This book was originally being marketed as cyberpunk, but the publishers, Angry Robot, switched over to calling it solarpunk just a couple of weeks before release. It is definitely both: it has the cyberpunk technology of the neural implant, which is sort of like an instant messenger in your brain, controlled by eye movements, that also allows you to feel the emotions of the people you're connected to. It also has the fast-paced race-against-the-clock feel of cyberpunk, and the focus on information and data as the ultimate key to power. To keep sensitive data from being hacked, they encrypt it into a courier's blood cells. So, yeah, it's totally cyberpunk.
But Implanted doesn't take place in the same dark, polluted, brutalist type of setting usually featured in cyberpunk. New Worth is a domed city—one of many that people have retreated into to survive a massive climate crash. The city itself is stratified, based on the anatomy of a forest: the rich live up in the Canopy or the Echelon, the middle class in the Understory, etc. Many of the descriptions we get of the city show it as green, beautiful, with plants and fountains and attempts to simulate the nature they're yearning to get back to. Much of the plot revolves around the idea of Emergence from the dome—when it will happen, who does the work, who gets to benefit. New Worth is certainly not a utopia, but it's not a straightforward dystopia either, and our narrator learns there's a lot more going on than she realized at both the highest and lowest levels of this complex society. It's ultimately very optimistic and "punk" in unexpected ways. So, yeah, it's totally solarpunk.
Here's the official description:
When college student Emery Driscoll is blackmailed into being a courier for a clandestine organisation, she's cut off from the neural implant community which binds the domed city of New Worth together. Her new employers exploit her rare condition which allows her to carry encoded data in her blood, and train her to transport secrets throughout the troubled city. New Worth is on the brink of Emergence - freedom from the dome - but not everyone wants to leave. Then a data drop goes bad, and Emery is caught between factions: those who want her blood, and those who just want her dead.
Lauren C. Teffeau is a fellow New Mexico writer, and I read pieces of this book in a much earlier draft. I loved it back then, but I was blown away with how tight and exciting the story became in this final version. I asked Lauren to chat with me about her path to publication and her approach to worldbuilding.
Sarena Ulibarri: In a nutshell, what was the path from manuscript to publication for IMPLANTED?
Lauren C. Teffeau: Some of my projects have longer gestation periods than others. I was building the world IMPLANTED is set in well before I had an agent or a professional sale under my belt, so we’re talking many years here. I like to think that time was crucial in thinking through all the moving pieces and bringing it to life in vivid detail. We’ll see! I went through many drafts with my crit groups until I felt like I had a strong enough project to bring to my agent. I revised it again based on her feedback, and the manuscript sold to Angry Robot after approximately six months on submission.
SU: The early drafts of IMPLANTED were written as Young Adult, but it’s being published now as Adult. What changes did you need to make to “age it up” in the final version?
LCT: This is an issue I have run into before with my novel projects. I’m drawn to that time in characters’ lives when they face their “first test” in the real world. While that’s often part and parcel of coming-of-age stories which we often see in YA, I seem to always come up with scenarios where it’s harder to justify how these young teens are doing all these amazing things to save the world on such a grand scale, when it’s far more realistic for someone a bit older to have the life experience and, more importantly, the access necessary to drive the plot. Plus as a recovering romance writer, I sometimes include adult themes in my stories that are more appropriate for Adult books. As far as IMPLANTED goes, when my agent and I decided to treat it as an Adult project, it actually made some of the setup a lot easier to pull off because I didn’t have to explain all the reasons why my teenaged main character had the skills/background needed to make her role in the story more convincing. Instead of being a high school student, she’s now a recent college grad and has four more years under her belt to contribute to suspending readers’ disbelief.
SU: Could you talk a little about the worldbuilding of New Worth? What tools did you use to imagine and create this fascinating domed city?
LCT: I wanted to explore what happens after the coming climate apocalypse, a time where people have had to retreat from the natural world. The traumatic upheaval would be felt for generations and affect the city’s design and development as living memory fades and approximations and reinterpretations become all that’s left over. In a domed city where people are kept at far remove from nature, I figured access to the sun would become a new commodity of sorts. That led me to modeling my city’s structure off of the rainforest: canopy, understory, and ground level, each distinct ecosystem defined in part by the amount of sunlight they receive. And in my domed city of New Worth, those sections roughly correspond to different socio-economic groups, with the rich and well-connected living in the upper levels with the most access to sunlight. Population ecology, survivor bias, even fractals all contributed in some way to the city’s design as well.
SU: What books, authors, or films influenced you while writing IMPLANTED?
LCT: When I’m drafting, I try to keep my mind uncluttered of other media until the story I’m trying to write has firmed up and can stand on its own. That said, I’ve always loved espionage-tinged media—James Bond, Jason Bourne, even Sterling Archer—romance, YA, and most action/adventure properties, and those interests often come out in my work in both subconscious and conscious ways. At some point I was descripting IMPLANTED thusly: Take Johnny Mnemonic, add a dash of Person of Interest, mix with Logan’s Run, and wrap it all up in a Blade Runner-meets-solarpunk aesthetic.
SU: What advice do you have for beginning writers who are struggling through the first draft of a science fiction novel?
LCT: Finish your shit. And it will feel like shit. It will feel like you’re a fool for wanting to write and for wanting to share your stories with the world. But you have to push through all that to get to THE END. Then, take a break. When you return to your project, you’ll discover that maybe it isn’t as bad as you thought it was. Or that you are in a better position to see the story’s flaws and how to fix them. Either way, you cannot submit something that is incomplete. And it is only once a draft is complete that you can get a sense for how to revise. If nothing else, remember there are no shortcuts and try to enjoy the journey along the way.
SU: Do you have any readings or signings coming up? Where can readers find you?
August 3-5 ArmadilloCon in Austin, Texas
August 10 Reading and Q&A at the Albuquerque Science Fiction Society
August 16-19 Worldcon in San Jose, California
August 24-26 Bubonicon in Albuquerque, New Mexico
September 6 Reddit/Fantasy Ask Me Anything
September 8 Reading and Signing at the Denver Science Fiction and Fantasy Series
September 15 Reading and Signing at Page1 Books Albuquerque, New Mexico
October 7 Reading and Signing at Bookworks Albuquerque, New Mexico
October 19-21 MileHiCon in Denver, Colorado
My website laurencteffeau.com is the best way to stay up-to-date with what’s going on with me.
Lauren C. Teffeau was born and raised on the East Coast, educated in the South, employed in the Midwest, and now lives and dreams in the Southwest. When she was younger, she poked around in the back of wardrobes, tried to walk through mirrors, and always kept an eye out for secret passages, fairy rings, and messages from aliens. She was disappointed. Now, she writes to cope with her ordinary existence. Follow her on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon.com, and Pinterest.
"Chrysalis in Sunlight" is about two survivors of an alien invasion—one a veteran and one a civilian—who have to road trip from Denver to San Diego for treatment for a condition caused by exposure to alien microbes. I called this my "solarpunk Don Quixote" story while I was writing early drafts, though I don't know if it's actually the best example of solarpunk, and the homage to The War of the Worlds is probably more obvious than the Don Quixote connection. The story is ambiguously hopeful, and part of the plot revolves around a solar-powered electric car and a wind farm. There isn't an overt environmental theme, though maybe there are some metaphorical ones. It's not really the focus though, so much as the relationship between these two characters, and living with the aftermath of trauma.
I'm proud of this story, but I've been nervous about sharing it. The narrator has chronic pain, which is something I struggle with too, but rarely ever talk about, which makes this story feel a little more personal than most. I also used a trope you're not really supposed to use. I knew it, and I did it anyway, and while I tried to handle it with nuance and awareness, my intentions don't matter as much as how it is received.
Below are some images from my Pinterest board for the story, with a few quotes from the story. Below that is a longer excerpt. See the whole Pinterest board here: www.pinterest.com/sarenaulibarri/chrysalis-in-sunlight/
When I was younger, Aunt Melissa used to show up twice a year, always stirring my otherwise mild-mannered family into a party, defeating my father in arm wrestling matches, challenging my grandfather to whiskey shots. She’d once driven all the way to Denver from the base in Missouri where she was stationed so she could beat the crap out of my ex-boyfriend who had given me a bruise.
"Chrysalis in Sunlight" was published by GigaNotoSaurus. You can read it online, or you can download a free ebook directly from their website. Find the story here: giganotosaurus.org/2018/08/01/chrysalis-in-sunlight/
Marian Womack was one of the amazing authors I had the privilege of spending six weeks with at the Clarion Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Workshop in 2014. I first met her about a month before Clarion started, while my husband and I were visiting Spain. It was great to get off the regular tourist routes in Madrid, and also to get to know one of my classmates a bit better before the craziness of Clarion began. During the workshop, I was always impressed with her lush prose and gothic-influenced style, and I was thrilled to hear that a couple of her Clarion stories would be published in a collection—after making the rounds at places like Apex, Weird Fiction Review, and Year's Best Weird Fiction, of course. Just look at this gorgeous cover:
These stories explore place and landscape at different stages of decay, positioning them as fighting grounds for death and renewal. From dystopian Andalusia to Scotland or the Norfolk countryside, they bring together monstrous insects, ghostly lovers, soon-to-be extinct species, unexpected birds, and interstellar explorers, to form a coherent narrative about loss and absence.
Marian's stories can often be considered climate fiction or eco-weird, and I think this cover perfectly captures the beauty and strangeness you'll find inside. I asked Marian to talk about her path to publication and her experience at the Clarion Workshop.
Sarena Ulibarri: In a nutshell, what was the path from manuscript to publication for LOST OBJECTS?
Marian Womack: I was finding it a bit difficult to find venues where my writing could be a good fit. It wasn’t about getting rejections: I was lucky enough to get a story included in The Year’s Best Weird Fiction anthology series the first year I started publishing in English. But I was also getting a bit overwhelmed with the vast amount of possibility out there. In a way, I felt that the stories fitted together better as a group than on their own, so I decided I didn’t want to break them, and instead of trying to get them published in different venues, I put together the book I had had in mind from my first story in English, a coherent narrative with a meaning of its own. I am very fortunate that the reviews of the book so far have noticed and appreciated this.
SU: What advice do you have for young writers who are struggling to get their first short stories published?
MW: One of the hardest things to navigate for an author is to keep believing that you are not wasting your time, or other’s time; that what you do is valuable. You need to do that, you need to find the strength to invest hours and months and years in your writing without knowing if it will ever be read by others. Keeping that faith is paramount. We all go through periods of self-doubt, but it is important not to give up.
SUL How has writing in English or living in the UK affected the way you tell stories? Are the stories you've written in Spanish different in tone or theme than the stories you've written in English?
MW: This is an interesting question. In a way, that is partly the reason why I write weird and uncanny fiction. I spent many of my formative years in the UK, and that made me cultivate a sense of the strangeness in the world around me. I was, and still am in a way—depending on the circumstances—looked upon as an outsider. That sense of never really having fitted has been invaluable in helping me find the stories I want to tell. After so many years away from my native Andalusia, I also feel disconnected in some ways from the everyday when I am back there. It is a curious feeling, but again I can’t deny that it helps a writer to gain some distance, and to develop a different way of looking at the world that is particularly suited for writing weird, uncanny and speculative fiction. I have written and published many stories in Spanish, and I have also published two full-length books. And, ironically, some reviews said that my writing sounded as if it was ‘translated’ from English. I always took it as a compliment! I had been brought up on Dickens and Emily Bronte, long before I read Cervantes or Borges, so it made absolute perfect sense to me.
SU: What’s your favorite memory from the Clarion Workshop?
It’s so difficult to choose! Ann and Jeff VanderMeer in class, with silly hats on, making us feel more confident about our writing. Catherynne Valente declaring that the closing sentence of my story was the best sentence of the whole week (it was ‘Reader, I shot her’, I think!). The sense of being in a family, of having found a family, of like-minded people.
SU: How many stories did you write at Clarion, and what became of them?
MW: I was very productive, I think. I wrote five stories in total and a couple of flash fictions. Two of the stories were published shortly afterwards in Apex and Weird Fiction Review, and are reprinted in this collection. Another was published in the anthology EcoPunk! The story I considered my most successful of the workshop, the one I wrote in Catherynne Valente’s week, I have been developing into a full-length novel over the past four years. I am very fond of that story, very humbled that two of my favorite Clarion classmates, Nino Cipri and Kristen Rupenian, wrote fanfics based on it…
SU: Do you have any readings or signings coming up? Where can readers find you, online or off?
MW: I am a tentative and introverted user of twitter, where I am @beekeepermadrid. And my webpage is marianwomack.com. I try to keep the links up-to-date, but it is hard sometimes with a full-time job, a young family and two very demanding cats! I will be launching Lost Objects in FantasyCon in October. And I hope there will be some more readings in the near future. I am planning to travel to the US next year, fulfilling a long-held dream of attending ReaderCon at last. Who knows? Perhaps I will manage to do something while I am in the US as well. I am a very shy person, but I have never had problems reading my work. It is such a privilege to share your writing with others in real time, such a gift. After so many hours toiling on your own, sharing your writing and getting to know your readers is the nicest reward possible. I can only hope this will happen with Lost Objects.
Marian Womack is a bilingual writer. She is the founder of indie press Nevsky Books and worked for nearly a decade in publishing before becoming a postgraduate researcher at the Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her genre-bending fiction gained her a place in the Clarion Writers Workshop, and in the Creative Writing Master degree at Cambridge University. Marian’s writing is concerned with loss, nostalgia and nature, and her research explores the connections between the weird and ecological fiction. Other research interest are narrative theory, genre publishing and translation. Her fiction in English has appeared in LossLit, Weird Fiction Review, SuperSonic, Apex, or the anthologies The Year’s Best Weird Fiction, vol. 3 and EcoPunk! Speculative Tales of Radical Futures. She has also been translated into Italian and she has written for videogames. Lost Objects, a collection of tales about ghosts, loss and landscape, is now available from Luna Press Publishing.
Claudie Arseneault was actually the first person to introduce me to the term solarpunk (a genre I've been rambling non-stop about ever since), through the call for submissions to her solarpunk dragons anthology Wings of Renewal. I've been following her career ever since, and it turns out she's just an all-around good person and awesome writer whom I'm glad to have encountered.
Today, I've invited Claudie onto my blog to talk about her new fantasy novel Baker Thief.
Here's what the book is about:
Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.
In a nutshell, what was the path from idea to publication for BAKER THIEF?
I started Baker Thief as a project that would be as fun and tropy as I wanted it to be, a story in which I’d allow myself to write Whatever I Wanted. The first glimpse of the project involved an investigator looking for a thief at a masked ball and a f/f romance—that changed quite a bit, but I was already aiming for The Good Tropes.
I hadn’t even put the first word down before I knew one of the MCs would be bigender and aromantic, and that I didn’t want romance, but a queerplatonic relationship. These stories were near impossible to find (they still are hard, but it got better), and I felt drawn to them. Turns out that was because I was aromantic myself, but I didn’t know at the time. I also… jumped in with as much French as I wanted to, and to have my language in there quickly became incredibly meaningful and important to me.
It took me quite a few drafts to get the ending right, then it made the typical rounds of dev editing through writer friends, sensitivity readers, beta readers, and copyediting. I started the first draft in February 2016, and here we are, about a year and a half later.
What’s your typical writing routine? Do you write at a certain time of day, have word count goals, a particular playlist you listen to, etc.?
It really depends on what part of the process I’m at. If I’m creating new words, typically for first drafts, I will write nearly every day and set word count goals (usually around 700-1,000 for weekdays, and 1,500-2,000 for weekends). As a writer, I do a lot better if my progress is constant. My full-time job makes this rather difficult, however, which means that I will write whenever I can. At least half of Baker Thief has been written on my cellphone during transit, and a good chunk of the other half was over my lunch break.
I don’t have playlists as much as I have artists I’ll put on and listen on loop. And I don’t mean many of them. Most of my previous novels were written and edited on a background of Mumford and Sons. For Baker Thief, though, I stuck to artists from Québec, either Karkwa or Dumas. It felt right to listen to local music for a WIP that drew so intensely from my roots.
What advice do you have for young writers who are struggling through the first draft of a fantasy novel?
The first and most important for me is… don’t give up. Get to the end. Writing the end will teach you so much about the craft, about your story. Even if you end up trashing the story, it will be worthwhile (and you will have finished a draft!). That doesn’t mean you have to power through unquestioningly, though. Different writers need different things to get to the end. I handle unclear drafts very well, so I write start to finish without ever revising what’s behind, even if I decided halfway through I need to make a major change. I just take a note, act like the change is done, and move on. I know writers who couldn’t do that—no chance in hell—so they revise as they go, and their first drafts take longer but are a lot cleaner.
So I guess my biggest piece of advice is experiment. Try things out! See what works for you, what allows you to progress and what just makes you hyper-anxious and unproductive. We all work differently, and sometimes our process even changes from one story to another. But if you find yourself never finishing anything? Find a way to get to that end; you’re limiting your growth otherwise.
You’re very invested in the topic of asexual/aromantic representation. Do you remember the first time you saw this type of character represented well in fiction? What are some other published books that get it right?
My first time was for a sex-repulsed asexual character, Nadin from Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari. Nadin struggles a lot with her sex-repulsion and there are scenes throughout the novel that felt like someone had spied on my life. One in particular made me set the book down, because I needed time to take it all in.
That was my first time, but by actively seeking representation over the course of the last 2-3 years, I’ve found so many more. I couldn’t even begin to list them all here. I recommend picking up the Chameleon Moon series, as it has an alloromantic asexual MC in the first book, and an aromantic asexual one in the second (and a whole lot more queer disabled diversity). If you’re more a contemporary person, then Let’s Talk About Love is about a biromantic asexual black girl. For aromantic characters, Darcie Little Badger has a wonderful short story, “Nkásht íí”, that is online for free and is all about friendship. I also thoroughly enjoyed A Promise Broken, from Lynn E. O’Connacht—a low-stakes fantasy of manners about a girl grieving and her aroace uncle.
As I said, there are many more out there! You can check out Penny Stirling’s list of aromantic or asexual fiction that’s free online, Queer Books for Teens recommendations for aromantic and asexual, or even access my database which has a record of all the aro or ace fiction I could find, with tags and filters to make it easier to narrow down on what you really want.
How have your own baking adventures informed the development of BAKER THIEF?
Not in major ways. I was already well into the novel by the time I got really into baking, and I’d done my fair share of research before. It did change the way I described it—the details, basically. It’s just not the same until you have both of your hands in the dough and your lower back kinda hurts from all the kneading and you got flour over your clothes again because you keep forgetting an apron.
Do you have any readings or signings coming up? Where can readers find you, online or off?
I don’t have a lot of in-person stuff coming up, but I attend Can*Con every year, and I expect to be at Sirens Con this year, too! October is my convention month, haha. I am much easier to find online, however. I tweet at ClH2OArs and my website is at claudiearseneault.com. You can also support me more directly on Patreon.
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic spectrum writer hailfing from Quebec City. Her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders centered on aromantic and asexual characters. Her high fantasy series, City of Spires, started in February 2017. Her next book, Baker Thief, features a bigender aromantic baker and is full of delicious bread, French puns, and magic.
Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters in speculative fiction, and her unending love of squids. Find out more on her website!
Like a lot of writers, I have many random notes for story ideas, most of which go nowhere or sit in a notebook for years before they actually become a story. "Under a Rock" started as one of those: I had the idea of an inexplicable gigantic tooth showing up in someone's backyard, and them charging admission to see it, a la "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings." I plucked the idea out of my notebook after seeing an anthology call that had something to do with sharks and dinosaurs; I decided the giant tooth I'd imagined could be a cosmic-sized version of either. After looking into the anthology a bit more, I discovered it was actually a revenge market, something put together to get back at/make fun of some other editor or author. These happen from time to time as manifestations of publishing world drama—the recent Cocktales and The Cocky Cockers anthologies which were reacting to the CockyGate "trademark" fiasco are prime examples. But considering I didn't know or have any stake in whatever this shark-related drama was, I decided to just be grateful for the prompt that helped me get this idea on paper, and submit it elsewhere.
I wrote this story just after I quit my "day job," which I'd been working at the same time I took over management of World Weaver Press, and I was feeling pretty stretched thin and out of touch with the rest of the world. This was one of the first stories I'd written in nearly a year. All of that exhaustion and disconnection got poured into this story, the sense that remarkable things were happening all around me and I couldn't even look up to witness them. I guess "Working Like a Dog" and "Brain Child" have similar themes—I'm just not a writer who deals well with the drudgery we so often need to pay our bills.
The character in this story ends up at home from her overbearing job because she's suffering from a cold. It was a convenient way to take her out of her element, but it was also an idea I'd been wanting to explore for a while. Protagonists are usually healthy and ready to run, or else they're suffering from some sort of severe trauma or disease. So much of my life has been spent in sniffles, or in not-great-but-not-fatal health, so I gave my character a cold to see how she'd face this adventure with a tissue in her hand.
Here's an excerpt of "Under a Rock":
A giant dinosaur tooth sat smack in the middle of our un-mowed back lawn. Truly giant: a good eight feet tall, and twelve or more from root to tip.
Read the rest of the story at Silver Blade Fantasy Magazine: www.silverblade.net/2018/06/under-a-rock/
Full disclosure: Jennifer Lee Rossman is one of the authors I work with through World Weaver Press. We've been lucky enough to snag short stories from her for Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers and Mrs. Claus: Not the Fairy Tale They Say, and she'll have a science fiction novel that is fun and heartbreaking in all the right ways coming out with us in early 2019.
Then again, she's got stories all over the place these days, so other publishers are clearly catching onto her talent! I invited her onto my blog to tell us a bit more about her awesome time travel novella, out now from Kristell Ink.
Here's the description of Anachronism:
It's the same old story: Time traveler meets girl, time traveler tells girl she's the future president, time traveler and girl go on a road trip to prevent a war...
Sarena Ulibarri: In a nutshell, what was the path from manuscript to publication for ANACHRONISM?
Jennifer Lee Rossman: When I wrote ANACHRONISM, I had never been published and, quite frankly, had no clue what I was doing as far as publishing was concerned. I wrote my query letter in about five minutes and proceeded to send it to every publisher that came up in my "sci-fi novella publishers" Google search (typos and all and, in one case, I managed to send two copies of my query letter in one email).
By some miracle, it worked, and Kristell Ink's amazing editor Kate Coe has helped me polish the manuscript and guide me through the confusing world of proof copies and promotion. It's been a long process, but holding an actual book full of my words is the best feeling.
SU: Without too many spoilers, how does time travel work in your novella? Are there limitations and constraints your time traveling characters have to work within?
JLR: Moses doesn't like to give a lot of information about the intricacies of the science involved in time travel, but he does say that paradoxes are possible. There is nothing stopping you from going back in time and killing your ancestor, but it might make your ancestor pretty mad.
SU: What books, authors, or films most influenced you when writing ANACHRONISM?
JLR: The writing style has been compared to Douglas Adams, but that wasn't really a conscious decision. I was really inspired by roadtrip buddy movies. I love the dynamics (and hilarity) that arise when you stick two people in a car and force them to get along, and getting to add sci-fi and save-the-world elements made it really fun to write.
SU: What’s your typical writing routine? Do you write at a certain time of day, have word count goals, a particular playlist you listen to, etc.?
JLR: I write whenever I can, usually listening to 70s and 80s music. I try to write at least one page every time I'm on the computer, which sometimes results in short paragraphs and a lot of dialogue.
SU: What advice do you have for young writers who are struggling through the first draft of a science fiction novel?
JLR: Find other writers in your genre, whether that means a critique group at your library or a couple nerdy people on Twitter who will laugh along with you when you realize you accidentally stole half of your plot from Star Wars.
SU: What are you working on now? And where can readers find you, online or off?
JLR: I'm trying to rewrite a series of novellas I wrote when I was nineteen. They are... not well written, but I think they're fixable. And a bunch of people on Twitter have somehow convinced me to write a book about werewolves in wheelchairs. Called Chairwolves.
I also have a novel, Jack Jetstark's Intergalactic Freakshow, coming out next year with World Weaver Press. The editor is a really nice lady named Sarena Ulibarri, and she definitely did not force me to say that.
I blog at jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com and Tweet @JenLRossman, and you can find my stories in these anthologies on my Amazon page: amazon.com/author/jenniferleerossman
About the Author
Jennifer Lee Rossman is a science fiction geek from Oneonta, New York. When she isn't writing, she cross stitches, watches Doctor Who, and threatens to run over people with her wheelchair. Her work has been featured in several anthologies and her novel, Jack Jetstark's Intergalactic Freakshow, will be published by World Weaver Press in 2019.
My fantasy story "The Ice Tree" is in the second issue of Apparition Literary Magazine! A hero-in-her-own-mind amateur sorceress sends a village into chaos while trying to prove herself, and vows to undo an ancient curse to make up for the mess she's made. Things do not go well.
I initially wrote this story more than ten years ago, and very little of the original survived when I re-wrote it in 2014 at the Clarion Workshop. It again became a different monster based on workshop feedback, and it took me a lot of drafts to get it just right. In the Clarion version (which unfortunately will be housed forever in the Clarion archives at the UCSD library), I was responding to feedback from a classmate who said my language tended to be dull. I was trying, desperately, to write more lyrical and beautiful sentences. The result just sounded…kind of silly. So I doubled down on that, and the character of Mirella developed naturally from that "extra" tone. She's not a likable character—she's not meant to be—but I hope you enjoy her anyway. It's much easier to get away with this kind of a male character—I drew inspiration from Zap Brannigan, Gilderoy Lockhart, and Ash Williams, but Mirella is definitely her own brand of delusional egotist.
Here's a brief excerpt, a bit of backstory about how Mirella developed the magic she's now abusing:
Although spell-casting was a rare skill these days, there was nothing special about Mirella’s proclaimed title of “holder of an Izka stone.” The original Izka stones were massive, and had been split and scattered throughout the land. Mirella had discovered hers in the decorations on the wardrobe in her childhood bedroom when an unlikely coincidence of gestures had accidentally created a spell that transformed her bed into a rosebush, thorns and all. She’d pried the stone out of the wardrobe and messed around with it on her own for a while, but after she’d turned her sister’s hair to wax—a fine improvement, Mirella thought, but not what she had been going for—she took a two-week class with some old hag in an upstairs apartment to learn how to properly use it.
If you'd like to see the Pinterest board I made for the story, you can check it out here. And you can pick up a copy of the issue on Kindle at the link below, or read the story online at the Apparition Lit website.
My story, "Cocktails at the Mad Scientist's House" is in the Spring 2018 issue of Mad Scientist Journal, out now! Makes sense that this is where this story would end up, doesn't it? I didn't initially write the story with Mad Scientist Journal in mind, but it turned out to be a perfect fit.
My story is classified as an "essay," but it's still definitely fiction (I should hope that would be fairly obvious). One of the quirky, fun things about Mad Scientist Journal is that they publish these first person "essays" as though the character were a real person who just dictated their experience to the author. That's why below, you'll see the byline says "An essay by Tina Eikenboom, as provided by Sarena Ulibarri." I even had to come up with a brief bio for my character. Here's what I said about her:
Tina Eikenboom is a real nobody. You've never heard of her, or met her. Unless maybe you went to high school with her. Or community college. If you ever lived next door, you might know her as that girl who plays music too loud. Tina's not her real name, but it does start with a T, and if she has too much to drink, she might accidentally tell you what it is.
I'm grateful to Dawn Vogel and Jeremy Zimmerman for giving Tina's frantic story of murder and mad science a home in this issue. I was also thrilled to recognize a couple of other names in the table of contents, including Holly Schofield, who has a story forthcoming in my Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers anthology. This story of hers is a lot darker than the solarpunk one, of course. Those feral clowns mentioned on the cover? Yeah, that's Holly's story. (And it's awesome.)
I hope you'll check out a copy, and let me know what you think of the stories!
New solarpunk story markets are popping up all the time. See my first two lists of places to send your solarpunk stories here and here—some of those deadlines have expired, but others are still coming up, or are ongoing.
Below are ten more magazines and contests that are interested in publishing solarpunk stories. They're organized with the earliest deadlines listed first. Know of a solarpunk fiction market I missed? Please leave a comment!
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: January 1, 2018 – January 31, 2018
Length: 2,000 to 15,000 words
Payment: (2,000 – 7,000 words): $150 USD; (<15,000 words): $300 USD
Big Mama Nature issue: Everyone knows that you need to respect Mama. We’re looking for stories of Nature and her swift backhand when folks get out of line. Give us your stories of ecological wastelands, futures full of solar powered punks, or natural disasters. Climate fiction is the name of the game, and Big Mama don’t play.
Full Guidelines: http://www.fiyahlitmag.com/submissions/
Note: Submissions limited to stories by and about people of the African Diaspora.
Bikes in Space 6
Published by Microcosm Publishing
Submission Window: closes February 1, 2018
Length: 500 to 8,000 words
Payment: based on Kickstarter, no less than $30 per story
The theme for this issue is: Dragons. Stories can be in any science fiction or fantasy – ish genre: high fantasy, hard SF, space opera, fairy tales, solarpunk, spec fic, slipstream… anything but fanfic. Dragons can be literal or metaphorical, from a specific cultural tradition or entirely of your own invention. Surprise me! All stories must contain bicycles—the story doesn’t need to be about bicycling, but this element must be central enough that removing it would change the story significantly. Same goes with feminism. The story doesn’t have to be about feminism, but it does need to break from tired old gender stereotypes.
Full Guidelines: http://takingthelane.com/2017/10/25/call-for-submissions-bikes-in-space-6-dragons/
Published by The Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy
Submission Window: closes February 15, 2018
Length: 3,000 to 10,000 words
Payment: 50GBP per story
For Future Generations (theme): Generation starships establishing new colonies. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Driving back the dark to protect your children. For this issue of Electric Athenaeum, we are seeking genre stories that focus on the issues surounding planning for future generations. We are particularly interested in stories featuring new visions/interpretations of generation starships, the care of fragile ecosystems, and dramatic explorations of balancing the rights of future generations versus the needs of the present.
Full Guidelines: http://csff-anglia.co.uk/ea/subs/
The Moon Magazine
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: closes February 20, 2018
Length: up to 5,000 words
Payment: exposure only
Permaculture issue: The MOON welcomes submissions of original short stories, poetry, essays, and memoirs of any length (generally less than 5,000 words), as well as photography, artwork, and even video, addressing the following themes. (For 2018 we’re on a mission: what can “save” the world?) March 2018, “Return to our roots: The Permaculture plan for saving the world,” DEADLINE: February 20, 2018
Full Guidelines: http://moonmagazine.org/submission-guideline/
Contest, Winners Published by Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative at Arizona State University
Submission Window: closes February 28, 2018
Length: up to 5000 words
Payment: $1,000 grand prize. Nine finalists will receive $50 each
In the wake of Earth’s hottest year on record, the effects of climate change are more apparent than ever. But how do we come to grips with the consequences on the ground, for actual people in specific places? Paolo Bacigalupi, renowned for his climate fiction novels and short stories, believes the answer lies in story: “Fiction has this superpower of creating empathy in people for alien experiences. You can live inside of the skin of a person who is utterly unlike you.” If our political responses and our empathy for people besieged by the consequences of climate change fall short, perhaps we need new stories to help us imagine possible futures shaped by climate change and our reactions to it.
Full Guidelines: https://climateimagination.asu.edu/clificontest/
Note: Last year's winning stories are available as an ebook or a PDF. Download it here. The first story, “Sunshine State” by Adam Flynn and Andrew Dana Hudson is very much solarpunk.
About Place Journal
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: January 1 to March 1, 2018
Length: up to 4,000 words
Payment: exposure only
Rewilding Issue: Is it also possible for humans to rewild themselves? What would this look like? When humans deny themselves or are restricted from opportunities for deep immersion in nature, or access to their ancestral places, what has been lost? Journalist Richard Louv has suggested that this deprivation is a “nature-deficit disorder” that afflicts many humans—particularly those of us dwelling in urban, high-tech surroundings or housing projects planted on landscapes of pavement under orange glowing lights that so obscure the night sky that we might come to think of the stars and the planets as rumored bodies floating somewhere up above.
For some of us trying to get “back to the garden,” this rewilding may look like resistance. Urban families who seed unsanctioned gardens in vacant lots are often reviled by developers and city leaders, who respond with bulldozers and concrete mixers. When Latinx neighbors install backyard chicken coops, the HOA squawks about it, but when white hipsters make it cool, restrictive city ordinances are rescinded. Houston politicians have tried to ban piñatas from city parks, claiming they often end up as litter—sending a clear message that Mexican families are not welcomed in public green spaces. When Black artists in Dallas are commissioned to create signs for a city park and their proposed designs memorialize a history of racial violence in that public space, their project is cancelled.
For this issue of About Place, you’re invited to describe the “letting go” spaces of rewilding—the critical habitats where and when our human expressions and behaviors might become unfettered—in explorations that are less mediated, colonized, or civilized. And what could such explorations possibly serve to resemble, reify, or reject?
Full Guidelines: http://aboutplacejournal.org/submissions/
Force of Nature
Published by Dark Regions Press
Submission Window: closes March 31, 2018
Length: 2500 to 10 000 words
Payment: 7c p/w up to 7K – 5c p/w for stories longer than 7K
Though some among us have realised the importance of sustainable living, in the broad sense of everyday life, we still demand too much. Our capitalist dispositions have driven a wedge between ourselves and nature; we have become transfixed by the shine of chrome, the luxury of packaged lives, no longer seemingly aware of the solid earth beneath our feet.
At an ever-advancing tipping point, humanity persists in its war against the natural world. Running a trail of extinction and cutting down vast swathes of oxygen-producing forests, we breed at an alarming pace, overpopulating a planet we seem hell-bent on reigning in – but at what cost? It seems we’re playing a cruel joke on the system that sparked our existence, and which has sustained us ever since.
Or could the joke be on us?
Force of Nature (working title) will be an anthology of original short fiction that explores the physical and metaphysical boundaries between humanity and the natural world.
Full Guidelines: lynnejamneckdiaries.blogspot.ca/2017/12/submission-guidelines-weird-nature.html
Stories of the Nature of Cities 2099
Contest, Stories Published by Publication Studios / Guelph
Submission Window: closes April 15, 2018
Length: up to 1,000 words
Payment: $3,000. $1,500, $500 prizes, honorable mentions published with no payment
What are the stories of people and nature in cities in 2099? What will cities be like to live in? Are they lush and green, verdant and biodiverse? What will cities look like; be made of? How will they be designed and powered? Will they be tall, short, dense, under ground or under water? What of public spaces? Social organization? Mobility? Government? Sustainability and food? Wildlife? Climate change and resilience? Poverty, consumption, wealth, and justice? How will we interact and relate to one another and the natural world? What sort of stories can we tell about our communities and the spaces that shape will them?
Full Guidelines: http://www.storiesofthenatureofcities.org/
Submission Window: June 15 - July 15, 2018
Length: 1,500 and 3,000 words
Payment: 6¢ per word
Terra, Tara, Terror: Whether the setting is a cabin in the woods (Terra), Fae (Tara), or spaceship Nostromo (Terror), take us there and spin your adventure. For a bit of mood whiplash, we'd like a mixture of dark and bright stories. Examples: Obsession with odd artifacts (like Roadside Picnic's golden sphere?), alternate histories, paranormal romance (no erotica, please, we're PG-13).
Full Guidelines: http://www.thirdflatiron.com/liveSite/
Dancing Star Press
Small Press Publisher
Submission Window: April 1 – June 30 and October 1 – December 31
Length: 17,500 and 40,000 words
Payment: Royalties, not specified
Dancing Star Press is seeking submissions of speculative fiction novellas. Space operas, solar punk, dark fantasy, and urban fantasy. Hard science fiction with an emphasis on biology or chemistry rather than physics. Fantasy based on non-Western cultures. Optimistic futurism. Polar Tesla pop and soft science fiction.
Full Guidelines: http://www.dancingstarpress.com/submissions/
I've been reading through submissions for my anthology Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Summers, which closes to submissions on November 15, 2017, and I'm loving a lot of the stories I'm seeing there. If you have something that fits the theme, or can write it by November 15th, please send it to me!
A couple of months ago, I posted 10 Markets for Solarpunk Stories. Some of those deadlines are coming up, and I've come across even more projects that would be great for solarpunk writers to submit to. Most of these don't explicitly ask for solarpunk, but many of them have environmental or social justice themes that are absolutely compatible with solarpunk. Okay, and the last two are a little different—rather than anthologies or magazines, it's a publisher's unagented open door (they say they're looking for utopian and cli-fi!) and a call for academic papers on utopian and dystopian literature of the 21st century.
I'm not affiliated with any of these projects, so please follow links/guidelines/etc. But if you do get a solarpunk story accepted by any of these markets, please come back and leave a comment to let me know!
New to submitting short stories? Check out my blog about that here.
1. Economic Security Project
Contest, Stories Published by Gizmodo’s io9
Submission Window: Submissions are due November 1st, 2017
Length: up to 5,000 words
Payment: $12,000 over 2018 in $1,000 per month payments beginning 2/1/2018, as well as airfare and accommodations to attend an awards dinner in San Francisco, date tbd (the “Grand Prize”). Short list winners will receive $1,000 upon publication.
What might a world look like where all of our most basic needs are met? In 5,000 words or less, we want you to explore the impacts of a basic income on individual lives and on society at large. To be clear, we are not expecting you to draft economic policy, but hope to ignite debate around new economies with stories that offer nuanced critique and evidence of impact. Writers may want to address how this economic policy could shift relationships of power, or if economic liberation is even possible without first addressing racial and gender justice. Writers may consider universality (i.e., whether this benefit applies to everyone), investigate the community impact, and even give this economic idea a new name.
Full Guidelines: https://medium.com/economicsecproj/into-the-black-a-short-fiction-contest-with-a-big-prize-f91cd6553967
2. Indigenous Futurisms & Imagining The Decolonial
Anthology or Themed Issue, Published by Anomaly
Submission Window: November 1, 2017 - March 1, 2018
Work should relate or respond to indigenous futurisms, indigenous futures, and/or imagining the decolonial (future, present, or past). Speculative and non-speculative work are both welcome. Imagine the future, re-imagine the past or present. Let’s talk about what future we’re fighting for. What lives we’re living, now.
Note: They accept work in Spanish, Tagalog, and other languages, as well as bilingual work, with or without translations.
Full Guidelines: https://medium.com/anomalyblog/call-for-submissions-indigenous-futurisms-imagining-the-decolonial-7a556a70404f
3. TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue
Anthology, Published by Rosarium Publishing
Submission Window: ends November 1, 2017
Length: 2500 – 7000 words
Payment: $0.06 per word
TROUBLE THE WATERS: Tales from the Deep Blue will be a new anthology of water-themed speculative short stories that explore all kinds of water lore and deities, ancient and new as well as unimagined tales. We want stories with memorable, engaging characters, great and small, epic tales and quieter stories of personal and communal growth. Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, and unclassifiable works are welcome. We are seeking original stories in English (2500 – 7000 words; pays 6 cents per word) from writers of all walks of life from this beautiful planet and will accept some select reprints (pays 2 cents per word).
Note: Unable to accept simultaneous or multiple submissions.
Full Guidelines: http://rosariumpublishing.com/trouble-the-waters-submissions.html
4. The Golden Key
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: October 1 and November 30, 2017
Length: under 3,000 words
Payment: flat fee of $10
The past year has thrown into sharp relief the surreal terrain of our contemporary landscape, and here at The Golden Key, we have watched this rising social and political upheaval with a contradictory, heart-rending mixture of despair and awe. While the world is facing unconscionable violence and pervasive attacks on human rights, there has been an extraordinary response to these systematic injustices and abuses of power. People have taken to the streets in defense of the rights of women and immigrants, to protest political corruption, to reject white supremacy. And even in the midst of our rage and grief and heartbreak, there has been such beautiful strangeness and joy. More than anything, this past year has shown us we must create radical change, through our words and through our deeds.
With this in mind, The Golden Key has decided to devote our upcoming issue to the theme of revolutionary things. We’re looking for stories and poems that subvert, that upend the old order, that wheel and circle, that present novel modes of belief or being.
Note: Also accepts poetry up to 100 lines.
Full Guidelines: http://www.whatwonderfulthings.net/main/submissions/
5. Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was
Anthology, Published by Mason Jar Press
Submission Window: ends December 7, 2017
Length: up to 6,000 words
Payment: $.02/word plus a contributor’s copy
Metropolitan tales of city-focused fantasy with queer perspectives. Squalid flats, glittering spires, and alchemical trolleys. Manipulative heirs, handsome swordswomen and noble automatons. Write us something built with borrowed Bordertown DNA, purloined echoes of House Tremontaine society and stolen grit from the dark of London Below. Be inspired by Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station, or “The City Born Great” by N.K. Jemisin.
We are looking for stories that explore the edges of urban fantasy through queer stories. While the city these stories are set in should be vast and unnamed, highly specific neighborhoods and landmarks are encouraged and sought after. We welcome a broad interpretation of the genre that is inclusive of postmodern folk tales, future/ancient noir, and stories that happen both behind closed doors and in plain sight. Throughout, we’re looking for rich, varied and nuanced understandings of gender, family and ethnicity.
Full Guidelines: https://masonjarpress.submittable.com/submit
6. The Maleficarum
Magazine, Themed Issue
Submission Window: closes November 15th, 2017
Length: 1,000 to 8,000 words
The Maleficarum is looking for stories about nature. Whether it be the earth taking back what it rightfully belongs, or simple observations of what goes on in life, send me your wonderful works. From these submissions, I will choose 10-15 works to go into the first issue!
Note: Debut issue.
Full Guidelines: https://rosettemaleficarum.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines/
7. After the Orange
Anthology, Published by B-Cubed Press
Submission Window: closes December 15, 2017
Length: 500-5000 words
Payment: $0.02 cent a word paid on publication + shared royalties
We are looking for near- or farther-future stories, society as it is AFTER 2032 – at least two presidential election cycles after Donald Tr*mp’s last eligibility. Show us America or the world in a new era, or look at world politics changed by the actions of US policies and people. Or go beyond.
Stories may present an optimistic or pessimistic, utopian or apocalyptic visions of the future, with some clear connection to current events and the world as it is in 2017. Political shenanigans would be interesting, as well as romance, spooks, robots and evil overlords, satire or parodies. But remember, the world has moved on. The editors generally favor character- and/or plot-driven stories.
Full Guidelines: https://bcubedpress.com/open-for-submissions/after-the-orange/
8. Alien Dimensions
Submission Window: ongoing, see theme deadlines
Length: 3000 to 5000 words
Payment: $10 per story
The goal is to release stories with mind-numbing ideas, brain expanding concepts, or just to get a reader to say WTF? There isn’t enough SF out there that really makes you think about the universe, so, that’s what I’m looking for – something that at least includes SOME hard science. The definition for Alien Dimensions is that science fiction contains real or extrapolated scientific ideas or concepts, and I need more of those. So, I have many fantasy stories ready to go for the rest of the year, but not enough hard core science fiction stories containing real science or non-anthropomorphic aliens. Alien Dimensions is a predominantly positive series about the future.
Full Guidelines: https://aliendimensions.com/submission-guidelines/
9. Angry Robot Open Door 2017
Publisher, Full Length Only
Submission Window: opens November 1, 2017
Length: 70,000 to 130,000 words
Payment: Advance + royalties
We publish Science Fiction and Fantasy. These are wide genres with many, many subgenres, so to be clear: we want anything broadly in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. This includes: alternate history, military SF, space opera, epic fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, dieselpunk, silkpunk, anypunk, grimdark, utopian fiction, modern fantasy, cli-fi, unclassifiable SF/fantasy mash-ups, and so on.
We do like getting submissions that are hard to classify, especially if they’re innovative blends of various genres. It’s the Angry Robot way. So if you’ve written a science fiction novel set in an unexpected location – the Stone Age, or Urban Outfitters, say – great. Maybe you’ve found a way to write a novel that combines your interests in cryogenics, social media, and the Third Reich. In short, don’t be afraid to send us your extremely unusual science fiction or fantasy novel – as long as it would sit in that section of the bookshop.
Note: Full book-length manuscripts only
Full Guidelines: https://www.angryrobotbooks.com/open-door-2017-guides-faq/
10. Utopia and Dystopia in the Age of Tr*mp
James Doan and Barbara Brodman, editors
Submission Window: abstracts due by February 1, 2018, finals due September 15, 2018
Length: 5,000-7,000 words (abstracts 300 words)
Editors Barbara Brodman and James Doan are seeking original essays for the fifth in a series of books on images of the supernatural and the futuristic in film, literature and visual arts. This volume and its predecessor, Apocalyptic Chic: Visions of the Apocalypse and Post-Apocalypse in Literature and Visual Arts (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2017), take the reader into the futuristic realm of apocalypse and post-apocalypse, utopias and dystopias.
Note: This is a call for non-fiction critical essays, not fiction.
Full Guidelines: https://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/cfp/2017/09/05/utopia-and-dystopia-in-the-age-of-trump