ASIM’s Statement on its Hugo nomination

[The following has been taken from the ASIM website]

Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is absolutely thrilled to have been shortlisted for semi-prozine in the 2015 Hugo Awards. We’re grateful to our wonderful readers, our excellent authors and our hardworking team of editors and minions for this honour – in particular David Kernot and Sue Bursztynski for editing our two 2014 editions that have garnered the nomination.

We’ve been publishing for more than twelve years now, with our rotating editorial system. We’ve been immensely proud to publish authors who have gone on to gain wider recognition, such as Ann Leckie, Rachel Swirsky, Eugie Foster, Jim C Hines, Doug Van Belle and Ian McHugh.

Our mission has been and will always be to publish fiction that we believe readers want to read; to be a pageturner of a mag that you can’t put down. We will be providing a sample for the Hugo Packet that we hope will demonstrate our commitment to that mission.

However, it’s been a rollercoaster journey for the ASIM collective this past week. Delight as we discovered our nomination, and then dismay as we collectively discovered about the existence of the “Sad Puppies” just before the Hugo shortlist was announced.

We would like to state from the outset that we have never been contacted by anyone to let us know that we were listed on the Sad Puppies slate, and nor were we ever asked if we wanted to be on it (or given a chance to remove ourselves). We would have removed ourselves if offered the chance.

We hope you’ll judge us by our works, not by a small, but vocal, element of fandom.

For further comment from ASIM see Simon Petrie’s post at: https://simonpetrie.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/hugo-nominations-fan-incoming-3-2-1/ and Sue Bursztynski’s post at: http://suebursztynski.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/the-hugos-2015.html

See also http://www.pcauthority.com.au/Feature/402587,gamergate-style-factionalism-has-changed-the-face-of-this-years-hugo-awards.aspx for further comments by ASIM’s Zara Baxter and Simon Petrie.

Bullet Ballerina now available for pre-order

Bullet Ballerina, written by Tom Piccirilli and illustrated by Greg Chapman, is now available for pre-order from Short, Scary Tales Publications.

Cover & interior art © Greg ChapmanJohnny Booze is an Iraq War vet and ex-cop who went off the grid when mobsters killed his family. He’s been a shadow on the street, a killing machine who fancies himself judge, jury, and executioner.

But this isn’t his story.

It’s the tale of Ellie, a ballet student who’s found Johnny to ask him not to kill JoJo “the Ganooch” Ganucci. Because she wants to do it herself. She thinks JoJo has taken everything from her when he stepped on her toe and ruined her future as a world-class ballerina.

What’s worse than a trained soldier with a mad-on for anyone connected to the New York syndicate?

An unbalanced sixteen-year-old girl with a grudge.

Written by Tom Piccirilli and illustrated by Greg Chapman, BULLET BALLERINA is a blackly humorous tale of revenge that takes the elements of hardboiled/noir and twists them in a unique fashion.

Full ordering details can be found at Short, Scary Tales Publications.

The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud – review

The-Visible-Filth-Nathan-Ballingrud-horrorThe Visible Filth

by Nathan Ballingrud

Paperback, 64 pages
Published 2015 by This Is Horror
ISBN – 9780957548190
(Also available in all ebook formats.)

When Will discovers a cell phone after a violent brawl his life descends into a nightmare.

Affable, charismatic and a little shallow, he’s been skating across the surface of life in a state of carefully maintained contentment. He decides to keep the cell phone just until the owner returns and everything changes. Then the messages begin.

Will’s discovered something unspeakable and it’s crawling slowly into the light.

This novella is dark, weird and utterly compelling. Ballingrud is a superb writer. His debut collection, North American Lake Monsters, was brilliant, one of the best collections I’ve read in years – I reviewed that here. With this story, thanks to the novella length, his fiction is writ larger and proves to be equally excellent.That subtle touch is still there. Ballingrud’s eye for the flawed human in all of us is deeply in evidence. In truth, it’s a little hard to feel any kind of sympathy or compassion for any character in this story – they’re all dicks to some degree – yet the compulsion to see what happens to each of them is strong. Maybe because it’s hard to like them, we need to see what befalls them. The need to turn the page is irresistible. And being a novella, it’s an easy one-sitting read.

The horror here is squirmy and discomforting and almost entirely unexplained. Even at the end of the book you’ll have more questions than answers. I’d like to see this drawn out to novel length, to see where Ballingrud could take the badness in this yarn and develop it. But you’ll get to the end of this and it’ll stay with you. You’ll need to mull it over and it won’t leave, like a stain on your mind you can’t wash off.

The ending is going to take me some time to come to grips with, but for harsh, unforgiving, realistic albeit often supernatural horror, this is setting a high bar. Just don’t expect clear resolutions! Highly recommended.

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Book Review – Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist, review by Sean Wright

This is a cross-post from Sean Wright at Adventures of a Bookonaut.

harbour The back cover of my copy of Harbour  touts Lindqvist as reminiscent of Stephen King at his best.  Having read both of them (though not in great depth) I can see the similarities.  Both present a cast of characters and spend a good deal of time engaging the reader in the lives of these characters whether or not they are central to the plot. The result of this approach, with me at least, is that you become very attached to and embedded with, the characters before the author turns the screws.

Harbour presents the reader with a slow build up. Lindqvist interlaces stories, history and flashbacks to drip feed gradual reveals about the truth of the horror that surrounds the island of Domaro – a fictional island in the Swedish Archipelago.  The tale starts with Anders and Cecilia’s 6 year old daughter Maja, disappearing as the family is exploring the lighthouse in the middle of a frozen bay. With the ice frozen a metre thick, it appears she has vanished into thin air.

This beginning tragedy is done quite well even when you know it is coming.  The story then jumps forward past the inevitable split between Anders and Cecilia, to an Anders drowning in alcohol and on the verge of suicide. He decides however to return to the island and from here it is a story about unlocking Domaro’s dark past, that of the islanders and finally determining what happened to his daughter

Lindqvist’s weaving of myth, history and tall tales is one of the strengths of this book.  The reader comes to know the island and its peoples, consequently we get a very good sense of place.  The second strength is the well crafted brooding natural horror that slowly turns toward the supernatural or even mythic by the end of the work.  It stops short of cosmic horror and averts comparisons to Lovecraftian tales of villages by the sea.

The are some grotesque elements but these pale in comparison to the discomfort caused by the unknown deep.  The sea and its immensity, its place in our consciousness as a vast entity is the most compelling part of the work and Lindqvist has done a very good job of leveraging the readers natural fears.  I think because of this success the ending was never quite going to match the slow building intensity.  I also think I prefer a story that is a little ambiguous in its ending, something that plants doubt in the readers mind, that leaves open the possibility that the tale could be true and unfortunately there is a clear resolution here.  That being said I enjoyed the build up.

– review by Sean Wright