In the newsletter today, a new IZ Digital story by Giselle Leeb of imprisonment, freedom, climate change, and a ghost herd of Pleistocene boars whose existence is solely surmised from the DNA of modern pigs; and a last call for sign ups to IZ Story Socials with Alexander Glass, Teika Marija Smits, and guest appearances by Priya Sharma, Elizabeth Bear, Aliya Whiteley, and other brilliant writers... read on for details
This week in IZ Digital, 'Ghost Herds', a brilliant new story by Giselle Leeb, author of the collection Mammals, I Think We Are Called and assistant editor of Reckoning, the journal of creative writing on environmental justice.
Here is the opening:
When the pig herd started galloping through my walls, I knew they were from the missing ghost population. I’d spent a lot of time studying pigs before I ended up in this three-metre by two-metre cell, and was familiar with their characteristics, both ancient and modern. The unique features of these ghost pigs fit neither.
Almost transparent, they thundered through one wall and out the other, their deft hooves kicking up the plush, grey carpet. I sat on my bed, my legs pulled up, and the room seemed to move, like when you’re in a train that’s waiting to leave the station and another goes past, and it feels like you’re moving forwards, but you’re really standing still and the other train is speeding past you.
I was surprised they didn’t have flayed carcasses, like the dead pigs of recent times. Aren’t ghosts often angry? Don’t they like to bare their scars symbolically?
But it’s doubtful these pigs – strictly speaking, wild boars – had experienced anything like their newly extinct descendants, the domestic pigs, who, all alike, were bred to be butchered, every bit of them chopped up or minced or made into pork chops, every bit used: the heart, the stomach, the brain, the trotters. Even the snout, for God’s sake. They were never free.
I’m confined to this luxury cell, like they were to their pens. Like them, I didn’t do anything to deserve it. Not that I remember, anyway.
The art is by Carly A-F, a freelance illustrator who is inspired by nature, science, myth and magic.
Read 'Ghost Herds', for free, here:
IZ Digital supporters and print Interzone subscribers can get an EPUB of the story delivered to their computer or device.
If you enjoy the fiction in Interzone and IZ Digital, and you are able, please consider becoming a monthly IZ Digital supporter (just a euro each month) or starting (or renewing) a subscription to print Interzone.
The first online IZ Story Socials will be starting soon (first week of July!). Alexander Glass and I will be hosting the Monday socials and for Thursday socials I'll be hosting with Teika Marija Smits.
There will be guest appearances by Elizabeth Bear, Seanan McGuire, Priya Sharma, Aliya Whiteley, R.T. Ester, and others...
These Story Socials will be a great opportunity to talk about short fiction with the people who write it, and hopefully glean new insights into how writers read, both critically and for pleasure.
They are also a great way to help secure the future of Interzone as a print publication.
Low income places are available for both days – if you would like to book one of those (no proof required), please email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to see you there.
Alexander Glass (he) has stories published and forthcoming in The Third Alternative, Black Static, Asimov’s Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. His story 'Sfumato' will be published in Interzone #296.
Teika Marija Smits (she) is a UK-based writer, freelance editor and mother-of-two. Her poetry, short fiction and non-fiction have been widely published. Her story 'The November Room or Leaving the Labyrinth' will be appearing in IZ in the future...
And starting later, in August, two more IZ Story Socials with Interzone writers Alex Penland and Chana Porter. More details of those at the Story Socials website.
Alex Penland (they) is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. They’re a Pushcart-nominated author, a Smithsonian alumnus, and an amateur linguist. They primarily write literary SFF, but they’re often sidetracked by poetry. Their story 'We Are Only Ourselves' will be published in Interzone #296.
Chana Porter (she/they) is a playwright, teacher, MacDowell fellow, and cofounder of The Octavia Project, a STEM and writing program for girls, trans, and nonbinary youth that uses speculative fiction to envision greater possibilities for our world. She lives in Los Angeles, California, and is the author of The Seep, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, and The Thick and the Lean, out from Saga/Simon & Schuster April 2023. Her story 'Mermaid Variations' will be published in Interzone #296.
Guests lined up for Chana Porter's Tuesday evening socials include Brian Evenson, Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, Kasimma, and Daniel Bennett.
And joining the Wednesday socials with Alex Penland: Tonya Liburd, Eugenia Triantafyllou, and Ai Jiang.
The reading list for each of the socials is different, and each of the writers hosting them (along with me) has their own unique perspective on the stories, and on writing short stories, so whichever you join, they are going to be a fantastic way to deepen your understanding of short fiction, and at the same time support Interzone.
Any questions at all, please get in touch.
Thanks for reading; see you next time.
Gareth Jelley, Editor & Publisher
Interzone & IZ Digital
‘Nihilism is not the last word. The last word is imagination.’
— Rachel Pollack, Unquenchable Fire