Boys, Beasts & Men

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Pub Date 10 May 2022 | Archive Date Not set

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Description

In Nebula Award-winning author Sam J. Miller’s devastating debut short-fiction collection, featuring an introduction by Amal El-Mohtar, queer infatuation, inevitable heartbreak, and brutal revenge seamlessly intertwine. Whether innocent, guilty, or not even human, the beings in Miller’s gorgeously crafted worlds can destroy readers, yet leave them wanting more.

“Miller’s sheer talent shines through in abundance . . . Boys, Beasts & Men is an outrageous journey which skillfully blends genres and will haunt you with its original, poetic voices as much as its victims, villains, and treasure trove of leading actors.”
—Grimdark Magazine


Despite his ability to control the ambient digital cloud, a foster teen falls for a clever con-man. Luring bullies to a quarry, a boy takes clearly enumerated revenge through unnatural powers of suggestion. In the aftermath of a shapeshifting alien invasion, a survivor fears that he brought something out of the Arctic to infect the rest of the world. A rebellious group of queer artists create a new identity that transcends even the anonymity of death.

Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City, The Art of Starving) shows his savage wit, unrelenting candor, and lush imagery in this essential career retrospective collection, taking his place alongside legends of the short-fiction form such as Carmen Maria Machado, Carson McCullers, and Jeff VanderMeer.

In Nebula Award-winning author Sam J. Miller’s devastating debut short-fiction collection, featuring an introduction by Amal El-Mohtar, queer infatuation, inevitable heartbreak, and brutal revenge...


A Note From the Publisher

About the Author: Sam J. Miller is a Nebula-Award-winning author. His debut novel, The Art of Starving, was an NPR Best of the Year, and his second novel, Blackfish City, was a Best Book of the Year for Vulture, The Washington Post, Barnes & Noble, and more, as well as a “Must Read” in Entertainment Weekly and O: The Oprah Winfrey Magazine. A recipient of the Shirley Jackson Award and a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Sam’s work has been nominated for the World Fantasy, Theodore Sturgeon, John W. Campbell, and Locus Awards, and reprinted in dozens of anthologies. The last in a long line of butchers, he lives in New York City and at samjmiller.com.

About the Author: Sam J. Miller is a Nebula-Award-winning author. His debut novel, The Art of Starving, was an NPR Best of the Year, and his second novel, Blackfish City, was a Best Book of the Year...


Advance Praise

2022 BookPage Most Anticipated Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Literary Hub May’s Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books

[STARRED REVIEW] “Highly recommended for any reader interested in speculative fiction that concerns itself with queer themes, particularly messy or emotional ones.”
Booklist

“Miller’s sheer talent shines through in abundance . . . Boys, Beasts & Men is an outrageous journey which skillfully blends genres and will haunt you with its original, poetic voices as much as its victims, villains, and treasure trove of leading actors.”
Grimdark Magazine

“The stories in this collection offer a nuanced and beautiful exploration of masculinity and the many faces of love, touching on romance, desire, family, and friendship, all presented through the lens of the fantastic—with literally mind-altering drugs, resurrected dinosaurs, near-future worlds in post environmental collapse, and of course, monsters.”
—A. C. Wise, The Kissing Booth Girl and Other Stories

“This is the collection you are looking for. Explosive, careening, shape-shifting tales . . . haunting and defiantly tender.”
—Ben Loory, author of Tales of Falling and Flying

“Sam Miller is my hero: a fearless visionary whose stories are at once vivid, electrifying, brutal, and full of heart. Oh, the heat of them.”
—Sarah Pinsker, author of A Song For A New Day and Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea

[STARRED REVIEW] Finding danger and humanity in their characters, the short stories of Boys, Beasts & Men marry emotional epiphanies with violence, resulting in imaginative, stirring meditations on LGBTQ+ struggles and acceptance.”
Foreword

“Sure to please fans of cli-fi, weird sea creatures, queer SFF and pretty much everyone who wants to read something brilliant, strange and new.”
BookPage

“Miller’s debut short fiction collection looks to appeal to both fans of his speculative and dystopian novels Blackfish City and The Blade Between, as well as those new to his body of work. . . . Queerness pulses through these fourteen stories.”
Literary Hub

“Even in the darkest of these perfectly crafted stories, Sam Miller’s tragic boys yearn to be good instead of bad, strong instead of weak, whole instead of broken. May your heart ache with love for every doomed one of them; I know mine did.”
—Andy Davidson, author of The Boatman’s Daughter

 “Loneliness, manhood, and ferocious queer joy . . . thick with both the tenderness and ugliness of imperfect relationships.”
Publishers Weekly

“In these stories Sam J. Miller writes about people on the margins and in transition, both capturing a sense of uncertainty and horror while immersing us in these worlds with sensitivity and care.”
—Carrie Vaughn, author of The Immortal Conquistador

“Miller is clearly one of the generation of writers thoroughly comfortable with genre hopping (or genre-ignoring, or genre-pillaging), and Boys, Beasts & Men is no exception to that. . . . Given the pain and joy that Miller can so vividly evoke, it’s both an admonition and a celebration.”
Locus

“A strong collection of stories with themes I'm really into, dark and interesting. . .”
—Small Time Reads

“A collection of short stories that are each so atmospheric and unique, it really just blends together to form a sort of queer, magic, horror, science fiction and amazing storytelling picture. Each story is so fascinating and creates about a mood that just captures you.”
—Ash and Books

“The very best horror in all its ghoulish, glorious humanity.”
—Deborah Miller, two-time winner of the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award (and also Sam's mom)

“If you’re not reading Sam J. Miller, you’re seriously missing out.”
—Nathan Ballingrud, author of Wounds and North American Lake Monsters

2022 BookPage Most Anticipated Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Literary Hub May’s Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books

[STARRED REVIEW] “Highly recommended for any reader interested in speculative fiction that concerns...


Marketing Plan

National marketing plan to include prepublication endorsements from leading authors, review, and media outlets, and general publications for both fantasy and LGBTQIA+ audiences

Author tour to include Awesome Con (Washington, DC), the KGB reading series (New York), the Lesbian/Gay, Bisexual & the Transgender Community Center (New York) the University of Seattle Bookstore; Powells Books (Portland); the SF in SF reading series (San Francisco), Cellar Door Books (Riverside, CA), and Dark Delicacies (Burbank, CA)

Online features to include Instagram tour (Storygram), blog tour, Reddit AMA, and author and publisher social media campaign

National marketing plan to include prepublication endorsements from leading authors, review, and media outlets, and general publications for both fantasy and LGBTQIA+ audiences

Author tour to include...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781616963729
PRICE $17.95 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Send to Kindle (MOBI)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 54 members


Featured Reviews

'Boys, Beasts & Men' is a phenomenal short story collection that brings to mind a pack of wolves, with each story pulsing to its own heartbeat, straining at the leash that affixes it to the whole with bestial vigor. 

The stories are dark, enigmatic, eerie and fantastical, all written with surprising weightlessness. As a result, they invoke the feeling of trying to breathe in subzero temperatures, when puffs of gelled heat are replaced by a chill, one which steals more than just body heat. In much the same way, Miller's prose breaches and traces that most inner part, sneaking its way past the body's defenses, pawing at the senses.

Every story is wildly imaginative, each one twists and bends its form to stun and titillate that much more. And aside from the wonderfully eclectic narratives, which burst and shatter but never disenchant, it's emotion that dominates every page. Death, grief, rage, lust, longing, loss and desire breed various beasts and terrors, which are, in turn, nurtured by the intensity of human passion. Likewise, the monsters' physicality is used to illustrate the depravity lurking within the human psyche.

Miller makes it a point to disengage the body from the soul, repeatedly referencing "the bodies we wear", the fates dictated by our lack of choice when it comes to the fit and color we're assigned upon conception. This fracture is tangible in each one of his stories, and it blends eroticism with ghoulishness, sensuality with violence. Talk of capitalism and AIDS is founded on rage, but it's the intensity of the emotion that allows sensations and actions to bleed into each other, arousing those in the throes of savagery.

The idea of the body is further pushed to envelop Eastern elements, such as spirits incorporating the essence of a house. Through them, Miller shows the rupture between the spiritual and the material in the human mind, an innate sense of connection gone feral. What enhances the collection's unique appeal is the stories' duality, the way they instill morals to combat insanity.

Miller is the master of his worlds and his characters the gods of their domains, pivoting and remolding reality in a state of euphoric dread. That's why entering the space they occupy is a challenge, a thrill, a plunge into an untethered imagination. Not a gradual descent, but a drop toward a new, form-defying center of gravity. 

'Boys, Beasts & Men' is the fruit of substantial creative autonomy, a glorious nightmare wrapped around a daydream. Its images are vibrant, its thoughts throb on the page, its characters reshape the labyrinth of the mind, fears and desires feed on the flesh they manifest. Whatever imprint the stories choose to leave behind, whether it be yearning, outrage, grief or unfulfilled carnality, each one is imbued with sorrow, each one breaks you with a craving for more.

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The first collection of short stories by speculative fiction author Sam J. Miller collects thirteen of Miller's best known stories (and. one new one), many collected in "Best of..." annuals or nominated for Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. Brief interstitials act to bind together the stories into a cohesive whole. Thematic juxtapositions reveal surprising connections in the stories, with the "Things With Beards"/"Ghosts of Home"/"The Heat of Us"/"Angel, Monster, Man" sequence being a particularly strong standout.

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An amazing collection of short stories! Each was so atmospheric and unique in concepts ranging from body controlling powers, minds connected to the internet to a modern day dinosaur. Each story has such a fresh twist on the horror/thriller genres. I also greatly enjoy the queer representation in these stories, and how it does not sugar coat the relationships either.

I was thoroughly impressed by this collection and can't wait to check out a full novel by this author. I am looking forward to the publication of this collection so everyone can read it.

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I have indifferent luck when it comes to short story collections. When they hit I am surprised. When they don't, I shrug and move on. This collection hit and hit hard.

The stories in Boys, Beasts & Men are a swirl of queerness, magic, horror, science fiction, and good old fashioned gut-punching storytelling. Each story examines an idea in exquisite originality. Whether it's the effect of King Kong on the people of New York, or the unexpected power of learning how a murder actually happened, or the daily life of furniture, these stories all make an impression and lead to thought.

(Or more emotional reactions. There's a story about a father, a son, and a t-shirt that absolutely devastated me. Like...devastated.)

I loved this book. I will be thinking about it for a long while.

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A gorgeous, emotionally devastating wreck of a collection. "Calved" destroyed me so profoundly I couldn't sleep and had to stop reading for a day. "Ghosts of Home," which imagines the 2008 mass evictions sideways, through the bank-appointed caretaker of the home spirits of the foreclosed houses is my favorite and I feel most indicative of his strengths as an author- politically incisive, emotionally resonant spec fic that surprises and gut punches.

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It's a beautiful, odd, queer collection of stories. What if an dinosaur was being held in a cage nearby? What if you had powers, like Carrie? What if Ann Darrow was real and you met her? What if you suspected a stranger swapped bodies with your boyfriend? What if a totalitarian state reconditions you and you're stuck halfway between a human and a beast? What if… wait a second, this is not how I imagined the queer version of Frankenstein, but I guess I'll take it.

All for these stories are connected by a thread of a larger one. It's hard to say which story was my favorite, because I loved almost all of them. I really enjoyed Calved, where the author constructs an alternate history scenario where Americans are refugees in other countries just to tell a story of a father and son falling apart. I loved Shucked, with plays with the idea of an Indecent Proposal and the psychological or possibly supernatural consequences of such, and Shattered Sidewalks of the Human Heart, which picks up the story of King Kong decades after the giant ape was killed. Most of these stories borrow from tales we know to offer something new.

Sam J. Miller is a very good writer and I can't recommend these enough.

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I never really pegged myself for a short story kind of person, but because I got this as an ARC I decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. This author’s way of writing was absolutely beautiful, and pulled me in with every sentence. I devoured this book in under a day, and I look forward to reading more from this author. While most of the stories had similar undertones and plot points, they were all so different that it felt like bouncing between worlds. I also loved the science fiction aspect of it all. I would definitely recommend this book!

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Thank you, Tachyon Publications, for allowing me to read Boys, Beasts & Men early!

I'm not new to Miller's writing, having read some of his previous work, and this debut collection is another proof of his masterful craft. I devoured the short stories featured in this collection and I still want more, despite becoming completely undone after each reading experience. Really a brilliant collection.

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I received an early copy of this book from Net Galley, this has not influenced my review.

This book was the best possible version of a short story collection and really shows off the strengths of the genre. If a six star option existed, I would give this book all of them without a moment’s hesitation.
Like a really great box of chocolates, each story in this collection was fantastic, distinct, and memorable, no coconut clusters or teeth-shattering slabs of caramel in here! (Sorry if those are your favorites). I could have easily read whole books based on each individual tale.

The stories were enormously diverse and each affected me a different way, but each left their mark and each was a joy to read. This author blends horror, fantasy, mystery, and magic seemingly effortlessly, the way professional athletes or dancers are able to do incredible things that just seem like showing off until you remember the years of work that went into reaching that level.
The author’s range is astounding. From a story where King Kong really walked the earth and died at the foot of the Empire State Building to a retelling of the night of the Stonewall Riot, where oppressed, queer, New Yorkers discover a potent and deadly form of group pyrokenesis, I found myself completely immersed in each new tale from the beginning.

This author is one I’ve heard about for a while but have never read until now. After this truly stunning book I plan on reading his other works and keeping a careful eye on his upcoming projects.

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Boys, Beasts & Men is a fitting title for this collection that explores heavy themes in different shades of spec fiction, and I loved every bit of it. Each story is tied to the theme in its own way, and whether dark, magical, or haunting, every tale is steeped in emotion, exploring things like queerness, greed, otherness, and AIDs.

Miller’s prose has a way of showing the ugliness of humanity with the warmth of a comforting embrace. It’s the hand to hold you as you journey into darkness. A few of these stories I had already read in various magazines, but the majority of them were new to me. Sam Miller also adds a narrative journey between each story that ties them together and ends on a wonderful note. Most stories are subtle in tone but resonated with me well after reading.

It’s hard to say exactly why I connected so much with this collection because I can also see that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. To me, the best fiction centers around emotion and the human condition, only using supernatural or fantastical elements as a lens to help show it through. Sam Miller does just that. Either way, I would recommend this to anyone who likes their short stories dark and with a heart.

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Hair-raising and sly, drawing you in and scaring you away as you desperately try to find out if you are the hunter...or prey.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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Just a delectable short story collection touching on gayness, masculinity, the AIDS crisis, the supernatural and so much more. Miller's work is so rich, with an incredible diversity of characters and settings and an intense humanity to each piece. The creativity made reading each story a delight - from the perspective of an oft-recycled sofa to a group of gay men who conjure their political dreams into human form with unintended results that rewrite the history of the AIDS epidemic. Will definitely be checking out his other work. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.

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