In the spring of 2021, we issued a call for submissions, asking writers to delve into the darker aspects of three intertwined concepts: identity, security, and community. We wanted them to explore the ways darkness—fascism, war, societal collapse—can seep into our lives insidiously, silently stretching its tendrils like creeping vines, or erupt with the sudden violence of a bursting seedpod.
We are thrilled to finally present this unforgettable collection, showcasing some of the most talented voices in speculative fiction.
A family copes with a husband and father’s temporary revival after a tragic accident, navigating the complexities of grief and the limitations of cutting-edge medical technology.
In the walled city of Boom Town, citizens have implants at the base of their skulls that cause their heads to explode if they think sinful thoughts, and sixteen-year-old Mary doesn’t think she’s going to last much longer.
An estranged son returns home to check on his family, raid their pantry, and confront his past after a contagious freezing virus causes society’s collapse.
Almost every human born suffers from hyperalgesia, requiring them to live in tightly controlled padded bunkers deep underground. Erica, a seven on the pain index, risks her marriage to bring joy to her daughters, a three and a six who will never see the sun.
Two survivors must prove themselves worthy of joining a new “neighborhood,” a clan bunker where they can enjoy shelter and protection from the hyperpredatory monsters outside. The discovery of a perfectly preserved room from the past in their personal hab ignites an obsession that threatens everything.
A prisoner sentenced to hard labor on a faraway penal planet chronicles his days by dreaming up messages he can never send to the son he’ll never see again.
The government doesn’t trust people to raise productive, loyal patriots, but Mario and Lisette are determined to keep their infant daughter.
A sentient satellite grapples with the devastating loss of its human crew.
An abandoned battleship must contend with a motley crew of intruders. As an unfathomable predator bears down on them all, the ship must decide whether to trust these strangers who lack the proper clearance.
Xu gets caught up in a rebellion against the oppressive regime that controls the living walls encircling the last city on Earth in this story about friendship, betrayal, and genesplicing.
Only humans who volunteer to transform their bodies into alien form are treated as equals, so you’ll have to learn how to become extraterrestrial and lead a better life.
An ambitious professional hires a homeless blind man to pretend to be his ancestor and walk for him among masses of preserved, mechanized corpses, in a parade of the dead.
On a planet where the birds are not quite birds and the trees are not quite trees, Rennie spends his days on the Tower, scrubbing the creatures’ blood off the concrete.
An island-bound “Crew” welcomes their newest recruit—a young girl, orphaned by the shipwreck they caused.
When a young detective claims Malik was set up for a crime he doesn’t remember committing and offers him a chance to clear his name, he has to decide whether it’s worth risking everything he has left, including his last remaining memory of his daughter.
Determined to find her wife, Ayumi enters a dream world where she must confront her past trauma and grief with the help of Mashoka, a faulty Weaver.
Colonists building a peaceful, compassionate society on a tidally locked planet wracked with vicious electrical storms are afraid there might be traitors on their planet after a bombing nearly kills a recently widowed father.
A. Katherine Black adores multicolored pens, long winters, and her overworked coffee machines. She lives in the Northwoods with her family and their cats, where she dreams up stories of creatures with bunches of legs, tentacles, and wings. Find her at flywithpigs.com.
Derrick Boden’s fiction has appeared and is forthcoming in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, Apex Magazine, and elsewhere. He is a writer, a software developer, an adventurer, and a graduate of the Clarion West class of 2019. He currently calls Boston his home, although he’s lived in fourteen cities spanning four continents. He is owned by two cats and one iron-willed daughter. Find him at derrickboden.com and on Twitter as @derrickboden.
Timothy Burkhardt’s fiction has appeared in Metastellar, The Horror Tree, and Riddled With Arrows. He lives in the mountains outside of Asheville, NC with his two teenage sons and his cat, Keats.
P.A. Cornell is a Chilean-Canadian author who wrote her first speculative story when she was just eight years old. A member of SFWA and graduate of the Odyssey workshop, her short fiction has appeared in multiple genre markets and anthologies. Her story, “Splits,” went on to win Canada’s 2022 Short Works Prize for Fiction. That same year, she published her debut novella, Lost Cargo. When not writing, Cornell can be found assembling intricate Lego builds or drinking ridiculous quantities of tea. Sometimes both. To find out more about the author and her work, visit her website pacornell.com.
Kitty-Lydia Dye is a writer and artist from Norfolk, UK. Her works are mainly inspired by folktales and the haunting landscape of the Broads, often finding ways of weaving different genres together—the beauty of ivy against metal. More of her work and art can be found at:
Instagram & Twitter: @kittylydiadye
Alicia Hilton is an author, law professor, arbitrator, actor, and former FBI Special Agent. She believes in angels and demons, magic and monsters. Alicia’s work has appeared in Akashic Books, Best Indie Speculative Fiction Volume 3, Cemetery Gates Media, Daily Science Fiction, DreamForge, Litro, Space and Time, Vastarien, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 4, 5 & 6, and elsewhere. She is a member of HWA and SFWA. Her website is https://www.aliciahilton.com. Follow her on Twitter @aliciahilton01.
A. P. Howell’s jobs have spanned the alphabet from archivist to webmaster and she has a master’s degree in history. Her short fiction has appeared here and there, including in Underland Arcana, ParSec, Translunar Travelers Lounge, Martian, In Somnio: A Collection of Modern Gothic Horror (Tenebrous Press), and Bicycles & Broomsticks: Fantastical Feminist Stories about Witches on Bikes (Elly Blue Publishing). Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Brave New Weird Award, and honorably mentioned in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year Volume Thirteen. She lives with her spouse and their two awesome kids and can be found online at aphowell.com.
Andrea Kriz is a molecular biologist currently doing postdoctoral research in neurodevelopment at Harvard Medical School. Her short stories have appeared in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Asimov’s Science Fiction and have been translated into French in Galaxies SF. Her short story collection, Learning to Hate Yourself as a Self-Defense Mechanism, is upcoming from Interstellar Flight Press. Find her at http://andreakriz.wordpress.com or on Twitter @theworldshesaw.
Nathaniel Lee lives in Oregon and is frequently rained upon. He puts words into various orders. Occasionally people give him money for this. Visit his website to read more at mirrorshards.net.
Gordon Linzner is founder and former editor of Space and Time Magazine, and author of three published novels and dozens of short stories in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Twilight Zone, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, and others. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a lifetime member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
Rodrigo Assis Mesquita is a Brazilian science fiction and fantasy writer, a chocolate-brigadeiro enthusiast, and a Clarion West (2018) and Viable Paradise (2018) graduate. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Future Science Fiction Digest, Simultaneous Times, and Story Seed Vault. In Portuguese, it has appeared or is forthcoming in Revista Trasgo, Revista Mafagafo, and Nove Amanhãs. He can be found at www.grifonegro.com.br.
Andrew Milne lives and works in the Highlands of Scotland. A 2012 graduate from the University of Dundee with an MA in English Literature and Politics, he spends his off hours writing fiction when he’s not hiking or obsessing over old, obscure movies on his Letterboxd account. A lifelong sci-fi devotee and determined to make his mark on the genre, his first novel is contracted and forthcoming.
Marshall J. Moore is an award-winning writer and martial artist who was born and raised on Kwajalein, a tiny Pacific island. He has trained a professional mercenary in unarmed combat, once sold a thousand dollars’ worth of teapots to Jackie Chan, and on one occasion was tracked down by a bounty hunter for owing $300 in overdue fees to the Los Angeles Public Library. He is the the author of the Rites of Resurrection trilogy of high fantasy novels, as well as thirty published short stories and the forthcoming novel Son of a Sailor: A Cozy Pirate Tale. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Megan and their two cats.
Josh Rountree has published short fiction in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies, including Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Realms of Fantasy, The Deadlands, Bourbon Penn, PseudoPod, Weird Horror, and Found: An Anthology of Found Footage Horror. His latest short fiction collection is Fantastic Americana from Fairwood Press. His novel The Legend of Charlie Fish will be published by Tachyon Publications in July 2023. Your can get the whole scoop at his website: www.joshrountree.com.
Denise B. Tanaka has a lifelong passion for writing stories of magical beings and faraway worlds but is sometimes sidetracked by nonfiction projects. A graduate of Sonoma State University, she pays the bills by working as a paralegal in immigration law. She has dabbled in genealogy for more than 35 years and is very grateful for the internet.
Rebecca E. Treasure grew up reading in the Rockies. After living many places, including the Gulf Coast & Tokyo, she began writing fiction. Rebecca’s short fiction has been published by or is forthcoming from Flame Tree, WordFire Press, Galaxy’s Edge, and others. She is an editor at Apex Magazine and a writing mentor. She juggles children, corgis, and writing. She only drops the children occasionally. Learn more at her website, https://rebeccaetreasure.com.
Brian Trent is the author of the acclaimed sci-fi thriller Redspace Rising, and his short fiction regularly appears in the New York Times-bestselling Black Tide Rising series, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF, Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Galaxy’s Edge, Nature, and numerous year’s-best anthologies. A winner of the 2019 Readers’ Choice Award from Baen Books and Writers of the Future, Trent lives in New England. His website and blog are at www.briantrent.com.