Free Issue!

Divisions: Stories of Inequality, Poverty, and Struggle

We began working on this new collection of creative writing before the arrival of the COVID-19 crisis but when the early warning signs of a global recession were worsening all around us. We wanted to bring together illuminating and empowering stories of inequality and hardship before the next downturn hit. It turns out our issue couldn’t have been more prophetic or more poorly timed. We’re now releasing our Spring 2020 issue at the start of one of the worst recessions in history when communities around the globe are experiencing record layoffs and lost wages at the height of a global health emergency.

This issue is one of emotional solidarity and poignant truths that, for one reason or another, many need in their lives right now. For this reason, we’re releasing the PDF of the issue for free. If you’ve been looking for new reading material to get you through social isolation and the hard times ahead, this is for you. Follow the link below:

If you’re able to support the writers, poets, and artists who contribute to the London Reader, please consider becoming a subscriber, donating, or simply sharing this post. Every person who donates will receive a complimentary PDF or MOBI of a back issue of their choice, and their donation goes to support the writers within. Or if you just want to support the contributors of this volume, let us know. Issues of the London Reader are cooperatively owned, and your contribution goes to the contributors and collaborators who make this magazine possible.

If you’re interested in powerful, contemporary stories told by authors with their finger on the beating pulse of this troubling moment, read on.

With love and solidarity,
The London Reader Editorial Team


Stories of Inequality, Poverty, and Struggle

The 20s have returned with a roar. Wage inequality in the west is at its highest point since the Great Depression, and another global recession looms before many communities have even recovered from the last. What does it mean for those still struggling to thrive—or even just to survive? How do we criticise our own circumstances when it seems like someone else is always worse off? What causes the day-to-day struggles that define inequality in our lives? The answers are not so straightforward, but the pulse of the present moment can be found in its stories.

This collection brings together the beautiful and poignant stories, recollections, poems, and art of Tanatsei Gambura, Guy Prevost, Megan Carlson, Amy B Moreno, Rosa Borreale, Emily Rose Cole, Kevin Doyle, Susan G Duncan, PE Campbell, Kevin Fullerton, Leticia Mandragora, Delwar Hussain, Avra Margariti, Sorrah Edwards-Thro, Leo Wijnhoven, and George F.

What do they tell us about inequality and struggle? They say it is here, right here, as two people discuss an acquaintance’s health concerns at brunch. They say, look, it followed us from the past when forty orphans arrived in Arizona by train. They say, we can feel it, right now, when pulling tight a blanket against the indoor cold. They say it is ongoing, and it is threatening to get worse. The creative writing in this issue doesn’t have solutions, but it does have perspective, and we cannot change course until we know what course we are on.

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Motherhood Cover


Stories of Love, Loss, & Life

Motherhood can be all consuming, and yet it is all too often ignored. Why do strangers think they know a bad mother when they read about one incident online? What is the first week of motherhood like, holding a new life in a hospital ward? What do you tell a child who asks about death? What can you do when insomnia and your child’s crying drive you toward the breaking point? Who would you choose if you could magically foresee your future children in every relationship? What are the lengths people will go to have children on a harsh and inhospitable planet? And what would you tell your own mother if you had one last chance? All these stories and more fill the pages within. This issue of the London Reader turns its focus to the trials of motherhood to illuminate the beating heart at the centre of the human experience.

Stories of Love, Loss, & Life features a new story from Emma Donoghue, the award-winning and best-selling author of Room, which has been made into a film of the same name, as well as short stories, personal reflections, poetry, and art from Jayme Koszyn, Louis Evans, Diana Reed, Ewan Morrison (the author of Nina X and Swung), Stacey May Fowles (the author of Infidelity), Micaela Maftei, Laura Tansley, Joanna Streetly, Kay Bolden, Rosaleen Lynch, Nora Nadjarian, Suzanne Skaar, Clare O’Brien, Wilda Morris, Glenna Meeks, Ella Otomewo, Laura Marija Balčiūnaitė, Julie Blankenship, Cynthia Gregorová, and Zena Blackwell. The Motherhood issue is introduced by Kate Everett and includes an interview with Kim Thúy, the award-winning author of Ru and Mãn.

What is motherhood? Can the answer be found in stories of community and isolation, belonging and rejection, hope and fear, love and loss and life? Open this issue, and find out.

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Existential Dread in the Digital Void

Ominous Horror Stories for the Present Moment

A second face appears in the dark of your phone’s screen; a web search for life’s purpose comes up blank; and your next right swipe might be your last. We stand on the edge of catastrophe and try to ignore the existential crisis by escaping into our devices, but our dread only deepens. This collection of ominous horror stories for the present moment sharpens its focus on the digital void.

Existential Dread in the Digital Void brings together twenty writers and artists who shine their mobile’s dying light down the darkened hallways of our times. The short stories and minifiction in this issue draw us in, like a foreboding buzzing in our pocket, and don’t let us go until their tragic or twist endings satisfy our digital itch. With a guest introduction by Ann Dávila Cardinal, author of Five Midnights, this issue features fiction from Jeff Noon, the award-winning author of Vurt; Bridget Penney; Michael Marshall Smith, winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction more times than any other author; Clare O’Brien; Simon Bestwick (with a guest foreword by Niwar Ameen Obaid); Tobias Wade; Emma Helen Reid; Claire Holahan; James Dorr; Jennifer Companik; Marie Argeris; and Ramsey Campbell, Britain’s most respected living horror writer according to The Oxford Companion to English Literature. The visual art in this issue comes from Elizabeth Barsham, Michael E Tan, Javier Rodríguez Corpa, Lyssa Omega, Joe Roberts, and the duo d’Ores&Deja. Finally, looking at the horror genre in the current era, this issue also interviews Ellen Datlow, editor of The Best Horror of the Year anthologies, and Tananarive Due, award-winning author and executive producer of the groundbreaking documentary Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror.

The chilling visions in this issue look both inside our minds, at our existential worries reflected in our devices, and outside into the dark, at the faces of strangers lit only by the screens of their phones. These ominous stories warn us of what we should have already feared, and their intimate touch, like a fingernail under the skin, will make you shiver.

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After the Flood

Stories and Poems for our Changing World

Tides reclaim coastal cities, forest fires choke the sky, heat waves scorch the plains, and in the eye of this catastrophe are the stories of families and communities—of fear and hope. The world faces a crisis, and we must search our souls for answers.

How can climate change fit into our stories? This issue of the London Reader re-maps the Earth with new and alternative visions of the present and the future. Stories and Poems for our Changing World faces crisis head-on, but the authors within come to many different conclusions. The cli-fi creative writing in this issue begins with pessimism, revealing the extent of natural disasters. It then revisits and re-evaluates our connection to the natural world. Finally, it finds a path forward, through calamity, with renewed ambition to make a difference.

After the Flood features an interview and fiction from Kim Stanley Robinson, the award-winning author of New York 2140 and the Mars Trilogy. The other creative works within include thought-provoking short stories from Elle Wild, Steve Carr, Hannah Wright, Kai Thomas, Katherine McMahon, Bell Selkie, and Omar El Akkad, author of American War; moving poems from Memye Curtis Tucker, Janette Ayachi, Ivy Archer, Colleen West, Matthew Gwathmey, Alice Mills, Robbi Nester, and Jill Evans; and stunning artwork from Artem Mirolevich, Christina Riley, Claire Price, David Ambarzumjan, and Ira Joel Haber, featured in the MoMA and Guggenheim.

We face a flood of unprecedented destruction. What will come after is up to us.

“A powerful intervention in our moment.”
Kim Stanley Robinson

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Down & Out in Time & Space

Stories and Poems of Time Travel

What happens when the most practical of limitations—time—is overcome? The time traveller faces one of the most difficult challenge: the temptation within. Stories of time travel revel in the impossible, visiting alternate pasts, and reveal the uncannily familiar, like warnings from your future self.

Introduced by Mike Chen, author of Here and Now and Then, this issue of the London Reader travels through time with the stories, poetry, and ideas of twenty different writers and artists, and it examines our humanity through the portholes of their time machines. Find out what makes time travel writing really tick in our interviews with award-winning author Audrey Niffenegger of The Time Traveler’s Wife and co-authors Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland of The Rise and Fall of DODO. Next, explore love lost and love found, the horrors of the past and the horrors of the future, and even a mission to kill Hitler in the short stories of BH Birtwhistle, Arthur M Doweyko, Jess Flarity, Robert L Kaspar III, Veronique Kootstra, Guy Prevost, AB Quinn, and Graeme K Talboys. Experience meeting your mother or yourself in another time and meet the quintessential 20th century time traveller themself in the poetry of Lana Hechtman Ayers, Matt Bryden, Sarah Law, d’Ores&Deja, and the author of the popular TEDx Talk “Everything You Need to Write a Poem (and How It Can Save a Life)”, Daniel Scott Tysdal. Finally, enjoy the accompanying visual art recreating time’s anachronistic ages from Maroula Blades, Emilie Oblivion, and Artem Mirolevich.

Whether you travel in a blue police box or a gull-winged DeLorean, settle in and allow these stories from across time—from these writers’ pasts transported to your reading present—to carry you into a future yet to be written.

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Stories of Survival

The #MeToo movement has begun to reveal just how many people have been affected by an often-ignored and unfortunately all-too-common culture of sexual entitlement and violence. Survivors are standing up, telling their stories, and getting the world to listen. This issue of the London Reader confronts this challenging topic through the stories of pain and survival of the authors, poets, and artists within.

Fiction, poetry, and art by Alix Edwards, Catherine Graham, Corinne Lestch, Jill Yonit Goldberg, Katherine James, Kaylin Amabile, Laura Holtz, Laurie Rosen, Max Scratchmann, Miriam Schlesinger, Natalie Rose Richardson, Patty Somlo, Rachel A.G. Gilman, Sheree La Puma, Siv Prince, Suzanne LaFetra Collier, Syd Shaw, Tamar Weiss, TH Belcourt, and Triny Finlay.

#MeToo: Stories of Survival features a guest foreword by Christina Dalcher, author of the best-selling novel VOX, and an interview with the award-winning novelist Emma Donoghue, author of the Man Booker-shortlisted novel Room, and the Oscar-nominated screenplay based on it.

This is a topic for which it is important to listen, to hold space for the speakers, and to give a platform for their voices. We readers should be listening. It is their stories that need to be heard. This issue is dedicated to them.

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Drama & Dragons

Drama & Dragons: Stories about Games and Growing up

From their humble beginnings a half century ago, pen-and-paper roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons have gone on to become a global cultural phenomenon and inspired many generations of writers to think deeper about the stories they create. This issue of the London Reader delves into the worlds of these games and the stories of the people who play them.

Guest introductions by Emily Care Boss and Steve Jackson give insight into the connections between games and literature. Short stories, poetry, and art by Jeff Noon, author of Vurt; Bridget Penney; PK Merlott; Innes Smith; Jesse Gazic; Christine King; Rachael Arsenault; Ian McLachlan; d’Ores&Deja; Kevin Oberlin; Paul Carrick; Inbal Breda; Stefan Poag; Eric Quigley; and Nicolò Maioli all explore roleplaying games and the lives of their players. This issue also presents an interview with the New York Times best-selling author of the Dragonlance series, Margaret Weis.

Drama & Dragons includes a Bonus Feature with three one-page, ready-to-play roleplaying games that walk the line between literature and games, as well as a Bonus Feature on LitRPG fiction, a new genre of fantasy and sci-fi, where the stories take place within a computer game and the rules of the game impact the characters. This bonus section includes interviews with the founders of LitRPG—Vasily Mahanenko, Alex Bobl, and D. Rus—as well as excerpts from LitRPG novels by Holly Jennings and Ember Lane.

Join these storytellers on their adventures as they explore the dungeons of our collective imagination and confront the troubles that lie within.

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Truth, Lies, & Fiction for a Post-Fact Age

Our lives are based on the fictions we tell ourselves and each other. Every new friendship grows out of the characters we present and perceive; every social media status and photograph we upload narrates the way we see the world; and every politician has a story they want us to believe. How can we navigate the truths and lies of our lives in this post-fact age?

In 2016, ‘post-truth’ was named the word of the year, and Matthew d’Ancona makes the case that we are living in a post-truth era. The short stories, poems, interviews, and art in this issue interrogate truth, lies, and the role of fiction in these trying times. Whether they deal with the big political lies we hear on TV or the little personal lies we tell about ourselves or our sexuality, the subtle and thought-provoking stories in this issue of the London Reader explore our difficult relationship with the truth—how we bend, break, and mend it—and they offer a pleasant reprieve from the swirling pandemonium of lies in our increasingly digital lives.

Truth, Lies, & Fiction for a Post-Fact Age features: new minifiction from Jeff Noon, author of Vurt; interviews with Yann Martel, author of Life of Pi, and Matthew d’Ancona, author of Post-Truth; as well as stories, poetry, and art from AJ Berasaluce, Ruth Brandt, Rachel Bullock, Nicholas Gurewitch of Perry Bible Fellowship fame, Kat Hanula, Barbara E. Hunt, Wes Lee, Andrew Lloyd-Jones, Scott Stavrou, Laura Theis, Daniel Uncapher, Mike Wilson, and Christopher Woods.

Whether from a timeless or decidedly 21st century perspective, all of the writing in this volume considers the role of truth and lies in our lives today. At a time when the news is called into question, fiction can help us rediscover the truth.

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After Words: Animal Reflections

Stories, Poetry, and Essays on the Lives of Animals

We live side by side with animals. A flock of pigeons roosting on a rooftop is as apparently ordinary a scene as cats scrapping down the street or squirrels teasing their would-be chasers before turning tail to safety. How often we forget that we, too, are animals, and that our relationships with other animals can help us better understand the world we share with them. How often do we remember that as our ambitions and cities keep growing, the lives of animals among us keep changing? After Words: Animal Reflections questions our place in the world by exploring how animals have visited and haunted our lives and writing.

Curator Christina Claudia Galego frames the issue with new fiction by Meg Elison, winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, and critical poetry by Daniel Scott Tysdal, a ReLit Award recipient and TEDx speaker. Alongside these selections are creative essays, short stories, and poems by Ed Ahern, Mikki Aronoff, Janette Ayachi, Sarah Barr, Evan J. Coleman, Matt Daly, AJ Huffman, Matthew Hollett, Tom Larsen, Wes Lee, Janet McCann, Christopher M. McDonough, Cecile Rossant, Benjamin Paynter, David F. Shultz, Dan Veach, and Melanie Whipman, as well as affecting artwork by JJ Paynter, Dan Veach, Severine Richardson, and Jagoda Woźny.

After Words: Animal Reflections also presents a timely exchange with Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction, and a thoughtful interview with Giller Prize-winner André Alexis, author of Fifteen Dogs.

For those who wonder where their dog goes at night, what it’s like to see an elk in the wild, or whether animals are people too, this issue of the London Reader is for you.

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