Short Story Sale: “The Penelope Qingdom”

Aidan Moher
2 min readJul 25, 2016

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve sold “The Penelope Qingdom” to Mur Lafferty at Mothership Zeta. It will appear in the October issue of the magazine.

Growing up in small town British Columbia, Ivan doesn’t know much more than fighting off bullies and dreaming of a larger world. But when Penelope Qing moves in next door, she introduces him to a rich and vast magical kingdom in her basement. Soon, he assumes the mantle of Sir Ivan Wandsworth, Cleric of the Wending Wind, and his adventures alongside King Penelope become a thing of legend.

For fans of Stranger Things, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie,” “The Penelope Qingdom” is a love letter to growing up, ’80s Saturday morning cartoons, Dungeons & Dragons, and falling in love for the first time.

Last week, I announced that I’d sold “The Red-rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ” to Shawn Speakman for his upcoming anthology, Unfettered II. It was very exciting news as it was my first announcement of a pro-level short fiction sale — however, I actually sold “The Penelope Qingdom” a month prior, but had to wait until the ink dried to make the announcement. So, all-in-all, a good month for me.

Not only am I excited to make my first pro-level sale, but I’m thrilled that it’s to Lafferty and Mothership Zeta. “The Penelope Qingdom” is a warm, fuzzy story with a lot of heart (and, you know, magic kingdoms, and bitchin’ ’80s childhood fun, MUDs, and young love), and even while writing the first draft, I knew MZ would be a perfect fit. Lafferty and her crew of editors (Sunil Patel and Karen Bovenmyer) seek out “fun” stories, and, as it happened, I specifically wrote “The Penelope Qingdom” with that word in mind. Plus, with terrific writers like Sarah Gailey, Naru Sundar, and Carlie St. George already on board, I’m in great company. So, yeah, very happy about that.

Since “The Penelope Qingdom” is a pro-level sale, this effectively starts my “Campbell Clock” (my eligibility for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, which is presented at the Hugo Awards each year). (I’m not certain how the “sale” of “The Red-rimmed Eyes of Tóu Mǎ” factors into my eligibility, since it was donated to the anthology and I was not paid.) So, I guess I’d best get writing and publishing!

Aidan Moher

Hugo Award-winning writer ft. in WIRED, Washington Post, and Kotaku, and author of "Fight, Magic, Items." He lives on Vancouver Island with his wife and kids.