The Pattern of Eightfold Limbs

And suddenly, at the end of the year, a new poem happened! I thought Through the Gate wasn’t going to publish “The Pattern of Eightfold Limbs”, my very short poem about communication with octopi, until 2017, but it snuck right in as a surprise New Year’s Eve treat.

Enjoy, here.

My Favourite Short Speculative Fiction of 2016


  • Seth Dickinson, “Laws of Night and Silk” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #200). Horrible in an unfairly gorgeous, “all my feels” way. I couldn’t decide if I loved it or was incredibly furious with it until the end of the last damn scene.
  • Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, “The Orangery” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #214). A refreshingly nuanced feminist take on Greek mythology. Also, trees.
  • Bogi Takács, “Standing on the Floodbanks” (GigaNotoSaurus, November). A quietly beautiful story of a magical apprenticeship, and of learning to move from a system of abusive control to something better.
  • Genevieve Valentine, “Everyone From Themis Sends Letters Home” (Clarkesworld, October). Looks like a space colonization story at first, and then blossoms into something far more complex.
  • Alyssa Wong, “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay” (Uncanny, Issue Ten). Desert magic, vengeance, claiming one’s power. Queerplatonic True Love.

Short Stories

  • Aliette de Bodard, “A Hundred and Seventy Storms” (Uncanny, Issue Eleven). Mindships, disability, family, loyalty. Extreme weather on exoplanets. Ordeals.
  • Margaret Killjoy, “The Name of the Forest” (Strange Horizons, March 21). Vividly drawn homeless narrator. Matter-of-fact magic. Choosing life when life is messy and difficult. Also, bugs.
  • Carrie Laben, “Postcards from Natalie” (The Dark, July). An understated not-quite-ghost-story, with a supernatural element that creeps up real slowly and quietly into gut-punch range.
  • Arkady Martine, “Ekphrasis” (An Alphabet of Embers). Hive minds. Poetry. Sacrifice.
  • Russell Nichols, “u wont remember dying” (Motherboard, June 23). Police violence, shiny technology as a band-aid solution, and what that means for the people affected. Existential terror. Text messages as prose.
  • Nicasio Andras Reed, “Painted Grassy Mire” (Shimmer, July 5). Atmosphere. Alligators. Blood ties and animalism in the swamp.
  • Frances Rowat, “Playing Prometheus” (Persistent Visions, November 18). A socially aware time travel story that avoids the usual tropes in favor of a simpler and more emotionally powerful look at consequences.
  • Shawn Scarber, “The Opening of the Bayou St. John” (Strange Horizons, February 8). An eerily beautiful story of motherhood, grief, and supernatural bargains.
  • M Sereno, “Only Revolutions” (An Alphabet of Embers). Fierce, lush, hungry mythology. Anti-colonialism. Love and survival.

My Favourite Speculative Poems of 2016

The most brilliant, the most beautiful, the ones that eloquently grabbed me where I live. Read them all.

Long Poems (51+ lines)

Short Poems (11-50 lines)

Dwarf Poems (1-10 lines):

Work Published in 2016

And then both of my other planned publications for December were delayed, so here is what I published in 2016, after all.

One novelette: “The Scrape of Tooth on Bone” in GigaNotoSaurus (Canadian lesbian steampunk with an autistic protagonist and dinosaur fossil ghosts)

One short story: “A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover From the Bottom of the Sea” in Strange Horizons (underwater witchery, uncertain love, and difficult choices)

Ten poems:

Roundups of my favourite stories and poetry by other people are coming soon.

Reviews of “A Spell to Retrieve Your Lover From the Bottom of the Sea”

My overly personal little deep-sea story in second person is picking up some acclaim around the Internet.

Charles Payseur of Quick Sip Reviews had some kind things to say about it:

…I like that, that the story really isn’t about fixing someone or saving someone. That it’s about being with someone and creating a space where they might want to move. Might want to break free.

Payseur later added the story to his Monthly Round of favorite stories from November, pairing it with a Vanilla Stout:

It is a slow kind of spell that the narrator casts, that the narrator asks the reader to experience. A spell that resists the common tropes and implications. That something can be fixed just by waving at it. That some things can be fixed at all.

Benjamin Wheeler at Tangent Online praised the story, despite admitting he doesn’t like second person:

With the active language, great descriptions and melancholy you could cut with a butter knife, this story really cinches what the author tries to accomplish.

Greg Hullender at Rocket Reviews was less impressed:

Although it’s a fine statement, it doesn’t make for much of a story.

Maria Haskins listed the story on her list of 12 awesome spec stories from November:

Wow… Hoffman’s prose is exquisite: it sings and flows and dances. Outstanding and captivating from start to finish.

And Nin Harris tweeted the story as one of her 30 favorite stories of the year.

If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, the story is here.

A year in review post will happen later in the month; I still have another short fiction publication lined up for December, so I’m waiting for that, first.

Million-Year Elegies: Archaeopteryx

My poem, “Million-Year Elegies: Archaeopteryx” is up in the December issue of Asimov’s. I got my contributor copies on the weekend. The poem is delightfully placed in the issue, appearing directly after the conclusion of an article by Robert Silverberg about reviving extinct animals, and with a very cute Archaeopteryx-fossil illustration in the background. If you like Asimov’s and dinosaur poetry, perhaps you should go check it out.

Autistic Book Party, Episode 27 And A Half: Short Story Smorgasbord

Kythryne Aisling, “quiet hands” (inkscrawl Issue 10, August 2016)

The title of this poem is a catchphrase commonly used by educators who try to stop autistic and other special needs children from moving around. The poem will be relatable to autistic people who have experienced coercive medication and attempts to extinguish stims. [YMMV, but I liked it]


Bogi Takács, “Toward the Luminous Towers” (Clarkesworld, August 2016)

[Autistic author] A story about a non-neurotypical person with immense magical power who is coercively drafted into a war effort. (Bogi’s story notes confirm that the protagonist is autistic.) This is a well-written but difficult story; there is a great deal of abuse and coercion, and the ending could be mistaken for suicide by a careless reader. Readers who are put off by this content might want to wait for later installments in the series, which according to the story notes will be more cheerful in tone, and in which autism will play a greater role in the plot. [YMMV, but I liked it]


Rose Lemberg, “The Book of How to Live” (Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #209, September 2016)

[Autistic author] A story about a magicless autistic artificer in a magical world, and the beginnings of a revolution. Efronia’s autism is downplayed but recognizeable, particularly in her confusion over people’s motivations and in a period of sensory overwhelm she has towards the end of the story. She is a patient, steadfast person, which is a nice thing I don’t see often enough. The story overall is political in a very good way. [Recommended]


Julie Nováková, “Becoming” (Persistent Visions, October 21, 2016)

A story about a woman who becomes the mind of a space station, then is “rescued” and pressured to assimilate back into normal human life by other humans. Ana’s neurotype is written to closely resemble autism, although it’s unclear to me if she was always autistic or if this is somehow a consequence of having been a space station for a long time. (Her synesthesia and physical disability certainly predate her transformation.) Neurotypical society never really gets around to respecting Ana’s autonomy or ability to choose, even when they offer her old position back to her again – but Ana still triumphs by staying true to her own chosen values. [Recommended]


Amanda Sun, “What Harm” (Strangers Among Us, August 2016)

A non-speaking autistic boy named Colin is sold to an evil overlord and unexpectedly becomes the overlord’s undoing. This is a cool idea for a story and might have been enjoyable in different hands, but I was very distracted, alienated, and frustrated by the writing style. Colin is constantly othered by the narration in a variety of ways, even when it makes no sense to do so. I suspect that this may have been intentional on the author’s part, an attempt at ironic contrast between the way Colin is described and what he is actually capable of, but it really didn’t work for me. Colin’s deeds effectively undermine other characters’ claims that he is incapable of intentionally affecting anything, but many other ableist aspects of how he is described in the narration remain unchallenged. A well-intentioned attempt that left a bad taste in my mouth. [Not Recommended]

Autism News: 2016/12/04

Well, I haven’t made an Autism News post since before the American election, so we need to address that. All of you have presumably already read a million thinkpieces about the election, but there is less being spread around from a disabled point of view than from some others, so here are some important election-related posts by disabled people.

(Note: I’m not completely sure how to TW this section properly. Please assume, as with the Sad Things section, that everything that sounds like it might be negative/triggering is what it says on the can.)

But not all of us live in the US! Here are some slightly less terrible things that are happening in the UK.

Some useful psychological information:

Some posts about personal experiences:


Some activism, and some posts about how to do activism:


  • Autism Speaks removed the word “cure”, and many other pathologizing/stigmatizing terms, from their mission statement. (While this change is too little too late for many autistic people, it’s still really interesting news!)
  • Brent White and Lindsey Anderson give a presentation on understanding and coping with meltdowns.

And finally, the Sad Things section. (Or should that be Sad Things Other Than Trump?)

  • The fire in California which killed four disabled men and their caregiver has been confirmed to be arson-related, and potentially a murder-suicide.
  • Lisa Daxer’s Autism Memorial logged six known times in October and November when autistic people were killed for being autistic: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Fantastic Beasts And How To Be Ableist When You Find Them

I don’t ordinarily review movies. And I didn’t think I was going to watch Fantastic Beasts anyway (there were known issues with race, among other things, even before it came out) but I got asked out to it on a date and, well, here we are.

(The rest of this post contains VERY LARGE SPOILERS, including ending spoilers, for “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them”. Also, TW for abuse and murder.)

Continue reading “Fantastic Beasts And How To Be Ableist When You Find Them”

A quick note about “Something in the Rain”

Last week I posted a review of the autistic stories in Defying Doomsday. I listed Seanan McGuire’s “Something in the Rain” as one of these stories, saying that its protagonist was autistic and schizophrenic.

Seanan McGuire very politely corrected me on Twitter and said that the protagonist has OCD (which Seanan shares), not autism.

I was mortified to have gotten it wrong and quickly fixed the post, crossing out the text of that review. I couldn’t believe I had been so sure that autism was there in the story when it wasn’t.

A commenter pointed out, a few days later, that the text of “Something in the Rain” does explicitly say the protagonist was autistic. I looked back into my copy and found that this is, in fact, the case:

I didn’t have a muscular disorder; physically, there was nothing about me that deviated from what was considered “normal” for a seventeen-year-old girl. I had mild schizophrenia, for which I was medicated, and autism, for which I was not medicated, but that only changed the way I thought, not the way I moved.

I’m not sure exactly what happened here, but probably Seanan misremembered by accident. (Which is ok! There are many reasons why a busy and prolific author might misremember details of some of their stories.)

However, I think it’s more important to respond to what a story actually says than what the author says about it, so I’m going to be restoring the review to its original condition, restoring the protagonist to the list of autistic protagonists, and putting a link in to this post as explanation.

Apologies for any confusion over this one.