TOP SFF books of 2018


Since starting Three Crows, I’ve read so many more books than ever before. Here’s my personal top 10, cause I hate top 10 lists and will never consider them journalism and thus will never publish it on TCM site. Here it goes:

  1. Rosewater – a modern classic. Mandatory reading for everyone 18+ or anyone taking biology and/or literature classes in high school.
  2. The Tower of Living and Dying – everything that was beautiful about The Court of Broken Knives, but more and better. Looking forward to the House of Sacrifice.
  3. Rejoice – unlike what was depicted in this somewhat controversial, post-structuralist/postmodern (fight me on it) novel (read my review and interview with Steven Erikson) post-scarcity-fanboying aliens ain’t rushing to save us. Oh, how I wish they would. Instead, we got to do something. Go vote, be kind, protect a tree, punch a politician. Figure something out.
  4. The Fire Eye Refuge – the book with a heart of gold and unparalleled sincerity. (I will shove it down anyone’s throat until they praise it like I do).
  5. King of Assassins – RJ should’ve saved time and straight up beat me up and left me crying in a puddle of my own blood.
  6. Monster Baru Cormorant – Simply wrecked that little heart of mine, but technically it felt more of the same after “Traitor”.
  7. Bloody Rose – it took Nicholas Eames two books, and multiple breakfast atrocities I imagine, to singlehandedly revive the genre of pure adventure fantasy. That means something.
  8. The Armored Saint – Myke Cole at his best. If you want a war drama, stop allowing that wretched asshole of a man Clint Eastwood to make movies and pay attention to this man and his books (and turn them into movies, please).
  9. Embers of war – A space opera with a pinch of Banksianism (you heard it here first, folks) where a sentient, sensitive, and warcrime-comminting ship finds out if she can redeem herself. Can She? CAN SHE???
  10. Senlin Ascends – I felt the same way Senlin does during the last time I lost my mom in a supermarket while standing in a queue.

Submissions and Relocations

The last couple months have been absolutely wild. To put things in perspective:

  1. I have relocated to Katowice, Poland for the next three years at least. Had to live on the streets basically for a week with my baggage because my landlord is a fucking asshole, and had to look for a new apartment while looking for warm places.
  2. I interviewed Steven Erikson and Cristina Jurado (who are both way smarter than I am and the impostor syndrome hit hard this time)
  3. Chose some absolutely awesome stories for issue #2. We will publish the queen herself.
  4. Outlined a short story, a novella, and full-fledged novel – the first one in a couple years.
  5. Gained some more patreon support for Three Crows Magazine.
  6. Very glad that I reviewed Rosewater months ago and was right that it will be among the best of the year. Want to talk to Tade Thompson as soon as possible.

In other news, I have a very serious topic to discuss. The second submission cycle for Three Crows is coming to an end and my editorial board has noticed a trend. We receive a vast amount of submission from people who absolutely misunderstood what science fiction, fantasy, and horror are. A lot of authors submit their revenge fantasies, rape fantasies, teacher-student sex fantasies, stories around race-based insults, and more.

These authors wrap some of the most sickening ideas and illnesses in the distorted concepts of SFF/horror, and try to sell them as progressive. As unexpected as it may be, but most of them are white, male, and over 40 years old. And if the first couple stories I could attribute to statistical error, the next 10-20 blame on my awful marketing skills and advertising in the wrong places, but getting 40+ stories per cycle shows that this is a trend and a systematic error in understanding of SFF.

Two things scare me the most in this situation. First, people don’t read my guidelines. Compared to most semi-pro zines, we have a rather extensive list of requirements (rather basic ones at that) that we expect every author to fulfill. If you can’t format your manuscript properly and learn what we expect by simply reading the FREE STORIES on our site – what sort of reaction do you expect from the editors? Free advice – don’t be an asshole.

Second, and this one is much scarier. There are hundreds of writers, with absolutely distorted perception of reality, race, gender, and historical issues, that feel the need to express these issues and are oblivious enough to consider them publishable. I’m not advocating for censorship. At Three Crows I’m the filter, the gatekeeper, the quality control and state censorship. And Three Crows is not a democracy – if I think something is not okay, it will never be published here, and the author will probably not get published here in the future (unless I see the shift in prose and views). It baffles me that there are men sitting in their three-piece suits somewhere in New Zealand, writing n-word 24 times in one story and thinking – yeah, that’s some good stuff right there, better show it to the world. Faux-feminist dudes that write out detailed rape fantasies only to show the revenge of the victim, in the end, come in a close second. Get help, my dudes.

There are enough of weird and scary shit happening around. I and my colleagues will continue to do everything to give the platform to those who were silenced, underrepresented, and oppressed, but not those who oppress.

Manage me, manage me

If you consider TCM a start up, we are doing pretty great for a non-technical one. There is slow and steady growth, there is development, and there are big ass plans for where we are heading.

We put out our product after three weeks of development. The first issue was rough around the edges, but fiction was better than 75% of all the semi pro zines. We’ve got hundreds of organic engagement on mailchimp newsletter and they even generated some sales.

We haven’t even closely broken even, but I’d consider the current ROI decent.

Gathering high-quality content seems to be an issue so far. Getting a lot of fic/non-fic submissions is not a problem. Getting the good ones is. If I get six great stories in a cycle all six go inbthe issue, if I get three – it’s three. And piling through tons of outright shit, and mostly disrespectful submissions (don’t get me started on those dimwitted dicks who don’t read the FUCKING GUIDLINES) takes time and human resources. Without Olivia’s help it would be insurmountable.

Another problem is the funds. I’m paying hundreds of dollars from my own pocket because I live this thing. But my pockets have their limits, sadly. Getting people to support on patreon would take time and fantastic content. But most of all – consistency.

More than anything I wish to have a presence at cons in English language markets. To be the thing people readers and authors mention when discussing great short stories.

We’ve got a lot to do and there will be a lot of changes over the next year.

Also if our magazine leads to a someone’s full-fledged book, my spm (stans per minute) for that author would be through the roof.

What I plan to achieve in a year:

Interviews with China Mieville, NK Jemisin and Neil Gaiman.

YouTube channel with fantastic content and production.

Series of articles on gender and sexuality in sci-fi (already starts in issue #2).

Animated covers.

Healthy, growing community.


Cawing so far.

Three Crows ff-01.pngI’ve been pretending to be an editor for three weeks and it still feels overwhelming. Adrien from Grimdark magazine said that he still feels the same after four years.

A bit of midterm results:

  • We’ve got a logo!
  • We’ve got over 100 submissions. Three from Ukraine and one of them is the best short story I’ve read so far.
  • I’ve arranged interviews with some of the big names in fantasy – Anna Smith Spark, RJ Barker, and Adrian Tchaikovsky.
  • We have a couple preorders and a little community on twitter. Two other magazines want to be our friends.

Two remarks regarding submissions:

What the fuck with all the christian imagery in fantasy? I love judeo-christian mythology as much as the next person, and use it in my writing occasionally, but all the retelings of the old testament but with more blood, rape, and dicks (but sometimes in SPACE!) is raising some red flags for me immediately.

Secondly – dicks. What’s up with all the male writers constantly writing about rape, dicks, sex fantasies, sexualizing childbirth and etc? What the actual fuck? Is it some literary development of the men’s freudian need to write хуй on every visible surface – as a sign of domination?

Free advice – just don’t do it.

Finding new voices.

I’ve discussed with my girlfriend that most of artist whom I used to love probably already peaked and won’t create anything worthwhile – The Strokes, Jack White, Stephen King, GRRM, Tarantino. We are left only with what the’ve already finished and can appreciate the staples of culture they lef tus with. Sadly, that seems to be the case.

(maybe, just maybe, I’ve simply outgrown them and my taste got more sophisticated)

That’s were I thought that its up to me now to find and give platform to someone’s new favourite author. I somehow became the gatekeeper whose taste might form a part of literary landscape.

Probably just overthinking it.



P.S. I really hope I found the next Ursula Le Guin.

First week

It would be an understatement to say that I’m not overwhelmed by the first week managing Three Crows. So many things to learn, so many mistakes to make and bruises to get. Some of the coolest people in grimdark have shown their interest in the magazine and the kind words from established authors and editors warm my heart and prove that I’m on right track.

My favourite people Olivia and Rey are douing a fantastic job with reading the slush pile and so far our opinions align perfectly. I look forward to forming the skeleton of the issue and finishing the questions for the first couple interviews.

I ross my finger that China Mieville will answer the email I sent him and I would be able to prepare an interview with him. I’m preparing written questions so far to get answers over the email but in this case I would fly to fucking UK to talk to him. Or at very least have a phone call.

That would be bonkers!