The wonder of Goblin Fruit

The last day of 2014 saw the publication of the Fall issue of the ever-wonderful Goblin Fruit. The artist was a bit delayed, so I created a quick placeholder layout for the issue. The placeholder melted on the 2nd of January, to be replaced by a glorious “Winter is Sown” layout by Grant Jeffery, which is a companion to his “Summer is Dead” layout. But while my humble offering has melted, I am nevertheless fond of this little bird spirit, the opening of the layout I drew in the last moments of the year, and I wanted to share it with you:

birds forever birds everywhere

Bird spirit with a small seedlight

The issue contains a poem by me, “The Law of Germinating Seeds,” which also somehow perfectly encapsulates how I feel right now. It was written almost exactly a year ago, around this time. You can listen to me read it, too!

It’s a great issue, including marvelous work by Ada Hoffmann, Mari Ness, M Sereno, Judith Chalmer, Sara Cleto, Neile Graham,Janna Layton, and Alena Sullivan. If you are following Bogi Takács’s #diversepoems and #diversestories tag on twitter, e is planning to do a Goblin Fruit week next week, focusing on some of these poems.

Last but not least, in 2014 we have discovered that Goblin Fruit almost made the Hugo ballot in the Semiprozine category. It is eligible this year as well. Goblin Fruit had and continues to have a transformative effect on speculative poetry, and it more than deserves a nomination. Let’s put it on the ballot this year!


When I went to Readercon in 2013, I was asked to put down the most important line from my work on a sticker as a way of introduction. I wrote, without hesitation, “My life is described by the music of mute violins.” It is an opening to “Seven Losses of Na Re,” a magic realist story about Soviet Jews, memory, and history, that appeared in Daily Science Fiction.

A while ago, I sold a reprint of this story to Sisters of the Revolution, an anthology of feminist SF edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer. Here is the description of the anthology from PM Press:

Sisters of the Revolution gathers a highly curated selection of feminist speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, and more) chosen by one of the most respected editorial teams in speculative literature today, the award-winning Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Including stories from the 1970s to the present day, the collection seeks to expand the conversation about feminism while engaging the reader in a wealth of imaginative ideas. (PM Press product sheet)

I’ve sold reprints before and since, and have been very proud of all of them all, but this one is special. I share a table of contents with many of my heroes, feminist writers who literally saved my life and changed it, informed it, enriched it, upheld me and so many others, without whom my work now would not be possible.

Contributors include: Angela Carter, Angelica Gorodischer, Anne Richter, Carol Emshwiller, Eileen Gunn, Eleanor Arnason, Hiromi Goto, James Tiptree Jr., Joanna Russ, Karin Tidbeck, Kelley Eskridge, Kelly Barnhill, Kit Reed, L. Timmel Duchamp, Leena Krohn, Leonora Carrington, Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler, Pamela Sargent, Rose Lemberg, Susan Palwick, Tanith Lee, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Vandana Singh.

Inarticulate flailing of excitement goes here.

The anthology comes out in February 2015, and is available for preorder on PM Press, Powells, Amazon, and a variety of other retailers.

Sisters of the Revolution

Cover image of Sisters of the Revolution

Many thanks to the publishing people who helped this story along: to Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden, for publishing it in DSF, and to Marcheto for translating it into Spanish in Cuentos Para Algernon (congratulations  to Cuentos Para Algernon for winning a prestigious Ignotus Award in the Best Website category!), and of course, many thanks to Jeff and Ann Vandermeer for choosing to reprint it, and to Dominik Parisien for helping make this happen.

Happy New Year, everyone!


Good News from Birdverse

Today I am announcing two excellent bits of Birdverse news, and I am very excited about both of them.

First, some of you might remember my long poem, I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz, which appeared in Goblin Fruit in Summer 2013. Earlier this year, it was nominated for the Rhysling Award. I am now very happy to announce that it took 3rd place in the Rhyslings , in the long poetry category. I am not a member of SFPA and have not been for some time, so it is especially cool to be honored.

“I will show you a single treasure…” talks of many women who, though pain and joy and struggle, work together to create the greatest treasure ever woven. The poem came to me – like some of my poems do – and I wrote it down. Then,  because the poem wanted to be performed, I went to Readercon. After I returned from Readercon, the poem wanted even more from me.

And so I wrote a Birdverse novelette, “Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” about very many queer women and trans people and autism and carpets woven of song and wind; the titular Grandmother-nai-Leylit is one of the traders in the poem. I am now very happy to announce that this story will appear in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I am very proud of this story – its words, its people, its truths. It was difficult to get right; I hope I did.

More stories await – more Birdverse stories in particular. I am looking forward to the future.

New shinies!

My poem “Earth Map” is now up at Mythic Delirium. It is a prose poem in the land poems series, and I am very happy with how it came out. Hope you enjoy, too.

Speaking of prose poems, Bogi Takács’s “You Are Here” an animated SFnal poem about a war memorial, and it is mind-blowing. You should check it out if you haven’t yet.

JY Yang favorably reviews my Lackington’s story “Stalemate” alongside work by Ken Liu, Ann Leckie, and others. Thank you!!

Michael Matheson has just announced the lineup for The Humanity of Monsters, which includes a reprint of my story “Theories of Pain,” about a man who experienced pain as fruit. I am beyond thrilled to be in this fine company!

The Humanity of Monsters Final ToC

“Tasting Gomoa” by Chinelo Onwualu
“Dead Sea Fruit” by Kaaron Warren
“and Love shall have no Dominion” by Livia Llewellyn
“The Bread We Eat in Dreams” by Catherynne M. Valente
“The Emperor’s Old Bones” by Gemma Files
“The Things” by Peter Watts
“muo-ka’s Child” by Indrapramit Das
“Six” by Leah Bobet
“The Nazir” by Sofia Samatar
“A Handful of Earth” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
“In Winter” by Sonya Taaffe
“Never the Same” by Polenth Blake
“Ghostweight” by Yoon Ha Lee
“How to Talk to Girls at Parties” by Neil Gaiman
“Night They Missed the Horror Show” by Joe Lansdale
“Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream” by Maria Dahvana Headley
“The Horse Latitudes” by Sunny Moraine
“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky
“Boyfriend and Shark” by Berit Ellingsen
“Mantis Wives” by Kij Johnson
“Proboscis” by Laird Barron
“Out They Come” by Alex Dally MacFarlane
“You Go Where It Takes You” by Nathan Ballingrud
“Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” by A.C. Wise
“Theories of Pain” by Rose Lemberg
“Terrible Lizards” by Meghan McCarron

ST reading periods reminder

Reminder: Stone Telling is OPEN to submissions for our Hope issue. We will also be reading for our Joke issue beginning Dec. 1st. You can send 3 poems for the Hope issue and, once we reopen, 3 poems for the Joke issue (yes, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have six pieces under consideration at ST!)

For Hope issue, we’re hoping for hopeful stuff. It does not have to be upbeat, but it has to be hopeful.

We’re looking forward to reading your work!

Award Eligibility, “Stalemate” reviews, Rhysling

This year, I have three pieces in the short story category, of which I would like to promote two for fiction award eligibility. (Please promote yours, too!)

“A City on its Tentacles” – a slipstream/fantasy/magic realist short story about a mother and a chronically ill child. It appeared in in the inaugural issue of Lackington’s, in February 2014.

“…a gorgeous read that became even complex and powerful for me on reflection” – Vanessa Fogg

“What a gorgeous terrible city, framing Luba — a mother drawn with both delicacy and intensity — and the necessity of choice, the silent persistence of love through it all, and again: necessity, endurance.” – M Sereno

“The story you tell might save someone. A Rose Lemberg story might save you.” – Sofia Samatar

“Stalemate” – a far-future SF story about friendship, art, and loss. This story has just come out in Lackington’s 4, 2014. It has been reviewed twice, once at by Amal El-Mohtar, who writes insightfully and kindly about the story in her review column Rich and Strange:

“Stalemate” is a balancing act, musing on responsibility and its limits, the role of art in society, and giving the ages-old argument between individualism and collectivism cosmic scope. There is no vilification of either in the story, which is refreshing: the stalemate of the title is genuine, earnest, and heartfelt throughout.

Paige Kimble has also given the story a positive review in her review column Diamond Dust:

Lemberg proves to be a master of the slow build with this piece which inspired the ‘Institutions’ theme of this issue of Lackington’s. […] The stakes here are extraordinarily high, and while ‘Stalemate’ does have a touch of the morality play style to it, it’s a morality play where there are no absolute correct answers.

I am informed that Rhysling voting for this year’s poetry award closes on 11/20, and I have a poem nominated in the long category, “I will show you a single treasure from the treasures of Shah Niyaz.” It is a Birdverse poem about women’s work and carpets and desert and winds, and I am very proud of it. It is the poem I read at Readercon 2013. Here’s what C.S.E. Cooney had to say about the performance, in her column at Black Gate:

Rose Lemberg […] tore my heart out and gave it wings.
She recited her piece from memory. She cried it out. She embodied it. And it consumed her like a fire. She left me weeping and trembling.

People have been so incredibly kind about my work; I just want to take a moment to thank the editors and the reviewers of my stories and poems for giving them homes and good words. And, as ever, thank you for reading.

An Alphabet of Embers update

I have finished responding to all submissions received during the open reading period. I responded to a total of 884 submissions. If you have not heard from me with either a rejection or an acceptance, please query immediately either to the editorial address ( or in comments to this entry. Please do not wait or hesitate.

Two new poems, and the Strange Horizons fund drive

So, earlier this week, Strange Horizons published my poem “The rivers, the birchgroves, all the receding earth.” It is a very Russian poem; it is short and has hares.

Each spring the rivers rose, I pushed my boat
out to the drowning forest. Hares
stood on tree stumps, shaking. Each to each
rattled the babble of snowmelt, clung
to the last of dry ground.

And today, Strange Horizons published my and Emily Jiang’s poetic/musical collaboration, Salamander Song, as a part of their bonus issue.  Go listen to it – the music is astounding!!

If you can, and you haven’t yet, please support Strange Horizons by donating to their fund drive. Strange Horizons is a wonderful venue which I love very much, and which took chances on numerous new authors. I made my first professional fiction sale to this market.

“Stalemate,” with spoilers

Today, my science fictional story “Stalemate” became available for free at Lackington’s. This is my second sale to Lackington’s, the first being “A City on its Tentacles” in the inaugural issue. I love this magazine.

Editor Ranylt Richildis purchased “Stalemate” as a cornerstone for Issue 4. In the Introduction, she writes,

Issue 4 was built around the theme of “institutions” after we received an SF tale from Rose Lemberg set on a communal spaceship. The stark routine and  interior that encase the narrator make institutions manifest, as does the nod to universities, but Rose’s story also explores less tangible institutions, such as friendship, art, and war.

I’ve only recently started writing again in the Boundless universe, a very old SFnal universe of mine in which certain extremely talented people – mostly scientists, but not exclusively – discover that they neither age nor die after reaching their mental and professional peak. Some of those Boundless have formed a loose interstellar society, and are pursuing certain goals; others are alone. The setting of “Stalemate,” a planet called Calamity or Gebe-2, is home of one of the Boundless, Kabede Nan Telesa. The story is narrated from the point of view of Kabede’s unnamed friend.

It was a difficult story to write, and difficult to send out.





In many ways, Calamity feels like home to me. I’ve been returning to it since I was a teenager. There is a memory leecher installed in the upper atmosphere, so people who manage to land lose their memories. It is a blessing. A respite. Calamity is a place of refuge for me, a sensory haven away from the never-ceasing demands and buzzing and pull of an individualistic society forever focused on accomplishment. And yet, every time I attempted to write a story about Calamity, it has been a story narrated by outsiders.

The unnamed narrator of “Stalemate” feels fiercely about Kabede; there is not much meaning left in his world beyond this friendship. Kabede, though, is not as enthused. The unnamed narrator is a close friend, yet Kabede faults him for not seeing their people. Instead, the narrator clings to his memories of a destroyed world; on Gebe-2, he keeps refusing opportunities to befriend, to bond, to discover the true beauty of the people who escaped from the original Gebe. He thinks, for example, that the people of Gebe-2 make no art – even as he witnesses and participates in their elaborate folk-gaming culture. He refuses the friendship and camaraderie of Eighty-nine and his fellow engineers, and leaves as lonely as he came.

I chose this viewpoint for many reasons. I wanted to write about mistakes we make out of strong convictions, how we push people away; and about the marrow-bone necessity of friendship, and about loneliness. Always loneliness.

Eventually, I think, the narrator will stop coming. Other people will arrive, other Boundless, and form close friendships with Kabede and their people.

Although, perhaps, he’ll change. It’s hard to know.

I hope you like this story. It is close to me.

Stone Telling 11 is here!

ST 11 cover

Stone Telling 11 is here!

We are very pleased to announce that a new issue of Stone Telling, Reverberations, has gone live – with fabulous poetry by voices all new to us, and a review of Lisa M. Bradley’s collection The Haunted Girl, by Alex Dally MacFarlane. We hope you give these treasures a read!

We also have many announcements to make. First is the rate increase – thanks to our Patreon supporters, we are increasing our pay from 5$ to 10$ a poem starting immediately, so that our new poets are paid at the new rate! The rates for nonfiction and epic length poetry remain unchanged, but we are hoping to raise our rates yet more with Patreon support, down the road.

Second, we have announced two reading periods, for ST 12 (Hope-themed), and ST13 (the Joke issue). For more information, please see the updated guidelines.

Third, we have added a new team member – Bogi Takács, whose work has appeared in ST previously, has joined the team as an assistant editor.

Last but not least, we still have a few outstanding blog post interviews with ST10 poets, and will be publishing these, as well as blog post interviews with ST11 poets.

Happy reading – and thank you, as always, for being here.

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Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their work has appeared in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Unlikely Story, Uncanny, and other venues, and has been a finalist for the Nebula, Tiptree, Elgin, Rhysling, and Crawford awards.

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