Fred Coppersmith’s Favorite Stories of 2016 (includes my @apexmag tale!)

Over on Twitter, author and publisher Fred Coppersmith has been tweeting about stories he likes all through the year. He starts off with my Apex Magazine story, “That Lucky Old Sun“. Thanks, Fred!

He’s curated the whole list on Storify, which I’ve embedded below:

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Reviews of my Mythos fiction – get more in my new collection!

I’m funding a new mini-collection of Mythos fiction, and paying for a couple of college classes. Please go to my fundraising page for more info, including rewards. I’ve got deadlines, so this won’t be open long.

If you haven’t read my work before, I’ve collected some reviews of the two previously-printed stories that will appear in the collection…

Reviews of “No Hand to Turn the Key”, in Chaosium’s STEAMPUNK CTHULHU

No Hand to Turn the Key by Carrie Cuinn tells the tale of an alternate future where humanity has been wiped out by Mythos horrors leaving only automatons behind to defend what remains of Earth’s human legacy. The result is a touching tale of sacrifice and hope in the face of overwhelming odds. – Alan Loewen

Imagine if just the clockwork servitors of our own creation was all that was left. Humanity is gone and only they are there to try and preserve the knowledge that might save themselves, and might have damned humanity. [This story is] absolutely fantastic. – Amazon

Among the standout stories for me was Carrie Cuinn’s “No Hand To Turn the Key”. – David, Goodreads

Reviews of “CL3ANS3”, in Chaosium’s ELDRITCH CHROME

“CL3ANS3” is a beautiful story from Carrie Cuinn. Ms. Cuinn’s voice and the picture she was able to weave inside my mind was absolutely amazing, her prose was top-notch. – Brian Murphy (MU Podcast)

“CL3ANS3” by Carrie Cuinn: This story has a really cool concept about a future where all data has to be organized and that organization is done through a kind of virtual reality (it is cyberpunk after all). Carrie Cuinn does a great job of building a great world of CHARACTERS here, like Orson Scott Card did in Ender’s Game (yeah, the guy’s politics suck but he can write some amazing characters). I bring up ‘Ender’ because there are scenes in the story where the protagonist sits down and interacts with other ‘sorters’ in a kind of cafeteria and it just has this realistic feeling to it. The writing is very solid and when the virtual world starts to become tainted by Eldritch happenings the story delivers. – D. Anderson

The anthology had been described to me as ‘Cyberpunk Cthulhu’, which threw me off originally, until I sneaked a peek at Carrie Cuinn’s CL3ANS3, which is, in my opinion, the pivotal point in this anthology and its biggest sell. – Konstantine Paradias

Paradias wrote a full review elsewhere online, which says in part:

CL3ANS3 took me by surprise. Primarily, because this is one of those stories that make excellent material for experimental animation short films that have this rarely-seen alienating feeling to them. The world outlined by Carrie Cuinn in this short story is clinical, sterilized and strange beyond belief. Its main character might be an antisocial, objective narrator but the rest of the people occupying the setting aren’t all that better off.

This story forced me to do a double-take to pinpoint exactly what bothered me about it so much and guess what: it’s not the Lovecraftian Horrors, not in and of themselves. I think that this was perhaps the point that Cuinn was trying to make: the scary, strange future that waits just around the corner, its people distant and antisocial, scared more of each other than the things lurking just beyond the world.

Read the rest of his review here.

First reviews of my latest story, “That Lucky Old Sun”

In January, Apex Magazine published my short story, “That Lucky Old Sun”, to my great delight. You can read it online for free, here. (You can also buy the whole issue for Kindle here.) If you haven’t read it yet, be warned that there are minor spoilers below.

I was nervous before “That Lucky Old Sun” came out; it’s the longest short story I’ve published to date, and it plays with an old SF trope in a way that readers might either love, or hate, or not notice at all. You can never tell until a story ends up in the world and out of your hands. I was more nervous because this story is important to me. They all are, of course, though some of what I write is fun, some is dark, some is about projecting the future – I’m usually pushing at the edges of what I can do in a story, but the boundaries I’m pushing aren’t always the same.

In classic, golden age SF, we have these grand stories about building rockets, escaping doomed worlds, blasting off into space with limitless potential in front of us. I could write that again a hundred times, and who would question it? We know that tale. We’ve all read it. With this story, I wanted to talk about the people who get left behind. Not the rocket scientists or astronauts or the child looking out the porthole at a dwindling blue marble that used to be his home. Just regular, everyday people. Families. Neighbors. Small town folks, faced with things much bigger than themselves.

I am so happy with how it’s been received.

Amelia Crowly said:

This really gave me chills.
I love the way it *seems* to set the scene at once, only to become darker and more intriguing as the story progressed.

On Twitter, @robertired said:

It’s amazing. Subverting old school sci-fi is something that should be done more. Congratulations.

@ScottMBeggs said:

Beautiful short story from (via ). Uses the familiar to deliver the unexpected.

@MariaHaskins called it:

Wonderful, creeping-up-on-you #scifi

And @LaurenLykke said:

Just read and LOVED your story in !! Got me all teary-eyed!

Over at Tangent Online, Kevin P. Halett said:

Carrie’s “end of the world” science fiction story is time and world ambiguous, telling this often-told story from a new perspective. The protagonist is a small girl, innocuously spending what could be her last day with her loving mother, who knows what’s coming. The author touchingly portrays the mother’s loving patience and the girl’s innocence in this easy to read tale.

Telling the story from the little girl’s perspective made it darker and more compelling. I found the writing engaging from the very beginning and it continued to hold me even though I could guess where it might end; a pleasing new variation on an old theme.

Lastly, and with the most spoilers… At Quick Sip Reviews, Charles Payseur said:

………….okay then. Yeah, this story is a bit dark, a bit…well, a bit very dark, about a child, Melanie, and her mother as they sort-of wait for the end of the world. The setting is vaguely futuristic and also rather dystopian, a place where people are judged based on their skin but not exactly the way that they are now. Here it’s not exactly race it seems but something in the blood that changes the skin’s color and might do other things to it. Whatever the case, it means that there are vast systems in place to try and “contain” it, mostly by reporting on neighbors and living in a police state and it’s an all around not-good scene. And yet the “problem” persists and so the government decided to just bomb everything. Bomb it all and then return to reclaim the wiped slate. And that the story follows a mother and her daughter on this day is bleak as fuck, but also I rather enjoyed it. There is something to be said about this, that this is where fascism leads, that this is where intolerance and bigotry lead. That there are “understanding” people who are just part of the problem and that everything is built on hate without reason, hate because that’s all it is, and in the end it tears everything apart, tears families apart and lets the central lie of the story fester and burn like the fires of the bombs being dropped. Because a large part of the story is the absence of the father, who is “pure” and who has the chance to survive. It’s a wrenching story and a sad one, very much worth reading but maybe prepare some cat videos for the aftermath. Indeed.

More Reviews of “Women and Other Constructs”

“I get to breathe in truth and swim around in a sea of knowledge.”
Carrie Cuinn, Women and Other Constructs

Someone took the time to add that as a quote on Goodreads. Isn’t that great? (The line is from “A Cage, Her Arms”, which is only available in this collection.)

The collection is still being read and reviewed, which I love. Here are a couple I haven’t shared before:

“Savor the Flavor of Each Short. This is a wonderful collection of short stories…. Further, I’m going to suggest that people definitely read the introduction, then work through the stories themselves, savoring each one. Make a point to read the ABOUT THE STORIES section for each story after reading said story as this gives an insight into what brought the story to life, if it had been published elsewhere, and any deeper meaning that the author may want to impart regarding the content. At that point, re-read the story; the background will give each a more intense flavor.” – Amazon, 5 stars!

and

“In a word, eerie. Ms. Cuinn’s imagination is on display here in technicolor. Reading her stories is like having a dream. They lull you in that way, you know how dreams always start perfectly believably, and get weird until you wake in a rush thinking, what the hell was that? I credit her clear prose, never overdone, with that ability to pull you in. Her strangeness is always situational, sometimes descriptive but conveyed in a frankness that makes it accessible. Until the hair starts rising on the back of your neck, that is. These are not happy ending stories for the most part, though you could see some of them that way, depending on your point of view. You could see many of them as unsettling, even disturbing–again, depending on your point of view. Cuinn leaves that to the reader. I appreciate that.” – H.W.

You can buy a copy in print from Amazon, here, or get a signed copy of the book directly from me — with a free instant download of the ebook! Choose from print + mobi or print + epub.

You can also download just the ebook for free. Choose from epub, mobi, or PDF. If you need all three formats, download a bundle here.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

Reviews of “CL3ANS3”, my cyber/Mythos story in Chaosium’s ELDRITCH CHROME

From Amazon:

Coming towards the end now, bear with me. “CL3ANS3” is a beautiful story from Carrie Cuinn. Ms. Cuinn’s voice and the picture she was able to weave inside my mind was absolutely amazing, her prose was top-notch.

By Brian Murphy (Texas)

“CL3ANS3” by Carrie Cuinn: This story has a really cool concept about a future where all data has to be organized and that organization is done through a kind of virtual reality (it is cyberpunk after all). Carrie Cuinn does a great job of building a great world of CHARACTERS here, like Orson Scott Card did in Ender’s Game (yeah, the guy’s politics suck but he can write some amazing characters). I bring up ‘Ender’ because there are scenes in the story where the protagonist sits down and interacts with other ‘sorters’ in a kind of cafeteria and it just has this realistic feeling to it. The writing is very solid and when the virtual world starts to become tainted by Eldritch happenings the story delivers.

By D. Anderson (Arizona)

The anthology had been described to me as ‘Cyberpunk Cthulhu’, which threw me off originally, until I sneaked a peek at Carrie Cuinn’s CL3ANS3, which is, in my opinion, the pivotal point in this anthology and its biggest sell.

By Konstantine Paradias

Paradias wrote a full review elsewhere online, which says in part:

CL3ANS3 took me by surprise. Primarily, because this is one of those stories that make excellent material for experimental animation short films that have this rarely-seen alienating feeling to them. The world outlined by Carrie Cuinn in this short story is clinical, sterilized and strange beyond belief. Its main character might be an antisocial, objective narrator but the rest of the people occupying the setting aren’t all that better off.

This story forced me to do a double-take to pinpoint exactly what bothered me about it so much and guess what: it’s not the Lovecraftian Horrors, not in and of themselves. I think that this was perhaps the point that Cuinn was trying to make: the scary, strange future that waits just around the corner, its people distant and antisocial, scared more of each other than the things lurking just beyond the world.

Read the rest here.

Want to buy the book? Amazon has it on sale for only $14.32 with free Prime shipping. Get it here!

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SF Signal/Carl V. Anderson called 3 of my stories “Favorite of 2013”

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I missed this when it came out* but in December 2013 Carl V. Anderson wrote a list of his favorite short stories of 2013. He reviews short fiction at SF Signal, and he’s been kind about my work in the past — including putting me on his 2014 Hugo nominations list — but discovering this list floored me. In the midst of a list of stories that include the greatest hits of Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Asimov’s, and some amazing collections, he put me. Not just one, but three of the stories in my little self-published collection.

Three.

He says:

“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” by Carrie Cuinn (Woman and Other Constructs)

On a nice Spring day a stray dog sets in motion a series of unexpected events when he digs up and runs off with the forearm of Mr. Liu, a resident of the village’s old cemetery. In his pursuit of the purloined appendage, something he is too attached to (or was until recently) to easily part with, he brings the dead in contact with the living in a manner that is far too familiar and discomforting for those still imbued with their mortal coil. As the villagers and the deceased meet to come to terms that will return the dead to their proper place, events unfold that demonstrate that a lot can be learned from those who have gone before.

Carrie Cuinn’s story mixes the humorous and grotesque with the manners, and the prejudices, of an earlier time. The treatment of the “outsider”, of those “not like us”, is both historical and fantastical in this tale but will be familiar to anyone who has lived long enough to understand this behavior is alive and flourishing today. The dead here are as charming as those in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride; the story appeals when read on a surface level though it contains something more for those willing to look a little closer.

“Monsters, Monsters Everywhere” by Carrie Cuinn (Woman and Other Constructs)

Culinary delights mix with grand adventure in this tale of a monster hunter traveling through remote Mexican villages, dealing with monster troubles big, and small. There is something of a Lost World feel to the jungle the unnamed protagonist finds herself in, and as she takes in her surroundings, providing description to the reader, the suspense builds towards the inevitable confrontation. The jungle touches off reminiscences of her youth and time spent with her grandmother and these are intertwined with the more intense moments of the story creating an even greater degree of tension. There are no wasted moments in this story, even its denouement surprises.

“About the Mirror and its Pieces” by Carrie Cuinn (Woman and Other Constructs)

If you have ever read fairy tales with their stock evil stepmothers, princesses or queens, or viewed film adaptations of the same, and found yourself wondering about the villain’s motivation, Carrie Cuinn provides a possible explanation. This story is the least obviously fantastical of the collection and it explores some difficult subject matter in regards to the treatment of children by parents who, in an ideal world, should know better. Concepts like “entertainment” and “pleasure” that play at least some part in the story choices of readers are misplaced inducements when it comes to stories of this nature. This is not the realm of fiction in general, let alone genre fiction, where most readers want to dwell consistently on their reading travels. Which is what makes issues like those raised in “About the Mirror and its Pieces” ideal for short fiction.

The story is powerful, visceral, and left me feeling quite raw. I work in the mental health field with broken families and stories like this, which remind me thematically of the work Charles de Lint does in his Newford stories, humble me. They take me to a place that I am grateful I have never experienced personally and they help me to develop a more tangible empathy with the people I come into contact with on a daily basis. Stories like this awe me in their ability to open readers’ eyes and they become a foundation upon which one can begin to build understanding and healing.

You can get the collection for free for the rest of this month, here.

* Unless I’m tagged in the post somehow (the author’s included @CarrieCuinn on Twitter, or tagged me on FB, etc) I don’t always know about reviews of my work or people talking about me online. I get Google Alerts but they don’t cover everything. If you ever write or see something positive about me online that you want to make sure I’m aware of, please let me know! Thank you.

Interview, Review, and Links

Fantasy Scroll interviewed me about writing, rejections, and what advice I’d give new writers.

I think one of the most important transitions a writer makes is when they stop relying on the idea to prop up the story and start thinking about how the story reads as well. In fact, most writers don’t get that far, and you can tell that their fiction is all a lead-up to the reveal of the end, or in support of a strong moment that isn’t actually a whole story. My favorite writers can do both, blending a great idea with beautiful sentences.

I hope to be one of those writers. I’m working on it.

Read the rest here.

A Fantastical Librarian reviewed my short collection, Women and Other Constructs. In part, she says:

Despite its short length there is a wealth of stories here and when I sat down to write my review and pick my favourite stories to talk about, I had a really hard time, because every time I’d change my mind. In this collection of stories mostly dealing with the position of women in society and how their (self-)perception is shaped by the demands and expectations of that society, I found hardly a bum note.

She especially enjoyed “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”, “A Cage, Her Arms”, and “About a Mirror and its Pieces”, about which she says:

This story hit me hard and where it hurts…. I love that it not only gave an explanation of her treatment of the little boys in her fairy tale and in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but also made those events tragic, rather than malicious. It was a fabulous story and a great note to end the collection on.

You can find the rest of the review here. Want to read these stories for yourself? Go HERE to buy print or ebook copies of the book.

I’m currently reading “Sex Lives of Monsters” (a book of poetry by Helen Marshall) on my tablet, and a borrowed copy of Nathan Ballingrund‘s “North American Lake Monsters” in print.

Online, I’ve been getting into ClevelandPoetics (a blog about poetry, esp SF and science poetry), RetroRenovation (a site devoted to old-school home design–I’m there for the mid-century modern style), and back episodes of the Small Beer Press Podcast. So that’s where my head is at.

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New review of “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”

Carl V. Anderson, who recently wrote a glowing review of my collection, Women and Other Constructs, for SF Signal, has gone a step further. He did an in-depth review of the first story, “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”, for his own blog:

You know how it is when you come across a story that feels like it was written just for you; you get that almost out-of-body experience where the story leaves you feeling like you are floating on air, or glowing, or whatever hyperbolic description that you go to in order to attempt (always feebly) to describe that electric feeling. That is what happened when I read “Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance”. I am a bit wary when sharing how one story reminds me of another creator’s work. When I do so I mean it as a compliment and often worry that were the author to discover it they would take it as an offense, as if their work were not unique. When I write that this story reminded me of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and of various scenes in Tim Burton’s stop-motion film, The Corpse Bride, it is not to in any way intimate that Carrie Cuinn was in any way inspired by these stories. What I am saying is that there is a kinship of props and characters as well as a kinship in the way all three of these pieces of art make me feel.

He goes on to say:

“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” appeals to me for many reasons. One of which is that even though I don’t like really dark, graphic horror I do have a lot of affection for all the trappings of a good horror story. I prefer what could be called “gothic” tales and this story feels more like that type of story. I enjoy that there is an element of the eerie to this story, particularly in imagining what these corpses really looked like, but that the story itself is about people, about relationships, and not about being scary for the sake of being scary.

I like that the story has a bit of the melancholy woven within. It looks at goodbyes, partings, death…things that admittedly have elements of sadness and grief to them but are a part of all of our lives, something that ties us all together regardless of the way we treat one another.

I like the story because way in which Carrie Cuinn structures her sentences and her dialogue captures the time period in which the story is to have taken place. There are no wasted words here, every sentence conveys some aspect that is important to the overall story.

You can read the whole thing here.

New Review of WOMEN AND OTHER CONSTRUCTS (plus links & giveaway)

There is a great new review of my short fiction collection, Women and Other Constructs! At SF Signal, Carl V. Anderson gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, saying:

Women and Other Constructs is a varied, powerful collection of stories that showcases the range and talent of an author who will hopefully continue to rise in exposure in the SFF community.  Her work demonstrates that the short fiction format, particularly in SF/F/H can be a vessel that contains effective plotting, strong characterization, and worthwhile examination of important topics while still being highly entertaining.  This collection is not light, by any means, conversely it is not heavy to the point of getting in the way of good storytelling.  The stories Carrie Cuinn includes in this volume show that “thought-provoking” need not mean “inaccessible” to the average reader.”

Read the rest of the (very long, detailed, and glowing) review here: SF Signal

Plus, Anderson is giving away a copy of the book at his website. Comment there to be entered.

Please click through to my online shop to buy DRM-free ebooks of this book, directly from me. PDF, ePub (suitable for your nook, tablets, and more) and Mobi (for Kindle) versions are available for instant download, so you can read it across any of your devices, or on your computer.  You can also order signed copies of the print book!

Bundle of signed print book + instant download of all ebook formats $12.99, or just the signed book, $10

Bundle of all ebook formats $2.99, or individually: ePub, Mobi, or PDF, just $1.99

CLICK HERE TO BUY MY BOOKS

Also available via Amazon: Kindle ($1.99) and print ($5.99)

Oh, did you see the interview I did with AC Wise? You can find out more about the collection here. Thanks for reading!

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