Original story: “Fallinghome – A Reevaluation” free to read at Big Echo SF

In the year 2168, the Earth was destroyed in a gravitic anomaly. Humankind, which had already begun to spread to other planets and off-world habitats, was greatly reduced in number, and was dealt a devastating psychological blow.

This is the backdrop for my latest story, “Fallinghome: A Re-evaluation,” now live and free to read at Big Echo SF.

Told in the style of an academic essay mixed with documentary footage and primary source material, the story charts the career of Akiko Cheung, famed architect and anomaly survivor, in the decades after the disaster. It’s a story of loss, grief, resignation, and determination in the face of adversity both personal and natural. How do you keep going when everything you cared about is gone?

Here’s a teaser:

Cheung floats unmoving in a cavernous station chamber, her form hidden in a bulky utilitarian spacesuit which is tethered to the ceiling. Her creation lurks behind her, monolithic, monomaniacal, insane.

She does not speak, but closes her eyes as the rear wall of the chamber folds away and Fallinghome is gently pulled free of the station by automated tugs. We see, distantly, the first burst of fusion fire from its directional jets, and the home drops from view.

Cheung floats in front of the camera for several minutes — eyes closed, unmoving, unspeaking — and then the footage abruptly ends.

My Writers of the Future winning story “Images Across a Shattered Sea” is now live at Kasma

Last summer, I submitted what I knew would be my last entry to the Writers of the Future contest: a post-apocalyptic, timey-wimey story called “Images Across a Shattered Sea.”

Of course, I thought at the time it would be my last entry because I was soon to be disqualified for having too many published stories, not because I would win the contest with it.

But I did! Huzzah, and etcetera!

That winning story is now available to read for free from the fine folks at Kasma SF, with some shiny original art to boot. (That makes this the only story I’ve ever had two pieces of art done for, I think.) Double huzzah! Double etcetera!

Go give it a read: “Images Across a Shattered Sea” at Kasma SF.

(And in case you missed it, the story is also available to play as a piece of interactive fiction over at Sub-Q! An audio version is forthcoming. All the huzzahs!)

“The Plumes of Enceladus” now back online for your reading pleasure

My story “The Plumes of Enceladus” was published in Abyss & Apex earlier this month, but there appears to have been some kind of technical mix-up, since trying to read it would net you a 404 page not found error.

That’s been resolved! You can now go read this story—which features a disabled protagonist, a race to Saturn, and a not unreasonable amount of angst and poor decisions—online at http://www.abyssapexzine.com/2016/09/the-plumes-of-enceladus/.

Enjoy!

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.

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.

Win a signed copy of Writers of the Future, volume 32 (plus, info about the wotf32 website)

The incorrigibly English Matt Dovey and I (although mostly Matt) have put together a website for volume 32 of the Writers of the Future anthology, which will feature a story I’ve written (the title of which cannot yet be shared).

The site features author information, illustrator information, blurbs and snippets for each story, and general information about the anthology, as well as where you can pre-order it.

Hooray!

So go check it out: Writers of the Future, volume 32.

Some time in the next few weeks, the site will be updated to feature thumbnail illustrations for each story, as well as information on which 1st place winners wrote which story.

I’d be interested to see if anybody can guess which is mine from the 4 titles featured on the “Stories” page.

In fact! Let’s do a little giveaway.

Everyone who wants to can leave a comment on this post with the title of the story you think is mine, based on the little blurb and synopsis included on the wotf32 website. You can comment with your Facebook, Google, or Twitter accounts, or with a Disqus account if you have one. Or you can comment as a guest if you don’t have any of those.

I’ll give everyone who guesses correctly 3 entries, and everyone who guesses incorrectly 1 entry, and will then randomly select one entry and mail that person a copy of the anthology signed by me and maybe a few other authors/illustrators (depending on if I can get my hands on a suitable copy during the workshop in the first week of April).

So giveaway! Much excite! Wow!

Direct links to the 1st-place stories:
Star Tree

Images Across a Shattered Sea

Squalor and Sympathy

The Sun Falls Apart

I’ll announce the winner on Thursday, April 14th here on the blog. If you want to be sure you don’t miss it, you can sign up for updates using the little “follow” button on the bottom-right-hand corner of the browser window.

(A few details:
1. I will never share subscriber e-mails with anyone, and you’ll get roughly 1 update e-mailed to you per week in the mean-time.
2. Shipping on the signed copy will be free but may be really really slow if you live outside the continental US of A.
3. You will have to give me your address at some point to receive the signed copy, should you win.
4. I will happily purchase a Kindle e-book version of the anthology for the winner instead, if they prefer.
)

Hey! You can now pre-order Writers of the Future 32, featuring a short story by me.

As I am pretty sure I have announced multiple times already, I was a first place winner in quarter 2 of the Writers of the Future contest last year.

Well, now it’s this year, which means the book will be coming out soon and my story will be in it.

Indeed, thanks to fellow Writers of the Future winner J.W. Alden‘s eagle eye, I can share some exciting information: Writers of the Future volume 32 is now available for pre-order.

So if you’d like to buy a copy of a book with a short story in it by me (not to mention stories by a bunch of great writers), now’s your chance: Pre-order Writers of the Future volume 32 on Amazon.

There are a lot of awesome stories in the anthology (I’ve read quite a few!), and it will have fantastic art as well—although I haven’t seen any of that yet.

Plus it has a really spiffy cover:
Writers of the Future Volume 32 cover image

My Dicksian story “Fugue in a Minor Key” free to read at Galaxy’s Edge

What would you do if everything you thought was real was ripped away, and you were young again? And what would you do if everything you thought you real was what you wanted back again?

These are the two core questions asked in my story “Fugue in a Minor Key,” which is in the November issue of Galaxy’s Edge.

The story puts us in the head of Katja Maczyk, a young university student who has to answer both when two lab technicians tell her that her husband, her daughter, and her career as an internationally-renowned pianist was all part of a simulation. Katja struggles to cope with what she’s told is reality, and with the help of a newly-budding romance with one of the lab techs starts to think she might just be able to do so. That’s when the hallucinations start up . . .

I call the story “Dicksian” because I was very consciously trying for an overall plot that wouldn’t have been amiss in the works of Phillip K. Dick. I’ve always enjoyed the way his stories played with reality, and found the results fascinating.

Here’s a short excerpt of my story which gets across the feel of the thing:

What they do is sit me in a folding chair in a white-walled room with a single fluorescent bulb on the ceiling. Two techs in white (one short and female, one skinny and male) sit there and tell me this is real, that I was never a world-famous concert pianist, never married and never mourned my husband, and never never never had a daughter.

As such, the skinny one says, it is impossible for her to be in any danger.

Is she in danger? I ask.

Ma’am—

But I don’t let him finish. If she’s all right, I say, I’d like to see her.

Ma’am, the skinny one repeats. You can’t see her. She isn’t real.

Are you the police?

No, the short one says. We’ve been through this before.

We are experimental psychologists, the skinny one says, and you have spent the past eight minutes immersed in a holistic simulation designed to test the human mind’s response to stress.

I know dialogue without quotation marks is a big stumbling block for a lot of people, but in this case I would argue that it plays a big role in adding to the actual feel of the story and its what-is-real core. In the snippet above, for example, “We’ve been through this before.” could be either something the psychologist says, OR something from the viewpoint character.

Anyway, I’m really pleased overall with how the story turned out, and am glad it found a good home.

Go give the rest a read! It’s free until January, and after that available only in the print edition.