Monday, 8 August 2022

Micro-interview with Jordan Hirsch

Micro-interview with Jordan Hirsch, author of the poem “We Don't Always Have to Toss Her in the Deep End” in The Future Fire #62.


Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey

TFF: What does “We Don't Always Have to Toss Her in the Deep End” mean to you?

Jordan Hirsch: Society in the US relies heavily on the unpaid labor of women and femme-presenting people—particularly BIPOC. We are run ragged and are not adequately supported but are then praised (but not compensated) for our resilience, reliability, and large capacities. How much more would we thrive if we weren't so bogged and beaten down?

TFF: What lost-at-sea thing would you like to find while snorkeling?

JH: A message in a bottle from someone whose story and history I could learn more about.

TFF: What are you working on next?

JH: My main focus right now is revising my adult fantasy novel, though I also have a horror novella that won't stop pestering me to be written. Hopefully you'll get to read both someday soon!


Extract:

What if when she drowns
she grows gills
sprouting out of her hands
because keeping them busy
has always been
what’s allowed her
to breathe?

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Friday, 5 August 2022

Micro-interview with Nicole Lungerhausen

We had a chat with Nicole Lungerhausen, author of “Song of Your Life” in The Future Fire #62, who was kind enough to answer a few questions.


Illustration © 2022 Fluffgar

TFF: What does “Song of Your Life” mean to you?

Nicole Lungerhausen: I admire people who are unafraid to speak up and let their voices be heard, especially when it comes to speaking truth to power. There are more ways to speak up and be seen and heard right now than at any other time in history, yet in America so many of us are lonely, isolated and disconnected. As important as it is to speak up, listening—to others and to ourselves—is a revolutionary act of generosity and defiance that more of us need to practice right now.

TFF: Who is your favourite mythological heroine?

NL: I love rusalkas. They are my favorite of the vengeful female tropes in mythology, although, as with most things, whether they are heroines or villains is all in the eye of the beholder. In some Slavic traditions, rusalkas are protectors of pregnant women and children, while in others they are shape-shifting sirens luring young men to their death. Should I meet a rusalka someday, I'm not sure if I would ask her for help or run and hide and I love that!

TFF: What are you working on next?

NL: I'm working on a sci-fi short story that involves time travel, epigenetics, and mental health. And it's a comedy… just kidding! I'm aiming for a hopeful story, though, which I think is an even more difficult needle to thread than writing a comedic story.


Extract:
You make two attempts to sing the song of your life as the keepers herd you and the other recruits from the holding cell to the arena. Unfortunately, neither attempt results in your death.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Mini-interview with Nicole J. LeBoeuf

We have a mini-interview with Nicole J. LeBoeuf, author of the poem “Reasonable Accommodations” in The Future Fire #62.


Illustration © 2022 Cécile Matthey
TFF: What does “Reasonable Accommodations” mean to you?

Nicole J. LeBoeuf: “What would a were-deer have to do to hold down a corporate job?” began as a light-hearted poetry prompt, but workplace accommodations are in no way a light-hearted subject. It's infuriating that so many of us have to contort ourselves to some arbitrary standard of professionalism, a standard that excludes disabilities and pregnancy and breast-feeding and non-white bodies and trans bodies and queer bodies and gender-nonconforming bodies—there are so many “wrong” ways to have a body! And those who deviate from that strict norm can only expect accommodations from their employer after jumping through an enormous set of hoops to adapt ourselves to a workplace that is hostile to their very existence. And then you're supposed to be so grateful for what scraps of consideration get tossed your way, and if your needs are still unmet, well, that's not your employer's responsibility, is it? So many people have it worse than you, and it's not like we're asking you to do anything your co-workers aren't, so suck it up, stop rocking the boat, stop complaining, stop acting like your situation is unique. That the "disability" being half-heartedly accommodated in the poem is unique speaks to how isolating the experience can be, how we're discouraged from making common cause with each other.

What is the most “punk” thing you've ever done or made?

NJL: Oh, that's easy. In 2012 I joined a roller derby league, and, ten years plus a pandemic later, I'm still at it. Flying around the rink on quad skates and slamming my body into my opponents is about as punk as anything in my life gets. For a female-presenting person in a misogynist world, it's revolutionary to be an athlete, to insist on valuing my body for what I can do with it rather than what it looks like. To wear a tank top and shorts without feeling obligated to shave, for goodness's sake! It's revolutionary to be part of a gender-inclusive sport, to share the track with other women, cis and trans, with non-binary individuals, with people of all identities and backgrounds and body types who just want to get together and play this absurd and bad-ass sport we've all come to love.

What are you working on next?

NJL: Mainly I've been scrambling to get my Patreon project, "Friday Fictionettes," caught up to its intended schedule. Otherwise, I'm working on--well, a lot of things, each of them at a different progress point and all of them giving me trouble. I bounce back and forth between them, which I'm told you're not supposed to do, but it's the only way I function. I've got to have somewhere to go when I get stuck. If the mermaid story is refusing to budge, I can jump to the superhero-who-sees-ghosts story, or the oak dryad poem, or the sentient architecture story cycle, see whether one of those other worlds has come together a little more while it was on the back-burner. I'm a big believer in back-burner time for recalcitrant stories.


Extract:

Long before it rises in the evening,
the moon’s already full, has been for hours.


Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Monday, 1 August 2022

Micro-interview with Sarah Salcedo

Interview with Sarah Salcedo, illustrator of “We Were Ghostless before Her” in TFF #62.

Illustration © 2022 Sarah Salcedo

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “We Were Ghostless before Her”?

Sarah Salcedo: I've been trying to develop a style when it comes to my The Future Fire pieces lately. I don't know how far it will extend, but the stories you've sent me have all felt resonant with each other. I want my drawings to compliment the work without pulling away or spoiling anything. I love beautiful genre art, but the really descriptive ones for me always take away a little bit of my enjoyment of the story. I don't want to be distracted wondering how the art correlates to the story, but I love suggestive art when it accompanies a story. Where it gives you little in terms of a spoiler, but makes sense after it's been read. Ioanna's piece, to be careful not to spoil it for anyone who still needs to read it, inspired me with this image.

TFF: What is the spookiest corner of the city you live in?

SS: I live out in the woods, and I don't know that I find much spooky these days. Whenever I feel that haunted feeling, it usually feels more sad or curious than anything.

TFF: To which famous wedding (in any period of history) would have you liked to be invited?

SS: Hmmm… I'd love to get to Anne Boleyn before Henry the VIII and tell her that I'll make a distraction while she escapes on some horses I've hidden out back…

TFF: Tell us about an artist whose work you're particularly enjoying at the moment?

SS: I am constantly returning to the work of Anselm Keifer. I was just working on a story inspired by his Brunhilde Sleeps that floors me to this day.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

SS: I am finishing up a short story collection, as well as a fantasy novel, and a rewrite of a literary novel I wrote about an autistic family of women in a small town. I am trying to finish these projects before the fall when I have to dive back into my documentary film projects.


Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Friday, 29 July 2022

Mini-interview with Louise Hughes

Louise Hughes, author of “Unspoilt” in The Future Fire #62, joined us for a few questions.


Illustration © 2022 Eric Asaris

TFF: What does “Unspoilt” mean to you?

Louise Hughes: Not everyone can go out there and join a mass protest, whether because they have a disability or some other circumstance prevents them. The world is complicated and it can be frustrating. Sometimes you're so busy focussed on your own thing that you don't even notice what is happening. “Unspoilt” is intended to show that there are other ways of taking part in a rebellion, even one you've only just learnt exists.

TFF: If you could choose only one book to take on a long space journey, which one would it be?

LH: Like the characters in my story, I’m going to pick an audiobook: Hild by Nicola Griffith, narrated by Pearl Hewitt.

TFF: Which natural or geographical feature do you feel most affinity for?

LH: Hills or mountains (definition variable depending on location). I like to be at the top, looking down on everything below. There’s a reassuring solitude about it when you can see all the paths up and know exactly who and what is around you, and all the sounds of the world are there but far away.


Extract:

The cockpit shutters slid upwards and the planet below us swept into view. Blue, for the most part. The kind of sapphire blue travel corps were so fond of using on holoboards. A series of archipelagos clung to the equator like dead ants.

There was nothing I couldn’t already see in the portfolio. Nothing the drones weren’t streaming up to us as they hovered merrily through their scan pattern. Nothing that wasn’t plotted on Karin’s maps.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at this post.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Micro-interview with Toeken

Micro-interview with Toeken, illustrator of “New Day Dawning” and cover artist in The Future Fire #62.


TFF: How did you go about illustrating “New Day Dawning”?

Toeken: Extraordinary tale by Francesca Forrest, truly remarkable. I began sketching several elements—for example the Cacicus cela, the “bloom” and the branches that fire off the choker. Then it was messing around with gouache washes in magnolia and various blues on water color paper before scanning them and arranging the roughs for the two illustrations digitally.

Illustration © 2022 Toeken

TFF: Is there a difference for you between creating artwork to order, and composing purely from your own imagination?

Toeken: I’ll be frank, when I got the chance to read this I initially thought “I can't do this,” and when that happens I usually just jump in and hope I don’t make a mess of it. With my own stuff, it’s actually a very similar reaction when an image starts to suggest itself. If it’s too easy? F**k it. What's the point of wasting your time doing that?

TFF: Who would you most like to meet, living or dead, for a drink tonight?

Toeken: Right now—Harlan Ellison. Mostly just for the incandescent rage convo.

TFF: Tell us about an artist whose work you’re particularly enjoying at the moment?

Toeken: As always, there's a bunch: Saelan Wangsa, Julie Dillon, Fan Ho, Leslie Ragan.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

Toeken: Paintings/illustrations for Shoreline of Infinity, Bag of Bones Press, Archive of the Odd and personal stuff, but the monster that’s chewing up the bulk of my creative time right now is the graphic novel for Android Press, written by the ridiculously talented Phil Emery—that’s Razor’s Edge and it is due out early 2023.


Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Monday, 25 July 2022

Micro-interview with Tim Pratt

Tim Pratt, author of the novelette “A Door of My Own” in TFF #62, joins us for a short interview.


Illustration © 2022 Carmen Moran

TFF: What does “A Door of My Own” mean to you?

Tim Pratt: I often think of the importance of having a place of refuge, where you can relax and control your environment and truly let your guard down; a lot of people don't have a place like that, but once you do, it changes your life, and gives you the confidence to try new things and take risks, because you know there's a place you can retreat and regroup. But, of course, having a place of refuge means that place can be a point of vulnerability… Also, I just really love stories about magic doors, and thought it would be fun to make every door a magic door.

TFF: Tell us about one of your favourite underrated authors?

TP: My favorite modern fantasy novel is The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. It's the only novel he's published (so far) but I hope desperately for another. It's a glorious puzzle box of a book and I re-read it every year or two. Not enough people have read it, but when I mention it to someone else who has, their eyes invariably light up and we spend a little time raving about its wonders.

TFF: What are you working on next?

TP: I’m currently writing a novel called Conquest of Nigh-Space, which should be out late next year. It’s multiverse and space opera, romance and action, espionage and philosophy, jokes and terror. Basically everything I love in one book, set in the world of “A Champion of Nigh-Space” and “A Princess of Nigh-Space”—in fact, the novel is about the unavoidable conflict between the protagonists of those stories.


Extract:

I found my room when I was eight years old, running from my foster mother when she was drunk, screaming, and flicking cigarette ash at my temporary siblings. I ran to the closet, thinking I should hide, but mostly thinking I wish I could go somewhere safe. For some reason I reached out with my left hand, the one with the key-shaped birthmark on the palm. The door opened, but instead of hanging coats and a tumble of smelly shoes I found a bare room, the floor beautiful blonde hardwood, the walls paneled in oak. The room looked huge (I shared a smaller one with three other kids), and when I was older, I measured it: fifteen feet by twenty feet, three hundred square feet all my own. I looked behind me, down the dark hall, toward the screaming. I stepped through and shut the door.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at this post.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Mini-interview with Francesca Forrest

We are joined for a chat by Francesca Forrest, author of “New Day Dawning” in The Future Fire #62.


Illustration © 2022 Toeken

TFF: What does “New Day Dawning” mean to you?

Francesca Forrest: SF generally imagines collective consciousness either as a horrifying erasure of self (as with the Borg in the Star Trek franchise or ancillaries in Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch books) or as some kind of groovy spiritual opt-in experience. I wanted to consider it from a more organic perspective, something more connected to collective organisms that exist already. And I didn’t want to push a viewpoint: I wanted there to be room for a variety of feelings about such a being. Unrelatedly, I also wanted to posit a highly successful non-Eurasian indigenous nation-state.

TFF: What posthuman augmentation would you like to receive?

FF: Not gonna lie: I’d be interested in having Winna’s experience.

TFF: What is the most rebellious thing that you did as a child?

FF: I’m a painfully compliant person, so my rebellions were more along the lines of “This isn’t expressly forbidden, so it must be permitted—right?” When I was seven, a friend and I climbed out a window onto the roof of our back porch in order to launch a flying carpet we’d created. (My parents had never thought to state that climbing onto the roof was forbidden.) Some kind of prudence got us to test the carpet sans riders first. We’d just thrown it off the roof when my mom got home and found us there.

TFF: What are you working on next?

FF: I’m making revisions to a story about a swarm of bees that impersonate a beekeeper’s wife, and I’m also working on a novel to follow on the two shorter-length Tales of the Polity I’ve written.


Extract:

“There it is,” exclaimed Winna. “There’s the Santa Marta bloom!” Thirty-five thousand feet down, a pinkish-brown smear drifted on blue waters of the Caribbean: Trichodesmium terrens, the novel cyanobacterium poisoning oceans worldwide and bringing hunger and economic chaos in its wake. Next to Winna, Tomás looked up from his tablet and out the window. Across the aisle their boss, Dr. Sengupta, was pointing out the bloom to the half-dozen assistant and associate researchers on his team.

“So that’s Terrible T, the enemy bringing us all together,” Tomás said. “Little does it realize it’s about to meet its doom.” He punctuated his prediction with a half-smile.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2022/07/new-issue-202262.html

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Micro-interview with Ioanna Papadopoulou

We had a chat with Ioanna Papadopoulou, author of “We Were Ghostless before Her” in The Future Fire #62, who kindly answers a few questions for us here.


Illustration ©2022 Sarah Salcedo

TFF: What does “We Were Ghostless before Her” mean to you?

Ioanna Papadopoulou: It is one of the most precious pieces I have written. It is a mixture of my family history (my paternal grandmother's parents were part of the people forced away from their homes in Pontus) but also my own personal history and experience as an immigrant.

TFF: If you were a ghost, what place or person would you like to haunt or visit?

IP: I think I would like to be a ghost in an art Gallery. I love art and would ideally like to work in museums and art galleries again, so I also love the idea of being a ghost curator as well.

TFF: Who is your favourite mythological heroine?

IP: Growing up it was Artemis but as an adult it is Demeter, because I see her as a female deity that is independent in a way no other one in the dodecatheon was. Neither married and tied to one man nor a virgin, who doesn't have a sexuality, and this allows her to be dangerous.

TFF: What are you working on next?

IP: I am currently working on a fairy story, inspired by Greek Folklore from Thrace. It’s about a young girl finding an ill fairy, who is slowly turning into a leech because of nitrogen pollution and how the two of them save the fairies from extinction.


Extract:

We told ourselves we were going home. The home of many, many generations ago. Our forever home. Nobody told us that the ones who never left would see us as foreigners, ostracising us from their communities. Nobody thought this land of never-ending sun, which burnt our flesh as we worked its fields, was also the ancestral home of another people, and when they left, their ghosts stayed here and hated us for coming to replace them. And we were defenceless as our own ghosts stayed in our old homeland, near the Black Sea. Maybe our ghosts, those poor lost souls without family and culture, tormented the ones who went there to replace us as theirs did to us.

Reminder: you can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in TFF issue #62 over at this post.

Sunday, 3 July 2022

New Issue: 2022.62

“La révolution et la libération des femmes vont de pair. Et ce n’est pas un acte de charité ou un élan d’humanisme que de parler de l’émancipation des femmes. C’est une nécessité fondamentale pour le triomphe de la révolution. Les femmes portent sur elles l’autre moitié du ciel.”

—Thomas Sankara (le 8 mars 1987)

 [ Issue 2022.62; Cover art © 2022 Toeken ] Issue 2022.62

Short stories

Novelettes

Poetry

Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

Editorial by Djibril al-Ayad

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Winners of the #NoirFire microfic writing contest and giveaway

Our lovely judges Valeria and Fábio have picked the winners of the speculative noir micro-fiction contest. Here to shock us, thrill us and chill us, are the prize-winning stories.


The Winner

The winning story is this lovely, paranormal crime vignette from @Sarah_I_Jackson, who receive two FFN anthologies in paperback plus an e-book of Dan Grace’s Winter from Unsung Stories:

“What'll it be, Vi?” She looked awful. / “The good stuff.” / “You can't afford the good stuff.” / “C’mon Ruby. It's been a night.” / I poured a shot of holy water, watched her knock it back and wince, fangs bared. Saw the bullet holes in her shirt. / “Tough case?” / “Tough case.”

The Runners-up:

In no particular order, the two runners up, who each win e-books of three FFN anthologies plus Winter, are…

This horror-noir with a funebrous twist from @cj_dots:

“You don't look happy to see me.” / “Under the circumstances—” / “My case ended a little too messy for you, hm?” / “Guess you could say that.” / “And after I paid your frankly outlandish fee.” / “Looking for a refund? Sorry to break it to ya, I spent your fee on your funeral.”

And this fierce cyber-rebellion moment from @snowysil:

Her red silicone nails trailed the deep neckline of her dress. “They made me so beautiful. But I've been bad.” She smiled, voltage crackling over her glossy lips, lasers heating her gaze. “Stole my own root code. Now I control my body, and it makes them very, very afraid.”

All these micro-stories are worthy of the Noir Fire title, and we loved reading them and all the other entries! If this has whetted your appetite for more of this sort of thing, why not pick up the anthology…?

Monday, 27 June 2022

Micro-interview with editor Djibril al-Ayad

Micro-interview with Djibril al-Ayad, co-editor of the the Noir Fire anthology.

TFF: Where did the idea from this anthology come from?


Djibril al-Ayad: Not gonna lie, my fabulous co-editor is the brains behind this operation (I’m at best the muscle; at worst a sleazy, corrupt freeloader running contraband through his barely-breaking-even dive bar…). When she walked into my office with an offer I couldn't refuse—backed up by a secret investor—I could see the smart move from the start. Takes a better man than me (or at least a soberer one) to say no to a dame like that. And hey: I didn't live to regret it, did I?

TFF: If you were a private eye, how would you call your agency?

DA: Private Ayad? I’m terrible at this…

TFF: Which is the most “noir” city you ever visited and why?

DA: I’m going to say Long Beach, LA County, California. Lovely place, great art galleries, even a dog beach, but approaching or leaving or even just driving past at dusk, the skyline just says Cyberpunk. Maybe Private Ayad should open their office there.

TFF: Do you think it's possible to reconcile noir bleackness and positive, progressive narratives?

DA: Always. I think some of the most beautiful, positive and progressive stories are set against the backdrop of having to survive pretty bleak surroundings. Even if the noir protagonist is their own worst enemy and not going to get a happy ending, just seeing “the helpers,” and people living their passionate, diverse, messy lives despite it all is a hugely optimistic thing to see.

TFF: What are you working on next?

DA: No concrete plans yet, but after the next few regular issues of The Future Fire, I’m sure we’ll have another themed, special or collaborative project to share with you. We’re always happy to meet new friends, so chuck ideas our way if you have any!


You can find purchase links and more information about the Noir Fire anthology at http://press.futurefire.net/p/noir-fire.html