When you offend the gods and snub tradition, things can go badly wrong, and they can occur in the most unlikely places and circumstances. Rockwell’s story was a worthy finalist in the 2012 Story Quest Short Story Contest and it was worth the wait to include her story in this special edition. GH
All the world was burning, and as she stared at the devastation below, Keiko knew that her beloved chicken was to blame.
She’d found him on the lower slopes of the mountains, huddled miserably in a stand of bamboo, his feathers dull and dirty, missing in places as if he’d molted out of season, and torn away in others where he had fought with some other creature and survived at least, if not won. She’d taken pity on the poor, half-starved bird, and tucked it under one arm as she turned and followed a narrow path back to the village that was her home.
The hills were steep hereabouts, and were densely covered with cedar and pine and cypress, and the ubiquitous stands of bamboo. She could just see the roofs that marked that sprawling collection of homes and barns and shops as she descended toward the flatter lands where the village and the surrounding fields lay. She supposed it wasn’t really a village anymore. What had started as a small farming community had grown over the past few decades to become a bustling market town. But Shimizu was still a farmer’s town at heart, and she a farmer’s daughter.
Interview by Sophie Yorkston
Who were your greatest female role models?
There’s a lot of them. Some of the more influential have been my grandmother, who wrote YA novels under the name H.D. Francis, a number of 19th century suffragettes such as Matilda Joslyn Gage and Victoria Woodhull, and the writer Colette.
What do you feel is your greatest achievement as a writer to date? Read the rest of this entry
To be the wife of the only man on Earth with an alien is a lonely existence. It disgusts Aye, yet she is curious and envious. Is Carl meant to be the one exploring the universe or will the creature just leave her without a husband? SY
The doctors thought Aye’s presence made Karl calmer, kept him stable. They monitored her health with impersonal politeness, never looking at her face, mainly so she wouldn’t drop dead on him, which might drive his blood pressure up.
She was an appliance, she thought, used to keep his body a pleasant and hospitable place where the parasite could thrive.
It felt wrong. Aye was used to being in the spotlight. In school she’d led the popular crowd. Who she liked (or didn’t) had been central to everyone’s opinion. Nowadays the list of who she didn’t like was ignored.
Dr. Taro, who supervised the parasite’s growth and reported on it daily, was high on her list. She read his findings on Karl, though. “Subject’s readings within normal parameters. Parasite appears the same.”
Or, ominously, “Subject in pain. Parasite appears unhappy.”
When I first floated the idea of an edition of SQ Mag dedicated to some of the amazing work of women out there, Gerry (my boss and chief editor at IFWG Publishing) leapt at the idea. My initial idea came from a deep-seated desire to see more work by women. I mean, big names like Ursula Le Guin, Anne McCaffrey, Mary Shelley and more come to mind, yet men are mainly recognised as the giants of speculative fiction. So we approached some writers (and chose books to review based on those) whose work we had seen and admired, but who perhaps do not have the following or accolades that other of their colleagues do, despite their multi-faceted contributions to fiction.
When we approached the very writers mentioned above, we asked a few questions. One question, one that we thought was a positive question to make people think about what women writers have to offer, was what got us the most fascinating answers. The common theme: that we all want to be recognised for the quality of our craft, not set apart by the trifling matter of our gender. Just to be recognised as an equal player on the field of fiction would be enough.
Hack’s machinations are wrapping Jeannie in an ever-tighter net. Her nights and days are full of Lincoln. She recalls her ingracious return to North Carolina, and the slimy events that preceded it. With her mother sickening, surely she’s had enough bad luck, unless that shaman is involved. SY
V. November, 1989
Night in the Tuttle household.
Hack hovers over the sleeping girl, impregnating her with a fresh dreamscape involving Abraham Lincoln. She stirs some as it finds purchase, but remains asleep, her aura pulsing as the dream unfolds, her face mutely quizzical in the way of the sleeping. The shaman leaves her for her mother.