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Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for March and April 2023


Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for March and April 2023

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Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction for March and April 2023


Published on March 10, 2023


It’s a good time to be a reader. We’re now into the third month of 2023, which feels less and less like a new year by the day and is slowly morphing into simply being a year, full stop. As for what the coming months have in store from indie presses, well, much like the weather in March, they’re all over the place. That’s not a bad thing. From a vision of a bizarre futuristic society to a fantasy epic that’s also an epic poem, there’s a host of innovative work due out in March and April on indie presses. Here are some notable titles, grouped thematically.


Location, Location, Location

To hear Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall explain it, her novel Tauhou emerged from thinking about two aspects of her family history. “I imagined what would happen if my ancestors, the pre-colonial Māori and Salish peoples, had met each other and what they’d get up to,” they said in an interview with Stuff. Elsewhere in the interview, she said that the novel had “a speculative vibe with supernatural and spiritual aspects, which feels like indigenous realism”—which sounds highly compelling. (House of Anansi; April 11, 2023)

If you’ve read any of Jeremy C. Shipp’s previous work, you’ll know of their penchant for ambiguous horrors and their command of a steadily increasing dread. Given that their forthcoming novel The Merry Dredgers is set at an abandoned amusement park that’s now the home of a cult, you can probably guess why those skills would be handy for them to have. Plus: goblins! (Meerkat Press; April 2023)

Set in a near-future Barcelona, Miquel de Palol’s The Garden of Seven Twilights (translated by Adrian Nathan West) follows a group of characters nervously waiting to see if the city will be destroyed in a nuclear attack. Combine a series of interconnected narratives with a framing device that ventures even further into the future and you have an intriguing (Dalkey Archive; Mach 21, 2023)


Identities and Mythologies

Among the literary admiters of Michael Cisco’s work are China Miéville and Thomas Ligotti. As is the case with both of these writers, Cisco often goes high-concept with his work, and his forthcoming novel Pest is no exception—it’s about a man whose work finds him transformed into a yak. It’s the latest addition to a bibliography that’s charting out its own space—and taking fiction where you’d least expect it. (CLASH Books; March 2023)

Anuja Varghese’s first book, the collection Chrysalis, abounds with contrasting tones and unexpected encounters. In a recent interview, she noted the presence of “shapeshifters and ghosts and monsters re-imagined from fairy tales and South Asian folklore.” Taken in tandem with Varghese’s experience writing across genres, this suggests readers are in for a wide-ranging time. (House of Anansi; March 14, 2023)

First and foremost, Carter St.Hogan’s author bio notes that they are “[c]urrently at work on a concept album about a trans saint and a book of geo-erotic Western horror,” and as forthcoming projects go, that’s decidedly enticing. One or Several Deserts is St.Hogan’s debut collection, and finds its characters making their ways through altered realities and fantastical spaces. (11:11 Press; April 11, 2023)

Readers will find 13 trans and non-binary writers represented in Bound in Flesh: An Anthology of Trans Body Horror, an anthology from editor Lor Gislason. Among the contributors are Hailey Piper and Joe Koch, both of whom have been doing fantastic and unnerving work as of late—which is one encouraging sign of what to expect. Another encouraging sign is this early review, which offers a good sense of what to expect from these pages. (Ghoulish Books; April 18, 2023)


Journeys vs. Destinations

Following a series of haunting, surreal short novels set near the U.S./Mexico border—seriously, check out The Transmigration of Bodies if you haven’t already—Yuri Herrera has returned with a new collection of short stories. Ten Planets, translated by Lisa Dillman, finds Herrera expanding his stylistic range—which means that this collection includes everything from alien beings to a sentient bacterium. (Graywolf Press; March 21, 2023)

First and foremost, the title of Tobias S. Buckell’s new collection gets many points for a reference I didn’t expect to see in the science fiction world. Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and Other Stories collects 15 of Buckell’s short stories, which incorporate character studies alongside tales of forays into other worlds. Buckell’s bibliography covers a wide range of styles, from the fantastical to speculative work in a near-future vein, suggesting a host of possibilities for this collection. (Apex Publications; April 18, 2023)

What happens when the American suburbs curdle into something unrecognizable and unsettling? That’s one of the many questions Max Booth III poses in his new collection Abnormal Statistics. Booth has been releasing unnerving work at an impressive clip lately—plus, his novella We Need to Do Something was recently adapted for the screen. Will one of the stories in here also lead to a film featuring the voice of Ozzy Osbourne? There’s only one way to find out. (Apocalypse Party; March 2023)

Margarita Saona’s short stories abound with mythological allusions and surreal cities, all transporting the reader to unfamiliar, uncanny locations. Her new collection The Ghost of You also draws on her experience as a heart transplant recipient—making for a complex and stylistically bold reading experience. (Laberinto Press; March 2023)


Political Science (Fiction)

Is a novel featuring a young Sherlock Holmes teaming up with Karl Marx to solve mysteries science fiction? Technically speaking, this qualifies as an alternate history, and so Jim Feast’s Karl Marx Private Eye makes the list. It also comes with a Jonathan Lethem blurb stating that it “manages to feel equal parts Columbo and Perec,” which sounds like this is a mystery worth investigating. (PM Press; April 25, 2023)

Patrik Sampler’s debut novel, The Ocean Container, blended musings on ecology with speculative ruminations on politics and extremism. Now, Sampler has followed that up with a new book, the novel Naked Defiance, which revisits the recent past and turns up elements of alienation and surrealism. “That’s the value of the dystopian novel,” Sampler said in a 2020 interview. “It is inherently alarmist, and sometimes we should be alarmed.” (New Star; April 15, 2023)

Uncanny buildings hold an especially powerful place in the world of speculative fiction, whether that’s Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy or J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise. Andrew F. Sullivan’s Marigold offers another unsettling fictional structure, this one set in a near-future Toronto and having a pervasive influence on the urban landscape. (ECW Press; April 18, 2023}

Corporations engaged in suspicious behavior are a mainstay of stories told in almost every form of media. Jinwoo Chong’s novel Flux offers a science fictional spin on this, as its plot centers around a company whose ethos involves traveling through time—regardless of what effect it might have on the fabric of reality. (Melville House; March 21, 2023)


Rethinking the Landscape

In 2021, Elwin Cotman was a Philip K. Dick Award nominee for his collection Dance on Saturday. Now, he’s followed that up with an unexpected shift in direction: a full-on epic poem that’s also a work of epic fantasy. The Wizard’s Homecoming juxtaposes fantastical landscapes, quests, and imagery with assorted subcultures and moments of real-life history. It sounds unlike anything else you’re likely to read this year. (Nomadic Press; March 2023)

Terese Svoboda’s fiction covers a wide range of styles and locations; among other things, her bibliography includes a novel about pirates told entirely through dialogue. Her forthcoming novel Dog on Fire centers around a woman returning to her Midwestern hometown, and abounds with surreal and Gothic moments, evoking grief and transporting the reader in and out of the familiar. (University of Nebraska Press; March 7, 2023)

The futuristic society found in Blair Austin’s Dioramas isn’t an easy one to pin down, nor does it have much of a precedent. Instead, this novel is told via a series of talks in the aftermath of a ruined world—and much of this novel’s haunting charm comes from the ways in which pieces of that history gradually come to the foreground. (Dzanc Books; Mar. 21, 2023)

Jesse Kohn’s novel the book of webs represents a unique spin on the idea of a group of heroes working to make a positive change in a world controlled by a repressive government. That Kohn’s novel incorporates everything from post-punk bands to DIY eye surgery offers a sense of the offbeat sensibility at play in this book. (University of Massachusetts Press; March 2023)


reel-thumbnailTobias Carroll is the managing editor of Vol.1 Brooklyn. He is the author of the short story collection Transitory (Civil Coping Mechanisms) and the novel Reel (Rare Bird Books).

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Tobias Carroll


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