Tuesday 29 December 2015

New Issue 2015.35

“The waves of the Aegean are not just washing up dead refugees, dead children, but the very civilisation of Europe.”

—Alexis Tsipras

 [ Issue 2015.35; Cover art © 2015 Laura-Anca Adascalitei ]

Issue 2015.35

Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

Review this issue on Goodreads.

    Saturday 14 November 2015

    TFF-X table of contents

    We’re very happy to share the TOC of the anthology celebrating ten years of The Future Fire magazine, which will be out next month in print and e-books from all the usual places. We think you will love TFF-X, as we do, with its mix of stories you may have seen before (if you’ve been reading TFF loyally for the last decade), and many new pieces of irreverent, experimental and unexpected content… We couldn’t have done this without these amazing authors, and especially you beautiful readers. This one’s for you.

    Nasmina’s Black Box • Jennifer Marie Brissett
    The Taste of Their Dreams • Margo-Lea Hurwicz
    Shadow Boy and the Little Match Girl • C.A. Hawksmoor
    Flight of a Sparrow • Jocelyn Koehler
    What Hath God Wrought? • Neil Carstairs
    Fae Visions of the Mediterranean • Valeria Vitale
    Reflection • Jessica E. Birch
    The Need To Stay the Same • Jo Walton
    Bottom Drawer • Brett Savory
    Liquid Loyalty, ten years on (poem) • Redfern Jon Barrett
    Always Look on the Bright Side • Alison Littlewood
    Mermaid Teeth, Witch-Honed • Benjanun Sriduangkaew
    Sweet Like Fate • Sara Puls
    An Unrecognized Masterwork • Bruce Boston
    Je me souviens • Su J. Sokol
    Lessons of the Sun (poem) • Joyce Chng
    Sophie and Zoe at the End of the World • Rebecca Buchanan
    Accessing the Future • Kathryn Allan
    Art Attack! • Mark Harding
    Slice of Life • Julie Novakova
    Half Light House • James Bennett
    Lifting the Veil on the Illustrators • compiled by Cécile Matthey, Serge Keller
    Drown or Die • Therese Arkenberg
    Easy Sweeps of Sky • Melissa Moorer
    Always Left Behind • Jack Hollis Marr
    Outlaw Bodies (seven prologues and an epilogue) • Lori Selke
    Thick on the Wet Cement • Rebecca J. Schwab
    Innervation (poem) • Toby MacNutt
    Ephemeral Love • Melanie Rees

    If you haven’t already seen it, don’t forget to check out the fabulous cover art by Cécile Matthey on our Press Page.

    Saturday 31 October 2015

    Hallowe’en favourites from the editors of TFF

    Staying in the Hallowe’en mood, we asked all of the TFF editors and guest editors for their recommendations of horror-themed short stories (both worldwide and in TFF’s back catalogue), for names of women and POC horror writers, for films, children’s books, artwork and videogames in this genre. Not everyone answered in every category, and the list below is just the first thing or two that each person thought of, in no particular order, and is certainly not meant to be a definitive list. Please add your own favorites or recommendations in the comments. Happy Hallowe’en!

    1) Horror Stories:
    2) TFF horror stories:
    3) Women horror writers:
    • Mary Shelley
    • Susan Hill
    • Nicola Griffith
    • Octavia Butler
    • Cecilia Tan
    • Cherie Priest
    • Tanith Lee
    • Wendy Wagner
    4) Horror writers of colour:
    • Tananarive Due
    • Rani Manicka (her book The Rice Mother about the horrors of the Japanese occupation of Malaysia was so disturbing)
    • Ben Okri's books are terrifying
    • Benjanun Sriduangkaew
    • Daniel José Older
    • Koji Suzuki
    • Khakan Sajid
    5) Horror films/TV shows:
    • A Woman Walks Home Alone at Night
    • Ginger Snaps
    • Alien
    • The Thing
    • Babadook
    • Pan’s Labyrinth
    • The Hunger
    • The Ring
    • The Nightmare Before Christmas
    • Afterlife (TV)
    • Pushing Daisies (TV)
    • Les Revenants (TV)
    6) Horror/monster-themed children’s books:
    • Les trois brigands, by Toni Ungerer (I don't know if this counts as horror, but it is a scary story that turns out to be cute in the end)
    • Jan Pienkowski's Haunted House
    7) Horror artwork:
    8) Horror videogames:
    • Eternal darkness: Sanity's Requiem
    • American McGee’s Alice

    Friday 30 October 2015

    Hallowe'en Special: horror stories from TFF

    If you’re looking for a few dark and bloody tales to read for the Hallowe’en season, we’ve a list of 35 such stories to share with you—taken from the annals of TFF over the last ten years. Maybe we should make an anthology of these some day…

    If you like your horror fairly classic: more or less contemporary, and some combination of supernatural or violent, here are the stories that might be up your dark, deserted alley:

    If you don't mind a bit of secondary world in your horror, dark fantasy, historical, post-apocalyptic or dark steampunk, then some of these might be more your steaming mug of horse blood:


    And if you like a touch of surrealism or magical realism while your heckles are being raised, sample some of these other-worldly beauties…
    For more like this, follow The Future Fire for the next ten years, or check out our Fae Visions of the Mediterranean anthology—call for stories open for the next two weeks; volume will appear in the new year!

    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

    Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

    Review this issue on Goodreads.

    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 fiction@futurefire.net 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 fiction@futurefire.net
    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 Futurefire.net 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 igg.me/at/tffx;
    2. or post it to Facebook, tagging facebook.com/thefuturefire 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.

    Friday 21 August 2015

    Friday Flash: Now Playing

    Now Playing
    Poisoned City ten years on
    Katrina S. Forest
    This flash sequel takes place ten years after the events of “The Poisoned City”, first published in 2014, 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.
    Bria sat in the back row of the theater, rolling a sour gummy around her mouth. She wore captioning goggles, but hardly needed them. The vibrating bass music emphasized how exciting the trailer was. And besides, she knew this story.

    (Male announcer) In a city overcome by a mysterious plague… [DRAMATIC MUSIC] …the antidote formula must be smuggled inside a robot… [DRAMATIC MUSIC] …and delivered by a warrior known only as…

    The scene changed from desolate buildings to a well-muscled, less-clothed Bria look-alike. “…the Courier of Hope!

    Bria’s lips curled, and she swallowed the gummy. Stupid trailers. Stupid theater that played stupid trailers. She removed the goggles, dumping them and the candy box on the floor. As she leaned back in her chair again, her arm brushed against Kristopher’s cool, mechanized body. He noted the goggles with a head tilt, but then his gaze fell to something past Bria. She turned to a see a tween girl in a conservative blue dress moving down the row. The girl met Bria’s eyes and gave an excited wave.

    “Hey, Nadine!” Bria signed. “Where’s your dad?”

    Nadine motioned in the highly specific direction of somewhere behind her. “Getting snacks,” she signed back. “Says he trusts you not to kidnap me.” She plopped down next to Bria and focused on the screen. “Oh, wow! Is this your movie?”

    Bria felt the candy turning her stomach. “If you’re suggesting I had any hand in this monstrosity, no.”

    Nadine shrugged, but didn’t reply beyond that. On screen, Actress-Bria waved a gun fit to take down a small whale. She also passionately kissed a guy that real Bria had never met. Nadine devoured it; eyes wide, knees bouncing, the works.

    “You know none of it happened like this, right?” Bria asked. As if to prove her point, the floor vibrated twice, and Actress-Bria shot the arm off a mutated rat-man.

    Nadine’s knees stilled. “I know,” she signed, straightening with indignation as only a ten-year-old could. “But it’s… it’s like…” She circled her hands around each other, searching for the right word. “I like imagining that this is how things went. It helps me, you know?”

    Bria didn’t know, but she nodded anyway. In a few minutes, Nadine’s dad entered the row with enough popcorn to make everyone’s hands smell permanently of salt and butter. Bria leaned back in her seat, scooping up the gummy box right as the trailer ended. Maybe she’d been a bit harsh on the film. But it did look ridiculous. She pulled out a gummy and shuffled it around her hand with a few hot kernels. The candy melted lines of green sugar across her palm. She took that as a bonus. If some stupid movie helped Nadine, Bria was the last one who’d wish that away.

    Thursday 20 August 2015

    Interview with Vanessa Fogg

    Our guest today for the blog carnival is Vanessa Fogg, author of the story “Disconnected” published in issue #32 of TFF. We asked her about her work as a writer of both fiction and science, and about the stories she likes the most.
    Illustration for "Disconnecetd" by Miguel Santos
    The Future Fire: Where did the idea of “Disconnected” come from? Was there an event, a word, an image that triggered the story?

    Vanessa Fogg: Most of my stories do start out as images, or as a character voice. This one was different in that it started out as a vague collection of ideas. A sense of being fed up with our hyper-driven, hyper-speed, productivity-obsessed modern lifestyle. I think I read one too many of those “10 Things the Most Productive People Do Before Breakfast” click-bait listicles. This sense of frustration combined with some articles I’d been reading in neuroscience, and then I knew that I wanted to apply those ideas to a "have/have-not" type of critique of our own society, and where it may be going.

    TFF: What is your favourite TFF story?

    VF: So many good ones! I confess that I haven't read all the stories in the latest issue yet, but from the issue previous to that, I was very taken with Sean R. Robinson's “Rustsong.” Francesca Forrest’s “Seven Bridges” also sticks in my mind as a lovely, lyrical piece. I LOVED Victor Fernando R. Ocampo's “I m d 1 in 10”—I thought it was stunning. And I find stunning Benjanun Sriduangkaew's “Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods.” She's published a lot since that story, of course, but her first publication in TFF remains one of my favorites.

    TFF: There is quite a lot of science and technology in “Disconnected”. Do you have a background in STEM? If not, the knowledge of which branch of science would you like to have instantly implanted in your brain?

    VF: I do actually have a STEM background. I have a Ph.D. in molecular cell biology, and I spent many years working as a research scientist in academic labs. I've also worked as a staff science writer at a cancer research institute, and I currently work as a freelance medical and science writer. I do mostly very technical writing for the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, so fiction writing is a nice creative release. Writing "Disconnected" was an utter blast for me—I loved researching the science and incorporating it into this story! Much of it is indeed based on real-world science. For readers who are interested, I wrote about that science (with links and references!) in a blog post on my personal blog here.

    TFF: You write both gritty cyberpunk and magical fantasy stories. Do you see any commonalities between these apparently very different genres?

    VF: That's a really good question and it's one that I've been wondering myself! I think I am drawn to very different things about these genres. In fantasy, I am currently most drawn to the mythic—to archetypes, fairy tales, stories of transformation, universal themes that transcend place and time. But what I love about cyberpunk and near-future science fiction is the way it can be used to critique specific social issues in our own contemporary world. And while I read all kinds of sci-fi, I have a particular fondness for the "hard" sci-fi that attempts to at least semi-plausibly ground the story in real science (and thus, the real world). So. . . yeah, I'm not sure what commonalities I find in these two genres! I think writing in them just fulfills two different needs in me.

    TFF: What are you working on now?

    VF: I haven't written as much fiction as I'd like this summer. I am just now finishing another cyberpunk-type story, and then I think I'll be taking some time to read furiously and refill the well.
    You can read more about Vanessa and her work on her website.You can also support our authors and artists by pre-ordering our tenth anniversary anthology, or picking up other perks at our crowdfunding campaign at: igg.me/at/tffx.

    Tuesday 18 August 2015

    10 Years of Apex Publications

    Jason Sizemore has been in the publishing business for 10+ years. He decided to share some of his wisdom and more unconventional experiences in For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, a collection of semi-true and sometimes humorous essays. Jason exposes the parties, people, and triumphs that shaped him into the Apex Overlord. Meet Thong Girl, heed the warning about the ham, receive rest stop bathroom wisdom, and visit an emergency room straight out of a horror movie in this extraordinary account of life as a publisher and editor.

    Q: What inspired you to write this book?

    Jason Sizemore: I love staking claim to inspirational moments. Unfortunately this one came from the mind of Joseph-Beth Booksellers marketing maven, Patricia Murphy. She wanted to know if I had anything special planned to celebrate my ten years as a publisher. Because I’m a dynamic and interesting person, I said “No.” Patricia scowled at me, and suggested my “memoirs”.

    I’m a long way from having accomplished anything that would merit a book of memoirs. But I did have enough interesting experiences in the publishing business to write For Exposure.

    Q: What was the easiest and then hardest part about writing this book?

    JS: The easiest was recounting the odd people and occurrences. Instead of having to make them up like you do in fiction, I just used the real deal.

    The hardest part was (and still is) overcoming a sense of imposter syndrome. I’ve written a few dozen short stories over the years, but I think most don’t see me as a writer. I’m that ‘publisher guy’.

    Q: Why did you decide to let people you wrote about respond to your stories about them in For Exposure?

    JS: It was only fair, ya know? I wanted some of the people who appear in my book to have a chance to rebut my statements. It helps that most of my friends are excellent writers, so talking them into doing a rebuttal was quite easy.

    Q: What was your favorite part about writing this book?

    JS: Reliving moments of Apex past. Granted, some of them are painful (St. Louis and kidney stones), but many are amusing and educations (my experiences with the traditional book and magazine distribution system).

    Q: What do you think readers will be surprised to learn when they read For Exposure?

    JS: Just how lucky and unlucky I’ve been. I’m not a big believer in fate nor do I believe there is some all-powerful being wasting his/her time tormenting little ol’ me. I feel like you make your own lucky. That explains the extremes I’ve encountered over the years.

    Q: What are some upcoming plans for Apex that readers can look forward to?

    JS: We are releasing the fourth volume of The Apex Book of World SF at the end of August. Lavie Tidhar and Mahvesh Murad have done a fantastic job. It’s a project that I’m happy we can do.
    Born the son of an unemployed coal miner in a tiny Kentucky Appalachian villa named Big Creek (population 400), Jason fought his way out of the hills to the big city of Lexington. He attended Transylvania University (a real school with its own vampire legend) and received a degree in computer science. Since 2005, he has owned and operated Apex Publications and Apex Magazine. He is the editor of five anthologies, author of Irredeemable and For Exposure: The Life and Times of a Small Press Publisher, a three-time Hugo Award loser, an occasional writer, who can usually be found wandering the halls of hotel conventions.

    Monday 17 August 2015

    Quiltbag stories in TFF

    “The Harpy” illustrated by Rebecca Whitaker
    You've probably not missed that The Future Fire is this year celebrating a decade of publishing social-political and diverse speculative fiction, and is seeking your help to support us in keeping going for a few more years. In case anyone was wondering what sort of stories we hope to publish in the future, over the next few days we'll list some categories of stories we've published in the past, starting with LGBT or Quiltbag characters and themes. We're especially keen to see more fiction featuring bisexual/pansexual or trans/nonbinary protagonists and themes in the future; anyone have ideas for communities to reach out to for more of this kind of thing?

    (It can be hard to categorize stories under simple headings, and I've tried to avoid duplication, so I apologize if anything below is not in the right part of the list, or I've inadvertently omitted anything.) 

    Stories with lesbian protagonists or content

    Illustration by Robin E. Kaplan

    Stories with gay male protagonists or content

    Stories with bi/pan/queer protagonists or content

    Stories with trans/nonbinary protagonists or content

    Microsequel Monday! Good Form ten years on

    Good Form, ten years on
    Jo Thomas
    This micro-sequel takes place ten years after the events of “Good Form,” first published in Outlaw Bodies in 2012, 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.
    A big, black car with tinted windows and a uniformed chauffeur holding the door open.

    “Thank you,” Astrid said.

    The other woman nodded, then shut the door behind her before getting in to the servant’s compartment. Astrid eyed the closed door.

    “A bit late to be nervous now,” said a familiar voice, though weaker and more strained than her memory of it.

    She looked more carefully at what she’d assumed was a pile of blankets and saw features she hadn’t noticed before. Despite the heavy lines and the respirator, she would know that voice and that face anywhere.

    “What’s going on?” she asked. “Aren’t you supposed to be relaxing between films.”

    The brown eyes gave her a look that the remembered metallic ones never had. “You’re surprisingly naive for the woman who taught Junior how to be human.”

    “Junior?” she asked. “Who’s Junior?”

    “Did you even care about what happened to him after you fucked him on camera?” he demanded.

    “I don’t understand,” she said. “What’s going on?”

    “He almost got scrapped because of you. He wasn’t made to be a sex toy.”

    Astrid had already worked out that it had something to do with the one and only Form she’d worked on a decade ago. “Look, I was told I had a new placement as a governess. They said the family would send a car to pick me up, but I obviously got in the wrong car.”

    “No mistake,” he said. “You’re coming to look after Junior, seeing as you messed up his life.”

    “I don’t understand,” she repeated.

    He glared at her. “Did you know he couldn’t perform like they wanted? They were going to kill him.”

    He coughed, and it sounded horrible.

    “You didn’t look this bad in your interview this morning,” Astrid said.

    “That wasn’t me,” he said when the coughing passed. “That was Junior pretending to be me. Which he is. Sort of.”

    “But the eyes,” she said.

    He gave a sharp laugh that turned into another cough. “Clients with enough money can get any modification.”

    “You talk about them scrapping your Form as if it’s the worst thing you can imagine. But surely you knew they only had a certain lifespan when you sold the rights?”

    He had probably decided too late that it was too much like watching himself die.

    He glared at her again. “I only sold the rights for one Form. And after the way he was treated, I was hardly going to repeat my mistake.”

    “Didn’t you do any research?” she asked. “There’s so much porn of —”

    “Don’t make this my fault!” he shouted.

    The chauffeur spoke over a hidden speaker. “Is everything okay, sir?”

    “Fine,” he growled, and then ruined it by coughing.

    “I wanted out of the public eye,” he said when the coughing passed. “So Junior and I swapped places years ago. Now I’m dying. He’s going to need someone to protect him when I’m gone.”

    Astrid shook her head. “I have my own life and my own—”

    “You have nothing. I checked. If you do this, you’ll be made for life.”

    She didn’t show that the verbal punch had landed. It was another job she couldn’t afford to turn down.

    “Fine,” she said.

    Sunday 16 August 2015

    Writing contest for TFFX celebration

    As part of The Future Fire’s tenth anniversary celebration we are holding a flash writing contest with fabulous prizes to be won. Thanks to the 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 (R)Evolution trilogy.

    To enter, write a speculative fiction story of less than 500 words based on the theme of the Number Ten, and either:
    1. post it 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 igg.me/at/tffx —again using the #TFFX hashtag;
    2. or post it to Facebook, tagging facebook.com/thefuturefire; also like and share the FB post (here) promoting the fundraiser.
    All qualifying stories submitted before midnight UTC on Sunday, August 23rd 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 convincingly 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.)