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 haven’t been writing a lot of poetry lately, so I was especially pleased to learn recently that my poem “The Fragmented Poet Files a Police Report” was selected as the first place winner in the long category of the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s 2017 contest. My entry deals with the abuse of power by people who are meant to be protectors of the peace, and features an always-on networked environment not unlike what we find on social media today.

You can read the press release, with a list of the other winners, on the SFPA blog.

UPDATE:
You can now read my poem, and the rest of the excellent winning poems, online for free(!) on the SFPA’s contest page.

My quantum physics haiku (yes, really) made the EQUS competition shortlist

I recently entered one of the mini-contests for the Quantum Shorts competition (where my story “How to Configure Your Quantum Disambiguator” is still in the flash fiction contest and eagerly awaiting your vote, if I haven’t said that five billion times already) with a haiku that was supposed to “describe the wonder of quantum physics in 17 syllables through haiku.”

Most people would probably look at that and say: Whaaaat?

For me, the reaction was closer to: YEEESSSSSSSS, ALL THE QUANTUM PHYSICS HAIKU

It’s like they sat down and tried to decide on a contest that would appeal as much to me as possible. Haiku? Check. Nerdy quantum physics references? Check.

So I gave it a go with the following three haiku (accompanied here by notes on the quantum stuff):

Haiku 1

tunneling effect—
dad finally understands
her situation

The quantum tunneling effect describes a “phenomenon where a particle tunnels through a barrier that it classically could not surmount.” (Quoth Wikipedia.)

This illustration by Jean-Christophe Benoist, which shows electrons “tunneling” through a solid barrier, serves as a good way of seeing what this actually means:
An electron wavepacket directed at a potential barrier.  By Jean-Christophe Benoist.

Haiku 2

superposition . . .
the cat chases/does not chase
the tangle of string

This one is a nod to the famous Shcroedinger’s Cat thought experiment, which deals with quantum superposition (put simply, the way multiple contradictory quantum states all theoretically exist until someone observes them). The word “tangle” is a pun on entanglement, the word used to describe this state of superposition.

Haiku 3

wave function collapse—
the last cherry blossom lands
as she says I do

Wave function collapse is what happens when something in superposition “appears to reduce to a single eigenstate” when observed. Basically, to return to Schroedinger’s Cat, it’s what happens when you open the box and see that the cat is either alive or dead.

Yesterday they announced the winner, and while it isn’t me, haiku #3 above (“wave function collapse”) did land me on the “highly commended” shortlist.

I’m especially happy that this was the haiku they chose for it, since it was my favourite of the bunch.

New Resonance 9 haiku anthology now available for order

As I mentioned in a post last year, I was fortunate enough to be selected for inclusion in the latest volume of A New Resonance, the award-winning haiku anthology of new poets put out every year by Red Moon Press.

Fast-forward a few months, and I’ve now received my copies of the anthology. The poems are, as expected, wonderful and varied, making it easy to see why the New Resonance series is so well-received by poets.

20150610_185648

Copies of New Resonance 9 ready to go.

In addition to myself, the anthology features: Brad Bennett, Claire Everett, Kate S. Godsey, Cara Holman, P M F Johnson, Gregory Longenecker, Jonathan McKeown, Ben Moeller-Gaa, Beverly Acuff Momoi, Polona Oblak, Thomas Powell, Brendan Slater, William Sorlien, Michelle Tennison, Scott Terrill, and Julie Warther.

20150610_185705

My place in the anthology—alphabetical order strikes again!

I received about 25 copies of the anthology as part of publication, and still have several available to order.

Price is $16 ($1 less than list price), and I’ll throw in free shipping to anywhere in the US, as well as a copy of the chapbook I created just for this occasion, titled Stray Cats. Shipping seems to take between a few days and a week, depending on where you are in the country. (It’s cost-prohibitive to ship books overseas, but if you live somewhere other than the US, e-mail me with your address and I can give you a quote for shipping costs.)

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Hot off the presses—er, printer.

I will also happily sign the chapbook to you, and include an original poem on a topic of your choice.

Here’s the order form if you’d like to get a copy:

Order New Resonance 9


Inscribe To:
Custom Poem Topic



Thanks for your support!

Original Essay: “Fishing for Bashos: Interpretive Communities and Haiku in English” at Modern Haiku

I’m very excited to announce the publication of this scholarly essay, which is based on a presentation I gave at Haiku North America last year.

In short, the essay tackles translation, Stanley Fish’s idea of Interpretive Communities, and

I had a blast doing the presentation and writing the essay. Who knew literary criticism could be so fun?! (Okay, maybe I’m just a nerd.)

What makes it doubly exciting is that the whole essay is available to read for free(!) on the Modern Haiku website as a PDF: Fishing for Bashos: Interpretive Communities and Haiku in English.

Give it a read, and I’d love to hear what anyone thinks about it, either here in the comments or via e-mail.

I have a poem up today (actually, last Friday) at Lakeside Circus.

It’s about cockroaches, metaphor, synochdoche, and other strangenesses, and is at least partly inspired by all the time I spent eating at Denny’s and other late-night diners when I used to hang out at the local game store until way too late in high school and college.

Go give it a read and a comment here: http://lakesidecircus.com/2015/03/stewart-c-baker-presents-night-shift/

Now Available for Pre-order: New Resonance 9 (and a chapbook!)

If you’re an avid reader of haiku, you may already be familiar with the “New Resonance” series of anthologies from Red Moon Press. If not, they’re well worth exploring: They’ve won at least seven Haiku Society of America’s Merit Book Awards, and the poets featured in their pages often go on to do great things in the haiku community.

New Resonance 8
(a previous year’s edition of the anthology)

I’m very proud to have been selected for inclusion in the ninth edition of the anthology along with sixteen other poets.

As part of the publication process, I receive 25 copies of the anthology in return for paying part of the publication costs (yes, fiction friends, Yog’s Law(!!!)—but haiku works a bit differently in this particular case).

I’ve taken the pre-order form down for now (thanks to my early buyers for your support!), but will place an order form up again when I receive my copies in June.

In other news, I’ve created a chapbook of my haiku and tanka, called Stray Cats, which isn’t available anywhere else. You can still order a copy of that (if you so desire) using the form below).

Thanks!

“Stray Cats” Chapbook




Original Fiction: The Robotic Poet Reads Bashō

I’m pleased to announce that Beyond Borderlands, a hybrid academic/creative arts magazine, has just published “The Robotic Poet Reads Bashō,” a story of haiku criticism, parallel worlds, Thoreau, and the nature of reality. (I wrote the thing. In case that wasn’t clear.)

Here’s a brief teaser:

The robotic poet (who refers to herself in the third person, for reasons which may become clear) has been reading translations of Bashō, and has discovered two things in his work:

First, that our understanding of reality is largely a consensus agreement.

Second, and more importantly, that poetry can serve as a gateway to an infinite number of realities.

It may be tempting to attribute these little epiphanies to the vagaries of translation—to differences in interpretation and idiosyncratic syntax choices. (The robotic poet’s children were of the opinion that we all saw a single reality, but children have not lived. Not fully. The robotic poet herself remains convinced there is more going on.)

Intrigued? Confused? You don’t even?

You can read the rest of the story at Beyond Borderlands here: “The Robotic Poet Reads Bashō”.

One of the poetic forms I’ve been toying with lately is the chōka. This long-form Japanese poetic structure is one of the earliest forms of waka, and tanka derives from it. Which means it’s a very distant ancestor of haiku, that’s for sure!

Similarly to haiku and tanka, the chōka goes in alternating five- and seven-on lines, and–again like the tanka—is capped with a pair of seven-on lines (an on being a “sound unit”—normally translated to “syllable” but not quite the same). The main difference is that chōka can be of any length you wish. Historically the form was often used as a panegyric–public songs performed publicly in praise of the various Japanese kings, queens, and emperors.

M. Kei has a very informative post on the form if you’re interested in learning more: http://kujakupoet.blogspot.com/2006/05/origins-of-japanese-poetry-choka.html

This poem of mine, tentatively titled “River-cut,” started with an image of the lush hills of coastal Oregon rising from the foggy seas. I think it sounds more like the start of an epic than a complete poem in its own right, but here’s the opening so far:

River-cut

by Stewart C Baker

once was a time
when green hills rose tree-skirted
from the mist
cast up by waves and spellcraft
all along the coast
their slopes glinting, sunlit,
until all rolling
they merged with the waves below
identical
in all but their stillness
and the stags which danced
across their untouched meadows
skittish at man-smell
echoing earthbound the hawks
who wheeled and dove
to pick clams from the water
and drop them again
to shatter into fragments
on rock-dagger shoals
overrun with human sounds
as fresh-hewn ships
sleek and eager as terns
spilled from the rivers’ frothing


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Reprinted and Original Haiku

by Stewart C Baker

fresh-raked coals
she takes her father’s will
out on her children


Originally appeared in A Hundred Gourds

freeway moon
the slow occlusion
of my evening


Unpublished

 
election day I cast my line into the river


Originally appeared in
Modern Haiku

sunny weather
she waits for her lover
to get over it


Unpublished

orchid tree
the drifting scent
of traffic


Originally appeared in Crysanthemum

after the funeral
identical cars
turning the corner


Unpublished


 


If you’d like to sign up to receive updates to this blog by e-mail, you can check the little floating “Follow” box on the right-hand side, near the bottom of the screen. If you’re more of an RSS person, there’s also a link to the RSS in the side bar.