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.

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!

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!

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.)

New story, “Five Recipes You Can’t Live Without” now up at Spirit’s Tincture

My flash fiction story disguised as a series of magical cupcake recipes, “Five Recipes You Can’t Live Without” is now available to read in the inaugural issue of Spirit’s Tincture magazine.

To give you a taste (get it?) that will only serve to increase your appetite (get it?!), here is a sample-sized serving (okay, I’ll stop) made up of the opening lines:

One — Vanilla-Almond and Anise Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. With your dead sister’s image foremost in your mind, chant an awakening spell and light a stick of absinthe-infused sandalwood afire

The story was a runner-up in their flash fiction contest, and the issue also has stories by excellent writers like Laurence Brothers, Darcie Little Badger (whose story won the contest!), Spencer Ellsworth, José Iriarte, and more!

The issue’s free to read online (albeit in one of those funky page-flipping things), and you can also buy a print version if you’re into that sort of thing. Go and check it out!

Here’s the online version:

(PS: Peltandra Sagittifolia and snakeroot are kind of toxic, so do me a favour and don’t try to reproduce those recipes in your kitchen!)

Ritual Chant of Banishment Recited by Esma de la Tour, Tenth Degree Sorceress and Inveterate Procrastinator (“last words” series)

From last week’s unrelenting bleakness, let’s move on to something silly.

It was Oscar Wilde (or perhaps his goatee-wearing evil twin from one of the mirror dimensions) who penned the words “I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after.” Words to live by, my friends! Words to live by.

Ritual Chant of Banishment Recited by Esma de la Tour, Tenth Degree Sorceress and Inveterate Procrastinator, Upon Being Asked by Her Teacher to Disinvoke the Ninety-Legged Demon of Sqwar, Which He had Inadvertently Summoned Whilst Bathing

by Stewart C Baker

I haven’t memorized that yet!

Words to live by indeed. He says, as he comes up with another piece of microfiction the night before his self-imposed deadline…

Last Words of the Immortal (“Last Words” Series) + some shameless plugs

Immortality’s a funny thing.

There’s a long fictional tradition, as TV Tropes and Wikipedia make abundantly clear, of playing with the idea, inverting and subverting it. For instance, we have “complete immortality” (where you can’t be killed OR die) versus just the regular kind (where natural causes won’t off you, but injuries still can).

Tolkien’s elves, for instance, are regular immortal. So are most kinds of fictional vampire. Beasties like the Lernean Hydra dispatched by Hercules and his nephew Iolaus, on the other hand, are essentially unkillable and can only be inconvenienced to a greater or lesser degree by (e.g.) lighting them on fire, killing most of their mortal heads, and burying their immortal head under a huge boulder at the roadside because your name is Hercules and you’re an asshole like that.

Uh. Anyway.

I, too, like to play with the idea of immortality!

Last Words of the Immortal

by Stewart C Baker

Finally…!

Which I guess I kind of spoiled with that introduction but OH WELL, ONWARDS.

To some shameless plugs!

Shameless plug number one is that a story co-written by fellow Writers of the Future winner Matt Dovey and myself is in the currently-Kickstarting anthology “No Shit, There I Was.” Our tale is a glorious one of peril, fantastical hilarity, a magical sword welded by a kick-ass heroine who doesn’t take crap from anybody (except when she has to), true love, a soul-sucking evil wizard, necromantic basement weasels, and baby oil. Uh, but not necessarily in that order.

PLUS I MEAN JUST LOOK AT THIS COVER:
No Shit, There I Was: An Anthology of Improbable Tales edited by AlexAcks
IS IT NOT GLORIOUS? You know you want that on your bookshelf.

Head on over to the Kickstarter! If you order a copy, lemme know in the comments and I’ll legit write you a 5-word story on a topic of your choice, following the same rules I follow for these “Last Words” stories, and post it on my blog (if you want) for all to be jealous over.

Shameless plug number two is that you can pre-order the Writers of the Future anthology on Amazon or at your fine book retailer of choice. More details about the anthology and where to order it are available atWotF32.com. (We’re still hoping to get electronic sampler copies of the anthology, so stay tuned for that…)

“Excerpt Regarding the Departed” out today at the Sockdolager

Story release day!

My story, “Excerpt Regarding the Departed from the Diagnostic and Necromantic Manual, 5th Edition is out today in the Winter 2015 issue of The Sockdolager.

This is my second time appearing in Sockdolager‘s virtual pages, and my first with an original story.

Hooray, original stories!

“Excerpt” is similar in concept to my other piece that’s appeared there, “Selections from the Aarne-Thompson Index for After the End of Things”. Both stories are told in the style of academic reference manuals, and they’re even formatted the same way, with series of numbers representing a section of the manual, and descriptive text below it. Also, both have grim and possibly inappropriate snips of humour amidst their generally depressing subject matter.

Hooray, grim and possibly inappropriate snips of humour!

While “Selections” told more of a story about story-telling, though, “Excerpt” has more of a traditional narrative buried between its lines.

So go give it a read! I’d love to hear whether you all enjoy it.

As an added bonus, I’m sharing a table of contents with excellent stories from writer friends Charlotte Ashley (“The Will of Parliament,” a tale of politics and the fair folk) and David Steffen (“Tamers of the Green,” which details the challenges of inter-species communications). You can see the full table of contents here: Sockdolager, Winter 2015 (Issue #4)

Reprint: “Selections from the Aarne-Thompson Index for After the End of Things” at Sockdolager

I’m very pleased to announce (a little belatedly) that my post-apocalyptic structuralist/meta-fictional folk tale story, “Selections from the Aarne-Thompson Index for After the End of Things,” is now available online for the first time over at The Sockdolager.

This story was first published in The Next Review‘s January 2014 issue, and I’m glad it’s getting wider exposure. It’s one of my favourites!

If you’re not familiar with the Aarne-Thompson Index, it’s a book which collects brief summaries of various folk and fairy tales and classifies them according to their subject matter.

My story basically does the same thing, but with stories that haven’t yet been told, but which conceivably might be after some sort of world-shattering apocalypse. I had a lot of fun writing it, and hope you enjoy reading it as well.

So give it a read over at The Sockdolager (if you’re so inclined) and let me know what you think of it.