New Story: “Things With Beards”

My new story “Things With Beards” is out now in Clarkesworld!

Essentially a fanfic sequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing, my story follows MacReady after the events of the movie, returned to his life with his memory full of weird holes.

When MacReady is not MacReady, or when MacReady is simply not, he never remembers it after. The gaps in his memory are not mistakes, not accidents. The thing that wears his clothes, his body, his cowboy hat, it doesn’t want him to know it is there. So the moment when the supply ship crewman walked in and found formerly-frozen MacReady sitting up—and watched MacReady’s face split down the middle, saw a writhing nest of spaghetti tentacles explode in his direction, screamed as they enveloped him and swiftly started digesting—all of that is gone from MacReady’s mind.

cw_117_700And he’s watching AIDS ravage his community. And he’s supporting the work of Black liberation activists who are fighting to stop the cops from brutalizing communities of color. And he might be killing lots of people.

Apex Magazine said “As is typical of Miller’s work, “Things With Beards” delivers a satisfying emotional punch, and serves as an excellent example of contemporary fiction in conversation with a SFF classic.”

Re-watching the film recently, it occurred to me that I really don’t think that people who’ve been killed and replaced by the Thing are aware that they’re Things. This is a contentious topic in Thing fandom, evidently. But I started to think through – what would happen if they didn’t know? How would they behave? How does the Thing function?

Inverse said “A direct sequel to John Carpenters 1982 film The Thing, the short story not only asserts the characters MacReady and Childs as monstrous “things” but more importantly, gay men. Using science fiction to comment on the plight of oppressed or marginalized people is a proud tradition, but what’s telling here is that Miller plucks cinematic characters from an iconic horror/sci-fi film and inserts them into prose.”

Best SF said “another strong story from Miller.”

Tangent Online saidIt wasn’t until the very end of this story that I finally understood the central point Miller was making—what The Thing, itself did —with this one change. Masks. Those masks that we wear every day, hiding our true selves from even the people we love. Very well done, and recommended.”

Editor Neil Clarke said “this is going to piss a lot of people off,” and I think he may be right!

Posted on: June 9, 2016, by : Sam J. M.