WEIRD FISHES Giveaway, August 10-14

Front cover of WEIRD FISHES by Rae Mariz featuring a blue sealfolk mermaid and a small cephalopod on a backdrop of flourescent tinged corals and garbage

The publication date for Rae Mariz’s mind-bending underwater fantasy novella Weird Fishes is coming up fast. Our print copies, printed on recycled paper, are on their way and we’ve got a few review copies to give away. Get in on our Rafflecopter giveaway by signing up for our newsletter, sharing the news about Weird Fishes, or any of the other sign up options through Rafflecopter. If you’re already excited about the book and want to skip down to the giveaway, scroll to the bottom of this post. If you need more info about the book and its author, and the fantastic reviews it’s gotten already, read on!

What are Readers Saying about Weird Fishes?

Publishers Weekly gave Weird Fishes a starred review:

“Mariz combines dense, realistic science with lush, fantastic description … The relationships at the heart of this tale manage to be both completely human and utterly unbeholden to the above-water dynamics readers might take for granted. The resulting novella feels entirely fresh and inventive. Fans of Caitlin Starling and Maggie Tokuda-Hall will be especially wowed.”

Julia Rios, the creator of Mermaids Monthly magazine, loved the book:

“Weird Fishes is a vibrant, beautiful exploration of oceans teeming with lives and cultures unknown to humans. This book is a must for anyone who loves the sea!” 

Nina Munteanu, author of author of Water Is… and A Diary in the Age of Water was captivated by the novella’s environmental message:

“Weird Fishes is a lyrical and heartfelt adventure that celebrates how the ocean connects us all and reminds us that we need to take good care of Her.”

About the Book


When Ceph, a squid-like scientist, discovers proof of the ocean’s slowing currents, she makes the dangerous ascent from her deep-sea civilization to the uncharted surface above. Out of her depths and helpless in her symbiotic mech suit, Ceph relies on Iliokai, a seal-folk storyteller, who sings the state of the sea and has seen evidence of clogged currents as she surfs the time gyres throughout the lonely blue. Navigating the perils of their damaged ocean environment, and seemingly insurmountable cultural differences, Ceph and Iliokai realize that the activities of terrestrial beings are slowing the spiralling currents of time. On a journey that connects future and past, the surface and the deep, the unlikely friends struggle to solve a problem so big it needs a leviathan solution.

About the Author

Rae Mariz is a speculative fiction storyteller and cultural critic. Her writing inhabits the ecotone between science fiction and fantasy, and features characters finding family with others who live in the gaps between. She’s the author of The Unidentified and co-founder of Toxoplasma Press. Find her work at and on Twitter @raemariz.

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AFTER THE DRAGONS is a Le Guin Prize Finalist!

On July 28, Electric Literature announced the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction shortlist. It’s an incredible, diverse list of socially far-reaching speculative fiction and we are thrilled and honoured to have Cynthia Zhang’s After the Dragons shortlisted.

Read the full list of finalists below.

Screenshot from Electric Literature's Announcement of the Shortlist for the Inaugural Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction

From Electric Literature, the complete list of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Prize for Fiction shortlist is (in alphabetical order):

  1. After the Dragons by Cynthia Zhang (Stelliform Press)
  2. Appleseed by Matt Bell (Custom House)
  3. Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom Publishing)
  4. The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken (New Directions)
  5. The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber (Graywolf Press)
  6. How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu (William Morrow)
  7. The Past is Red by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom Publishing)
  8. A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger (Levine Querido)
  9. Summer in the City of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil (Soho Teen)

House of Drought is Out!

Happy Book Birthday to Dennis Mombauer and The House of Drought! This disorienting and atmospheric anti-colonial gothic novella is now available wherever books are sold.

THE HOUSE OF DROUGHT publication announcement. The background is a misty forested mountain landscape in black and white. On the left side of the image is a 3D image of the paperback book with an e-reader in the background displaying the cover of THE HOUSE OF DROUGHT. On the right side of the image the text reads: A Happy, Spooky Book Birthday to THE HOUSE OF DROUGHT. Dennis Mombauer's creepy climate horror is now available wherever books are sold. Order at www. or at the purchase links below. Stelliform Press earthstar logo.

We’re having a book launch party!

Join us to celebrate the release of The House of Drought on Saturday July 23, at 12pm ET. We’re having an online launch party on Zoom with four-time Bram Stoker Award winner Michael Arnzen interviewing Dennis Mombauer about the links between his climate work in Sri Lanka and his writing, his inspiration for the novella, writing a story set in Sri Lanka as a foreigner, and what the horror genre brings to climate writing. Grab a drink and join us for an author reading, audience Q&A, a prize giveaway, and more! Register for this event for free (or grab a discounted book) at Eventbrite.

Where is The House of Drought Available?

We always love book purchases from our store as these go the furthest in supporting authors and helping us to continue publishing great climate fiction. Because of the low overhead for digital books, purchasing an EPUB, MOBI, or PDF directly from us is an amazing way to support us — and our ebooks are always on sale!

If for whatever reason you’d rather purchase a book elsewhere, The House of Drought is also available from your local indie bookstore, and from the following online vendors:

Thank you for your support of a small press publishing books about big issues!

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WEIRD FISHES is on Netgalley

Are you on Netgalley? Looking for a charming and challenging underwater novella with an Indigenous worldview? Are mermaids and cephalopods your thing? Check out WEIRD FISHES and get ready to scream about how much you loved it (because you’re gonna love it).

WEIRD FISHES will be on Netgalley for the month of June. If you’re a reviewer or bookseller reading this after the book is archived, please feel free to get in touch about our available review copies.

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House of Drought Reading and Giveaway

We’re thrilled to be giving away three copies of Dennis Mombauer’s upcoming novella, The House of Drought. To get your in a spooky mood, we have a text excerpt along with a video of Mombauer reading from the novella up on Gingernuts of Horror.



The House of Drought: Act 1

“Uncle Ushu!” Jasmit ran down the stairs to the southern entrance hall. Her feet almost slipped on the hardwood steps, and she clutched the railing. “Uncle Ushu!”

The mansion at the edge of the jungle trembled. Bone china clinked in the cupboards, cockroaches scurried across the bathroom tiles. A lorry rolled over the dirt road from Anathakandu, and its trail of dust rose along the treeline.

“They found me.” Uncle Ushu closed the door and secured the bolt. “Someone told them.”

Jasmit raised herself on tiptoes to look out the window. It was evening, and the tropical night fell quickly into darkness. Twilight flooded through the trees and around the house, but no shadow foraged in its lighted halls.

Narun and the twins huddled around Jasmit, their eyes wide and bright with concern.

“Jasmit, akka, who are they? Who is coming?”

Uncle Ushu rushed to the other side of the room to rum­mage through the drawers of a cabinet, his balding head glistening with sweat. Above them, a fan turned slowly, and its hum merged with the engine noises roaring outside.

“They’re thugs,” Narun said, seemingly proud that he knew the word. “That’s what uncle Ushu said. Thugs. They’re here for his money.”

The twins shook their heads as one, nervously shifting from one foot to another. They were almost the same age as Jasmit and Narun’s twelve years, but the twins — both the girl and the boy — were smaller, more delicate, with spindly arms and legs. “Uncle Ushu doesn’t have money,” one of the twins said. “And why should he give to them?”

“He owes them. He told me he had a farm in his village, he took a lot of loans. That means he owes them money, doesn’t it?”

“But why? I don’t get it. If he had a farm, why did he need money?”

“He lost the harvest. He —” Narun fell silent as uncle Ushu walked past them with heavy steps, his frame almost as tall as the doorway.

“What do we do? What if they just want to ask questions?” The twins stared at Jasmit and Narun, but Jasmit had no answer. She was only one year older than them but they looked to her like an elder sister or even an adult. She frowned at them until they cast their eyes to the floor.

“The forest,” Narun said, taking Jasmit’s hand and dragging her toward the hallway. The mansion was big enough to have entrances on its southern and eastern side, and the hallways connected them across both floors. “The Sap Mother will protect us.”

“I told you —” Jasmit broke away, and they all stood pant­ing at the edge of the hall. In twenty minutes, the forest would be pitch black and it was already hard to see through the thick foliage. “The Sap Mother doesn’t exist. If you go into the forest, they will find you. Or a leopard will kill you, or a snake, I don’t know. But you won’t survive.”

“She exists.” Narun curled his lips. “I’ve seen her many times. If you won’t come with me, I’ll go alone.”

“Don’t be a fool,” Jasmit said, turning away from him. She liked Narun, she really did, but he was the most stubborn boy she had ever met.

The steady shine of the mansion’s lamps brimmed the long corridors. Outside the windows, darkness washed over the grounds and through the high grass, fleeing the lorry’s headlights. Car doors slammed shut, and bootsteps clattered over the verandah.

“Children, listen to me.” The glinting chandelier animated uncle Ushu’s cheeks as he paced toward them. “You have to hide upstairs, you understand? Go to the master bathroom and don’t make a noise. Whatever happens, stay until I get you. I will be there soon. Go!”

Jasmit exchanged looks with Narun and the twins. “What about you, uncle?”

“What about me? Are you deaf? Hurry up, get out of here!”

Someone knocked on the door, the sound of knuckles dulled by a covering of leather. Jasmit felt the house shiver, its walls leaning against each other in search of protection. But there was something else too, a feeling of familiarity. The house had known heavy boots and hard knuckles.

“Open up!”

The kids froze in the entrance hall, and uncle Ushu chased them off before he faced the door. “One minute! I’m coming.”

Jasmit gripped the banister and jumped onto the first step, turning to reassure herself that the others were behind her. The twins hurried past, but Narun stood at the landing and didn’t move. Jasmit held her hand out for him and waited. “Will you please come? I don’t want to see a leopard eat your sorry face.”

“There are no leopards. The Sap Mother is everywhere under the forest. It belongs to her. She will protect me, she promised. I can’t come with you.”

The door shook under the force of repeated knocking. “Open now!”

“Fine.” Jasmit withdrew her hand and took several steps. Narun suddenly seemed small with his thin arms and big ears. His dimples showed when he smiled. His hair stood up in all directions. “Please. Come with me, don’t go into the forest.”

“I’m sorry,” Narun said as he turned and ran, soon sprint­ing along the hallway toward the eastern entrance.

Jasmit wanted to grab him, but he was gone and she would not follow him. She cast one last glance at uncle Ushu, then followed the twins to the upper floor.

Loud voices rose behind her as soon as she stepped onto the landing. One of them belonged to uncle Ushu, but the others surrounded him like a pride of lions. What were they saying? Something about money, about repayment, about a debt that uncle Ushu owed to them.

“Jasmit. Hurry.” The twins peeked out from the master bedroom and gestured frantically. “Hurry, please.”

They closed the door and locked out the voices. Goose­bumps bloomed on Jasmit’s skin, and she pressed herself against a wall. It was warm and soft and seemed to react to her touch as if it were alive.

Outside, the night had risen to the canopies of the kata-kela trees. At the window, Jasmit squinted into the forest, trying to find Narun amidst the broad-leafed ferns of the undergrowth. Questions churned in her belly: what would happen to Narun, now unprotected in the dark wood? What would happen to uncle Ushu? Swallowing hard, Jasmit rubbed her arms as she turned back to the twins.

“Uncle said to go to the washroom, Jasmit. Will you come?”

The master bathroom was huge, its tiles decorated with mosaics of tea leaves and water lilies. Small moss-colored lizards retreated before the children, vanishing below the sink and under a dresser. The two mirrors surrounded Jasmit with her own reflection, and she saw herself standing next to the shivering twins wherever she turned.

“Akka, where can we hide? When the men come upstairs, they will spot us, no? Why did uncle send us here? Has he lost his mind?”

Jasmit searched for a hiding place. The bathtub loomed like a porcelain grave, the under-sink cabinet was filled with pipes. There was no space behind the toilet or the shelves, no exit besides the small window.

The sound of heavy boots on the floor outside the master suite made Jasmit’s heart skip a beat. The staircase moaned under the weight of several men, and the tremor from the impact of their footfalls traveled through the mansion’s upper level. Whatever uncle Ushu had said to stall them, it had failed.

“Close the door.” The twins pulled the bathroom door shut and listened for sound in the adjacent room. Jasmit knew why uncle Ushu had sent them here. She remembered that time she had woken up in the night, soon after they’d arrived at the house. She knew it hadn’t been a dream.

She opened all the taps in the room as far as they went, watching water gush into the sink and the bathtub. The Dry House was real, and it would hide them from these men. But what would it want in return?

Post-Giveaway Update

The giveaway is now closed and winners have been contacted. Congratulations to Ashley, Jen, and Shan. Enjoy your spooky summer read!

An image of the cover of The House of Drought, on a background of a foggy forest. Text reads: Congratulations to our giveaway winners: Ashley H, Jen R, Shan P. Enjoy your spooky summer read!
Congratulations to Ashley H, Jen R, and Shan P who have each won a copy of our forthcoming haunted house novella, The House of Drought.
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