Saturday, November 21, 2015

"UnCommon Bodies" by Pavarti K. Tyler and Others

UnCommon Bodies:
A Collection of Oddities, Survivors, and Other Impossibilities
by Pavarti K. Tyler and Others

UnCommon Bodies is a collection of stories curated by Pavarti K. Tyler that span across genres to explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible It will be released on 24 November but is currently available for pre-order.
To celebrate, the authors are hosting a Facebook Party on 24 November. Come and join the fun!

Step right up to the modern freakshow! We have mermaids, monsters, and more. You won't be disappointed, but you may not get out alive.
UnCommon Bodies presents a collection of 23 beautifully irreverent stories and poems which blend the surreal and the mundane. Together, the authors explore the lives of the odd, the unbelievable, and the impossible. Imagine a world where magic exists, where the physical form has the power to heal or repulse, where a deal with the devil means losing so much more than your soul.
"We is We" by Michael Harris Cohen: Follows a day in Mary and Millie's life, traveling sideshow freaks who've lost touch with the outside world.
"All The Devils" by Keira Michelle Telford: It's 1889, and women are being killed in the East End of London. They've become the targets of a deranged sexual killer, but why? Because they're prostitutes? Sapphists? Or something else entirely?
"Skin" by Brent Meske: After constant bullying in high school, Patricia vows to change her name and her entire being. When she gains the ability to mold and sculpt flesh, that vow very quickly becomes a terrifying reality.
"Mermaids" by Robert Pope: Recently graduated from college, with no work prospects, Aqua-boy - so called because of the webbing between his toes - watches and listens to a group of musicians at a bar/restaurant when he notices the woman playing a diminutive red accordion has six fingers.
"Phantom Pain" by Philip Harris: Phantom Pain follows amputee, Mariana Jacobs, as she visits a man who claims to have information she needs. But that information comes at a cost.
"Unbreakable Heart" by Rebecca Poole: A cyborg must escape her creators in order to survive.
"Saltwater Assassin" by Samantha Warren: Syren has spent her life as a sideshow freak, caged in a tank of saltwater and gawked at by hundreds of normal humans. She has a secret, though. At night, when the lights are finally off and the fair goers leave, she turns into a human–a mermaid assassin.
"In Her Image" by Vasil Tuchkov: An English PHD student arrives at the scenic but haunting countryside of Matera, Italy, looking for answers. His translator introduces him to a crippled local painter who claims to have depicted the impossible. As the three men converse near the ancient settlement's caverns, a mystery unravels.
"Undead Cyborg Girl" by Kim Wells: When she wakes up undead after receiving a cyborg assassin upgrade surgical procedure, Undead Girl's life is forever changed. Is it for the better? She has all the skills, but she needs a job, she needs some friends, and she needs to remember who she is. Part 1 of the Cyborg Story trilogy.
"Don't Touch Me" by Bey Deckard: Fighting is what Beau does best, because the very thing he dreads is exactly what lends him the extraordinary strength to defeat even the worst odds. And he does it all with the help of his angel, the woman he longs desperately to hold...but can't.
Three Poems by Deanne Charlton: "Brenga's Body", "Eternity in a One-night Stand", "It Runs in the Family".
"Ruby" by Bob Williams: It's nineteen thirty-six and the town of Ransom, Oklahoma is barely functioning after the "Dust Bowl" storm of the year before. Michael Wootten sits upon the porch of his dilapidated house and watches a caravan of trucks pull into town. Melvin Mitchell Presents: Ruby and her Amazing FreakShow Friends. Maybe this is just the thing to pump a little spirit into the near-dead town. But everything comes at a price, and Ms. Ruby always takes her cut.
"UnTamed" by Laxmi Hariharan: Wolf girl Leana Iyeroy, the first hybrid in her family, only ever wanted to be 100% human. An unexpected encounter with the Hugging Saint of Bombay forces Leana to face the wolf inside her. Will she finally make peace with herself?
"Made for This" by Sessha Batto: On the heels of unimaginable loss comes reinvention. Sometimes the gain is worth going through hell.
"From the Inside" by Daniel Arthur Smith: Strange, wondrous things happen when weeks of rain, fever visions, and anxiety, compel a young traveler to journey across Central Europe in pursuit of a uniquely talented artist.
"Rudy and Deidre" by Robb Grindstaff: A shorter than average man admires a taller than average woman from afar.
"Daedalus' Daughter" by P.K. Tyler: After her father's death, Isha begins sprouting feathers.
"The Zealot" by Christopher Godsoe: Six months ago, Tobin Maldovan was in charge of a manhunt for an enigmatic hacker named ATLAS. He lost his man near the Canadian border after a high speed chase, but not before ATLAS pulled strings to transfer the woman Tobin loves across the country, hampering any chance at reconciliation. With ATLAS having escaped his jurisdiction, Tobin had nothing left but to follow his wife to California, seeking reassignment at the West Coast cyberterrorism field office. His reputation precedes him, and he has drawn the case pursuing a man the media has taken to calling "The Zealot." As usual, Tobin pours himself into his work, but the work becomes personal in ways that he never would have imagined.
"The Well-Rounded Head" by Sally Basmajian: A woman is smitten with her husband's big, entirely round head. One day she notices that his temples appear to be slightly indented, so that his head is no longer a perfect sphere. This revolts her, and she moves into their guest room in order to avoid him. When he breaks in, she kills him, in a most bizarre way.
"Reserved" by SM Johnson: It's been five years since the accident that killed Pete Spencer's younger lover and left him grieving, bitter, and broken. He's tired of his lonely world, but the kind of young men he's attracted to dismiss him the moment their eyes land on his cane. Pete's learned to hide behind the safety of his reserve, but he's never met anyone like Rory.
"Scars: First Session" by Jordanne Fuller: It takes years to beat a strong woman into submission. It has to start somewhere. After a life of abuse, Abigail made the decision to cover her scars with tattoos. What she didn't expect was to confront her emotional scars in the process.

Praise for the Book
"UnCommon Bodies is a combination of the circus freak show and the twilight zone, it has elements of science-fiction with it’s cyborgs, it is certainly diverse, it showcases strong characters, and extremely flawed ones, it can be brutal and in your face, only to be as delicate as a feather in the next, like Ms Tyler’s own contribution, the story of Isha in 'Daedalus’ Daughter', the girl who grows feathers and is loved by a man despite of it. But can she cope? Love often permeates the stories, but not in the romance kind of way, sweet and with a happily ever after, but gritty, in your face, stinking and human. UnCommon Bodies is an extremely welcome addition to my library, a book I know I will return to, stories I can pick out to read whenever I feel like it." ~ Hans M. Hirschi
"This is an intricate and intriguing mix of many different voices and stories. There will always be something new here, no matter how many times one re-reads the collection, and with such a variety of stories, this will most assuredly happen at least once." ~ Morgann on Goodreads
"The UnCommon Bodies anthology is fascinating. Sometimes shocking, even disturbing, it also provides moments of hilarity." ~ Pam on Goodreads
"This is one book which is dripping with brilliant characters and unique voices. If you want to be entertained by stories which make you rethink your position in a world evolving at a massive pace, pick up this book." ~ Ritesh on Goodreads
"Subtly threaded tales of carnal desire make the UnCommon Bodies anthology a particularly pleasant read. Its suite of narratives are varied in scope and tone, but they mostly all touch upon how the body (or its absence/reinvention) is adapting to millennial times." ~ P on Goodreads

Excerpt from "UnTamed" by Laxmi Hariharan (originally featured on the author's blog)
Sept 30, 2060. 4pm
"Your stories are very amusing, old man, but now that you know who I am, I have to kill you," I pull grandmother's sword out from its sheath. Everyone in this new world has been looking for this sword and I inherited it a few weeks ago. Me, the first half-human descendant of the woman who destroyed Bombay.
Pulse racing, I rush forward, bringing the blade down on him; but he moves aside and I slide past and bang my head against the railing of the boat. I spring back to my feet and waltz around him, ready to leap.
He's looking at me, arms hanging by his sides. He seems not in the least surprised. Then, he raises a hand and beckons, one side of his lips quirking in a smile. Blood thudding in my ears, I jump towards him, and again he steps aside; only this time he puts out his foot and I stumble over it and crash, face down, right at the feet of the other two, who burst out laughing.
"You sure fight like a girl," the fisherman snickers.
What the—! Is he making fun of me?
Anger blasts through my head, filling the space behind my eyes. The hair on my forearms stands on end, bristling like spears; my nostrils quiver, leg muscles tense and I grip my sword.
"Came to learn from the master swordsman himself, did you?" the baker chuckles.
"What do you mean?" I growl, already swinging to face the old lamp seller.
"He's Aki, the best swordsman in the islands; perhaps in all of this new world. And he's been waiting for you," The fisherman replies.
"Oh! Yeah? Has he now?" I sneer and, pushing the fisherman aside, I lunge once more at the lamp seller. One step, a second, a third, and I leap through the air–Didn't see that coming did you old man?–and fall head down against the wooden floor.
The breath whooshes out of me and my nose slams against the wooden boards. I hear the sickening crunch of it breaking and pain shoots through me, screeching through my nerve endings, so I almost black out. My hands are flung out, the right gripping the sword and I scream as a heavy weight crunches on my palm, forcing me to loosen my fingers.
"No! No! No!" He's wrenched my sword from my grasp and is holding it aloft.
"Don't you dare!" I grind out through clenched teeth.
He grins and, still looking at me, tosses the sword up in the air.
What the–? I follow the blade as it whirls around and up and up and up, ‘til it is silhouetted against the sun. It drops down, hilt up. Grabbing the sword by the blunt side, he swings the handle towards me.
A scream boils up, then everything goes dark.

Interview with Vasil Tuchkov, author of "In Her Image" (originally featured on Solitary Mindset)
What attracted you to the UnCommon Bodies project?
A fellow writer showed me the UnCommon Bodies project, as he thought my work might be a good fit for it. He was right, as I like to think of myself as an "enemy of symmetry", and a fan of the odd and quirky (which inevitably seems to sneak into my work even when I’m going for a straightforward narrative). The prompt’s cover was cool, and the part about the "misfits" caught me. My thoughts were that I had just the animal for this gathering of weird ones, and as it turned out, it was well accepted.
What are you most proud of about the story?
What I like about "In Her Image" is the attempt to put into words a thing that is beyond a description; an ephemeral moment reached (and lost) by a craftsman in the pursuit of mastery. Immune to the strive for perfection, an unexpected brink of brilliance that cannot be contained. Naturally, I failed, as by definition, it is impossible to pin down the "thing".
What was the hardest thing about writing the story? Or was it just a walk in the park?
It was one of those, a story that writes itself in one sitting.
Any plans to revisit the world of your story?
As the last line reads: "The recorder cycles one last turn, chews on tape, and stops."
What do you hope readers will take away from the story?
My intuitive aim was to leave the reader with an unexplained feeling of eerie, a heaviness that settled in my chest after some Brian Evenson stories. Not sure if I succeeded, the reader will know.
Once readers have read your story, which of your books/stories should they read next?
I have two stories after "In Her Image", "Feline Love", and "Drifter", both hovering in the grim orbit, and with luck, they’ll find their weirdly cozy homes, too. In addition to those, I would throw in my novel Cyan, and the story "Hello, Massage", which recently won the Draper’s Guild Short Story Contest.

Enter the blitz-wide giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes, including a Kindle with an UnCommon Bodies skin, loaded with books by the authors!