🚨 LAST CHANCE🚨 to get “There Was No Sound of Thunder: A Time Portal Novel” for 99-cents!

My latest darkly comic scifi novel goes to full retail price tomorrow; get it while it’s still cheaper than basically anything else you might treat yourself to:

“An intriguing take on minimum wage employment and how it can be made to pay.”

John Fairhurst

What if your great new job had dire consequences for space-time integrity?

Fresh out of college and unsure what’s next, Taylor has lucked into a cushy job in human resources. Most companies keep costs down by outsourcing and off-shoring. Taylor’s bosses are different. They’re committed to staying “100% MADE IN AMERICA”—by bringing in cheap labor using a time portal. But their latest batch of “New Guys” aren’t like the others… 

“The movie pitch to the Sci-Fi Channel would be Breaking Bad meets Connie Willis’s The Doomsday Book. If this all sounds a bit grim it is anything but. Like Breaking Bad this has a strong streak of black humour running through it and is very entertaining.♥♥♥+”

SF Magazines

Can Taylor untangle himself from corporate HR, domestic terrorists, the problem of “Too Many Hitlers,” and threats to space-time integrity?

Cover art for "There Was No Sound of Thunder: A Time Portal Novel" Shows a young man in business attire silhouette against a high straight-walled passage, facing down the flaming concentric rings of a time portal.

“The big pleasure of this story is watching all the pieces come together. Rating: ★★★★★ Fun story with a sophisticated plot.”

Rocket Stack Rank

Two Pics, Two Points: New Story, New Rock

First, as you may recall, I was nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award this year.

🚨SPOILER ALERT!!!🚨 I did not win.

But I did learn that all of the finalists get a “token”: a nice smooth river stone, suitable for all your smoothest, roundest river stone needs. Pictured above is mine.

Second, on the day this came in the mail, I also got my contributor copies of the Sept/Oct 2023 Asimov’s Science Fiction, featuring my most recent novelette, “The Dead Letter Office.” That’s shown below. Look for your copy wherever delightful nonsense is sold.

Asimov’s is also running an interview with me about writing in general, this story in particular, and my history with the magazine, who’ve been publishing my drek for about 13 years now (my first pro sale was to Sheila Williams back in 2008, although that story didn’t see print until 2010, I guess).

The cover of the  Sept/Oct 2023 issue of "Asimov's Science Fiction" shows a eerie swampy forest with a wolf stalking in the distance, and hails this as their "Special Slightly Spooky Issue!"

Recommended Read/Listen: PseudoPod 867: “Chainsaw: As Is” by Gillian King-Cargile

PseudoPod 867: “Chainsaw: As Is” by Gillian King-Cargile

I like a lot about this story: the pacing, the order and layering of new information, the economy of that information and how it’s conveyed, the lightly experimental use of evolving ad copy to punctuate and modulate that story (and, in the case of the audio, the sound engineering around that to differentiate these asides from the main narrative flow). It’s worth a half-hour of your time.

Let Us Consider the Scaly-foot Snail

The scaly-foot snail (also known as the “sea pangolin” or “volcano snail”) is a deep-sea hydrothermal-vent snail. It doesn’t just differ greatly from other marine gastropods, or from other deep-sea gastropods, or from other gastropods in general; it differs greatly from everything.

The species was discovered in 2001, living on the bases of black smokers in the Indian Ocean, and wasn’t properly named until 2015. It lives in the  “midnight zone” of the ocean, an abyss darker than the far reaches of our solar system, where the only light comes from the bioluminescence of other animals. To survive down here you need to be your own biome. In this case, that means housing symbiotic gammaproteobacteria in its esophagus. These bacteria subsist on sulfur, and in turn sustain the scaly-foot snail.

i.e., The scaly-foot snail lives on the largesse of bacteria that eat brimstone.

Now about those scales and it’s shell:

They are made of iron. The scales on its foot overlap like roofing tiles, forming a flexible plate-armor.

“Each shell layer appears to contribute to the effectiveness of the snail’s defence in different ways. The middle organic layer appears to absorb mechanical strain and energy generated by a squeezing attack (for example by the claws of a crab), making the shell much tougher. The organic layer also acts to dissipate heat. Features of this composite material are in focus of researchers for possible use in civilian and military protective applications.”

Scaly-foot gastropod” via Wikipedia

These are the only living animal known to use iron in their skeleton. That shell rusts as they age.

They are under two inches, mostly. Those two smooth, pink, forked “cephalic tentacles” aren’t eye-stalks, as they might be on land snails; the scaly-foot snail has no eyes. It has no copulatory organs, either. But it nonetheless has “high fecundity,” as it is a “simultaneous hermaphrodite”—it has both types of sex organs at the same time, and can produce both types of gametes within the same breeding season. If told to go fuck itself, the scaly-foot snail can and will, and won’t take offense. 

That might be because it has a bigger heart—relative to its body—then any other animal, around 4% of it’s volume.  By comparison, a whale or human heart is closer to 1/4 or 1/3 that proportion.

Let us consider the scaly-foot snail. They—for each of them is most decidedly a they—have iron bones on the outside, and are armored where their cousins are so notoriously gooey.  They thrive on brimstone down in the hell-fires bubbling deep beneath everything we know or recognize.  They are so little, and so alien, but they’ve got a while lotta love to give. 

There’s a lesson here, I’m sure of it—but I’m helpless to articulate it in any clear way, try as I might.

The Best Way to Stop a Bad Guy from Taking Away Books is for Good Guys to Give Away Books

For those interested, in light of Mississippi Book Burning Banning, Seattle Public Library is being fun:

Teens and young adults ages 13 to 26 living anywhere in the U.S. can access our entire collection of e-books and audiobooks. We believe in your right to read what you want, discover yourself and form your own opinions. Fill out the simple form at the bottom of this page to get a Books Unbanned card.

Go forth and read, my darling dears. 📖📚💕

Soviet-era animation inspired by Bradbury’s “There Will Fall Soft Rains”

If you’ve never watched 1980s Soviet-era animation, then this 10min Uzbek production from 1984, inspired by Bradbury’s “There Will Fall Soft Rains,” is a great place to start. Yes, it’s all like this, in my experience.

(Incidentally, I’ve always loved the poetry of Bradbury’s prose in general, and the opening line of this story in particular: “In the living room the voice-clock sang, Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to get up, time to get up, seven o ‘clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would.” It’s like a super-sinister Goodnight Moon, a story that is itself already super sinister.)

Anyway, in case you’re wondering what New Year’s Eve 2026 will be like in America, here you go. Perfect for fans of Threads (1984), When the Wind Blows (1986), or whatever atomic holocaust shitstorm Putin kicks off next week.

My novelette “This Place is Best Shunned” has been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award. Read it for free!

My story “This Place is Best Shunned” (Tor.com, July 2022) has been nominated for a Shirley Jackson Award!

The Shirley Jackson Awards honor Jackson’s defining contributions to modern literature by annually recognizing “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.” I’m tickled pink to have been nominated, as “psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic” are pretty clear the bullseye I’ve been aiming to hit for the past couple decades.

Here’s their official press release:

2022 Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees

Boston, MA (June 2023) — In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson’s writing, and with permission of the author’s estate, The Shirley Jackson Awards, Inc. has been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.

The Shirley Jackson Awards are voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics. The awards are given for the best work published in the preceding calendar year in the following categories:  Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Fiction, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.

The nominees for the 2022 Shirley Jackson Awards are:


  • Beulah by Christi Nogle (Cemetery Gates Media)
  • The Dead Friends Society by Paul Gandersman and Peter Hall (Encyclopocalypse Publications)
  • The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias (Mulholland Books)
  • Jackal by Erin E. Adams (Bantam)
  • Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai (Jaded Ibis Press)
  • Where I End by Sophie White (Tramp Press)


  • The Bone Lantern by Angela Slatter (PS Publishing)
  • Bound Feet by Kelsea Yu (Cemetery Gates Media)
  • Catastrophe by Deirdre Danklin (Texas Review Press)
  • Lure by Tim McGregor (Tenebrous Press)
  • Pomegranates by Priya Sharma (PS Publishing)
  • The Wehrwolf by Alma Katsu (Amazon Original Stories)


  • Azeman or, the Testament of Quincey Morris by Lisa Moore (Black Shuck Books)
  • “Challawa” by Usman T. Malik (Dark Stars:  New Tales of Darkest Horror)
  • “Sweetbaby” by Thomas Ha (Clarkesworld, October 2022)
  • This Place is Best Shunned” by David Erik Nelson (Tor.com)
  • What the Dead Know by Nghi Vo (Amazon Original Stories)


  • “Brother Maternitas” by Viktor Athelstan (Your Body is Not Your Body)
  • “The Church of Divine Electricity” by Emily Mitchell (The Southern Review)
  • “Dick Pig” by Ian Muneshwar (Nightmare Magazine, Issue 112)
  • “Halogen Sky” by Wendy N. Wagner (VASTARIEN:  A Literary Journal, vol. 5, issue 1)
  • “Pre-Simulation Consultation XF007867” by Kim Fu (Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century)


  • And At My Back I Always Hear by Scott Nicolay (Word Horde)
  • Breakable Things by Cassandra Khaw (Undertow Publications)
  • Hell Hath No Sorrow Like a Woman Haunted by RJ Joseph (The Seventh Terrace)
  • Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu (Tin House)
  • Splendid Anatomies by Allison Wyss (Veliz Books)
  • We Are Here to Hurt Each Other by Paula D. Ashe (Nictitating Books)


  • Chiral Mad 5, edited by Michael Bailey (Written Backwards)
  • The Hideous Book of Hidden Horrors, edited by Doug Murano (Bad Hand Books)
  • Other Terrors, edited by Vince A. Liaguno and Rena Mason (William Morrow)
  • Screams From the Dark:  29 Tales of Monsters and the Monstrous, edited by Ellen Datlow (Tor Nightfire)
  • Your Body is Not Your Body, edited by Alex Woodroe and Matt Blairstone (Tenebrous Press)


The 2022 Shirley Jackson Awards will be presented in-person on Saturday, July 15 at 8pm at Readercon 32, Conference on Imaginative Literature, in Quincy, Massachusetts.

PROFESSIONAL WRITING TIP: Put the last sentence first

Here’s a bone-simple way most folks can instantly improve their writing:

Take a look at the last sentence; should it actually be the first sentence?

(HINT: The answer is most often “Yes! #duh! 🤦‍♀️”)

I make my living writing commercial copy (yes, still, despite the rise of AI). At one point earlier in my career I was often asked to “fix up” stuff a client had drafted. One day it dawned on me that, most if the time, the final sentence of a client-written paragraph/section/page should actually be the first sentence. In fact, I quickly discovered that in many cases I could basically just move the final sentence to the beginning, fix punctuation, bill my minimum, and everyone would be delighted.  

It doesn’t matter what type of writing it is—a work email, an article, a speech, a blog post, a product description, a sales page, an essay, even many stories or poems—just put the last sentence first and you’re writing will immediately be clearer and more compelling.

But, why?

What I think is happening here is that most casual writers draft entirely chronologically, “thinking with their fingers” (that is, clarifying their thoughts as they write). As a result, they arrive at the true heart of what they want to say—something I privately think of as “the nugget”—last since, having uncovered that nugget they’d been digging for, they feel a sense of closure and relief and stop writing. They look back at the last few sentences, say “There! Nailed it! This is done!” and walk away. If they revise at all, it isn’t true revision, just proofreading.

The thing is, reading is the opposite of writing (in much the same way that a motor and a generator are opposites: apply current to a motor’s wires, you generate motion at the shaft; apply motion to the shaft, you generate current at the wires). Writers arrive at the nugget last when writing—it’s the product of their process. But readers need to receive that nugget first, because they’ve shown up for the product; they don’t care about the process. (Think about it: people don’t start drinking beer because they took a brewery tour; they take a brewery tour because they already love beer.) First you give them the product, then you have some space to to them why they should care.

Incidentally, there’s a deeper lesson here, which should probably be the first sentence of this post:

Amateurs write chronologically; professionals write the intro last.