Anathema IndieGoGo Down to 6 DAYS Left & Other Procedural Notes

The Anthema staff are calmer than they appear in your rear view mirror. Please ignore that high-pitched screaming you hear in the background.

Well. That month went far faster than expected. Not least of all because of all the work on the Anathema fundraising. But also largely because of freelancing work, and looking for more freelancing work. (I could still do with more thanks, click here if interested in hiring me for some editing/copywriting/ghostwriting).

A lot of what I wanted to do this month on the blog has been pushed back to next month because of the aforementioned things. And I always know how much time the Anathema fundraising is going to eat out of the month we run it for, and budget accordingly, and it still takes way more time than one ever expects.

Said fundraising is, thankfully, slowly drawing to a close. Which is both great for my mental health and time management, and also kind of vaguely sucks right now because we’re — as I type this — sitting at 49%. Which, yeah, if you can pitch something in or shove someone our way who might also like/love/want to support what we do, that would be immensely appreciated! (The campaign runs through October 3rd after a late start this month because: public holidays.)

At this point, we’re counting in contributors from all sources — be it the website’s Donate page, purchasing issues or subscriptions through our website Store, pitching in to the Ko-fi, or helping directly through the IndieGoGo. We can’t adjust the total on the IGG to account for other contribution sources as it turns out, so we’ll be noting an adjusted tally up on the IGG once done. But right now, we need to get the funds there higher so we can fund our issues for Year 4.

Also we would love it if more people picked up some of the swag packs. We’re looking forward to working on finalized designs for those, and it’s the first year we’ve been able to offer them, so please help yourself to one. :)

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I need to go panic about the end of month deadilnes I’m working to, and also do some CCA grant application prep.

For those of you who also need the reminder (I recalled the deadline a week ago, so no judgement), the next Canada Council for the Arts Research and Creation grant deadline is October 2nd.

If you don’t have a profile on the CCA’s application system, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to set one up in time to apply for this period. (They can take up to 30 days to get confirmed, and only after that can you file an application.) But the Research and Creation grant comes up (I think still) twice a year at this point. So start a profile asap for next time around. :)

And with that, I’m out. There’ll be more non-Anathema content on the website next month, once things settle down.

Look after yourselves in the meantime!

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Anathema’s Year 4 Fundraiser is Live!

It’s true, the Year 4 fundraiser for Anathema is now live in the world! And in the spirit of saving time and consistency, I’m mostly just going to repeat what I said on Twitter earlier about this. Because now that the fundraiser is live what even is time to spend on other things? :p

🎉 🎉 🎉

We’re looking to raise $3,500 CAD to fund our next three issues. Come grab subscriptions, an assortment of physical books, and a small range of critiques before they’re gone!

Find the campaign here:

There’s also a couple stretch goals in the works: funding another issue so we can (finally) be ahead of the game. Also a chance at raising our Fiction/Non-Fiction rates up to $150 per piece.

We would absolutely fucking LOVE to hit that last one, but first we need to cover 2020’s costs. 

I and the other editors will be online over the course of the month talking about the fundraiser (only occasionally being frantic about hitting that goal). But aside from donating/contributing/picking up perks, the single most important thing you can do to help us reach goal is spread the word. No, really:

Fundraising campaigns live and die by engagement, and we’re a small mag. Bigger than others, smaller than many. Our readership grows annually, topping out last year at 8k, and currently on track to hit ~11-12k by year’s end. But our reach only extends so far. That’s where you can help.

Every single RT, share, ecstatic shout of joy, and loosed carrier pigeon about Anathema’s fundraising efforts help more people know that A) we exist, and B) that we want to keep paying our amazing contributors. And, you know, raise our rates. 

So, wanna help? Give us a boost!

Contributing is also good. We’re absolutely on board for people pitching in funds. But do what you can do, spread the word, and read the ever-loving shit out of the mag.

Because we are so fucking proud of our issues and our amazing contributors, all. Just … SO FUCKING PROUD.


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Anathema Issue 8 is Live!

It seems to have been quite a while since I last did an Anathema issue release update on this blog, so it’s high time to bring that back! :D

Issue 8 is officially out in the world today, with a plethora of beautiful and powerful stories, poetry, and non-fiction, and some absolutely fucking gorgeous cover art from Jade Zhang (a small piece of said cover is cropped above).

You can find the issue free to read here.

Or if you want to support the mag you can buy an ebook of Issue 8 here.

And, hey, if you’re feeling generous, you can always pick up a subscription to the mag. :)

Those last two options are how we pay contributors and keep the Anathema website running, so doing so is always appreciated. But whether you’re reading it online or via ebook, we (my co-editors and I) think you should absolutely be following the magazine.

“But what’s in this issue?” you ask.

So much goodness, friends. So much.

Issue 8 has stories from Ian Muneshwar (“Still Water”), Jon Mayo (“A House With a Home”), Brandann R. Hill-Mann (“Soul Sisters”), and S. J. Fujimoto (“A Patch of Night”), alongside poetry from Joyce Chng (“Pendant”) and A.Z. Louise (“Seventeen Days”), and rounds out with non-fiction from Adefolami Ademola (“A Half-Formed Thing”).

We’ve also in this issue applied a couple of content warnings. Please do heed them.

So what the hell are you still doing here? Go read the issue! :D

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Cleaning House (in Advance of Getting Back to Blogging)

*cracks shoulders and settles in*

This blog has always been on again/off again consistent, but generally I like to put something up every couple of weeks or so. That schedule fell apart last year, and then harder still this year.

There was a lot I planned to put up/write since the start of this year — a post about my own writing/sales over the last couple years, a recommended reading list for 2018 work, and a whole host of reviews. All of which are still things I plan to do, but when I break down what I need to work on during a year, paid (or with potential to pay) work always comes first, so the blog is usually the thing that falls by the wayside.

And 2019 has been a year of a lot of work, paid and unpaid, on various fronts. So far in 2019 I:

  • Wrote a 30k tie-in novella to be published later this year.
  • Am writing another 30k novella to follow up on the other.
  • Finally finished a novel that’s been coming together in bits and pieces over the last few years while I wrote other novels in far shorter time. This one is a fair bit more complicated than a lot of other novels I’ve written, and you may have an inkling of why if you’ve read any of the Titan and Serpent stories published so far — which are components of said novel.
  • Wrote several shorter tie-in pieces for as-yet-unannounced projects (listing for some of which are up on the Bibliography page and I’ll update those/post about them once those projects are announced).
  • Did some non-profit/corporate freelance earlier in the first quarter of the year.
  • Put together (with my co-editors) Anathema‘s seventh issue.
  • Am currently putting together (with my co-editors) Anathema‘s eighth issue for release in August.
  • Proofed/edited … uh … a lot of books?

Honestly, that last point has been what takes up the majority of my time. I don’t remember exactly how many books I edited this year alone, though I was running some numbers when the year hit the halfway mark, and by that point I’d edited 116 (118? I can’t recall off the top of my head) titles in some capacity over the last two years and change. 96 of those alone were proofs for Harlequin before I walked away from freelancing for them. Partly because of burnout on turnaround, and partly because a lot of those proofs were also ending up sensitivity reads and wow was I not getting paid enough for that.

I have … thoughts … on this front that NDAs with a couple of publishers mean I can’t talk about directly. But other thoughts aside, whatever you think the general rates are for proofing in the industry, I guarantee you they’re not as good as you’re imagining — with exceptions, because there are multiple publishers who pay extremely well for external editing services. Though at this point, I’ve been getting significantly better rates working on TTRPG edits.

Publishing is an amazing industry to work in — not counting those (many) moments in which you want to set fire to it because of the white supremacy that undergirds so much of it — but honest to god I wish publishing made it easier to make a living doing this. (The eternal gripe from all those of us who work in the field, on all sides of it.)

2019 has been a year of watching a great many people online talk (rightly) about how we need to decouple the work we love from how we make our living — in part if not in whole. Not least of all because it makes it impossible to enjoy the thing you create because it is now an imperative rather than fulfilling.

It’s not exactly revolutionary to note that as creators, we have to fill the well in order to draw from it. And we cannot do so if we never give ourselves time to replenish our resources. But so many of us forget…

For my own part, I’ve been doing far less reading because for so long reading has been specifically paid work for me, and I’ve lost my capacity to enjoy it in casual terms because I’m constantly finding myself asking “But how can I monetize this?” (Yay for burnout and living in a capitalist hellscape.)

Part of the answer for me has been turning back to games as a way of interacting or engaging with storytelling — a necessary shift in framework and medium — both as a player and a creator. I’ve always preferred storytelling and narrative in gaming, so a lot of what I’ve been engaging with has been focused on visual/text/longform storytelling over other aspects of gaming. And I may yet end up talking about some of the things I’ve been playing as part of the blogging I hope to get back to.

GMing a TTRPG campaign has also been a way to get back into a creative mindset after hitting burnout hard this year. Partly, I think, because of the collaborative process that is building a campaign and having people engage in and explore and better the world you are building through their interactions with it. That sense of play and engagement is highly invigorating. Especially when playing with slightly different narrative format (for me) by approaching building that campaign as a couple of seasons of content broken down like a TV series, with respective beats and narrative arcs.

It also helps, it turns out, to have a player base largely comprised of other creatives/writers/artists. It’s a very different experience from past GMing I’ve done — especially since I haven’t GMed in years and I’m a much better storyteller now than I was when I was last doing this.

Sure, technically, it’s taken time away from … um … other things I’m supposed to be doing. But you know what’s fucking great? Giving yourself permission to sit down and just create without thinking about how or where you’re going to sell it. Whether what you’re making is just for you, and/or for other people who want to be part of the story you’re all building together.

It’s fantastic to just be able to fill the well, even while drawing some of that water as needed.

And on that note I’m out for now. And hopefully back in a few weeks to get this blog back on track again.

In the meantime, all of you be well, and may you find whatever gives you joy. :)

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New Sale & What’s Coming in 2019

Now that the contract’s signed, I can announce that I’ve sold a Mutants & Masterminds novella, Idol Pursuits, to Nisaba Press as part of their tie-in fiction line. I don’t have a release date beyond autumn yet, but will update that on the Bibliography page once I do.

This novella also ties into my other Mutants & Masterminds story, “Kill Me Baby, One More Time”, coming out later this year. And though that story is technically set earlier chronologically, it doesn’t technically matter what order you read them in. Because you’re reading both, right? Good. :)

So what’s Idol Pursuits about? As per the condensed pitch:

Idol Pursuits is a queer, women-centric Maltese Falcon, in the style of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D., as directed by early Guy Ritchie (if he wasn’t a misogynist jackass).

Trust me, that pitch is a lot less messy than the original one I wrote before completing that novella and getting to step back and look at the whole thing in perspective. :D

Most of my published output this year is going to be tie-in fiction at this point. Including a third contracted piece I’m not talking about yet until that project’s further along which I think might end up coming out in 2019? Not sure yet. But it’s shaping up to be a fun year…

Stick around for more updates as they land.

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2018 Award Eligibility Post

Here we are, nearly at the end of the year that felt like it would never fucking finish. And yet, it manages to feel over all too soon as well.

Or maybe the latter’s just because I agreed to do far too many things before the calendar rolls over into January. This is also possible. :)

Nevertheless. Some housekeeping before the meat of the post:

I find myself not having put together a Year in Writing post for 2017 as yet, so I’m just going to roll that into the one for 2018 (which will be out early next year — hopefully in January, but I mean who really knows at this point…).

The eligibility post for Anathema will be going up on the magazine’s blog in January, rather than cross-posted here as I’ve done on occasion. Because the focus there over the next few days is getting Issue 6 out the door while it’s still actually, you know, December.

“Until There is Only Hunger” was reprinted in Lost Souls this year, but I’m only noting the two original stories I had out in 2018 for award eligibility.

And now, on to things published in 2018 and some excerpts! :D

And at its Heart, Such Depths
(June 2018, Augur 1.2; Short Story, 5,500 Words)

Siva has been so long under the mountain, so long tracing tunnels ascending and descending, she can no longer tell where earth meets sky, nor what lies above and what below. Or if the world beyond the rock walls and chalcedony-ridden veins still exists.


Sometimes Siva thinks of Meghan. Sometimes of her parents. Sometimes the walls retreat a little. But not enough. Never enough.

She is drowning in stale air laced with her own exhalations.

And when she sleeps, she dreams memories of the outside world.

“In That Fire, All the Voices of Your Dead”
(November 2018, Nisaba Journal Issue 1; Short Story, 4,500 Words,)

They remove her chains just before they toss her from the back of the wagon. The dust of her impact followed shortly after by the thud of her bundled cloak.

“Good riddance, witch,” yells the guardswoman who threw her. The dust hasn’t even settled before the crack of a whip drives the horses on and the wagon turns to make the long ride back to the sheer walls of the capital city of Leogarth.

Atla rises, cracks her back, and gathers up her cloak. It won’t be much use until night; right now it’s just extra weight. But at least she’s got one, and her own clothes – though they’re still filthy from her stay in the Church of the Pure Light’s dungeons. Her skin sallow from so long without light, the glimpse of it shocking to her.

That they chose to exile her isn’t surprising. That the burned ghost from her cell came with her is.

A quieter year for stories from me, but things I’m proud to have out in the world, so it balances out. :)

There’s some work of mine already planned to come out in 2019, and a few more I’m either working on or waiting to get confirmation on/can’t announce yet. We’ll see what next year brings for those. But at this point it looks like a good year coming if you want to read new things from me. And hopefully it’s shaping up to be a good year likewise for all of you as well.

There’ll be more to come (on this and other fronts) in the next few days. Until then, may the end of 2018 find you and yours well!

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New Story in Nisaba Journal Issue 1!

One of the absolute best parts of writing is not only getting to see that work out in the world, but it’s seeing how people engage with it. Sometimes, too, that work is meant for a broader kind of engagement.

Like, oh, say when that work is published as part of tie-in material for an RPG. Allowing it to have life beyond just the story itself, as content and characters and history players can incorporate into their own campaigns, or use as inspiration. Specifically, in this case, as part of Nisaba Journal Issue 1‘s eight stories told across Green Ronin’s Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and Freeport settings!

My own contribution to the volume is a queer MI/trauma/recovery/ghosts/love story (i.e. super on brand) Blue Rose tale: “In That Fire, All the Voices of Your Dead.”

The title of which is also super on brand.

That book’s got some excellent stories from some names you’ll know, and others that may be new to you. If you’re not sure if you’ll like the volume, you can preview it at the link, and read through a fair bit of my story as part of said preview.

For my part, I’ve been playing, creating my own content, and DM/GMing in a variety of settings and systems for a little over a couple decades now, so getting to create something published as part of a roleplaying setting directly is kind of living the dream a little. :)

And, yes, there’s more coming on that front here and there. So that dream just keeps rolling for me.

And for you? If you’re familiar with the shape and nature of Green Ronin’s roleplaying settings, great! They’re awesome sandboxes to play in. If you’re not, this is a fantastic time, and way, to get your feet wet. So go buy a copy! Incorporate the stories and characters into your own campaigns if you like! Build out your worlds, or run in entirely different directions altogether with what you find! Go make a thing!

The point is this: be inspired to make something. To build. To create your own worlds.

Go play. :D

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The Journey Continues (A What’s New Post)

With a lot of stuff going on right now, and having had little time to blog throughout the year, it’s time for a general housekeeping post. Followed by another post because new story releases are awesome and one happened yesterday. But first, this post:

It’s been a busy few months, to say the least — partly why there’s been so relatively little blogging this year. And then I spent October running our Anathema subscription drive, which much like any other form of fundraising just eats all of one’s time. We did well out of it, though, with 23 new subscriptions toward doubling our rates next year! And increasing our readership and reach, which is honestly most of what we’d like to be doing at this point as we’re still a relatively small magazine. We’ve also confirmed we’ll be doubling our rates starting in 2019. So $100 for fiction and non-fiction, and $200 for art. We’re growing slowly on that front, but progress is progress. :)

We’re also finding ourselves short of a non-fiction piece as put together Issue 6 for December. (Or alternatively we may end up running six fiction pieces is nothing comes together on the non-fiction front.) So, Q/2S POC/Indigenous/Aboriginal writers, now would be an excellent time for you to send us something. Like, uh, asap…

(Please note: Issue 6 is still paying the current rates at $50 F/NF as we round out year two’s production schedule.)

The other half of October was … not quite as good. I’m still dealing with the ongoing email snafu that means if you’ve sent something to my personal email since the latter portion of October I guarantee you I haven’t seen it. For the record, please use for the foreseeable future as I have no idea when the personal email issue’s going to be sorted out. A solution from the provider is technically in place, but it’s not really been functional that I’ve seen so far.

November, though, has been interesting on a few different fronts. And yesterday was absolutely lovely as Augur magazine, who’s published me twice (twice!) held their Year End Mega-Bash. Which consisted of a ton of excellent readings, some wonderful news (some already circulating visual social media, some entirely new) about Augur‘s plans and their future projects. They’ll be talking about the not already public things soon, but in the meantime, Augur is an amazing magazine publishing some just fucking beautiful work, and they’re running their own subscription drive until the end of November. Please help them hit their goal so they can continue to produce gorgeous issues with equally beautiful and much-needed lit/spec crossover (fabulist, if you want to be genre specific :p ) content.

And as we move deeper into November I continue to try to keep up with projects already in the works. Like all those reviews I’ve been putting together. Which were supposed to start up in October. And which slid into this month and will be either here or in December. Basically: the paid work always comes first. And all the reviews I’m working on right now aren’t paid. They’re either happening because I was asked if I’d like to review something by people I know, or read/am reading something I want to promote. So that’s fallen behind freelancing and commissioned fiction.

Yes, every once in a long while, someone will actually commission me to write fiction. I know, I think it’s super weird, too. :/

Not least of all because the entirety of my ghostwriting freelance work has been non-fiction. But hey, paid work is always welcome, especially when it’s fiction — where my writer’s heart lives, anyway. Life of a freelancer and all that. :)

And, sometimes, sometimes, we even get to talk about new stories coming out, rather than just being upcoming. But for news on that, you’ll have to read the next blog post going up later today…

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Email Snafu Going into November

Having a bit of an email snafu at the moment. The email provider I use for my personal account is switching domains and gave their users 48 hours notice of this going into the weekend. I was on deadline at the time and am just catching up on things this week.

Also, if you sent me an email sometime after end of day Monday and haven’t heard back from me, this is why.

And now it looks like the domain transfer won’t actually be complete and/or is in process until Nov. 1st.  I am … I think understandably pissed at this point.

For now, if anyone needs to reach me, just use Or there’s more info about getting in touch with me on the Contact page of the website, though right now a lot of that is also that gmail address.

Anyway, I’m here. Give me a shout if you need anything.

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2017 Recommended Reading List and Notes

Wow but this list is coming out way later than I’d planned. And is consequently no longer an awards recs list, just a recommended reading list in general. Because there was some great shit out in 2017, and I still want to talk about it.

So why is this so incredibly late? I found myself time and again stepping back from working on compiling the list. It was a full year, sure. But putting this thing together was consistently rage-inducing. The stories I saw last year were excellent, partly because I was actively trying to look at free-to-access publications and those that were doing interesting things or catering to underrepresented and marginalized communities. That part was great.

The racist stuff I found in some of the more mainstream publications and wider was not. And it crosses multiple lines. And I’m not naming names right now, no. Though all or majority-white editorial staffs led to some pretty awful shit slipping through in 2017, let me tell you.

I’ve got a partial State of the Field section down below. I was also going to talk about the mags I was reading this year in brief, as I have tried to do the last few years, but I can’t. Every time I’ve tried I’ve not been able to step back from calling out several mags as actively racist, or enabling. And I just don’t want to go there right now.

So. I’m breaking this thing up in stages: Methodology. The Recs. And the State of the Field.

There are larger conversations to be had. But for this moment I’m afraid what’s here will have to do.

That said, let’s start by talking:


This part is a little long, so if you want to skip down to the recs, I won’t be offended.

For my sanity’s sake, I only ended up covering comics (partly because I read a lot of TPB collections during the year to relax) and short(/er) fiction.

Given that I had limited funds going into 2018 I decided to read only free-to-read online mags for the list this year. More and more my annual recs are drawn from online venues. And as I’m co-running a free-to-read online venue (Anathema), I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s freely accessible in the field vs. what isn’t, how that affects a mag’s readership, reach in general, representation/inclusion/decolonization, and how all of those concerns are reshaping the field.

With that in mind, I made a list of mags I wanted to look at. I couldn’t remember who was free-to-read entirely, so made my list and read what of it I could. I’m not aware of everything in the field, so I’m sure I missed things — and from a lot of what I’ve seen as the year carried on, I’m going to be looking at more mags for the 2018 list. But from January through mid-February, I looked at the following mags:

ApexArsenikaB&N SFF OriginalsBeneath Ceaseless SkiesThe Book SmugglersBrackenCast of WondersClarkesworldDaily Science Fiction;
Diabolical PlotsThe DarkEscape PodFiresideThe Future FireGigaNotoSaurusGlittershipJaggeryKaleidotropeKoru;
Lackington’sLightspeed/FantasyLiminalLuna Station QuarterlyMirror DanceMonsteringMythic DeliriumNightmareOmenana; PodCastlePseudopodSamovarShimmerThe SockdolagerStrange HorizonsTerraform; Tor.comTruancyUncanny

Other mags I’d wanted to look at were paywalled (partially or fully; and if partial I read what I could from them), had closed down, or ran no(/no original) 2017 content:

AE SciFi (no new content in 2017, though reopened?); Augur (all 2017 content was reprints); Capricious (partial paywall); FIYAH (paywall; but will be reviewing the 2017 issues this October, alongside other reviews in prep); Gamut (paywall); Lontar Journal (paywall); Mithila Review (paywalled from #9 on); Pantheon (partial paywall); Reckoning (2017 content inaccessible at time of reading, unlocked throughout 2018); Shattered Prism (closed, material off website); Shoreline of Infinity (paywall); Three-lobed Burning Eye (no 2017 issues); Unlikely Journal (still on hiatus)

DSF could technically have been filed in that second list. As usual, I managed about three months worth of their content before giving up. I know a lot of people love the mag, but I’m just not a fan.

I’m also looking forward to a couple things I want to catch up with next year:

ForeshadowHanging Garden Stories (already going, by the time I came to it there was too much 2017 content to wend my way through — it’s a deep dive into some absolutely amazing writing, just carve out a large chunk of time for it); Ruru Reads

All told, I looked at 55 mags in some respect. I also came across individual stories courtesy of their authors or other people promoting them, and haven’t read the whole of the 2017 output from the venues they appeared in (Hazlitt and Gulf Coast, for example).

As noted above, I’ll be covering mags like FIYAH elsewhere. FIYAH‘s amazing, and you should 100% be supporting them, their authors, and the work that they are doing in broader spectrum. Talk about them, and you can support them more directly form their shop.

A couple of quick disclaimers before we hit the actual list:

  • Anathema stories are not on this list because I don’t feel comfortable playing favourites as co-publisher/co-EiC. But you can read the mag’s entire first year’s worth of content from 2017 here.
  • Everything on the list is something I enjoyed. Everything bolded is something I consider worth special note.
  • My recs are completely subjective. It’s inevitable that something you loved isn’t on the list, and that something you hated is.
  • There are great stories I read that aren’t on the list, and that’s entirely about whether or not they stuck with me. Never assume one list covers everything worth reading. Always read a mag’s output to find your own favourites as reviewer/reader tastes never align 1:1.
  • Errors in the entries are on me. I’ll correct them as I/others note them.

There’s a ton of other stuff to look at, and so many amazing works to find online. Start with A.C. Wise and Cat Rambo’s metaposts on award fiction to find more extraordinary works:

A.C. Wise – What Have You Done, What Have You Loved? 2017 Edition
Cat Rambo – 2017 Award-Eligible Work Blog Posts & Roundups for F&SF


2017 Recommendations (Long Form)

Comics (TPB)/Graphic Novels

  • Afar – Del Luca & Seaton – With beautiful art and a well-paced, slow burn story there’s a lot to recommend Afar. It’s large-scale storytelling using at times intimate framing, and acts well as a window onto a larger world that feels real and well-fleshed out despite our seeing only a fragment of that whole canvas.
  • America, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez – Rivera, Quinones & Villalobos – I have structural issues with the arc of the story, but I love a lot of what this volume’s doing nonetheless.
  • Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch – DeConnick & De Landro
  • Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins – Lemire, Ormston, Stewart – I have mixed feelings about how a lot of things are handled in this volume, but it’s still worth recommending for the broader approach to what it’s doing, and I feel like Vol. 2 makes up for some of what doesn’t work here.
  • Castoffs, Vol. 1: Mage Against the Machine – Reed, Smith, Ostertag & Yates – This is excellent despite fairly early on utilizing something I have a lot of trouble with as a trope. For those who will hit the same issue I did: yes, there is a subversion of the trope and the framing of it is intentional. And the book is excellent overall, and I like the larger worldbuilding it’s working with.
  • Clean Room Vol. 2: Exile – Simone & Davis-Hunt
  • Clean Room Vol. 3: Waiting for the Stars to Fall – Simone, Davis-Hunt & Anwar – Clean Room covers a lot of ground over its three volumes, and I’d recommend picking up the entire run. Volume three feels a little rushed (while the first two volumes feel almost too slow at times). And though I wish the series had been given the slower burn/longer length it needed, that conclusion is perfect for the larger arc of the series. And Simone’s writing is, as always, exceptional.
  • Elsewhere University (1) (2) – Cornerwitches – I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading a lot of webcomics/online comics, mostly because of lack of time. But I came across this while putting together the post and these are absolutely fantastic. I love the way this reminds me of Emily Carroll’s work, though this is absolutely its own thing and only one facet of Cornerwitches’ storytelling. Highly recommended.
  • Gotham Academy, Second Semester, Vol. 1: Welcome Back – Fletcher, Cloonan, Kerschl & Archer
  • Gotham Academy, Second Semester, Vol. 2: The Ballad of Olive Silverlock – Fletcher, Cloonan, Kerschl & Archer – The first volume of the Second Semester arc stumbles slightly, but the second half (and the conclusion of Gotham Academy) comes to a satisfying, well-earned close.
  • Monstress, Vol. 2: The Blood – Lu & Takeda – From the art to the shift in arc to the slow reveal of its wider worldbuilding and mythology, Monstress remains compelling and gorgeous. Absolutely worth picking up.
  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 3: Reeder, Montclare & Bustos – The first two volumes are stronger than this third arc (the latter part of which feels like forced crossover work), but Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur continues to be hilarious and totally worth picking up.
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 8: Mecca – Wilson, Failla, Olortegui & Herring – Eight volumes in the series has had its ups and downs. And while not the strongest volume in the series, volume eight is definitely worth reading. Not least of all because Wilson continues to use the series to reflect the world as we’re living it, with a strong dash of hope thrown in.
  • Paper Girls, Vol. 3 – Vaughan, Chiang, Wilson & Fletcher – The story starts coming apart in volume three, but I think this volume’s still worth reading to see where the story wanders. Volume four will decide whether I keep reading Paper Girls — Vaughan’s work has a tendency to lose cohesion as it progresses. Saga‘s an excellent example: I gave up at the start of volume eight, though I’d initially debated stopping at volume six with the poor handling of Trans content. We’ll see how this series continues.
  • The Witch Boy – Ostertag – While occasionally overly on the nose in its execution, this is some excellent allegory, beautifully rendered. It’s also a lovely paean to self-discovery and an excellent take on family and community.

2017 Recommendations (Short Form)

Again this year, Fantasy Magazine entries have been filed under Lightspeed Magazine.



Short Stories


Despite an excellent year of fiction in various corners, you know what was really depressing about the 2017 output of the field? That in the wake of all these public movements toward redressing the systemic imbalance of white-authored work dominating the field in the last few years; in the wake of all this very showy rage about not allowing the staggering imbalance of representation (authorship, editorial, and in illustration/art as well), and an inordinate number of people calling for change quite vocally, the majority of speculative fiction mags appear to have said: “Increase diversity? That’s easy, we’ll just publish more stories about POC written by white people!”

I like how Ellen Oh put it in this thread (thread continues after these tweets) I ran across when I started writing this post:

Ellen Oh’s comments are the tip of the iceberg. And it looks like publishing, at all levels, is still going to be having this fight until I don’t even fucking know when at this point.

But we can also address certain aspects of this racist shitstorm immediately. Because the problem with white writers writing diverse content and white editors publishing it without either party having an eye on the interiority of the characters or a sense of lived experience and background on/of the cultures involved is that you’re going to get stereotypical, racist, and frequently misogynist depictions cropping up in that content:

  • I’d love to never again have to see the word “creature” used to describe a woman of colour. (See: the historical — and present — dehumanization of people of colour by comparing or referring to them as animals.)
  • I’d love to never again have to see white writers depicting the barbarous, monstrous Other as dark-skinned/uncivilized/”savage tribes.” I’m fucking done with having to read another version of the bogey-man/-people with dark skin trope.
  • I’d love to see Black women not written as one-dimensional characters, or overburdened with stereotypical understandings of what being a woman of colour is like. Especially in Fantasy settings.
  • I’d love to see Asian/Pacific Islander characters not written as mythical/magical/engaging a version of the Magical Negro trope.
  • I’d love to never again have to see white authors writing African/Asian fantasy and fucking up the mythology and the voices and cultural significance of the elements they cherry pick. Once again for the fuckwits in the back: Africa is not a country.

I’m not naming names, but none of those are abstracts. And several of those showed up multiple times in semi-pro and pro venues. All from white writers.

Also, more and more I’m of the opinion that most white cishet men just … shouldn’t write women. So many of them are so unutterably bad at it. It’s almost as though there were some larger structural understandings of women as people absent from much of their experience…

*cough cough*

Moving on.

Mag editing is something I’ve been thinking about a lot this last year. Obviously. I’m often thinking about the act and craft of editing anyway — this is a function of doing so in order to make my living along with the writing. But. Throughout 2017, I have been looking at how magazine editors (largely in North American context since many of the English language venues that currently dominate the spec field are based here) approach their final products. And it’s not good.

There’s the obvious point that the field is not going to broaden into less white-focused output until more Black/POC/Indigenous editors are given the same opportunities/allowed to wield the same level of power as white men. And, yes, I can name two reasonably powerful/well-published white women editors in spec, thank you for preemptively asking. Now ask yourself why it’s only two, and why that alone is often considered progress since the entire slate of major Year’s Best spec editors remains white. (Not counting guest editors of Year’s Best series.)

This is not a remotely new point, and quite a number of editors, readers, writers, and librarians of colour have been making this point eloquently for years. Eventually the industry is going to have to listen, or it’s going to fall apart. Publishing is an industry of slow growth and slow change, but that stagnancy is aided by an authorial and editorial class that benefits deeply from a legacy of systemic oppression of non-white voices. A system of structurally designed and passively (and often actively) enforced white supremacy, one might say…

And, no, guest issues aren’t going to be the answer to this. They’re a good start and I’m always happy to see them. But they’re a minor redress in a field where the power wielded by white editors is oh so graciously gifted to someone else for an issue, and then reclaimed post haste. For all that those temporary spaces are excellent for giving people the space to see themselves represented in fictional spaces, a temporary transference of power does not alter the status quo. Does that mean we should stop doing them as an industry? No, it does not, those guest-edited issues give us some fantastic shit while we’re working at decolonizing the industry.

So what’s the answer?

More North American magazines run by people of colour/Indigenous/Aboriginal editors. More North American-produced Year’s Best books helmed by people of colour/Indigenous/Aboriginal editors — and not just as guest editors under a series director’s guiding hand.

Look. I’m tired of reading stories from the same ten fucking magazines in Year’s Best anthologies, the majority of those works authored by white writers.

I’m aware I’m supposed to care about the output of Asimov’s and Analog and other mags with the same level of history. But for the most part I really don’t. F&SF runs some beautiful work, and occasionally there are things in Analog and Asimov’s that are absolutely worth reading. Mags like Interzone and Black Static, too.

But when you have one or two writers of colour in your anthology, sometimes topping out at as many as six or seven (gasp, amazing!) and you’re running several (it was far more in many mags I read this year) stories from white writers that are boring as fuck, I question your editorial choices.

Also, other quick points I’m just going to bitch about. Because why the hell not at this point?

1. Magazine publishers: Hire. Some(/More). Fucking. Copyeditors.

Pro mags, I’m looking at you, too. My eyes bleed every time I compile these posts. 2017 was especially bad for this. I’m not sure why, but it was profuse this year.

2. Websites are meant to be read: Design them for use, especially mobile interaction.

If your website is a clusterfuck of 1998-style GeoCities abstraction, variable text styles, and hideous formatting, I can’t read your publication. I’m serious about the mobile version thing — I’m reading most mag content on my phone at this point, because I’m doing so in transit. Design your websites so they’re clean and readable, especially for readers with vision issues. And provide transcripts of your audio content.

Accessibility is as much an issue in virtual spaces as it is in physical ones. If you’re not designing your mag with consideration as to how (and who) is going to read it, you need to fix that.

There are so many ways to create exceptional content, or to make room for it to happen. And the questions at the forefront of those choices have to be: Are we making space for/supporting/providing opportunities for the least heard among us? Are we doing better by people historically divested of opportunities to tell their stories?

If you’re not, take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself why the fuck you’re not.

And while all sides of the industry are working on that, go read something amazing. Go create something amazing. Go make space for amazing people. And I’ll see you all back here for the 2018 recs, hopefully released in a more timely fashion next year. :)

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