In Our Rags of Light

I spent a year writing about the justifiable anger of teenage girls.

Most of that was in the novel that I’m currently shopping around (hey agents – call me!), but a lot of it ended up here, in a story that takes place in a very specific environment for teenage girls: the South. It’s the South of True Detective and True Blood, where “slutty” teen girls in cutoffs are seen but never heard. Where they’re set decoration. Where no one looks at them and wonders what their story is.

I look at them. I ask “why are you in this place with these men? what are you getting out of this?” And the answer here is “more than they can imagine”.

“In Our Rags of Light” was published in Strange Horizons in August 2016. It is on the 2016 Tangent Online recommended reading list.

Maria Haskins says: “Teenage girls practicing witchcraft: now there’s a trope that needs to be slashed open and turned inside out, and that is exactly what Shira Lipkin does in this story. I love how the story plays around with what’s “expected”, and makes into something new and different, and I especially love how complex (strong and foolish and clever, brittle and daring) the main character Jess is. A beautiful read that feels alive and real.”

Charles Payseur of Quick Sips Reviews says: “This is a story about growing up and about danger and about power. About magic and about a young woman named Jess who knows just a little about magic and warmth and finds herself drawn to it. I love the way the story draws parallels between her and a moth, that idea of magic as warmth, as fire, and her compelled to chase it. But at the same time having her reject the comparison because she is not doing so blindly….” (Please go read the whole review; it’s great! After you read the story.)

Never Chose This Way

…this one is personal.

I saw a call for stories dealing with the concept of institutions. The call was deliberately loosely defined; a story about the institution of marriage, say, would have fit. But my brain kept cycling back to something and saying “maybe it’s time.” And would not let it go.

I grew up in the 80s. Toward the middle and end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s, there was a horrific trend. If your child did not conform, and you had good health insurance, you could put them into an adolescent treatment center.

Junior loony bin, we called it on the inside.

There’s a song about it, even.

I have so much more to write, about that and things like it. This is just a glimpse. Some of my stories are pretty autobiographical. This one? I don’t have any ink. But.

And I shan’t tell you more; go read.

“Never Chose This Way” was published in Apex Magazine in July 2015.

Charles Payseur of Quick Sip Reviews says: “…It’s a gripping story, slow and tragic and for anyone who has struggled with mental health probably a bit triggering. But it works, the prose disjointed enough, showing a person yearning to be understood, yearning for people to care, yearning to know that she will fit somewhere. Slowly these things open to them, but not because they are offered. More because they are stubborn and they start to figure themself out. Slowly they figure out what they are and, because they know the pain of it all, they begin to try and help other people. It’s a nice story, positing basically that monsters have to help each other, that monsters aren’t exactly monsters, that all they are are people who are pushed into categories that don’t fit. The sense of slow despair in the story slowly lifts, and a deeper current can be felt tugging at things. A current of empathy, which is really what the main character really wanted. What most people really want. It’s a somewhat chilling and definitely a dark piece, but one that has a vein of bright gold to it, a vein of hope…”

The Cartographer’s Requiem

Illustration of The Cartographer's Requiem

“The Cartographer’s Requiem” is that rarest of beasts for me – a secondary-world fantasy story. I love reading them – they just don’t seem to come out of my writerbrain! Til this one.

The seed of it was the image of a bright red train cutting through a featureless vellum-esque plain; that occurred to me and lingered in the very back of my head for quite some time, to resurface when I saw the call for cartography stories.

(I’ve been on a cartography kick lately. Expect more, I hope.)

“The Cartographer’s Requiem” was published in June 2014 at The Journal of Unlikely Cartography.

The Selves We Leave Behind

The Selves We Leave Behind

The Angel of Fremont Street” and “Fortune” were always meant to reflect each other. Versions, shall we say, of the same characters, in a way that’ll make sense when you read them.

But it’s been difficult to show you “Fortune”! Because it was published in a very limited-edition anthology!

BUT NOW YOU CAN HAVE IT. With “The Angel of Fremont Street”. In handy e-book form.

Packaged as “The Selves We Leave Behind”, my Vegas duology is now available from Upper Rubber Boot Press.

So get on that and make my day.

The Final Girl

I had a rough few years that I’ve spoken of elsewhere.

One major side effect of the past few years?

I stopped writing.

The seed of The Final Girl was there before that, though. It started at a conversation at Wiscon where I said to Lisa Bradley “You know, someone should write something about Final Girls.” She said I should do that. I promptly tucked that into my hindbrain to percolate and thought nothing more of it. Consciously, that is.

And then one day I scribbled on the purple dry-erase board over my desk, “the final girl drinks alone.”

And then the hideous trauma of last year kicked in, and my writing, which had already slowed, stopped altogether.

But, over months, “The Final Girl” began to coalesce in spite of itself.

I’ve never had a writing experience like I had with “The Final Girl”. What usually happens with poems or short fiction is that they percolate in my hindbrain for howeverlong, and then, ping!, they’re ready, and I sit down and write the all in one go. This was different. This was a line or two or maybe a paragraph that would happen in my brain while I was in the shower, or walking somewhere, or just doing something else in general. Judah was killing my writing, but this poem, which became this story, kept sneaking in around the edges, piecemeal.

I learned to just leave the door open, so to speak. To welcome the pieces of “The Final Girl” when they arrived. I learn to be patient, not to force it, because when I tried, it vanished like smoke.

Months of a sentence here and a paragraph there. The chunks the final product is in are the chunks it came in, though not consistently in the same order. I accepted that this was not going to follow a traditional story form, that it was just going to be the shape that it was. (I sent it in-progress to Lisa Bradley; her questions and comments were invaluable in helping me figure out what else needed to be there, what I wasn’t looking at. Thank you, thank you, thank you.)

In early January 2014, a now-ex turned verbally abusive, knowingly and deliberately using rape/trauma survivor triggers against me in an attempt to shatter me, and my other now-ex turned weird and awful, and I was struggling. In the two weeks between those breakups, I was desperately trying to make sense of life – for the second time in a year, everything had changed on me, everything had been yanked away, and I had to figure out what to do, what I could do.

And in those two nightmare weeks, the last three pieces of “The Final Girl” arrived.

I sat with it and thought, “I think this is done.”

When I read it at Arisia (knowing/suspecting how bad things were and were about to get elsewhere in my life), I prefaced it with “This is the first thing I’ve written Since. I don’t know if it’s any good; I lack all perspective about my writing these days! But I think it’s done, whatever it is.

“This is ‘The Final Girl’.”

And Julia Rios asked me to submit it to Strange Horizons immediately. Which I managed to do that week, even though everything else collapsed the very next week, and they bought it, and now, here.

Here it is, the thing that came out of me during the worst time of my adult life, the way my brain responded, the wisps that escaped the coffin my writing was put in. Here is the thing in me that refused to be killed, the thing that hid when it needed to and fought for escape whenever it could.

The point of the final girl is that she survives.

And here I am.

“The Final Girl” was published in Strange Horizons in April 2014. It’s on Ellen Datlow’s recommended reading list and Tangent Online’s 2014 Recommended Reading List.

Alicia Cole of Tangent Online says: “Who is the Final Girl? In the hands of Shira Lipkin, she is the perennial feminist survivor. While the speculative arc looms off camera – a dystopic culture hinting at atrocious violence, potentially not much different from our own – the bulk of this third person narrative takes place in group therapy sessions. Similar to Virginia Woolf’s insistence that the female writer seeks out “the pools, the depths, the dark places where the largest fish slumber,” Shira Lipkin tackles the dark subject matter of subjugated survival. The backdrop of the story remains fascinatingly vague. The foreground is sharply attenuated by the stressful memories and triggers of a final girl: after her survival, in the midst of her struggle, in the process of the author’s elocution, still falling. A must-read of speculative, feminist literature. Highly Recommended.”

Charlotte Ashley of Clavis Aurea says: “Radcliffe suggests the experience of terror “expands the soul and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life,” but that horror is the lingering disgust that’s left behind after the moment of excitement has passed. By that definition, “The Final Girl” by Shira Lipkin (Strange Horizons, April 14th, 2014), is surly horrifying, beginning where the terror has ended. The monster does not appear in the story. The horror lies in the revelation that the cost of the sublime experience we seek when we partake of terror is paid for by a victim. The audience surrogate for these stories is the Final Girl; a particular type of girl custom-terrorized for the voyeur’s benefit.
The stark truth laid down in Lipkin’s narrative is oppressive. The mind is not excited by the possibilities of the unknown, but depressed by the hopeless conclusion. “The falling girl never stops dying,” Lipkin tells us. “The point of the falling girl is that she never stops falling.” Lipkin anticipates and subverts our attempts to find a comfortable conclusion for the Final Girl over and over. No well-intentioned writer can take away her trauma by laying her story out in the bright light. She doesn’t find comfort in support groups or in the flesh of other Final Girls. She never feels as if she has escaped and she takes no comfort in having fought back – or not.
The story is deeply upsetting, and it should be. The reader is left feeling guilty and complicit in the continued suffering of a narrator who isn’t even just one poor girl, but an infinite number of girls who have all been sacrificed to the same search for the sublime. Lipkin gives us horror via empathy, drawing us in to an inescapable space that the reader will not enjoy occupying. Hers is a powerful entry into a growing canon of similar narratives that include Damien Angelica Walters’ recent “Grey in the Gauge of His Storm” (Apex Magazine #53) and “Abomination Rises on Filthy Wings” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine #50). The point is not to enjoy the story, but to listen to a voice which is necessarily hard to listen to in our search for answers to difficult questions.”

Lois Tilton of Locus says: “A sort of unnumbered list story, very short, on the phenomenon of serial killer survivors – the particular sort of serial killer who preys on young women. There are suggestions here that this might be the cinematic sort of killer, but the pain described is real. In any case there seem to be enough of these that their survivors – their last survivors – can form support groups. There are no names here, and “the final girl” seems to refer both to all such survivors and one in particular who never stands out as a person, who doesn’t have an actual story here but only stands for the phenomenon, a pain that never ends.”

Becca at the End of the World

My bio at Apex Magazine for this story includes the sentence “Her daughter just started college and is not a zombie.” This is relevant.

The thing is that I’m generally bored with zombies and vampires. I haven’t seen much *new* done with them in some time. So I’d never planned to write a zombie story.

But then I had this nightmare. It was vivid, unusually linear, and oh man, it HURT. Until this year, it was the worst nightmare I’d ever had. When I woke, I turned to the internet for solace, telling a few friends about this horrible, horrible dream.

And one said, “That would make a good story, actually.”

I didn’t write it then; I didn’t write it for a while. When I finally did, I did my typical “well I have written this little trauma bomb but I don’t know who’d want it” thing on Twitter, and Apex managing editor Michael Damian Thomas instantly insisted that I send it to him.

This story elicits strong reactions, which is right and proper. Some argue passionately about the protagonist’s decision. I think there’s no way to know what we’ll do in a room at the end of the world, really.

“Becca at the End of the World” was published in Apex Magazine #53 in October 2013. It was podcast at The Drabblecast in February 2014. The art above is by Forrest Warner for The Drabblecast. It has been reprinted in Zombies: More Recent Dead (ed. Paula Guran), and received an Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror. It was performed by Jessica Robblee at Stories on Stage’s “Zombies R Us” show in Denver, CO.

A. C. Wise says “…the personal moments within a vast crisis have always been the most interesting to me. Watching the major monuments of the world blow up is all well and good, but I want to know how Jane Doe and John Smith experience the apocalypse, what specifically are they losing and what does ‘the end’ mean to them. In “Becca at the End of the World,” it means a mother dealing with a daughter who has succumbed to the zombie plague and faced with the heartbreaking choice of whether to kill her. The ending can be read as a metaphor for the selfless way parents sacrifice themselves for their children, sometimes literally, subsuming their lives in the next generation. It can equally be read as a selfish choice on the part of a mother unable to deal with survivor’s guilt. Either way it’s a lovely, wrenching story, told in a pared down way that packs an emotional punch into less than 2000 words.”

Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw

So, you may remember that Mike Allen had a Kickstarter for Clockwork Phoenix 4, and that his $10K goal, which he made, was that he’d start a new magazine. He hit the goal, and we all got a little ridiculous on Twitter.

Me: Hey @mythicdelirium when do submissions open for your BRAND NEW MAGAZINE because I have a thing about a vampire& a werewolf who fall in love

@rose_lemberg: vampire and werewolf fall in love with a DEMON. And a witch. It is poly.

Me: ALSO THERE ARE ANGELS AND SELKIES. And everyone is noncreatively pseudokinky. PUBLISH ME.

@time_shark: oh do you now? (patience grasshopper)

Me: Ha! No. No, I do not.

@time_shark: I’m curious if someone could write a story like that I’d actually buy. [NO that is NOT a challenge…]

Me: …damn you. *chases plotbunny*

I did not chase the plotbunny at that time. At that time, I was going wild on Twitter to distract myself from the fact that our cat was dying and my grandmother was having the same symptoms as the cat. Besides, I had a totally different idea for my CP4 submission, something that would really bend storytelling in weird ways…

…something that I just couldn’t get started on. I needed to do research for it, et cetera. In the meantime, life was collapsing in on me and I kept getting little story-sparks for this thing. Could I write a story like that that Mike would buy? Doesn’t matter, I have five other things to do first. But what if – NO, brain, stop it, that is last in the queue!

But in the middle of the hell time, I sat down and wrote it anyway.

My characters have ridiculous names. I crisscross five different genres. I hoped the story wouldn’t get rejected on formatting alone, because I Did Things. But I wasn’t writing to make it pretty and publishable. I was in the center of the whirlwind and it was my damn rope. And it didn’t matter if anyone else liked it, because dammit, it made me laugh when I didn’t think I could. And whenever I had time, whenever I wasn’t medicating the cat or flying to Florida or dealing with my now-ex cheating on, lying to, and emotionally terrorizing me, I would sit and say “it’s okay if you only do a hundred words today, but you have to do a hundred words.” No drowning allowed. I was writing with a strict set of guidelines because that’s what I needed, but I had no idea if it would work for anyone but me, and I didn’t need it to. I needed to be ludicrous and break all the boxes and build something new.

So I wrote it.

I sent it to my husband and he said it was my best story yet and y’know, I think I agree. It’s my longest. It is not grimdark. There are parts that make you laugh and parts that make you go oooh and sometimes those are the same parts.

So I sent it to Mike. And he bought it, this story about a vampire and a werewolf in LOVE and there’s a witch and an angel and an alien stripper and there are zero straight people in it and two genderfluid characters and a new drink and karaoke and discredited scientific theories.

And it all starts when a vampire and a werewolf walk into a bar.

(The witch is already in the bar.)

You should buy Clockwork Phoenix 4 is what I am saying, I guess. And Mike, thanks for the challenge. 🙂

“Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw” was published in Clockwork Phoenix 4. It has been reprinted online at Mythic Delirium, and it is on Tangent Online’s 2013 Recommended Reading List.

Louis West at Tangent Online says: “Shira Lipkin’s “Happy Hour at the Tooth and Claw” is an incredible love story about Zee, a witch who can flip through realities like reading a book, who violates the laws of physics by thinning boundaries between worlds because she’s bored, and who long ago hid her heart to avoid the pain. Cast in a poetic, screen-play type style, at places the structure of the story morphs because a character doesn’t like the way Zee first portrays them. Hiding her heart made her inviolate and immortal. But Zee is “apocalyptically bored,” and “bad things happen when beings who can smash together universes get bored.” Hesitantly, she comes to the decision that perhaps it’s time to find and reassemble the pieces of her heart, only to learn that the most crucial pieces never left her. The ending changes the story, and everyone in it, allowing me to discover a brand new tale upon rereading it. Exceptional and highly recommended.”

Dusty on Movies says: “One of my favorites, Shira Lipkin’s story follows a playful witch who flips through dimensions like they’re TV stations. Along the way she develops a relationship with a bar-keeping angel and a mysterious courtesan. She also casts a spell of love between a female werewolf and female vampire, who of course have all sorts of compatibility issues but love each other nonetheless. It’s a story with heart, literally. Our witch has hidden her heart to increase her power, but now she’s on a quest to find the pieces she’s hidden throughout the multiverse. This is a truly fun story. There’s a gimmick with the text alignment that adds to the fun. I’ll let you discover it for yourself. I’m a huge fan of this story.”

Just Book Reading says: “A witch who can switch between realities and is happy to play around with the boundaries of love but shies away from her own heart. Zee, the witch, is such an intriguing character and I love how she plays around with everyone else’s heart and ignores her own. It’s a keeper and by that I mean it’s another favorite.”

Michelle Anjirbag at Cabinet des Fees says: “a new kind of love story, in part inspired by a challenge by the editor himself. What makes a heart whole?”


Almost every story I write comes from multiple seeds that seem unrelated, but collide in my head. Like temporal lobe epilepsy, quantum physics, a certain waiter, and a particular habit of Charles Fort’s did to create “Valentines”. In this case, there were two particular things.

The not-deeply-personal thing: At PiCon, in August 2011, I was on a panel about quests, and I mused that really, we don’t often see what happens after the quest. We see a happy return to the everyday world, and we see that someone has gained Courage and Wisdom and Insight, but we don’t see any negative effects, and we leave our adventurers immediately after, when they are oh so happy to be home. But what happens later? And what happens if things don’t work?

More personally: I used to live in Vegas, and I still have a deep attachment to it and its broken beauty. Every so often, when I’m in a particularly masochistic frame of mind, I google people I knew. Nine times out of ten I get an obituary. We were not living good lives back then; this is no surprise. I got out only because I got pregnant and had a flash of common sense. I left, in fact, the very day I found out I was pregnant. I lack closure… so I write about Vegas a lot.

In August of last year, for the first time in many years, I got a hit on the most important personal in my Vegas-life. And it was his obituary.

I’d thought he was already dead a dozen times before. Rumors. I heard he’d ODed, I heard he’d been shot, and I had years between looking for anything under his name, because I just couldn’t. So I honestly, at this point, did not think he had been alive for a bit. But he was.

And he had a family, a wife and stepkids.

And I… I had this unexpected surge of horrible grief, because once upon a time I loved him, and he is a huge part of a hugely important part of my life. But also, seeing the picture of him with his wife and kids, I thought, “I am not entitled to this grief. They lived with him for years, they were his family, I am a fragment – they lost a husband and a father. I lost a memory, a story I tell myself.”

It took me a while to allow myself the grief.

He was theirs more. But he was important to me. And he was one of the last remnants of this incredibly intense, surreal, often terrible thing that has shaped my life.

So when I allowed myself to accept the emotions and not judge them, I got ambushed by story one day and sat down and wrote “Splinter” all in one surge, one violent outburst. I vomited forth – sorry for the imagery, but I had about that much control over the proceedings – this thing, this cry of pain and loneliness. I did it because no one else was left who knew.

And then I sat on it for months, because what is this thing? Who would want it?

I met Lynne and Michael Thomas of Apex Magazine at Wiscon this May, and we befriended each other on social media. So when, this June, I came across “Splinter” in my files and wondered aloud on Twitter who would want something so short, dark, twisty, whatever, they both told me to send it to them.

So I did.

And here it is.

“Splinter” was published in Apex Magazine in November 2012. It’s on Tangent Online’s 2012 recommended Reading List.

Cyd Athens at Tangent Online says: “Shira Lipkin’s “Splinter” evokes fear without ever showing the actual source. Rather, it relates what happens after a group of travelers step off the edge of the world. Whether what they encounter is alien, magical, or paranormal is left to the imagination. Beginning with an intrepid group of five best friends, each section of the story focuses on a single member. One by one, we learn of the aftereffects of an experience so horrible as to make consideration of a return trip unthinkable. The tale is narrated by the last one standing. This fast read is strong, evocative, and disturbing in a way that makes one want to read it again.”

Carrie Cuinn says: ““Splinter” by Shira Lipkin is short and blunt, to the point, and a perfect piece of flash fiction (though I think it may have a few too many words to strictly be called “flash”). It’s a moment, a conversation, a story, a thing that happened, and it says just enough to be all of those things without having to be anything else.”

I Am Thinking of You in the Spaces Between

I travel more than most, less than some, and I have a special love for liminal places. Especially when I’m alone and not having to manage anyone else. Buses, trains, airplanes. I like being between.

In March 2009, I had the exceptional fortune to be on the now-legendary Trains of Heaven trip with SJ Tucker and her wild wicked tribe, who became my circus family. There are so many stories about that trip, but almost none of them relate to this story, so I’ll hold myself in check for now! The relevant part is that I’d ridden out from Boston to Cleveland with SJ and K(evin) Wiley, but their truck was overfull for the Cleveland-to-Chicago leg of the trip, so I took a bus and met them there. I had a few minutes in Chicago all by myself, though, and I called my friend John – I don’t like telephones in general, but John’s an odd exception, and I tend to think of him when I’m in liminal space. I got his voicemail, and left him a comfortably rambly message that ended with “That’s all, really. Just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you in the spaces between.”

My brain stuck a pin in that line like whoa.

K picked me up, and we spent the next week having epic adventures; I read my story “Fortune” aloud for the first time on the train, in the dining car in the middle of the night. I didn’t think about that line for a while afterward, but it was there, percolating.

And it coalesced in January 2010, out of nowhere, and became a story about spaces between, but also about progressive chronic illness (which is very much a part of my life; I live with a condition that has been known to be randomly fatal, among others). I wrote it when I was supposed to be writing something else entirely. I finished it the morning of my reading at Arisia, and read it there.

People got misty-eyed.

John was there. He remembered that line, too. The story isn’t about him, but the genesis is tangled up in thinking of him in transit, so he’s part of it anyway.

There’s a special symmetry to the eventual publication of this story. I’d sent it around to a few markets, it got rejected, I set it aside for a while; I had about a year and a half of not really submitting anything anywhere. After Readercon this year, my husband nudged me to send the story out again, as he’s always loved it. I sent it to editor Cat Valente at Apex.

If you looked at that link about the Trains of Heaven, you’re probably grinning now. If not, I’ll tell you: that trip was a joint venture between SJ and Cat. So. I like the symmetry of it, of the seed of the story being planted as I was about to embark upon an adventure with, among others, the editor who would eventually buy it.

“I Am Thinking of You in the Spaces Between” was published in Apex Magazine #29, October 2011. It is on Tangent Online’s 2011 recommended reading list, and it is a Million Writers Award Notable Story. It has been reprinted in The Book of Apex 3.


Richard E.D. Jones at Tangent Online says: “The apex is the top, the very best of something, this higher and no farther. With that in mind, it takes a lot of hubris to name your fiction journal Apex Magazine. Well, let me tell you this, with the current issue’s lead story, “I Am Thinking of You in the Spaces Between” by Shira Lipkin, the magazine certainly lives up to its name….Written in a spare, haunting first-person, the majority of the story concerns the recent history of Sarah Walker, interdimensional traveler, government courier and lover. This is a beautifully written story. Lipkin does a fantastic job of drawing us into the story, using an almost plain style to make the fantastic seem as if it’s only a job. It’s only because the story grounds us with its style that we can come to care for Sarah and feel for her predicament. Her inability to talk to her true love really rings true, as does her desire to unburden herself to one of the alternates. Very good story with strong characters, good prose and an engaging plot. Definitely worth checking out.” (Review contains lots of spoilers; read the story first!)

Sam Tomaino at SFRevu says: “This was a beautiful, bittersweet story and Shira Lipkin is a talented writer. “

The Library, After

I originally wrote “The Library, After” at the very end of 2008; it was one of five unprompted Wind Tunnel Dreams flash stories. (Note: I dug this information out of my personal blog; in so doing, I found that I use the word “library” in WTD stories rather a lot.) Several of the stories in that series were tied to previous stories – “The Library, After” stood alone, and it turned out to be the one with staying power!

I started reading it at conventions – I tend to prefer to read flash and poetry, because it keeps a reading moving, switching gears. It built a small following. I think it’s the first story of mine that got fan art (though not the first to get fanfic), and that was before publication!

I had such affection for this story that, when I attended the Meet the Pros(e) party at Readercon 2009 (writers get one line from their work printed up on stickers and share it with people, creating a sort of absurdist poetry as you collect other people’s lines), I used a line from it: “Awakened, the library went feral.” I bounced up to Mythic Delirium editor Mike Allen and traded lines with him, and he said “Where is this from?” and then, “Has it been published?”

I sent him the story. And proceeded to forget that I’d ever done so. It was too short for his Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, and Mythic Delirium is a poetry magazine, so I was expecting nothing except that hopefully he’d enjoy it. But he ended up e-mailing me and asking if he could buy it for Mythic Delirium.

But – it’s not a poem, I said.

It’s poetic, he said.


So trading stickers at a party at Readercon has led to the publication of a piece of my flash fiction in a poetry magazine. I do not have a problem with this! If you like posthuman postapocalyptic singularities with quantum unicorn PIs, you should look it up.

“The Library, After” was published in Mythic Delirium #24 in June 2011. (Art by Paula Friedlander.) It won the Rhysling Award and was nominated for the Micro Award.


Alexandra Seidel at Fantastique Unfettered says: “The sometimes mythical, sometimes delirious, but always adventurous journey ends with ‘The Library, After’ by Shira Lipkin. Herein, stories tell themselves to one another, they grow and change, revealing their protean nature, and they become something entirely new, leaving their shelves and finding adventure, which is probably what most of them were about anyway.”

Tori Truslow at Sabotage Reviews says: “And then Shira Lipkin’s ‘The Library, After’ comes along, magical and wry, a prose poem about an abandoned library where the books ‘told each other to each other’. You could read this as whimsy, you could read it as a bit of thumb-biting in the direction of rigid genre classifications – “New genres formed and split and reformed, tangents spilling out like capillaries. Freed of the responsibility to be useful and to fit human desires and expectations, Story explored itself in Mandelbrot swirls” – whichever way you look at it, it’s clever, funny and affirming. Literary fashions come and go – as we learn, ‘The science-noir-unicorn genre was shortlived’ – but story keeps on going. The image of stories continuing to twist and transmute after we’ve stopped looking at them is a perfect note to end on.”

Diane Severson Mori at Amazing Stories says: “A wonderful personification of the Library, in which the post-apocalyptic library ‘goes feral’, because the library has always felt like a friend to me.”