Book Smugglers Publishing First Contact

Book Smugglers Publishing Presents Upcoming Short Stories: First Contact (Summer 2015)

Introducing our upcoming Summer 2015 line-up of new short stories!



Four Short Stories for the Sagacious Reader

Book Smugglers Publishing (BSP jpg)

After a successful first season of short stories – Fairytale Retellings – we Book Smugglers are proud to bring you our sophomore season of out-of-this-world stories.

Our new theme of First Contact is one that we knew would be a challenge for authors submitting their work. Although the immediate thoughts that comes to mind when thinking about First Contact are “science fiction” and “aliens”, we had hoped to see a subversion of this theme – and we were not disappointed.

The stories we selected for publication rose to this subversion challenge beautifully: one features a first encounter between a woman and a falling star; another, the first contact between a young girl and freedom of choice. And then there is one story that is actually a traditional first encounter with an alien…but with a twist. One of these stories is comedic, satirical sci-fi with heart, another is an apocalyptic romance among the stars, and one is an alternate historical mythological fantasy yarn.

Finally – because we can never limit ourselves to just three stories – we have an experimental short story that is actually a questionnaire. (Or is it a questionnaire that is an experimental short story? You decide!). We have such fun things planned for it! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Without further ado, behold the Summer 2015 lineup from Book Smugglers Publishing!


Application for the Delegation of First Contact: Questionnaire, Part B.
Written by Kathrin Köhler
Available 05/26/15

Kathrin KöhlerI am a 2013 graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. I live in Madison, WI where I attended college as a returning adult student and currently drive cab (where every day is filled with First Contacts of sorts). I was a child immigrant to the US, and as such, I often find myself writing about places in-between, exploring what it means to belong. Other interests of mine include how narrative creates reality, how we internalize social power structures, and how we interact with and view nature. In short, I’m interested in why we create the distinctions we create (e.g. me/not me, human/animal, relevant/insignificant, etc).

My speculative and literary poems have appeared in Interfictions, Stone Telling, and Strange Horizons, among other fine places.


The Merger
Written by Sunil Patel
Available 06/23/15

SunilPatelSunil Patel, a Bay Area fiction writer and playwright who has written about everything from ghostly cows to talking beer. His plays have been performed at San Francisco Theater Pub and San Francisco Olympians Festival, and his fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place, Saturday Night Reader, and Fireside. When he is not writing, he is consuming stories in all forms in order to extract their secrets and put them to use. Plus, he reviews books for Lightspeed. Find out more at, where you can watch his plays, or follow him @ghostwritingcow. His Twitter has been described as “engaging,” “exclamatory,” and “crispy, crunchy, peanut buttery.”


Written by A. E. Ash
Available 07/21/15

AE_Ash.jpg (1)A.E. Ash is a human citizen of the third planet from Sol and is a lifelong nerd, a friend to all felines, a sometimes-gamer, a squee-prone blogger, a mooncalf, but not a baker or candlestick maker. And nobody said anything–ANYTHING–about butcher. She writes weird poetry and miscellaneous speculative fiction: sci-fi, fantasy, space opera, even urban fantasy and romancy things are all mixed up in her writerly brain. Her abode is allegedly located in the United States where she lives with her superhero husband and their completely NOT nefarious kittycats who do nothing at all to help them achieve world domination. You can find her on Twitter as @dogmycatzindeed or check out her blog here:


The Vishakanya’s Choice
Written by Roshani Chokshi
Available 08/25/15

Roshani ChokshiRoshani Chokshi lives in the land of grits and boiled peanuts. Her family is ruled by a Great Pyrenees overlord known by the cryptic name of “Panda.”

Her unpublished manuscript was a 2014 Daphne du Maurier finalist and she was a finalist in the 2014 Katha Fictions Contest. Her debut novel THE BRIDE OF DUSK AND GLASS, a re-envisioning of the Hades and Persephone myth in the context of Indian mythology, is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press. She studies law by day and writes fantasy by night.


All stories will be published for free in their entirety on The Book Smugglers and be made available as ebooks for sale via several online retailers and directly from The Book Smugglers. Each ebook will contain the full story and a Q&A, as well as an essay from the author on writing their stories and exploring the theme. Cover art and full descriptions to come soon!

In the meantime, we thought it would be fun to ask each author what are their favorite First Contact stories!

Application for the Delegation of First Contact: Questionnaire, Part B’s Kathrin Köhler


My favorite First Contact story? There is, of course, Carl Sagan’s “Contact“. Growing up, his series “Cosmos” influenced me highly. So did the novel “A Swiftly Tilting Planet“. And, naturally, all the Star Treks.

Picking a favorite story or influence is like picking a favorite way of breathing… I can’t. Breathing is good, it’s vital, and depending on what I’m doing and what I need to live the answer will surely change.

The Merger’s Sunil Patel

The True Meaning of Smekday

While it’s tough to pick a favorite First Contact story, I’m going with The True Meaning of Smekday, by Adam Rex, which is told as a mixed-race eleven-year-old girl’s school essay about what the recent alien invasion meant to her. Unbeknownst to her but knownst to us, it’s a clever parallel for the colonial invasion of America. This book is hilarious and wonderful and I recommend it to everyone. I’d be lying if I said the Blarbsnarb weren’t partially inspired by the Boov.

Luminous’ A.E. Ash

Call B for Butterfly

So yeah. I love Contact and Close Encounters of the Third Kind because of their optimism. Solaris, because of its take on our perception of other life and the difficulties of communication that would spring from these perceptions. However, the most influential first contact narrative in my life—and I don’t even know if it’s truly first contact as defined by people who make those definitions—was a humble, beat-up library book. It was the biggest shock to my ‘what even is aliens’ questioning and happened in 6th grade—a battered little volume from the school library’s sci-fi shelves, Calling B For Butterfly by Louise Lawrence. The characters are young—like, from infant ranging to teenager young—and most of their interactions are problematic on some level. Read: they are exasperating. Believably, painfully annoyingly. Isolated, crammed in an escape pod jettisoned from a dying ship, they have to try to make it to the nearest safe harbor and it’s hell. What makes the book hold up for me to this day (I re-read it last year and the effect was almost the same as when I read it forever ago), is the nature of the first contact situation. I won’t give much away, but the alien involved in this narrative demonstrates something that is important to me in first contact narratives—the difficulty, sometimes even impossibility, of communication in a way that our human brains can understand. Through the years I’ve come to love many of more complex and epic first contact narratives but Calling B For Butterfly was the first time I really considered the implications of what such a situation could involve, and how infinitesimal the odds of even knowing if something is trying to communicate with us would be in the first place.

The Vishakanya’s Choice’s Roshani Chokshi

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor is my eternal book-crush. One of my favorite scenes is the first “contact,” so to speak, between the two main characters — zinging magic and flashing hamsas in a Moroccan bazaar? Awesomeness. Gimme. As for movies, The Fall is one of my favorites for a similar reason. I loved the gorgeous setting and the interaction of one person’s story and how it’s translated in a young girl’s mind. Also: Lee Pace.


And there you have it! What do you think of the line-up? And while we’re at it: what are YOUR favorite First Contact stories?

For more information about Book Smugglers Publishing, our books, artwork, and authors, make sure to check out our shiny brand new publisher site:

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