January Fifteenth, My Forthcoming Novella, Front Cover

I’m still really excited about my upcoming novella, January Fifteenth. It’s coming out from Tor.com in just a few months.

I really like the cover:

book cover of a person walking down an alley with an umbrella and the following text: January Fifteenth, “Money Changes everything–except people.” Rachel Swirsky, “One of the best speculative writers of the last decade.” –John Scalzi

I really like the cover! It reminds me of one of my favorite paintings,”Paris Street; Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebot.

image of oil painting "Paris Street; Rainy Day" by French artist Gustave Caillebotte with several people in walking the street of 1800s Paris
January Fifteenth tracks four points of view, each in a different part of the United States of America, on the day when the government disburses Universal Basic Income. There’s a young mother in upstate New York; a freelance journalist in Chicago; a wealthy college student at a resort in Colorado; and a pregnant teenager who is part of an FLDS cult in Utah. None of them quite look like this gentleman in the rain, but he could be part of their world, a page or two away.

Issue 43 of Uncanny Magazine

Picture of rose in hand with text: White Rose, Red Rose "They say the dead see the world as a nightmare. Love and shock and pain are one merged, hungry thing." a short story by Rachel Swirsky, Uncanny Magazine

How cool is it to be back in Uncanny Magazine for the second time this year?

Earlier this year, they published my (very) short story, “Thirteen of the Secrets in My Purse.” (I’ve been thrilled to see that folks are enjoying it. I think it’s a good year to read something funny and a little exciting.)

My newest short story, “White Rose, Red Rose,” is a shivery–perhaps even uncanny?–fantasy about a seamstress in a war-torn city.

That morning, there was a white rose on my windowsill, and my heart cracked.

I took it inside. I knew well the only things that mattered were that it was a rose and it was white, but I examined it anyway. It had been in full flower recently, but was quickly withering. Several petals were gone; another came off in my hand. The petals wore traces of dirt that browned them, and I wondered if that had been purposeful. A missive of death: white for the bone, earth for the grave. I was probably thinking overmuch.

I plucked the petals into a bowl and washed them, then put them to boil to make a sweet tea. As far as we knew, the armsmen didn’t know our resistance codes, but I didn’t like to leave evidence.

How? I wondered, and chastised myself for wondering. There couldn’t be another message until tomorrow; our communication process came in slow trickles, frustrating but necessary, according to the resistance leaders. I wondered anyway. Throughout the day, as I patched uniforms for the occupying armsmen, and baked bread to bring my neighbor with the broken leg, and scrubbed every floorboard in the house, I wondered: how?

Quick? Painful? Bloody? Horrible? Unlucky? Slow?

How had my brother died?

Uncanny Magazine Issue 43 CoverThe full story will be freely available online on December seventh (I’ll post a link!), but Issue 43 is already available for purchase now.

The first part of the issue is already online. There are some great writers for you to peruse now:

That Story Isn’t the Story” by John Wiswell

For Want of Milk” by Grace P. Fong

The Stop After the Last Station” by A. T. Greenblatt

I hope you enjoy the issue, and I look forward to being able to share my story online, too!

Rachel Swirsky 2019 Award Eligibility Post

Check out my three new short stories from this year!

 

Oh! Abigail! Oh. It’s good—it’s so good to see you.

Mom. Hi.

I feel like I could reach out and touch your face. Your face! It’s so good to see your face.” 

In “Your Face”, a mother visits an artificial simulation of her dead daughter, trying to figure out how much of her is real. It was published in Clarkesworld Magazine in August, and is available in both audio and text format. 

 

You are floating. No, not floating—numb. No, not numb—nothing.

You are nothing? No. Wait.

 

You don’t know who you are, or what’s going on, but you know for sure you don’t want to be talking to the man onscreen who says he’s your father.  I wrote Compassionate Simulation” with my friend P.H. Lee. It was published in Uncanny Magazine’s July/August issue. (CN: abuse)

 

“The problem with my dachshund is that he pees.

Constantly. Unrelentingly. On rugs and furniture and laps.

He looks up at you with those large, dark eyes, and attempts to communicate innocence. I know better. He’s a malicious bladder loosener. He knows that he’s a tiny dog in an enormous, chaotic world.”

Global warming has taken its toll on Appalachia: a depressed economy, outbreaks of tropical fevers, and worse. Returning to her declining hometown, a college dropout has only one friend left–her dachshund. Who pees. A lot. “The Problem With My Dachshund” was published in the December 2019 issue of Guernica.

Patreon Content for May & June 2019!

Patreon content went up this week! There’s a poem for all patrons: ” Silver Tree Day” which I wrote about the street where my grandparents lived. For $2 patrons, there’s an excerpt from an unfinished story about first business in space exploration titled “The First Spaceship I Ever Flew.” And for $5 and up patrons, there’s a reprint of my story for Chicks Unravel Time, a collection of essays about Dr. Who from a feminist perspective, “Guten Tag, Hitler.”

Last month, I posted a story for all patrons “The Station at the Corner of Enning and Pine” I was 16 in 1998, and the political details of this era are in my skin.  For $2 patrons, there’s a rough story, The Noodle Effect, that I started with a three word prompt and a commitment to keep writing no matter how weird it went. And for $5 and up patrons, there’s a first to last draft evolution of  “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”.

As always, thank you to all my patrons! You help make my writing possible and keep my head in one piece!

Patreon Content for April!

Patreon content went up this week! There’s a poem for all patrons: “To the Person Leaving,” which I wrote for my grandmother’s funeral. For $2 patrons, there’s a chapter from an unfinished novel “Haloes of Limelight.” And for $5 and up patrons, there’s a reprint of my story with Trace Yulie, “Seven Months Out and Two to Go.”

As always, thank you to all my patrons! You help make my writing possible and keep my head in one piece!

Patreon content for January 2018

Patreon content for January has just been posted!

$1 and above patrons can read a piece from my recent found poetry kick based on google searches for emotions–in this case, “anxiety.”

$2 and above patrons get to see a sneak peek of a work in progress. This month’s came from a writing game I’m playing where we get various prompts to write a piece of flash fiction every week. This is from the prompt “describe an act of what looks like kindness, but is actually cruelty.”

And for $5 and above patrons, I reprinted my essay “Why We Tell the Story: The Political Nature of Narrative.” The essay first appeared in Timmi Duchamp’s collection Narrative Power, published by Aqueduct Press.

Thank you to all my supporters on Patreon! Your support makes a big difference in my life!

My novel is going well! Yay! Here are some excerpts.

I’m really excited about how well my novel project is going. I’m close to a third done which is a big marker for me. I though tit might be fun to post a couple excerpts from the first two chapters (they each have a different point of view character). I’ve put some up excerpts on my Patreon before (where you can get a new story or poem from me each month for as little as $1, plug over, thank you.) These are new excerpts.

Chapter One

Smog hovers over the mountains ringing the valley, grey underbelly lit orange by the last rays of sunrise. In winter, Marie’s garden is filled with pale color, splashed with infrequent dapples of red from dogwood and witch hazel. The woodchip path threads from the back porch through the flowerbeds, pausing to circle the wide-crowned whitebud tree. Droopy-headed snow drops and star-shaped glories of the snow drowse along the path, clustered close to the ground. Crocuses, violas, and camellias grow in higher beds, pastel blues and violets shimmering like chiffon.

 

Breeze shivers through the whitebud’s branches, tumbling a snowfall of tiny, bell-like white blossoms. It stirs the evergreen hedges encircling the garden, casting shifting shadows across green, white and brown. Lavender hellebore scales the leafy walls, its contrasting color creating the illusion of depth, as if the hedges could continue forever. Marie’s roses remain a few months from blooming. Their branches scratch bare and thorny against the dawn.

Chapter Two

More kids arrived, and everything was glowy and strobey, and a bunch of people had put music on their phones and all the different genres rattled and clashed against each other, and some people asked if she wanted to buy something, which she did, but she didn’t have money. She set up singing near the front where there was better music, and some people stopped and told her she sounded like Beyonce, and a couple of guys told her she was a cunt, and someone else told them to fuck off.

 

So much spark. So much sizzle. Dancing wasn’t enough to get the lightning out of her fingers and her elbows and her toes. Her skull was full of electric fists that kept punching and punching and if she couldn’t break loose then they were going to hammer shards straight through her scalp and she needed to move, to move, to move.

 

Some guy danced with her and grabbed her tit, and she elbowed him in the ribs, but when another guy came up behind her later, she let him kiss her for a while until she got bored. There were other girls dancing and she watched them, the slither and sleek of their legs beneath their cut-offs, the chocolate dart of their eyes beneath jagged liner. She slipped between them and their bodies were close and press, and she licked the taller one’s neck, and her skin was salt and sweat, and Jamie was singing again, and someone’s hand was soft on the small of her back. There was so much smoke everywhere like haze, and people’s colored lights beaming through it and making everyone look pink and blue and weird and wonderful.

 

Friday read! “Cup and Table” by Tim Pratt

Cup and Table” is my favorite of Tim Pratt’s stories–and it has a lot of competition. To explain how much competition, let me tell an anecdote about the audio magazine I used to edit, PodCastle.

I was no longer on staff when this happened, but at one point, the editors I who took over after I left received a letter. That letter complained of how many stories about lesbians were in the magazine, arguing that PodCastle should just be called LesbianCastle. One of the editors deviously ran the numbers and found that, proportionally, they did not actually run that many stories about lesbians. However, they did run a surprisingly high percentage of Tim Pratt stories. A percentage that, in fact, exceeded the percentage of stories about lesbians. He suggested that they call themselves PrattCastle instead.

By the time those events occurred, I was gone and many other stories by Tim Pratt had been bought by successive editors. But I did publish my share, including an audio version of this one.

I greatly admire Tim Pratt and his ability to write swift, smart prose that flows fast through action that seems unpredictable, and yet is often perfectly crafted. “Cup and Table” is emblematic of how smart his fiction can be. I also recommend his collection Hart & Boot.

Cup and Table:

Tim-Pratt-Cup-and-table_lg_Dara_Lightspeed“Sigmund stepped over the New Doctor, dropping a subway token onto her devastated body. He stepped around the spreading shadow of his best friend, Carlsbad, who had died as he’d lived: inconclusively, and without fanfare. He stepped over the brutalized remains of Ray, up the steps, and kept his eyes focused on the shrine inside. This room in the temple at the top of the mountain at the top of the world was large and cold, and peer as he might back through the layers of time—visible to Sigmund as layers of gauze, translucent as sautéed onions, decade after decade peeling away under his gaze—he could not see a time when this room had not existed on this spot, bare but potent, as if only recently vacated by the God who’d created and abandoned the world.

Sigmund approached the shrine, and there it was. The cup. The prize and goal and purpose of a hundred generations of the Table. The other members of the Table were dead, the whole world was dead, except for Sigmund.

He did not reach for the cup. Instead, he walked to the arched window and looked out. Peering back in time he saw mountains and clouds and the passing of goats. But in the present he saw only fire, twisting and writhing, consuming rock as easily as trees, with a few mountain peaks rising as-yet-untouched from the flames. Sigmund had not loved the world much—he’d enjoyed the music of Bach, violent movies, and vast quantities of cocaine—and by and large he could have taken or left civilization. Still, knowing the world was consumed in fire made him profoundly sad.

Sigmund returned to the shrine and seized the cup—heavy, stone, more blunt object than drinking vessel—and prepared to sip.”

Illustration by Galen Dara at Lightpseed Magazine. Read here.

What Lies at the Edge of a Petal Is Love

What Lies at the Edge of a Petal Is Love” began with a dream. For a while, I was writing dream stories, such as this one and “How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth.” It hasn’t happened lately. Maybe my sleep habits have changed. The stories just seemed full-formed–but odd. Vanilla scent was vivid in the dream, for some reason.

What Lies at the Edge of a Petal is Love

Lynch Albert Young Woman Holding Flower“After the wedding, Ruth moved into the Victorian mansion on Jack’s vast, rural estate. She brought only two bags. One was full of clothes. The other she unpacked like a devotee arranging an altar: an assortment of vanilla-scented lotions, deodorants, soaps, moisturizers, scrubs and splashes.

Every morning, Jack watched Ruth stand by the pedestal sink in her white silk robe: rubbing, dabbing, spraying, powdering, and anointing. When she emerged, he took her hand and inhaled her from soft wrist to slender shoulders.

Jack had met Ruth only two months earlier, during his obligatory annual visit to his relatives in the city. Ruth was also visiting the city, on doctor’s orders; she suffered from a pair of charmingly old-fashioned diseases, malaise and neurasthenia. Her physician believed they might be cured by exposure to the warm southern climate, so Ruth’s mother, an old family friend, had arranged for an extended stay with Jack’s aunts.

Both Ruth and Jack felt out of place in high society, never sure which fork to use and whether or not it was polite to dab one’s face with a napkin between courses. “Being a person is so much work,” Ruth confided. Jack was forced to agree. He fell in love with her slender paleness like the stalk of an exotic plant; with the way drops of water lingered in her hair after she swam in the lake, like dew; and, of course, with her exquisite vanilla scent.”

It was an honor to appear in the first issue of The Dark and to be listed on Locus recommended reading list, 2013. The title nods to William Carlos William’s 1923 “Spring and All:” It is at the edge of the / petal that love waits.

Read here.