Editors’ Roundtable

Wonderbook-cover Interested in writing and/or editing? Here’s a link to a unique Editors’ Roundtable that features general and specific comments on a promising story from some of the most respected editors in the field: Paula Guran, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Liz Gorinsky, James Patrick Kelly, Nick Mamatas, Ann VanderMeer, and Sheila Williams.” It has been published as part of the “celebration” of the release of the expanded, revised edition of Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer at Wonderbooknow.com. We editors did this over five years ago for the first edition, but I think you can see why it never made it into the book. Great idea, but it is a bit much for a print edition!

Lots of other writing goodies at the site, too. And the book itself is both helpful—if you want to write imaginative fiction—to study and lovely to look at—even if you aren’t interested in writing.

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Style Note:
*Why use an apostrophe to make “editors” possessive? Associated Press style would probably not use the apostrophe. The Chicago Manual of Style probably would use the apostrophe. The style question is whether “editors” should be possessive (the roundtable belonging to the editors) and thus take an apostrophe or attributive (it is just a roundtable of editors). How do you decide? In theory, you ask: is possession clearly indicated? Not much help, is it? Okay, are ALL editors included in this roundtable? Mmm, no. So, add the apostrophe.


Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2018 ToC

“Sunflower Junction,” Simon Avery (Black Static #57)
“Swift to Chase,” Laird Barron (Adam’s Ladder: An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction)
“Fallow,” Ashley Blooms (Shimmer #37)
“Children of Thorns, Children of Water,” Aliette de Bodard (Exclusive for The House of Binding Thorns preorders/Uncanny #17)
“On Highway 18,” Rebecca Campbell (F&SF 9-10/17)
“Witch Hazel,” Jeffrey Ford (Haunted Nights, eds. Ellen Datlow & Lisa Morton)
“The Bride in Sea-Green Velvet,” Robin Furth (F&SF 7-8/17)
“Little Digs,” Lisa L. Hannett (The Dark #20)
“The Thule Stowaway,” Maria Dahvana Headley (Uncanny #14)
“The Eyes Are White and Quiet,” Carole Johnstone (New Fears, ed. Mark Morris)
Mapping the Interior, Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com)
“Don’t Turn on the Lights,” Cassandra Khaw (Nightmare #61)
“The Dinosaur Tourist,” Caitlín R. Kiernan (Sirenia Digest #139)
“Survival Strategies,” Helen Marshall (Black Static #60)
“Red Bark and Ambergris,” Kate Marshall (Beneath Ceaseless Skies #232)
“Skins Smooth as Plantain, Hearts Soft as Mango,” Ian Muneshwar (The Dark #27)
“Everything Beautiful Is Terrifying,” M. Rickert (Shadows & Tall Trees, ed. Michael Kelly)
“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™,” Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex #99)
“Graverobbing Negress Seeks Employment,” Eden Royce (Fiyah #2)
“Moon Blood-Red, Tide Turning,” Mark Samuels (Terror Tales of Cornwall, ed. Paul Finch)
“The Crow Palace,” Priya Sharma (Black Feathers, ed. Ellen Datlow)
“The Swimming Pool Party,” Robert Shearman (Shadows & Tall Trees 7, ed. Michael Kelly)
“The Little Mermaid, in Passing,” Angela Slatter (Review of Australian Fiction, Vol.22, #1)
“Secret Keeper,” Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Nightmare #61)
“The Long Fade into Evening Steve,” Steve Rasnic Tem (Darker Companions, eds. Scott David Aniolowski & Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.)
“Moon and Memory and Muchness,” Katherine Vaz (Mad Hatters and March Hares, ed. Ellen Datlow)
“Exceeding Bitter,” Kaaron Warren (Evil Is a Matter of Perspective, eds Adrian Collins & Mike Myers)
“Succulents,” Conrad Williams (New Fears, ed. Mark Morris)
“The Lamentation of Their Women,” Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com 8.24.17)


Yes, I Know: First Post in Many Months

Well, I’ve been busy. I downsized from a BIG old house (with a lot of STUFF in it) to a smallish apartment. I sold the big house. I settled into the apartment. As you can see from the photo, Nala—although very upset that she can no longer go outside—has also more-or-less settled in.

And I take more time to take care of myself physically these days because I have to. (Better late than never.)

And yes, I’m still looking for that job! I have picked up some freelance work, but it is not regular or sufficient. Someone asked me the other day if I was retired. Uh, no. That will not happen. Have to earn the kitty treats for Nala. I wish, but I am pretty much a poster child for how to not plan your financial life.

Otherwise, right now (among other things) I am finishing up the content for THE YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY & HORROR: 2018 Edition (covering fiction from 2017). So, back to work…


Strap on those swords & swash all buckles!

SwordsAgstDark300Swords Against Darkness snuck out in late July! Prime Books has had some major schedule changes, but things are now rolling along and books are barreling down the old retail trail. So if you’ve been waiting for this one—or are just now getting excited about it—you will find its glorious thickness (in print) in bookstores online and off or its tons of text (in ebook) in the usual places! I’m rather proud of this one. I think I (inadvertently) took a fresh look at sword & sorcery while paying homage to what you usually think you might find in such a tome.




Fantasy Stories from the City That Never Sleeps
Edited by Paula Guran

Trade paperback: 424 pages | $15.95
Night Shade Books (November 7, 2017)
ISBN-13: 978-1597809313
(Also available in ebook)

An intriguing but insular man with telekinetic powers becomes New York City’s greatest superhero . . . A love affair blossoms between the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building . . . There are tunnels under New York that do not appear on any map . . . Being a Manhattan real estate broker for supernaturals is a real challenge . . . Editor and anthologist Paula Guran collects a diverse array of unusual and memorable tales set in the Big Apple. Anyone who’s visited New York, New York knows what a “magical” place it is; these stories reveal just how marvelous, extraordinary, mysterious, and even occasionally eerie a truly fantastic city can be.

Introduction: A Place Apart – Paula Guran
How the Pooka Came to New York City – Delia Sherman
…And the Angel with Television Eyes – John Shirley
Priced to Sell – Naomi Novik
The Horrid Glory of Its Wings – Elizabeth Bear
The Tallest Doll in New York City – Maria Dahvana Headley
Blood Yesterday, Blood Tomorrow – Richard Bowes
Pork Pie Hat – Peter Straub
Grand Central Park – Delia Sherman
The Land of Heart’s Desire – Holly Black
The City Born Great – N.K. Jemisin
La Peau Verte – Caitlín R. Kiernan
Cryptic Coloration – Elizabeth Bear
Caisson – Karl Bunker
Red as Snow – Seanan McGuire
A Huntsman Passing By – Richard Bowes
Painted Birds and Shivered Bones – Kat Howard
Salsa Nocturna – Daniel José Older
Weston Walks – Kit Reed
The Rock in the Park – Peter S. Beagle
Shell Games – George R. R. Martin

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The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror 2018 Call

Call for Submission

As the editor of the anthology series The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror (Prime Books) I am reading for the 2018 edition, which will include material published in 2017.

We define “dark fantasy” and “horror” broadly. Try reading the previous volumes and read this introduction to the first volume. And yes, we select dark SF as part of the mix. You can see the most recent ToC in this post.

Guidelines: The work must be published during the calendar year of 2017. If serialized, it may have begun in the previous year and ended in current. Direct submissions to the editor as well as suggestions are greatly appreciated. PDF, Word doc, or RTF are preferred, ebook if needed to paula@prime-books.com, subject: YBDF&H. If a physical copy is submitted please email for mailing address

Deadline: November 1, 2017. If your work/publication is being published late in the year, please try to get it to me in some form by that date. Overall: the earlier I get the material the better.

Please post and/or pass this on to others.



SwordsAgstDark300Swords Against Darkness
edited by Paula Guran

Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 576
Size: 6″X9″
ISBN: 9781607014850
Publication Date: April 26, 2017
Price: $19.95

Flashing swords and fearsome magicks . . . high adventure and wondrous wizardry . . . dread monsters and vast rewards . . .

Tales of sword and sorcery at their best offer keen wit, ingenious perception, freewheeling imagination, and canny invention. From its swashbuckling beginnings of good versus evil battles to clashes of more nuanced principles set in complex settings to havoc shaped by grittier perspectives, ambiguous morality, deep history, and expansive worldbuilding―readers continue to be thrilled by the exploits of great warriors and mighty mages.

Swords Against Darkness: an epic anthology of short stories and novellas from classic to modern, each tale a memorable vision from masters of mistresses of heroic fantasy past and present!


Paula Guran, Introduction: “Knowledge Takes Precedence Over Death”

Forging & Shaping

  • Robert E. Howard, “The Tower of the Elephant”
  • C. L. Moore, “Hellsgarde”
  • Clark Ashton Smith, “The Dark Eidolon”
  • Jack Vance, “Liane the Wayfarer”
  • Leigh Brackett, “Black Amazon of Mars”
  • Fritz Leiber, “Ill Met in Lankhmar”
  • Michael Moorcock, “While the Gods Laugh”

Normalizing & Annealing

  • Tanith Lee, “Hero at the Gates”
  • C. J. Cherryh, “A Thief in Korianth”
  • Karl Edward Wagner, “Undertow”
  • Katherine Kurtz, “Swords Against the Marluk”
  • Mercedes Lackey, “Out of the Deep”
  • Michael Shea, “Epistle from Lebanoi”
  • James Enge, “Payment Deferred”
  • John Balestra, “The Swords of Her Heart” (original)

Tempering & Sharpening

  • Joanna Russ, “Bluestocking”
  • Samuel R. Delany, “The Tale of Dragons and Dreamers”
  • Elizabeth Moon, “First Blood”
  • Saladin Ahmed, “Where Virtue Lives”
  • Scott Lynch, “The Effigy Engine: A Tale of the Red Hats”
  • Steven Erikson, “Goats of Glory”
  • Elizabeth Bear, “The Ghost Makers”
  • Kameron Hurley, “The Plague Givers”


YBDFH2017The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror: 2017

Contents (in alphabetical order by author’s last name)

“Lullaby for a Lost World,” Aliette de Bodard (Tor.com 06/16)
“Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Brooke Bolander (Uncanny #13)
“Wish You Were Here,” Nadia Bulkin (Nightmare # 49)
“A Dying of the Light,” Rachel Caine (The Gods of H.P. Lovecraft)
“Season of Glass and Iron,” Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales)
“Grave Goods,” Gemma Files (Autumn Cthulhu)
“The Blameless,”Jeffrey Ford (The Natural History of Hell)
“As Cymbals Clash,” Cate Gardner (The Dark #19)
“The Iron Man,” Max Gladstone (Grimm Future)
“Surfacing,” Lisa L. Hannett (Postscripts 36/37: The Dragons of the Night)
“Mommy’s Little Man,” Brian Hodge (DarkFuse, October)
“The Sound of Salt and Sea,” Kat Howard (Uncanny #10)
“Red Dirt Witch,” N. K. Jemisin (Fantasy #60)
“Birdfather,” Stephen Graham Jones (Black Static #51)
“The Games We Play,” Cassandra Khaw (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
“The Line Between the Devil’s Teeth (Murder Ballad No. Ten),” Caitlin Kiernan (Sirenia Digest #130)
“Postcards from Natalie,” Carrie Laben (The Dark #14)
“The Finest, Fullest Flowering,” Marc Laidlaw (Nightmare #45)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com)
“Meet Me at the Frost Fair,” Alison Littlewood (A Midwinter Entertainment)
“Bright Crown of Joy,” Livia Llewellyn (Children of Lovecraft)
“The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch,” Seanan McGuire (Lightspeed #72)
“My Body, Herself,” Carmen Maria Machado (Uncanny #12)
“Spinning Silver,” Naomi Novik (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales)
“Whose Drowned Face Sleeps,” An Owomoyela & Rachael Swirsky (Nightmare # 46/What the #@&% Is That?)
“Grave Goods,” Priya Sharma (Albedo One #6)
“The Rime of the Cosmic Mariner,” John Shirley (Lovecraft Alive!)
“The Red Forest,” Angela Slatter (Winter Children and Other Chilling Tales)
“Photograph,” Steve Rasnic Tem (Out of the Dark)
“The Future is Blue,” Catherynne M. Valente (Drowned Worlds)
‘‘October Film Haunt: Under the House’’, Michael Wehunt (Greener Pastures)
“Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left,” Fran Wilde (Shimmer 13)
“When the Stitches Come Undone,” A.C. Wise (Children of Lovecraft)
“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers,” Alyssa Wong (Tor.com 03/16)
“An Ocean the Color of Bruises,” Isabel Yap (Uncanny #11)
“Fairy Tales are for White People,” Melissa Yuan-Innes (Fireside Magazine Issue 30)
“Braid of Days and Wake of Nights,” E. Lily Yu (F&SF, Jan-Feb)


Dark Fiction Reviews: Fireside Fiction Company # 36 & 37

Turned in what will be December’s edition of my Locus review column. Squeezed in 27 stories.* (Wow, that’s three already!) I ran out of room to cover these tales below, but I also had been intending to recommend some new dark fiction for the witching season, so here you go!
Like many publications, Fireside Fiction Company celebrates the Halloween spirit with dark stories for October (Issue 37). Guest editor Daniel José Older hits home runs with all three. (Hey, live with some baseball metaphors! The Cleveland Indians** are in the World Series.)

firesideMelissa Moorer offers a creepy urban-legendesque tale with “The Get-Get Man.” The eight-year-old narrator is too young for her eloquence, but this is forgivable as her attitude is spot on and the descriptions of the titular character are both poetic and frightening.

Cassandra Khaw cuts close to the bone of dark reality in the near-future fictional world of “Speak” where editors have neural ports and the media doesn’t cover mere murders. (Although if a 19-year-old widow had been killed by a “self-propagating, self-modifying virus named Sutee” rather than “roasted alive in a crematory” by her family, it would make tech news.) Very scary future; very scary reflection on now. (BTW: Khaw’s become one of my favorite newer writers. I cover her “Hammers on Bone” for Tor.com and a story in The Dark in the Locus column.

Takes a really good piece of flash fiction to impress me, and Alyssa Wong (another new-ish favorite) impresses in the third, quite dark, October story. She does more than tug the heart strings with the encapsulated tragedy and mad science of “Rabbit Heart”—she wrenches those strands without mercy.

And as long as we are looking at Fireside Fiction Company… let’s catch up with September’s issue (#36):

In the near-future “Emergency Management Protocol,” C. C. S. Ryan imaginatively combines a relationship, how we can be isolated even though/because we are well networked, AIs, and a rescue attempt facilitated in part by a technologically advanced dildo. Excellent characterization of the narrator and, all-in-all, quite enjoyable.

“Delta Child” by Malon Edwards is another piece of flash. It’s shock-fiction about a guy, child of an experiment gone wrong, turned monstrous. For something so short, it depicts the narrator and even his the briefly seen baby mama well. Still, I’d like to have seen it developed as a more-nuanced, longer tale.

Not exactly horror but certainly gonzo weird: “Homesick” by Sarah Gailey. Crab-like, fortune-telling aliens that freeze as they tell your fortune (“She’s staring back at me with those ancient iridescent bug-eyes of hers. They’re starting to frost over—her eyelashes are limned with white and it’s spreading. She’s grinning at me.”)… Humanity at home on an alien planet… Earth abandoned… One desperate woman. This story by Gailey is awesomely weird. It twists the whole “alien invasion” trope inside out AND then tips it on its head.Cool stuff.



  • The Dark (10/16 & 11/16)
  • Tor.com (9/11/16 & 10/11/16)
  • Uncanny #12 (9-10/16)
  • Black Static #54 (9-10/16)
  • Nightmare #48 (9/16)
  • Nightmare #49 (10/16)
  • And stories from:
  • Shimmer #33 9/16
  • Apex Magazine #89 (10/16)
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies #209 (10/16)
  • Strange Horizons (10/3/16)

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**Go Tribe! The kids are all right! This team! Wow!

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