Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Author
Tangent Online reviews “The Last Novelist”

Tangent Online reviews my story “The Last Novelist” and says,

Matthew Kressel writes a hauntingly sweet and tragic story in “The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard).” Reuth, the last novelist in the universe, is dying and comes to the distant planet of Ardabaab to finish his novel. He befriends a local girl who is intrigued by the foreign art skill he demonstrates, and she becomes his apprentice. The story revolves around the relationship of these two characters, exploring the passion and the often unappreciated talent of an artist. The speculative elements remain in the background, allowing this to be a quiet and subtle character study. I found it to be one of those great tales that knows just when to be verbose, and knows just when to step back and let the characters shine.

They also review stories by Theodora Goss, A.C. Wise, Julianna Baggot and Max Gladstone. You can read all the reviews here.


Quick Sip Reviews on “The Last Novelist”

Quick Sip Reviews has some nice things to say about my story “The Last Novelist” now up at Tor.com.

This is a story of longing and of looking back. Of decline—in health, in life. And of finding something at the end of life that is unexpected but wonderful….It’s an inspiring and elegant story and a great read!

They also review plenty of others, including Theodora Goss, Alyssa Wong, Bo Bolander, Catherynne Valente, Maria Dahvana Headley, and more. 

Read the full review here.


Mad Hatters and March Hares

If you attended the Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading back in November with John Langan and yours truly, you might remember the story I read called “In Memory of a Summer’s Day.” That story will appear in an Alice in Wonderland-themed anthology edited by Ellen Datlow. The anthology includes stories by Seanan McGuire, Catherynne M. Valente, Genevieve Valentine, Kaaron Warren, Jeffrey Ford, Richard Bowes, Jane Yolan, Andy Duncan, and lots more. The full table of contents is below, but first I wanted to talk a little bit about the origin of my story.

When Ellen asked me to send her an Alice-themed story, I first had to go back and reread the books to re-familiarize myself with the material. But I kind of already knew what I had in mind. I envisioned a kind of haggard, jaded tour-guide who leads a group of clueless tourists, Disney-style, through Wonderland’s oddities. But unbeknownst to the tourists, Wonderland is crumbling. And it’s not the whimsical, fantastical realm everyone’s been led to believe, but something far more sinister. I got my idea from an exhibit I visited with some friends in Manhattan at the Morgan Library & Museum called “Alice: 150 Years of Wonderland.” What struck me was, well, how pervy Lewis Caroll was. His obsession with the real Alice (Ms. Alice Pleasance Liddell), penning love letters to her, taking photographs of her in her underwear, when she was many years his junior and not even close to consensual age, just came off as vile. And here were were, a century and a half later, so enamored with the tale and all its variants, ignoring its uncomfortable source. It seemed to me that its very seed was corrupt. This idea led me to my story, “In Memory of a Summer’s Day.” 

Mad Hatters and March Hares, edited by Ellen Datlow, comes out December 5, 2017. Details follow:

Here is what you can expect from Mad Hatters and March Hares: “An all original anthology of stories inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. ‘Alice’ has been read, enjoyed, and savored by generations of children and adults since its publication. It’s hallucinogenic, weird, imaginative and full of wordplay, mathematical puzzles, and political and social satire.”

Mad Hatters and March Hares will features stories that are inspired by the strange events and characters that appear in Wonderland.

Table of Contents

  • “A Comfort, One Way” by Genevieve Valentine
  • “Alis” by Stephen Graham Jones
  • “All the King’s Men” by Jeffrey Ford
  • “Conjoined” by Jane Yolen
  • “Eating the Alice Cake” by Kaaron Warren
  • “Gentle Alice” by Kris Dikeman
  • “In Memory of a Summer’s Day” by Matthew Kressel
  • “Lily-White & The Thief of Lesser Night” by C.S.E. Cooney
  • “Mercury” by Priya Sharma
  • “Moon, Memory, Muchness” by Katherine Vaz
  • “My Own Invention” by Delia Sherman
  • “Run, Rabbit” by Angela Slatter
  • “Run, Rabbit, Run” by Jane Yolen
  • “Sentence Like a Saturday”  by Seanan McGuire
  • “Some Kind of Wonderland” by Richard Bowes
  • “The Flame After the Candle” by Catherynne M. Valente
  • “The Queen of Hats” by Ysabeau Wilce
  • “Worrity, Worrity” by Andy Duncan

The anthology features a cover by the legendary Dave McKean, whose Folio Society edition of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods recently went on sale.

Mad Hatters and March Hares will be released on December 5, 2017.


“The Last Novelist” Is Out Today

Today is the release date my of science fiction short story “The Last Novelist,” which you can read right now at Tor.com. Here’s the synopsis:

“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” by Matthew Kressel is a science fiction story about a dying writer who is trying to finish one final novel on the distant planet he settles on for his demise. His encounter with a young girl triggers a last burst of creativity.

My wife and I were on vacation last year in Barbados, and we were both powering through Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. The book’s subject matter made me ponder the transience of things, how we take so much for granted. It struck me too that the activity we call “reading for pleasure” might have a finite lifetime in human history. What would happen, for example, if we could get stories fed directly into our brains? Would we have need for the literature of words anymore if we could experience stories first-hand? “The Last Novelist” describes such a potential future, many centuries from now, when books are to the people of the future like clay tablets with cuneiform, odd and obsolete.

While on that same vacation, there was a small dead lizard in the back-yard porch being eaten by ants. At first I was disgusted by its leather carcass, and I pushed it off to the side with my shoe. But day after day, I watched the ants work, and by the third day I was severely impressed by how thoroughly they had dissected the animal, how efficient nature was. Nothing dead is every really gone, it’s just changed.

Anyway, that’s how the dead lizard made it into the story. 😉

The story’s cover art is by the amazing Scott Bakal.

You can read “The Last Novelist” here, or if you prefer an ebook, you can get one at this link. I’m very curious to know what you think of the story. Feedback is always welcome!


Interview in Outer Places

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Mahon of Outer Places and the interview gone up live on their website. I talk about the Singularity, data privacy, technological ethics, and my long and short fiction.

You can check out the interview here.


“Great Game” up at Hex Publishers & “The Last Novelist” Presale


My story, “The Great Game at the End of the World” is up now at Hex Publishers. After a bizarre apocalypse that shatters Russell’s neighborhood into floating chunks of property and unleashes horrid creatures into the world, he must protect his sister Jenna at all costs, even if that means giving up everything he loves. Here’s the intro paragraph:

The Creepy playing second base is a hell of a fielder, but his arm’s for shit, so they can forget about the double-play. My sister Jenna swings a doughnutted bat in the on-deck circle, chewing strawberry gum we found in the drawer of a wrecked house, her Mets cap turned around backwards, her yellow hair flowing in the constant breeze. Seeing her like this makes me happy. She shouts at the Ken up at bat, “You’d better hit the goddamned ball, loser!” Mom wouldn’t ever let that language fly. Jenna’s only ten. But I let it slide. Lately, I let everything slide.

The Creepies’ pitcher looks like a seven-foot tall furless cat with giant yellow eyes that glow no matter what angle you look at them, and rows and rows of toothpick teeth longer than my fingers. But her arm’s the real killer. She’s struck out four batters already, and it’s only the third inning. (These Creepies learn fast.) Bottom of the third inning, actually, and the last. Three innings was all we could coax from these creatures who seem to be more interested in the strange stars spinning wildly above the field than the game. Its Jenna, me, the Kens and Barbies vs. the Creepies, and we’re down, 1-0.

You can read the full story here.

Also, my story “The Last Novelist,” which will appear at Tor.com on March 15, 2017, is now available for pre-order. Here’s the jacket copy:

“The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)” by Matthew Kressel is a science fiction story about a dying writer who is trying to finish one final novel on the distant planet he settles on for his demise. His encounter with a young girl triggers a last burst of creativity.

You can purchase your early copy here.

 


Arisia Schedule

I’ll be at the Arisia convention in Boston this weekend. It’s a great convention, and I’m looking forward to it! Here’s my schedule. Hope to see you there!

Story Architecture: How to Plot Your Story
Marina 3, Writing, Sat 5:30 PM 
Deborah Kaminski (m), Michael Carr, Felicitas Ivey, Matthew Kressel, Suzanne Palmer
“A well-crafted story resembles a suspension bridge. How much backstory do you need at the beginning? How quick should you get to the inciting incident? What the heck is a midpoint? What milestones should you plot before you write a single word? And how do you get to your ‘all is lost’ moment without losing track of why the heck you started writing in the first place? Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, creating a roadmap will help your protagonist get to their destination.”

How to Self-Edit That Steaming Hot Pile of Crap
Adams, Writing, Sun 10:00 AM
Trisha Wooldridge (m), Jacqui B., Alexander Jablokov, Matthew Kressel, Ken Schneyer
“Have you ever gone back to edit your story, only to ask “Who wrote this $#!t?” Can you fix it? Where do you start? Our experts will teach you how to identify which elements you wish to save, how to spot plotting and pacing issues, why adverbs are so bad, and what tools are available to make self-editing easier. Bring a butcher knife…it’s time to conduct surgery on your baby…”

Is Optimism Just Nostalgia in Disguise?
Marina 2, Literature, Sun 11:30 AM
Andrea Hairston (m), MJ Cunniff, Matthew Kressel, Nalin Ratnayake, T.X. Watson
Description We are hearing, after a long sojourn in dystopia and postapocalypse, that optimistic SF is making a comeback. Is it really the case or is the optimism of yesterday just another type of nostalgia? When climate change, postantibiotic medicine, and resource depletion are major factors in our lives (topics that are not always as well addressed in optimistic SF), is there a way to temper our optimism and inspire those who might be able to face these problems?