New story: “Bloodstained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto”

It’s story day! (Calloo, callay)

My epistolary story “Bloodstained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto” is out now in Syntax & Salt‘s fall issue.

This one is about tanuki, foxes, and other creatures which inhabit the world of bakemono or “changing beasts,” a specific kind of yokai who–as you might expect from their name–can transform.

The story’s a little bloody, in case the title doesn’t make that obvious. Thanks to my first readers at Codex, and Taka Okubo, for their feedback on earlier versions of the story!

If you’d like to learn more about yokai and bakemono, yokai.com is far and away the most comprehensive English-language resource available. Go check them out!

Ten reprints now available at Curious Fictions

As an author, it can sometimes be challenging to find good homes for reprints of stories I’ve had published in magazines. And, as a reader, I know it’s difficult to hunt down more stories by authors I like in one central location.

With all this in mind, I’m please to report that fellow writer Tanya Breshears has created a new website just for reprints, called Curious Fictions.

Curious Fictions provides an attractive home for multiple reprints, making it easy for me to manage my previously published stories and for readers to find them (and those of great writers like Helena Bell, Matt Dovey, Laura Pearlman, Aidan Doyle, and Effie Seiberg–with more sure to come!).

As a reader, you’re given a preview of each story, with the option to pay whatever you feel is appropriate for the rest (currently, you can choose to pay anywhere between $1 and $10 USD). Payments are accepted from anywhere in the world with a valid credit card. There are no ads (glory of glories!) and 75% of each payment goes to the author of the purchased story.

At the moment, you can only browse by genre and author name, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that there are plans for many other ways to discover and enjoy great fiction from your favourite authors, as well as those who are new to you.

Here are brief summaries of the ten stories I’ve posted to the site, with links to read them:

Love and Relativity – When her husband disappears aboard an experimental starship, Indira researches what went wrong. But the answers don’t always lie on the pages of a book… This story first appeared in Nature Physics, and has since been translated into several languages. It’s currently a finalist for the 2016-2017 Canopus Awards for Excellence in Interstellar Writing.

Little More than Shadows – You’ve always been able to make your dreams take form. You’ve always been able to shape the world around you. To shift it. Now, at the end of everything, what will you do…? This story first appeared in Daily Science Fiction.

Oubliette – The surgery is supposed to take away stress and leave Robert feeling happy, successful, and at peace with himself. But something goes wrong… This story first appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

How to Configure your Quantum Disabiguator – Read these instructions carefully—they may just save your life. (Or you can just forget about it all and push the red button…) First appeared in Nature Futures.

Concerning Your Recent Creation of Horse-Things on the Next Planet Over – Dr Higgelbottem has a bone to pick with the Ancient Academy of the Right Honourable Uplifters, and she wants them to know exactly what she thinks… First appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

Elements of a Successful Exit Broadcast – Stay calm. Stay focused. Remember who you’re speaking to, and why… First appeared in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

The View from Driftwise Spindle – Gayatri and Ang are different in a lot of ways, but what they want is the same: the best deal for Driftwise Spindle, and for as many people as possible to survive the end of the world… This story was a finalist for the Baen Memorial SF award in 2014. It was first published in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Fugue in a Minor Key – All Katja wants is to see her child again, her husband. Get back to her career as a concert pianist. But the two techs sitting across from her insist that none of that is real. That she’s just awoken from an immersive simulation, and only eight minutes have passed… This story was first published in Galaxy’s Edge.

Just Another Night at the Abandoned Draft Bar and Grill – All Alex wants is stop being murdered, chopped up, and hidden in the fridge to serve as her boyfriend’s backstory. So when Francois, who comes from an Afro-futurist science fiction story, tells her of his plan to change their author’s mindset, she readily agrees. What could possibly go wrong…? This story was first published in Galaxy’s Edge.

The Thing about Heisenball – The narrator gets a crash course in Heisenball, a game that melds squash with quantum physics. And, most importantly of all, it’s a game where losing doesn’t matter. First published in Daily Science Fiction.

If you head over to Curious Fictions to check these out, be sure to browse around the site and see what else is on offer!

Two of my favourites are Helena Bell’s “Robot” and Laura Pearlman’s uproarious “I AM GRAALNAK OF THE VROON EMPIRE, DESTROYER OF GALAXIES, SUPREME OVERLORD OF THE PLANET EARTH. ASK ME ANYTHING” (which, really, is better suited to headline capslock than any other title I can think of).

Out now in Galaxy’s Edge: Cut-Rate Couples Weekend at the Witch House Inne and Tavern (9 Reviews)

What do you get when you cross Pokémon Go, witchcraft, cheap dates, Groupon, and eldritch horrors from beyond the fabric of reality as we know it?

Something like my latest story, “Cut-Rate Couples Weekend at the Witch House Inne and Tavern (9 Reviews),” which you can read right now in issue 28 of Galaxy’s Edge magazine, along with stories by Rachelle Harp, Kevin J. Anderson, and other fine authors.

Go check it out!

Reprint: Proceedings from the First and Only Sixteenth Annual One-Woman Symposium on Time Manipulation

My weird and somewhat surreal flash fiction piece, “Proceedings from the First and Only Sixteenth Annual One-Woman Symposium on Time Manipulation,” is up today as a reprint at Flash Fiction Online!

This story first appeared late last year in Time Travel Tales, which you can buy on Amazon as an e-book or in print. The anthology has a bunch of excellent stories by other authors as well as mine, so if you like time travel, go check that out as well!

And—speaking of anthologies—a reminder that my historical fantasy story “Kuriko” is out now in Guardbridge Books’s Tales of the Sunrise Lands, and available on Amazon as well as through the Guardbridge Books website.

Out soon! My story “Kuriko” is in Guardbridge Books’ Tales from the Sunrise Lands anthology

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll have a story in Guardbridge Books’ upcoming collection of short stories set in Japan called “Tales from the Sunrise Lands.” You can pre-order a copy at the link there.

My story, “Kuriko,” is a roughly 7500 word story about a living mechanical doll (からくり人形) trying to survive late 1600s Japan, and features down-on-their-luck samurai, drunken lords, and other unsavoury 時代小説 style characters. It was inspired mostly by a visit to the Ohno Karakuri museum in Kanazawa, Japan back when I lived there for half a year in 2005. Well, that and binge-reading Yoshikawa Eiji and Shiba Ryotaro.

I first wrote this story waaaay back in 2009(?) or 2010 for a writing contest on Scribophile , making it one of my earlier stories in terms of when I wrote it. When the (mangled, disjointed, subpar) first draft didn’t place in that contest, I reworked it and expanded it (too much) and submitted it to Writers of the Future, where it was my first entry and earned me my only semi-finalist. (In fact, it was the only story I ever submitted that earned me more than an honorable mention, up until my story “Images across a Shattered Sea” won first place on my last qualifying entry in late 2015.)

After I got my semi-finalist critique from former judge K.D. Wentworth, I lopped about 1/3 of the story off the front and revised it some more, then sent it out on submission, where it’s come close at a few places (including earning me a non-published contest win at Spark: A Creative Anthology).

I’m pleased to have finally sold it to a great publisher like Guardbridge!

Interestingly, I actually submitted this story more than 2 years ago (June 11th, 2015—I checked!) to Guardbridge’s great Myriad Lands anthology. Since it was over the length the editor wanted and also Japanese-themed and he had too many of those, the editor said he’d like to bump it to a planned anthology of stories by Japanese and non-Japanese authors set in Japan. (The anthology has changed its focus a little and doesn’t include many Japanese authors, apparently due to a lack of response when the editor tried to solicit submissions–a bit disappointing.) Fast forward to October of 2016, and I had received an official acceptance, and in December I signed the contract.

So it’s been quite a wait for those of us behind the scenes, but it’ll be out soon. Other authors include Douglas Smith, Alison Akiko McBain, and Richard Parks.

It’s 9 GBP to pre-order, and shipping in the UK is reasonable. Go give it a gander if you like Japanese stuff.

Link to buy: Tales of the Sunrise Lands

Two new flash fiction pieces in Remixt Magazine, volume 2

I have two original flash fiction pieces out in two separate issues of the second volume of Remixt, out yesterday!

Remixt, if you’re not familiar with it, is an experiment in publishing spearheaded by Julia Rios. Each release of the magazine pits 5+ editors against the same slush pile, and so there’s the possibility of the same piece being selected by different editors, or of each simultaneously-released issue being completely unique. You can read more about the process in Julia’s editorial here.

I sent two different pieces of flash their way back in March, and was fortunate enough to have each one appeal to one of the volume 2 editors. Huzzah!

Volume 2, Issue 3 features my story “Doge Coefficient,” a vaguely SFnal post-apocalyptic tale where the end came not in the form of zombies or plague but in sudden social collapse caused by Internet-driven language change. It’s also about learning to accept the past, and figuring out how to move forward.

Volume 2, Issue 4 features my story “What She Left Behind,” a slipstreamy kind of fantasy story which is kind of part Ovidian transformation story, part Southern Reach style weird, and part uh… learning-to-accept-the-past-and-figuring-out-how-to-move-forward. Which I guess was kind of a theme for me in these two stories for some reason.

Anyway. Go give ’em a read and check out the other fine stories featured in the various issues of Remixt, volume 2!

Free to read in IGMS: The View from Driftwise Spindle

For a limited time, my science fiction story “The View from Driftwise Spindle” from last July’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, is free to read on the IGMS website. The story is about space elevators and the end of the world (and family, and belonging, and loss, and responsibility, and a myriad of other things).

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.

Go give it a read!

“The View from Driftwise Spindle,” by Stewart C Baker

#FridayReads round-up for 2017-06-16

Over in the newly-round Twitter timeline, there’s a thing called #FridayReads where you post (you guessed it) things you’ve read. On Fridays. (I don’t think you have to read the things on Fridays, though.)

So! Here are four fictive things and one essay I’ve read and enjoyed lately, arbitrarily ordered, and one thing I’m about to read:

THING ONE!
Naomi Kritzer’s “Paradox” in the May/June issue of Uncanny starts out looking like just another Time Travel Trope Takedown, but it’s so, so much more.

THING TWO!
“Baroness,” by E. Catherine Tobler, in the May edition of Clarkesworld. This haunting story of post-human explorers takes a subtle but convincing look at what exactly we mean by human anyway.

THING THREE!
Matt Dovey’s “To the Editors of The Matriarch, re. Allegations of Press-Ganging” in Daily Science Fiction is a clever, cutting satire of rape culture set in a steampunk-flavoured Napoleonic-War-era England.

THING FOUR!
K.M. Szpara’s “Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” (also in Uncanny‘s May/June issue) follows the misadventures of a newly-turned gay transgender vampire. It’s all-around excellent, and you should read it!

ESSAY!
John Wiswell’s “Evil isn’t a Disability,” in Fireside looks at the intersection between mental illness, ableism, and evil in the movies and in critiques of Donald Trump.

What next?!
I’m about to read Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar, which sounds like a lot of fun if by fun you mean disturbing surrealist weirdness. I haven’t had much luck with the few newly-published novels I’ve read this year (excepting Kameron Hurley’s amazing The Stars are Legion, which I loved) so I hope this one aligns with my tastes a bit better.

April/May updates: An award shortlist, a contest win, and a few new publications

I have been very bad about updating this blog lately. Gah! So, here’s April/May.

April

I had a new piece of flash fiction out in Daily Science Fiction on April 4th titled “Heisenball.” The story explores the many world theorem and takes a look at what we blame ourselves and others for, and what we do when we learn how else things might have turned out. Go give it a read! “Heisenball” by Stewart C Baker

Other exciting April news was the announcement that Futures story “Love and Relativity” was selected as one of seven finalists in my Naturethe 2016-2017 Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Writing, in such luminous company as Alastair Reynolds, Aliette de Bodard, David D. Levine, and Alex Shvartsman. (And that’s just in the short story category. Neal Stephenson? Cixin Liu? AAAAAAAH!)

You can read “Love and Relativity” at Nature Futures, or listen to it in audio form at Audible, courtesy of its being reprinted in Flash Fiction Online.

Also in April, I sold a Little Mermaid retelling to an anthology of fairy tales by Fantasia Divinity. Check it out on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

And the gloriously-titled story I co-wrote with Matt Dovey, “How I Became Coruscating Queen of All the Realms, Pierced the Obsidian Night, Destroyed a Legendary Sword, and Saved My Heart’s True Love,” was released in audio form at Podcastle. If you like absurd, D&D-gone-wrong style misadventures, Listen/read online“>give it a listen! (As a bonus, you can also view the art my wife Jane drew for the story in its original publication in No Shit from Alliteration Ink. Art makes everything better! If you’d like to see her other three illustrations, you’ll have to buy the anthology.)

May

In early May, my original story “The Monsters Your Mother Still Asks About” was published in Great Jones Street. This one is a darkly humorous urban fantasy romance, complete with a ridiculous vampire, an overbearing mother who may or may not be acquainted with brooms, and–just maybe–a chance at love or something like it.

Great Jones Street also published two reprints from me: “Fugue in a Minor Key,” originally from Galaxy’s Edge, and “Images Across a Shattered Sea,” my Writers of the Future winner. “Fugue in a Minor Key” is no longer available online elsewhere, so I’m especially glad to get that one some more eyeballs.

And last, but certainly not least, just a few days ago I learned that my story “At the Edge of a Human Path” took first prize in the annual Friends of the Merril contest. The story is a retelling of a Medieval English tale, “The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle,” only set in Yamato Japan. Features fox-women, besotted lords, and devious backstabbery.

Friends of the Merril is a pay-to-enter contest, which I usually avoid, but I make an exception for this one because they use the proceeds to support a library collection of speculative fiction. Yay libraries! (And, obviously, I am very glad that I made that exception, this year!)

Phew. That seems like a lot of stuff. What will June hold? I sold two stories to Remixt, but am not sure when that comes out, and have a few other forthcoming releases, as well.

(Also, if you’re into haiku, you should go read the June issue of The Heron’s Nest. I’m the web editor, and also get to sometimes write the essay for the poem that gets the most editorial votes. This time I was privileged enough to be the one writing about an incredible haiku from Anthony Itopa Obaro of Nigeria.)

I’m a finalist in the 2017 Baen Memorial SF contest!

I’m happy to announce that (for the third time) I’m a finalist in the Baen Memorial SF contest!

Although I’m not allowed to reveal the title of my story, or any other details about it, until the judging is over later this month, I’m pleased it’s gotten this far.

Writing hard SF always gets me out of my comfort zone, but seems to pay off, since I’ve managed to publish 3 of my previous submissions to the contest, 2 at pro rates.

Since you can’t read this year’s story, here are the three published stories that started their lives as Baen Memorial contest entries:

My 2013 finalist, “The Plumes of Enceladus”, can be read online at Abyss & Apex, where it was published last October.

My 2014 finalist, “The View from Driftwise Spindle,” can be read online (if you have a subscription) at IGMS, where it was published last July.

My 2015 entry (which got me a 5-day form rejection) was published in Nature Physics in September of 2015, and has since reappeared in print and audio from Flash Fiction Online and Audible, respectively.

Enjoy!

ETA: The full list of finalists has now been announced. I’m honoured by the company my story is in.