Best Horror, 2013

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Issue 16

Issue 16

Yesterday, Ellen Datlow posted her long list of Honorable Mentions for her 2013 Best Horror of the Year, and six Shimmer stories are among the mentions:

From Issue #16:

The Revelation of Morgan Stern, by Christie Yant
The Binding of Memories, by Cate Gardner
Word and Flesh, by Dennis Ginoza
The Life and Death of Bob, by William Jablonsky

From Issue #17:

Out They Come, by Alex Dally MacFarlane
Love in the Time of Vivisection, by Sunny Moraine

And Shimmer badgers?

Our Nicola Belte got a mention, with her story, “B,” from The Journal of Unlikely Entomology #5!

Both issues of Shimmer are available in our back issues if you missed out the first time around. Thanks, as always, to Ellen Datlow for the time and work she gives to this genre; what an amazing number of things she reads every year!

You can read the full listings on her site!

EliseBest Horror, 2013

Issue #22: Editorial

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Art by Sandro Castelli

This has been one of the most challenging years I’ve ever experienced, personally and professionally. 2014 has contained losses — some we expected and some we never saw coming. 2014 has contained reams of bad news dropped upon, oh look, reams of bad news.

I wonder: was the world always like this and we just never knew, but now we can’t not know, because we are constantly connected to a world larger than our neighborhoods; we are global now, “living in the future” we say, watching as events half the world away impact our daily lives.

We carry the world in our pockets — the news is always there, sought or not. No stumbling out to a newspaper box to get the headlines, they’re already stacked in your phone. The news is no longer a sound bite on television — you can watch in real time as life, terrible and glorious life, unfolds in streets across the world. And that world is huge and often terrible, and overwhelming.

Time and again, because of that, I come back to short fiction.

A short story allows me to narrow my focus and slow my breath — I did this as a kid in school, too, though only in looking back did I realize it for what it was. For a few precious pages, I don’t have to think about what is happening anywhere else; for half an hour, I can sink into a wholly new world — or a hidden aspect of our own — and vanish.

If you find yourself needing to pause and take a breath, I hope these four stories allow that. They explore loss and recovery in equal measure–all the thistles and dandelions growing up through Isa bloomed at once, out of season, in a riotous bouquet. These four stories close out an amazing Shimmer year, which means our printed annual is on the horizon. These four stories encompass a hope that we carry on the face of strange doings; that we keep taking the next step, even if we don’t know exactly where it leads.

As 2014 winds down, be excellent to each other, and remember to breathe.

E. Catherine Tobler
Senior Editor

Buy Issue #22 | Subscribe to Shimmer

E. Catherine Tobler’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her first novel, Rings of Anubis, is now available. Follow her on Twitter @ECthetwit or her website, ecatherinetobler


EliseIssue #22: Editorial

Shimmer Scares

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If you take the badgers to the movies…

They’re going to want popcorn (with Hot Tamales, thank you)…



…the closer the blue planet Melancholia comes to earth on a collision course, the more the just-married sister falls apart, and her depressed sister regains her peace and equilibrium…the dread in the film builds as the characters take turns using a wire loop to measure the increasing diameter of the approaching planet. This isn’t a traditional horror film, but it scared the heck out of me…

…I watched Chuckie when I was a kid and didn’t watch a movie scarier than that Halloween movie with Bette Midler for YEARS.

The original Psycho with Anthony Perkins scared me so badly, for a long time after, I wouldn’t take a shower if I was in the house alone. Good thing we also had a bathtub, or I would have been scaring a lot of people myself.

But…bathtubs, tablecloths, eyeballs, Diabolique… NOPE…

But House…House is like…crack on fire…with flooding and glitter…

And then I watched The Ring and couldn’t watch anything even remotely scary for years…


The French film Martyrs is the first one I thought of. Totally brutal and disturbing and strangely beautiful. I want to watch it again, but I can’t quite work myself up to it…

…I thought about Martyrs, then thought that might be….way too much. It’s one of my That Was a Really Good Movie But I’ll Never See It Again movies…

Eyes Without a Face — also file under “strangely beautiful,” all those dogs in the kennel…

The Shining…or Alien, though I haven’t seen that for eleventy billion years…

(Home Alone, because tarantula –why would anyone agree to let it crawl on their FACE?)

…seeing Chuckie as a kid is enough to terrify anybody…

I will probably pick The Congo because I was too young when I saw that…

…did you want a horror movie? I can name an actual horror movie…

Oh, heck no–doesn’t have to be straight up horror. I mean, even Gravity is scary on some level, right?

Gravity scared the hell out of me…

…the 1989 Woman In Black done for British TV. It’s the only movie that’s ever made me yell and hide my eyes as an adult, watching it…

And I think I’ve hard deleted all the scary movies I’ve watched since then.
House of Leaves was pretty freaky tho…


EliseShimmer Scares

Shimmer #21: The Drinking Game, Part 2

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Shimmer-21-CoverIn my editorial for issue #21, I played around with the notion of drinks for the stories, being that Shimmer was twenty-one and legal to drink. And then I thought “hey, drinks for stories.” Thus, we present to you drinks for each of the stories in Shimmer #21!

Our drinking game concludes with drinks from Andrew Romine, and Brooke Bolander!


Drink of the Fisherman’s Wife (for “Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife”)
by Andrew Penn Romine

1.5 oz Mezcal
.5 oz Campari
.5 oz Punt e Mes
careful pinch of sea salt
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir all ingredients over ice and strain into a rocks glass. Express swath of orange peel over drink to release the oils, then drop peel into glass for garnish.

A.C. Wise’s wonderfully evocative “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” conjured up intense imagery of the salty sea, the tang of smoke, and the passions of the blood. I like strong flavors, and I wanted to create a drink that honored these three visceral components of Wise’s story.

I chose mezcal for its smooth, resinous smokiness, and also because it pairs well with citrus. Campari is a favorite too, a strong, bitter citrus-flavored liqueur that adds bite to any drink. In this case, it also helps to give the cocktail a ruddy cast. Punt e Mes is a strongly flavored vermouth that balances the bitter components with a subtle sweetness.

Angostura bitters are a pretty standard way to round out any drink, but here I also added a small pinch of sea-salt to give an extra bite to the finish. A swath of orange peel is the perfect garnish, and the citrus helps brighten and clarify both the aroma and flavor.

I’d like to think both wife and husband would pass the interminable hours of longing between their waking dreams imbibing a few of these!




The Us-In-You (for “We Take the Long View”)
by Brooke Bolander

Between 1/2 and 3/4ths of an oz Laphroaig
1/2 oz Four Roses Single Batch Bourbon
1/2 oz Lapsang simple syrup  (a good recipe can be located here)
1/4 oz Root liqueur

Combine ingredients with ice in shaker. Shake for 10 seconds or until your hands are as cold as snow-covered branches. Strain over more ice, finish with a sprig of rosemary. Note the immediate burst of earth and peat from the scotch, the more subtle maple-sap flavour of the bourbon, and the distant pine smoke of the Lapsang. The sharp wintergreen sweetness of the Root liqueur rounds out the flavour profile. Drink one and you’ll feel the Forest’s love; two and you may experience some mild telepathy. Enjoy!

If you haven’t read Shimmer #21, get a copy and a drink and settle in!
Our bartenders:

Andrew Penn Romine lives in Los Angeles where he works in the visual effects and animation industry. A graduate of the 2010 Clarion West workshop, his fiction appears online at Lightspeed Magazine, Paizo and Crossed Genres as well as in the anthologies FungiWhat Fates Impose, By Faerie Light, Coins of Chaos, and Help Fund My Robot Army. You can find his full list of publications at the Bibliography link. He’s also contributed articles to Lightspeed/Fantasy Magazine and blogs at Inkpunks. He also blogs about cocktails as The Booze Nerd. You can also follow his day-to-day adventures on Twitter: @inkgorilla.

Brooke Bolander is a human in an ill-fitting person suit pretending to be a writer. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, and many other fine publications. When not concocting potions for Shimmer, she enjoys kittens, long walks on the beach, and updating her website, You can reach her on Twitter at @BBolander, if so inclined.

E. Catherine Tobler likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, she’s not much into health food, but is into champagne.

EliseShimmer #21: The Drinking Game, Part 2

Shimmer #21: The Drinking Game

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In my editorial for issue #21, I played around with the notion of drinks for the stories, being that Shimmer was twenty-one and legal to drink. And then I thought “hey, drinks for stories.” Thus, we present to you drinks for each of the stories in Shimmer #21!

We begin with drinks for “Anna Saves Them All” and “Dharmas,” concocted by Molly Tanzer and Jessica Leonard.


Venom (for “Anna Saves Them All”)
by Molly Tanzer

Venom, by Molly Tanzer

Venom, by Molly Tanzer

Complex and seductive, bitter and floral, cloudy as a moral quandary, medicinal and yet pleasantly sweet, Venom is the pale mint green of louched Absinthe… but with so much more depth of flavor lurking beneath the surface.

Arak is a Levantine spirit, clear and anise flavored, similar to ouzo. It turns cloudy when mixed with water, so make sure to use lots of ice to produce the cloudy, milky quality that results from this mixture.

1 3/4 oz arak (or rakı, or ouzo–just NOT arrak, which is entirely different!)
3/4 oz Chartreuse
1/4 of a juicy lime
Dash orange bitters
Dash orange flower water

Shake everything together with lots of ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, add a long, serpentine twist of lime. Drink quickly, while cold.


The Bloody Hell (for “Dharmas”)
by Jessica Leonard

For this story, I feel like only a drink with some real heat will do.  For this, I give you The Bloody Hell.  There are different versions of the drink, most involve a variation on the Bloody Mary, but my favorite recipe is a little different.  This Bloody Hell gets its color from blood oranges.  When not in season they can be hard to find, but you can always juice and freeze them for the off-season.  The drink features bourbon and jalapeños for extra kick and spice. And if you garnish the glass with a jalapeño slice, hmm, doesn’t that remind of a snail shell?  For the beer I say add your favorite, but I’d stay away from certain seasonal flavors as they will overpower your cocktail.  A good bourbon barrel beer will work nicely.

2 oz blood orange juice
1 ½ oz bourbon
1 tbs agave
1 jalapeno, sliced
2 oz beer

In a shaker filled with ice add the blood orange juice, bourbon, agave, and jalapeno sliced. Shake well, pour through a strainer into a highball glass with ice.

Add beer, stir.

Join us next week for two more Shimmery cocktails, and if you haven’t already, grab your own copy of Shimmer #21!
Our Bartenders:

Molly Tanzer is the Sydney J. Bounds and Wonderland Book Award-nominated author of A Pretty Mouth (Lazy Fascist, 2012), Rumbullion, and Other Liminal Libations (Egaeus, 2013), the forthcoming Vermilion (Word Horde, 2015), and a second novel that will be out in 2015 — but she can’t say anything further about that yet, on pain of death. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in, among many other places, The Book of Cthulhu (I and II), Strange Aeons, and The Book of the Dead. She lives in Boulder, CO with her husband and a very bad cat. When not writing, she enjoys mixing cocktails, experimenting with Korean cooking, and (as of recently) training for triathlons. She tweets @molly_the_tanz, and blogs — infrequently — at

Jessica Leonard is the author of stories about people and the things they do.  She also co-hosts the Books and Booze podcast, a weekly show featuring author interviews, good drinks, and great books. You can find Jessica’s writing at The Menacing Hedge, and Counterexample Poetics , as well as on Amazon. Books and Booze just wrapped up their 110th episode!  You can find all the past episodes at  You can also join the discussion on Facebook!  Join the group for updates on new episodes, guests, giveaways, promotions, and you opportunity to submit questions for your favorite authors.

E. Catherine Tobler likes piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, she’s not much into health food, but is into champagne.

EliseShimmer #21: The Drinking Game

Issue #21, Editorial

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Sandro Castelli

Shimmer is old enough to drink.

What do you suppose a Shimmer cocktail would look like?

Two parts darkness to one part starlight and one part desolation, served with the shard of a blade that pierced the hide of a manticore while crossing the wastes of Io during spring thaw?

One jigger of bittersweet, three jiggers of sour, with a sprig of Plutonian thyme served over glacier chips from an expedition to Europa’s poles in 1871?

Three drops of paper crushed with one drop of a ghost’s breath in a sieve of bones, served upside down with a candied lemon rind (from the orchards of Orthosie) on the edge of a dream just beginning?

Our cover story is served by Seth Dickinson, over dry ice; it carries a hint of the desert heat in its depths, the grit of sand, the tang of blood. A cold and alien presence slides down your spine with every sip; you cannot yet define it, but it knows you. All tastes explode across your tongue with desperate regret, eternal need.

Vajra Chandrasekera makes his Shimmer  debut with a concoction to move your tongue in still new and unfamiliar ways, around the rim of a glass that looks like a descent into Hell. This landscape will surprise you with a burst of fire, a hint of snail–snail, surely not, but yes, oh yes, see the way all spirals inward before moving out again? Infinity.

A. C. Wise returns to Shimmer’s pages with a brew of the sea and all the beasts therein; the earlier snail has hastened your appreciation for the sunlit salt water that now kisses your lips. A coil of seaweed slides by, enfolding a gleaming pearl inside its slick darkness a moment before the tide pulls all to its breast.

Our selections for this round close with Erica Satifka, a blend that is one part frosted Forest, one part turmoil, and two parts body-flesh. These words slide into you, become you, become us, and carry you deep into Forest boughs, where you-in-us suck snow from stardust-spiced needles.

We have some wonderful things coming in the next few weeks and hope you will join us.

E. Catherine Tobler
Senior Editor


Buy Shimmer #21! | Subscribe to Shimmer
E. Catherine Tobler’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her first novel, Rings of Anubis, is now available. Follow her on Twitter @ECthetwit or her website, ecatherinetobler


EliseIssue #21, Editorial

Issue #20

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Shimmer #20, art by Sandro Castelli

Shimmer #20, art by Sandro Castelli

One of the coolest things about Shimmer is the variety of stories we see in our submissions. While we see a steady stream of the usual tropes (vampires, fairies, and mermaids, oh my), our attention is best caught by something that turns a standard trope on its ear, or something that’s completely out of left field.

Issue #20 is a great reflection of the beautifully unexpected things we discover in our submissions, and the surprising things we end up loving as editors and readers both. Shimmer leans toward stories that cover new ground, and these four do that. They also feature authors making their Shimmer debuts–I love when that happens.

Jenn Grunigen on “The Seaweed and the Wormhole”: When I think of “The Seaweed and the Wormhole” I think of two things: progressive metal, and consumption.

Eden Robins on “Ellie and Jim vs. Tony the Nose”: I have it on good authority that the afterlife is, indeed, an automat.

Sam J. Miller on “Allosaurus Burgers”: dinosaurs make every dramatic fact about the human condition more dramatic.

Laura J. Pearlman on “Why I Hate Zombie Unicorns”: A zombie Tooth Fairy would be the most devastating, and the creepiest. Actually, the Tooth Fairy is pretty creepy even without being a zombie. She buys children’s body parts!

…twenty issues of Shimmer. Good gracious, that’s something, isn’t it? I hope you’ll be with us for twenty more!


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EliseIssue #20

Shimmer #19: Flashy Valise

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Shimmer 19

Shimmer #19

I am notorious in some circles for flash fiction being a super hard sell with me. This is chiefly because most flash seems to exist to set up a pun, or doesn’t actually do anything with all the awesome bits it contains. I find it uncommon for flash to tell a whole story.

Rachael Acks proves that it’s possible to a) write flash that contains awesome things, b) write flash that contains a whole and shimmery story, and c) sell me flash.

She sets the bar pretty dang high, this one. I hope you’ll enjoy “List of Items in Leather Valise Found on Welby Crescent” as much as we do. Check her interview too, where we talk about rocks. Rachael rocks–go read!


EliseShimmer #19: Flashy Valise

Shimmer #19, “Jane”

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Margaret Dunlap

Margaret Dunlap

How awesome is Margaret Dunlap? Pretty darn!

She was a writer and co-executive producer on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which won a motherfucking Emmy, and also co-created Welcome to Sanditon, Pemberley Digital’s follow-up project.

Somehow, “Jane” is Margaret’s first published short fiction, and we are so very pleased to share it with you in Shimmer #19! You can also learn more about Margaret and “Jane” in our interview. Maybe next time, I’ll ask her why her twitter handle includes “spy.” Deep down, she’s gotta be James Bond…right? Right!


“Bennet…Lizzie Bennet…”


Jane, by Margaret Dunlap
Interview with Margaret Dunlap
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EliseShimmer #19, “Jane”