My Published Work
“57 Reasons for the Slate Quarry Suicides,” in Nightmare Magazine.
Also anthologized in Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013, and in Wilde Stories 2014: Best Gay Speculative Fiction. Interviews with me about this story are available here, here, and here. Also available in an audio version (recorded by an actual actor who, among other things, has played Nazis on two separate Star Trek series).
“Another strong piece… It’s a list-story, which I tend to be a little iffy about as a form, but it works here reasonably well. The protagonist is simultaneously sympathetic and terrible, and the ending of the narrative is fairly brutal; it wasn’t entirely what I expected, but it did fit the piece.” – Tor.com, “Queering SFF”
“Miller has a nearly unparalleled knack for writing heart-wrenching characters and painful personal attachments.” – Charlotte Ashley, Apex Magazine.”
“I loved this story unabashedly: Sauro’s voice and vulnerability, the generosity of his character, and the integrity of his engagement with the unflinching awfulness of the premise are tremendously effective. It’s a heart-breaking, harrowing piece, made all the more so by that near-future vision’s many intersections with the present: in his Author Spotlight, Miller expands on the realities of foster kids’ prospects and the gross systemic injustices they face. It’s also a desperately elegant story, combining a careful structure with a depth and intensity of emotion that puts me in mind of ivy bursting from a brick wall; the very controlled, deliberate punctuation of Sauro’s present with moments from his past is a mixing of mechanical and organic reminiscent of the cloud-ports themselves.” – Amal El-Mohtar
“A story of the sort that gets the Sad and Rabid Puppies foaming.” – Happiness is Free SF
“A darkly cynical piece that doesn’t sugar-coat its circumstances.” – Locus
“Calved,” in Asimov’s, September 2015
Excerpt available on the Asimov’s site (temporarily!)
“Father and son story in a near future when the Arctic melting and the rise of the oceans has led to a flood of refugees; North Americans are generally unwelcome, and Dom is relatively fortunate to have found a place on a floating city and grunt work on iceboats. The only good thing in his life has been the son whom he can only see when he gets back from three-month work shifts on the boats, but now, looking at Thede, he sees a stranger who seems to hate him… This scenario is the most science-fictional in the issue, realistically depicting likely consequences of global climate change.” – Locus
“Dom is desperate to change his son’s opinion. And to accomplish this he … does something which will haunt me for years to come. When I finished this story I wanted to scream. I wanted to punish Miller for writing something which so gut my emotions. I wanted to hug him for creating a story so beautifully captivating and so perfectly devastating to read. Calved” by Sam. J. Miller is one of the year’s best stories and will likely be on my Hugo and Nebula Award short list. Seek this story out and read it.” – Jason Sanford
“… an evangelical Christian pastor’s wife dealing with the sinful rebelliousness of her teenage son… a really cool made up drug that sounds absolutely transformative and I want to try it (along with a few close friends… very close)… Miller excels at blending cool speculative ideas with characters and situations very much grounded in our world.” – i09 Newstand
“It’s kind of unnerving how well the story explores the intricacies of the woman’s relationship with her son, the woman’s own self-image and outlook on life. It would have been easy to make her something of a monster. Or, I guess, it does make her something of a monster, but a very human one, one that is easily recognizable… It’s an amazing story, people, and you need to go out and read it now. Go, go and read and I will find a tissue and probably something to drink. Because damn.” – Charles Payseur, Quick Sip Reviews
“The story hooks us with its humor and then moves into vulnerable territory in order to make its point… moving and lovely.” – Tangent
Finalist for the Locus Award, 2014. Soviet human experimentation, brotherly love, bloody revenge, and a maybe-magical painting. Reviewed in Locus Magazine, who named it a “Recommended” story!! “…The heart of it is this: How can ordinary people be brought to do acts of routine brutality? Or that there is something human in the worst of us?…” Later also cited in their year-end best short fiction post. Listed as “Recommended Reading” in Rich Horton’s “Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2014,” and an “Honorable Mention” in Gardner Dozois’s “Year’s Best Science Fiction – Volume 31”
“Concise and wrenching, the story uses its form to further its message, to amazing results.” – Tangent Online
“There are androids and sexbots in fiction that learn to love. Kenneth isn’t one of them. Written in the style of a technical guide and a grim recall notice, Sam Miller’s illustrated hypertext fiction is a brutal exploration of what happened to hook-up culture in the gay community several decades ago. The product sold here is “Kenneth Barrow,” an aggressive heartbreaker of a fabricant man from ManMadeMan Industries. Meant to encapsulate the casual, romantic encounters of the early-’80’s, he’s anonymous but captivating and, we’re told, very arrogant.” – Fantastic Stories of the Imagination
Highlighted by io9, who said “love the voice“!
“Weaving a complex family life without succumbing to cliche or simplification, the story shows the characters in all their richness, and handles a pivotal moment in a child’s life with art and power.” – Tangent
An interview with me about this story is here.
“…puts a supernatural twist on the Stonewall Riots, an important event in the gay rights movement… the story does an excellent job of capturing a moment in time, the injustice of the police, the desperation of men and women trying to find a place to be… a call for change that can easily be brought forward from the past and unpacked in the present.” – Tangent
OLDER STORIES, ARTICLES, ANTHOLOGIES
- Horror After 9/11, University of Texas Press (Fall 2011). Critical anthology, co-edited by myself and the amazing Aviva Briefel. Reviewed in The New Republic, with a review forthcoming in Film Quarterly, and featured in New York Magazine‘s Approval Matrix as “brilliant/lowbrow”!!
- “Alloy Point,” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. “Miller’s metallic world is enticing, with its monstrous law enforcement, mysterious City Fathers, strict case system, and emphasis on creation, but the thrust of this story (as is the often the case with Miller’s work) is personal.” – Apex. “A solid story about pushing the limits of endurance and of belief.” – Tangent Online AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Songs Like Freight Trains,” in Interzone. Reviewed in Locus (“The prose is appropriately evocative, the premise compelling”).
- “Sabi, Wabi, Aware, Yugen,” in Daily Science Fiction. December 6, 2013. Nanotech bad-assery, Westerners trying to adopt Zen aesthetics as a template for corporate dystopian survival. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “The Luke Letters” in Upstreet #8. Cited in Best American Essays 2013 as an “Other Notable Essay.” And lest I feel inclined to pity myself for not making it into the winners’ circle, I have only to look around and see that my fellow runners-up include Jhumpa Lahiri, David Sedaris, Jeff Vandermeer, Andre Dubus III, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jonathan Franzen, Malcolm Gladwell, Roxane Gay, Donald Hall, Nick Hornby, Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, and tons more great and/or famous writers.
- “The Country of Dead Voices,” in Icarus, Spring 2013. Here’s a great summary that came along with a really nice review from 365shortstories.livejournal.com! “It revolves around a simple phone call to a phone sex line, and in the process of a conversation lays bear the narrator’s troubled past and feelings of guilt associated with former lovers. Is the voice on the other end of the call a ghost from his past or something quite different and equally as disturbing? I won’t spoil the outcome. I’ll just say that Miller’s narrator’s voice felt real and personal and the sense of unease that permeates the story is pitch perfect.” Reprinted in Best Gay Stories 2014 (edited in Steve Berman).
- “Who Killed Thomas M. Disch?,” in Strange Horizons. Sept. 22 2008. Essay about the suicide of one of my science fiction heroes, including interviews with his friends and colleagues. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Black as the Sea,” in Arts & Letters Issue #25. Told by a little Jewish boy during the Odessa Pogrom of 1905, a sort of meta-Isaak-Babel piece, if Babel was writing with a full knowledge of all the horrors that the Soviet 30s and 40s would bring.
- “Black Babe,” in Slice Magazine Issue #7 – Fall 2010. Noir-style short story set in 1948, about a sex worker who has evidence that Babe Ruth was Black, and the conspiracy of gangsters out to silence her before she can spread the word….
- “Sex, Death, Facebook,” in The Rumpus. September 2009. Creative nonfiction about how sex and social networking sites help us process grief. “Fucking and dying—these two things everyone has in common, that no one wants to talk about.” AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “The Last Sleepover,” in Gargoyle Magazine, Issue 56. 2010.
- “Operation Skunk,” in The Minnesota Review, Issue #70 – Summer 2008. The editors subsequently nominated this story for The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses XXXIV. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Haunting Your House,” in Fiction International, Issue #41. Fall 2008. A gentrification ghost story. Subsequently republished in Best Gay Stories 2009 and in Cool Thing: Best New Gay Fiction from Young American Writers, edited by Blair Mastbaum and Will Fabro. “In Alan’s bed I was a market to be manipulated, a trust fund to be plundered. High school Economics had gone right over my head, but suddenly I understood everything. That money boiled down to violence, that the world is set up for men with money to do what they want.”
- “Burning Down Wal-Mart,” in Washington Square Issue #25. Fiction is a space to safely act out your deepest but most destructive desires. Like burning down Wal-Mart. I’m in there alongside THREE of my favorite poets ever – Osip Mandelstam, Charles Simic, and C.K. Williams! “I picture tomorrow morning’s newspaper photos, the burned-down husk of it, like a bombed-out aircraft hangar, like Hiroshima, like Wal-Mart came to the wrong town and fucked with the wrong boy.”
- “Men Kill Things,” in The L Magazine. Summer 2010. “What were we thinking, four years ago, when we signed a mortgage full of words we had never seen before?” AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “How it Started,” in Monkeybicycle. October 2008. Short-short story about the beginning of the end of the world. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Empty Bed Blues,” essay about Bessie Smith in the book My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them, edited by Michael Montlack, from the University of Wisconsin Press…. including work by Mark Doty, David Trinidad, Wayne Koestenbaum, Timothy Liu, and lots of other phenomenal writers.
- “The Poetry Vaccine,” in Permafrost, Issue #30 – Summer 2008. Soviet science fiction story. And here is a review of the issue, and my story in particular. “Chukotkin’s lab smelled like blood when I arrived for work. To my great horror, I started salivating.”
- “The Heart of the Female Warrior: An Interview with Mary McDonnell,” in the Galactica Sitrep. “Artists really grapple, in general, with a sense of purpose and a sense of responsibility… my talent seems to spring to life more readily when it’s being asked to serve a story that tries to honestly reflect what we really are as humankind, and what we might be, and tries to take responsibility for some of the past, and stand squarely in it.”
- “Mad Meg,” in Fourteen Hills, vol. 14.2; Spring 2008. Reviewed here: “In this story the telling is straightforward; it’s the subject matter that’s fresh.”
- “Midnight Psychology,” in Flashquake, vol. 8 issue 3. Short short about heterosexual male intimacy. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Battlestar Galactica vs. Star Trek.” Published by mental_floss; featured on the front page of Digg; received 834 diggs and 298 comments in three days! This short article compares the Star Trek franchise (which I love) with the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (which I think is the greatest thing television has ever produced) and looks at some of the things that make BSG so relevant and so successful to us today. “It boils down to this: Star Trek is about who we want to be, and Battlestar Galactica is about who we are.” AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Little Fingers,” published in the Spring 2008 issue of Barrelhouse online. Short short short. “What it smells like: blood and milk and alcohol gone rancid. Last night’s ramen. Hunger and loneliness.” AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Jerking Off to Agnostic Front.” Short story that explores the things I love, and the things I hate, about punk rock. Originally published in Verbicide, issue #17. Summer 2006. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Auschwitz Blowjob,” originally published by Velvet Mafia. Queer short fiction that’s not nearly as controversial as the name would lead you to hope; nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Rauxa Prize for Erotic Writing. The wonderful Rachel Kramer Bussel said in her blog that this story “with its Sylvia Plath reference, with its questions, with its in your face title, with its unabashed demand that sex not be cleaned up, that what we desire sometimes makes us feel dirty, and not in the hot way, is vital if we’re to talk about sex honestly. If we’re to admit that we don’t always understand our desires, or our lovers’, that “complicated” is the biggest understatement of all.” AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Paper Bomb,” published by Pindeldyboz in their January 2008 issue. Semi-speculative short fiction. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Depression Halved Production Costs,” SMUT! Issue #5. Fall/Winter 2005. Reprinted in Best Gay Erotica 2006, Cleis Press. (Dennis Cooper, who I would rank among the best writers writing today, had a story in the same anthology, and when I left a comment on his blog he said: “I actually really loved your story in that Best Erotica anthology, so your visit here is even more of a treat. Your site looks really good. I’ve bookmarked it so I can examine it thoroughly. In fact, everybody else reading this, go look at Sam J.’s site if you know what’s good for you”). AVAILABLE ONLINE
- Skin on Fire, published in the first issue of Urban Molecule. They also ran an interview with me. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Sexless in Montreal,” originally published in Karamu, Spring 2007. Short story about sex, LSD, Madonna, and the agony of approaching the end of adolescence with no idea what you want to do with your life. AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Haunting Our Homes: Nightmares of Gentrification,” in Perforations. Essay about how the modern haunted house film is really about the anxieties caused by gentrification. Subsequently reprinted at PopPolitics.com and AlterNet.org AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Homeless Revolution,” an article about the Housing Campaign I’ve spent the last several years working on. Published in Shelterforce. Issue #151, Fall 2007… AVAILABLE ONLINE
- “Sleeping is a Crime,” an article about a civil disobedience action where I was arrested for sleeping in Central Park along with members of Picture the Homeless, to protest the NYPD’s policies of arresting homeless people for engaging in life-sustaining activity (like sleep!) that is not against the law. While this article was published in the late lamented Clamor Magazine in December 2004, it is no longer available on their website. So I have posted it here, in a longer version that was co-written with two homeless members of PTH who helped organize the action. AVAILABLE ONLINE