February Newsletter

February Newsletter poster graphic, with snowy branches in the background.

Check out our February 2021 newsletter, the first of the year. It contains news about cover reveals, giveaways, forthcoming titles, and a 50% discount on 2020 ebooks.

If you’re signed up for our newsletter, you’ve already received this information via email. The newsletter also includes a link to automatically opt-in to our next book giveaway of Octavia Cade’s THE IMPOSSIBLE RESURRECTION OF GRIEF. If you don’t want to miss future opportunities, sign up for our newsletter here.

Review: “The Good Plan” by Mikael Awake

Cover of McSweeney's 58: 2040 A.D. the Climate Fiction issue.
Mikael Awake’s “The Good Plan” was published in McSweeney’s 58: 2040 AD in 2019.

This review will contain some details that some may consider spoilers. Proceed at your own discretion.

McSweeney’s 58: 2040 A.D. is a climate fiction collection to be reckoned with. The writing is thoughtful and beautiful, and represents an array of perspectives on the climate emergency, conveniently labelled with the geographical location of that perspective. Mikael Awake’s “The Good Plan” is the only story in McSweeney’s 58 that doesn’t identify the location of the author within the margin of the story itself. Instead, the author’s location is cited as “Somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere” which provides some context for the story through what it tells the reader and what is omitted. Awake’s story reveals the experience of climate refugees through its exploration of memory and feelings of belonging and displacement. It is a study in physical, emotional, and psychological displacement and reintegration, one which masterfully gives the reader a taste of that experience in what Awake chooses to disclose or obfuscate about a refugee’s experience.

Remembering and forgetting is central to this refugee protagonist’s experience. In the first paragraph, Awake centres the struggle between remembering in order to preserve something of the person the protagonist was before he became a refugee, and forgetting in order to survive the present within the “plan” imposed upon him. At the core of this struggle is the idea of home — where is home when you leave the only place you’ve known? Can home be remade or recuperated elsewhere? For Awake’s protagonist, home is his dying mother, whom he has left behind and wants desperately to get back to again. Despite this desire, he left his mother to go to the land of The Good People in order to improve his family’s situation.

Relationship is key to survival in “The Good Plan.” But the Good People in the story demand, as a part of the Good Plan, that the protagonist exchange memories for the money he needs to survive. Without memories, the protagonist loses himself, his connections to others, and his sense of purpose. But Awake depicts memory as tenacious. In the land of the Good Plan, the protagonist participates in an economy of memory and experience for security; but he is able to hang on to the memory of his sister. While memories dissolve into the protagonist’s refugee experience, and he gives up still more of his memories in order to appear compliant of The Good Plan, the protagonist is reunited with his family when he is deported.

Deportation is yet another disorientation, but in the community of the Rear (as in, at the back of the line to travel, once again, to the land of the Good People), the protagonist discovers his mother vibrant and healthy and his sister strong. In community, then, Awake’s protagonist recovers himself: at first through regaining the memory and knowledge of familiar foods and music, and then through having a stake in the land and the people who love it. Through relationship, too, “the land … [remembers] itself.” This remembering is no primitivist utopia: the Rear is a fully modern, technological settlement which redefines human relationships to the land.

In “The Good Plan,” Awake’s prose obliterates both geographical and ideological borders and rebuilds the reader along with the protagonist and his community. “The Good Plan” is essential reading for understanding the intersections between environmental justice and migrant justice.

/ / All, Anthology, Reviews

Announcement: Stelliform Acquires Dennis Mombauer’s THE HOUSE OF DROUGHT

Dennis Mombauer’s HOUSE OF DROUGHT will be published by Stelliform Press in 2022.

We’re delighted to announce Stelliform Press’ acquisition of the novella The House of Drought by Dennis Mombauer. Mombauer lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he works as a consultant on climate change and as a writer of weird fiction and textual experiments. He is co-publisher of a German magazine for experimental fiction, “Die Novelle – Magazine for Experimentalism.” His first English novel, “The Fertile Clay,” will be published by Nightscape Press in 2021.

The House of Drought is a weird horror novella which Mombauer pitched during December 2020’s #PitMad Twitter pitch contest. The story delves deep into the destabilizations of climate change and the colonization of Sri Lanka. The fourth novella from Stelliform Press, The House of Drought features a world in which climate change manifestations are intertwined with the effects of colonization and the spirits of the natural world contend with the ghosts of colonial oppression.

Read more about The House of Drought

On the island of Sri Lanka, a colonial mansion stands between the forest and the paddy fields. It has seen inhabitants come and go as the days grow hotter and the harvests fail. It is a dry house, a hungry place that shifts upside-down inside its shell. The house is a labyrinth of banging pipes, of bulging stomachs, and of salt-littered floors. A glass of water opens a doorway here. A running tap attracts the house’s unquenchable thirst.

From the surrounding forest, the Sap Mother watches. She visits the house, squeezes through its holes, and burrows below its foundations, demanding recompense for what was taken from her. THE HOUSE OF DROUGHT is the story of one house’s unwitting inhabitants living between the ravages of colonization and climate change, and a forest spirit that threatens to cut a swathe through the humanity that is replacing the natural world with one of deprivation.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get the latest news about this release, coming in 2022.

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Cover Reveal and Preorder Announcement: Octavia Cade’s The Impossible Resurrection of Grief

We are delighted to share the cover for Octavia Cade’s new novella, The Impossible Resurrection of Grief. The cover, by Canadian artist and designer Rachel Lobbenberg, features two thylacines (an extinct Australian marsupial also known as the Tasmanian tiger), a spray of Australian flora, and little New Zealand rock wrens flying about over a distressed velvet background.

The book is now available for preorder here.

About the Book

IN A DYING WORLD, GRIEF HAS A LIFE OF ITS OWN…

With the collapse of ecosystems and the extinction of species comes the Grief: an unstoppable melancholia that ends in suicide. When Ruby’s friend, mourning the loss of the Great Barrier Reef, succumbs to the Grief, the letters she leaves behind reveal the hidden world of the resurrected dead. The Tasmanian tiger, brought back from extinction in an isolated facility, is only the first… but rebirth is not always biological, and it comes with a price. As a scientist, Ruby resists the Grief by focusing her research on resilient jellyfish, but she can’t avoid choosing which side she’s on. How can she fight against the dead and the forces behind them when doing so risks her home, her life, and the entire biosphere?

About the Author

Octavia Cade is a New Zealand writer with a PhD in science communication. She attended Clarion West 2016, has won three Sir Julius Vogel awards for speculative fiction, and is a Bram Stoker nominee. She was the 2020 writer in residence at Massey University, where she wrote The Impossible Resurrection of Grief.

About the Press

Stelliform publishes climate-focused fiction and nonfiction. Check out our current and forthcoming titles here.

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Submission Stats 2020

We’re taking a blog break for the remainder of 2020, and for our last blog post of the year, we thought some of you might be interested in our submissions statistics for the year. As you will see, we’re nowhere near getting as many submissions as many of the SFFH pro or even semi-pro mags and, we assume, less than even some of the smallest established presses. But we are brand new, looking for a specific kind of story in a longer format, so it is unlikely that many writers will have such a story just hanging out on their hard drives. We remain optimistic that we will continue to publish important, high-quality climate stories housed in beautiful books in 2021 and beyond.

We received a total of 36 manuscripts in 2020. We accepted 4 of those submissions from our slush pile, and 1 submission is still pending. We issued 4 opportunities to Revise & Resubmit; 2 authors took us up on that offer.

Genre & Length Breakdown

Of the 36 manuscripts, the genre breakdown was as follows:

  • Science Fiction – 19
  • Fantasy – 9
  • Horror – 4
  • Literary – 1
  • Non-fiction essay collection – 1
  • Short story collection – 1
  • Thriller – 1

The length of our submissions breaks down as follows:

  • Novella – 27
  • Collection – 2
  • Novel – 7

Of the four manuscripts we accepted for publication in 2020 and 2021, 2 are fantasy, 1 is science fiction, and 1 is horror. 3 are novellas, and 1 is a short novel.

Demographics Breakdown

This section is tricky because we didn’t ask people to identify their particular demographics in their cover letters, but some people included some details about themselves if relevant to the manuscript. Most people included contact information in Shunn format, hence we have country of residence information. In 2020 writers sent us stories from the following countries:

  • The United States – 24
  • Canada – 6
  • UK – 1
  • Holland – 1
  • India – 2
  • Sri Lanka – 1
  • Egypt – 1

While we did not ask people to reveal their gender identity, sometimes writers shared this information in relation to their story. As not all writers did share this information, some assumptions were made when compiling the following list of submissions broken down by gender identity:

  • Men – 19
  • Women – 15
  • Non-binary trans people – 2

Likewise, some authors shared race/ethnicity information. Because some writers did not disclose, the “white” category may be artificially inflated. That breakdown is as follows:

  • White – 30
  • Black – 1
  • Latinx – 1
  • Indigenous – 1
  • South Asian – 2
  • East Asian – 1

Even if the “white” category is artificially inflated, it’s clear that Stelliform needs to do more outreach to BIPOC writers in 2021. We are currently closed to submissions for all except for Canadian BIPOC and that will continue — though perhaps we will open to global BIPOC at some point. When we closed our general submissions, we (perhaps predictably) received far fewer manuscripts, indicating that the problem may be getting the word out in the right places. One acquisition strategy we started somewhat late in the year was to solicit and commission writers we admire (which has not yet borne tangible fruit, but exciting talks are underway) and we will continue to focus our outreach on BIPOC writers and their stories in the coming year. A secondary part of that strategy will be to continue seeking out amazing SFFH and literary climate stories by BIPOC writers and reviewing those stories on our blog.

2020, that’s a wrap! For a year that was and continues to be pretty hellish, we did ok — good, even. We’ll do even better in 2021.

Happy holidays to those of you celebrating. See you in January!

Fox in the snow
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