Fantastique Unfettered 4: in which I have a novelette, 3 poems & an interview

/ Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 / 3 Comments »

I spent a fair chunk of last week (when I wasn’t fine tuning the new Kindle edition of Clockwork Phoenix or stuffing envelopes with the new issue of Mythic Delirium) proofing my portion of the new issue of the gorgeous print zine Fantastique Unfettered, due out in the very, very, very near future.

These folks have actually made me a featured author. See for yourself:

The entire table of contents, which you can view here, is pretty scrumptious: Fiction by Hal Duncan, Lynne Jamneck, Brenda Stokes Barron, Alma Alexander, Georgina Bruce, Hal Duncan, Carmen Lau and D. Harlan Wilson. Poetry by Shweta Narayan, Dan Campbell, J. C. Runolfson, Kaolin Fire, Jacqueline West and Kristine Ong Muslim. Interviews with Hal Duncan & Brent Weeks … and Hal Duncan & me!

In our interview, Alexa Seidel asked Hal & me to discuss the idea that “life is suffering.” Hal is about 100 times more eloquent than I am, but we basically agreed right off that [Spoiler Alert, heh!] suffering happens in life, but life is not equal to suffering, and then meandered in all sorts of fun directions from there.

For my part, being “Featured” means that I have three poems in the issue, “Sisyphus Walks,” “Seed the Earth, Burn the Sky” and “Binary,” all of them part of what I call the “Claire-dare” series, created when Claire “C.S.E.” Cooney bombarded me with poetry prompts last year.

The issue’s cover image is inspired by “Binary.” I’m still agog over that.

FU (love that acronym!) is also reprinting a science fiction novelette of mine first published in 1999 (it was technically my first “pro sale.”) It’s called “Stolen Souls,” and it’s a bizarre futuristic police procedural/revenge story about a guy named Venner whose lover Alys’ detachable brain (everyone has one in this society) is stolen to be divided up and used as part of a vast computer processor on a distant asteroid mine, and the extreme lengths Venner goes to a) kill everyone involved in her abduction and b) retrieve Alys and make her whole. The ending … is not exactly Happily Ever After. (Imagine that.)

“Stolen Souls” was published in a fun but obscure Australian zine named Altair; there was an attempt made to launch Altair in the U.S. but it died on the runway. So hardly anyone saw “Stolen Souls” when it came out, aside from one enthusiastic Tangent Online reviewer, heh. Proofreading this tale meant that I re-read it for the first time in many years. Sometimes re-reading one’s old work turns into a traumatic experience, but this time around it went in the opposite direction. My stories are almost never simple or straightforward, and “Stolen Souls” features the same kind of narrative flip-flops you find in my newer stuff, except more. Fact is, 2011 me wound up being a little awed by some of the pyrotechnics 1998-1999 me managed to engineer.

I kind of want to reach back in time to that version of me with a message akin to this: “Hey, man, brace yourself. You’ve put a lot of work into this story, and you’ll be paid a nice flat fee for it. And no one’s going to read it, and you’re going to wonder what you did wrong. (And it won’t be the last time that happens.) But thirteen years later you’re going to read this again as you’re prepping it for a really classy second debut, and you’re still going to be really happy with it.”

There’s a nostalgia factor here too, I’ll admit. The novelette’s opening section was the final thing I wrote while I was in the Creative Writing program at Hollins University (M.A. ’94.) You can tell, I think, that even-younger me wrote it; it’s a tad flowery and adjective-y, while the later sections are leaner and (much) meaner.

Anyway, between this and re-proofing the first Clockwork Phoenix, last week has been Memory Lane central. At least they’re all good memories!


  1. Kaolin Fire says:

    Can’t wait to read it! You’ve really sold me on “Stolen Souls”—and great to see your response to revisiting it. That was the first question I had when you said it was your first pro sale, back in 1999. =)

  2. […] already did a long blog post in which I talked about the contents of Fantastique Unfettered 4 in some depth, so I’ll stick to the most important information (from my […]

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