Welcome to Infomancy

Welcome to Infomancy.net, the website of haikuist and author Stewart C Baker.

You can read free reprinted and original fiction and poetry right here online.

If you’d like to browse around my published fiction and poetry (much of which is already free to read on external sites), check the relevant links in the menu to see a list of each.

Get in touch: Facebook | Twitter | E-mail

Two SFnal reprints in QuickFic – “Masks” and “Little More than Shadows”

These two reprints are actually from late June, but I was visiting family at the time and wasn’t paying much attention to things.

So, under the “better late than never” category: I have two reprints in Digital Fiction Publishing’s “QuickFic” imprint which are free to read online on their website.

The first of these, “Little More than Shadows,” is a roughly 800-word 2nd-person slipstreamy story about dreams, monsters, regrets, and Hamlet references in the title. It starts like this:

On the worst days, just the knowledge that you’re dreaming is enough to set you shivering in the cot, neck stiff from the cables.

Eventually, one of your wardens will come, so you wait. They are little more than shadows, these days: features you can’t quite bring into focus; skin tone somewhere between ivory and midnight. You can’t remember any of the names you gave them when you first arrived.

The second story, “Masks,” is closer to 3000 words, and is space opera featuring a colony-ship, spies, sabotage, alien artefacts of unclear provenance, and more. Also a lesbian couple, hooray!

Min can tell by the way the man in the lizard mask drums the fingers of one hand on the surface of his desk that he is angry. She avoids the bright green glimmer of his eyes, wishing she were anywhere but here. Wishing she remembered who she was supposed to be.

“This is all you bring me?” the man asks, his voice raspy with distortion. In his other hand he holds the latest chip Min has stolen, heavy with data on Ship’s communications to the other surviving colony ships and its route away from Earth-long-gone.

New story in IGMS and an (interactive!) reprint in Sub-Q — Also, I’m a Baen Fantasy finalist!

It’s July! And I have a few stories out or otherwise newsworthy.

First, in Intergalactic Medicine Show, my hard SF story about space elevators and the end of the world (and family, and belonging, and loss, and responsibility, and a myriad of other things), “The View from Driftwise Spindle.”

Here’s the opening paragraph:

The plural for meeting, thought Gayatri Anwar, ought to be headache. And even for a surface stint, where meetings always played a heavy role, she’d had a lot of headaches since the Martian Disaster. The announcement that a rogue planetoid had struck their sister planet, and that meteor-sized pieces of ejecta would crash into Earth in five months’ time, had everyone scrambling to get off-planet. Driftwise, as the only spindle with no ties or obligations to a particular nation, seemed to be bearing the brunt of the attention.

You can read most of the first scene (and see the glorious full-colour illustration which won’t make sense until you’ve read the full story) over at Intergalactic Medicine Show, so go check it out! There are also great original stories by Rachael K Jones, Kat Otis, Aimee Pichee, Andrew Neil Gray, and Shane Halbach, along with an essay and reprint from Kameron Hurley. (Note: the full issue is behind a paywall, but an annual subscription is only $15.)


Second, my Writers of the Future winning story “Images Across a Shattered Sea” is now available as a free-to-read piece of interactive fiction at Sub-Q Magazine. Interactive fiction is perhaps not that well-known, so if you’re confused by the word, just picture those old Chose Your Own Adventure books, but on your preferred web browser and without the ability to cheat by reading straight through. Think of it like a text-only video game combined with a short story.

If that sounds like fun, I hope you enjoy the interactive version of “Images Across a Shattered Sea.” There are several new passages in this version of the story, and a few new endings, so even if you’ve read the story before there’ll be some things that are new to you.

I also want to thank Paul Otteni for letting me use his amazing illustration of the story for the cover art of the Sub-Q version of the story. Thanks, Paul!


Last, but certainly not least, my story “Fox-Sign” is a finalist for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, hosted by Gen Con. The winners will be announced August 6th.

Last Words of the Idea of English Superiorty, Spoken to Nationalist Parties Claiming Its Relevance on the Eve of the United Kingdom’s Dissolution into its Component Countries, Shires, Cities, and Townships (“Last Words” series)

Writing about brexit? Me?

Naaaaah.

Last Words of the Idea of English Superiorty, Spoken to Nationalist Parties Claiming Its Relevance on the Eve of the United Kingdom’s Dissolution into its Component Countries, Shires, Cities, and Townships

by Stewart C Baker

Are you lot still here?

(And this is my 100th post on this blog, apparently. Shiny.)

Last Words of Hate (“Last Words” series)

Given the mass shooting in Orlando, I almost don’t want to post one of these at all.

Here’s a compromise: the last words (and many other words) of hate itself:

Last Words of Hate

by Stewart C Baker

I was so afraid…

If you have some spare funds, please consider a donation to It Gets Better, Human Rights Campaign, or any other LGBTQ+ advocacy or support group you know of.

Dying Words of Alshral Dei, Wisest and Most Venerable Sage of the Twenty-Eight Inhabited Galaxies (“Last Words” series)

It has been so hot around here lately that my ears are starting to melt and drain out from my brain. (ETA: as proof of which, I set this to post ten days after the right day.)

No, wait, should that be the other way around?

Maybe it should. Maybe it shouldn’t. More importantly: what does it have to do with this week’s “Last Words” post?

Absolutely nothing. I just thought you should know.

Dying Words of Alshral Dei, Wisest and Most Venerable Sage of the Twenty-Eight Inhabited Galaxies, as Recorded and Distributed by Ansible to Three Hundred Billion Warring Races to Herald the Beginning of an Era of Universal Peace.

by Stewart C Baker

[unintelligible mumbling]

Out now: “The Mother of Sands” at QuickFic

My Gothic Horror story “The Mother of Sands” is now available to read free of charge in Digital Fiction Pub‘s QuickFic series. (Apparently it’s been available since May 17th, but I never received notice.)

The story follows Clara, a woman of little means, and her childhood friend Ilze, the Countess of —, as they travel to Ilze’s home country of Livonia (present-day Latvia). But when they stop at an inn the first night out, Clara sees the figure of a shadowy woman standing over her old friend’s bed. Ilze—pale and shaking after the encounter—calls the woman Smilšu māte, the Mother of Sands, but refuses to say more. Will Clara discover what the Mother of Sands wants?

I guess you’ll have to read the story and find out.

“Mother of Sands” first appeared in an anthology put out by Chuffed Buff Books in late 2014 which I’m not sure ever actually went to print, so even though it’s technically a reprint, this is its first time appearing before a wide audience. Possibly any audience.

The story can be read at http://digitalfictionpub.com/quickfic/the-mother-of-sands-by-stewart-c-baker/

Enjoy!

#towelday special: The Intergalactic Towel Salesman’s Pitch at the Sixteenth Annual Towel Day Bash (“Last Words” series)

It’s almost Towel Day, that special day which comes but once a year when fans of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy come together (even if they don’t come together) to remember the author and his work.

I read a lot of Hitchhiker’s Guide as a teenager (the whole “trilogy” of five books at least ten times, I’m pretty sure) and doubt I’d have quite the same warped and strange sense of humour if I hadn’t.

So as a feeble form of thanks, here’s an early Towel Day present in the form of a five-word “Last Words” story. (That’s one word for every book in the trilogy!)

The Intergalactic Towel Salesman’s Pitch at the Sixteenth Annual Towel Day Bash, Made without Realising that a Strange Quirk of Quantum Mechanics had Rendered Everyone Towel-less Moments Earlier

by Stewart C Baker

Free towels! Supplies are limited—

And since it is almost Towel Day, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the famous last words from the bowl of petunias in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself!

So here, in a similar style, they are:

The Only Thing that Went Through the Mind of the Bowl of Petunias as It Fell after Suddenly Being Called into Existence Several Miles above the Surface of an Alien Planet

Adapted from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Oh no. Not again.

If you’ve never read Adams’s work, there’s still time to rectify that! I recommend getting the whole trilogy at once in one of the lovely hardback editions that exist.

Two new stories and one reprint out this month

I’ve somehow neglected to post about this, but I have two original science fiction stories and one reprint out this month (plus a translation of the reprint, interestingly enough).

The first story is “Just Another Night at the Abandoned Draft Bar and Grill” in the May issue of Galaxy’s Edge. This story is a meta-fictional dig at some of the harmful, clichéd stereotypes which tend to permeate less-than-stellar writing—it features a woman named Mary-Sue, a black man named Alphonse, and a Chinese man who’s so much of a stereotype he barely exists beyond his peasant hat.

You can read “Just Another Night at the Abandoned Draft Bar and Grill” at Galaxy’s Edge for free through the end of June, along with stories by Tina Gower, George RR Martin(!!), Kij Johnson(!!!), and many other super-talented writers.

The second original piece is my story “Images Across a Shattered Sea,” which was my first-place story from Writers of the Future volume 32! I like to tell people it’s an anti-war story about post-apocalyptic Morocco, time travel, and the Open Access movement. (Wait, what?!)

Here’s a teaser:

The air on the cliffs above the Shattered Sea was hot as a furnace and twice as dry. Still, Driss couldn’t suppress a shiver at the way the shimmering message-globe moved through the sky, dozens of meters above the churning, black waves of the sea.

He had seen the globes before, of course, but only after they’d been captured and put on display in the village’s little museum. It didn’t quite seem real, the way the little ball bobbed and danced on the breeze, drifting ever so slowly towards Fatima where she stood atop a heap of boulders at the edge of the cliff.

“Here it comes,” she said, waving her net back and forth as she hopped from foot to foot.

Her eagerness just made the dangers of the place worse, Driss thought. It was as if she didn’t care that one misstep would send her tumbling to her death. He himself would have been happy never to have seen the coast in person. It had always been a deadly, desolate place, even in the days when the message-globes blew across the sea in huge clouds which blotted out the sun. And those days were long since past: They had seen only three globes during their two week hike, and this was the first that had come anywhere near them.

“Gotcha!” Fatima leapt into the air, hooking the bubble-like ball in her net and pulling it down from the sky. “What do you think is in it?”

The story (like all others in the anthology) is gorgeously illustrated, in my case by the talented Seattleite Paul Otteni.

You can buy a copy of Writers of the Future through various retailers, all listed at http://www.wotf32.com along with information about the anthology’s writers and illustrators. If you want to try it out before you buy, I have electronic samplers to give away. E-mail me and I’ll send you one! :)

On the reprint front, my Nature story “Love and Relativity” is now up at Flash Fiction Online, along with three wonderful original stories by Gary Emmette Chandler, Lynette Mejía, and Evan Dicken.

“Love and Relativity” is also due to be translated into Croatian by fanzine Eridu later this month, which is pretty cool.

Ritual Chant of Banishment Recited by Esma de la Tour, Tenth Degree Sorceress and Inveterate Procrastinator (“last words” series)

From last week’s unrelenting bleakness, let’s move on to something silly.

It was Oscar Wilde (or perhaps his goatee-wearing evil twin from one of the mirror dimensions) who penned the words “I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after.” Words to live by, my friends! Words to live by.

Ritual Chant of Banishment Recited by Esma de la Tour, Tenth Degree Sorceress and Inveterate Procrastinator, Upon Being Asked by Her Teacher to Disinvoke the Ninety-Legged Demon of Sqwar, Which He had Inadvertently Summoned Whilst Bathing

by Stewart C Baker

I haven’t memorized that yet!

Words to live by indeed. He says, as he comes up with another piece of microfiction the night before his self-imposed deadline…