An Irishman in The Best of British Science Fiction

The Miracle Lambs of Minane, first published in Clarkesworld in October of last year, has been selected for inclusion in The Best of British Science Fiction 2018.

Best Of British Science Fiction 2018 cover
Best Of British Science Fiction 2018 cover – image is Les Edwards’ Chasing the Lightship

To say I am pleased would be an understatement. A look at the table of contents over at editor Donna Scott’s website should explain why. To be listed near these writers – such as G.V. Anderson and Natalia Theodoridou, who have written some of my favourite short stories over the past couple of years, and Alastair Reynolds, Lavie Tidhar, and Dave Hutchinson, whose names I can see on my bookshelves – is both daunting and flattering.

As an added bonus, the book, which is published by Newcon Press, is being launched at the 2019 Worldcon in Dublin. So odds are I’ll get to meet at least some of these people in a city where I spent most of my 20s.

Clarkesworld October 2018I’m delighted that such an Irish story will get an outing at the first Irish Worldcon (second one in Cork in 2026, anyone?) and I’m very grateful to Neil Clarke at @clarkesworld for publishing it and the connected Last Boat Builder in Ballyvoloon in the first place.

As a final note, just to assuage the fears of my parents and my friend Marjorie, a place in the Best of British Science Fiction did not mean I had to surrender my passport, nor have I sworn allegiance to Her Maj. They are a fierce inclusive lot, the old SF community.

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Finbarr O’Reilly’s 2018 awards eligibility post

hugo_smWell, it has been a slow year, and I have only had one story published — The Miracle Lambs of Minane — in the October 2018 edition of Clarkesworld.

On the plus side, I only wrote one story in 2018 (so far — I’m currently about 15,000 words off the pace in NaNoWriMo), so my publication rate is a blistering 100%. And it was the second sale I’ve made to Clarkesworld out of three stories I’ve submitted there, so 66% in that market is pretty good.

It’s a story I am proud of – it’s a little bit about food and famine, a little bit about abortion (Ireland had a pretty conclusive referendum on the matter in May, voting by two thirds to end the constitutional ban on ending unwanted pregnancies), and a little bit of a follow-up to my earlier story, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon.

The Miracle Lambs has been described as both a folk tale and a witch story, which it is, although I didn’t truly realise that until other people commented on it. This also happened with The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon. It genuinely didn’t occur to me that it was a “horror” science fiction story until somebody tweeted me about it. I mean, I see it now — maybe I’m a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to my own work.

Anyway, The Miracle Lambs has had some pretty good reviews:

So please go give it a read — and maybe subscribe to Clarkesworld – they’re great — and keep me in mind should you be nominating anything this year. For the Nebulas or perhaps the Hugo Awards, which are being handed out at WorldCon in Dublin next year. That is a big deal for me — I went to university in Dublin and lived there for the bones of a decade (so I can tell you where the good pubs are, or at least where they were, which is practically time travel. With good Guinness).

I’m also in my second and final year of eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award, which, although not technically a Hugo award, is also being presented at WorldCon.

Thanks for your time and attention and maybe see you in Dublin (I’m going either way, but wouldn’t it be nice?).

Slán.

 

My story, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, is featured in the latest issue of Clarkesworld

clarkesworld October 2017[UPDATE: the podcast version of the story is now live. Listen to it here.]

Those wonderful people at Clarkesworld have published my short story – The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon.

Needless to say, I am over the moon. It is the first thing I have written that came close to satisfying my own internal critic and I worked hard on it. How hard? Well, having checked the revision history on the story, I started it on September 14, 2014 – so more than three years between writing the opening par and it being published. This scheme is not going to make me rich quick (or at all).

However, the excitement at being published is an incredible validation, a vote of confidence that I can now legitimately refer to myself as ‘a writer’. This small success is already driving me to write more and think more about writing. I have even ‘invested’ some of the fee (again, not huge, but certainly meaningful) in a ticket for the Dublin Worldcon in 2019. By then, the plan is to have stories everywhere and books on shelves. I figure if I aim high and undershoot, I can live with it.

The story itself, The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon, is broadly about environmental disaster, our innate drive to fix that disaster with technology and the fact that the damage done by such problems (and their solutions) is often predominantly felt by ‘little’ people in little towns.

The spark for it was [SPOILER] reading reports about a robot that hunts and kills the crown-of-thorns starfish, an invasive species that is damaging the Great Barrier Reef.

It is also about that weird part of people that urges them to make pointless gestures in the face of all logic that may do them immeasurable harm and that weird place in me that tends to see such gestures as noble rather than stupid.

The submission process at Clarkesworld is both blisteringly fast and agonisingly slow (from my perspective – it’s still very quick in general terms), in that the story was moved out of the slush readers’ instant rejection list almost immediately, but then spent more than six weeks ‘under review’ by editor Neil Clarke (again, that is pretty fast by SFF market standards, but there is a time dilation effect when the story is yours). However, on the plus side, that delay did mean that I was lucky enough to be home with my family in Ireland when the acceptance and contracts came through. The news was comprehensively celebrated!

The review process was fast and thorough and I was encouraged that little was changed from my original draft. My sub-editing colleagues and friends should know that the American spellings are Clarkesworld’s and not mine. 🙂

I am told there is a Clarkesworld podcast version of the story on the way – narrated by the accomplished Kate Baker. I hope my phone-recorded pronunciation guide will help and will update this post with a link once the audio version of The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon is published. [UPDATE: the podcast is now live. Listen to it on Clarkesworld here or on YouTube here.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story, and comment on it on Clarkesworld’s site (and subscribe to Clarkesworld or Patreon them- they’re ace!) and share it on Twitter, Facebook or wherever you like.

Slán