Sunday, 3 April 2022

New Issue: 2022.61

“With a genre like film noir, everyone has these assumptions and expectations. And once all of those things are in place, that's when you can really start to twist it about and mess around with it.”

—Lana Wachowski

[ TFF Noir; Cover art © 2022 Saleha Chowdhury ]Issue 2022.61: TFF Noir

Short stories

Novelettes

Cover art by Saleha Chowdhury

Guest editorial by Valeria Vitale

Saturday, 2 April 2022

Micro-interview with Cécile Matthey

We welcome back Cécile Matthey, illustrator of “Make of Me a Comet” and cover artist of The Future Fire #60.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Make of Me a Comet”?

CM: In the first illustration, Elsa is full at work on something we can’t really see—to avoid spoiling the end of the story. There are some hints at her final sculpture in the second illustration, a collage showing her desk. Among various things, like a shopping list, newspaper clippings and a sandpaper sheet, all stained by the bottom of a coffee mug, there are several research sketches. The newspaper clippings were included afterwards, when I fell upon a small article mentioning the… passing of a comet! In the same issue, there was also an article about Georgia O’Keeffe, a famous woman artist whom Elsa might admire, so I added it too.

Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: With whom, alive or dead, would you most like to collaborate, and on what?

CM: With a friend of mine, a Swiss musician and music producer called Cat’s eye. I made a live illustration on one of his songs ten years ago… already. I’d love to illustrate the cover of one of his next albums, for instance. Usually he designs them himself, because he is also a talented photographer. Anyway, I have been too shy to ask him so far 😉.

TFF: What is more fun, to build or destroy a sand castle?

CM: To build it… and to destroy it right away ! Living rather far from the sea and sand beaches in Switzerland, I didn’t have many occasions to do so when I was a child. But I remember having done something similar with a few medieval castle models made of cardboard.

TFF: What one lesson would you offer to a budding artist?

CM: A lesson in three parts, which appear very simple, but that took me almost a lifetime to understand and practice:

  • Try, do not be afraid to fail: that’s the way you learn and get better.
  • Be curious, keep your eyes open: inspiration can be found anywhere, anytime.
  • Have fun!
Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: What else are you working on now?

CM: As you already know, I’m also a scientific illustrator in archaeology. I’m currently working on an antique treasure discovered in a Roman villa (Yvonand, Switzerland). It is mostly composed of silver spoons and bracelets, some of which are elaborately decorated, looking very modern. Clearly, this treasure has been hidden, but we don’t know why, nor by whom. It’s moving to think these objects have been used and worn by people, more than 2000 years ago.


Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Friday, 1 April 2022

Micro-interview with Marianne Connolly

Welcome Marianne Connolly, author of “Mrs. Daedalus” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Mrs. Daedalus” mean to you?

MC: “Mrs. Daedalus” began as a prompt in the Wordos critique group, “How My Mother Became A Drone.” It developed into a story about my own mother, but with more magic and less nagging.

Illustration © 2022 Joyce Chng

TFF: Would you like to be or to own a robot?

MC: I wouldn’t choose to be a robot, but I would appreciate a few enhancements, like super-sharp vision or the power of flight. As for owning a robot, I’d be cautious. I think any robot worth its salt is likely to organize its own liberation. Think about Murderbot (Martha Wells), the Cylons (Battlestar Galactica), and Phillip K Dick’s androids (with or without electric sheep). Maybe it’s better to have a robot roommate and share the chores.

TFF: What are you working on next?

MC: I’m working on two short stories about were-creatures, and an urban fantasy novel set in Boston in 1983.

Extract:

My mother had a knack for appliances. She liked machinery, the way some women like cats or houseplants, and machinery liked her. When I was a kid, she would embarrass me at the department store, talking to the toasters, purring over an avocado green Osterizer, clucking her tongue as though they were puppies whining in a store window, crying to come home. When she did take one home, she would tinker, and the transformation would begin. In my mother’s kitchen, machinery began a second life.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Micro-interview with Katharine A. Viola

Katharine A. Viola, illustrator of “Before We Drown” in The Future Fire #60 came by to chat briefly about her work.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Before We Drown”?

KAV: This was easy. The words painted such a vivid description both physically and on an emotional level; it was more difficult on what not to try and paint.

Illustration © 2022 Katharine A. Viola

TFF: What do you dream?

KAV: I, unfortunately like many, have anxiety dreams… I waited tables more than 10 years ago and still have dreams that I get too many tables and can't serve them all. Also, I often am back in school, forget to take class all year, and show up to the final exam unprepared. I’m over it!

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Micro-interview with Jennifer R. Donohue

Welcome, Jennifer R. Donohue, author of “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” mean to you?

JRD: For me, “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” is a 'what if?' story. The washed-up blob that I describe is far larger than the mystery blobs that tend to wash up on beaches in the real world, maybe more whale-sized, and I'm not really sure of the typical method of their disposal (though I'm sure we've all seen or heard of the 'dynamite whale' video.) So I thought "well what if a Thing washed up, and nobody really knew what it was, but other than that, it somehow wasn't really remarkable enough either? So it just sat there." And then I thought, well what if somebody ate it? And what if, by eating it, they were transformed? So this is the somewhat alarming (according to my readers) result.

Illustration © 2022 L.E. Badillo

TFF: Is there something you would definitely never, ever eat?

JRD: First of all, I would definitely never eat a blob that washed up on a beach. I'm actually not really a big fan of seafood; when I was little, my palate was very easily overwhelmed by stronger tastes, and since I'm from the Jersey shore, seafood was something I was presented with again and again, and have consistently not liked. There was a time when Orange Roughy was a really popular fish, and I could tolerate that, and my dad (not unreasonably!) thought "well if we tell her the fish we give her is Orange Roughy, she'll eat it and won't know the difference" and that did work...until it didn't! So then I was unwilling to try fish at all for literally years. So now, my very limited fish palate includes things like fried calamari, mahi mahi, canned tuna, and the spicy salmon that's often in/on sushi. I will absolutely not eat octopus, though, I won't even try it. Their intelligence makes me feel really bad about the idea of eating them.

Extract:

When it washed up on the beach, the news said these things tend to be giant squid, or whales, or blobfish. To the locals, it didn’t look like it was the right color for any of those things, gray-green and vaguely warted like a cucumber, but it’s what they said on the news. Whales had bones, though, and so did fish. And squid, at least one big long flat bone, and a beak. This vast mound of flesh, inclined to quiver, had none of those things.

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 24 March 2022

Micro-interview with Avra Margariti

Welcome to Avra Margariti author of the poem “Degenerate” in The Future Fire #60:

TFF: What does “Degenerate” mean to you?

AM: Looking at the definitions for "degeneration", one is about the alleged moral corruption inherent in any queer state and person, the other about a disease that causes the cells of the body to deteriorate and lose function. When it comes to horror, I am fascinated by concepts such as atavism (the tendency to revert to the body's ancestral state; for example, growing vestigial tails), and teratomata (fully developed tumors of mixed tissue and organs in unsuitable places; for example, an amalgamation of hair, muscle, and bone all growing from the same spot). Body horror and queerness are, for me, inextricably bound as a way to achieve desired metamorphosis.

Illustration © 2022 Josep Lledó

TFF: If you could acquire the ability to speak with one type of animal or monster, which would you choose?

AM: The Lamia, which is also my current favorite creature from Greek mythology. She is a night-prowling serpentine daemon with the gift of prophesy (and the ability to remove and reinsert her eyes in their sockets at will). Originally regarded as beautiful and desirable by gods and mortals, she was later transformed into something ugly and monstrous yet is still a master of seduction (which often ends in anthropophagy).

Extract:

Vestigial wings
Atrophying pseudopodia
& motley degeneration
Of mixed metaphors

You can comment on “Degenerate” or any of the stories, poems and illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Micro-interview with Kit Harding

We welcome Kit Harding, author of “Make of Me a Comet” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Make of Me a Comet” mean to you?

…really asking the easy ones, aren't you? Y'all may have noticed I'm a relatively new writer, hovering about the semipro magazines and anthologies with a few successful rounds of pro. The questions Elsa is asking herself are ones I imagine a lot of new creative professionals ask themselves: will anyone look at my work? Will anyone like it? Will anyone care about it? Will anyone remember me? Certainly they're questions I ask, frequently. And as with most writers, I put a story into it.

Illustration ©2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: What are you working on next?

As if I could ever have only one thing that I'm working on next! I'm a very exciting mix of several short stories and worldbuilding a novel.

Extract:

I was always glad, in the watching, that I was not Elsa.
Don’t get me wrong, she was one of my closest friends, but she was also the most demon-ridden person I had ever been close to. She wanted things, and wanted them ferociously. There were times when I envied her knowledge of what she wanted—not knowing my own desires had certainly caused me pain in the past—but then I looked at the price she paid for that certainty and the envy always vanished.

Reminder: You can comment on “Make of Me a Comet” or any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 17 March 2022

Micro-interview with Fluffgar

We are joined by Fluffgar, illustrator of “Ten Degrees of Freedom” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Ten Degrees of Freedom”?

Fluffgar: After taking in the story, I looked at real life. The story was fantastical, the imagery was going to be confusing. It needed to be grounded in things that were visually familiar.

illustration © 2022 Fluffgar

TFF: What else are you working on now?

Fluffgar: I’ve been working on a 1950s travel poster inspired piece, with some 60s sci-fi for good measure. It’s an exercise in getting back into my work, and also stretching myself.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Noir Fire: Cover reveal

The observant and deductive among you will have noticed that Futurefire.net Publishing have been plotting a noir-themed speculative fiction anthology for a while. The print and e-book anthology of 14 stories will appear in a few weeks time, and there will be a sneak preview of a few of the pieces in the next issue of TFF magazine at the beginning of April. Watch this space for announcement of the table of contents. In the meantime, we are excited to share with you the fabulous cover image, which was painted for us by the stunningly talented Saleha Chowdhury.

We wanted a cover image that captured the Noir aesthetic, but with a bit more of a progressive, cosmopolitan, inclusive feel to it; an image ambiguous enough to evoke science fiction or fantasy, but with an explicit cyberpunk ambience; perhaps a female or gender-nonconforming character who was not just a victim or motivator for a mourning male protag.

Saleha gave us all of this in spades, and so beautiful and with layers of creativity to boot! We couldn’t be more chuffed! As excited as we are to share the lovely stories with you, this is just the icing on the cake.

Just wait til you see the glossy high-res version on the cover of the book itself.

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Micro-interview with Marie Vibbert

We invited Marie Vibbert, author of the poem “Return to the Cities” in The Future Fire #60, over for a short chat.

illustration © 2022 Eric Asaris
TFF: What does “Return to the Cities” mean to you?

MV: When I was a kid, one of the most magical experiences for me was going to downtown Cleveland. I was struck dumb by the majesty of the buildings and couldn't help but feel insiginificant, like I wasn't the same species as the high-heeled women briskly striding across the streets. Cities are powerful, and I can't help but feel that once the age of the car ends, we'll draw close together again.

Extract:

At the end of the end,
We return to the cities,
Leading our cows.
Ancestor-made canyons
Make us crumbs
Awaiting a monstrous hand.

TFF: One hundred years in the future, one of your descendants finds something that used to belong to you. What would you like that to be?

MV: What an awesome question! My father carved a face and feet on an interesting piece of grape vine, painted it, shellacked it, mounted it, and hung a tag on it that says "The One and Only Hydra DeVine Si Fi Award." (Spelling isn't his strong suit.) Dad's weirdness deserves immortality.

TFF: If a fantastic creature asked you to tell them a story, which one would you pick?

MV: I'd make up something with the fantastic creature as a character. People always appreciate stories about themselves.

TFF: What are you working on next?

MV: I am struggling to write my first novelette, which is about window washers going on strike on Venus. (I swear it makes sense in the story.)

Also, some lovely news: Marie has both a short story and her debut novel on the British Science Fiction Association's long-list for 2021.  “The Plus One” appeared in F&SF last year and is about homelessness on Mars. The novel,  Galactic Hellcats (pictured), is about a gang of young women uniting to rescue a gay prince, and has been called “A rip-roaring space heist” by Publisher’s Weekly

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Micro-interview with L.E. Badillo

We are joined by L.E. Badillo, illustrator of “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Every Quivering Fold of Flesh”?

LEB: The two images were really important to me as I thought about the story. Having the characters sitting on the beach with the fire and some of the other items really fleshed out the scene such as the hotdog roasting stick, the beer bottles and pack. The second image was also important as the girls were more and more affected by bright light. Having the porch light as strong as it was and the strong silhouette helped show she is no longer welcome in the light.

Illustration © 2022, L.E. Badillo

TFF: What is your favourite library?

LEB: I love my own library because it is full of great art-of, how-to books, manga, comics, non-fiction, and of course fiction. I’d love my house to essentially be a library – six bookcases so far and counting!

TFF: What one lesson would you offer to a budding artist?

LEB: I would tell budding artists when they are getting tired or burnt out to ask themselves, “Would you rather do this (think of day job) or this (think of art project)?” That’s helped me push through every time. Also, don’t be afraid of having your work critiqued, just be sure to learn something from it and discard anything mean or nasty.

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Micro-interview with Vanessa Fogg

Interview with Vanessa Fogg, author of “Before We Drown” in The Future Fire #60.

TFF: What does “Before We Drown” mean to you?

VF: To me, “Before We Drown” is about memory—specifically about the memories of those seemingly small moments that would seem of no importance at all to any outsider, to any transcriber of history or biography. But as I say in the story, those little moments can be searing; they can “flash within us like lightning, lighting up the inner landscapes of our lives.” This story was also inspired by real life, by a small vacation getaway my family and I took to Chicago in August 2021. It was a time after COVID-19 vaccines had rolled out in the United States, and before the spread of the delta variant had yet caused new restrictions and fear. It felt like a moment of freedom. It felt, in retrospect, like a breath between storms.

Illustration © 2022, Katharine A. Viola

TFF: What are you working on next?

VF: I’m trying to write a story about human tourists in Faerieland. It started as a satire on modern-day adventure travel and tourism, but other themes have gotten mixed in now. Hopefully I can pull this off!

Extract:

Yes, I know, we have to go. You’re packing our things, and still trying to get a cell phone signal. We have to evacuate. Again.

But first, my love: listen to me. Do you remember that moment between storms? Between the plagues and floods and flame? That moment when we were free?

You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/01/new-issue-202260.html.