science fiction and fantasy writer

Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

One more new story

In Uncategorized on January 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm

I’ve posted my story “Grey Snow in the Shadows“, which appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #58 in July 2013, my fifth publication there.

It owes a debt of inspiration to the novella “The Gray Snowman” by Ch’oi Yun, an account of underground political activisim in South Korea under the dictatorship of Park Chung-Hee. The grey snowman is included here in homage. I banged Yun’s setting together with the descriptions of Idi Amin in Ryzsard Kapuscinski’s The Shadow of the Sun and got a randomly manifesting Shadow of Mordor inhabited by cloaked tentacle monsters.

Obviously.

This one underwent a fair bit of Girl Bilboing as I was writing it, with almost all the characters changing genders at least once. It also had seven or eight different endings along the way before I settled on the one I was happy with.

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Another new story

In Uncategorized on January 26, 2014 at 12:25 pm

I’ve posted my story “Vandiemensland“, which appeared in the CSFG anthology, Next, in April 2013 – my first publication in a CSFG book. It’s a survival horror story inspired in large part by an episode in Marcus Clarke’s For The Term of His Natural Life. It also continues the series of related alternate Australia stories that began with my Writers of the Future winning story “Bitter Dreams”.

Another story posted

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I’ve just posted another of my recent print publications. This one’s called “From Sorrow’s Gate”, a weird Western set in one of my evolving secondary fantasy worlds that started way, way back with my very first published story “The Alchemical Automaton Blues”. This story is follows, at a few generations removed, the events of “The Gifts of Avalae”, which appeared in the anthology Blood & Devotion in 2010. “From Sorrow’s Gate” appeared in Issue #1 of Crowded Magazine (the lead story, no less) in February 2013.

You can read it here.

New story posted (and a further lengthy digression on gender balance in stories)

In Uncategorized on January 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Well, a new-old story. I’ve just posted my story “The Godbreaker and Unggubudh the Mountain”, which appeared in the 2012 anthology Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear from Peggy Bright Books. This story is a sequel to “The Godbreaker of Seggau-li”, which you can also read on this website.

The Godbreaker is an archetypal “Drifter” character, one of my favourite Western archetypes, but when I write Drifter stories, I tend to use other Western character archetypes for point-of-view. In  “Seggau-li” it was the Feisty Townswoman, in “Unggubudh” it’s the Retired Gunslinger. Although in this case, the Retired Gunslinger is an anthropomorphised bear with a motherfucking huge sword – because is there anything more badass than a bear with a sword?

That’s the real news, what follows is a lengthy digression apropos of presenting a story like “Unggubudh” immediately after my most recent rant about gender balance in fiction. Oh, the irony. But, also, I think these two Godbreaker stories make an interesting contrast, in terms of what I would and wouldn’t change, and why, in re-examining them with more of an eye to gender balance.

[MINOR SPOILERS ahead.] 

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On Passing the Bechdel Test

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I’ve been talking with my little girl, age 8, about how stories work. This started a couple of years ago when we read the first of Cressida Cowell’s How To Train Your Dragon books. When the hero, Hiccup, got exiled from his Viking tribe at about the midpoint of the book, my daughter burst into tears. My response was to start talking about how stories work, and how everything has to go wrong so that the hero can put it all right again. That fixed the tears and, since then, we’ve moved on to other aspects of storytelling, like act structure, how beginnings, middles and endings work and showing not telling.

One thing we’ve talked about that she’s really taken to is the Bechdel Test for gender bias in movies. She tells me how it’s disappointing that The Avengers failed, because it had three female characters and two of them shared scenes. She was very pleased that Frozen passed in the first scene (because snowmen don’t count), but it was noted that almost the entire supporting cast was male, including the reindeer (for the record, according to the script, there’s six other female characters with speaking parts, but only three of them have names and only two have more than two lines of dialogue – one is a servant, with four inconsequential lines, and one is a troll, who tops the list with seven lines, albeit most of them about a man). It didn’t spoil her enjoyment of these movies, but she noticed.

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Tangent Online Recommended Reads

In Uncategorized on January 9, 2014 at 9:57 am

Oo! I have four stories in Tangent Online’s 2013 Recommended Reading List:

  • From Sorrow’s Gate (Crowded Magazine #1) – short story, one star
  • The Canal Barge Magician’s Number Nine Daughter (Clockwork Phoenix 4) – short story, one star
  • When the rain comin (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 13) – short story, two stars
  • Cold, Cold War (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #123, June) – novelette

Neat.

Clockwork Phoenix 4 has been Tiltoned (again)

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Lois Tilton at Locus Magazine has nominated Clockwork Phoenix 4 (featuring my story “The Canal Barge Magician’s Number Nine Daughter”) as her favourite anthology for 2013. Her original review of my story in the book (yes, yes, and a link to her review of the other stories, too) is here.