Reading Round-Up: July 2019

Continuing the monthly summaries of what I’ve been reading and writing. (This one’s a bit overdue!)



To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in e-book format as “books.” I read or listened to 7 books in July: 2 in print, 5 in e-book format, and 0 in audio. They were:

1.       Lightspeed Magazine #110 (July 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories. This month’s favorites for me were Andrew Penn Romine’s “Miles and Miles and Miles,” Indrapramit Das’s “The Moon Is Not a Battlefield,” J. Anderson Coats’ “Mother Carey’s Table,” and Senaa Ahmad’s “Ahura Yazda, The Great Extraordinary.”

2.       Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma. You would think that as an English major in college, I’d have read something, anything, by Willa Cather. But if I did, I don’t recall it at all (please forgive me, Professor Malcolm Marsden!). So I’m counting this as my first Cather work. I’d like to read more by her eventually. I found this one an interesting character study. Full Review HERE.

3.       Sealed by Naomi Booth. An interesting combination of near-future environmental horror, graphic body horror, and a potentially unreliable narrator. Not for the easily squeamish, for sure. Full review appeared at Strange Horizons on August 30th.

4.       Treasure Trail, by Morgan Brice. This is the first M/M urban fantasy/paranormal romance by Gail Z. Martin’s pen name that I have read, and it won’t be the last. This, the first in a new series, takes place in very haunted Cape May, NJ and introduces us to an antique shop owner with “the touch” (the ability to sense an object’s supernatural history) and a former cop turned rental property manager who sees ghosts. There’s also present- and past-day Mafia connections, because NJ.

5.       A Secret Guide to Fighting Elder Gods edited by Jennifer Brozek. A really fun anthology of Lovecraftian Young Adult stories. The stories hit all the requisite Lovecraft themes and monsters, but with settings mostly in the present day focusing on teens – and often, on teens seeing what the adults can’t or won’t see.

6.       The Trans Space Octopus Congregation by Bogi Takács. Bogi’s newest short story collection, due out from Lethe Press in October, has a wonderful mix of science fiction and fantasy, including a few stories set in a shared future setting. Eir stories touch on many present day issues, including the immigrant, transgender, and “alternate sexuality” experiences. A great read.

7.       The Triumph of the Spider-Monkey by Joyce Carol Oates. Not going to lie, this was a very difficult read for me. Long out of print and brought back by Hard Case Crime, this is a very disturbing look inside the head of a serial killer.




I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I read this month and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too. If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:

1.       “The Null Space Conundrum” by Violet Allen, from Lightspeed Magazine #110 (July 2019 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams.

2.       “The Mysteries” by Karen Lord

3.       “Miles and Miles and Miles” by Andrew Penn Romine

4.       “The Moon Is Not A Battlefield” by Indrapramit Das

5.       “Mother Carey’s Table” by J. Anderson Coats

6.       “Sand Castles” by Adam-Troy Castro

7.       “Song Beneath the City” by Micah Dean Hicks

8.       “Ahura Yazda, The Great Extraordinary” by Senaa Ahmad

9.       “Face Your Furs” by Seanan McGuire, on the author’s Patreon page.

10.   “The Good Girl” by Lucy Snyder, on the author’s Patreon page.

11.   “Freak Corner” by John Rolfe Gardiner, from One Story #254, edited by Patrick Ryan

12.   “The Story of O-Tei” by Lafcadio Hearn, from Oriental Ghost Stories, edited by David Stuart Davies

13.   “Green Glass: A Love Story” by E. Lily Yu, from If This Goes On: The Science Fiction Future of Today’s Politics, edited by Cat Rambo

14.   “The Last Adventure of Jack Laff: The Dayveil Gambit” by Steven Barnes

15.   “King Harvest (Will Surely Come)” by Nisi Shawl

16.   “Away Game” by Seanan McGuire, from A Secret Guide To Fighting Elder Gods, edited by Jennifer Brozek

17.   “The Icarus Club” by Weston Ochse

18.   “Stormy Monday” by Chesya Burke

19.   “Pickman’s Daughter” by J.C. Koch

20.   “Us and Ours” by Premee Mohamed

21.   “The Art of Dreaming” by Josh Vogt

22.   “Visions of the Dream Witch” by Lucy A. Snyder

23.   “The Tall Ones” by Stephen Ross

24.   “Just Imagine” by Tim Waggoner

25.   “Holding Back” by Lisa Morton

26.   “The Mouth of the Merrimack” by Douglas Wynne

27.   “The Geometry of Dreams” by Wendy N. Wagner

28.   “Being Emily-Claire” by Jonathan Maberry

29.   “This Shall Serve As A Demarcation” by Bogi Takács, from The Trans Space Octopus Congregation, edited by Steve Berman

30.   “Some Remarks on the Reproductive Strategies of the Common Octopus” by Bogi Takács

31.   “A Superordinate Set of Principles” by Bogi Takács

32.   “Forestspirit, Forestspirit” by Bogi Takács

33.   “Given Sufficient Desperation” by Bogi Takács

34.   “Changing Body Templates” by Bogi Takács

35.   “For Your Optimal Hookboarding Experience” by Bogi Takács

36.   “Increasing Police Visibility” by Bogi Takács

37.   “Good People in a Small Space” by Bogi Takács

38.   “Records of a More Personal Nature” by Bogi Takács

39.   “This Secular Technology” by Bogi Takács

40.   “Three Partitions” by Bogi Takács

41.   “Unifications” by Bogi Takács

42.   “The Size of A Barleycorn, Encased in Lead” by Bogi Takács

43.   “To Rebalance the Body” by Bogi Takács

44.   “Shovelware” by Bogi Takács

45.   “The Oracle of DARPA” by Bogi Takács

46.   “Toward the Luminous Towers” by Bogi Takács

47.   “Wind-lashed Vehicles of Bone” by Bogi Takács

48.   “The Need for Overwhelming Sensation” by Bogi Takács

49.   “Spirit Forms of the Sea” by Bogi Takács

50.   “All Talk of Common Sense” by Bogi Takács

51.   “Standing on the Floodbanks” by Bogi Takács

So that’s 51 short stories in July, keeping me way ahead for the year so far. (July 30th was the 212th day of 2019.)


Summary of Reading Challenges:

“To Be Read” Challenge: This month: 0 read; YTD: 3 of 14 read.

365 Short Stories Challenge: This month:  51 read; YTD: 291 of 365 read.

Graphic Novels Challenge:  This month: 0 read; YTD: 17 of 52 read.

Goodreads Challenge: This month: 7 read; YTD: 78 of 125 read.

Non-Fiction Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 5 of 24 read.

Read the Book / Watch the Movie Challenge: This month: 0; YTD: 0 of 10 read/watched.

Complete the Series Challenge: This month: 0 books read; YTD: 0 of 16 read.

                                                                Series fully completed: 0 of 3 planned

Monthly Special Challenge: I may not do something like this every month. Having checked several different websites, it seems like July is not a month that lends itself to any specific reading goal (it’s the National Month of several foods, though: National Baked Bean Month, Culinary Arts Month, Grilling Month, Horseradish Month, Hot Dog Month, Ice Cream Month, Blueberries Month, and Picnic Month!) So my mini-challenge to myself was to make July Series Month, to help me catch up on one of my year-long challenges (The “Complete the Series” Challenge).

Friends, I completely bombed this self-challenge. I brought two series on a three-week business trip (Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen series, and one of the two remaining books I need to read in Chinua Achebe’s Africa Trilogy) and read precisely none of them. (In fact, I discovered on the trip that I’d brought the wrong Achebe with me, so stopped reading….)

August’s monthly special challenge is/was in honor of PulpFest and FarmerCon, the annual overlapping conventions that celebrate the fiction of the Pulp magazine era and the work of author Philip Jose Farmer. Tune into my next post to see how I did with that!

JOHN JOSEPH ADAMS - Editor Interview

This week’s guest is editor John Joseph Adams, whose latest book is UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS, new short stories celebrating the 100th anniversary of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic hero John Carter of Mars.

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams  is the bestselling editor of Wastelands, The Living Dead (a World Fantasy Award finalist), The Living Dead 2By Blood We Live, Federations, The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Brave New Worlds, The Way of the Wizard, and Lightspeed: Year One. Forthcoming anthologies include The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination (Tor Books) and Armored (Baen Books). In 2011, he was nominated for two Hugo Awards and two World Fantasy Awards. He has been called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes &, and his books have been lauded as some of the best anthologies of all time. He is also the editor of Lightspeed Magazine, and is the co-host of The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxypodcast.

ANTHONY:   John, thanks for taking a few moments to chat with me about UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS. How did the project come about?

JOHN:  I’d heard that Disney was going to be adapting A Princess of Mars into a movie, and it sounded like–at LAST–the adaptation was finally going to happen. There had been a number of false-starts over the years, but it seemed like this one was finally going to happen, thanks in no small part to the success of (and SFX technological advancement provided by) Avatar. Being a fan of the original books, I was quite excited, and the idea of doing the “new adventures” of John Carter sprang to mind. It seemed like a good, marketable idea, and a book that would be a hell of a lot of fun, so I started putting together a proposal and recruiting authors for it. Once I started reaching out to people, the number of folks who were excited about it really reinforced my thought that it would be a great project, and luckily Simon & Schuster agreed and published the anthology.

ANTHONY:  The book features a fantastic line-up. Was there an open submission process or was it invitation only? Are there any authors you’d hoped would take part who weren’t able to?

JOHN:  The book was invitation-only; unfortunately, I had to keep it that way because I was under orders to keep the project secret basically until it was done being assembled; the publisher wanted to wait to announce it until we had a table of contents to show off. Also, I had recruited a pretty large number of authors for the book in the proposal stage, and I knew it would be unlikely that I’d have much extra room for anything beyond that. Plus, for a book like this one, which is a VERY specific topic, I knew if I did an open call for submissions, a lot of writers would end up with stories that they probably wouldn’t be able to sell anywhere else. Although the Barsoom stories are public domain, most short fiction venues are unlikely to run a story set in another author’s milieu.

Neil Gaiman and Michael Moorcock were both initially interested but ultimately couldn’t contribute due to their schedules, so that was disappointing. And there were a number of authors I would have loved to have on board who said no at the proposal stage for one reason or another. One contributing factor to this was that the anthology had to be put together on a pretty short timeline if we were going to have the book ready to publish to coincide with the release of the John Carter film.

Under The Moon of Mars

Under The Moon of Mars

ANTHONY:  The preview for the book on Amazon mentions a number of great artists, like Charles Vess and Mike Kaluta, contributing story illustrations. How did you decide which artist to pair with which stories for the illustrations?

That was mostly decided by Lizzy Bromley & Tom Daly at Simon & Schuster and my agent, Joe Monti. I was consulted, and I could have taken a more active role in those decisions, but I’m no art director, and I don’t really have a lot of connections to many artists, so I was happy to have someone else take the lead. I was pleased to see Mike Cavallaro participate, as I’m a huge fan of the graphic novel he did with Jane Yolen called Foiled. Likewise John Picacio, who I’ve been a fan of for years, and, of course, it’s an honor and a privilege to have work by Charles Vess. And it was also really cool, of course, to be exposed to artists I wasn’t as familiar with previously.

You can actually view all of the illustrations on the anthology’s website,

ANTHONY:  John Carter is easily Edgar Rice Burroughs’ second most popular creation after Tarzan, even though Burroughs didn’t write anywhere near as many books about Carter and in fact half of the Barsoom novels focus on other characters. What do you think is the enduring appeal of John Carter in particular and Barsoom in general?
JOHN:  On the most basic level, the Barsoom stories are just great adventure stories, and so they’re sort of inherently appealing. But they also cross all kinds of genre boundaries. They’re obstensibly science fiction, but they feel a lot like fantasy, and there are elements from other genres as well, certainly romance and western fiction to name a few.

I think that as kids, we all wanted to be able to travel to Mars, and wouldn’t it be great if we could and it turned out to be the fantastical place with strange and interesting aliens and beautiful princesses? And a lot of us still have such dreams–so I think that’s a large part of what makes it so appealing–and enduring.

ANTHONY:  2012 is also Tarzan’s 100th anniversary, and Burroughs’ Pellucidar series hits 100 in 2014. Are you involved at all in anniversary anthologies for those books?

JOHN:  I’m not–at least not at the moment! For Tarzan, it would be too late to do anything to celebrate the anniversary, obviously, but Pellucidar…who knows!

ANTHONY:  What other books do you have coming our way this year?

JOHN:  As we’ve discussed, Under the Moons of Mars: New Adventures on Barsoom just came out.

Coming up in April, I have Armored, an anthology of stories about mecha and power armor, from Baen. It includes stories by Jack Campbell, Brandon Sanderson, Tanya Huff, Daniel H. Wilson, Alastair Reynolds, Carrie Vaughn, and others.

I’m also currently wrapping up work on two reprint anthologies. One is an anthology of epic/high fantasy fiction to be called Epic, which will be coming out from Tachyon Publications this fall. And due out this summer from Night Shade Books is Other Worlds Than These, an anthology of portal fantasies and parallel worlds stories. And, as usual, I’ve got a couple of other things in the works that I can’t officially talk about yet, but I hope to be able to announce soon.

Then, in February 2013, I’ll have The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, from Tor. That one features stories by Carrie Vaughn, Alan Dean Foster, Daniel H. Wilson, David Farland, Seanan McGuire, and Naomi Novik, among others, plus an original short novel by Diana Gabaldon.

ANTHONY:  And my usual closing question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to someone who hasn’t read it to convince them that they should?

JOHN:  The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. When I read that book, it BLEW MY MIND. After reading it, my reading life became all about finding other books like that one. Up to that point, I’d read a number of sf novels that I liked a great deal, and still to this day remember fondly, but it wasn’t until The Stars My Destination that I realized the heights that science fiction was capable of attaining, and it wasn’t until then that I narrowed my reading focus almost exclusively to sf in my efforts to find more books that effected me in that same way.

There’s a paragraph in the book from the early part of chapter one that describes “common man” protagonist Gully Foyle’s state of mind. He’s been stuck, as the lone survivor, on a spaceship for 170 days, and watches as another ship approaches his, ignores his distress call, and leaves him to die:

He had reached a dead end. He had been content to drift from moment to moment of existence for thirty years like some heavily armored creature […] but now he was adrift in space for one hundred and seventy days, and the key to his awakening was in the lock. Presently it would turn and open the door to holocaust.

So that’s the key to Gully’s awakening. I think of The Stars My Destination as mine.

ANTHONY: Thanks again, John! Always a pleasure!

You can follow John Joseph Adams on Twitter as @JohnJosephAdams and you can see more about all of his books by visiting his website.