Travel Research Grant for Spec Fic writers – applications close 30 September 2014

The Speculative Literature Foundation offers a US$800 travel research grant each year to writers of speculative literature (in fiction, poetry,drama, or creative nonfiction). It’s a brilliant opportunity to have your research partially or wholly funded. The grant can be used to be used to cover airfare, lodging, and/or other travel expenses.

Current applications close 30 September 2014. For more inormation, and details on how to apply, head over to

Please share!

Some amazing projects have been helped by this grant. Past winners have used the money to travel to elephant sanctuaries to research the relationship between elephants and their caretakers (for a novel that included reference to the well-known story of how the Hindu god Ganesha got his elephant head); to travel to Seville, Ecuador, to research records concerning the Spanish Inquisition and the history of a local family for a historical novel with elements of magical realism; and even to research the history of female astronauts and undertake basic flight training as part of research for a fabulist novel – including travel to NASA Headquarters Library in Washington, DC, Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and Johnson Space Center in Houston.

[Note: I am one of the jurors assessing the grant applications this year, but if I happen to receive an application from someone I know, well … sorry! No special favours. I will declare my conflict and pass your application to another juror].

Insomnia in dystopian fiction

Black Moon is a new novel by Kenneth Calhoun, and I wonder how it will compare to Charlie Huston’s incredible novel Sleepless?  In both, an insomnia epidemic catalyses radical social disintegration.

Calhoun’s protagonist, Biggs, is one of a few people who has not succumbed to the chronic insomnia ravaging the population. Setting out to find his wife, he has to contend with a world where all around ‘sleep has become an infinitely precious commodity. Money can’t buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it.’

Sleepless is set in a world that is struggling to cope with the global pandemic SLP (aka Sleepless) – a fatal disease that renders the sufferer literally sleepless.  The novel powerfully conveys the dystopian reality of a world that has evolved in response to this disease. It’s dirty, gritty, and corrupt. The characters are themselves dirty, gritty, and corrupt … and painfully engaging. It is at once a dystopian science fiction,a noir detective novel, and a techno-thriller. If you read it, you won’t forget it.

Black Moon is released next week (4 March).

Black Moon - CalhounSleepless UK

‘Reboot’ and fore-edge painting

I recently read Reboot by Amy Tintera. Despite the dystopian setting and intriguing premise (see synopsis at end of this post), it was one of those books that just did not make much of an impact on me–it was not amazing, and it was not awful. I suspect if I was a tween I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

But there is one overriding reason I impulse-purchased it, which is the reason I am happy to have it on my shelf:  the edition is edge-printed! In fact, all three “edges” are illustrated, and the image is retained when you fan the pages because the printing sits on the edges of each page as well. Fore-edge printing uses a special process to print on the cut, outside edges of the book block of a publication.

Reboot strip

This is not something you see often on mass-market paperbacks, and it’s not something you would ever notice if you shop online for books, as I do 95% of the time.

Admittedly, this edition of Reboot is not quite in the same artistic league as, for example, the beautiful watercolour fore-edge painting on this 1976 limited edition of Watership Down:

Watership Down fore edge painting

The book experts at AbeBooks summarise the technique of fore-edge painting:

The front page edges of the book are bent back to expose a greater area and a watercolor painting is applied to this surface. After completion the book is closed and the painting cannot be seen. The opposite is also true. The painting is done on the edge of the pages so it can be seen when the book is closed but is not visible when the book was open.

The technique of fore-edge painting dates back to the 17th century (and even earlier, in other forms). I love the gifs of the 19th century “secret” fore-edge paintings from the Special Collections at the University of Iowa (more here):



Reboot by Amy Tintera

In this fast-paced dystopian thrill ride, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games, Legend, and Divergent, a seventeen-year-old girl returns from death as a Reboot and is trained as an elite crime-fighting soldier . . . until she is given an order she refuses to obey.

Wren Connolly died five years ago, only to Reboot after 178 minutes. Now she is one of the deadliest Reboots around . . . unlike her newest trainee, Callum 22, who is practically still human. As Wren tries to teach Callum how to be a soldier, his hopeful smile works its way past her defenses. Unfortunately, Callum’s big heart also makes him a liability, and Wren is ordered to eliminate him.

To save Callum, Wren will have to risk it all.

Random Acts of Senseless Violence, now in SF Masterworks series

I was thrilled to learn today that Jack Womack’s Random Acts of Senseless Violence is being republished as part of the SF Masterworks series. I read it a couple of years ago, and summed it up as “an un-heralded classic that left me feeling liked I’d been punched in the gut – and I mean that as an absolute compliment to the power of the book.” It’s bleak, intense, and absolutely exquisite. From the back cover copy:

Paying meticulous attention to the evolving rhythm and syntax of speech, and their alliance with class and race, Womack demonstrates that woven into the mutable nature of language are clues to the dark and shifting potentials for the future of the society in which we live.

Random-Acts-of-Senseless-ViolenceIt’s just a little later than now and Lola Hart is writing her life in a diary. She’s a nice middle-class girl on the verge of her teens who schools at the calm end of town.

A normal, happy, girl.

But in a disintegrating New York she is a dying breed. War is breaking out on Long Island, the army boys are flamethrowing the streets, five Presidents have been assassinated in a year. No one notices any more. Soon Lola and her family must move over to the Lower East side – Loisaida – to the Pit and the new language of violence of the streets.

New banner artwork for She reads speculative fiction or, Zoetica Ebb is a creative genius

Today, the She reads speculative fiction site got a little upgrade: a glorious banner illustration by Zoetica Ebb.

Zoetica describes herself as “a Moscow-born, LA-raised artist, writer and photographer, dedicated to proving that life is as beautiful as we make it.”  And beyond that, words are entirely inadequate to convey the extent of her myriad talents. Her website is a must-visit if you want to know more about Zoetica, and see more of her art, design, and photography:

I still can’t quite understand how she was able to turn my stick-figure concept, which I scribbled on the back of a shopping receipt while sitting on the bus, into the wonderful image that now sits at the top of my website (oh, wait … that’s right: creative genius!). This is the actual sketch I sent her, along with vague instructions that I’d like it to look something like a cross between Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince illustrations and her own Space Friends sticker set:


And she made this:


I believe my response was: I totally totally totally LOVE IT!

And I do. I totally love it. I hope you do too.

The Dead Roots Comic Anthology on Kickstarter or, Zombies!

As you know, I have a bit of a thing for zombies, and if you do too, you might be interested in this fine project over on Kickstarter: help print The Dead Roots Comic Anthology. It’s a four-part (180+ finished page) shared-world zombie comic anthology.

Mike Garley, the project’s creator, explains his idea:

‘I wanted to create a shared world anthology that even though told by multiple creators was still about the characters, so I needed a way to cut through all the potentially page-wasting exposition and create a world where the problem was obvious, that way the creators can get straight into what they do best, and that’s telling great stories.

Zombies gave us that way to cut into the crux of storytelling. Although sometimes overused, there’s no mistaking what zombies are, they’re scary kill or be killed monsters, that more often than not signify the end of the world.

Instead of focusing on the zombies we focused on the characters and how they would react in the initial hours of the outbreak, avoiding clichéd, gun-toting stories, and dealing with real world problems… amplified by zombies.’

And, making the stakes even more exciting (for me, at least), is the first stretch goal for the project: if this goal is reached, there will be an additional six-page story by Adam Christopher, author of Empire State, The Age Atomic, Seven Wonders, and the forthcoming The Burning Dark.

Today is Day 2 of the campaign which ends, fittingly, on Hallowe’en–Thursday 31 October at 7:59pm EDT, to be exact.  Go and do your part for this creative expression of the zombie apocalypse.

Death Knocks - written by Gordon Rennie, art by Lee Carter, letters by Mike Stock

Death Knocks – written by Gordon Rennie, art by Lee Carter, letters by Mike Stock (

Get your free digital copy of New York Review of Science Fiction #300

The New York Review of Science Fiction’s 300th issue is available now, and its free:

As a thank you to the many people who have made it possible for us to reach this milestone, the digital edition of NYRSF Issue 300 is FREE. It’s a sampler of all the types of material NYRSF publishes—appreciations of authors both well-known and forgotten; reviews, long and short, of good science fiction, fantasy, and horror books; theatre reviews; personal essays related to the larger f&sf field; and a vigorous letter column.

You can download a copy of the issue in ebook (epub or mobi/Kindle format) or print-ready PDF.


News: 2013 SF & F Translation Awards – winners announced

2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards

Winners of the 2013 Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards have been announced. This award is for speculative fiction (short and long form) translated into English. The 2013 awards are for works published in 2012.

Thrilling to see Roadside Picnic get an honourable mention, as well as a Hungarian short story (my mother is Hungarian).

Long Form Winner

AtlasAtlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City by Kai-cheung Dung, translated from the Chinese by Anders Hansson, Bonnie S. McDougall, and the author (Columbia University Press).

Set in the long-lost City of Victoria (a fictional world similar to Hong Kong), Atlas is written from the unified perspective of future archaeologists struggling to rebuild a thrilling metropolis. Divided into four sections — “Theory,” “The City,” “Streets,” and “Signs” — the novel reimagines Victoria through maps and other historical documents and artifacts, mixing real-world scenarios with purely imaginary people and events while incorporating anecdotes and actual and fictional social commentary and critique.

Long Form Honorable Mentions

Belka, Why Don’t You Bark? by Hideo Furukawa, translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich (Haikasoru)

Kaytek the Wizard by Janusz Korczak, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Penlight)

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, translated from the Russian by Olena Bormashenko (Chicago Review Press)

Short Form Winner

Jagganath“Augusta Prima” by Karin Tidbeck translated from the Swedish by the author (Jagannath: Stories, Cheeky Frawg)

Enter the strange and wonderful world of Swedish sensation Karin Tidbeck with this feast of darkly fantastical short stories. Whether through the falsified historical record of the uniquely weird Swedish creature known as the Pyret or the title story, Jagannath, about a biological ark in the far future, Tidbeck’s unique imagination will enthrall, amuse, and unsettle you. How else to describe a collection that includes Cloudberry Jam, a story that opens with the line “I made you in a tin can”? Marvels, quirky character studies, and outright surreal monstrosities await you in the book widely praised by Michael Swanwick, Ursula K. Le Guin, China Mieville, and Karen Joy Fowler.

Short Form Honorable Mentions

“Every Time We Say Goodbye” by Zoran Vlahović, translated from the Croatian by Tatjana Jambrišak, Goran Konvićni, and the author (Kontakt: An Anthology of Croatian SF, Darko Macan and Tatjana Jambrišak, editors, SFera)

“A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight” by Xia Jia, translated from the Chinese by Ken Liu (Clarkesworld #65)

“A Single Year” by Csilla Kleinheincz, translated from the Hungarian by the author (The Apex Book of World SF #2, Lavie Tidhar, editor, Apex Book Company)

Guess I’d better start adding books to my wishlist …

News: Marianne de Pierres signed to Angry Robot for ‘Peacemaker’

I am a bit of a fan of Marianne de Pierres’ Peacemaker comic (she offers a free sample so check it out for yourself), and I nearly squealed out loud when I read today that Angry Robot has signed her up for a 2-book deal:  “The first of this two-book series, Peacemaker, will be released in May 2014, and the as-yet-untitled sequel will follow in 2015.”

Peacemaker: In the future, a ranger protects the last remaining piece of parkland in the shadow of a sprawling mega-metropolis.

The Evil Body

The e-book The Evil Body is a collection of the papers presented at the 3rd Global Conference on Evil, Women and the Feminine (2011) and it’s available now:

The e-book is Volume 164 of the ‘At the Interface’ series ‘Evil’, edited by April Anson, ISBN 978-1-84888-074-0. To quote from Anson’s introduction:

‘The chapters in this book reflect the individual expertise and opinion shared, as well as dialogue that materialized, during the third annual global conference for ‘Evil, Women and the Feminine’ that took place May of 2011 in Warsaw, Poland. In a place rich with a violent and repressive history, the conference explored a myriad of themes related to the conflation of femininity and evil, a subversive and oppressive confusion of associations. The event itself, part of the larger ‘Evil Hub’ of Inter-Disciplinary.Net, seeks to explore the often paradoxical notions of womanliness, of purity and exalted beauty yet also a visceral embodiment of the nefarious, and the resultant mistrust that snakes through historical, social and literary instances of this tension.’

Part 1: American Political Women
Evil or Ordinary Women: The Female Auxiliaries of the Holocaust
Kimberly Partee

Part 2: Transgressive Bodies
A Smelly Body, the Fear of the Unclean Feminine Body: A Cultural Analysis of the Debate on Perversion in Charlotte Roche’s Feuchtgebiete
Christina Lammer

Part 3: Evil Portrayed
Mythological Evildoers in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Poetry and Painting
Marek Zasempa

Part 4: Between the Covers
Women, ‘Good’ Evil, and the Discourse of Power in Mayra Montero’s The Red of His Shadow
Teresa Rinaldi

Binding Women: Challenging Heroic Archetypes in William Morris’s The Water of the Wondrous Isles
Lilla J. Smee

Part 5: Double, Double, Toil and Trouble!
To Help or to Harm: Female Practitioners of Pharmaka in Ancient Greece
Alison Innes

Part 6: Evil East Asian Women
Evil and Abject Women of the Traditional Japanese Theatre through the Reading of Enchi Fumiko’s Literary Works
Daniela Moro

Critiquing Misogynistic Discourse: The Trope of the ‘Poison Woman’ in Early Meiji Popular Narratives
Tad Wellman

Part 7: Round about the Cauldron Go!
The Bitch = The Witch = The Goddess?
Aleksandra Holubowicz

The Dangerous Outsider: Ritual Exclusion and Integration of Women in Maale, Southern Ethiopia
Sophia Thubauville

Part 8: Hybrid and Liminal Women
Alien Queens and Monstrous Machines: The Conflagration of the Out-of-Control Female and Robotic Body
Simon Bacon

Part 9: Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble
Witches or Bitches? An Examination of Two ‘Bitch’ Female Characters in the Harry Potter Series
Gráinne O’Brien

The Representation of Evil Women in Elizabethan Literature
Abdulaziz Al-Mutawa

Part 10: Look Out! Here She Comes!
‘The revenant is going to come’: Sex and Rottenness in the Communities of Hilary Mantel and Nicola Barker
Eileen Pollard

Sugar and Spice, but Not Very Nice: Depictions of Evil Little Girls in Cartoons and Comics
Jacquelyn Bent, Theresa Porter and Helen Gavin

Part 11: Wicked Wombs
The Tainted Birth in Lovecraft’s Fiction
Cécile Cristofari

Ville Transgressor of the Womb: Reading Rebekah Chamblit’s Silence
Jennifer White

Conceptualizing Malinche in Discourse: An Analysis from a Sociocultural Perspective
Jitka Crhová and Alfredo Escandón

Part 12: The Ever Popular Monstrous Mother
Mother Load[ed]: Literary Representations of Addiction and the ‘Monstrous’ Mother
Nycole Prowse

Part 13: Wailers and Terrorists: Oh My!
The Paradox of Evil: Elevation through Oppression in Julian of Norwich and Marguerite Porete
April Anson

Part 14: Renaissance and Early Modern Independent (?) Females
A Breakthrough to Freedom: Portrait of Renaissance Femme Fatale
Senka Suman

The Act(who)ress: The Female Monster of the Seventeenth-Century English Stage
Katarzyna Bronk

Part 15: Battle of the Sexes: Round One!
Possessed and Jinxed by Wanda Jane: Destructive Femininity in Philip Roth’s Operation Shylock (1993) and Beyond
Anna Linetsky

Feminism and Multiculturalism: A Case Study of Pakistani Women in La Rioja (Spain)
María José Clavo Sebastián & Olaya Fernández Guerrero

Deadlier Than the Male? An Examination of Female Aggression as Evil
Helen Gavin

Hit Like a Girl: Women Who Batter Their Partners
Theresa Porter