Thursday 30 November 2023

Micro-interview with Melkorka

We had a bit of a chat with Melkorka, artist of “How magic will help you take the bastards down” in The Future Fire #67.

The Future Fire: How did you go about illustrating “How magic will help you take the bastards down”?

Melkorka: This piece deeply resonated on a personal level, so my illustration incorporated elements such as the Tarot and ritual that are also personally meaningful in the hope that they would convey my deep and authentic sense of solidarity with the narrator.

TFF: What spell would you like to be able to cast?

M: An invisibility spell. It would be an invaluable tool for an introvert!

TFF: Do you have a lucky charm?

M: Yes, a crescent moon pendant that I always have to have with me.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday 28 November 2023

A Tribute to Joel Lane 1963-2013

Guest post by Rachel Verkade

If you dig through the refuse and litter of the old internet, you may come upon the ruins of old message boards. Scattered and context-less, these pages and words drift through the invisible ether of cyberspace, offering little snippets of life in the internet’s heydays.

Among these lost pages is the former message board of prolific, long-lived, and celebrated British author Ramsey Campbell. While perhaps not the most populated corner of the internet, Campbell’s message board became a haven for spec fic readers and writers, young and old, to congregate, share work and plans, discuss stories and novels, and generally make connections regarding the craft. Included in there are some names that dark fiction afficianados will recognise, talking amongst each other and their fans, sharing stories and news, planning meetups. It was a little haven for those who loved and created and consumed weird literature, a dark sanctuary where like-minded people found each other.

Sift through those old pages, and come upon an entry from mid-November 2013. At 7:24 PM, a user posted that Birmingham author Joel Lane had died in his sleep. What followed below was a raw outpouring of grief and shock.

What?! You are sure it is no joke?

This is awful, awful news.

This is a joke, right?

This can’t be true. […] It just can’t be true.

Ah fuck, no.

This is like the most weird experience I’ve ever had. Crying over a man I’ve never met…

Life isn’t fucking fair.

No. […] for me, for now: no.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Micro-interview with Priya Chand

We invited Priya Chand, author of “Woman, Soldier, Girl” in The Future Fire #67, over for a brief chat.

Art # 2023 Katharine A. Viola

The Future Fire: What does “Woman, Soldier, Girl” mean to you?

Priya Chand: I read Madhusree Mukherjee's Churchill's Secret War and basically… processing learning about the Bengal famine, plus my love of the steampunk aesthetic contrasted against the way that, at the time, a lot of it went hand-in-hand with effectively glorifying the imposition of Victorian aesthetics and empire. I'd also read this bit about how it's flattening to exclusively cast the colonized as victims, and the colonizers as all-powerful, because local allies made a lot of difference in how successful colonization ultimately was (there were examples, the only one I remember is La Malinche). So I also wanted to capture some of that nuance, and show some complicity as well.

TFF: What is your favorite progressive SFF movie or TV show?

PC: Does Everything Everywhere, All At Once count?? I feel like it should. That movie was way too damn relatable though, haha. I avoided watching it with my mom because I didn't want to be glared at every time Evelyn was disrespected by her daughter.

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

PC: Fargo Tbakhi. I've loved everything of his I've read so far. His written work is both lyrical and sharp.


Decades later, there will be a memorial, and tourists who mostly walk past the memorial—there’s plenty of shopping, the latest fashions and a myriad of clever trinkets in the artisans’ district, where people are still discovering techniques and ideas lost during the war and subsequent occupation. It’s astounding, some say, that their ancestors didn’t do more to preserve these things. The occupation didn’t last that long, after all, and such an illustrious heritage cannot be so easily erased.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Micro-interview with Carmen Moran

Welcome to Carmen Moran, artist of “Collective Bargaining” in The Future Fire #67, and our long-time illustrator and collaborator, to the micro-interview season.

Art © 2023 Carmen Moran

The Future Fire: How did you go about illustrating “Collective Bargaining”?

Carmen Moran: Very slowly. It took me quite a while to work out what I was going for. The image that struck me most from the piece was the fourteen thousand eyes, so I wanted them to be a prominent feature, while also showing the erasure that sets in when someone doesn’t fit the shape of the "standard human".

TFF: You're not a fan of spiders yourself. What small animals do you like, and do you think you can communicate with them?

CM: Well, when I say I'm not a fan, I mean them suddenly appearing in my field of vision freaks me out a little (or a lot, depending on size), but of course I love them as very cool parts of our ecosystem, and in their symbolic role as creators of art and weavers of tales—how could I not? As for communicating with them, there is actually a fleet of cellar spiders in my house that I have a contract with: I leave them alone as long as they don't suddenly drop from the ceiling into my face (which they sometimes do for some reason), and in turn they eat the really scary massive spiders that wander in from the garden. It's working well, for both parties as far as I can tell.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

CM: Mostly random personal projects at the moment. One of them is my random knowledge zine Emmeline (@emmeline.zine on Insta), which I've been publishing with a group of friends since 2003. I only just worked out this week that that was twenty years ago… There were some breaks in the middle, but we resuscitated it in 2019 and it's been going strong since then. It's my longest running project, and I love how it's brought a bunch of people together that wouldn't otherwise be connected, and that it teaches me new things all the time. Most recently it caused me to learn about grasshopper mice (Onychomys). If you've never heard of them, I suggest you look them up.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

Thursday 16 November 2023

Microinterview with Bernie Jean Schiebeling

We’re very pleased to have Bernie Jean Schiebeling, author of “Crumb Cutie Exodus” in The Future Fire #67, over for a chat about help, hope, and projects.

Art © 2023 L.E. Badillo

TFF: What does “Crumb Cutie Exodus” mean to you?

Bernie Jean Schiebeling: "Crumb Cutie Exodus" is about the need to take immediate action to help others despite possible consequences. Personally, I sometimes have trouble acting quickly, so writing characters who do is kind of like… practice for future situations.

TFF: What is your favourite example of hopeful or fun speculative fiction (in any medium)?

BJS: "D.I.Y." by John Wiswell and The Dream Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson are great hopeful fiction—both have clever and compassionate protagonists who take on powerful institutions that seem immune to change, and they win. I've also been having a wonderful time with I Was a Teenage Exocolonist from Northway Games, where the player character experiences a time loop and attempts to create a better (or at least different) life for themself each playthrough.

TFF: What are you working on next?

BJS: It's a busy transitional time—I've recently finished a contemporary queer Gothic novella, so I'm seeking publication for that and working on a backlog of short story drafts. My partner and I are also starting preproduction on our new spec-fic podcast after wrapping season 2 of our last audio project, Gastronaut.


During the early hours of the Paris morning, someone flings a lilac bear from a high hotel balcony, and she tumbles, tumbles, tumbles through the freezing night air. The shiny gold tag in her ear, a plump star shape, flutters and flickers as it catches the wind. She lands with a soft pash of polyvinyl beans on cobblestones.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at