Where to Weird

Just one more post like this and then we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming I promise. (Without ruling out the possibility that posts about cool new publications and other goings on in the SFF community will become more of a regularity.)

My last post was, admittedly, a little all over the place. I was trying to give a pretty wide sample of the sort of literary magazines out there, regardless of their exact placement on the spectrum that is the speculative fiction genre. So for this post, I’m going to reign it in and talk about a few places you can go to get your fix of Weird Horror (and maybe send that Weird story you just yanked from Weird Tales‘ submission queue). 

(Regular readers of this blog will be aware of my own devotions along these lines.)

Innsmouth MagazineInnsmouth funding driveThe first is publisher Innsmouth Free Press, and their triannual Innsmouth Magazine. Innsmouth is helmed by the inestimable Silvia Moreno-Garcia*. In addition to being one of the most active review and essay blogs in the genre (think Tor.com but almost exclusively for Weird Horror), it’s also a strong contender for ‘heir to the Weird fiction magazine throne’. A nontrivial cherry on top of that creepy-crawly sundae is their announcement today of a funding drive for their next two anthologies (Sword and Mythos and Jazz Age Cthulhu), with their final push goal being a hike to pro rates for Innsmouth Magazine itself!

Dagan BooksSecondly, I’d like to highlight Dagan Books, the tiny press responsible for Cthulhurotica. Its focus is similar to Crossed Genres in that its publications tend to take a base made of Weird and mix it with a big ol’ dab of Something Else (whether that be Alien archeology or Books within books.) At the moment they’re just about to close submissions for Cthulhurotica 2, so if you have something kicking about your hard drive that might suit, be sure to get it to them before August 30th.

Then there’s Chiaroscuro, which is another small Weird horror press with an occasional zine habit. They publish a little bit of short fiction on their website, but have shifted their main focus in a more bookish direction. ‘Embrace the Odd’ is their well-observed motto. If you’re a longtime connoisseur of Weird, you might recognize a number of their authors.

And if you’re a devotee of the audible, my two favorite podcasts with a consistent Weird emphasis are the unpredictable (and for me, local!) Drabblecast and the the (very Cthulhic, seemingly never safe-for-work) Pseudopod!

I know there are a number of great new anthologies out recently that fit under the Weird umbrella, including one from Ann Vandermeer (the editor of Weird Tales‘ best run) and her husband (author and editor) Jeff Vandermeer**. I’m not going to get into individual novels or anthologies further than that, but if there’s something that I’ve missed or that you just really want to talk about, please do bring it up in the comments!

* (Though I’d heard of IFP before, my first encounter with Moreno-Garcia’s own fiction was through her story “Jaguar Woman” when it came out on Podcastle. I just wanted to share.)

** (I’ve heard that it leads with a portion of illustrator Alred Kubin’s The Other Side, a book very dear to my heart and also very difficult to find. Or at least, difficult to afford. In my estimation, that alone makes it worth looking into.)

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And now for something totally… better.

Several very wise people advised me, in the comments on yesterday’s post, to give up and move on. And… after much thought I agree. There is really nothing Marvin Kaye (et al.) can say to me at this point that will restore my faith in Kaye’s capabilities as an editor, or my hopes for Weird Tales’ future as a publication. It had a long, often rocky, often problematic history capped by a few years of shining brilliance… followed by a dive off of a sheer cliff into the sea.

RIP, Weird Tales. I’m sorry you had to go this way.

But, as Silvia Moreno-Garcia reminded me, all is not lost! There is a veritable smorgasbord of delicious, socially conscious speculative fiction in the world right now. So as a unicorn chaser, let’s talk about some!

ShimmerYou might’ve heard about how Mary Robinette Kowal, author and former art director for Weird Tales, stepped up to the plate earlier this week and is using her own pocket money to bump Shimmer up to pro rates for fiction. Shimmer’s known for poignant, thoughtful speculative fiction (that means spanning all genres traditionally thought of as SFF) and general progressive wonderfulness.

GUD MagazineGreatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD) Magazine is another one I’ve mentioned before. They don’t come out often, but when they do they’re a hefty and satisfying tome of both genre and literary fiction chosen with a great deal of skill. Though not the specific focus, they’ve been known to house some of the most interesting monster-centered stories I’ve encountered. They also have terrific taste in art (I’ve published with them.)

FiresideFireside Magazine‘s one of the new kids in town. Its focus is on story-driven specfic with compelling, unsinkable plots. Some of my favorite people on the internet are involved in this one, but even detaching myself from that I have to say it’s one of my favorite magazines already. They’re only on issue 2 so far, which makes catching up easy.

Crossed Genres has an interesting premise. Every issue takes specfic and crosses it with a different, specific theme – “Lies” and “Bildungsroman” are two examples (full disclosure: yes I have done art for them! I choose well). Also a newly pro-rate market, CG makes a particular effort to showcase marginalized groups and sub-groups in their magazine and anthologies. The ones responsible for ‘Science in my Fiction‘.

ApexApex Magazine is another one I know some folks at: and they’re all cool. A magazine of fantasy and horror, Apex is a venue that puts focus on marginalized and non-USian voices. Famously, their extremely adult reaction to a certain prominent SF author’s outspoken Islamophobia was to publish an issue dedicated entirely to Muslim writers and artists. I’ve been subscribed for some time, and have never been disappointed.

Lady Churchill's Rosebud WristletLady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet a collaboration between Kelly Link and Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press. LCRW is strange, amusing, and difficult to categorize – each issue contains everything from specfic to recipes, essays to comics and poetry. Of all of the zines listed here, it has the most zinelike feel to it. It’s even printed on a xerox machine and stapled together like something you’d expect to find in the ‘unclaimed copies’ bin at Office Depot. Consistently one of my favorite magazines out there. Also the only one I know of that offers a subscription plan that includes a chocolate bar with each issue.

If you need some fiction right now, Lightspeed Magazine has got you covered. An amalgamation of fantasy and SF (they recently absorbed Fantasy magazine) Lightspeed hosts a generous portion of its content for free reading on the web. Delia Sherman, Ken Liu, and Linda Nagata are some recent contributors – to give you an idea of their standard of quality. You can also subscribe and toss these awesome folks a few bucks to keep it going.

ClarkesworldClarkesworld is another long-standing and much-loved magazine, with wonderful free content trickling through the website at all times. It’s won more awards than you can shake a book at (the Hugo, Nebula, and Shirley Jackson just to name a few) and even posts audio versions of their stories as an extra bonus.

The Future FireThe Future Fire is another favorite of mine (which.. full disclosure, I’ve made art for) Their entire mission statement is to focus on socially progressive specfic. They’re currently collecting stories for a colonialism-themed anthology of new fiction focusing on the experiences of the colonized called ‘We See a Different Frontier’. Definitely give them a read!

And if you’re a part-time e-reader like myself, it’s always worthwhile to check out the subscriptions section of Weightless books*. Small Beer press, who owns them, is a great source of exciting and reliably conscientious things. Browse around the whole site and see what some other small presses are up to while you’re there.

And if there’s any publication of particular splendor that I’ve missed and you’d like to share in the comments (your own, even) please do! Let’s get the word out: beautiful things do still exist.

 

Weird Fiction ReviewUPDATE: Oh! And don’t miss this newer endeavor by Ann Vandermeer and friends, the ones who contributed directly to Weird Tales’ former glory. Weird Fiction Review isn’t a literary zine per se, but it’s still a whole lot of strange, neat things all together in one place, curated by people that can be trusted.

*(Note: Weightless books does carry subscriptions to Weird Tales. They’re offering a chance to swap your subscription to a different magazine for free, though, and I suspect that if Kaye continues down this path they won’t be offering it for much longer.)

Almost there

As I write this, there are just 35 hours left on the Village by the Sea kickstarter drive.

We’re at $5,390 of the $4,000 goal, so now Lily’s cooking up tasty, nutritious stretch goals:

Stephen Blackmoore (CITY OF THE LOST, DEAD THINGS (Feb – 2013), KHAN OF MARS (2013) and Will Hindmarch (Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, The Escapist, Don’t Read This Book) want to join us in the village. And they each want to tell us a story.

If we can hit $5,500, these two stories will appear in an ebook together, for backers only, $5 and up. Blackmoore and Hindmarch are in a class all their own: their stories will help lay the foundation for some of your sweetest nightmares about the Village by the Sea.

Hear that? Just $110 more and we *ALL* get treats. Plus extra monies go toward funding more art and more pages in the guide. So spread the word!

And in case the meaning of the $200 backer prize isn’t clear:

 Founding Family: All Pillar of the Community benefits, plus inclusion in and copy of the Village by the Sea Founding Families Tree.
That’s a place in a family tree that I’m being commissioned to illustrate! :3 Your name. In my art. And I promise it’s going to be elaborate and Victorian and oh so unsettling.Enticed?

Perfect for hanging on your wall

Elm 1, An old forest

Some new arts to share! Because The Future Fire, feminist magazine of speculative fiction, is finally back from hiatus! I provided these two illustrations for the story Elm by Jamie Killen, which is a poignant love story about a girl and a dryad and making difficult choices. My images are a tiny bit spoiler-y seen together, but not too. Go read it anyway!

Elm 2, Flora and Fauna

In other news, have you heard about Turning Art, the monthly subscription service for wall art? Well, I have a profile there! Just in case it’s something that seems like your cup of tea. I mean, new art every month! Supporting individual artists! Buying things easily! What’s not to like?

There’s also my (recently refreshed) etsy shop, if you want just my art in particular. Or you could request a commission. I like those. ;)

Moleskine + artists to investigate

Evan just published a new post on his blog, with some illustrations he’s done for the upcoming 20Spec anthology. Gorgeous ink drawings, check them out!

This reminded me that it’s been a while since I last blogged, or uploaded art, or anything. My only excuse is that I’ve been working on a number of projects lately (one that is truly awesome, for a client!) some of which are stories rather than art and most of which are nowhere near done. Then there were the past few days, where we had temperatures in the high 80’s and low 90’s, with a a heat index of 100*F+, but no air conditioning. I didn’t really get much done besides showering a lot and making desultory pencil sketches in my moleskines.

Regent of water and vines.

Here is one of them.

Speaking of moleskines, I recently rediscovered the site ‘Skine Art. If you haven’t seen this before, I heartily suggest you take a look. Extremely inspiring to me, and a provider of the impetus to work in my sketchbook every single day. Also the best advertising for moleskine brand ever, I so want to be a part of that community every time I go there. X) Actually, I finally am. The above image might be appearing there sometime in the next few days.

Some great artists I’ve discovered since my last blog post! Xiao Han’s entire portfolio is full of gorgeous, subtle illustrations, but I particularly love these little watercolors. I want to try this technique myself. And Joseph R. Tomlinson is someone I found on ‘Skine Art, because his sketches are dynamite. I love his chickens the best.

Also, illustrator Eric Orchard is excellent in general, but you should especially check out his recent ‘Comic Book Tools and Materials’ series of blog posts (sadly he hasn’t given them their own tag, so I can’t link directly. They’re easily locatable on his blog, I promise!) Very good, very detailed advice.

I tend to add new artists and webcomics to my sidebar all the time, so please take a moment to browse! There are some really beautiful things represented. :)

(Though not all of them might be safe for your workplace… I try to warn you in the ALT text).

Japanese critters, and tangents

I’m looking back on my old blog, and remembering that I used to ramble a lot more often about things I just liked. I’m going to get back on that.

Nekomata, from the Kaibutsu Ehon

Nekomata, from the Kaibutsu Ehon

Evan and I have been watching the show Mushi-shi lately. It’s a slow, quiet little anime, with each episode a self-contained storyline about someone who has been affected by creatures called Mushi. Mushi are beings that exist on the invisible spiritual plane, and when they interact with humans it’s almost always to cause disease. It’s probably inspired by the early Chinese belief that ascribed diseases to the actions of malignant spirits. The 16th century Japanese book Harikikigaki details some of these beings.

It’s an interesting anime, and one I’d definitely recommend taking a look at. The whole series is available to watch for free on Hulu or Netflix, if you happen to subscribe (don’t know whether either of those services are available to non-US residents… sorry).

In related news, the Japanese culture blog Pink Tentacle recently posted some images from Kaibutsu Ehon (or Illustrated Book of Monsters). It’s beautiful, and odd, and fascinating. The early Japanese tales that ascribed supernatural powers to pretty much everything that lived past its expected lifespan seems strange to me, but I know it’s only that I’ve been raised in such a rigidly Western environment. Fairies and trolls are pretty damn weird too. Really, it’s a pretty encouraging idea — we’re so used to the idea that things wear out and lose value, but if it’s the opposite? Humans gain knowledge (and sometimes wisdom, and sometimes insight) with age, so why shouldn’t stirrups? Or folding screens? Or cats?

On that tangent, I’m made to think of Jo Walton’s Among Others, which I recently finished reading. In the British isles of that book, objects that are well-worn gain power from, for, or over, those who have used them. Which is how the chemistry of nostalgia and sentimentality works, really. Why can’t I get rid of that book I’ve read 30 times over since childhood? Because it has power over me.

What possible advantage could this way of thinking convey to humans? Perhaps it serves as a reminder to maintain possession of objects that have been useful to us in the past, and which might better our continued chances of survival? No clue, but that copy of A Wizard of EarthSea is remaining firmly entrenched upon my shelf.

Today’s links

My favorite links of today, things you should really read or look at.

Because they’re good.

Maggie Stiefvater’s Seven steps to starting a novel. Maggie Stiefvater had me with her Kraken video, even before I knew of her books. There’s nothing there you probably haven’t heard before, but I always enjoy Stiefvater’s sense of humor, and found it a fun prod in the direction of actually getting something written already.

World of Afar by Ben Powis A gorgeous little webcomic, taking the form of serial short stories set in a colorful, fantastic world. Some things are so beautiful and creative that they make me want to get working myself, and this certainly is.

Orbit Books has some fascinating charts tracking trends in fantasy cover art. They’re taking things apart, assessing everything from typical dragon colors to most popular words included in title (for some reason that one’s not in their chart section). Perfect for the infographic/fantasy geek intersectional crowd.

Did you know that Keith Thompson is selling prints of some of his illustrations for Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan? It’s true, and they’re extremely pretty.