“Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.
“Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”
In a ruined, nameless city of the future, Rachel makes her living as a scavenger. She finds a creature she names Borne entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic despotic bear that once prowled the corridors of a biotech firm, the Company, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly, and broke free. Made insane by the company’s torture of him, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers.
At first, Borne looks like nothing at all ― just a green lump that might be a discard from the Company, which, although severely damaged, is rumored to still make creatures and send them to far-distant places that have not yet suffered collapse.
Borne reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment that she resents: attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick ― a special kind of dealer ― not to render down Borne as raw genetic material for the drugs he sells.
But nothing is quite the way it seems: not the past, not the present, not the future. If Wick is hiding secrets, so is Rachel ― and Borne most of all. What Rachel finds hidden deep within the Company will change everything and everyone. There, lost and forgotten things have lingered and grown. What they have grown into is mighty indeed.
Verity Holloway's Pseudotooth was published by Unsung Stories in March 2017.
Information about Verity Holloway:
Born in Gibraltar in 1986, Verity Holloway grew up following her Navy family around the world. Always on the move, dealing with the effects of her connective tissue disorder, Marfan syndrome, she found friendly territory in fantasy, history, and Fortean oddities.
In 2007, she graduated from Cambridge's Anglia Ruskin University with a First Class BA in Literature and Creative Writing. She went on to earn a Distinction Masters in Literature with special focus on Dante Gabriel Rossetti's The House of Life.
Her short stories and poems have been variously published. Her story Cremating Imelda was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and in 2012 she published my first chapbook, Contraindications. Her 'delightfully weird' novella, Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs, was released in 2015, and in October 2016 Pen & Sword will publish her first non-fiction book, The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway's Patent Medicine Empire, a biography of her Victorian cousin who made his fortune with questionable remedies. Unsung Stories published her novel Pseudotooth in March 2017.
Click here to visit her official website.
Information about Pseudotooth:
The debut novel from Verity Holloway, Pseudotooth is an adult take on 'portal fantasy', boldly tackling issues of trauma responses, social difference and our conflicting desires for purity and acceptance.
Aisling Selkirk is a young woman beset by unexplained blackouts, pseudo-seizures that have baffled both the doctors and her family. Sent to recuperate in the Suffolk countryside, she seeks solace in the work of William Blake and writing her journal, filling its pages with her visions of Feodor, an East Londoner haunted by his family's history back in Russia.
The discovery of a Tudor priest hole and its disturbed former inhabitant lead Aisling into a meeting with the enigmatic Chase and on to an unfamiliar town where the rule of Our Friend is absolute and those deemed unfit and undesirable have a tendency to disappear into The Quiet...
This bold new work of literary fantasy blurs the lines between dream and reality, asking troubling questions about those who society shuns, and why.
A REVIEW OF VERITY HOLLOWAY'S PSEUDOTOOTH
Galactic Empires (edited by Neil Clarke) was published by Night Shade Books in January 2017.
Information about Neil Clarke:
Neil Clarke is a Hugo and World Fantasy Award-winning editor and publisher. He is the owner of Wyrm Publishing and editor of Clarkesworld Magazine, Forever Magazine, and several anthologies, including the Best Science Fiction of the Year series.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Galactic Empires:
Neil Clarke, publisher of the award-winning Clarkesworld magazine, presents a collection of thought-provoking and galaxy-spanning array of galactic short science fiction.
From E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman, to George Lucas' Star Wars, the politics and process of Empire have been a major subject of science fiction's galaxy-spanning fictions. The idiom of the Galactic Empire allows science fiction writers to ask (and answer) questions that are shorn of contemporary political ideologies and allegiances. This simple narrative slight of hand allows readers and writers to see questions and answers from new and different perspectives.
The stories in this book do just that. What social, political, and economic issues do the organizing structure of “empire” address? Often the size, shape, and fates of empires are determined not only by individuals, but by geography, natural forces, and technology. As the speed of travel and rates of effective communication increase, so too does the size and reach of an Imperial bureaucracy. Sic itur ad astra - “Thus one journeys to the stars.”
At the beginning of the twentieth century, writers such as Kipling and Twain were at the forefront of these kinds of narrative observations, but as the century drew to a close, it was writers like Iain M. Banks who helped make science fiction relevant. That tradition continues today, with award-winning writers like Ann Leckie, whose 2013 debut novel Ancillary Justice hinges upon questions of imperialism and empire.
Here then is a diverse collection of stories that asks the questions that science fiction asks best. Empire: How? Why? And to what effect?
A REVIEW OF GALACTIC EMPIRES (EDITED BY NEIL CLARKE)
Christopher Barzak's Wonders of the Invisible World was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in September 2015.
Information about Christopher Barzak:
Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Fantasy Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which has been made into the Sundance feature film Jamie Marks is Dead.
His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula Award and the James Tiptree Jr. Award.
His most recent novel, Wonders of the Invisible World, was published by Knopf in 2015, and received the Stonewall Honor Award from the American Library Association.
He is also the author of two collections: Birds and Birthdays, a collection of surrealist fantasy stories, and Before and Afterlives, a collection of supernatural fantasies, which won Best Collection in the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards.
Christopher grew up in rural Ohio, has lived in a southern California beach town, the capital of Michigan, and has taught English outside of Tokyo, Japan, where he lived for two years. Currently he teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Wonders of the Invisible World:
Aidan Lockwood feels like he's been sleepwalking through life, each day as hazy and unremarkable as the one before it. But when his former best friend, Jarrod, suddenly moves back to town, the veil that has clouded Aidan's mind begins to lift. Yet what Aidan discovers is that his world is haunted by stories of the past; stories that he has somehow been prevented from remembering.
But visions from the past come to him unbidden, starting with an old apple tree - a gnarled, dead thing - that haunts Aidan's sleep, and seems to beckon to him from across his family's orchard. And then there are the dreams that show him people and places he's only heard of in family stories: a great-grandfather on the field of battle; his own father, stumbling upon an unspeakable tragedy; and a mysterious young boy whose whispered words may be at the heart of the curse that now holds Aidan's family in its grip.
But there's another presence lurking within this invisible world - someone who has been waiting to collect on a debt set into motion generations ago. As the lines between the past and the present, stories and truths, friends and lovers begin to blur, Aidan will be forced to spin a story of his own to protect those he loves, and keep the invisible world at bay.
A REVIEW OF CHRISTOPHER BARZAK'S WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD
Toadhouse's Living and Dying in a Mind Field was published by Snuggly Books in February 2017.
Information about Toadhouse:
Toadhouse, a.k.a. Allan Graham, was born in San Francisco, California, in 1943. He is an artist whose work includes sculpture, painting, poetry, and video.
Information about Living and Dying in a Mind Field:
Words are an obscure form of consciousness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . we are always left with blank spaces. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . question marks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . gaps! Language leaves us up a hill without a creek. This is the explanation!
A REVIEW OF TOADHOUSE'S LIVING AND DYING IN A MIND FIELD
Jason Rolfe's An Archive of Human Nonsense was published by Snuggly Books in February 2017.
Information about Jason Rolfe:
Jason Rolfe was born and raised in Southwestern Ontario. His work has appeared in numerous online and print venues, including Sein und Werden, Pure Slush, Cease Cows, Apocrypha & Abstraction, The Journal of Experimental Fiction, and Black Scat Review. His first collection, An Inconvenient Corpse, appeared as number 30 in Black Scat Books’ Absurdist Texts and Documents Series (Black Scat Books, 2014). He regularly contributes to Black Scat Books’ online journal, Le Scat Noir.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about An Archive of Human Nonsense:
“Along the tavern’s back wall he found a small writing desk, around which the floor was stained ink-black and littered with loose scraps of paper. Atop the desk he found a small stack of handwritten newsletters entitled The Archive of Human Nonsense. He picked one up. It was dated 17 April, 1817 - eight months previous - and had been hand-penned in German running script. From front to back the small newsletter was eight pages long. It opened with a list of names, twenty-two in all, and closed with a watercolour picture of a giant red rooster...”
Thus begins an existential journey through Vienna’s streets and one man’s guilt-laden memories. From mountebanks, puppet showmen, and trainers of performing monkeys, to the strange Mechanical Theatre of Sebastian von Schwenenfeld, the journey becomes a quest not to find meaning but to define it.
A REVIEW OF JASON ROLFE'S AN ARCHIVE OF HUMAN NONSENSE