Monday, December 26, 2016

The 2016 awards eligibility post. Awkward...

Here is an awkward, year-end post of the sort you'll be seeing a lot of from author-types: the awards-eligible-stories-for-the-coming-year's-award-season post.

I don't normally do this. But while 2016 has been a terrible year for many things, it has been for me at least a pretty good year for short story publication. Even with two story sales falling through the cracks in publishing schedules, I've got five stories out this year that I'm proud to have my name on in all sorts of different ways. 

I've mentioned each of these stories in blog posts throughout the year. But as the year draws to a close, I'm rounding them up here for posterity if not prizes.

So here they are, for people looking for an excuse to nominate a David Nickle story or novelette, or just like clicking links: the eligible stories that I published in 2016, by category:

Short Story: The Caretakers at Tor.com; The Parable of the Cylinder, at Canadian Notes & Queries; The Long Dream, in Joe Pulver's The Madness of Dr. Caligari.

Novelette: The Bicameral Twist, in Congress Magazine #1 (at once oh so not safe for work, and the only bona fide science fiction story by me  for 2016); Jules and Richard in Ellen Datlow's Children of Lovecraft. 


Friday, September 30, 2016

Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination


This one's been a long time coming, and it's going to be a little bit longer: the sequel to my 2011 novel EUTOPIA: A Novel of Terrible Optimism*. The book is due out  from ChiZine Publications a bit less than a year from now; the manuscript is not yet ready. But this week, my friend Erik Mohr delivered this cover--a to-my-eye spectacular iteration of the design that he supplied for the front of EUTOPIA.


By the time VOLK comes out, it will have been six years since that one, my first novel was published. For the people in EUTOPIA, it will have been a little longer: the story takes up 20 years later and a continent away, in France and Bavaria, in 1931.

I can't show off much of that now, but back in 2014 I did offer a taste, at the back of my story collection KNIFE FIGHT and Other Struggles: the prologue, "Orlok."

Here's a taste of the taste, of the opening, which takes place a little earlier than 1931:

Was he beautiful?” 
As though he had just registered his own nakedness at that instant, Gottlieb blinked and covered himself. 
Beautiful? No. He was compelling. Huge. Very muscular.” 
And you were sexually attracted to him." 
Of course I was.” 
The doctor allowed a dozen beats of the metronome before he spoke the obvious: “He was not like you.” 
No.” 
Gottlieb was grasping at his penis. The doctor made no attempt to disguise his observation of that fact and noted with satisfaction that Gottlieb didn’t seem to care. He was as guileless as a babe then. Could a metronome tick triumphantly? The doctor let it, twice more. 
Describe to me the ways he was like you.” 
Gottlieb drew a deep breath and turned to the windows. They were open a crack to clear the air from the morning’s session, and the sweet smell of apple blossom wafted in. The doctor was used to the smell—this was a room in which he spent a great deal of time—but he noted it, along with the flaring of Gottlieb’s delicate nostrils. 
How was he like you?” asked the doctor again. 
I don’t really know,” said Gottlieb. “I didn’t know him for very long.” 
Anything.” 
All right. He was German like me. And he was my age.” 
How old were you then?” 
The slightest frown. “Twenty-two.” 
The doctor looked again to the window. A conversation was drifting in along with the apple blossom scent. Two of the girls—Heidi and Anna? Yes. He recognized Anna’s lisp, and she and Heidi were inseparable. Ergo . . . 
They weren’t too distracting—they would barely register on the recording. If they lingered, or became silly, he would have to stand and shut the window, and risk disturbing Gottlieb. But the pair were on their way somewhere, and within four ticks of the metronome were gone. The doctor settled back. 
His hair was brown,” said Gottlieb. “Like mine too.” 
Three ticks. 
And he was homosexual,” said Gottlieb. 
Four more ticks now. 
But not like me.” 
Tell me how he is not like you.” 
As to his homosexuality?” 
If you like. Yes.” 
He is a masculine force. He looks at me and causes me to feel as if . . . as if I am not. Not masculine.” 
The doctor smiled. The last time Gottlieb had spoken of this moment, he’d immediately denied his homosexuality. They were progressing very well, at least as measured against their stated objective of delving into Gottlieb’s neurosis. The doctor started to reach for a pencil where his breast pocket would have been, but stopped himself and settled his hands back in his lap. He spoke quietly, calmly, in rhythm. Like a lullaby. “He is looking at you now,” he said.  
Tick. Tick. 
Gottlieb flushed and, as his hand came away from his penis, the doctor was pleased to see it was flushed too. 
In the beer hall, yes?” said the doctor. 
Gottlieb stretched his slender legs on the chaise longue, and his eyelids fluttered shut. A breeze from the window lifted the drapes, and raised gooseflesh as it passed. The air in the beer hall would not have been so fresh as this alpine breath. 
In the Bürgerbräukeller,” said Gottlieb. 
What does it smell like?” 
Many things. Food . . . there is a basket of schnitzel nearby. There is some smoke. I mean from tobacco. And the whole place stinks of old beer. Of course. Men have been drinking beer all day.” 
The doctor waited until it seemed as though Gottlieb might drift off to sleep, before prodding: 
Where is he?” 
Gottlieb smiled. “He is leaned against a pillar. By himself, across the hall from me. He is a very ugly man—his eyebrows meet in the middle of his forehead, so it seems he is scowling into his beer mug.” 
The doctor shifted in his chair. The towel he’d placed on the leather cushioning had moved, and in the warmth of the day the bare skin of his buttocks was sticking there. But he fought to contain his discomfort, his growing impatience. The metronome ticked seven times more before Gottlieb was ready to continue.
*Coincidentally, the second printing of EUTOPIA has just recently arrived. The first printing in 2011 was unusually large, because of an unusually large death-bed order from the late Borders chain, but it is finally all gone. It should be noted that this second run is NOT the illustrated version that I promised earlier this year. That will be coming out later, a little closer to VOLK's release.



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Trump Man



This image came to me a couple months shy of a year ago, when the Republican Party primaries hadn't had much of a start. An anonymous fan with photoshop had whipped this up and posted it on Reddit, and another fan had sent it to me. How did I feel about it? What is the word for a feeling of flattered delight reaching a crescendo while throwing up in one's mouth? That.

After watching the first debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, I found myself thinking back to that picture, and realized that I'd never given it the place it deserved here in the Yard.

It is, of course, a play on the cover of this book, Monstrous Affections:



And it is illustrative, in more ways than one, of my short story "The Sloan Men," which leads off Monstrous Affections and is also available to read right here

I hope this helps.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Children of Lovecraft rides out!

We've talked about this before at the Yard: my novelette "Jules and Richard," and its inclusion in Ellen Datlow's Children of Lovecraft anthology--with its all-star lineup of weird writers, its Mike Mignola cover, its editorial pedigree. Well. Dark Horse has let it free this week, and its available all sorts of places: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters-Indigo.

When Ellen invited me to submit to the anthology, she made the premise very clear: she was looking for stories that were inspired by Lovecraft without pastiching him. No tentacles, was I believe a direct commandment.

Well, there's no tentacles in "Jules and Richard," although it does take a pretty direct stab at one of Lovecraft's more famous stories (not necessarily a Cthulhu Mythos piece). So yeah, no tentacles.

But Ellen didn't say anything about avoiding bicycles. And so, I did take a rather more direct inspiration from my single most serious bike accident a few years back, that did a real number on my shoulder, and also my dignity. 

With that in mind: Here's the first bit--the bit about bicycles--of "Jules and Richard." 

* * *

 “I was crossing back there...” 
Jules pointed, with his good arm, to the intersection a dozen meters to the east, just beyond the tangle of his once reliable old commuter bike: “… and as I was building up speed--” 
--over you went,” she said. 
Over I went, said Jules. He thought about it a moment, his mishap. “Stupid. I was checking to make sure I had my glasses in my pocket.” 
Did you?” 
I did.” 
You don't have them now though.” 
They fell out,” said Jules. 
Ah. Over there.” 
The glasses had fallen into the shadow of the exhaust pipe of a parked van. Jules couldn't see them, but she rose to fetch them and returned them to Jules. They were new glasses and they weren't cheap. 
He put them on, and blinked at his rescuer. 
Funny. I thought you were older,” he said, and immediately apologized. “I'm a little shaken up,” he explained. 
* * *

Well, it was pretty scary at the time...

Friday, August 5, 2016

H.P. Lovecraft and me

Actor and dad Leeman Kessler stopped by Toronto earlier this summer with his beautiful family, and of course the resuscitated shade of H.P. Lovecraft. We met up at a local pub on the Danforth for a chat and a drink, and somehow the conversation got around to exsanguination.

This happens more often than you might think.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"The Parable of the Cylinder"



A couple of months ago, Canadian Notes & Queries published my story "The Parable of the Cylinder," in their Spring 2016 "Games" issue. It's a story about Russian roulette strategies, and religion, and following from both of those, a discussion of the ramifications of turning the other cheek. It was also hard-ish to find, particularly for international readers. But now CN and Q has put the story online.

Here's the first bit:

You not been to one of these. I’d remember if you had, even if you stayed at the back of the trailer, hiding your eyes as you do . . . pretty little brown-haired girl like you, with that tattoo’d crucifix right there . . . though I don’t remember everything with my cracked-up noggin as it is, so maybe I’m wrong . . . but you’d have made an impression, looking like you do. 
So how’d it go way back when, in those bad times before the Lord set us on the straight road and our Ministry was proper begat? Gather ‘round, gather ‘round, you and your little ones in tow, and I’ll lay it out for you.
You can read the rest of it, right here at CNQ's website:

"The Parable of the Cylinder"

Friday, June 17, 2016

"The Bicameral Twist" and "The Long Dream"

There will be at least two more stories out from me this year, it looks like. Maybe three, possibly four. If the fourth happens, I count seven new stories in different venues for 2016, which for me is a pretty big haul.

One of those stories is available now in Molly Tanzer's amazing new journal of thoughtful and well-plotted erotica, CONGRESS. You can check out the first issue here, containing my story "The Bicameral Twist." It is pretty smutty and properly tawdry, but also, I am proud to say, definitively within the genre of hard science fiction ("The Bicameral Twist" is neuro-porno, not Beltway porno). With the rise of Chuck Tingle at the Hugos this year, I am preparing my acceptance speech for 2017.

In the fall, I'm pleased to say that my story "The Long Dream" will be among a very impressive list of contributors in Joe Pulver's Cabinet-of-Dr.-Caligari tribute anthology The Madness of Dr. Caligari.

Here's the very stellar table of contents:
Ramsey Campbell – “The Words Between”
Damien Angelica Walters – “Take a Walk in the Night, My Love"
Rhys Hughes - "Confessions of a Medicated Lurker"
Robert Levy – “Conversion”
Maura McHugh - "A Rebellious House"
David Nickle – “The Long Dream”
Janice Lee – “Eyes Looking”
Richard Gavin – “Breathing Black Angles”
S.P. Miskowski – “Somnambule”
Nathan Carson – “The Projection Booth”
Jeffrey Thomas – “The Mayor of Elementa”
Nadia Bulkin – “Et Spiritus Sancti”
Orrin Grey – “Blackstone: A Hollywood Gothic”
Reggie Oliver – “The Ballet of Dr. Caligari”
Cody Goodfellow – “Bellmer’s Bride"Michael Griffin – “The Insomniac Who Slept Forever”
Paul Tremblay – “Further Questions for the Somnambulist”
Michael Cisco – “The Righteousness of Conical Men”
Molly Tanzer – “That Nature Which Peers Out in Sleep”
Daniel Mills – “A Sleeping Life”
John Langan – “To See, To Be Seen”
Gemma Files – “Caligarism”
These two stories ("The Bicameral Twist" and "The Long Dream") will join "The Caretakers" (Tor.com),  "The Parable of the Cylinder" (Canadian Notes & Queries) and "Jules and Richard" (Children of Lovecraft) in definitively-scheduled 2016 titles.

There are two others that might or might not come out this year. Whether it's this year or next, though... you'll hear about them here.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Jules and Richard

I'd been vague-blogging this one in the last post about "The Caretakers," which thanks to editor Ellen Datlow was up at Tor.com in February. Now I'm proper-blogging, that my novelette "Jules and Richard" will be appearing in Children of Lovecraft, again thanks to editor Ellen Datlow, who invited me to a party with a bunch of first-class weird writers, in a book with a cover drawn by Mike Mignola.

Here's Ellen's announcement:

I’ve finished Children of Lovecraft, a new, all original anthology coming from Dark Horse Books this September:
Table of Contents:
Nesters by Siobhan Carroll
Little Ease by Gemma Files
Eternal Troutland by Stephen Graham Jones
The Supplement by John Langan
Mortensen’s Muse by Orrin Grey
Oblivion Mode by Laird Barron
Mr. Doornail by Maria Dahvana Headley
The Secrets of Insects by Richard Kadrey
Excerpts for An Eschatology Quadrille by Caitlín R. Kiernan
Jules and Richard by David Nickle
Glasses by Brian Evenson
When the Stitches Come Undone by A.C. Wise
On These Blackened Shores of Time by Brian Hodge
Bright Crown of Joy by Livia Llewellyn
Cover below by Mike Mignola
image by Mike Mignola via Amazon

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Caretakers (and other business)

Call this an all-purpose post, to talk about stories arrived and upcoming. First up: "The Caretakers," a short story that's a big deal for me, as it's up at Tor.com now, thanks to the good graces and editorial acumen of Ellen Datlow, and also the graphic genius of Greg Ruth.

It is a strange little story, in the manner of Robert-Aickman-strange, and you can read it by clicking right here.

And happy news: Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, has finally outsold its improbably large print run, which means, happily, that there is a second edition coming out. But it's not just a second edition. This one will feature illustrations by my late father, Canadian landscape painter Lawrence Nickle. This has great meaning for me, as you might guess. Lawrence's work--and more importantly, his approach to working--was a signpost to me for many years. And his good-humored delving into the macabre (really, against what he understood his nature to be) was one of the greatest gifts he gave me in his lifetime. I'm delighted to see his work more widely distributed than the collectable editions that appeared at the book's 2011 debut.

Here are a couple to wet your whistle on:




There are more stories coming out in 2016, too: "The Parable of the Cylinder," in Canadian Notes & Queries, and "Murder on the Prurient Express," in Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire.  There's at least one more, the details of which I can't yet reveal, and if I can stick the landing, then as many as three more past that...

So it could be a pretty good year for David Nickle short stories, if that's your bag.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Draughtsman's Daughter

I've never written much fan fiction--not intentionally; I always had a sense that whatever my influences, they should stay influences. So if I thought well of Ian Fleming's stories, I should take lessons from them in a new work rather than writing a story about James Bond. If I enjoyed Kurt Vonnegut... I should probably just recall his moral sensibilities and sense of wit, rather than try and write a story about Kilgore Trout.

But once... about 20 years ago, Michael Skeet and I sat down to write a story about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

Those are the two characters that Fritz Leiber made, along with his sometime-collaborator Harry Fischer--a couple of sword-fighting rogues, one tall and strong and thoughtful from up north, another small and fast and clever, good with magic spells, from the south. The stories were classic sword and sorcery, a more debonaire take on the kinds of things that Robert E. Howard was doing with Conan the Barbarian a decade or so earlier.

If you're of a certain age, of a certain predilection, you'll know the guys I'm talking about. They were thugs, and rogues, and drinking buddies--mostly drinking buddies--two dudes in a life-long bromance, long before the term entered the parlance.

And in that spirit, about 20 years ago, Mike Skeet and I made a go of what has turned out to be a piece of Fafhrd-and-the-Gray-Mouser fanfic.

It wasn't planned that way. A long-ago publisher had put out the word that the estate of Fritz Leiber was opening up the characters for an anthology of new stories set in Leiber's imaginary universe of Nehwon. And we thought we'd make a go of it, try our hands at a genre--Sword & Sorcery--that we'd never tried. There was other business: a play on early aviation, a cheeky twist on the Arts & Crafts movement, a bit of Victorian sauce that might've gone well in The Pearl...

The anthology never materialized--at least not to our knowledge--and we never heard back one way or another in any case. And so our story, "The Draughtsman's Daughter," languished on our hard drives for what has turned into decades. It's safe to say that this story's not ever going to sell, or make us money. It is safe to say that at this point, it's fan fiction--a transformative work based on the stories and novels of Fritz Leiber.

With all that in mind, we thought we'd share it: right here.