My first published novelette, first published fantasy, and first published historical fiction are all out on newsstands today and they are all the same thing: “Small Towns,” published in the January/February 2012 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction!

I hope all my stories have their own flavor, but this one is particularly idiosyncratic and I’m quite proud of it.

Here’s the beginning, to whet your appetite:

Small Towns

When Jacques Jaillet was a small boy, he brought home a pocketful of sand from the seaside and dribbled it slowly onto the floorboards of his little room. He made long avenues and cottage roofs, rows of shops, garden walls, a church with a fragment of shell for the tower. Then, for no reason he could later recall, he took a deep breath and blew it all away, the shapes and the order, the grains themselves skittering under the baseboard, gone forever.

When Jacques returned to his market town in 1918, past his middle years, it looked as if here, too, a monstrous child had finished playing and had blown the town, the streets, the houses and shops from the face of the Earth.

I hope you’ll go out and buy the magazine at your local newsstand or Barnes & Nobles. Portlanders, Rich’s Cigar Store has copies!

Edited 1/13/12: F&SF is available for Kindle, as well!


My appetite is whetted! That is a fantastic opening and I hope I’ll get to read the entire story.

Love you always.

Thanks, Jan. I’m so glad you like it :)

This passage brings to mind the Tibetan sand painting that was done at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Hmmm, I think the UMN bookstore is affiliated with B&N. I wonder if they have it…

Tracy — I didn’t see that sand painting! Sad to say, the inspiration for this passage was two aerial photographs: before and after.

Got my subscription copy in the mail a few days ago, and was excited to see your name in the TOC. Haven’t read it yet—I’m a few months behind in reading the sci-fi mags—but given that it’s one of yours, it will almost certainly jump the line and be read in the next few days!

Looking forward to the new story. Congrats.

Just finished reading it, and it’s excellent. Just like you said, it has a completely different flavor—it’s quite unlike the first story of yours I read, “Apocalypse Daily”. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have guessed they were by the same author.

Allen — How delightful to see your comment, and also to find that I did “jump the line”! I’m glad you liked “Small Towns” (and “Apocalypse Daily”) and especially that you came by to tell me about it.


Bill —

Thanks! I know I’m complicating things by getting published somewhere other than Asimov’s, but I should work on lobbying the OES library regardless!

Thank you so much for ‘Small Towns’! Fleur is an absolutely enchanting heroine, and I would love to see a longer story about her adventures.

I am an embroiderer, and F&SF subscriber, via Kindle, and I live in Medford, Oregon.

When I was in High School, my English teacher had us write our own obituaries, and I think my epitaph would be apt for Fleur (unless, perhaps she’s immortal) – Her Fingers Flew Faster Than Hummingbird Wings.

Thank you again, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

WOW – just finished ‘Conditional Love’. I’m speechless. I also feel bad for Minerva, left behind. Just… I’ll be watching for more from you…Thank you.

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