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

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…

The Necromancer’s First Words Upon Resurrecting Her Wife and Their Two Children, Ten Years after the Plague (“Last Words”)

In contrast to some of my other “last words” posts, this one’s a bit dark, and has nary a bit of humour to offset said darkness.

So if you’ve any deceased loved ones that you miss deeply, maybe best skip this little story-let.

The Necromancer’s First Words Upon Resurrecting Her Wife and Their Two Children, Ten Years after the Plague

by Stewart C Baker

I’ve missed you so much.

What the Time Traveller Said When She Appeared on Her Own Doorstep (“Last Words” Series)

We’ve all been there. Sitting at home, minding our own business, when someone knocks at the door and turns out to be a future version of yourself who’s dead or dying.

Er, wait. What?!

What the Time Traveller Said When She Appeared on Her Own Doorstep Half-Drowned and Bleeding from Three Stab Wounds, Six Gunshot Wounds, with Her Clothing on Fire

by Stewart C Baker

“You must never go to—!”

Let this be a lesson to us all: When you’re time travelling back to the past to warn yourself of your impending doom, don’t bother with full sentences in case you die before you finish them.

“No Shit, There I Was…” anthology Kickstarter, now with 100% more Baker & Dovey

Some time in late autumn last year, Matt Dovey and I both (separately) stumbled across the call for stories for No Shit, There I Was: An Anthology of Improbable Tales.

Alas, both of us were convinced we had neither the time nor inspiration necessary to write a decent story in time.

Fast-forward to mid-December, and an off-hand comment about weasels, and we hit upon a plan so mad, so daring, so genius that it was a daringly, madly genius plan: we would co-write a story!

Neither of us had ever done this before, but were we going to let that stop us? NO! No we were not.

Fortunately(?) for all of you, we succeeded, churning out the 5500-odd words of “How I Became Coruscating Queen Of All The Realms, Pierced The Obsidian Night, Destroyed A Legendary Sword, And Saved My Heart’s True Love” in a paltry 6 days.

Even more fortunately(??), we had a few brave volunteers willing to critique it on short notice despite the fact that it was December 26th. Big thanks to Martin L. Shoemaker, Krystal Claxton, Seánan Forbes, Eleanor R. Wood,
and K.D. Julicher for their speedy and insightful comments!

But here, ALAS!, our tale takes a turn for the potentially portentous. And probably pompously pretentious, if we hadn’t passed that particular point previously. Ppppppp.

The Kickstarter currently still has about $3000 to go before it successfully funds, and a little under 3 weeks to do it in.

So if you’d like to read a tale of ridiculous fantasy parody by Matt and I, as well as fine examples of storytelling and splendor from dozens of other wonderful authors, go back the Kickstarter for No Shit, There I Was! (As a bonus, today’s update features our gestalt author identity‘s origin tale.)

I mean, just look at this cover:
No Shit, There I Was: An Anthology of Improbable Tales edited by Rachael Acks

You know you want that cover.

Last Words of the Immortal (“Last Words” Series) + some shameless plugs

Immortality’s a funny thing.

There’s a long fictional tradition, as TV Tropes and Wikipedia make abundantly clear, of playing with the idea, inverting and subverting it. For instance, we have “complete immortality” (where you can’t be killed OR die) versus just the regular kind (where natural causes won’t off you, but injuries still can).

Tolkien’s elves, for instance, are regular immortal. So are most kinds of fictional vampire. Beasties like the Lernean Hydra dispatched by Hercules and his nephew Iolaus, on the other hand, are essentially unkillable and can only be inconvenienced to a greater or lesser degree by (e.g.) lighting them on fire, killing most of their mortal heads, and burying their immortal head under a huge boulder at the roadside because your name is Hercules and you’re an asshole like that.

Uh. Anyway.

I, too, like to play with the idea of immortality!

Last Words of the Immortal

by Stewart C Baker

Finally…!

Which I guess I kind of spoiled with that introduction but OH WELL, ONWARDS.

To some shameless plugs!

Shameless plug number one is that a story co-written by fellow Writers of the Future winner Matt Dovey and myself is in the currently-Kickstarting anthology “No Shit, There I Was.” Our tale is a glorious one of peril, fantastical hilarity, a magical sword welded by a kick-ass heroine who doesn’t take crap from anybody (except when she has to), true love, a soul-sucking evil wizard, necromantic basement weasels, and baby oil. Uh, but not necessarily in that order.

PLUS I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THIS COVER:
No Shit, There I Was: An Anthology of Improbable Tales edited by Rachael Acks
IS IT NOT GLORIOUS? You know you want that on your bookshelf.

Head on over to the Kickstarter! If you order a copy, lemme know in the comments and I’ll legit write you a 5-word story on a topic of your choice, following the same rules I follow for these “Last Words” stories, and post it on my blog (if you want) for all to be jealous over.

Shameless plug number two is that you can pre-order the Writers of the Future anthology on Amazon or at your fine book retailer of choice. More details about the anthology and where to order it are available atWotF32.com. (We’re still hoping to get electronic sampler copies of the anthology, so stay tuned for that…)

Writers of the Future Volume 32 “Guess My Title!” Contest: And the winner is…

Greetings and Salutations, hoo-mans!

A month ago, I posted a little giveaway for a free copy of Writers of the Future, volume 32, with the challenge being that you had to guess which of the four first-place stories was mine.

If you happened to catch the awards ceremony on the Writers of the Future website, you already know the answer: The first-place story I wrote for the anthology was: “Images Across a Shattered Sea.”

If you happened not to catch it… I just told you the answer. Shocking!

I have consulted Ye Great Random.org and LO! The RNG hath spoken.

The winner of the giveaway is none other than… Daemon H! Daemon was one of three who did in fact correctly guess which title was mine.

I’ll be in touch with you shortly to get your mailing address, Daemon.

If you are not Daemon (we can’t all be, alas), be ye not bummed! I have heard secret murmurings that Galaxy Press may be giving us electronic sampler copies to distribute in exchange for honest reviews. More about that if and when I hear. And, of course, you can always pre-order a copy from various places, as conveniently listed on the Writers of the Future volume 32 website.

Words of Jekk, Barbarian Swordsman and Armchair Scientist, Upon Meeting Blacksmith-Turned-Professional-Fighter Melissandre Miyagi in the Arena (“Last Words” Series)

I’ll be the first to admit this one is full of in-jokes. But I’m still recovering from Writers of the Future workshop week, and that’s all I have the energy for at the moment.

Words of Jekk, Barbarian Swordsman and Armchair Scientist, Upon Meeting Blacksmith-Turned-Professional-Fighter Melissandre Miyagi in the Arena

by Stewart C Baker

Ha! Your muscles are biologically—

I’ll be announcing the winner of the signed copy of Writers of the Future volume 32 later on this week. Just need to find a spare moment to sit down with the random number generator!