A stolen treasure. An act of revenge. My “A Slow Day at the Gallery,” now @CuriousFictions

Posted on February 26, 2018 by

Sunday marked my fiftieth birthday, and I thought I’d celebrate by telling you all about my latest Curious Fictions story, “A Slow Day at the Gallery.” Like “Ruby, in the Storm,” this short story is one of the Slow Invasion series, a collection of snapshots depicting humankind’s effort to join a wider community of spacegoing races. It’s about trade-offs and difficulties involved in being, in each of these relationships, the lesser among very unequal partners.

Colonialism and imperialism are themes I’ve been returning to, lately, in my work. It has been nice to revisit these earlier efforts in that direction.

In “A Slow Day at the Gallery,” an old man travels vast distances to visit his favorite Monet painting, one of the Waterlily Pond series, at the Tsebra art gallery where it now resides. Humanity thought they were lending the painting to the offworlders; there was a disagreement about the exact meaning of ‘loan’, and now things bid fair for the Monet to remain offworld for decades, centuries… or possibly forever.

Here’s a snippet:

Outside the authentic human museum with its authentic humidity-controlled air, he felt himself reviving. They passed into an ornately carved walkway, lined with windows and meant to communicate with the sensitive feet of the Tsebs, a lumpy obstacle course of knobs and gaps. Christopher’s ankles ached as he struggled to traverse it without falling. Just another hurdle, he told himself, like ducking the police or smuggling his false ident out of humanspace. 

The story appeared in Asimov’s SF and was picked up by David Hartwell for his Year’s Best SF series. It was very much inspired by my first trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1997, where I saw my first Monet painting and realized something a print will never tell you–just what all the fuss was about.

Support my fiction by tipping at Curious!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I set up at Curious Fictions just after Patreon tried to change its funding model, in a way that adversely affected many of my friends and colleagues. Donor-funded artists benefit from a diverse crowdfunding ecosystem, and I like the way Curious Fictions works. You can read any of my stories for free and, if you wish, set up an account and offer a tip. If you want to be first to hear about my new offerings, you can subscribe–pay as little as a dollar a month, and you’ll get at least a story a month, and my endless thanks.

My previous Curious Fictions offerings are a time travel story, “Three Times over the Falls” and another Slow Invasion story, “Ruby, in the Storm.”

Worlds Seen in Passing, including my story “The Cage,” coming from @tordotcom !

Posted on January 23, 2018 by

I am pleased to announce that my novelette “The Cage,” the first thing I ever sold to Tor.com, has been chosen for their ten year retrospective collection, Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction, edited by the wonderful Irene Gallo, who has been such a key part of making this sight awesome on every possible front.

The book has been announced here; you can find the full story on how the anthology came to be, along with a full contributor’s list and a bigger picture of the cover. It’s available for pre-order now, and contains work by Charlie Jane Anders, Nino Cipri, John Chu, Tina Connolly, Ken Liu, Haralambi Markov, Helen Marshall, Kai Ashante Wilson, Alyssa Wong and so many other wonderful people. You’ll be dazzled, amazed, and delighted by it.

One of the many reasons I tell people–unabashedly and often–that I am delighted to be a Tor author is that this fiction project and the entire Tor.com site is so forward looking. It is a great experiment in figuring out what publishing is in the age of the Internet, and how it can work. The Tor.com team takes risks, works hard, and experiments. The wild success of their novella program (from which you can pre-order Kelly’s thoroughly wonderful  Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach) and Tor Labs shows they aren’t resting on their laurels. It takes guts, perseverance, and vision to bring all of this wonderful creative product together, and I cannot express how much I admire everyone at Team Tor for their innovative spirit and dedication to the cause.

Imperialism from Afar: “Ruby, in the Storm,” @CuriousFictions

Posted on January 22, 2018 by

My second Curious Fictions offering is another piece that the marvelous Ellen Datlow bought for SciFiction, back in the day. It’s called “Ruby, in the Storm,” and it’s one of a bunch of stories I sometimes call the Slow Invasion series. It takes place in a near-future Alberta, in the midst of a sometimes-violent global conversation about offworld immigration, alien students at the University of Calgary and just what it is that aliens are hoping to achieve by enrolling in Canadian universities.

Ruby was a featured story at CF, and here’s what the lovely folks there said about it.

A.M. Dellamonica deftly sketches a world where humans and recently-transplanted aliens rub shoulders in near-future Calgary. As tensions rise, themes of belonging, trust, and chosen societies come to the fore… be warned, afterward you may also want a pet Purvaran stormcloud. Rated R for some sexual content.

When I wrote this story, around about 2004, I had been living in Vancouver for over ten years. Writing about blizzards in Southern Alberta made me remember the beauty of winter on the prairies.

I had mostly hated freezing my ass off for months at a stretch, every year, and spent my youth vowing to move to somewhere bleepity bleeping warm. But after a decade on the Coast I was able to step back and remember that there were things I liked about snow. It was a jolt. It was also part of an emotional journey that made it possible for me to contemplate moving here to Toronto, where I am deliriously happen… even though it does actually snow on occasion.

This is one of the lesser-discussed things that writing can give its practitioners: unexpected views into our own sea changes.  People cannot help but see themselves in a distorted fashion, and even conscious self-reflection comes with a Hall of Mirrors effect. But when I was writing “Ruby, In the Storm,” I remember vividly how I caught myself trying to capture, in words, a particular winter thing: globs of clustered snowflakes falling slowly through amber streetlights, piling the fluff high in air just warm enough to keep it frozen, deadening the sound all around. I remember that, and the shock as I remembered and felt, of all things, love and longing.

The story’s not really about snow, of course–it’s about isms. Racism, imperialism, collaboration… ism. But in case there’s anyone out there, right now, writing and wondering Why am I doing This?, I thought I’d cast a little light on this side-perk of the creative process.

Support my fiction by tipping at Curious!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I set up at Curious Fictions just after Patreon tried to change its funding model, in a way that adversely affected many of my friends and colleagues. Donor-funded artists benefit from a diverse crowdfunding ecosystem, and I like the way Curious Fictions works. You can read any of my stories for free and, if you wish, set up an account and offer a tip. If you want to be first to hear about my new offerings, you can subscribe–pay as little as a dollar a month, and you’ll get at least a story a month, and my endless thanks.

My previous Curious Fictions offering is a time travel story, “Three Times over the Falls.”

Annual Books Read 2017 (for an increasingly shaky definition of book)

Posted on January 5, 2018 by

This year the amount of student work I read–both as an instructor at UCLA and UTSC and as an MFA student at UBC–was copious. We’re talking around two hundred stories and novel fragments, all of which I critiqued, too. This is what I fit in the cracks:

New Fiction – Novels, Novellas & Collections

Autonomous, by Annalee Newitz

Spoonbenders, by Daryl Gregory

The Best American Mystery Stories 2016, edited by Elizabeth George

River of Teeth, by Sarah Gailey

Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey

The Red Threads of Fortune, by JY Yang (I am reading the companion novella now!)


The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan F. P. Rose

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber (Kelly is reading this to me so we aren’t quite done)

Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box by Alex Epstein

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, by Hallie Ephron

The Best American Travel Writing 2017, edited by Lauren Collins

Women & Power: A Manifesto, by Mary Beard

Fieldwork Fail: The Messy Side of Scence, by Jim Jourdane and 25 scientists

I read lots and lots and lots and fucking lots of non-fiction articles, and I didn’t track them. You can’t track everything. But notable among them is: “City of Villains: Why I Don’t Trust Batman,” by Sarah Gailey

New Short Fiction

This is an incredibly incomplete list… I’m still struggling to capture all my short fic reading, especially the DailySF offerings.

Excerpts from a Film (1942-1987)” by A.C. Wise

And then there Were (N-One)” by Sara Pinsker

We Who Live in the Heart,” by Kelly Robson

Letters Found on the Backs of Pepper Labels next to a Skeleton in an 800-year-old Hibernation Capsule Ruptured by What Looks Like Sword Damage,” by Luc Reid

We Need to talk about the Unicorn in your Backyard,” by Mari Ness

Making the Magic Lightning Strike Me,” by John Chu,

The Famine King,” by Darcie Little Badger

Later, Let’s Tear up the Inner Sanctum,” by Merc Rustad,

Seasons of Glass and Iron,” by Amal El-Mohtar

It Happened to Me: I was Brought Back to Avenge my Death, but chose Justice Instead,” by Nino Cipri.

A Hero, I am,” by Kat Otis

​“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time,” by @KMSzpara in @UncannyMagazine

​”Rivers Run Free,” by Charles Payseur –

The Witch in the Tower,” by Mari Ness


The Blue Place, by Nicola Griffith

Stay, by Nicola Griffith

Always, by Nicola Griffith

In the Woods, Tana French

Ghost Story, Peter Straub

The Trespasser, Tana French

Love, death and time travel: “Three Times over the Falls,” at @CuriousFictions

Posted on January 3, 2018 by

Happy New Year, everyone!

In the earlier part of this century (I love saying that!) rock star SF editor Ellen Datlow bought a time travel novelette from me. for the now-toasted SciFiction site. It’s called “Three Times over the Falls” and has recently acquired a new lease on life, courtesy  the fine people at Curious Fictions.

“Three Times Over the Falls” is about Jayne Sho, the lead singer and chief songwriter for a girl band, Imaginary Cherry, whose latest tour stop in Niagara Falls is about to plunge into disaster. The band is on the verge of breaking up, and they’ve only just achieved their first real commercial success. Jayne’s petulant ex-boyfriend is stalking her, and there’s a handsome, badly-wounded time traveler in the mix, doing… what exactly?  Nobody’s sure, but it’s making everyone in town sick, angry, and dangerous as hell.

Here’s a snippet:

Across the alley is the bar where her band is playing. The place–The Wedding Knight, it’s called–is okay, Jayne thinks. It has hardwood fixtures and a high ceiling, which make for great acoustics, and a massive window pointed straight at the Falls, just in case you forget where you are. The decor is pubby: dark furniture and dim lighting, banners and stained glass with scenes of knights rescuing damsels. No swords on the walls, though, and only one suit of armor: by Niagara standards, the Knight is pretty restrained. Kim bitches about the size of the stage, but it’s fine, really. They’ve played bandstands the size of sanitary napkins.

The door creaks as Jayne pitches inside. Smoky air mauls her, but then she sees the beer she needs, sparkling on the bar like an engagement ring.

I discovered Curious Fictions as a side effect of the recent uproar over Patreon’s attempt to change its funding model. I never had a Patreon myself, for various reasons, but I was dismayed to see so many of my friends losing financial support they had worked so hard to build. The threatened Patreon change–and their sudden reversal, too–make it obvious that donor-funded artists will benefit from a healthy ecosystem of funding opportunities. Basically, monopolies are bad. Options are good. If Curious Fictions and other competitors make a go of it, artists will have more choices.

What I like about Curious Fictions is that they’re a reprint specialist. More importantly, you don’t have to pay to play–you can read “Three Times,” and all the other stories I’ll be posting, for free. However, if you want to support my work you can subscribe and thereby be first to find out when I post additional stories–I’ll be doing that monthly–or throw a tip at any piece you particularly enjoy.

Many of you have already supported my work, naturally, by buying my stories and novels, online and in bookstores, and for this I thank you!

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