Fiction: 'Jade City' (Extract) by Fonda Lee

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Even in the shade, sweat trickled down the backs and faces of the year-eight students. Ten of them stood nervously, each behind a short tower of hot bricks. “One more,” said the master, and the assistant year-threes hurried to the fire pit with tongs, carefully but quickly removing bricks from the flames and placing another on top of each of the ten smoldering stacks. One of the waiting year-eights, named Ton, muttered quietly, “Ah, what to choose, pain or failure?”

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Fiction: 'Four Feet' by Kirsty Logan

Howard Hardiman - Four FeetOnce upon a night, a girl tiptoed on slippered feet into a garage, clutching a rag and a tin of beeswax. The only sound was the steady tick of the watchman's cane as he passed, but Eliska stood motionless on the step for another moment. The garage smelled of cold air and the sweet tickle of beeswax. She checked again to make sure that her feet were properly encased in their slippers – a cold floor might cause untold damage to a girl's feet – and stepped across to her animus.

The animus was a bull with golden horns and engraved wheels, and Eliska rose before dawn every other month to polish the horns until the tips were sharp enough to pierce the clouds. She knew that she cut a pretty figure, perched high in her animus with her hands resting on the controls.

With the rag gripped in her fist, Eliska scooped a fingerful of beeswax from the tin and started to rub tiny half-moons onto the clouded haunches of her animus. Within moment she was lost in her task. The servants never polished the animus properly, and Eliska could feel it down under her lungs: the shining surface hushed by cloud-fat whorls of grime and grit. She could not bear to have her breath tightened and her eyes blurred by her imperfect animus. It was a part of her, and the servants – they with the shell-hard soles and flattened arches – could never understand that. They could polish from dinner until breakfast and still Eliska would find a smudge at the very tip of her animus's horns.

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Small Press Shakedown: Michael Curran of Tangerine Press

Tangerine Press
The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Tangerine Press.

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Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

My name is Michael Curran and I founded Tangerine Press in 2006. The original plan was to publish limited edition, handbound books of poetry and prose by authors I admired, whether they be known or unknown, dead or alive. I was quite happy doing this for 7 years – binding books in the evenings after work and at weekends – until January 26th 2013.

That date is burned into my memory because for the first time in my life I called an ambulance: for myself. Following a serious back injury and subsequently losing feeling in my left leg from the knee down, then the whole leg, I had to reconsider my future. There was plenty of time for that: I was laid up for 3 months, in and out of hospital, etc. Dropping six Tramadol every morning just to make the day bearable. Going back to The Building Game – I was a self-employed carpenter for 16 years – wasn’t an option.

So the future suddenly had to be Tangerine.

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Fiction: 'An Affinitive Romance' by John Kendrick Bangs

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I. MR. AUGUSTUS RICHARDS'S IDEAL

Mr. Augustus Richards was thirty years of age and unmarried. He could afford to marry, and he had admired many women, but none of them came up to his ideals. Miss Fotheringay, for instance, represented his notions as to what a woman should be physically, but intellectually he found her woefully below his required standard. She was tall and stately—Junoesque some people called her—but in her conversation she was decidedly flippant. She was interested in all the small things of life, but for the great ones she had no inclination. She preferred a dance with a callow youth to a chat with a man of learning. She worshipped artificial in-door life, but had no sympathy with nature. The country she abominated, and her ideas of rest consisted solely in a change of locality, which was why she went to Newport every summer, there to indulge in further routs and dances when she wearied of the routs and dances of New York.

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Confessions of a lifelong collector

Photo by SA Partridge

As a child, I was an avid collector of My Little Pony and Care Bears, despite the fact that my only regular source of income was the occasional envelope on birthdays and Christmas. Even then I couldn't just have one. I needed them all. It fell to my parents to bankroll this craze. I remember my father driving from one toy store to another to find the elusive Birthday Bear (a mustardy-coloured Care Bear with a cupcake on its chest). It was the only one I didn't have. If the Internet had been around we would have found one instantly, but my father’s dedication to the task was admirable. Father of the Decade, I say.

Advertising played a part.

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Small Press Shakedown: Cherry Potts of Arachne Press

9781909208100The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Arachne Press.

Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

Arachne Press was born out of frustration as a writer with my existing publisher, and an opportune redundancy, which meant the mortgage got paid off and possible poverty wasn’t going to mean homelessness, so I decided to take a risk and do what I had always wanted – yes, 1970’s careers advisor, I did it in spite of you – be a publisher.

It’s ended up being a much wider remit than that – I also run The Story Sessions an irregular live lit event in South London and an annual festival Solstice Shorts which mixes time-themed words and music, on the shortest day of the year on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich; I video as much of the live stuff as I can, and when we get funded, we have BSL interpreters as well to make our work as accessible as possible.

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Small Press Shakedown: Dave de Burgh of Tickety Boo Press

Tickety Boo

The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Tickety Boo Press.

Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

Tickety Boo Press was started at the end of January, 2014 by Gary Compton, who remains our driving force and managing director. We're a small, independent publisher, and we publish Science Fiction (through our Space Dock imprint), Fantasy (through our Phantasia imprint), edgy, crazy, not-your-usual SpecFic thrillers (through our Critical Mass imprint), and Horror (through our Spectral Press imprint). We follow the traditional model of publishing, submissions, etc.

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Fiction: 'The White Fox and the Red' by E.J. Swift

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The year the world changed forever was the year the foxes changed colour. Well, it didn’t happen as quickly as that, within a single season, but it might as well have. One year they were white, the next they were red. Bigger too, and bolder. Out on the tundra she called home, a long way from any other living soul, the old woman known as Aapia found a red fox carcass, its belly slashed and open to the cold skies. She took the carcass home and made a coat from its fur. In the old days, its russet blaze would have been fatal for hunting, but the snow had gone along with the white foxes.

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Small Press Shakedown: Gary Budden of Influx Press

Imaginary Cities

The UK has a fantastic small press scene. To celebrate the people behind the imprints, and help out the writers that are looking to them for publication, we've asked a number of editors to share what they're working on - and what they're looking for. This week our featured publisher is Influx Press.

Could you tell us a bit about who you are and what you're doing?

I’m Gary Budden, one of the founders of independent publisher Influx Press. I set it up in 2011 with Kit Caless (now of Wetherspoon’s Carpets fame…) with the aim of producing one anthology and things snowballed a bit from there.

We originally started out with the idea of producing what we called ‘site specific’ writing, i.e. writing with a strong sense of place. That’s broadened out a little now to whatever great fiction and creative non-fiction takes our fancy – which is one of the benefits of running your own press, of course.

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