A while back C.C. Finlay interviewed me about my latest story for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, “All Hail the Pizza King and Bless His Reign Eternal.” That interview is now available online, for folks curious about how and why stories like this get written.
F&SF: What made you decide to write this story right now?
DEN: I didn’t. I actually wrote this back in early 2018, completing the draft in just two weeks (which is maybe a record for me). But it didn’t really become the story it is now until late that year. I listened to every word of Christine Blasey Ford’s congressional testimony—which included her detailed account of being sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh (who now sit on the US Supreme Court) when they were teens. I was in the kitchen, puttering, and something she said somewhere in the middle of her testimony stopped me dead, because it was a near perfect poem just as she spoke it. A poem like that, one spoken accidentally, hits you like lightning. It stops your heart. I wrote it down right then…
…And that’s when I understood what this story was really all about. It was a different story after I heard that poem, and so I rewrote it to be that story.
… My time portal novel is now on Amazon (print and ebook). It’s a giddy little thrill at a reasonable price.
I’ve read a million time travel stories… and even read a million variations on time travel stories that try to be “different,” but I don’t think I’ve ever read any that are different in quite this way. While it settles uncomfortably next to very serious and even tragic things, the story’s humor is quite pronounced. … And it does an excellent job of creating an air of danger, and thus interest, due to the well-realized sense of actual traveling in (and perhaps getting lost in) time, as well as the criminal aspect and what they’re doing to the people in the past and how those people might react. It’s also a good vehicle to address issues all the way from existential bad faith to religion possibly being the amphetamine of the masses.
The latest issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is hitting newsstands, e-readers, and mailboxes, and I’m pleased to brag that the Pizza King himself graces the cover (and my story “All Hail the Pizza King and Bless His Reign Eternal” graces the interior).
Need your copy? Order online: paper or digital. Wanna review it on GoodReads?You can! (There is currently one review up, and the reviewer didn’t finish the story because it was “gross.” I respect that decision; it has a solid basis. Know your limits, my Dear Readers and Best Belovéds!)
THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION
July/August, 71st Year of Publication
“Spirit Level” – John Kessel
“All Hail the Pizza King and Bless His Reign Eternal” – David Erik Nelson
“‘Omunculus” – Madeleine E. Robins
“The Monsters of Olympus Mons” – Brian Trent
“Knock, Knock Said the Ship” – Rati Mehrotra
“Last Night at the Fair” – M. Rickert
“Bible Stories for Adults No. 37: The Jawbone” – James Morrow
“Madre Nuestra, Que Estás en Maracaibo” – Ana Hurtado
“A Bridge from Sea to Sky” – Bennett North
“Crawfather” – Mel Kassel
“The Staircase” – Stephanie Feldman
“The Shape of Gifts” – Natalia Theodoridou
“A Quartet of Alphabetic Bubbles” – Mary Soon Lee
Editorial by C.C. Finlay
Books to Look For by Charles de Lint
Musing on Books by Michelle West
Film: Darkness Visible by David J. Skal
Science: What the Heck is an Analemma by Jerry Oltion
Curiosities: The Contaminant by Leonard Reiffel (1978) by Thomas Kaufsek
Cartoons by Arthur Masear, Arthur Masear, Danny Shanahan, Kendra Allenby, Nick Downes, Nick Downes
Cover: By Alan M. Clark for “All Hail the Pizza King and Bless His Reign Eternal”
PATREON: If you’d like to support my brand of madness on a recurring basis, Patreon makes that easy. Even at the lowest tiers, supporters get access to previously unpublished fiction. That currently includes my novella And Lo She Dwelt in the Great Sadness—which will likely prove diverting to folks frustrated by our current political situation. New stories will be added in coming months.
—about some folks who really can’t leave the house:
I mention this now because I just learned that Audible is temporarily bumping artists’ royalties—which is nice, as I used their service to produce the audiobook of There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House (voiced by the inimitable David Sadzin).
If you’ve never tried Audible before, it’s actually pretty sweet—I used it for years when I used to commute. These days, your monthly membership gets you a full-length audiobook and two Audible Originals each month. The first month is free with this link (here’s a UK-specific link, for those who need one). The thing that astounds me: Even though I haven’t been a member in more than 13-years, I can still access all the stuff I got through Audible back in the day—i.e., you really do have lifetime access.
[UPDATE 2019-11-25: I just saw Paul Di Filippo’s review of this antho for Locus, and so added a snippet of that below, because it’s insanely kind and flattering and I wanna crow about it.]
It feels a little odd to be a “new voice” in anything with so little hair atop my head and so much grey in my beard—but I’ll take it!The publisher has been kind enough to include a section of my story “In the Sharing Place” to whet your appetite (here’s a link to all five previews stories).Enjoy!
“Reminiscent of the weirdness of Ben Marcus’s The Flame Alphabet, “In the Sharing Place” by David Erik Nelson chronicles in vivid surreal fashion a post-invasion, post-collapse world where psychological counseling takes on dire new facets.…this is a killer collection, full of top-notch stories beautifully written and invested with much care, compassion and thought …Deploying the toolkit and concerns bequeathed by their literary ancestors, they are extending the reach of the genre not by plowing under everything that was built before and salting the earth, but by erecting new superstructures on old foundations—or perhaps new eco-communes in the shadow of dinosaur cities. It’s the way the field has always moved forward, and this volume gives plenty of hope that the future of future fiction is in good hands.”—Paul Di Filippo, Locus Magazine
“While readers may be familiar with many of the names and individual works here, having them together in one volume creates a stunning set of sf shorts. Highly recommended for all collections.“—Library Journal
“There are also stories that present unique dystopias such as the mist-haunted New York in Jason Sanford’s ‘Toppers’ or the mysterious outside world in David Erik Nelson’s ‘In the Sharing Place.’”—Booklist
“After some kind of alien invasion/apocalypse, children try to come to terms with the loss of their families ‘In The Sharing Place’, a thoughtful and ultimately a chilling story by David Erik Nelson. Much of the narrative takes place in the therapy sessions that happen in the Sharing Place and only slowly are details of the apocalypse revealed. It’s a very effective tale.” SF Crowsnest
The Pseudopod team always does great work, but I’m especially thrilled with what the reader—Rish Outfield—has done here; the story has lots of voices, and he captures them all.Such a treat. (For those less inclined to audio drama and more to old-fashioned reading, they have the full text of the story posted, too.)
Rebel Nell works with local organizations to hire women transitioning from homelessness and teaches them to craft unique, wearable accessories made from the fallen layers of graffiti that grace the buildings and underpasses of Detroit.
DISCLOSURE: I’m from the Detroit Metro Area. My dad was born and raised in Detroit. We love that stupid city, my family has planted their hearts there, and I’ve bought Rebel Nell jewelry for my wife. It’s neat stuff!
But Rebel Nell isn’t just mining the lead-flecked ruins of Detroit to sell bougie baubles. Through their non-profit arm—Teaching. Empowering. Achieving. (T.E.A.)—Rebel Nell provides all the wrap-around services to empower vulnerable women and families as they transition to a life ofindependence. T.E.A. invests in training, education, skills development, coaching, and mentorship services (including basic employment opportunities), in addition to other support and assistance to these women.
This ain’t giving away fish; it’s teaching folks how to fish, and making sure they’ve got a decent rod and reel to get them started.
The Nelson Foundation provides financial support to individuals and organizations that use art to create opportunities that better our community. (Note conspicuous name similarity—this is something my folks and older sister make happen.) These usually take the form of direct grants and tuition support to underrepresented students in the arts in Michigan.
This Tuesday—November 27, 2018—The Nelson Foundation will be giving up to $5,000 to Rebel Nell/T.E.A. in matching funds.
You give $1, and the Nelson Foundation matches that. Everyone together gives $5,000 and the Nelson Foundation doubles that—boom!, $10,000 goes directly to supporting women and families getting free and building up their communities.
I’ll level with you: This is going to be a hoot. It’s a good book, it reads well, and I’m moderately hilarious. I’ll bring snackies of some sort.
Nonetheless, I’m totally dubious about my capacity to draw an audience. Therefore, I’m running two contests(!!!) associated with this event:
CONTEST: If you are the one and only person who shows up you get a free book, a personal reading, and a free drink at the nearest bar!
BONUS CONTEST: If the number of attendees exceeds the number of fingers I have (total), I will additionally read from the novel of y’all’s choosing. No reasonable request refused!
2. Good Noise in the Loud Lab!
On October 28 I’ll be the featured artist in the Sonic Workshop at the Ann Arbor Hands on Museum from noon until 4pm . I’ll be running my “Loud Lab,” which includes a special installation of the Slinky Sound Forest, weird homebrew instruments and freak-out noisetoys you can rock out on, and an opportunity to craft your own weird noise-music-thingies under my dubious tutelage. Details: