A letter would be waiting for me at home, a real physical letter, like the old days. I knew about it, knew what it would mean, as I rushed through the day, calibrating grading bots and marking AI tests. As soon as I met my quota and had the batteries for my hDevice fully kinked, I hurried down to the great rotating front door.
The grunt whose effort powered the door slipped just as I approached. It shouldn’t have been a problem. Engineers work all kinds of failsafes into the systems so what a grunt does won’t go directly into the connected machine. Supposed to, anyway. But for some reason, the grunt’s tripping translated into an interruption in the door’s power, which made the door jerk. I slammed my shin into it, limped inside.
Diabolical Plots was open for its yearly submission window for the month of July. During that time, 803 writers submitted 1070 stories. This year, the maximum word count was raised from 2000 words to 3500 words, and this year instead of one story per month Diabolical Plots will publish two stories, for a total of 24 stories that will begin running in April 2017 which is when the Year Two stories have all been published.
Thank you to all the writers who submitted. You made the final choices incredibly difficult, which is a very good problem for an editor to have. If we had the resources to publish more right now, there would have been plenty of excellent stories to choose from.
OK, without further ado, here is the list of stories and authors and their publishing order!
My roots felt only earth. Thin, and good for nothing but wild grass. As I stretched under the ground, I caught the tang of metal, something sharp and not yet rusted. Clean metal, likely dropped when this patch of land was well behind the battle line. Still, the promise it made helped me exert all my energy into those roots, willing them deeper and farther out.
Sunlight glistened off my barbed leaves, feeding its pale energy to my efforts.
I was not the only blood tree growing on the battlefield, and my concentration broke when my sister began chanting. She was double my height already, as if she’d focused her efforts on leaves and branches instead of roots, but her chanting told me she hadn’t needed to work hard below ground. By instinct I recognized the nature of her words, the cadence of syllables sighing from the pores in her leaves. She chanted the lives of those whose blood she drank.
Strange Horizons is a freely available online speculative fiction zine that also publishes nonfiction and poetry. They publish a variety of styles of stories and have regularly attracted award nominations in recent years.
All of the stories and poetry in the zine are published in the podcast.
written by David Steffen Diabolical Plots opened for fiction submissions for the month of July, one story per writer for the submission window. During that month 425 valid submissions arrived in the slushpile. 59 stories were held for a second look. 13 stories were purchased. Both rounds of the process were judged entirely by me, … Continue reading Diabolical Plots Fiction Lineup (Year Two)