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When Strangers Meet

Book Cover: When Strangers Meet

Alien-Human---first contact.


Coming Oct 2021, from Forest Avenue Press.

First publication in New Legends anthology, ed Greg Bear.

Available on:
Publisher: Forest Avenue Press

“The voices from the sky have called again, Great One,” said the One’s Second.

“When strangers meet,” said the One, “all benefit.”

“Are they strangers,” asked her Second, who happened to be an older sister, and pale green, “these new ones from the sky?”

The One sat back on her soft throne, stretching all her top limbs out to the side in a motion that said that she could wait until tomorrow to worry about tomorrow.


The Second hesitated, unsure if this meant a dismissal from the throne room or not. The One laughed, a hissing sound that relaxed the Second. The sound of the One content was always a good sound.

“I think these new ones may be strangers,” the One said. “We have sent them our language books, and they have sent us theirs. They wish to come, to meet us. To understand us.”

“As strangers?”

“They say they are friends, but they must study our language and then understand. I don’t think they mean to be familiar.”

“I am sure you are right, Great One. Shall we give them permission to join us?”

The One considered.

“Tell them to ask again, after the festival. The new year brings clarity, and strangers bring benefits.”



About the anthology

Named for the anarchist utopia in Ursula K. Le Guin’s science fiction classic The DispossessedDispatches from Anarres embodies the anarchic spirit of Portland, Oregon, Le Guin’s hometown, while paying tribute to her enduring vision.

About Susan DeFreitas

Susan DeFreitas is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award. Her work has been featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the Utne ReaderStory magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Portland Monthly, and High Desert Journal, along with many other journals and anthologies. An American of Indo-Guyanese descent, she divides her time between Portland, Oregon, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and has served as a freelance editor and book coach since 2009.

October 2021, Forest Avenue Press

If You Ready

Book Cover: If You Ready

Dirk's great-grandmother's nearly a hundred years old. She's got scars all over her hands.

Someday Dirk will find out why. 

Twenty plus stories in this anthology: Blaze Ward Presents: Cloak and Dagger. Science fiction, urban fantasy, and sword and sorcery fantasy. Come explore the many bright and dark places that twenty odd visionaries went and will happily take you.


"Get from house, boy," said Dirk's great-grandmother, her accent thick.

Dirk glanced up from his game. The old woman was hunched at the doorway, steel blue eyes unsoftened by a fond, faint smile. "Get from house now," she repeated. "Cannot stay forever."

"Nana," he objected, his attention and thumbs drawn back to the tablet as the game started beeping from neglect. "I'm just--"

"Make me repeat myself?" she asked.

It took a moment, but something in her tone caught him. He exhaled frustration and put down the tablet, looking back at her wrinkled face and clasped hands with scars across the backs like webs.

"Maybe you tell me today, nana? About your hands?"

Shelter from the Storm

Anthology: Leather tomes and Spiderwebs

Book Cover: Shelter from the Storm

Susan Langley is not entirely sane. Nor is she quite crazy enough to be stripped of her grandmother's fortune.

Differently-sane, perhaps.

Nine tales of quiet terror where the scourge sneaks up on you, subtle and snug. Let it fill you with cozy dread as you see the different type of monster who might wait in the basement, or your backyard.


Gramma understood. When the nights were dark beyond bearing, I'd climb the stairs to her room, forcing myself to forget each stair as I passed. She snored a bit as I sat on her thick featherbed. Then she woke and took my hand.

"The darkness will fade, Susie. Really it will. You'll see."

And it did. But the light, when it came, was not much better. It made the walls weep and the doors scream until all I wanted to do was join them.

But I knew better. I was silent when the judge gave my brother a long, hard look. The light came through the high windows of the courtroom and shattered across the room like glass, raining down on all our bare heads.

"You ought to be ashamed, Mr. Langley. Motion denied." He turned his judge’s attention on me. "Ms. Langley, my most sincere condolences on the loss of your grandmother."

I nodded and looked down at my feet, seeing their shoes, proper shoes, remembering the battle I had this morning getting my toes into them.


"Thank you, your honor," I said softly.



Book Cover: Blades

"Blades": First Place Winner, Willamette Writers' Kay Snow Writing Contest, 1992.


The Angels’ Share

Book Cover: The Angels' Share

"A sensational, astonishing story that left me stunned. The unsparing integrity of Angel’s Share does not give an inch. Remarkable.”
—Barry N. Malzberg

If only we could get someone else to do the work of self-improvement for us, eh?

Single malt whiskey aged a typical decade loses a percent and a half every year to evaporation and this lossage is called “the Angels’ Share”. I thought the phrase meant something more, so I sat down to write, and this story about body-swapping and morality was born.

First Publication: Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Dec 1996