Autistic Book Party, Episode 63 and a half: Short Story Smorgasbord

Raphael Ordoñez, “At the Edge of the Sea” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, April 3, 2014)

[Autistic author] This is a quiet tale of a man exiled to a remote island, which gradually incorporates familiar cosmic horror themes, such as ancient monstrous creatures, obsession, and transformation. Although the events of the story have horrific elements, I was impressed with how the narrative tone of the story remained soft and peaceful; it may well be that the fate the characters meet is one that was suited to them and their situation, after all. [Recommended-2]

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Robin M. Eames, “ritual” (Speculative City, Issue 2: Game, Fall 2018)

[Autistic author] This poem playfully juxtaposes OCD rituals, superstitions, and folk magic – implicitly asking the reader to guess where exactly the lines are drawn between these things, or if the lines are blurrier than we often want to suppose. [Recommended-2]

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Jennifer Lee Rossman, “The Good, The Bad, and the Utahraptor” (Cast of Wonders 332: Dinovember – November 30, 2018)

[Autistic author] A Weird West story of a cowgirl named Rosita who tames a wild Utahraptor. This is great wish-fulfilment fun. I especially like how Rosita notices her raptor is different from the others, disabled in some way, and how she bonds with the disabled raptor as a fellow misfit. [Recommended-2]

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Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, “Bring the Bones That Sing” (Diabolical Plots #65B)

[Autistic author] Muriel, a young autistic girl, discovers that her grandmother is a psychopomp for birds – and accidentally disrupts one bird’s journey. I really like the way Muriel’s sensory needs and overload are depicted in this one, the accommodations she is and isn’t given in her daily life, and the way her grandmother understands her. The underworld she has to enter is a storm of sensory overload, and the music of her grandmother’s magic makes more sense to her than reading, a skill with which she struggles. As with some of Merc’s other stories, I feel this is a good example of how to write an autistic character with magical abilities – neither the autism nor the magic are reducible for, or simple metaphors for, each other, but Muriel’s neurotype actively influences the way she experiences and uses the magic. [Recommended-1]

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McKinley Valentine, “The Code for Everything” (Fantasy Magazine, Issue 65 – March 2021)

[Non-neurotypical author] Izzy, a non-neurotypical young woman, has trouble working out what her friends expect of her. After being humiliated at a party, she is whisked off to fairyland, where the abstruse rules of fairy interaction are sensibly and explicitly written down. I don’t find this story completely satisfying – I think I, personally, would be very overwhelmed by a sudden change of scenery and an imposition of new rules like the one that Izzy experiences. But the fantasy of interacting with beings whose social rules are plainly intelligible has clear appeal, and is a fantasy many autistic readers will enjoy. For me, what rings especially true are the descriptions of how hard Izzy tries to fit in with her friends, and how miserable she feels when she makes a mistake. But don’t be fooled by my dour descriptions – this story does have a happy ending. [Recommended-1]

A MONTH OF AUTISTIC AUTHORS

Hello, Everything Is True followers! I had to wait until the afternoon to post this, lest it be mistaken for an April Fool’s joke, but this is something I’ve been excited about doing for a long time. April is Autism Acceptance Month, and I want to use the month to run some interviews so you can get to know a whole month’s worth of autistic speculative fiction authors!

(Read the full post for free on Substack)

Autism, Writing, and Craft, Part 3: Choices

This is part 3 of my series on what an autistic writing style looks like. If you missed them, here are the links to Part 1 – on character and agency – and part 2 – on emotions and communication. Today we’re wrapping up with one more topic, and then with a bit of rumination about what, exactly, autistic authors can do about an NT market that isn’t familiar with, or sympathetic to, autistic writing styles.

(Read the full post on Substack)

Autism, Writing, and Craft, part 2: Communication

Here’s part 2 of my series on autistic writing styles and how they might differ from neurotypical writing styles. Part 1, looking at character and agency, is here. This week we’re going to be looking at emotions and communication. In addition to the broad traits of a character, autistic people are known to have atypical emotional reactions to specific circumstances, and to communicate differently than our neurotypical peers. Since writing itself is, by definition, a communicative act, what does that mean for us?

(Read the full post on Substack)

Autism, Writing, and Craft, part 1: Character

I’ve been chewing on the idea that characteristic aspects of autistic writing are different from neurotypical writing. I think of it whenever I look at essays like Matthew Salesses’ “25 Essential Notes on Craft.” We talk about this topic in terms of authors of color trying to get by in a very white, American-dominated publishing industry. Every once in a while I hear assertions that something like this applies to neurodiverse groups, too, but I rarely see a deep unpacking of what that means…

(Read the whole post on Substack)

Dinosaur microfiction

The MILLION-YEAR ELEGIES Twitter launch went really well! I ended up writing a good handful of micro-stories for people as part of one of the launch games – so here they are, for your reading convenience, all gathered in one place.

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“Unexpected Smilodon”
(for @MockRamblings)

“Don’t be silly,” said John, walking further into the sunlit brush. “There’s nothing in these woods to be afraid of-” The speed of the pounce, the flash of fur and of unnaturally long fangs, took him by surprise.

(see Michael Mock’s continuation of this story)

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“TRILOBITES”
(for @bogiperson)

The researcher crouched in the shallow water, picking up one of the three-lobed, segmented creatures to crawl on her hand. Its small legs tickled. For this moment alone, the journey had been well worth it.

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“Siberian trap climate”
(for @Nanotyrann)

The north was a horror, an ocean of flame. We knew better than to linger there. But when we fled to the south, the air was poison, the seas steaming, the swamps drying up. As if whatever burned there had spread its hellish fingers all across the globe.

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“Plague of Justinian”
(for @CatKimbriel)

The bodies lay stacked in the Byzantine thoroughfare, too many for respectful rites to be given in time. In the alleyways, little eyes gleamed in the shadows, the creatures awaiting their meal.

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“Saturday morning Allosaurus”
(for @Samwitch11)

They brought the creature out on the lawn as a weekend entertainment, its huge jaws muzzled, its red-brown scales painted in cheery, multicolor patterns. You could almost forget that it was a killer – unless, of course, you looked into its hungry eyes.

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“Really large birds”
(for @Sharessan)

The Diatryma stood proud in the green of the plateau, its feathers ruffling as it screeched a high-pitched call into the air. Its gaze locked with ours for a single moment, and then it started toward us, and we ran.

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“From the deep…”
(for @simonru)

There was no warning on that placid sea, no suspicious fin or darkening of the water to tell us what was coming. Only the sudden heave and snap of two jaws, larger around than our little boat, and then darkness.

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“Pachyrhinosaurus”
(for @psygeek)

The creatures nudged each other playfully with their armored noses – almost wrestling, as they milled and ate their fill amid the ferns.

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“PLESIOSAUR RIDES”
(for @GDeyke)

The park put the visitors in wetsuits, after signing countless waivers, and showed them where to grip the harnesses that attached to the vast beasts. They swam free through the waves, faster than the kayaks trailing after them, snapping at small fish as they went.

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“Terror Bird rampage”
(for @PrinceJvstin)

The great claws tearing the earth underneath it, the snapping of the massive beak; it was all we could to just to flee down the hill, with the Terror Bird close on our heels.

MILLION-YEAR ELEGIES launch event!

The official MILLION-YEAR ELEGIES prehistoric launch party is TOMORROW – Tuesday, March 9 – and since I hate Zoom meetings but love to tweet, it’s all going to be happening right on Twitter. Here’s what you can look forward to:

9am EST – beginning of a GIVEAWAY – several signed print copies will be available for folks who tell me about their favorite prehistoric creature. I have three lovely physical copies of the book here – they’re the first I ever held in my hands aside from the unofficial proof copy – and they’re all going to go out, signed, to three lucky winners

10am EST – beginning of a MICROFICTION GAME!

12pm EST: beginning of an Ask Me Anything – from noon until 5pm I will be hanging out on Twitter, answering any question folks want to throw at me – book related, dinosaur related, or otherwise.

5pm EST: AMA concludes and giveaway winners are announced.

A new poem, “Dimetrodon” – which was published exclusive to Julia Rios’s Patreon on the weekend – will also become free to the public tomorrow, so look out for that too, along with miscellaneous tips and tidbits about this book and its writing.

See you then!

Million-Year Elegies: On Deep Time and Trauma

When we think about dinosaurs, we think about trauma. Maybe not immediately, maybe not consciously, but the association is there. We think about large, vicious predators ready to sink their teeth into us. And we think about extinction, because dinosaurs are extinct…

(Read the full post on Substack)

Dinosaur (Monster) Culture

I recently read Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s “Monster Culture (Seven Theses),” a foundational work in the study of fictional monsters and their role in human culture. (My girlfriend sent me a copy. We’re intellectuals!) Of course I’m all about this; my debute short story collection was called Monsters In My Mind. And it strikes me that dinosaurs, with their seemingly fantastical physical forms and their sense of power and danger, were my first monster love…

(Read the whole post on Substack)

A Dreamwidth update!

Apparently my WordPress-Dreamwidth synchronization keeps not working and I keep not noticing that it’s failing to work until like… months after the fact. Nine months after the fact, in this case. I’m sorry! Okay so if you’re on Dreamwidth and you’re wondering where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since May 2020, which was definitely ten thousand years ago in pandemic time, here’s the deets:

BIG BOOK NEWS

  • My first poetry collection, MILLION-YEAR ELEGIES, will release from Kindle Direct Publishing on March 9. This collection of dinosaur poetry uses ancient life to explore themes of trauma, power, survival and how we see ourselves. Due to an Amazon glitch, the paperback version is actually already available.
  • THE FALLEN is, of course, still on track to release in July.

Short stories/poetry:

Autistic Book Party

Also:

I’m sorry I’ve neglected you, Dreamwidth friends! I read all your posts and enjoy them, I just… forget to be “there” in any visible way, sometimes. Hopefully the glitch is fixed, though, for now.