#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.

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.

End of year review – published fiction (+ awards eligibility)

It’s the end of December, and that means it’s time for a review of what I’ve had published in 2016!

If you’re reading for award-nominating purposes, all but one of these are eligible for the Hugo and Nebula short story categories, with one that’s only Hugo-eligible this year. Please do let me know if you need a reading copy of anything that’s behind a paywall.

Although I like everything I’ve published this year, I’ll mention my personal favourites first. After that, stories are listed in the order they appeared.

I hope you enjoy reading!

Personal Favourites

  • “How I Became Coruscating Queen of All the Realms, Pierced the Obsidian Night, Destroyed a Legendary Sword, and Saved My Heart’s True Love”
    by Baker & Dovey (Hugo-eligible)

    This story, co-written with my occasional consciousness-sharing friend Matt Dovey follows the misadventures of Essandra, the smart-ass wielder of the legendary/cursed sword Hrrnngnngrrrndr (the Sword of a Hundred Thousand Agonies, several of which probably involve spelling the damn thing) particular affection for typical gender roles and a significant amount of affection for untold riches, as she tries to defeat the Mad Wizard-King and make of with his treasure—all while fending off the unasked-for romantic overtures of fellow adventurers Korgar the Jhunken Barbarian (of the bulging muscles) and Elutriel the priest (of the silken skin and alluring hair). Will she finally find true love (and grab lots of loot?), and what the hell’s the deal with Hrrnngnngrrrndr?

    This story is in Alliteration Ink’s No Shit, There I Was anthology edited by Alex Acks, which is out sometime in the near future. However, since it’s already been released to the 500 or so Kickstarter backers, it’s already Hugo-eligible. If you’re reading for awards, send me an e-mail and I’d be happy to provide you with a copy of the story or an e-ARC of the anthology (sans art). Note that it’s not Nebula-eligible until it actually releases more widely. You can read the first hundred or so words at Baker & Dovey’s website and, again, I’m happy to provide an e-ARC. The story will also be available in audio from PodCastle whenever the anthology releases.

  • “Just Another Night at the Abandoned Draft Bar and Grill”

    I like to refer to this little story-thing as Feminist metafiction. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t write it partly in response to a certain Hugo-related kerfluffle, but I’d like to think it appeals to anyone who’s struggled through a clichéd and hackneyed story—either as writer or reader. The story follows Alexandra, an unfortunate victim of lazy characterization (and fridging) as she and fellow novel characters François (AKA African Henchman #1) and Wong the Inscrutable try to force their author to change his stupid plot and finally finish a first draft so they can be free of his inanity. Does it work? You’ll have to read the story to find out.

    It was published in the May 2016 issue of Galaxy’s Edge, where it can still be read for free online thanks to the glory of the Wayback Machine. (And hey, while you’re there, check out Tina Gower’s awesome “This is Home. You are Well.”

Full Bibliography for 2016

So that’s all, folks! Again, feel free to reach out if you’d like a reading copy of any of these. And I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them, no matter who you are.

New story, “The Plumes of Enceladus” out now at Abyss & Apex

My short story “The Plumes of Enceladus” is free to read in this month’s Abyss & Apex: http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2016/09/the-plumes-of-enceladus/

The story is about pilots from two rival corporations involved in a race to Enceladus, an icy moon of Saturn, to collect water from its cryovolcanoes.

The pilots are:
Andry, a woman who’s driven by her grandmother’s life as a space pioneer to take her own place in the annals of space exploration. She’s a loner by choice but not necessarily a cold person. She also just happens to be a wheelchair user, although she has prosthetics for most of the story instead.

Frank, who feels lingering guilt from leaving his wife and their infant daughter at home on Earth.

Who wins the race? Only one way to find out. Go check out “The Plumes of Enceladus” in Abyss & Apex!

Like my story which came out in IGMS earlier this year, this one was originally written as an entry for the Baen Memorial contest. I’m pleased to have sold all my submissions to that contest now!

(note: There are a few minor formatting errors in the text of the story at the moment. I’ve contacted the editor to resolve them.)

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.

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!

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.

“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 Alex Acks

You know you want that cover.

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.