Reviewage, short and sharp

Life has been particularly burdensome of late, but we all carry our own baggage, don’t we? It’s how you cope with adversity that shows your character. That’s how I see it, anyhow.

One of the more positive aspects of life lately, aside from an unconditionally supportive partner and family, has been writing. Angela and I have received some exuberant reviews of Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror 2006 edition and Book of Shadows Volume One from Tim Kroenert and Paul Mannering on ASif!. Contributors might be well pleased to take a look and share in the glow:

Tim said some nice things about my original in BOS1, “Stealing Fire“:
“… these stories successfully achieve a concise beginning-middle-end approach, giving them a completeness that belies their diminutive word count. Shane Jiraiya Cummings’ story about a disturbed loner seeking revenge on the elemental force that took his family from him, entitled “Stealing Fire”, is a case in point. The central character emerges so fully formed, and the story is packed with so much intense and unsettling emotion, that it feels genuinely epic, despite being only 800 words long. “

Stealing Fire” is in Shards (my upcoming 40 short, sharp tales collection).

My story “Genesis Six” in Apex Digest #8 has received a fair bit of exposure since it was released in January. Thanks Jason! There’s been some so/so reviews but these have been outweighed by some fairly vigorous enthusiasm. Some examples:

“…This is a tightly-written tale that hits on many different ideas, from the sacrifices one makes for love to the lengths we will go to survive. Protagonist Libby is a woman dancing on the edge, and the cost she must pay for a passing folly provides the most interesting facet of “Genesis Six.” Vivid imagery contrasts neatly with the dark underpinnings of the reason for the devastation. While the story has a definite conclusion, it left me wanting to know more about Jessica, Libby, and their past and potential future.”
Nicole McClain, Tangent Online

“This is one of those stories that absolutely only makes sense in the last sentence, but Cummings makes the journey a tense, fascinating, and enjoyable one. Libby is driving, trying to get her daughter Jessica away from a darkness that seems to be eating everything, much like the Nothing in The Neverending Story. They are heading towards the light, which Libby is convinced will provide some sort of safety. Tightly written, well paced, this story is fantastic.”
Alexandra Pierce, ASif! (Overseas markets – Jan 2007)

“Beginning with a domestic setting with mother Libby and daughter Jessica, it moves fast as they are driving to escape the void; that endless nothingness that annihilates all in the ‘Apocalypse.’ With honed and precise sentences, Shane gives us a good ride and an ending with religious overtones.”
Matt Tait, HorrorScope

“Matt Wallace’s A Place of Snow Angels and Shane Jiraiya Cummings’ Genesis Six both tackle religion in an ambivalent way, the first with new saviours in a new ice age, and the second with the apocalypse. They are also amongst the two best written stories in here.”
Jim Steel, Whispers of Wickedness

I won’t bog your RSS feed down with the rest. All in all, a nice highpoint to a year that has some dark clouds around it. “Genesis Six” is also in Shards (as one of the longest stories, clocking in just shy of 3,000 words – the book isn’t entirely flash fiction, but the stories are all short and very sharp.)

If you really want an instant preview of Shards, you can log onto Shadowed Realms issue #11 ( and read “Spin the Witch Bottle” (complete with a version of it’s Shards artwork by Andrew McKiernan).

Alternatively, the first installment of my Dread Seasons Quartet has just gone online at Antipodean SF. The piece is titled “Rainbow-speckled Field“, the Spring section of the Quartet, and has some fun moments for the kids. Russell thinks it one of my better flashes, so it might be a good representation of the collection if you’re considering pre-ordering -which I encourage you to do.

In other short, sharp news, I’ll be teaching a class on horror and flash fiction at the St. Mary’s School creative writing camp next weekend, which sounds like serious fun – and an opportunity to bring a new generation of writers into the shadows!

Also, Black Box progresses well, with only a handful of stories presently under consideration (the ones I need to think about). This weekend saw a cleanout of about 50 or so subs (on top of the greater pile of acceptances and rejections earlier in the month). It’s heartnening to receive so many subs, it really is – especially as it’s a charitable project.