Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Micro-interview with Samuel Lowd Goldstein

We invited over Samuel Lowd Goldstein, author of “Interstellar Wallflower” in The Future Fire #65 to talk about space travel and human exceptionalism.

TFF: What does “Interstellar Wallflower” mean to you?

Samuel Lowd Goldstein: There is a lot written about first contact, and yet we live in a world populated with beings with whom we have (at best) rudimentary communication. And while we like to make hierarchies of life-forms and their importance, sentient visitors might well make different assessments.

TFF: Would you like to visit another planet?

SLG: Absolutely! My father worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and I remember watching the landing of Viking in the 70s. It was very evocative seeing the surface of Mars and finding it simultaneously familiar and strange. This has been amplified by subsequent landers and probes. I can spend hours looking at the pictures!

The logistics of visiting another planet are another question.

TFF: Do you see a parallel between your poem and the story “The Pool Noodle Alien Posse” in this issue?

SLG: Yes, and I enjoyed that story very much. It seems to me that "The Pool Noodle Alien Posse" plays with some of the same ideas that "Interstellar Wallflower" does. In "Interstellar Wallflower," I was exploring the idea that extraterrestrials might not share our opinion that we're the most important beings on our planet. We project upon them our perceptions, and find ourselves surprised when they have their own understanding—worse yet, it does not match our own.

"Pool Noodle" also explores (among other things) our expectations of and projections upon extraterrestrial life in sort of the flip-side to that: what if being technologically advanced in some ways doesn't translate to having all the answers? We expect space-faring beings to come and solve all our problems for us, only to find they're not that different from us. They take one look at our mess, and decide it's not for them.


First contact didn’t go well
it went like a junior-high dance.
After emerging from their crystal ships
they didn’t even look in our direction
but went to hang out with the cephalopods
and cetaceans.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Micro-interview with Goran Lowie

We welcome Goran Lowie, author of “All I Ever Wanted to Be” in The Future Fire #65.

TFF: What does “All I Ever Wanted to Be” mean to you?

Goran Lowie: It ended up expressing a few different things that were floating around in my head. It started with escape—a vivid image in my mind of some disillusioned adult who reminisces about being a child, looking at the sea, and longing to be a mermaid. This childish (in a good way) sense of wonder also comes back in other ways (turkey vultures) and is one of the key things I wanted express. However, the harsh reality of such a life was an inevitable inclusion—that disillusionment even becoming a part of this childhood dream, realizing the current world would probably not be a very good place for mermaids to live in. In a sense, it’s a poem I wrote to try and escape reality, but I ended up being unable to avoid it. It’s a darker piece than I intended.

There’s some gender stuff in there, too. While I have never doubted my gender enough to identify as anything but my gender assigned at birth, it has been on my mind sometimes. I don’t feel remotely female at all, but imagining myself as a mermaid is still fun. That’s what I love so much about speculative fiction—it allows you to see the world in other ways, yes, but it also allows you to see yourself in different ways.

TFF: Do you remember the first time you saw the sea? What is the most terrifying thing about it?

GL: As a child, I was deathly afraid of the sea, or any body of water, period. It took me an absurdly above-average time to learn how to swim and I’m still not great at it. I remember when we learned to dive in the kiddy pool and I was always lambasted because I immediately turned around mid-jump in an attempt to grab the walls in desperation. I mostly got over this fear in pools, but it remains in parts.

I have one “core memory” of me, at a very young age, being in the big pool with my much older sister when I slipped from the little floaty thing and went to the bottom. My sister saved me, probably saving my life. I have no idea if this even happened as it did in my memory. I was never able to ask her about it as an adult—she passed away a few years ago at a very young age. She came to mind while writing this poem, too. In a way, it also brings me to that disillusionment: a joyful life (full of joie de vivre) abruptly ended. The ocean, and by extension the world, is no place for a little girl.

TFF: What are you working on next?

GL: I am always working on many different things at once. My poems are often one-and-done. I have a few poems as a work in progress, but usually I just write them as they come to me. I still have some immense Stockholm syndrome with all of my poems getting accepted by magazines, but I’m starting to believe this is something I might be continuing, when the mind-numbing stress and exhaustion from work allows me to. I’m working on more poems, and even have a little idea in mind of themed poems which could potentially become a chapbook, given enough time and poems.

I’ve also recently started a Speculative Poetry Roundup, spotlighting some of my favorite speculative poems being published right now. I have always been a voracious reader, much more so than a creator, and a world opened for me when I discovered speculative poetry. There is so much of it getting published, such great quality and quantity, but it goes unread. I’m hoping to continue this roundup in the future and continue to bring attention to these amazing poems.


I burst into tears
reminded of when all
I ever wanted to be
was a mermaid
among octopi

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html.

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Micro-interview with Toby MacNutt

Toby MacNutt, author of “Live off the Land” in The Future Fire #65, joins us this week for a brief chat.

TFF: What does “Live off the Land” mean to you?

Toby MacNutt: I've been thinking a lot about exile, escape, survival, and what it means to be at home in a place. What does it mean to be safe or protected? What is the spirit of a place, or the spirits of people in a place? How do you know when you are ready to leave, or return? How do we recognize one another? All of these things have wandered through this story in one way or another, along with my usual love of textures and intimacy

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

TM: I love the land where I live—northern Vermont—and the shape and seasons of it comfort me. I also love the relationship I have built with it, over the most-of-my-lifetime I've been here, learning the worn contours of old mountains and the feel of the stony soil and the sounds of the birds and the growth of the plants and the way they all fit together. I know how to see this place and while I certainly don't know everything there is to know, and figuring out how to move forward in loving relationship to this land as a descendant of settlers will take more than any one of our lifetimes, I understand being here, in my bones, on a level I don't experience in other places. The only place/feature I miss, being here, is a rocky coastline, dark and sharp and blustery and stinging, which has always had a dear place in my heart—but it is at least not too far away

TFF: If you were going to edit an anthology, what genre and theme would you go for?

TM: My dream anthology is a conversation of disabled poets. I wrote about this in an edition of my newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/tobymacnutt/letters/letter-the-second-winter-stories-crafts-foods) last winter in more detail, but it would be structured as a sort of round-robin of responsa, where the poets themselves choose which pieces resonate together, and talk about the relationships they see between them. Every time I get to engage with the work of other disabled poets, something will stand out about the work that I don't see elsewhere, but that resonates with something I wrote, or something another disabled poet wrote, which then ripples to connect to another, and so on—whether it's the way we talk about touch, or sight, or stone, or queerness, or rituals, or shapeshifting, or who knows what else. I want to hear how we value and understand our work in the context of us (even though we are certainly not a homogenous group! the differences are worth discussing too) rather than in nondisabled context, or beyond even narrow-scope themed calls where a lone editor makes all the choices. It would be a complicated project to facilitate (and I very clearly could not do it alone), but how delicious.


Sometimes people walk into my woods. Mostly they walk out again.

I didn’t.

This one has not either.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html.

Tuesday, 2 May 2023

Micro-interview with M.L. Clark

This week we are joined by M.L. Clark, author of “The Pool Noodle Alien Posse” in TFF #65.

TFF: What does “The Pool Noodle Alien Posse” mean to you?

M.L. Clark: This story served me in a few ways. Much of my short fiction pushes back on overconfidence in our maturity as a species. For instance, we've learned a lot about ourselves from social media, and from how quickly sincere discourse is overrun by hot takes and self-sabotage. Far from having a united, top-down response to aliens, then, of course we'd leap to our forums and play fast and loose with the event's significance. Similarly, of course we'd be pinning all our hopes for change on grand events like fundraisers, instead of committing to the harder work of transforming the systems destroying everything. We're drawn to spectacle like moths to flame.

But that's just a summary of humanity at scale. In person, in our immediate communities, there's still room to dream differently, and to live with greater sincerity and presence. Not always (as this story notes, some people are so hooked on toxic media they'll let wild conspiracy theories and hatemongers tear them away) but often enough that there's room to imagine a better world close to home.

Which is why my story focuses on a protagonist rarely found in SF, too: an everyday parent of two, doing the best she can in a whole neighbourhood of differently struggling adults, all of whom are learning bit by bit how mutual aid societies can step in amid the collapse of broader systems. I also owe the existence of this story to Margaret Killjoy's collection We Won't Be Here Tomorrow, which does such a wonderful job normalizing the sorts of the messily striving communities we could all be leaning into more today.

TFF: How do see your story in dialogue with the poem “Interstellar Wallflower” in this issue?

MLC: Oh, what a terrific poem. I'm certainly not the first person to imagine a failed first contact, and Samuel Lowd Goldstein's piece reflects a common way of thinking about humanity "failing" an intergalactic test. Every other species is of greater interest to the aliens in that poem, and humanity is left confused, embarrassed, and somewhat lectured at along the way.

There's a danger, though, to suggesting that humanity is any more or less worthy than other species, because humans love to be exceptional in everything we do. If we're awful, well, at least we're the worst, right?

In my piece, the aliens are just going about their own journey through the cosmos. They don't have much to spare, but the crew still tries to toss a figurative "thumbs up" at humanity when they come across our world in the middle of its global benefit concert. At one point, my protagonist wonders at the crew's shock at our reaction: don't they have glib armchair commentators in their species, too?

Although it doesn't get discussed in the piece, it's quite likely these aliens also went away wondering how they might have done first contact better. So it's really a case of miscommunication on all sides —no grand cosmic verdict that humans are The Worst.

That said, stories like "The Pool Noodle Alien Posse" and poems like "Interstellar Wallflower" share an interest in reframing our centrality in cosmic narrative. What better worlds could we build by accepting a more collaborative approach to our fleeting lives?


Jonas switched off the radio to listen to the yard, his arm cutting over mine to reach the sill over the sink. Callie and Bixie were still at play, clear as day through the window to the backyard, and we both knew Bixie would’ve sounded the alarm if something didn’t feel right. But my eldest needed this sometimes. A sense of control, however spuriously manufactured, in a world grown too strange to guarantee a bit of it.

You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html.

Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Micro-interview with Josep Lledó

We welcome Josep Lledó, illustrator of “Between Scylla and Charybdis” in The Future Fire #65, over for a brief chat.

Art © 2023 Josep Lledó

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Between Scylla and Charybdis”?

Josep Lledó: It was very difficult to select a target to illustrate, because in a few words there are a lot of incredible creatures and transformations. But finally I drew a woman, proudly standing against all those visions of the patriarchy.

TFF: If you could curate a museum exhibit or display, what would it be?

JL: Oh, I would love some exhibition like the Salon des Refusés of Paris, with a lot of authors banned from the commercial or artistic tracks. Polemical, blamed, punished, countercultural…

You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html

Tuesday, 18 April 2023

Micro-interview with Joyce Chng

We invite Joyce Chng, author of “Solarpunk Letters: Seeds of Change” in The Future Fire #65, to join us for a chat about writing and bright futures…

TFF: What does “Solarpunk Letters: Seeds of Change” mean to you?

Joyce Chng: It means a lot to me. I have been reading Dreaming The Dark by Starhawk, of late, and the words of the story came to me one early morning. I wrote it in the toilet!  The flash is a magico-political missive for change and to encourage people to envision a better world. Words are magic and magic is will.

TFF: What is your favourite optimistic science fiction work?

JC: In terms of optimism, I think it is the advertisement by Chobani (ironically) where it shows a future Earth, united and diverse. And it's also a letter from a grandmother to a granddaughter. A touch of Ghibli and a vision of a tomorrow we can strive for.

TFF: Is solarpunk a genre that belongs outside of the European/North American sphere?

JC: The movement started in Brazil and then other countries slowly caught on. Solarpunk rejects the dystopian and nihilistic philosophy of Anglo-centric sff. However, I feel that solarpunk should belong to all, because it makes us envision a better future, rather than cry about doom all the time. Most of all, solarpunk actively encourages societal change and forward thinking in a world fraught with climate change.


What is joy but the morning sun glowing on to the fruits you have grown. What is pleasure but the sweet honey of its juice going down your throat.

The people join hands in celebration. The planting is done. As they mingle, turbines turn wind into energy. It is a gentle hum, like a heartbeat, in the earth-tone houses.

You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

New issue 2023.65

“The right kind of resistance is peaceful, because that’s where we win. We’re not going to beat them at violence. They’re very, very good at violence. We’re not. We win through nonviolence. That’s really the only way we can win.”

—Tortuguita (aka Manuel Paez Terán)

[ Issue 2023.65; Cover art © 2023 Sarah Salcedo ] Issue 2023.65

Flash fiction

Short stories



Download e-book version: PDF | EPUB | Mobi

Monday, 6 March 2023

Micro-interview with Toeken

We’re joined by Toeken, illustrator of “Side Effects May Vary” in The Future Fire #64, for a quick chat.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “Side Effects May Vary”?

Toeken: An elegant, piquant tale by Avra Margariti, full of inspiring imagery that was difficult to hone down into just two illustrations. I began by sketching Bengal tigers ~ as ya do…

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

Toeken: I’d take a copy of Sartre’s Nausea stuffed inside a copy of Bukowski’s Post Office, within a copy of Barker’s Imajica.

TFF: How has geography influenced your work?

Toeken: …If you stay where you are, I wonder how much can you expect your art or creative response to the world to alter or change in any vital or meaningful way.

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

Toeken: A whole bunch: Cosima Von Bonin, Kent Williams, Kim McCormack, Valerie Depadova, Rick Berry.

TFF: What else are you working on now?

Toeken: Just completed illustrating a graphic novel written by Phil Emery for Android Press, Razor’s Edge, cover art for Lovecraftiana Magazine, illustrations for Shoreline of Infinity Magazine, a couple of book covers along with a bunch of other stuff, but until it’s done…

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/01/new-issue-202364.html

Monday, 13 February 2023

Micro-interview with Cécile Matthey

We welcome Cécile Matthey, illustrator of “The Thousand Tongues of Sara” in The Future Fire #64, and cover artist, over for a brief chat.

TFF: How did you go about illustrating “The Thousand Tongues of Sara”?

Cécile Matthey: The first illustration shows a spaceship leaving Earth, taking Sara away to the interstellar mission. The letters CD on the fuselage are a wink to Swiss diplomatic car license plates (they stand for “corps diplomatique,” the diplomatic corps). The snow capped mountain in the background is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, homeland of African elephants. The idea was to avoid revealing too clearly what the protagonist looks like. So the second illustration only shows her feet… after the visit to the pedicure, mentioned at the very end of the story. Sara poses here in a kind of souvenir photo with her dear Hobbie—that is closely inspired by an actual translator robot that helps tourists in Tokyo airport nowadays!

TFF: What do you love so much about elephants?

CM: I have always had a soft spot for quiet giants, like whales or elephants. At University, I had to do an assignment about elephants in the ancient Roman world. It was the occasion for me to study this animal more closely, and I was really impressed to discover how clever, and how sensitive it is. A few weeks later, I was completely won over. I was visiting the zoo of a travelling circus, and one of the elephants tried to steal my bag (in which I kept my lunch) through the fence! I can still remember the incredible strength of her trunk pulling at it. I tried to pull back, but the bag tore open, and finally I fell flat on my back. I could have sworn the elephant’s eyes were twinkling with amusement! Since then, elephants are my totem.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/01/new-issue-202364.html.

Monday, 6 February 2023

Micro-interview with Jennifer R. Donohue

We’re happy to chat with Jennifer R. Donohue, author of “Purity” in The Future Fire #64, and this story and future plans.

TFF: What does “Purity” mean to you?

Jennifer R. Donohue: While I don't remember what the initial spark was for "Purity," in it I am definitely examining themes of parental expectation, and also what "purity" or "goodness" is societally versus genuinely. There' a traditional idea of unicorns only being able to be lured/caught by virgins, and so the (spoilers: faulty) idea of "if I'm not a virgin anymore, then I won't be 'pure,' and I can save the unicorn" is the train of thought I was chasing. But virginity is a social construct, and a person who is no longer a virgin isn't "dirty," and in this case it's the "purity of heart" that lures the unicorn.

TFF: What are you working on next?

JRD: When I'm writing, I don't necessarily concentrate on just one thing. I've got a couple of short stories that I'm working on to completion, and I've got two partially finished novels, one that is a sequel to a short story that I had published last year about a magical dueling society, and the other is a werewolf novel. Which isn't to say I never concentrated on only one thing; there is a tipping point that I will reach in a piece's progress where other projects fall away and I focus on it to the exception of other things until I reach The End (which I say as though I type "The End" when I finish a story, but I don't.)


Her father lived and breathed the hunt, while she preferred tricking rich people out of money to actually killing unicorns, preferred it when the mark didn’t know what they were asking for, and could be provided with a white narwhal horn instead of the light-drinking black ivory of the real deal. They’d done both, but Corli knew where Pappa’s heart lay.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/01/new-issue-202364.html.

Monday, 30 January 2023

Micro-interview with Simon Kewin

Simon Kewin, author of “His New Body” in The Future Fire #64, joins us for a mini-chat.

Art © 2023 Miguel Santos

TFF: What does “His New Body” mean to you?

Simon Kewin: For me, this is a story about the powerless and the marginalized finding a road and a voice—told as a somewhat off-the-wall urban ghost story! Sometimes, I'm sure, we all feel invisible, and the characters in this little story simply find their own odd ways to rectify that.

TFF: If you had to make yourself a new body from inanimate objects, what would you choose?

SK: Highly-polished wood would look nice, but I'd probably go for something that wouldn't ever wear out. Also, we obviously need to be reusing stuff a lot more—so perhaps discarded scraps of metal and plastic?

TFF: What can you be found doing when you're not creating/writing?

SK: I do a lot of walking and a fair bit of running.

TFF: What are you working on next?

SK: I've just completed the third novel in my Office of the Witchfinder General series (published by Elsewhen Press) and I'm either going to move onto the fourth of those, or perhaps a completely unrelated science fiction novel.

He waited for the safety of night. Night and cold kept the people—the living people—off the streets, and this was a raw winter night of ice and fog. If he stayed away from the bright lights he’d be, at most, just a ghost image on grainy CCTV feeds, easily missed.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/01/new-issue-202364.html.

Monday, 23 January 2023

Micro-interview with Ujjvala Bagal Rahn

We welcome Ujjvala Bagal Rahn, author of the poem “Going Under” in The Future Fire #64, to chat with us about this work, mythology and art.

TFF: What does “Going Under” mean to you?

UBR: I’m thinking of the depression of people with all their cares, depression& that they deny is happening. Persephone is a sad character, always pulled back underground.

TFF: Do you think stories from mythology tell us about eternal truths, universals that will always be relevant?

UBR: Stories from mythology are wonderful, holy even, because of their ambiguity, as profound as poetry. How fair is it that Persephone is tricked into eating the taboo pomegranate seeds, condemning her to a half-year underground? Yet, why couldn’t Demeter or Persephone find another trick to save her? I’ve thought that swallowing the seeds from the underground world of the dead made her part of it, and so she feels drawn back. Now that I think of it, this myth could also represent addiction. What would be really interesting is a happy interpretation of Persephone's story…

TFF: Would you use a piece of art to tell someone that you love them?

UBR: I have in fact written poems for my husband and daughter, normally about some aspect of them or their lives that resonate with me. My husband and daughter each has a binder to keep copies of “their own” poems— enough for at least a chapbook each, I’d guess. Each poem was a holiday gift.

TFF: What are you working on next?

UBR: I am sending out my second poetry collection Memories Lounge out to competitions. In addition, I like the idea of chapbooks, so I have been collecting poems for three—holidays, Buddha-themed, and on my thirty-plus year relationship with my husband Marty, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.


Like Persephone, you hear
the rivers gurgling in the caves,
like bells that sing, “Come to us,
you know you want to.” Don’t you?

Reminder: You can comment on any of the stories or illustrations in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/01/new-issue-202364.html