Susan Forest has published over twenty short stories in Canada and the United States. Her works have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, OnSPEC Magazine, three of the Tesseracts anthologies (Edge Press), AE Science Fiction Review, Blood and Water (Bundoran Press), and The Urban Green Man, among others. Her collection of short fiction, Immunity to Strange Tales, was published by Five Rivers Press, and her nonfiction has appeared in Legacy Magazine, Alberta Views Magazine, and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Blog. Several of Susan’s short stories are available on Curious Fictions.
Fiction – Short Stories
For A Rich Man To Enter
How is life valued? When the planet reaches twelve billion, Mandira must decide whether the 1% with the money to escape Earth, or those whose personal values support the needs of the many over the needs of the few, deserve to be protected. When the results of her choice could trigger war on Mercury, her decision becomes even more complex. Nominated for the 2019 Prix Aurora Award.
The Fat Man
When climate change and resource conflicts release a flood of US civil war refugees into Canada’s state of martial law, Miche and her daughter wonder if people can be saved by sacrificing a few. And if so, which few?
Sun-Splashed Fields and Far Blue Mountains
Love, sacrifice, and stem cell organ printing.
“Sun-Splashed Fields and Far Blue Mountains” was first published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, in the March/April issue, in 2018.
Read a review by Kevin P. Hallett from Tangent Online here.
Earth and Flame
What is the nature of an artist’s muse? Kaolin knows from the instant she is created that she was made to give life to Gaius’s art.
The Green Man–or Woman–cares for our natural world. What is her response to our urban environments? “The Gift” was a finalist for the 2014 Prix Aurora Award.
In a future where water is scarce and life as we know it has broken down in the wake of resource wars, Dyan must dig deeper within herself to find the courage to face her fear, if her family is to survive. Published in Blood and Water, Bundoran Press, 2012.
Rent In Space
It would be impossible to come home from work one evening and find a black hole in your living room, right? But how about a rent in the space-time fabric? Can you imagine the money making schemes? Analog Science Fiction and Fact, September 2012.
Paradox pitfalls are not exclusive to travel through time. Any knowledge of the future can be paralyzing.
“7:54” was first published in OnSpec Magazine Issue #89, Summer, 2012. SF Crowsnest writes: “‘7:54’ by Susan Forest tackles the big question: fatalism. Winnie works with streamsight, a method of checking the data stream to predict the future. How this functions exactly is carefully vague but that’s okay in Science Fiction. The story point is that she sees a road accident in the near future in which her colleague Henri gets killed. She likes Henri and sets out to prevent this happening. Telling it in the first person, from Winnie’s point of view, allows the author to give us lots of her speculations about what will happen next. However, the issue is a key one for humans and for science. Is the future fixed and immutable, or do we change it as we go along?”
To Go Home To Leal
Kaul — a boy on the brink of manhood — is torn in two when his alternately loving and abusive father is turned into a crippled beggar. Can a wizard who deals with demons help Kaul bring his father home to the healing country of Leal? First published in “Beneath Ceaseless Skies,” May 5, 2012, “To Go Home to Leal” is available in the Kindle Store.
Chuck Rothman writes for Tangent Short Fiction Review:
Once again, Beneath Ceaseless Skies features moody and atmospheric stories in their issue #94. “To Go Home to Leal” is set in a port city where Kaul works at odd jobs just to stay afloat. His father Daugh has had his hand cut off as a thief and longs to go back to his home in Leal, but thieves are not allowed in. Kaul comes up with a plan involving a wizard and a magic spell that will allow them both to return, but things don’t go quite right, and not in the way I may have implied by those words. Susan Forest adds some unexpected and fascinating complications and gives Kaul a heart-wrenching dilemma in the end.
Lois Tilton writes for Locus Online (starred review from 2012 Recommended Reading List)
I found the ending unexpected, though oddly right.
The ending is quite arresting. I felt relief at Kaul’s final choice, and then I was ashamed, and that’s an awesome thing to evoke from an audience.
Loved this story. I won’t spoil the plot of it in my praise, but it had me by the nose all the way through, and, like a character caught in a story, I did not know which way things would turn out. This, to me, is one of the key things in story-telling–to make the inevitable ending in the writer’s mind become the consequences of a character’s choices. An excellent tale. Thanks.
It takes the arrival of Tumbling River’s new doctor — and her concern for the well-being of the colony’s children, no matter which species — to show Amanda the significance of her personal impact on the planet.
“The Most Invasive Species” was first published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact — April 2012 — Vol. CXXXII No.4.
Nice story about humans meddling with ecosystems (and species) they don’t really understand, and messing up.
The short fiction begins with “The Most Invasive Species” by Susan Forest. Humans have settled a world with a native intelligent species. They have got along fine with the natives, even though they have different customs. When, Karen, a new doctor comes with her family to the planet, she becomes appalled at the way the natives treat their children. The children are regularly bitten and beaten. An incident changes things, but not for the better.
Turning It Off
When Carter and Sam(antha) learn how to turn off their safeties, not only does the world become a trickier place, they learn new things about each other… Analog Science Fiction and Fact, 2011. “Turning It Off” was a finalist for the 2012 Prix Aurora Award.
CXPulp gives “Turning It Off” a 4.5/5 rating and writes:
This is the first story by Susan Forest I have read. Hoping to learn a little more about her, I found her website, and from the looks of it we should be seeing a new novella from her in Analog in the coming months. If it is as interesting as this short story, it will be something to look forward to.
Turning it off follows a family in a future where man has created technology to protect humans from harm. We see a logical extension of the incredible networking and information flow we are beginning to experience now, but the technology at the center of the story are “safeties” – devices that can be installed on anything to prevent harm of any kind. As a side effect, they also dampen emotional reactions, meaning that they must be turned off if you want to have sex. Some people are even starting to turn them off to experience the thrill of danger – and that mindset is at the center of this story.
Turning it Off was very creative and a good read. I am looking forward to seeing more from Forest.
Sam Tomaino writes for SFRevu:
Two teenagers in the future try “Turning It Off” in the story by Susan Forest. The ‘It’ is what is called a safety which not only protects them from harm but any kind of sensation. As teenagers might do, they turn off each of their safeties and get into trouble. They don’t learn from this trouble in this amusing tale.
TPI’s Reading Diary writes:
Everything has “safeties” which prevent practically all sorts of accidents. Even people have safety systems which prevent accidents by falls etc. But they also dampen the sensitivity of skin. Two teenagers find a way to turn off their safety systems and experiment a little …
Terraforming a distant planet is complicated, not simplified, when the existing ecosystem is sufficiently alien that no biochemical interaction can occur between the two–and when the Earth colonists discover that they have brought insufficient complexity for their attempt at terraformation to become self-sustaining. Faced with the demise of the colony, Tian and Jerry must find a way for the two ecosystems to interact. Then, they meet Lucy…
Civilization has overtaken the land masses of Earth. Every metal has been mined, every fuel burned, every resource used. The exploding human race must cannibalize its own structures in order to make one last, desperate attempt to survive. Published in AE Science Fiction Review and podcasted by Drabblecast. “Orange” was a Notable Online Story finalist in 2010 for the Storysouth Million Writers’ Award.
Film producer Lasha feels imprisoned in her world of reality, make believe, hallucination and the occult. Only a mysterious director seems to have the key to set her free. But her freedom is Jim’s hell. Tesseracts Fourteen, Edge Press, 2010.
In “The Right Chemistry” two oxygen atoms attend a cocktail party, with explosive results. OnSpec Magazine, 2010.
“Back” follows two time machine inventors who become famous when they send small objects back in time; but the real breakthrough will come when they can send a sentient being to the past–and retrieve him to the present. “Back” was a finalist for the 2009 Prix Aurora Award. Analog Science Fiction and Fact, 2008.
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow” was published in Tesseracts Eleven by Edge Press. It is a post-apocalyptic story about a family that finds itself self-sufficient in terms of energy and food needs, yet facing their ultimate demise. A mother and her children struggle with, and face, their own cultural prejudices to create hope for the future. Tesseracts 11, Edge Press, 2007.
Gnat farming is difficult enough, what with isolation, drought and storms–let alone the predation of deadly “Whites”–but when the roof of Willy’s barn is sheared by high winds Freddy is called upon to pay his debt. Asimov’s Science Fiction, Oct/Nov 2007.
Ben’s mutation is a set of extended shoulder blades that, when fitted with honed razors, give him the cock-boxing nickname “Angel of Death.” But mutant cock-boxers can’t challenge “cleans” — until Ben’s untouched track record becomes an embarrassment to the world champion. In the resulting championship match viewed — and gambled on — worldwide, more rides on the outcome of the fight than just money. Tesseracts 10, Edge Press, 2006.
Moons in systems off the beaten track are never first on anyone’s list to receive supplies. But when the mining colony on 403 Station is hit by a lethal disease, Trine has to make hard decisions about who will receive the medicine, and who must try to recover on their own. When her daughter becomes ill, her choices become harder. Asimov’s Science Fiction, 2006. “Immunity” was a finalist for the 2005 Robin Herrington Short Story Contest.
In a disturbing world not unlike “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Zekielina will do anything to escape her mother’s endless renovations and cuddly bunny games. Flight to the Easter Bunny’s warren and the Tooth Fairy’s castle only result the loss of the tip of her middle finger. But when Zekielina searches for Santa’s elves, she soon discovers she is no longer “Playing Games.” OnSpec Magazine, 2005.
Fiction – Collections and Novels
Bursts of Fire beings an epic political fantasy of revenge, addictions, and redemption. In an empire where magic has become suspect, love and loyalty—for one’s lover, one’s family, one’s country—are tested. If Heaven desires the very earth be burned, what place can those below hope for, when the flames come for them? Release date: August 6, 2019.
Immunity to Strange Tales
Susan Forest’s first collection of short fiction, Immunity To Strange Tales, was launched at the When Words Collide conference in Calgary, August 10-12, 2012. The collection contains nine reprints, including “Back,” finalist for the 2009 Prix Aurora Awards (short fiction category) as well as three new stories: “Killing the Cat,” “The Way Back,” and “The Strange Tale of–” Five Rivers Press, 2012.
The Dragon Prince
When her father and the other villagers organize a search party for the dragon that preys on their homes, Kathleen enlists the help of her mysterious friend, Callum, to find the dragon first. What she does not know in her quest to save the magnificent beast, is that Callum has his own reasons for wanting to kill it.
Published in 1990 by Gage Educational Publishing in Agincourt, Ontario, Canada, it was awarded the Children’s Circle Book Choice Award, and was chosen by Gage as one of two young adult novels to represent the company at an international book fair in Berlin, in 1991.
A haunting, love-filled memory of a hidden mountain valley Susan’s children call “Grandpa’s Kitchen.” Her father, renowned mountaineer, Don Forest, was first and foremost a family man, and loved nothing better than to pass on his love of the mountains to his children and grandchildren. Now that her father has passed away, it is Susan’s ongoing legacy to share the ways of the mountains with her children. Legacy Magazine, 2009.