A writing dilemma: focus on what lies ahead or what is coming from behind?

When I finally decided to stop trying to write literature and embraced the trifecta genres of science fiction, fantasy and horror, I realized something very important about myself. I’m a bit of an alarmist. It’s not something I’m proud of and I have spent inordinate amounts of energy trying to cover this up in polite company, but there it is. I’m nervous, high strung, a worrier. Not in a loud way, but in a quiet, constant yellow-alert sort of way.

Maybe others who have felt this way in the past have had more justification for saying this than I, but I think we are living in times that make this condition worse. It feels as though we have just gotten down from the trees, and run half-way across the savannah while more-or-less successfully avoiding lions. Now, on the horizon, a huge mother-ship of biological and environmental threats, political disintegration, and technological threats is hovering. Is it just me?  Continue reading


Recap on the World Fantasy Award finalists for best short fiction


The new and vastly nicer World Fantasy Award statuette, created by sculptor and artist Vincent Villafranca.

Puuhhh. That’s me blowing the dust off the blog. Rather than wallow in self incriminations, or even your incriminations, Dear Reader, let’s get to the point. The World Fantasy Awards are just around the corner. Lots of great fiction has been nominated, and we have looked closely at the finalists for best short fiction.

“Das Steingeschöpf”, G.V. Anderson (Strange Horizons 12/12/16). Reviewed here.

“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies”, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16). Reviewed here.

“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood). Reviewed here.

“Little Widow”, Maria Dahvana Headley (Nightmare 9/16). Reviewed here.

“The Fall Shall Further the Flight in Me”, Rachael K. Jones (Clockwork Phoenix 5). Reviewed here.

A prosey for September

Because I don’t know how to write poetry, let’s call this a prosey.


It came on us as a chill
A sad bad shiver
In the crest of years between day and night
Most forgot the methods of prevention and called it providence

Feed a fever, starve a cold

But we do remember the heat
Weighing on our eyelids
So the way ahead began to blur and fracture
Hearts shriveled, brains brittled while we pretended it was nothing

Starve a fever, feed a cold?

Pretty shiny anger, blade-sharp hate
We were perfect moths
Our jaws and fingers ached with partisan passions
Mad acts, desperate defenses triggering entire communities

Feed a fever and never grow old

Rattling coughs, blindness and bursting hearts
Foolishly distracted us
All real manifestations, but far from the truth
Every bar lowered, the horror of us remained breaking news

Starve a fever til your teeth grow mold

The infection hid in our hollowed bones
Quiet as a cat
A thousand boring inquiries began
While we burned the world down to prove we lived

Fuck a fever, fuck a cold

If you survived the long-rolling heat
The rot started up
And still the contagion eluded all efforts
To name and contain and promise we would again be sane

Starve everything

Social distancing felt like social media
Only more authentic
No more sharing, no more caring
We husks learned to keep our thoughts to ourselves

Feed nothing

Huddling in the basements of our being
Survival promised nothing
But the quiet gave space to appreciate what we had become
Carriers of the latest mutation, reborn, resilient and waiting

A delightful dive into weird fiction and girl power: “Little Widow” by Maria Dahvana Headley / Una deliciosa inmersión en la weird fiction y la fuerza femenina: “Little Widow” de Maria Dahvana Headley

Note: this is the third review of the World Fantasy Award nominees for short fiction. You can see the list of nominees here and scroll down to find the earlier reviews.

18DINO-master768Little Widow” by Maria Dahvana Headley is a treat from the school of weird fiction. In addition to Nightmare Magazine, the story also appears in the anthology, What the #@&% Is That?, edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen, from Saga Press.

Readers are introduced to the story through the eyes of the youngest wife of a religious zealot who’s just organized a mass suicide that he conveniently misses. Not so different from the world we inhabit? Well…it gets a little more bizarre before the end, yet the main characters’ emotional terrain is spot on.

The recently re-named Natalie and her sister wives Reese and Scarlett have been taken in by a couple for no better reason than the availability of spare bedrooms. Their adoptive parents have no real positive qualities noted except for the fact that they don’t ask the girls to go to church, and that’s good enough for the sister wives. The girls are perfectly aware of the oddity of their cult upbringing. On the outside and alone after the deaths of their mothers, it seems at first that their training as “Heaven’s Avengers” is not going to serve them well. Continue reading