Straub on Shadows & Tall Trees

Michael Kelly's Shadows and Tall Trees is a smart, soulful, illuminating investigation of the many forms and tactics available to those writers involved in one of our moment's most interesting and necessary projects, that of opening up horror literature to every sort of formal interrogation. It is a beautiful and courageous journal.

CZP Bloody Valentine's Day Sale!

CZP's Bloody Valentine's Day sale!

Today we are offering these select ebook titles at 50% off!

The Summer Is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau
The n-Body Problem by Tony Burgess
Remember Why You Fear Me by Robert Shearman
Things Withered by Susie Moloney
The 'Geisters by David Nickle
Hair Side, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall.

Head on over to our titles page now and Embrace the Odd!

Clavis Aurea - February 6, 2014

A Hollow Play by Amal El-Mohtar

Growth by A.C. Buchanan

The Beasts We Want to Be by Sam Miller

 

I first heard the term “message fiction” a couple of weeks ago. “Message fiction,” as it is being derisively thrown around, would seem to be something like a homily, an instructive or perhaps pedantic story in which the characters do what they do and say what they say in order to teach you something. They are nothing new: we’ve had allegorical novels since forever, and some of the most popular novels of the 20th century—cult novels like Atlas Shrugged, The Alchemist, or Jonathan Livingston Seagull—are homilies. Readers like them, even if critics often do not.

Of course, every word we say is encoded with messages, both intended or not. Simply containing messages doesn't make something a “message story.” A story becomes a parable, a homily or an allegory only when the messages are so on-the-nose that no other readings are possible. I sympathize with deriders of “message stories” on this point: clumsy proselytizing is annoying to read even when I agree with the politics behind a story. These stories feel preachy not because of the people and ideas they contain, but because they preach.

Amal El-Mohtar’s story “A Hollow Play” (Glitter & Mayhem, Apex Publishing, August 2013) approaches parable territory due to the story’s “told,” not “shown,” structure. By telling almost the entire story through an explicative...

Subscriptions Are Back, Just in Time for the 2014 Spring Season!

Like ‘em weird? We do! Don’t like waiting around for the next exciting title from CZP to come out? Here’s your chance to become a VIR—Very Important Reader! CZP is offering digital-only subscriptions of all the books we will release in 2014. For just $99, subscribers will receive the eBook editions of the 23 following titles, approximately 56% off of the retail price! As an added bonus, most of these titles will be available to subscribers as soon as we have them ready. As a CZP VIR, you’ll have exclusive access to our titles well in advance of the planned release schedule.

PW on Get Katja

Logan maneuvers a large cast through overlapping sections of the plot, setting up characters separately and then slamming them into violent confrontations. Readers who can tolerate the deliberately unpleasant action will appreciate the skill with which it’s presented.

Clavis Aurea - January 23, 2014

The Clockwork Soldier by Ken Liu

Pale Skin, Gray Eyes by Gene O’Neill

The Wall Garden by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

 

Another common science fiction trope: someone loses a loved one and replaces them with a simulacrum. Maybe it’s a robot, maybe it’s a clone, maybe it’s an animated doll. The story is almost always presented as a “Gotcha!”, introducing the situation and technology until it is finally revealed that—gasp!—the wife/daughter/pet has been replaced. These are fun when they are done well—Daily Science Fiction published two good ones last month alone (“The Final Seam” by T. Callihan and “Goldfish” by Elizabeth Archer)—but they are ultimately groaners. By the end, all that remains is to shake the author's hand and admit that, yes, they got you this time.

Leave it to Ken Liu to turn the trope into something else entirely. In “The Clockwork Soldier” (Clarkesworld #88, January 2014) we know right from the get-go that something is up with the protagonist, Ryder. Released onto a remote planet by Alex, his former captor, we know right away that Ryder is something other than what he seems, but his identity-related secret isn’t the point of the tale. Instead, Liu offers us an exploration of free will and self-determination.

Ryder and Alex spar on two levels. There is the question...

Crimewave 12: Hurts

Crimewave 12: Hurts cover

You know, I keep referring to Crimewave as an anthology series when I talk about it elsewhere—and because of the way it’s put together I’m going to discuss it analytically as though it were an anthology—though it’s technically a magazine. The truth of the matter is that it falls somewhere between the two states. Much as its stories are wont to do: crime, mystery fiction, the occasional supernatural piece, all doing their damnedest to defy direct classification. Instead, Crimewave is composed of stories that are decidedly more interested in just telling a good story.

And in that effort the latest volume of Crimewave—Crimewave 12: Hurts, edited by Andy Cox—succeeds, in really rather spectacular fashion.

Granted, there are some stories that aren’t holding their own alongside the better pieces in the issue. But they’re few in number, and don’t hurt the whole overmuch. The more interesting dichotomy is the distinct split between pieces that provide closure and those that end prior to, or without, resolution. Indeed, in many ways, Crimewave 12: Hurts is a volume of anticipations.

This issue of Crimewave leaves one feeling always on the edge of something; always seizing one’s breath, and forever holding it. And, ultimately, the stories on display here that court a firm resolution are somewhat stronger in tone and execution, though all of the stories linger in their own respects. And some of the best stories in the issue are among the longest, allowing them to explore fully the dissolution—of lives, of relationships, of self—that they cover.

Moreso than a direct adherence to one particular genre, that sense of wounding, of loss, is what is pre-eminent in the aptly named Crimewave 12: Hurts. And in that territory there’s a lot of thematic...

Mystery Zombie Contest!

Decode the hidden messages in Tony Burgess's The n-Body Problem for a chance to win a prize from CZP!

Use this master code sheet, also found on our contest page, to decode all the messages. Send in your answers to felicia@chizinepub.com with the subject line "Mystery Zombie Contest Answers." The first 3 people to decode all the messages successfully will win. If you wish to do the assignment, please email Felicia for further information.

Clavis Aurea - January 9, 2014

Whale Woman Watches by Vicki Saunders

The Correspondence Between the Governess and the Attic by Siobhan Carroll

The Coronation Bout by Lisa L. Hannett

 

Magic is all about liminal states, about apparent contradictions and places in between other, more mundane things. Fantastic creatures have always been beings in flux: chimeras, shape-changers, the un-dead, or the transformed. It is a not-uncommon convention of fairy tales and folklore to include women in that category, those strange creatures which are both men and not. Women in folklore flout human boundaries by taking on other shapes (snakes, foxes, fish), communing with ungodly powers, dressing for and taking on roles outside those condoned by society, or just generally existing in inhuman states of fay or godly perfection.

Recent attempts to reclaim women from these old stories agree to meet them half way. Women struggle back from the margins, aware of their exclusion from the normal. This is how we navigate power structures in our lives every day, after all. We are the same, but we are different. We want what men have, but not necessarily as men have it. Are we “other,” or are we not?

Vicki Saunders’s “Whale Woman Watches” (Three-Lobed Burning Eye #24, December 2013) offers us a protagonist, Neclel, created specifically to act as a bridge, a conduit between worlds. Neclel was delivered onto the shores of Dogfish Bay on the...

Emerging Canadian Artist Feature: Aramika Kliavin

ECAF Aramika Kliavin Bronze Sculpture

Aramika Kliavin is a twenty-six year old visual artist. She has completed training in Europe and Canada, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from OCAD University in 2012. She lives and works in Toronto.


Who are the artists/writers that inspire and/or influence your work?

Creative inspiration is magical when you have it and sometimes quite frustrating when you don't. I often find my muse in music or literature. The tune and stories depend on my mood and change with time, but always inspire me in new ways. Auguste Rodin, a French sculptor, has always impressed me and been a role model. Sculpturally, Rodin possessed a unique ability to model the complexity of the human figure. To me his sculptures possess a turbulent and deeply meaningful quality.

What is your artistic process from inspiration to a finished piece? What are your artistic habits?

Usually everything begins with an idea. Only those ideas that stick with me for a while get to see the light of day. In the process of realizing the idea, whether it is a painting or a sculpture, it starts to change and transform into something different. I don't fight this. I allow my creativity full freedom. Very rarely do the initial idea and the final artwork match. As Pablo Picasso once said, “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” In many cases I attempt one idea many times, and sometimes I abandon it if I see that it really switched directions.

What kind of impact do you hope to achieve with your work, and how do you hope to affect your audience?

I believe that the goal of every artist is to communicate through his or her art, whether it is to pass a message, or to share a certain...

The This Is Horror Awards 2013!

We are thrilled to announce that CZP has been shortlisted for the This is Horror Awards 2013 in the Publisher of the Year category! Helen Marshall has also been shortlisted for the Short Story Collection of the Year for Hair Side, Flesh Side .

Please send your votes to awards@thisishorror.co.uk along with the award categories you are voting for.

Voting ends Sunday, January 12, 2014.

Visit the This is Horror page for more details!

CZP Boxing Week Sale!

Now is the time to stock up on your dose of the wonderfully weird! From December 26th to midnight January 1st (EST) we are offering all CZP ebook titles at 50% off!

It doesn't get any better than this, so get your eReaders ready and embrace the odd!

Clavis Aurea - December 26, 2013

The Mechanism of Moving Forward by Nikki Alfar

Thread by A. Merc Rustad

The Red Danube by Bernie Mojzes

 

In 2004, Australian novelist Peter Carey published Wrong About Japan, an unlikely travel memoir about a trip he had undertaken with his then-12-year-old son. His son had become deeply interested in Japanese anime and manga, and Carey thought he would indulge his son's interests while simultaneously decoding for his Western readership the themes and images that recur so often in these stories. There must be something to all the giant robots and monsters, he reasoned. He meant to visit the creators and reveal the cultural psychology behind the stories.

He failed, utterly. His theories about collective trauma in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki went nowhere, and nobody could adequately explain to him why little girls in giant robot suits were so quintessentially Japanese. He concluded that as a foreigner he simply could not know.

Nikki Alfar has succeeded where Peter Carey failed with her piece, “The Mechanism of Moving Forward” (Interfictions Issue 2, October 2013). The story follows Sakuma Kei, the 16-year-old daughter of a samurai, Sakuma Shozan, who has unknowingly made political enemies with his enthusiasm for rangaku, or “Dutch learning.” It is 1863 by the Dutch calendar, and the shogun is torn between...

Annihilation (Book 1 of The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation cover

I feel compelled to point out, up front, that Annihilation, the first book of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, & Acceptance; all to be released over the course of 2014) is an absolutely fucking brilliant book. Really, one expects no less from Jeff VanderMeer at this point, but still. And, yes, I’m being a bit of a bastard by pointing this out at least two months before you can pick up a copy of the book yourselves. Which you will absolutely want to do the moment this book becomes available.

Now, I’m assuming that if you’re reading this you need no introduction to Jeff VanderMeer’s work. On the off chance you have for some reason not already been exposed to VanderMeer’s oeuvre, then you’ve clearly been trying very hard to avoid the man’s prolific output, across both fiction and non-fiction. You should correct that immediately. Here, have a link to his (mostly up-to-date) Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_VanderMeer. We’ll be here when you come back.

As those of you who did not have to wander off into the vast digressions of the internet’s larger sprawl (and for those just returning: welcome back) already know, VanderMeer’s work is largely concerned with perception, transmutation, and revelation. His projects are generally shaped by the use of fascinating, story-appropriate voice, a beautiful, malleable prose style, and an adroit hand for characterization. Annihilation follows in those larger traditions, and touches on concepts similar, primarily, to VanderMeer’s work in relation to his Ambergris narratives, up to and including both societal and personal dissolution, the numinous and Cosmic(ally Weird) represented both large scale and in...

Easy Go by Michael Crichton

Easy Go cover

Though Michael Crichton would go on to write The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, The Great Train Robbery, Rising Sun, Jurassic Park, and many more, this is the first of the eight reissued "John Lange" thrillers written by Crichton in the ’60s and ’70s. Of the eight, I selected to read this one first specifically because it's a caper novel about locating and robbing the long-lost tomb of a little-known Pharaoh. For me that's a win-win, because I love capers, and I tend to love anything Egyptology-related in just about any genre. I also loved the Glen Orbik cover painting on the typically handsome Titan trade paperback enough that I'd frame and hang it, though it depicts a scene that never happens in the book.

Harold Barnaby is a bored archeologist specializing in Egyptian hieroglyphics who believes he has discovered a secret message hidden in a routine bit of Egyptian invoicing. It appears a secret (robber-proof) tomb was built for a minor Pharaoh and the secret died with the builders and architect, all of whom were slain as payment for their efforts. Barnaby concocts a crazy idea: why not rob the tomb, rather than discover it and turn it over to the antiquities-savvy Egyptian government? The book was written in 1968, during the very days the Aswan Dam project was being completed and the temples at Abu Simbel had been cut apart into thousands of stone blocks and moved to save them from the imminent flooding (as an aside, I remember reading about this and being fascinated as a 9-year old, for it sounded highly adventurous; even then my own interests were solidifying). Barnaby meets Pierce, a burned-out and disillusioned American journalist-photographer on his way out of Egypt. Once he hears Barnaby's story, however, Pierce is energized by the idea of...

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