DreamForge Anvil | Issue 9

Welcome to Issue 9.

In this issue we meet a socially awkward zombie who runs afoul of the Positive Re-interment Imagery and Symbolic Appeasement protocol (PRISA), try to liberate a treasure in Belize guarded by a fierce nagual, and start a book club with a disgruntled demon. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes an appearance!  Fantasy, humor, and SF adventure await!

Our Contributors
Margaret Balch-Gonzalez  
Vern Fronk Returns to Our Neighborhood
Margaret Balch-Gonzalez is a writer, editor, and former science teacher living in Providence, Rhode Island. Most recently she worked as an editor of social science publications at Brown University. She has lived and traveled extensively in Europe, South America, and Asia and taught middle school science and English as a Second Language in Argentina, Ecuador, and Japan. This story is her first published work of fiction.

Story Notes for “Vern Fronk Returns to Our Neighborhood”

When a peaceful, but socially awkward zombie shows up just wanting to go back to his old life, my protagonist discovers that her community is not quite as welcoming as it imagines. 
The character of Vern Fronk was inspired by a late family member with mental health issues who struggled his whole life to be treated with dignity and respect. I was his caregiver. I felt exasperation and compassion for his quirks, anger and gratitude at how others treated him, dismay at the lack of supports, and appreciation for the limited supports that do exist. 
I had recurring dreams that he came back from the dead. This story started to form: How would a community deal with the sudden appearance of vulnerable and marginalized undead? Could scientists and nonprofits help? What kind of backlash would “undead science” encounter? How could kindness, cooperation, and evidence-based knowledge nudge a community toward its better self?

Shannon Fox 
Pour One Out
Shannon is a multi-genre writer of stories spanning past, present, and future. Her work has appeared in several publications, including DreamForge Anvil, Air & Nothingness Press, and Third Flatiron. She has a B.A. in Literature-Writing from UC-San Diego. When not writing, she spends her time dancing with horses which she’s found is significantly easier to do with four feet instead of two. She lives in San Diego, CA, with her husband and two cats – one of whom may or may not be a demon in disguise.

Visit her at www.shannon-fox.com

Story Notes for "Pour One Out" 

This story was inspired by my 30th birthday trip to Belize. While we were having breakfast on the beach, a friend made a joke that included the line, "it all started with a piece of scotch tape," and the story that had been percolating in my brain about jaguars and magic began to finally take shape. I started writing it in my notes on my phone on the plane home, and by the time we landed in LA, the first draft of this story was done. That was January 2020, and as the pandemic took hold, editing shifted the story to be much more of a tale about dealing with and processing grief. Scot Noel read an earlier draft and offered me some revision notes which developed this final version of "Pour One Out." 

Jennifer Hudak 
The Art of Unpicking Stitches
Jennifer Hudak is a speculative fiction writer fueled mostly by tea. Her work has appeared on both the Locus Magazine and the SFWA recommended reading lists, and has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Originally from Boston, she now lives with her family in Upstate New York where she teaches yoga, knits pocket-sized animals, and misses the ocean. 

Story Notes for "The Art of Unpicking Stitches"

I wrote this story the summer before my own child headed off to college. It made me remember what it felt like to be on the cusp of a new stage of life--eager and scared at the same time. Experiencing this transition as a parent, I felt a similar mix of excitement and anxiety, and I wrote this story in part as a way to process all of those conflicting emotions. In other words, there's a lot of me in both Mish and her father.

Reprint. Originally published in Metaphorosis, July 2021
Benjamin C. Kinney
Conference of the Birds
Benjamin C. Kinney is a neuroscientist, SFF writer, and assistant editor of the science fiction magazine Escape Pod. He’s never made a cyborg bird, and he hasn’t made any cyborg monkeys since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @BenCKinney or find more of his stories via benjaminckinney.com.

Story notes on "Conference of the Birds"

Modern artificial intelligence is a stunted toy, but someday we’ll have artificial minds worthy of the name. They won’t be anything like humans, and we’ll seem as mysterious to them as they do to us. This story finds one approach to bridging that gap, without losing sight of the oppressive tools that have become the trunk of AI’s evolutionary history. You can read more about all of this in the online essay that accompanied this story’s original publication.

Reprint. Originally published in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact!
George Lockett 
Demonology Book Club
George Lockett is a London-based writer of fiction and video games. His short fiction has appeared in such places as Fireside Magazine, sub-Q Magazine, and Andromeda Spaceways. He has written for and consulted on a variety of other interactive projects, including VR, AR, and narrative video games such as Destruction AllStars, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, and BBC Earth – Micro Kingdoms: Senses.

When he’s not making up tales of mischievous ghosts or flesh-hungry, triple-headed birds, he can be found on Twitter @mastergeorge, lurking on the web, and in his weekly technoanxiety newsletter.
Jean Martin 
No Real Evidence
Jean Martin’s story was inspired by How Sherlock Holmes's creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, was fooled by hoax. In December 1920 Sir Arthur unwittingly gave credence to one of the greatest hoaxes of the 20th Century when he published the now world-famous Cottingley Fairies photos. (Or, maybe that’s not exactly how it happened.)
JMG Nerenberg
Who Are You, Little Girl?
Jan pursued a rather circuitous path to reach her impossible dreams. “I always wanted to marry a handsome man, live in a seaport village in a Victorian home, and raise a houseful of children. Check. Double Check. & Check. After eight were raised, (Yes, Eight. That is not a typo!) educated, and out the door, Jan set out to pursue new dreams of travel and personal education. Being awarded two Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarships and while serving as the Fiction Editor for American Athenaeum magazine, she walked across the stage of the “Great Hall” at Aberystwyth University in Wales and was awarded a Ph.D. in 2016. But she considered this just another stepping-stone in her journey.

Jan lives in Astoria, Oregon, in the Pacific Coast Rain Forest. A novelist, she enjoys and writes historic fiction/fantasy and loves to explore the depth of layers that multiple storylines create. The motto, "Decisions Determine Destiny", plays heavily in her work.

Jan enjoys memoirs, and fiction including historical fiction, fantasy, and children’s fables. She is influenced by books, books, more books, and a mother who wanted to read all the books in the library.

You can find her at jannerenberg.com or on Twitter @JanNerenberg
Mike Jack Stoumbos 
No Place In Space
Mike Jack Stoumbos is an author and educator, best known for his space opera series THIS FINE CREW and as a 1st-place winner of the Writers of the Future contest. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies and collections, including STREET MAGIC, GALACTIC STEW, and DRAGON WRITERS alongside Brandon Sanderson. Mike Jack teaches writing craft workshops for teens and writing habits workshops for emerging authors; he also writes articles and essays for TheBookBreak.com and other groups. You can find him at MikeJackStoumbos.com or @MJStoumbos on Twitter.

Story Notes for “No Place in Space”
It started with a fun question—“What happens when you fire a bullet inside a spaceship?”—which opened a tunnel of what-ifs and eventually led to an awesome space-pirate universe, where swords are the norm and guns have no place. And, in case anyone’s wondering, I do sound like a pirate when I read this one out loud.
Wulf Moon
Wulf Moon's SUPER SECRETS: Flowstate: Release the Kraken Within You
Wulf Moon learned oral storytelling as a child when he lived with his Chippewa grandmother. He begged stories from her every night and usually got his wish—fireside tales that fired his imagination. If Moon had a time machine, those are the days he would go back to. Since he doesn’t have a time machine, he writes.

Moon wrote his first science fiction story at fifteen. It won the national Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and became his first professional sale in Science World . He has won over forty writing awards, and thirty in public speaking. His stories have appeared in Writers of the Future Vol. 35, Best of Deep Magic Anthology 2, Future Science Fiction Digest, Best of Third Flatiron, and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds 2 by Pocket Books. Moon is a professional voice-over actor and is podcast director at Future Science Fiction Digest .

Wulf Moon's award-winning SUPER SECRETS Writing Resource and Workshops have been attributed by many aspiring writers as the secret to their success in obtaining first professional sales. Two of Moon's books on writing will be published by Mark Leslie of Stark Publishing Solutions in 2022. Want in on the Secrets? JOIN THE WULF PACK at http://thesupersecrets.com.
DreamForge Staff
Jane Noel
Illustration, Design, Layout
Jane is the Founder of Chroma Marketing Essentials, a digital marketing agency located in Jeannette PA.  She holds a degree in Visual Communications from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and more years of experience than she cares to count. 
Before founding CME, Jane worked as an Artist, Art Lead, Art Director, and Project Manager for the computer game developer DreamForge Intertainment, where she worked on a number of early computer games, including Roger Zelazny’s Chronomaster.
Scot Noel
Editor, Editorial Selections, Essays, and more.
Scot Noel is a content writer for websites, blogs, social media, e-newsletters, and the like. Speculative fiction has always been his obsession, resulting in a Writers of the Future 2nd place win in 1990, a 7-year career in computer game development, and a handful of published stories, ranging from far future and zombie fiction to the tale of a fairy sheriff fighting an evil dragon. He serves as the editor and publisher of DreamForge Anvil.
Jamie D Munro
Editorial Assistant, Lead FLR
Jamie D. Munro is our number one fan, first Patreon Supporter, Kickstarter supporter, and our Editorial Assistant, too! It seems Jamie found us the minute we came online and sometimes I think he understands our mission better than we do. That’s why he became our initial First Line Reader and now our official Editorial Assistant too. Jamie is an aspiring speculative fiction author from Western Australia. 
Henry Gasko
Editorial Assistant
Henry Gasko was born in a displaced persons camp in Yugoslavia after World War Two. He was raised on a vegetable farm in Canada, and emigrated to Australia more than forty years ago. He has recently retired from a career in data analysis and medical research.

Henry has had stories published in the anthologies "Dreamworks", “Alternate Apocalypse”, “On Time”, in Australia's  Aurealis  magazine, and in the  SciPhi Journal .  He is a two-time semi-finalist in The Writers of the Future and he won first prize in Positive Writer's "Why I Write" essay contest. He also won the 2018 Sapiens Plurum short story competition, and came third in the 2020 competition.

When he is not writing, he enjoys cycling, kayaking, swimming and playing bridge.
Lloyd Penney
Copy Editor
Lloyd has been a science fiction fan for close to 45 years, busy with conrunning, clubs, and being a vendor, but has finally been able to match up his literature of choice with his career of being an editor/copy editor/proofreader. His has been a copy editor/proofreader with Amazing Stories Magazine, and book editor for Amazing and various other authors, and is looking further afield for new editorial challenges.

Photo credit to Yvonne Penney.