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

Story sale! “The Plumes of Enceladus” to Abyss & Apex

Thrilled to announce that I have sold “The Plumes of Enceladus,” a roughly 7,000-word science fiction story, to Abyss & Apex. It is by far the “hardest” story of mine to see publication to date. Most of my skiffy is much squishier…

This one was originally written for the Baen Memorial contest back in February of 2013(!), and has lived a long and varied submission life since then, including an “almost” from Giganotosaurus and Future Fire’s Accessing the Future anthology. It’s been through a number of revisions for clarity and scientific accuracy, and I’m very pleased with where it ended up.

The story follows two pilots, Andry (who is disabled) and Jim, as they race to Enceladus to harvest water from its cryovolcanic plumes. They start the race as bitter rivals, but distance from Earth and isolation from the rest of humanities can have a surprisingly mollifying effect. You’ll have to read it to find out the rest.

Anyway, the publication date is October of 2016, by which time I will probably have forgotten I sold the thing. All the same, I’ll post a link when it’s out!

Want to appear in a story I write? Now’s your chance!

“Tuckerization,” for anyone not familiar with the term, is the practice of including real people in fiction as a sort of in-joke, either using their real name, an obvious parody of it, or just similar interests/quirks.

For anyone who’d like to appear this way in one of my stories, I’m offering Tuckerization as a backer reward on the ongoing Plasma Frequency Kickstarter. For $20, you’ll not only get written into a story, you’ll also get a year’s e-subscription to the magazine.

If you’re not familiar with Plasma Frequency, you can read through their back issues, which include two weird little flash pieces by yours truly:
Some Salient Details about Your Former Lives

After the Ascension

Out today: an Interview and an Anthology

Actually, both of these things were out yesterday. But today is the new yesterday! Or it will be tomorrow. So: close enough.

The first thing is an interview with me in the Polk County Itemizer-Observer (my local newspaper) about my win in Writers of the Future. I was happy that the journalist agreed to interview me by e-mail, as I do not do well speaking extemporaneously, and probably as a result gave him way too much text to fit into an article. Still, it’s neat to see myself in print this way. Or electronic print, at least: http://www.polkio.com/news/2015/sep/30/writer-future/

The second thing is a shiny, hardcover print anthology my story “Behind the First Years” is in. The release date for that was some time between September 28th and yesterday (I got conflicting information), and if you’d like a copy you can order it here: http://amzn.to/1ieyQ5z (If you’d like a taste of the anthology, you can listen to an audio version of my story on StarShipSofa.)

My stories are now on AnthologyBuilder (which is having a sale!)

I just recently learned of a website called AnthologyBuilder. It’s basically a way to select whatever available stories you want from your favourite authors and bundle them all together into a fancy printed anthology.

Sounds like a neat concept to me, so I added some stories:

  • Behind the First Years
  • How to Configure your Quantum Disambiguator
  • Selections from the Aarne-Thompson Index for After the End of Things
  • Oubliette
  • Raising Words

If you like any of those and would like to read them in a shiny print-on-demand anthology together with stories by other authors, you can see my author listing at AnthologyBuilder.

Also, if it is something you want to do, now’s a great time to do it, because from now until September 25th, anthologies are 15% off.

(And, of course, “Behind the First Years” is coming out soon in the Science Fiction Short Stories anthology by Flame Tree Publishing alongside work by new and classic writers. So that’s an option too!)

Podcast Reprint: “Behind the First Years” at StarShipSofa

My story “Behind the First Years” has been produced as an audio version by the venerable StarShipSofa!

You can listen to it (as well as Bogi Takács‘ excellent “Changing Body Templates”) for free(!) on your electronomagical computationy device of choice via the following link: StarShipSofa No. 402: Stewart C Baker and Bogi Tacáks

(If you like my story and want to pick up a printed copy, it’s one of the many stories in the forthcoming “Science Fiction Short Stories” collection from Flame Tree Publishing. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon or [if you live in the UK] through the Flame Tree site itself.)

Out soon: “Science Fiction Short Stories” anthology from Flame Tree Publishing

My story “Behind the First Years” will be included in this anthology, which is due out at the end of the month (after a few printing-related delays).

If you’d like to pre-order it ($18.75—a pretty good deal for a fancy hardcover!), here’s the Amazon link: http://amzn.to/1ieyQ5z

If you’re in the UK, you can also order it direct from the publisher at http://www.flametreepublishing.com/Science-Fiction-Short-Stories.html

(And one neat thing about that last link is that it has previews of the contents—including the first page or two of my story!)

The idea behind this anthology is to mix together contemporary and classic SF writers, so I’m sharing the pages with luminaries like Mark Twain(!) and Edgar Allen Poe(!) and Edith Wharton(!) and Nikolai Gogol(!) as well as a few of the many excellent writers I call friends: Keyan Bowes, Beth Cato, Philip Brian Hall, Alexis A. Hunter, Rachael K. Jones, and M. Darusha Wehm.

Update: incidentally, I just learned that the story I have in this anthology is being podcast by StarShipSofa tomorrow. I’ll post a link when it’s available!

Writers of the Future V32 Q2: A winner is me! (With bonus rules clarification!)

I’m pleased to be able to announce that–after entering the Writers of the Future contest every three months for about four years–I’ve finally managed to break into the winner’s circle! And not just that, the story I submitted for the 2nd quarter this year (Volume 32) managed to snag first place in the quarter.


If you’ve been following the contest’s blog (or if I have you friended on Facebook), it may seem a bit odd that I’m announcing this on my blog now, about a month behind the official announement.

Part of that delay has just been logistical: I have family visiting, and haven’t had much time to sit down and write anything. Another part, though, is squishy-feelings-related.

In particular, it has to do with the contest’s reason for existence, which is to give “new and amateur writers” a fairly high-profile break-through to pro-writer-dom. Once a person has had four short stories published professionally (i.e. At 6 cents per word and with a high enough circulation—in practical terms, published by an SFWA-qualifying market), they can no longer submit to the contest.

So how do I, who currently have something like 27 stories on my bibliography, still qualify? Heck, I qualify for membership in SFWA, the professioal association of science fiction and fantasy writers. I feel more than a small amount of imposter syndrome at work—if, weirdly enough, in the opposite direction than usual.

The short version is: I didn’t have enough pro-paying short stories published yet to disqualify me.

The long version (quite long!) is below:

A large number of my publications are not at pro rates. Also, the contest does not count flash fiction (1000 words or below) as a short story. Technically, none of the stories on my bibliography are disqualifying, so far as the contest is concerned. This is because of the other fine-print style detail in the rules: the word “published.”

I do have two sales on my bibliography that would count against me: “Fugue in a Minor Key” to Galaxy’s Edge and “Behind the First Years” in a reprint sale to Flametree Publishing’s Gothic Fantasy: Science Fiction anthology.

However, neither of these has actually been published yet, so they don’t count against me as far as Writers of the Future is concerned. Since none of my actually published pro-paying works are longer than flash-length, they don’t either.

But that (to me) feels weird. I like flash fiction, and it’s most of what I write and publish, so I decided to count flash fiction as short stories even if it meant disqualifying myself before I was actually disqualified. (Micro-fiction and other super-short stuff, I didn’t count.)

When I sumitted in April, I had the following three pro-paying pieces of flash fiction published:

“Oubliette,” at Flash Fiction Online (April 2014)
“Little More than Shadows,” at Daily Science Fiction (November 2014)
“Configuring Your Quantum Disambiguator,” at Nature (February 2015)

One below the four publications required by the contest (flash notwithstanding).

After submitting my last entry, I published another two pro-paying pieces of flash in August and September:

“Concerning Your Recent Creation of Sentient Horse-things on the Next Planet Over” at Flash Fiction Online (August 2015)
“Love and Relativity” at Nature Physics (September 2015)

That would put me at five publications at pro rates (but still zero short stories—so far!), over my personal comfort level and what I feel is the spirit of the rules, if not the letter. (Of course, now that I’ve won the thing, I can’t enter again anyway, but even if I’d gotten a form rejection I would have stopped submitting.)

It does make me feel better to know I’m not alone in this. Friend and former winner Martin Shoemaker voiced similar sentiments in a Facebook post recently, and Anaea Lay (ditto friend and former winner) also talks about the weirdness of “backwards imposter syndrome.” (Although in my case, I’m more surprised than having feelings of being too worthy to be worthy.)

I’m in good company, in other words.

Once I’m all the way over the weirdness of reverse-imposter syndrome, I’ll be pretty excited about this win. I’ve been entering the contest for a long time, and even though I’ve proven to myself via other publications that this isn’t a fluke, I definitely appreciate the boost to morale that my fiction is winner-quality. And I’m sure that on a practical level, I’ll learn a lot at the workshop which is part of the prize. I still have more misses than hits, when it comes to submissions-to-sales ratio. Anything that can help with that will definitely be appreciated.

Flash Fiction: “Love and Relativity” at Nature Physics today

Okay… 5 days ago. (insert joke about relativity here)

Interestingly, as Colin Sullivan points out in his intro, both of the flash fiction stories I’ve sold to Nature deal with multiple universes in some way or another.

While my previous story was a humorous take on evil twins and quantum disambiguators, though, this one is a more serious tale about experimental space travel and the potential disasters thereof. But it’s also about the importance of not letting those disasters stop further experimentation. And the even bigger importance of family–however you define it.

On another note, the story is partly inspired by the photo of sari-wearing female employees of ISRO, as I mention in my Future Conditional guest post about the story. Consider this little tale my small way of saying that I think that photo and everything it represents is awesome.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the story!

“Love and Relativity” at Nature Physics

(Oh, and I guess I should mention that it’s supremely nerdy, in that it’s written in the style of an annotated bibliography… Nobody’s perfect, right?)

Original Fiction, “Concerning your Recent Creation of Sentient Horse-things on the Next Planet Over,” at Flash Fiction Online

It’s story release day again! This one is egregiously silly, and details just about what you’d expect.

It’s flash, so I’ll not waste your time summarizing it. Head on over to Flash Fiction Online to read “Concerning your Recent Creation of Sentient Horse-things on the Next Planet Over” right now!

(This is my second time appearing in FFO, and my first since I’ve started reading slush there. Since all submissions are anonymous, slush readers can still submit—we just aren’t allowed to vote on our own work at all. I’ve had several rejections since I started slushing before this sale broke through.)

ToC Announcement for “Gothic Fantasy” anthologies, including my story “Behind the First Years”

My story, “Behind the First Years” (originally published in COSMOS Online) will be appearing in print besides Jules Verne, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, and a ton of really awesome present-day writers in an upcoming anthology from Flame Tree Publishing.

You can see the full list of authors here (I’m way down at the bottom under ‘science fiction’). I’m especially pleased to be appearing with author friends Keyan Bowes, Beth Cato, Alexis A. Hunter, Rachael K. Jones, and M. Darusha Wehm. Huzzah!

The anthology looks to be pretty slick in terms of production value, and will be a big, shiny hardcover. I’ll post a link once it’s available!