Alan Smale writes science fiction and fantasy, alternate and twisted
history, with over
thirty stories published in speculative fiction magazines,
original anthologies, and as podcasts. His novella,
"A Clash of Eagles", in Panverse Two, won the
2010 Sidewise Award for
Alternate History (Short Form), and he is currently marketing an
epic novel set in the same universe.
Six of his short fiction sales were to Realms of Fantasy magazine; one
of them, "A Trade in Serpents" (available
online here), was
featured in Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading List for 2007. His
fiction has also appeared in Abyss & Apex (twice), Paradox, Writers of
the Future 13, Podcastle and Pseudopod, and non-fiction science pieces
about terraforming and killer asteroids have appeared in Lightspeed.
His new novella set (mostly) in near-future Asia, "The Mongolian Book
of the Dead", appeared in the Oct/Nov 2012 issue of Asimov's
Science Fiction Magazine, and has made several Best-of-Year lists (see below;
reading copy available here).
Born and raised in England, Alan lives in Maryland and works as an
astrophysicist and data archive manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center. In what is humorously referred to as his 'spare time', Alan
also sings bass and serves as Business Manager for high-energy vocal
band The Chromatics, who
have performed at various science fiction conventions (Balticon, Shore
Leave, Farpoint) and were Music Guests of Honor at Philcon in 2008.
Coming in 2013:
- "Deep Waters", short story, in Weird Tales.
- "The Clockwork Caesar", short story,
in The Beast Within 4: Gears and Growls,
edited by Jennifer Brozek,
to be published by
- "The Mongolian Book of the Dead" in
Asimov's Science Fiction, Oct/Nov 2012
Reading copy available at
Mongolian Book of the Dead PDF
Featured on Locus's 2012 Recommended Reading List
Featured on Tangent Online's 2012 Recommended Reading List
In Tangent Online, Barbara Melville says: "Alan Smale kicks off the issue
and stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Set during the Chinese invasion
of Mongolia, the rather ordinary John Tanner is kidnapped and taken to a
shaman, where he learns he's not as ordinary as he thought.
This novella operates on interplays, such as the past versus the future
and the ordinary versus the special. These are woven into the nrarrative
through rich world building and characterisation, making for an immersive
Also in Tangent Online, Louis West says: "The Mongolian Book of the
Dead is fast-paced, the action well crafted and relentless. The
setting is rich in detail about Mongolian geography, culture and
history, while the characters are complex with layers of conflicting
emotions. A definite read."
- Non-fiction articles
Planetary Alchemy and
Armageddon Rock in Lightspeed Magazine, November and December 2011.
- "Leap of Faith", in the August 2011 issue of
Realms of Fantasy, with spectactular
artwork by Kristina Carroll.
Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 29" by Gardner Dozois
- "The Flower" in
Scape E-zine, April 2011
- "Bridges", a reprint sale,in "Best New Vampire Tales, Vol.1", edited by James Roy Daley, from
Books of the Dead
Press; ebook and print version
available from Amazon
- "A Thousand Cuts" in "2011 Daily Flash: 365 Days of Flash Fiction" from
Pill Hill Press
- "A Clash of Eagles" in Panverse Two, edited by Dario Ciriello,
an all-original novella anthology now available at
or direct from
Winner, 2010 Sidewise Award for Alternate History (short form)
Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 28" by Gardner Dozois
In Locus, November 2010, Gardner Dozois says: "The strongest novella
here, by a decent margin, is an ingenious and fast-moving Alternate
History story by Alan Smale, "A Clash of Eagles", in which the author
has a lot of fun playing with the idea of Roman Legions fighting
American Indians, in a world where the New World was discovered by
Romans instead of Norsemen...
Smale does a good job of depicting the ruthlessness and almost inhuman
discipline of the Legions, even as they come to realize that they have
bitten off more than they can chew this time, and there's enough
bloodshed, internal politicking and cross-cultural contrasts here to
make quite an entertaining read."
In Tangent Online (10/25/2010), Jo-Anne Odell says:
"This is a well-structured story, with clean, sophisticated prose.
Smale weaves fictional elements with historic detail to give his tale
the air of realism... The characters are well-formed, in an environment
rich with detail."
- "Saint's-Paw" in
Realms of Fantasy
October 2010 issue, with artwork by Alan M. Clark!
"Saint's-Paw" is my fifth story to appear in RoF, and can be
purchased in PDF format for $3.99
- "High Art" online in
Abyss & Apex
in Issue 36: 4th Quarter 2010
Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 28" by Gardner Dozois
- "Wearing the Dead", released April 2010 and available at
Pseudopod, read awesomely by Kris Johnson.
"Wearing the Dead" originally appeared in "Book of Dead Things" in Summer 2007
- "Kristin, with Caprice" released April 2010 and available at
PodCastle, read superbly by Norm Sherman.
"Kristin, with Caprice" originally appeared in "Realms of Fantasy" in
Greatest Hits of the Aughts
- "Delusion's Song", in Panverse One, an all-original novella
anthology available at
Amazon.com (in paperback or Kindle editions) or direct from
Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 27" by Gardner Dozois
In Locus, Feb 2010, Dozois also says: "The best story here is probably
Delusion's Song by Alan Smale, an atmospheric fantasy centering on a
strange space-time disconinuity that opens up around Emily Bronte of
Wuthering Heights fame, trapping her and her dysfunctional family and
the entire village of Haworth, Yorkshire in an ever-growing expanse of
Paul di Filippo, in "Best Speculative Fiction of 2009", says: "Combine
the lives of the famous Bronte sisters... with Jerome Bixby's creepy
tale "It's a Good Life!", then add a dash of Philip Jose Farmer, and
you might come up with something resembling Alan Smale's "Delusion's
Song"... Smale works cleverly in a manner akin to that of Rhys Hughes,
and succeeds in building an odd landscape that mirrors our world in
useful and entertaining ways."
Bibliophile Stalker Awards: listed as one of the three best
novellas of 2009
by influential reviewer Charles Tan
Tan also says:
"Particularly memorable is "Delusion's Song" by Alan Smale. This is
actually the longest piece in the book but in Smale's hands, the story
doesn't feel dragging. The key to this is the scene breaks as Smale
writes in short bursts. His characterization is also spot on,
especially the way the female characters rise to prominence. In
certain respects, it reminds me of the award-winning story "Pride and
Prometheus", not just because of the genre mashing, but in terms of
the quality of the writing. There's a lot going for "Delusion's Song",
from its metafictional elements to the eerie atmosphere that it
Tangent Online says:,
"In many ways, "Delusion's Song" is an example of
what writing is all about: the cannibalization of the works created by
the great writers who came before us, and the merger of real people
and fictional worlds. Readers of classic English literature will
appreciate the historical and literary references that form the
backbone of this powerful and thought-provoking tale. It is a heavy
story, and it will weigh upon the mind long after its tale is
told. "Delusion's Song" is one of the strongest stories in Panverse
- "Fossil Fuels", in Realms of Fantasy,
February 2009 issue - story now ONLINE!
The Internet Review of Science Fiction says: "Rosalind, an eternally
reincarnated archetype, descends into a coal mine to once again search
out and kill her eternal adversary...
I am reminded a bit of Holdstock's
Mythago Wood series, with its eternally recurring figures, except that
Rosalind and Jack are quite a bit more human. But the strongest part
of this piece is the setting of the mine - the darkness, the oppressive
sense of weight overhead."
- "Quartet, with Mermaids", online at Abyss and Apex Issue 25: 1st Quarter 2008
Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 26" by Gardner Dozois
Honorable Mention in "Best Horror of the Year, Volume One" by Ellen Datlow
"The first 2008 issue of Abyss and Apex is a good one: two particularly sharp-edged pieces work best... Alan Smale's "Quartet, with Mermaids" is an only too believable treatment, from multiple viewpoints, of the likely end results of finding a real group of plausible mermaids."
- "A Trade in Serpents", in
Realms of Fantasy,
August 2007 issue - story now ONLINE!
Honorable Mention in "The Year's Best Science Fiction 25" by Gardner Dozois
Featured on Locus's Recommended Reading List for 2007
"August's Realms of Fantasy is dominated by a quirky and historically impertinent counterfactual by Alan Smale... "A Trade in Serpents" draws on certain rhetorical ramblings that preceded the American Revolutionary War - Benjamin Franklin's famous sentiment that if Britain wanted to export convicts to the Colonies, it should import rattlesnakes in return - to work mischief with the past... soon, dreadfully big and purposeful rattlers are infesting the streets of London... Smale does a fine job of picking out [the inevitability of America's separation from the Empire] amidst the surface details of 18th-century life and thought, and his psychoanalysis of Franklin is intelligent and amusing."
Tangent Online says:
"Stir it all together with great care and you have a well-crafted suspenseful adventure, definitely worth reading."
- "Bound", in Horror Library Volume II, edited by R.J. Cavender and
Vincent VanAllen, from Cutting Block
- "Wearing the Dead", in the new edition of Twilight Tales' Book of Dead Things, edited
by Tina Jens & Eric M. Cherry
Honorable Mention in "Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 21" by Link, Grant, and Datlow