Monday 27 May 2024

Micro-interview with Mahaila Smith

And this week we’re joined by Mahaila Smith, author of the poem “Manipulating the Light” in The Future Fire #69, to talk about solarpunk, climate crisis and future work.

Art © 2024, Fluffgar

TFF: What does “Manipulating the Light” mean to you?

Mahaila Smith: I wrote “Manipulating the Light” after reading The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson. This book made me think about the specific impacts of the climate crisis in India and the technology being adopted in response. I find it important to read and write solarpunk in settings where the climate crisis is experienced most severely. The poem centres around a sapphic relationship which, as a queer person, was significant for me to include.

TFF: What are you working on next?

MS: My novelette in verse, Seed Beetle is forthcoming with Stelliform Press in 2025. This story explores themes of eco-dystopia, feminism, social organizing and the relationship between marine life and outer space. It is set in a Southern Ontario community that has experienced widespread desertification and loss of land to industrialization. The community looks to a robotics corporation to heal the land through its megafaunal automated beetles, however community members are harmed by exploitative labour practices and non-consensual brain implants.


The open skylights lance
drops of sunlight that slip
through prisms and bounce
off mirrors, leaving a spill
of colour and light
at the altar of the temple.

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

Monday 13 May 2024

Micro-interview with Katharine A. Viola

Katharine A. Viola, artist of “Sunrise over Neo-Tokyo” in TFF #69, joins us for today’s micro-interview on her work in this issue and other art.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Sunrise over Neo-Tokyo”?

Katharine A. Viola: The author made great use of imagery when describing the city’s relationship with nature. I really enjoyed how the two concepts meshed together and the picture I painted represents the image I had in my head while reading the story.

TFF: If you were able to draw a map of a real or imaginary place, what would that be?

KAV: Map of the universe!

TFF: What would be the most important thing for you to hold onto if civilization started to break down in your city?

KAV: Morals and integrity, though I would imagine it would be difficult as very little is ever black and white.

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

Friday 10 May 2024

Micro-interview with L.E. Badillo

Please welcome L.E. Badillo, artist of “Space Gardens” in The Future Fire #69 (and cover artist) for today’s brief chat about illustrating and artistic medium.


TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Space Gardens”?

L.E. Badillo: L. J. Lacey wrote a great story that was easy to work from. The feeling of loneliness and a repressed need to fill that place in one’s life played a huge part in my approach. A feeling of desolation, duty, and the perseverance of age.

TFF: What's the most unusual or challenging medium you can imagine working with?

LEB: I’d love to fully commit to working in oils. That’s an area I’ve never been able to put real time in. I find the amazing works of Bram and Patrick J. Jones equally intimidating and inspiring.

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

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Micro-interview with Lae Astra

We welcome Lae Astra, author of the poem “Sunrise over Neo-Tokyo” in The Future Fire #69, to join us for a brief chat about their work and the future.

Art © 2024 Katharine A. Viola
TFF: What does “Sunrise over Neo-Tokyo” mean to you?

Lae Astra: Being able to imagine a better future is such a necessary and beautiful thing. I wanted to tell the story of one possible future that bloomed vividly in my mind while writing, one where we coexist peacefully with the fellow beings who share our planet.

TFF: What are you working on next?

LA: I am currently on a break from writing, but I hope to dream up more stories and pieces of art that connect to hopeful futures.


At the observation deck of Skytree 22,
we sit waiting for hatsuhinode,
the first sunrise of the new year.

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

Monday 6 May 2024

Micro-interview with Katie Kopajtic

We’re delighted to welcome Katie Kopajtic, author of “Terranueva” in The Future Fire #69, over for a quick chat.

Art © 2024 Melkorka
TFF: What does “Terranueva” mean to you?

Katie Kopajtic: “Terranueva” is how I honor my experience marrying into a Puerto Rican family. My wife's hometown of Dorado has earned a reputation for an increasing number of wealthy continental American residents, as the government continues to spend on development to encourage further gentrification.

It is also a love letter to cross-generational relationships in a family, and to the jibara lifestyle as a means of resistance against colonization. Jibaro is simply the term used to describe a laborer of Puerto Rico's mountainous regions, but it can also be wielded as an insult, synonymous with country bumpkin, hick, or someone who is uneducated. But a new generation of Puerto Ricans have reclaimed jibaro as a culture to be honored, and worth preserving, especially as resort development continues to threaten the island's natural landscapes and working class.

TFF: What is the oldest memory you have?

KK: My oldest memory is of being a toddler and watching my immigrant grandfather Mirko play the accordion while my grandmother sings Croatian ballads. Mirko was a proud Yugoslavian, and a jibaro in his own way. His ‘old world’ ways and nostalgia for the village had an impact on my father and his siblings, and it continues to inspire me.

TFF: What are you working on next?

KK: My next project is completing my feature length documentary Heritage Fantasy, which tells the story of a struggling actress's journey to connect with her Croatian heritage and overcome her self-doubt: Believing that making a film about her roots will help with her brand and overall marketability, she travels to Croatia and interviews three generations of her family, uncovering themes of escapism, longing, and the artist's struggle. But when her film fails to solve her problems, she must confront her own expectations of what success means.


Even with a healthy brain, Marisol would not have recognized her old neighborhood. Turf grass yawned from the wrought iron gate to the ocean, crisscrossed with glittering quartz pathways that led to identical cream condos. She stared at The Ritz Bungalow #4 (‘Pearl’), supposing that the concrete walls, at least, hadn’t changed.

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

Friday 3 May 2024

Micro-interview with L.J. Lacey

L.J. Lacey, author of “Space Gardens” in The Future Fire #69, joins us for today’s micro-interview.

Art © 2024, L.E. Badillo
TFF: What does “Space Gardens” mean to you?

L.J. Lacey: “Space Gardens” reflects two concepts that are critical to me as a writer and thinker. First, we must embrace knowledges from throughout the world, and prioritize life over profits in the ways we implement those knowledges. Second, we need more and many representations of older people, especially women and nonbinary folks, who can inspire us to see a worthwhile future, both for ourselves and for our planet.

TFF: What are you working on next?

LJL: I am in the midst of two longer projects. My eco-fantasy novel is in the final stages of revision, and my newest project is a solarpunk novella.


Rita swept the small porch for a third or fourth time, glancing up to scan the rocky landscape for Ana’s ambling form. It had been an unsettling day and Ana’s absence only added to Rita’s feeling that things were off. Seeing nothing but the setting sun spreading a glow across the mountainside, Rita sighed and made the “ssspppss” sound that let the cats know dinner was ready. She kept the broom handy in case Vali was lurking about and gave a stern look to the small pack of dogs lazing in front of the house. A few rumbles of annoyance emerged from the dogs at the feline swarm taking over the side of the house, but they had already been fed and were content to stay put.

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

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Micro-interview with Ellis Bray

Ellis Bray, artist of “Sun-Dappled Sheets of Methane Rain” in The Future Fire #69, joins us for today’s micro-interview celebrating the release of the hopeful SF issue.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Sun-Dappled Sheets of Methane Rain”?

Ellis Bray: I actually created a couple of pieces for this one. The first one was a view of Saturn through a rain-streaked visor but I felt like it didn’t get the full feel of the story, which had a sense of longing to me. So I found a reference photo of someone staring off into the distance in a field, and used a combination of Procreate and NASA’s free images to build up the painting, using the reference to add our main character to the scene.

TFF: What famous work of art would you like to hang over your bed?

EB: It’s probably cliche, but I’m in love with Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

TFF: What's the most unusual or challenging medium you can imagine working with?

EB: Marble. Bernini’s ability to create flesh from hard rock is witchcraft, I’m pretty sure.

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

EB: I really love watching the adventures of Lisa Snellings’ poppets, which are handmade ceramic tiny dolls that she then professionally photographs in unusual situations. It’s so creative, and the poppets are eerie and gorgeous.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

EB: I’m in the early stages of a tattoo career, so I’m finishing up the last parts of the training before I can start taking clients. It’s a huge leap in mediums but everything else (color theory, composition, style) is roughly the same, which helps a lot.

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

Monday 29 April 2024

Micro-interview with Amanda Cook

We’re delighted that Amanda Cook, author of “Guidelines for Living Your Fairy Tale (in no Particular Order)” in The Future Fire #69, is joining us for a quick chat.

Art © 2024 Joel Bisaillon
TFF: What does “Guidelines for Living Your Fairy Tale (in no Particular Order)” mean to you?

Amanda Cook: When I wrote “Guidelines…”, I already had a trunked story about Red Riding Hood getting tired of how her fairy tale was being read and literally carving her own path into a new story. She goes on to help all the other female fairy tale characters find their way to a happier existence on their own terms. This poem is sort of an extension of that story and also a reminder to myself that I don't have to wait on anyone else to forge my path in the world, but it's also okay to ask for help when I need it.

TFF: What was your favourite fairy tale when you were a child?

AC: I loved all the fairy tales I read as a child, but I was particularly drawn to Alice in Wonderland in book form. There was something about the absurdity of Wonderland that I loved, and again, Alice was a protagonist who eventually made her way home by thinking for herself (and with a little help here and there). I also loved Disney's Belle in Beauty and the Beast, because I was and still am that quirky, daydreaming, book-reading girl who loves libraries.

TFF: What is the most important thing to remember about writing?

AC: I've come to learn over the years that I should write for myself, first and foremost. If I find I really connect with a piece I've written, whether it's poetry or prose, I tend to think (or, at the very least, hope) there is someone else in the world who will connect with it too.

TFF: What are you working on next?

AC: I'm in between projects and trying to write more poetry. I may end up creating a chapbook of some of my favorites later this year. I also have another poem that's supposed to be published by the end of 2024 that I can't wait to see in the world!


If you happen to find yourself
Locked in a tower, read away
Those quiet days and enjoy
The gift of alone time

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

Friday 26 April 2024

Micro-interview with Melkorka

Melkorka, artist of “Terranueva” in The Future Fire #69, joins us for today’s mini-interview on the subject of antiquity, materials and art.

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

Melkorka: Cleopatra and Mark Anthony’s! I am obsessed with Egypt, and hope to visit one day.

TFF: What's the most unusual or challenging medium you can imagine working with?

M: Old cassettes—I have found the tape to be quite unwieldy. Though as the fantastic work of Erika Iris Simmons demonstrates, it's worth persevering.

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

M: Henry Meynell Rheam. I am particularly enchanted by his work ‘The Fairy Woods.’

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

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Micro-interview with Marc A. Criley

For today’s micro-interview we are joined by Marc A. Criley, author of “Sun-Dappled Sheets of Methane Rain” in The Future Fire #69.

Art © 2024 Ellis Bray

TFF: What does “Sun-Dappled Sheets of Methane Rain” mean to you?

Marc A. Criley: The solar system is full of wonders, so far only glimpsed through our robotic spacecrafts’ cameras and sensors. How astonishing is it going to be when we can go and see them with our own eyes?

TFF: Would you like to visit another planet?

MAC: See question 1! ­čśü Seriously, all the places in SDSoMR exist—I’d like to visit them all just to get started on my planetary “bucket list.”

TFF: What is the most important thing to remember about writing?

MAC: Write the story you want to write—and read. Tell it the way you want to tell it; don’t muffle your unique voice, make sure the story is your story.


A few scattered raindrops float down from a hazy orange sky. They’re as big as my child-thumbs, plopping onto my enviro suit and spotting the visor. The liquid methane evaporates fast, leaving sooty splotches. The rain tapers off. Dad and I wait. I get antsy. Dad sighs.

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

Monday 15 April 2024

New issue: 2024.69

“L’abolition [de la peine de mort] a connu une irr├ęsistible progression ├á travers le monde. Ce mouvement, comme en Europe, influence le droit international dont, en retour, les ├ęvolutions confortent l’abolitionnisme et lui donnent les assises n├ęcessaires pour conna├«tre un rayonnement encore plus grand.”

—Robert Badinter, 1928–2024

[ Issue 2024.69; Cover art © 2024 L.E. Badillo ] Issue 2024.69

Special issue on hopeful SFF

Flash fiction

Short stories


Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB

Sunday 31 March 2024

What is your favourite optimistic or cozy SFF?

We’ve been thinking a lot about optimistic, cozy or otherwise nice SFF recently, so we’d love to hear your thoughts about this category of genre fiction (whether written, visual, or in any other medium); give us your favorite examples of happy SFF, spoopy horror, even gritty utopian thinking, or tell us about why you think these kinds of fiction work or are needed (or otherwise). To start us off, a few editors, authors and other friends of TFF give us their examples.

M.L. Clark

Some stories carry great wisdom in their simplicity, and it can take a lifetime to realize the strength of their gentleness. I've returned to My Neighbor Totoro at many phases of life, each time with a deeper sense of comfort and astonishment. It's not just that the story illustrates that one need not have antagonists to develop emotional weight: that realization comes with early viewings. Later, though, one watches the film and notices everything not included in this postwar Japan snapshot of a childhood impacted by a sick mother and soothed by animist wonder. One considers what the director lived through, and the antagonism he saw shape and shatter lives, before choosing to lean into the inner life of deeply feeling human beings. One remembers, too, the Cold War world into which this film was released in 1988, and the fact that Studio Ghibli launched another film the very same day, about a boy and his little sister dying in war-torn Japan. The world is often a difficult place in which to retain a sense of wonder, and hope. But still, even in difficult times, we manage to create oases of uplift in our art. My Neighbor Totoro reminds us that we contain multitudes--and that the gentle and kind in them are very much worth protecting.

C├ęcile Matthey

Image © James Gurney via Dinotopia wiki

In 1860, biologist Arthur Denison and his young son Will set out on a Darwinian voyage of exploration in search of unknown lands. But during the voyage, their ship is caught in a storm and sinks. With the help of dolphins, they are transported to the lost island of Dinotopia: a land where humans and dinosaurs live together in perfect harmony.

James Gurney’s 1992 novel recounts, in the form of a richly illustrated travelogue, Professor Denison's discoveries as he explores this incredible and exciting new world. As a trained professional, he records his experiences in meticulous details: the flora and fauna, the often spectacular architecture of the cities, the daily life (celebrations, sports, art, food…), the history of the island, the peculiar alphabet… With him, we meet dinosaurs tending human children, working as translators, craftsmen or timekeepers, and we even fly on a Quetzalcoatlus’s back.

To me it’s a great feelgood piece: it is full of wonder, freshness and humour, reminding me of the stories by Jules Verne (and of my childhood love for dinosaurs!). What's more, James Gurney’s realistic and detailed illustrations are a real treat for the eyes. It is an optimistic and hopeful piece too, because it shows a peaceful, culturally advanced and well-organised world, where two radically different species manage not only to live together peacefully, but to work together while learning from each other. In short, « Dinotopia » is a must !

Toby MacNutt

When I want to be wrapped up in a cozy read I reach for Erin Morgenstern's The Starless Sea. Its layers of symbols, books, and myths weave around the romance and adventure (can a cozy book have a sword, a gun, some poison, a bit of light arson? sure!) like the most exquisite blanket. Its improbable spaces are softly lit, time-worn, rich with color and texture and scent. Everything is warm, dreamy, golden—and every complex thread ties up just right in the end. The lost are found, the key meets the door, the left-behind are reunited. Also—of course—there's queers!

Djibril al-Ayad

I’ve long felt that a utopian setting need not be perfect in every way, lacking in conflict and adventure—any more than a dystopia is a completely unlivable hellscape with no redeeming features—it only need show by example one or a few ways in which our own world could be better with a bit less cruelty, greed, bigotry or self-destruction. Just so is Vonda N. McIntyre’s Starfarers tetralogy: famously invented as a hoax response to a boring panel about SF TV shows, then written by popular demand, this glorious space opera show features not a military starship but a literal university campus in space (faculty and staff rather than crew, a principal rather than a captain, decisions made by senate rather than a command structure); multiple queer, polyamorous, accepting relationships; multi-generational or inter-species friendships; posthumanism and eco-engineering; a space artist making fake archaeology; wonderfully alien aliens; and a science fiction writer as alien first-contact specialist. And while the world isn’t perfect (the principal is even more of a politicking bureaucrat than any vice chancellor I’ve worked under), conflict and peril abound, not all of the positive characters—even protagonists—are entirely likeable, they’re wonderful books, full of comforting adventures, and I could happily read a dozen more volumes. And really: why has no one made the TV show yet!

Please share your examples of hopeful or cozy SFF, whether utopian, optimistic or just comfort reading, in the comments below. Or feel free to ping us on Mastodon or Bluesky to join the conversation there instead.