Launch Day – The PseudoPod Tapes 2 – Approach with Caution

If you are not already familiar with Escape Artists horror podcast you should check it out. The whole Escape Artists podcast family is professionally put together and brings great stories and fabulous narration right to your ears!

For the horror podcast, Alasdair Stuart is the host and this is the second volume of his outro essays, in this case covering 2013.

Alasdair is a gem of genre journalism, as anyone who reads his newsletter The Full Lid, or our own, Not the Fox News will be familiar. He is a veritable geekpedia of knowledge, mixed with a rare openness that makes his writing extremely personal.

We are delighted to welcome the tentacled horrors of PseudoPod and their host back to Fox Spirit.

Ebook is available now from our own store and will be appearing on amazon worldwide as we speak, the print edition will be available from Monday. 

 

I Saw E Store!

I have an old rhyme in my head lately, so forgive the title. Still, did you know we have our own ebook store now? Sporting almost all of our titles? 

There are some exceptions.
Our HEMA titles under the Vulpes line; the Giganti, Alfieri and Docciolini do not lend themselves to e-versions.
Our poetry titles, Multiverse by Jan Siegel, And the Fox Crows by V.C. Linde and The Velocity of Constant by Hardeep Sangha, likewise make such a feature of the formatting we decided to offer them in paperback only.

Of course the FS Books of Monsters, touring the world continent by continent to explore the darkest lurking terrors, are designed as coffee table books and will only be released as paperbacks. 

Beyond that we have a few titles left to get caught up with:
Respectable Horror, Starfang vols 2&3, the last five fox pockets, and You Left Your Biscuit Behind, will all be joining the site soon, along with our new releases. 

Check it out, there isn’t a single book over £3.99, we will be doing some value bundles for £9 coming online in due course and if you Join the Skulk at the bottom of this site you can claim 10% of every basket. 

And if that isn’t enough! Our Buy Stuff page has links to other amazing small presses, art and merchandise by some of the artists we have worked with, quick links to find our books on Amazon and more. 

The best thing about our own estore, is even more of the money you spend goes to the authors you love!

On Representation by Danie Ware

Representation of LGBT characters is changing – and high time. From films like ‘Priest’ and ‘Brokeback Mountain’ which focused on the agony and tragedy of a same-sex relationship, and in a community or society where such a thing was deemed shocking, we’re seeing better and fairer representation of LGBT characters on our screens – Killjoys, for example, or Wynnona Earp, or Legends of Tomorrow

And we’re seeing those changes in fiction, too – that LGBT relationships should just be a part of the overall narrative. There needs to be wider representation, and storylines that treat LGBT characters exactly the same as they treat straight ones – with a whole raft of troubles and plotlines and daemons that have absolutely nothing to do with their sexuality. We should have LGBT stories that are not based in tragedy or denial, stories where ‘being gay’ is not an illustration of being troubled or alone, stories where gay relationships can develop with all the normal hiccups that plague us all, gay, bi, straight, or anything else. When I wrote Children of Artifice, this was something that I really wanted to get right.

I’ve chosen five of my more recent SFF reads, each featuring an LGBT character or relationship, and taken a look at how things are changing – and for the better!

Paul Cornell – London Falling (Shadow Police)

All credit to Paul Cornell, the sheer amount of research that goes into his work is astonishing, and, as this book picks up pace and information, we see the narrative unfold through the eyes of each of the central characters. It’s very cleverly done, and allows a thoroughly detailed, police-procedure plot to take shape with wonderful effect.

As one might expect, Paul’s thread of inclusivity carries on through all three books in the series. Unlike the Morgan, the gay relationship/character is not the focus of the story, rather the sub-plot as Sefton, one of the PoV characters becomes involved with a new boyfriend. And while he has his daemons to battle, the remarkable thing about it is… that it’s so unremarkable. As the relation progresses and they move in together, they ‘re just two people, becoming involved, surrounded by the craziness of the main storylines, and falling in love as they should.

More narratives like this one, please.

Natasha Pulley – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

If there was a book that I wanted ‘Artifice’ to emulate, then this is the one.

Entwined, subtle, beautifully written and very character driven, it follows a crescendo of events that tear Thaniel, the central character, between multiple loyalties. It’s a delightfully cunning tale – but even with that in mind, its core relationship took me completely by surprise.

And the set-up is just too clever – the sub-plot of Thaniel’s involvement with Grace seems writ large from the beginning. So, the beautiful moment where Thaniel actually reaches out to Mori is so completely unexpected, and has a wit and gentleness to it that just aches with sincerity and insight.

Plus – who doesn’t need a clockwork octopus?

Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

Violence, politics, sarcasm and deliciously biting courtroom wit – if you like the vicious and genteel savagery of the upper classes, then this is a title not to be mised. It’s also available on audiobook with a full-cast ensemble, and it’s pretty spectacular. And Swordspoint illustrates the case as flawlessly as one might expect.

The title features a gay lead character, Richard St. Vier, and his lover Alec – indeed almost all of the supporting cast seem to be bisexual – but any hint of romance is only ever implied, a part of the colour and richness of the background, and that’s all. They story focuses on the duelling of blade and wit and intrigue, and does so with a polish (and a sarcastic humour) that’s truly glorious.

Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel

 A Clarke winner, and deservedly so.

A book about the magic of little things, how tiny touches and moments spin into the critically important, how the smallest of objects becomes precious. A book about how things interconnect, and about how a word can carry across miles and generations.

It’s also book that also has only one straight white male – the narrative’s focus, who dies in the first chapter. And yet Arthur provides the centre of the Venn Diagram that binds the rest of the story together – most notably, Arthur’s best friend Clark, who follows a wonderful narrative arc of his own. From the processions of his youthful lovers, to the normality of having breakast, to finally being the curator of all those obsolete and magical wonders – and re-finding himself (and his youthful haircut) after years of being supressed by society’s expectations…

The important thing to note is that the suppressions were about the mundanity of his ‘normal’ life and nothing to do with his sexuality.

Aliette de Bodard – The House of Binding Thorns

In the second book in the series, following The House of Binding Thorns, Aliette takes us back taking us back to her beautiful, dystopian Paris.

Woven with plot-threads, politics and flashbacks, and threaded through with flickers of Vietnamese myth, this is a story like darkly woven lace, and as intriguing as what lies beneath the waters of the Seine…

And there are whole sequences of LGBT relationships in this book. Gay couples lead both major houses, the characters all completely entwined in the ongoing narrative. And it’s a perfect example of a book where gay relationships are just present – they’re not played for drama, or for cool points, or for shock value.

In Anticipation…

Well 2019 is well upon us and as you may have noticed our first title is out. I am very excited to release our first collection of fully furry stories, and I hope we have done justice to the genre and the community. I grew up on Wind in the Willow and Redwall so to be able to venture into furry tales for an adult audience is a great source of personal joy. 

Of course I am just as excited about the rest of the years releases for all sorts of reasons. I thought we would give you some idea of what’s coming. 

Up very shortly we have Pseudopod Tapes 2, the second volume of Alasdair Stuart’s outro essays. If you aren’t familiar with the show you should be and you can also find Alasdair here providing our Not the Fox News. 

 

Graham Wynd has a collection of deliciousness in ‘Love is a Grift’ and Jonathan Ward’s Caleuche is also due out this year.

We have a set of three collections by Anne Michaud, the sequel to Hobgoblin’s Herald, Eater of Names by Andrew Aston and Like Wheels for Wings by Ren Warom amongst other things, including the second part of our tour of American Monsters.

We have just launched our own ebook store so you can buy direct in mobi and epub. You can get links to our books on amazon, other small presses we recommend and art over on our buy links too.

On top of an exciting set of publications we have also replaced the old newsletter with two new formats. A Foxy Bulletin for those interested in writing for us, which offers a quick break down of new releases and some of the thinking that went into our choices. We also invite you to join the Skulk and be part of our foxy family, getting your paws on exclusives!

New Release! The Jackal Who Came in From The Cold

Fox Spirit’s first foray into an entirely Furry anthology is now live! 

Tales, or tails, from behind enemy lines. Stories of daring and some downright shenanigans. You can wander through wars and stumble on adventures as our brave and sneaky spies conduct their business. This collection of furry shorts brings us a broad range of spy stories and an equally ranging look at Furry literature.

 

Cover Art by Tyler Arseneau and layout by Vincent Holland-Keen

Introduction by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen
A Treacherous Thing by C. A. Yates
Survivors of the Holocene by Madison Keller
Starlight and Thorn by K. C. Shaw
The Man in the Background by Miles Reaver
Dirty Rats by Jan Siegel
The Sentinel by Will MacMillan Jones
Pay the Piper by A McLachlan
The Long Game by Neil Williamson
Agent Friendzone by Kyell Gold
Big Bird by Frances Pauli
The Off Air Affair by Huskyteer
Game of Shadows by  H. J. Pang
The Winged Fox by K. R. Green
Le Chat et la Souris by Tom Mullins

Available in print from Amazon (ignore the out of stock, it’s a quirk of Ingram and Amazon’s relationship)

Coming soon as an ebook available direct from our estore in mobi and epub, to suit most readers.

The Eligability Post

Well, with Hugo noms open, it was inevitable.

Our eligibility for 2018 titles

Novel
Starfang 2 : Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng
Starfang 3 : Will of the Clan by Joyce Chng
Children of Artifice by Danie Ware

Novella
Petra MacDonald and the Queen of the Fae by Shona Kinsella

Anthology 
American Monsters part 1

Short Fiction
Contents of American Monsters
Santiago Santos: «A Carpet Sewn With Skeletons»
Sabrina Vourvoulias: «Time’s Up, Cerotes»
Ramiro Sanchiz: «The Pearl»
Paula Andrade: «Almamula»
Mariela Pappas: «The Eyes of a Wolf»
Solange Rodriguez Pappe: «The Entangler»
Daniel Salvo: «Jaar, Jaar, Jaar»
Flavia Rizental: «My Name is Iara»
Gustavo Bondoni: «Vulnerable Populations»
Fabio Fernandes: «The Emptiness in the Heart of All Things»
Teresa Mira de Echeverria: «Lakuma»

The Judgement Call (7506 words) by Simon Bestwick
Along the Long Road (5500 words) by Penny Jones

Graphic Stories
Cesar Alcázar and Eduardo Monteiro (art): «Cerro Bravo» – American Monsters
Paula Andrade: «La Perla del Plata» – American Monsters 

Artists 
Paula Andrade, Lynda Bruce, and Kieran Walsh – American Monsters internal art
Daniele Serra – American Monsters cover
Neil Williams – Judgement Call/Along the long road cover
Tabatha Stirling – Petra MacDonald cover
Sarah Anne Langton – Children of Artifice cover
Rhiannon Rasmussen-SIlverstein – Starfang 2 & 3 covers

Editor (short form) 
Margrét Helgadóttir

A P.S. Our period columnist for Not the Fox News, Alasdair Stuart is eligible as fan writer and probably some other stuff, you should get on that. 😉

Are we the hoarders?

I have been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, and I have been watching book twitter argue up a storm, helped by inflammatory comments by a newspaper blogger.

The implication has been that Marie Kondo is telling people to get rid of their books, to only keep a few and that this is monstrous. This was not my interpretation. 

Firstly though, I have not in fact read the book, I just put the show on as soothing background. I then attacked my own clothing hoard and about halved it.  I feel better for that. I was hanging on to a lot of stuff that I never expect to slim back into, largely because being size 12 is no longer an ambition. I am 41 and more concerned with my blood pressure being acceptable than my size. I put some things that I love but that are too small for me away safely, I also got rid of some stuff that honestly if i do ever fit them again I don’t expect to want to wear. It makes me happy. 

I have no intention of going through my books. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that we don’t have a room big enough for all the books to be in at the same time.  The other is that books inherently bring me joy. I don’t bring books into the house that I find upsetting or offensive and outside of those instances books are a thing of joy to me. 

Marie Kondo keeps around 30 books in her home. She does not suggest this is the right number for you. In fact what I enjoyed about the show is at no point does she tell people they have too much of a specific thing (although some of the couples bicker about that).

There were two episodes that dealt with books in a significant way to my mind.  One was a widow who obviously needed help giving herself permission to get rid of all her husbands cowboy paperbacks. There was a huge bookcase taken over by these books that were clearly just making her feel bad and she had no interest in reading them. Marie gently ‘woke’ all the books (I understand this comes from her background with Shinto). I thought that was a lovely thing and if I ever get around to reorganising all my books I will take a few moments to wake them. Why not. She then essentially gave her client the ok to get rid of all the debris of a life she was no longer living. 

The other episode Marie visited a lovely couple where both guys were writers of various sorts. Although they didn’t have nearly enough books for my taste to begin with, they were hanging on to old text books and things they weren’t really attached to any more and they let some go. One of them actually had a much harder time letting go of every piece of paper he had ever written on. 

So all in all, I think there has been a lot of excited outrage at something that hasn’t been said and may not be what is actually intended. So what does that say about us? Why would the idea of getting rid of books be so abhorrent. Lots of people get rid of books. I have been book fairy to many a village and school event and charity shop, and my home is still over run. I am pretty sure at this point there aren’t many left I don’t want, that don’t for whatever reason spark joy. It would be a huge job to accept getting rid of three more books.

The shared horror at the KonMarie suggestion of actually addressing the books we have made me wonder, what are we pushing back against? Why does book twitter care so much about what other people do with their books.

Hans, are we Hoarders?

As someone said, this is not the firemen from 451 bursting into your home to destroy the written word, it’s an elfin Japanese lady telling you very gently, through her translator, that your books should bring you joy. To be honest, that is a message I am on board with. 

Monster Blog – by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría

SOUTHERN MONSTERS

by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría

About fifteen years ago, a group of paleontologists made a discovery (just one of many that often take place in Argentine territory) that caught my attention. It was the fossil of a mosasaur, a marine animal that lived on this planet seventy million years ago. The name that the Argentine paleontologists gave to that fossil and the place where they’d found it really impressed me.

It is common that the denomination of a dinosaur or other prehistoric animal is based on the name of the region where it was discovered or after its discoverer. However, this mosasaur, this particular species, received a different name: Lakumasaurus antarcticus.

Yes, the specimen had been discovered in the southernmost place on Earth and bore the name of a mythological animal.

I loved the idea of a dinosaur with the name of a mythical spirit belonging to the Yámana culture, the original inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego and a large number of islands that mark the end of the American continent. “The end of the world”, as Jules Verne called that region … except for Antarctica.

That animal had lived on a very different Earth. What today is composed entirely of perennial ice at that time was a tropical, fertile and warm land. A landscape gone millions of years ago that could well have been another world.

When I was still studying astrophysics (later I decided to change my career and got my PhD in philosophy), I used to spend many hours at the Museum of Natural Sciences of La Plata (which is inside the campus). And every day I used to admire the replicas of the prehistoric animals that had lived on a planet very different from mine and, even so, the same one.

When I heard the news of the discovery of Lakumasaurus antarcticus I was already studying philosophy, in Buenos Aires. I could not help but to join the memories of my hours with those ancestral and gigantic bones with the myths that I was investigating at the time for my thesis. Yámana myths among many others. And the myth of Lakuma, the Spirit of the Waters, especially.

I felt that many things in my life were being reconnected by de magic of a very distant creature and place.

When, a few months ago, I was asked to write a story about a South American monster, I had no doubt about what it would be. It would have been impossible to speak of another monster that was not Lakuma: a “monster” that, at the same time, is mythical and scientific (indirectly, of course). And a monster that, far from being “terrible” to me, is deeply evocative.

After years of studying astrophysics and visiting the dinosaur room of the museum, after a PhD in philosophy and research, one day I decided to dedicate myself completely to my passion: writing. It seemed that I had always been jumping from one island of reality to another, just as the Yámanas had lived moving from one south island to another in search of food and dreams.

As a writer, Lakuma became a symbol of my life, of what it was and what it is, of worlds as different as the Cretaceous Earth and the Earth of the present … or as Mars, Jupiter or the space between asteroids. A symbol of the possibility of living completely different experiences and, from a certain point of view, all of them “in solidarity” with each other.

Thus my story was born, one that unites very different times, that interweaves mythical and factual realities, and that ultimately seeks to portray the importance of dreaming and creating “better worlds” (as the writer or the artist does) in the midst of a society that constantly attacks human dignity (a society that often considers its members an statistic).

There was a time when there were not in the South Pole, as there are today, miles and miles of ice as vast and deep as the geological abysses. A time where those lands exuded a green and exuberant vegetation. Days in which immense fusiform reptiles dominated the life and death of its warm seas, as if they were the spirit of its waters.

For millions of years, day after day, this was so. And if there had been humans at that time, they would never have hesitated to consider those landscapes and that life as “inevitable” or “eternal”. But now we know that was not the case.

Probably (hopefully) there will be a future in which humans will populate the Solar System and beyond as if we had always belonged to space. And surely there will also be those who will think of that reality as something “eternal” and “immutable”.

If science fiction is the literary form that announces change (all change), it is also the literary form par excellence that announces the possibility of the different, of the other. The non-immutability.

In our human history, monsters have always been “the Others”, the different ones, those who do not conform, those who demand to be respected for who they are.

Science fiction talks about monsters to be able to talk about the different in a symbolic way and show the need for that difference. The beauty of the monster.

Society loves the status quo, of course, but life shouts with all its strength that change is not only necessary but inevitable. The “monsters” exist, but they are not what people should fear.

We are all monsters as we seek our originality and we separate ourselves from “the establishment”.

Lakuma is my monster, the symbol of what adapts to the sway of the times (just like its body adapts to the waves of the sea), but also of what is capable of anchoring itself to the ideals of a better world (ideals dreamed and put into practice, like those of the Yámana shamans).

And what are those dreams that give me roots but also wings? Those that imply that everything can and should change, but that it is necessary to work so that this change is for the better. Those of a world in which we see the end of inequality between genders, the freedom to be what we are and want to be (and yes, I speak of the right to be LGBTIQ +), and where there is a true human brotherhood (beyond of cultures, socioeconomical differences, skin colors, countries of origin, capacities, etc.).

The Lakumasaurus antarcticus teaches us that nothing is permanent. That the kings of the sea, like the retrograde and inhuman ideas that are dominant in an era, must evolve or perish within the framework of the long marathon of time.

Lakuma, the mythological being of a vanished people, teaches us that the best of a human group, the noblest of what the human being can be, remains beyond themselves in those ideas that prove to be “monsters” before the dead and cold eyes of ossified prejudices.

In my case, these monsters allowed me to see myself (accepting myself as the “good monster” I want to be, without the fear of being different), and to think, to dream and to create worlds where the landscape is wide enough to shelter each and every one of the people (wonderfully different from each other, as we are all) who want to read my stories.

Monster Blog – Gustavo Bondoni

The Story Behind My Choice of Gualicho

A quick google search will inform anyone interested that a Gualicho (or Gualichu) is a spirit from the mythology of the original people of Patagonia.  It’s the kind of evil spirit that every mythology has, and was often used to explain away every misfortune that befell the tribe. 

Now, I’ll be honest: I knew very little about the Mapuche people—the native population of parts of Patagonia—until very recently.  Argentina is a mainly European country and native populations represent a tiny percentage of the overall population.  The history and traditions of the original inhabitants of the country are only superficially studied in school.  When one encounters a person of evident native ethnicity, most assume that they are more recent immigrants from Bolivia or Paraguay.

These attitudes are the result of initial wars of conquest followed by a few centuries of assimilation—unlike in other areas, the original sparse native populations succumbed mainly to intermarriage with the much more numerous Europeans.

 Nevertheless, I’ve heard the word “gualicho” countless times in everyday conversation.  It has lost its original meaning to become synonymous of any kind of magic spell cast by a witch or shaman.

But it survived.

Somewhere in the wars of subjugation of a people who were far from most centers of commerce and population, one concept burned so strongly that not only was it understood by the conquerors, but it survived and entered the dominant Spanish language to live on in the vernacular.

Two hundred years later, an Argentine writer of mainly Italian ancestry (only a quarter of my forebears were from Spain) sat down to choose a traditional monster from South America. 

My research identified dozens of candidates, from legendary monsters to native gods and from spirits only a handful of indigenous people ever believed in to entities that frightened the superstitious colonists hundreds of years later.

The process ended as soon as I found the Gualicho.  I became fascinated with the fact that a word could morph and survive one of history’s truly definitive wars of annihilation.  It must have had some powerful mojo.

As a term that reaches us through an essentially oral evolution, the etymology is pretty confused, but in my imagination, I can see the Mapuches repeating it again and again every time they came into contact with those Europeans who, through firearms or disease, had become so intimately connected to the unimaginable evil befalling their people.

There was nothing else you could call them, was there?  Those pale-faced interlopers must have seemed to be perfect stand-ins for the evil spirit that haunted their people.

It must have been a powerful spirit indeed, powerful enough to find a way to survive.  But surely a spirit strong enough to be familiar to someone unconnected to the history of the region two hundred years after the people whose legends it had sprung from were gone would find a way to abide, to plan for the time when it could vanquish not only its original victims but also the new interlopers…

But who would it fight?  Would it attempt to ally itself with the Mapuche against the new enemy?  Would it continue to torment the Mapuche’s descendants? 

The answer, once I understood the spirit, was obvious.  This thing would fight agains everyone.

But how?

Well, to get that answer, you’ll have to read the story.

American Monsters – Christopher Kastensmidt

The Many Faces of Kalobo

Hello all! I’m Christopher Kastensmidt, author of The Elephant and Macaw Banner series and “A Parlous Battle”, a story in that series published in American Monsters.

The Kalobo (or “Capelobo”, as it’s known in Brazil) is a relatively unknown legend in Brazil. Dozens of people have told me over the years that they’d never heard of it before the Brazilian publication of “A Parlous Battle” way back in 2011. In fact, if you Google images with “Capelobo”, the most popular images of the creature are those related to my series. I’d like to share a few of those here.

Since it was one of the first creatures that appeared in the stories, it was also one of my first art commissions. Brazilian artist Paulo Ítalo produced two drawings of the creature for me. I worked very closely with him on these and they are the closest to my own personal concept of the creature:

After that, I allowed other artists liberty to create their own interpretations, without any interference from me. U.S. artist Jay Beard created two very different pieces inspired by the creature:

When Czech magazine Pevnost published the story, the artist Jan Štěpánek drew this amazing illustration:

Finally, one of the most well-known illustrations is this gorgeous painting by SulaMoon:

Many thanks to Margrét Helgadóttir for the chance to introduce this creature to readers around the world in the American Monsters anthology. For those looking for more stories from The Elephant and Macaw Banner, the complete series is now available in one volume from Guardbridge Books.