The Seers Table November 2021
Kate Maruyama, Member of the Diverse Works Inclusion Community
Linda D. Addison introduces:
Erica Ciko Campbell was obsessed with short fiction all her life, and was lucky enough to start reading for the pro SFF magazine Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores in June 2019. From here, her love of short fiction reached twisted new apexes and took over her life, so she reached out to the creators of Novel Noctule literary horror magazine to take it even farther. She started there as a Trainee Editor in October of 2020, and was promoted to the Flying Fox Flash Editor in February 2021.
The stars were finally right, and it was time to chase her lifelong dream of starting Starward Shadows Quarterly, a magazine of Cosmic Horror, Sword and Sorcery, and all the other wicked, weird genres that lurk in the shadowy background of other publications.
Erica is also an avid writer, and her stories have been published in many anthologies and magazines, most recently the Through Other Eyes collection by All Worlds Wayfarer. She has a story forthcoming in Cosmic Horror Monthly later this year as well.
Her short fiction escapades have earned her a place in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America as an Active Member, and the HWA as an Affiliate Member. But her true passion is her in-progress Tales of a Starless Aeon novel series.
Recommended Reading: Starward Shadows Quarterly: Issue 001-Fall 2021; excerpt from The Book of Fthagn by Jamie Lackey.
So there I was, five minutes away from breaking curfew. Breaking curfew is a big deal in Innsmouth. My friend Jackie broke curfew once. From then on, everything she said came out of her mouth backwards. I had to get an app on my phone to record her and play it back so I could understand her.
A huge van painted with a dizzying space mural drove up, and the driver rolled her window down. “Cthulhu Fhtagn, Kimberly. It’s awfully late for you to be out alone. Do you need a ride?”
“You’re a lifesaver, Miss Emberly.”
Miss Emberly taught freshman history at the local high school, and she’d always been my favorite teacher. I’d especially liked her way of explaining our place in the cosmos: As tiny specks undeserving of any attention from the greater powers that existed outside of our understanding. It’d helped me worry less about the weight of my life choices, anyway.
I climbed in and buckled up.
“Why are you out so late?” she asked.
“Danny and I were out on a date, but then we had a fight and he left me.”
“This close to curfew?” Miss Emberly sounded aghast.
I knew just how crappy it had been for him to leave me, but I still felt a little guilty for snitching on him. “I told him that I didn’t think his acting would pan out.”
“That’s no excuse. I’ll have to have a talk with his parents.”
“Why are you out this late?” I asked, hoping she’d forget about Danny if I got her talking about something else.
“Oh, I have an important meeting.”
She nodded. “There are some things that can only happen after curfew.”
You can follow Erica at @EcikoCampbell. Or learn more about her here: https://writtenconstellations.com/.
Follow the magazine/publisher at https://www.facebook.com/StarwardShadows; Twitter: @StarwardShadows; instagram: starwardshadows.
Janet Joyce Holden introduces:
Caitlin Starling is a writer of horror-tinged speculative fiction of all flavors. Her first novel, The Luminous Dead, came out from HarperVoyager on April 2, 2019. It tells the story of a caver on a foreign planet who finds herself trapped, with only her wits and the unreliable voice on her radio to help her back to the surface. Caitlin also works in narrative design for interactive theater and games, and has designed body parts for cash.
Recommended Reading: The Death of Jane Lawrence: A Novel.
Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.
Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.
Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Caitlin Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This CRIMSON PEAK-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished.
Find more of her work at http://www.caitlinstarling.com and follow her at @see_starling on Twitter.
Kate Maruyama introduces:
Neon Yang is the author of the critically-acclaimed Tensorate series of novellas from Tor.com Publishing, with books and stories published as JY Yang and JY Neon Yang. The Tensorate novellas, beginning with The Black Tides of Heaven, have garnered critical acclaim, and have been nominated for almost every major SFF award (Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, Otherwise, Locus). Their debut novel, The Genesis of Misery, is out from Tor Books in 2022. Yang is a Hugo Award Finalist, a Nebula Finalist, and a Lammy Finalist.
Recommended Reading: From short story “Circus Girl, The Hunter, and Mirror Boy” on Tor.com.
We ate. Or at least, Shane ate, while I mixed bean and egg into a brownish slurry on my plate. All was quiet except for the chittering of the newsprinter, spooling its thin scroll onto the dining table. When it stopped, Shane tore off the printout and scanned its fuss-less, tiny text. “Great squid. There’s been another murder.”
“Murder?” I said, not really processing the words.
“Yes. In Darlingfort. Probably that same serial killer that’s been going around.” She turned the chit towards me. “Here, look. Seem like anyone you know?”
I squinted at the victim’s picture, monochrome and pixelated, only slightly larger than a toenail. It looked vaguely like a man, possibly brown-haired, maybe thirty, probably white. I shrugged.
Shane’s expression softened. “You used to live in Darlingfort, didn’t you?”
“That was a long time back.” When I used to be a circus girl. When I last had Mirror Boy as my reflection. I shifted uneasily in my chair. The glare of the mirror on the dresser had a weight to it, as though the kid was trying to claw his way out. “Listen, I’d better get going.”
You can learn more about them here: https://neonyang.com/. Follow Neon on Twitter @itsneonyang.
Tawana Watson introduces:
Solomon Uhiara is a writer and dreamer from Nigeria, who studied bio-resources engineering. He writes speculative fiction and poetry. He uses his works to bridge a gap between the ancient and modern scientific practices; how similar they are and their interconnectedness. He works in an engineering company when he is not pining over what next to write–his eardrums sometimes sealed with headphones. His works have appeared in Africanwriter.com, Kalahari Review, Eyetothetelescope.com, and Polutexni, and are forthcoming in other magazines. He has written a speculative fiction novel and two science fiction poetry chapbooks, all which are yet to be published. Solomon lives in the City of Port- Harcourt, a town in the southern region of the country.
Recommended Reading: From his short story “Upgraded Versions of a Masquerade” on Omenana.com.
“Atu, where have you been?” Okemmou asked me once he saw me in my raffia costume strutting into the facility. I didn’t reply.
“You’re now growing wings, eh. I have been scanning for your frequency but you never pick my calls.”
I looked around the place where Okemmou, my handler, was camping inside the steel company and saw that the firewood was in proper combustion mode, steaming an aluminium pan of herbs and exuding the thickest of smells.
Before I climbed into the boiling concoction spilling green bubbles over and into the fire, I shook my waist and the beads straddled around it created a clattering noise, signalling spiritual prowess. My morale was incredibly high. Okemmou looked at me with alcohol-ridden eyes through his self-styled mask, painted red with a chicken’s blood. I was always reminded of that toxic thick smell of burning iron ores nearby. I jumped around, teasing the cultural experiment. I did the traditional dance, vibrating my waist all the while. The fire reddened on, grazing my gaze.
My eyes went to the almanacs clasping the steel walls and then settled on the array of ceremonial masks on the vertical surfaces, each carved differently by Okemmou himself.
You can follow Solomon on Twitter: @6lackCulture.