Mortal Clay, Stone Heart and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White

Mortal Clay, Stone Heart and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White cover Winner of the 2012 eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Award in the Best Short Story Collection category.

Eight critically acclaimed short stories by Nebula Award-winning author Eugie Foster.

Table of Contents:

  1. The Life and Times of Penguin
  2. Running on Two Legs
  3. Black Swan, White Swan
  4. The Bunny of Vengeance and the Bear of Death
  5. A Nose for Magic
  6. The Center of the Universe
  7. The Wizard of Eternal Watch
  8. Mortal Clay, Stone Heart

E-book (November 2011): $4.99
ePpub, iPad, PDF, Palm (PDB), Sony (LRF)
ISBN: 978-1-4661-6573-1

180 pages
Trade paperback (November 2013): $7.49
ISBN-10: 1-49283-699-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-49283-699-5


Eugie Foster’s “The Life and Times of Penguin” succeeds in being, by turns, funny, thought-provoking, and poignant
—Douglas Hoffman, Tangent

Told from the point of view of a balloon animal penguin, the toy’s brief but eventful life manages to jam in enough existential angst to give Kierkegaard indigestion, an astonishing emotional depth, and yet fully embrace the essentially absurd nature of [Eugie Foster’s] story.
—Martin McGrath, The Fix

both touching and uplifting
—Geoff Willmetts, SF Crowsnest

a beautiful fantasy, which employs the trappings of children’s fiction, with adult emotional themes of risk and mortality.
—Talie Helene, ASif

The first story in Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White is this tale, which begins with the creation of the balloon animal, Penguin. A few paragraphs in, I knew I was going to be completely smitten with Foster’s work, and by the end of the story, I was happily correct.

At times frightening, and maybe even a little bit nihilistic in turn, the ultimate tone of the story is nothing short of freaking brilliant. When I talk about reading a short story that humbles, this is the kind of short story I mean. It is that good.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room


A wonderful story, one that I enjoyed reading tremendously. It’s one of the best stories I’ve ever critiqued in my years of teaching writing workshops.
A.C. Crispin

a beautiful story—touching without being sentimental, with characters that come believably to life.
Victoria Strauss

the beauty of the language carries one along…It is difficult to write a thoughtful story that features a terminal disease without melodrama, and Eugie Foster achieves it with style.
—E. Sedia, Tangent

This is the second story from Foster’s collection Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White. Given the author’s current reality, there’s an incredible bravery and realism to what Ginny is facing with her cancer diagnosis in this story. But there is also a magic in play in this story that was really charming.

It’s moving and wonderful, and exactly my favourite type of story: our world, our reality, but enough magic to make it all the more bittersweet.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room


a profoundly strange supernatural look at the morality of revenge.
—Nick Gevers, Locus

the story is emotionally effective and, impressively, given its subject matter, makes its point through character and story rather than cold rhetoric.
—Ben Payne, Tangent

Unsurprisingly, Foster spins a tale that treads the edge between something dark and something almost chirpily full of vim – something I’m starting to expect from her writing – and the end result is bittersweet and finely crafted.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room


At its heart, this is a slowly unfolding mystery about a woman who is rescued from hypothermia and drowning and who – for reasons not immediately clear – provides her rescuer with an alias. Her desire and confusion and inability (or unwillingness?) to describe who she is or why she nearly died is the pivot point for the narrative, but the characterization of her thoughts and emotions plays out in a wonderful dichotomy….This psyche is incredibly intriguing, and while you know something must have happened, the end-point is one that still leaves you breathless, and here – like in the other Foster stories I’ve enjoyed so far – the brush of something “other” and magical is the perfect end note to a wonderful story.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room

Praise For “A NOSE FOR MAGIC”:

“A Nose for Magic” is – so far – the most playful of the tales in this collection…it starts with such a fun meet-cute, a woman who has had her paper basically ruined by her pet needs a techy guy to help her recover what was on the disk. But his nose is telling him all sorts of wonderful things about her – she smells wonderful, for one, and he can’t seem to keep himself focused on what she’s asking him…Well, it leads to learning that someone has put a dark and evil binding on his soul (more or less) and that he’s in deep magical trouble….It probably shows, but I loved this tale. It’s fun, it’s bantery, and there’s more than enough tension in the scenes where the dark magic comes into play to keep the reader a little off balance.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room


This tale is centred around a high school reunion, and though the main character hasn’t gone to one before, the death of a fellow classmate – one with whom she used to be quite close in a group of four – makes her change her mind about never going back….They say you can never go home again. But it might just be possible to never leave home – and that might be the most horrible thing of all.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room


This short fiction piece is wonderful fantasy writing at its finest.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room


This story is the title piece – and final story – in Mortal Clay, Stone Heart, and Other Stories in Shades of Black and White. Foster’s collection is brilliant, and ends with this wonderful story, set at the time of China’s first emperor, told by a woman who sculpts and fires clay sculpture.

Love, sculpture, clay, magic, philosophy, history and a bittersweet mix of life and death. This story has all of this, and brings the collection to a close with complete satisfaction.
–‘Nathan Burgoine, Red Room

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