Innumerable Voices: The Short Fiction of JY Yang

Innumerable Voices is a monthly column profiling short fiction writers and exploring speculative fiction themes in their many permutations. The column will discuss stellar genre work from both fresh and established writers who don’t have short fiction collections or novel-length works, but who actively contribute to anthologies and magazines.Links to magazines and anthologies for each story are available as footnotes. Chances are I’ll discuss the stories at length and mild spoilers will be revealed.

If there’s one thing to unite all sister genres of the speculative—each vast and unknowable in the entirety of its domain—it’s the human body. Flesh and blood, bone and muscle. The simplest of ingredients, containing all the power to decipher the world and an undying preoccupation with storytellers. In growing up and growing old, we learn that our bodies are mutable things, if only by the smallest of degrees. We fear the day we fail to recognize our bodies; exert careful control over appearance and performance; dread the possibility our bodies might betray us, as they often do in small or large ways. For all we’ve achieved, bodies remain the final frontier.

JY Yang recognizes the potential in the human body as a vessel for storytelling and with a background in genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology, sets forth to seek her own truths.

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The Fog in the Trees: Interviewing Warren Ellis About Normal

Our friends at FSG Originals are publishing Warren Ellis’s new novel Normal in four weekly digital installments. The third installment was released this past Tuesday and is available wherever e-books are sold. Each week, will host a discussion between Warren and a new writer about that week’s episode. This week, it’s Geoff Manaugh, author of BLDGBLOG and A Burglar’s Guide to the City.

Normal, of course, is not a normal novel. Warren Ellis, already widely known for cracking open genres, characters, and storylines to find other, more aggressive, and stranger things within, has set his eyes on something rather calmer. Or so it seems.

Strangers, forced to adapt to one another in a confined setting, a research complex built to function more like a convalescent home, rapidly realize that fate has taken them somewhere much harder to fathom than the world they’ve left behind. It is a small circle of voices—a string quartet of often bleak, and certainly very raw, personalities, leading each other both into and out of disharmony.

Normal drops us off at an elusive psychological research institute, tucked away in an experimental forest near the Oregon coast, where the insects—and the buildings themselves—are not what they seem. Limiting my focus to part three of the novel, I asked Warren about setting, human agency, and the book’s satirical take on cities of the near-future.

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24: Trial by Fire Sweepstakes!

We want to send you a galley copy of Dayton Ward’s 24: Trial by Fire, available August 23rd from Tor Books!

Before London… Before CTU… Before the clock started ticking…

1994: Tateos Gadjoyan, an Armenian arms merchant, has been a target of the Central Intelligence Agency for years. Efforts to thwart his selling of American military weapons to terrorists and other enemies of the United States have been unsuccessful. Now, after months of careful planning, two undercover agents have infiltrated Gadjoyan’s inner circle. Soon, they will have sufficient evidence to seize the arms dealer and remove a clear and present danger to the United States.

On the small Japanese island of Okinawa, Gadjoyan’s representatives are concluding a deal with Miroji Jimura. Jimura’s hatred of Americans is absolute, and he’s only too happy to profit from sales of their own weapons to be used against them. When a rival of Jimura’s sabotages the arms deal, one of the CIA’s undercover assets is killed, threatening the case against Gadjoyan and revealing a far greater menace to American security. The only thing standing against this new, immediate danger is a single, junior CIA agent named Jack Bauer.

Comment in the post to enter!

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The Dala Horse

This August, look for Not So Much, Said the Cat from Tachyon Publications. This new collection from Michael Swanwick takes a feline turn—prowling the pages with grace, precision, and utter impertinence. The master of short science fiction takes us on whirlwind journeys across planets, time, and space, where magic and science co-exist in endless possibilities. Swanwick’s spectacular offerings are intimate in their telling, galactic in their scope, and delightfully-sesquipedalian in their verbiage.

You’ll find time travelers from the Mesozoic partying ’til the end of time, and a calculus problem that rocks the ages. A supernatural horse-guardian journeys with a confused but semi-repentant troll. A savvy teenage girl wagers against the Devil, and is promptly set upon by the most unsuitable of suitors. And of course, you’ll meet Beelzebub the cat, whose subtle influence may not be entirely benign…

We’re pleased to encore “The Dala Horse,” a Original story originally published in June 2011, now reprinted in the Not So Much, Said the Cat. Long after the wars, there are things abroad in the world—things more than human. And they have scores to settle with one another…

[Read Michael Swanwick’s “The Dala Horse”]

Romancing the Throne: Revealing Skullsworn by Brian Staveley

The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne is over, for the moment, but the world Brian Staveley created in the course of said series is the kind of gift that keeps on giving. You don’t have to take my word for it, folks—just see Skullsworn: a standalone prequel starring Pyrre, the priestess who played such a pivotal role in The Providence of Fire, as she returns to the city of her birth to earn her stripes as an assassin under the auspices of Ananshael.

Staveley himself revealed the unutterably lovely North American cover here on a couple of months ago, but for its publication in the UK, designer Matthew Garrett was tasked with creating a look that would link back to the British editions of the aforementioned trilogy—all of which featured swords and borders—at the same time as suggesting Skullsworn was something new, something that could potentially be read by any and all interested parties as opposed to only those who’ve completed The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne.

[What Garrett came up with ticks both of those boxes, I believe.]

Series: British Fiction Focus

The Dragonlance Chronicles Reread: Dragons of Spring Dawning Part 3, Chapters 7 and 8

We’re back!

Well, Flint isn’t. (Too soon?)

And Fizban is off doing Fizban things (SPOILER: GOD-STUFF). And Raistlin is off doing Raistlin things (SPOILER: They’re probably really cool things.) And Laurana’s in a fridge. And Goldmoon and Riverwind are pretty much forgotten. Oh, and Silvara and Gilthanas are off fighting a war in the background.

But the rest of us? We’re back!

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Series: Dragonlance Reread

Reconnecting With Fantasy, Thanks to Two Mercenaries and Their Very Cranky Client

I used to have a real problem with fantasy. Not as an idea—I love The Lord of the Rings movies and Alan Garner books get me through adolescence—but as an investment of time. I felt, for a long time, that there was no fantasy I could read that wasn’t 15,000 pages long, did not have a cast of hundreds, and that required at least one degree in medieval history to really get.

I am absolutely delighted to discover just how wrong I was.

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This Blue Milk Ice Cream Will Help You Defeat both the Empire and the Heat Dome!

Are you currently a melting, overheated mess, blinded by the glaring light of the outdoors, shaking your fist at the hellish Daystar before scurrying back into shade and/or air conditioning? If so, it’s entirely possible that this R2 unit could be of some assistance, because this is a blue milk ice cream R2-D2.

Nerdist shared the recipe, which uses regular, Earth-based cow’s milk so you don’t even have to worry about wrangling a Bantha. While they used an Artoo mold, we’re thinking a frozen Han Solo might be more appropriate… or, if you prefer the full ice cream cone experience, you can always make mini Death Star-shaped scoops.

A Space Unicorn Tale: The REAL Story Behind the Creation of Uncanny Magazine

In 2014, we told you about the long history of Uncanny Magazine, starting with its pulp magazine origins in the 1930s. Then in 2015, we spun the tale of the future history of Uncanny Magazine, going a million years into the magazine’s future.

Reader, we lied. A lot.

The biggest lie of all, though, is on every cover of Uncanny—right at the bottom.

Editors-in-Chief Lynne M. Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas have nothing to do with creation of each issue. They’re not even real people, just actors who go to conventions and podcast a little.

It’s time to reveal the truth. The truth that has been hiding in plain sight the whole time.

[The Space Unicorn mascot is REAL.]

Black Mirror Season 3 Will Give You Nightmares About Social Media and Video Games

What’s that creeping sense of existential dread? It’s the knowledge that Black Mirror season 3 comes to Netflix October 21! At the Television Critics Association press tour, Netflix shared not only the release date, but also episode titles, stars, and directors… including the surprising information that Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur and Rashida Jones co-wrote one of next season’s episodes.

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Stranger Things — Coming Soon to Videocassette?

Instagrammer Steelberg gives recent horror and other SFF flicks the throwback treatment, repackaging them with glorious retro VHS covers to fit seamlessly between your worn out copies of The Hills Have Eyes and Poltergeist. Not surprisingly, Steelberg has added Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things to the set! The series itself pays homage to pulp paperbacks of the ’80s (complete with a glossy title font and “chapters” in lieu of episodes), and Steelberg’s version pumps up the neon colors and adds extra detailing—like the Goonies-style lettering and the torn video rental stickers—to really complete the retro look. My only quibble: I doubt all 8 hours of season one would fit on a single videocassette tape…

Check out Steelberg’s Instagram for more great VHS mock-ups. And if you’re looking for more on Stranger Things, look no further than Alasdair Stuart’s non-spoiler review of the series!


Animation as War Propaganda: Disney’s Victory Through Air Power

As the United States entered World War II, Disney was in major financial trouble. A bitter strike had forced the company to raise salaries and make other financial concessions just when the company could least afford it. Three lavishly animated, expensive feature films—Pinocchio, Fantasia and Bambi—had flopped at the box office. The war had cut off access to most European movie theatres. The decision to make Bambi, based on a book banned by the Nazis, ensured that Disney would not have access to movie theatres in Nazi controlled areas for the foreseeable future. To make ends meet, the company started making training films for the U.S. military, making barely enough money to keep its doors open. The profits from Dumbo swiftly vanished.

[Naturally, Walt Disney figured that this would be a GREAT time to release another film with limited popular appeal!]