Quick Sip Reviews “Honey and Vinegar and Seawater”

I was just thrilled to find a terrific review of “Honey and Vinegar and Seawater” (published in Mermaids Monthly, August 2021). It was in Quick Sip Reviews from Charles Payseur. Here’s the link: https://quicksipreviews.blogspot.com/2021/09/quick-sips-09102021.html

The review totally got to the heart of the poem. “A nice and rather wicked piece that speaks to me of roles and of consequence.”

I love Charles’s reviews. They’re kind and insightful, and I usually end up reading several of the stories – or poems – reviewed. There’s also a new “Scales of Relative Grimness” to establish how dark the content and tone of the reviewed stories are. Which I find very valuable, and hope to see become more widespread.

“Chicken Monster Motel” in Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging (Volume Silver)

I’m delighted that my fun monster story, “Chicken Monster Motel,” is coming out in the Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging anthology from Improbable Press in February 2022.  The anthology is in two volumes – Blue and Silver – because they got so many good stories. Mine is in Volume Silver. Here’s the link: https://improbablepress.com/products/dark-cheer-cryptids-emerging-volume-silver

(This story was first published in the Monstrosities anthology from Third Flatiron Publishing.)

The cover is so atmospheric!

Cover of Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging from Improbable Press, Volume Silver. It shows trees silhouetted against a foggy sky.

And the table of contents looks really intriguing, as does the book description from the Improbable Press website:

For the lovers of things that go bump in the night

Here be stories of South African grootslang and bayou grundylow, tales of elementals, jackalopes, and flying motels.

Within you’ll find tiny leviathans and rock whales, cambion and kelpie, a girl between time, and a man who saves a gun’s life.

These are stories of cryptids who sing or swim or save us, living side-by-side so often unseen…and then seen.

So very much seen.

If we look.

§

With more than 35 stories, and 320+ pagesVolume Silver includes tales by:

• Ali Habashi: Landlocked
• Amy Lynwander: Pg At The Park
• Angel Whelan: Healer’s Song
• Alison Mcbain: The Development
• Brian Trent: Love Song Of The Wendigo
• Carman Curton: Various
• Carter Lappin: Road Trip
• Dominick Cancilla: Mysterious Travelers
• Elizabeth Walker: Pics Or It Didn’t Happen
• Eric Shlayfer: The Kyivan Song
• Euan Lim: The Beauty In The Unexpected
• Evadare Volney: New Song For The Old Canary
• Evan Baughfman: Life And Limb
• Frances Pauli: Original Activist
• George Ivanoff: The Heart Of Gervascio
• G.V. Pearce: Falling For Her
• Jeff Davis: Old Friend
• Julie Ann Rees: The Grundylow
• Keyan Bowes: Chicken Monster Motel
• Louis Evans: Baba Yaga’s Apprentice
• Madeline Pine: Loud Came The Rain
• Marlaina Cockcroft: Leviathan
• Marshall Moore: Lakers
• Merinda Brayfield: From The Ashes
• Mikal Trimm: Huffenpuff
• Neethu Krishnan: Fireflies And Thieves
• Nora Bailey: The Beast In The Deep
• Parker Foye: Grim Up North
• Rick Hodges: The Goat-Boy Paradigm
• Rl Meza: Enfield
• Robert Bagnell: The Hundred Dollar Fortune
• Robert Pipkin: The Jackalope
• Sarina Dorie: A Guide For The Lover Of Jorogumo
• Shawna Borman: The Water Horse
• Simon Kewin: The Monster
• Tom Velterop: Nights Without Dreams
• Yvette Lisa Ndlovu: When Death Comes To Find You

PREORDERS ARE AVAILABLE

The books are available for preorder on the  website: $7.95 for an electronic version, $21.95 for the paperback, and $29.95 for the hardcover. If you buy both Dark Cheer volumes in hardback or paperback, you receive an automatic 20% discount.

“Spoiling Veena” and “Souk of Dreams” in Academia

The other day, I discovered on Google an odd concatenation of my name with a 2018 academic conference in Vienna. I hadn’t been to any such conference, so I was curious.

With a deeper dive, I found that Simon Whybrew at the University of Graz was presenting a paper on transgender in Science Fiction, and had used my story “Spoiling Veena” in the analysis.

I was surprised and thrilled. Here’s the abstract of the paper as published in the program for the 45th Austrian Association for American Studies Conference.

“Disappearing into the Future? Reclaiming Transgender Experiences in Contemporary US Science Fiction”
Simon Whybrew (University of Graz)

Science fiction (sf) has long been fascinated with transgender phenomena. Nevertheless, the genre’s authors have been reluctant to acknowledge humanity’s inherent transness. Rather, sf stories have largely viewed trans potentialities exclusively through the lens of medical and technological advancement. Thus, trans identities have often been transposed onto alien societies or dissolved into futuristic, cisnormative fantasies of perfect gender transformation. As a result, transgender histories, identities, and becoming have largely been absent from these texts. Instead, the focus has been on the promise of temporary, cisnormative gender mobility.

The recent publication of four anthologies of sf short stories by trans authors provides a significant challenge to this legacy of trans erasure. In this paper, I will explore how the authors of these stories employ the genre’s conventions to subvert its normative tendencies and write trans identities into the future. To do this, I will compare John Varley’s 1992 novel “Steel Beach” with K.M. Szpara’s “Nothing is Pixels Here” and Keyan Bowes’ “Spoiling Veena.”

It made me remember the time I found another academic reference to another of my stories – this time, “The Souk of Dreams.” John Patrick Pazdziora (University of St. Andrews) presented a paper “Enchanted Conversations: The Reverse Adaptation of Fairy Tales in Online Culture” at a conference in Ghent in January 2010. Here’s the quote:

“The hopeful tales read more like short fantasies than fairy tales. ‘The Souk of Dreams’ by Keyan Bowes, for instance, is a touching romance about a gay couple who rediscover their faith in love and human goodness. However, the setting of the tale—a fantasy market in the desert—is described much like a sci-fi convention with real extraterrestrials. Any moorings to mythic versions of fairy tales have been cast off. Hope is discovered in reinventing according to a new medium—speculative fiction. Reverse adaptations are primarily to rebuke and tear down the alleged deceptions of childhood.”

I am glad these stories are reaching beyond their usual audiences into the wonderful world of academe.

“Excruciating Beauty” Gets a Mention in Locus

Karen Burnham mentioned my recent story in the new magazine Constelacion in the March 2021 Locus magazine!

“The Excruciating Beauty of Ephemera” is a strangely sweet story centered on a sentient volcano that is as horrified by the damage it wreaks on a colony of frogs as on a group of volcanologists.”

“The Excruciating Beauty of Ephemera” in Constelación magazine

I’m really excited that my story, “The Excruciating Beauty of Ephemera” is out in the first issue of Constelacion magazine. In English and Spanish! It’s about a sentient volcano trying to do better.

“The slopes of the sentient volcano were covered with dying purple frogs. Vultures and other scavengers perched on the trees and picked at the little corpses. The volcano shuddered in agonies of guilt. Were the gases it emitted responsible? “

The illustration for the story is perfect!

illustration - volcano erupting
And look at this cover!

Magazine cover - Constelacion Jan 2021

Edited to Add:

I was delighted to find this story reviewed in Quick Sips reviews from Charles Payseur.

“The Excruciating Beauty of Ephemera” by Keyan Bowes (short story) – A strange and almost mythological story of a volcano distressed about the destruction it authors, seeking a way to live and let live, and finding an answer from a mysterious source. Grim but also kinda cute.

http://quicksipreviews.blogspot.com/2021/03/quick-sips-03052021.html

“Lepers” in Mysterion 2 Anthology

Back in January 2019, Mysterion reprinted my story, “Lepers.” (This may be my most-reprinted story by now!)

Anyway, Donald Crankshaw and Kristen Janz, the editors of Mysterion, have brought out a beautiful paperback anthology collecting the stories they published in 2018-19. “Lepers” is in it. 

This is a really good anthology. Its values are humane (not necessarily religious), its characters intriguing. In most anthologies, I like perhaps half the stories. In this one, I liked them all. (I also love that atmospheric cover art!)

“Wildest Dreams” in Flame Tree Fiction Newsletter

What a great way to start 2021! My story, “Wildest Dreams” appeared in the Flame Tree Fiction Newsletter for January.  It’s about a purveyor of Nightmares.

“The market’s saturated,” said Tey. The four of us lounged around the Starbucks table, sipping our coffee and arguing. Friends since college, arguing was what we did. “Once the dream-download software went open-source, everyone and their aunt got into the business. Online search’ll get you 19 million hits, minimum.”

“Right,’ I said. “What we’ll offer is downloadable nightmares.”

“Nightmares?” laughed Dany. “Who’d buy those?”

This story was written to their call for science fiction about online nightmares. I’m so pleased they accepted it!

“Blowing Hell-glass” in Helios Quarterly

My story, Blowing Hell-glass: A Step-by-Step Guide is out in the June 2020 issue of Helios Quarterly.  This is one of the rare cases (for me!) where the story sold very soon after it was written – last year. I also rarely write horror, but this is one. The magazine is available on the website of the publisher Aurelia Leo, and on Amazon, both in e-versions.

Look at this amazing cover!

“Lepers” in Insignia 2020

My story “Lepers” will be coming out in an awesome new anthology from Insignia.
This is one of my most-reprinted stories, and this will be its fifth outing. Each version is slightly different from the others. In a digital world, I don’t feel the need to have a definitive text!

This anthology is
INSIGNIA 2020: BEST ASIAN SPECULATIVE FICTION
Here’s the cover:

And here are the stories:

‘Shadows’ by  Celestine Trinidad  

‘Moon Rabbit’ by Jo Wu  

‘A Matter of Possession’ by Joyce Chng

‘Railroad to Potalaka’ by Juan Takai Toshiya Kamei

‘Lepers’ by Keyan Bowes

‘The Enchantress Princess & the Mysterious Child’

by  Massimo Soumaré Toshiya Kamei 

The Washing Machine Ate the Socks’ by Sayo Onoda /  Toshiya Kamei 

‘The Craving’ by  Tutu Dutta

‘Kindness’ by  Vonnie Winslow Crist 

Poetry:

Meisho’s Dodo’s’, ‘Lantern Festival’, ‘The Eighth Son of Ganbataar’, ’Lotus Moon’, ‘The Wild Horses Came Hastening’, and ‘How to Weave the Stars’ by Mary Soon Lee

The publication date is to be decided, but it looks like it’ll be interesting.

Little Blue Marble 2019 Anthology

Look what arrived in the mail while I was away in India!

It’s the paperback anthology of 2019 stories from The Little Blue Marble magazine. It includes my story, Dilemma, With Omnivore… which features a very omnivorous little monster. This is a very nicely-produced publication, and I’m really proud to have my story in it.

 

 

My New Stories Published in 2019

It’s that time of the year, and I thought I’d list the new stories I’ve had published. The score for this year may be my best ever, with four new stories published and four edifying reprints.

NEW STORIES

  • A Scent of Roses in Constellary Tales, February 2019. In a deeply traditional world, a newborn child isn’t allowed to survive.
  • Octonet in Escape Pod, March 2019. This is my Octopuses get Smartphones short story. It’s also a sweet love story in around 5K words.
  • In Dreams Awake in Flame Tree Fiction Newsletter, August 2019. Virtual Reality for a small child as the world ends.  It’s flash fiction, about 1000 words.
  • Dilemma, with Omnivore in Little Blue Marble, September 2019. A light-hearted Litttle Green Monster story, with a darker environmental subtext. Also a flash short story, about 1000 words.

Illustration - cute monster
Dilemma, with Omnivore

REPRINTS

I was delighted when Escape Pod republished my story, Light and Death on the Indian Battle Station, and did a fabulous podcast of it. And I was thrilled that Working Futures anthology chose to republish my story Genetic Changelings. And when the Two Hour Transport anthology republished my story, Nor Yet Feed the Swine.  Finally, Mysterion republished my story Lepers, which might now be my most-republished story.

 

“Light and Death on the Indian Battle Station” on Escape Pod

Escape Pod has just republished my story, Light and Death on the Indian Battle Station just in time for Diwali, the Festival of lights (which falls on October 27th in 2019). The story is read by Farah Naz Rishi. But it’s more than just reading, she’s had experience as a voice actor, and that’s what she brings to this production. The result is a simply lovely reading. Some bits almost moved me to tears. And it’s hosted by SB Divya, who also talks about Diwali, the Festival of Lights, and the resonance with the story. I am soooo thrilled! Here’s the LINK.

The story was first published last year in Fireside, illustrated (perfectly!) by Saleha Chowdhury. That’s the picture above.

“Genetic Changelings” in Working Futures Anthology

My story, Genetic Changelings, has been published (again) in Working Futures.  (A slightly shorter version of this story was published by Flame Tree Press in its Science Fiction Anthology.)  This anthology focuses on how work and lives will change with technological change. Genetic Changelings is about designer kids in a world where gene modification is easy – though expensive – and the social pressures developing around it. Excerpt:

““Randall, no! Get your tail off Imran’s neck right now!”
Two dozen squealing preschoolers are scampering around the rubber-matted playground, making infant mischief. They’re all Dezzies, designer kids, and they’re a handful.
“No wrapping your tail round anyone’s neck,” I say, crouching down to the boys’ level. “I don’t care if Imran raised his crest at you. Look guys, you’re both too smart to keep getting in trouble.”
Randall’s impish face, curly red hair and freckles somehow match his prehensile monkey-tail. Imran is darkly handsome, with a crest lying flat along his head and back. It’s mostly hidden under his weatherproof jacket, but he raises the red bit on top of his head to show me.
It’s bittersweet for me, being around small children – even these cute lovable not-quite-humans.”

 

“Dilemma, with Omnivore” in Little Blue Marble

My story, Dilemma, with Omnivore, is out in Little Blue Marble!

The first part of this story was written long years ago, when I was a teenager. It reflects the feeling of magic I’d get at the marvelous little Tibetan shops in Janpath in New Delhi. One day, I ran across the old piece, typed it into my computer, and started to revise it.

Illustration - cute monster

All these years later, it’s a new story and it’s come out today. Click HERE to read the story.

“In Dreams Awake” in Flame Tree Fiction Newsletter

I’m thrilled that my flash-fiction short “In Dreams Awake” has been published by the Flame Tree Fiction newsletter! This newsletter goes out to everyone who subscribes to it, and it’s free. (Here’s the link if you want to SUBSCRIBE.)

(Warning: It’s a sad story.)
The world is dying. “It was the kids that hurt most. We adults, we’d lived, realized some of our dreams. But the kids? What Dr K offered was a life. A dream life, but the kids wouldn’t know it from the inside.”

This story was written especially for their monthly flash fiction call, ‘Virtual Worlds’ and it’s only the second time ever that one of my stories has been accepted the first time I’ve sent it out. I’m delighted.

Octonet got Reviews!

I am so thrilled with the reviews for my story, Octonet!

Here’s one from Cameron Coulter on the blog of the Skiffy and Fanty Show.

This is a story where the main characters “just happen to be” POC/disabled/queer. I definitely enjoyed Sue and Martina’s romance, but first and foremost, this is a love story about octopuses.

And one on BarnesAndNoble.com from Maria Haskins!

“After hearing that a bored octopus can get into all sorts of trouble, Suveera jokingly suggests the creatures might like to use cellphones. One thing leads to another, and when the researchers put adapted phones into the tentacles of the cephalopods, strange and wonderful things begin to happen (selfies aren’t just for humans, it turns out).”

A Kindness of Octopuses

I’m just back from Norwescon 42, and it was marvelous. For the first time, I did a reading – the beginning of my most recently published story, Octonet, which came out on Escape Pod. I don’t usually like to read just part of a story, but this time, since it was available on-line and free, anyone who wanted could read the rest quite easily.

I met the artist Guest of Honor, Tran Nguyen, the first day at the Guest of Honor banquet. She was charming and very interesting. Her artwork is delicate and luminous. Toward the end of the convention, I asked for her autograph in my Norwescon program book (which is a beautiful full-color thing with illustrations from artists in their art show). I was utterly delighted when she did this wonderful little doodle for me – an octopus girl.

 

(The color illustration below is the cover she did for “Kushiel’s Dart”)

My friend Goldeen Ogawa, writer and artist, also had her art in the art show. I got her autograph as well, and she asked me if I’d like a doodle. Of course I said yes, and she did the adorable octokitty below. (If you read my story – or listen to the podcast – you’ll see why this is completely appropriate.)

Researching the Octopus

“The people were interesting, especially in their various interactions,” wrote a friend to whom I’d sent my story, Octonet, recently published by Escape Pod, “but the octopuses were definitely the center of the action for me.  How did you happen to focus on them and learn so much about them?”

With most stories, the sources of inspiration are buried somewhere in my mind. Maybe something surfaces, like the end of a tangled ball of twine, and it pulls me into a story.

 

 

The octopus story might have started at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco back in 2012, when they acquired three Giant Pacific Octopuses that were bycatch for crab-fishers. We went to see them – and it was remarkably difficult, because they camouflaged so well, and could slide their ample bodies into tiny crevices. In fact, we only saw one of them – with the help of a docent and careful directions.

Fast forward to three books about octopuses: The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery. Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith. And Octopus: The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate, by Roland C. Anderson, Jennifer A. Mather, and James B. Wood. I read them all in the space of a few weeks, and then I knew I wanted to write this story.

Of course that meant a deep dive (sorry!) into octopus territory.  I found a 149-page care manual for GPOs from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. And a thirty-page Giant Pacific Octopus Husbandry Manual from the British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums. An article in Cosmos magazine, How the Octopus got its Smarts. Any number of Youtube videos, including this one which was a literal deep dive into octopus territory! And lots more random articles.

When I had the first draft done, I wanted an authenticity read (Within the limits of a sci-fi story!). I wondered if one of the authors of the last book would be willing. Dr Anderson had sadly died in 2014, but Dr Jennifer Mather was kind enough to review the draft for me and provided some helpful comments. I’m very pleased to acknowledge her help.

(Octonet has been through many iterations and edits since then – and a big thank you to all my critiquers! That was the writing part, not the researching part.)

So that’s the story of the story. I’m delighted Escape Pod published it – and also had an interview Dr Mather for the podcast!

 

SOME REFERENCES:

  • The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery.
  • Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith.
  • Octopus: The Ocean’s Intelligent Invertebrate, by Roland C. Anderson, Jennifer A. Mather, and James B. Wood.
  • AZA Aquatic Invertebrate Taxon Advisory Group (AITAG) (2014). Giant Pacific Octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) Care Manual. Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Silver Spring, MD.
  • Giant Pacific Octopus Husbandry Manual, British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums (2011)
  • https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/how-the-octopus-got-its-smarts