- Bastion Science Fiction Magazine – Issue 5, August 2014
- Lightspeed Magazine Issue 49: Women Destroy Science Fiction! Special Issue
- Lightspeed Magazine Issue 50
- Locus #643, August 2014
- Interzone 253
- Laurie J. Marks, Fire Logic
- Nina Allan, Spin
Astrid Amara, The Devil Lancer
- Eric Brown, Rites of Passage
- Melissa Scott & Amy Griswold, Death by Silver
- Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- On Spec
- New York Review of Science Fiction
- Galaxy’s Edge
Bastion Science Fiction Magazine
- 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
The Weightless Weekly Sales were huge last month but there were some other big titles, too, so for August I made a Top 10 (actually 12) as well as magazines (Lightspeed is still destroying science fiction, but . . . see below!) and subscriptions.
Hey, lookit Bastion’s at #1! Congratulations!
August 2014 Bestselling Magazines
August 2014 Bestselling Books
Nice to see new additions to the site On Spec and Bastion Science Fiction Magazine building up their readerships. Clarkesworld just announced a new translation project that I’m looking forward to seeing funded on Kickstarter:
August 2014 Bestselling Subscriptions
Andrea Pawley interviews Richard Flores IV, editor-in-chief of Plasma Frequency, a bimonthly magazine of speculative fiction which just started their third year of publication:
Q: Plasma Frequency publishes a wide range of speculative fiction stories including science fiction, fantasy and horror. How do you know when you get a submission that’s perfect for Plasma Frequency?
Flores: Deciding what stories go into an issue of Plasma Frequency is a lot harder than I ever imagined. First, a story has to go through two other editors before it comes to me for a final decision. Either of those other two editors can reject the story for a variety of reasons. So once a story gets to me for the final decision, they are usually all very good stories. At this point, I am looking for something different, something that takes me by surprise. It could be a twist that captivates me. It could be a new spin on an old idea. It could be something I’ve never seen before. All these things lead me to select those stories. They have to stand out from the rest of the really good stories. It usually isn’t easy to pick.
Q: What inspired you to start Plasma Frequency?
Flores: There is no shortage of very good fiction out here.And a lot of it gets rejected simply because there isn’t enough space for every story. So I wanted to offer one more home to stories. And it was important to me that authors were paid for their work. So that inspired me. But researching how the magazine market worked fascinated me, and that was what finally pushed me over the edge to actually start the magazine.
Q: As a child, who was your favorite science fiction or fantasy author?
Flores: I actually wasn’t a fan until much later in life. In high school, I hated to read. I was tired of being forced to read these books that didn’t interest me. But I was forced to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Since that time, I have always held a spot for his work as one of my favorite artists, because it was his work that introduced me to the joy of reading science fiction.
Flores: Rude authors. Hands down I never saw that coming. When we started Plasma Frequency, we were a personal rejection only market. We didn’t use any form letters. And we got some very nasty replies back from authors. Some were even very threatening. It wasn’t that our rejection letters were rude, we only offered them the reason for rejection. I had one reader quit because of it. And now, even though we have switched to using a lot of form rejections, we will still get one or two rude replies every now and again. It surprises me that authors will act like that.
Q: You make good use of an army of dedicated volunteers. What makes for a good volunteer?
Flores: They have to be committed. It can be very tough to ask someone to set aside some of their time to work hard for a magazine that they don’t get any money from. So they have to be very loyal to seeing good fiction get published. The volunteers I have really do want to see Plasma Frequency succeed, and it shows in the amount of work they put in. They are also very understanding that Plasma Frequency doesn’t make any money at this point. Sales and subscriptions don’t yet pay for the issues, let alone the other business costs. And the volunteers we have are like-minded to me, they aren’t in this to make money, they just want to see good stories find a home.
Q: Your third year of publication starts this month with the September/October issue. What changes will Year Three of Plasma Frequency hold?
Flores: We do have something new coming down the pipeline. I am not sure when we will start this up, but it will be more behind the scenes helping the authors. We are working out a program where selected stories that have great potential but need more work can join a one-on-one critique session with our proofreading editor. He will then be able to work with the author to make changes. That is the idea anyway. We are currently ironing out all the details. It won’t be released until further down in Year Three, hopefully early 2015.
Plasma Frequency is a magazine of speculative fiction that offers short stories in science fiction, fantasy, horror and all other aspects of the genre. Plasma Frequency is available DRM-free in single issues or as a 12-month subscription.
You may have noticed that red popup about “internet slow lanes” featuring the spinning ball of death. Maybe you clicked it and got taken to the petition. Maybe you signed it and/or maybe you were curious to learn more and that’s why you’re reading this now. If so, thank you.
It didn’t feel right featuring that (in my opinion misleading and at best reductive) banner (also at Small Beer Press along with who knows how many other sites across the internet) without offering some background and perspective. Here goes.
Net Neutrality, for those who’ve been accessing the internet from under a rock for the last year or so, is the noble and idealistic crusade to prevent the corporations that provide the vast majority of us with internet access from exercising that power too greedily or unfairly. The most prominent example of this in recent news has been Comcast’s battle with Netflix earlier this year. Back in January, the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down a 2010 FCC ruling that made at least some effort to codify and enforce net neutrality. With those restrictions lifted, Comcast started throttling Netflix traffic, causing Netflix subscribers to experience slow and interrupted streaming content, eventually forcing Netflix to pay Comcast more for extra bandwidth. Netflix subscribers have not yet seen a rate increase as a result, but likely that’s a matter of time. Here, then, is what the organizations behind today’s “Battle for the Net” mean by “slow lanes”. They’re talking about the economic stratification of the internet: fast access to content for some, faster for the rich, slower for everybody else.
My objection to this wording (aside from it being alarmist and hyperbolic, which I acknowledge the international media’s rhetorical arms race to meaninglessness makes necessary to incite anyone to take any action, even the most inconsequential) is that the internet has been economically stratified since its inception. “The future is here, it’s just unevenly distributed,” as William Gibson has been saying since at least 1993. To access the internet, you need to be able to afford a computer built by one corporation and a monthly subscription paid to another, or have the audacity and wherewithal to acquire these things illegally. That’s not going to change.
There is, however, the looming possibility that it’s going to (a) get worse or (b) get a little better. That’s why we’re talking about it now, and what the petition purports to address.
In May, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed a new set of rules to replace those struck down by the courts in January. He then opened the proposal to a period of public comment, which is set to end on September 15th, in five days. Net neutrality activists don’t like this proposal much at all. The details of why and what they’d prefer involve 100+ pages of incomprehensible (at least to me) legalese–so this is pretty much where I get off. But the gist seems to be that the much shorter wording in Wheeler’s version leaves open to interpretation by corporations and their lawyers exactly what exercising their power too greedily or unfairly means, whereas the 100+ page version preferred by the Battle for the Net people lays it out that much more explicitly.
When I clicked that banner link and wound up at the petition, I balked. I love the principle of net neutrality, but I’m skeptical about pretty much everything else pertaining to it. So I went and read all those articles I’m linking to above and then some, and I came to the conclusion that despite the misleading wording and too-little, too-late feel of this particular iteration of the debate, it was indeed important and meaningful that as many non-corporate persons as possible voice an opinion about this in the hopes it just might sway the people in power away from the far less numerous but far, far more deafeningly loud voices of the corporate persons and their lobbying money.
So I went and signed the petition, and as you see. I hope you’ll read it all too and come to the same conclusion. Failing that, maybe you’ll just trust that I did and sign anyway?
Thanks for reading.
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.