It’s #FridayReads! Here’s what I’ve been reading this week.

Every week on Twitter, Shimmer Magazine asks people what they’ve been reading. It’s a great way to find new novels and stories that people are excited about–or figure out what might not suit your tastes.

Here, then, are a few things I’ve read this week!

Short Stories

“Hare’s Breath” by Maria Haskins (Shimmer, September 2017)- A beautiful, heart-aching story of loss, love, and midsummer magic of a very Swedish sort. (Note: depictions of abuse.)

“The Lies I’ve Told to Keep You Safe” by Matt Dovey (Daily Science Fiction, October 19th, 2017) – This very short story about an alien takeover of Earth packs a punch that goes far beyond its wordcount.

Novellas/Novels

Acadie by Dave Hutchinson (Tor.com, September 5, 2017) – An unwilling president, an illicit space colony, and genetic alteration–what’s not to love? Mostly: the ending, which read to me like the author just stopped writing the novel he’d started and put on a twist ending a quarter of the way through, and called the result a novella. I was particularly disappointed because the twist (which appeared more or less entirely unforeshadowed on the last two pages of the novella!) seemed to me to rub in my face everything I’d enjoyed about the story to that point. And, okay, I should have figured something was up since the thing’s called Acadie and Arcadia is supposed to be an unattainable paradise that can never be regained. But ugggggh. Very disappointed in this one–if you pick it up, you’ll probably be happier if you just stop when the Bureau ship appears in-system and make up your own ending. (Although the twist ending seems to have worked really well for some people, so what do I know?)

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnoly (Tor, February 2017) – The elevator pitch for this book is “A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city,” which sounds fantastic to me. I really wanted to love this one, but just couldn’t stick with it past the second chapter. I enjoyed the character interactions in the sections of it I did read, but the style just was not my cup of tea, and it was all a little too lushly written for me to get into. (The slang of the world, in particular, felt too self-consciously faux-1920s for my taste.) Give this one a try if “lushly written” 1920s-style intrigue is your thing, though!

Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys (Tor.com, April 2017) – Fantastically clever Lovecraft subversion. Aphra Marsh is a Deep One and a woman–and it’s not always clear which of those things the powerful men who want to stop her find the most distasteful. I enjoyed every word of this one! (And, as a bonus, you can read the first few chapters, as well as a novelette that takes place before the events of the novel, for free online at Tor.com.)

Ten reprints now available at Curious Fictions

As an author, it can sometimes be challenging to find good homes for reprints of stories I’ve had published in magazines. And, as a reader, I know it’s difficult to hunt down more stories by authors I like in one central location.

With all this in mind, I’m please to report that fellow writer Tanya Breshears has created a new website just for reprints, called Curious Fictions.

Curious Fictions provides an attractive home for multiple reprints, making it easy for me to manage my previously published stories and for readers to find them (and those of great writers like Helena Bell, Matt Dovey, Laura Pearlman, Aidan Doyle, and Effie Seiberg–with more sure to come!).

As a reader, you’re given a preview of each story, with the option to pay whatever you feel is appropriate for the rest (currently, you can choose to pay anywhere between $1 and $10 USD). Payments are accepted from anywhere in the world with a valid credit card. There are no ads (glory of glories!) and 75% of each payment goes to the author of the purchased story.

At the moment, you can only browse by genre and author name, but I’ve heard through the grapevine that there are plans for many other ways to discover and enjoy great fiction from your favourite authors, as well as those who are new to you.

Here are brief summaries of the ten stories I’ve posted to the site, with links to read them:

Love and Relativity – When her husband disappears aboard an experimental starship, Indira researches what went wrong. But the answers don’t always lie on the pages of a book… This story first appeared in Nature Physics, and has since been translated into several languages. It’s currently a finalist for the 2016-2017 Canopus Awards for Excellence in Interstellar Writing.

Little More than Shadows – You’ve always been able to make your dreams take form. You’ve always been able to shape the world around you. To shift it. Now, at the end of everything, what will you do…? This story first appeared in Daily Science Fiction.

Oubliette – The surgery is supposed to take away stress and leave Robert feeling happy, successful, and at peace with himself. But something goes wrong… This story first appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

How to Configure your Quantum Disabiguator – Read these instructions carefully—they may just save your life. (Or you can just forget about it all and push the red button…) First appeared in Nature Futures.

Concerning Your Recent Creation of Horse-Things on the Next Planet Over – Dr Higgelbottem has a bone to pick with the Ancient Academy of the Right Honourable Uplifters, and she wants them to know exactly what she thinks… First appeared in Flash Fiction Online.

Elements of a Successful Exit Broadcast – Stay calm. Stay focused. Remember who you’re speaking to, and why… First appeared in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

The View from Driftwise Spindle – Gayatri and Ang are different in a lot of ways, but what they want is the same: the best deal for Driftwise Spindle, and for as many people as possible to survive the end of the world… This story was a finalist for the Baen Memorial SF award in 2014. It was first published in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Fugue in a Minor Key – All Katja wants is to see her child again, her husband. Get back to her career as a concert pianist. But the two techs sitting across from her insist that none of that is real. That she’s just awoken from an immersive simulation, and only eight minutes have passed… This story was first published in Galaxy’s Edge.

Just Another Night at the Abandoned Draft Bar and Grill – All Alex wants is stop being murdered, chopped up, and hidden in the fridge to serve as her boyfriend’s backstory. So when Francois, who comes from an Afro-futurist science fiction story, tells her of his plan to change their author’s mindset, she readily agrees. What could possibly go wrong…? This story was first published in Galaxy’s Edge.

The Thing about Heisenball – The narrator gets a crash course in Heisenball, a game that melds squash with quantum physics. And, most importantly of all, it’s a game where losing doesn’t matter. First published in Daily Science Fiction.

If you head over to Curious Fictions to check these out, be sure to browse around the site and see what else is on offer!

Two of my favourites are Helena Bell’s “Robot” and Laura Pearlman’s uproarious “I AM GRAALNAK OF THE VROON EMPIRE, DESTROYER OF GALAXIES, SUPREME OVERLORD OF THE PLANET EARTH. ASK ME ANYTHING” (which, really, is better suited to headline capslock than any other title I can think of).

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.)

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.)

Reprint: “The Butterfly Disjunct” in Strange Constellations under a CC-BY-NC licence

My far-future story “The Butterfly Disjunct” is now up to read free of charge in Strange Constellations, a web magazine that publishes stories under a Creative Commons licence. a CC-BY-NC licence, in particular.

And what does that mean?

In practical terms, it means that you can do whatever you want with this little story, so long as you:

  1. Credit me as its author
  2. Make it clear that you’ve modified my work (if applicable)
  3. Don’t make money as a result

Want to paste the whole story on your web page? You can!

Want to put it in a free anthology of other CC-BY stories? Knock yourself out.

Want to remix it, or make it part of a bigger work? Cool. Go for it!

Thinking about making a Polish-language post-modern opera about it where the whole story takes place in a Cold War bunker? Sounds neat.

Again, so long as whatever you’re doing is not commercial in nature, there’s no real limit to what you can do. (Although as the author of the story, I can waive this on a case-by-case basis. So just get in touch!)

As a librarian with an interest in the Open Access movement, I’m excited to be able to publish a story under a Creative Commons licence. Especially since this particular story hasn’t appeared in the wild for free before. I hope you enjoy reading it! (Or doing whatever else you plan on doing to it.)

Read “The Butterfly Disjunct” at Strange Constellations.