“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.”
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!
And look at this cover!
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.
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!)
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!
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!
The other day, I found in my in-box a letter from World Fantasy Con, asking if I’d like to submit a digital signature. Busy with other things, I put it in my mental file labeled Things to Get Around To. But today, it came with a reminder that the deadline was Sept 24 2020.
They had linked a signature maker, but I wasn’t happy with the results. So I thought I’d cobble something together in MSPaint, my favorite emergency illustration software. My first try was just a signature using one of the included fonts. It was okay, though impersonal.
I thought I’d design my own – something that would work for fantasy and for science fiction, vaguely contemporary and playful. And which I could complete in about 30 minutes, because I was running out of time.
This is the result. I’m quite happy with it, at least for now.
Nagarahole, India, January 2020. Indian forests aren’t like Africa, where the animal density is so high that zebras graze like cows in the Great Rift Valley and giraffe invade your hotel premises. In India, you have to *look*. So we were in a bus, driving around in the sanctuary, with an excellent naturalist guide, looking. (See Nagarahole, with Tigers and Gaur Bull in Love for some of what we saw.)
The fallen trees were the first clue. There hadn’t been a storm, and only middle-sized trees were down. Could it be…. elephants?
Yes. Because shortly afterward, our guide said, “There’s an elephant ahead.” There was. It wasn’t very large, as elephants go. As we drew nearer, he added, “It’s a young male.”
The elephant gave a plaintive trumpeting call. No one responded. Where was his herd?
As it turned out, just across the road, in a thicket, browsing.
“But they’re not responding,” I said.
“No,” said the naturalist. “They won’t let him come back. It avoids in-breeding.”
Elephant herds are females and their calves. Male elephants get pushed out of their herds when they reach puberty.
The young fellow got the message. Time to go.
He took off down the road. Soon he was out of sight.
Leaving home, leaving his herd. Young males sometimes make friends with other young male elephants, or they end up alone. Wonder what happened to this young guy.
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
‘Lepers’ by Keyan Bowes
‘The Enchantress Princess & the Mysterious Child’
‘The Craving’ by Tutu Dutta
‘Kindness’ by Vonnie Winslow Crist
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.
It wasn’t just tigers, of course, at Nagarahole. One of the more charming moments was the Gaur Bull in love.
Gaur are Indian Bison, the largest species of wild cattle. They’re considered a vulnerable species, because of habitat loss and hunting. Nagarahole is one of the sanctuaries where they’re thriving.
So when we encountered this small herd of gaur, of course we stopped. There were calves asleep on one side of the dirt track, and this female gaur on the other, placidly flicking her tail. Then we heard lowing, and saw a bull emerging from a thicket.
At that point it was getting late, so we had to leave. (All visitors are supposed to leave by sunset.)
But things looked promising. Perhaps there’ll be another little gaur calf in nine or so months.
The first time I went to Nagarahole (“Nah-gurra-ho-lay”) was decades ago. Back then, they allowed private cars to drive through the wildlife sanctuary between sunrise and sundown. I recall seeing deer and monkeys – and magically, a leopard. But no tigers, no surprise because tigers were very rare.
In fact, I’ve been visiting wildlife sanctuaries in north and south India for decades. Sarishka. Ranthambhor. Bandipur. Mudumalai. Many a time, we came that close to seeing a tiger. Pugmarks. The vehicle ahead saw one. A tigress usually hangs out on this rock, but she’s not here today. I’ve seen them in zoos, of course, and in “safari parks.” But never in the wild.
Then – in January 2020, I returned to Nagarahole. We spent the night at a Jungle Lodge near the Kabini entrance, and took two “safaris” into the reserve in the government-provided bus. It was on the chilly early morning ride, after bumping around the dirt roads for maybe 30 minutes – it happened. “Tigers,” said the naturalist-guide who was leading the expedition.
I just had my cellphone for picture-taking. But a couple of people on the bus had serious equipment. Like this.
I don’t actually mind too much. No photographs actually do the big cats justice in terms of their presence. And these pictures have a painterly, impressionist quality that I rather like.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.”
My story, A Scent of Roses, that was published earlier this year in Constellary Tales. I was delighted to find it reviewed in Locus by Karen Burnham. Here’s the LINK.
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.
All these years later, it’s a new story and it’s come out today. Click HERE to read the story.
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.
First, let me talk about Two Hour Transport.
It’s a wonderful monthly event held in Seattle, organized by Nicole Bade and Theresa Barker. On the fourth Wednesday of each month, they meet in Cafe Racer at 7 p.m. The first hour is open mic for anyone who wants to read their work for 5 minutes. (Sign-ups required.) The second hour is for two invited readers. I’ve been a regular at these events since I started spending time in Seattle, and really enjoyed both the community and the work being shared.
Last year, Theresa and Nicole decided to do an anthology. I offered them my story, “Nor Yet Feed the Swine” that was originally published in 2010 in Cabinet des Fees. I was delighted when they accepted it.
Now the Two Hour Transport Anthology 2019 is available on Amazon, and there’s a launch party at Cafe Racer on June 15th, 2019, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. If you’d like to come and get autographs from the authors,
you would need to buy your copy in advance (they probably won’t be for sale there) .
[Edited to Add: Copies actually will be on sale, for around $20 including taxes etc.]
Spring at Stow Lake comes with cute. No sooner had we started our walk than we encountered a Canada Goose mom with a couple of goslings first trying to hide under her, then climb on top. One succeeded, and promptly fell asleep.
There were a lot of goslings. As we continued our walk to the sunnier side of the lake, we saw three other goose families, with goslings of different ages. These were larger than the first ones. The parents looked at us searchingly, but generally trusted we’d be careful of their kids.
I only saw one batch of ducklings, hiding under some overhanging vegetation.
Mom and Dad were dabbling nearby, and when the trio tried to move out of their nursery, Dad chased them back in.
The great blue herons were also nesting, but those pictures were hard to get with on a phone.
If you couldn’t find them, here they are!
The other day in Seattle, looking out the window, I thought I saw some gray plastic blow across the sidewalk below. I looked again, and saw it was actually a squirrel. But it didn’t look normal. It was much longer than usual. Looking more carefully, I made out it was carrying something – probably another squirrel, because a tail was wrapped around its torso. I took a quick iPhone photo, but it was moving jerkily across the street and I didn’t get a good picture.
My first thought was that this was the gruesome aftermath of a squirrel battle, and that was a dead squirrel. But then I did a search, and found that this is how squirrels carry their young.
This was likely the mother, transporting her youngster to a different location. She ran to shelter under a parked car, then darted across the road when the coast was clear and made it safely into the backyard of a house across the street.