Wednesday, 30 September 2015

New Issue 2015.34

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young.”

—Maya Angelou

 [ Issue 2015.34; Cover art © 2015 Carmen Moran ]
Issue 2015.34

EPUB, Mobi and PDF versions coming soon.

Friday, 18 September 2015

TFF-X blog carnival recap

A recap of guest posts, interviews and other blog posts that were posted as part of the TFF-X fundraiser during the month of August (thanks to everyone involved!):
  1. Interview in Urban Fantasy Magazine
  2. Interview on Fox Spirit blog
  3. Micro-sequel Monday: “Little Match Girl, ten years on” *
  4. Interview with Joyce Chng
  5. Interview with Djibril by Jocelyn Koehler
  6. Friday Flash: “A Sense of Place” *
  7. Interview with Kathryn Allan at Twinja Book Reviews
  8. Micro-sequel Monday: “Galatea's Stepchildren, ten years on” *
  9. Ernest Hogan, "A Low Ride with Victor Theremin"
  10. Stephanie Saulter interviews Valeria
  11. Blog post at Theaker's Quarterly Fiction
  12. Interview with Richard Thieme
  13. Rebecca Schwab interviews Bruce
  14. Interview with Lori Selke at Apex Books
  15. Friday Flash: “From the Mud, Rising Bravely” *
  16. Djibril's Friday Five at Pornokitsch
  17. Margrét Helgadóttir interviews Cécile Matthey
  18. Su J. Sokol interviews Jennifer Marie Brissett
  19. TFFX writing contest
  20. Micro-sequel Monday: “Good Form, ten years on” *
  21. Quiltbag stories from the last decade
  22. “My Superpower” by Djibril over at Skiffy and Fanty
  23. Alasdair Stuart interviews Valeria
  24. Cécile interviews Rebecca Schwab
  25. Valeria interviews Vanessa Fogg
  26. Friday Flash: “Now Playing” *
  27. Serge interviews James W. Bennett
  28. "Keeping The Future Fire Burning" at Anne E. Johnson's blog
  29. Micro-sequel Monday: Rustwisdom *
  30. Peter Tennant interviews Djibril at "Case Notes"
  31. Re-opened: "Number 10"-themed writing challenge
  32. Tracie interviews Kathryn Allan
  33. Rebecca Buchanan interviews Robin
  34. Friday Flash: Morphic Resonance *
  35. Sunday Sequel: Pirate Stories *
  36. Microfiction Monday: 2084 *
  37. Dennis Upkins interviews Cécile
Look out especially for the micro-sequels posted at this site (marked with * above) which are lovely—and there will be more new material like that in the anthology.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Seeking experimental microstories

Call for Stories

The TFF-X (The Future Fire—ten years) anthology will contain 15 reprinted or slightly revised stories, plus at least as many new pieces that we hope will give an idea of the sort of things we’d like to see more of in the magazine in the future. We’re enthusiastically looking forward to the next decade, as well as celebrating the last one.

If you think you can help us to exemplify different and experimental modes/kinds of social-political, diverse, progressive and speculative stories, we’d love to hear from you. Some of our ideas are listed below. We're looking for very short pieces, so 500-1000 words is about right (or equivalent, for comics/poetry). We'll pay $20 per piece, and this call will remain open until we have the 5-10 new pieces we need to fill the volume (or until the end of October at the latest, at which point we'll have to firm up the table of contents if we’re to publish the anthology before the end of 2015). If you have any other experimental ideas—try us! Email your submissions or pitch ideas to with a subject line beginning “TFF-X submission: (title of work) and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Genre, style or conceit (many of these can be summed up as “ekphrasis”—a representation of one art form via the medium of another):
  1. Story written as a theater or radio play, or as an interview
  2. Story written as a pitch for a TV show or web series
  3. Story in the form of an online user review for a science-fictional/fantastic product (hoverboard, replicator, magic wand? You can think of something more original than this!)
  4. Design a poster or one-page advert for a made-up book or film
  5. Story in the form of a critical review of a non-existent book (no spoilers!)
  6. Story in the form of a user guide for a videogame or a module for an RPG
  7. Story told via a letter or letters (letter to a magazine advice column; letter of complaint; rejection letter for a job/story/grant; letter of condolence/congratulation; any letter that isn’t just the sender telling a story to the recipient)
Theme, content or medium (can be combined with one of the above, if you want to be hyper-efficient):
  1. Stories written largely/partly (or with dialogue) in a language or dialect other than US-English—with no apology or translation for the reader
  2. Bi/pansexual and trans/nonbinary characters (we do pretty well with queer representation otherwise)
  3. Utopian story—a world that satirizes our own by being visibly better than it in some significant way (doesn’t have to be perfect)
  4. Absurdist or nonsense piece—any combination of surrealism, dadaism, bizarro, dream-quest
  5. Horror and dark fantasy (so many possible modes)
  6. Poetry (any style; up to 40 lines)
  7. Graphic/comics story (2-4 pages)
All stories should of course be social-political, diverse, intersectional, and all the others things that TFF want to see in fiction anyway!
(If you would like to read more about what some of our editors would like to see more of in TFF in the future, the question has been addressed by Kathryn, Cécile, Valeria and Djibril in recent interviews. More suggestions welcome!)

Submission guidelines summary:

Length: approx. 500-1000 words (poems 40 lines, comics, 2-4 pages)
Email submissions as attachment to
Deadline: October 31, 2015, or sooner if filled
Pay: $20 (USD) per story, poem, comic, etc.

Monday, 14 September 2015

TFF-X Fundraiser — Thanks!

The following message has just gone out to all backers of the TFF-X fundraiser (in case anyone missed it):
Many thanks to all of you who supported the TFF-X fundraiser, which exceeded its target by nearly $300 at the beginning of the month; you have made this anthology possible, and freed up some much-needed funds to increase the pay rate for Fae Visions of the Mediterranean as well.

We expect the anthology to appear before the end of the year, at which point those who backed at the appropriate levels will receive your print or e-copies of these and other books. (The five-anthology bundles won’t be available until the last two volumes are published, of course.) Copies of Lowest Heaven should already have gone out to those of you who backed at those levels, and undead dolls and custom artwork recipients have been put in touch with their respective creators. If you think you should have heard from me but haven’t, please drop me an email asap, and I’ll try to sort it out.

Warmest thanks to you all again!
As noted, we have as a result of the generosity of our backers raised the pay-rate for Fae Visions to €30 per short story or poem, and €15 per flash story. The CFS for that anthology is still open for a few more weeks, and we’re especially keen to hear from any authors from the Mediterranean region, in particular those from North Africa, the Near East or Turkey, who are currently very underrepresented. It’s going to be a great anthology whatever happens, but it has to be representative of the region if it’s to mean anything.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Ten-years-after Tuesday: Xiomara's Flying Circus

Xiomara’s Flying Circus
Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus, ten years on
by Ernest Hogan
This flash sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus”, Ernest’s story in We See a Different Frontier, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser, where you can pre-order the celebration anthology and pick up other exciting rewards, for a few more hours only!

Mr. Burroughs must have thought he was Tarzan the way he treated Xiomara.

“You’ve done well for a hot little tamale. In just ten years, you’ve gone from a señorita in a dirty little town in Mexico to to owning a movie studio in Hollywood.”

He reached under the table.

I reached for the pistols under my silly embroidered waiter’s jacket

Mr. Burroughs’ bodyguard, a big lug who was too stupid to play Tarzan didn’t even notice me. He believed me when I said I “no espeak mucho English.”

Xiomara slapped Burroughs’ hand. “Please, Señor, we are in public!”

“We might as well be in Tijuana by the looks of this place. And call me Ed.”

“Ed. A funny little name.”

“We can’t all be something exotic like Xiomara.”

I hate the way gringos mispronounce her name.

“And I will be be the perfect Dejah Thoris!”

Mr. Burroughs licked his lips and grinned.

“So, Señor Burroughs, do we have a deal?”

“I’d love to have you make A Princess of Mars!”

“I’ll have my lawyers send you a contract.”

“Yes, yes. But first, I though we would seal this deal in another way.”

He panted a sloppy kiss on her lips, tore her dress, and squeezed a chichi.

I reached for my guns.

One of Xiomara’s eyes told me to wait.

“Señor! You are a married man!”

“My wife is more interested in making love to a bottle than me. And you inspire me!”

“Cabrón!” said Xiomara.

Mr. Burroughs whistled. His bodyguard aimed his gun at Xiomara’s face.

Her fist smashed Mr. Burroughs’ huevos as I put a bullet into the bodygaurd. Then I vaporized Mr. Burroughs with the Tesla death ray.

Cháirez and Holguín, who flew with me for General Villa, and now owned this restaurant, came out from the backroom, with guns drawn.

“Any problemas?” asked Cháirez.

I vaporized the bodyguard.

“Nada,” said Xiomara. “He thought my naglas were part of the deal.”

“That chingdera makes life easier,” said Holguín.

“Too bad,” said Cháirez. “It would have been a great movie.”

“It will be,” said Xiomara. “I’ll talk to his widow.”

Cháirez and Holguín hooted. “Viva Princess of Mars!”

“Princess?” said Xiomara. “I’d like to make her more of an empress.”

Monday, 31 August 2015

Microsequel Monday: 2084

Art Attack!, ten years on
Mark Harding
This micro-sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Art Attack!”, first published in 2007, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser where you can pre-order the celebration anthology, by tomorrow.

It was a bright cold day in April and the apples were bleeping thirteen. Frankie Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast to escape the vile Edinburgh wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of the starbucks.

The lights were off, but everyone understood there was no alternative if Starbucks was to achieve the quarter’s profit forecast. The queue for the starbucks machine was mostly women, mostly on email, spending their mcbreak with their children to top up their loyalty points, rushing their fractious toddlers round McDonald’s, Starbucks, Greggs.

The machine dribbled a tobacco-coloured liquid into Frankie’s stained loyalty cup. His chest swelled: how well they had all done to keep down the price of starbucks!

His apple angrily buzzed his backlog of netfix holoshows, he’d ran out of excuses for avoiding Dissident Hunter. But the apples were chiming the 5 Minute Love. Saved by the bell!

Everyone knelt, hands clasped before their breasts, apples borne in obeisance. The Amazon Leadership Hangout began:

O let us work harder
O let us work longer
O let us work smarter
And above all, let us do all three

A woman burst into tears as they chanted.

O let us insist on the highest standards

The weeping spread.

O let us be self critical
And above all, let us deliver results

Such wisdom! Such insight! The women sobbed uncontrollably now, olay running, garniers messed, dirtying their pradas on the grubbiest patches of the floor.

Next: the montage of heroes of post-industrial capitalism, each woman shouting to prove her employee loyalty.

Steve Jobs (Maestro!), Rupert Murdoch (Such charisma!), Jeff Bezos (Master!)…

Frankie forced his eyes to his apple. He should be harnessing his mind solely for business benefit. He tried to hold his private thoughts at bay.

…Mark Zuckerberg (Sweetie!), Sepp Blatter (Genius!), Donald Trump (Sexy!)…

Was he capable of love anymore? he wondered. He professed love, but was it real? Rupert, Jeff, Sepp. Donald Trump! If he couldn’t love gods like these, who could he love!

Frankie shivered. A woman—bans perched in her hair—was watching him. Could she somehow see inside him? Was she an Anytime Feedbacker? A Mystery Shopper?

The Love ended. Frankie cheered, plunging into a fantasy of contentment. He imagined watching Dissident Hunter, agreeing to how they portrayed him, no longer confused between his memory of those times and the holo he saw, no longer doubting the truth they told him. He imagined washing away the grit in his mind. At peace at last.

Tears blurred the view of his apple. Why had he been so stubborn? But he could win the victory over himself. He could love them.

‘Do you have a match?’ It was the girl with the bans

Frankie started. ‘I’m sorry. I’m not allowed to smoke… I have a medical certificate.’

‘Here.’ She handed him box. ‘Keep them.’

The buzzing of his apple unheard, Frankie stared at the matches, thinking of the fire he could light.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sunday Sequel: Pirate Stories

Pirate Stories: Pirate Songs, ten years on
by Nicolette Barischoff
This micro-sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Pirate Songs”, which first appeared in Accessing the Future, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser where you can pre-order the celebration anthology.

“Margo Glass? My name is Anita Kelley. You’re a hard woman to track down.”

“Not really. You just have to provide me with any good reason why I should talk to you.”

“So you did get my messages. That’s good. Mother of God, it’s hot here.”

The blonde pony-tailed reporter on the other end of the call flashed a wide, white smile of all-purpose flirtation, peeling off her blazer to reveal the faded University of Polis tee-shirt underneath. You can talk to me, girlfriend. I’m one of you. I’ve even got pit-stains. Not very subtle, but Margo could tell she hadn’t meant it to be.

Above the smile, her shark-black eyes didn’t crinkle. “So, I’m guessing you know who I am, what I’ve called to talk to you about.”

“I saw you do that thing on the Mythic Labs petting zoo. Hard-hitting stuff.”

“Oh, c’mon, now, Margo.” The smile widened. “You’ve changed your number three times, put the wrong address on the University immersesite… and I’ve still managed to get ahold of you. Shouldn’t that tell you something?”

“You’re monumentally creepy.”

“Or that you should really talk to me.”

“Or that you’re trying to convince me it’ll be easier on me just to talk to you.”

“You’re right.” The shark eyes blinked. “I am.”

“Right, well… I’m hanging up. If you write some sort of Where Is She Now piece, make sure to mention how my recalcitrance is probably some sign of incipient mental illness.” Margo’s mouth quirked, and she added, “I’ve been traumatized.”

“There’s nothing mentally ill about you.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re not a liar, either. Not in the way the Russ Hour TerraFirst Podcast thinks, anyway.”


Anita Kelley shook her head so that the blonde ponytail bounced a little too gleefully. “I’m not using a phone. I’ll be able to call you back 900 times before you manage to find this I2P address and block it. You know there’s gonna be a holofilm based on Russ Windon’s book? Now, I don’t know how faithful it’ll be to the source material…”

(Margo shut her eyes and took a short, sharp breath.)

“But I can guess you’re not going to come off too well.”

“Pernicious thrill-seeking whores with borderline personality disorder rarely do.”

“That’s one narrative of what happened to you. There are others.”

Margo snorted. “Yes, I know.”

“Talk to me, and I’ll help you find yours.”

“I don’t have a narrative.”

“No, you don’t. But you should. You were kidnapped by a boatful of pirates on the edge of major colonized space who spent a week or two doing God-knows-what to you…”

“Oh, fuck you…”

“And then you floated back down spouting all kinds of garbage about secret off-world prison colonies, corrupt food-labs—”

“—which led to investigations!”

“And no indictments. Do you know why? Because you don’t know anything. Nothing. You know what you were told by a bunch of criminals.”

Margo’s mouth snapped shut despite herself.

“People need a story, Margo. You’re a politician’s daughter. You should know the only way to cut down a story is with a better story. You don’t want to be a damaged princess with Stockholm Syndrome, or a conniving bitch, we’ve got to make you into something else.”

“I don’t know what story there is to tell, apart from the one I’ve already told.”

“Well. There were fourteen other people on that ship with you.”

Margo felt herself stiffen.

“Were I you,” said Anita Kelley, “I would start with them. Every missing limb, every tangled roadmap of scars, every day of recycled water or rancid soup. And then I’d make it a little bit worse. And then I would remind everyone that while I was up there, I somehow never went a day without food, and that I came back with two arms and two legs, and factory-fresh white skin.”

Margo stared at her. “They would never talk to you. I don’t know who did talk to you, but they would never talk to you.”

He wouldn’t talk to me, you’re right. He was very stubborn about it. Much harder to crack than you. But that’s why I’m a reporter, and he’s an out-of-work pirate. Some people need you to tell their story for them, Margo. They’re hopeless at telling it themselves.”

“If you’ve talked to him, then I can talk to him.”

“I think you understand why that’s not possible.”

Margo blinked the blur from her eyes.

“But he did tell me to tell you,” said Anita, “that his bulldog’s finally got an eye that won’t make you piss yourself.”

Margo pinched her lips together.

“Okay,” she said.


“Okay,” said Margo. “Ask your questions. Quickly.”

Friday, 28 August 2015

Friday Flash: Morphic Resonance

Morphic Resonance, ten years on
Toby MacNutt

This flash sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Morphic Resonance”, Toby’s story in Accessing the Future, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser, where you can pre-order the celebration anthology and pick up other exciting rewards.

Vasily had passed through enigma and out the other side. Any door would open if you could simply authenticate; this one, you exited clothed in a new skin. A subtle skin, light-rays bent tangibly around what wasn’t there, leading no one to question.

Little imps came to live under their true skin: a scatterer here, a deflector there, an aural modulator, a distributed projector. Early on, benign nanoresonators bustled, chewing bone and fat away here, depositing there, growing, inhibiting, finally drifting into hibernation. All the wiring is hidden, seamless-smooth, but will light Vasily from within and beneath with a blueprint of Ammon’s signature glowing amber, if requested. Sometimes their lover asks. Sometimes their fingers dance to the circuits’ inner hum.

Now they hang poised in the air, ’skipborne, secure and finely-tuned. Now they glow, not with circuits but with self, a true self constructed in back rooms and basement workshops. Now they glide between worlds, through doors without handles, twice locked. He chose once; they chose again. Now each day, the shifters’ gift, the luxury of choice.

Vasily had passed through enigma, and out the other side came Halcyon: once-secret heart, given wings.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Re-opened: "Number 10"-themed writing challenge

Re-opening this writing contest due to insufficient numbers of entries the first time around. Let's try and make this more fun, shall we?

As part of The Future Fire’s tenth anniversary celebration, blog tour, anthology and fundraiser, we are holding a flash writing game / book giveaway with great prizes to be won. Thanks to the fabulous generosity of Jennifer Marie Brissett and Stephanie Saulter, you can win a copy of the Dick- and Locus-nominated Elysium or the first two novels (Gemsigns and Binary) of the acclaimed ®Evolution trilogy.

To play: write a micro-short speculative story on the theme of the Number Ten. This can be anything from a single tweet, FB post, or cartoon image, up to a maximum of 500 words. The shorter, snappier and more inventive use of the number 10, the better! It needs to be read and enjoyed in a single visit. What's the scariest thing about the number ten? What's the most futuristic/sensawunda concept ten can evoke? Why is ten such a big deal…

To enter either:
  1. post your text or image to a blog, tumblr, twitlonger, pastebin etc., or screencap the text, and tweet the link or image with the hashtag #TFFX; please also post a separate tweet in your own words asking people to support the fundraiser at;
  2. or post it to Facebook, tagging so we see it; also like and share the FB post (here) promoting the fundraiser.
Given enough interest this time around, all qualifying stories submitted by midnight Pacific on Sunday, August 30th will be read by the judges, and a winner or winners will be chosen to receive the books. The criteria for judging will include the quality of the fiction and how cunningly the number ten is integrated in the story. Winners will be contacted as soon as possible thereafter for contact details. No correspondence will be entered into.

(Editors of TFF and others affiliated with the giveaway are welcome to join in the fun of writing and posting stories, but will not be entered into the contest.)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Microsequel Monday! Rustwisdom

Rustsong, ten years on
Sean R. Robinson

This micro-sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Rustsong”, first published in 2015, and was written to celebrate the tenth anniversary of TFF. If you want to see more fiction like this in the future, please support our fundraiser where you can pre-order the celebration anthology.

There had been no wisdom for rust.

My mother did not tell me stories. My null-sibling and I did not dance in its broken-copper beauty. We feared it, and pushed it back from the pavlo fields. We watched as the neighbor-farms fell to it. We watched as our children-friends gave in to the call and gave themselves to the world.

We watched as their skin split, and cracked, and all there was, was rust. Red and brown beneath the twin moons. Rust in the corners of our house, Rust on my mother’s pavlo when she died and there was one less to work the tract of land.

I remember my father’s blue water. I remember my mother’s second-best knife. My sister with wings of rust. I remember and I forget. I am rust, we are rust. I am not alone. I am never alone now. Because what the rust takes, it keeps. I am the children who had been meant for water or fire. I am the world who breathed in the flaked copper and knew no more.

There is a place where the pavlo still grows. A place where feet still push back the rust. Where lips speak of water and rain.

He is older now. Broad still, but the years have stooped him. He holds to his water wisdom and his memories—he shudders the rust. Our home has crumbled beneath the red weight of years. The roof has fallen and the whitewash is gone.

There is a tract of pavlo, a shoulders-breadth apart. He is on his knees, pushing rust from the stalks. Squeezing yesterday’s fruit for tomorrow’s growth. But there is one less pavlo than there was the day before. One less will see tomorrow. And so will it be until there is no pavlo. No rain. No hands or feet to hold back the rust. To hold back my father.

He looks up from his planting, and though his eyes widen, he looks away, because I am no shape but the shape of the land, the copper-hills. The rust that took his parents and wife and children. The rust that is waiting to take him soon.

I will wait for him. Rust-wisdom says that will come home. Because I am rust. Still, forever. I am Ianna, my mother, and Innos, my uncle. I am rust and rust wisdom is the wisdom of waiting.