This page is specifically for news related to Things We Are Not, the upcoming anthology of queer science fiction. For other information about M-Brane SF, such as subscription info and regular blog updates, please visit the main page.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The Print Edition:

A domestic (United States) pre-order period for the Things We Are Not print edition begins immediately and will run until 10/15. Order using the Pay Pal button to the right (you do not necessarily need a Pay Pal account to use Pay Pal—you may use a credit or debit card through Pay Pal. It’s quick, easy and secure). Options are available for ordering multiple copies up to five (which include further discounting: 5 copies at the price listed brings the per-copy price down to $12.95, shipping included).

This option is for orders to be shipped within the United States on or near 10/15/09, the book’s official release date. 

The price includes shipping, so this represents something of a discount from what it will cost from online stores (which will be $16.00 plus shipping).  All pre-orders of the print edition received by 10/15 will include a one year (12-issue) subscription to the PDF edition of M-Brane SF, normally sold by itself for $12/year or $2/single issue. So this is a great deal. Subscriptions will commence with issue #9, due out by 10/1, and the download link will be sent to readers as orders are processed.

My apologies, but readers outside the United States (sorry, Canada, that means you, too) will need to wait a couple of days until the book comes online on Amazon.  I will announce it here with a link to it when that happens. The reason for this is that I cannot offer a reasonable price with shipping for international orders. You will be much better off ordering from Amazon, especially if you buy more than one copy or other items along with it.

NOTE: The book will be shipped in opaque packaging with nothing on the exterior indicating the content of the book. I mention this for the reassurance readers who may not be in comfortable situations as far as receiving items that suggest samesex content. Also, Things We Are Not contains a few stories that have explicitly erotic content, and so should not be purchased by readers below the legal age to purchase adult-oriented media. Use of Pay Pal to order items sold by M-Brane SF implies that the customer is 18 years of age or older as required by Pay Pal's Terms of Service, and M-Brane assumes no responsibility for any moral outrage that may result from a younger reader somehow gazing upon our publications.

Electronic editions:

You may pre-order the PDF edition starting immediately, using the Pay Pal button to the right. These will be delivered via email on 10/15.  The price ($6.99) represents a pre-order discount from what will be the normal price ($7.99).  All PDF edition orders include a one-year (12 issue) subscription to M-Brane SF, normally sold at $12/year or $2/single issue. Subscriptions will commence with issue #9, due out by 10/1, and the download link will be sent to readers as orders are processed.

For those of you reading on handheld devices, Kindle and Mobipocket editions will come online by 10/15. I will post order details here when that happens.

Check out the previous posts on this page for more information on the book, including several recent posts with information about the book's stories and its authors.

Though the design of the cover is long since completed and the result of the vote itself is no longer relevant, I am still accepting entries into the contest (using those $1.00 Vote Girl! and Vote Boy! buttons) to win the inscribed copy of the book. I will announce a winner by 10/15.  By the way, the image below shows the book cover (front, back and spine).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TWAN proof approved! Pre-order to start 9/28

At last I have in my hands the proof for the print edition of Things We Are Not. It’s a bit later than I had hoped it would be at this stage, but I believe we are still on track to release by 10/15.  The physical edition is quite gorgeous and I breathed a great sigh of relief when I opened the package and laid eyes upon it for the first time. This is the first book project of its type that I have produced and the first time I have used this particular process to publish something, so I had an irrational yet persistent fear that the spine text would somehow not be on the spine, or that the cover image colors would be all wrong or that the interior pages would be shuffled out of order. But all is well.

I will start a pre-order period soon.  Order options will appear on this page and there will be a link to it from the M-Brane main page and M-Brane Page 2 (the usual buy-stuff page). This will likely begin on Monday 9/28.  The reason I am delaying a couple more days is simply because of day-jobbery tomorrow and through the weekend. A couple more details need to be firmed up before I can set a final price for the paper and e-editions, and I won’t be able to have all that squared away until Monday morning. A couple of things that I can say for sure is that I will have a shipping-included price that will be available to US domestic readers who order directly from me, which will probably be cheaper than ordering it from Amazon. As for overseas orders, I do not know how the numbers work out yet, and that’s one of the things that are delaying the pre-order period for a couple more days.

Also, if you were thinking of becoming a subscriber to the zine and haven’t yet, you might as well wait a couple days now: everyone who buys Things We Are Not in print or electronic form directly from M-Brane during the pre-order period will also get a subscription to the PDF edition of the zine (this offer will probably not apply to Amazon print or Kindle sales, but I will be able to determine that for sure by start of next week).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More TWAN author profiles: Calsing, Walker, Wilson, Goodman, Roman, Gale

Here are some introductions to the remaining six writers of Things We Are Not and their stories (see two previous posts for the rest of them).

C.B. Calsing, in the afterword to her story “Seeker,” describes how she got a lot of insight into survival in a disaster scenario or a post-apocalyptic situation during her experience with Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In “Seeker,” she combines that insight with a thing all reasonable people fear: the eventual domination of the United States by religious fanatics and racist supremacists. That’s a scenario that has usually seemed only remotely possible, but since the lunatic fringe seems to be flourishing nowadays in their opposition to a black President, “Seeker” seems to be perhaps the timeliest entry in this anthology.

In “The Meerprashi Solution,” Deborah Walker introduces us to an interesting alien race whose mating practices are quite different from those of humans. For one thing, they bond in groups of three. Humans have changed, too: switching gender is commonplace. In this entertaining story about gender, sex and the meeting of cultures, the protagonist has a remarkable encounter with the Meerprashi, which leads to both a personal breakthrough and an incredible opportunity for the people of Earth. Deborah has appeared in M-Brane SF in issues #5 (“Daughter of Science, Daughter of Magic”) and #8 (“Forever Sisters”) and has had a number of other recent publications elsewhere.

A man pursues a boyhood dream of sending an object into orbit around the sun. A poet decides that she’d like to get away from it all. Their paths cross in astonishing fashion in Alex Wilson’s “Outgoing.” This novelette, which originally appeared in Asimov’s a couple years ago, is a deeply touching story, and (in a book with a lot of outstanding endings) has one of the most extraordinary and satisfying conclusions. Alex runs the audiobook project Telltale Weekly and the minicomic/zine Inconsequential Art.

Derek J. Goodman’s “As Wide as the Sky, and Twice as Explosive” is the amazing story of Johnny Rey’s relationship with something called “580T-85.” I’m not even going to tell you what 580T-85 might be, and whatever you might guess it is, you’re almost certainly wrong. I don’t want to spoil a bit of this story before its release, but I will say that Derek certainly answered the call when I said that I hoped to see some stories that expand the definition of queerness and come up with the new permutations of it that a genre like sf makes possible. Derek has appeared in M-Brane twice (in issues #4 and #6), and has had many other recent and forthcoming publications elsewhere. His novel The Apocalypse Shift was recently released by Library of Horror Press, and his short story “Dea Ex Machina” is being adapted for an opera. Yeah, an opera.

Trent Roman’s “Confessions of a Call Herm,” as one might glean from the title, focuses on a protagonist who is biologically an intersex person and who has found some advantage in this, working as a call girl (well, call herm) for a class of plutocrats who occupy the heights of colossal towers in a highly stratified (literally) society. This very amusing story combines a lively confessional style with a murder mystery and a bit of bedroom farce as well. Trent writes from Montreal, and describes himself as “fascinated by what makes people tick at both the intimately personal level and the sweeping societal level, and enjoys every opportunity to pursue such questions through the means of fiction.”

Larissa Gale’s “Diplomatic Relations” is a somewhat comedic  “first contact” story involving humans meeting aliens and attempting to find some common ground. For me, it is somewhat evocative (in a good way) of a Star Trek episode about first contact, and it is the only story of its kind in the collection. Also, its component of “queerness” is quite unlike those in any of the other stories, and I will refrain from revealing it here—this story is rather “spoiler”-prone.  Larissa has also appeared in Ruthie’s Club, Justus Roux’s Erotic Tales and Oysters & Chocolate.

[Images, from top to bottom, are of Calsing, Wilson, Goodman and Gale. I am missing pics of Walker and Roman (and Shapter from two posts ago), but I’ll be glad to add them if I get them later.]

Monday, September 21, 2009

More TWAN author profiles: Robins, Kurisato, Bell, Kozzi and Arkenberg

Eden Robins is co-editor of Brain Harvest: An Almanac of Bad Ass Speculative Fiction, a webzine that is probably the single best venue for flash fiction. She will lead off M-Brane #9 in a few days with her remarkable short story “Wildlife,” and will appear in Things We Are Not with her story “Switch.” It is the strange tale of Sweetness, a woman who finds herself trapped in a preposterous situation that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Readers will not soon forget its darkly triumphant ending.

As with Eden above, I am pleased to offer in the space of a few weeks, two items from Mari Kurisato. Her story “Lurker” will appear in M-Brane #9, to be followed shortly after by its sequel “Connected” in Things We Are Not. In these stories, Mari takes the reader to an alternate world slick with the cybersphere and layered with mystery and discovery. It’s a place that will seem both strange but also strangely familiar to readers who live a lot of their lives on the web. Mari is also, of course, the artist who created the book’s beautiful cover art.  The timing happens to be fortuitous because I will be including subscriptions to M-Brane with pre-orders of Things We Are Not when the pre-order period starts in a few days, so readers will be able to get both of Mari’s stories at once. Win.

Around the little M-Brane world, Brandon Bell hardly needs any introduction. Regular readers will recall his gorgeous and stunning stories in our first and fifth issues. His new offering, the book’s titular story, “Things We Are Not…,” is a window on a world that has been blighted by a bizarre plague, where humans still manage to find some comfort in each other…where a magpie talks.  No kidding. Brandon has managed to seamlessly weld together a science fictional premise, an urban-fantastical atmosphere, and some old-time religion (of the Elder Gods kind). In addition to his M-Brane appearances, Brandon has also been published in Byzarium, Everyday Weirdness, Hadley Rille’s Return to Luna antho, and Nossa Morte (forthcoming). He has also been a chief architect of the Aether Age shared world project, which is one of the Brane’s next big upcoming projects.

Jay Kozzi presents a story that is probably the grimmest in the whole collection, but ultimately one of the most redemptive as well. “Pos-psi-bilities” covers the coming-of-age years of a young gay guy who fights to survive the degrading and abusive conditions of his home-life as tragedies follow one upon another. But he has a special gift and a special ally. I guess I will also mention that it is not all grit and struggle in this story: it contains a segment of the most vivid and fun erotica in the anthology. It’s a remarkable story, and I believe that Kozzi has considered finishing a novel-length version of it (a good idea, I say).

Therese Arkenberg’s “Reila’s Machine” is set in a world where a privileged class inhabits airborne cities, while the less well-to-do get by as they can on the surface. Eresbet is a woman on the run from the sky people, wanted for theft, when she comes upon the home and workshop of Reila. Soon we learn that Reila is building something illegal, and together these women will risk everything to assert their freedom. It may be one of the most “exciting,” in an action/danger sense, of all the stories in the book. Therese is a young writer in Wisconsin from whom I suspect we will hear a lot more from in the future. She also appeared in M-Brane #4 with her story “Mother.”

In a few days, I will post again with info on the six remaining writers and their stories. Also, stand by for information about the book going up for sale.

[Images are, from top to bottom, of Robins, Kurisato, Bell, Kozzi, and Arkenberg...mostly swiped from Facebook, y'all.]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TWAN AUTHOR/STORY PROFILES: Rustad, Jeffers, Shapter, Gaskell and Griffiths

Abby “Merc” Rustad’s story “Queen for a Day” will startle and delight readers. A story of a young woman who gets to be Queen, literally, for a single day, it is by turns hilarious and heartbreaking. It is also a marvelously designed tale of a character who has suffered too much injustice in life finally finding a breathtaking way to set things right. Merc is an up-and-coming writer with one of the darkest senses of irony and sharpest senses of humor that I have read in recent memory. Regular M-Brane readers will remember her story “Unpermitted” in issue #2, and she has also had recent publications with Dunesteef and elsewhere. For more information on Merc, follow her entertaining blog.

A couple of weeks ago when I was deciding the order of the table of contents, I decided that I wanted to end the book in a way that would take the reader to a world whose atmosphere and sense of wonder would linger long after reading the story. Things We Are Not will conclude with Alex Jeffers's beautiful novella “Composition with Barbarian and Animal.” It is one of two reprints in this collection, having appeared in a different form, in Silverberg and Haber’s Universe 3 in 1994. From the first line, the reader is pulled into a lushly textured world of strange and highly nuanced social orders, language, religion, personal power and love. Jeffers says that this story may one day be the first segment of a complete novel set in this world. I bet that readers will share my hope that this will indeed happen.

Lisa Shapter offers one of the most deeply subversive stories in the anthology, her “The World in His Throat,” a stand-alone excerpt from a longer novel. Told in a mode that reminded me (for some reason) somewhat of cerebral East European-style sf (think the 1970s Russian-made film version of Lem’s Solaris), it takes on issues of gender roles and reproductive rights in the context of males—military men, no less—needing to bear children as the “mothers” of a new human colony on a distant planet. Without revealing too many “spoilers,” I think readers will find fascinating and perhaps surprising the course of events for the first child of this new world, a boy engineered with the ability to self-impregnate, and the decision he makes for himself.

In “The Offside Trap,” Stephen Gaskell confronts homophobia and the psychological pain of denying who you are in the context of a sports story. Jacksy is a football team captain (that’s “soccer” to those of us in the States) with a strange ability. His personal life and his understanding of himself is upended when a new man joins the team, a man that Jacksy suspects of being a stealth gay and whose very presence comes to be perceived as an attack. Readers who know me personally may raise an eyebrow that I, the epitome of the non-sports fan, even selected a soccer story for this book. Readers will see why I did, however, when they read this one. It is gripping and darkly beautiful, much like (I am told) the game itself can be. Stephen Gaskell is a Clarion grad, a Writers of the Future published finalist and recently appeared in M-Brane SF with his story “Prisoners.”

As readers of Michael D. Griffiths’ “Skinjumper” serial in M-Brane are aware, Mike has a fascination with the concept of cloning and mind/body transfer as a means of literally changing one’s biological sex. His offering for Things We Are Not is not a Skinjumper story, but it does deal with technologically-aided sex-swapping.  With science fiction television, such as Star Trek, I have been told that the producers call episodes that are set entirely within the spaceship “bottle shows.” Also, back in the early days of science fiction movies there were plenty of examples of stories where a crew of people (men, mostly) travelled through space and worked out their very dramatic yet very Earthly issues in the confines of a ship. This story sort of took me back to those days. We have here a small party of people, men of no particular virtue other than their abilities to run a spaceship, who come into conflict with each other as a bizarre series of events plays out. It features gender-switching and an unbalanced, grotesquely sexist villain prowling the corridors. I was happy when I found the story because I had been thinking that we needed a grim “bottle show” to round out the book’s spectrum of subgenres. Mike’s next Skinjumper tale will appear in M-Brane #10.

In a few days, I will post again with some information on a few more writers and their stories.
[Images from top to bottom are of Rustad, Jeffers, Gaskell and Griffiths.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

THINGS WE ARE NOT progress report; update on cover art and the contest

As I mentioned on the main M-Brane page the other day, the "official" release date for Things We Are Not is now probably 10/15 rather than 10/1. It may actually come sooner, but I don't want to promise it since it's already 9/15 and I still have to get the print proof in hand and approved (it's arriving shortly). Format for the print edition is a 6x9 trade paperback, and it will run approximately 350 pages. It contains about 140,000 words of fiction. So a pretty hefty book!  I can't wait to see it in physical form. I hope to announce the prices for the print and electronic editions within a few days, and I expect to have some pre-order deals to announce.

I am changing course somewhat on how to present the cover art.  I had planned to have two distinct editions with the girl cover on one and the boy cover on the other (which plan inspired the vote/contest to select the favorite). It turns out that doing two different covers--because of the way my print publisher works--would make this essentially two distinct publication projects, creating a number of hassles too dull to describe in detail here. Also, since I will be selling/shipping most of the domestic orders on the print edition directly from here rather than directing everyone to Amazon, it would add another layer of logistical challenge just as far as having the right amount of the right kind of book on hand. It sometimes happens that what once seemed like a brilliant plan looks much less so when all the details become known.

So, here's the new plan: I am still using both pieces of art, but the girl version will fill the front cover and the boy version will appear on the back, and I am endeavoring to not have the lads be too obscured by back-cover text. This way, everyone can enjoy both pieces of Mari's artwork, while the overwhelming winner of the vote gets to be on the front. I should be able to display an image of the finished cover within a few days. As to the vote:  I am going to leave the dollar donation buttons for the girl vs. boy contest up. I will still enter anyone who votes into the drawing for the Fabulous Prize (see original post on the contest)!  At this point the female cover has an insurmountable lead in the voting, and since I need to go to press with a final cover shortly, I am going to declare that the lovely ladies have won this election in a landslide. But it's still worth trying to win the prize, and those dollars all go toward the good cause of keeping M-Brane alive and well.

In a few days I will be posting some profiles of the book's authors on this page. So check back soon (I will also place notice of news on this page on the M-Brane main page as well).