It’s Awardsmas Eve! Here are some neat things I’ve had published in 2017

It is—once again!—that time of year. The time of year when speculative fiction authors cower under their bedding materials for an extra hour in the mornings. When all and sundry leave offerings on their blogs, Twitter feeds, front lawns, local librarians’ inboxes, writing website author threads, gubernatorial mansion front lawns, and—yea verily—unto the surface of the moon itself.  Yes, it’s the time of year when writers everywhere wake drenched in sweat, their innards burning with that mix of fear and excitement that means the awards fairy might just have visited.

That’s right, folks. It’s AWARDSMAS EVE! Uh, but at 9AM. So I guess it’s really AWARDSMAS EVE MORNING?!

Anyway, as is traditional on Awardsmas Eve, I offer up this humble list of my favourite fictive publications from calendar year 2017. I hope you find something you enjoy.

First up is the story with the shortest title I’ve ever written: “How I Became Coruscating Queen of All the Realms, Pierced the Obsidian Night, Destroyed a Legendary Sword, and Saved My Heart’s True Love,” (co-authored with Matt Dovey as Baker and Dovey). Essandra’s a simple woman. All she wants is adventure, romance, and enough piles of loot to fill an olympic-sized swimming pool. Oh, and maybe a slightly less annoying sword. Unfortunately for Essa, her adventuring companions Korgar and Elutriel decide their invasion of the Mad Wizard-King’s lair is the perfect time to compete for her affection…   First published in No Shit, There I Was… from Alliteration Ink, February 2017, and reprinted in PodCast (linked above). (Also noteworthy: The story and several others in the anthology feature art by Jane Baker, my talented wife!)

In “The Thing About Heisenball,” (Daily Science Fiction, April 2017), our narrator tries to put an end to what they think is an unsuccessful relationship. But first, their soon-to-be-ex, Paulie, drags them down to the gym for a game of Heisenball. With the many-world theorem in play, nothing is off the court…   This story is also an entrant in this year’s Quantum Shorts competition, if that sort of thing interests you!

“Kuriko” tells the story of a mechanical doll (からくり人形) with the unusual quality of being alive. When Kuriko’s inventor-father is killed by the greedy and ambitious lord of Tosa Province, will she ever be able to live happily again? A period piece set in the late Tokugawa bakufu. Published July 2017, in Guardbridge Books’ Tales of the Sunrise Lands. (This is one of the first stories of mine I ever really considered good enough for publication, so I’m very happy it found a good home.)

Another story with a Japanese setting is “Blood-Stained Letters Found in a Roadside Shrine on the Outskirts of Kyoto” (Syntax and Salt, September 2017). This epistolary piece explores themes of vengeance in a world peopled by bakemono like foxes and tanuki.

“Mercy at Eltshan-Time” (IGMS, December 2017) is actually not out yet! But I will update when it is. This story is a warm, uplifting holiday-themed story about far-future book curses, various mostly dead aliens, and other fun stuff. This one also features a bit of artwork by Jane, in the form of a string of alien language.

To round out this year’s Awardsmas Eve Morning offerings, a poem! “The Fragmented Poet Files a Police Report” was the first place winner (long form) in this year’s SFPA poetry contest back in late September. Go give it a read!

 

So. There we have it!  Although 2017 has been a raging dumpster fire in many respects politically and socially, It’s been a decent enough year for me in terms of publications.  In addition to the stories and poem listed above, I’ve had work published in Remixt, Galaxy’s Edge, and Kaleidotrope, and a few other places. You can see my full bibliography for the year in the “published fiction” section of my website.

Also, stay tuned for next week, when I’ll post something far more interesting than this: A list of mind-blowing stories I’ve read by other people this year.

I’ve entered “The Thing about Heisenball” in the 2017 Quantum Shorts contest–go check it out!

My flash fiction piece “The Thing about Heisenball” has a non-zero number of non-binary characters, and deals with relationship problems, a game a little like squash, and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, with a dash of many worlds theorem thrown in for good measure. You know, it’s just your average all-the-things story.

The story, which was published in Daily Science Fiction in April of 2017, is now up and awaiting eyeballs at the semi-annual Quantum Shorts fiction contest.

Quantum Shorts is a neat contest. It alternates between a short film and fiction contest, and each year pushes creators to explore concepts of quantum physics with their art. In 2015 my Nature story “How to Configure your Quantum Disambiguator” made it onto the short-list, and I found the short films in last year’s contest fascinating to watch.

This year’s contest has just kicked off, so there isn’t a lot of content yet. But in addition to my story, there’s a very clever little story by fellow Writers of the Future alum (and former librarian!) Stephen P Sottong and several other stories by other writers. (Anything marked as being “by Quantum Shorts” is a winner from a previous year of the contest.) Go check it out, and don’t forget to vote for your favourite!

And if you’re a writer yourself, and want to join in the fun, get to it! The competition deadline is December 1st, and your entry needs to explore some concept of quantum physics and include the sentence “There are only two possibilities: yes or no.” All that in 1000 words or fewer. (If you’re stuck on quantum physics, the site includes a handy reference section, with an A-Z guide on quantum physics, quotes from physicists, and more.)

New co-authored story: “Something on Your Mind” in Kaleidotrope (plus, win a prize!)

A lot of writers I know have “bingo cards.” Basically, these are things that they want to accomplish in their career, like a story in Lightspeed or a Hugo nomination or something.

While I am far too disorganized to have a bingo card, one of the squares on it if I did would probably be to have been lumped into an “et al.” in a fiction story. (That means “et alia” or “and others” for those of you not used to reading academic journal articles. It’s a way to deal with situations where there are a bunch of authors and listing them all would be too time-and-space-consuming.)

So! It is with pleasure I am able to announce the crossing off of this invisible bingo square, by way of a story I co-authored with not one, not two, not three, not even four, but eight other authors!

“Something on Your Mind” by Gareth D. Jones, Stewart C. Baker, Anatoly Belilovsky, Robert Dawson, Kate Heartfield, Holly Heisey, CL Holland, Laurie Tom, and Deborah Walker (phew) is now available to read in the latest issue of Kaleidotrope. (Okay, they didn’t give me the et al. treatment in the byline, but it is in the link!)

Writing this was an interesting experience! Gareth, as primary author and creator of the Astropolis setting, had us all write a short scene from an ordinary day in someone’s life on the station. He didn’t give us any more information about the story–not how he’d connect the pieces or what the overarching plot would be.

And this is where the prize comes in. Go read the story, then come back here and leave me a comment with which of the various characters you think I’m responsible for. I’ll even give you a hint: the order of names in the byline has no bearing on the order of our sections in the story.

You have until 3pm PST next Friday, October 13th, to make your guesses. At that time, I’ll put all the correct guessers into random.org and select one lucky winner.

What will you win? A shiny copy of the September issue of Galaxy’s Edge, which includes my Lovecraftian humour story “Cut-Rate Couples Weekend at the Witch House Inne and Tavern (9 Reviews)”, as well as tales by Rachelle Harp, TR Napper, Nick DiChario and others.

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!

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.

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

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.)

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.