I’m destroying Science-fiction at Lightspeed Magazine: Cover reveal (amoung other things)

Most of you probably already know this, but earlier this year I had an essay published as part of Lightspeed’s People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction. It wasn’t an easy thing to write; I had to dunk my head back into some rather sweet slash sour memories, but I’m glad I did. I felt I something to contribute, namely to the (arguably imperialistic) term people of colour. After having my voice drowned out by Americans telling me what to think and assuming that their standards and cultures are somehow applicable to the rest of the world, I had the opportunity to say something through the official channels. And say something I did. Just not as passive-aggressive  and ham-fisted as those last two sentences.

My editor, Sunil Patel, did an ace job with both my essay and all of them as a whole. The essays had a fantastic response, from folks like Neil Gaiman, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Diana Pho, amoung hundreds of others. I saw people say that said my essay had left them speechless and the essays as a whole made them cry. I’m particularly pleased with that, but particularly the latter.

And it’s not even out yet.

But that’s going to change soon, because team Lightspeed just unveiled the cover and the ToC. Feast your eyes on this sucker.

Lightspeed_73_June_2016

Yeah. Pretty incredible. I’m in this. In a print copy of this. And it’s going to sit on my shelf. And I’m in it. And I’m in it.

And I’m not the only one. My ToC mates include Samuel Delany, Octiva E. Butler, Sofia Samatar, Steven Barnes (Star Wars novelist), Vandana Singh, Daniel H. Wilson (Robopocalypse), Aliette de Bodard, Ken Liu, and almost 100 other amazing writers.

This issue is part of a much larger group known as the Destroy issues. And guess who else is part of them? Chuck Palahniuk – the author of a little known novel cum film called Fight Club. And then there’s Jessica Sharzer, the producer of American Horror Story. And there’s more: Gemma Files, Pat Cadigan, Joyce Carol Oates, Tanith Lee, Christopher Barzak, Kameron Hurley, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Edmée Pardo, David Gerrold…

The list literally just keeps going on and on and on. And they haven’t even announced the ToCs for the last two anthologies. Everytime I think about how I’m part of thThere’s hundreds of voices in the destroy projects. You won’t agree with all of them, or even like any of all. But there’s something there for everyone. And if you wanna pre-order People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction you can do that. Right over here. You know you want to.

The full ToC is over here. Much destroying. Such quality. Very explosive. Wow.

Original Short Stories (edited by Nalo Hopkinson & Kristine Ong Muslim)

  • A Good Home by Karin Lowachee
  • Depot 256 by Lisa Allen-Agostini
  • Salto Mortal by Nick T. Chan
  • Digital Medicine by Brian K. Hudson
  • The Red Thread by Sofia Samatar
  • Wilson’s Singularity by Terence Taylor
  • Fifty Shades of Grays by Steven Barnes
  • Omoshango by Dayo Ntwari
  • Firebird by Isha Karki
  • As Long as it Takes to Make the World by Gabriela Santiago

Original Flash Fiction (edited by Berit Ellingsen)

  • An Offertory to Our Drowned Gods by Teresa Naval
  • Other Metamorphoses by Fabio Fernandes
  • Breathe Deep, Breathe Free by Jennifer Marie Brissett
  • Morning Cravings by Nin Harris
  • The Peacemaker by T.S. Bazelli
  • Binaries by S.B. Divya
  • Chocolate Milkshake Number 314 by Caroline M. Yoachim
  • Four And Twenty Blackbirds by JY Yang
  • A Handful Of Dal by Naru Dames Sundar
  • Hiranyagarbha by Kevin Jared Hosein

Reprint Fiction (selected by Nisi Shawl)

  • The Evening and the Morning and the Night by Octavia E. Butler
  • Double Time by John Chu
  • Delhi by Vandana Singh
  • 1965 by Edmée Pardo
  • Empire Star by Samuel R. Delany

Author Spotlights (edited by Arley Sorg)

  • Karin Lowachee
  • Lisa Allen-Agostini
  • Nick T. Chan
  • Brian K. Hudson
  • Sofia Samatar
  • Terence Taylor
  • Steven Barnes
  • Dayo Ntwari
  • Isha Karki
  • Gabriela Santiago
  • John Chu
  • Vandana Singh
  • Edmée Pardo

Nonfiction (edited by Grace Dillon)

  • Because Some of Us Survived by Samantha L. Taylor
  • Doing Dhalgren by Terence Taylor
  • The Thunderbird’s Path by Misha Nogha
  • Music Medicine by Zainab Amadahy
  • Interview: Daniel H. Wilson by Grace L. Dillon
  • Book Reviews: June 2016 by Sunil Patel
  • Artists Gallery by Alan Bao, Odera Igbokwe, Sonia Liao, Christopher Park, Pugeroni, Tanna Tucker, Melanie Ujimori, Victoria Ying

Excerpt (presented by Tor Books)

  • Infomocracy by Malka Older

Personal Essays (edited by Sunil Patel)

Illustrations (art direction by Henry Lien)

  • Victoria Ying—A Good Home by Karin Lowachee
  • Alan Bao—Salto Mortal by Nick T. Chan
  • Pugletto—Fifty Shades of Grays by Steven Barnes
  • Sonia Liao—Wilson’s Singularity by Terence Taylor
  • Melanie Ujimori—The Red Thread by Sofia Samatar
  • Odera Igbokwe—Double Time by John Chu
  • Christopher Park—Delhi by Vandana Singh
  • Tanna Tucker—Hiranyagarbha by Kevin Jared Hosein

Podcasts (produced by Vikas Adam)

  • A Good Home by Karin Lowachee
  • Salto Mortal by Nick T. Chan
  • Fifty Shades of Grays by Steven Barnes
  • Wilson’s Singularity by Terence Taylor
  • The Red Thread by Sofia Samatar
  • Double Time by John Chu
  • Delhi by Vandana Singh
  • Hiranyagarbha by Kevin Jared Hosein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2015: A year in review

Wait, what just flew by me?

Oh wait, that was 2015. Well, that went pretty quick didn’t it?

Looks like I’m going to have to do another one of these.

A lot of stuff happened in 2015. But to get it out of the way, I finished university. This one isa big of a mixed bag. I enjoyed my studies there and the numerous ways in which we were taught to approach subjects like criticism, deduction and scientific research. I loved meeting up with my friends everyday and making plans to do something weird.

One of the weirdest (that I can actually mention here) was in our film class, where we were set to watch the film Taxi Driver. We were ravenous, so we did what one naturally does and trooped along to Subway and ordered two entire cookie platters. Because reasons. Obviously we couldn’t finish it. So we took it into the film threatre and passed it around in the dark. It one point I believe someone started using it as a frisbee, scattering cookies and crumbs over us while Robert De Niro coasts around NYC with a bad haircut and sub nose revolver. Again, not mind-blowing stuff, but that’s all your getting from me. Other less interesting stuff was when a moron posted on 4chan that he would shoot up the university for kicks. Obviously nothing happened, but we could have done without the scare.

So yes, I had a good time there. But it was time to leave. Some classes were nothing more than pointless filler, or in some cases based on the teacher’s agenda – something that went to higher authorities more than one. Other times I just did not feel I was being taught anything practical, especially in creating writing. Some classes were incredible, others less so. There’s only so long you can take people seriously when you’re sitting in a lecture hall listening to someone ramble on about document/collage poetry when you’re signing contracts for Nature and Macmillan to purchase your work.

But I digress. Essentially: university was good and I enjoyed it in many ways, but it was holding me back in many ways as well. Time to move on.

For my own writing, I sold eight pieces of original fiction, all of which were semipro or higher and two of which were to Nature/Macmillan. I still pinch myself when I see the Macmillan publishers logo stamped beneath my stories. One of them, Daega’s Test, is currently being translated into Polish by Szortal. I also managed to reach the position of Finalist in the prestigious Writers of the Future contest Q3. I did not make the top three, but I will know within a week or two if I am the Published Finalist. Here’s hoping.

I also sold 13 reviews and essays, 4 of which have not yet been written as of yet, but are secured. 3 of them are to Strange Horizons, which is awesome. They published my review of Predestination back in January and I am still immensely grateful. And currently I am writing the official review for Star Wars: The Force Awakens for them. Not feeling the pressure at all.

The other significant essay was to legendary John Joseph Adams over at Lightspeed slash Nightmare. I’m going to be part of the People of Colour Destory Science-Fiction anthology, launching in June 2016 in paperback. It was a difficult essay to write and while I’ve never been one to shy away from speaking my mind, I had to dredge up some old childhood memories that I’d rather not talk about too often. But it was important and relevant and I decided to do it, and I’m going to be proud of it when the anthology launches with over 100+ other authors. I’m excited to see the line-up, very much so, but I’m even more excited to finally sell to John Joseph Adams and be published in Lightspeed, something I’ve been trying to do for 2 years now, which is 1/10 of my life.

I sent my YA SF novel out to do the rounds. It got an overwhelmingly good response. I think I scooped up around 14 fulls and 12 partials from major, major agents. I got essay-long rejection letters from some the most highly respected agents in NYC. But no, it’s a pass. I was guttered at first and beat myself up about it. But I told myself to shut up, learn from my mistakes and come back with a better novel.

And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m 65k into it now, and I’ve got the end in sight. The bones for my next project are slowly brewing, and it’s one I’m really excited about. And that’s primarily what I’m planning to do: focus on writing those novels first and foremost. I will always write short stories, always. But I came into this industry to be a novelist, to have an agent and to be sitting on those shiny shelves in those shiny bookstores. And that’s something you earn. And to do that, you need actual novels. I’m planning to sit down and outline my next novel and then go, full speed ahead. No side-stepping, no distractions, nothing. Hopefully when two months have passed I’ll have a novel. This last one took a whole year (and it’s not finished yet) because of university. I’m not letting that stop me again.

Now. To StarShipSofa.

We had an incredible year at the District of Wonders. SSS and Tales to Terrify alone managed to get over one million downloads. One million. And I worked on every single one of them.

I had the opportunity to work with and produce fiction by authors such as George R. R. Martin, William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Allen Steele, Robin Hobb, and dozens of others people who are gods in the literary world (if you told me two years ago that one day I would produce audio fiction by the creator of Game of Thrones I’d have laughed in your face). I was able to interview Ellen Datlow, Joe Abercrombie, and a whole range of other editors and publishers. I read hundreds of stories in the slush and picked out and produced audio adaptations of the ones I thought were truly the best. And it was truly an honour and a privilege to helm one of the biggest SF podcasts in the galaxy. And I will continue to be doing it for a long, long time to come.

We will be making changes over at District of Wonders. We’ve acquired two new staff members for SSS, including my intern and assistant Ralph Ambrose (who is incredible – I’d be dead in the water without him). We’ll be uping our game. More narrators, more diversity in narrators, more content, more cool features, more special issues. We’ve already got one narrator locked in who’s acted in major films opposite the likes of Ellen Page, Woody Harrellson, Cilian Murphy and others. We’ve lined up an incredible story by a major author who’s had a film adaptation by one of the most respected director’s today. We’ve got…okay, okay, I’ll stop. All I’ll say is: District of Wonders is upping their game and working much, much more closely together. Expect amazing things in 2016.

Well, that’s it. It’s been a gigantic year for me, both as a writer and an individual. I don’t know what’ll happen next year (which starts in an hour’s time for me), but all I know is that I’ve got my sights set on writing a killer novel that’ll snap up an agent. It’s something I have to earn, and I’m willing to do just that. Failing that, I want to win Writers of the Future, something I consider to be likely in the very near future. But it’s impossible to tell.

I’m going to sign off, but first let me say to the hundreds and hundreds of authors, narrators, publishers, actors, writers, editors, friends and fans I’ve met in 2015, it’s been an honour to know and have worked with you in 2015. Truly, it has. And hopefully I’ll continue to do that in 2016. And maybe, I just might meet you in person.

But that’s another story.

Signing off,

Jeremy Szal

 

Published…in Nature!

Well. This is a little late. Half a week, to be exact. But as they say, better late than never, eh?

Anyway, a few days ago my first professional story was published by Nature magazine over on their Physics subdivision. There’s a link there, but I’ll give you another one here, because I’m awesome like that.

This is my first professional level, SWFA-level publication, and so far the results have been incredible. Getting a pro sale at 19 is cool enough, but the amount of work and effort my editors and publicists have gone to has been incredible. I’ve had tweets all week, cover art, blog posts on the story behind the story, and even excerpts posted.

I’ve had bad editors. I’ve had good editors. And then there are these guys – the sort that extend the hand and take incredibly good care of you. I can’t thank Colin and the team over to Nature enough for picking me up and buying my story. And to be published under Pan Macmillan, too!

And then, there’s the cover art.

nphys3336-i1

Seriously, that’s some really, really awesome stuff. And as I said, they’ve been shooting out tweets like these all week…

CEUIuyLXIAAOHJl.jpg large…and I hadn’t even seen the physical copy of the magazine yet! Speaking of which, if you’re interested in chasing it up, it’s in Nature Physics: May 2015, Volume 11 No 5

But anyway, do check it out. I’ve had some feedback – both from fellow writers (who I admire very much) and randoms online, and I’ve been overwhelmed by their kind words. And to be published in Nature…I’m never getting over that. In fact, I know a veteran SF writer who told me he knew nuclear physicists and other scientists who would sell their own grandmothers into slavery to get a shot at being published in Nature.

Well, my granny had better learn how to swing a pickaxe, or she won’t last long in those mines!

Amnd