Fire, Phantoms, and What Didn’t Make it into The Only Harmless Great Thing

March, 1904:

It’s midnight on Coney Island, and that’s fair eerie enough to make any man say jump.

Places that are bustling during the day take on a strange kind of desolation when all the lights are out and the crowds have scattered homeward. Luna Park, Coney Island’s crown jewel, is no exception. The Electric Tower is dark, its twenty thousand incandescent bulbs snuffed for the evening. The flexible metal floors of the Witching Wave are becalmed, the Canals of Venice emptied of canoodling lovers. Further down Surf Avenue, at Steeplechase and the newly opened Dreamland, Hell’s Gates are closed for the night and the Fall of Pompeii’s hourly eruptions have subsided. No more trips to the moon, no more undersea adventures. Moonlight turns the park’s spires and minarets into a ghostly sliver and ebony shadowland.

But even dreamlands need builders, and so the streets aren’t completely deserted even at ...

The Only Harmless Great Thing

In the early years of the 20th century, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around the same time, an Indian elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island.

These are the facts.

Now these two tragedies are intertwined in a dark alternate history of rage, radioactivity, and injustice crying out to be righted. Prepare yourself for a wrenching journey that crosses eras, chronicling histories of cruelty both grand and petty in search of meaning and justice.

Brooke Bolander’s The Only Harmless Great Thing is a heart-wrenching alternative history that imagines an intersection between the Radium Girls and noble, sentient elephants. Available January 23rd from Tor.com Publishing.

 

 

There is a secret buried beneath the mountain’s gray skin. The ones who put it there, flat-faced pink squeakers with more clever-thinking than sense, are many ...

The Book That First Spoke My Feral Language: Richard Adams’ Watership Down

Before I read Watership Down, I knew personally how utterly alien animals were, but I had no idea anyone else could quantify it. You know that moment when a friend voices an opinion you’ve been certain was uniquely and utterly your own and you leap out of your seat shrieking HOLY SHITSNACKS, ME TOO and startle the cat? It was that moment, in novel format.

I grew up in the woods a nerdy, semi-feral only child, and for most of my formative years my closest companions were animals. I understood how different their thought patterns were, their reactions to our shared world and how they navigated it. Animals were never just furry little people to me. They were inscrutable, weird, and utterly Other. A preschool “likes/dislikes” list of photographs clipped from magazines gets my opinion across pretty broadly: Comedians and dinosaurs were good, atomic mushroom clouds & cats dressed ...

The Last of the Minotaur Wives

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On International Women’s Day, several of the best writers in SF/F today reveal new stories inspired by the phrase “Nevertheless, she persisted”, raising their voice in response to a phrase originally meant to silence.

The stories publish on Tor.com all throughout the day of March 8th. They are collected here.

 

The Last of the Minotaur Wives

 

When the first of the Minotaur Brides was set to be a concubine in darkness, she was warned never to try escape. She was given an explanation: you are a monster, and below the earth you & your kind shall stay.

Nevertheless, my darling calf, she persisted. And so too have we.

 * * *

The oldest wife finally dies. Blue is alone in the labyrinth, last of the lot.

She picks up the body in her strong arms, light as linen or sand, and carries it to the drying place. ...

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