Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

Uncanny Magazine, Pockets, and Heat of Us Are All World Fantasy Award Finalists!


This is such an amazing and unexpected honor. A huge thanks to all of the World Fantasy Convention members and the World Fantasy Award jury for nominating Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, for Uncanny, in the Special Award, Nonprofessional category, and both Amal El-Mohtar’s “Pockets” and Sam J. Miller’s “Heat of Us: Notes Toward an Oral History” in the Short Fiction category. (Both stories are available for free on the website and in our podcast.)

We had many hopes for our first year of Uncanny Magazine, but even in our wildest dreams we didn’t foresee this much award attention.  Stories, covers, the podcast, and the magazine itself have been named as finalists for the Hugo, the Locus, the World Fantasy, the Chesley, the Spectrum, the Parsec, the Theodore Sturgeon, and many other awards. Thank you, you phenomenal Space Unicorn Ranger Corps for making Uncanny Magazine possible, and giving us the means to share these special pieces with all of you.  This is the best community of staff, contributors, and readers possible.

If it is possible to be both proud and completely floored, you’re looking at it.

Shine on, Space Unicorns!

Uncanny Magazine Issue 11 Cover and Table of Contents!


All of the content will be available in the eBook version on the day of release.

The free online content will be released in 2 stages- half on day of release and half on August 2.

Don’t forget eBook Subscriptions to Uncanny Magazine are available from Weightless Books and Amazon Kindle, and you can support us on our Patreon!


Uncanny Magazine Issue 11 Table of Contents

“Those Who Came First” by Antonio Caparo

“The Uncanny Valley” by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas (7/5)

“A Hundred and Seventy Storms” by Aliette de Bodard (7/5)
“El Cantar of Rising Sun” by Sabrina Vourvoulias (7/5)
“The Words on My Skin” by Caroline M. Yoachim (7/5)
“Snow Day” by Catherynne M. Valente (8/2)
“An Ocean the Color of Bruises” by Isabel Yap (8/2)

Reprint Fiction
“Travels with the Snow Queen” by Kelly Link (7/5)

“We Were All Trini: Searching for Asian American Mirrors in SF/F” by Sarah Kuhn (7/5)
“So You Want to Start a Podcast” by Erika Ensign and Steven Schapansky (7/5)
“The Death of Very Special Diversity Comics” by Sigrid Ellis (8/2)
“Myth Has Momentum, or: How I Accidentally Deified a Jar of Jelly” by Kelly McCullough (8/2)

“Good Neighbors” by Jessica P. Wick (7/5)
“Phaya Nak Goes to the West” by Bryan Thao Worra (8/2)
“The Persecution of Witches” by Ali Trotta (8/2)

Sarah Kuhn interviewed by Deborah Stanish (7/5)
Sabrina Vourvoulias interviewed by Deborah Stanish (7/5)

Podcast 11A (7/5)
“A Hundred and Seventy Storms” by Aliette de Bodard, as read by Erika Ensign
“Good Neighbors” by Jessica P. Wick, as read by Amal El-Mohtar
An interview conducted by Deborah Stanish

Podcast 11B (8/2)
“An Ocean the Color of Bruises” by Isabel Yap, as read by Amal El-Mohtar
“The Persecution of Witches” by Ali Trotta, as read by Erika Ensign
An interview conducted by Deborah Stanish

Do What Donna Says! by Tansy Rayner Roberts

(Editors’ Note: This guest post was written by Tansy Rayner Roberts for our Kickstarter Backer Alison Moore. Thanks, Alison!)

I’ve been listening to the brand new audio adventures of the Tenth Doctor and Donna from Big Finish Productions, and thinking a lot about why Donna is still one of my all time favourite Doctor Who companions.

A lot of those thoughts spiral around to the effect that she has on the Doctor, and while the feminist in me wants to protest that, I think it’s also something that should never be discounted – he is the protagonist of the show, and she is one of the endlessly changing supporting characters. She should have a profound effect on him, as it’s one of the main aspects that makes a “companion” distinct from all the others.

Let’s leave aside all the elements that most Donna fans cite first: her sense of humour, her lack of romantic attraction to the Doctor, her practical skills, how unbelievably revolutionary it felt in 2008 to have an actress in the role who was over thirty. All of these things are true and good.

But I think one of the most important aspects to Donna was how she demanded (and received) equality in her partnership with the Doctor. They worked together seamlessly as a team, their friendship was epic and enjoyable, and whenever there was a hint that the Doctor might not be showing her enough respect, she called him on his bullshit.

The scripts for these audio adventures (I can’t tell you how highly I recommend them) are clever and funny, and in many cases far superior to what David Tennant and Catherine Tate had to work with in 2008. This is a Donna who doesn’t have to prove herself, and a Doctor who trusts her completely.

Getting the companion-Doctor relationship balance right is one of the trickiest things that the show (in whichever format it comes) has to manage. Often, it comes down to the companion having strengths that the Doctor lacks, such as social skills, emotional maturity, a respect for humanity, and a perspective that belongs to a creature with a shorter lifespan. Other times, the companion comes with qualities that the Doctor himself values as his own, allowing them to talk as peers: Zoe Heriot, Liz Shaw, Romana, and Martha Jones had an education level that the Doctor valued and respected to the point of becoming competitive/jealous about their skills, and this often meant that his life experience/universe smarts were played up to contrast with their book learning.

But the companion can’t just be a collection of traits that the Doctor didn’t add to his character sheet that morning – she or he has to be someone that the Doctor will listen to, and despite her lack of education and wider life experience, Donna Noble never failed to make the Doctor listen to what she had to say.

In Technophobia by Matt Fitton, London has been affected by aliens who are draining humanity of their trust and understanding of machinery, which begins as mild superstition/dislike and turns into full-blown ignorance. Eventually, even the Doctor and Donna are affected… but because she relies less on computers and devices in real life, it bothers her less, while the Doctor is living through his ultimate nightmare. As he wavers, Donna’s leadership skills come into play, and his trust for her is such that he is able to let her make the plans around what resources they have left.

It’s a great story for them both, because we see how their friendship supports the Doctor even when he has lost pretty much everything else that is important to his identity – and even without their usual tools, they are still talking, talking, talking, back and forth.

(Did I mention how well this particular combination of characters works on audio? It’s great because Donna narrating action just sounds like Donna used to all the time anyway. THERE’S A BIG TRAIN, DOCTOR, WOW THIS ENGINEER IS KIND OF HOT, DOCTOR)

In Time Reaver, by Jenny T Colgan, the Doctor shows Donna one of his favourite places – an interstellar transport hub, and she picks instantly that he loves this place so much not (just) because it’s full of buccaneers and anti-establishment types, but because he gets to smugly compare so many different types of transport to his own TARDIS and always come out a winner. She not only points this out to him, she makes him admit it.

The Tenth Doctor, who was at times callous, ignorant, randomly cruel and vicious (but distracted us from his many problematic qualities by sheer force of being played by the adorable David Tennant) is at his best when Donna is at his side. He’s at his most likeable because he places so much value, respect, and trust in a woman who is perfectly ordinary in many ways. He listens to her, does not demean or dismiss her concerns, and laughs at himself when she pokes fun at him.

That thing where she makes him laugh at himself? It’s my favourite of many things that Donna does. She doesn’t humanise him – he’s often at his most alien around her, and she doesn’t mind that (cough unlike Rose and Martha, not that we’re comparing or anything) but she will mock him so thoroughly and so cleverly that he ends up mocking himself just to entertain her.

They use humour so thoroughly to communicate, and yet Donna can turn serious as sharply and dramatically as the Doctor can, in an emergency situation. Turns out that of all the potential qualities of a companion that we might list endlessly for hours, ‘good in a crisis’ should be right at the top.

He often lets her make the plans and/or decisions, not because she is more human than him, but because her plans are often great, and letting her make them allows him to be thinking the next step ahead – he trusts her to do her part, which is so empowering to see and so much nicer than the Doctor chiding everyone for being more stupid than he is.

I’m reminded of Agent Carter, and how the best moments of both seasons of the show are when we see men in positions of power recognising her experience and knowledge and allowing her to make the call. In Season 1, Peggy has to remind Dum Dum Dugan that Captain America trusted her –  when he asks plaintively what Cap would say about his best girl being in danger, she replies that he would say, “Do as Peggy says.”

Season 2 features the wonderful coda to that scene, in which Chiefs Thompson and Souza, who never agree on anything, shout the magical words, “Do as Peggy says,” under extreme pressure. They are both her bosses, and have both logged many hours ignoring, belittling, or over-protecting her, but in a crisis they know she has the edge over both of them in thinking fast and coming up with the best solution.

Revisiting Donna and the Doctor and their epic friendship all over again, I am reminded of that because it feels so satisfying to hear the Doctor trusting and believing in Donna to make the right call when he can’t.

The greatest weakness for me of Donna’s character was the very forced idea (expressed in a few lines of TV dialogue here and there) that she planned to travel in the TARDIS with the Doctor forever. It seemed so unlikely that a woman with such a strong sense of self would think in absolutes that way – and it set her up for one of the worst companion exits of all time.

Donna having such gleeful adventures – never mind Planet of the Hats, she wants Planet of the Boys, come on, find it for her – and thoroughly enjoying herself is, as it turns out, one of my favourite forms of entertainment. Here’s hoping that Big Finish allows the Doctor and Donna to travel together if not forever, then for many years to come.

Uncanny Cabin II: The Reckoning. A Review by Anne M. Gibson

In 2015, Uncanny Magazine ran a Kickstarter to fund their second year of publication. I’d supported them in 2014 and attended their writing retreat, Uncanny Cabin. So when I saw the same reward posted in 2015, I was all over that like a beagle at a buffet table.
I’m sorry, it was too awesome the first time for me to pass it up.
It was a wise choice.
The cabin is set in the woods of the Poconos in northern Pennsylvania. The spring sun filled our writing space on all three days. The furniture is comfortable. The food is fantastic. The sleeping arrangements are quite nice, when the Cabin’s fictional-malevolent-spirit isn’t locking one in one’s room.
And the people, well, let’s face it: we go to writing workshops as much for the people as we do the knowledge. It’s the people that make the knowledge useful, timely, and effective. And these people? They know their stuff. They represent decades of accumulated experience in the Speculative Fiction genre, from marketing to publishing to editorial. There was no topic I could ask about that they couldn’t answer. There was no insecurity or worry that I had that they could not address. And we had fun. Lynne, Deb, Mike, Ally, Fran, and Sarah filled my head with career and writing tips, tricks, and skills, while simultaneously making me laugh and helping me overcome my own insecurities.
Not much more one can ask, really. Except maybe for a ghost story. So we wrote one, live, on Twitter, in the form of an Agatha Christie retelling performed by stale peeps and a murdercabin . This marks the second year in a row where we planned to roast marshmallows over a campfire only to have the Cabin thwart our plans. One of the risks one takes when hanging out with an extremely talented and hard-working batch of writers, editors, and interviewers is that things get picked up and run with like the aforementioned buffet beagle.
I want Uncanny Magazine to succeed beyond Lynne and Michael Thomas’s wildest financial and professional expectations. I want this magazine, with its impeccable taste in stories, amazing podcast, and strong industry voice, to become as popular as Asimov’s or Amazing Stories. And at the same time, I really really want the Kickstarter to keep running so that I can jump on that buffet table of camaraderie, education, and illumination year after year.
(I’d be satisfied with their unmitigated success in all things they touch and an occasional invitation as an alumnus.)
Next year, Cabin, we’ll get our s’mores, and I’ll be here again unless someone beats me to the table.

Liz Argall’s Things React to Two Uncanny Stories!

As you may remember, one of the stretch goals for the Uncanny Magazine Year Two Kickstarter was a new webcomic feature. Each issue, the multi-talented Liz Argall will have a special Uncanny edition of her webcomic Things Without Arms and Without Legs where they react to a piece in the current issue of Uncanny Magazine.

This month, they’re reacting to TWO Uncanny Magazine stories! The first person who names the two stories correctly in the comments will receive a set of 6 Uncanny Magazine Cover Postcards!


The Literary Foremothers of Roses and Rot

(Guest Post by Kat Howard)

What I write doesn’t ever emerge from a vacuum. I write because I want to say something, because I want to continue a conversation, because something has made me think or feel, and art is the best way I know to communicate those things. Sometimes the influences are more specific – more easily known and identified – than others. In this case, I can definitely call to mind the books, and the writing, that became Roses and Rot – and yes, I recommend everything listed.

Roses and Rot is my debut novel. It’s a riff on the “Tam Lin” ballad (I’ve changed enough that I don’t quite see it as a retelling, though you may certainly call it that) with a pair of sisters at the heart of the story. Set at a modern-day artists’ colony, it’s about art and sacrifice and love, about what a person might be willing to do, to get the thing they most want.

The first place Roses and Rot started, though I didn’t know it at the time – I was in high school, and thinking seriously about writing wasn’t something I did until I was almost done with my PhD – was with Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin. Dean’s book was the first place I met the ballad of “Tam Lin.” Perhaps more importantly, it was the first place that really made me see what a retelling could do. I was familiar with retold fairy tales, had devoured every anthology edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow I could get my hands on, but it wasn’t until Dean’s book that I saw a fairy tale as something completely shifted, made novel-length, made almost entirely new. There are others I’ve read, now, but that book – it’s one of the books that not only made Roses and Rot what it is, but made me what I am.

Another book that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to is Nova Ren Suma’s Imaginary Girls. I read it much closer in time to starting Roses and Rot, and Suma’s book really gave me the idea that I could tell a story that had sisters at the center. I could explore that complex and complicated relationship, and write something strange and magical about it.

I read Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings right before I began my first draft, and it gave me the setting I wanted – someplace that was inside the real world, but outside of it as well. In her book, it’s a camp for the arts; in mine, an artists’ colony.

I read Siri Hustvedt’s The Blazing World right before my last revision, and it gave me fury, and passion, and the desire to talk about not only what it meant to make art, but what it meant to make art as a woman.

I read so much poetry – Denise Levertov and Anne Carson and Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath and Anna Akhmatova and H.D. and Rebecca Lindenberg. I read biographies of women artists – I want to specifically mention Elizabeth Winder’s Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953, because it was the story of Sylvia before she became Sylvia Plath, when she was still learning who she was and how to be herself, a state that I very much wanted to capture for the women in my book.

And while I didn’t read any new ones while I was writing Roses and Rot, this book became the book that it is because I steeped myself in fairy tales of all sorts, as a child and as an adult. I have always been – will always be – interested in what leads to ever after.

(Editors’ note: Kat Howard’s Roses and Rot will be released on May 17th from Saga Press.)



Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in Year’s Best and “best–of” collections, and performed on NPR. Her debut novel, Roses and Rot, will be out in May from Saga Press. You can find her on twitter at@KatWithSword.

Tran Nguyen’s Uncanny Magazine Cover Wins A Spectrum 23 Award!

Wonderful news, Space Unicorns! Tran Nguyen’s stunning Uncanny Magazine Issue 4 cover, “Traveling to a Distant Day,” WON A GOLD AWARD IN THE SPECTRUM 23 EDITORIAL CATEGORY!

We are so happy for Tran. It’s a phenomenal cover, and we are giddy that it now has a super fancy award.

Don’t forget, Year One Kickstarter Space Unicorn Ranger Corps, this is partially because of you. We were able to commission and pay for this cover because the Uncanny Year One Kickstarter reached the stretch goal of an original Tran Nguyen cover. This is exactly the sort of art that exists due to your awesome generosity.

Cover_Issue_Four_med (1)

Folding Beijing Is a Locus Award Finalist!

Excellent news, Space Unicorns! Hao Jingfang’s “Folding Beijing” (translated by Ken Liu) IS A FINALIST FOR THE BEST NOVELETTE LOCUS AWARD! We wish more huge congratulations to Jingfang and Ken! The accolades keep coming for this amazing story. Hugo Award FinalistChinese Xingyun (Nebula) Awards nomination! Sturgeon Award Finalist! Two Year’s Best science fiction anthologies!

Congratulations to all of the finalists, many of whom have been Uncanny writers and artists in the past.


The Uncanny Magazine 2016 Weightless Books Subscription Drive!

Uncanny Magazine is once again recruiting for its Space Unicorn Ranger Corps! Now, you can become a member of the Corps by subscribing at Weightless Books!

This is the perfect time to join because 2016 Hugo Award finalist Uncanny is going on sale! From May 3-17, a year’s subscription to Uncanny Magazine is $2 less than the typical current cover price (only $21.88)! It’s the least expensive way to subscribe we offer.

Each bimonthly issue of Uncanny contains new and classic speculative fiction, poetry, essays, art, and interviews.  We seek out and share pieces we can’t stop thinking and talking about, because of how they make us feel. We’re also deeply committed to finding and showcasing fantastic works by writers from every possible point of view and background.

We debuted Issue One of Uncanny in November 2014 and we’ve been thrilled with Years One and Two. We’ve included original contributions from phenomenal authors such as Neil GaimanMaria Dahvana HeadleyMax GladstoneKen LiuChristopher BarzakSam J. MillerSofia Samatar, Catherynne M. Valente, Alyssa Wong, Elizabeth Bear, John Chu, Kameron Hurley, Charlie Jane Anders, Ursula Vernon, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Chris Kluwe, Hao Jingfang, Mary Robinette Kowal, Seanan McGuire, Mark Oshiro, Rachel Swirsky, E. Lily Yu, and Amal El-Mohtar, plus many newer voices. We can’t wait for you to read what’s coming next.

New or renewing subscribers to Uncanny Magazine from May 3-17, 2016 will be eligible for giveaways and a whole bunch of Uncanny swag!

  • First 50 subscribers: Your choice of a back issue, and an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full-Color Vinyl Sticker and a cover art postcard! Plus, we’ll randomly draw 2 winners for Uncanny mini-swag packs: a Space Unicorn Ranger Corps patch and a set of cover art postcards!
  • At 100 new/renewing subscribers, every new subscriber will receive an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, and an ebook of your choice of 2 back issues. Plus, we’ll draw for a spiffy prize pack of a Space Unicorn Ranger Corps patch, a set of 3 signed cover-art posters, and an official Uncanny Magazine tshirt!
  • At 150 new/renewing subscribers, all new/renewing subscribers will receive: an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, ebooks of your choice of 3 back issues, and we’ll draw 4 winners for their choice of signed books by: Alex Gordon, Ann Leckie, or Kameron Hurley, or custom-blended Uncanny Magazine tea based on specific Uncanny Magazine stories, plus a Space Unicorn Ranger Corps patch for each winner!
  • At 200 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll draw for a mega-swag pack that includes an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, postcards, a patch, signed cover art, custom-blended Uncanny Magazine tea based on specific Uncanny Magazine stories, an Uncanny Magazine tshirt and a tote bag!
  • At 300 new/renewing subscribers, we’ll draw for a SECOND mega-swag pack that includes an EXCLUSIVE Weightless Books Uncanny Space Unicorn Full Color Vinyl Sticker, postcards, a patch, signed cover art, custom-blended Uncanny Magazine tea based on specific Uncanny Magazine stories, an Uncanny Magazine tshirt and a tote bag! And we will add a Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6” 16GB (Wi-Fi) tablet to that swag bag!

There may also be random prize drawings throughout the subscription drive. You never know with the Space Unicorns…