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A Tower for the Coming World is a Christmas in July Fete pick #sciencefiction #scifi #ku #giveaway


A Tower for the Coming World


M. L. Clark


Science fiction story collection

Book Blurb:

Who said restorative justice would be easy? In these 18 speculative stories, novelettes, and novellas, M L Clark explores near and far-flung futures where the struggle to do better is messy, incomplete, and no less urgent than our own today. Some of these pieces were first published in Analog, Clarkesworld, and F&SF, among other SF magazines. All have been refined, and are paired with reflections on the author's growth over more than a decade of publication, along with questions about how speculative fiction can help us to imagine better worlds.


From The Pool Noodle Alien Posse, a story about a near-future mother of two trying to do her best after a failed first-contact scenario left humanity to deal with its climate crisis and conspiracy-driven extremists… one neighbourhood at a time.

On the abandoned house beside Yuri’s, the graffiti was getting creative. Not just tags and spoof characters but bigger pieces of a more abstracted nature, giving the vague impression of idyllic nature scenes. Cornfields, maybe. Or a desert giving way to oasis? The block hadn’t decided yet what to do with the detached unit, but the Monterreys surely weren’t coming back—at least, no sooner than Elias would be—and the place needed someone in it for upkeep, if nothing else.

Some of the neighbors were still reluctant when it came to property swapping on that scale, though. We were all pretty new to this share-and-share-alike business. First there’d been the localized energy grid, which usually made enough to give back to the main system instead of taking. And the water collection upgrades that Ghassan had so kindly shown us how to install, to optimize our home gardens in place of all the lawns we’d once owned.

Not that long ago, some of us would have been carping about permits, bylaws, and property lines over the slightest changes to one of our cookie-cutter homes. Some had lived on that stuff, really: like Jonas at the kitchen window, and me by my recordings every night. That vaguely comforting, if entirely ridiculous, affectation of personal control.

Consensus, unspoken but emphatic at all our neighborhood meetings, was that we’d still go as slow with any drastic local changes as the world’s fresh crises ever allowed.

From Yuri’s driveway I could see the new greenhouse in progress in the back—and Yuri’s powerhouse of a trio of daughters hard at work getting as much secured and covered as they could before the coming storm. Acid reflux, or envy, surged in my throat at the site of their family united. Elias could’ve stayed, couldn’t he? And built something here with his own?

But that had been one of the first lessons of the fallout: that some people, even people we’d thought closest to us, had always been holding different stories in their heads—about everything. For a while, there’d been nothing unusual to notice, because nothing in our lives had compelled me to notice. Callie and Jonas had their classes, their afterschool activities, their doctors’ appointments. The parents’ group had its occasional grandstanding meet-ups and parties. My department had its usual frenzy of marketing shoptalk, ever-interested in how the unending recession would change sales pitches to new clients. And Elias’s faculty get-togethers seemed normal, or at least of a piece with his eclectic research interests in medieval poetry.

Even when the aliens first came and went, slipping off in the middle of a cacophony of bad and belittling media spin-cycles, the cadence of what came after hadn’t seemed so different, had it? After the first wave of panicked riots, everyone invested in that mess had kept going, hadn’t they? At least, as far as any of us could tell. School terms pressed on. Professional workshop invites were sent out. Hiring committees convened to review the latest applicants.

I didn’t even realize, until Elias left, the extent to which he’d been on those forums all along. Listening to commentators who’d only ever seen our guests in one way from the moment they’d first apologized for interrupting our fundraiser: as leverage. Leverage in ongoing Terran power games, leverage in the next election campaign, leverage in backroom manipulations of the global economy. Apparently he’d been listening to those cynical and estranging pundits well before our visitors’ arrival, too—hooked by a yearning for “simpler times” in their broadcasts and posts and newsletters that I’d never realized ran so deeply in my husband all these years. Just reading and soaking in the worst of their isolationist takes, the starkest of their appeals to a black-and-white world, day after day after day.

The aliens had been his final straw, but maybe there would’ve been another, if our much-abused visitors had never shown up.

I wasn’t sure if that comforted me at all.

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What I love most about the holiday season:

Okay, brace yourself: We’re going to start gloomy and end excited.

July is a month of death in the Southern Hemisphere. Up north, December is. Both deserve to have festive holidays, but because the Northern Hemisphere has run the calendrical show for a while, it’s got all the top hits: the biggest holidays with which we celebrate hope and rebirth. Traditions vary from culture to culture, but what’s shared is a brilliantly optimistic outlook in the face of hardship, and a different way of thinking about wealth and plenitude for a while.

Westerners also mark the New Year at the end of the holidays, and even though it’s an arbitrary date on the calendar, it’s our arbitrary date. It carries with it the sense of moving forward together—with family, with community, with a whole shared culture: out from celebrations in hard times, into the next weird and hopefully wonderful phase in our lives.

What I love about the holiday season is how human it is to look at so many parts of our world dying and going dormant for a while, and to think to ourselves…

“Oh! I wonder what kind of fun I can make with my loved ones while we wait out this latest rough spell.”

We are such resilient beings, and never is that more clearly seen than in how we face up—with joy, with togetherness, and with great feasting—to whatever Mother Nature throws at us next. So, congrats, Southern Hemisphere friends: this festive July, we’re rooting for all of you to enjoy the best of that cozy feeling, too.

Why is your featured book a must-read to get you in the holiday mood?

Oh, this isn’t going to be your holly-jolly Christmas read, that’s for sure.

But if you also love what I mentioned above—the resilience of humanity in the face of hardship—then maybe this collection of speculative and sci-fi stories will be the read to curl up with this “holiday” July. These stories span over a decade of publication in sci-fi magazines like Analog and Clarkesworld, and they reflect on how we find and make space for ourselves even when the world is going through rough seasons. The characters here often don’t have the agency to change the whole world—but by doing what they can, where they can, they will have done something transformative for themselves and their communities all the same.

I’ve paired each with a two-page reflection on original writing context, which I also hope will be of use to any writers among the readers. How have you grown in resilience over the harder seasons in your own lives? And do you see that growth when you review your own history of published works today?

(Also: I tend to write my longest works during the holiday season, so if you do, too, best wishes for a rewarding few creative weeks ahead!)

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card:

Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.

Runs July 1 – 31, 2023.

Drawing will be held on August 1, 2023.

Author Biography:

M. L. Clark is a writer of speculative fiction and humanist essays, with a background in literary histories of science and a deep love for the challenges of living in a world of over eight billion. Canadian by birth and ancestry, Clark is now based in Medellín, Colombia, where a writing-centred life is interspersed with opportunities to be more fully present in a much wider, messier fray of human striving.

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Unknown member
Jul 09, 2023

This looks like a great novel which I would enjoy!


Unknown member
Jul 08, 2023

I love spending time with friends and family over the holidays.


Jul 06, 2023

I love spending the holidays with my family. Watching my kids Faces light up.


N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jul 04, 2023

Thank you, M L, for sharing your new release in our Christmas in July Fete!

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