
    • Tortoiseshell Cats are Not Refundable by Cat Rambo
    • We Are the Cloud by Sam J. Miller
    • Windows by Susan Palwick
      • from Asimov’s
    • How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps by A. Merc Rustad
      • from Scigentasy


    • A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i by Alaya Dawn Johnson
      • from F&SF
    • Cimmeria, from the Journal of Imaginary Anthropology by Theodora Goss
    • Help Me Follow My Sister into the Land of the Dead by Carmen Maria Machado
    • How the Marquis Got His Coat Back by Neil Gaiman
      • from Rogues—George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, editors
    • I Can See Right Through You by Kelly Link
    • Ogres of East Africa by Sofia Samatar
      • from Long Hidden—Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, editors
    • Skullpocket by Nathan Ballingrud
      • from Nightmare Carnival—Ellen Datlow, editor
    • The Bad Graft by Karen Russell
    • The One They Took Before by Kelly Sandoval
    • The Thing About Shapes To Come by Adam-Troy Castro

    And some stats on sources and so on:

    • 7 stories by men, 12 by women, 1 nonbinary
    • all from North America (see title for clarification!)
    • 5 from anthologies, 15 from magazines
    • 8 from online magazines, 12 from print (although 5 of the print stories can also be found online)
    • There are four stories from Lightspeed and three from The New Yorker
    • The 13 other stories come from the usual mix for a Year’s Best:
      — traditional digests: Asimov’s, F&SF
      — well known editors: Nightmare Carnival—Ellen Datlow, editor; Rogues—George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, editors
      — popular and newer sf&f venues: Clarkesworld, ScigentasyShimmer, and
      — a genre-friendly literary journal: McSweeney’s
      — and four high profile anthologies:
      Carbide Tipped Pens—Eric Choi & Ben Bova, editors
      HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects—John Joseph Adams, editor
      Lightspeed, Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue—Christie Yant, editor
      Long Hidden—Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, editors.

    September 2015 Bestsellers


    Autumn is here in Western Massachusetts and it is beautiful. There are probably people right now sitting in buses going up and down and around the hills and mountains round here checking out all the leaves, baby, the leaves. Hope they also get out the buses and pick up a few leaves to take home. Meanwhile if those people on the leaf-peeping bus trips need a break from all the beauteous views, they could try some of the recent bestsellers — everyone has been stocking up on their subscriptions, which is awesome, and check out the individual titles because there are some beauties (cough) on there!


    1. New York Review of Science Fiction
    2. Galaxy’s Edge Magazine
    3. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
    4. Lightspeed Magazine
    5. Clarkesworld Magazine

    Individual Titles

    1. Uncanny Magazine Issue 6
    2. The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies Online Magazine, Year Six
    3. From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction, Charles Rice-Gonzales & Charlie Vazquez, editors
    4. Lightspeed Magazine Issue 64
    5. Normal Miguel by Erik Orrantia
      Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33

    From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction cover Normal Miguel cover Clarkesworld Magazine – Issue 109 cover Uncanny Magazine Issue 6 coverThe Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies Online Magazine, Year Six cover - click to view full size

    BCS 7th Anniversary Sale Ends Tomorrow!

    It’s BCS anniversary sale time again–but only through tomorrow, October 14th. Get it while it lasts! See below for details from editor Scott H. Andrews. – Michael

    To celebrate the seventh anniversary of BCS and our new ebook anthology The Best of BCS, Year Six, we’re having another ebook sale! Buy a BCS ebook subscription or the new Best of BCS Year Six, and you’ll get a coupon code inside the book for 30% off all BCS anthologies and back issues.

    That includes all our previous anthologies, Best of BCS Year One, Year Two, Year Three, Year Four, and Year Five, our steampunk anthology Ceaseless Steam, and our new Weird Western anthology Ceaseless West.

    It includes back issues of BCS: all 182 issues of BCS going back to #1 in 2008, including ones not available at any other retailer or on our website. It includes the 25-issue bundles of back issues, such as the brand new bundle with BCS #151-#175. It also includes all BCS subscriptions; you can use the coupon to renew your subscription no matter when it’s set to expire.

    The Best of BCS, Year Six has twenty-two stories for only $3.99, including by Yoon Ha Lee, Helen Marshall, Richard Parks, Gemma Files, Seth Dickinson, Cat Rambo, and more. It features “No Sweeter Art” by Tony Pi, a finalist for the 2015 Aurora Awards and 2015 Parsec Awards, and “The Breath of War” by Aliette de Bodard, a finalist for the 2014 Nebula Awards.

    BCS ebook subscriptions are 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 the issues early, a week before the website.

    The ebook subscriptions and anthologies are also a great way to support BCS–all proceeds go to pay our artists and authors.

    Copper Cylinder Award Winner!

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    The Door in the Mountain coverCongratulations to Caitlin Sweet whose novel The Door in the Mountain is one of the winners of this year’s Copper Cylinder Award! Here’s more from the official press release:

    The Copper Cylinder Award is an annual members’ choice award for Canadian literature of the fantastic, selected by members of the Sunburst Award Society for books published during the previous year. It derives its name from what is considered the first Canadian scientific romance, A Strange Manuscript Found in a Copper Cylinder, by James De Mille (1833-1880).

    All winners of the Copper Cylinder will receive a unique, handcrafted copper cylinder trophy.

    The winner of the 2015 Copper Cylinder Young Adult Award is The Door in the Mountain by Caitlin Sweet (ChiZine Publications, 2014).

    From the publisher:

    Lost in time, shrouded in dark myths of blood and magic, The Door in the Mountain leads to the world of ancient Crete: a place where a beautiful, bitter young princess named Ariadne schemes to imprison her godmarked half-brother deep in the heart of a mountain maze, where a boy named Icarus tries, and fails, to fly—and where a slave girl changes the paths of all their lives forever.

    Caitlin Sweet works for the Ontario government and the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. She is the author of A Telling of Stars (Penguin, 2003) and its prequel, The Silences of Home (Penguin, 2005.) Her third novel, The Pattern Scars (ChiZine, 2011) was short-listed for the 2012 Sunburst Award, and won the 2012 CBC Bookie for Speculative Fiction.

    For additional information about the Copper Cylinder Awards, Sunburst Award Society membership, and the voting process, please visit the website at

    For additional information about the Sunburst Awards, the nominees and jurors, eligibility, and the selection process, please visit the website at

    LCRW Guest Editor Interview: Michael J. DeLuca

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    lady-churchills-rosebud-wristlet-no-33-coverAndrea Pawley interviews Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet guest editor Michael J. DeLuca:

    Q: The theme of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet Issue 33 is humanity’s relationship with the earth. When you became the issue’s guest editor, did you anticipate you’d get story submissions from the likes of Sofia Samatar and Carmen Maria Machado?

    DeLuca: As a matter of fact, I asked them specifically! Along with a handful of others, though those are the only two I solicited whose work appears in the issue. Which is a bit of a cheat, I admit. One of the reasons I love LCRW is how it has been a showcase for new writers. But I felt an imperative to hedge my bets a little, given that it’s a theme issue, and I am not a known brilliant editor like Gavin and Kelly.

    Q: LCRW 33 is filled with female perspectives and a strong undercurrent of feminism. What connections do you see between the two and the future in the age of the anthropocene?

    DeLuca: Insofar as there is feminism in the issue — and there absolutely is, and I’m very happy that’s the case — I take no credit for it. I’m as feminist as I think any financially solvent white cis American male can reasonably be expected to be, which is to say not as much as I’d like to be or should be. Women’s voices have been and are institutionally tuned out and devalued as much by the literary establishment as everywhere else. But I really didn’t have to make much conscious effort in that direction for the issue to come out the way it did. I solicited work from some amazing women, and I tried to make clear in the submission call that I was interested in points of view other than my own. But for whatever reason, an overwhelming proportion of the submissions came from women. And I don’t really have an explanation for it. Do women have a stronger relationship with the earth than men? Creative women in particular? I could speculate fancifully about Gaea and the sacred feminine, but I fear I’d be wading in too deep.

    I’m not a feminist scholar; I’m married to one, but I only manage to osmose so much. What I think I can say is that the future of the anthropocene has to involve a reevaluating and breaking down of traditional narratives of all stripes. And that absolutely must depend upon empowering women to reshape those narratives. The massive, deleterious effect humanity’s trajectory is having on the earth is the direct result of established, patriarchal modes of thought: the capitalist notion of progress, just to name one. And the people best situated to recognize and question those modes of thought are not the people currently situated to benefit from them, but rather the people they hurt: women, minorities, the disenfranchised, the poor.

    Q: If you could make the majority of the world do one thing to benefit the future of the planet, what would it be?

    I’m a little wary of wish-fulfillment: anything I say is going to be something that could never really happen in a million years. But okay, in the name of speculative fiction, I’ll speculate.

    What if everybody, everywhere, tomorrow, stopped using fossil fuels? There’d be enormous fallout. Economic collapse. Just in terms of food distribution — everything’s globalized, my fruit comes from Chile, my walnuts from California. We’d be forced into an incredibly rapid, drastic period of readjustment. Communities would change overnight. A lot of people would starve. A lot of people would have to relearn how to grow their own food. But in the long run — and I don’t think it would be that long, really, a generation let’s say — I think we’d bounce back, and the world would be so much better for it. We’d have learned a lesson. And meanwhile, the whole rest of the world would have bounced back too: forests, watersheds, animal populations, even the ocean.

    But can I actually wish for that, knowing the hardship it would cause? Only in fiction.

    Q: What do you see as the future of Solarpunk?

    I’m curious about that. It’s a very new idea, new enough I hesitate to even call it a movement. Applied broadly, I think it’s a great idea and I really hope it catches on. In other words, if it’s not really so heavily solar-focused, but is used more as a blanket term for all kinds of speculation, technological and otherwise, about where we could go, all taken in a spirit of optimism and play, that could really be amazing. If you think about it as an answer to cyberpunk rather than or not quite so much as steampunk: cyberpunk actually spawned a lot of real advances; it changed the world more rapidly than maybe any other movement in fiction ever has. But it was, for the most part, cynical. And with good reason. Those advances are all pretty amazing: cryptography, mobile technology, virtual currency, social networking. But they’ve led us to some dark places. If solarpunk starts and grows from a place of progressivism and hope — who knows.

    Q: What/who are some of your environmental influences?

    How about this? In chronological order by how I encountered them:

    1. My family. Camping, hiking, hunting, biking, berry picking, swimming, canoeing, fishing, gardening. Predictable, but it’s how we all learn, or don’t learn, to value the natural world.

    2. Thornton W. Burgess, a children’s writer of animal stories from Cape Cod. His animals are anthropomorphized to a great degree, but they also keep to their natural routines and in so doing taught me a lot.

    3. Ms. Howland, my middle school English teacher. She introduced me to the greenhouse effect, global warming, extinction, pollution, habitat loss, suburban sprawl, all these concepts of modern conservationism. She also taught me how to edit a story.

    4. Henry David Thoreau. “Thoreau” was one of my nicknames in high school. He’s blindly optimistic about some things, very narrow in his views about others — he’s a privileged, classically educated white guy from 19th-century New England, after all. But his prose never fails to blow me away, and his observations of the natural world and human nature and the relationship between them are incredibly perceptive and eye-opening even today.

    5. . . . Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ursula K. Le Guin, John Muir, Carlos Castaneda, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Ray Bradbury, John Crowley, Robert Frost, Kurt Vonnegut, Jon Krakauer, Stephen Harrod Buhner, Paul Stamets, Benjamin Parzybok, Paolo Bacigalupi, Rachel Carson, Mircea Eliade, Werner Herzog, Willa Cather, Elizabeth Dodd, Karen Russell, Karen Joy Fowler. . . .

    Note the absurd overbalance of white men. This is my fault, and not because men have or deserve any kind of monopoly on ecological writing or thought. And it’s something I’m trying to correct.

    Q: You’re a writer, too. How did that influence what stories you selected for this issue?

    Being a writer probably makes me harder to please. Purely idea-based SF doesn’t do it for me anymore, I’ve seen too much of it. Plot-driven fiction has gotten old for me. Likewise, writing that relies on prose fireworks to get away with lack of depth. Because it’s LCRW, there was a certain amount of stylistic consideration that went into my choices — it’s very easy for me at this point, having read many submissions for Gavin and Kelly over many years and also having been a big fan of the final product, to identify an LCRW story. But really, the biggest deciding factor wasn’t about whether it was weird enough or LCRW enough, but just whether it was a good story, whether I got caught up in it, cared about the people in it and felt like it all meant something at the end. To a certain degree, someone who knows how to write and understands the tools of storytelling will be affected in a different way by a story than someone who isn’t in it for the craft. But I think, I hope, a lot of it is universal: the tools for appreciating a good story are written in our bones, right next to the instructions for how to eat and sleep and die and procreate.

    Michael J. DeLuca is a fernlike, woody perennial native to the Eastern US, found on hilltops and in woodland clearings from Massachusetts to Michigan. Leaves astringent; strongly tannic; used in teas, to flavor ales and as an aromatic smudge. Flowers late summer in cylindrical catkins. Recent fiction in Ideomancer, Phobos, Betwixt. Tweets @michaeljdeluca.

    Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is An Occasional Outburst, an arrow shot into the future, a harbinger. Edited since 1996 by Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link. LCRW contributors include many writers whose names you may know and many more whose name you may not — and that there finding and reading unfamiliar voices is one of the joys of existence. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is available DRM-free in single issues or in a wide range of subscription options, which may or may not include chocolate.

    No big picture here

    and we use a four-column layout. But I agree with this writer’s puzzlement: why do all the websites have a huge picture on the top and then text?

    Ok: I know one answer: if there’s a huge image at the top and you have to use the space bar to page down to get to the writing, they you’re engaged with the website and once you’re pushing keys and interacting with the site, won’t you stay, click around, and maybe buy a t-shirt, app, or electric car or something? Hmmm,

    Cherries Worth Getting

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    cherries-worth-getting-cover-200x297Agent Keith Curry only ever had to use his mage pistol once, and that was against some goblin butchers. Curry never says if they were legitimate butchers or the bloodthirsty kind. Just assume they were murderous and magical because Curry works for the NATO Irregular Affairs Division (the Irregulars). Once a carnivore, Curry turned to vegetarianism after seeing the after-effects of too many homicides.

    Being a chef is Curry’s special skill. He uses it on the job to root out murder. “Portland’s art, music, and food scenes made it the perfect place to hide a blood orgy.” If that thought makes you laugh before you cringe, then your humor’s in just the right place for Nicole Kimberling’s Cherries Worth Getting. It’s not cannibalism if it’s not your own species, but it’s still murder.

    “Rumpled old magicians, witches in business suits, and faerie lawyers” fill the Irregulars, but humans like Curry do most of the work. Perpetrators infesting Portland span the fantastical realm, too. With the right glasses, even a human like Curry can spot hidden magical signs and “vulgar Gaelic epithets left by leprechaun gangs.”

    Curry doesn’t need magic glasses to see Gunther Heartman, an old flame and a new Irregulars partner. They’re investigating why human protein keeps turning up in different goblin venues around Portland. Against a backdrop of grilled cheese sandwiches, Curry and Heartman follow a well fleshed-out trail of vampires, pixies and sadistic restaurant owners.

    Cherries Worth Getting is a funny, disturbing and erotic novella. I enjoyed it from beginning to end and it’s available DRM-free here on Weightless Books.

    Nicole Kimberling lives in Bellingham, Washington with her wife, Dawn Kimberling, two bad cats as well as a wide and diverse variety of invasive and noxious weeds. Her first novel, Turnskin, won the Lambda Literary Award for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She is also the author of the Bellingham Mystery Series.

    Uncanny, Kaleidoscope

    Uncanny Magazine are running a Kickstarter for Year Two and they’re quickly approaching their goal. They have some fun rewards: check it out here.

    Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy cover - click to view full sizeCongratulations to the writers and editors of Kaleidoscope who have 3 of the 9 finalists for the 2015 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction — and of course to all the nominated writers!

    “All of Our Past Places” by Kat Howard, published in Unlikely Story #9: The Journal of Unlikely Cartography, June 2014.

    “Careful Magic” by Karen Healey published in Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press, August 2014.

    “Cookie Cutter Superhero” by Tansy Rayner Roberts, published in Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press, August 2014.

    “Jackalope Wives” by Ursula Vernon, published in Apex Magazine, Issue 56, January 2014.

    “The Lesser Evil” by Day Al-Mohamed, in Sword & Laser, edited by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, April 29, 2014.

    “The Magician and Laplace’s Demon” by Tom Crosshill, published in Clarkesworld Magazine, December 2014.

    “N is for Nanomachine” by C.S. MacCath in A is for Apocalypse, edited by Rhonda Parrish, Niteblade, August 2014.

    “Qasida” by Rosaleen Love in Secret Lives of Books, edited by Alisa Krasnostein , Twelfth Planet Press, June 2014.

    “Vanilla” by Dirk Flinthart in Kaleidoscope, Twelfth Planet Press, August 2014.

    July 2015 bestsellers


    Straggletaggle cover - click to view full sizeJ. M. McDermott’s new steampunk opus Straggletaggle hit number one this month while the first of the annual year’s best volumes came close at #2. I’m very happy to see the latest issue of LCRW in the top 5. It’s the first guest-edited issue — you can read an interview with one of the contributors, Giselle Leeb, on editor Michael J. DeLuca’s Mossy Skull. Perennial fave Ginn Hale takes the #4 spot and there’s a tie for #5: the July issue of Locus includes the Locus Awards and poll results, which always make for interesting reading and Archivist Wasp has all the buzz in the world!

    1. J. M. McDermott, Straggletaggle
    2. Rich Horton, ed., Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015 edition
    3. Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, No. 33
    4. Ginn Hale, Champion of the Scarlet Wolf
    5. Locus July 2015 (#654)
      Nicole Kornher-Stace, Archivist Wasp

    In the subscription list, it’s fascinating to see the ups and downsand it is always great to see a lively upstart such as Lackington’s pop up. Yay!

    1. New York Review of Science Fiction
    2. Galaxy’s Edge Magazine
    3. Uncanny Magazine
    4. Clarkesworld Magazine
    5. Lackington’s Subscription


    Lackington’s Issue 7 (Summer 2015) Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015 edition cover - click to view full size Archivist Wasp cover - click to view full size Champion of the Scarlet Wolf Book One   Locus July 2015 (#654) cover   Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet No. 33 cover

    Playing with the Hydra: Guest Post by Jason Sizemore

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    headshotAs a small press publisher, I don’t know what to do with Amazon.

    Capitalism is an odd beast. In the short run, capitalism rewards the hardy, the stubborn, and those clever entrepreneurs who find their way through the harsh rapids of today’s economy. In the long run, the little guys are shoved aside while the most successful, such as Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and countless mega-corps go on to rule the world.

    This isn’t an indictment of capitalism. I live in ‘Merica, after all. Capitalism is the American way, and for that, I am happy. But it does place the small business owner in a tough position. Do you fight the powerful, many-headed hydra, or do you hitch a ride on its back waiting for one of the heads to reach around and swallow you whole?

    In my new book, For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, I outline my troubles with the publishing distribution system. Because the returns system is archaic and unnecessary (and certainly not environmentally friendly for a greenie like myself), I elected to turn away from the IPGs and DBDs of the world and opted for the print-on-demand business (POD) model. The POD model is viable due to the force of nature known as

    If you’re not familiar with the POD model, let me give you a brief description. POD allows a publisher to keep very little inventory while maintaining the ability to reach customers via 3rd party vendors such as, Barnes & Noble, and Chapters. Because digital publishing has become an integral part of small press revenues, I lump it into the overall POD model as a subset. Basically, the model has two arms: trade paperback and digital.

    And guess who has the easiest POD service to use for trade paperbacks? Createspace (owned by Amazon). And guess who has one of the easiest and the highest royalty rates for eBooks? The Amazon Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) program.
    Both are wonderful services, and I praise Amazon for making them user friendly. Both have enabled the tidal wave of self-publishing to occur which has benefited of many, many authors. But…

    What if the hydra wants more? We’ve seen the power Amazon has exerted over the Big 5 publishers by removing various publishers’ books from their online store when they want a better contract. What happens should the hydra want to pay less royalty to the small publishers and authors who used KDP and/or Createspace? If KDP drops the royalty rate from 70% to 35%, then what can we do?

    I see a lot of Amazon evangelicals stating with certainty that this will never happen. I sincerely hope they’re right, and perhaps they are, but having the health of your business reliant on the whims of one megacorp strikes me as a dangerous game, toeing a dangerous imaginary line that flickers back and forth.

    Two weeks ago, I did some quick analysis on Apex sales figures by all vendors so far in 2015. For all digital sales, the percentages broke down like this:

    Kindle 79%
    Nook 7%
    Direct Sales 5%
    Weightless Books 4%
    Kobo 1%
    iTunes 1%
    Other 3%

    Even though Apex provides product links to the Amazon, Nook, Weightless, iTunes, and Kobo editions on every product page, a huge majority (a whopping 79%!) still buy our books and Apex Magazine from the hydra.

    It’s been pointed out to me by my well-meaning accountant that if Apex focused strictly on Amazon, we would probably increase our revenues. Perhaps that is true, but the thought horrifies me. It would place Apex firmly on the wrong side of “don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution” equation.

    I always tell our customers to buy from whichever vendor they like the best. If pressed, I will suggest buying from an independent vendor, like Weightless Books, or directly from Apex. I realize that Amazon pays the bills, but in a capitalist economy, competition provides a better shopping experience for both businesses and consumers.

    As Apex has done, many small press publishers have embraced the multiple independent vendors (though quite a few small publishers are Amazon exclusive). The Big 5 think only in volume and that leaves a lot of quality indie vendors in the cold. Making all titles available over multiple indie market places would be a good start, but not the only answer. Readers need to seek out sites like Weightless Books and, instead of giving their money to a megacorp, consider supporting the hardworking indie folks.

    Other than continuing to carry the banner for indie stores like Weightless Books and Drivethru Fiction and choosing to turn to B&N and Kobo for megacorp purchases, I’m not sure what else Apex can do. It is possible that small press and self-publishers have reached the point of no return. We’ve engineered this hydra. At this point, with 79% of our eBook sales going to Amazon, is our only option is to continue to feed it?

    From my end, that may just be Apex’s only option, but it isn’t the only option open to the readers. Money, in our society, speaks louder than words. Therefore, might I suggest buying an Apex book or For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher from Weightless today! That will be a great first step toward helping create a fair market…

    On sale: $2.99 all this week!

    For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher
    Apex Publications
    182 pages
    ISBN: 9781937009304

    Born the son of an unemployed coal miner in a tiny Kentucky Appalachian villa named Big Creek (population 400), Jason fought his way out of the hills to the big city of Lexington. He attended Transylvania University (a real school with its own vampire legend) and received a degree in computer science. Since 2005, he has owned and operated Apex Publications. He is the editor of five anthologies, author of Irredeemable, a three-time Hugo Award loser, an occasional writer, who can usually be found wandering the halls of hotel conventions.

    Best indie book of the month


    Kirkus Reviews just gave Jonathan Harper’s debut collection a starred review and chose it as one of the indie books of the month. Check it out here.

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review):

    “In his first collection, Harper gives us a gallery of 20-somethings, many with older lovers or husbands, trying to reconcile inchoate ambitions with prosaic realities: a ne’er-do-well crashes at his brother’s house and descends into a feud with his scheming fiancee; a callow student undergoes an extreme body-piercing ritual as a seemingly supportive entree into a domestic household; a pastry chef reluctantly goes house hunting with his older lover but is drawn to the disheveled artist next door; an uncouth renter disrupts a couple’s staid lives; a grad student ponders the hidden exploitation lurking in his estranged father’s conservative church; a group of friends spends a weekend reliving their high school fantasy-gaming rituals as their leader slips into a breakdown; an older man’s offer of help to a young strip-club dancer turns rather dark; a young novelist becomes obsessed with the corpse of a woman that washes ashore in the fishing village where he is summering. Harper’s protagonists are sensitive, talented (but not too talented) youths with dreams of creative lives that they find difficult to square with their circumstances and relationships. Far from the glitter of New York and San Francisco, they are dependent on stable, boring partners, whom they often resent, and are immured in the sterile strip malls and bland apartment complexes of a downscale suburbia that has few beguiling, treacherous oases of bohemian grunge. Harper draws this landscape with a superb eye for detail and feel for atmosphere, writing with a limpid, pitch-perfect prose, suffused with a mordant humor and flashes of wistful lyricism. He perfectly captures the fecklessness of a certain age and mindset while investing it with real psychological depth and emotional resonance—and even with an air of mystery and possibility that belies the seeming banality of his characters’ lives. A fine debut collection from a gifted chronicler of contemporary queer discontents.”

    New LCRW out


    And just before the end of the first half of the year (stop me if you’ve heard this one, but has time sped up again?) we sent out the latest issue of LCRW. And! We have a new one coming very soon — so soon it will seem almost more like a weekly than an occasional. But the one after that, it’s much further out. Don’t want too much of a good thing! What’s the new one got? A heartbreaker from  Jade Sylvan, a surprise from Henry Lein; subscribe here.

    Also today: new titles from Aqueduct Press and that’ll be it until tomorrow when we unleash a whole horde of new magazines. See you then!

    Just Added: LONTAR subscriptions

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    Hey, we just added a new subscription: LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction. It is indeed the world’s “only biannual literary journal focusing on Southeast Asian speculative fiction.” Previous issues have presented speculative writing from and about Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, and contributors have won major literary awards in Singapore, USA, the UK, Japan, and the Philippines.

    Curious? Read a couple of interviews!

    LONTAR Special: Interview with Dean Francis and Nikki Alfar

    E. C. Myers