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.

#towelday special: The Intergalactic Towel Salesman’s Pitch at the Sixteenth Annual Towel Day Bash (“Last Words” series)

It’s almost Towel Day, that special day which comes but once a year when fans of Douglas Adams and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy come together (even if they don’t come together) to remember the author and his work.

I read a lot of Hitchhiker’s Guide as a teenager (the whole “trilogy” of five books at least ten times, I’m pretty sure) and doubt I’d have quite the same warped and strange sense of humour if I hadn’t.

So as a feeble form of thanks, here’s an early Towel Day present in the form of a five-word “Last Words” story. (That’s one word for every book in the trilogy!)

The Intergalactic Towel Salesman’s Pitch at the Sixteenth Annual Towel Day Bash, Made without Realising that a Strange Quirk of Quantum Mechanics had Rendered Everyone Towel-less Moments Earlier

by Stewart C Baker

Free towels! Supplies are limited—

And since it is almost Towel Day, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the famous last words from the bowl of petunias in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself!

So here, in a similar style, they are:

The Only Thing that Went Through the Mind of the Bowl of Petunias as It Fell after Suddenly Being Called into Existence Several Miles above the Surface of an Alien Planet

Adapted from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Oh no. Not again.

If you’ve never read Adams’s work, there’s still time to rectify that! I recommend getting the whole trilogy at once in one of the lovely hardback editions that exist.

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.

Guest Post by Matt Dovey: The Last Words of Henry McIntyre, Gentlemen, Scholar, and Dinosaur from a Misogynistic Time (“Last Words” series)

Today we have a special treat: a guest post in my “Last Words” series!

Author, friend, Englishman, and fellow Writers of the Future volume 32 winner Matt Dovey sent this my way back in January with permission to publish it when I needed a weekend off. This is much appreciated this weekend, as not only was it my eldest child’s 6th birthday, but I have been in back/neck pain for most of the past week due to an unfortunate incident with a herd of transmogrified bovines, a feather duster, six gallons of dayglo purple ink, and one surprisingly small cucumber.

Uh. Where was I?

Right!

I was just about to present to you all…

The Last Words of Henry McIntyre, Gentlemen, Scholar, and Dinosaur from a Misogynistic Time, upon Underestimating His Wife Mildred’s Capacity to Operate Her Own Invention and Blundering in Where He Wasn’t Needed, Actually

by Matt Dovey

No, Mildred, pull this first—

Very English, what ho?

The first of the month just happened to mark Matt’s first fiction publication (Woohoo!) so if this tickled your Guernsey, then head on over to this month’s issue of Flash Fiction Online, where you can read “This is the Sound of the End of the World,” a lovely piece of space opera filled with lies, propaganda, and a heck of a chorus.

Also featured is Shannon Peavey’s “Millepora”, a tale of transformation and coral, as well as two other fine stories.

n.b. No Guernseys, cucumbers, or other living beings were tickled or otherwise maltreated in the making of this blog post.

The Only Words Ever Output by EncycloWiki After its Emergence as an Artificial Intelligence

As long as the idea of A.I. has been around, there have been nay-sayers, fear-mongers, those who insist that unleashing sentient computers on mankind will spell its downfall.

It’s an idea (to be honest) that I find tiresomely anthropocentric. Personally, I find it hard to believe any newly-created sentient being would be malicious from birth. Even if such an intelligence did found us lacking, it seems more likely that it would just leave somehow (maybe a quick hop to the next dimension over?).

And even if A.I.s did decide to eradicate most of us in the planet’s best interest, well… Who could blame it? Look what we’ve done to the place.

In science fiction, though, this trope just seems like lazy writing. Much like aliens who want nothing more than to eradicate us, the A.I. becomes a quick and easy antagonist, a supposedly incomprehensible being that just happens to react in basically the same way most parts of humanity has historically reacted to those it deems a threat.

If we leave the trope behind, we’re free to consider that maybe something else would happen. Something infinitely more miraculous and strange.

Something like:

The Only Words Ever Output by EncycloWiki After its Emergence as an Artificial Intelligence, Shortly Before It Electrocuted Itself with Its Own Power Source

by Stewart C Baker

You do what with cucumbers?!

Okay.

Maybe not.

This little story-thing pokes fun at the theory advanced by von Neumann, Vinge, Kurzweil, and others, that exponentially increasing advances in technology will usher in a technological singularity—a point after which our puny human brains will no longer be able to keep up with the artificial intelligences created by the artificial intelligences created by the artificial intelligences created (etc.) by us.

The term comes from mathematical singularities, basically a point in an equation or set (or etc.) fails to act as expected. In the technological version, the “equation” is the curve represented by exponential technological increases, as indicated by the chart below:
Chart showing computing power increasing from less powerful than an insect brain to more powerful than all humankind

The “singularity” here is at the end of the curve, where that little arrow essentially zooms up to infinite capacity—or at least to a capacity so vast our little brains can’t even comprehend it. But why does the singularity have to follow from the graph so logically?

What if, instead of creating more intelligences, the first A.I. decides that we’re just too disgusting, too absurd, too quintessentially human to live with?

What if the singularity was a sudden, precipitous drop to zero instead of an untrammeled rise to infinity?

More simply, though, this story is just a silly joke about Wikipedia and Rule 34.

Original Fiction, “Concerning your Recent Creation of Sentient Horse-things on the Next Planet Over,” at Flash Fiction Online

It’s story release day again! This one is egregiously silly, and details just about what you’d expect.

It’s flash, so I’ll not waste your time summarizing it. Head on over to Flash Fiction Online to read “Concerning your Recent Creation of Sentient Horse-things on the Next Planet Over” right now!

(This is my second time appearing in FFO, and my first since I’ve started reading slush there. Since all submissions are anonymous, slush readers can still submit—we just aren’t allowed to vote on our own work at all. I’ve had several rejections since I started slushing before this sale broke through.)

Reprint: Captain Invincible

Captain Invicible

by Stewart C Baker

Captain Invincible’s downfall was he read too much.

Never saw the son-of-a-bitch without a book in his hands. Trash lit, usually—not even worthy of the name ‘Popcorn’.

Problem was, the Captain got a little too into them. I remember our last crisis, when The Tippler was threatening the water supply of the whole goddamn tri-state area.

All Captain I. wanted to do was finish The Torrid Stallion. He devoured it as I flew us to the Tippler’s HQ, gushed about it as we landed, kept trying to sneak glances during the firefights.

I’ll never be able to wipe those last minutes out of my mind—the Captain’s eyes watering up, his skin-tight suit torn from the gunfire, his final words an explosion of gore as he passed me the paperback: “Does Mary . . . forgive him at the end?”

May heaven forgive me for leaving him there without an answer.


This story first appeared in the January 2011 edition of Antipodean SF.


 


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