Short Fiction

The following stories are free to read or listen to, but please consider purchasing the issue or subscribing to these excellent publications.

He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars
Clarkesworld (Issue 178, July 2021)
Reprinted and re-podcasted in Escape Pod (Episode 877, February 2023)

Shortlisted for 2021 Aurealis Awards Best Science Fiction Short Story

Recommended story by Karen Burnham for Locus Magazine: ‘This portrait of fame with its costs and benefits is very well done.’

Included in Maria Haskins’s July 2021 Short Fiction Round-up: ‘Science fiction with a tender, gentle heart and spirit, this story is bittersweet and lovely through and through. ‘

Included in Vanesssa Fogg’s July-August 2021 Short Fiction Recs: ‘Wildly inventive, lyrical, and ultimately moving.’

5300 words.Yennie is a pop idol on Enceladus–a lonely star, the product of generations of gamete engineering. Will quantum entanglements, deepfakes, superfans, and his new therapist show him a path that diverges from predestined fame?

An ice storm, a froth of glassy dust, was blowing in over the bone-colored hills. He was on Enceladus; his therapist was on Mars. He wanted to describe how sometimes his body felt hollow, and other times he felt his skin could not contain all that was within him—but he didn’t have the words. Half the solar system divided them, and more.

To The Dark Side of the Moon
Hexagon Magazine (Issue 9, June 2022)

4300 words. In high earth orbit, a bisexual cyborg healer petitions a seductive, ageless councillor for funding to save a dying remnant of humanity.

I disembark into a shadowy chamber strung with stone amulets, smelling of incense and battery fuel. An android in a wide-sleeved cheongsam helps me remove my pressure suit and eases my joints with warm, gelatinous hands. Transit vessels are built for efficiency, not comfort.

“Would you like a cup of rice wine before you see her?”

I’m tense, but I’m afraid to loosen my tongue. “No, thank you.”

As Though I Were a Little Sun
Fireside Magazine (Issue 102, April 2022)

Included in Vanessa Fogg’s May-June 2022 Short Fiction Recs: ‘A strange, sad, and gorgeous piece about transformation.’

1700 words. A tale of botanical transformation, ecological collapse/renewal, and giving everything for your family.

In my new form, I drink sunrays with unfathomable need. I open the pores of my numerous leaves. I yearn for light to pour through my tender membranes, to soak the chlorophyll pigments embedded within my coiled thykaloid spaces. Only then will I vibrate with energy. I will remove electrons, dividing water into oxygen. I will catch carbon from the air and construct newer, sweeter shapes.

Nobody Ever Goes Home to Zhenzhu
Lightspeed Magazine (Issue 144, May 2022)’s Must Read Speculative Fiction for May 2022: ‘The worldbuilding is slight but enticing, and the characters are intriguing enough to make you want to know everything about them.’

Included in Maria Haskins’s May 2022 Short Fiction Round-up: ‘This hugely entertaining science fiction story is one hell of a ride – it’s action packed and almost cinematic in its storytelling, and at the same time it manages to do some excellent worldbuilding, and give us a great set of characters, while never losing its momentum. ‘

3600 words. A historical-records-hacking space adventure. When her mechanic Calam disappears, the Beaconer Orin tracks him to the seething, crumbling planet Zhenzhu. A sequel to my first published short story, ‘The Dunes of Ranza’.

I’d always known Calam would run.

He had all the signs. A taut restlessness, body brittle as an overstretched lute string, when we stayed too long in one place. A gloom in his eyes, as we drifted through stretches of dead space. A sullen crease between the brows, whenever I tried to ask how he’d landed in that dead-end Martian workshop at seventeen.

But after ten years, why now?

Jigsaw Children
Clarkesworld (Issue 161, Feb 2020)
Audio Version available on Clarkesworld Website / Podcast

Shortlisted for 2020 Aurealis Awards Best Science Fiction Novella

13,000 words. A science fiction novelette set in twenty-second century Hong Kong, about gene splicing, mothers, attachment, and identity.

I think I’m reasonably lucky, only having five parents. I guess my donors didn’t have too many risk mutations. Some of my classmates have been spliced together from eight, nine, even twelve donors. I don’t envy them the task of juggling their Chinese New Year dinners.

The following stories are available for purchase within their respective magazines or anthologies.

Death By Water
From The Waste Land, PS Publishing (forthcoming in late 2022)

The Devil’s Hair
Where the Weird Things Are Vol. 2, Deadset Press (forthcoming)

Mother of the Trenches
Unnatural Order, CSFG Publishing (Dec 2020)

2700 words. A tentacled, symbiotic, fantasy tale about power, knowing yourself, ocean pollution, and deep, dark places.

You turn your little eyes to me, taking in my massive shapelessness, the dark patterns shifting over my skin, and my many arms, coiled around us like a nest—protecting, tasting, thinking. Your gaze flicks upwards and crosses paths with mine.

Your fear turns into disgust.

Of Hunger and Fury
Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Omnium Gatherum (Sep 2020)
– Bram Stoker Award, Best Anthology (2020), Shirley Jackson Award, Edited Anthology (2020), British Fantasy Award Nominee, Best Anthology (2021)

3600 words. A Malaysian Chinese gothic horror story. When Fen Fang returns to her family home in Malaysia, long-forgotten ghosts begin to creep into her skin.

When I see my mother standing in the front yard, two decades disappear in a blink. I can hardly bear to look at the faded white walls, the creeping lattice of vines like bloated veins. She pulls the metal gate open. Her bare wrists look strangely vulnerable. My husband bounds over to her, grasps her hand in both of his, leans in to peck her cheek.

The Ethnographer
Andromeda Spaceways Magazine (Issue 79, Jun 2020)

5000 words. A far future science fiction story about inequality and powerlessness. A solitary, empathetic ethnographer travels to a far-flung planet and gradually discovers hidden ruptures in the alien society.

I step down from the Linnaeus into a crimson haze creased with shadows. The wind howls like a banshee symphony. At once, I understand why the Vullon have no hearing organs: the noise of this alien planet inspires madness.

Father’s House
Aurealis (Issue 129, Apr 2020)

Reprinted in Etherea Magazine (Issue 14, Sep 2022)

2500 words. A short story touching on themes of brain connectome mapping, illness, immigration, and the things that parents pass on to their children.

He removes his shoes and places them neatly next to his father’s black sneakers.
His father’s voice floats from the kitchen. ‘Henry. How’s work?’
‘Fine, Ba. I’ve taken a few days off.’
‘Just to help me clean? Are you sure that’s a good idea?’

The Misplaced Giant
AntipodeanSF (Issue 255, Dec 2019)

1000 words. A light-hearted flash fiction piece about Big Ted, who never fit in.

The Mark
Verge: Uncanny (Monash University Publishing, Jun 2019)
Reprinted in Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women, Omnium Gatherum (Sep 2020)

Shortlisted for 2019 Aurealis Awards Best Horror Short Story and 2020 Norma K Hemming Award in-depth review by Anne M. Pillsworth and Ruthanna Emrys

3000 words. A psychological horror story that explores the intersection between power and madness. Something is wrong with Emma’s husband, and she’s determined to figure it out.

I move my hand, close the three inches, press our pinkies together. His skin is as cold as dead meat. James moves his hand away, unconsciously, still talking.

The Dunes of Ranza
Going Down Swinging: Pigeonholed (Going Down Swinging, Nov 2018)

Reprinted in Space and Time #140 (March 2021)

3200 words. A post-colonial far future sci-fi story. When Orin’s ship crash-lands on a forgotten planet, she has a chance encounter that could change the fate of an entire people.

Ula raised a slender finger towards my nose. “You are what?”

“That’s a big question. I’m a human. Mostly female, five per cent artificial. Born on Earth, believe it or not. Dad was an elitist. I’m a Beaconer.”